All posts by Anthony Farrell

Pop culture addict and social commentator offering sarcasm and pointless musings on all things pop culture. From The Walking Dead to X-Men Comics and Vintage Action Figures it's all happening at Thepophub.com

Ghost Recon: Wildlands Beta Review

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Ghost Recon: Wildlands is currently live for a limited beta play-through before the full game goes live on March 7th and while the onset saw major server issues and lengthy maintenance delays, it seems, for most players, the beta is now in full swing.

Wildlands has you playing as a special forces soldier whose main aim is to wipe out a major Mexican drug cartel in future day Bolivia.  An open world game, Wildlands puts you at the drivers seat in a “choose your own adventure” kind of way as you decide how you and your team will go about taking out the cartel.

Before getting into any game play, your first task is to create your character.  The customization options gave me mixed feelings, offering a wide range of options on some items and no where near enough options on others.  As someone who – when given the chance to – plays as a female character, I have to give props to Ubisoft for the range of female faces offered to choose from.  While none are worthy of being recruited as a Victoria’s Secret model, the number of “nice looking” faces outnumber the swamp donkey ones, though the option to choose race and skin color is locked to each style.  There’s a small amount of face paints and scars to choose from and the tattoo’s add a gritty edge to your character.

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Outfits and accessories are fitting for the games genre and most allow for color and/or pattern changes to suit the look you’re going for.  Where Ubisoft dropped the ball in customization is hair options.  While I haven’t checked out those open for male characters, the females have seven options, all of which are sadly, very masculine.  From a stock standard bun to short cornrows to fully shaved to a tiny ponytail, all are rather disappointing and don’t seem to look that decent unless covered with a headset (see top image) or with a hat.  While i’m not asking for long Rapunzel hair, the argument of avoiding clipping is moot considering the hair assortment (long and short) sported by the NPC’s running around town.

Wildlands game play feels very smooth and while the controls took some time to get used to, everything from shooting to running and climbing were seamless, however driving felt very different to what has been found in similar games.  While controlling your vehicle is pretty much standard, I found not only did it take quite a lot of damage to completely total your vehicle but also, whatever you’re driving has the ability to literally climb mountains.

As if unaffected by the rocky and bushy landscape, the car I had stolen and literally drove over a cliffs edge was able to easily climb right back up to where it had fallen from.  Handy if you loose control or need to make a quick shortcut to get across to the other side of the map, but the feel of this goes against what we know and what we’d expect.

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Even flying a helicopter – something I always try and avoid – was very simple though trying to maintain a steady climb and decent push forward in a straight line felt fiddly and quite slow.

Environment interaction was more miss than hit.  As stated, the ability to drive up the side of a rocky mountain is odd and my helicopter wasn’t affected by the trees I steered it through.  The NPC’s wandering around manage to, for the most part, be quick enough to jump out of the way of my speeding and slightly out of control car but killing an NPC with a weapon can prove costly and have repercussions on a mission.

The missions open during the beta were pretty stock standard too but the ability to decide how you go about it was a nice addition.  While the main mission is always there, upon finding some intel at a rebel location, you can choose either scouting for more supplies, upgrades or another rebel base as you are never forced to play the main arc.

4 player co-op is also up and running for Wildlands and I had no issues hopping onto a live game with three randoms but relinquishing control to someone else can be frustrating and boring especially when you find yourself a passenger in a vehicle being driven from one side of the map to the other for a quick shoot and run mission.  I imagine playing with friends would be much more rewarding.

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For the most part, my time spent on the Ghost Recon: Wildlands beta was more positive than negative but the mission repetition can become mundane and to put it bluntly, was nothing really not seen before in games before (I am playing Metal Gear Solid V and the similarities are insane).  The open world environment is lush and vast and smooth game play will keep you going for a short while but with little to unlock or aim for (weapons and additions to your character), the steam behind Wildlands could run out quickly for players who have pretty much seen this all before.

Ghost Recon; Wildlands beta ends Monday Feb 27th will the full game launching Tuesday March 7th.

Jakks Pacific Joins the DC SuperHero Girl Line

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Warner Bros. Consumer Products, in partnership with DC Entertainment are expanding their DC Superhero Girl line to bring Wonder Woman and co to every household worldwide with a global expansion of the brand’s licensing and merchandising program.  The program has seen the line grow to more than 30 categories including toys, costumes, apparel, accessories, publishing and stationery with licenses granted to Funko, Crayola and Pez Candy among others.

Budget toy maker Jakks Pacific has been tapped by Warner Bros. Consumer Products to create a retail line for the DC Super Hero Girls universe and now Jakks seem to have come up with the goods with the first batch of good to be released under the multi-year global licencing deal, revealed for the upcoming 2017 NY Toy Fair.

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  • DC Toddler Dolls: Adorable toddler dolls each dressed in an iconic DC Super Hero outfit including, Wonder Woman, Batgirl and Supergirl – each doll has rooted hair and comes with accessories such as belts, cuffs, masks, headpieces and shoes.

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  • DC Super Hero Girls – Everyday Dress-Up: Girls can now master their super powers with the Everyday Dress-Up assortment. These two-piece outfits include key accessories like masks, headbands, headpieces or arm cuffs.

A line of capes with Wonder Woman, Kitana and Bumblebee, along with designer superhero face applique and temporary tattoo packs are also due for release.

But it’s the announcement of a new line of DC Superhero Girls dolls that have people talking!

The new line-up by Jakks Pacific will include four characters, each measuring a whopping 18″ with 14 points of articulation and will be exclusive to Toys ‘r’ Us with a price point of $34.99 each.  While Supergirl, Wonder Woman and Bumblebee will be fit out in designs very similar to their Mattel counterpart, Batgirl looks set to be given an overhaul, sporting a look very similar to her classically iconic Batgirl ’66 look.

Jakks Pacific will officially unveil all during NY Toy Fair and has stated these products are slated to hit US stores this fall.

Archie Goes Dark and Broody in Riverdale

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Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) and his father Fred  Andrews (Luke Perry)

There’s a sort of “you-know-what-you’re-getting” vibe when it comes to the world of Archie via the wildly popular classic comic strip with Archie and best friend Jughead continuously getting into mischief while Betty and Veronica bicker over the affections of the larrikin red head.  When it comes to the world of Archie Andrews in the new drama series Riverdale, what we get is the complete opposite of what we would expect.

The quiet and quaint town of Riverdale goes into a complete meltdown after the mysterious disappearance of local high school student Jason Blossom which forces the dark hidden hands of the townsfolk to slowly emerge.

The best way to think of Riverdale is Archie meets Dawson’s Creek meets Pretty Little Liars and it is this mix of shows that gives viewers a lot to take in within Riverdale’s opening episode.

Archie Andrews (KJ Apa) is struggling to find even ground for his promising football career and his wishful music career while trying to keep his woeful father Fred Andrews (Luke Perry) happy and his feelings for his music teacher Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel), with whom he had a summer fling with, hidden.  His best friend Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) has romance in her eyes for her read headed best friend but her uppity mother Alice Cooper (Mädchen Amick) is trying to stop Betty from venturing out at any cost.  Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse) is a moody, brooding writer, taking notes about the mysterious disappearance that happened over the past summer while new girl in town Veronica Lodge (Camila Mendes) makes an impact right from her first meeting with the Riverdale gang before she locks lips with both Betty and Archie.

Splattered into this modern world of Archie, additional characters from the comic series including the flashy and gay Kevin Keller (Casey Cott), bitchy and privileged Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch)  and lead singer of high school band Josie and the Pussycats Josie McCoy (Ashleigh Murray) all appear to shake things up in the once peaceful town.

This fresh take on Archie, made for the modern era teen, is a rather swell surprise that will fit easily into the viewing habits of those watching PLL or fans of Gossip Girl and even the failed Melrose Place remake.  Secrets, lies, murder, scandals….it’s all going down in Riverdale.

Riverdale is currently streaming on Netflix Australia.

The Melrose Place Podcast You Should Be Listening To and the Fashion of Melrose.

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Sibling Rivalry. Sydney Andrews (Laura Leighton) and Jane Mancini (Josie Bissett)

This coming July marks the 25th anniversary of the premiere of one of the biggest shows that aired in the 90’s – night time Spelling mega soap Melrose Place.  Iconic characters, scenes and quotes have stood the test of time and now, with all episodes streaming on Hulu, Melrose is in the middle of a current day resurgence with younger audiences hopping on the Melrose train, taking in the fashion and life that was L.A in the 90’s.

Early in January 2016, I with my big eyes, set out to write an e-book episode guide for Melrose Place.  Recaps, episode information, character relationships, location information and wardrobe evolution were all planned for every episode but sadly, I did not realize the size of the task in front of me.  With seven seasons, each containing 30 plus episodes (yes 30!  None of this 13 episodes bull with a mid season break!) I realized by five episodes into season one, this was just too much to get done.

But unlike me, two fans have happily taken it upon themselves to take on a very similar and equally daunting task.  L.A based couple Jenny and Dan Hill have begun, from season one, to re-watch each and every episode of Melrose Place and podcast their hilarious and witty episode recaps, currently on a week to week basis per episode for their website.

Dan, a co-host on The Dan & Kody Podcast, spoke to me via email about the project.

“I really fell in love with the re-watch podcast format where one or two people will watch a movie or TV show and analyze/ re-cap every aspect of the movie or show. I really wanted to find a show that my wife and I had a connection to, but haven’t seen much of. Melrose Place was the perfect fit.

I was 10 years old when Melrose Place first aired, but I remember sneaking to watch it without my parent’s permission with my sister. Growing up it was our guilty pleasure and I suspect there are many other like me who share this. Being 10, I was way too young to wrap my head around what was truly going on once the show got into the thick of things, but I held onto bits and pieces of a few story lines that I to this day find fascinating!” 

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Sydney (Laura Leighton) knows how it goes on Melrose Place

So just what story lines are Dan and Jenny looking forward to re-watching and recapping? For Dan, it’s Michael’s (Thomas Calabro) downward spiral into TV villain along with Kimberly’s (Marcia Cross) ‘psychotic shenanigans’ while for wife Jenny, it’s the complex run of ever evolving relationships between the characters.

When asked about podcast release time Dan says “With a 6 month old, we’re hoping to record and release one episode per week covering one episode of the show. This could be a 5 year run, but we’re up for the challenge! Maybe as our little one gets older it will become easier to record more frequently. We also want to sprinkle in episodes that spotlight one character where we break them down and cover their story arc.

Currently on season one (episode four is the latest update as of writing this post), the podcasts feature funny, entertaining and tongue-in-cheek recaps of the Melrose episode along with “moral of the episode” and “favorite 90’s moment” spots at the end of each cast which are must-listen to moments!

It’s great to see someone pick-up where I could not, with recapping Melrose Place!

Now, remember that episode guide book I was planning to write?  Well, the early stages of planning saw me making contact with Denise Wingate, the costume designer for 112 episodes of Melrose Place starting at Drawing The Line (S01E14) and finishing up at the very wonderful Dead Sisters Walking (S04E32).

Boasting a very impressive resume including Cruel Intentions, The Sweetest Thing and Wedding Crashers, Denise spoke to me about dressing some of our most beloved Melrose Place tenants.  With the book dead in the water and this being the 25th anniversary of the Melrose Place pilot episode, it’s only befitting I share with you our chat about all things 90’s power suits and wedding dresses bound for a watery cat fight!

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After being involved with over 100 episodes of Melrose Place that aired twenty years ago and then moving from production to production in the years after, it’s no surprise Denise’s memory is a little bit foggy when asked about some of the iconic outfits worn during the shows run. “I have to admit that half of the costumes I don’t even remember! It’s amazing how digital cameras and computers have changed how I document my work now!” she says before getting into how sourcing costumes back in the 1990’s was a lot more hard work than it is these days.

I used to take our Christmas hiatus and travel to Europe or Asia and tried to find some interesting fashions and fabrics and bring them back to use on the show. You  have to remember this was before the internet, so everything I sourced would have to be with my own eyes. Our stages were about 30 miles outside of Los Angeles and there wasn’t really any shops around so sometimes new jewelry or fashion designers would just ship me boxes of jewelry or clothing and I would buy what I liked and send back the rest.

And did working on one of the most watched shows at the time come with dressing regulations from cast and crew? “I don’t remember any rules or guidelines I had to adhere to from the producers. At the time I was on the show, the ratings were huge and the fashion was getting a lot of press, so they just figured if it isn’t broken don’t fix it. They pretty much let me do whatever I wanted. I had a great time!!!” Though the same can’t be said about Heather Locklear and a certain pink dress Denise had created for her “It was the most memorable outfit that I remember and it was a really tight form fitting lycra dress that I bought in Paris for Heather Locklear. At the last minute I decided to dye it this bright pink color, but unfortunately the dye wasn’t set and it turned her whole body bright pink. Oops! I don’t think she was too happy about that.

Oops indeed, though for the most part, Denise happily admits her time on Melrose Place dressing the cast was filled with fun times. “In real life Daphne Zuniga who played Jo and I were friends, so it was always fun shopping or doing fittings with her and I still run into Laura Leighton from time to time and it is always such a joy to see her!”

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Workplace rivals Alison and Amanda were specifically dressed in opposites.

So how about the characters themselves? When asked about Amanda’s entrance on the show in season one, Denise says she relished the chance to shake things up when it came to her D&D Advertising power wardrobe. “The dynamics of the show really changed when Heather Locklear joined the cast as Amanda. She was such a wonderful evil diva and we really pushed the envelope with her D&D wardrobe as at the time, most suits were a little slouchy and conservative as seen on Alison Campbell (Courtney Thorne-Smith). We kept making Amanda’s suits tighter and shorter and as Heather had such a great figure, she could really rock that short skirt look.” Denise also notes how Alison’s wardrobe became a little more dynamic when she took over the role as D&D President from Amanda “When Alison takes over, she too, started wearing “power suits” but she was a little more professional [about her look]. It wouldn’t have been her character to wear skirts as short as Amanda would wear them!”

Jane Mancini, fashion designer extraordinaire, was a fun challenge for Denise as Jane’s career (and Josie’s modelling background) allowed for the use of new designer fashion. “The character of Jane was fun, because we were able to really experiment with using up-and-coming, interesting designers on her. As Josie Bissett started her career as a model, she really knew how to wear clothes, and everything always looked fantastic on her. She was more classy than the other residents but stylized and it suited her character. I had a lot of fun creating her outfits every week and she just made my job so easy.”

That ‘easy’ that Denise talks about also comes up when talking about Laura Leighton’s Sydney Andrews who made the transition from bratty little sister to trashy hooker to sassy stripper to 60’s go-go girl to polished business woman throughout her time on the show. “When Sydney arrived on the scene, things really heated up and I just loved Laura Leighton as she was game for anything we put on her. She loved wearing the period, kooky outfits and managed to carry off even the craziest of outfits with a sense of humor and style not many people could get away with. I loved dressing Sydney just for the sheer absurdity of some of the costumes we chose!” And THAT wedding dress that Sydney wore that ended up in the Melrose Place pool? “I can’t remember the name of the shop the wedding dress came from (it’s no longer in business) I just remember that we needed multiples, I think a total of 5 for multiple takes. It ended up looking perfect though!”

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The iconic cat fight and the wedding dress.

And it wasn’t all about the ladies either as Denise is quick to point out. “The guys were pretty easy to dress and they already had their own specific styles and also very large closets, so we could just pull from those every week. I mean seriously, how many pairs of jeans and t-shirts did I need to buy Jake every week?!. That being said, all of the guys on the show were really nice and super fun and easy to work with.”

For more information about Dan and Jenny Hill’s Melrose Place podcast endeavor, or to download the podcast, hit their social media links below!

iTunes – https://goo.gl/1PZPcD
GooglePlay – https://goo.gl/cxtxjT
Stitcher – https://goo.gl/54w8PA
Website –https://themelroseplacepodcast.simplecast.fm                                                        Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/MelrosePod/                                                                Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/melrosepod/                                                                      Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/melrosepod/

It’s Official: Josh Thomas’s Please Like Me is no More.

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It was the show that introduced comedian Josh Thomas into households worldwide, brought us Wade Briggs and the return of Aussie favorite Debra Lawrence to our screens and moved Home and Away familiars Charles Cottier and Jackson Gallagher into more mature acting roles – Please Like Me, sad to say, is not coming back.

Local Aussie comedy and favorite of ThePophub.com, Please Like Me, created, written by and starring Josh Thomas will not be coming back for a fifth season today in news confirmed by Josh via his official Facebook page.

The final episodes of season four, which aired in December last year, brought about some major changes for Thomas’s character and those around him including the shock suicide of his mother (Debra Lawrence) and the end of Tom (Thomas Ward) and Ella’s (Emily Barclay) relationship which eventually saw best friends Josh and Tom reunited in Josh’s million dollar inner-city apartment.

It was changes that would either lead into a empty canvas season five or close out the show with all loose ends tied – the latter, it seems, is what won out.

The show picked up steam and a mass of new followers when US based cable network Pivot joined forces with Thomas and the ABC to keep the show continuing into a second and third season before the network closed up with Please Like Me‘s fourth season moving to popular streaming service Hulu.

Please Like Me is also finding new audiences world wide as it is added the Netflix catalog of shows to stream.

ABC’s Good Game Cancelled After 10 Year Run

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Good Gae hosts Steven ‘bajo’ O’Donnell and Stephanie ‘Hex’ Bendixsen.

ABC’s long running video game review show Good Game has officially been axed after a successful ten year run on the network.

Announced earlier today (Tuesday Jan 31st), the decision seems to have come out of no where with fans expecting the show to resume as per normal for it’s eleventh year in mid February.  The shows spin-off – Good Game: Spawn Point airing on ABC ME – looks set to continue on, but it’s currently unclear in what format.

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The announcement via their Facebook page attributes the cancellation to that of ‘two of the key presenters perusing other opportunities’ and how audiences are choosing to obtain information about gaming.  The two hosts leaving are Stephanie ‘Hex’ Bendixson and Nich “Nichboy” Richardson.

Good Game’s other spin-offs including Good Game: Well Played which covers esports and Good Game: Pocket, a daily news and gameplay show will not be returning either.

Friday the 13th: The Game, see’s Jason Gain a Fast Warp Ability.

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Not for the squeamish, the up-coming Friday the 13th: The Game coming soon to consoles and windows dropped a new trailer showcasing some more of the classic killer and his new ability to ‘fast warp’ to certain locations within the camp ground map.

Check it out below.

   

The game, due for release later this year, is a third person horror/survival multiplayer game which will see players take on the role of a (more than likely doomed) counselor or the monster himself Jason Voorhees.  It is your aim to either escape or kill, and while playing as a counselor allows you to work together to try and take Jason down, if you have to kill off your camp mate to save yourself….you’ll be able to do that too.

The devs have taken inspiration straight from the long running series and have carefully crafted the environment of Camp Crystal Lake, Jason and the camp counselors to remind us of everything we remember about Friday the 13th, right down to the visual fidelity of the 80’s.

Starting out strictly as a multiplayer game, Friday the 13th has now evolved into including a single player aspect thanks to increased interest from fans and extra funding.  It is this new addition that has seen the release pushed until “sometime early 2017”.

“Single player will consist of objective-based missions where you take control of Jason. You’ll get to see missions that will remind you of the movies, as well as entirely new scenarios to sink your machete into!”

To get a feel of what to expect – and what can be done, check out Pax West 2016 Kill Montage trailer below.  Be warned, even for digital content, it’s graphic!

For all the news on the games release plus extra videos and behind the scenes info check out the official website.

The Great, The Good and The Bad of XCOM 2 on Consoles.

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Character customization gets an A+ in XCOM 2

Aliens have invaded Earth and under the guise of peace and unity – and with the help of some alien loving humans – are planning to overtake the human race.  It’s up to you, your crew on the Avenger and your soldiers to take them out and restore mankind.

XCOM 2 took just on seven months to hit consoles after its initial PC release and came onto the console gaming market with little to no fanfare.  No Call of Duty-esque midnight launches, no major pre-order exclusive deluxe collectors edition, it just suddenly appeared.  Perhaps that’s why it took me until now to discover the game?

As someone who had never delved into the world of strategy based games, I was heading into XCOM 2 with hesitation.  Strategy, turn based based games, to me, are cumbersome and frustrating and just…well….slow.  Such is not the case with XCOM 2.

Let’s take a look at the great, the good and the bad of XCOM 2.

THE GREAT:

The Character Pool/Character Creation: Almost a 10 out of 10.  It’s what actually drew me to the game in the first place.  The inclusions of everything from hair style and color, race, skin color, outfit and armor options, upper and lower face props, full name and nickname, tattoos and face paint, nationality, face type and accent (there’s even two male and two female Australian accents) make this one of the best in-game character creations seen to date (I’d love to see this type of customization within a first person shooter multiplayer type game!).  The only negatives I found within this section would be the mass of ‘less than attractive’ faces and the fact the armor you build later on into the game all but dispose any clothing you clad your soldier out with at the start of the game.

The characters you create via the character pool and then randomly fed to you from the onset and then, depending how you assigned them, can pop up either on your recruitment list or as VIP’s that need rescuing.  The only odd thing that I came across was any created soldiers set as the ‘psi operative’ never actually retained that class when recruited.

Character Familiarity: As it goes, by creating your team from scratch, you get a feel for your soldiers and become attached and build an intimacy with them.  Something that is grandly missing from most games.  Some players use friends and family members, me, I used characters from GI Joe and X-Men to build my team, and when those characters level up you feel proud and when you make a bad move and they are killed in action, you’re genuinely sad and annoyed.

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‘Dazzler’ finds things got a little close for comfort.  XCOM 2

Play Style and Speed: Offering a mix of standard objective turned based matches and limited move matches, the speed in which you play is surprisingly lightning fast though you do have a say in just how stretched out a mission can go.  Some missions have you trying to extract a VIP within 8 moves while others have no such limitations allowing you to spend more time setting up excellent ambushes and ensuring your team make it out alive.

The game play also offers a mix of above map viewing and 3rd person animation as the camera pans right into your soldiers when making an action that showcases off their look, style and props.

You Vs The UFO:  As you go about your way around the map, sporadically, a red UFO begins to hunt you down until it finally takes down your ship.  What ensues is easily one of the best missions in the game that sees your soldiers verse wave after wave of aliens until you can knock out their signal beacon and depending on the size of your recruited squad, can see you controlling upwards of 13 plus soldiers within the mission.

THE GOOD:

Unlocking Locations:  It took me about 5 attempts of playing and about an hour of reading before I fully understood how to go about the map and opening and connecting communications with other countries.  This part of the game goes hand in hand with building up your ship (called The Avenger) and if played right, can see you interlock the entire map before the Avatar project (the aliens secret plans) reaches its full potential.

The Avenger:  The task of clearing out rooms on your ship and fitting them with new useful rooms such as laboratories, power relays and communication outlets unite with how much you can do on the world map though working out what needs to be done and when (and with how many supplies needed to do so) can be frustrating.  Need to hit that glowing red alien base in New Australia?  First you’ll need to make contact with the region, but you’ll need to ensure you have enough communication outlets to do so and also enough power in the power relay to accomplish that.  Everything you do ties in with another item.

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The Enemy:  There’s a nice assortment of enemies you’ll encounter as you make your way across the globe.  From easy to pick off Advent soldiers to mind controlling sectoids to tongue grabbing vipers and a alien sphere called a gatekeeper, each one alters just how you’ll play the mission.

Overwatch:  Allowing your soldiers to sit on ‘overwatch’ and take an automatic pot shot at an enemy as they pass by their line of sight is that blessing in wolfs clothing that can either bring you to cheer in excitement or scream at your screen.  The hit rate on overwatch is laughable to say the least but when it does work, can help you move about your game with much more ease.

DLC: There are four DLC packs for XCOM 2, all of which add a great new element to the game.  The Resistance Warrior Pack includes new outfits (which can be difficult to find), head gear, armor and cammo plus a new recruit.  The Anarchy’s children pack includes over 100 new customization options from clothing to hair, armor cammo and props while Alien Hunters and Shen’s Last Gift introduce a new mission that unlocks new armor and a new class of soldier.

THE BAD:

Hit rate: Soldier X has a 98% chance to hit their target….yet misses.  I don’t full understand how those behind XCOM 2 set the hit rate ratio out but it’s a flaw that seems to have been around since the original XCOM.  Having your soldier face to face with an enemy, a 90% plus chance to hit and then a miss occurs causes literal outrage from players though to be fair, the hit rate for the enemy isn’t much better (though it does feel like it!). Training and upgrading your soldiers play no part in how well they hit their target either, only random weapon upgrades dropped by aliens (and offer a 15% advantage) come into effect.

The Ending:  Without spoiling, I was horribly let down by how XCOM 2 ended.  Countless hours spent cultivating my team (I only lost 4 soldiers in my most recent play through), numerous enemies killed off, the ridiculously testing final mission only to have the game offer a short end of game, mission successful video and BAM!  Roll credits.  I was left there wondering about my massive team and what happened to them?  What about the Avenger? Granted there’d be no more missions but the ending left me feeling cold and shut off from my team.

Replay-ability:  Having restarted the game numerous times, I quickly discovered that while your path may alter, the final aim remains the same and no matter how altered that path may be, you’ll still end up doing the same missions and unlocking the same territories, just in a different order.  XCOM 2 does offer up a multiplayer option, but i’m yet to find a single match open for play.

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Character Pool:  The Character pool itself sit’s in my ‘great’ section above but the lack of ability to share created soldiers with other players is somewhat odd and is why it also sits down here.  You have the option to import XCOM 2 developers into your game, but no option to share and showcase your marvelous creations with anyone not creative enough to create their own or with someone wanting to add  some fresh content is confusing.

Overall, for someone who had never delved into this type of gaming, I found XCOM 2 to be enthralling, challenging and rewarding, more-so than I ever thought possible.  While it can be a little buggy and the load times yawn inducing, there’s not too many flaws within the game.

XCOM 2 is available on PC and XBOX One and PS4 Consoles.

Covet Fashion App Introduces its Most Diverse Change to Date.

Fashion dress up app Covet Fashion is embracing and celebrating the diversity of the female form by introducing a stack of new virtual models of varying shapes, sizes and ethnicity for users to dress and enter into voting competitions held within the app.

Prior to this update, Covet only featured one standard sized virtual model who was tall and slender with users determining the rest of the models features from skin color, hair style and color, makeup, clothing, shoes, accessories and jewelry.

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the original thin, waif like virtual models

Listening to covet users commenting on the lack of diversity within the game and the general fashion trend towards fuller figured models (and the new curvy Barbie) the team behind the app created 50 brand new and differently proportionate models which went live today on the most recent app update.

 The change was a long and arduous task which involved taking the apps entire existing wardrobe (50,000 + garments have been included over the last three years) and morphing them to fit the new bodies.

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Tall and large, short and wide, tall and slender, the new covet fashion virtual models

The update – which is player selective to the three million plus users – removes the standard model from the selected challenge and randomly selects one of the updated models that has its body size and skin color locked allowing everyone competing in the challenge to use the same model.  Speaking to venturebeat.com, senior vice president and general manager of Covet Fashion, Blair Ethington stated “We wanted to take away any judgement people have about which body is better and which race is better.  All the focus is on the styling choices.”

As a long time player, it’s a great change for the app that brings a new freshness to a game that was beginning to feel a little stale.  Additions of new, unlock-able hair and makeup for higher levels, re-freshening up of older styles and the introduction of Covet Houses were just the beginning of major changes for the app.

Covet Fashion App is free to play, with in-app purchases on iOS and Apple.

Best of 2016: TV Characters

Standing out is hard to do in a television land that is as wide and varied as it is today.  In most cases, it’s the lead who takes front and center and other times, it’s those side characters who just pull you in and make you love them.

From an actress and a single mother trying to balance work and home life to a brassy best friend who tells it like it is to a family keeping many secrets to an actress blurring the lines between acting and reality, check out my list of the 12 best TV Characters for 2016.

12: Doris (Ali Wong) – American Housewife [New Entry]

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Playing on her ‘non threatening Asian diversity’ within the snooty town of Westport, Doris (Ali Wong) has been able to share the dismissive views of best friend Katie (Katy Mixon) while also being able to mingle with the popular green-smoothie-drinking fit moms, who Katie literally hates.  Doris has no qualms about pushing her take-no-prisoners, hands on approach to parenting (which involves lots of yelling and eating strange meats in broth) onto Katie’s children.

11: Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) – American Crime Story [New Entry]

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Finding herself playing in the big league with the OJ Simpson trial, Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson) found herself facing a giant brick wall right from the go.  From her personal dealings of a crumbling marriage and a nasty custody battle to how she dressed and did her hair for court, Clark, it seems was never going to win.  Thrust into the public eye, Paulson’s Clark offered up a deeper and thoughtful look into the most talked about woman of the time that was often overlooked for lesser, inessential topics.

10: The Morgans – Home and Away [New Entry]

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When Tori Morgan (Penny McNamee) first appeared in Summer Bay as the new doctor, none of us were prepared for the overloaded baggage she was hiding – her and her brothers (James Stewart, Jackson Heywood and Orpheus Pledger) were in witness protection.  Their parents killed by top dogs within a drug syndicate, their covers were blown, had no one they could trust and faced having to run again.  The Morgans added a major dash of drama to the bay that has been sorely missing since Charlotte’s (Erika Heynatz) murder last year.

9: Darryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) – The Walking Dead [Re-Entry from 2014]

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The confident, lone wolf we’ve all come to love has been through the wringer this season on The Walking Dead.  His lash out at Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) resulted in the death of good friend Glenn (Steven Yuen) and subsequently saw him taken into Negan’s custody, thrown into an isolation cell and tortured in an attempt to break him.  Holding onto the grief and guilt of Glenn’s death is the only thing keeping Darryl sane while being tortured.

8: Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) – Game of Thrones [New Entry]

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The pint sized warrior, the Lady of Bear Island Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) proved herself to be a formidable leader as she held the cards to back Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) and Sansa Starks’ (Sophie Turner) attack on Ramsey Bolton to reclaim Winterfell.  Her blistering speech to the bickering houses of Manderley, Glover and Cerwyn showed that while Jon may have finally killed Ramsey, Lyanna is the one who has become the people’s champ and a force to be reckoned with.

7: Bea Smith (Danielle Cormack) – Wentworth [New Entry]

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With all focus this past season on Joan (Pamela Rabe) entering Wentworth as a prisoner, the side story arc to this season featuring the blossoming romance between Bea (Danielle Cormack) and Allie (Kate Jenkinson) showed a more open yet vulnerable side to the prison top dog.  While the relationship was used to expose Bea’s weaknesses to both Joan and Kaz (Tammy Macintosh), this relationship ultimately proved to be Bea’s strength, believing Joan had given Allie an overdose, she sacrificed herself to put Joan behind bars for a very long time.

6: Agnes Mary Winstead (Kathy Bates) – American Horror Story: Roanoke [New Entry]

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While the premise for this latest season of American Horror Story was fantastic, the second half of the season became a total mess with one shinning mark – that of Agnes Mary Winstead (Kathy Bates) AKA – The Butcher.  Agnes’ became a victim of her own sudden rise to fame after My Roanoke Nightmare became a massive television hit and earned herself a Saturn Award best actress nomination.  After delving right into the role of The Butcher, Agnes was diagnosed with  schizoaffective disorder, unable to distinguish between fact and fiction and wholly embodied the woman with a penchant for meat cleavers.

5: Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) – Game of Thrones [New Entry]

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Season 6 of GoT was one full of loss for Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) as he mourned the death of his daughter Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free) and was removed from his position in the Kingsguard by his own son Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) who, later on, also died taking his own life after his mother Cersei (Lena Headey) set alight half of Kings Landing.  Discovering that the woman he loves was responsible for the act that pushed Tommen to take his own life looks set to push Jamie into darker personal territory as he struggles with alliance next season.

4: Bonnie Winterbottom (Liza Weil) – How to get away with Murder [#8 in 2015]

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We’ve seen Bonnie (Liza Weil) fall back into old habits this past season of How to get Away With Murder as she continuously battled with boss Annalise (Viola Davis) over the treatment of Annalise’s former right hand man Frank (Charlie Weber) now on the run after his murderous past was fully revealed.  With Laurel (Lauren Velez) and Annalise trying to find Frank, Bonnie took it upon herself to track him down and try and coax him back after discovering he had killed her abusive father leading the two to spend a very intense and revealing night together.

3: Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon) – Better Things [New Entry]

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There’s no high glamour or Hollywood high life when it comes to Better Things‘ Sam Fox (Pamela Adlon).  She’s not a struggling actress but she’s also not readily recognized on the street by the everyday person.  She’s an actress and it’s her job and it’s this level of fame she attains while also a single mother to three girls, all of whom require a bulk of her attention to make it through each and every day, that makes Sam relatable.  Woman on the verge…..perhaps.  Woman trying to get a minute to have ‘dirty facetime’ with a recent hookup..seems to fit better when describing Sam Fox.

2: Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) – Stranger Things [New Entry]

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Joyce Byers (in a defining comeback role for Winona Ryder) is a single mother, relatively poor and wanting answers regarding her missing son Will (Noah Schnapp).  Her less than affluent standing within the small town of Hawkins, Indiana has the locals not believing her son has gone missing, but despite her lack of influence within the town, she challenges each and every person – right up-to the Police Chief.

When she discovers she can communicate with her missing son through lights, Joyce finds a confidence and a voice to believe in what she is doing is actually real despite the constant knock downs from those telling her, her son is dead.

1: Quinn King (Constance Zimmer) – UnReal [#2 in 2015]

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Walking into season two of UnReal (and the new season of Everlasting) shouting the motto “MONEY, DICK, POWER!!” and ready to hand over the reigns of Everlasting to Rachel (Shiri Appleby) Quinn (Constance Zimmer) found herself not ready to let go when former boss Chet (Craig Bierko) returned to the fray looking to take control back of ‘his’ show. Quinn’s battle to maintain a hold on the show all came to a head in the fourth episode when she learns her father has died and only able to internalize her pain for a short while, Quinn literally opens the biggest can of whoop-ass ever seen.  No one, not even the studio office was saved from her scathing breakdown that saw her literally throw monitors across the room.

But Quinn is a quick one to recover.  She’s a smart ballsy woman who has this inane ability to see the knife coming before it hits her back and has a counter-attack already in play by the time that knife is on it’s way down.  By the end of the season, Quinn retained control of Everlasting and her Money, Dick, Power relationship with Rachel was as strong as it started out at seasons start.