Posts by Gentification

Top Games of 2020

 

I know, I know, the start of this new decade has barely begun and we’re already wishing away the months until the release dates of some incredibly sought-after titles finally arrive. Of course, with so many games on offer, which ones are truly worth your excitement as you count down the days? Well, we’ve done the research for you in the form of our certifiable top picks for 2020.

FF7 Remake (PS4)
Yes, it will have been well over two decades since Square’s seminal PlayStation RPG Final Fantasy VII was first released, but that hasn’t quelled the excitement over this remake. Unlike many re-releases, they’ve completely remade the game from the ground up, including the option to ditch the turn-based battle system for a real-time one similar to that found in Final Fantasy XV. Though various trailers have drip-fed information over the past years, we’ll still need to sit down with the real thing to see if they’re managed to recapture the magic of Cloud and co’s story. (April 2020)

Half-Life: Alyx (PC)
Valve don’t do things by half measures, and despite being hounded by gamers to release a sequel to Half Life 2, there was nothing but silence from the creators of Steam for what seems like an eternity. And then, completely out of the blue, they announced a new addition to the Freeman story – in the form of a new Virtual Reality (VR) game called Half-Life: Alyx. VR games are still in their infancy, and despite a few decent attempts, no one has really pulled of great use of VR, great graphics, great gameplay and great story all in one game. This may be Valve’s time to shine (again)! (March 2020)

Cyberpunk 2077 (PS4/Xbox One/PC)
When CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt became the break-out mega smash of 2015, fans were eagerly salivating over the next release from the Polish studio. And while it isn’t a fantasy adventure, the first person sci-fi game has been the talk of the town with its incredible graphics, expansive open world, and even the addition of Keanu Reeves as a main character. (April 2020)

Last of Us Part II (PS4)
It’s been quite some time since we last journeyed through a post-apocalyptic USA with Joel and Ellie, but the anticipation for this follow up hasn’t died down at all – unlike the monstrous fungal Infected you encounter! But it’s not just the same old story, there’s new mechanics and enemies, as well as finally some clarity on the original game’s ending. (May 2020)

Marvel’s Avengers (PS4/Xbox One/PC)
Ok ok, it may not have the original likeness and voices from the Marvel cinematic universe cast you’ve all grown to love and adore over the years, but don’t let that stop you enjoying getting to throw Mjolnir, zoom around in an Iron Man suit, or wield Captain America’s trademark shield. (September 2020)

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 (PS4/Xbox One/PC)
The cult White Wolf RPG series returns over 15 years later with a sequel that aficionados had long since given up on. One of the geniuses behind the 2004 RPG, Brian Mitsoda, is back and we’re extremely excited to see what tricks he’s got up his sleeves. The original game had an incredibly witty and funny script, with inspired mechanics, but was a bit lacking in the battle/fighting system, so hopefully they’ll remedy that this time around. (Q2/3 2020)

Bayonetta 3 (Switch)
The maestros at PlatinumGames seem to be able to do no wrong recently, with hits like Nier:Automata and Astral Chain under their belt, so their latest entry in the Bayonetta series is definitely going to be one to beat in the slash ’em up genre. With more campy action fun than you can shake a high heeled shoe at, Bayonetta’s return is going to be something special. (TBC 2020)

Hollow Knight: Silksong (PC/Switch)
What was originally conceived as a DLC/add-on to the original Metroidvania gem Hollow Knight has now become a fully-fledged sequel in its own right. With its unique art style returning, the follow up takes Hornet on an expansive adventure with a story you’ll no doubt be hooked on from the start. (TBC 2020)

Ooblets (PC/Xbox One)
This charming indie game collects up all your favourites and chucks them in a digital blender that you won’t be able to put down. Ooblets takes Harvest Moon (yay!), Pokemon (woo!) and Animal Crossing (OMG!) with a sweet adventure that lets you farm, collect adorable creatures and mosey about socialising with your fellow villagers. And it’s all been created by just two people, yes, just two! (TBC 2020)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 (Switch)
The sequel to undoubtedly one of the greatest ever launch titles for a console, Breath of the Wild 2 has some big shoes to fill, but we’re hopeful it’ll astound us just like the prior game did back in 2017. While information is sparse, it seems the game will re-use the original world, but with addition of lots of new areas, story and mechanics. The trailers suggest a darker tone than the original, with some definite nods to the 2006 Wii Classic of Twilight Princess – an underrated classic in our opinion (TBC late 2020)

Parasite Film Review

Parasite may well be a last minute entry, but is easily the best film of 2019, and possibly even the decade. So, what makes this South Korean release so special? Well, aside from being beautifully shot, cleverly scripted and full of vivid and often hilarious characters, it’s down to its central theme – class. Without getting too bogged down in politics, the film is bold in its break down of how class and a society built on wealth, connections and the luck of being born into privilege affects us all and really defines how we think, act and behave.

But let’s not get too philosophical. Parasite is the latest production from writer/director Bong Joon-ho, who rose to international fame with the monster horror picture The Host in 2006, and continued to receive acclaim with the sci-fi cult hit Snowpiercer (2013) and ecological adventure Okja (2017). Parasite ditches the sci-fi and adventure settings for a domestic thriller full to bursting with black comedy, despite rarely moving beyond two very different domestic spaces.

The script, which starts off as a witty, con-artist trickery plot, is crammed full of references to the forthcoming suspense and tension that slowly consumes the Kim family. We get hints at who will be the weak link in the Kim’s scheme through their struggles for money, subtle cinematography pre-empts major scenes and literal relics pop up which will come back to haunt them towards the end.

But what makes it all work are the charmingly scrappy family each with their own arcs, strengths and weaknesses, but who respect and support each other and overall provide a contrast with the upper class Park family they cannily insert themselves into. Not only are the two families contrasted, but their situations too – mass rains cause the Parks to return from a camping trip, while the same weather practically destroys the Kims’ basement home.

Tension is used exquisitely – being steadily cranked up with each scene, adding more and more obstacles in our protagonists’ way, until it reaches breaking point with an intriguing, yet completely out-of-the-blue twist that sends our family into a spiral from which it seems impossible to return. The tension works because Bong spends a lot of time getting to know the Kims, and playfully allows their tricks to prove surprisingly successful, despite their rag-tag, and often improvised nature. That said, the fantastic introductory scene, where the Kims humorously scramble for a decent Wi-Fi signal, is an incredibly nuanced and compact way to set out their relationships, bonds and status in society.

Not getting too much into spoilers, Parasite’s twist turns the story on its head and painfully takes the protagonists to a point of no return which culminates in a melancholic ending, with the audience’s emotions twisted even more by a somewhat cruel fake-out imagined ending. While such devices can be controversial, the masterful storytelling means nothing feels unearned in this film, and that’s what makes it a serious contender for film of the year, if not the decade.

IN UK CINEMAS FROM 7 FEBRUARY

Favourite Games of 2019


It’s that wonderful time of the year again when you finally can put your controller, mouse or joystick down, breathe a sigh of relief, and marvel at the past twelve glorious months of gaming. With an ever increasing catalogue of games on physical and digital shelves, we’ve waded through them all to give you the lowdown on our highlights (and what you might have missed) for 2019.

Death Stranding
Be blown away by one of the best A-list casts in gaming you’ve ever seen and get lost in the baffling near-future world from Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima. If you boil it down to its basics, it may well be a delivery quest game, but the stunning visuals, sublime soundtrack and decent mechanics all make it a worthwhile trek.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
While it may be getting praise for being the first single player Star Wars game in what feels like an eternity, this latest Lucasfilm entry is pretty impressive as a standalone game itself. It takes Dark-Souls/Sekiro-esque combat and campfire save spots coupled with Uncharted climbing and jumps and stirs in extra Star Wars to brilliant effect.

The Other Worlds
Finally, the dream team behind classic RPGs Fallout 1 and 2, Leonard Boyarsky and Tim Cain return to create a stunning sci-fi adventure game, which also draws from the Western-influenced Fallout: New Vegas. A compelling story, with great characters and with lots of choices and consequences is just the icing on the cake.

Disco Elysium
Playing a drunk, washed-up and rather bonkers detective in a murder mystery which philosophises about everything from gender to communism may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it sure as hell one us over. An incredibly written script, with so much freedom to role play and take different routes, may have topped this game to being our favourite of 2019.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
From Software (of Dark Souls and Bloodbourne fame) returns with a superb adventure game retaining the tactical complexity of its previous games, but adding a swift, more playful movement style with greater scope for exploration. Its difficulty may be a shock to the system at first, but learn the tactics and moves and you’ll be cutting through 16th century Japan’s soldiers and monsters in no time.

Untitled Goose Game
JUST BUY THIS GAME! Ok, that’s not a great description, but any words won’t be able to do justice to the great white-winged social menace that is the goose and star of this game. The simple premise is you play a happy-go-lucky goose who has to make the lives of a small English village a nightmare whether its stealing from markets, making kids cry or breaking everything in sight. The breakout indie hit of 2019.

Fire Emblem Three Houses
The long-awaited Fire Emblem series finally arrives on the Nintendo Switch, and boy, it does not disappoint. It’s new emphasis on exploring the school is a welcome addition, and the relationship building is better than ever, with you finding yourself really caring for your scrappy bunch of students as they progress from novices to experts. The tactical battles are compelling and challenging, while the ability to play essentially three different houses dramatically adds to the replayability.

Astral Chain
The studio who brought us the incredible NieR:Automata continues to impress with the sci-fi battle/adventure experience that is Astral Chain. The vivid character and environment art and pumping soundtrack perfectly complements the mind blowing action, which is no surprise considering the creators’ past work on NieR and Bayonetta.

Devil May Cry 5
After the controversial Devil May Cry (DmC) reboot, many had reservations about the future of Capcom’s slash em’ up, but never fear, all our worries were vanquished with the release of Devil May Cry 5. Taking place in a post apocalyptic London-esque setting, the ability to play as three different characters, each with markedly different styles, mixes up the fun and makes for rather enjoyable journey to hell and back.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (PC, PS4, Xbox One) Review

Many fans, including us, have long pined for a single player Star Wars adventure, and now one has finally arrived, is it worth dragging attention away from Baby Yoda for more than five minutes?

The reason there’s been such demand is partly down to EA, the company who owns the rights to Star Wars games, who have been heavily focused on the multiplayer market, particularly with their Star Wars: Battlefront series. While these games do well at what they’re aiming for, if you’re not fussed about owning a random stranger with a blaster or occasionally a lightsaber, they’re don’t offer too much. Despite some promising cancelled projects, including one by Uncharted’s Amy Hennig, Respawn, the brains behind the acclaimed Titanfall series were chosen as the custodians of Lucas’s legacy, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is what they came up with.

When you boot up the game, that familiar Lucasfilm motif does suck you in, and is the first of many examples of audio magic, which really ground you in the Star Wars universe. The music too, occasionally dipping into John Williams’ back catalogue, is masterful, as is the level art. Whoever did the background and level designs on this game deserves a well-earned round of applause – the imaginative landscapes, the subdued palette and the glorious lighting all combine to create one of the best looking games in this generation (sadly the player models are the only negative here). Now, of course, with the impressive range of material on offer, it does help entice the player, especially with the nostalgia the game likes to indulge in.

While the visuals and audio do an amazing job, the gameplay sadly feels like a bit of a let down. The decision to take on a lesser version of Dark Souls/Sekiro-style combat is a conscious one, but takes away some of the magic. Understandably you don’t want to let the player have all the powers and abilities immediately, but the slow dolling out of even things as simple as a force push feels unnecessary. The lightsaber combat feels held back, and though it could be said, more realistic, waving a laser sword isn’t exactly normal, so not letting the player have a bit more fun with it seems like a mistake. The climbing sections aren’t particularly exciting either, though they are often saved by some impressive cinematography.

Much of the fun of a Star Wars game is the story, and on this front, Respawn do pretty well, with a good sense of progression and development, and in true Lucas style, a big old McGuffin. However, the crew of your ship do seem a bit lacklustre and the plot towards the end feels rather rushed. A good example of this is the introduction of a charismatic new crew member – who is only unveiled in the last 1/4 of the game, which feels like such a waste. That said, it may be that previous games, such as KOTOR and its sequel, have spoiled us with their well-rounded cast of characters, and it must be said the introduction had us on the edge of our seats.

Overall, this is a fun romp through the Star Wars universe, and while the combat and gameplay might not be the force grip you had hoped for, it’s still an adventure that’ll have you and your R2 unit beeping happily for several hours.

 

Death Stranding for PlayStation 4 Review

death stranding reviewHideo Kojima’s latest release is one hell of an enigma. And that’s just the story. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

First things first, Death Stranding has a cast to die for. Anything with Mads Mikkelsen is going to be great, and of course the same can be said of Norman Reedus and Lea Seydoux. To top it all off you’ve also got two world class directors who do a mighty fine acting job in the form of Guillermo del Toro and Nicolas Winding Refn (voiced by Darren Jacobs), with del Toro’s Deadman being a breakout star. If you keep your eyes peeled you’ll also see a wide cast of cameos, with other film directors and media personalities scattered throughout, all of which are remarkably well used.

Put simply, well as simply as is possible, Death Stranding is an epic sci-fi journey into a near future which involves your character journeying across vast, mostly untouched landscapes, connecting people and trying to rebuild society. All this is done while trying to avoid horrifically spooky ghosts, as well as persistent bandits and even the rain itself – ‘Timefall’ – which damages your goods and vehicles. And, not forgetting keeping a small baby attached to your suit happy, including being able to rock it to sleep by waving the controller about. Of course this all sounds strange, but surprisingly enough it generally works.

The game lets you take your own pace and your own approach to its path finding. Want to scale that cliff side with ladders and climbing ropes? Prefer to find a vehicle and take the longer way around? Or go in guns blazing through a bandit camp? It’s all up to you. And while you’re deciding you’ll be soundtracked by some superb post rock/indie folk, most of which is provided by US via Reykjavik band Low Roar.

The music is one of the many highlights, with perfectly selected tracks that are synced with your adventure – one of my favourite moments was scaling a vast mountain, avoiding dangers, to have a great track suddenly kick in as I climbed down the other side and was subject to a stunning view across the landscape.

Just like music, whether you’ll enjoy this game is all about expectations. Don’t go in expecting Metal Gear Solid (Kojima’s previous series), because although it does share some mechanics and sneaking elements, this is a more slow paced, ‘enjoy the journey rather than the destination’ production. However, unlike Metal Gear Solid, the story here is a lot more comprehensible, aside from when you get towards the end. The ending is an information overload, and several ‘fake’ endings can test the patience of even the most dedicated fan.

What is definitely a surprise is that the game’s online elements are a wonderful treat. As you make your way through rivers, hillsides and mountains you can build devices to help you on your way, like battery charging stations, rain covers or safe boxes, and these will also appear in other players’ worlds to help them out (and vice versa). It’s a delight to receive ‘likes’ from other players who use your structures, which can aid your character’s skills as well as keep you company on your lonesome journey.

Death Stranding is an enigma alright, but whether you’ll appreciate breaking its code will definitely be down to your expectations and how open you are to trying something a bit different to your standard blockbuster game.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood Film Review

Tarantino has returned, and he’s still doing that cowboy schtick, but this time it’s not the real thing like in The Hateful Eight or Django Unchained, but actors doing the cowboy thing in late 1960s Hollywood. Throw in the tragedy of the Manson Family and the Tate murders and you’ve got yourself Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. Firstly, go read up on the Manson Family or Tate Murders before you sit down to enjoy this one – you don’t need to know much, but just an outline will allow you to appreciate the backdrop.

Now, down to business, the film business that is. Tarantino’s love for the movie industry, particularly in the 50 and 60s, oozes out of this picture. It’s his fairy tale send off to a bygone era, and it does a pretty damn good job of it.
You’ve got Leonardo DiCaprio as a washed-up TV cowboy Rick Dalton plying his way through guest spots hoping to resurrect his former glory. This allows Tarantino to play at director of several genres, whether its mini TV Westerns, action adventure films, or even reinserting Leo into some rather famous classics.

Dalton’s stuntman Cliff Booth, aptly played by Brad Pitt is Leo’s partner in crime, whether taking the punches, driving him around or just fixing stuff around his house. While Dalton’s tale takes him on a reflective journey surrounding his success and future, Booth’s adventures drive the major story and take him on an exploration of hippie culture and the Manson family, which ties into the Sharon Tate plotline, well helmed by Margot Robbie.
Not getting too much into spoilers, this film heavily channels Pulp Fiction’s interlocking mini stories, with some incredible memorable scenes which could easily stand by themselves as shorts. Unlike that 1994 classic, the dialogue in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood is a lot more relaxed, no longer are scenes bursting full of witty dialogue, but there’s a more relaxed conversation style, added to the fact that some scenes were improvised – a relatively rare concept for Tarantino.

Coming in at just over 2 hours and 40 minutes, the film is in no way means bloated (apparently the original cut was 4 hours), but everything is perfectly balanced towards its aim. There’s a long scene that literally drips in tension, added to by the fact much of it is in the bright sunshine, which then turns into a darkly lit, isolated and anxiety-ridden moment. Sections like this are perfectly timed and balanced to create that punch-in-the-gut emotional connection that many big blockbuster films no longer aim to instil in the viewer. Overall, it’s so rare to have scenes where the actors can just ham it up and revel in the dialogue and interactions they’re gifted by the writer, and DiCaprio, Pitt and Tate all excel here – Pitt is the sure-fire star though, radiating with charisma, charm and playfulness, particularly in the backlot fight scene.

Would it have worked better with say a washed-up actor like Charlie Sheen, Christian Slater, or even Brendan Fraser? Who knows, but it may have lessened the comedic effect of having Leo bumbling through his lines, coughing his guts up and generally falling apart. The film also heavily focuses on Leo and Brad’s characters – their story, chemistry and acting works so well together that you could have released their tale on its own without any of the Manson murder backdrop, which feels slightly tacked on in places, but understandably sets the scene.
This isn’t a perfect film, or even the perfect Tarantino film, but it’s a picture that looks, feels and drips in dedication, excitement and just darn good celluloid fun.

Shazam Movie Review


Shazam! No, we’re not talking the music discovery app, but the DC comic hero with a giant lightning bolt on his chest that we’d honestly had never heard of before. But don’t let that get in the way of enjoying one of the most fun superhero films to grace our screens in ages. Shazam doesn’t take itself too seriously and that is an essential part of its charm.

Zachary Levi is the standout star as Billy’s superhero alter-ego with bucket-loads of the geeky charisma he nailed perfectly in Chuck, while Billy’s wise-cracking best buddy is played brilliantly by Jack Dylan Grazer, channelling a young Seth Cohen. They work brilliantly together, particularly in the scenes where Billy stumbles through discovering his superpowers. The whole ensemble foster family start off rather simple and don’t have too many lines, but the family scenes have a simple warmth to them that pays off towards the finale act.

Shazam! might be filled with superhero cliches, but the film embraces them rather than tries to do anything edgy. There are some pitfalls, the CGI baddie monsters are rather dull and copypasted from other DC/Marvel films, and the villain doesn’t really inspire you to really want to see get beaten at the end. Overall, a fun, light-hearted take on the superhero story, that is well aware that it’s not high-art and has some real laugh-out-loud moments.

5 HOT TRADING TIPS FROM PROFESSIONAL TRADERS

There is only so much the internet can teach us. Professional traders have the type of inside knowledge, strategies and expertise that can only be learned on the trading floor.
Financial Markets Online co-founders, James Bentley and Samuel Fuller, are experienced traders who train up everyday people in the world of online trading. Today, they’re sharing 5 hot trading tips that’ll ensure you don’t get burned.

1. Work alongside another professional – having a mentor or working alongside someone with more experience than you, is an invaluable aid when you’re at the beginning of your trading career. It will help you build confidence, understanding and avoid common pitfalls that new traders often make.

2. Join a community – join a professional course and you’ll find a group of like-minded and active traders
committed to success through continuously improving their professional skills. You’ll become part of a community and will have access to experts who will be able to share insight and strategies, based on live streaming data and analysis.

3. Find a mentor – a good mentor will oversee your trading and be on hand to advise, encourage and, critically, also deter you. They can help you create a plan, develop your own set of rules and support you in staying disciplined enough to stick to them. This can be the difference between making money and losing it.

4. Capitalise on the sales side – trading and investing both involve seeking profit in the stock market, but
they pursue that goal in different ways. Investing is about buying stocks for long-term gain, but you can achieve short-term profit by selling stocks, with a focus on share prices.

5. Go for a walk – a clear head is a calm and focused head and the key to making good trades and
decisions. So, when the pressure starts to build, take a walk around the block and give yourself an opportunity to think things through in terms of strategy and what’s in the best interests of your trading and the positions you currently have. You’ll be amazed what comes to mind when you step away from the charts for a few minutes.
More on James Bentley & Samuel Fuller

9 of the Most Visited World Heritage Sites


Worldwide celebrations will mark International Monuments and Sites Day, traditionally known as World #HeritageDay. Launching in 1983 with 12 sites, there are now an incredible 1092 sites in more than 150 countries. Here’s 9 of the most visited heritage sites visitors from around the globe are flocking to in their millions.

Great Wall of China

Of the 53 listed heritage sites in China, the most famous is the Great Wall of China. Officially the longest wall in the world, it measures a staggering 13,171 miles. Completed in 1878, it comprises of many sections of wall, fortresses, horse tracks, watch towers and shelters and has a unique and impressive style which has stood tall through the dynasties. Recognised as the world’s largest military structure in 1644 the monument is a must-see attraction for tourists from all over the world and a revered national symbol.

Palace of the Winds

One of the most beautiful examples of Indian architecture, Hawa Mahal is situated in Jaipur, “The Pink City”, Rajasthan. Dating back to 1799, the five-storey pyramidal shaped monument was constructed by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh. Also known as Palace of the Winds, it is a gem in the Rajasthani crown. With an astonishing 953 windows, the original purpose was for royal ladies to observe everyday life in the street below, when obeying the strict rules of ‘purdah’. Built of red and pink sandstone it is one of the most famous ancient monuments in the country.

Angkor Wat (Temple)

The Cambodian Angkor Wat temple complex was firmly put on the tourist trail in 2001 as the setting for the action-packed Tomb Radar film. But it was almost 10 years earlier it was awarded UNESCO status and declared Cambodia’s first heritage site. As one of the largest religious monuments worldwide, the spectacular site covers 162.6 hectares. Awe-inspiring and vividly detailed, it is built out of sandstone blocks quarried from the holy mountain of Phnom Kulen, More than 3000 heavenly nymphs are carved into its walls of the main temple; a sacred religious mausoleum. Ornately decorated with beautiful ancient structures this unique landmark, surrounded by a 190m wide moat, is a monument of national pride, is featured on the nation’s flag and the prime attraction for visitors to the country.

Grand Canyon National Park

Proclaimed a national park in 1919, the Grand Canyon is one of the principal visitor attractions in the USA. The 277-mile long and a mile deep canyon, bearing the same name can be explored by hiking down a corridor trail, taking a leisurely stroll along one of the rims or enjoying the immense landscape from one of the many vantage points, all nothing short of impressive. In 1908, the then president of the USA Teddy Roosevelt proclaimed the Grand Canyon to be a national monument. Celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year, the Grand Canyon receives close to five million visitors annually, as people flock to see this natural phenomenon and are of immense beauty.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge is a famous prehistoric monument based in Wiltshire, England and is one of the wonders of the world. It was built in several stages by Neolithic farmers approximately 5000 years ago out of sarsen stone and bluestones, with each sarsen stone weighing around 25 tons and measuring a staggering 13 meters high. The history of Stonehenge is a fascinating one due to the sophistication of its architecture and the only surviving linteled stone circle in the world. The ancient landscape that surrounds Stonehenge is beautiful and peaceful and allows all visitors to explore and experience the everyday Neolithic life.

Table Mountain

Undoubtedly, South Africa’s most famous landmark, Table Mountain offers spectacular views of the city of Cape Town below. Taking its name from the fact that it has a flat top, which is thought to have been created around 300 million years ago during an ice age, Table Mountain is a key tourist attraction in South Afirca and is especially popular amongst hikers, with the highest point being 3,563 feet above sea level. As one of the seven wonders of the world, Table Mountain is a natural heritage that belongs to the people of South Africa and with the beauty that it gives, there is no wonder why.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Known for the magical surroundings, Bavaria is home to one of the world’s most famous fairytale castles; the Neuschwanstein Castle. Situated on top of a rugged hill, surrounded by magnificent views, the castle was constructed by King Ludwig II in 1869 and was finished in 1880. The architecture of the exterior is described as breath-taking and one that is never forgotten. The Marienbrucke, the bridge over the Pollat gorge allows the public to see the natural elegance of the surroundings in which the castle was built.

Trevi Fountain

Situated in the heart of Italy’s capital, the Trevi Fountain is a spectacular masterpiece. Designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi, the Trevi Fountain is the largest baroque fountain in Rome measuring at an impressive 26.3 meters high. The fountain was built in front of the Palazzo Poli, a Roman palace however the central part of the palace was demolished in 1730 to provide enough space for the fountain. The centre piece within the fountain is that of the Greek Sea God, Oceanus accompanied by Sea Horses and Tritons. Each day thousands of visitors flock to this iconic Italian monument to follow tradition, tossing a coin into the fountain, securing their return trip.

Alhambra Palace

Located on top of the hill, on the left bank of the river Darro and with a stunning view over the entire city sits the palace, the Alhambra. Constructed as a small fortress in Granada, Spain in 889 AD, it was rebuilt in the mid 13th century and expanded to include the palace. The Alhambra was named because of the reddish colour to its walls, and in Arabic, al-Hamra translates to Red Castle. With its magnificent architecture, it is understandable as to why it was the crown jewel of the Emirate of Granada.

Our Favourite 2018 Games


As the horizon on the open world that was 2018 finally dawns, it’s time to sit round the camp fire, rejuvenate some hit points and wonder what the year was all about. We’re talking the best computer games to grace our screens of course! Here’s what we decided, after much deliberation, a few arguments and a some liquid lubrication.

1. Marvel’s Spider-Man. Super hero games aren’t always known for being the greatest, so our spider senses were understandably tingling when this new series dropped in front of us, but how wrong we were. This is probably the most fun you can have with a controller this year and it’s all done to movement – this game has the most fun way of bounding around a city we’ve had the pleasure to encounter, and throw in some superb Spidey quips, over the top baddies, and we’re all set.

2. Into The Breach. From the creators of the indie space gem FTL comes a ridiculously addictive tactical turn-based game where you guide giant robot mechs across a randomly generated set of maps to defend earth from impending doom…well, creepy aliens called the Vek. It may have a simple premise and retro graphics, but this is a thoroughly modern take on the genre that will have you on the edge of your seat.

3. Red Dead Redemption II. Like a super smoky charcoal fired scotch – we hated this game at first with its slow introduction, even slower controls and muddy plotting, but after a few tipples, we grew to love Arthur and his compelling adventures in the stunningly recreated Old West and we’d be lying if we said we didn’t shed a few tears when we reached the end of his tale.

4. Tetris Effect. This take on the timeless block sorting classic is so brilliant we can’t shout about it enough. While the shapes hurtle ever quicker towards the screen, you’re bombarded with what can only be described as a vivid, ever-changing visual art piece that feels like you’ve been blasted out of a cannon into another universe, while headphones pump out glorious electronica. The VR mode takes it to another level, so much so that you’re even more likely to lose hours upon hours in this art puzzle perfection.

5. Monster Hunter: World. This series is all about Monsters. You track them, you fight them and you craft their bits into better armour and weapons so you can fight even bigger enemies…if you don’t get killed in the process of course. All this while being assisted by a cat-like buddies called Palicoes, which may be the cutest felines in console history. Being able to climb the monster as you try to hack it to bits may be the most morbidly fun thing you’ll do all year. And did we mention the cats??

6. Moonlighter. This charming pixel-style action game focused around a shopkeeper who ‘moonlights’ as an adventurer is a breath of fresh air amid RPGs full-to-bursting with unnecessary plot, over-the-top visuals and clichéd characters. The feedback loop may be simple – you take your sword and shield to go loot dungeons in the style of Zelda, while using the proceeds to pimp both your equipment and your store – but we couldn’t put this game down.

7. Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Getting a Jigglypuff to smack Mario in his smug moustached face may be all you need to know about the latest entry in the Smash series. But if that’s not enough to persuade you, a ridiculously large single player mode, over 75 characters pulled from every inch of console history and more classic soundtracks then you can shake a Super Scope at should more than suffice.

8. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. It may the 11th title in the series, but Ubisoft still isn’t letting up. Not content with sticking to the same formula, they’ve dived headfirst into the giant open world and quest-style of games like the Witcher 3, and boy do they pull it off. Aside from the appeal of being able to explore Ancient Greece and the Aegean in groundbreakingly detailed realism, the Exploration Mode – where you have to talk to NPCs and explore the environment to discover quests and progress is something to behold – finally allows you to escape the dreaded map markers and pins that plague open-world games and ruin immersion.

9. Celeste. Yes, it’s a 2D platformer with retro graphics that could probably run on a toaster. But don’t let that put you off. Celeste takes all those platformer tropes of old, puts them in a blender and comes out with something fresh and exciting. The level design never feels old and pushes you forward in excitement, the controls are a joy to use and the music is something else, so good that you’ll be queuing up the soundtrack on all your playlists.

10. God of War. It’s been half a decade since a true Kratos adventure was released upon us and we can all agree that’s far too long for our liking. And this time, they’ve ditched the Greek mythos for Norse legends, overhauled the camera and controls, and given Mr K a magic axe which can be throw around like Mjolnir – all bold moves that more than pay off. The addition of Kratos’ son Atreus adds more depth to both the gameplay and the story, which was often a tad OTT in the previous entries.