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Tomb Raider 1.25?

So I’ve read the new Tomb Raider: The Ten Thousand Immortal novel by Dan Abnett & Nick Vincent and have mixed feelings about it.

To be fair, the authors did have a tough task at hand as they’re supposed to pick up the story from the end of Tomb Raider, yet their story can’t contain events or characters that are so important that it would have a great effect on the upcoming game (Rise of the Tomb Raider).

I thought the book spent a tad too much time setting everything up in this adventure, it may have been necessary though. When I got to about a third of the book, I was hooked. It was like reading about something straight out of the Bourne Identity movies. This was also the point when some cools characters appear – they’re not quite fully fleshed out and used in the whole book though (*spoiler and reason below). About 65% through the book, I think there’s just too many adversaries in the equation. Frankly, one of the parties could’ve been absent from the book.

***Spoiler***
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Lydia was so cool, she used her amazing parkour skills to traverse the rooftops of Paris to track down the escaping Lara and then the authors easily kill Lydia off and replace her with lots of generic thugs in the end.
***Finished***
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I did, surprisingly, enjoy how the tales and legends unfolded through Lara’s conversations. How there were multiple views on just one artifact and it provided leads to her next location.

Tomb Raider: The Ten Thousand Immortals isn’t a master piece but it was a fun read. It was restricted in how much Lara can actually develop as this is canon material. As a result this felt like a Tomb Raider 1.25.

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Watch your fuel!

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I was flicking through channels until I saw a still racing car that was on it’s roof! It happened very recently as there was talks of the safety of the driver and a safety car coming out to play.

I don’t watch motorsport racing much, but I was hooked onto this scene. Not due to the accident, but because something felt very familiar about what I’m seeing. As if I’ve been there before but just looking at it from a different angle. Then it hit me, its the race track where I’ve driven hundreds of digital miles over and over again just to try beat my own time by 0.1 second. Yep, it is of course Bathurst race track from Forza Motorsport 5. This is when I can fully appreciate just how much work Turn10 Studios has put into replicating the tracks. I was looking at a close up of a corner and it was enough for me to recognise where it was!

I continued to watch the race and I was genuinely excited by how fast and skilled these drivers were. The race was filled with drama, at several points, I was sure of the winner only to be greeted by surprises where small differences, changed everything. These drivers were really pushing their cars to their absolute limits. What an amazing race.

This is the race I was watching:

http://www.v8supercars.com.au//view/videos/supercheap-auto-bathurst-1000-top-10-moments

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Ghost in the Shell movie starring Johansson? Yeah baby!

Right now, Scarlett Johansson is one of my favourite actor in action movies. She’s proved herself as a powerful ally in Captain America 2 and capable of kicking bad guys butt as the leading role in Lucy.

I’ve always loved anime and manga, they’ve got over the top stories and some amazing action. Johansson has had a very good record of depicting fictional/sci-fi characters of recent years. So I’m really looking forward to their collaboration and see what they can produce. I’m sure Johansson will be able to bring a lot to an anime/manga adaption and the nature of the story will be a good base for creating some amazing (and hopefully artistic) visual effects. Ghost in the Shell is very popular, my friend has instructed me to watch it over the years but I’ve yet to get round to it. This may motivate me to pick it up and see what all the hype is all about.

Anime + Johansson = Hell yeah baby!

Source: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-10/17/scarlett-ghost

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New place for news – Polygon!

I’ve been using Joystiq for most of my gaming news for a while now. It was fine when I was young, but the material just seems like a tabloid. The layout of the site feels dated and lazy. It’s not very inspiring. Then I discovered Polygon! I was very impressed with how the site looks and that everything is organised into different sections.

I was particularly impressed with their reviews. They come across as fair and they’re quite extensive. I like how it resembles a magazine review in that they will pull out quotes from their critique and overlay it over a screenshot. It’s very nicely put together.

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Practice video editing

Right, so I’ve decided to refresh myself on Adobe Premiere Pro as I don’t know when I will be required to use these skills again. I’m very grateful that we’ve switched to Adobe CC. It’s given me the opportunity to work from home and to do some training to help practice the new features Adobe releases.

I wanted to base it on something I have quite a lot of material to work with, something of interest to me and nothing that’s going to raise a debate of right or wrong. The only thing that left me with is my Xbox One game-DVR collection.

I had a few stumbling blocks and referred to Adobe’s help centre which is full of helpful information and before you know it, I was back in full swing with Premiere. Once I’ve remembered the keyboard shortcuts, it’s very simple to use. I’ve even used their Audition CC to create a looping background music. Pretty awesome and powerful stuff.

Well, below is the result of my practice:

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2 out of 47 Ronin

The good thing about NowTV is that I can catch up to movies I missed whenever I want. The bad thing is being disappointed in my own home with nowhere to walk/drive to vent off the poor experience. Spoilers ahead.

47 Ronin looked like a pretty decent movie from the trailers and posters I’ve seen. The story was painfully slow and took forever to get to the absolutely disappointing finale. 47 Ronin is a very bad movie which focuses on aesthetics rather than the story… and the other 45 Ronin… and a worthy bad guy.

Out of the 47 Ronin, I think we only have information on about 6 of them – 2 of which are Keanu and the other lead Japanese guy from the Last Samurai. We don’t know much about the others. Only that they served under the same lord and are all perfectly fine and healthy after a year of exile. Whilst we’re on characters, it was disappointingly lacking in the bad guys department. In the poster, we are lead to believe there are three antagonists. But in the movie, two of the three get 5 minutes of screen time in between them! Even the evil lord behind everything who is missing from the poster gets more screen time. The coolest character design has to be the ink guy (the one with tattoos all over his body), yet he only has one line in the entire movie (and yelling if you count that as well) and appears in 2 scenes. He doesn’t even face the protagonist directly! The black armour samurai is a giant in the movie. He has a brief fight with Keanu early on in the movie to show how strong he is. But in the final minutes of the movie he dies in seconds without really fighting anyone! What?! At least have 7 guys struggling to fight him then finish him off with a trap. The big finale wasn’t a fireworks show but a small sparkler that burns for five seconds – it just doesn’t deliver.

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The story feels rushed and under developed leaving many questions unanswered. Like why was the Japanese guy freed from the pit? He was kept there because the bad guy doesn’t trust him not to take revenge. Nobody really knew he was kept there right? So he wasn’t obligated to free him in the first place. Also, how convenient is it that he was freed close to when the bad guy can achieve total domination in Japan? When Keanu went to the Tengu forest to get more swords, the master there spoke of some powers that Keanu had learned from him which Keanu indicates are deadly powers: abilities that are designed only for killing. Yet the only thing we see him do is… fly/warp a short distance from A to B. Nothing else. Why is that a deadly skill? The mysterious swords they retrieve wield mystical powers and it depends on who is wielding it. But we’re not really told what they are. Sure we see Keanu slice a trunk with ease and later on when someone else attempts it, they fail. Does that mean these are nothing more than a normal sword for most of these guys?

All in all 47 Ronin was a bad movie, I wouldn’t recommend anyone to watch it.

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Don’t close the water pipe…

So the protest has had its first violence within the public itself yesterday. Many western media will concentrate on the what is happening now instead of looking deeper into the issues unlike the article I posted last time. So I’m glad I watch the Hong Kong news.

This protest is designed to disrupt the normal running of Hong Kong lives making it difficult for anyone, not just the government, to ignore. On the news, a police officer was reading out a statement, asking people to return to their homes and stop causing inconvenience to others and in the background, you can hear a girl/woman yelling back “How does this cause inconvenience?”. But is it just inconvenience that they are causing?

I really do feel sorry for the local businesses there. Big chains can survive, but the local businesses will be hit the hardest. I saw a report on the news that one small, new-ish restaurant who had been anticipating a lot of business for the public holidays where families were expected to celebrate over a meal. But due to the demonstrations almost all of the bookings were cancelled – I’m talking about only one or two bookings left. The fear of chaos was enough to deter people from those locations. Its not just the bookings that were affected, normally at lunch time his restaurant would be 70-80% full. The day of the interview we saw 3 tables with people on them. He’s had to cut all the extra part time staff he hired for the seasonal busy time and asked most of his workers to go on paid annual leave. Those that have used all their holidays need to go on unpaid leave. You can see and hear (from his voice) how helpless he feels about the situation. All the blood and sweat he put in his business is in danger. This resonates with me as I’ve been in a similar situation, when our take away wasn’t doing very well, my parents had to worry about whether they can still provide food and shelter for me and my sisters if the take away were to close down.

The small local newspaper sellers on the streets are hit very hard as well. There’s always been a decline in sales of printed media, but not to a point where there is no business at all. There’s literally nobody there to sell their magazines/newspaper to. He was very angry and emotional. He said its alright to want democracy, but don’t affect others livelihood.

However, it’s not just businesses, workers too. I saw last night some workers wanting to work in the government building last night and one of them in a red tshirt said “I haven’t worked in four days!”. These people obviously need these jobs and just about get by with what they make so I imagine this puts a bigger strain on what they have to get by.

Even the elderly were affected. Carers can’t get to them because their cars are blocked off requiring them to walk a bit further than normal. Some elderly wake up early to get to the markets to buy their food for the day. Now they have to travel further to a different location.

What about single working parents? The schools nearby have had to close so who is going to look after the children when the parent goes to work? If they stop working, who is going to pay their bills?

So its understandable to see why the public are very upset with the protesters. There were groups of triads who have mixed in with the protests on both sides now, but with so many people, its impossible to tell who is and who isn’t one. Except when the fighting starts.

The protesters are saying they want a peaceful protest and no blood to be spilled. But to be honest, this type of protest makes it hard for the government and police difficult to ignore because they’re hurting the public. To me, that is equivalent of spilling the blood of the locals. You’re hurting these people and and they’re desperate but the protesters either fail to see this or don’t care.

Water is an essential part of any human being. So in Chinese, “water pipe” refers to something that is very important part of someone’s life. What these protesters are doing are meddling with other’s water pipes to get attention and to hold the Hong Kong government to ransom – by hurting the local population of Hong Kong.

So I would like to end this blog post with a quote of an old man who was interviewed on the streets of Hong Kong:

“If you want to protest, there are designated areas the Hong Kong government can arrange for you. Don’t interfere with other people’s lives – it’s wrong. Don’t close our water pipe!”.