Monday, January 12, 2015

UrbGeek Games: Heavy Rain (PS3)


Title: Heavy Rain
Developers: Quantic Dream
Publisher: Sony (February 2010)

As someone who loves first person shooters and generally blowing crap up, Heavy Rain was a completely different kind of game for me.

It is a completely interactive detective game where you take on the roles of four of the characters involved in catching the Origami Killer, a serial killer who uses the heavy rainfall to down his victims.

I will not go into too  much detail on the characters, but they are all deeply flawed, well-rounded individuals who add a sense of drama and realism to the story. What I loved was that the whole game felt like watching a film that I had control over.



The game is fairly simple to play, and involves using various buttons and motions with the controller to get the character to perform a specific action. Sometimes, you have to hit the right button at the right time or fail the specific objective for that chapter. What makes Heavy Rain unique is that what you do determines how the story will play out. You can actually kill off one or more of the characters and completely change how the story ends.

Ideally, your objective is to find the killer and save the victim, but the story will progress and end no matter what options you chose. Which means that you can play through the game several times and have a different experience each time.



Worth noting is the score. The music throughout the game is so atmospheric and really adds to the story and emotions.

Don't expect this to be a happy journey. It's emotional and raw at times, with characters battling their inner demons. But this is what makes it a great experience to play.

Heavy Rain won several awards in the year it was released, including Game of the Year. Film rights are owned by Warner Brothers and a film adaption is in production.

If you are tired of the usual shoot-em-ups and want something different, give Heavy Rain a try.

The video below is a funny parody of one of the important scenes in the game, where you literally run around hitting X to call for your son. Not of real importance, but a fun thing for those who have played the game and found this as silly as I did (the only annoying part of the game!). It also gives you an idea of the level of graphics Heavy Rain offers.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge

So I have decided to take part in the 2015 Reading Challenge as discovered on the Reader's Warehouse website.



Here is the list and my ideas so far! This list is a work in progress and I will add and edit as the year progresses. 



  1. A book by a person whose gender is different from your own - Looking for Alaska by John Green
  2. A classic romance - Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
  3. A book with more than 500 pages - The Diviners by Libba Bray
  4. A book published in 2014 - The Infinite Sea
  5. A  book published this year
  6. A book written by someone under 30
  7. A book written by someone over 60
  8. A funny book - Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green
  9. A fantasy book
  10. A classic
  11. A book that became a movie - The Maze Runner
  12. A book with a number in the title - The Fifth Wave
  13. A murder mystery or thriller
  14. A book with a one word title
  15. A short story
  16. A book by a South African author - Day Four by Sarah Lotz
  17. a nonfiction book
  18. A book a friend recommended
  19. A book based on a true story
  20. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book
  21. A book your mom loves
  22. A book your dad loves
  23. A scary book
  24. A book set in a different country
  25. A book based entirely on its cover
  26. A memoir
  27. A book with bad reviews
  28. A book you can finish in a day
  29. A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
  30. A book that came out the year you were born
  31. A book from your childhood - Witch Child by Celia Rees
  32. A book set in the future
  33. A YA book
  34. A graphic novel - Saga
  35. A book by an author you've never read before
  36. A banned book
  37. A collection of poetry
  38. A book originally published in another language - Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  39. A book you would consider a guilty pleasure 
  40. A self-improvement book
  41. Read the first book in a trilogy 
  42. The type of book you rarely or never read
  43. A 2015 bestseller
  44. A historical novel
  45. A book by your favorite author - Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead
  46. A book that have been on your "must read"list for ages
  47. A play
  48. Read a book on the grass
  49. A book you saw someone else reading
  50. A book written by a celebrity 
  51. A book you should have read in high school - The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  52. A book "everyone" has read but you.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

UrbGeek Tunes: Two Steps From Hell


I have always loved film scores. From Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves to Jurassic Park, it has often been the deciding factor whether a film would stay with me or not. Such is the power of a good score. Think Pirates of the Carribean or even the simplistic theme from Jaws (Hans Zimmer, anyone?).

Over the years, I have made a point of looking out for great, timeless epic music and it was on one of these searches last month that I stumbled upon Two Steps From Hell.

If you have even wanted music that is so epic, you can basically picture the scenes in your head, then Two Steps From Hell is not going to disappoint.

Founded by Nick Phoenix and Thomas J Bergensen, TSFH has been providing music for trailers and promos since 2006. Their work has also been used in film scores. To date, TSFH's music has featured in over 1000 trailers!

From full orchestral melodies to tracks with an electronic influence, TSFH have a sound for every mood. Their made their work publicly available in 2010 for the first time and have topped iTunes charts since then.

Their latest album, Battlecry, is due out early this year.


UrbGeek's Top Ten TSFH Tracks

1. Heart of Courage - this is the quintessential movie theme. It is epic and brings to mind scenes of the hero walking toward battle, sword in hand. I absolutely love it. If it sounds familiar, that is because it should. It has been used in many adverts, including the promotional clips for Frozen Planet and The Pacific. It was also used in the trailer for Mass Effect 2. Epic. So, so epic!
2. El Dorado - This speaks of a journey reaching a conclusion. It has a definite Spanish / Latino flair in the beginning and then builds beautifully.
3. Winterspell - Reminds me of Christmas and elves. The fantasy kind with the swords, magic and pointy ears. After a good foray into the World of Warcraft, pretty much anything reminds me of elves these days, though!
4. Protectors of the Earth - This is another one of those battle scene themes, with a great choir accompaniment. I love listening to it while gaming. It brings about a sense of honor. This was used in the Offical Launch Trailer for Mass Effect 3.
5. Strength of a Thousand Men - again, speaks of battle with an amazing female voice joining midway through.
6. For The Win - Again, a great track to listen to while gaming. I imagine it would go own well with a session of Skyim. It has that fantasy feel about it.
7. Dragon Rider - This is a fun, flighty tune. For some reason, it reminds me of 80's TV show themes too.
8. All's Hell It Ends Well - Sci-Fi sounding theme with some Skrillex-like Dubstep kicking in at the end.
9. Black Blade Theme - Because every hero needs a nemesis and this piece fits him perfectly!
10.To Glory - a slightly rock-inspired theme with some great moments.

And just in case you haven't been inspired to try them out yet, I leave you with this, the short version of Heart of Courage:

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

UrbGeek Eats: Rocomamas

Picture taken off the Rocomamas Facebook page.


Venue: Rocomamas Randburg

Location: Appleton's Village, Malibongwe Drive, Randburg

Cost: from R35 up for a burger, R25 for a milkshake

About:

What used to be one of Randburg's best kept secrets, Rocomamas has risen to insane popularity over the past year.

Inspired by the American Diner experience, this is the place to go for a fun, funky experience where music from AC/DC to The Pretty Reckless can be heard piping through their sound system.

With their laid-back atmosphere and friendly staff (not the mention that one of the owners is always present, running the pass and ensuring your food gets delivered to your table quickly), Rocomamas offers quality food at reasonable prices, considering the ingredients are fresh and the patties are made on site using a special blend of mince.

For those wanting something else, you can order ribs (pork and beef) and chicken wings with your choice of basting ranging from Mild to MoFo.

To complete the American Diner vibe, Rocomamas has an old-school Milkshake machine and offers interesting flavours like Creme Brulee (to die for!) and Peanut Butter.

For those who like craft beer, Rocomamas boasts a good selection for you to choose from.

As their slogan blatantly states: they are not normal!

Experience:

My most recent visit to Rocomamas this past Sunday involved a small wait as a queue had built up under the misters for tables. I placed my usual order of a Mushroom Swizz burger (Emmenthal, mushrooms and mayo), side order of fries and a Creme Brulee milkshake of delicious goodness.

My boyfriend tackled the Cheese & Bacon burger and Belgian Chocolate milkshake.

The food arrived super quickly and disappeared almost as quickly. Absolutely fantastic, made even better by the delicious spices they use on their fries.

The place was absolutely packed with a great mix of people and the queue outside never disappeared.

The menu at Rocomamas is a novel checklist where you can pick of their burgers or build your own.
Tips:

  • Be prepared to queue for a few minutes for a table during peak times, though some seating is provided.
  • Parking is free at Appleton's, with spots right outside Rocomamas.
  • Go hungry and try everything.
  • There is no veggie option, unless you count the fries. This place is a meat-lover's haven!
You can contact their individual branches at:
Randburg - 011 791 5928
Fourways (Pineslopes) - 011 465 3032
Rivonia - 011 234 1100
Ruimsig (Featherbrooke Village) - 011 958 0419

For more information, here are some links to where you can find Rocomamas on the web: