Frivolous Waste of Time

Sci-fi, fantasy and video games

Archive for the month “June, 2014”

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

This is the first non-Cosmere book I’ve read by Sanderson (not counting his Wheel of Time books), and my first step into his YA writing. I’m trying to read more YA stuff, as I recently qualified as a teacher and am always on the lookout for more books that I can recommend to students. A good YA book manages to be accessible whilst still telling a good, meaningful story. Steelheart absolutely succeeds there; I loved it, and I think kids will too.

Steelheart takes place in Chicago 10 years after the ‘Calamity’, a light that appeared above the Earth and transformed a small portion of the human population into ‘Epics’, giving them super powers. Sadly, no heroes arose, with Epic powers inevitably turning their wielders into sociopaths obsessed with power and domination over normals. The world has been ravaged by the Epics, with one of the few bastions of order being Chicago, now known (a bit ridiculously) as Newcago, which is under the utter control of Steelheart, an Epic with the powers of flight, invulnerability and the ability to turn objects into steel. David is a young man whose father was killed by Steelheart during his first subjugation of the city, and has spent his entire youth studying Epics and their weaknesses so he can eventually take his revenge. He stumbles across the Reckoners, a group of normals who hunt down and assassinate low level Epics. David joins the group and soon persuades them to expand their scope and aim for a higher target; Steelheart himself. David is the only person who has seen Steelheart bleed, and in his memory is hidden the secret to bringing him down.

Sanderson isn’t typically known for being a pacey writer; that’s not a criticism, his slow builds towards awesome climaxes is a real strength of his writing. As YA books should be, Steelheart is Sanderson picking up the pace, and this is a book that doesn’t really take a breath from start to finish, as David and the Reckoners work their way through Steelheart’s inner circle before tackling the man himself. The central mysteries at the core of the story are satisfying, and the plot has that pleasing sense of internal logic and consistency which has become one of Sanderson’s hallmarks. This isn’t quite the epic story of Sanderson’s other works, but it doesn’t need to be; it’s a more personal story, focusing on one man’s vendetta. I love Sanderson’s epic writing, but his slightly more focused work like The Emperor’s Soul are great as well. There’s some similarity between Steelheart and The Final Empire, the first Mistborn book, in that both are about a small, plucky group of rebels working to take down a dictator with God-like powers. Steelheart is probably the most action heavy book Sanderson’s written, and it’s actually brilliantly done. I tend to glaze over during action scenes, but the many conflicts in this novel, particularly during the finale, are genuinely really exciting.

David isn’t exactly ground breaking as a protagonist, but that’s often the case in YA books, providing a relatively blank slate for readers to project themselves onto. One trait I did find rather endearing is his inability to use metaphors, which is a delightfully weird little quirk which came up pretty regularly throughout the book. It’s the little details like this that set Steelheart apart from other YA fare. Steelheart is a scary villain, although for most of the novel he’s a remote presence; we could have done with more of him. The supporting cast are likeable, but thinly drawn, with most lacking the spark that Sanderson usually inserts into even his minor characters. Still, overall I like these characters enough that I’m looking forward to seeing what they get up to in the sequel coming later this year, Firefight.

Although it doesn’t quite match Sanderson’s Cosmere stuff for scope, Steelheart is a compulsively readable and extremely entertaining novel. I’d recommend it to anyone, of any age.  death

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Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

Red Country is the most recent of Joe Abercrombie’s First Law spin-off books, and I’m genuinely really going to miss this world. I wasn’t convinced at first, but as has often been the case with Abercrombie’s books there was a tipping point where I realised I was absolutely hooked, with the slower ground work at the beginning being all worth it. Red Country doesn’t quite top my personal favourite Best Served Cold, but it’s nonetheless a fantastic read and certainly one of Abercrombie’s best.

Red Country takes place in the Near and Far Country, a relatively untamed frontier between Starikland and the Old Empire. There are two main protagonists. Shy South is a former bandit who has given up her unlawful ways to return to her family farm, tended by her young siblings and her step-father, the gentle and cowardly Lamb. When returning from business in the town of Squaredeal, Shy and Lamb find their farm raided, and her siblings kidnapped. Shy embarks on an epic journey across the Near Country and into the Far Country, following the trail of the kidnappers. The other protagonist is Temple, an unreliable lawyer in the service of the Company of the Gracious Hand, led by none other than infamous soldier of fortune, Nicomo Cosca. With Union Inquisitors in tow, they are entering the Near Country is search of the fled leadership of a rebellion against the Union in Starikland. After a particularly brutal sacking of an innocent town, Temple flees the Company, eventually coming across Shy and a group of travellers who are making their way across the Far Country, to the town of Crease.

There’s an extremely strong Wild West influence in Red Country, with Abercrombie playing around with many Western tropes, but without resorting to cliché. Possibly the biggest difference between Red Country and Abercrombie’s other works is that, for once, his protagonists are actually fundamentally decent people. Where the trio of Glokta, Jezal and Logen of the original trilogy were all terrible people who flirted with doing good before returning to their nefarious ways, Shy and Temple are good people who have, in their past, fallen into evil and murderous ways. Although I liked Abercrombie’s earlier characters, the relentless pessimism of the series was getting a bit wearying, so Red Country’s slightly more positive tone in welcome. Of course, all things are relative, and by most people’s standards Red Country would be a deeply unpleasant, violent and dark book, but compared to his earlier work there in a streak of good at the centre of the whole thing. Red Country is also a much more personal book than the others. The First Law trilogy and The Heroes told of vital moments for The Union, and Best Served Cold started intimate but escalated to epic. The stakes are somewhat lower in Red Country, really only the lives of two children, with a much lesser focus on massive battles. There’s lots of action of course, but it’s grittier and more intimate than the great sieges in Best Served Cold or the Battle of Osrung in The Heroes.

Red Country is just as savagely funny as the rest of the series, and Abercrombie’s unique style has been so refined at this point to being instantly recognisable. He’s not afraid to leave the typical plain prose of the genre behind, and he does an excellent job of conveying not just the appearance of his settings, but the feeling behind them as well. The cess pit town of Crease is particularly memorable and well-drawn, showing Abercrombie’s impressive world building ability.

The new characters of Red Country are great; Shy is grizzled and tough, but with a heart of gold, and Temple is witty and charming. In some ways he’s similar to Jezal dan Luthar from the original trilogy, but where Jezal was a coward to the core, Temple is a good man buried under layers and layers of a bad man. I’m always happy to see more from Cosca, the Jack Sparrow of the First Law world, and he’s as amusing and likeable a monster as he ever was. There are some very nice appearances from characters in the earlier books, some as cameos and others with more extended roles. Caul Shivers appears briefly, but is given enough time to allow his story arc which has stretched between Best Served Cold, The Heroes and Red Country time to pay off and resolve in an extremely satisfying manner.

Now, I typically try to go fairly spoiler free in these reviews, and there’s one element of the book whose spoiler status is oddly nebulous. It’s an element which will be completely obvious to anyone who has read the original trilogy, but these books are also aimed at appealing to newcomers, and this part may give away key elements of a major characters history. I’m going to talk about that now, so don’t go any further if you’re not sure.

So, Red Country is the return of Logen Ninefingers. He’s never referred to by that name, not even the Bloody-Nine, but it’s him. Since plunging into the river following his betrayal by Black Dow in Last Argument of Kings, Logen moved south and helped raise a family, putting his bloody life behind him and taking the new name of Lamb. As the story goes on, Lamb is forced to become Logen again, and the steady stripping away of the pretence of gentleness and the re-emergence of the Bloody Nine is absolutely thrilling to read. There’s something tragic about it too; Logen had finally succeeded in putting his past behind him and building a new life, but the overarching theme of this novel is that nobody can really escape their past. I enjoyed Logen a lot in the original trilogy, but I think it’s in Red Country that I’ve liked him best.

Red Country isn’t necessarily the best received of Abercrombie’s books, but it’s certainly one of my favourites. I’m definitely looking forward to giving Half a King, Abercrombie’s new book set in a new setting, a go, but I’m also hotly anticipating Abercrombie returning to this world. It’s a good ‘un.Red-Country-book-of-2012

Watch Dogs for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC

If there’s ever been a game which has fallen victim to its own hype, it’s got to be Watch Dogs. From the stunning E3 reveal to release, anticipation spiralled downwards and downwards, until Watch Dogs was released to a fair amount of apathy from the gaming community (not that this hurt sales figures mind you). I have no sympathy whatsoever for Ubisoft though; Watch Dogs had one of the most obnoxious marketing campaigns I’ve ever seen. From the ludicrous amount of collectors editions, to their fumbling of the visual downgrade, to the ridiculous description of Aiden Pearce’s baseball cap as iconic before the game even released, Watch Dogs became synonymous with the idea of games as a product, rather than games as an experience. It’s a shame really, because behind all of that Watch Dogs is actually a pretty damn good game, and if Ubisoft had cut down on the hyperbole it might have been much more warmly received.

Watch Dogs is set in a Chicago under the sway of CTOS, a city wide network run by the shadowy Blume Corporation and follows Aiden Pearce, a hacker and criminal, who at the opening of the game has successfully robbed the Merlaut Hotel with his partner Damien. Whilst hacking their accounts, Aiden comes across a strange file, before being intercepted by another mysterious hacker. Scared for his family, Aiden flees with them to the nearby town of Pawnee. In a tunnel, an assassination attempt crashes the car and takes the life of Lena, Aiden’s niece. Aiden becomes consumed with vengeance, and uses his prodigious hacking skills to hunt down those responsible for Lena’s death, in the process discovering a conspiracy stretching all the way to the top of Chicago.

The story isn’t exactly ground breaking, but it gets the job done, with a good supporting cast and some nice villains. Watch Dogs has one crippling narrative problem however, and that is its protagonist Aiden Pearce. Aiden is possibly one of the worst protagonists in gaming. He’s a bland, gravelly voiced anti-hero cliché, utterly devoid of anything approaching personality. He makes the Master Chief’s and Marcus Fenix’s of the world look like Hamlet. He’s also utterly unsympathetic; I think we’re meant to feel sorry for Aiden, but all I felt was disgust. Don’t get me wrong, games can get away with unsympathetic protagonists, but they have to at least be interesting or entertaining; look at the trio from GTA5 for an example of this done right. You can also sort of get away with a boring protagonist if they’re likeable enough. What you can not get away with is unsympathetic and boring. That’s Aiden Pearce. There are some members of the supporting cast who could have made genuinely interesting protagonists, but none of them are grumpy, male or white enough to qualify. Aiden is a millstone around Watch Dog’s neck, a character who drags the entire experience down.

Watch Dogs is hardly the revolutionary experience Ubisoft suggested, but it is nonetheless a fine addition to the open world city game genre. Where it was promised as something which might dethrone GTA, in reality Watch Dogs is closer to the similarly canine sounding Sleeping Dogs; a game which takes most of its cues from GTA whilst offering some cool features of its own. The main feature is, of course, the hacking. This is usually accomplished by holding a button over a reticule, causing the desired effect to occur. This can be the raising or lowering of bridges, or appearance of road spikes, or cause transformers to explode, taking out enemies. In fact, at its best, there are times where objectives can be finished without even making a physical presence in the location, simply hopping between security cameras and using the environment to take out enemies. I liked to use a hybrid approach of hacking and quick headshots, assisted by the bullet time ‘focus’ that can be activated with a click of the right stick. The combat is actually really good, significantly better than GTA5s, with Aiden being much less of a bullet sponge than your average protagonist, requiring a fair bit more thought and strategy. You probably could play the whole game guns blazing, but it’d be hard, and not as much fun. Watch Dogs has also come under considerable flack for the driving, which is even more arcadey than that in Sleeping Dogs, but I actually liked it, particularly when using a bike. Watch Dogs just plays very nicely, lacking the chunkiness which can often blight this genre.

This is also a massive game. The main story is lengthy and pleasantly epic in scope, and there’s a vast amount of side stuff. Happily enough, it’s actually all a lot of fun, particularly compared to Ubisoft’s usual efforts in this department. This is a Ubisoft game, so it follows the Assassin’s Creed/Far Cry 3 structure of climbing high points in the map to unlock surrounding side content, and there is a lot of it. The collectibles are actually pretty worthwhile, with the ‘voyeur’ collectible letting you gain glimpses into people’s lives, some of which are hilarious, and some actually really moving. The side missions are numerous and varied, and never really got dull for me. You can even ‘check in’ to areas in the map Foursquare style, if that’s something that appeals to you. The biggest side attraction however are the ‘Digital Trips’, surprisingly deep mini-games which throw Aiden into bizarre situations. There’s ‘Madness’, which sees Aiden seeking to mow down demons in a hellish nightmare world. There’s ‘Alone’, where Chicago has been taken over by robots and Aiden must stealthily liberate it. Next is ‘Psychedelic’, where Aiden bounces around the world on colourful flowers. Finally there’s ‘Spider Tank’, in which the player takes control of the titular vehicle and wreaks havoc. All are incredibly fun, and well developed, with most even containing their own skill trees. There are plenty of things to quibble with about Watch Dogs, but value for money is not one of them.

Much has been said of the visual downgrade Watch Dogs suffered between the E3 showing and release. Again, Ubisoft shot themselves in the foot because Watch Dogs actually is quite a nice looking game, but it will never seem like it compared to what was promised at E3. Particularly in the rain at night, Chicago looks beautiful. The rustic charms of Pawnee outside Chicago offer a nice variety. The character designs are generally good, although Aiden is ridiculously over designed. The voice acting is generally brilliant, particularly in the case of fellow hackers Clara and T-Bone. The exception is, once again, Aiden. You noticing a pattern? Thankfully even Aiden can’t ruin the music, which is synth heavy and tense, and really helps to bring a solid edge of drama to the proceedings.

Watch Dogs is far from perfect, but I actually liked it a lot. It’s been widely written off, which I think is slightly unfair, although I won’t be shedding any years for Ubisoft over this. The inevitable Watch Dogs sequel, which I hope is over a year away but probably isn’t, should be able to fix a lot of the problems here, and Ubisoft will have another franchise to push obsessively. If you can separate the game from the business, Watch Dogs is a damn fine game and definitely worth a go.watch-dogs-video-game-wallpaper

Alpha Protocol for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC

Ah, that time during the lulls of a new console generation where you can go back and give those games you missed on the last-gen a try. Alpha Protocol really appealed to me in the run up to its release, but its disappointing reviews put me off. Its proper bargain bin stuff now, I bought it for £2.00. Let me put it this way; there are very few things better than this that you can get for £2.00.

Alpha Protocol follows Mike Thornton, an American agent with a backstory chosen by the player. He is recruited by Alpha Protocol, a clandestine organisation working for the US Government. For his first assignment he is sent to Saudi Arabia to investigate the terrorist group Al-Samad and its leader Shaheed. It’s not long before he finds out that things are much more complex than they seem, uncovering a massive global conspiracy involving the weapons dealer Halbech and Alpha Protocol themselves.

The whole ‘evil weapons dealer causes global instability to create sales’ has been overdone a lot, and it can’t really be said that Alpha Protocol tells a particularly original, or even especially interesting story. What it does do well, perhaps even among the best I’ve seen, is react to the player’s choices in meaningful ways. Where Bioware hyped up the branching paths of the Mass Effect series, Obsidian quietly released a game that actually lives up to that promise, with a story which can go in quite different directions based on your choices, although admittedly still ending up in roughly the same place regardless. This element of choice gave me a sense of player agency which has only really been matched in The Walking Dead. Thornton himself is pretty bland, with generally the options for conversation being professional, aggressive or suave, but there’s a colourful supporting cast, which can at times get fairly ridiculous. This isn’t a plot to take particularly seriously, but it is intricate and well put together.

Sadly, where Alpha Protocol falls apart somewhat are its basic mechanics. It’s a third person action RPG, with a bit too much action and not enough RPG. Mass Effect got away with it because the action was actually quite good, but here it just isn’t strong enough to support the light RPG elements. A VATS like system might have worked a lot better. You can invest in different areas to shape your play style, from guns blazing, to stealth to gadget mastery. I went for stealth, and most of the time this worked fine, almost getting enjoyably overpowered towards the end. Where everything fell down is the horrendous boss fights, which much like Deus Ex: Human Revolution before it, throw all choice out the window, and become punishingly difficult if you hadn’t really invested in guns. There’s a noticeable lack of polish to the whole thing; this is a game released six months, maybe even a year too soon.

The game is structured as a series of missions centred in a selection of hubs, which include Saudi Arabia, Moscow, Taipei and Rome. From these hubs you can check your email, buy equipment and intel for your missions and then set out. Some missions are just conversations (which was fine with me because they were my favourite part of the game anyway), with many being much more lengthy, and a handful actually being quite clever. It’s not a truly epic RPG, but considering its messy execution it’s probably the right length. The game ended just before the dodgy gameplay became too much.

The voice acting is a strong point, with performances ranging from nuanced to enjoyably silly. Alpha Protocol has a large a varied cast, well brought to life. The character models are ok, but the environments are pretty ugly, with an overwhelmingly bland visual style. This game runs pretty horribly, with constant texture pop up and regular glitches marring the experience. It’s a shame, because this game actually has plenty of the little details that give it away as a labour of love for a talented team, who likely simply weren’t given the publisher support they needed.

Alpha Protocol is an extremely flawed game, and if I’d paid full price for it perhaps my views on it would be different. As it stands however, I actually quite liked it; it’s certainly worth £2.00.alphaprotocolcovernew580

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

I’m pretty sure that it was a formative part of every 1990s childhood to wait for a Hogwarts letter. I wasn’t the only one right? I turned 11, and even though I obviously knew rationally that of course I wasn’t going to get a letter, its fiction, I nonetheless strongly recall the faint embarrassed pangs of disappointment that I wouldn’t be training to be a wizard. Please tell me that it wasn’t only me. The Magicians may be about a magic school, but more than that it’s about that yearning for a place that doesn’t even exist, a feeling that the life they have isn’t the one they were destined to enjoy. The main difference between me and Quentin Coldwater, the protagonist of The Magicians, is that I stopped agonising about not going to Hogwarts by the time I was 12. Quentin is 17 and still obsessed with the magical world of his childhood…oh, and his magic world actually is real.

Quentin is an extremely intelligent young man, headed with his two best friends for an interview at Harvard. A third wheel to a couple, of which he is madly in love with one, Quentin is plagued by a fundamental ennui. He is obsessed with the ‘Fillory’ series by the fictional Christopher Plover, a series of Narnia-esque books about young English children being drawn into a delightful world of talking animals and Christian allegory, never quite escaping his childlike obsession with the series. Upon arriving at the interview, Quentin finds the professor dead, before being handed a mysterious letter by a paramedic. On the way home, Quentin stumbles into another world, Brakebills, a magic university hidden in New York. After passing the bizarre entrance exams, Quentin’s hidden magical abilities are unlocked, as he trains to become a magician.

Although the latter half of the book feels slightly rushed, I was absolutely captivated by The Magicians the whole way through. Although there are obvious shades of Harry Potter and Narnia, at times it almost feels like a fantastical version of The Secret History, Donna Tartt’s novel about a series of young, decadent students at an elite American university. The Magicians is pure post-modernism, something which doesn’t hide its influences but proudly wears it on its sleeve. There are a couple of charming moments where characters reference Harry Potter, clearly noting the parallels to their magical education and Hogwarts. This lampshading is a smart move for Grossman, deftly deflecting accusations of unoriginality, as he mixes familiar ingredients in a new and extremely enjoyable way. The main difference is the age of the students, with the increased adulthood also containing all of the heavy drinking and casual sex university life entails. The Magicians is extremely exciting and tense, but also regularly laugh out loud funny. The writing is evocative but unpretentious and I found myself utterly drawn into Quentin’s world even before he enters the realms of magic, from page one.

Quentin isn’t always a likeable protagonist, but he is a recognisable one, grappling with an interesting sort of angst. Don’t get me wrong; the angst stricken protagonist is not a favourite trope of mine, but the source of Quentin’s existential misery feels achingly familiar to me, and I imagine many others. His yearning for something else, his inability to recognise the good things in his life and his penchant for self-sabotage are all quite painfully familiar, and it’s a credit to Grossman that he was able to capture these complexities. There are many moments where Quentin could have fallen into being so angsty as to be unengaging, but Grossman always knows when to pull the reader back. The supporting cast are good, with the clique of hipster magicians Quentin falls into featuring a handful of entertaining, well drawn characters. One of my few criticisms comes in the novel’s villain; I loved the character, finding him deeply creepy, but he doesn’t quite play as large a role as he should. His role in a final confrontation feels unearnt, as he hasn’t had the time to be built up sufficiently.

The Magicians strikes me as one of those novels which even non-fantasy fans will enjoy. It’s a book which manages to be huge amounts of fun without compromising complexity. I know there’s a sequel, which I’m extremely excited about dipping into. ‘Harry Potter for grown ups’ may be the easiest way to describe it, but in reality The Magicians is its own beast, and something which deserves to be on any reader’s shelf.the-magicians

Mario Kart 8 for Wii U

I’m far from the only one for whom Mario Kart played a significant role in their childhood. I mean…it’s Mario Kart. It’s going to be good. Still, starting with Mario Kart Wii my interest in the series began to slip slightly. I enjoyed Mario Kart 7, but it was probably the Mario Kart game I played least. Therefore, Mario Kart 8 wasn’t necessarily one of my most hyped games. Turns out, it joins Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart DS as one of my favourite instalments, pretty much perfecting the series. It’s going to be tricky to get better than this.

Although Mario Kart 8 has its gimmicks, it doesn’t succeed because of them, it succeeds because it is one of the most perfectly put together games I’ve ever encountered, made by a clearly passionate and talented team of developers. Before thinking about the main differences, I want to make clear just how well this plays. The handling of Mario Kart games can vary a lot, but in my opinion it was at its best in Mario Kart DS…until now. Power-sliding around the courses just feels brilliant, standing as the solid base everything else is built on. The chaotic local multiplayer of Mario Kart is, of course, still the highlight, and I have had and look forward to plenty more awesome evenings getting drunk and playing this with my friends. You can play online against friends, which I like, and against strangers, which I don’t. The inherent frustration of Mario Kart is fun with pals, obnoxious with strangers, but perhaps that’s just me.

There are a few new items, such as the Piranha Plant which drags you forward in little boosts and bites nearby racers, and a new item that can even block blue shells, if timed right. Being able to block blue shells shakes things up somewhat, but the introduction of the ‘coin’, a near useless speed boost (which is also used to unlock upgrades) is the bane of first place and denies that comfortable defence that could generally be formed with bananas and green shells. This can be really frustrating when the single player gets tougher (and it does get tough towards the end), but really it just furthers the egalitarian experience that is Mario Kart. Mario Kart 8 is regularly frustrating, but similarly to Mario Party the frustration is actually an essential part of the experience, and something really core to what the series is about. It’s frustrating, but it’s the good kind of frustrating which drives you to ‘just one more race.’

The flying and underwater sections from Mario Kart 7 make a welcome return, with the new ‘anti-gravity’ sections which see Mario and co. driving up walls and boosting off each other being visually stunning and exciting, even if it doesn’t necessarily effect the gameplay too much. It’s extremely welcome though, and feels in some ways like an F-Zero influence on Mario Kart. The new courses are generally designed with these in mind, with a whole bunch of awesome new tracks. The highlight for me was the lap-less one track Mount Wario, which sees you karting all the way from a cargo plane to the bottom of a mountain. There are loads of good ones though, and no real duds. The classic tracks are cannily altered to take advantage of the flying and anti-gravity gimmicks, feeling new whilst still retaining the character of the classic tracks. There are some odd choices, with a lot of the best classic tracks having already been pilfered in previous games. Still, overall the 32 tracks you have stand as some of the best Nintendo have ever put together.

Mario Kart 8 is a pretty packed game, with the typical grand-prix single player mode, as well as time trials and plenty of unlockable characters. Nintendo phoned it in slightly with some of these (Baby Rosalina probably being the worst offender), but it doesn’t do any harm having them does it? The karts and bikes are significantly customisable, with loads of different chassis, wheels and wings for you to play around with to suit your play style. The online modes will keep people happy for a long time, and the local multiplayer will be a staple of my social group for a while…at least until Smash Bros. comes out. The lazy battle mode, which sees you racing around normal tracks rather than duking it out in distinct arenas, is an uncharacteristically unpolished addition to a game which, in every other respect, is one of the most polished games I’ve ever played.

Mario Kart 8 is possibly the most beautiful game I’ve ever played. My PS4 maybe the most powerful console in my house, but there’s not a single game on it that can rival the visuals in Mario Kart 8. Running at a smooth 60FPS, in HD, Mario Kart has never looked this beautiful. Visuals aren’t everything, but they do help, and Mario Kart is a stunning sight to behold.  This, combined with the Zelda Wii U reveal trailer, is showing just how powerful the Wii U may actually be. There’s a wonderful amount of detail in every environment and in the characters themselves. I usually never watch replays, but they’re honestly one of my favourite things about Mario Kart 8. The Luigi death stare is well documented, and the game is filled with awesome little details. The music is lovely as well, with my favourite being a track which briefly recalls the lovely Gusty Garden Galaxy music from Super Mario Galaxy. Mario Kart 8 is one of the slickest, smoothest running games you’ll ever encounter.

I can only hope that this is the game that finally begins to shift my favourite console. I like my PS4, but it’s purely there as a tool. I love my Wii U, and separately want it to be a success. Hopefully this, combined with Nintendo’s fantastic showing at E3, will finally convince people to pick one up. Mario Kart 8 is probably the best Mario Kart game ever, but it’ll almost certainly be the worst selling. That would be a true injustice to this excellent game.1b93b38b656a72a4c7b0dd91197dd715d2bf0ef1.jpg__1920x1080_q85_crop_subject_location-987,694_upscale

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