Pages

September 29, 2014

Blog Journal Volume 55: The Faux-People

The Sims 4: Straight the point! While The Sims 4 is far too expensive for me at this moment in time, and doesn't seem worth the price in any case, I'll simply do the best I can and make a Content Rundown based on videos, wikis, and the like.

Please Note: I won't be able to get everything and will exclude player created aspects of the game for obvious reasons. (Far too many.)

Other Games: I've made a pact with myself (lol) to not make promises about various games I've been reviewing. I'll simply state what I'm busy with at the moment, how far I am and if I'm reviewing them. Okay?

Racing Games: I've realised that, besides Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, we've done very little racing games. I hope to change that soon with many reviews of racing games.

Assorted Games: Look, I've got far too many games to finish and way too little time to finish them. I'll see which ones I get done, but for now, let's stick with the most current games. Like The Sims 4.

September 24, 2014

Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines Content Rundown


...Good heavens, that's a long title!

Reviewed By: Kyle van Rensburg (Head Writer)

Verdict: Mature Gamers Only (For Dark Themes and Very Frequent Suggestive Content.)

Release Date: November 2004

Developer: Troika Games

Publisher: Activision

Platforms: Windows

Genre: Action Role-Playing


September 22, 2014

Blog Journal Volume 54: Vampire!

Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines: Good gosh, that's a long title. Anyway, I finished up the rough draft for the Areas of Concern for the Content Rundown. 

A bit of a note to InfamousPotato: Unfortunately, I had to rush through the videos a bit so not *all* of the content will be mentioned, but the vast majority will be. Sorry for the lack of completeness, I was just very busy with work and the like.

The Sims 4: While the game itself seems to be considerably stripped down from the previous instalments (to a fault), the content seems to have gotten slightly worse, with sims able to develop romantic relationships all on their own without help from the player...which may be a problem for those looking to avoid homosexual relationships.

Anyhoo, I'm not gonna dwell on that topic for *obvious reasons* and will just say that I am gonna start with a Content Rundown for The Sims 4 A.S.A.P!

Blog: Sorry if this blog and Lyriticus are quiet as of late. I've just been through an incredibly crazy year and need to recuperate. Every year is getting tougher than the last and I sincerely hoped this one would be different, but no. Things just get harder.

In any case, Lyriticus may face some down time due to a lack of time to work on it. I know the blog has a huge amount of potential, but you can't fly two airplanes at once, if you catch my drift.

The bottom line is that I'm sincerely trying to keep the blogs afloat, but due to things happening in real life and burnout from other responsibilities, it's a bit difficult. This is not an excuse and I WILL keep the blogs alive, but just understand that I can't always post and when I do, it may not be as fresh as it once was.

September 14, 2014

Magic (Coldplay) - Song Review


Muggles beware!

Reviewed By: Kyle van Rensburg (Head Writer)

Album: Ghost Stories

Artist: Coldplay

Release Date: March 2014

Genre: Pop

Verdict: 13+ for Mature Themes



Areas of Concern:

Violence/Gore:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

Video:

--We see bruises on a woman's arms, implying abuse by her husband. We see him yelling and throwing objects at her and verbally humiliates her, reducing the woman to tears. At one point he throws her on a bed with the intention of smacking her but he is interrupted.

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

Video:

--The video depicts a young man rescuing a woman from her abusive husband, ending in their (adulterous) romance.

-We see some suggestive artwork in the backgrounds, like nude female statues and a drawing of a topless woman with her hands over her breasts.

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

Nothing.

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive 

--The video depicts a man to be an alcoholic; we see him drinking, walking around with a whiskey bottle and being a drunk.

Spiritual Content:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive 

Lyrics:

--References to magic, in the sense of things getting better in a broken relationship. The narrator mentions several times that he believes in "magic", meaning "miracles."

Video:

--The video is about two magicians battling each other over a girl. Several magic tricks are performed during the video, many of which are implied to be "real", like lifting a spin with telekinesis, a man floats in the air by himself,

Mood:

Moody Upbeat: Ghost Stories is a Concept Album focusing on the end of a relationship and the subsequent grief. This song represents the narrator still being in the Denial phase, but he seems to be somewhat "angry" in the song.

The actual rhythm and melody of the song is somewhat moody, but ultimately uplifting.


Review of Song/Album/Movie:

After the success of the grandiose Mylo Xyloto (grandiose according to fans, at least), Coldplay unanimously decided to strip down their next album to create a softer, more "acoustic" focused offering.

The first single from the new album "Ghost Stories", the aptly titled Magic made it's way into the musical world shortly after news of Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow's "conscious uncoupling" from each other.

Since the relationship troubles and subsequent break-up served as inspiration for much of the album, Magic found itself in the awkward place of being a man declaring that things will resolve themselves for the relationship to become whole once again when real life says the exact opposite.

But I'm getting off-topic here: Magic is a strange offering from Coldplay, returning the soft roots of older "Parachutes", yet having the electronic flavouring of newer "Mylo Xyloto".

The odd mixture of old and new works, being one of the softest songs Coldplay has ever made. Even softer than the excellent Everything's Not Lost from their debut album. Magic does overdo the sentiment a bit, ironic for such a subtle song.

The "Poppy" beat and sappy message, combined with an equally saccharine music video is ultimately too sweet for me, especially when it's so disconnected from reality when Coldplay has always been firmly in tune with the real world and not fairy tale land.

Nevertheless, people looking for a softer offering to play on a long family trip which even kids can appreciate, might find something worth looking for here. Coldplay's magnum opus it definitely ain't, but it's not so bad either.

Give it a listen.

Quality Verdict: Good (B)

Coldplay fans might find the song too whimsical instead of enchanting, and realists might find it incredibly cloying, but for those looking for the perfect relaxation song, it's "Magical" indeed.

Conclusion:

Now, now, before you get your pitchforks and torches, Coldplay's song Magic has got nothing to do with witchcraft and the like, at least not in audio form.

The (somewhat silly) music video, however, depicts two dueling magicians and ends with the main character getting the bad guy's wife. Some may argue that this is acceptable because the bad guy is abusive and therefore, doesn't deserve her anyway, but it still ends up being adultery in any case.

The song is also about the end of a relationship and the "denial" aspect of it, as the main character struggles to accept that it ended.

Overall, Magic is a song for more mature listeners and something many people can relate to. In my humble opinion, this song should be acceptable for older kids/teens.

Content Verdict:
For Mature Themes

September 10, 2014

The Walking Dead Season 2 Full Review


The sequel to the saddest game ever made has arrived! Details for every single episode inside...

Verdict: MA: Mature Gamers Only (For Potentially Upsetting Violence and Strong Language)

Reviewed By: Kyle van Rensburg (Head Writer)

Release Date: December 2013

Developer/Publisher: Telltale Games

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Ouya, iOS, Windows, OS X

Genre: Point and Click Adventure Game

September 08, 2014

Blog Journal Volume 53: The Waking Dead

Good news everybody! I'm back on the internet after moving and ready to get back to reviewing...in spite of being sick. Yep. 

The Walking Dead Season Two: Now that all the episodes have been released, I can finalise the review of the whole season and post it. Tune in this Wednesday for it.

System Shock 2: No, I've not forgotten about this game, I've just gotten distracted and unable to finish up the review and by extension, the game itself.

StarCraft II Wings of Liberty: I'm just never able to finish this game. Let's hope I can change that sometime before the year ends.

Fallout 3: I've yet to finish this game as well, but once again, I've not forgotten about it and it will be reviewed soonish.

Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines: This one may take a while to finish up, but rest assured, it will be done as well.

September 07, 2014

Ghost Stories (Coldplay) - Album Review


"I used to rule the world...Seas would rise when I gave the word. Now in the morning I sleep alone...sweep the streets I used to ow-" 

Oh wait, wrong album.

Track Listing:
  1. Always in My Head
  2. Magic
  3. Ink
  4. True Love
  5. Midnight
  6. Another's Arms
  7. Oceans
  8. A Sky Full of Stars
  9. O
Reviewed By: Kyle van Rensburg (Head Writer)

Artist: Coldplay

Release Date: May 2014

Genre: Electronica

Verdict: 13+ for Mature Themes



Areas of Concern:

Violence/Gore:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--Metaphorical references to being cut in half, falling hard, having a lot of pained emotions, bleeding from thorns, literally being torn apart by a break-up and wanting to die in a lover's arms. (In the non-sexual way, for anyone familiar with the famous Cutting Crew song.)

Sex/Nudity:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

--Several references to a romantic relationship, alluding to physical contact, a strong emotional need for each other and grief caused by a break-up. 

-The song "Another's Arms" seems to speak of a man longing for physical intimacy, especially with the repeating (slightly varied) line: "Pull yourself into me. Another's arms, another's arms..."

Language:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

Nothing.

Drugs/Alcohol/Smoking:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

Nothing.

Spiritual Content:

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive 

--Much of the artwork relating to the album features extensive references to angels, churches, solar systems, praying, and, of course, ghosts.

-As the song's title suggests, "Magic" references, ahem, magic several times during it's length, where the main character says he believes in "magic" (miracles) in regards to bad events getting better.

Mood:

Downbeat: While not very depressing, the album's a notable step down from the cheerful nature of Coldplay's previous album. The album does eventually end on a note of "acceptance", which is subtle yet very effective.

-Midnight is a very edgy and dark song alluding to a faint glimmer of hope in a world filled with depression. The voice of the narrator is distorted, the atmosphere "lonely" and lyrics crying out for someone to "leave a light on" in the "darkness before the dawn."

-Another's Arms refers to the depression caused by losing a significant other in a break-up. The narrator sounds desperate at one point and the recurring "angelic" voice only adds to the sad atmosphere of the song.

-Oceans is about a man waiting for his lover to "call" him again, but she never does. This song signifies the man finally letting go of his lover.

Review of Album:

Three years and one break-up later, Coldplay returns with it's newest album Ghost Stories, attempting to undo the overproduction of Mylo Xyloto with some serious underproduction.

Jokes aside, Ghost Stories gives fans exactly what they were expecting, with a more stripped down album focusing on soft, electronic acoustic songs. This album is even softer and smaller than their debut album Parachutes and that's saying something.

In light of lead singer Chris Martin's separation from his wife of 11 years, Gwyneth Paltrow, the band decided it best for some reason to dwell on a painful event such as divorce or the end of a marriage and give us a surprisingly effective concept album focusing on...Yep, a man dealing with the end of a relationship.

The album starts softly, with Always in My Head focusing on the denial aspect relating to the break-up. It's a soft, almost cheerful yet subtly confused song. It's silently effective and a great album opener.

The second song and lead single, Magic, is a bit more desperate and slightly more brooding, yet still a bit "happy."
The song sees the narrator struggling to accept the situation, falling into the anger and denial phases of grief.

While rather un-Coldplay-like, if I were to mercilessly slay the English language in an attempt to describe my feelings about the song, Magic is easy-going, gentle and surprisingly memorable.

Next, we get the two (relatively) weakest songs on the album, Ink and True Love. Ink is a drum-based song and while it does it's simple task effectively, it falls squarely under the LEAST-MEMORABLE section of Coldplay's vast song catalogue.

True Love starts out sounding almost identical to Titanium by DJ legend David Guetta, except swapping out the bass drop for subtle drums and a haunting atmosphere, showing the narrator's descent into the bargaining phase of grief.

After these two "softies" fade away, we get the album's darkest track: Midnight. The song finds the narrator sinking into the depression phase of grief in full. The subtle atmosphere is hopeless, the electronic instruments and dark feel is heavy...and it's brilliant. By far the best song on the album and a worthy song on it's own.

Another's Arms continues the depression phase with a softer song which sees the singer desperate to renew the relationship but accepting that it won't happen. A rather intense yet soft song at the same time. Powerful stuff.

Oceans yet again features the singer in the depression stage of grief, yet the end seems to suggest acceptance. This song might just be the most emotional on the whole album, with Chris Martin's vocals suggesting that the narrator is wailing in pain.

A Sky of Full of Stars falls firmly in the acceptance phase. Stars is by far the album's most divisive song, sounding more like Avicii-lite than Coldplay. Yet, it still manages to be very catchy, uplifting and emotional all at the same time. So while Coldplay die-hards like myself may dislike the direction the band took with this song, it's still a great tune and one that I find myself listening to a lot.

O is basically the epilogue to the story, a soft song which doesn't fall into any of the grief stages, just a gentle, friendly goodbye to the relationship which brought the narrator here in the first place.

Not the biggest or grandest of albums, that's for sure, but Coldplay has always been a band who gave us songs straight from the heart, for better or for worse. Ghost Stories is the very essence of that, and nothing more.

A Rush of Blood to the Head will always be Coldplay's finest achievement and the bar against which we judge all their further accomplishments, but Ghost Stories does give us another solid album for fans to add to their music collection.

Quality Verdict: Great (B+)

Hardly Coldplay's most triumphant album nor it's weakest, Ghost Stories nonetheless makes an impact with it's stripped down, acoustic-focused direction and continues to show the world why the Britpop group is here to stay.

Conclusion:

Okay, so the big area of concern: This album is a concept album. (If you don't know what that is, it's an album where the songs all have an overarching theme or narrative. Basically, it's a "story" album.) The theme is the end of a relationship, so this is understandably not the lightest or most upbeat album you'll ever listen to.

Chris Martin's widely publicised break-up with his wife, Gwyneth Paltrow is the biggest influence on the album and it shows. Martin's depression, anger, loneliness, questioning and eventual acceptance are all conveyed through the language of music.

From a quality standpoint, it's very effective. From a "moral" standpoint, well, it is cathartic to write about your feelings or express them through art, even if those feelings may be negative, negative, or, you guessed it, negative.

Music is a powerful medium, one with the ability to move an cheerful person to a pitiful wreck of sobs with a single song. As such, I urge caution to every person seeking to buy the album. A single song can trigger a very deep depression in you if you're not careful.

Me, personally? I love this new album and while the themes are heavy, some of the songs spoke to me in regards to other areas of my life. It's actually cathartic to listen to a song which describes your feelings at the moment.

And that, my friends, is the power of music. It speaks where others are silent. It makes noise where there's normally silence. Finally, it brings out the best and the worst of human emotions and looks at them from an objective angle. Music can help us understand ourselves, and in that regard, this album really shines.

Content Verdict:
For Mature Themes