Monday, 31 March 2014

Sticking It To The Man

South Park: The Stick of Truth’ is a game I remember hearing about years ago and quickly forgot as all news of its development seemed to disappear into the background of other bigger gaming news.  Then, all of a sudden it was here, on the shelves and ready to buy. 

To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect from the game, most games made from animated TV shows end up being fairly shit.  Family Guy and Simpson’s are both guilty of this.  Everything I’d seen for the game had made it look brilliant though and I so desperately wanted it to be so.  And you know what?  It was!

Not only does the game feel like it fits in perfectly into the universe of the show, with the same brilliantly bad animation and unique humour, but it also plays as a damn good game in its own rights. 

Stick of Truth features dozens of the show's iconic characters.
TSOT is an RPG and plays just like one.  You pick your class, choosing between Fighter, Mage, Thief and Jew.  You equip your character with different armour and weapons that each has differing stats and abilities and you complete both main and optional quests around the town of South Park.

If you’re a fan of role playing games then this will all feel familiar to you and you’ll fall fight into the game with little problems and soon be exploring the iconic locations from the show and interacting with the townspeople. 

Fight alongside iconic characters at iconic locations.
The storyline is fairly simple (to begin with) you’re the new kid in town and you soon find yourself drawn into an epic battle between the human Kingdom of Koopa Keep, the KKK, and the elves, all of whom are fighting for control over the fabled Stick of Truth.  Except none of it’s really happening, it’s just the local kids playing a game.  But it works perfectly.  It doesn’t feel out of place within the South Park universe, it doesn’t feel shoehorned in or forced and when things inevitably descend into chaos and the fate of the town hangs in the balance it’s true to what we’ve seen before.

If you like role playing games and enjoys South Park then there is no reason not to play this game as you’ll love it.  I completed the main story in roughly fifteen hours but still had lots of side quests to complete and collectables to find which ensures longer play time and at points I found myself laughing out loud at the brilliant humour.  Whether you’re a fan of the show or someone with just a passing familiarity then you should definitely give this game a try as you won’t help but fall a little in love with it.


Amy Walker Facebook
Trans Girl Writer Facebook Fan Page
Amy Walker Twitter

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Walking Home Alone

So, the other week I experienced something new for the first time.  I was out of the house, presenting as female all on my own.  It’s not as epic as that might sound, I had a speech therapy session first thing in the morning and just stayed ‘girled up’ all day.  That night I went round my friends and we hung out.  Then came the part I hadn’t thought about, walking home in the middle of the night on my own.

Now, I usually do this a lot, some of my work shifts require me to walk through some pretty dodgy parts of my hometown very late at night so I’m no stranger to being out and about after dark.  The thing that I was worried about this time though was the fact that I was presenting as myself.

I know it shouldn’t really make a difference but even before I left my friends house I was filled with worry.  What if something happened to me?  What if someone could tell I was trans and made me a target?

I swallowed my fear and left my friends house and began the journey home.  It wasn’t too bad for the most part.  I found myself a little on edge but it wasn’t  like I was shaking with fear the whole way home.  However, there then came the point where I had to pass by a group of guys.  As soon as I saw them I filled with dread and felt vulnerable.  They weren’t even on the same side of the road as me, but even so I felt on edge.

The only thing different about this time walking home and the hundreds of others I had was that this time I didn’t looks male.  That’s it, nothing else.  So why was it that little change could have such an effect on me that I was literally afraid to walk past a group of guys?

Perhaps it’s the news stories I read of trans women, and even regular women, being targets of violence and aggression when they are walking alone at night.  But those kind of things are rare and I knew logically that nothing like that would happen to me yet I still felt fear.

Is it my irrationality or do we genuinely live in a world where women feel fear where they shouldn’t, in scenarios where men never would?  I’m happy that I’m transitioning, that I’m becoming the real me.  But if this is the type of thing I’m going to experience more often, simply because that’s the way the world is then theirs something wrong with the world.


Amy Walker Facebook
Trans Girl Writer Facebook Fan Page
Amy Walker Twitter

A Cabin Full of Surprises

I’ve been meaning to watch ‘Cabin in the Woods’ since it came out.  I like horror and I like Joss Whedon so it made perfect sense to watch it right?  Then everyone I know that’s seen it and every review I see online begins to not only praise the film but rave about it.

Now, most people would see that as something that would spur them on to watch it, but as many of the people who know me will attest it’s the kind of thing that drives me away from stuff.  I’ve had experiences where films that have been so hyped up that by the time I finally get round to seeing it they nowhere live up to it.  I mean, it took me twelve years to finally watch ‘Donnie Darko’ because of this kind of thing!

As such ‘Cabin in the Woods’ in the woods had been out for well over a year and my friends were continually asking me why I hadn’t yet seen it.  Well, one of my friends had had enough and gave me the DVD in an attempt to drive me into watching it.  A few days later and I’m looking for something to watch of an evening and I see the DVD sitting their and I think ‘oh sod it what the hell’ and pick it up.

Our group of heroes ready to be picked off one at a time.
Now I knew going into it that their was going to be something special about the film, that it was more than what the title suggested and was going to be more than the average teenagers in the woods kind of film.  None of that knowledge, however, could have prepared me for what I was about to see.

Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard essentially create a love letter to classic horror  films.  It follows the standard formula and set up, but in its own special way that points out the silliness of these character and situational stereotypes without being disrespectful to them.   The film also throws so many different types of monsters and creatures at the audience that there’s something in their for everyone but manages to balance it well that the end doesn’t feel like the cluster fuck that it could have so easily have become.

The plot is amazing.  Its well written and unfolds in such a way that there’s always something more to learn right up until the very end, and by the time the film does end you’ll find yourself wishing their could have been loads more.  The film feels like the start of something big, like the tip of the iceberg teasing us at what else their could be.  there is so much sense of mystery, grandeur and history here that this could very easily have been the first film in a new horror franchise.  But luckily its not.

A film not afraid to tread new ground and be daring.
And I say luckily because whilst I would have loved to have seen more the film stands out so much more for  being a one off.  If you want more  out of  it you’ll watch it again and again and its one of those films where you get more from it on subsequent viewings.

I literally cannot find fault with this film.  I enjoyed it that much that less than twenty four hours after watching it I had my own copy on blurry!  We need more films like this.  Films that subvert expectations, that aren’t scared to do their own thing and challenge the norm and just play it safe.  A lot of film makers can learn a lesson from ‘Cabin in the Woods’ of how to make a film that I’m sure will stand out for years to come.