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The best 15 albums of 2012

January 1, 2013

No long introduction needed here. 2012 was a great year of metal – my list of ten had to be expanded to fifteen, and even that proved difficult. Enjoy, peons!

HONORABLE EP MENTIONS: Agalloch’s “Faustian Echoes” and Deathspell Omega’s “Drought were both excellent, but I’d feel a bit cheeky putting EPs on a best album list. Go check them out.

 

Winterfylleth-The-Threnody-Of-Triumph  15) Winterfylleth - “The Threnody of Triumph”

England’s own Winterfylleth play black metal with folk and post-rock influences – imagine a heavier Agalloch and  you have a basic idea.  Atmospheric, soulful and haunting in all the right ways, it’s good stuff. Conjuring up images of bleak English woodlands, this is music to kick back, relax and get lost in.

Standout track: The Swart Raven

Read more…

Where art thou, Persona 4 Arena? Everywhere but Europe, apparently.

November 9, 2012

Oh really?

I’ve been looking forward to Persona 4 Arena for ages. I live and breathe fighting games, and thoroughly enjoyed Persona 3 and 4. A combination of the two was literally a dream come true. Since the game was announced, I’ve been waiting with anticipation for its release.

Persona 4 Arena came out in Japan on July 26, and a week later in America. Europe still doesn’t have a release date. Read more…

Saved by the Plasma Rifle

October 28, 2012

A happier time.

This is a tale of how one man’s hubris caused him to lose everything he ever held dear and doomed the world to extinction. In a video game.

I bought XCOM a few days ago. I’d heard only good things about it, from the compelling turn-based battles to the challenging difficulty. As it happens, those are two things that appeal to me greatly, and after enjoying the demo I was looking forward to getting stuck in.

Being really good at games (and modest!), I tend to jump in at the hardest difficulty. XCOM’s “Impossible” sounded exactly that however, so I plumped for “Classic”, equivalent to hard. Turning on Ironman mode, which makes it impossible to re-load an earlier save, I remember thinking to myself, “how hard can it be?” Foolish mortal.

In a stroke of what can only be described as pure genius, I customised my squad of alien-killers after the cast of seminal 90’s teen sitcom, Saved by the Bell. My veteran from the tutorial mission became ladies man Zack Morris, with Samuel “Screech” Powers, A.C. Slater and Mr. Belding rounding out the squad. These guys had survived plenty of “very special” episodes, what were a few extraterrestrials gonna do? Read more…

Happy Dark Souls DLC day, everyone!

October 24, 2012

It’s cool guys, I got this

How do I love thee, Dark Souls? Let me count the ways….. or not, as it would take years. Needless to say, I adore Dark Souls. Notorious for its difficulty, the game is brutally punishing but also completely fair. If you die, it was your own fault. Getting the full 1000G is one of my proudest accomplishments.

A melancholic atmosphere and a story that is never quite explained make the whole package a beautiful and haunting experience. It is, in my opinion, the best game of this generation. Dark Souls was ported to PC a couple of months ago with a big chunk of new content. I’ve been waiting patiently and today that new stuff is finally released as DLC on console. Hooray! Read more…

What happened, Final Fantasy? You used to be cool!

October 19, 2012

Play this game.

I’m playing Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions at the moment. For those unaware, it’s a PSP remake of the PS1 original. It’s fantastic. The basic gameplay is easy to grasp but peer under the hood and it’s incredibly deep and complex. The level to which you can customise members of your party is almost absurd, especially when you consider this is a game that originally came out in 1997. The story is mature and intelligent, touching on themes such as social class, the divisions they create, and how to determine morality in a world made up of shades of grey. There is no  black and white, good vs. evil divide in this game. Does being a born a commoner resign you to a particular life? Is fighting to destroy a corrupt system justified, or does it simply breed more hated and conflict? Fantastic writing ties it all together.

That a game can make you feel and think so much is a great achievement, especially when you consider it does it with 2D sprites and text boxes. Tactics is Final Fantasy at it best, a reminder of why I used to adore the franchise so much.

So what happened to us, Final Fantasy? We used to be tight. We used to hang out all the time. Now, it’s like I don’t even know you. You got really vain, always looking at yourself in the mirror. The conversations became boring – we used to discuss all manner of things. Now you just say the same stuff, over and over. What happened, man? Read more…

Resident Evil 6 is not a bad game.

October 16, 2012

Oh Leon, you so dreamy

Few games in recent memory have divided opinion like Resident Evil 6. Currently sitting at around the 70% mark on Metacritic, Resi 6 has received a bit of shining praise, more brutal criticism, and plenty of six-out-of-tens. It may not seem that bad, but for a series with as high a profile as Resident Evil, these are some pretty damning scores. The internet has been ablaze, with fans worldwide decrying Resi 6 as a terrible game from a once-great franchise, and plenty of professionals seeming to agree.

Everyone is wrong.

Resident Evil 6 is a fun game that I have had a blast playing through with a pal. Is it great? No. Is it flawed? Absolutely. But it sure as hell isn’t bad, either. I had a little realization earlier, and it made me feel a bit ill.

Resident Evil 6 got worse reviews than Gears of War 3 and Modern Warfare 3. Read more…

WELCOME

October 15, 2012

Welcome all to my new blog, The King of Crunch. I figured making a general, theme-less blog allows me to write about more of whatever takes my fancy rather than having to stick to a topic, so here we go. The posts below are reviews I wrote for the short-lived THE METAL BLOG, my writing venture before this one. The posts above are life-changing masterpieces of wit, panache, poetry and good looks. Also probably some writing about games and metal. So come on in, follow me or subscribe or whatever it is people do on WordPress, and enjoy. Group hug!

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