Monsters, monsters everywhere

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Monster Hunter 3: Ultimate  is the first Monster Hunter game I’ve played, and I enjoyed it. I heard it’s very difficult, but I thought it was pretty reasonable up until the G-rank quests.  The monsters and environments looked great, I didn’t have a problem with the underwater controls (even with a normal 3ds), and overall, it was a lot of fun.

I particularly appreciated the fact that all of the weapons felt very different to each other. I also liked the that you could watch a monster, or fight it many times, and figure out its moves and habits and get better at fighting it simply by improving your own playing skills, not be leveling up. I play a lot of rpgs with lots of level grinding, so it was nice to play something a bit different. The armour was also pretty cool. There’s a whole heap of equipment to choose from, pretty much anything you kill can be made into armour, so you can customize your equipment based on your preferences and what you’re going to be fighting. Near the end of the game though it got a bit tedious fighting the same monster (30-40 minutes each time) to try and get enough pieces to make a new set of armour. I only had 4 different sets throughout the game because it takes so long to make new stuff. You can upgrade your armour though with armour spheres (I ended up with heaps of them), so you can make a set of armour last a very long time.

Image from: dualshockers.com

The farm and fishing fleet was fun to do on the side, and I liked Moga village, it was a nice hub-town. It did get a bit annoying to have to constantly fight in Moga Woods to get enough resource points to make things on the farm and fishing fleet though. Still, better than foraging for all the stuff you need for your potions. Speaking of potions, I thought the item-creation system worked really well; it was easy to pick up and use and was an important component of the game (preparation is a huge part of this game).

Overall I enjoyed the game and it was quite different to anything else I’ve played recently. After a while fighting the same monster over and over to upgrade your equipment got a bit tedious, but this wasn’t until after I’d finished all of the main quests. Also- I hated the demo. I had no idea what was going on and why it took so long for the giant bunny to go down. So if you disliked the demo, you might still like the game.


Review: ‘The City’ by Stella Gemmell

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I found this book a little disappointing. It’s a good book, but it could so easily have been great. Stella Gemmell does some things in ‘The City’ very well, and some other things not so well. First, the good things. Stella Gemmell does a great job of giving the reader a sense of the weight of the City’s history, and the never-ending nature of the war. The underground Halls were described very well, with lots of detail, and were also pretty cool. The last half of the book moved along quickly and was pretty exciting and all the different plots drew together nicely. Some of Stella Gemmell’s best descriptions are also in this second half, such as the Serafim, and the creepy goings-on within the Keep of the Red Palace.

Now, the first half of the book… for the first half you don’t really know what’s going on or what the point of the story is. That makes the first 200 pages of the book a real chore to read. Stella Gemmell also introduces characters that appear very minor… and then you read a name 50 pages later that seems familiar, but you can’t quite remember who it is… If you get through the first half of the book you’re rewarded with the ending, but what made this so disappointing is that I feel a small scene at the beginning to hint at the plot (or at least let you know there is one) would have gone a long way towards making the first-half more interesting. Another issue I found is that there a lot battles. That in itself isn’t a problem, it’s that each battle is described in minute detail- every sword thrust and stab. By the time I got to the big battles at the end I was a little bored of reading about all that fighting. The last issue I will talk about is the characters. I was mostly indifferent to the characters. Eventually I became attached to Emly and Bartellus, but I didn’t care about Indaro at all. If they had been more interesting, the first half, as long and winding as it is, wouldn’t have bothered me so much. Emly, unfortunately, also undergoes an abrupt personality change in a short scene with one of her love interests (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you read it…). It isn’t so much what happened, but how it happened, and if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice Emly uses pretty much the same words as another character earlier in the story.

Despite the flaws with this book, the second half managed to catch my attention, the idea and history of the Serafim and City were intriguing and well explained, and the ending was exciting. If you’re one of those people who don’t mind if books take a while to get started, then I can happily recommend ‘The City’ to you, otherwise, I’m not so sure. If you do pick this up, try and stick with it until the second half- that’s where all the good stuff is.


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‘The Magekiller’ is now available for free from Sony, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Apple, as well as Amazon and Smashwords.  It will continue to be free until the 5/08/2013, after which it will probably be priced between $2 and $4.

Review: ‘The Windup Girl’ and ‘By Light Alone’

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Science-fiction is a genre I don’t read a lot of. I did when I was younger, but I find a lot of books focus too much on the technology and not enough on the characters and plot. However I’ve recently read two science-fiction novels that are making me re-think the genre: ‘The Windup Girl’ by Paolo Bacigalupi and ‘By Light Alone’ by Adam Roberts.

Image from: Hachette.com.au What I liked most about these novels is that they explore the social ramifications of new technology. In ‘The Windup Girl’ traditional energy sources (ie, oil) are all gone, and people are depending on ‘calories’ (ie, you feed people and they work for you, or animals work for you). The world is described in great depth and detail, more so, I would say, than in ‘By Light Alone’. The characters are also well-fleshed out in ‘The Windup Girl’, and you quickly become attached to them. The plot moves along quickly, and draws you to an unexpected and thrilling conclusion. This is a great book, and I’m looking forward to reading it again.

Adam Roberts, as I said, earlier, did not describe the world in ‘By Light Alone’ in quite the depth that Bacigalupi did in ‘The Windup Girl’, but considering the different focus of the plot, that’s ok. ‘By Light Alone’ focuses mostly on one family, and what happens after their daughter is kidnapped. Image from: strangehorizons.comI found the idea behind it, that humans can photosynthesize, fascinating. It’s something that has occurred to me before, ie, wouldn’t the world be wonderful if… but the world in ‘By Light Alone’, isn’t wonderful, and Adam Roberts does a great job exploring the limitations of the new technology and the ramifications of those limitations. The characters and their reactions are described in great detail (at some points I felt he went on a little long). The plot draws to a surprising conclusion, but one that I was happy with. Near the end I was getting worried and wondering how Roberts was going to draw it all together, but my fears were unfounded. I do have some issues with this book though; I think 10-year olds have much better memories than is shown in the book, and I think the young girls would be more upset by the terrible things that happen to them. The way it’s written, the children seem to accept everything quite calmly. It’s a little weird. Overall though, it was an interesting premise, and it finished well.

I enjoyed both of these books immensely, and I think I’ll start paying more attention to science-fiction. Does anyone else have an opinion on these books?

Review of ‘Wrath of the White Witch’: The problem with hype…

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…is even though “Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch” was a great game, I was a little disappointed. See, it wasn’t the most fantastic game ever created, and it wasn’t the best game I’ve ever played. But it was a really good game, and I’ll probably play it again one day.

Image from: leviathyn.comFirst, it’s a beautiful game. It’s a joy to watch, even outside of cutscenes. The monsters are cute, and it’s fun to evolve them and see what they turn into (like pokemon). Catching some of the better monsters may mean fighting them a whole bunch of times (30+…), but I play a lot of rpgs so I don’t mind a little grinding. The Wizard’s Handbook was also really cool, and it was fun to reach a new city and watch it fill up. Some of the dungeons were also pretty awesome, particularly Shadar’s castle, and I also liked how Oliver used his magic outside of battles in ways that made sense. Spells were actually useful, and there were very few, if any, of those moments when you wonder why your super-powerful wizard can’t find a way to get past some stupid obstacle. Really, the world was just fun to explore. I also enjoyed the story, and I enjoyed the ‘tacked’ on bit with the White Witch after you finish with Shadar. What I didn’t like was the end of Horace’s side quest, which tells you a bit more about the story and the White Witch. I felt that part robbed the White Witch’s story of pretty much all of its meaning and emotion.

Aside from the Horace side-quest ending, I had a few minor issues with the game. At first, the broken-heart side quests, where you find pieces of heart from other people and give them to people who are broken hearted, seemed interesting. But every time, every single time, Drippy tells you what piece of heart they’re missing, and that, coupled with a map that shows you where all the quest-relevant people are, took all of the thought and interest out of those quests. At the beginning I thought it was pretty interesting and was waiting for Drippy to stop telling me what to do “Let me do it, Drippy, I can figure it out, LET ME DO IT!”, but no, that never happened. So those quests ended up being boring and repetitive. But other than that, Drippy was awesome. He was by far my favourite character, and in general I loved the fairies and I thought their comedy routine was great.

Overall ‘Wrath of the White Witch’ is a deep, enjoyable rpg with lots to do and explore, and if you like rpgs you’ll most likely enjoy this game (and you’ll probably enjoy it even more if you don’t expect it to be the best game you’ve ever played).

Anyone else have any thoughts on ‘Wrath of the White Witch?’

(In other news: from this point forward I’ll be updating once a week on Mondays).

Thrilling thrillers

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Before I begin this review of ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn I should say I don’t generally read mysteries or thrillers. I watch so much of that stuff on TV the whole genre just feels slightly stale to me. Despite that, I did enjoy this book. For Part One, the story switches between Nick and the diary of his wife, Amy, who has disappeared. Nick is an unreliable narrator, and I love unreliable narrators.  The reader is presented with Nick’s own vision of himself, while Amy’s version of him and their relationship is quite different. Which one is real? What are they really like? Slowly, the story unravels and with growing dread you realize there’s a good chance that Nick could be the killer.

Then, Part Two. It’s difficult to discuss this without spoiling the plot, so if you haven’t read the book you shouldn’t read any further. What I’ll say is that the ending and conclusion were unexpected, but satisfying. Some of Flynn’s descriptions really jump off the page, the characters are fleshed out nicely, as are their relationships with each other. They’re all nicely flawed in their own special way, but you like them anyway, which is quite an accomplishment on Flynn’s part.


Now, I’ll try and keep the details minimal, but if you haven’t finished the book, think carefully about reading on. In Part Two the ‘killer’ is revealed. I think I preferred Part One, in Part Two we have Nick trying to extricate himself from the trouble he’s in- he’s been framed. Perhaps it would have been more satisfying if Nick had won and proved his innocence, but it was an interesting twist for the person who framed him to reveal themselves and save him – on conditions of course. As the story progressed I really felt the dread and terror that Nick felt at having to continue living with Amy. The story is very much about Nick and Amy and the seriously messed up way they work together and why they stay together. The ending surprised me, and it was good, but I do wonder how long that situation could last…

Does anyone else have any thoughts on the ending, or the book in general?

Things I’ve been playing…

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It feels like it’s been ages since a new Fire Emblem came out. I was really looking forward to Awakening, and it didn’t disappoint. The cutscenes were great, in 2D and 3D, there were tons of interesting characters to meet (Henry was my favourite by far) and they brought supports back! Awakening has tons of supports, it seems nearly every character can have one with nearly every other character! Because of this you do get a few themes popping up again (girls being afraid of bugs, walking in on people in the shower…) but many of them were quite funny, and you learn different things about the characters depending on which characters they support with.

One thing was that it was really quite easy compared to other Fire Emblem games, mainly because From: fireemblem.wikia.comyou can grind. If you’re finding a fight too difficult, instead of working on your strategy, you can just go level up until you can get through the fights without thinking too much. The fights to recruit the children are really quite tough, so if you’re strong enough to get them you’ll be able to breeze through a big section of the middle of the game and it won’t get tough again until you leave the continent of Valm.

Now, generally downloadable content annoys me. When I pay full price for a game, I don’t want to have to download all this extra stuff to enjoy it. However the DLC for Fire Emblem: Awakening is pretty good- you don’t need it to enjoy the game as it’s a complete game without it, there’s a bunch of stuff you can download for free, and finally, the stuff you pay for is generally pretty good.

All in all, it was great to have a new Fire Emblem, and because of the ability to grind and play on ‘casual’ mode, it should be quite accessible to newcomers to the series. Series vets can always play on ‘classic’ mode and on the higher difficulty settings, and should still be able to have a lot of fun. It’s not my favourite Fire Emblem game, but it’s a worthy addition to the series.

What did everyone else think?

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