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Driveclub (PS4)
Driveclub (PS4)
Offered by Piranha Technology
Price: £15.75

4.0 out of 5 stars Formula New, 27 Jun. 2016
This review is from: Driveclub (PS4) (Video Game)
Driveclub is a very brave game indeed.

Taking on a genre that’s been lying - to a degree - dormant for a little while was going to be hard enough; but to tackle it in entirely their (Evolution Studios) own way is something almost unheard of now.

What do I mean by their own way? Well, Driveclub is not a Gran Turismo clone. Nor a Forza rival. It’s not as expansive as GRID; as technical as Need for Speed or as arcade-y as Burnout (at the risk of rubbishing my earlier ‘dormant’ status; lest we forget that most of those franchises are somewhere between 10 and 25 years old).

What it is is something in-between these pillars of the genre: its identity lying in an online ‘club’ system and a back-to-basics gameplay mechanic.

While I can’t comment on the online portion (don’t do online gaming), the single-player campaign is some of the best fun I’ve had with a driving game for a long time, involving a plethora of mini - usually 3 lap - challenges. Players can choose their driver and car(s) (unlocked through progress), and work through the ‘Tour’ campaign - involving races, hot laps, drifting etc. It is essentially a driving-game toy-box.

While this may not sound as enticing as a full-on championship season or a no-holds-barred destruction derby; Driveclub’s strength lies simply in its gameplay. The balancing is excellent and the controls are almost perfect. The car classes feel noticeably different and the sense of speed is enormous. Piloting a controller-led vehicle hasn’t been this engaging - and fun(!) - in years.

This raw mechanic embedded in Driveclub is bolstered by some great positives...

Fantastic Graphics
Quite a marvel. So fresh that you’d be forgiven for not reading that much into them as they look so ... right.

Superb Sound
Probably the best I’ve heard in the genre so-far. Surround effects are excellent and the balance good.

Track Design
Absolutely superb. Huge variety, including fast and slow; point-to-point; street circuit and dedicated - fictional - race tracks, with different layouts and mirrored configurations available. Crucially, there is a huge amount of gradient: the secret ingredient of any great track. Be aware though, that the campaign doesn’t use all of the available tracks - in fact some of the best in the game are left out completely. Well worth trying them in Single Race mode.

It’s inevitable though, that flaws are present. Including...

AI
If you subscribe to the theory that a racing game is only as good as the quality of the opposition, then you will be disappointed with Driveclub. Other than holding the racing line, I’d go as far as to say that there is no racing AI at all. The oppositions’ braking for corners takes place almost on-apex thus making out-braking defunct. It’s almost impossible to complete an event without contact. Granted, it is called Driveclub and not Raceclub; but then why have the other cars at all? I can’t complain too much, though; some other driving simulators have been getting away with the worst AI ever for about twenty years(!).

Race Options
Not to be confused with Event Options, the racing is essentially a 3-lap win-at-all-costs sprint. It’s a shame, because some of the races in the latter part of the campaign - around the Super Car class - are fantastically taught and on-the-edge, where every apex counts. This dynamic would’ve been fantastic as a ’60-lapper’.

All things considered, it’s hard to appreciate Driveclub until you’ve actually tried it. The key is that it’s not trying to be the best: Rather than be the racer or simulator that fails to hit the mark; Driveclub is the stripped-back driving Mecanno set that absolutely nails it. It’s great fun to play.

Outside the racing itself, the title has benefited from a continuous update catalogue. The game is an ever-evolving entity: the latest update - at time of writing - being Driveclub Bikes, which is self-explanatory (this is not free though, whereas other updates are).

And so, if a back-to-basics driving game that excludes set-up options and driving assists and just relies on raw car-driving fun is what you’re after, Driveclub is a refreshing surprise, and a great template for further expansion.

8/10.


X Files: Season 7 [DVD]
X Files: Season 7 [DVD]
Dvd ~ David Duchovny
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £9.49

4.0 out of 5 stars I’m fine. ...I’m free., 13 Jun. 2016
This review is from: X Files: Season 7 [DVD] (DVD)
In Season 7, The X Files finally returns to its purest form, with some excellent stand-alone episodes and a fantastic core - often referred to as the ‘mythology’ - episode.

The hangover from the in-flux Season 6 could’ve been a serious obstacle for the new series, but it’s actually the freshest outing in years. In essence it feels more like Season 1 than any other; with streamlined stories and a much bigger character focus felt throughout. The absence of a new mythology arc denies Season 7 reaching the same heights as 1-5 however, as the new storyline inaugurated in episodes 1-2 is not mentioned thereafter.

Stand-out episodes include ‘Millennium’; a cross-over with Chris Carter’s other show of the same name, ‘Orison’; which is a landmark episode for Scully, the William B. Davis (Cigarette Smoking Man)-written ‘En Ami’; which is a taught and brilliant one-off and of course the Season finale: Requiem; which offers both an almost perfect end to The X Files and a cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers.

For me though the reasons Season 7 shines are the clever, creative episodes such as ‘X-Cops’ and ‘First Person Shooter’. Other episodes written by Duchovny and Anderson are also a welcome inclusion.

Unfortunately there are still some weak episodes - particularly towards the end of the Season. And ‘Fight Club’ is maybe, just maybe, the worst episode of The X Files ever. Certainly to this point anyway. Furthermore, the ever-so-slightly disappointing truth is that if some episodes from the ‘greatest hits’ Season 6 and this Season 7 were cut completely and the remains of the two re-forged into one complete whole: a Season 6.7 if you will, it would’ve been a Season to stand alongside Seasons 1-5. The 7th outing is comfortably better than the slightly rudderless 6th, though.

Fortunately, the last word only goes to one entry: that aforementioned ‘core’ episode. If you’ve watched this far you know that The X Files, in spirit, began with the abduction of Mulder’s sister, Samantha. The double episode of ‘Sein Und Zeit’/’Closure’ finally brings a wonderful, poignant and absolute close to Mulder’s life-long plague, and is a truly beautiful episode.

Season 7 is an epilogue to the story witnessed in Seasons 1-5 (and to a much smaller - but critical - degree, Season 6), and while the show we know and love is undoubtedly over, this series remains surprisingly watch-able, with some new ideas and a fantastic last hurrah. It’s been a hell of a ride and, it seems after over 150 episodes, we finally have an end.

We’re fine. ...We’re free.


Life is Strange Limited Edition (PS4)
Life is Strange Limited Edition (PS4)
Offered by GamersCorner
Price: £23.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Get Ready for Some Serious Withdrawal Symptoms, 10 Jun. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Players, this game is important. Original, refreshing, relevant and long-lasting, Life Is Strange is one of those rare gems in games nowadays: one that exists to tell a story. Or perhaps, to let you, the player, tell a story.

I should probably apologise for such a lengthy, gushing review, but sometimes a title has that magic; that invisible substance that manages to fuse with your being and never let go, a kind of feeling that...

But first things first, Life Is Strange is the second game from Paris-based developer Dontnod Entertainment. You play the part of Maxine Caulfield - a photography student at the prestigious Blackwell Academy in Arcadia Bay, Oregon, USA - whose life becomes paradoxically unstable when she realises she can rewind time. Before she can even fathom why this ‘gift’ has been bestowed upon her she is called to use it when an old friend is murdered in front of her eyes. And so we begin...

In the crudest possible way, you could say Life Is Strange is a Narrative Choice game, for want of a better term, popularised in recent times by Heavy Rain; Beyond: Two Souls and the brilliant Until Dawn amongst others. As you progress through the story your decisions shape the past, present and future. As the game itself says; choose wisely.

But this is only half the story: While the ‘choice’ element of the game does indeed echo the aforementioned titles, what Life Is Strange really is is an adventure: a world that you live in; not conquer. The controls are contextual, but as per, for example, the Broken Sword series, you have one button for ‘look’ (at an object or person etc.); and one button for ‘interact’ (use/talk etc.). In-game conversations also consist of multiple choice answers - similar to the days of The Secret of Monkey Island et al. - so while the emphasis is absolutely on choice; this is not another Heavy Rain. There are no QTEs here. Think story; not action. As such it puts me in mind of classic ‘point ‘n’ click’ games or the more recent open-world rough diamond that is Deadly Premonition.

So, a story-led adventure in a butterfly-effect dressing. But the aspect that endears you to Life is Strange is ... a kind of feeling that you get from the world - Arcadia Bay itself - that you call home for 10+ hours or so. The foundation that lies underneath this wonderful, horrific little town, is unabashed in-game nods from the developers that include references to The X Files, Twin Peaks, The Twilight Zone, Scream and many more, which gives you an idea of the feel of Life Is Strange and, above all else, that is the one word you’d need to remember to appreciate this game: feel.

The strange thing however, is that I wasn’t even sure if I liked the game on my first session with it. It ... felt, wrong. The opening 1 or 2 hours of the game are very pedestrian whereby nothing much is really happening other than opening a few doors and learning the controls. Furthermore, the colloquial language and idiosyncrasies of the lead characters - particularly Chloe ‘You got hella cash!’ Price - are so jarring (apologies, I’m not 18 any more), that at first I thought the developers were actually taking the Michael. But, the pace, firstly, is something you imprint on as it lets you live in - not play through - Life Is Strange and, dare I say it, a tempo you end up craving as the intense and dramatic proceedings unfold over the next few chapters. And it turns out the language system is actually very extensively researched and intricately implemented to reflect the desired mood and personality of Arcadia Bay. This devolved speech actually ends up being endearing traits of the characters that you come to love them for - and wouldn’t want them to be different.

And so back to the critical point - the feel(ings). There are characters herein that you could actually love - and not in a lustful way either. Life Is Strange has that magic that doesn’t let you go. Before you’ve even registered that you like the game, you’re already emotionally attached.

In addition to this mysterious pull, it’s also got a pretty triumphant secret weapon too - the secret ingredient to any good game: the soundtrack. Brilliantly compiled and structured by Dontnod, it is arguably the best example in gaming to date in how to set a desired mood. Also, the musicality of some of the tracks and set-pieces are absolutely unforgettable (if you’re a gamer that has had their music collection swell over the years through the purchase of artists that you’ve learnt of through a video game soundtrack, be prepared to buy at least 3 albums after playing this game).

All of which, then, propels a tangible story to places that you didn’t think it would go, and overall is something truly new in gaming. And it’s not a one-layer tale either. There are at least 6 prominent strands of story going on here that all interlope and intertwine with each other. How each strand curtails or flourishes depends on your actions. However this is a double (multiple)-edged sword: I have to admit I preferred one of the other strands of the story to the main one of Max and Chloe, and I would have liked to have had the option of exploring that as well as the main plot. While this magnetism, this feel that Life Is Strange exudes is something to behold, it is far from perfect, and this is perhaps the best way that I can qualify this review...

Life Is Strange is so new and unprecedented, that you often don’t know how to react to it. There are ‘pieces’ missing from the narrative, pacing is erratic, some of the conversations go on for way too long, certain sections are extremely slow and sometimes you want to do things in the story that are simply not included in the game. The last episode is also the weakest part of the whole adventure and lip-synching can at times be awful. If you were to look at it technically, this may ‘only’ be an 8/10 title, but Life is Strange is more than the sum of its parts. Sometimes a 6 or 7 out of 10 game can have a stronger impression or a greater connection than that of a triple-A blockbuster. In truth, the scenarios and emotional struggles and hidden layers of human interaction on display here would easily be enough to write a whole dissertation on - (for which the offcuts of this review could easily have constituted), and ultimately you are left again with that one key word: feel.

If you like games that fill the odd 20 minutes, or ones that you can use to ‘de-brain’ after a long day, this might not be your best choice, indeed some people will not like it at all because of its slow pace. But if you are a gamer that feeds off a good story this is unmissable.

As an aside, Life Is Strange was originally released as 5 no. episodes on the Playstation Network throughout 2015. This Limited Edition is the subsequent and only physical release of the game. All 5 episodes are here in their entirety, and you also get a nice little art book (don’t look at it till you’ve finished the game - spoilers(ish)), and a frankly superb soundtrack CD with case (yes, an actual proper CD!). As I’ve already mentioned, this soundtrack is a bit of a gaming-music landmark, and features licensed tracks by Jose Gonzalez; Mogwai etc., but also comes with an 8 track score composed by Jonathan Morali; lead singer of the full band Syd Matters, who also have two tracks on the soundtrack itself, written especially for this game. It’s a well-balanced folk/indie/ambient ride with a few other tracks that you’ll spot from the game too.

And if all this wasn’t enough, it sounds as if a sequel is already in the works - although unconfirmed by Dontnod at time of writing. You will however, for the avoidance of spoilers, have to find details about this potential title out for yourself!

It only remains for me to give credit to Dontnod Entertainment (and publisher Square Enix), who have not only had the mettle to make what they want to make against the grain, but also make one of the biggest sleeper hits ever (check out the creative diversity of Dontnod’s first three games - pretty impressive).

To conclude, there are some ‘lifer’ gamers out there (affectionate term), who may remember certain things from the last 25 years or so. I know who we are - you may well have jumped off your chair when you first saw Kraid; your first true love may well have been Tifa Lockheart or Aeris Gainsborough; you tell yourself you didn’t cry for a True Patriot and you believe that Rapture still lies somewhere under the Atlantic Ocean. If you know that games are for your heart and not your dexterity or eyes, please play this game. Don’t put it on the ‘To Buy’ pile or leave it on the shelf for a couple of years; play it now. It’s that important.

This is why I play games.

(The best) 8/10 (game ever).


The X Files: Season 6 [DVD] [1994]
The X Files: Season 6 [DVD] [1994]
Dvd ~ David Duchovny
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars ’...it means the future is here, and all bets are off’., 23 Feb. 2016
It’s hard to know where to start with The X Files Season 6. What do you do with a show - and a story line - that has already finished?

For want of a basis point: I’ve used this analogy before in a review so apologies for repetition, but it seems to work: If you are a recording artist and you’ve released a few albums, you invariably reach a point where your impetus has been exhausted - your creative spur realised - your story told. Typically, this results in a reviewing of all your material so far, finding the bits that worked well; squeezing those last flickers of inspiration out to form one or two (essential) final tracks before releasing the chapter closing ... Greatest Hits album.

The X Files Season 6 is, in spirit, the show’s Greatest Hits - with the two-parter ‘Two Fathers’/’One Son’ episode being the unmissable extra tracks. It’s understandable then that some people claim this to be the best season. While it does truly have some of the best episodes ever, and no X Files viewer can call themself a fan without having seen the aforementioned two-parter, it also has some bad episodes and, like a Greatest Hits album - while feeling instantly satisfying - also feels a bit ... soul(story)less.

With Mulder and Scully off the X Files and reassigned to more stifling duties, the opening chapters of the Season feel like they’re treading water - that is bar a couple of select episodes: After a brilliant nod to The Simpsons in the opening episode, ‘Drive’, I have to say, is one of my favourite episodes ever. Episode 3 - ‘Triangle’ - doesn’t seem to be remastered, but it’s a brilliant pseudo-real-time one-take episode. It’s not until the brilliant ‘S.R. 819’ (episode 9) however, that the Season comes alive proper, and we’re once again thrown into the depths of the conspiracy, culminating with the spectacular and absolute ‘Two Fathers’/’One Son’ - the true conclusion to everything the show has stood for thus far (the final extra tracks on that Greatest Hits, if you will). It’s truly one of the most shocking episodes of The X Files to date. From here the show ebbs and flows: ‘Tithonus’ is a simple and fantastic episode akin to the type first seen in Season 1. ‘Field Trip’ is a great episode too and the last episode is quite surprising and unexpected. ‘The Rain King’; ‘Agua Mala’; ‘The Unnatural’ (a significant episode in terms of back-story), and ‘Three of a Kind’ however, are really poor offerings, with the latter actually feeling quite crass.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that at times the crew have actually got bored with their own story, and on occasion are actually just fooling around - cleverly disguised as an attempt to weave comedy into a serious subject matter. Furthermore, the sum of everything that’s happened to the agents so far is more than enough for them to be deeply entrenched in chasing some final unknowns; and yet there are several episodes here where Mulder and Scully appear to be completely carefree and unaffected by what has happened to them. I must admit I would have liked to have seen some more effects from the ripples in the water.

It’s no surprise that these minor differences are enough to feel like a seismic change, such has been the show's quality and integrity to date.

Perhaps the underlying reason for all of this is the permanent change in production crews from Vancouver to Los Angeles, which has resulted in a very different look and feel for the show. Everything is decidedly much more light-hearted; the intensity of the show’s mythology now almost finished, and a significant increase in the comedic episodes fills the gaps. The changes are not limited to the on-screen action itself either: for the first time the title sequence is shortened, before returning to its original configuration later in the Season. Strange. The title music is subtlely tweaked again, as with all the previous entries, to a slightly softer - for want of a better term - feel, with some of the notes’ inflections muted somehow. Whether this is deliberate to reflect the show’s end/rebirth I’m not sure, but it doesn’t sound quite as good.

Through it all, however, despite the flaws, the quality does shine through, with some of the show’s best ever episodes included. In this Season, the crew have taken a few different approaches - with hugely mixed results - but, fortunately, by the end of the Season, The X Files is ready to head off in a new direction, with a new story thread that opens a completely new mystery. While the show is essentially in a state of flux; it still manages to be spectacular; clever; silly, creative; unfocused; unbalanced and ultimately, warm - amongst many other things - all at the same time. Thankfully, despite its weakest season thus far, The X Files is still chasing the truth.


Dystopia
Dystopia
Price: £5.99

33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Damn Good Thrashing, 27 Jan. 2016
This review is from: Dystopia (Audio CD)
I had come home after a long day. I had bought some stuff from the shop and had some washing up etc. to do.

I put the newly-bought Dystopia in the stereo intending to have it on the background while I worked through the stuff.

Half an hour later my phone receiving a text message jolted me into realising I was still on planet earth, such was the extent that this album had wrapped me up.

After realising that I had sore knees from too much air drumming (and that I still hadn’t sorted the housework), I suddenly realised how fantastic this album is.

Dystopia is the freshest I’ve heard Megadeth sound in over a decade. The solos are relentless, the pace is varied but breathless, it’s heavy as sin and the drumming is like receiving volts into your spine.

Also, everything sounds so clean (by clean, I don’t mean overproduced); the mastering is perfect and it feels so crisp.

It’s taken me completely by surprise and the new line-up is great. The album is 46 minutes long so doesn’t overstay its welcome, and just when you think it’s about to wind ‘down’ after an excellent instrumental; ‘Lying in State’ is enough to make you want to bash through your own walls. You could argue that one or two of the riffs sound familiar - particularly on track six - but this is no bad thing, especially when they sound this good. The album’s artwork is great too.

If you could take the energy and spirit of Thrash from the mid-eighties/very early nineties and plonk it straight in the modern day - without any of the (d)evolution of the last 30 years - it would sound like this. After 18 months of a really strong metal renaissance, Megadeth actually sound new.

If you like Megadeth/Metal/Music, buy Dystopia. It’s a really good album.

...Still haven’t done the washing up.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 27, 2016 2:01 PM BST


Alternative Light Source
Alternative Light Source
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars See the Light, 25 Jan. 2016
Leftfield’s third album was met with mixed reviews when it was released in the middle of 2015.

I abstained from reviewing it until now so I could listen to it as much as possible, and of two things I am decided:

1) Alternative Light Source is not as good as either Leftism or Rhythm and Stealth (their previous two albums).
2) Alternative Light Source is a great album.

I think a lot of the reaction to this record is stemmed in comparison to their previous efforts. While it isn’t as oxygenated as Leftism or as gritty as Rhythm and Stealth; it is a dark, piercing yet smooth, thumping yet ambient flow of emotion that still holds weight in its arena, and still shines head and shoulders (sorry) above a lot of other artists out there in this field.

As always Leftfield’s (read: Neil’s; who’s now working alone), sound is very diverse and original, and is still attempting new things. The record isn’t one wholly for the dance floor; perhaps more for the mind and contemplation, and yet there are still a myriad of sounds, styles and viewpoints going on in Alternative Light Source.

There is perhaps only one track I didn’t like, and on the whole the album is essentially classic Leftfield. You could argue that today’s Leftfield is operating on an 8/10 average rather than a 10/10 average, if you see my point; but that’s still a good record. In truth, it was always going to be impossible to approach the seminal Leftism anyway.

I understand why people might have been disappointed with this effort, but it’s still a good album, and it’s still genuine and not a cash-in.

It’s not the best, but it’s still worth buying, for sure.


The Faceless Ones (Skulduggery Pleasant - book 3)
The Faceless Ones (Skulduggery Pleasant - book 3)
by Derek Landy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.79

5.0 out of 5 stars Back on Form, 19 Jan. 2016
Skulduggery and his sidekick Valkyrie have got their work cut out this time. The baddies are trying to open up a portal to bring the über baddies into the real world and wallop everything to pieces. Naturally Skulduggery and Valkyrie and co. are the only people on the planet anywhere near capable of putting a stop to it all, and so ensues an enormous battle and lots of tension and double-crossingness.

As with the previous books, this latest adventure is great fun and, refreshingly, the nucleus of the goodies is now represented by a large group of characters - Tanith, Ghastly, Fletcher etc. - rather than just the two leads. The mysterious China also finally comes to somewhere near prominence - arguably the best character of the story so-far.

There is lots of intrigue and a constant threat, and the story is bulleted with some fantastic set-pieces: most notably one on the Liffey Bridge. The first seeds of the back-story are also planted in readiness for further tales (what is this mysterious link between China and Skulduggery?!?).

The Faceless Ones is definitely better than Playing with Fire (book 2), and wraps up the first trilogy in the Pleasant story nicely. Full of twists and turns and some clever plot devices (Skulduggery’s head(s)?), and a fantastic read throughout. I also think that this book would make a fantastic film.

There is however one word of warning which has to be brought to light: While the series so-far has always been filled with great battles and lots of evil goings-on, there are one or two points in this book that are quite nasty; borderline extremely violent. The adventure in general is great fun, but for a target audience of 9-12 year olds, you may want to be careful with a couple of scenes (not least the last battle).

That said, the Skulduggery series is back to its best, and I’m looking forward to book 4 - Dark Days.


Lost - Season 4 [DVD]
Lost - Season 4 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Evangeline Lilly
Offered by Leisurezone
Price: £5.72

3.0 out of 5 stars The Plot Has Been Lost, 19 Jan. 2016
This review is from: Lost - Season 4 [DVD] (DVD)
As with Season 3, the fourth Season of Lost gives an overall impression of clutching straws on how to keep momentum going and viewers interested.

While it’s not a bad season as such; you’re left with the feeling that the show has forgotten why it existed in the first place.

The familiar pattern of island/flashback cuts is replaced with something that’s supposed to be completely different, but ultimately amounts to something a bit crass and maybe even desperate. The new structure does tie-up nicely in the last 3-parter episode; but by then it feels as if the horse has bolted.

So while the hangover of the first three seasons is enough to see you through to the end, you realise that Lost has actually been stalled over a still-not-apparent plot point for the last two seasons without actually going anywhere.

But it’s not all bad: a half-decent batch of new characters adds some spice - although they are arguably not used enough - and the finality of a long-coming divide in the main group finally gives the story some credibility. There are some good set-pieces too, and the pace is enough to keep you attentive.

Alas, the regrettable state-of-mind at the end of the Season however is, ‘well I’ve come this far so I might as well finish it’. It’s by no means the worst show in the world, but after the attention the show received during its initial run, discovering that it is distinctly average is a bit of a disappointment.

Once more, unto the breach...


The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer
The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer
by Jennifer Lynch
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abandon Hope..., 6 Jan. 2016
This book acts as a prequel to the television series Twin Peaks, and records the development - first hand - of Laura Palmer before she is found murdered at the very beginning of the show.

It is, for this reader at least, quite an achievement. the Diary starts with Laura at twelve years old, before concluding shortly before her death. While the content and progression will be expected for fans of the show, it is the delivery and structure that arrested my attention. As the sweet and innocent(?) Laura disintegrates into an abused, tortured and damned soul, the narrative inevitably changes tone and character, and the way this is handled and paced by then-22-year-old writer Jennifer Lynch (daughter of Twin Peaks co-creator David Lynch), is superb.

The Diary is short at only 192 pages, but it packs a big punch. While the events are enough to fill any horror film, they never become gratuitous in terms of the narrative, yet still leave your head spiralling into unknown depths of terrifying despair. There are subtle lines and hints scattered throughout that also tie-in to the show itself and, by the end, leave very big signs as to who might be behind Laura’s torture.

If you’re new to Twin Peaks or this book, I’d recommend watching the show before reading this, but it does indeed stand on its own as a chilling, uncompromising and horrific account of a young girl scraped from her place amongst decent people. To call it a horror is bit of an injustice, but herein lies depraved sexual accounts; drugs; abuse; mental torture and a malevolent undercurrent of something else entirely. Be sure this is for you before you buy it.

Above all The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer by Jennifer Lynch is a well-conceived, meticulously managed and chillingly executed tale of a good girl gone bad, and is an original, horrific and brilliant read.

Thoroughly recommended.


Dishonored (PS3)
Dishonored (PS3)
Offered by Excess Gaming
Price: £8.95

4.0 out of 5 stars The Starter Before the Main?, 6 Jan. 2016
This review is from: Dishonored (PS3) (Video Game)
Really enjoyed this game.

Dishonored sees you take the role of Corvo Attano; loyal protector of the Empress of Dunwall who, after returning to the city from a long reconnaissance mission on the Empress’s behalf, is framed for her murder.

The story propels you - Corvo - along a mission of revenge to overturn the people that framed you, where your choices as a player determine the overall outcome of the game. At its core, the pivotal mechanic is whether you choose to exact revenge on people by killing them; or simply by neutralising their stronghold on the city. The more violent you are, the higher the ‘Chaos’ rating underpinning your story; the more forgiving you are, the lower the rating. Different chaos ratings result in different endings to the story - and, crucially - different in-level scenarios for you to overcome.

In terms of gameplay mechanics, Dishonored could easily be a long-lost cousin of Bioshock, but just as Rapture was to the afore, the true star of the show here is the city of Dunwall itself - and even the country of Gristol and ‘The Isles’ archipelago it governs. The city - mercifully NOT open-world - is drowning in atmosphere and history. Although the game levels act as their own encased environment, the city is always hanging over you, enticingly out of reach. Knowing that your actions in the game are only a mere snippet of this new world is an intoxicating pull throughout the adventure. You always want to see more.

Although your actions definitely change proceedings to the story, there are numerous ... lets call them story trails ... that are left open at certain chapter conclusions. I think the ripples from these decisions could’ve been re-woven into the story later in the game, rather than left as a closed decision. Perhaps the confirmed sequel will use some of these possibilities to populate the new story. But credit to the staff for genuinely making these decisions hold weight.

Dishonored could easily have been a glimpse of a new undiscovered world that stood on its own, but as a franchise, there is so much ground to explore and history to discover that the series becomes a whole new world. It’s this opportunity to journey through something new that I admired most about this mysterious dystopia and its otherworldly ‘Outsider’.

If you like stealth games, or games that let you decide whether you want to go in quietly or all-guns-blazing, Dishonored is one of the best examples on the market.

Can’t wait for the sequel. So much potential lies therein (they might even spell it right!)

8/10.


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