The Indie Shelf: Terraria

Hello everybody! On this week’s addition of “The Indie Shelf” we have the xbla game turned app, Terraria.

TERRARIA

Developer(s) Re-Logic
Engine Software(consoles)
Codeglue (mobile)
Publisher(s) Re-Logic
505 Games
Spike Chunsoft (Japan)
Programmer(s) Andrew “Redigit” Spinks
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows
Xbox Live Arcade
Windows Phone
Android
iOS
Release date(s) Microsoft Windows
May 16, 2011
Xbox Live Arcade
March 27, 2013IOS
August 29, 2013
Android
September 13, 2013
Windows Phone
TBA
Genre(s) Action-adventure

“You feel an evil presence watching you.” The warning message flashes on the bottom of the screen while you’re busy chopping down trees in the forest. Night has fallen over the land of Terraria, a time for evil monsters to wake from their daylight slumber and assert their dominance. You need shelter if you’re going to survive their deadly onslaught, but your time has run out. “The Eye of Cthulhu has awoken!” A roar from the darkness sends a chill down your spine. You equip your sword, ready your healing potions, and dig in for a fierce battle while a full moon gazes down. This colorful 2D adventure keeps you on guard by sending demons and monsters to kill you when you least expect it. You’re never safe in Terraria. Surprises abound, both nefarious and empowering. In the dead of night, you may find your home invaded by a goblin army. But on the next night, you may find a treasure chest rich with helpful items. Terraria is a deeply rewarding adventure that continually urges you onward to see what lies ahead.

This aspect of Terraria is dizzying. You can spend days and days plugging away here, exploring the map in a series of discrete lunges into the unknown – each ending with your hilarious death and respawn back in a safe zone – and you’ll still be seeing new stuff by your 20th, your 30th, your 50th hour. You can spend days digging down into the ground scavenging ore and crystal hearts and accidentally tipping yourself into pools of lava. You can spend days plodding across sandscapes or building staircases up into the sky, or simply refining your home base until you’ve added vanity battlements and encouraged a handy range of NPCs to move in. You can spend days crafting every kind of armour and weapon from the resources you almost died collecting. You can chisel through the endless darkness of the game’s bedrock for whole afternoons and feel like the loneliest person who ever lived, or you can cheer yourself up with a miner’s lamp and a pet to keep you company.

Terraria’s console version will even hold a few surprises for any PC veterans washing up on its shores. The worlds are still huge and riddled with randomised possibility, and you can still explore them with friends, but there’s now four-player split-screen supported alongside eight-player online. There’s a handy opening tutorial, too, which does its best to at least show newbies how to build their first house, even if it struggles to prepare anyone for the fiendish depths that await after its construction.

And there are new pad-based controls, which offer both an automatic targeting system for your axe, your hammer, or your weapon of choice, as well as a manual option for moments when you’re engaged in fiddly stuff. You can switch between the two modes at the click of a thumbstick, and they’re both useful in their own ways. Automatic digging targets blocks fairly intelligently and is great for just pointing the right stick in a set direction and then chewing through the ground with relative ease, while manual digging works best when you’re trying to build things or gather specific pockets of ore. At times, the game can feel a bit like a twin-stick shooter on consoles, and while the setup isn’t quite as elegant as the mouse-and-keyboard approach, it’s still intelligently designed and surprisingly clear-headed.

When hosting, the game runs well enough, but when joining somebody else’s game, the lag can be debilitating. While lag doesn’t matter much during the slower portions, it can be infuriatingly unplayable during tense combat sequences. Worse yet, if you travel quickly enough in a friend’s world, the terrain will not load in time, causing you to fall all the way to the bottom of the map with nothing to stop you.

In addition to online play, the port also allows up to four-player split screen multiplayer, but it has its own problems too. Even with only two players, Terraria suffers from significant drops in framerate at times. Aside from that, the interface works surprisingly well using only a fraction of the screen real estate, but due to the slowdown, local multiplayer can still be a pain for combat or tricky platforming sections.

Regardless of how you approach things, though, the basic rhythm of this astonishing piece of work remains the same. For your first few hours, Terraria will seem like a bewildering – occasionally terrifying – strain of chore. Put in the effort, though, and it eventually reveals its true nature. This isn’t a game or even a toy. At heart, it’s a vocation.

PROS:

  • Expansive world.
  • Crafting system.
  • Controls.

CONS:

  • Lag.
  • Drops in framerate while playing multiplayer.
  • Beginning of game feels like a chore.

SCORE: 7.2 / 10

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True Detective: Harrelson the Straight Edge, McConaughey the Drug Addict.

Hello everybody! Today we have one of the most ground-breaking HBO series in recent history, True Detective.

TRUE DETECTIVE

STARRING: Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Monaghan, Michael Potts, Tory Kittles

DIRECTOR: Cary Joji Fukunaga

GENRE: Southern Gothic, Drama, Neo-noir, Crime, Mystery

YEAR: 2014

COUNTRY: United States

Alright, so True Detective /Silicon Valley/ Fargo are all the result of my most recent HBO binge. This is hilarious since I don’t even know anyone who has HBO GO, but why pay premium service when you can just stream it for free?

HBO’s True Detective is truly unsettling, not because it’s about the search for a Louisiana serial killer, but because soon enough the search seems almost incidental: a pretext for testing limits and acting out and debating what makes people tick. Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey), the lead detective on the case, treats the investigation as both a justice-seeking mission and a means of philosophical inquiry. He mutters about faith, doubt, the illusion of morality, and the nature of the human heart, often in Socratic sentences that turn his easygoing partner, Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson), into an irrelevant audience of one.

Cohle is a loner who lost his wife and daughter during the years when he worked as an undercover drug agent. He has no social life and couldn’t care less if other cops (including Hart) like him. He takes crime-scene notes in a big sketchbook, lives in an unfurnished apartment, and meditates under a crucifix even though he’s a professed nonbeliever. “We are things that labor under the illusion of having a self,” says Cohle, who blasts the devout as dupes who are intellectually “so goddamn frail they’d rather put a coin in a wishing well than buy dinner.” Hart, who’s cheating on his wife but still takes offense at Cohle’s heresy, warns his partner that he’s made a religion of rationality, treats his notebooks like “stone tablets,” and is “incapable of admitting doubt — and that sounds like denial to me.”

 

I heard many glaring reviews about True Detective, so I went into the first episode with the bar set high. After the first episode, I was hooked. While I am not a huge McConaughey fan, I admire his strengths as an actor. He definitely works well across from Harrelson, their characters are written very well to contrast each other, making this some good premium television.

I know this is where I am supposed to tear apart whatever I am reviewing, but I am just going to barely knit pick on this one. My main issue with True Detective is that I feel Harrelson and McConaughey play the wrong roles. While McConaughey has played some “out of character” roles in recent year (Dallas Buyers Club) it still doesn’t make sense for Harrelson being the more “straight-edged” of the two characters. Also parts of the episodes are very slow as it is obviously leading up to some catastrophic and awesome.

PROS:

  • Main cast performances.
  • Story/plot points.
  • Well-written characters.

CONS:

  • Mcchonohey and Harrelson in wrong roles.
  • Pacing.

SCORE: 9.0 / 10

If you have any suggestions for films/TV/Games/Music for me to review, drop me a comment! Remember: Like Media In Review @ https://www.facebook.com/MediaInReview?ref=hl Follow Media in Review @ https://twitter.com/Media_In_Review.

Four Brothers: Mark Wahlberg & Company Kill Thugs

FOUR BROTHERS

STARRING: Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, André Benjamin, Garrett Hedlund

DIRECTOR: John Singleton

GENRE: Vigilante

YEAR: 2005

COUNTRY: United States

Four adopted brothers come to avenge their mother’s death in what appears to be a random killing in a grocery store robbery. However, the boys’ investigation of the death reveals more nefarious activities involving the one brother’s business dealings with a notorious local hoodlum. Two cops who are trying to solve the case may also not be what they seem. Evelyn Mercer, a foster parent and mother to four troubled boys, has been brutally gunned down in a convenience store robbery. Her adopted sons, now grown men, return home to bury their beloved mother and more importantly, take out the sons of guns that murdered her.

It’s a simple plot with plenty of opportunity to wreak havoc, and that’s just what Singleton does. The four boys launch into a mission of righteous vengeance which quickly turns into a weird blend of “Law and Order” and “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City”. Not giving the police one ounce of credit, the sons conduct their own style investigation, rooted heavily in the violent tactics they learned before being taken in by their sweet mother. Naturally, the boys are always a step ahead of the cops and uncover a much deeper conspiracy than they ever expected. In an odd way, I’m reminded of the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, only Splinter is a kindly old lady who has been killed instead of kidnapped.

Whether it’s Mark Wahlberg teasing Garrett Hedlund’s runt-of-the-litter, or all four of them piling into the bathroom like kids, the small moments ring true. This keeps the energy levels high – when it strips down into a revenge thriller, the bickering foursome makes a refreshing change from the dour lone vigilante that usually stalks these kind of films.

But Singleton’s picked up a few bad habits from his times paddling in the blockbuster shallows. The villain — Detroit gangster Victor Sweet (Chiwitel Eijifor) — is so cartoonishly diabolical that all he’s missing is a cat and a secret underground lair. Such lack of sophistication isn’t disastrous, and Singleton’s ambition within the hackneyed revenge thriller genre is intriguing, with Four Brothers coming off as a kind of chilly urban Western. Heavy-handed in places and bad news for the Detroit Tourist Commission, this is still a slick, fun ensemble piece and a step back in the right direction for Singleton.

PROS:

  • Main cast performance.
  • Stays true to the genre.
  • Set design.
  • Deaths, deaths everywhere!

CONS:

  • Heavy-handed in some areas.
  • Who wants to go to Detroit?
  • Chiwitel Eijifor’s performance.

SCORE: 6.0 / 10

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