Kotobukiya Justice League vs. Avengers ARTFX+

So. Much. Win.

So. Much. Win.

Kotobukiya’s Justice League ‘New 52’ ARTFX+ statues have been quite a little passion project for me. With a new character released each month, Kotobukiya has seen much success with their DC ARTFX+ line. As I come close to the end with only 2 left to collect, I was happy to find out, thanks to their amazing SDCC 2013 showing, that Kotobukiya has been hard at work on their Marvel ARTFX+ statues. Based off the ‘Marvel Now’ appearance, you’ll be excited to know that the full line-up of The Avengers is coming in 2014. But if you could only collect one or the other, which would it be?

This is going to look so good when finished!

This is going to look so good when finished!

It’s worth noting that Justice League have 7 members compared to The Avengers 6, so if numbers are an issue, there you go. Let’s talk design, and The Avengers seem to have that won judging from the art that the statues will be based off. Being in much more dynamic poses, it certainly helps with the quality of the display. As for the Justice League, I have nothing against the poses but they are pretty basic. Yet it works for the characters in question.

Kotobukiya are a Japanese company, and because of that, the Justice League have a slight Asian influence to their face sculpt. That’s something I really like, having a company giving their own small stamp on a commonly known design. Looking at the few Avengers sculpts available, the Asian influence is hard to make out. The Hulk has quite similar to the one from the movie, and maybe because they’re unpainted, but Black Widow and Captain America both seem very American.

Loving this Hulk.

Loving this Hulk.

The paint application on Hulk is jaw-dropping too. All of the Justice League had a unique metallic paint used for their costumes, and it really helps them pop from the shelf. So as Hulk is the only painted example we have, judging from that, it seems as if Kotobukiya is going down a more realistic and rustic paint application, rather than the mirror sheen of the Justice League. Of course, I’m hopeful we can expect the same metallic paint on Iron Man, Thor’s armour pieces and Captain America’s shield.

Black Widow

Black Widow

Then there’s the price, the deciding factor for a lot of people. Kotobukiya’s Justice League retailed from anywhere between £30 – £40. Due to the inclusion of weapons, more dynamic poses and the size of the Hulk, I expected The Avengers to retail between £40 – £50, much like their Star Wars ARTFX+ statues. I hope I’m wrong however and they go for the same price as Justice League.

Captain America

Captain America

Kotobukiya’s Justice League ‘New 52’ ARTFX+ statues are out now, with Wonder Woman due any day now and Cyborg due out in August. From the dates on the Avengers, it seems they are starting the line with Hulk in April 2014, and Black Widow in May. Expect a statue each month from then, with the full release details probably being given at Toy Fair 2014 at the start of next year. Keep on collecting!

The expression is great!

The expression is great!

-ast

Grid 2 (2013) Review

GRID is back!

GRID is back!

Version Played: Xbox 360

Race Driver: Grid was a great racing game back in 2008, and to be honest it still holds up today. It was great because I’ve never been into racing games. I’ve never been good at them and got bored with them rather quickly. Race Driver: Grid changed that for me, the first person cockpit view that put you in the driver’s seat made racing exciting and I felt it had found the perfect balance between simulation and arcade. Now Grid 2 has been released, but does it improve on the original or play it safe by doing more of the same?

Grid 2 is split into two options, the story mode or the online. Each is completely separate from the other. The online is like other past Codemasters Racing titles. It takes the modes from the story and by replacing the A.I. with human opponents, you’ve got your online. It’s simple stuff, you level up and unlock different cars as your level gets higher and higher. There’s a lot on offer in the online section of the game, it stands fairly well on its own and it is always a nice time racing online with little lag and fair racing.

For me however, I felt the real heart of the game is found in the story. You play as an unknown racer, but after your first race in the story, your approached by Patrick Callahan about helping him build The World Series Racing. It’s from here you will start to gain fans after each race and move around the globe racing people in the US, Europe and Asia. Gaining the support of the US, Europe and Asia for The World Series Racing is your main objective throughout. You will be treated to real life ESPN news reports made for the game that showcases the progress of The World Series Racing as well as see you videos go viral on YouTube. All of this sucks you into a world you thought could never exist in a racing title. With the immersion and atmosphere only heightened by all of this.

The racing itself actually improves on the originals. I thought the original had the perfect balance of simulation and arcade, but it’s only after playing Grid 2, you begin to realise that only now had simulation and arcade been moulded together so well. Nailing the perfect drift through a corner is a great feeling and something not seen on a simulation racer. Were as the weight of a car combined with its other stats can make the car handle differently, something not seen in arcade racers. Presentation wise the game does a wonderful job, from the text to the graphics, Grid 2 is one of the best on the market. Graphically the game is simply amazing, cars look fantastic as does the tracks you race on. The sound design is also worth mentioning, with no music whilst racing, the grunts of cars really stand out as does the roars of the crowd.

Returning from past Codemasters Racing titles is the rewind feature. Upon messing up a corner or breaking too late and crashing you car, you are able to rewind the game to a point when you can correct the mistake. However this is limited, depending on the difficulty you choose. Something that has been removed however is the first person cockpit view. This is a feature that I loved from the original, it’s also the only reason I ever played Need of Speed: Shift. Why this was removed is a mystery to many fans, most opinions seem to point to it being a very time-consuming process and very expensive. Whatever the reason though, it is a real shame it has not returned for the sequel.

I said earlier that repetition as something that bothered me in racing titles and has made me get bored with them rather quickly. Unfortunately, this holds true in Grid 2. Whilst the story is great, you play through it season by season. I found myself extremely bored towards the end of a season due to the same tracks and race types. It’s only when you start a new season that you get access to new tracks and race types, but even then, by the end of the season, I found myself wanting to skip races just to see and do something new.

Grid 2 isn’t a perfect game, but it’s also not a terrible game. Where it improves on the original, it takes a step backwards with some thing missing or by being repetitive. It is one of the best looking and sounding racing games I’ve had the pleasure of playing. It also handles very well too. But the uninspired online, repetitiveness, and lack of the cockpit view that I feel the first game made so popular, it’s hard to say this game is what the original deserved. It wanted greatness, but that is something I cannot give.

71 Broken Bumpers out of 100

-ast