Tag Archive for Review

Film Review: The World’s End

In a most unusual twist i have made two cinema trips this week! This time i journeyed with work colleagues to see the latest offering from Edgar Wright; The World’s End.

The World's End teaser poster

Let’s open this by saying this film is brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and the sounds coming from the theater suggest others were as well. As the third film in the ‘Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy’ (along with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) this film had big boots to fill. As a general rule, when Edgar, Simon and Nick they seem to produce good stuff. The World’s End delivers on all these expectations and more.

The basic premise of the film sees 5 friends coming together for a reunion. The aim of this reunion to finish a legendary pub crawl in their home town, but not all is as it seems. I shall leave the details there at risk of divulging spoilers. The setup for this story leaves it wide open for some humorous moments and the script delivers every time. We have some great jokes together with excellent comedic timing in a combination that will raise a smile on even the grumpiest viewers face.

The humble Mint Choc Chip Cornetto, the last flavor in the trilogy to make an appearance.

As part of the trilogy we see some familiar faces join Simon Pegg and Nick frost in their adventure and it all adds to the quality, with the chemistry clearly coming through. The film rolls at along at a good pace, it never seemed to rush a scene giving it the time required before whisking you off to the next with no hint of dawdling. One thing that jarred slightly was that the ending wasn’t quite what I had expected. This isn’t to say the ending is bad, it just didn’t take the path i thought it would.

As i said at the opening of this review i really enjoyed this film. I may even place it as my favourite in the trilogy, although i will need to re-watch Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz to confirm that. It was a great film, full of laughs and fun and would strongly recommend you go and see it if you get the chance!

I give The World’s End 11 pubs out of 12!

Film Review: Pacific Rim

Alt title: Megazord vs Godzilla

That name probably got canned for copy-write reasons.

Anyway back on topic. So I went to see ‘Pacific Rim’ with my good friend John and thought i would write down my thoughts.

Pacific Rim movie trailer

So lets start by saying it was better than I expected, although I did have pretty low expectations. I think my opening line to this review highlights that. I’ll be honest when I saw the trailer I wasn’t impressed. I though it looked like a twelve-year-old had decided to combine Transformers, Godzilla and Iron man. Alas the reviews came in and general people seemed to like it, so I figured screw it Guillermo del Toro hasn’t let me down before so why not.


Overall, it was OK, I certainly don’t regret going to see it but I’m not going to urge you to drop whatever you are doing and see it immediately (I mean come on, it’s no Avengers).

I would say if you love gratuitous action scenes showing giant robots fighting giant lizard-alien-monster things then this film is a good pick for you. It very competently handles some great giant fight scenes. It’s got nicely paced action and doesn’t suffer from “Transformers syndrome”, so you can see whats going on and you get a great sense of the scale of the fights and such. I also enjoyed watching it, the story just about holds the fights scenes together. The acting is overall not bad (Idris Elber deserves more of my attention in future) and I didn’t check my watch at any point in the film, so it was clearly well paced.  As I said it generally a good outing.

Giant monsters are cool


On the other hand there were a few issues that I will raise, doing my very best not to spoil anything in the process. As I mentioned the story holds things together, but it’s not going to win any awards. It was standard action film script #3. ‘Person does good, tragic event, person rallies back, insurmountable odds, person wins’. This isn’t necessarily bad, it’s a good formula and it works just don’t expect anything different. It’s also a film that attempts to do some ‘science’. Now as a ‘science’ person I always pay attention to these bits and well aside from the cringe-worthy geek the science isn’t too bad, although there are one or two glaring problems.

Another issue i had is that two of the major characters look very similar i couldn’t help shake the idea that they were going to turn out to be related, they weren’t…or were they! To avoid spoilers it could be either. The last big thing that i will criticise is the script. They covered some interesting topics and they set up some great things…only then to never revisit them. Slightly frustrating, especially when they would include random bits that actually detracted or confused the situation. I will mention ‘digital and analogue’ at this point and when you see it you will get the reference.

Movie science…often bad


Overall it was a solid film, despite my moaning I did enjoy it. It’s faults didn’t detract from the experience. Pacific Rim is a straight up action film that isn’t going to radically shake up the genre. I will tip my hat to Del Toro who manages to present the epic action set pieces in an easy to follow way without detracting from them. If you get a chance to see it, I think it’s worth a watch especially if giant robots are your thing.

I will activate 3 thumb rockets out of 5. (Another tenuous reference, sorry).

It was always gonna be like this…

Hey guys,

In true Josh Barker fashion, this blog has fallen by the way side. It has severely suffered from a lack of updates.

Well no more!

I am going to try in earnest to be a lot more productive with not only this website but with my life in general! So if you see me, make sure i am doing something!

To kick off this new productivity i have here a little game review, the next in my 60s Series. I talk very quickly about Rogue Legacy. There will also be a new “60 Minutes of Starcraft” video going onto YouTube very shortly. SO check back for that.

If you want to know more about any of this, leave a comment and i’ll get back to you.

Enjoy the review.

Paradigm Shift

As many of you are probably aware, I love playing games. I think that is one of my main characteristics. I have always enjoyed games and always seek out new ones and a chance to play them. I don’t particularly have a favourite type, i will play anything from video games to board games and of any genre, racing, strategy, first person shooters and more. Yes obviously I have favourites…but in general I’ll play most things.

I have played games much the same way since I was younger but just recently there has been a change in my game playing habits. I’m going to have a look at that and why that has happened.

Way back at the beginning  I had a NES and a SNES and I loved them and it was great. I will never forget leaving my SNES on for over 24 hours just so I could complete Super Star Wars as it had no save system. Back in those days I had a real passion for platformers and puzzle solvers, playing Lemmings, Earthworm Jim, Star Wars, Puzzle Bobble and the like. I also dabbled with RPG’s which is started to develop a taste for. As time went on new systems were introduced, we got a family PC and my sister received a PlayStation One for Christmas (I was so shocked and disappointed that it was hers, not ours or mine. She didn’t even really play games). With the new technology came new games, I moved on. I discovered the wonderful world of strategy games on the PC, not before a stop off at the Magic School Bus ;-), platformers and RPG’s stayed constant with me eventually acquiring Final Fantasy VII for the PS (this remains one of my favourite all time games.). This was the time that I shifted well and truly into games.

Image from Final Fantasy VII

My favourite RPG of all time. Got me well and truly into the Genre

I enjoyed games, I liked the story telling, the mechanics. I revelled in solving problems, figuring out quests and beating my opponents. This stuck with me as I grew up, I never moved on. I played games with friends or I played games on my own, I didn’t care as long as I was playing. The next major stage was the acquisition of my PlayStation 2, on release day. Although I didn’t really use it till about a year after, the launch titles didn’t excite me. I don’t want to think about the countless hours I have ploughed into the box of electronics. It was an exciting time for games with a lot of them coming out and I played as many as possible, I still played my usual sample but also branched out into the racing and sports genre, as they had good multiplayer potential and a lot of my friends played them.

All the time I played games on the family computer, highlights include Age of Empires, Medieval: Total War, Machines, SimCity and Total Annihilation. I found myself using the PC purely for strategy and simulation games (that’s a lie i played Turok as well). I even managed to rope my family at times. I was furious that my dad worked out the secret to a successful SimCity 2000 city before i did!

This structure stayed the same until recently, Strategy and Sims on the PC/Laptop and all others on the Console PS2/PS3. I always preferred the controller for things like FPS games and the like (I know shoot me, but that was my opinion.)

This all changed in September of 2011, I graduated from University and decided to reward myself with the purchase of a proper Gaming PC, I had never had one of those, making do with a cheap laptop throughout Uni (I always attempted to optimise my game playing potential when picking a computer though). My new PC was fantastic! I could play anything, all the PC games my laptop couldn’t run now became available, services like Steam made it easy to get hold of them and I played furiously! I would even go so far to say that i had too much, every waking moment I was playing stuff and to this day my console has fallen by the way side. Although this may be some sub concious value for money thing.

This was spectacular for the first few months. Games like Skyrim, Civilisation V, Shogun 2: Total War absorbed as much time as i could spare, and then something changed.

I tried League of Legends…

League of Legends

A group of my friends had discovered it, this game is a DOTA clone, it’s a copy of an old mod for Warcraft 3. Essentially you and your team select a hero each and you do battle in an arena with another team, first team to kill the other teams base wins. No story progression, not complex puzzles to solve, no grand strategy (people with argue with me on this) just you 4 other people manipulating your champions and their abilities to best the other team. Of course there is strategy, what stat augmenting items do you buy, when do you engage, which heroes make a balanced team but you aren’t trying to design a transport network or plan a countries military strategy.

Usually this game would not interest me, perhaps hold my attention for a week or so but in the last 8 months or so i have logged more than 685 hours of gameplay, that’s 20 hours a week! So what has lured me into spending to much time playing this game.

Well having I think about it and looking at my normal game playing habits, it’s the social aspect. Whenever I am playing League of Legends I am on Skype to at least one other friend, usually 2 or 3. This is the really appealing aspect. We can chat about work, things in the news, recent games tournaments results all while playing my game. It’s like going out for a drink, well without the face to face bit or the alcohol but you get the idea. No longer is it just me and the computer. Gamers have an unfair stereotype that they are all unsocial, live in basements and just eat pizza, but that’s completely untrue in this day and age. I spend several hours each night on Skype to at least 2 or 3 friends…if I don’t it’s usually because I’ve gone out to see other friends. I think that is far from unsocial, and this has what has hooked me, I like talking to people and I like games and I can combine this. I think this is why I have recently got back into board games.

This is obviously not just applicable to League of Legends, I do the same thing when I play Team Fortress 2, Starcraft 2, DOTA 2 and so on. It’s not a new thing either, communicating while gaming has been around for an age! BUT, it’s the first time I really have done it.

This has now affected my other game playing habits, i now find it really difficult to play single player games on my own. Just doesn’t feel right, I recently played Bastion (60s Review coming very soon) and I played through it all while having a conversation with a special lady via Skype. Not sure if I would have stuck with it  if I’d have been on my own.

This has been a big revelation to me, it’s why over the last few months i’ve tried several free to play MMO’s with my Friend Fred (go read his blog!) because we can sit and chat on Skype while playing games.

I still play single player games, don’t get me wrong but I have now moved to a stage where playing with other people makes a game more appealing. These is a possibility that now I’m older I am finding the single player experience less rewarding, so I am looking for something else to add to a game, it will be interesting as a couple of big games are coming out in the next year or so, and these don’t look to include much time for Skype based multiplayer, so I will be interested to see how much time I plough into them.


So there we go, i’m playing much more social games now. You should totally join me, we can chat and game and stuff. Just get in contact and we’ll play together. Also if you are interested in League of Legends (and you should be it’s a great game to play with friends) then let me know before hand, I can send you an account invite, we both get some goodies :) SO e-mail me or leave a comment and I’ll sort that. Let me know about your gaming habits, would be interesting to see if anyone else has had a similar experience, or even gone the other way.

Happy Gaming.