25 April 2014



I gotta say - this show is a real enigma to me. Every time I watch the latest episode I get reminded of how bad some of the actors in this show are. I am quite sure that some soaps have better and more convincing actors than Arrow, that's how bad they are. And the plot in most episodes is pretty bad, predictable and unconvincing. There's PLENTY of the typical "why don't you just shoot him and get it over with?" situations that usually end well.

But... I just can't wait to see the next episode! Week after week (Arrow features 24 episodes per season) I just want to see what is coming next. I remember how bored I got with the show during the first season... and then season finale happened and it was a shocker! Arrow failed to stop a disaster AND his best friend died!? And in the latest episode another one of the main characters died! Could Arrow be turning into The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones? No, of course not, but I like what the producers are doing with those deaths.

Anyway, I think I can explain my love for Arrow. It's made after a comic after all, and comics are a nerd's soft spot. It's actually easy to recognize the plot of almost every episode as if it was made for a comic book, rather than a TV show. There's a few of one-shot enemies that appear in single episodes, never to be seen or heard of again (they usually end up dead or imprisoned), then there's a whole bunch of recurring characters (both good and bad) and a master villain that spreads throughout a season. So far there have been two "bosses" in two seasons and neither was clear up until late mid-season. There's also a continuous flashback story that happens in the past, it takes about 20% of each episode and is even more interesting than the main plot.

Overall, Arrow is a cliche, but a fun cliche. It's not just for anyone, you have to be a hardcore fan of comics and/or heroes (not superheroes!) like Batman who relies on natural strength and expensive technology. Enjoy it!

19 April 2014

Fargo (TV show)

An original adaptation of the Academy Award-winning feature film, Fargo features an all-new “true crime” story and follows a new case and new characters, all entrenched in the trademark humor, murder and “Minnesota nice” that made the film an enduring classic.  Set in Bemidji, Minnesota, this limited drama series follows Lorne Malvo (Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton, Sling Blade), a drifter who meets and forever changes the life of an ordinary insurance salesman, Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman, Sherlock). Other key players include Colin Hanks (Dexter) as Duluth Police Deputy Gus Grimly, a single dad who must choose between his own personal safety and his duty as a policeman; Allison Tolman (Sordid Lives: The Series) and Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad) as a pair of Bemidji cops; Kate Walsh (Private Practice) as a former stripper; Oliver Platt (The Big C) as the supermarket king of Minnesota; Glenn Howerton (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) as an ambitious personal trainer; and Russell Harvard (The Hammer) and Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan) as members of the Fargo crime syndicate.

I was just too lazy to write my own description of the show so I just copied it off from the FX website. What else is there to say? It's FARGO! One of my all time favorite movies (1996) and it's got Billy Bob Thornton (the master of transformation), Martin Freeman (Dr. Watson & Bilbo Baggins) and Bob Odenkirk (Better call Saul!) in it. I watched the pilot episode last night and even though I had REALLY HIGH expectations I still got stunned by it! The story is new and has nothing to do with the movie (although the producers hinted some possible minor crossovers with the original story) and it is supposed to be a single-season, 10-episode show only. If you ask me, that's perfect... since a lot of shows get ruined by too stretched story. Even my wife may be willing to watch this - she really hates to wait for a year to see what happens next in the following season :)

After True Detective I thought it would take a lot of time to see something of this quality. Fortunately, I was wrong. It might be too early to say that since it's been only one episode, but I just can't see how this could go wrong. YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS!

14 April 2014

The Swapper (2013)

Game score: 88%
Platform: Steam, PC

The Swapper is a rather simple puzzle platformer with an interesting gameplay: you are equipped with a unique weapon which allows you to create clones of yourself and swap with them. Confusing? I just may lack words to actually describe it correctly, but it really is a simple concept and will take you no more than 2 minutes to get used to what you need to do.

There's no one to kill in this game, there are no quick movements (mostly) so that kind of skill is far from needed. What you really need is a brain and some patience in order to complete this game. Mind you, it's not really a brain-killer as most puzzles are really easy to complete. Sometimes all you need is a two minute break to rest a bit and it will all come to you.

Anyway, what's it about? You are an astronaut on a Space Station Theseus and there's been an accident. You are trying to escape as well as find out what actually happened there. In order to progress you need to open certain doors and each door requires you to own a certain number of orbs. Orbs can be collected by solving puzzles. To solve puzzles you need to create clones of yourself (and swap places with your own clones, as I said before). These clones will do exactly the same movements and actions as yourself and you will need to use them to open doors, step on certain spots etc.

As I said, the game is incredibly simple in its mechanics, but is challenging enough to keep you playing it for 5 or 6 hours until the very end. I really enjoyed the time spent on this and I managed to get stuck only once! And it was only because I didn't notice one floor tile (it was upside down and I guess I was just too tired). The real challenges come up at later stages as you get into rooms where you know exactly what you need to do - but you need to figure HOW to do it.

One real good feature are teleporters that will allow you to move quickly if you ever need to go back to some room (if you missed something or took a left turn and now you want to go right). I just love it when developers think about us players and our need to cut down the lost time :)

There are 10 achievements in the game as well and they are real pain in the ass. Not because they are too hard to get or are luck based... No, it's because they require you to find 10 hidden rooms and to do that you would need to randomly clone and swap yourself into hidden walls and corridors. Most of the time such corridors are too well hidden and you'd do better if you ignore that part of the game completely. Unless you read a guide or watch YouTube videos to find out their locations.

Overall, The Swapper is a beautiful and entertaining indie game that will leave you asking for more. As for the actual story that develops as you progress - I leave that to you. It's a bit confusing... and unimportant, to be honest. Enjoy it while it lasts.

09 April 2014

The Following

The following text has MAJOR spoilers so do not read if you missed some episodes or plan to watch The Following in the near future.

Ugh. This show... I don't even know how to begin describing it. It started some 15 months ago and had an awesome pilot episode! The story of an imprisoned serial killer who escapes his captors and plans 
reunion with his wife and son who don't really like him any more (to put it mildly), as well as revenge against an FBI agent who arrested him and virtually an entire world who does not understand him. We learn about his amazing network of killers, a cult of disturbed wackos who found their own sick meaning of life. We also found out that the show will not be soft in any way - victims were not spared nor saved at the last second, but brutally murdered without any remorse. Mind you, I am not a fan of brutality, but I do appreciate realism in such situations and there's a serious lack of it in 99% of movies and TV shows.

That lasted for about two, maybe three episodes and went downhill right after that. It got incredibly stretched and unconvincing, the characters became annoying, all the cliches were back in the game, then it got even more stretched... all the way into the season finale where the good guy defeats a bad guy and all is well. Or not, since the good guy and the love of his life got stabbed multiple times in his apartment, leaving The Following with a major cliffhanger. Season 2 was inevitable.

We are already 12 episodes into season 2 and the exact same scenario happened again! First two or three episodes were great again and I hoped they really got it this time. I was wrong - the rest of the season 2 (so far) went through the same scenario as it did last year - stretched, unconvincing, annoying and predictable. This year Mr. Wacko-serial-killer (who did not die at the end of the last season, as expected) is leading a crazed religious cult and is even more annoying than before, and our FBI good guy is a whole lot darker than he was - and that's the best thing about The Following, in my honest opinion. He shoots to kill and is absolutely focused on just one thing, with no regard to human life when it comes to bad guys. There's a third side as well, made of yet another seriously disturbed group of people who are obsessed with Mr. Killer - at first in a positive way towards him... until he dumps them and makes yet another powerful enemy. Quite a mixture.

Overall, this show had so much potential and I have to say that Kevin Bacon is doing a really good job as FBI agent Ryan Hardy. But it should have been compressed to no more than 6 episodes a year. And with a lot less capturing and escaping and recapturing and more escaping and...