*cue long sigh*

It's been a long time coming, but I've made the sad (for me) decision to log off one final time and leave geek duties to Christof, Stu, Chris and Billy. While part of my decision is due to the constant guilt I feel for not contributing as often as I'd like, I've really decided that I want, and need, to spend every moment while not working, with my beautiful and ever supportive wife and my gorgeous little raspberry-blowing baby boy. While I say that it was a hard decision, it's actually a no-brainer.

I started this little venture as a way of expressing my love for all thing pop culture but it quickly turned into something else. That is to say, I had a hell of a lot of fun doing it and didn't realise that along the way we'd grown into a known entity in the Australian geek scene. In no way would I claim to be anything more than an idiot with a keyboard, but somehow I managed to build Geek of Oz into something at least vaguely reputable.

I was able to grow to a point where companies, and more importantly readers, knew of the site. To a point where I was seen to be a good option for presenting and hosting duties of the awesome Kapow! Comic Book Show, on Syfy's GoPop, the Sydney Premiere of Studio Ghibli's The Wind Rises and a fully booked Q&A with Yuko Miyamura of Neon Genesis Evangelion

I spent years growing this thing into something more than just geek news and more importantly, more than just me. While meeting some of my absolute idols and heavy hitters such as Neil Gaiman, Frost & Pegg, and JJ Abrams is mind-blowing, what I'm really walking away with are friendships. Friendships with creators, distributors, readers and my fellow contributors.

Speaking of which, I leave you in the more than capable hands of Stu, Christof, Billy and Chris who have some grand plans for this little website. Some grand plans that I'll certainly be following, just like you, the reader.

Thank you for reading and for being a constant source of motivation to create content and to improve. The greatest compliment and biggest buzz was to hear "Geek of Oz? Yeah, I know you guys!", of course preferably when coupled with a smile. I can still be found in the monthly Anime Round-Up in JB Hi-Fi's STACK magazine and probably in the anime section of my local DVD retailer. Again, thank you for reading, your likes, follows, comments and support. It means more to me than you'll ever realise.

Stay geeky.

Ryan Huff.



Check out the trailer for Hot Pursuit starring Reese 'I'm relevant again' Witherspoon and Sofia 'VAVAVOOM!' Vergara. The two are partnered up as an inept police officer (Witherspoon) must protect a drug dealer's widow (Vergara) from criminals and dirty cops. Looks a little silly, but could get a few chuckles.

- Stu

DISCLAIMER: You may notice this review has a significant slant towards positive aspects of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt without much mention of the bad bits. This is intentional; what few issues there were in the beta build I played were largely technical, and I feel it'd be unfair to overly criticise the game for these particular problems and crashes when it's still four months away from release. Truth is, the game really is that good as it is anyway.

Also, anyone who wishes to remain vestal about the game may find MINOR SPOILERS in this review.

_______________________________________________________________________________

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is good.

No, sorry. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is great.

Nope, wait, hold on, let me find the right marriage of adjectives...ok.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt may be the most splendiforously magnificent visual magnum opus in the history of any human artistic endeavour.

Actually, that's probably overdoing it.

Thanks to the good folks at CD PROJEKT RED and Bandai Namco, I was able to have a hands-on test drive of The Witcher 3 last Monday. To be perfectly honest with all of you, while waiting in the Bandai Namco offices I wasn't as excited as the plethora of my fellow critics at this beta testing were. I'd played a few hours of The Witcher 2 and found it lacking in the sort of revelatory, engrossing story and complex but exciting gameplay that the game's fans seemed to have encountered. I wasn't not looking forward toWitcher 3 but I wasn't jumping out of bed at 6am that morning and racing to the train station with the sort of speed I'd reserve for the afternoons when I hear the ice-cream truck coming down my street.

Four hours later, though, I was budgeting my May finances to allow for the purchase of the final product. Because dammit if Witcher 3 isn't bloody fantastic.

The plot follows the third (and, say the devs, final) set of adventures chronicling Geralt of Rivia - monster-killing, gravelly-voice albino exemplar - as he searches for his lost love

Yennefer. Along the way he deals with the usual problems a medieval-era monster hunter encounters, such as taking on insane packs of murderous fantasy creatures and undertaking more fetch quests than a UPS worker pulling an all-nighter. I couldn't tell you much more of the plot if I wanted to because I only played a small first portion of the game. Granted, that portion clocked in at nearly four hours on its own, continuing The Witcher's modus operandi of gameplay longevity for better or worse.

But, in my opinion, I'd say it's better. The Witcher 3 begins presenting itself as an accessible (at least, to those unfamiliar with previous instalments) game from the word go, and the depth and broad scope of its content is staggering. Forget Skyrim. Forget Dragon Age. This is the fantasy time-sink those of us without World of Warcraft subscriptions have been waiting for.

During my four hour stint in the gorgeously-rendered landscapes of Temeria, I did no less than the following:

- Took a quest to kill some water-dwelling humanoids (narrowly avoiding death by same)
- Won a horse race
- Got drunk in a tavern
- Hunted a bear (also narrowly avoiding death by same)
- Solved a murder, CSI-style
- Raided the wreck of a merchant ship
- Did battle with a pissed-off widowed male griffin (almost narrowly avoiding death by same)
- Aided in the coronation of a queen
- Surfed down a mountain, sans surf- or snowboard
- Unearthed a chest of buried treasure
- Duelled a city guard, and lost horribly
- Mind-controlled a drunk bandit before punching the living daylights out of his buddies
- For an encore, got mauled by a massive pack of wolves (decidedly not narrowly avoiding death by same)

From that snapshot alone, you can see how the game is loaded with content. When I mentioned I'd be playing this upon its release, one of the CD PROJEKT RED devs on hand suggested that I'd probably want to wait until I have a fortnight free before doing so. Maybe I should check how much sick leave I have stored up at work.

Part of what aids the accessibility of Witcher 3 is the story's neat, succinct insertion 
of us into Geralt's ongoing narrative without either copious expositional backstory or complete lack of same. From the opening, wordless cinematic to the brief inferences of narrative direction through dialogue options, the story feels both contained to this game and also following on from previous games. As someone who found the tortured opening of Witcher 2 in its jail cell full of awkward dialogue and assumed knowledge annoying, it's a relief that I can face Witcher 3 and believably enter its world without reading the backlog of plot beforehand.

The accessibility is also enhanced by simple (but not simplistic) controls for combat,
exploration, dialogue and horseriding. Combat is straightforward with nuances here and there - the return of magic Signs is welcome, and much easier to use here - while exploring the massive open world has a smooth,Skyrim-like quality to it. The opening tutorial is quick and to-the-point, and from what I hear it's highly recommended for old-hand Witchers due to some control changes.

As a fairly large cherry atop this sublime sundae of a game, the world is beautiful.

characters, backgrounds, enemies and terrain are all painstakingly rendered and realised with such marvellous depth and finesse that every hour of the four years spent making the game feels like it's on display. This is coupled with some of the best sound engineering I've heard in a game since Dark Souls; every footstep sounds unique, each voice sounds appropos, all the enemies sound horrifying. It's definitely an aural pleasure.

As I mentioned at the top, there were some issues largely related to game mechanics.
Geralt's turning circle on foot was a bit wide, much like John Marston's drunken swivels in 
Red Dead Redemption. The minimap doesn't display your horse when you've called it, making it even odds whether your mount is racing to your rescue during a bloody melee or simply standing near the water's edge grazing. I also experienced a few freezes and crashes, though one of the tech guys said it might've been a problem with the console itself rather than the beta build.

But as I also mentioned at the top, I'm not really focusing on these negative aspects too much. It's clear from the considerable time I spent with Witcher 3 that CD PROJEKT RED have put together a tight, sweeping epic of a game that just has a few wrinkles left to iron out. The devs themselves really brought across their passion for The Witcher 3 and gaming in general during my chats with them, and I definitely get the sense they made this primarily out of love rather than prospective unit sales. Believe me when I say the two month delay towards May will be worth it once these guys get what few bugs there are out of the kettle.

From my first impressions after four hours spent with it, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt looks like a serious contender for Top Games lists at the end of 2015. This one's worth the wait, friends.

Big thanks to the teams at both CD PROJEKT RED and Bandai Namco Games for letting me in on this beta test.

- Chris

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is due for release on May 19 2015, for PS4, Xbox One and PC.


Alright ladies and gentlemen, this is the big one, it’s GOLDENEYE time!

On Saturday the 31st of January, 2015, it’ll be your turn to slip into a tuxedo, polish up your Walther PPK and order a stiff martini. As you get ready ready for battle as Press Play will be hosting a multi-team GoldenEye tournament. The night will also feature music from a selection of popular DJ’s and live art from Heidi Abraham, as well as prizes for best dressed (Cosplay/Retro themed). There will also be gaming consoles for casual gamers to partake in

The night will be sponsored by Red Bull, Kwencher Beer, and The Gamesmen, which means that there will be FREE beverages for punters

PRESS PLAY is a retro themed night that combines various forms of live entertainment: Gaming, music, art and fashion into one jam packed night of excitement.

PRESS PLAY @ SPECTRUM

34 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, 2010, NSW
Date: 31st January, 2015
Ticket Price: General Admission: $10.00 (GST inc) - Presale & OTD tickets available
Times: 7:30 PM – 1:00 AM

Click here for tickets https://qbar.iwannaticket.com.au/

For anyone wanting to get a team in for the tournament email the fine folks at Press Play at pressplayau@gmail.com or hit them up on Facebook Shabba Events


- Stu


My personal stash for podcasts I highly recommend checking out.


1. Film Junk 

Film Junk is my gateway drug into the podcasting arena. And I’m forever grateful. I first stumbled across it about seven years ago and have never looked back. The show is an hilarious blend of film reviews and, at times, slightly-too-revealing but very amusing anecdotes of its hosts Sean, Jay and Frank. This is the perfect show to keep you up-to-date with movie news and possibly broaden your film-watching horizons.



2. MAMO

MAMO is a podcast about movies and popular culture hosted by Matt Brown and Matt Price. These two fine gentlemen sit atop the wall of pop culture nonsense like sentries in the night, and are a subtle blend of Statler and Waldorf, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and Colonel Jessup. Trust me folks, we want them on that wall, nay, we need them on that wall! For the princely sum of nothing, these two scalliwags will let you eavesdrop on their coffee shop chit chat about current cinema events. Guaranteed to bring a smile to your dial.


3. See You Next Wednesday

If you like your bitties itty and in a committee then, my friend, this is the podcast for you. Easily the funniest on this list and, to continue the narcotic metaphor, as addictive as crack. Join Dan, Casey and Greg as they digest the week that was in film news and music goings-on. This is the show where a single die roll decides the fate of the lads (well, at least the topic for discussion). The show consists of  several film reviews, an album review and plenty of other goodies for your listening pleasure.


4. Filmspotting

In this crowd, Filmspotting enters as the crusty Dean of the film school, but this is THE essential podcast for any cinephile that wants to listen to educated and insightful debates about recent releases. Hosts Adam Kempenaar and Josh Larson have an excellent chemistry and their arguments are sometimes more interesting than the very films which they are reviewing. I highly recommend Filmspotting to anyone who is looking to fill that void left by Margaret and David’s At the Movies television program.


5. The Dew Over

A newcomer in the podcasting world, but its making a hell of a splash. The show’s host Jamie Dew has assembled a ragtag bunch of bloggers and podcasting aficionados to go year by year, looking at the Academy Award winners for best film, to determine if the Academy was awarded justly or not. Perfect for the budding film historian who loves trawling through the archives to see if justice was served.



6 Rebel Force Radio

Simply put, Rebel Force Radio is your source for everything Star Wars. Hosts Jason Swank and Jimmy Mac are well entrenched on the Star Wars frontline, bringing you up-to-the-minute news. Their weekly show is chock full of interviews, insights and of course the weekly wisdom of Billy Dee Williams. This is the one-stop-shop for you Star Wars fans and what better time to jump on as we all begin the countdown to Episode 7? They also have a whole raft of spin off shows covering collectables, the music of John Williams (the oxygen of Star Wars), Star Wars: Rebels related shows and much, much more.

- Stu

If you feel like chiming in with your favourite podcast, feel free to drop a line below or come over to play on our Facebook page.


As the curtain comes down on 2014, Disney saves one of its best for last. Big Hero 6 is a gorgeously animated, action-packed superhero origins story with multi-generational appeal. Based upon a Marvel comic series by the same name, Big Hero 6 takes place in a futuristic city known as San Fransokyo, a merging of the geography and infrastructure of San Francisco with the other-worldly visual appeal of Tokyo.

Hiro (Ryan Potter) is a prodigious robot builder, who spends his time hustling for cash by entering his adorable (yet lethal) robots in illegal street fights, frequently bringing Hiro to the notice of the police. In an attempt to straighten Hiro out and unlock his true potential, his older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) introduces Hiro to his University colleagues. Tragedy strikes, however, and Hiro is forced to use his special skills in an entirely unforeseen manner and, with the help of a new friend named Baymax, rise up against a mysterious figure terrorising his city.

After their marvelous work with Frozen, Disney Animations take things to new and astonishing levels. While the character designs feel fresh and modern, the true standout is what they've accomplished in bringing San Fransokyo to life. The city is incredibly realised and utterly immersive, reframing the viewer as a wide-eyed tourist in a big new world. The attention to detail, even for split-second shots, is fantastic. I’m hoping that this is the start of a successful franchise, as I demand to see more of the city (you hear that Disney?!).

The seamless blending of Japanese and Western aesthetics flows nicely into the film’s overall handling of race themes, in that it doesn’t make a big deal about it. Most characters seem to be of mixed racial heritage, which the film treats without comment. It’s a great message for Disney to be sending out. Whilst this is film may appeal to younger boys, the film contains some really interesting female characters. They are tough, smart and independent heroes who don’t mind kicking butt. The film contains a great message for young girls: GoGo Tomago, voiced by Jamie Chung, is constantly telling her male counterparts to “woman up!” when she’s inspiring them to toughen up.

Just as Groot and Rocket stole the show in Guardians of the Galaxy earlier this year, I think everyone walking out of Big Hero 6 will only want one thing: their own Baymax. Baymax, voiced by Scott Adsit, is a robotic nurse who is bequeathed to Hiro early in the film and possibly the most loveable character you’ll have ever seen on screen. Despite being a machine, Baymax represents the heart and soul of the film and, I must warn you, he’ll make you laugh and cry in equal measure. This is the perfect film to take the family to over the holiday break, which will entertain both adults and kids alike. Please don’t let this one pass you by.

Feast

Big Hero 6 accompanied by an adorable short film titled Feast. I don’t want to spoil this little gem for you except to say it’s for fans of The Lady and the Tramp and those who were swept away by the first 10 minutes of Up.

If you see the film and agree or disagree with my review feel free to drop a line below or come over and kick us in the pants at our Facebook page.

- Stu



Well, it’s been a damn fine year for cinema, with standout films in almost every genre. Since the internet is in dire need of another top 10 list, I humbly present my best films of 2014. 

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this year’s cinema. Feel free to tell me your favourite films for the year in the comments below or come over to our Facebook page to shoot the breeze.

Bring on 2015.

- Stu





Honourable mentions