First week with Fallout 4: A Sorta Review

Foolishly enough, I was planning on reviewing Fallout 4 for some point this week. Obviously not the full game but I hoped to have at least finished the main campaign. Over 20 hours in and I’ve not even scraped the surface of Bethesda’s massive and weirdly beautiful post apocalyptic world so instead of trying to give a review that I can’t justify writing without finishing the game, I’m gonna give my opinions in the style of a diary. Though instead of feelings and stories about lassies you find attractive, it’ll be leaning more towards running for your life away from colossal mutant creatures (so not too different from the bullies you faced at school). Without further ado, here we go.

Day 1

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Unashamedly, I spent far too much time customising my character but then again I did the same in Skyrim. While I made my character look dashingly handsome and roguish, a thought popped into my head: does my wife’s appearance permanently have that default look. Sure enough, after a few”enhancements” to her cheeks and lips as well as turning that forehead into a fivehead, I created arguably the most vile looking creature to ever grace the planet. Well, second if you include Donald Trump.

After that came the tutorial itself, where I got to choose my abilities by answering the door and being able to have the robot Codsworth say “Liam” which caused me to shit myself a little bit. To avoid any spoilers (though if you haven’t picked up Fallout 4 yet then I pity you), me and my family, consisting of my aforementioned Donald Trump wife and son Shaun ended up in Vault 111 and unsurprisingly things went to shit. I escaped my underground hell to make my way to the surface and immediately got blinded by the sunset. Wonder if they have any Ibuprofen in the wasteland?

Day 2

Making my way down town, sprinting fast, mutants pass, now I’m crippled. Thankfully this wasn’t my first taste of death as I met Dogmeat just a few minutes earlier, minding his own business before a pack of mutated mole rats attacked. I blame Ron Stoppable.

Dogmeat managed to take on quite a few by himself and the new combat system made easy pickings of the rest with the first person shooting being far more accurate than previous iterations but still strategic enough to not be a direct copy of COD.

“Finally, an AI character who ISN’T a hindrance” I thought to myself. This, of course, was before I faced my first Deathclaw (think the Xenomorphs from Alien but far bigger and nightmare inducing) where, for some reason, Dogmeat blocked me into a corner. Then the Deathclaw made easy work of my jumpsuit and tore me to pieces. Man’s best friend my arse.

Day 3

The thing about Fallout that appeals to me is the world. I can’t think of any other game with the same amount of character than Bethesda’s rendition of a post nuclear America with the mid 1900’s aesthetic abundant wherever you go, giving off a chilling, eerie vibe. As well as this, the world is so full of stuff to do that there’s no way you’ll simply go from point A to point B without stopping by a few dozen places. This is what happened on my way to save a settlement that had been attacked countless times by raiders where I found a lone settler having troubles with this dam looking contraption.At first I thought it would be a simple “find the plugs under water, turn them off” which led me to get radiated to fuck which dramatically reduces your health until you find radaway.2884112-fallout4_e3_cityvista_1434323956

Thinking the end was over, I walked up to the settler to get my reward as he stared blankly into my eyes, showing off how terrible the characters in this game even on the current gen consoles. Oh, and then a mutated pack of crabs called Mirelurks cut my head off. And Dogmeat just stared at my lifeless body. Fuck you Dogmeat.

Day 4

Spent the whole day running away from Dogmeat, hoping he’d realise how raging I was with him. He followed me before I fell off a cliff and crippled my legs, a fall that should have killed me instantly. Think it was the game’s intention as Dogmeat “playfully barked”. Again, fuck you Dogmeat.

Day 5

Fallout 4 not only polishes any gripes that I had with Fallout 3 and New Vegas but it also adds some new mechanics of its own. Settlement building is one of these new gameplay elements where all junk both in your inventory and the surrounding area can be used to make your own town.

Sounds addictive right? You’re not wrong at all, in fact the crafting system in this game is almost as addictive as the quest themselves as I’ve spent more time than I’m proud to admit making a defence tower for Sanctuary. Not only is it fun but it makes my urge to loot and carry everything in sight actually beneficial, making me feel good about my hoarding problem for once. This time Dogmeat didn’t lead to my demise, instead proving useful by finding useful materials and not being a pain in the arse. He’s since been forgiven and a doghouse has been built to repay him for the good deed of not killing me.

Day 6

Need to find materials. Need to add another turret to the tower. Need to craft stronger power armour so I can be the human embodiment of the Batmobile. It’s 2am but I NEED TO DO EVERYTHING.

Day 7

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Fallout 4 has been out for a week now and I still can’t get over how full of things to do it is. I’ve explored a 1/4 of the map and although many people have complained about the size of the world being smaller than other games like Just Cause’s Panama, the level of detail and the amount of fun I’ve had is something that I haven’t experienced since Batman Arkham City. The story is engaging, the gameplay has been vastly improved and although Fallout 4 has adapted to fit into the current standard of games, it never loses any of the series charm. It’s still funny, it’s still horrifying, it’s still jaw droppingly beautiful despite looking like a 360 game.

Fallout 4 might not be the best looking game ever or the biggest. It’s got glitches and bugs. It can be infuriating at times. But it’s Fallout and its charm and quality outweigh any technical problems. Game of the year? It very well could be.

Big love, Liam x

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Life Is Strange: Game of The Year?

2015 has been full of blockbuster games like Call of Duty. So how did a game featuring two teenage girls manage to steal the Best of 2015 crown?

I knew you were important the moment I saw your first selfie,” says a familiar yet mysterious voice as soon as Life Is Strange’s finale boots up, a line that, out of context, sounds tacky but when the previous four episodes of this episodic extravaganza are taken into consideration, it’s enough to send a chill down your spine.

Life Is Strange is undisputed brilliance

Unlike most games in the adventure genre, LIS has more in common with Telltale’s The Walking Dead than the likes of Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry as you solve puzzles, interact with different characters as you try and make sense of what the hell is happening. This makes protagonist Max all the more relatable as she is equally clueless, trying to cope with the challenges that face every teenager like making friends and being successful. Oh, and time manipulating powers. Almost forgot that.

This isn’t Back To The Future-esque time traveling where you’ll go back to different eras like World War 2 or the 60’s. Instead, the player has the ability to rewind time to help tackle problems and erase mistakes, by minutes rather than millennia. The function works so seamlessly with what’s going on around you in Arcadia Bay that it never feels like a gimmick.

Your curiosity is often accompanied by a niggling feeling that something around the corner is going to bring your journey to a swift end.

Weirdly enough though, Moris says that this isn’t the most talked about thing in regards to Life Is Strange. Talking about the backlash from the game following two female protagonists, he said “I think a lot of the thinking that happens in the industry right now is still based on cliché that was inherited from the 90′s, where only 15 year old boys who wanted hyper sexualised female characters or to be bad asses and those big guys going into war played games.

Publishers think it’s not going to work because it has a female character, so they wont invest into the marketing of this game. Then it doesn’t work – because there is no marketing – but the blame lands on the game having a female lead character, and the cycle goes on and on and on.”

Not only are the characters great but also the story that spans over the five episodes never gets boring or predictable. The main plot of the game concerns the disappearance of Chloe’s friend Rachel and as the game progresses, it starts to become more twisted and dark. At points your curiosity is often accompanied by a niggling feeling that something around the corner is going to bring your journey to a swift end.

Life Is Strange is undisputed brilliance and a strong contender for game of the year. The dark and emotional story, perfectly suited soundtrack, the entertaining cast of characters and the beautifully crafted world of Arcadia Bay left such an impact on me that it was a shame to have to leave it and with a season 2 recently being confirmed, I just hope more focus will be put on this interesting setting town full of corruption and bleakness.

To read my full article, click Life Is Strange final copy!

 

Sweet White gig w/ Monet EP review 

As I walked into the Edinburgh venue Peterhead band Sweet White were playing at, there was an overwhelming sense that something wasn’t quite right. “It looks like something out of Twin Peaks” quipped frontman Jake Cordiner as the band to prepared to go on stage.

As they began to play, the same amazing surrealism that the cult 90’s TV show provided was there for all to see at the Voodoo Rooms tonight as Cordiner and Co possessed everyone’s attention.


Promoting their new EP, titled Monet, the boys weren’t shy to show off their new material. Take for instance the opening track Tides, which recently was released alongside a well directed music video, that features some great lyrical content alongside a spectacular breakdown.

The title track Monet shared the same nature as Tides, featuring a spectacular riff that would make Foals jealous. Jenine was a song that was difficult not to hum to myself on the walk back to my train, with a hook so catchy that it expertly reflects the pop elements that the band unashamedly embrace.


That’s not to say there weren’t any golden oldies, a term that you don’t find yourself often using when describing an up and coming band. There’s a track played tonight that is named after the band themselves and all I could think of when listening along was that it took a page out of Kings Of Leon’s book when crafting a slower paced cracking tune.

When the band announced that the set closer was named Dazing, I was reminded of the indie gem California Daze from the title alone. Unlike the chill tune that Peace crafted, what fans get is a deceitfully energetic tune that evolves just when you think it couldn’t get any better. An amazing set closer and although the band might sing about a character not knowing much, they themselves know how to craft a catchy tune.


Both the gig and their EP were amazing to put it lightly. The band have all the makings of a true juggernaut and more often than not I’d say “time will only tell” if they’d be able to make use of this potential.

I’m not going to say that here though. Sweet White are going places and there’s no stopping that. The next big Scottish band in the making.

You can catch Sweet White tonight at the Green Room in Perth tonight with gigs at the Eagle Bar in Inverness tomorrow (17th) and the tour finale at the Harbor Lights in Peterhead on the 24th. They’ll be selling the Monet EP for £5 at their merch table alongside some black and white t-shirts. You can follow them on Twitter here.

Big love, Liam x

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ALBUM REVIEW: TURN BLUE – THE BLACK KEYS

The Black Keys aren’t exactly new to the music scene. In their career that has spanned 13 years, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have released 7 albums that have gathered praise from critics and rock fans alike, most notably their 2010 release Brothers which brought the duo a lot of commercial success as they were now a grammy winning household name. Have the Ohio boys managed to continue their golden run with Turn Blue or has the success finally came to a halt?

One thing that you can rely the Black Keys delivering the goods on is production values and Turn Blue isn’t any different. Co-Producer Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton returns to lend a helping hand after assisting on El Camino and Brothers and his involvement really shows, managing to use the band’s blues rock canvas and fine stroking every detail that adds to the artistic brilliance of this album. This isn’t just a one man effort like it may have been back when the band started off as Auerbach and Carney are well regarded producers themselves with Dan assisting the likes of Lana Del Rey while Patrick has helped with lower profile bands like The Sheepdogs. You’d expect too many producers meddling with the sound to spoilt it but it does just the opposite.

After 8 albums, you’d expect Auerbach and Carney’s quality song-writing and talent to slip somewhat but you’d be wrong. The title track manages to highlight Auerbach’s falsetto voice’s finesse which prowls after Carney’s pitter patter drums which help to create a song that’s large in scale and one that needs to be listened through earphones, as advised by the duo, to really experience every fine detail that it captivates. Fever, the record’s first single, has an almost cyborg sounding background noise at the start and the rest of the track is just as interesting, showing the duo’s funkiness and an organ melody that once you’ve heard, you’ll fall in love with instantly. In Time features some ghostly vocals that are weirdly seductive sounding at the same time, as if Patrick Swayze somehow made his way onto the track. One of Turn Blue’s highlights has to be opening track Weight Of Love that has an intro so reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Speak To Me/ Breathe that you can see the 70’s influence escaping from your earphones. At 7 minutes long, it ‘s dangerously close to overstaying it’s welcome but its absence would definitely be one that would be missed.

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Other critics, I’m looking at you NME, might complain that Turn Blue isn’t like the band’s previous outings but when an alteration of the formula sounds as funky, psychedelic and overall amazing as Black Key’s latest record is, is that really a bad thing? The duo’s golden run is still continuing and at this rate, it’ll be one to make Dorothy herself jealous.

CLASSIC REVIEW: The Strokes – Is This It

Whether you like to call it the 2000’s or the noughties,there’s no doubt that the decade was a very exciting time for music as not only were applauded albums by former well praised bands released, Radiohead’s Kid A as an example, but the new wave of bands not only surprised critics but intrigued them as well with bands like Bloc Party and Arctic Monkeys releasing some of the best albums to be released in the past 15 years.

One band that can proudly admit to being a part of this new wave are The Strokes, an American rock band that hail from New York, who came out of nowhere to not only release one of the most exciting pieces of music in the past couple of decades but also change the face of modern rock as we know it.

Throughout this album, there’s an ever present mood and atmosphere that are wonderfully brought to life by various aspects of the band, be it Casablancas’ hauntingly mesmerising voice which narrates the 11 tracks on this album, the dexterous and dazzling guitar performances by Valensi, Hammond Jnr and Fraiture or Moretti’s consistent flow that he provides on drums.

The songs on this album are of a very high standard and observe the life and times of living in a metropolis such as New York City. A song which represents this very well is the opening track Is This It? that tells of the manipulation that relationships can be a victim of with Casablanca’s voice hovering gracefully over the sound of quiet drums and a calming choir of guitars and this same theme continues over to Last Nite. This track gained the band a lot of initial hype and tells of the disappointment and aggravation that relationships can provide over time with a very upbeat tempo which will stick in your mind long after the album is finished.

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New York City Cops is clearly a not so sly hit at the city’s police department with a tongue in cheek snort at the end that adds to the album’s unique charisma. Take It Or Leave It is the concluding track and what a send off it is with Casablancas shouting over a hyperactive clash of drums and guitars that provide a brilliant album for the band’s debut.

What else can be said about an album that hasn’t been said by the hundreds of thousands of people that have listened to it? The album not only provides an insight into life in New York City but also provides the kind of character and charm that most albums can only dream of having. The album is a milestone is music and it’s no surprise that the album is regarded as one of the best albums ever made and the thing that makes me appreciate the album is even though the themes on this album were initially to give an insight of a life in a metropolis, it’s oddly relatable and explains why the album is cherished by music lovers all around the world as well as showing why this album is the greatest record produced during the noughties.