Watch Dogs 2 Review

Watch Dogs 2 is Ubisoft’s latest addition to the Watch Dogs franchise. The game takes place in the vibrant city of Chicago and whilst the map is not as expansive as GTA’s Los Santos, it definitely has its own charm to it. I played the first Watch Dogs and like the general consensus I wasn’t too impressed, yes it had some stand out features but as a whole it was very lacklustre. Fortunately Ubisoft have built on some good ideas from the first title and have created something very enjoyable in Watch Dogs 2. 

The best thing about this game is undoubtedly the use of technology to solve puzzles, dispatch of your enemies or even just to wreak havoc across the streets of Chicago. I particularly enjoy the ability to use drones to access areas in which Marcus would not be able to otherwise access. There is no other game out there which give you the thrill of being able to navigate your drone through vents in a house whilst avoiding security guards before downloading and hacking in to enemy data. This only scratches the surface of the variety of technology available to you throughout the game. 

The layout has very much a Grand Theft Auto feel to it, missions are often wacky and require a series of smaller missions to be completed before a big finale. Whilst this does somewhat feel as if it is in a similar style to GTA, the online game modes are where Watch Dogs 2 comes into its own. You could be going out about your business as happy as Larry only for an enemy player to join your game and begins to start hacking your “data”. On the opposite side of this, being the hacker is also great fun as you try to blend in whilst being avoided.  

Now the story to Watch Dogs 2 is something I am caught in two minds about. On the one hand I have enjoyed playing through the missions, making my mark across Chicago whilst gaining new followers for DeadSec and a lot of the missions are enjoyable with varying levels of difficulty. On the other hand I feel as if the story is disjointed, what I mean by this is that I feel as if there is any substance to the story. I struggle to understand the real motive behind DeadSec’s work and don’t even get me started on the characters! Most of the characters really lack any real personality and Wrench, the guy with the mask, must only be added in for a humour aspect as he is one of the most annoying video game characters I have ever come across!

Watch Dogs 2 is a hugely fun, pick up and play game and offers a nice light-hearted change from the usual sandbox games which I have enjoyed playing. However if you are looking for something a bit more serious with a gripping storyline, I would look else where.

Buy, wait for sale or avoid: I would wait for this come to down a little in price before picking up.

Rating: 7.3

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Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb review

Night at the Museum is probably one of the most popular children’s films of the 21st century, and has been increasingly ever present within the film world in recent years. It seems as if you cannot go to a museum nowadays without some smug idiot saying ‘huh imagine if that dinosaur came to life huh’. It’s easily safe to say that the Night at the Museum franchise has been a popular one! 

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is the third and final instalment to the trilogy. Again the story follows our favourite night guard Larry Daley (Ben Stillar) and his quest to save the exhibits from yet another tragedy put in their path. This time our favourite artefacts and Larry hit London as they must return the tablet of Ahkmenrah, an Egyptian artifact which causes the exhibits to come to life, before the magic disappears. 

One of the best features of the Night at the Museum films is the variety and diversity of the characters. In the first film we saw a range of different characters from Dexter the capuchin monkey to Attila the Hun and similarly in the second film another plethora of different characters brought to life such as Darth Vader, miniature Einstein bobble heads and even Amelia Earhart. Sadly in the Secret of the Tomb the character list is cut way down, only a few of the ‘originals’ have lead roles and there are a small number of characters in the London museum so often the film feels quite bare.

The plot for Secret of the Tomb is also by far the weakest of the trilogy. For starters it follows a similar pattern of Night at the Museum 2 in that the cast must leave New York and visit a different museum. Whilst I have no issues with the locations of any of the films, I feel as if the third film could have been executed with a bit more detail as the story jumps from New York to London in the blink of an eye. This was just the beginning of a series of poor story writing decisions as from here on you find yourself asking ‘what was the point of that’ numerous times throughout. And don’t even get me started on the ending! The finale was a bigger anti-climax than Y2K! 

Despite the negatives, there is no denying that it is a funny film, aided by its star studded cast. Obviously the usual suspects like Ben Stillar and the late Robin Williams perfectly execute their roles, but it is the inclusion of the hilarious Rebel Wilson who steals the limelight. Rebel stars as the security guard for the London museum and her weirdness and strange oddities make this one of her best roles to date! It was also refreshing to see that 20th Century Fox had veered away from the stereotype that most security guards are men.

To buy or not to buy? – This is by no means a bad film and is definitely watchable but don’t be in any rush to pick it up. For Netflix users in the UK it is available to watch now.

Rating: 5.8/10

Forza Horizon 3 Review

Forza Horizon 3 is a game which I have not been able to put down since I first started playing and considering it ranked at number 2 in my top games of 2016, I thought it was only fair to give it the review it deserved! 

Forza Horizon 3 is the follow up to Forza Horizon 2 and is the third instalment of the ‘Horizon’ series. The game is set in Australia in an open-world environment and the map is twice the size of Forza Horizon 2’s map. 

Upon first picking up Forza Horizon 3, you are thrown into the action straight away. Your first real task pits you against a helicopter carrying a jeep whilst you race to the finish line. Whilst your focus is on winning the race it’s hard not to take in the lush environment of the forest whilst a jeep is swinging above the treetops just above you. This is just a taste into the variety of different challenges available to you throughout, ranging from drift challenges to fast paced street races. Or maybe you’d rather slow things down and just explore the numerous sights and landmarks of Australia. Whichever takes your fancy, there is plenty to keep you entertained.

Whether you want to take that Ferrari 458 you’ve always dreamed of having out for a spin, or take the scenic route along Bryron Bay in your Caterham Superlight R500, you will not be disappointed with the wealth of cars available for you to test out. Personally I love American muscle cars, especially old ones, so I have immensely enjoyed hurtling along the coastline in my 1969 Mustang. The enjoyment of taking the latest addition to your garage out for a spin is aided with breath-taking visuals. Horizon 3 really flexes the muscles of the Xbox One when it comes to graphics, visually the game is beautiful and bar the odd moment of poor frame rate, I can only imagine how good this game would look in 4K. 

My only complaint I have with the game, and trust me there aren’t many, is the lack of splitscreen multiplayer. I love nothing more than challenging my buddies to a race when they are round at my house, but sadly this was a feature not included in Horizon 3. Whilst there is online co-operative multiplayer, adding a splitscreen element would make this game near perfect.

Overall this is the best Forza game to date and the best open-world racing game since Burnout Paradise. I just can’t get enough of this game and I am extremely tempted to invest in the Blizzard Mountain DLC!

Buy, wait for sale or avoid? BUY BUY BUY!

Rating: 9.3/10

Rogue One Review

Rogue One follows the story of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) and her quest in acquiring the plans for the Death Star. The films bridges the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope and reveals how the Rebels have come about obtaining the plans to the Death Star, which is seen at the beginning of A New Hope. 

Rogue One was arguably, alongside Civil War, the film I was looking forward to seeing most in 2016. The trailers only helped aid my excitement, finally there was set to be a movie which focused on huge battles in the Star Wars universe, something which I had been recreating for years as a kid with my own Star Wars Lego. Given the amount of hype I had created in my head surrounding the film I decided to go and see it in IMAX 3D… 

I absolutely loved Rogue One! I think this is possibly one of my favourite Star Wars films to date! The story is fantastic and I couldn’t have imagined a better way in which Episode 3 and 4 be linked together. There are a number of moments throughout where my nostalgia levels were going through the roof with references back to the Clone Wars. Initially I thought that creating a smooth transition of the acquisition of the Death Star plans to Episode 4 would be somewhat difficult however this was achieved with such ease – it was if George Lucas had already written the blueprint to the events of Rogue One back in 1977!

What I was most looking forward to seeing in Rogue One was vast, gripping battles between the Rebels and the Empire and to my joy this happens straight from the off! Throughout the film there are a number of sequences where I was nearly falling off my chair because there was so much going on! Not only is the action gripping and keeps you longing for more, the characters of Rogue One are fantastic! I felt as if I had an emotional connection with them all. 

The only issue I have with Rogue One is the CGI. CGI is used to recreate Grand Moff Tarkin, a character who has a huge role in the creation of the Death Star and a lead role in Episode 4. This issue I have is that I think they have overdone the amount of CGI used to create him, he looks more like someone from the Star Wars Rebels animated series! Whilst I understand that actor Peter Cushing who played Tarkin in the originals’ is sadly no longer with us to resurrect the role, I found myself focusing on how scary the CGI Tarkin looked rather than focusing on the action on screen. That said, there is a scene at the end of the film with a CGI Princess Leia, where she looks flawless and just like Carrie Fisher did in A New Hope!

Go and watch, wait for the DVD or avoid altogether? – GO AND WATCH OBVIOUSLY! I’m already planning on which Lego sets I am going to buy to recreate scenes from the film!

Rating: 8.7/10

My Top 5 Sporting Moments Of 2016

2016 was a fantastic year for sports fans all over the world. We have seen some upsets and some individual efforts of sheer brilliance but here are my top 5 sporting moments of 2016. 

5. Michael Phelps wins his 23rd Olympic Gold 

Michael Phelps is an Olympic legend. No question. In 2016 he yet again showed his dominance in the pool by adding his 23rd Olympic Gold medal. He was already the most decorated swimmer, arguably the most decorated Olympian, but he added his final medal to his collection before announcing his retirement following the race. A true legend.

4. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Champion Year 

I am a huge admirer of Cristiano Ronaldo and have always felt a bit sorry for him being in the national team that he is in, but Portugal silenced all of their critics in 2016 by winning the European Championships in France. Whilst some people argue that Portugal’s triumph was undeserved, I was impressed with their attitude in the tournament. However this was only one part of a great year for Cristiano Ronaldo, the highly decorated Real Madrid star also won the Champions League with Real Madrid and also won his 4th Ballon D’or. 2016 will definitely be a year Ronaldo will not forget anytime soon. 

3. The Chicago Cubs Break the Curse

I am a big fan of American Sports but Baseball isn’t something I follow religiously, however when I heard of the possibility of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series Championship for the first time in 108 years, I just had to tune in! The World Series game was a fantastic game and the Cubs didn’t make it easy for their fans going 3-1 down before rallying and eventually breaking the curse.

2. Andy Murray Reaches World Number 1 Ranking

If winning Wimbledon wasn’t enough to make it a great year for Andy Murray then reaching World Number 1 ranking surely was! This was no doubt undeserved as his fantastic performances throughout the year secured him not only his second Wimbledon title but also Olympic Gold and the ATP World Tour Title. To top it all off, he is set to receive a knighthood. A fantastic year for Andy Murray and British tennis. 

1. Leicester winning the Premier League

Undoubtedly the biggest sporting achievement of 2016 and arguably the biggest sporting achievement of my life time, the 5000-1 shot Leicester winning the Premier League is an accomplishment unmatched within the world of football. Prior to starting the 15/16 season the expectation was for Leicester to attempt at avoiding relegation, no one expected them to hit the heights that they did and they showed to the world that money isn’t everything when it comes to the beautiful game.

2016 was a fantastic year for sport and seemingly the underdog in a lot of cases, let’s hope 2017 can provide just as much entertainment!

My Top 5 Movies Of 2016

2016 has been a great year for movies and the cinema powerhouses really came up trump with some fantastic cinematic pieces. Marvel yet again added more depth to is Cinematic Universe and Disney proved that they are the undoubtedly the best at creating instant family classics. Without further ado here are my top 5 movies of 2016: 

5. Arrival

Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner star in this mysterious sci-fi thriller and it truly is a must see film for any science fiction fan. Not only does this go beyond the realms of reality, the acting performance from Amy Adams is first class. Arrival shows that despite the mystery that surrounds the unknown, the future can be just as hopeful and bright as it might be scary.

4. Deadpool

Deadpool provides a breath of fresh air from the generic hero vs villain comic book formula, yes the standard elements are present however the numerous ‘dick’ jokes and consistent innuendos make this somewhat stand out. This is some of Ryan Reynolds’ best work and I look forward to him reprising this role in upcoming films. 

3. Zootropolis 

Arguably one of the best Disney films of all time follows the tale of the first ever rabbit police officer Judy Hopps, as she attempts to solve a mysterious case in the bustling city of Zootropolis. Not only does this deliver the classic Disney charm and joy of past movies, it also gets across the message that no matter who you are, you can be whatever you want to be if you set your mind to it.

2. Rogue One

Any addition to the Star Wars universe is a welcome addition in my eyes and Rogue One did not fail to disappoint. With strong themes of rebellion and hope, this is a film which really does tug at the heartstrings of any Star Wars fan. Be sure to check out my full review of Rogue One coming soon!

1. Captain America Civil War

Ahh here it is ladies and gentlemen. My favourite film of 2016. As you know I am a huge Marvel fan so any collaboration of as many characters as possible was always going to have me mouthwatering. And unsurprisingly, they managed to quench my thirst. Captain America Civil War is undoubtedly the crème de la crème of Superhero movies and I cannot wait to see what Marvel can come up with next.

So there you have it, my top 5 movies of 2016 and whilst there seems to be a Sci-Fi / Action based theme to my choices, I must say picking my favourites of the year was a tough ask. Other notable mentions which narrowly missed the cut include Finding Dory, Doctor Strange, Moana and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

My Top 5 Video Games Of 2016

2016 has seen a plethora of games enter our collection and whilst there have been plenty of disappointments *cough* No Man’s Sky *cough*, there have also been some truly fantastic games enter our shelves. Here are my top 5 video games of 2016: 

5. The Division 

Now The Division is a game which I loved at the time, but if I’m being honest I’ve not picked it up since. This is a shame really because this is a fantastically detailed game. Regardless of me not playing it in a while, this still makes my top 5 for the simple reason that it gave me some great memories! Running round the Dark Zone with my buddies whilst stealing everyone’s loot is up there with one of my top gaming moments for the year. 

4. Pokemon Sun / Moon

Now I have been a Pokemon fan ever since I was a kid and year on year they have turned out a masterpiece in excellence. Each game has followed the same pattern and has pretty much been identical to a certain degree (switch up the types of Pokemon and change the names of the region and you have the formula). However Pokemon Sun & Moon break the mould, and yes whilst the standard Pokemon elements are ever present there is a certain ‘new’ feel to the latest game. Thankfully though, these new changes are a welcomed addition. The game as a whole is fantastically well crafted and I feel as if the objective has now become more about understanding the world of Pokemon as opposed to just becoming the strongest trainer. 

3. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Uncharted 4 is the final instalment in the Uncharted franchise and follows Nathan Drake as he searches for clues for the location of Captain Henry Avery’s long-lost treasure to save his brother. The final instalment does not disappoint and it is no surprise that it won best PlayStation game of the year at the Golden Joystick Awards. The story is intoxicating and full of depth and the gameplay is a delight for players – you really don’t want the game to end. It is the perfect sign off to a fantastic series of games. 

2. Forza Horizon 3

Yet again, another Forza games makes my game of the year list and credit to Microsoft Studios because they just seem to get even better year on year! Initially I held back picking up Forza Horizon 3 as I was already busy playing a few other games and didn’t think I would get round to it, so when I eventually picked it up I managed to get it for fairly cheap. And boy should I have picked this up at release! This game is amazing! The attention to detail is world class and the game is so vast, I will no doubt be playing long into 2017. 

1. Battlefield 1

Not only the best game of the year, but Battlefield 1 is also the best Battlefield game to date. I loved how Battlefield went back to their roots and strayed from the modernised war we have been so used to of late. The high adrenaline rush of running through the streets of war torn Amiens whilst being chased by a tank is unmatched. I find myself sitting for hours playing through the numerous ‘Operations’, oblivious to what is going on outside of my room.

So there you have it, my top 5 video games of 2016 and I have no doubt that I will carry on playing these deep into 2017. Other notable mentions which narrowly missed the cut include Watch Dogs 2, Titanfall 2 and Far Cry Primal.