The Remaining: Aftermath Review

Book Title: The Remaining: Aftermath

Author: D. J. Molles

Introduction

After reading the first book in the series I was pretty much hooked, desperately needing to crack on with the next book. As soon as I finished with the first, I downloaded Aftermath onto my Kindle and got reading, enjoying the changes that have been made in the second book.

Style

The style is very similar to the first book, descriptive and following the point of view of our main character, Captain Lee Harden. What I really enjoyed about the second book is that it covers a wider group of characters and really begins to flesh out the world while keeping the suspense and fantastic story telling alive from the first.

Characters

I briefly touched on this above, but there are a lot more characters in the second book, rather than having a singular focus on just one and a few extras. I felt that this really helped to develop the story with the addition of some interesting secondary characters. In the second book we now have a villain, a whole new group of survivors and a fantastic post apocalyptic world for them to explore.

The one thing that I did find disappointing about some of the characters was that there were some clear ‘going to die’ ones, the same as you get in a horror movie, their only purpose is being hollow and getting eaten by the monsters. They are few and far between, but when they show up they remain true to their genre.

Plot

So the last book ends with Captain Lee Harden discovering Camp Ryder and the next has him setting off on a journey with a small group to prove he can be trusted. Th plot is simple but effective, developing as the characters set off on their journey. What I really enjoyed is that Captain Lee Harden is now exploring an established area of survivors, figuring things out as he goes. The introduction of our villain, Milo, also really helps to mix things up a bit.

Conclusion

All in all this is a good book. I enjoyed it, not as much as the first, but still more than most novels of this genre. If you’ve read the first, then you wont be disappointed by what Aftermath has to offer, so check it out and see for yourself!

The Remaining Book Review

Book Title: The Remaining

Author: D. J. Molles

Introduction

I got this book from a Goodreads giveaway and I must say, I’m extremely glad I did! I wasn’t expecting much, the plot intrigued me but I didn’t expect to be drawn into this book. I read the first couple of pages, just to check it our before returning to another book I had been reading, and suddenly I was hooked.

Style

The writing style is fantastic. It’s narrative and descriptive, the author clearly knowing more than a thing or two about the subject matter (not the infected, the weapons etc). There’s more than enough level of detail, without being too overpowering, which keeps the pace consistent and the reader interested.

The story is delivered in an interesting way, as mentioned above the pace is excellent. The chapters are pretty lengthy, focusing on a particular time frame or event in each one, hooking the reader and pretty much forcing them to read the next.

Characters

I’ve got to say, the characters are interesting. The main character really is the focus point of this book, the entire thing told from his perspective, which luckily is a pretty intriguing one. There’s a lot of depth to the main character. He’s a soldier, but not over the top all guns blazing, there’s some emotion behind him. As the story progresses we see more of the main character, empathising with him and bonding with him.

The support characters aren’t as strong as Lee, our main character, but they are adequately fleshed out. Again as the story progresses I found myself enjoying them more, growing more attached, but still Lee remains the primary focus.

Plot

The plot really stands out, being different enough to set it apart from other books in this genre. Originally when I read the blurb I expected a typical zombie novel, a strong start, weak middle, followed by an all guns blazing ending. However that’s definitely not the case with The Beginning.

I won’t spoil the plot, but it basically follows the United States Governments contingency plan for when the world falls apart. That contingency is a soldier who is needed to restore order and unite groups of survivors in a world over run by the infected.

I really enjoyed learning more about Lee and his objectives, a different take on the standard zombie novel.

Conclusion

As I mentioned in the introduction, I was really surprised by what I read. I didn’t expect much at all but I was really impressed, enjoying the book from start to finish. I’d definitely recommend this book, especially to anyone who is a fan of the world ending type of story. I’ll be starting the second book in the series tonight and I really hope the standard remains as high as the first book! Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Battle Camp Review

Introduction

So I’ve taken one of the more popular Pokemon clones for mobile devices for a spin. Normally these games are pretty poor, trying to emulate Pokemon in almost every way and failing deliver on what Pokemon achieved early in it’s day. Battle Camp promises us something different than the other clones that are available and I have to admit that this monster collection and battle game does bring something new to the table.

Gameplay

The one thing that this does differently is the combat. You have a team of 5 monsters ranging in abilities and elemental types. Now in order to attack or heal you have to match up different elemental stones, in a very similar way to Candy Crush! Match the rocks in order to power up your rock attacks, the leaves to power up your grass attacks, hearts to heal etc. So a Pokemon and Candy Crush mashup! Sounds interesting right?

Well you know what, it is a pretty good combination. The gameplay is addictive and the interesting combat makes up for the lack of exploration offered within the game. There are different areas to adventure to, offering PVP play and trading.

As you battle monsters you capture/collect them. The rarer monsters you collect puzzle parts of, eventually putting them together and hatching them. You can feed your spare monsters to your team, giving them experience and levelling them up. Once they get to the required level you can also evolve them.

Now here’s where the whole game falls down. In app purchases and social networking. You have 5 energy, every time you battle one energy disappears. Your energy recharges over a period of time. The problem is you cannot get your energy past 5 at any time, leaving you constantly waiting for it to recharge, unless of course, you pay for some. It’s a massive pain, to enjoy this game more regularly than every hour or so for more than 5 minutes you need to pay, and every time, not just a one off.

To top it all off, pretty much every time you do something the game pushes you to post it to Facebook, to invite all of your friends to see the new monster you’ve caught. No matter how many times you tell the game no, it still pushes you to do so.

Conclusion

This is a great mobile game, with quite a lot of potential. If the developers threw in some exploration then this could really shape up to be an addictive mobile game that’s also a lot of fun. However they would really need to do something about the energy issue and the in app purchases. I’d be more than happy to pay an upfront cost, or a one time in app purchase in order to give me longer play time.

As it stands this is a game worth checking out, but if you’re looking for something to play on a regular basis it’s not going to deliver. Unless, of course, you’re willing to continually keep paying for more energy and bug your friends on Facebook.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



A Thousand Hearts available in print

Afternoon everyone!

For all of you who were waiting to pick up a copy of A Thousand Hearts – Rebirth, in print format, I’d just like to let you know it is available! You can pick up a copy from Amazon today 😀

I just got my copy today and I’m very pleased with it. Hope you all enjoy it.

South Park The Stick Of Truth Review

Introduction

It’s been a long time coming. I’ve followed news of this game for some time, wondering if it would turn out to be a disaster like so many game adaptations of popular franchises before. I saw the previews, they all said great things and my hopes were high, but I was still concerned. Launch day came and I took the plunge, loading up the game, my nerves getting the better of me as I worried about my disappointment that I knew would surely hit.

So the question is, did the game meet my expectations? The answer is no, it blew them away. I quite honestly never expected a game of this quality. It’s just a must play for anyone, regardless if you’re a fan of South Park or not. It’s clever, hilarious and above all it plays well.

Gameplay

I don’t really know how to describe it, a side scroller, RPG with combat the resembles something from old school Final Fantasy titles. You create your character, the new kid, and embark on your journey into South Park. Your aim throughout the game is to make as many friends as possible, unlocking new abilities and levelling up as you do. You’ll find yourself in all sorts of crazy situations, exactly what you’d expect from South Park.

The combat works amazingly well. It’s simple, like I said above, working like an old Final Fantasy title but with a little more interaction. You take turns in deciding what attacks or special moves you want to use, and have to try to deflect your enemies attacks. There are a whole host of special abilities available for you to unlock and you get to select your partner to battle along side of you, all of whom have different abilities that will help to mix your battles up.

Selecting your equipment and choosing your skills is actually pretty good in South Park The Stick of Truth. I was expecting extremely weak levelling, but to be honest your skill set and load out can make all the difference in your battles. My favourite weapon was a broken bottle, you get to throw them at your enemy, grossing them out and causing them to bleed every turn. It’s random, fun and adds to the combat.

Graphics

I can’t really say much about the graphics, the game looks and plays just like an episode of South Park. There are no fancy attempts to make it anything other than a long, interactive episode of the series fans have come to know and love. The fact that it feels and looks exactly like the show only adds to the hilarity.

What I liked

The attention to detail really makes this game stand out. There are so many little things that hold the entire experience together. Sound effects are obviously based on Skyrim and fit into the game so well, creating an absolutely amazing satire of the popular game franchise. Skill sets, weapons, abilities, it’s all a twisted version of games we’ve played before, and that just makes it all so much more amusing.

South Park is absolutely hilarious, but all of these little extra touches add to the entire experience. They are clever and very well thought out, turning this into a pretty good gaming experience that will keep you laughing all the way through.

What I disliked

To be honest there is nothing that I disliked about this game. The total experience was fantastic and I can’t really fault it at all!

Conclusion

For anyone who likes South Park, or is just up for a laugh, this is the game for you. From start to finish I was in stitches. It’s such a clever game, with absolutely absurd stories and quests, exactly what you’d expect from the creators of South Park. Above all the game plays well and is enjoyable. It’s not just a load of gimmicks thrown into a poor excuse for a game, it’s well thought out and designed exceptionally well.

I cannot fault the game. It really is a must have.



Elder Scrolls Online Review Part One

Introduction

So The Elder Scrolls Online is finally live and kicking. I played through the beta and enjoyed what I saw so decided to dive in and see what the finished product looked like. To be honest it’s a mixed bag, and despite thoroughly enjoying myself so far I still can’t decide if it’s good or not.

It is by no means a bad game, in fact I’m loving it, but what makes it difficult to call is the fact that this is an Elder Scrolls game. How well does it really blend in its new genre?

Gameplay

So the game plays just like you’d expect, an Elder Scrolls like experience in an MMO setting. My preferred play style was first person, it’s how I like to play anything from the Elder Scrolls franchise. Combined with the gorgeous visuals and combat that works pretty well considering this is an MMO, the first person play style works extremely nicely.

Where it falls short however is when the MMO of the game creeps in, special moves that appear as if from nowhere and awful knock-back and cool down effects. My character gets stunned by a special move and from my perspective just looks like he’s stood there doing absolutely nothing, leading me to wonder if the game has crashed. It hasn’t it’s just a typical MMO feature that just doesn’t seem to fit with first person. I use one of my abilities, a magical spear jab, and randomly a golden spear appears in my view, stabbing at the enemy. I’m not holding it, or wielding it, it’s just there. Again another MMO style that just doesn’t seem to fit and ruins the experience.

These aren’t game breaking, in fact they are easily over looked considering how enjoyable the combat can be. The issue is they are stark reminders that we are playing an MMO and that these two game styles have somehow been forced together.

Now back to what’s good about combat. It feels pretty satisfying, your attacks actually making an impact on your enemy. You can dodge attacks, block and counter. Anyone who has played Skyrim will feel immediately at home with the combat.

Crafting

One thing that I’ve really enjoyed in the game is it’s crafting system. There is no need to decide on a profession or craft, you can literally collect and harvest any resources from the world and craft what you like, levelling your crafting abilities as you go. In your character progression tree you can select crafting abilities to assign your skills to, so it does make sense to go with a single craft that you will be using more than the others. However you can continue working in other areas.

I’ve gone with blacksmithing as my main crafting skill. As I wonder the world I discover resource nodes, and can mine these without having to carry any mining equipment with me. When I return to town I can visit the different crafting areas or shops, and put my resources to good use. The majority of my equipment I have equipped has been crafted by myself, and I also carry an assortment of potions I’ve created. It’s pretty good fun putting together a self sufficient character.

The crafting also gives another reason to go exploring. Crafting potions requires the player to collect different ingredients from plants and animals from around the world. You can consume the raw ingredients to find out some of their effects or you can just try random chance when throwing together a potion. It’s pretty interesting discovering what the different ingredients are capable of creating, giving the player an incentive to go off seeking out these ingredients.

Exploration

One thing that I’ve really enjoyed about the Elder Scrolls Online is the exploration. The world is extremely detailed, with loads to see and do. Just taking a long walk, looking for new things to do is great fun. I’ve discovered all sorts of random quests while I’ve been out looking for new ingredients and exploring the world.

The landscapes are varied which really helps to keep things interesting. I’ve seen sprawling deserts, fiery mountains, ancient ruins, forests, all sorts! Just going off to see what new stuff I can find is great, and I have the freedom to do that right from the start. I’m not limited to following a defined path, I can choose my destination and set out to it.

Quests

Now it would be foolish of me not to talk about the quests. The developers have done a fantastic job of keeping things interesting in the Elder Scrolls Online, offering players intriguing and fun adventures to embark upon. Now I’m not going to lie, you will encounter fetch quests, or kill so many of these quests, but the majority of the quests I’ve completed so far have been long and interesting, following the usual Elder Scrolls style rather than an MMO style.

My only major issue with the quests are the other players. It becomes extremely jarring when you are tasked with a quest to save the city from invaders, the only hope the city has, and you see so many others completing the exact same quest as you. Delving into an ancient tomb, long abandoned… filled with other players, once again ruining the immersion. Sometimes it works great, seeing others involved in a battle that you’re fighting, but so many times it just breaks the experience.

For the most part questing in the Elder Scrolls Online is just fantastic, unlike any MMO I’ve played in a long time. The ability just to run off in any chosen direction and discover new quests to complete is a welcome one. You’re not pushed in a single direction, you have your own freedom to do things how you like.

Graphics

The art style and the graphics of this game are simply gorgeous. The detail that the developers have put into this game is just brilliant, combined with the huge number of environments it just makes this game a joy to explore and be a part of.

My only disappointment with the graphics is that the weapons seem to be relatively low resolution in comparison with the rest of the game. Now considering that I have to spend a lot of time with my weapon drawn, right in front of my eyes, I’d have liked to have seen some more focus on making the weapons look great.

Stand Out Feature

It’s too soon to call this. From what I’ve played of the game there are a lot of stand out features, stuff that I’ve really loved. In my next review I’ll focus on the later stages of the game play, PVP and PVE, shedding more light on how battles work. I’ve heard and seen some great things about this but had little input so far. So look out for my second part to the Elder Scrolls Online review. All I can say about this game so far is that for an MMO it is just simply amazing. I’ve not had this much fun in a very long time on an MMO. Fingers crossed it can keep up that momentum into the later stages.

 

 

Blackberry Q10 Review

Introduction

The Blackberry Q10 is the latest flagship qwerty device from the declining Canadian manufacture. It’s their premium model, the go to for business phones. So how well does it stand up against the competition and can it deliver something that other manufactures are missing?

Look and Feel

The first thing that struck me about the Blackberry Q10 is how well it is made. It feels premium and looks great. It has a good weight about it and feels durable, unlike some of the plastic competition out there. The textured back cover adds a little extra grip while also looking the part, with a carbon fibre look to it.

The main feature of this phone, its qwerty keypad, feels and responds excellently. I didn’t realise how much I missed using a hardware keyboard until I took the Blackberry Q10 for a spin. The keys are large and well spaced and the whole thing just fits nicely with the OS, especially when used as a business device.

User Interface

The operating systems is pretty good. I’ve only seen little short sharp bursts of Blackberrys own OS in action, playing with it for small amounts of time. This was the first time that I gave the OS any true attention and I must admit I’m impressed.

I love the multi tasking on the device and the gesture controls. You have your application panels, and when you finish with an app they will appear as tiles on your main screen, giving you the option to close them once you no longer need them. Having my open apps visible made me close them down when I was done with them, helping me to save battery where possible.

Gesture control works pretty well, swipe up to minimise an app and return to your main menu, really simple, effective, and above all, easy to use.

The operating system just worked, and it worked nicely. It’s main downfall… apps… or lack of. I loaded up the Blackberry application store and punched in the name of my two most commonly used apps to find neither were available. Now i understand you can side-load Android apps but for the average consumer this isn’t going to be overly appealing.

Battery

For a smartphone the Blackberry Q10 came out above average for its battery. I got a solid two to three days worth of juice out of this device and that’s with some good solid usage. It’s not quite as good as some of the Blackberrys we’ve seen before in terms of battery but it’s hand down better than the competition.

What I liked

I loved the keyboard. As I said before I didn’t realise how much I’d missed a hardware keyboard but using the Blackberry Q10 has reminded me how nice a physical keyboard on a smartphone can be.

What I disliked

Lack of applications has to be my biggest gripe with the phone. Why Blackberry haven’t started funding developers is beyond me. They are too reliant on the fact that this will be used as a business phone, or that people will just instal Android apps, but in reality neither is true.

Conclusion

My time spent with the Blackberry Q10 has left me with mixed feelings. It is a good solid device with a fantastic operating system, but the lack of application support leaves the device with an uncertain future.

I honestly thought I would hate the phone but I’m more than a little impressed. I would quite happily have this as my personal device. If applications aren’t overly important to you and battery life, combined with a fantastic keyboard are at the top of your list then this could be the device for you.

After my experience I wouldn’t write Blackberry off just yet. If they can work some magic and get developers on board, then there maybe some life left.