Doctor Who S10e2: Smile

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The Doctor and Bill travel to their first destination together a far future off world Earth colony. Where they encounter robots which communicate to people via emoji symbols. On further investigation they find the colony devoid of any human life. The new travelling companions have to solve the mystery of the colony while at the same time smiling as if their lives depended on it.

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When a second episode of a television season airs it sometimes is not as strong as the season opener. I am pleased to say Smile is an exception to this statement. This episode is another strong performer. This episode is based on a strong premise which allows for a good depth for a second episode. Again like last weeks episode this one continues the vein of getting the series back to it’s core basics and not over complicating things which is a trap Doctor Who can fall into from time to time.

This episode marks the second time Frank Cottrell-Boyce has written for the series (the last time being In The Forest of The Night) this episode was clearly the better of the two entries.

Both Peter Capaldi and Pearl Mackie give strong performances in this episode (Matt Lucas only briefly features at the start of it) as we continue to see the relationship between The Doctor and Bill grow as they continue to face new situations.

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My only real issue with this episode is the use of emoji’s in it. I understand the show would need to stay relevant to the modern times however I don’t feel that emoji is my preferred method of this. There are other things in modern society that the series could use to relate to younger audiences. However perhaps I am simply getting too old and miss the point of some of these things.

All in all another strong episode the series is going very well so far. We shall see if it carries on for a while yet

Episode Rating 4/5

Season Rating 8/10

Doctor Who S10e1: The Pilot

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With the exception of the Christmas special last year Doctor Who has been absent from our screens for a whole year. The wait is now over as Season 10 of the revived series has hit our screens.

The Pilot continues the partnership from the Christmas Special with The 12 Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Nardole (Matt Lucas) now posing as a university professor and his assistant. A worker from the university canteen Bill Pots (Pearl Mackie) is called to The Doctor’s office when it is noticed she is attending all his lectures.

Meanwhile Bill meets a student named Heather (Stephanie Hyam) who she starts to become interested in. She however has a mystery around her and The Doctor, Nardole & Bill must solve it. After which The Doctor agrees to have Bill travel with him.

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The Pilot is a strong start to the new season. It introduces Bill in a nice and slightly different way to how companions have been introduced in the past. I suspect Stephen Moffat enjoys exploring the different ways to bring a new companion into the fold.

Pearl Mackie has a strong introduction to the show with an excellent performance. I think she will make a great addition to the cast for this season.

As we have come to expect there are many easter eggs in this episode perhaps there were a few more than usual. If you did not catch them all perhaps a second watch will show you more of them

The Pilot brings Doctor Who back onto our screens in a nice way which allows new viewers a chance to enter the universe in a nice an easy manner. It gives us a strong start to the season it remains to be seen how long that can be maintained in what we already know to be the last season with Peter Capaldi as The Doctor.

Episode Rating: 4/5

Season Rating 4/5

 

Pokémon GO: The Review

When I first installed and started to use Pokémon Go back in July I informed my wife I was playing it as a road test so I could write a review about it. She did not believe me however here we are doing a review on Pokémon Go…. guess I was right (although the review has taken sometime to do).

After installing the game I found there was very little tuition on how to play the various aspects of it. Sure catching Pokémon was straight forward enough however some of the most subtler details about the game were not so obvious (well to me at least). I had to be shown the techniques on battling gyms & it took me a little bit of time how to work Pokestops properly.

Sure these sound like minor things that should be picked up easily but bearing in mind my gaming background comes from the 1990’s where when you bought yourself a game you also got a nice sizeable book of instruction to read through.. guess I’m just old school and the younger gamers today are quicker a picking things up on their own without the need for massive tomes of information.

Once I got going however I found the game to be reasonably enjoyable with a good number of my friends playing it added to the experience. When one gets to level 5 one is asked to join a team with the choices of Team Valor, Team Mystic & Team Instinct. After asking some friends I joined Team Valor.

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I have read comments that persons who are older should not be playing the game and it is for younger people. I would disagree with that, given a lot of the older people grew up with Pokémon as kids they have as much right to enjoy the game as their children. Which brings me to another good point. I have seen parents playing the game with their children, so it gets families outside together getting exercise and spending time together so I would say that’s a win.

In terns of the graphics they don’t set the world alight with huge quantities of win but they are reasonably good. There have been several good updates to the game including the buddy system. However not every change that has come into the game has been received well by the players.

Which brings me to the crunch of this review. While Pokémon Go has a very good initial appeal factor when you first start to play it. It can feel like a grind at times. After about 2 months of reasonably solid play my interest started to fade and I have not really touched the game since the middle of October.

I am not sure if I will get back into it again to the same level I did before or perhaps at a lesser level but at least I was true to what I said to my wife all those months ago… and finally did the review of Pokémon Go.

 

Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio

In 1992 The Doctor encounters an 8 year old boy named Grant (Logan Hoffman) while installing a device on a roof to help repair damaged that was caused when he last visited New York City. During this encounter The Doctor gives Grant a wish granting gemstone to hold which is used to power the device. Grant mistaking the stone as a cure to his cold swallows the stone. The stone gives Grant his wish of having super hero powers.

Returning to New York 24 years later The Doctor investigates the research company Harmony Shoals while doing so he encounters Lucy Fletcher (Charity Wakefield) who is an investigative journalist also looking into the company. Grant ( Justin Chatwin) is now serving as Lucy’s nanny and helping to look after her baby girl while leading a double life as the super hero known as The Ghost.

Together they all try to unravel the mystery of Harmony Shoals and what they are truly doing

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Doctor Who Christmas specials I tend to find can be a bit of a hit and miss thing. For example last year’s entry The Husbands of River Song I thought was a great special (review for that can be found here https://downundergeek.wordpress.com/2015/12/28/doctor-who-the-husbands-of-river-song/) While on other occasions they can be not as strong. This entry to the list of Christmas specials fall about in the middle of the road.

The acting on the whole was reasonably solid throughout the episode with Justin Chatwin, Charity Wakefield putting in good supporting roles. Peter Capaldi had some great moments and some good comedy to the episode. The main setback for the cast was Nardole (Matt Lucas), while his performance was good I felt the character did not fit in with the story that well and did not really contribute much to it.

The main down point for me is it felt very similar to other things Moffat had done before and was not really breaking into any new territory . While it was not a bad episode it does show the tiredness of his time as show runner. Hopefully the coming change for series 11 will bring a breath of fresh air into the show.

Having said that though I did enjoy how this special tied nicely into the previous one referencing the 24 years spent with River Song which was a nice way to tie up that story and also the fact we have not had any Doctor Who in 2016.

While not the strongest Christmas special it is not the worst. I would say it sits somewhere in the middle.

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Rogue One: A General Overview

Please note: I have attempted to keep this post spoiler free.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first in the series of anthology movies which are being released on alternating years from the main saga movies. The purpose of the anthology movies is to add more depth to the Star Wars universe and tell stories which compliment the saga chapters of the franchise.

The prologue to Rogue One takes place 13 years prior to the main film, with the main events of the story taking place directly before Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope (released in 1977).

Let me continue by stating that from the standpoint of the Star Wars universe there was no actual need to make Rogue One in my view. Episode IV began with that now very famous scene with the Star Destroyer chasing the Corellian Corvette as Vader chases the Rebels for the plans to the Death Star was an excellent opening to the movie and needed no further explanation as we knew what we needed to know and were happy with that at the time.

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Having said that though I am glad they made Rogue One and here is why.

To begin with it has the look of a Star Wars movie however it does not have the complete feel of a saga movie and that is a good thing. For this reason the viewer is very much aware they are watching a movie set in the Star Wars universe but is a stand alone movie and not one of the saga entries.

Rogue One to me almost feels like a war movie in which the protagonists go on a mission to achieve something and have to faced insurmountable odds to complete their objective.

It has a good strong cast of characters led by Felicity Jones in the starting role of Jyn Erso. Other notable cast members include Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Ben Mendelsohn, Alan Tudyk & Forrest Whitaker. However it is the performance by Jones that really carries this movie. Over the course of the film we see Jyn Erso go through many stages of development as the film rolls on.

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Effects wise Rogue One sets the standard very high with many ground breaking special effects used in the film to great effect. They did not in anyway overpower the movie which can sometimes be the case with big Hollywood movies. The effects in this entry compliment and add to the movie greatly.

The plot and storyline I felt moved along at a nice steady pace with the action scenes getting bigger the deeper into the movie you went.

Overall Rogue One is a solid entry into the Star Wars universe and after watching it one could not help but feel a desire to go home and put Episode IV into your player of choice and watch it. With that in mind Rogue One achieved it’s mission that it set out to achieve in acting as a direct prequel to Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.

My top 10 PC games Pt2

Last week we started to take a look at my top 10 PC Games of all time. To have a look over number 6-10 please have a look at this post https://downundergeek.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/my-top-10-pc-games-pt1/

Now we take a look at the top 5 which game will be number 1… the answer may surprise some people.

5: Diablo 2

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Original Release year: 2000

One of the very first RPG games I played Diablo 2 was almost the complete package with a good strong story, good multiplaying capacity and heaps of mods. This was heavily played for many years a quite a few LANS I attended.

The only draw back really was there was not a great deal of customisation for character creation or builds.

Putting that aside however Diablo 2 still stands tall in the history of PC Gaming with mand fans myself included

4: Guild Wars 2

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Original Release year :2012

The most recently released game on the list and it sits at number 4 on the list here is why.

While Guild Wars 2 is graphically a very nice game with some nice character creation  options and does have a good strong storyline which continues the lore from Guild Wars it lacks in some areas which its predecessor was strong in.

Guild Wars 2 lacks the customisable options in some areas which made Guild Wars a very special game to play. Also when it switched from Guild Wars to Guild Wars 2 to me the game lost a bit of it’s strong feeling of community.

Now don’t get me wrong I play this game almost every day and have continued some very strong friendships that were born in Guild Wars but Guild Wars 2 just lacks that special something that made Guild Wars such a great game.

If it carried some more of those qualities from the original game then Guild Wars 2 would be higher on this list.

3: Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

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Original release year: 2004

Now this is an interesting entry in the list.

Coming in at number 3 bloodlines may not be the most polished and finished game but it is one of the best. Set in White Wolf Publishing’s World of Darkness the player takes on the role of a fledgling vampire and a whole new world is opened up to them.

There is some nice character development as the story goes on but the biggest impressive factor of the game is its atmospheric nature and the music in key locations. These combinations adds to the game as a whole and makes this a very special gaming experience.

2: Guild Wars

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Original  Release year: 2005

They say the original is sometimes the best and in some regards this is true of Guild Wars.

Released in 2005 and recommended to me by a friend I started playing Guild Wars in the May of 2005 and I have not left the world since.

While character created was somewhat limited once you had a character you had a great deal of freedom with the skills you could run. This was further enhanced when build templates were introduced which allowed the player the ability to save their build and put it on NPC heroes and other characters.

Graphically reasonable for it’s time Guild Wars had a strong narrative this title is by far one of the most enduring games I have played. It would be number one except for one game title standing in it’s way.

1: The Longest Journey

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Original Release Year: 2000

This Norwegian developed point and click adventure game stands above all other titles for me as the greatest game I have ever played.

This game has it all in one package a fantastic storyline <I won’t ruin it by telling you the story as it is work finding it out yourself> a first class soundtrack composed by Bjorn Arve Lagim & Tor Linlokken and wonder and very memorable characters.

The protagonist is April Ryan voiced by the talented Sarah Hamilton. Hamilton brings a great range to her character and brings April to life in a very special way. April Ryan has been praised as one the most memorable female character in the history of adventure games.

This is the kind of game you will start to play and want to just keep going.

For me this game captured me like no other game did before or has done since it totally encompassed me and fully immersed me into it’s very rich world world.

This game came along into my life and totally won me over. I highly doubt that I shall ever play a title in the future which will reach the heights for me as The Longest Journey has.

Supergirl: S2E2 The Last Children of Krypton

We continue with Kara & Clark continuing to work together in National City. Clark & Hank are still now pleased to be around each other and the cause of this is soon reviled.

At CatCo Kara is introduced to her new boss as a reporter. Ms Grant decided to go to different things and appoints James as her successor.

Meanwhile Project Cadmus has a new prototype cyborg which is enhanced by kryptonite which was stolen from the DEO. It’s up to Clark & Kara to stop him.

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As the second season continues to be established a few of the characters are moved around into new positions for the coming season.

Tyler Hoechlin one again guest stars as The Man of Steel and continues to perform quite well in the role. I did find that the interactions between Snapper Carr & Kara did not feel quite right to me perhaps this will settle down a bit as I become accustom to the new character.

Generally however this episode continues to build on the strengths of the season opener.