Why you should play Watch Dogs 2, despite its flaws

Set in a beautifully realised open-world San Francisco, Watch Dogs 2 can be a lot of fun…if you know where to look.

Watch Dogs 2 is possibly the most thematically confused game I have ever played. You play as Marcus, a cool and likable guy who also happens to be a prodigious hacker. At the beginning of the game he’s recruited by DedSec, a group of cyberpunk “hacktivists” intent on exposing malpractice in evil corporations and bringing truth to the masses. These characters range from the irritating to the ridiculous, and reek of a down-with-the-kids desperation.

Watch Dogs 2 screenshot

To be fair, the game should be praised for tackling (however meekly) issues most games avoid like the plague. Racism, gentrification, online predators, organised religion and more all get a look in, but are generally tossed aside to fit the game’s more jovial tone. Continue reading “Why you should play Watch Dogs 2, despite its flaws”

The Troop, by Nick Cutter

The Troop. Image source: GoodreadsThe story of five boys stranded on an island with a killer infection, The Troop is a horror novel with a lot of guts, but little heart.

Here is a book whose success could arguably be traced to a single Stephen King quote – “The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn’t put it down. This is old-school horror at its best”. This line takes pride of place on the front cover of the book, features on the author’s website, the publisher’s website, Goodreads, Amazon…in fact pretty much anywhere The Troop is sold or promoted. It’s not surprising. Such glowing praise from the most bankable author in the world is guaranteed to increase sales. But it does bring into focus the age-old connection between expectation and disappointment. Continue reading “The Troop, by Nick Cutter”

Heroes of the Frontier, by Dave Eggers

A hilarious and moving state-of-the-nation road trip, Heroes of the Frontier is Dave Eggers at his satirical best.Heroes of the Frontier

Heroes of the Frontier is a story of a small family “from the bottom forty-eight” driving through Alaska. Josie, a dentist fleeing a broken relationship and an impending lawsuit, takes her two children out of school and flies to Anchorage. They rent a battered old RV nicknamed “The Chateau” and aimlessly hit the road. The story takes on a familiar pattern. Josie arrives in a new place, full of hope and unfettered optimism. Before long, either through her own mistakes or shattered expectations, they leave – Josie dejected and forlorn, before starting all over again. It is a pattern mirrored in the life she left behind, which is slowly revealed to us – the peaks and troughs of daily suburbia, the deadening monotony irregularly punctured by fleeting moments of euphoria. Continue reading “Heroes of the Frontier, by Dave Eggers”

The Fireman, by Joe Hill

the-fireman-sff-worldA nightmare vision of a world in flames – The Fireman is Joe Hill’s best book to date.

Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son. Reviewers who acknowledge this also tend to lament the fact that they should mention it at all, because he is clearly an accomplished author in his own right. That he has achieved popular and critical success is due to hard work and talent. Having eschewed his famous name he succeeded on his own terms. Referring to this point, The New York Times claims “He deserves not to have it mentioned in reviews of his books anymore, so look up his pedigree if you really need to.” Continue reading “The Fireman, by Joe Hill”