One of the greatest mash ups of all time!

One of the greatest mash ups of all time!

It’s not often that two of my passions (Hip-Hop and Videogaming) meet in such a mind bendingly awesome way! Massive props to 2 Mello (go follow him on twitter @MelloMakes) for masterminding this fusion of one of the greatest (or at least most famous) rappers of all time Jay-Z with one of the greatest 16-bit game soundtracks of all time Chrono Trigger! Aptly named “Chrono Jigga” there’s a download link on the page after the juimp! NERDGASM OVERLOAD!

Ejecto’s Performer Sessions x PNUTS x Paul Cockcroft Films

Awesome

Shot + Cut by Paul Cockcroft
The first installment of our Ejecto’s – Performer Sessions brought to you in collaboration with Ejecto’s clothing/lifestyle company. Featuring DJ/Turntabilist P-Nuts from the North-west of the UK, Bboy and beatmaker, who’s been rocking some pretty dope sets the past few months.

Good friend of Ejecto’s P-nuts gives those DJ toys a run for their money with these beat jugglin’ powermoves.

P-nuts was first introduced to Ejecto’s on a random hiphop hookup between friends and fellow graf writers…we we’re sent to Bulgaria to give locals a taste of British graffiti and breakdancing.

P-nuts is good friend to the Ejecto’s fam and always rocks a serious hiphop set…lover of 90’s ‘real’ hiphop…we’re gunna be seeing more of P-nuts!!

Soundcloud: http://www.soundcloud.com/p-nuts
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/deejaypnuts
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/tompasquill
Twitter: @Tommy_P_Nuts
Bookings: djpnuts@gmail.com

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My Extremely Late Top 10 games of 2012


10. Sniper Elite V2 (multi platform)

My First game of the year may come as a surprise to some people, due to the lacklustre storytelling and played out WWII setting but what really makes Sniper Elite shine is the satisfaction that comes from taking that PERFECT shot… The slow motion X-Ray close up of your well placed round penetrating any foolish Nazi who should stray into your line of sight was definitely one of the highlights of the gaming year for me. Solid Shooting Mechanics and solid gameplay cements this as my number ten… That and the DLC mission where you get to assassinate Hitler… Who could ask for more?

 Kingdoms-of-Amalur-Reckoning-Screenshtos

  1. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (multi platform)

What made Kingdoms of Amalur stand out for me was it’s sheer scale! This game is HUGE… In an age where AAA titles can get away with having 5 hour long campaigns it was a nice breath of fresh air to actually get some value for money. Despite being a new franchise Kingdoms shone due to it’s interesting ‘card’ based levelling system which switched up the usual warrior, mage, rogue archetypes. Kingdoms asked the question why not have a Warrior Mage instead! Another element that stands out is the God of War style “take downs” which reward the player with a gruesome animation and a hefty XP boost! Very nice…

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  1. Torchlight II (PC)

Torchlight is the first (but definitely not the last) indie game on my list, continuing from their success with the first game Runic’s second helping did not disappoint, all the staples of the first game return: a heavy emphasis on loot, dungeon crawling and killing everything that moves but this time on a much grander scale. The game’s unique art style helps it to stand out by combining fantasy and steam-punk elements with a slightly cartoonish gloss on top of this varied monster designs help to create a distinct look and feel to the whole experience. Simply put the game is a joy to play, extremely simple but almost frustratingly difficult at times Torchlight II is a time-sink that you will enjoy pouring hours into!

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  1. Max Payne 3 (multi platform)

Max Payne 3 was the series’ controversial return, transplanting everybody’s favourite anti-hero from the gritty streets of Noir York to the colourful and brightly lit favelas of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Max has aged considerably since the events of the first two games but is still on top form; slow motion diving through the air with the series trademark bullet time. What made this game stand out for me was the depth of the narrative, what at first glance could be written off as a typical third person shooter was actually a rather serious peek into the drug and alcohol addicted mind of Max Payne, graphically the game was stunning and despite a few shortfalls Mr Payne lands comfortably at number seven.

 FTL

  1. FTL (PC)

Faster than Light is an indie game developed by Subset Games in which you take up the important task of delivering some highly important documents across the galaxy, seems simple enough? That’s where you’re wrong… What FTL lacks in graphics it more than makes up for in variety and originality, never before has managing a spaceship been so hands on and engaging; from managing the power distribution, oxygen levels and even which systems are manned. The fact that every time you start a new game the galaxy is randomly created means no two games are alike and so FTL has unlimited re-playability and all this for less than a fiver! Absolute bargain!

Xcom-Enemy-Unknown

  1. X-Com: Enemy Unknown (multi platform)

X-Com raised a stir when it was first announced, old school fans of the series were horrified at the announcement of the revival of their beloved franchise (and still one of the greatest tactical games of all time) like many people I watched with a cautious optimism… Which paid off in full. X-Com is fantastic, the evolution of what every turn based strategy game should be. In X-Com almost every decision you make can have fatal consequences, move a space too far and one of your hard earned Alien killing grunts can be snuffed out, Permanently. Even decisions like where to build certain facilities in your base seem extremely important and not to be rushed. What this game has in spades is immersion, you really start to feel like you’re a lone commander standing against a wave of larger and more technologically advanced enemies, there is this overbearing sense of dread but this is offset by the sense of accomplishment you get when successfully leading your team through a particularly dangerous encounter, you start to get attached to your team and I’m not ashamed to admit that many a Rage Quit have been caused by their deaths.

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  1. Far Cry 3 (multi platform)

Far Cry 3 is the story of Jason Brody and his brah’s and is essentially what all other sandbox FPS’s should aim to be, it has a good storyline, solid game play and enough distractions to keep even the most hardcore of gamers busy. What makes this game stand out is the polish, it looks fantastic and every feature is fully realised, from the unique Tattoo levelling system to the hunting and crafting mechanics, everything just feels… well.. right! Whether you spend your time in the game following the campaign missions or just exploring the jungle hunting for that elusive pelt everything runs smoothly and effectively, Far Cry 3 is a AAA budget put to good use. On top of the top quality single player campaign there is an equally engaging Co-Op campaign with an entirely different plot and characters and a equally polished (if a little dull) online multiplayer. Everything about this game screams big budget, big pay-off and this is reflected in the game’s amazing review scores. What makes the game so effective is Ubisoft giving you an island and saying “go nuts” and I for one certainly did…

 Hotline-Miami-Vita

03.Hotline Miami (PC)

Where to begin, Hotline Miami is the Drive of the video-game world, a game in which style becomes the substance. For those of you who haven’t played Hotline Miami yet (why on earth not!?) it is divided into several chapters, each of which is further broken down into several stages. At the start of each chapter, you are asked to select an animal mask to wear, each of which provides unique advantages or handicaps. In each stage, you navigate a building from a top-down perspective, and your goal is almost always to kill every opponent you come across. You have access to a number of melee, thrown, and ranged weapons to lay waste to your enemies. Your character dies as easily as the enemies so any mistake is usually fatal. The game ranks your performance at the end of each stage, giving you more points and thus unlocking masks and weapons for use in the game. What makes this game stand out so much is its 1980’s art style and Thumping Electronic Soundtrack, everything about this game screams PLAY ME. It’s fast, frantic and fun with a surprisingly deep and varied storyline, once again an indie game that can be picked up for £7.00 on steam an absolute steal.

 borderlands 2

02. Borderlands 2 (multi platform)

The game of a trillion guns, borderlands 2 takes what made the original a surprise hit and improves upon it tenfold, some of the mass appeal of this game comes simply from collecting the many weird and wonderful variations of weaponry available. The slick cel-shaded graphics and stylized characters really give life to the mysterious planet of Pandora Handsome Jack is a stand out as he antagonises you with his smarmy voice and a special mention has to go to the psychotic Tiny Tina and her rambling dialogue. One of my favourite parts of Borderlands was collecting a mission reward in the form of a talking gun which actively encourages you to Kill people. Although Borderlands 2 is an enjoyable experience solo it is considerably better with a friend, the enemies in the game scale to how many people are playing and the loot gets better which gives you a real incentive to get sociable. What drives you to keep playing is not the story in particular but more a drive to get better and more loot, because let’s face it there’s not much a gamer likes more than loot!

 SOTL - Concept Art (4)

  1. Spec Ops – The Line (multi platform)

Spec Ops can easily be written off as a typical third person shooter and understandably so, it doesn’t have any ground breaking game-play mechanics and graphically it’s not the best… so why is it at the top of the list?

One answer: Plot, Pacing and Moral conflict.

The plot appears to be fairly simple; Six months prior to the game the worst series of dust storms in recorded history began across Dubai in the United Arab Emirates(UAE). Dubai’s politicians and wealthy elite downplayed the situation before evacuating in secret, leaving countless Emiratis behind. Lieutenant Colonel John Konrad (Bruce Boxleitner), the decorated but post-traumatic stress disorder troubled commander of the fictional 33rd Battalion,United States Army, was returning home with his unit from Afghanistan when the storms struck. Konrad volunteered the 33rd Battalion to help the relief efforts, then deserted with the entire unit when ordered to abandon the city and its refugees by the U.S. government. As the storms intensified, a massive storm wall engulfed Dubai for miles, disrupting any satellite surveillance and communication, air travel, and all but the strongest radio broadcasts. The 33rd declared martial law, and struggled to maintain order amid 80 mph winds, riots, and dwindling resources. The last communication from Dubai stated that the 33rd was attempting to lead a caravan of more than a thousand civilians out of the city. The caravan never arrived, and soon afterwards the UAE declared Dubai a no-man’s-land. All travel to the city was barred, the 33rd was publicly disavowed for treason, and no further news left the city.

Two weeks before the beginning of the game, a looped radio signal penetrated the wall. Its message was brief; “This is Colonel John Konrad, United States Army. Attempted evacuation of Dubai ended in complete failure. Death toll: too many.” The United States military decides to covertly send in a three-man Delta Force team to carry out reconnaissance. The team, consisting of Captain Martin Walker (Nolan North), Lieutenant Alphonse Adams (Christopher Reid), and Staff Sergeant John Lugo (Omid Abtahi), are told to confirm the statuses of Konrad and any survivors, then radio for extraction.

Things really start to get interesting when we actually get into Dubai, something has clearly gone very wrong… The setting itself is a major draw, the extravagant Dubai ravaged by Sand is now being slowly reclaimed by nature. At no point is it clear exactly what has happened so you as a player are as clueless as the three delta force operatives which really helps you to empathize with the characters. What makes this game stand out is that despite it being a war game the general feeling is that it exposes the horrors of the battlefield, you’re driven down certain paths which leave you with dire unforeseeable consequences despite your good intentions. Unsurprisingly the writers of the game took a great deal of inspiration from Heart of Darkness a novella by Joseph Conrad. In an age where a number of the biggest selling games franchises are war based (COD, GOW, Battlefield 3 and so on…) Spec Ops asked the question is it really right to be glamorising War without showing the horrors and effects it can have on a person? Spec Ops is an emotional roller-coaster and is well deserving of being my game of the year 2012.

Far Cry 3 review

Far Cry 3 is without a doubt one of my favourite games of 2012… There, now you know this review is going to be biased… but let me explain WHY.

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I’m off to the Rook Islands to find myself… Yah..

First and foremost this game is well built, well paced and the perfect example of what a Sandbox FPS should aspire to be. The game opens with a rather off putting montage of our main man Jason Brody (voiced by Gianpaolo Venuta) and his brah’s having the time of their lives on the Rook Isles before they finally go sky-diving and landing at different points on the island. It is here where we are first introduced to our antagonist Vaas Montenegro (superbly voiced by Michael Mando) who has captured Jason and his friends in order to extort money and then sell you into slavery… Grim times indeed! After a brief tutorial mission you awake in a shanty hut being tattooed by the mysterious Dennis Rodgers. After this you are pretty much left to your own devices, should that be hunting (both people and animals) clearing out enemy outposts, racing or just taking in the scenery. This is where the game really shines, you are given a plot mission (should you choose to accept it) but it is entirely up to you whether or not you do this… You can simply wander around gathering animal skins if you so choose, the variety on show is what makes the game so solid, despite having such a long leash you are never short of fun activities to take part in.

Vaas showing you exactly where you're going...

Vaas showing you exactly where you’re going…

The core system of Far Cry 3 is the Tattoo skill system, essentially every time you level up you can choose from three skill trees; The Spider, The Heron and The Shark. Each has a different speciality and every skill learned adds to Jason’s fancy new Ink. When I first heard about the tribal tattoo I was gutted but the artwork is well done and it does a fantastic job of giving the player a visual reminder of their progress. The tattoo also shows Jason’s metamorphosis from an atypical douche bag into a hardened Rakyat warrior. Similar to the Tattoo system is the Hunting/Crafting system, in which collected animal skins can be crafted into useful items such as ammo packs or weapon slings. The draw of hunting comes from the more dangerous prey, stalking creatures such as Komodo Dragons and Tigers through the jungle is no easy feat and I am not ashamed to say I died more than once in my pursuit of elusive skins.

Hang gliding, more scenic than useful...

Hang gliding, more scenic than useful…

Graphically the game looks fantastic, even on consoles. The hud is very light to allow a better view of the surroundings and the enemy ‘tagging’ returns from the previous games which is always handy when conducting recon on an enemy outpost. You can explore the islands by a number of methods; Boat, Car, Quad bike and even the hang-glider returns for when you want an aerial view of things but more often than not you’ll approach enemy camps on foot. A particular stand out moment for me was noticing a bear trapped in a cage in the centre of one of the outposts… one silenced sniper round and the beast is loose tearing through Vaas’ pirates like meat confetti leaving you to easily mop up the stragglers. A mention also has to be given for the Fire tech which first appeared in Far Cry 2 it is genuinely good fun to lob a Molotov into a group of enemies and watch them flee from the fire as it spreads to every tree and bush in the area, simply put it’s stunning.

Uh oh..

Uh oh..

Should you have a friend (yeah right) you can hop into the CO-OP campaign which has an entirely different plot and a set of four different characters to choose from. Where CO-OP shines is the mid-level challenges, Me and my buddy especially liked the impromptu Sniper contest on the second level. These challenges act as a perfect change in pace from the usual run and gun game play and really add to the experience on the whole.As for the competitive multiplayer, despite a lack of imagination it is still very solid and definitely worth a shot… that is if you can drag yourself away from the campaign.

In conclusion, I’ve sunk hours into Far Cry 3 and I’m still loving every minute of it if you don’t already have it get it, you will not be disappointed.

-Lowth

The Dark Knight Rises

After Much anticipation and some extremely effective trailers the concluding third of the Dark Knight trilogy has finally hit our screens, does it live up to expectations or is it just another Hollywood flop?

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Even Batman can’t put his iPad down

Now as an acomplished geek in my own respect I have a healthy appreciation for Batman, he’s dominated the gaming world with Arkham City still one of my favourite open world games to date, I do however have a few snagging points with the Dark Knight trilogy. First and foremost the voice acting! As demonstrated amazingly below:

Both Batman and Bane’s voices are ridiculous, when I first heard Tom Hardy was playing Bane I was sure he’d do a good job, he doesn’t disappoint in any way except for when I heard his voice I almost burst out laughing in the middle of the cinema! He sounds like a posh Darth Vader for christ sake!

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The new poster child for respiratory disease.

Ridiculous voice aside Christopher Nolan does a great job of bringing the Dark Knight back to life,  he shows Bruce Wayne as a crippled shut-in, haunted by his failures in the previous film. He is broken both physically and mentally. Closing himself off to the world by shutting himself in Wayne Manor.

Ever the charmer Mr Wayne gets close to his prey, the mysterious Selina Kyle

Cue the stunning Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle AKA Catwoman who’s brazen theft of Wayne’s mothers pearls re-ignites his passion for crime fighting. Hathaway does a fantastic job of making a realistic Catwoman, she has the looks, the skills and the kick ass moves to get the job done. She is ruthless, effective and convincing in her role, an impressive feat considering how badly previous actors have fared…

On to Bane, who outclasses Batman at every turn, literally breaking his body and very nearly his spirit. In the Dark Knight Rises Bane is a mercenary and also a former member of the league of shadows, although not true to his real origins story it gives the character a rational drive and reason to want to break the Bat. He does so by attacking not just The Batman, but his alter ego Bruce Wayne crippling his company and stealing his tech in the process.

Bane holding an image of the late Harvey Dent

My second major snagging point was the film’s pacing, after a very slow start the narrative begins to pick up momentum about half way through, there is very little action to keep the audiences attention as the story flits between Bruce Wayne, the mysterious Bane and Selina Kyle. It unfortunately became slightly tedious, too much dialogue and not enough action to keep the pace ticking over.

The conclusion to the trilogy was just that, a neat conclusion a wrapping up of the Dark Knight storyline with enough of an open ending to leave room for a potential sequel. I did however feel slightly disappointed… for a film about Batman he doesn’t really get enough screen time and this left me with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

-Lowth

Guns, Gore and Guidos: Max Payne 3 review

Cover art for Max Payne 3

No Mr.Payne, I expect you to die…

WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!

The plot is simple, Max Payne (once again superbly voiced by James McAffrey) is in São Paulo, Brazil. A stark contrast to the Noir York of the previous two games. We find our favourite washed-up detective working as a close-protection bodyguard for the wealthy and hedonistic Branco family. Down on his luck and without any other option Max is recruited by newfound comrade Raul Passos (voiced by Julian Dean) and is left to deliver the trademark vigilante justice in this strange and brightly lit environment.

Luckily the Shirt was the only poor design choice

Out of luck and out of dress sense…

Let me get this straight, Like most fans of the Max Payne series I was shocked when there was an announcement of the third instalment to this previously PC-centric franchise… How could they possibly return to the already heavily blood stained streets of New York. The answer was refreshingly simple: They Didn’t. The choice to relocate to South-America was as bold as Payne himself; a million keyboard warriors voiced their concerns through every possible outlet right up until the latter gameplay trailers started to get released… throughout the gaming world a buzz started to develop “hey maybe it wont be so bad” but as one of these former concerned geeks I have to say I have been nothing but pleasantly surprised, blown away even by how good this third instalment has been.

Shot dodge still plays a vital role in Payne's survival

Ever horizontal Payne leaps through the air

The Staples of the series remain unchanged, Solid and fast paced gunplay, the formerly revolutionary Bullet Time and Shot-Dodge mechanics along with a noir storyline. Albeit in a new and strange environment… Rockstar Games have once again shown the world why they are at the forefront of games with a GOOD storyline…

Get over that ledge fool!

Payne delivering his usual trademark Justice.

This clever social commentary is delivered in a streamlined and effective way so good in fact that most people would miss it for all the mindless killing.  The game is a metaphor for Payne’s lack of feeling, he’s been numbing himself for years with pain-killers and alcohol but despite that he’s remained at the top of his game. He’s failed to protect his family, his friends and even himself for years but he realises this mid-way through the game and begins a one man mission to fix what is broken Payne Himself.

-Lowth

 

 

The Avengers

This is indeed a review of The Avengers (or The Avengers  Assemble if you’re from the UK like moi) Marvel’s latest excursion to the big screenFrom the moment that The Avengers was announced I’ve been running a self-imposed media blackout, a no fly zone for all things related. I actively avoided all trailers, clips and EXCLUSIVE! details to prevent any of the hype in clouding my judgement. Not because I’m pretentious or snooty but because the prospect of an Avengers film filled me with hope…Wait, what? Hope? you might ask… Here let me explain:

I hold in my heart a very special place for comics and graphic novels. They are often dismissed as being for kids, something for immature man-children (women-children too: we’re all about the equal rights) Definitely not the type of thing for us serious intellectual types (see: self-important) or ‘grown ups’ respectively and that  is a genuine shame…

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Hopefully this image will speak for itself. However if you haven’t read Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s phenomenal Watchmen (the film’s not too bad either! Review to come) get yourself a copy right now, seriously… You’ll thank me later.

Without a doubt Some of the most thought-provoking and inspirational stories that I have had the pleasure to experience have been in the glossy pages of a comic. For me they are something special, the inner geek in me squeals with delight every time I pick one up. For me It is the same feeling that I have for vinyl records. An inexplicable sense that what you’re holding in your hands is worth oh so much more than it’s face value; an authenticity that couldn’t possibly be replicated in any other medium and I know I’m not the only person that feels this way.

But despite this cold hard fact Hollywood keeps missing the point…

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Case in point: Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr Freeze in Batman & Robin: Currently on trial for the chilling murder of Ice based puns… How do you plead?

The comic book movie genre has by and large been a series of god-awful abominations. Every time a new superhero film was announced I found myself thinking “I hope to god they do a half decent job of it this time” but I was more often than not disappointed. The genre itself has been treated with the same disdain as the work that has inspired it and in an attempt to ‘create mass appeal’ Hollywood generally sucked out what made the core idea appealing in the first place: it’s soul.

The majority have been badly written, camp affairs which serve little more purpose than to represent an almost satire of the very thing they are attempting to portray. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that Marvel and DC comics have been going for a long, long time but despite this fact Hollywood has all but ignored this almost limitless pool of complex narrative in favour of pushing a paper thin script that their marketing department has promised the kids will love, that is of course until now…

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Robert Downey Jr shining in his role as the eccentric billionaire genius Tony Stark AKA Iron Man and Mark Ruffalo giving a well realised version of the master of anger management Dr Bruce Banner AKA The Incredible Hulk

Marvel’s Avengers has set a new benchmark for Hollywood to aim for. Simply put it is the best superhero movie I have ever seen.

Under the masterful eye of Joss Whedon (who should not need an introduction!) the Avengers effortlessly ticks all the right boxes as regards to what a comic book movie should be. He has managed to find a way to bring together all of the elements which make each character stand out and harness them into a unifying force with surprisingly funny results.

This way of thinking applies to both the characters and the Actors who play them, despite the all-star cast not one specific actor steals the spot light. Instead each plays a role both true to their original source material and relevant to the overall atmosphere of the film in general.

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“Are those the box office figures!?”
“We’re gonna need a bigger Bank”

What makes the mood of the film flow so well is the overwhelming sense of teamwork (duh) in particular the dialogue between the characters themselves which is snappy, well written and extremely funny. I did not expect for one minute to sit down in the cinema with my daft 3D glasses on and laugh out loud. But when I did and on more than one occasion I was more than pleasantly surprised.

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Not exactly the best dinner-guest. 

Another pleasant surprise for me was the transformation of Loki played by Tom Hiddleston into a legitimate main villain, something I don’t feel was achieved in the Thor movie itself. With Whedon’s input he’s become a darker more immediate threat as opposed to the flighty aforementioned attempt, whilst I was watching Thor I was aware at all times that at the first possible opportunity Thor could and would smash his face in.

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Stop! Hammertime.

In conclusion The Avengers was 142 minutes of pure, well made comic book fiction. It neatly tied up all the threads that brought the team together in a gift wrap bow and placed it in front of you in a way that was concise and well structured and because of this I see the entire cast and Mr Whedon himself in a whole new light, I take my hat off to a man who can juggle that many complex characters in a way that makes sense and avoids convolution… Joss Whedon you’ve restored my hope in the comic book genre and I look forward to the sequel!

-Lowth

P.S.

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Does he look like a bitch?