Friday, 24 November 2017

LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2: Top 5 LEGO games

Originally published on Set The Tape

Everyone likes LEGO, right? Whether it’s fond memories of building your own unique creations as a child, or indulging in buying a fun licensed kit as an adult, you would be hard challenged to find someone that hasn’t enjoyed playing with it at some point. With the massive popularity of LEGO, it’s of little surprise that the LEGO video games have been as popular as they are.

With the November’s release of LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 looming large, now seems like a good time to look back at the rest of the series and to pick out the top five LEGO games you need to check out.

5. LEGO Dimensions

LEGO Dimensions is an amazing game. The game combines dozens of LEGO universes to give you a game where you can play as Batman, The Doctor, Homer Simpson, and Harry Potter all at the same time.

However, the main downside of this game is the cost. Buying new characters and levels can be very expensive. If you can afford to do so, it easily delivers one of the best LEGO games around that is still expanding. What other game gives you the LEGO version or Red Dwarf and The Goonies?

4. LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

Despite the name, the third entry in the Batman series is a Justice League game, bringing more characters into the series than ever before. It draws from both the Superman and Green Lantern mythos to deliver a game of galactic proportions that builds on the success of the previous entries in the series.

3. Lego Marvel Superheroes

The original LEGO Marvel Super Heroes game is still one of the best in the LEGO series. With a story that spans the whole Marvel universe and a roster of 150 characters, it gives us one of the best Marvel games around.

The hub world in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes is fantastic, with an entire New York City to adventure around in. You can visit the Baxter Building, Xavier’s School, and Avengers Tower. You can fight against Green Goblin as Cyclops and Captain America. This game combines so many fantastic elements of the Marvel universe to deliver an enjoyable game.

2. LEGO City Undercover

LEGO City Undercover is what would happen if LEGO created their own Grand Theft Auto game, minus the murder, drugs and prostitutes. LEGO City Undercover is easily one of the most enjoyable games in their roster, with some fun and unique features that make this stand out from the crowd.

Playing as an undercover cop, you don’t unlock new characters, but get to change your disguises to allow you to perform different tasks in the hub world. The hub itself is a huge city that takes the best features from real world cities like New York, San Francisco, Miami and Los Angeles.

The game is also full of 70’s and 80’s cop show and action movie references, with Columbo, Dirty Harry, and Starsky and Hutch all making appearances, and my personal favourite being the construction worker who talks like Arnie and makes Schwarzenegger film puns.

1. LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Could it be anything else? The game that made the series what it is. It’s the oldest game on the list, but it’s still easily one of the best. Letting you play through the first six films of the Star Wars saga, it’s thoroughly enjoyable in its simplicity. Whilst it doesn’t have a lot of the features that later games have, it is LEGO at it purest and most enjoyable.

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Legends of Tomorrow ‘Return of The Mack’ Review

Originally published on Set The Tape

Victorian vampires, Jax with amnesia, the resurrection of Damien Darhk, the return of Rip Hunter, and the first appearance of Mallus. The latest episode of Legends of Tomorrow crams so much into its run time that we’re left absolutely spoilt.

Events kick off this week in Victorian London, where Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvil) is on the trail of an anachronism but ends up stumbling across a dead bodies that appears to have fallen victim to a vampire. Luckily, back on the Waverider, the team has seen that this anachronism is similar to the one that led them to Zari (Tala Ashe) and decide to go investigate, much to the joy of Mick (Dominic Purcell), who reveals that he’s always wanted to kill a vampire as he pulls out a carefully crafted stake that he’s apparently been carrying for years.

With the team and Rip back together, things start to feel a little bit more like the first season of the show, which is never a bad thing. Unfortunately, Rip proves to be less than trustworthy throughout the episode, leading on a particularly sad ending as the character is dragged off by the Time Bureau. It’s unfortunate that Rip won’t be coming back onto the team, but as Sara (Caity Lotz) points out, he’s betrayed every group he’s worked with, and he simply can;t be a part of the Legends anymore. I do like the shift in dynamic that’s been going on since season two, where Sara has been firmly placed as the captain of the ship and the leader of the team, something that will never again be in doubt after this episode.

Whilst the episode begins as a fun vampire hunt through Victorian London, the comedy takes a back seat for the latter half of the episode as it becomes apparent that this isn’t just an adventure of the week romp, but an integral part of the season arc. Whilst I do love the humour of the stand alone episodes, like the previous ‘Phone Home’, it’s great when the show combines that fun humour with the drama that makes up their big stories. Having been promised vampires, the team is more than a little disappointed to discover that there is no vampire, just a time displaced dead body that a cult is trying to bring back to life. Unfortunately for everyone, this body is none other than Damien Darhk, from after his season three appearance and death on Arrow.

I was initially a little skeptical that we needed more Darhk in the show, but thanks to how brilliantly the episode plays his resurrection scene and the massacre that follows I’m actually looking forward to seeing more from him, especially with this weeks guest star Courtney Ford. I won’t say who she’s playing as the episode doesn’t, but it’s going to be interesting when Darhk finds out who she is. We also get some more information on Mallus this week, with some quite frightening hints that he may be some kind of demonic godlike entity, and get to hear the seasons big bad when he speaks through Ford’s character, voiced brilliantly by John Noble. This certainly sets the stage for an interesting, and potentially frightening season to come.

This week also managed to add more preparation to the upcoming departure of Professor Stein (Victor Garber), as Jax (Franz Drameh) and Ray (Brandon Routh) try to sever the psychic bond between Jax and Stein, which results in some amusement when Jax suffers from short term memory loss. Whilst they did attempt this in secret, Stein discovers their plan, and doesn’t exactly disapprove of it either. The separation of the Firestorm matrix, and making the hero into a single entity is sure to be a complex task, one which will surely have an amusing journey over the rest of the season.

Thanks to a tonal shift half way through, this episode manages to blend ridiculous humour and dramatic developments as it introduces the seasons main antagonist, and returns one of its stand out villains to the series. With the episode raising more mystery than it solves, the rest of the season is sure to be an interesting journey across time.

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Thursday, 23 November 2017

Teacher Loses Job For Being Gay

A teacher in Western Australia, Craig Campbell, has lost his job as a substitute teacher after he came out as gay to his colleagues at South Coast Baptist College in Perth.

Campbell, who had been working at the school for three years, went to the college as a student, and attended their church, chose to come out at his workplace following a family wedding that he attended with his partner, which was also attended by a number of the school's students.

'It got to the point where I was like, 'I can't hide this anymore',' he spoke out to the press, describing his decision to come out. Campbell, who was openly gay in his personal and family life, chose to inform his head of department about his sexuality. 'I told them I was in a relationship, and obviously this is something that I believe is fine from both a moral and theological standpoint.'

Following this meeting with his head of department, Campbell was removed from the list of relief teachers, effectively firing him from his position at the school.

The college principal, Des Mitchell, who can be seen on the college website next to the school's motto 'Rigorous Minds, Compassionate Hearts', confirmed on television to 7 News Perth that Campbell had lost his job because of his sexuality.

'At present, for us, we choose not to employ someone who is openly gay.' He told reporters. 'There is an inconsistency with his beliefs on sexuality and the college's beliefs.'

Campbell went on to say that he was not out during his time at the college as a student, but recognised that some of his students were struggling in the same issues of being gay in an intolerant environment.

'I could see that there were a number of kids who were struggling with it as well. And I'm sure their experience is just like it was for me,' he said.

Unfortunately, the school will not be facing any legal action for homophobic discrimination as LGBT+ employees at private or religious schools can be fired for no reason under the law.

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Looking Back At Star Wars Battlefront

Originally published on Set The Tape

Star Wars Battlefront is an amazing shooter experience, one that not only captures the look and feel of the original Star Wars trilogy perfectly, but uses this setting to give players some truly unique feeling gameplay moments.

The game embraces its franchise setting to a degree that I haven’t seen in many Star Wars video games. Where a great deal of Star Wars video games will use the basic style and trappings of the universe to make the game look like Star Wars, Star Wars Battlefront goes into such great detail that it doesn’t look like Star Wars, but feels like Star Wars. And that’s a big difference.

The game goes out of its way to make character, weapon, and location design feel like it’s jumped straight out of the films. It includes the roughness around the edges, the scuffs on weapons and armour, the scorch marks on the bodies of the X-Wing fighters; it goes into that level of detail that most games in the franchise simply lack.

Star Wars Battlefront even goes as far as including original film music and sound effects that are so accurate I wouldn’t be surprised if they were lifted from the original films rather than recreated. Whilst other games do feature such details, like the iconic sounds of the TIE FIghters, here it just feels more real, that more attention has been given to these little pieces.

The result of all of this attention and love of the source material means that Star Wars Battlefront is one of the most engaging Star Wars experiences, one where you actually feel like you’re part of the Galactic Empire, or fighting for the freedom of the galaxy as a hero of the Rebel Alliance.

Star Wars Battlefront may be missing a single player mode (more on that later) but it has so many multi-player game types that it feels more varied than other online shooters. Whilst some of these modes are very recognisable to other games, there are a few stand out modes that can either only be done by Star Wars, or at least benefit hugely from the franchise.

Walker Assault is probably the best example of this, where the Empire team is taking part in an attack upon a Rebel base, escorting their gigantic AT-AT Walkers across a huge battlefield whilst the Rebels try desperately to destroy the walking behemoths. Whilst the odds of winning as the Rebels relies heavily on having a very, very good team behind you it is easily one of the most tense and frantic game modes, as the Rebels try desperately to call in fighter strikes to take out the AT-AT’s.

The game also incorporates many of the iconic characters of the franchise, allowing players to take advantage of character pick-ups in order to play as heroes and villains of the Star Wars trilogy such as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and Boba Fett.

Whilst these moments don’t last long you do feel incredibly powerful when you are able to transform into these characters, whether it’s running around with a lightsabre, flying around the battle with a jetpack, or killing enemies with Force Lightning, being these characters are a match highlight. The system is even employed in the air combat modes, where character pick-ups allow you to pilot the Millennium Falcon or Slave one for a brief time.

For all that is to be praised about the game, it’s not perfect. There are a number of smaller issues that let the game down, including the difficulty level of certain game modes, such as winning as the Rebellion on Walker Assault. However, the biggest flaw of the game is the lack of a single player element.

Many games understand that a lot of players are interested in playing online with others, and that for some gamers this overrides the desire to play a single player game, but Star Wars Battlefront has focused on this aspect of the game to the extreme, completely dropping the single player experience.

This leads to a game that, for me at least, doesn’t quite feel like a complete games, that there’s something incredibly important missing from the experience. Thankfully, this is something that has been rectified for the sequel; which will hopefully mean a vast improvement.

Star Wars Battlefront is a very competent and well crafted game, with hundreds of hours of gameplay available if you enjoy playing online with others. Perhaps not to everyone’s liking, but still one of the best made Star Wars games in years.

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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Why Do People Care More About Animals Than Transgender People?

It has been revealed this week the members of parliament in the UK have voted to reject inclusion of animal sentience into the European Union Withdrawal Bill. This vote essentially means that the UK does not recognise that animals have emotions or feel pain.

This decision has rightly been condemned by media outlets, celebrities, and the general public as people call out the decision as being cruel, ignorant, and downright false. Whilst I completely agree with those sentiments, and feel that it is absolutely abhorrent that the British government would make such a ruling, one of the things that has surprised me most is the level of outrage that this has received.

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to social media to condemn this, newspapers have reported on it, television and radio have discussed this, and in near all of these cases people have condemned animals losing this fundamental protection. What truly upsets me, however, is how more people are outraged by this than the hate that befalls the transgender community.

In the week leading up to the animal sentience vote, the same week as the Trans Day of Remembrance which recognised the members of the transgender community that have died or been killed in 2017, British media published an anti-trans article every single day, with such publications as The Daily Mail and The Sun stirring up hate towards the trans community.

Whilst this was an increase on the normal amount of anti-trans sentiment, this was only the latest salvo in the war against the trans community. This year we have seen ourselves attacked in the media, mocked on television, attempts made to ban us from the US military, been portrayed as sexual predators.

The push back against giving transgender people equal rights with the cisgender community, to be recognised as regular human beings hasn't been met with the same level of outrage or condemnation that the animal sentience vote has received.

You don't need to look far on social media to see regular, everyday people clamouring for animals to be recognised as sentient, and condemn those who don't feel the same, calling people inhuman or in some cases monsters for supporting the vote. In contrast, when people turn around to those with anti-trans sentiments and call them out on the issue are often told that these people are entitled to their opinion.

Transphobe and TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) are terms that we are told by those with anti-trans sentiments are rude or abusive. We are told that our desire for equality is forcing our opinions on others.

Why are people who feel that animals shouldn't be recognised as sentient seen as horrible people, yet those who deny trans people their identities and their rights simply voicing an opinion?

The answer appears to be, the public see transgender people as less than animals.

I have been discriminated against in my job, I've been sworn at in the street, laughed at, mocked, called a freak, had people tell me I'm delusional, that I'm a man, I've been spat on, threatened with physical attacks, rape, and murder. I've not seen a single person come to my defence in these situations, I've been told to shrug it off or ignore it. If people had abused animals in such a way in public they would instantly have been called out on it.

I know that this article seems to be nothing but a rant and a moan, that there's nothing that will change from this, but the constant media assault, the constant fight to be seen as a human being is just so tiring and so demoralising.

Being trans isn't easy, trans people are under constant attack, we're being told that our identities aren't valid, that we're delusional or mentally ill, we're made out to be criminals, rapists and child molesters in order to push political agendas; and any time we speak out against this we're demonised for wanting to be seen as human.

Animal rights are important, they matter, but if you feel that trans people are worth less than animals, perhaps you should think a bit more about your stance on the matter.

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