Month: July 2016

Game Review: Pokemon Go

Since its launch, Pokemon Go has, as expected, taken the world by storm and it could be a genuine revolution in gaming.

The view of gamers still remains one of sceptisism. They stay in their darkly-lit bedrooms and develop square eyes whittling away hours in front of screens as Zubats fly around the room – but Pokemon Go forces the user to go out, have a walk, and enjoy the scenery of their town, and have genuine fun at the same time.

It is not the first time Nintendo have tried to get their audience active. They tried it with the Wii console, but once people figured out that instead of exercising you could just shake the remote to get equal results, the effect wore off, Pokemon Go does not seem to have been plagued with the same problem.

Nostalgia is the buzzword with Pokemon Go, and with good reason, this game is clearly more targeted at the ‘older’ player. Only Generation One seems to feature, so the 20-somethings who grew up on Pikachu, Charmander and Pidgey in their developing years have not been turned off by having to hunt a Popplio, or a Lunalu, or a Rockruff, whatever the hell they are.

Elements of traditional Pokemon has been lost, however, which will hurt fans. Perhaps the biggest change in this sense has been the loss of the battle aspect these games have become iconic for.

Training your little animated buddy has completely changed, the painstaking task of knocking out Rattata after Rattata you stumble on in the grass has evaporated. Now you rely on ‘Stardust’, which is gained after every Pokemon you catch and to evolve you need the candy of the desired Pokemon you wish to evolve, which yes, does mean you have to catch about 50 Bellsprouts if you want a Weepinbell.

Gym battles, also, have been radicalised. Instead of the strategic meetings, it is a spam-off with your competitor as you ram the screen as hard as your fingers will let you – tactics are a thing of the past, but overall, the magic still exists. Especially if you have managed to catch a Kadabra.

Overall though, this app is a force for good. It allows the teenager that has not quite grown up to re-live their childhood while also introducing the 21st Century infant to an existence they understand, in an age where everyone seems to have a phone.

Already the game has had positive impacts. Mental health is getting tackled by depression sufferers taking the nice walk outside in the sunshine that they so desperately craved while simultaneously escaping into their own world, away from the real one full of darkness and despair.  Friendships, somewhat ironically, are getting made too, and not just with the cute animated ‘mons’ you catch. A pastime that gets people glued to their phones has got budding trainers together in both the virtual and real surroundings.

More and more Pokemon Go is becoming a social network and an exercise regime, not bad for a game.

Ranking: 4/5

Lincoln Red Imps 1-0 Celtic

Brendan Rodgers endured a nightmare start to life as Celtic manager as the reigning Scottish champions were humbled 1-0 by Gibraltan part-times Lincoln Red Imps in the first leg of their Champions League second qualifying round tie.

Police officer Lee Casciaro, the eldest of the three Casciaro triplets on display for the Red Imps, gave the home side the lead three minutes into the second half when he intelligently flicked the ball over an underwhelming Efe Ambrose before bundling a shot past Craig Gordon in the Celtic goal.

Rodgers’ Bhoys struggled to settle on the 3G pitch in Gibraltar but did almost equalise soon after when half-time substitute Leigh Griffiths had a goal-bound shot saved by Spaniard Raul Navas.

Debutant Moussa Dembele, who joined on a four-year deal from Fulham in June, thought he had scored on his competitive debut for the Hoops but his header from a free-kick was ruled out for a foul on the Red Imps goalkeeper.

Stuart Armstrong came close with 20 minutes remaining, but the ex-Dundee United man shot over the bar as a result of James Forrest’s cut-back.

It was Griffiths again though who looked most likely to score an away goal for Celtic, none more so than when his 78th-minute free-kick came back off the bar.

Turkish striker Nader Ciftci also had a header saved with the clock ticking down but the plucky semi-professional Gibraltans held strong which led to jubilant scenes at the final whistle.

The result gives Celtic are harder task than they would have anticipated when they play the second leg at Celtic Park next Wednesday.

Euro 2016 Team of the Tournament

Goalkeeper: Rui Patricio (Portugal)

This year’s Euros showcased some of the finest goalkeepers in the world, but the likes of Manuel Neuer, Thibaut Courtois and David De Gea were all outshone by Portugal’s Rui Patricio.

Patricio kept four clean sheets from seven matches – the joint highest amount, and also made the second highest amount of saves (20) at the tournament.

In addition, the Sporting Lisbon stopper made more saves in a Euro final since 1980.

Right-back: Bacary Sagna (France)

Over the last year or so, Bacary Sagna has revitalised his career. The Frenchman has overthrown Pablo Zabaleta to be Manchester City’s first-choice right-back and he used that to his advantage to be one of the top performers at the Euros, too.

Throughout the course of the tournament, Sagna made 38 clearances, seven interceptions and won seven tackles.

Furthermore, Sagna showed his creative side with assists such as the delectable whipped cross that Antoine Griezmann guided in to drag France level against the Republic of Ireland.

Centre back: Pepe (Portugal)

Euro 2016 will probably be remembered as a very defensive tournament, and the best defender on show in France was Portugal’s Pepe.

The Brazilian-born Real Madrid centre back has a reputation for being a hothead but he was composed at the heart of A Selecao’s defence as they shocked everyone to be crowned champions, where Pepe was the Man of the Match in the final.

In the final, Pepe made 17 interceptions, seven defensive headers, won five aerial duels, five blocks and nine tackles.

Centre back: Ashley Williams (Wales)

Much of the talk from the Welsh camp from the word go at the Euros was how much passion the squad possessed and Ashley Williams demonstrated that more than most.

None more so than when he appeared to be injured against the Northern Ireland but refused to be substituted and was then fit to face Belgium a matter of days later.

In said Belgium match he scored to get his country level and then showed guile and, that word, passion, to drag Wales over the line, much like he did in every other game.

Left-back: Raphael Guerreiro (Portugal)

Portugal may have had worries with regards to the left-hand side of their defence ahead of the Euros when Fabio Coentrao was ruled out with injury, but young prodigy Raphael Guerreiro stepped up to the plate and then some.

Like defensive partner Pepe, Guerreiro is not native Portuguese, ironically he was born in France, who Portugal beat in the final, and he looked at home throughout the tournament.

His numbers make for impressive reading: 17 clearances, 14 interceptions, 10 tackles won, eight chances created and one assist and one Young Player of the Tournament nomination for good measure.

Centre midfielder: Aaron Ramsey (Wales)

Prior to Euro 2016 Gareth Bale was often touted as the man that would make Wales tick if they were to make an impact, however it was Aaron Ramsey who really shone.

Ramsey registered the joint highest amount of assists at the Euros with a tally of four, with two of them coming in Wales’ huge win over Belgium to send them to their first ever semi-final.

The Arsenal midfielder was also vital in the 3-0 win over Russia which won Group B for Wales. He scored one goal and assisted another to earn a Man of the Match award.

It wasn't just Ramsey's peroxide blonde hair that stood out at Euro 2016 as his performances lit up the tournament

It wasn’t just Ramsey’s peroxide blonde hair that stood out at Euro 2016 as his performances lit up the tournament

Centre midfielder: Toni Kroos (Germany)

Toni Kroos was one of, if not the, best German performers two years ago as Die Mannschaft became the world champions and the midfield maestro was on top form again two years later.

Kroos bossed the show in Germany’s opening encounter against Ukraine, creating the most chances and notching an assist and he continued to dominate the midfield in every other match like he does all too often.

Bayern Munich must rue the day they let him go to Real Madrid for just £20 million.

Centre midfielder: Renato Sanches (Portugal)

Eyebrows were raised when Bayern Munich announced the signing of 18-year-old Renato Sanches for 35 million Euros but it seems like they have signed up a gem of a player.

Sanches won the Young Player of the Tournament at the Euros for a number of dazzling displays in the middle of the park for Portugal.

He really caught the eye though when he rifled in a sensational strike against Poland and it may go down as the moment he announced himself onto the European stage.

Right winger: Dmitri Payet (France)

Dmitri Payet got the Euros off to an electrifying start with a last-gasp winner against Romania with a thumping effort and carried on in the same vein as hosts France went all the way to the final.

Payet then sealed a 2-0 victory against Albania, scoring again in second-half stoppage time and almost broke the deadlock in the 0-0 draw against Switzerland despite only coming on as a second-half substitute.

The West Ham man was hugely influential in the 5-2 demolition of Iceland to boot and he ended his summer with three goals and two assists.


Striker: Antoine Griezmann (France)

It took Griezmann longer than expected to make a serious impact on Euro 2016, but once he found his scoring touch, it took something special to stop him.

Griezmann only managed one goal in his first three games in the Group Stages and it looked like the pre-tournament Golden Boot favourite would have a tournament to forget.

But then he netted two against the Republic of Ireland in the last 16, then he netted against Iceland and he soon had another brace vs Germany to send France to the final.

Left winger: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

At times the egotistical Cristiano Ronaldo was humbled by underwhelming performances, but when it mattered the big man stood up to the occasion.

Ronaldo netted a brace against Hungary when Portugal needed a result to qualify from their group, including one that almost won goal of the tournament, but his showing in the semi-final versus Wales was his best.

He powered in a header to give Portugal the lead shortly after the half-time break and three minutes later Nani turned in a shot of Ronaldo’s to make the result secure.