Friday, 8 February 2013

Where is the quality British drama?

It seems that the last few years there has been a certain upheaval in quality in TV programs, particularly coming from the US. Shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and House of Cards just ooze quality, quality that feels like it blurs the line between TV show and movie, especially when movie star talent like Kevin Spacey (house of cards) are taking roles in shows of these calibre. So I ask myself sometimes, why isn't British TV like this? Where is our breaking bad? why are we still making dribble like blandings?

I think the answer to this question is, as much as we as Brits love to play the superior to our American friends, our TV companies don't want to push the envelope or they still think our dramas are better than the Americans, which if you compare what is considered "bums on seats" viewing the British shows just don't compare. The big shows on in the UK at the moment are Call The Midwife, Ripper Street, Dancing on The Edge, and even though the season has just finished I think Downton Abbey is worth a mention.

While Brit shows get talented actors they seem to lack that hook
I recently sat down and watched the first episode of Dancing on The Edge which while the production values are certainly there and the talent is certainly there it was stiff and at times it was quite awkward to watch, and it was boring. Which is something I imagine TV show makers don't want the audience thinking. It also didn't go anywhere, it is about the band and their rise to stardom but the rise to stardom -which we know is going to happen thanks to the adverts showing them performing in glitzy hotels - was so slow and dragged on for a lifetime. Also worth a note I felt an actor of John Goodman's calibre in a show like this was wasted, they made him stand around and "look weird" because that's what his character does. Why is a program like this seen as top quality British TV? It wasn't written that well, the characters were crappy and the big knife to the shows heart is that it was boring. The lead in at the beginning of the episode designed to get you interested was so poorly pulled off and felt so out of place and disjointed that the only feeling it conjures up is confusion, not intrigue. Compare this to the opening of the latest series of breaking bad, which I won't spoil for the slow pokes out there, which, while it was out of place, it felt expertly put together and conjures up a feeling of intrigue that I find myself questioning on a daily basis.

I guess what I am trying to say here is, where is the quality British drama? Something of the same calibre as Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad? We definitely have the actors of a high enough calibre to act in these sort of programs because they're all in American dramas these days. Sure, our dramas are playing catch up but they seem to lack that certain something that makes the American ones truly special.

Monday, 28 January 2013

A review: DmC: Devil May Cry

I love Devil May Cry, I'm not going to hide it. The Devil May Cry series is one of my favourites and has been one of my favourites since I first played the demo that came bundled with Code Veronica way back when. The games had marvellous combat, a great style and a strangely likeable character. DMC 2 was a bit of a misstep for the series but DMC 3 + 4 were great comebacks to what made the series great, and now here we are with DmC: Devil May Cry. A reboot of said franchise, developed by Ninja Theory. Which I was suprised at to be honest as Team Ninja's most notable effort was Heavenly Sword and that was a great film to watch but a very mediocre game to play, felt more like feminist god of war but without the fun.

Time to get the elephant in the room out of the way first because this comes up every time DmC is mentioned and I'm not going to avoid it. They've changed Dante. He's younger, a self destructive kind and generally an asshole. I get the feeling this is Team Ninja's attempt to appeal to the goth/emo subculture and it would have been a roaring success say 3-4 years ago when that was mega popular. I don't mind the new Dante truth be told, he's a bit of a douche and he is written very poorly but it's a game, and a game shouldn't be judged on it's storyline especially not a Devil May Cry game where the focus has always been on the crazy gameplay first, story second.

The gameplay of DmC is great, it's very dumbed down from before as gone is the ability the jump cancel and also gone seems the crazy gameplay of before. The new system is simplified, you have your set combos and you can mix it up with juggles or just stay on the ground. The game changer here, which while not as drastic as team ninja may have suggested is the devil and angel arms, these are two weapons that you acquire early on in the game that give you the ability to pull an enemy toward you or pull yourself toward an enemy. It's a great ability and is great for keeping those long air combos going, also they give you a very quick scythe and a really slow, but powerful axe. You can switch between these weapons at any time by pressing a trigger button and it's really sweet to mix up these combos with the normal combos. You also get the guns too but they're not really a major part of dmc apart from keeping juggles going.

I thought the gameplay was very enjoyable and it's nice that it's simplified a little so you can perform some really crazy actions with ease, it's rewarding as a player that this doesn't require some controller magic, however the downfall is, as it's easier to perform these amazing feats of dexterity it lessens the reward payoff.

Graphically this game is nice to look at, Team Ninja have done a lot with the libo city landscape and it's very cool when the city attacks you. The game has some rough spots where it doesn't look great or there are odd instances of clipping, for example dantes sword clips through his jacket quite a lot but to get hung up on issues like that is stupid.

I didn't pay enough attention to the story to tell you about that.

Overall: The game is fun, and at the end of the day that's what you want the game to be. Forget about the whole nonsense that they changed the character, this game while shy of being deserving of the Devil May Cry name is a great action game and worth the price of admission.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Job hunting

Since dropping out of university I was presented with a choice; do nothing or look for a job, and while I was unable to undertake this task straight away due to an illness that came on very suddenly and knocked me on my arse for the good part of a month, I was always worried about job hunting, essentially staring into rejection and the possibility that no-one will want to hire me ever. So this year, 2013, I decided to say screw the rejection, I'll take it, because like Batman, someone will need me at some point and I'm sure it'll help build character. I am normally not a motivated person, I would put that down to just looking at things the wrong way(i.e glass half empty as opposed to half full) but it seems job hunting has lit a certain fire under me and I find myself motivated to the point that I just desperately want a job, so much so that I am applying to everything my skills will allow me to do. I will say this about job hunting, it's like hitting your head against a brick wall. You often get rejected for small reasons or you don't hear of anything at all from some employers, or you get to the interview stage, feel you've interviewed great only to be turned down, but hit that brick wall enough and it will crack eventually and that's what I plan on doing. 

In Aberystwyth, the brick wall is harder because the town is so small and quite full of skilled individuals who come and go year in and year out, but nonetheless I'm still hammering away. It is also very early days in my career of hunting for a career so I shouldn't look at it in a negative light, it's been a good ride so far and I have been interviewed once and while it was a scary experience it has taught me what to expect for future interviews and has also taught me I should try and calm my nerves a bit more before an interview. It's hard, but the pay off will be worth it.

I don't want to be on benefits forever, some people fashion a lifestyle out of benefits I don't believe that's me. Previously I have sat back and done nothing but 2013 is a new year and I wouldn't go as far to say it's a new me but I'm having a different outlook on things. I want to earn, I want to feel the feeling of earning, self satisfaction and I believe it would help develop me as a person, I've never worked, I won't hide that, bar the odd bit of work experience so the prospect of work is all new to me and because it's uncharted territory in my 21 years of living it makes it all the more exciting.