First Thoughts: Red Dead Redemption 2


Whether it’s good or bad, everyone has been talking about Red Dead Redemption 2. I think the negativity hasn’t been anything to do with the actual game itself whatsoever, but instead about the recent controversy when Rockstar thoughtlessly came out bragging about making their employees work crazy-long hours to make sure the final product was shoved out in time, which was a very poor move. Twitter doesn’t like when people brag about stuff like that, and with good reason.

I found myself siding with how many people online seemingly felt – that the way they were treating their employees was less than admirable, but sadly, still knowing I was going buy that game no matter what. Boycotting was one idea, sure. But this is Red Dead Redemption 2. We’ve all been waiting for it for a long time, and all that hard work (all 100 hours a week of it!) would’ve gone to waste. Sort of. It was still always going to fly off the shelves, it’s no simple task to boycott a Rockstar game.


Firstly, this game is phenomenal. I hate to jump on the bandwagon of people singing songs of praise when I think a game doesn’t deserve that much of a pat on the back, but this time it’s really hit the nail on the head and come out as what I think, is a huge success.

To give some idea of the premise of the story, but not saying too much for those of you who haven’t had a chance to grab a copy or properly sink your teeth into it – the story is good. Or at least I think it’s going to turn out very good and iconic, much like the first game. Now, I say that after only having had a chance to sink maybe 10 hours into the game, so take it with a pinch of salt. We start off in a snowstorm somewhere in the mountains, with several characters trying to find shelter, a gang of misfits of some sorts. We play as the aging outlaw Arthur Morgan, as he travels eastwards with this somewhat infamous gang, known as “Dutch’s Gang”.

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You don’t exactly start in lush green pastures.

Very quickly we’re thrown into the story, after a major event has taken place for Dutch’s gang, in a place called Blackwater where things have gone awry somewhere down the line. We’re not told everything from the get-go, and we’re given dribs and drabs of what had happened previously as the game progresses.

Eventually, Dutch’s Gang settles down in an area called “The Heartlands”. It’s from here where you’re released upon the world, and pretty much allowed to do whatever it is you want. Of course, the logical thing to do is to progress the story, but some of us who are just too curious to see what we could get up to before all that get stuck in.

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Whilst it may be sunshine and rainbows right now…

You’re certainly not short of anything to do. I’m weird and the first thing I wanted to get into was playing Poker – but there are so many options. Whether that just be exploring for odd locations, hunting all sorts of game for different reasons, bounty hunting, stealing from literally anyone – or just talking to them – there is so many things to do, in a vast open world.

Aside from a large number of weapons being available, some of which are more “modern” guns (This is set in 1899, so some progress has been made!) you get all the goodies from the old game, such as my favourite, the lasso, it’s impossible to not have a laugh at least once when it comes to hogtying people. You can also put in a huge amount of customisation into both the weapons you get, but also all the different outfits and clothing you can acquire along the way. Some clothing is even needed depending on where you explore due to the varying hot and cold temperatures you will encounter.

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“That’s a real purdy knife, mister.”

The world building in Red Dead Redemption 2 is amazing. The world does appear somewhat empty at times, and maybe a bit lonely. But you can talk to literally anyone; you can annoy them, be friendly, or just flat out rob them, beat them, or kill them if you’re into that. But you’ll quickly discover a new feature in the game, which is a morality meter: Honourable or Dishonourable. Depending on how you act in the world, it affects the meter, which in turn effects how you’ll be treated by everyone in the game; you could be noble and help everyone at every chance you get, and become nice outlaw (Is that a thing? It is now!) or take every opportunity to be the baddest badass outlaw you can be. Or, you could just do whatever you want, whenever you want. The choice is up to you, and it’s personally one of my favourite new features, and gives the game a whole new level of replay-ability.

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Even small choices could have consequences, but it’s entirely up to you how you want to be portrayed. 

Not only is the gameplay fun, but the world in terms of how it all looks is drop-dead gorgeous. There are so many different styles of environments to see and explore, and you can see how much effort has gone into each area to make it unforgettable. The landscapes are simply amazing. And the detail that’s gone into even the smallest aspects of the game, like the plants and buildings, are impeccable. The effort that’s gone into all the towns scattered around, and even just smaller locations, I can now see why this game was a beasty 105GB download, and it was well worth the wait.

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Every nook and cranny of Red Dead Redemption 2 so easy on the eyes. 

On top of everything in the game being jaw-droppingly beautiful and full, the voice acting is also top notch, and clearly has been a massive focus when making the game. Since you can talk to literally everyone with a few different options to choose from, that by itself is a tall order to fill. All the eclectic characters that form Dutch’s gang, all of whom you can have many different conversations that change overtime, and even open side missions and requests for, give the entire game much more of a Roleplay game feeling, which I welcomed with open arms. If anything, this large focus on just being able to chat to anyone and get really stuck in to the world, has really set it apart from any Rockstar game to date.


In conclusion – I’m darn-tootin’ impressed. I’ve got a long way to go until I even start to see the end of the game in sight, but from what I’ve played so far, I can’t see it going downhill anytime soon. The tremendous effort that was put into Red Dead Redemption 2 is extremely apparent. Whilst there has been the controversy behind the way it was made, as I soon began to learn on Twitter, these kind of overworking practices are sadly fairly commonplace in the gaming industry, as I saw many people tweet about how they’ve been overworked when its come to a deadline, rather than just extending time to put out the final product. Even if it was going to be delayed for a few more months, the game would still fly off the shelves.

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He’s just angry because his hat fell off. Again. For the 13th time. 

Putting that aside, Red Dead Redemption 2 is awesome. It’s easily going to install itself as an iconic game to be remembered the same way the first game was, without a doubt. The story is gripping and intriguing, the world is stuffed with so many things to do, and all of it is stunning. Now, time for me to hit the old dusty trail and get stuck back in myself, partner.


 

“Go get ’em, Tiger!” – Marvel’s Spider-Man


There’s been a lot of Spider-Man games over the years. The first I ever played was on Nintendo Gamecube, which was Spider-Man one, based off the movie franchise that was hugely popular (and still is to some) at the time. Now, Spider-Man 2, both the Movie and the video game, hold a very special place in my heart. Not only a fantastic childhood film, but likewise with the game.

Skip forward years later, and we’ve had several Spider-Man games. Some based off other franchises, other’s not. Then ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man’ rocks up onto the scene, exciting fans of the movies, comics and games all over the world, after several arguably bad Spider-Man games that had left fans wanting something that recalled those feelings from Spider-Man 2. All seems so promising and exciting, as we get to hear reviews start to crop up by the big game reviewers, and the hype reaches a new unprecedented level. Then it comes out, finally. All seems good in the land of Spider-Man fans. But is it? (Probably. Maybe. Yes.)

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New York is your playground, and it’s time to beat all it’s bad guys up. How is this guy not an Avenger yet?

Now, personally, I’m in love with this game. Which seems typical as Spider-Man is my favourite superhero overall anyway, so maybe I am a little biased, but with that being said, there is always room for improvement in lots of different areas, even when it’s a fantastic game. For me, it brought back all those nostalgic feelings we all crave and reminded me of coming home from school and loading Spider-Man 2 on my Gamecube and swinging around the city, just being able to explore, let alone actually just playing the game’s story mode. Who wouldn’t get a kick out of being able to get a taste of what it’s like to be Spider-Man?

Being able to just run and jump off a skyscraper, freefall, and then start swinging around any way you want to is such a satisfying feeling for me, and I’m sure a lot of people would agree with that at least. It’s a feeling for me unlike any other video game out there, probably because Spider-Man himself is so unique himself! Bearing in mind this is just how I feel about exploring New York City as Spidey, the freedom to just do what you want. (Seriously, who the hell uses fast travel in this game? Okay, maybe to just get the achievement, but that should be it, get swinging!) I was ready to just give the game 5/5, and I think on some level I do, but there are some issues. Or at least, there are some things that could be improved on.

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Stick around. Sorry, that was awful. Pretty punny though. Okay, I’ll see myself out.

I love the overall combat, the use of combos and how it seems to flow throughout even your average street-crime fight. Some may cry ‘Arkham copy-cat!’ and okay, maybe it takes some inspiration from it, it’s very possible. But is that wrong? The Arkham games are fantastic for their story and combat, but I don’t think they get to call that style of combat their own. They’re not the only game series out there that use the style of combat that we see in Marvel’s Spider-Man, and they won’t be the last. I think the combat used in Spider-Man is actually better, it’s not just a matter of countering at every opportunity, it’s about thinking how you can take everyone down fast, use the gadgets available to you (Electro-friggin’-webs, Anti-Gravity devices, lots of different web based goodies!) and try to take enemies out in the air, or on the ground, whilst dodging certain enemies types that are very aggressive, and ones with certain abilities.. Alright, right now it’s starting to sound a lot like one of the Arkham Batman games, but it’s just different. If anything, I think it’s harder, and a lot more frantic! Especially if you decide to go for a higher difficulty right away.


So, I’ve already touched on some of the aspects of the gameplay, the exploration and combat, which are by far some of the largest aspects of the game. There’s the story, which can be done at entirely your leisure (and should be, what’s the rush?) and side-missions, and random events such as crimes that vary to some degree. Now, Side-missions are one of my favourite aspects. Whether it’s little snippets of story that aren’t relevant, or challenges that vary from web-slinging traversal skills or fighting a ton of bad guys in various situations, or even doing a stealth mission, which have different levels for you to accomplish to help earn medals to craft new suit mods and gadgets.

There’s a lot of other things to do on the side, but I will admit that some do feel a bit same-ish, or just not that interesting, and some would only do them to get the trophy, and it depends if you’re a perfectionist. Essentially, the ones you think will be fun are, and the ones that don’t sound fun, aren’t. Only you know if you prefer enjoy beating up loads of bad dudes as compared to chasing pigeons. Everyone’s different, but I know which camp I sit in.

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Do you even own Marvel’s Spider-Man if you don’t take a selfie at the top of the Empire State Building?

One of the main complaints I heard about at first was that the random crimes that pop-up are all too similar and get boring way too quickly. Well, for a start, there’s only a certain amount of crimes they can put in that’re going be appropriate for Spider-Man. It’s not likely that Spider-Man is going to swing in and stop white-collar crimes. (Although, I would be down for that.) Whilst people saying this do have a point, there is some difficulties of what other crimes/situations could you put in? Perhaps saving someone falling from a construction site? Helping someone off a building that’s on fire? There’re a few different ideas that could be used, but the options are limited. I don’t mind beating down on street thugs, so you won’t hear me complaining too much. But once you’ve completed the game and done a lot of the events, I’ll admit it does become a bit stale relatively quickly.


When people initially found out that Insomniac Games were going to be creating Sony Interactive PS4 Spider-Man exclusive game, people freaked out for a lot of different reasons. Overall the first reaction was quite bitter, with people slandering the fact that this was going to be a PS4 exclusive game only, with next-to-no chance of it coming out on PC, Xbox One or Switch. Which is a frustrating position to be in if you’re a hardcore fan of a particular console, but thankfully I lucked out, since I made the switch from Xbox 360 to PS4 once the time was right.

Not everyone can afford to have more than one console, and not a lot of people are willing to have two anyway. Why not just make it so it could be across other consoles? Or at least Xbox One? I don’t know many people with Xbox Ones personally, but even just by scrolling through Twitter and Facebook, people’s resentment of this choice was extremely clear, but not noted particularly. Sony clearly wanted this one to themselves. People literally went out to buy PS4 with the sole purpose of playing this new, and tremendously hyped Spider-Man game. And I don’t blame them, I think I would’ve done the exact same thing. (Once again, biased Fan who would take a literal bullet for Spidey if he actually existed.)

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Spider-Suits galore, including the somewhat now iconic Spider-Man suit from Homecoming! You can fight crime even in what looks like PJ’s.

Angry fans aside, when we found out it was Insomniac Games behind the wheel of bringing in a new Spider-Man game into Modern Age gaming on PS4, people’s eared pricked up. The Amazing Spider-Man game franchise, which I personally hated, had really shattered a lot of people’s hopes at bringing a new Spider-Man game into the world with a lot of potential. But Insomniac Games? The guys who created Rachet and Clank? Spyro the Dragon? Okay, it isn’t the same kind of game or gameplay whatsoever, but these guys had created titles that people all over the world loved and cherished. In the months that led up to the game coming out, we were sprinkled with lots of bit of information, hints, and videos, but no definite gameplay until we got very close to release. But with every bit of extra information we got, there was a kind of quiet hope that this game would make up for the years of failed Spider-Man games. That maybe this was it, a potential Spidey game franchise that people would use as a comparison for years to come.

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The photo mode that’s available has proved endless fun for some fans, trying to snap off the perfect Spidey pics. I’m not amazing, but it’s still fun!

In my view, I believe that Marvel’s Spider-Man met up to the hype entirely, and arguably much more than I actually thought it would, even if I think there could be some improvements. Whilst not everyone shares this opinion, I think it’s fairly clear that a lot of people would agree with me, that it’s a bloody good game overall. The hype train pulled right into the station and delivered on its promises.


Now, I won’t prattle on or delve too deep into what I think of the general storyline, in case there’s people out there that haven’t completed it yet. I will say that I feel the story is very interesting, and original. It takes little aspects of the some of the Spidey comics, and makes it its own. It doesn’t directly follow any comic book storyline, but takes inspiration from several, and references some others. (Most notably for me was the references to the Ultimate Universe Marvel comics.)

We see Mr. Negative take the stage as the main villain, who is noticeably very shady and strange, and even I must admit I still don’t really get him as a villain. But once more classic and iconic villains start showing up, those thoughts didn’t matter so much. We see Mary-Jane as an investigate journalist swoop into the game and take a pivotal role in the story, rather than just being Peter Parker’s pretty red-head in constant need of saving, it’s quite the opposite. We see Dr. Otto Octavius right from the very beginning as Peter plays the role of his lab assistant. (You can probably see where his role in the game starts to go, but I won’t say anything more than that!) And we even see Miles Morales in the game, a direct link to the Ultimate Marvel universe comics. Basically, the game is crammed with iconic Spider-Man characters, all of whom flow with the story and really help give it depth and making it a more meaningful journey.

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There’s a time and a place for selfies. Maybe mid-swing isn’t one of them.

Moving away from the storyline aspect, there’s a lot of nice collectibles in the game, and nods to other parts of Marvel Comics. We have Avengers Tower as part of the New York skyline, we have the iconic Oscorp industries, Alias Investigations, Damage Control, and lots of references to many different characters, like Daredevil. Even if we don’t see these other iconic characters, we feel all warm and nerdy inside, knowing that they’re there in this game’s universe, somewhere doing what they do, while we do what Spidey does.

Now, one of my absolute favourite parts of the game. The different Spider-Man suits. When I realised we were going to get to choose varying iconic suits to roam around the city with, I lost it a little bit! The Iron Spider suit that was first created in the Civil War comic story-arc, but then redefined in the latest MCU film; Infinity War. Complete with the actual mechanical spider legs that come out of the back, it was definitely a selling point to allure fans of the movie into buying the game. We have the Spider-Punk suit, Spider-Noir, Secret Wars, Fear Itself, all sorts of really amazing suits from varying different comics, and there is really a suit to suit everyone. Admittedly, I feel they missed the opportunity to add in some -really- iconic suits, and they seemed to have opted for some of the lesser known outfits. (Superior Spider-Man? Symbiote suit? Where are they!?)

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Things get complicated and interesting when Felicia Hardy comes back into town. Insert cat puns.

Now that the first chunk of the downloadable content has been released, titled “The Heist” featuring the tricky and cunning Black Cat aka Felicia Hardy. Which has it’s own storyline adjacent from the main storyline. Now that I’ve just completed it, I can safely (Without giving up any major spoilers) that it’s good. It’s not very long overall, and there are some new challenges put into the game, and some collectibles, but you could probably complete it in one sitting. But since Insomniac is planning on rolling out Part 2 and Part 3 in November and December, we’re going to be finding out a lot more. It’s fair to assume these downloadable pieces of content are connected, I think have some ideas as to what may happen already… But that’s purely speculation.


It might seem like I’m literally praying to this Spider-Man game as the beginning and end of all possible Spider-Man games. And there’s no doubt that I am a huge fan of the game almost entirely and can only find a few faults in the game. However, this opinion is only my own, and many people did feel differently about the game after its release.

All the large gaming websites and magazines were all singing praise for Marvel’s Spider-Man. But this brought a question to mind; maybe this is a bit orchestrated? With these large AAA game titles, usually all these gaming-associated companies have nothing to say but good things, with a very low number giving some criticism and negative feedback. Is this because they’re paid off to write good reviews? Is it done this way to help create more help, to aid in driving up sales for the game? It’s something I can’t say is a thing or not, but I have to kind of side with them this time, I love this game and it’s definitely worth your time if you’re a fan of Spider-Man or just happen to have a PS4.

Marvel’s Spider-Man is not the first game to do this by a long, long shot. But it’s still a valid question. The only reason I thought this, was seeing smaller reviewers’ reactions, and people’s general thoughts on Twitter/Facebook. And I’m not just looking at “Pondgate”, I’m looking at people’s general criticisms overall. A lot of people disliked the inanimate people in the game, like if you were to actually stop web-slinging and go down to the street level, people all seem to stop and not do a great deal. Sometimes you’ll get a baddie randomly come at you, but it would be obvious who would be, since everyone else is just kind of… stood around doing nothing much.

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“They’ll get you down. Eventually.”

Complaints about there not being enough to do in the endgame, about the repetitiveness of crimes that I mentioned earlier, and a bit of a lacklustre for replay-ability overall. I’m inclined to agree that yes, there are some issues present in the game that revolve around these kinds of problems, but I feel it’s difficult to bring the score or critique for the entire game be brought down over these kinds of things.

The most common thing I saw that brought the game into a negative light was its comparisons to the Batman “Arkham” game series. How Insomniac Games had simply copy-and-pasted the combat style from the Warner Brother brand Batman game, and made it suit them, but for Spidey. Now, maybe they did. Maybe they didn’t. They took some inspiration, but the combat in reality is very different in its own way. Similar, yes. The exact same? Not at all. I can understand people’s feelings regarding these topics, but nonetheless, I still think they’re overshadowed by the game’s overall vibes.


In conclusion, I’m a bit in love with Marvel’s Spider-Man, and yes, I am a little biased about it. But, I have to be fair and I realise there are some very valid criticisms of it. Things that aren’t necessarily going to be fixed, unless the future downloadable content is going to vastly change how the game is played, which I guess it hasn’t really so far at least. But Marvel’s Spider-Man for me is a definite win for Marvel fans, Spider-Man fans, and people who just want another awesome game for their collection. Stan Lee cameos in it for Pete’s sake. (If you have a PS4, that is.)

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Double pepperoni pizza. Good lad. 

If I had anything to say about Marvel’s Spider-Man, it would be that it’s a must for your PS4 collection whether you’re an avid fan, or just causal about it. The gameplay is very individual and unique and makes the game special. And for me personally, it already holds a special place in my heart next to the much, much older Spider-Man games. With great power, comes great responsibility.


Venom: A Hot Mess

We are Venom. But are we impressed? Maybe that now somewhat iconic line from Venom holds water up to the infamous “We are Groot.” Maybe. But it’s seemed like it’s been a very mixed bag overall, with many singing different forms of praise for varying reasons, and some saying we should stay away from it, and that it’s not what fans deserved as a standalone Venom movie, and instead you should buy tickets to Crazy Rich Asians instead, or A Star is Born instead of wasting time on this particular Marvel Movie.


I’ll try my upmost to not give away too much of the story to Venom, and not to give any spoilers. Generally, I don’t think there’s an awful lot to spoil really, unless you’ve literally never heard of Venom as a character, or never saw Spider-Man 3 back when that was in cinemas, where we experienced Venom on the big screen for the first time, but as a villain and without any real character to the infamous symbiote itself.

But things are different now. With Marvel movies being fired off several films and TV series a year, some would say we’re becoming over-saturated with Marvel goodness, and that it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to slow down and take a more leisurely pace. With the promise of the MCU to expand even further after the Disney/Fox deal, we’re going to see X-Men in a whole new light, so the Marvel train MCU-related or not, isn’t due to slow down anytime too soon.

Then, a trailer drops from Sony. Venom, in his standalone movie for the first time, that’s not associated with the MCU. (Although that’s still a bit in the balance for some people, you never know with Disney money.) It was a very strange initial reaction, lots of people excited and generally curious about what and how this movie could and would work out. Could it work without Spider-Man? This is one of Spider-Man’s most iconic villains we’re talking about. With that in mind, comic book fans know Venom has been an anti-hero for quite a few years now. A lethal protector. A baddie that’s also a goodie, sort of.

There were people upset that he wasn’t going to be in the MCU, which I can sympathise with to some extent, because it makes it feel a little messy and doesn’t give hardcore fans that gooey warm feeling that this isn’t all happening in the same universe setting. Maybe that’s my issue, but at the same time, not all Marvel movies necessarily need to be set in the same universe. Not if the movie’s good. X-Men movies weren’t for a long time, and I didn’t meet a lot of people that didn’t enjoy “Logan.” It’s really more if you enjoy the film, surely?

There was a lot of uncertainty of whether this movie would be a success. That feeling is still lingering even know that the movie’s out! People have gone out, watched it, and still don’t know what to make of it. They may well have enjoyed it and laughed, but they don’t know if it was good enough, or held water to other Marvel associated movies. But was Venom supposed to have laughs? Shouldn’t it have been gory? Brutal? Scary? I think it should have been, at least more than what it was.

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Personally, I did enjoy the movie overall, beats having my head bitten off. I don’t think it was amazing, recommend to all my friends and family to see kind of good, but I just thought it was good. It was okay. I wouldn’t rush to see it again, but I may buy it once it’s out on DVD.

Eddie Brock is the main character, played by Tom Hardy, which really helped sell the movie to people. He’s a good actor in my books, and let’s face it, he has a very popular following for his acting abilities, and a lot of women I know just love him and would happily spend the rest of their life with him at a moments notice. (Okay, slight over-exaggeration, but there’s no doubt that women and men love him!) I thought he really did justice to the character, made him likeable, funny, and just really brought a positive energy with his performance. He really did help make the movie for me, especially since most of the other characters are forgettable, and just not that important overall. Eddie and Venom are obviously the main characters, and they’re the only one’s whose names I really remembered in all honesty.

It’s a bit of a slow burner to start with, and the set-up actually gave a very different vibe to what the movie would be like overall. It could’ve been sped up a bit, but that’s probably me being a nit-picking fan, since I know the story of how Venom comes to be originally. Now, this movie holds true to some of these comic concepts, but it does pretty much follow its own original story line and borrow bits from comics. Which I think is fine, it makes it somewhat easier for audiences who maybe haven’t heard of him or know what he’s about.

But, once the fun starts, it doesn’t slow down. Once Venom pops off, it’s riddled with some aspects of horror, and littered with comedy. The comedy is unexpected, even I didn’t think there would be as many fun lines in the movie, but it was full of them! And I did laugh out loud at a lot of them, along with half the cinema. You don’t expect a movie about a hulking, alien, scary goop that binds to people as hosts could be funny. It reminded me of the comedic styling of “Shaun of the Dead.” Horror mixed in with comedy, absolutely. Okay, it’s not the most horrific film in the world by a long shot, and I didn’t even jump at a single scene. And I usually do. But you could see the angle they were going for when they were making it, and I think it pulls it off quite well. But, admittedly, the film could have been done in lots of different ways, and still might’ve been as much of as success. Could’ve gone down the horror route entirely, and it could’ve possibly pulled it off.


I do seem to be on board with the people that’re singing praise for the movie, it was a pretty funny movie, even if that’s not what I was expecting. But do I think it’ll be a success as a franchise? Venom-verse? I’m still very sceptical. I think as a standalone movie it did okay, but I don’t think it’s going to be a movie spoken about for years and years to come. Nobody really cared much about Venom in Spider-Man 3.

Venom as a standalone is just okay. It’s a hot mess, which I’ve seen it referred to many times since it came out in cinemas. And I think that’s the most accurate description for Venom out there. It’s like a roller coaster you don’t want to go on again, not because you were scared to go on again, but because you’d be bored to ride again.

It’s already got some potential for a sequel, definitely. But should it? Maybe. I’d be curious to see if it would actually be any good. Venom made me laugh and made me wince in ways only Venom could. But do I think it deserves a whole franchise after that? Tom Hardy put the work in, no doubt, but does it need to be more than that? Does it need to go further? I honestly don’t know, and maybe that’s because I don’t really care if it does. I don’t think it’s an iconic film, and I don’t think a lot of people will or do even like it. Its future isn’t that bright. But it most likely does have a future. That’s Hollywood, Baby.

Quit the habit. Get a better one.

I loved smoking. I didn’t care about the cost or the effect it would have on my body and mental health, I simply enjoyed it. Nothing like having a few drinks with friends and then stepping out for a quick cig, especially if you have one or two friends who’re like-minded and want to have a smoke too. The nicotine rush, and just general sense of relief that you got from a few good puffs.

Eventually though, I felt like I had no energy, other than to crawl down the stairs and go out for a cigarette and dredge myself back up the steps in my flat back and then try to catch my breath. I’m 25, I shouldn’t be going up two flights of stairs and then have catch my breath back, I’m not an old man yet. It made me think about when I was bit younger, and I barely drank, never smoked, and used to go running a few times a week. How I’d run for charities, improved gradually, and had that runner’s high.

I quit smoking on a dare of sorts. At work, talking with a colleague, I started to roll a cig on my break, getting ready for that comforting ritual of going outside to have a nice puff, to help me get through the rest of my shift. My friend turns to me and says, “You’re never going to be able to give those up.” But it was a bit more of a passing comment, at least that’s how it felt. Sure, people had said similar things to me before, but this time it felt different. Maybe it was just all the feelings I’d had recently had snowballed into something I was comfortable with, or maybe it was just the last straw. So, I rolled a final cig, and saved it for after my shift, and threw the bag of tobacco away in front of them and swore it would be my final one.

Naturally, none of them believed me. They waved it off as me being emotional and silly, and that I’d be back to puffing clouds out in no time. But I didn’t. The first week was by far the hardest overall. I went through some of the typical withdrawals. Aggravation. Frustration. Sadness. But I remembered why I was doing it, and that there were infinitely more benefits to quitting than to continuing. I would (and did) save money, between £40-£60 a month. I did get a bad cough but turns out that’s pretty much standard procedure when you’ve quit smoking, and that too subsided.

The hard part was controlling my mood. On one hand I was already quite pleased with myself, but it was having a mental toll. I didn’t smoke loads, but I smoked at certain times of the day to relax, and it had become part of my routine, which was hard to crack.

But after a week or so, I decided to take the initiative. I dug up my old running trainers, downloaded a running app to my phone, and decided to run 2 kilometers. And let me tell you, it was absolute hell. I was spluttering, poorly paced, could barely control my breathing at all. But, I did manage to run 2k. Maybe not in a good time, but I achieved what I wanted to do. And afterwards, I had a shower, and relaxed, feeling somewhat accomplished with myself.

And it didn’t end there. Over the next few weeks I kept on top of it. Only running reasonably short distances at first, but I managed to get control of my breathing. Running became slightly easier. My pace quickened slightly with each new week. I got that runner’s high again and again. And it was the hottest summer we’ve had in a while in England, so it was hard work on some days. But I didn’t let it bother me. (Truth be told it was kind of glorious running in the sun with no clouds in sight.) Some of my friends who had started running found out that I was at it again, and showed nothing but support, and we started running together every Wednesday in different locations. I signed up to Park runs, that were held every Saturday at local parks, typically 5k. I decided to improve my diet too, eating more fish, having more home-cooked food, eating more fruit and veg, all that typical stuff that comes with feeling better through exercise. (Although, I didn’t feel the need to announce all this to the world whilst I was doing it, I’m a bit personal about these kinds of things. Besides, I was doing it for me!)

My friends convinced me to sign up to run the Preston 10k in late September. I’d run 10k runs before, but it had been years since I’d done that. But since I was running between 3-5 times a week, I felt confident.

A couple of months later, I felt like a different person. I wouldn’t run out of breath. My legs seemed to change almost overnight, they were muscly again. My face cleared up massively, and I didn’t get spots anywhere near as much as I had when I was smoking. My mood was unquestionably better. Having a steady flow of endorphins going through me was doing wonders. I even started to do other little workouts, maybe not as intense as running, but I thought what’s the harm in doing some more?

Fast forward to September. Unfortunately, I’d overdone it with training, and injured my right foot, and was limping for near enough 2 weeks. So sadly, my routine had come to a grinding halt. And once my foot started to get better, I came down with a bad cold. Once I got past that, I only had 1 week left to get some training in. What little training I got in wasn’t ideal, since I was still suffering a cough. I began to feel nervous about the big run but tried to focus on all the training I had done beforehand.

Race day. Nearly 2,000 people in attendance for the run itself, not the biggest 10k I’d been to, but still a lot of people. This didn’t bother me too much, since I just get into my own headspace when I start running, and don’t think about an awful lot apart from focusing on my breathing, and just moving forward. When the race started, once I got to the 4k mark, it became quite clear that I should’ve done more hill training. I didn’t think there would be so many! Okay, some weren’t huge, but I trained on flat and even surfaces and focused on endurance. I didn’t manage to get the whole way running at one single pace, as some of the hills took it out of me. In all honesty, I was aiming to try and finish in just shy of under an hour. That didn’t happen. I wasn’t far off and achieved my fastest time for any 10k I’d ever done, completing it in 1 hour 4 minutes.

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*Proof! I look and felt pretty knackered at this point. But with the end in sight, you go for it.*

First thing I did afterwards was hobble into the nearest Wetherspoons and order a pint of one of my favourite pints of ale. I felt fantastic. I hadn’t gotten the time I wanted, but it didn’t matter that much. I felt and still do feel confident that I’ll be able to do it in under an hour, and I’ve already signed up to the Garstang and Manchester 10k as a motivator!

I still miss smoking. Maybe not every day, but there are definitely days that test my will. Sometimes even just walking past someone smoking or if I’m just stood with someone having a smoke, it’s enough to set off that deep feeling inside that suddenly yells out for a quick puff. Just one. No one has to know. But I would know! It’s a slippery slope. I’ve thankfully not had any slip ups since I quit, and I’m hoping it stays that way. Running has helped a lot. Okay, it doesn’t quite satisfy the feelings I have when I’m having a craving, but the endorphins sure as hell help. Running has been a tough journey, and it’s hard to always remain motivated, but reminding myself why I quit always spurs me on, even if it’s only a little bit. It’s been a weird transformation over the past few months, since I’ve officially been smoke-free for over 4 months and been running for about 3. I’ll keep it going with both, but I can appreciate there’s going to be good days and hard days when dealing with both my urges to smoke and when I must run. But remembering why you started all this in the first place is the best way to keep moving forward.

Starting up.

Hello! I’ve made the decision to create a WordPress blog – With the aim of being able to create and produce content that I’m interested and passionate about.


I want to use this space to put forward my own pieces of work, as well as personal posts. I enjoy reviewing games, books and movies, which seems pretty typical, and there’s definitely more than enough blogs in the world for these things. But I want to bring my take on these topics, and voice my own opinions.

That’s not to say this blog will be purely reviews. I want to use it to help keep progress of my other hobbies too, such as running and baking! Which don’t really sound very hand-in-hand.. But when you’re stuffing yourself with scones, running the next day is a good idea.

I’m hoping to bash out a certain amount of content a month, and I’m going to try and keep it nice and varied around the different aspects I’m into. Any constructive criticism is welcome, as I’m by no measure a pro, and I always want to try my best to improve on my skills, and maybe try and branch out when and where possible.

Anyway, that’s enough prattling on. You get what this is all going to be about. I’m not sure when my first offical post will be (Hopefully very soon, I recently ran the Preston 10k and have a draft being prepped!) but it’ll be soon. Thanks for reading!