What We Know: A Way Out

Joseph Fares’ new game is coming in just a few weeks. If you do not know him, he directed Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons back in 2013. He is currently the director and writer for Hazelight studios, and their new game is A Way Out. The announcement caught the gaming industry by surprise by its unique premise and cooperative gameplay. Here I will give you a rundown of what you need to know for A Way Out.

Release Date and How to Play

The game is scheduled to be released March 23, 2018, and play it on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

Story and Characters

Set in the 70s, two prisoners team up to escape prison. Leo and Vincent are the two playable characters who become friends during incarceration. They make a plan to escape, but their adventure does not stop there. Players will follow these characters as they are on the run from the police to find a place to be safe. As you go on the adventure, more information will be discovered about Leo and Vincent. Their characters will flesh out as you learn about their past, goals, and who they are as people.

Gameplay

Just like Brothers, the game will have a unique mechanic that will be the central core of the gameplay. The entire game is meant to be played cooperatively. Whether that is split-screen or online. One player will be Leo, and the other will be Vincent. Even in online you will be playing split-screen to see what the other player is doing. Each person will tackle situations by completing separate assignments. Options for how you go about these situations are up to you. The player as Leo might want to sneak away through a problem, but your friend playing as Vincent knocks out a guy to get through instead. Neither character is assigned a particular objective. The power is in the hands of the players. The gameplay and story are intertwined, so a player could be in a cut-scene while the other is completing an objective. A wide variety of situations from shooting, driving, sneaking, and interacting with characters will all be there to give players more expansive gameplay experience. The game is being clocked in to take 6-8 hours to complete.

Other Facts

The most unusual aspect of this game is that the second player does not need to purchase it. If your friend buys A Way Out, then there will be a way for you to play the game with him/her without spending your money. Players experiencing this narrative is more important to Joseph than making money, which earns a lot of respect from the gaming community. That could draw more respect towards EA who have had a terrible past year regarding how the public view them.

There is not a ton of information on the game, but this will be one experience to go in with being as blind as possible since the narrative is so important. Are you excited for A Way Out? Discuss your opinions about the game in the comments.

Image via EA

Here is the trailer:

Preorder here:

 

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What We Know: Far Cry 5

The newest entry in the Far Cry series is coming at the end of the month. After taking some time off since Far Cry Primal, the series is back. Just like what Assassin’s Creed did by taking their break and coming stronger with Origins, the fans of Far Cry will be given a vast new twist to this series. While core mechanics will make the game feel like it always used to be, there are plenty of new additions to make it fresh. Let me get you up to speed with everything in Far Cry 5.

Release Date and Console Content

The game was initially scheduled to come out at the end of February. However, the game got pushed until March 27th, 2018. As usual, the game will be out for PS4, Xbox One (along with its two other versions), and PC. PlayStation players will be able to receive free content, while the other plays on Xbox and PC will have to unlock such content through the Ubisoft Club.

Time and Place Setting of the Game

Initially, the next entry in the Far Cry series was rumored to be a Western. When the game was announced, it was revealed that the game will take place in modern day. The setting is something new. Previously every game has been in places such as Africa, Asia, and other areas around the world. Now we are being taken to Hope County, Montana. The game taking place in America along with its story has been controversial. If you look into the previous games, then you would realize that controversy follows every entry in some capacity.

Story and Characters

You play as the sheriff’s deputy who must combat against a religious cult which has taken over the area. Something must have happened to prevent anyone from leaving Hope County or calling in the National Guard. The family who runs this cult is run by Joseph, also known as The Father. He is teamed up by the oldest brother Jacob, the youngest brother John, and their half-sister Faith. You will have characters team up with you to fight against this enormous threat. Pastor Jerome Jefferies, Mary May, Nick Rye, and animals such as a dog companion. Each of these friends has a specialty of their skills set. Whether you need a sniper or someone to drop bombs from a plane, you will choose a character for that specific job.

Vehicles and weapons

As always there will be a wide range of vehicles and weapons. Some of the vehicles include a semi truck, crop duster, pick up trucks, quad bike, and many more. These vehicles are all customizable, but we will get to that later. Weapons include melee weapons like shovels and baseball bats, assault rifles, sniper rifles, pistols, and more.

Key New Gameplay Features

Everything from cars to your character will be fully customizable. This will be a first in the series to allow you to create the character that you want. In a first-person game that usually does not matter, however, the game will be completely cooperative with a friend. Before you could play with a friend through certain parts of the game, but not you can complete everything with another player. To discover new objectives, things to do, and the general map will be different. Before the player would have to climb a tower to unlock more of the map to see what is around them. Now, this experience is more organic. Players will walk around and talk to people for information on Hope County. Signs will let you know about specific areas in the map, and other details will give you hints of what is around. For those of you who are creative, the map editor is back. This feature has been absent since the second title in the franchise. Not a lot of details are known, but players will freely be able to create game types and maps. The mode is described to let players utilize 5,000 assets from both Far Cry and other Ubisoft games such as Assassin’s Creed. Taking more control of Hope County will make the cult leaders react. If you are in an area that is more run by Jacob and you start to get on his nerves, he may send attack planes your way or other threats to stop you. Everything you do will have an impact on Hope County, both positive and negative.

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DLC

A recent announcement revealed what the post-game content will look like. One will feature a Vietnam adventure, a crazy zombie experience, and players will go to Mars to fight aliens. As always, Far Cry is keeping things weird and fun in its DLC.

What to do? 

Players will have more than going into compounds and other areas controlled by the cult. Hunting wildlife has always been an option in every entry. Bears, deer, wolves, and much more will be featured to hunt down. Fishing will be another relaxing past time to take a break from explosions and murder. As you take down resistance areas that the cult has under control, you will gain more people on your side to resist against the cult. This will earn more side quests and objectives to do. There will be a mix of new activities such as fishing while you will get your typical experience from any game in the series by taking down enemies in various places around the map.

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That should be all to catch up to speed for Far Cry 5. Are you excited for the game? Let me know how you feel about it and if you are going to buy it. You can expect a review of the game sometime in early April. Here is a trailer to give you an idea of what everything looks like.

Preorder the game here:

Images via Ubisoft

Quick News: AI Testing Games, Dexter Fake Poster, Fortnite Twitch Records, and More!

 

  • Fans of the popular Showtime series Dexter, myself included, are quite disappointed that the series revival has been shut down. The reason there was this speculation was due to a Facebook post from Euforia Studios that was an authentic looking poster with the release date to be set for September 2018. The lower part of the poster shows Showtime and Netflix to give the idea that the two will collaborate to bring season nine to Netflix. However, showrunners have been able to squash this rumor. What makes this even more interesting is that this fake poster has been around for a while. The original post came about May 9, 2017. Sadly, fans of the friendly serial killer may never get to see him again in a future revival season or any potential spin-offs.

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  • Fighting games love to put in extra characters outside of the game’s universe. Soul Calibur is not only a prime example of this but the center of this story. For example, the series has previously the series has featured Darth Vader and Yoda. Now there is talk that Geralt from The Witcher series will make an appearance in the upcoming Soul Calibur 6. CD Projekt Red’s community lead Marcin Momot made an interesting tweet that hints at Geralt making this appearance, which you can see right below. Why Soul Calibur 6? Well, this speculation comes from for several reasons. Like it is stated before, the series has featured playable characters from other franchises. On top of that, Bandai Namco distributed The Witcher 3 to Europe so this past relationship could mean something. We won’t know for sure until Soul Calibur is released or an official statement is made. For the fans of fighting games, more specifically to Soul Calibur, you can get your hands on beating your friends later this year on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

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  • Don’t worry fans of The Witcher, you have more speculation coming your way. Just like the story before, this is just speculation. However, just like what you read above, this is picking up a lot of attention along with this is a fun idea. If you are a fan of the series then you know there is a Netflix series that is in the works. Just a few days ago Lauren Hissrich, a writer for the show, was on Twitter to describe Vesemir as a character. Some of these characteristics are “fatherly” and “wise”. A fan drew the conclusion that in some ways that sound like Luke Skywalker and mentioned that Mark Hamill should be in the role. Mark replied that he does not know what they are talking about, but is up for the job anyways. The official Twitter for The Witcher responded with an image of Vesemir with Mark’s face photoshopped on. Including Lauren Hissrich who’s reply expressed how surprised and happy, she feels for Mark’s response. You can see all of these tweets in the order that they came below:

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  • Fortnite is the new game that is breaking records left and right. Since the game can be downloaded for free, it has grown an incredibly large player base. Now those numbers have translated to how many people watch the game being played on Twitch. According to Fortnite Intel that tracks Twitch views and streams for Fornite, we see some impressive numbers. The most prominent games on Twitch such as League of Legends and PUBG are being crushed by Fortnite. In the past two weeks, the game has been watched for a total of 4,882 years, 208 days and streamed for a total of 246 years, 231 days. The image below shows a comparison to Fortnite big competitor PUBG. As Fornite is purple and has had a steady rise, PUBG in the green has fallen overall. Regarding sales, PUBG is still quite impressive and total players still playing is growing. However, Fornite being free and less violent has made it quite accessible.

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  • Rooster Teeth’s upcoming horror comedy is arriving. The film that is being directed by Owen Egerton and stars Jacob Batalon (Spider-Man: Homecoming), Zachary Levi (Chuck) and Rooster Teeth’s own Barbara Dunkelman is coming tonight at SXSW. A teaser trailer was released through Entertainment Weekly, but now the teaser trailer is out. The film will follow a group of 20 somethings attempt to survive a festival that turns out to be a death trap full of monsters and murderers. A worldwide release date has not been set or a way of distribution either. We can assume the film will be on YouTube Red, a possible one night only theatrical release, and a few other ways to stream the movie such as Netflix or Amazon video. Check out the trailer here:

 

  • Generally, when a game is being tested, people play the game to see what works and what doesn’t. However, Ubisoft is coming up with a new plan to check their games for bugs in the future. If everything works, the AI will catch bugs before they are even in the game. This system was announced at a Ubisoft Developer Conference in Montreal. The system is being called Commit Assistant which is being fed past data from previous Ubisoft games to learn where mistakes have been made in the past. However, the system is in its early days and will not be in full use until it is fully ready which will take a long time. The company hopes to see this system used outside of the gaming industry to catch bugs in other technologies such as driverless cars or even our cell phones. The technology is a brilliant idea that will help make everyone’s lives easier and can better the tech that it is being used on.

 

Header Image via Showtime.

Graph via Fornite Intel

Trailer via Rooster Teeth

10 Video Game Franchises That Went Downhill

Video game franchises are great for everyone when done right. Publishers and developers will have an IP that will continue to generate them money forever if it is successful enough. For gamers, you fall in love with the games because of the story or gameplay or any other reason depending on the game. However, some franchises go for too long. Everything starts off great but feels like a cash grab by extending the story too long or get lazy by putting in less content. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of franchises that have declined in quality. Some of those will survive forever no matter what, while some might be gone forever because of a few bad titles. Let’s check out some game franchises that have gone downhill over the years.

1. Gears of War

Image via Epic Games

Gears of War was one of the best exclusives that Xbox had. This franchise had brutal gameplay, awesome weapons, cheesy story and characters to make for an over the top game that felt like an 80s sci-fi action flick. The first three games were fantastic. Adding new elements to gameplay and expanding the story to its conclusion. Then we got two more games that were terrible. They lost the spirit of the franchise that made it what it was. The last game Gear of War 4 fell flat by not getting much attention. This was a beloved franchise that is dying in an era in which Xbox does not have many great exclusives. This is a significant hit with Xbox fans and Microsoft.
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2. Call of Duty

Image via Infinity Ward

Despite the amount of money it makes, the fan reactions vary with these games. Always accessible and can be fun, but the games are not the same as they used to be. With the last few entries getting lukewarm to flat out hostile responses from fans, things were getting rocky for Call of Duty. The previous entry in the franchise brought the game back to its roots. If you read my review of Call of Duty WW2, then you would know that the franchise took some steps forward, but takes some steps back because of the inclusion of loot boxes and various other issues. To determine whether or not the series will go up or down from that entry is up to the individual, but my bets are on the downward trend. No matter what happens, Call of Duty will stay and make a ridiculous amount of money each year.
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3. Halo

Image via Bungie

This one breaks my heart because of all the fond memories of the first three games. Halo changed the game for both Xbox and the first person shooter genre as a whole. Sadly, the games should have ended after the third entry. Some love a few of the games after, but from Halo 4 and 5 that changes. I am sure plenty still love those games, but the quality has gone down since 343 took over. Just like Gears of War, there was a solid end to the series that could have ended it on a high note. However, the story had to continue and got more ridiculous as it went on. Understandably this is for money and one of the biggest exclusives for Xbox. The truth is that no matter how much people may like or dislike the new entries, the original first three were exceptional during the original Xbox and Xbox 360.halo 3

4. Silent Hill

Image via Konami

Is it safe to say that we all hate Konami? I will say yes because of everything that happened from P.T., Kojima, and Metal Gear Survive as evidence that this company as a whole has gone downhill. The first few games were some of the best horror games could deliver back in the day. After some entries that fell in quality and lacked a positive reception from fans or critics, the Silent Hill games went to sleep. Right when the franchise could have made history with the upcoming collaboration between Kojima, Norman Reedus, and Guillermo Del Toro, Konami shut it down. That began the drama between the company and Kojima. What also started because of that was the potential death sentence to the Silent Hill games.
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5. Sonic the Hedgehog

Image via Sega

This is a franchise that is not for everyone, but die-hard fans will always be out there. A classic from Sega that lasted over a decade of being beloved by its fans. It got to a certain point in which the franchise was heading down a dangerous road. The games expanded to the point that left the original ideas were left behind in which lost what made these games so beloved. The gaming world has changed dramatically too. Some games can manage like Mario, but Sonic has not had the same luck. Sega as a whole has not been as relevant which lead to the stack of reasons to the franchise’s decline. The most pertinent news is that there is a film being made might spark up interest in the blue hedgehog, but with the trend that video game movies have made in the past, the best guess is that the film will fail to win over gamers.sonic_naoto_interview.jpg

6. Tony Hawk Pro Skater

Image via Activision

As someone who hates sports, especially in video games, I can say that the old Tony Hawk Pro Skater games were awesome. Great music, a variety of fun characters of both real skaters and fun fictional ones, excellent maps, and solid gameplay made for one great franchise. Sadly, the games are not what they used to be like the early 2000s. Then the gimmicky Tony Hawk: Ride came along which was marketed heavily for being so different. The appeal was there, but when players got their hands on it, the game was quickly forgotten. The final nail in the coffin came in 2015’s Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5. The game was incredibly buggy, poor gameplay, and felt like a quick cash grab. Fans and critics hated it so much that it is questionable whether this franchise can be revived. On top of that Tony Hawk does not work alongside Activision, so how could anyone want a new entry without Tony Hawk being involved in some capacity?tony hawk

7. Medal of Honor

Image via Electronic Arts

The decline of Medal of Honor came in 2012 from the game’s final entry Medal of Honor: Warfighter. Due to poor reviews and sales, EA has even said that there will not be any more games in the series. The last entry came with bugs, not good gameplay, annoying and confusing campaign, and flat out dumb AI. Along with the main juggernauts being Call of Duty and Battlefield which made it even harder for these games to stand on their own two feet in the military FPS genre. A brutal death to a franchise that was once great and beloved by so many fans is sad to see.medalofhonor.png

8. Dead Rising

Image via Capcom

The first Dead Rising was profoundly flawed but was excellent. The game was at its best regarding the story, characters, and gameplay. The next entries added some great elements such as combining weapons and cooperative gameplay with a friend throughout the entire game. Sadly, the game was missing something from the first game. Gameplay felt too goofy, and the writing became too ridiculous. The first game was hilarious but had a balance of seriousness. The second game had that too but was missing the feel of the gameplay from the first entry plus any compelling characters. The games became less creative and found a formula to copy from the second game. The latest entry promised to go back to their roots but felt more like an insult. Gameplay did not expand much except for some concepts introduced from the previous game along with a story that feels like a slap in the face to anyone who was a fan of the original game. With poor sales, it is another Xbox exclusive that is on thin ice.
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9. Mass Effect

Image via Bioware

This is the biggest failure in recent gaming history. After years of development and teases, the fans of Mass Effect got a new game that would have started a new trilogy in the franchise. However, Mass Effect Andromeda came to have terrible dialog, poor voice acting, lack of customization, and flooded with bugs not only left this game with a bad taste in many people’s mouths. The game got some solid reviews, but fans were not happy. The negative word of mouth outweighed the game’s positive reviews and solid sales figures to leave the franchise at a red light that may never go green again.masseffect.jpg

#1 Bomberman

Image via Konami

Bomberman is not entirely doomed, but the lukewarm response to Super Bomberman R leaves the franchise in a questionable state. The game is simple and fun, but many complain about the bugs, short campaign, and not as fun without friends. The game was surrounded by a discussion that was usually negative towards the game while still looking at the potential it had. As a quickly forgotten title by many, this could go either way from becoming a franchise that one day dies or will have an incredible comeback.bomberman

Those were the games that I feel have declined whether in overall quality or by looking at sales between various entries. What are some franchises that you feel have gotten worse as they continued?

Quick News: Groot is Dead, Baby Groot is…? Kevin Smith Heart Attack. Tarantino Ninth Film Information. Plus More!

The current world of media gives us constant news all the time. Things go so fast that you can easily miss something. Everything is moving too fast. We have a Guardians of the Galaxy heavy week alongside this is plenty of other things from Kevin Smith’s health scare, new information on the next Tarantino film, and some other exciting news!

  • Spoiler for both Guardians of the Galaxy movies (if you have not then you are wasting your time by not watching those two films), but at the end of the first movie, the beloved Groot dies until a scene shows him as a baby in a pot filled with soil. The hype behind the sequel was there for many reasons, other than the first movie being fantastic was Baby Groot being a considerable part of the marketing. A few days ago, James Gunn confirmed that Groot is officially dead and that Baby Groot is his son. This news has blown up the internet and will change our views on the tree creature forever. See his Tweet below:

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  • Let’s knock out the other bit of Guardians news right now. After James Gunn responded to a fan, who asked to do him a favor by giving Mark Hamill a role in the third Guardians film. The attention came when Mark responded to the conversation. Here are the tweets:

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The two do live nearby and seem genuinely interested in this Twitter exchange. Nobody should be too excited since nothing is entirely concrete, but it would be an excellent addition to the large cast of excellent actors who are in the MCU. Mark Hamill has an exceptional talent for both acting in a live action role and shines on the voice acting side of his career too. Fans of Mark and James, let’s keep our fingers crossed and not look away from Twitter to keep an eye on more developments on this story.

  • Hollywood has had a terrible 2017 with so many sexual harassment and assault allegations that were going around. One of the biggest was Harvey Weinstein who manipulated young actresses for his gain. This has destroyed his reputation and even his company. The Weinstein company that Harvey and his brother Bob Weinstein founded together is now looking to file for bankruptcy. The Weinstein Co. board let out a statement regarding the bankruptcy. Here is a segment from the said statement in which it says, “While we recognize that this is an extremely unfortunate outcome for our employees, our creditors, and any victims, the Board has no choice but to pursue its only viable option to maximize the Company’s remaining value:  an orderly bankruptcy process,”.  The company still has a lot to do to get the process finalized along with payments to the victims of Harvey. The future for the company leads plenty of options that could potentially happen to the company such as another company buying it out. However, the negative press could make people avoid doing so. This process will continue to have updates in the weeks to come.

 

  • Kevin Smith had a few comedy shows scheduled, but after the first show he started feeling nausea, sweating, and other symptoms, he went to the hospital. It turns out it was a heart attack. The filmmaker then tweeted that he was okay and gave some additional information. His LAD artery had been completely blocked which was the cause of the heart attack. Based on his tweets right after the incident, it appears the man still has his iconic sense of humor still intact. He is now home and going vegetarian in an attempt to be healthier. He released a video on YouTube detailing everything and thanking his friends, family, and hospital staff.

 

  • Tarantino announced a while back that he was making a film based on the Charles Manson murders. Now we have some more light on the upcoming project. For his first time without collaborating with the Weinstein Company in which the director is going around to studios for his next film. After being worked on for five years. Margot Robbie is rumored to be playing as Sharon Tate, the famous actress who was brutally killed by Charles Manson’s group. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt are also supposed to be in the film. The story that we know of will center around these three. Leonardo plays as Rick Dalton, an aging actor and along his side is Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth, Rick’s longtime stuntman. The two want to revive their career and get in touch with their neighbor Sharon Tate who will help them out. How this will get involved with Charles Manson and his followers is not confirmed. There is speculation that it will be a twist on history similar to Inglourious Basterds. The film will be called Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and will start filming this summer. The film is scheduled to release on August 9, 2019.

 

  • This last piece of news is quite creepy. In 2013 Curtis Lahr created a statue of Jason Voorhees and placed at the bottom of a lake in Minnesota. Now the story has gone viral, and it is just as terrifying as you can imagine. Bloody Disgusting reported this creation even though the video has been around for a few months. Now people are noticing. He placed the horrific and beautifully crafted statue at 120 feet down at the bottom of a favorite lake in Crosby, Minnesota. Check out the video below and feel the chills down your spine:

 

Header Image via Marvel Studios.

Song Impression: Parkway Drive – “Wishing Wells”

The Australian metalcore band Parkway Drive have enjoyed a great career over the years. With each album, the group grows more prominent in the metal scene than the previous record. With all that popularity and always hearing about them, I only started getting into the band last year. When I finally sat down to listen to their music, I became obsessed. They are easily one of the best metal bands in the previous decade. Their last album Ire was a step in a new direction. Having that same style, they have always had along with some new elements. Now, after a few videos teasing they are making new music, we finally have a new song off of the upcoming record.

The song starts off with some birds in the background and what sounds like wind. An acoustic guitar starts playing, and Winston starts talking. If you have never heard their music, he does not sing, but will usually mix screaming and talking. The beginning is somber and leads the listener into an area of uncertainty as to where the song is going. Then things go to the typical Parkway style with a powerful scream saying “Until I am done!”.

The song is still slow but has changed its tone to a more intense feeling that is ready to grab you by the throat. A harmony being played from one guitar and the other keeping up the intensity along with the drums and bass covering the rest of the ground. All of the music dies down for the first verse.

Heavy riffs and bounding drums lead into the first verse. The band has definitely been able to expand themselves into new directions instrumentally. Winston mixes his screaming and talking perfectly. The right words are being brutally screamed while some lyrics are being said with that classic aggression that Winston can apply without even screaming.

The chorus is a lot more melodic than the crushing verses. Some of the most unique sounds that have come out of their guitar work right here. While Winston goes for slow pacing but lowers his screams for that added heaviness. After the second chorus, the music dies down into the bridge.

The bridge leads the listener to a bass-heavy moment with the same guitar riff from the chorus. Drums are rapidly beating relentlessly. Winston takes a moment to talk directly with a dark and heavy tone. He leads out of the bridge and into the finally crushing seconds of the song with the words, “Face me!”.

With the last part being full of fast riffs that cut through with speedy and in a violent manner. With interjections from Winston’s intense screams that leads to the ending of the song. The song is relentless and emotional.

Regarding the lyrics Winston has this to say about the new tracks meaning, “‘Wishing Wells’ is the compression of grief into song, It’s attempting to place blame when there is none, seeking answers where there is only emptiness, and ultimately trying to find some kind of reason and meaning to justify the ultimate loss we will all be faced with in life. This is how this chapter begins and will end.” Which makes everything make sense both lyrically, instrumentally, and even the birds in the beginning. A feeling of a dark and cold place that feels isolated with pain.

The new song starts somber and ends brutally heavy. Parkway Drive is heading in a new direction again. Ire gave them the confidence to do what they want. The band has their own style and sound, but continuing to expand to be familiar while being new at the same time. If the rest of the new record is like this, then maybe Parkway Drive will have the best metal album of the year. Expect the new record to come out later this year. Hopefully, we can get more information soon. Check out the new song below:

In the meantime, check out the band’s merch:

Image via Epitaph Records

Movie Review: Annihilation

I will already call it here, that this one will be divisive. Movies that give the audience more questions than answers typically get a mixed response. You will either love how abstract it is and enjoy the film as an art form or hate that you did not get everything that you wanted to have. Neither is wrong because we have our own preferences for movies. Personally, I loved Annihilation, and it blew my expectations out of the water.

Alex Garland has quite the experience in writing films such as 28 Days Later. In 2015 he wrote and debuted himself in the director’s chair with the brilliant Ex Machina. Seriously, if you missed it then go watch it as soon as possible. If you have seen it, then you know what to expect from his latest film in many ways. He is new to directing still but has the natural skill at it. Like any director, he has his style. This goes to show that future films of his will be similar in a lot of ways if these first two films are an indicator of anything.

Annihilation is based on the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer. I have never read or heard of these books, so I came into the film with no knowledge except for the fact this has Alex Garland directing and Natalie Portman is in it. Out of my research before the film, it is apparent that the source material is just as odd as the film.

The film takes place with a biologist named Lena (Natalie Portman) is grieving from her husband who never came back from a mission. One day he mysteriously appears but has some health issues. They are both taken on the way to hospital by a mysterious group of men who are suited up in a militarized gear. Lena wakes up and is told by Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who is a psychologist that there is something called The Shimmer. After getting briefed on everything, Lena joins up with the Dr. and a few other female scientists who all have different specialties go into The Shimmer. Their mission is to reach its origin and figure out what is going on before this thing grows and destroys the planet.

The mysterious gateway they call The Shimmer is interesting. The world around them is mutating. They are still on Earth, but it is changing rapidly. Not a lot of information is given to you in the film, especially the final act, but enough is provided to generate a general idea of what is happening. Not only that, but this film is beautiful. Once inside The Shimmer, the plant life is full of color. The CGI from the entrance of The Shimmer and other effects that it brings is stunning to look at, This is easily one of the prettiest movies of the year even if we are only in February.

The cast of characters is one of the significant issues. Not enough is given to flesh the characters out besides Lena. She is flawed but has a good heart and a brilliant mind. However, not much is given to her to make you care a whole lot. The other characters are even less fleshed out. Dr. Ventress is given no information until the last act of the film. Anya Thorensen (Gina Rodriguez), Cass Sheppard (Tuva Novotny), Josie Radek (Tessa Thompson) are all somewhat bland. There are some good moments between their interactions, but not enough is given to really care for them. A brief explanation of their background is given, but not much more. With how long the film is and drawn out, I feel like more could have been done. Then there is Kane (Oscar Isaac) who plays Lena’s husband. Flashbacks give a feeling about their relationship, but some pieces of that puzzle are missing. Some issues are brought up, but not entirely explained which ends up making their relationship more confusing and less meaningful. All of the actors do a good job, but not given enough to fully utilize their talents. It is an excellent idea for a main cast of females who are all very different in their careers, ethnicity, and even sexuality, but some things do not work. Seriously, it was odd to let a few scientists with assault rifles into The Shimmer where soldiers cannot make it out, but they are expected to potentially survive. Nothing that actually hurts the movie, but stuck out to me for being odd.

More mysterious things happen in the last act of the film where there is some explanation, but at the same time is kept vague that lets the audience decide depending on anyone’s own perception of what happened. Maybe a film will be made of the other two books to fully flesh this story out. I really hope so because I thought it was excellent despite its flaws.

Pacing, a few pointless flashbacks that did not go anywhere, and not entirely developed characters are the main issues to the film. Despite the flaws, it is beautiful to look at and has a fascinating premise. With more films that could be made then maybe this will make more sense and enjoyable to more people. Sadly, the film is bombing at the box office, so most likely we will never see a sequel. If you love mysterious movies and the sci-fi genre, then you might fall in love with this movie. Keep an open mind if you go see it. It is not for everyone. This will be one of those you hate it, or you love it kinds of movies.

Score: 8/10

Image via Paramount Pictures