Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that hits pretty much the same as the first, but I am not sure the first film was good enough to rest on your laurels    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Knuckles walks through a coin portal

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Review

The first Sonic the Hedgehog film was one of those moments where you could tell that there was a good movie and idea out there, but that it had been so cluttered that it was hard to find. To let a spoiler out of the bag, I do think the sequel improves in some areas. However, on the whole, what we get here is more of the same than any actual development.

So to set the scene, Sonic (Ben Schwartz) has been living with Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie Wachowski (Tika Sumpter) for a while now, but secretly at night, he goes out to Seattle to try and fight crime. Tom is concerned that he is not mature enough for that, but as a test of faith, he leaves Sonic home alone while they go to Hawaii for the wedding of Maddie’s sister Rachel (Natasha Rothwell) to her new beau Randall (Shemar Moore). It is all going fine, but for the fact that on the Mushroom Planet, Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey) found a way to send a pulse into space, which summoned the Echidna with the fists and a feud with Sonic, Knuckles (Idris Elba) to the planet.

Continue reading

Deep Rock Galactic – Video Game Review

TL;DR – Every part of this game build upon each other to create one of the best four-player co-op games out there at the moment

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I purchased the game

Deep Rock Galactic. Image Credit: Ghost Ship Games.

Deep Rock Galactic Review –

For a while now, me and my friends have been dipping in and out of this odd mining survival game from Ghost Ship Games. But recently, we have been going into a deep dive, exploring everything the game has to offer. Well, as their Season Two event is about to launch, I thought it would be an excellent time to jump in and have a look at the game as a whole. Before we start, I want to thank my friends Johan, Nikola, and Chris for helping to run through the game with me.

So to set the scene, in the far future, the Creus solar system is inhabited by Dwarves thanks to the powerhouse that is the planet Hoxxes IV. The planet is smashed apart, and its surface is a desolate wasteland. However, underneath, it is full of wonders, full of minerals, and full of dangers. Under the surface are great biomes that exist in the planet’s many interconnecting cave systems. These caves are full of life adapted to the rocky and dark world. However, those very lifeforms do not like large sounds reverberating through the rock, for example, the sounds miners make while digging up their booty.     

Continue reading

Halo: Contact – TV Review

TL;DR – This is a very definition of a mixed bag, with some promise shown, but also many issues.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Paramount+ service that viewed this episode.

Halo: Contact. Image Credit: Paramount+.

Halo Review

I am what you would call an agnostic when it comes to the Halo video games. I didn’t grow up with an Xbox (or PlayStation if you are about to go video game console wars in my comments), so Master Chief was someone I had a vague knowledge about but not someone I cared about. Since then, I have watched the first couple of games streamed, and I get the appeal, even if the narrative is now a bit dated with time. I forward this all right from the start, so you know where I am coming from with this review and before I start hacking chunks of this apart.

So to set the scene, it is the year 2552, and the human race has spread across the stars, but it has been fraught with division. On the planet Madrigal, designated a Tier 4 Heavy Water Extraction Planet, the locals have been fighting a war of independence from the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) for an age. However, one day as some kids from a local outpost, including the leader’s daughter Kwan Ha Boo (Yerin Ha), go out into the woods, they stumble across not the UNSC and their feared Spartans, but something so much worse. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

Continue reading

Uncharted – Movie Review

TL;DR – Well, Tom Holland’s charisma can only go so far in fixing this dull mess   

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Uncharted. Image Credit: Sony.

Uncharted Review

Some memories stick with you as you grow up. For me, one of those memories is the family sitting around the tv watching my brother play Uncharted as we enjoyed the unfolding story and looked out for any hidden items. Given how successful and loved this video game franchise is, I am not alone with having attachments to this game, but I was also a little wary of disappointment walking into this film. The casting was a choice, and nothing around the marketing had imbued any confidence with the film, and I can now see why.

So to set the scene, we open with Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) getting kicked out of a cargo plane and then run over by a car. But fifteen years earlier, a young Nate (Tiernan Jones) and his brother Sam (Rudy Pankow) break into a museum to steal a map but are caught by guards. Sent back to the orphanage, Sam will be sent to jail, but he escapes leaving Nate behind. Currently, Nate is a bartender who pickpockets his clients when a strange man called Sully (Mark Wahlberg) walks into the bar and offers him a link to the past.  

Continue reading

The Matrix Resurrections – Movie Review

TL;DR – This is a weird yet oddly compelling film that will capture you if it is your mood. If it is not your mood, well, it is going to be a bit of a slog    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film

The Matrix Resurrections. Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures.

The Matrix Resurrections Review

Of all the films that I have a complicated relationship with, The Matrix series is high on that list. That first film was one of my first entries into the love of cinema, and it still ranks high on my personal Top 10 list. But the sequels also taught me that sometimes lightning doesn’t strike twice. Both are important lessons to learn. However, after all this time, I questioned whether I was ready to enter the Matrix again?

So to set the scene, some years after the end of The Matrix Revolutions, people are still diving into The Matrix. While Bugs (Jessica Henwick) is searching, she discovers a moodle running using old code. Inside, a woman sits talking on the phone, only to discover that the line has been traced and police are on their way. Outside, agents pull up and ask the sergeant why he sent his men in “we can take care of one little girl”, he replies, “no, your agents are already dead”, comes the response. As Bugs follows the program, everything is familiar but wrong. In a way, she can’t put her finger on it. All of this falls apart when one of the Agents notices her and shows a secret portal to a room, the room of one Thomas Anderson, better known as Neo (Keanu Reeves). Okay, so much like Spider-Man: No Way Home, this is a difficult film to talk about because you cannot really discuss it without getting into spoilers at a frighteningly quick pace. So with that in mind, we will give some general impressions and then dive into full spoilers.

Continue reading

Civilization: Full Map – Map-It

TL;DR – Every single feature of Civilization Franchise (at time of posting) in one Map

Portugal Banner. Image Credit: Firaxis Studios.

Civilization: Full Map

I have been making pop culture Maps for quite a while now, but it all started when I thought it would be fun to map Civilization VI back in 2017. Since then, how I create maps has shifted and changed and dramatically improved, as has the Map I use. With the Vietnam/Portugal map being the probable last update from Civilization 6, there was a sense of completion, but also a feeling that there was one thing left I needed to do. So, I ad a random thought one day “Could I fit all of Civilization into one map?” After many months of work, I can say that “yes, yes you can” well barely, looking at you, Mesopotamia.  

With that in mind, today we have a 30th Anniversary present, or Christmas present, or a combination of both. We have every feature of Civilization, Civilization II, Civilization III, Civilization IV, Civilization V & Civilization VI. This includes civilizations, cities, world wonders, natural wonders, city-states, and geographical features.    

As always, a couple of notes before we start, first the Civilization boundaries on the Map are based more on clarity than anything else, so in most cases, they conform to their modern counterparts. We have also worked using the commonly implemented political borders, not necessarily what nations claim, and this means making some judgement calls which you will see below. Also, while all attempts have been made to ensure that everything is accurately placed, putting this together meant working from multiple sources, map projections, and sometimes not firm locations. As such, no matter how much you try, there might be some slight discrepancies here and there. We will be mostly going over the new additions and changes to the Map in this update. If you want to learn more about some of the location choices that we made, you can find more detail in our First Full Civilization Big Map and out Gathering Storm Update Map.  

Continue reading

Civilization VI: New Frontier Pass – Full Map – Map-It

TL;DR – Every single feature of Civilization VI (at time of posting) in one Map, this time featuring the new additions of Vietnam and Portugal.

Portugal Banner. Image Credit: Firaxis Studios.

Civ 6 Mapped –

When I started making my First Map of Civilization 6 all the way back in 2017, well, I’m not sure what I would have thought when we got to this point, but here we are at the end of a very long road with what I think* is the last addition to this Map. Today we will be adding the final two civilizations of Vietnam and Portugal to the Map and bringing a long saga to a close.

*Look, I am pretty sure this is the last update for Civilization 6 unless Kevin was trolling us, and that may have been the case.  

 As always, a couple of notes before we start, first the Civilization boundaries on the Map are based more on clarity than anything else, so in most cases, they conform to their modern counterparts. We have also worked using the commonly implemented political borders, not necessarily what nations claim, and this means making some judgement calls which you will see below. Also, while all attempts have been made to ensure that everything is accurately placed, putting this together meant working from multiple sources and map projections. As such, no matter how much you try, there might be some slight discrepancies here and there. We will be mostly going over the new additions and changes to the Map in this update. If you want to learn more about some of the location choices that we made, you can find more detail in our First Full Civilization Big Map and out Gathering Storm Update Map.  

Continue reading

Surviving Mars: Below and Beyond – Video Game Review

TL;DR – A DLC that is full of exciting ideas but also some missed opportunities and frustrations.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for this DLC

Surviving Mars: Below and Beyond. Image Credit: Paradox Interactive.

Surviving Mars: Below and Beyond Review –

Over the years, one of the games I come back to once in a while has been Surviving Mars. This is a strategy game/ city builder about constructing the first human colony on Mars with drones, domes, and danger, oh my. While it was full of promise, it hit its stride with the Green Planet DLC, allowing you to terraform Mars into an oasis gradually. For a long time, this looked like it would be the final stop for the game, but recently there was a surprise announcement of a new DLC Below and Beyond, which we will look at today.

The essential overview of this new DLC is that while exploring the surface of Mars, you have come across these vents under the surface. Here there are large tunnels, old lava tubes, so large that you could both explore and even colonise them. The one big drawback is that they are very dangerous as cave falls can crush rovers and cut off passageways. You can use technologies found in the new Recon and Expansion tech tree to make exploring safer. Still, if you want to colonise down below, you will need sturdier materials, which is good because it just so happens that several asteroids are coming close to Mars’ orbit with Exotic Minerals just perfect for the new task.

Continue reading

Humankind – Video Game Review

TL;DR – Here, we have a beautiful game with a lot of promise but is not quite there yet.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for this game.

Humankind. Image Credit: Amplitude Studios.

Humankind  Review –

One genre of Video Games just clicks with me more than others, like on a deep physiological level. That genre is the strategy game, well, more than that. It is the particular 4X genre of strategy game where you eXplore, eXploit, eXpand, & eXterminate, and if it is turn-based, even better. I can spend hundreds of hours exploring the mechanics of each game, hitting each of those four X’s. In the realm of the historical-empire-builder 4X world, there has been one crown, Civilization.  Well, today, we take a look at a game that is coming for that title, and while it doesn’t quite get there, it does come close.

The first thing I want to mention is just how beautiful this game is. When you first jump into the game and see a river crashing over the cliffs into a valley full of lush jungle and red earth, Well, it will take your breath away. A lot of care has gone into everything feeling as if it is a natural part of this world. Part of what helps is a mountain of terrain features that make even areas that could be dull, like the frozen poles, still feel interesting to explore. I also like how they have introduced height to the game, making the world feel more grounded. You can see the legacy of Endless Legend throughout this game in the design of the terrain, but it has been tailored to be like Earth but stylized, and I think they get that balance right. To add to this, while watching this stunning game, you also get to hear a soundtrack that I have yet to get sick over these[redacted] hours that I have played, and I am listening to it now as I write this review. If I had to pick my favourite track from the game, it would be Mercury, but they are all great.

Continue reading

Mortal Kombat (2021) – Movie Review

TL;DR – Gory, gruesome, and yet also just a ton of fun.    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film.

Mortal Kombat. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Mortal Kombat Review

When I was growing up, Mortal Kombat was this illicit thing that everyone knew about because the adults kept trying to get it banned. A baby Brian’s first experience with the Streisand Effect. So when you got to play it, well, it was almost an act of defiance, which of course, added to its appeal. As time when on, it mostly faded from my radar, and the two past films did not help, well more the second, the first still had the banging soundtrack if nothing else. But when you hear that they are doing a remake holding nothing back … well, this is something you need to check out.

So to set the scene, we open in on 1617, Japan, at the house of Hanzo Hasashi (Hiroyuki Sanada) and his family. Hanzo is the Shirai Ryu ninja clan leader, and as such, his home is well protected from threats. However, one fateful day while he was out fetching water, Bi-Han (Joe Taslim) of the Lin Kuei assassins arrived and killed all the guards and Hanzo’s family. They fight, but Bi-Han uses his ice to win the day and stop the prophecy of Hanzo’s bloodline being Earth’s salvation. Well, almost, as Lord Raiden (Tadanobu Asano) arrives, he hears a cry call out from the house, for a baby had been hidden away and was saved from the slaughter. Today, Cole Young (Lewis Tan) is just going about his life as an MMA fighter when that birthmark shaped like a dragon turns out to be a bigger deal than he ever thought.

Continue reading