True Detective: “This place is like someone’s memory of a town, and the memory is fading”

Published on February 28th, 2014 in: Current Faves, TV |

By Luke Shaw


I’m increasingly wary of new TV recommendations, especially after the all that post-meth cook smoke was blown up so many collective asses that it got tiresome to even be involved in the show’s culture (Disclaimer: I like Breaking Bad but it isn’t the be all and end all of TV drama). It’s also because to even participate in conversations around that show without either being buffeted by so much screeching enthusiasm or labeled a disgruntled naysayer for having one bad word to say about any of its many elements was an absolute impossibility. So I tend to try and distance myself from the new stuff.

However, HBO have gone and put out something that piqued my intrigue so much that I just couldn’t stay away. So I am going to spend the next couple of hundred words blowing smoke up the collective asses of those of you who read this. I love the series format on TV, though I often regret the time investment, especially considering the way it’s frequently so reliant on commissioning and meeting episode quotas. It often feels like creators are wrestling with network and fan expectations and thus things pan out in uneven and bizarre ways. Sometimes this is good (it was great to see Jesse’s character evolved into a fuller role in Breaking Bad than showrunner Vince Gilligan had intended) and sometimes this is bad (cancellation of shows like Deadwood, shows being dragged on past their sell by date like The X-Files and many others). It’s an obstacle that few shows can guarantee that they can surmount.

True Detective is a familiar beast, but of different breeding. It has this prestigious idea of “authorship” behind it. It has a fixed writer with novelist Nic Pizzolatto and a fixed director in Cary Joji Fukunaga. It has brevity, with the first season being only eight episodes long, It has closure and finality; the show adheres to the anthology format so each season will be about a different scenario, with new faces, possible new locations. None of these are entirely new ideas, but the combination of all of these elements into one show is novel, to me at least. I may have missed a show; with millions of hours of TV it is entirely possible that I have, but that’s a task I can set myself later, with American Horror Story looking like an admirable starting point.


Best Games Of 2013: Luke Shaw

Published on December 30th, 2013 in: Best Of Lists, Gaming |


I should start by going out of my way to elaborate that this is not a best games of the year list, or any other such nonsense. I don’t own every console, I barely played a quarter of the year’s releases, and I spent a disproportionate amount of the year on older games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R Shadow of Chernobyl.

Instead, I’m just going to write about things that I wasted my time playing this year, and why I am not sad I wasted my time doing so. The only real theme to this list is impact: anything that engrossed me for a sufficient space of time, or something that resonated deeply, or long after I finished it. I have included the three biggest critical releases of the year, not just because I enjoyed them but because they did a lot of things wrong. Regardless they deserve to be talked about and weighed into any discussion like this. I regret not being able to play tantalizing releases such as Gone Home and Papers, Please but I am no journalist and my time and money are limited. There is an overall winner, but it is only taking that spot due to the sheer lunacy of the hours invested.


Game Review: Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine

Published on May 7th, 2013 in: Current Faves, Game Reviews, Gaming |

By Luke Shaw


There are few things as satisfying as planning and executing something that can afterwards be relished as “faultless” in its delivery. Pre-planning a bold and elegant display of awareness, intuition, and raw smarts rewards the schemers ten-fold, when all the disparate elements converge over the course of a few seconds. Trip wires are short-circuited, guards are subdued, guests are pickpocketed, and a safe full of jewels is opened by agile fingers. Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine has enshrined this principle in its advertising:

“Get in, get out, get rich.”


Game Review: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Published on March 13th, 2013 in: Current Faves, Game Reviews, Gaming |

By Luke Shaw

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If you sliced the code open, you’d realize that there is a singular philosophy running through Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and that the entire game is a slave to it. Every piece of extraneous flab has been cut off with reckless abandon. It is not so much Occam’s Razor as Raiden’s Razor, a shimmering blade, crackling with electricity, held at the player’s throat, paralyzing you, unblinking and sweaty-palmed whilst you’re gruffly asked one question over and over as the sweat runs down your neck and fizzles to nothing at the touch of the sword: “Cut or be cut, cut or be cut, cut or be cut . . .”

Platinum Games have a long history of producing high-octane action games like the arcade bombast of Vanquish and the current benchmark for all things over the top, Bayonetta, directed and produced by Capcom veterans such as Hideki Kamiya and Shinji Mikami. Now, teaming up with Konami and tasked with reinvigorating one of gaming’s most incorrectly maligned characters, Raiden, Revengeance sees Platinum not so much reinventing the wheel, as filing it down to a single, elegant edge.


Random Rant: Shut Up And Enjoy The Game

Published on March 11th, 2013 in: Gaming, Over the Gadfly's Nest, Random Rant |

By Luke Shaw


We’ve got it better than ever, so shut up and enjoy the game.

At some point in 2011 I held an opinion that I had read frequently on Twitter feeds, website comment boxes, and Op eds about games. I was “lamenting” the lack of creativity in big budget games and griping about the apparent absence of quirky titles on the shelf. “Where is my Gitaroo Man 360?” I wailed. “Where is my turn based isometric battler loaded with pop culture quips?” I groaned, possibly dribbling a bit of coffee whilst mouthing these words. You see, I never really said any of these things; that’s a lie. I did type them however, on Twitter, and on a forum, and maybe in other places, too.

Now it’s the beginning of 2013, and we have confirmation from Sony that the PS4 will be out in quarter three or four depending on territory. Black Ops 2 made $500 million in 24 hours last year, becoming one of the biggest entertainment franchises in the world, let alone gaming franchises, and the juggernaut rolls ever on. First Person Shooter and Third Person Shooter after Sequel after Reboot. “The Industry” many say, “is stagnating, it’s lacking in creativity! All blockbusters are terrible, we want a million versions of Portal 2 and The Walking Dead!”