Why The Course of the Inevitable is the Perfect Album for Lloyd Banks to Release in 2021

Like many I first encountered Lloyd Banks on 50 Cent’s epochal Get Rich or Die Tryin' debut for Interscope/ Aftermath. Late in the album he puts in one of two guest verses on the dramatic 'Don’t Push Me’, making a huge impression even despite the fact that the other guest was the ruler of early 2000s hip hop charts himself, Eminem.

On the strength of Get Rich, I bought G-Unit’s Beg for Mercy and found 50’s gravelly lieutenant to be the standout of…

Monster Hunter Rise is My Feel-Good Game of the Spring

As well as being an immaculately tuned action RPG, Monster Hunter Rise is a jaunty, jovial romp where everyone is your friend and is rooting for you come rain or shine. And shine it does, for this is one of the most upbeat experiences I’ve had on the Nintendo Switch.

It all helps that Kamura Village is one of the most beautiful and enjoyable hub worlds in any video game I’ve played. It’s a rambling hamlet with feudal Japanese architecture and anesthetics, with strong influences from the lovely shrines and…

Crew Expendable: Why the Alien Trilogy’s Worst Horrors are Often Human

Crew: Expendable.

Those words are the climactic nightmare reveal of the original Alien. Ellen Ripley, the space trucker who had come face to face with an organism capable of killing everything she knew, was reminded just how important she and her crew were to the Weyland-Yutani corporation that employed them.

Because the horror of the first three was not just being trapped in space with an unimaginably dangerous creature. It was that there were powerful interests involved, men who only cared about profit, who wanted to capture that creature…

How Hitman 3 Uses the Series' Design and Gameplay to Tell its Climactic Story

*Spoilers throughout.*

I am a late but zealous convert to IO Interactive’s long-running franchise, having purchased Hitman 2, its expansion pass and the 2016 GOTY DLC pack for a steal a year ago. I spent many dozens of hours of gaming time playing and obsessively replaying each map, completing every mission story and getting to 20 mastery for most locations. …

Why the Opening Levels of Dark Souls II are So Good

“One day you will stand before its decrepit gate, without really knowing why.”

The opening hours of a game, especially one you might take 50 or 60 hours to complete, are important for establishing tone and playstyle and generally making a big impression on the audience. I recently had a hankering for Dark Souls’ first sequel, and started playing it again on its challenging and rewarding New Game+ mode. The story makes an indelible mark as it gets going.

Firstly, rather than awakening in a cell or just popping…

The Lore and Design of Dishonored 2’s Famous Clockwork Mansion

“Welcome to the final mystery, Jindosh.”

The Clockwork Mansion is the point at which Dishonored 2’s level design goes from being simply magnificent in scope, detail and intricacy, to being also conceptually awe-inspiring. Lady Boyle’s Last Party is very clever — this is very clever and an engineering marvel on the part of the developers. While still retaining all the opportunities for different avenues of ingress, exploration and optional side activities, this mission eventually draws aside the curtain to reveal a central conceit both unforgettable and ingeniously disruptive to the…

Naughty Dog’s latest opus has been much discussed for its story and characters. However it also has some of the best level design in recent years. The environments Ellie and Abby travel through feel like real places not just because of the incredible production values and realism, but because they are often laid out like actual buildings, streets, city blocks and forests.

While the previous game had a world that felt real because of the atmosphere and the care put into presenting it, it was often a series of corridors made to seem like hotels, subways and universities with clever…

…unless Bloodborne 2 is surprise released like a Beyonce album just before Christmas.

There are going to be full spoilers for this game below. If you haven’t finished it and want to remain unspoiled, do not read this review!

Until this year, the last thing I had played that was made by Naughty Dog involved a gurning orange marsupial completing highly precise platforming challenges or sometimes lapping the competition in a kart racer. Their latter transformation into generation-defining cinematic gaming had passed me by. To be fair, when I bought a PS4 in 2017 I had hardly touched games since…

Despite one almost fatal flaw in its final mission, Thief II: The Metal Age contains some of the most purposefully crafted and well-designed levels of any game you could hope to play.

This is the 2000 sequel to 1998’s Thief: The Dark Project, which was a stealth-based immersive sim from Ultima Underworld and System Shock creators Looking Glass Studios. These are first person games where the objective verb is to infiltrate, and the best approach is usually to avoid combat while focusing on lockpicking and looting.

The second game features almost exactly the same gameplay and player abilities, but sees…

“With unclean hands, a fire to feed.”

Prey is a 2017 game by Arkane Studios. As memory-erased player character Morgan Yu, you quickly discover your plush flat and the executive helicopter ride you just took were a simulation, and you need to learn who you truly are on a space station where human survivors are few and alien threats are multiplying. Prey’s powerful character portrayal and storytelling is key to its moral core, which rests on the player becoming invested in the other humans on the station. That investment and the player’s connection to the characters articulates via rich, detailed…

Jon Cheetham

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