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Finished Cold Steel 3 last night and loved it!... here are some petty complaints and baseless gripes about the Trails series through CS3 [series spoilers]
With Cold Steel III fresh in my head 12 hours after beating it, I wanted to jot down some things that stood out about the game beyond the good stuff that most people agree on--i.e. the stellar gameplay, voice acting, scope of each chapter compared to predecessor games, music tracks and the way plot threads from earlier in the series are further developed and expanded on. Here's my list:
What Stood Out
Patrick apologizing to Gaius for the racist comment he made all the way back in Cold Steel. I liked his development from an insufferable teenager to someone who's more humble and, like a lot of people, embarrassed of the way they were in high school.
Toval's new nickname: Zero Artisan Randonneur. I remember seeing screenshots on this subreddit a few weeks ago of that scene from the top of the Pantagruel in Cold Steel II where the villains are listing off the titles of their opponents: "look, it's The Radiant Blademaster, Sylphid, Purple Lightning... and the guy who's good with Arts!" It would've been funny if they kept that up here. Despite his title, I don't really ascribe a lot of hype of Toval in my head despite what the game wants me to believe. I think it's his chill personality: it's not anime-chill like McBurn lounging on a couch in the Pantagruel while aloofly answering Rean's questions in Cold Steel II, but the kind of chill that seems relatable.
The Courageous getting blown up. The Courageous flies in, everyone on the battlefield is rejoicing that the cavalry has arrived, and within minutes of arriving it's blown up--the whole thing made me laugh because of how pointless the intervention was. And then Alfin faints for the second time in 24 hours. In addition, the villain's side has enough powerhouses that I don't think Toval would really turn the tide, but that's my anti-Toval bias showing.
Rean and the rest of the original Class VII finally having a decent showing against the power players. We don't have any "Bleublanc's mask shattering" moments like in Trails SC, but I enjoyed watching strong villains recognize Class VII as threats before or after various battles in the story. I was one of the people who was annoyed by all the victories in the Infernal Castle in Cold Steel II being undercut by Class VII having to be bailed out, so this was a nice change of pace.
Four vs. four battles. I know storyline-wise, this was actually 7+ people vs. 4 in the few instances I saw this happen, (battle vs. Arianrhod and Stahlritter, battle vs. Intelligence Division, battle vs... misfits from the evil group), but damn I've been waiting since Trails the 3rd for the strong people to actually fight as a party instead of summoning some robots to help out or fighting a large group in pairs. Falcom, please make more of this, and make them all as hard as they would be if fought individually.
Lechter winning big at the casino inZerowas explained, and the explanation surprised me. I didn't think too deeply into this at the time, especially because Lechter came off as a real anime-cool character, and these types usually have good luck. To have this explained as a form of precognition was a little surprising. I still don't think Lechter is particularly well done as a character but good job Falcom.
NISA's resolution to the Tio English voice-actor problem. The problem itself is one that I'm sure those of us who played through the series in JP release order anticipated. Altina, who superficially resembles Tio personality, appearance and character-wise, had an English VA in Cold Steel II who sounded a lot like what we thought Tio would sound like when rendered in English. That led to the irl version of the in-universe "Crossbell Problem" - how were they going to voice Tio in this game? I'm pleased to say that although Tio's voice sounds a little nasally/breathey, it kinda sounded like what I'd expect her voice to sound given that an Altina soundalike was off-limits. I could not have done a better job, so great work NISA casting director.
Most of these are specific to Cold Steel III but can be applied to the rest of the series as well if I had more time to think about it.
Women spend a lot of time extolling, fawning over, or staking their claim on Rean. I first noticed this in Chapter 2, when a lot of the opening scenes, taking place in different parts of the Empire, involve different women talking about how they miss Rean, how attractive he is, etc. I thought Aurelia Le Guin would be immune to this, but then there's a scene later in the game where she interrupts a group of girls talking about Rean in the bath and advises them on how to win his heart. This is way too much wish fulfillment and crosses into ridiculous and corny territory.
Women are just not super well-done. I was playing through Chapter 3 with my roommate watching and doing his own thing and we were laughing at the baseline anime nonsense in the game: cleavage, short skirts, exaggerated sighs when resting at an inn/taking a shower, 95% of Musse's dialogue, etc. Then Sara recounts her sad backstory which we've seen or heard some variation of in other work (and probably earlier in the Trails series) and has her boobs out the whole time. Then this heavy conversation is punctuated by her kissing Rean and saying she's coming around the idea of being involved with younger men. What. Then, a few minutes later, Claire recounters her also sad-but-familiar backstory and the conversation ends with "'you remind me of my brother....' (kisses Rean on the cheek.) '... but after tonight, I won’t think of you as my brother anymore.'" Come ON. Late in the Chapter, Arianrhod takes off her helmet and among the first reactions from the crowd of onlookers is "she's beautiful," which I noticed comes up a lot when important women are introduced, including Alicia earlier in the game--there's always some comment about their attractiveness or physical appearance? Why? McBurn is objectively an attractive dude but no one comments on how hot he is unless it's in the context of the mesothelioma they contracted from him.
The "haha, wink-wink, nudge-nudge" of pairing older men with younger women/girls. Tita is like what, 16? And Agate is in his mid-to-late 20s in Cold Steel III and it's been clear since Trails SC/the Third that they're being set up romantically. And then depending on the choices you make, Lloyd and Tita's bonding event basically ends with "when you're older, then maybe..." And now they're pushing Jusis and Millium. Ew.
Lack of agency in individual games. This has been covered over and over in the context of Cold Steel discussions, especially the way you don't really get a clean victory over any big bad in Cold Steel II without it being undermined in some way, and especially the way that most Enforcer battles end with a "haha, this was planned from the start anyway." I won't retread that stuff much, except to say that when the final battles had Osborne and Alberich funneling the party into an arena with the dragon they needed dead to execute their plan, I knew Rean and co. were going to cause the end of the world. I know the game tries to get around this by saying "OK, let's restrain the dragon now" once the dragon is down and then Rean loses control of himself and kills the dragon anyway, but come on... why not swing your sword at that dick royal Cedric instead?? Cut off the dragon's arms and legs and let it contemplate its crimes. This really challenged my suspension of disbelief because I can say with some certainty that if I was overcome by an overwhelming demon power I'd target the dick royal over a dragon.
Lack of agency in the world. In the context of the continent of Zemuria it really sucks when even the big things that you achieve, like the Liber Ark resolution, or the rescue of KeA from the Azure Tree, etc. get undercut at the end by stingers revealing that this was part of a larger chess game between world movers like the Grandmaster, Ein Selnate, Giliath Osborne, etc. and played out mostly as they intended. Come on, y'all do such a great job of worldbuilding somewhat familiar political structures and relationships between nations--why fall into the trap of ascribing the history of this world to the actions of a handful of "great" individuals? This somewhat relates to my next point:
A lot of the horrible things that happened in the series stem from an evil curse, and not the follies of humankind. This undermined a lot of the backstory of the series and made me annoyed. False flag attacks like Hamel and a lot of the “evil” stuff ascribed to the curse of Erebonia happen in real life and have have rational causes. Like yeah two brothers fighting over a company, and one arranging to have the other offed in a car accident is not out of the realm of possible for humans in our world. That Osborne is following a plot laid out by the Black Records is equally ridiculous. The impression I had for most of the first two games is that he was a master of realpolitik and was pursuing the ends of realpolitik: amassing power for himself, and power for Erebonia, and projecting power as a deterrent for Calvard. But it all goes back to a plan that’s been written for centuries. Even Ash's assassination attempt couldn't just fall under bog-standard regicide that happened because he was pissed at the King for being aware of and participating in the cover up of the Hamel incident... there had to be some weird eye thing and evil fog coming over him. It cheapens some of the real politics/actions taken in the context of those politics when it all goes back to magical prophecies.
"However, were it possible to reforge [the Great One's] scattered pieces into an even stronger being, I could use it to drown the world in conflict, the endless struggles leading humanity to even greater heights." For a series that lays out its themes explicitly in each game and then reiterates those themes over and over the theme that conflict makes humanity better had little to no explicit buildup that I can recall. I mean, I suppose the theme can be gleaned through the subtext of all the battles that are had just to get a better understanding of the opponent's motivations, like with Rean vs. Azure Siegfried, or self-improvement, like with Rean's training bouts vs. Aurelia.. but Trails isn't a series that has people infer, it puts its themes front and center... so I don't know.
(cont'd from previous) did Osborne's allies know this was his goal? Like, Claire would go along with this crazy-ass goal because of the debt she feels she owes, but why would Millium go along with miring the world in endless conflict? Was it just me or did Lechter look surprised after Osborne revealed this at the end? Clearly Ouroboros sans Stahlritter grunts and most of the other Divine Knight pilots knew this was the goal, but I'm scratching my head at the more "gray" of the bad guys going along with this.
Parts of the structures of these games borrow a lot from earlier games. As soon as I got on the Pantagruel in Cold Steel II I thought of the abduction to the Glorious in Trails SC, and there wasn't a lot done differently here--including the confrontation between the heavy hitters of both groups on the deck--that made me think this was a decent setpiece. Cold Steel III borrows from Trails SC with each region involving Enforcer(s) from Ouroboros enacting some evil scheme involving the region. And who can forget scaling a tower and fighting a lieutenant or lieutenants of the big bad at various checkpoints? It showed up in SC, Azure, Cold Steel II and now Cold Steel III. This game continued a new tradition established in Cold Steel II: the fake final dungeon. It's a dungeon that feels a lot like the final dungeon and has an epic battle against a final boss-like opponent, but oops that wasn't actually the final dungeon. I guess I don't mind it too much but it's funny to see how much is reused between games. Last thing I'll say about this is that Dudley from Zero/Azure is totally Michael from Cold Steel III.
War criminals get way too many passes. From Colonel Richard being allowed to open his own intelligence agency after his first one led to a coup, to Arios playing house with Lloyd, Kea and Shizuku after what he did to Crossbell, to Jusis's dad somehow not being executed for everything he did, to Vita staying in the well-wishes of all of Class VII after spending weeks taunting them, generally being a dick, and embroiling Heimdallr in magical shenanigans that almost destroyed the city, Crow being beloved by all of Class VII... this series loves rehabilitating its war criminals. Now Mariabell is still at large but I love how the Azure had to give her a glimmer of potential future redemption by her revealing that she deliberately wounded Grimwood in such a way that he could be saved, and "don't be too pissed at my dad, he's not too bad of a guy" before teleporting out.
Doctors, especially the mild-mannered kind, are shady individuals. So the "amoral scientist" embodied by G. Schmidt and F. Novartis is a well-worn cliché in fiction, but the series features so many mild-mannered researchers/doctors who end up being evil. There's Professor Alba from Trails FC, Dr. Guenter from Zero, and now Professor Lughman from Cold Steel III--shout out to G from Cold Steel, who was the most "gray" of all of the unintimidating professors who end up becoming villains so far. In the case of Guenter, Estelle and Joshua make a point of reiterating how much of a budget version of Weissman he is, which--while true--is a weird way to undercut the magnitude of the SSS's achievement in stopping him. Like, yay... I beat a lamer version of an earlier villain and even the game is rubbing that in. How many times will Falcom draw from the evil professor well?
The existence of monarchs and royalty isn't really questioned. The closest we get to this is the concept of the nobility being interrogated in the Cold Steel games, but the interrogation never goes a step further to question why the institution of the royal family who established and presided over all of these nobles shouldn't be abolished entirely, especially given how passive Eugent is to Osborne. Even back in Trails FC, Duke Dunan provided the greatest argument for abolishing the monarchy but no, he gets rehabilitated by the time of Trails SC and people continue to love their monarchs without question. At least Ash attempts regicide, but it's only because Eugent isn't even sure Osborne is still mortal, lol.
These are basically things I hope don't happen in the next game or later in the series:
What if... Osborne... good? I am going to be super annoyed if Cold Steel IV reveals that this guy had good intentions all along and gives him a redemption moment. I'm already pre-emptively annoyed because given the games' track record, I can see this happening. What would make such a turn funny is that the dude has a clearly villainous voice--a bombastic voice that doesn't really change whether he's giving a speech, having a private one on one conversation, or talking into the speaker at the Morges' drive-thru, and always sounds like it's concealing some hidden agenda. He's clearly a villain. And yet the voice director for the English version had him put on this same bombastic voice in those flashbacks when he was praying to Aidios to let his son live. I did not take this seriously and now I'm imagining him putting on this same voice while trying to convey regret and kindness in a potential future "I was a good guy all along" reveal.
Ok ok..... WHAT IF.... OUROBOROS GOOD??? I am going to be even more annoyed if future games in this series reveal that Ouroboros was operating for the greater good the whole time. Like he's a B.S. example I made up: Ouroboros saw that dragon veins were being drained far to the east due to Zemurian nations over-mining and over-processing sepith--the life energy of the planet--for orbments, and they wanted to stop the ecological catastrophe that currently threatens to consume the world if this goes unchecked (see: mass immigration to Calvard to escape barren land.) Ouroboros' goal is to gather the original Sept-Terrions to recalibrate the dragon veins--that means they were the good guys all along. What this doesn't explain is why the individual Enforcers and Anguis acted like aggressive, belligerent, evil dicks to the people who clearly had their hearts in the right place by protecting the cities, villages etc. being caught in the crosshairs of their plan. I know the game explains some dickish behavior by saying Enforcers are chosen because of darkness in their hearts, but I'm also thinking of Vita taunting and being a dick to Class VII from the time of Osborne's assassination through their adventures in the a spirit shrines, only for them to really be worried about where she is a week later after the final battle. At least most of the Anguis agreed that Weissman was a bigger dick than any of them. But yeah I hate that trope of "even though we acted evil and antagonistically, and we did nothing to endear ourselves while we taunted you and wasted your time with our games and tests, we were the good guys all along, what a twist!!" and I will be annoyed if the series does this with Ouroboros.
Boston 10 Day Trip Report: A Total Immersion Travel Experience in New England's Flagship City
I went to Boston for the first time in a few years and got the chance to visit family and friends. I spent 10 days in the area and got the chance to immerse myself in the city. Weekend 1 Pics: https://www.flickr.com/gp/[email protected]/5n5HDu Monday Pics: https://www.flickr.com/gp/[email protected]/yzKR35 Tuesday Pics: https://www.flickr.com/gp/[email protected]/44E7x2 Wednesday Pics: https://www.flickr.com/gp/[email protected]/2rwX3x Thursday Pics: https://www.flickr.com/gp/[email protected]/Lq59F0 Friday Pics: https://www.flickr.com/gp/[email protected]/5BR296 Weekend 2 Pics: https://www.flickr.com/gp/[email protected]/99Zx6i Boston is a coastal flagship city which is one of the oldest cities in the country. The history carries on to this day and as the 10th largest metropolitan area in the country it leads the nation (and world) in education, healthcare, public transportation, and athletics. There is a distinct culture around the city, a substantial depth of fine arts and a defining resilience that makes Boston unique. While the area is very populated it does feel extremely close knit, there is no wonder why it is called ‘The Town.’ When I visit places I like to do what I call a ‘total immersion,’ where I become a local as best as possible and see and do things from all walks of life. I experienced delays on the T, crazy drivers on the Mass Pike, experienced the opening of the Ballet and felt the energy of an evening game at Fenway. I climbed up many hills from Savin Hill, Bunker Hill, Telegraph Hill, Prospect Hill, Corey Hill and many others. I went to farmers markets, grocery stores and local neighborhood eats. I visited libraries, parks and countless universities. I took a variety of transit trips on foot, bike, bus, ferry and rail. I took in the skyline from all angles near and far, from the seaport to South Boston and beyond to the Noanet Woodlands. I did my best to get a clear picture of all facets of life in Beantown. In the 3 days I had a BlueBike I rode 92 miles utilizing 36 stations. I rode on all 5 major T lines: Blue, Green (B,C,D,E) Orange, Red (Ashmont, Braintree), Silver (SL4) and utilized 30 stations. I visited 41 different parks, from small urban gardens to large forests with lush views. Boston is a city that feels extremely vibrant and academic but at the same time it can be quite blue collar, it just depends on where you go. From the youthful energy of Cambridge to the more mature and laid back Brookline, from the ritzy Back Bay to the gritty winding streets of Roxbury... Boston carries on with confidence, for this is Titletown a city core to the formation of our country. This is where our founding fathers made history, this is where English civilization came to fruition in North America. I had an incredible time in Boston, it is a truly wonderful city and up there with the finest in the world. It is a large, open and welcoming community with a small town at heart. Thank you Boston for the great experiences I will always have the city on my mind. Raves -Tons of vibrancy in the core city, lots of pedestrians and cyclists -Universites -Hospitals and medical institutions -Parks with great views and variety of landscapes -Arts institutions, public libraries -BlueBike system, tons of stations with bikes in good condition and $10 day pass -Fenway park, an absolute treasure and finest ballpark in baseball with the best ushers and staff -Cheap and convenient public transit system, week unlimited pass is a deal -Tons of history throughout the city and surrounding areas Rants -Vibrancy goes down significantly after hours, not much open at night past 9pm -Massholes -Old and slow trolley and subway system -Road network makes no sense whatsoever Blue Bike Stations Used: 30 Dane St Alewife MBTA at Steel Place Ball Sq Beacon Street & David G Mugar Way Beacon Street & Massachusetts Avenue Broadway T Stop Cambridge Main Library at Broadway / Trowbridge St Central Square Post Office Bluebikes Stations Centre Street & Seaverns Avenue Chinatown T Stop Columbia Rd at Tierney Community Center Dartmouth Street & Boylston Street Franklin Park - Seaver St. at Humbolt Ave Green Street T Bluebikes Station Harrison Avenue & Bennet Street Harvard Square at Mass Ave/ Dunster Hayes Square - Vine St at Moulton St Hyde Square - Barbara St at Centre St ID Building East ID Building West Ink Block - Harrison Ave at Herald St Jackson Square Bluebikes Station JFK/UMass T Stop Kennedy-Longfellow School 158 Spring St Main St at Thompson Sq MIT at Mass Ave / Amherst St One Broadway Roslindale Village - Washington St S Huntington Ave at Heath St Savin Hill T Stop - S Sydney St at Bay St Stony Brook T Stop Stuart St at Charles St Union Square - Somerville University of Massachusetts Boston - Campus Center Upham's Corner T Stop - Magnolia St at Dudley St Wentworth Institute of Technology - Huntington Ave at Vancouver St MBTA Stations Utilized: Airport Alewife Aquarium Back Bay Station Boston Univ. East Broadway Chestnut HIll Chinatown Cleveland Circle Copley Downtown Crossing Dudley Square Government Center Green Street Harvard Harvard Avenue Haymarket Station Jackson Square JFK / UMass Kenmore Longwood Massachusetts Ave Museum of Fine Arts North Station Quincy Center Ruggles Stony Brook Summit Avenue Symphony Station Wellington Eateries: Bazaar on Cambridge City Feed and Supply Courthouse Seafood Dunkin (original location) Exodus Bagels Faneuil Hall Marketplace Finagle A Bagel Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe J.P. Licks (original location) Joe’s Famous Steak Subs JP Whole Foods Market Kupel’s Bakery Market Basket South End Whole Foods Market Sweet Rice JP Thai Sushi Tasty Burger (original location) Trader Joe’s Back Bay Trillium Brewing Company Parks: Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge Back Bay Fens Berkeley Community Garden Blackstone Square Boston Common Boston National HIstorical Park Boston Public Garden Bunker HIll Monument Castle Island Channel Park Chester Park Copley Square Corey HIll Overlook Park Dorchester Heights Dorchester Shores Reservation East Boston Greenway Fan Pier Park Forest Hills Cemetery Franklin Park Franklin Square Harriet Tubman Memorial Jamaica Pond Larz Anderson Park LoPresti Park Louisburg Square M Street Beach Malibu Beach Millennium Park Noanet Woodlands North Point Park Olmsted Park Paul Revere Park Peters Park Prospect Hill Park Reservoir Walking Trail (Weston Reservoir) Riverbend Park Savin HIll Park Seven Hills Park Thomas J Butler Memorial Park Titus Sparrow Park Attractions: Boston City Hall Boston College Boston Opera House Boston Public Library Boston Symphony Hall Boston University Bridge Cambridge Public Library Chinatown Gate Coolidge Corner Farmers Market Copley Place Copp’s Hill Burying Ground Drydock Center Dugout Cafe Encore Boston Harbor Fenway Park Gillette World Shaving Headquarters Hancock Cemetery Harvard Bridge Harvard Business School Harvard Stadium Harvard Yard Honan-Allston Branch of the Boston Public Library John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site John W. Weeks Footbridge Long Wharf (South) Longwood Medical and Academic Area Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts State House Medford Square Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Northeastern University Paul Revere Statue Samuel Adams Boston Brewery Seaport World Trade Center Shirley-Eustis House Skywalk Obervatory Sowa OPen Market The James Blake House 1661 The Old House at Peace Field- Adams National Historical Park Thomas Crane Public Library Tuft University Detail Notes: Thursday -Fly from Cincinnati CVG to Boston Logan while making a connecting flight stop in DCA -Arrive at Logan in terminal B, I love the new terminal with large glass windows with the view of downtown -My family picks me up and we immediately head to East Boston -We walk around East Boston and check out the skyline views from LoPresti Park -There is a lot of new development in the neighborhood, it feels like Boston’s version of Long Island City -Walk back to the car and go by the East Boston Greenway -We drive under the tunnel into downtown and then drive to the Seaport and park on A St. -Grab beers at Trillium Brewing Company from the outdoor patio -Then we go for a walk first around Fan Pier Park and then cross the Fort Point Channel into downtown -Walk to Faneuil Hall Marketplace and get dinner, I get a platter from the Indian vendor, I love that there is a Magnolia Bakery vendor which I remember getting the banana pudding at the Upper West Side location in NYC -Drive out to Natick to stay in Hotel Friday -Go out with family to Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge -Walk around the beautiful Puffer Pond -Walk on the trails and see some of the ammunition storage bunkers Saturday -Go to Bat-Mitzvah with family Sunday -Spend more time with family, go to relatives house in Jamaica Plain where I would stay for the week -Go for a run around the Weston Reservoir -Go out to the JP Licks on Centre St. -Walk to the Jamaica Pond at night Monday -Wake up and go to the Centre St/Seaverns Ave Blue Bike station and pick up a bike -Ride bike to Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and bike up to the top of Peters Hill and catch the great view -Bike down through Roslindale Village then to the Forest Hill station, I love all of the bike/walk trails and bike parking -I then enter the SW Corridor Park and bike up to the Jackson Square station -There are tons of other bike commuters making for an enjoyable ride with other fellow people on the trails -I go to the Stop & Shop to get some chewy bars -I continue biking down past the JP Whole Foods and make my way to Jamaica Pond where I bike around the Pond counter-clockwise -A person lets me know I cannot bike on the path in the SW portion of the park so I head for the road on Francis Parkman Dr. and feel very uncomfortable with all of the cars, but once I get to Perkins St. I go back to the trail -I then make my way up the Emerald Necklace, passing through Olmstead Park -I go by Longwood Medical area, the MFA and the Back Bay Fens -I make it to the Massachusetts Ave and take in the views of Cambridge and the Boston skyline -I bike down through the Back Bay and to the Boston Public Library -Inside former governor Bill Weld is doing an interview with WGBH and I sit in for a few minutes -I then walk around and check out the Norman Leventhal map room which I love -I then check out the various rooms in the old section of the library including the main reading room, which is beautiful and not too crowded or swarmed with tourists (unlike the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in NYC public library) -Bike over to the Boston Public Garden and check out the landscaping -Then walk through Beacon Hill, I love the historic streets and architecture -Check out Louisburg Square, which feels like a small version of Gramercy Park -Walk to the Massachusetts Statehouse and go inside -Check out the House of Representative Chamber and Senate Chamber -I talk with one of the guards (who has a very strong Boston accent) who tells me I should visit the Governor's Foyer and tells me to look for Bill Weld’s portrait which is different from all the others, so I go and visit and it is very different! -I leave the statehouse and go to the Granary Burying Ground, it is amazing to see such and old Cemetery and I check out the graves of John Hancock and Paul Revere -Walk to Downtown Crossing (DTX) and I am very impressed by the pedestrian only streets and vibrancy -I get noodles with a lamb skewer at Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe which is very good -I then walk through Chinatown by the Chinatown Gate and love seeing all of the elderly people playing card games at Mary Soo Hoo Park -I bike over through the seaport to the Seaport World Trade Center and catch the amazing views -Continue to bike over to the Reebok World Headquarters and checkout the store/crossfit studio -I bike around the drydocks, I really like the AT-AT looking cranes -I then bike over Summer St. and then to 1st street to Thomas J Butler Memorial Park and then make my way to Castle Island -I dismount my bike (not suppose to bike along the paths on Castle Island) and walk around the Fort Independence and check out the views of planes landing at Logan, I do see quite a few large jets landing from overseas -I walk around Pleasure Bay to Head Island and then get back on my bike after going to the Harbourwalk -I bike along M Street Beach and then make my way up to Dorchester Heights up on Telegraph Hill. This area has great views of downtown and feels somewhat like San Francisco -I bike back over Traveler St. through Channel Park and then go to the Chinatown Orange Line and Ride to Stony Brook -I then bike over to Franklin Park where I check out White Stadium as there is a high school soccer game going on -Then bike around the park stopping by the gates of the Zoo and then the Franklin Park Overlook Ruins -Then I go back where I am staying in JP and go for a run...making a loop from the Pond to the SW Corridor Park then down to Forrest Hills then back up to the Pond Tuesday -Walk to Green street and take Orange Line to DTX...then transfer to Red Line, it is very crowded on the platford at the crossing -Ride North on Red Line crossing the Charles River and to Alewife -Station feels very Eurpean as there are lots of buses and bike parking -Bike along Somerville Community Path to Davis station -Bike north to Medford and check out Tufts University Campus, I love the buildings and greenery -Bike north across the Mystic River and then to Medford Square -Continue biking south to Magoun Square, checking out the very residential streets of Somerville -Go to Market Basket to get some more chewy bars and get a sports drink -Bike down to Harvard -Check out the Harvard campus, I first start on the east side of campus and then make my way to the Harvard Yard and Harvard Square -Bike over to the Cambridge Public Library for a quick phone charge -Bike over through Inman Square and Union Square -Bike up to Prospect Hill Park and check out the views of downtown Boston -Bike through the Central Redline stop and bike over to the west side of the MIT campus to BU bridge -Bike across BU bridge and check out all of the students crossing the street during class changes on Commonwealth Ave -Bike back across the bridge taking in the view and then bike along the river on the Dr. Dudley White Bike Path -When I get to Massachusetts Ave I walk around campus (I get a tour guide map) and check out some of the cool buildings such as Kresge Auditorium and the great dome. The MIT campus is much more visitor friendly than Harvard, you can really go in a lot more buildings -Then I bike over to check out the Kendall Square area and check out MIT Sloan -I make my way up to East Cambridge and have a salmon platter at Courthouse Seafood -I then bike down through North Point Park and Paul Revere Park to Charlestown -I check out the Boston National Historical Park on the water and then make my way into Charlestown -I like Charlestown is does have a similar feeling to South Boston and is surprisingly nicer than I thought it would be and lots of very nice looking housing -I make my way to the Bunker Hill Monument -Then I run down to catch the ferry (which is included with 7-day MBTA pass) at the Charlestown Navy Yard Ferry Terminal -Take 7 minute Ferry ride to the Aquarium Terminal and get great views of the harbour and downtown -I take the Blue Line from the Aquarium to Government Center -Then I take the D train Green Line to Kenmore -Get off at Kenmore and walk to Fenway Park, I walk around the park before the gates open and get in line -Go inside the park (get Bathan Eovaldi bobblehead giveaway) then check out the team store -Inside awesome teamstore, I go to the back room where there is memorabilia and get an autograph from Julian Tavarez -I walk into the stadium and I walk right down to home plate, then over to left field and onto the Green Monster, then on the upper deck around to right field, then down to the bleachers then back behind home plate. I love how you are allowed to go nearly everywhere in the park before the game starts (as opposed to Wrigley Field or Yankee Stadium). The ushers are so friendly and really go out of their way to make a great experience. -Go to 5th row in Grandstand section 19 to watch the game which is a great view -See a lot of Red Sox Legends in the Park (Pedro Martinez and Carlton Fisk) -See Mike Yastrzemski hit a home run and the crowd gives a standing ovation -Leave game and head to Tasty Burger -Walk across the Fens and see a movie being filmed at the MFA coming to Netflix called ‘The Sleepover’ -Catch 39 Bus back to accommodation Wednesday -Wake up and bike over to Exodus Bagels, I get a plain with cream cheese -Bike through Roxbury, go by Boston Latin Academy and up through Dudley Square -Check out the Shirley-Eustis House -Bike to Upham’s Corner and check out the Dorchester North Burying Ground. I love all of the street art murals in Roxbury and Dorchester, while these are some of the poorer neighborhoods in the city, they still are not that down looking and have a good community feel -Check out the James Blake House (built in 1661!) -Bike to the JFK/UMass Red Line stop and head south to Quincy Center -Check out downtown Quincy and visit Hancock Cemetery which is very cool (set apart in 1640!) -Walk up to check out the Adams National Park Visitor Center and then the The Old House at Peace Field, then I walk to the Quincy Homestead -Walk through Faxon Field and then go to the Original Dunkin Donuts on Southern Artery and get a 10 pcs munchkins (and immediately eat all of them) -Walk back downtown and check out inside Thomas Crane Public Library -Take Red Line back to JFK/UMass and bike along Dorchester Shores Reservation -Bike around JFK Presidential Library and then check out the UMass Boston Campus, I take a break in the beautiful cafeteria overlooking the water and charge my phone and rest for a few minutes -I then bike down around Savin Hill Cove past the Vietnam War Memorial and over to Malibu Beach -Then I bike up to the top of Savin Hill but the view is disappointing as there really isn’t a view -I then take the Red Line from Savin Hill to Broadway and check out the Gillette HQ complex and take in the views from the city -I bike to the South End Whole Foods and get a turkey sandwich -I then go to Emerson and check out the buildings there and eat my turkey sandwich and then walk through the North End -I check out the Paul Revere Statue, Old North Church and Copp’s Hill Burial Ground -Go to North Station and catch the Green E line to the MFA -Check out the MFA which is very very impressive, my favorite section is the American landscape paintings. I also see some work done by Frank Duveneck who is from where I live in Covington, KY (right across the bridge from Cincinnati) -Bike over to meet a friend at Harvard, to get there I bike through Longwood and catch the stunning sunset John W. Weeks Footbridge -Take Red Line from Harvard Square to DTX then take Orange line to Jackson Square -Bike to the JP Whole foods and get 2 cans of beans to eat -Bike back to accommodation, eat beans and go to sleep Thursday -Wake up and take Orange Line to Wellington, there is a Dunkin in the stop and there are many locals waiting to get their fix -Take the Encore shuttle to the Encore Casino (originally I got on the employee shuttle) -Walk through the Casino and grounds, the physical plant is amazing and there are some nice views of the Mystic but overall I am not that impressed as the shopping is not that high end and the minimums are high for the table games -I take the shuttle back to Wellington and then take Orange Line to Back Bay Station then I take the Green B line from Copley Square to Harvard Ave -I then walk to Bazaar on Cambridge and get ½ pound of lox and a loaf of dark brown sourdough rye 'Borodinsky bread.' -I eat outside at a local park right next to the Honan-Allston Branch of the Boston Public Library and then check out the library inside -I then walk over to Harvard Stadium and check it out and the Harvard Business School and check out the campus and meet with a friend there briefly -I catch the 66 bus back down to Harvard Ave into Brookline where I grab a bagel at Kupel's Bakery walk around and check out the JFK National Historic Site -Then make my way down to Coolidge Corner and then check out the Brookline Farmers Market -Then walk on Beacon Street and up Summit Ave to Corey Hill Overlook Park which the views are ok but then walk back down and catch the Green Line C train -Get off at the end of the C train at Cleveland Circle and walk around Chestnut Hill Reservoir from the north side -I then walk through Boston College Football stadium and the campus, which is very beautiful -I then walk down Hammond St. to the Chestnut HIll D train and take it to Longwood station -I walk through Longwood at all of the world class medical schools and institutions and walk by Boston Latin School -I then walk through Northeastern campus and go to Ruggles station and catch a brand new Orange Line train which I take to Chinatown -I then walk though the Boston Common and grab a Mcdonalds burgefries/McChicken and eat on a bench in the common and do some people watching -Then I go to the Boston Opera House to see the premiere the 2019-2020 Boston Ballet which is a performance of Giselle which I love -After the show then check out the new downtown Taco Bell but it is a complete mess so I just take an Uber back Friday -Wake up and go to Green St. Orange Line, there is a brand new train but it is going outbound to Forrest Hills so I take an old train to Massachusetts Ave station and walk through the SW Corridor Park. I love the juxtaposition of the historic walk ups to the towering skyscrapers -I make my way to Harriet Tubman Square, Chester Park, Franklin Square and Jackson Square -I walk through the Berklee Community Garden -I then walk up to check out the Boston Marathon Bombing Memorial Finish Line and get a bagel w/cream cheese at Finagleabagel -Then I meet some friends and walk through the Copley Place shops and then go up to the Skydeck on the top of the Prudential Building -The views are great but I do not think worth the $20+ price of admission. Its is cool though to see all of the places I have been from a birds eye view, especially the water and all of the rowhouse neighborhoods -Then take Prudential Green Line to Haymarket and check out the farmers market -I then head to City Hall Plaza and take in the Boston Climate Strike -Next I take Green Line E train from Government Center to Symphony Hall and go inside -I see performance of the Boston Symphony I get a seat on the first balcony to have a view of the two piano concerto. There is also a world premiere piece commissioned by the BSO and Beethoven's Fantasia featuring The Tanglewood Festival Chorus. -After the Symphony I take the Orange Line to Stoney Brook and get some bagels from City Feed -In evening head to Millenium Park and go for a run, take trail down to the Charles River and then take in the sunset from atop the skyline loop -Go out to dinner at Sweet Rice in JP Saturday -I go for a morning run, I first cross the Emerald Necklace into Brookline to check out Larz Anderson Park. Then I go through the Arboretum and the Bussey Brook Meadow to the Forest Hills Cemetery. I visit the burial places of Revolutionary War General Joseph Warren, Poet E.E. Cummings, Abolitionist William Llyod Garrison and Nobel Laureate Playwright Eugene O'Neil. -Then I go to the Sam Adams Brewery and go for a toutasting where I try the Boston Lager, Oktoberfest, and Pumpkin Ale -Then take 39 bus to the Back Bay and walk down Newbury St and check out all of the shops -Get a burrito at the Back Bay Trader Joes and then walk to the Boston Common where the ‘Freedom Fest’ is taking place, there is a lot of smoke which I cannot handle so I walk around -I check out the ‘Friends’ couch set and then take the Silver Line from Tuft Medical Center to Dudley Square -I get a shredded beef sandwich at Joe’s which is really big just what I needed -Then I take the 28 bus to the orange line back to JP -At night I take 39 bus to Copley and take Green Line B train to Boston University East and I go see the Mendoza Line Comedy show at the Dugout Cafe Sunday -I wake up and take bus to the South end and check out the SoWa open market, I check out the food stalls, outdoor crafts market, indoor vintage market and artist studios -I then grab some food at the South End Whole Foods and then take Orange Line/Orange line shuttle back to JP -Then go for an afternoon run through the Noanet Woodland and catch the nice view of downtown Boston and forest from the top of the lookout Monday -Wake up before dawn, and take Orange Line to the Blue Line at Government Center and take the Blue Line to the Airport -Check out the skyline from the terminal one last time and then fly back to CVG
Free Movies Digital Codes Giveaway Megathread #3 [VUDU, iTunes, Movies Anywhere 4K etc]
Generate codes at https://oppfiles.com/710511 B B Monkey (1999) B.A.P.S (1997) BFG: Big Friendly Giant (3D), The (2016) BFG: Big Friendly Giant, The (2016) Baabul (2006) Baadshaho (2017) Baaghi 2 (2018) Baaghi 3 (2020) Baaghi: A Rebel for Love (2016) Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (Hindi) (2017) Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (Tamil) (2017) Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (Telugu) (2017) Baar Baar Dekho (2016) Baarìa (2010) Baazaar (2018) Babalas (2013) Babe: Pig in the City (1998) Babel (2007) Baby Boy (2001) Baby Driver (4DX) (2017) Baby Driver (2017) Baby Geniuses (1999) Baby Mamas (2018) Babylon A.D. (2008) Bachelor, The (1999) Bachelor, The (2000) Bachke Rehna Re Baba (2005) Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008) Back in Business (1997) Back of the Moon (2019) Back to Burgundy (2018) Back to Gaya (2007) Back-up Plan, The (2010) Backtrace (2019) Bad Boys II (2003) Bad Boys for Life (4DX) (2020) Bad Boys for Life (IMAX) (2020) Bad Boys for Life (2020) Bad Company (2002) Bad Day on the Block (1998) Bad Education (2005) Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans, The (2010) Bad Moms Christmas, A (2017) Bad Moms (2016) Bad Neighbours 2 (2016) Bad Neighbours (2014) Bad News Bears (2005) Bad Santa (2004) Bad Teacher (2011) Bad Times at the El Royale (2018) Badhaai Ho (2018) Badlapur (2015) Badla (2019) Badmaash Company (2010) Badrinath Ki Dulhania (2017) Baggage Claim (2013) Baghban (2003) Bairavaa (2017) Baise-Moi (2002) Bait (2001) Bajirao Mastani (2015) Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) Bakgat 2 (2010) Bakgat! 3 (2013) Bakgat! (2008) Bala (2019) Ballad of Jack and Rose, The (2005) Ballade vir 'n Enkeling (2015) Ballerina (3D) (2017) Ballerina (2017) Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002) Balls of Fury (2007) Balu — ABCDEFG (2005) Balu Mahi (2017) Bamboozled (2001) Band Baaja Baaraat (2010) Band's Visit, The (2008) Bandits (2002) Bandslam (2009) Bang Bang Club, The (2011) Bang Bang (2014) Banger Sisters, The (2002) Bangistan (2015) Bangkok Dangerous (2008) Banjo (2016) Bank Job, The (2008) Baran (2003) Barbarian Invasions, The (2004) Barber of Siberia, The (2004) Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004) Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016) Barbershop (2002) Barbie in Princess Power (2015) Barbie: Dolphin Magic (2017) Bareilly Ki Barfi (2017) Barely Lethal (2015) Barfi! (2012) Barney's Great Adventure (1998) Barney's Version (2011) Barnyard (2007) Barrio (2000) Barsaat (2005) Bas Ek Pal (2006) Based on a True Story (2018) Basic Instinct 2 (2006) Basic (2003) Basquiat (1997) Bastille Day (2016) Batla House (2019) Batman Begins (2005) Batman and Robin (1997) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (3D)(IMAX) (2016) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (3D) (2016) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (4DX) (2016) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) Bats (2000) Batti Gul Meter Chalu (2018) Battle for Terra 3D (2010) Battle of the Sexes (2017) Battle of the Year (3D) (2013) Battle of the Year (2013) Battle: Los Angeles (2011) Battlefield Earth (2000) Battleship (2012) Baywatch (2017) Bbuddah... Hoga Terra Baap (2011) Be Cool (2005) Be Kind Rewind (2008) Beach, The (2000) Bean (1997) BearCity (2010) Beastly (2011) Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) Beat the Drum (2006) Beatriz at Dinner (2017) Beaumarchais (1998) Beautician and the Beast, The (1997) Beautiful Boy (2011) Beautiful Boy (2019) Beautiful Country, The (2005) Beautiful Creatures (2013) Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, A (2020) Beautiful Joe (2002) Beautiful Mind, A (2002) Beautiful Planet (IMAX), A (2017) Beautiful Thing (1997) Beautiful (2001) Beauty Shop (2005) Beauty and the Beast (3D)(IMAX) (2017) Beauty and the Beast (3D) (2017) Beauty and the Beast (4DX) (2017) Beauty and the Beast (2001) Beauty and the Beast (2017) Beauty and the Dogs (2017) Beaver, The (2011) Beavis and Butthead do America (1997) Because I Said So (2007) Because of Winn-Dixie (2005) Becoming Jane (2007) Bedazzled (2001) Bedrooms and Hallways (1999) Bedtime Stories (2009) Bee Movie (2007) Bee Season (2006) Beefcake (1999) Befikre (2016) Before I Fall (2017) Before I Go to Sleep (2014) Before I Wake (2016) Before Midnight (2013) Before Night Falls (2001) Before Sunset (2004) Before We Go (2015) Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007) Before the Rains (2008) Begin Again (2014) Beginners (2011) Behaving Badly (2014) Behind Enemy Lines (1997) Behind Enemy Lines (2002) Behind the Candelabra (2013) Behind the Rainbow (2008) Behind the Sun (2003) Being Cyrus (2006) Being Flynn (2012) Being John Malkovich (2000) Being Julia (2005) Beirut (2018) Bel Ami (2012) Believer, The (2002) Bella (2008) Belle Maman (1999) Belle (2014) Belly (1999) Beloved (1999) Below Her Mouth (2017) Below (2003) Ben 10: Alien Swarm (2010) Ben Is Back (2018) Ben-Hur (3D) (2016) Ben-Hur (4DX) (2016) Ben-Hur (2016) Benchwarmers, The (2006) Bend It Like Beckham (2002) Beneath the Blue (2011) Beneficiary, The (1997) Bent (1998) Beowulf (2007) Bernie (2013) Besharam (2013) Besieged (1999) Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The (2012) Best Laid Plans (1999) Best Man Holiday, The (2014) Best Man, The (2000) Best Men (1998) Best of Enemies, The (2019) Best of Me, The (2014) Better Life, A (2011) Better Luck Tomorrow (2004) Between Friends (2014) Between Kings & Queens (2011) Between Strangers (2004) Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008) Beverly Hills Ninja (1997) Bewafaa (2005) Bewakoofiyaan (2014) Bewitched (2005) Beyoncé: Life is but a Dream (2013) Beyond Borders (2004) Beyond Silence (1999) Beyond the Clouds (2018) Beyond the Clounds (1997) Beyond the Mat (2000) Beyond the Reach (2015) Beyond the River (2017) Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013) Bhagam Bhag (2006) Bhai's Café (2020) Bharat (2019) Bhavesh Joshi Superhero (2018) Bheema (2008) Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007) Bhoomi (2017) Bhoot Returns (3D) (2012) Bhoot: Part One - The Haunted Ship (2020) Bhoothnath Returns (2014) Bhoothnath (2008) Bhoot (2003) Bicentennial Man (2000) Big Daddy (1999) Big Eyes (2015) Big Fat Liar (2002) Big Fellas (2007) Big Fish (2004) Big Game (2015) Big Hero 6 (3D) (2014) Big Hero 6 (2014) Big Hit, The (1998) Big Kahuna, The (2000) Big Lebowski, The (1998) Big Momma's House 2 (2006) Big Momma's House (2000) Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son (2011) Big Night (1997) Big Nothing (2008) Big Short, The (2016) Big Sick, The (2017) Big Stone Gap (2015) Big Trip (3D), The (2019) Big Trip, The (2019) Big Trouble (2002) Big Wedding, The (2013) Big Year, The (2012) Bigger Splash, A (2016) Bigger (2020) Bigil (2019) Biker Boyz (2003) Billa 2 (2012) Billionaire Boys Club (2018) Billu Barber (2009) Billy Elliot (2001) Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2017) Bin Roye (2015) Birdman (2015) Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (4DX) (2020) Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (IMAX) (2020) Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020) Birth of a Nation, The (2017) Birthday Girl (2002) Birth (2005) Biutiful (2011) BlacKkKlansman (2018) Black & White (2008) Black Book (2007) Black Butterflies (2011) Black Cat, White Cat (1999) Black Dahlia, The (2006) Black Dog (1998) Black Friday (2007) Black Hawk Down (2002) Black Knight (2002) Black Mass (2015) Black Nativity (2013) Black Panther (3D IMAX) (2018) Black Panther (3D) (2018) Black Panther (4DX) (2018) Black Panther (2018) Black Sea (2015) Black Snake Moan (2007) Black Swan (2011) Black and Blue (2019) Black and White (2000) Black or White (2015) Blackhat (2015) Blackmail (2018) Black (2005) Blade II (2002) Blade Runner 2049 (3D IMAX) (2017) Blade Runner 2049 (3D) (2017) Blade Runner 2049 (4DX) (2017) Blade Runner 2049 (2017) Blade: Trinity (2005) Blades of Glory (2007) Blade (1998) Blair Witch Project, The (1999) Blair Witch (2016) Blank (2019) Blast From the Past (1999) Blast (1997) Bleed for This (2017) Blended (2014) Bless the Child (2000) Blessers (2019) Blind Dating (2007) Blind Side, The (2010) Blinded by the Light (2019) Blindness (2009) Blindspotting (2019) Bling Ring, The (2013) Blinky Bill the Movie (2015) Blitz Patrollie (2013) Blockers (2018) Blood Diamond (2007) Blood Father (2016) Blood Sport III (1997) Blood Ties (2014) Blood Work (2002) Blood and Wine (1997) Blood: The Last Vampire (2009) Bloodmoon (1998) Bloodshot (4DX) (2020) Bloodshot (IMAX) (2020) Bloodshot (2020) Bloody Sunday (2003) Blow (2001) Blue Car (2003) Blue Crush (2002) Blue Jasmine (2013) Blue Planet (2001) Blue Story (2020) Blue Streak (2000) Blue Valentine (2011) Blues Brothers 2000 (1998) Blue (2009) Bluff Master (2006) Bobby Jasoos (2014) Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius (2005) Body Shots (2000) Body of Lies (2008) Bodyguard (2011) Body, The (2001) Body, The (2019) Boesman & Lena (2001) Bogus (1997) Bohemian Rhapsody (IMAX) (2018) Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Boiler Room (2000) Bol Bachchan (2012) Bollywood Hollywood (2003) Bollywood Queen (2003) Bolt (2D) (2008) Bolt (3D) (2008) Bol (2011) Bombay Velvet (2015) Bombshell (2020) Bone Collector, The (2000) Bones (2002) Boo! A Madea Halloween (2016) Boogeyman (2005) Boogie Nights (1998) Book Club (2018) Book Thief, The (2014) Book of Eli, The (2010) Book of Life (3D), The (2015) Book of Life, The (2015) Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000) Bookshop, The (2019) Booksmart (2019) Boondock Saints, The (2000) Bootmen (2001) Booty Call (1998) Borat!: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) Bordertown (2008) Born into Struggle (2005) Born to Be Wild (IMAX) (2017) Born to Win (2014) Borrowers, The (1998) Boss 'n Up (2006) Boss Baby (3D), The (2017) Boss Baby, The (2017) Bossa Nova (2000) Boss, The (2016) Boss (2013) Bottom of the 9th (2019) Bounce Back, The (2017) Bounce (2001) Bound (1997) Bounty Hunter, The (2010) Bourne Identity, The (2002) Bourne Legacy, The (2012) Bourne Supremacy, The (2004) Bourne Ultimatum, The (2007) Bowfinger (1999) Bowling for Columbine (2003) Box of Moonlight (1997) Boxer, The (1998) Boxtrolls (3D), The (2014) Boxtrolls, The (2014) Box, The (2010) Boy A (2008) Boy Called Twist (2005) Boy Next Door, The (2015) Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, The (2008) Boychoir (2015) Boyhood (2014) Boys Don't Cry (2000) Boys From County Clare, The (2004) Boys and Girls (2001) Boys are Back, The (2010) Boy, The (2016) Brüno (2009) Brad's Status (2018) Brahmanda Nayagan (2018) Brahms: The Boy II (2020) Brassed Off (1997) Bratz: The Movie (2007) Brave (3D) (2012) Brave One, The (2007) Braven (2018) Brave (2012) Breach (2007) Bread & Roses (2000) Bread & Tulips (2001) Break ke Baad (2010) Break-Up, The (2006) Breakaway (2011) Breakdown (1997) Breakfast on Pluto (2006) Breakin' All the Rules (2004) Breaking In (2018) Breaking The Waves (1997) Breaking Through (2015) Breaking and Entering (2007) Breakthrough (2019) Breathe (2018) Breed, The (2007) Brick Lane (2008) Brick Mansions (2014) Brick (2006) Bride & Prejudice (2004) Bride Wars (2009) Bride of Chucky (1999) Bride of the Wind (2002) Brideshead Revisited (2008) Bridesmaids (2011) Brides (2005) Bridge of Spies (2015) Bridge to Terabithia (2007) Bridget Jones's Baby (2016) Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004) Bridge, The (2000) Bright Star (2010) Bright Young Things (2004) Brightburn (2019) Brighton Rock (2011) Brimstone (2017) Bring it On (2000) Bringing Down the House (2003) Bringing Out the Dead (2000) Brokeback Mountain (2006) Brokedown Palace (1999) Broken Circle Breakdown, The (2014) Broken City (2013) Broken Embraces (2010) Broken Flowers (2005) Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy, The (2001) Broken Promises 3: The Final Insult (2011) Broken Promises 4-Ever (2018) Broken Wings (2004) Brooklyn's Finest (2010) Brooklyn (2015) Brother Bear (2004) Brotherhood (2011) Brothers Bloom, The (2009) Brothers Grimm, The (2006) Brothers, The (2001) Brothers (2010) Brothers (2015) Brother (2002) Brown Bunny, The (2004) Brown Sugar (2003) Bruce Almighty (2003) Brylcreem Boys (1997) Bubble Boy (2001) Bucket List, The (2008) Buddha Mar Gaya (2007) Buena Vista Social Club (2000) Buffalo 66 (1999) Buffalo Soldiers (2004) Bug's Life, A (1999) Bugs! (2009) Bullet to the Head (2013) Bulletproof Monk (2003) Bulletproof (1997) Bullett Raja (2013) Bullhead (2012) Bully (2012) Bulworth (1999) Bumblebee (3D) (2018) Bumblebee (4DX) (2018) Bumblebee (2018) Bunny Chow: Know Thyself (2007) Bunty Aur Babli (2005) Burlesque (2011) Burn After Reading (2009) Burning Plain, The (2009) Burnt (2015) Bus 657 (2015) Business for Pleasure (1997) Bustin' Chops: The Movie (2013) Bustin' Down the Door (2008) Butler, The (2013) Butterfly Effect, The (2004) Butterfly's Tongue (2000) Butter (2013) Bye Bye Man, The (2017) Bypass (2017) C CHIPS (2017) Cabin Fever (2004) Cabin in the Woods, The (2012) Cadillac Records (2009) Café Society (2016) Café de los Maestros (2009) Cake (2007) Cake (2015) Cake (2018) Calcutta Mail (2003) Calendar Girls (2003) Call Me by Your Name (2018) Call of the Wild, The (2020) Callas Forever (2004) Call, The (2013) Calvary (2014) Camouflage (1999) Campaign, The (2012) Camp (2004) Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2019) Can You Keep a Secret? (2020) Can't Hardly Wait (1998) Candy (2006) Canyons, The (2014) Capernaum (2019) Capote (2006) Caprice's D'un Fleuve (1998) Captain America: Civil War (3D)(IMAX) (2016) Captain America: Civil War (3D) (2016) Captain America: Civil War (4DX) (2016) Captain America: Civil War (2016) Captain America: The First Avenger (3D) (2011) Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (3D)(IMAX) (2014) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (3D) (2014) Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) Captain Conan (1998) Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001) Captain Fantastic (2016) Captain Marvel (3D IMAX) (2019) Captain Marvel (3D) (2019) Captain Marvel (4DX) (2019) Captain Marvel (2019) Captain Phillips (2013) Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (3D) (2017) Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017) Captive State (2019) Captivity (2007) Capturing the Friedmans (2005) Caramel (2008) Career Girls (1997) Carmen in Khayelitsha (2005) Carnage (2012) Carol (2015) Carpool (1997) Carrie (2014) Cars 2 (3D) (2011) Cars 2 (2011) Cars 3 (3D) (2017) Cars 3 (2017) Cars (2006) Casanova (2006) Case for Christ, The (2017) Cash (2007) Casino Royale (2006) Cast Away (2001) Castle, The (1998) Cat in the Hat, The (2004) Cat's Meow, The (2003) Catch .44 (2012) Catch Me If You Can (2003) Catch That Kid (2004) Catch a Fire (2007) Catch and Release (2007) Catching Feelings (2018) Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (3D) (2010) Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (2010) Cats & Dogs (2001) Cats (2019) Catwoman (2004) Caught Up (1999) Caveman's Valentine, The (2001) Cave, The (2006) Celebration, The (2000) Celebrity (1999) Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012) Cellular (2005) Cell, The (2000) Cell (2016) Center of the World, The (2001) Central Intelligence (2016) Central Station (1999) Centre Stage (2000) Centurion (2010) Ceremony (2011) Chéri (2009) Chaar Sahibzaade (2016) Chak De India (2007) Chakravyuh (2012) Chalet Girl (2011) Chalte Chalte (2003) Chamber, The (1997) Chameleon (2011) Chameli (2004) Chance Pe Dance (2010) Chandni Chowk to China (2009) Chandramukhi (2005) Change-Up, The (2011) Changeling (2009) Changing Lanes (2002) Chaos Factor (2000) Chappaquiddick (2018) Chappie (IMAX) (2015) Chappie (2015) Charlie Bartlett (2008) Charlie St. Cloud (2010) Charlie Wilson's War (2008) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) Charlie's Angels (4DX) (2019) Charlie's Angels (IMAX) (2019) Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003) Charlie's Angels (2000) Charlie's Angels (2019) Charlotte Gray (2002) Charlotte's Web (2006) Charming (3D) (2018) Charming (2018) Chashme Baddoor (2013) Chasing Amy (1998) Chasing Mavericks (2013) Che: Part One (2009) Che: Part Two (2009) Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (2006) Cheaper by the Dozen (2004) Cheeni Kum (2007) Chef in Love, A (1998) Chef (2014) Chef (2017) Chekka Chivantha Vaanam (2018) Cheliyaa (2017) Chennai Express (2013) Chernobyl Diaries (2012) Cherry Falls (2001) Chhalaang (2020) Chhapaak (2020) Chhichhore (2019) Chicago (2003) Chicken Little (2005) Chicken Run (2000) Chikin Biznis - 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Finished Ao a few days ago, and what an incredible experience it's been. Warning, this post is LOOOOOONNNGGGG. Big thanks again to the fan translators and all other people who made playing this game possible. Here are my old posts on Sky 3rd (so you know why I love Kevin and Ries so much lol) and Zero no Kiseki Also SPOILERS FOR ALL SKY/LIBERL GAMES BELOW: First of all, that title screen before you press "start," really stood out to me, since the prior 4 games all had different scenic backgrounds/colors going on (well except 3rd, which was necessary to fit that particular game). Here it's just purely one color (azure), that gave me a rather somber feeling. Already was looking forward to seeing what would be in store: Prologue Wow, what an opener. I thought it was a great way to both tie in Zero right from the beginning (like a refresher to players) by having to go after characters from last game, and also a breath of fresh air, since the mission isn't with the typical SSS. What a badass lineup of party members with Arios and Dudley. I saw it as the perfect representation of the important organizations that ensue Crossbell's safety, with Arios as a bracer representative, Dudley for the regular CSPD, Lloyd as the SSS, and Noel as the CGF. The ost perfectly set up the atmosphere of somber mystery, knowing what horrors occurred here, but also not knowing the exact details...I'm honestly really glad that Noel and Lloyd were split up from the other two midway, since using those two badasses made me feel like I was cheating lol. Then when they finally got to Ernest and had to fight his demon form, what a Lloyd thing to do to try and save Ernest when he was screaming that he didn't want to die. Then HOLY CRAP IS THAT KEVIN?! What an amazing surprise and inclusion having him demonstrate his Gralsritter powers. Dudley telling Lloyd and Noel that they were a big help in his tsundere/kuudere way so Dudley. I always love it when the protagonists of the story don't know the significance of people they're just meeting, but you the player know exactly what's up. Maybe I'm of the minority who really likes Ries (it seems like most players are just apathetic to her), but my interest was definitely piqued when he asked if she was gonna be okay on her own...(what is the church planning?!) Lloyd and Noel get such a SSS greeting when they get back to Crossbell. Everyone is so in character, especially Wazy pushing Lloyd's buttons lol. Apparently his intel got them in touch with someone from Arteria, so hmmmm curious.... he was one of the characters I was most interested in following Zero (kinda in the same way I was super curious about Olivier's background throughout the Sky games). Love that the prologue was short and sweet. Chapter 1 First off, was actually really glad that Randy and Tio weren't around for the sole reason that it gave Noel and Wazy time to shine and settle in. I appreciate that both the Sky and Crossbell games don't just give you full access to every character right away (especially in the 2nd game, since at that point you've already met everyone), since otherwise it would be so easy to just shaft someone right from the start. Chasing Lechter around was definitely a throwback to Sky 3rd moon door....but was surprised when he finally got straight down to business at the casino, answering all of Lloyd and Elie's questions and confirming his identity. The Shirley and Elie thing was completely unexpected. Everyone's reactions were so in character: all were flustered of course except for Wazy and Lechter (that letch haha). Poor poor Elie though... Encountering big Jaeger corp dude for the first time was definitely intimidating, especially when seeing how he slaughtered those monsters after. Then getting our own car! YES! It felt like the SSS had truly come so far from that time in Zero where Dudley drove away in his own private car, and they had none :( And for a PSP-era model, that car looks damn fine. Cool that it was made by ZCF too, wonder what Professor Russell and the rest have all been up to... Also Noel doesn't really get a chance to shine as much compared to the others (actually all the SSS girls got kinda shafted character development wise in Ao compared to the guys :/), so I'm glad she at least got the opportunity to geek out over car models and such. So at this point, I actually was already spoiled as to Wazy's identity as a Dominion (didn't know anything about his background though). It made that first meeting with Ries, with Wazy present, really interesting. It actually even threw me off a bit for a large portion of the game, since it made me believe that perhaps not all Dominions and their squires know all the others in their ranks.... I absolutely LOVED the 'truth behind the rainy day' ost. Super peaceful, ethereal, and yet somber all at once. Was perfect for Wazy's "final" encounter with Wald. Also was so interesting to see Wazy so fired up and serious for once in the entire time we've known him. I was surprised that he was actually thinking so far ahead, knowing that they all can't be delinquents forever, and has been subtly spurring the Testaments guys to move on the whole time... That fight definitely showed how much Wazy was holding back against Wald. The latter didn't get a single hit in before he was down for the count. I also felt bad for Wald...knowing that he is one of those archetype guys where strength means everything, and people holding back is the biggest insult possible. Heading to Mainz and stopping by the Doll factory on the way, holy crap, chilling first look at Campanella and some Ouroboros goon for the first time in the entire Crossbell arc. Then the actual Old Mine had a great ost for setting up the atmosphere; both mystery and urgency needing to find a way out. And wtf Wazy being able to sense the higher elements (like Kevin and Ries in Sky 3rd). I wonder if that's a requirement to joining the gralsritter, or if it's an ability that new squires can learn to develop..,, Zeit's interference with that first cryptid makes so much sense in hindsight after his big reveal in the final chapter. Suspected that Shirley, big Jaeger guy may be related, if not connected to Randy in some way, but wow I wasn't expecting Randy's dad to have been the head of the Red Constellation. When Garcia name dropped the War God in Zero, I just thought he was some well-known part of that jaeger corp, not the top dog... and Randy has been expected to succeed his dog this whole time. Wow, wasn't expecting this. Also was rather sad to hear that Randy's dad kicked the bucket, even if they weren't on the best terms... ...and geez of course LechteImperial government would have their hands in this mess as well... And with that, SO HYPED FOR THE TRADE CONFERENCE! (since I'm a poli sci/international econ nerd for fun) Chapter 2 TANGENT on some character interaction: Okay, this is entirely unimportant, but I just really like the interactions among all the SSS members. I'm glad to know that the girls get along well. But to comment on Randy and Wazy's specifically right at the start of the chapter... So, Lloyd is a really chill guy, and he gets along with everyone, but his demeanor and viewpoint is quite different from Randy. It's why I appreciate Wazy and Randy's interaction together. Of course Randy would tell Wazy about Cecil before Lloyd even mentions anything about her. And even if Randy comes across as exasperated over Wazy's cheekiness (and getting more attention from girls than him) throughout the game, I think they share a lot of similarities that they can appreciate the other's pov (more on that when discussing that scene in chapter 3). Lloyd is a lot more considerate about how his words come across, especially towards his friends, while Wazy by nature is very blunt. So the fact that Lloyd kind of tries to tip toe around being considerate of Randy's circumstances, while also knowing that Red Constellation will become a big issue, Wazy just goes right for the jugular and says they're gonna have to track their movements/get involved. (Makes a lot of sense in hindsight why he's like this after his backstory reveal). /Endtangent; BACK TO PLOT So strange that Professor Seiland finds that there's no difference in the chemical makeup of the blue and red gnosis... Then it's a bummer when SSS was just discussing dinner plans together only to find Shirley at the SSS building. Riding to that fancy-ass club with Shirley in that luxury car really demonstrated how lucrative a top jaeger corp can be..we traded mafia vs mafia from Zero to mafia vs. "mercenary mafia." So many different groups of people/organizations with so many different interests converging in one melting pot of a place...it serves as a stark contrast to the much more homogeneous team braceLiberl vs. Ouroboros plot from Sky (not that that was bad in any way, Sky's story was masterfully executed). I really appreciate that both arcs have a lot of similar archetypes (especially regarding characters), yet at the same time do completely different things from the other. The first glimpses of Prince Olivert, Mueller, Kloe and Julia were so hype! Nice touch with Kloe relying on R&A Research. Then when all the countries began to arrive by the mode of transport that they are known for (Liberl- airship, Erebonia- rail, etc.) and the ost that played during it....I can say I've never been more anxiously awaiting how political talks were gonna go in a game than during those cutscenes. Orchis Tower unveiling was just as majestic as was expected. The "find my musician" sidequest was a great return to Olivier and Mueller antics. Hidden SQ about finding Lechter and Kilika let Elie have some time to shine, relaying why it's not out of the question for the two nations to be working together right now in order to reestablish a foothold in Crossbell after that whole cult-government scandal from Zero. Good to see Trails trying to humanize some of its antagonists with the whole "finding the cat" quest with Shirley. Plus she gets her first look at "Yin." I love how all the Trails protagonists try to hook each other up with those sweet connections, what with Estelle and Joshua letting all their royal friends in on the SSS's reliability. Everyone's shock that Olivier is the Prince from Erebonia haha. Then YES THAT 8-BIT FATEFUL CONFRONTATION WHEN PLAYING POM AGAINST CAMPANELLA. The way Falcom utilizes remixes of beloved tracks for special moments will never cease to amaze me. And then Tio having to hack her way in to save my ass. The hidden quest with Ries at the Moon Temple was a fun addition. The gralsritter don't mess around when it comes to playing their undercover roles spectacularly....(I'm looking at you Ries and Wazy after that final chapter reveal). The negotiations/talks at the Trade Conference started off well, but I really started feeling that unease/dread when visiting with President Rocksmith and Chancellor Osborne respectively...then HOLY CRAP I NEVER WAS EXPECTING MILITARY AIRCRAFTS TO ARRIVE AND TRY TO HIJACK/BLOW UP THE ENTIRE BUILDING. The ost that played throughout this segment was AMAZING btw., especially cuz I recognized the melody as part of the ending credits from Zero. The CGF and CSPD getting locked out was a serious 'oh shit' moment. Trails definitely exceeded my expectations with the whole Jaegers and Heiyue being brought in to put down the terrorist groups. I guess I was too vanilla in expecting the Jaegers and Heiyue to carry out the assassination attempts. Even if it can be claimed that they deserved it, I honestly felt bad for the Erebonian opposing faction after getting mercilessly slaughtered...especially for that lone survivor cuz he most likely is gonna be having survivor's guilt...I mean I guess it also shows how ruthless Erebonian mentality is anyway, since the Red Constellation was requested to completely execute the terrorists... And then of course Randy having to deal with the people he tried to leave behind...damn, the Erebonian Chancellor and Republican President are just on a whole 'nother level of political savvy compared to the other Heads of States...having foresaw this and then using it completely to their advantage to further their criticisms of Crossbell's "failures." Offering their country's "assistance and protection" as a response..sad that it's all too real... and finally that ending with Mayor Dieter announcing a referendum to gauge Crossbell citizens' thoughts on becoming a completely sovereign state...especially with the Great Powers still in the room *chills Intermission While I'm not a fan of how bonding points/events work in these games as a whole, I really enjoyed this break chapter. Especially since save scumming is an option to see all the different events that happen here. Randy's suspicion over Wazy's swimsuit changing takes on a whole new meaning with the knowledge that the latter is a Dominion. Loved how all the activities the different characters were participating in on the beach were completely in line with each individual's personality. Michelam was a lot of fun too. Certain hints towards some character''s backstories exist when taking them to particular places (i.e. Wazy or Rixia to the Fortune Teller's tent). Glad to finally have a real look into Rixia's character at night. Of course Lloyd would be able to tell that Rixia's smiles are actually devoid of real happiness, and how it reminded him of how Cecil used to look like after Guy's passing...was nice to have some greater insight into both of them. Perfect dramatic irony as Rixia was sharing about not having a personal reason for why she fulfills her duty and walks the path of her ancestors, since we know she's Yin, but Lloyd doesn't at this point yet. When Lloyd wakes up from that dream, the perfect creepy ost starts playing (for some reason, this was the sleeper hit of the Ao ost for me)...and encountering Campanella of all people with those FOG MONSTERS (confirmed a suspicion I had about that fortune teller who had her face completely concealed), no way it couldn't have been Luciola, not with that summoned fog. And wtf Mariabell. You're looking pretty suspicious talking to KeA that way when you two are alone on the boat (without the voice acting, this scene would not have raised the same red flags)... Chapter 3 So cryptids start showing up...and azure flowers just happen to be growing right where they spawn...of course Wazy would brush off remembering something like that in the Testaments as just something skimmed from way back in Sunday School. Ahhh so the Apocrypha exists in Zemuria just as it does in our world. Makes sense that a cult of the main religion would get information from these deviant books (or perhaps they could have even written it themselves..?!) Thanks to Ries, we now know what Pleroma grass is... Super cool that Meister Jorg was willing to talk with the SSS because of Renne. Interesting hearing more about the Society's plans from him. Then oh man that train derailment site...it was cool that there was a return of Ancient Pulsation (Ancient Battlefield ost) since it's kinda attributed to Joachim Gunter and the DG Cult in my mind now. I somehow totally forgot about the scene at the beginning of the chapter with a shadowed Wald, so was super surprised that the culprit happened to be a demonized Wald of all things. Was surprised at how truly hell-bent he was on getting back at Wazy. Ao really just builds, and builds, AND BUILDS on the amount of crazy happening. Teaming up with Yin at the Marshlands where so many of those Azure flowers bloom was definitely unsettling. Then finding two Anguis and an Enforcer in the same place...even though I know Kiseki always goes for the positive outlook, I was still feeling worried for the group. Poor Rixia, having her identity revealed just like that, so suddenly, in front of so many important people :/ Then more fan hits the ceiling news when they get a call on the way back about the Red Constellation completely vacating the warehouse...the way they easily annihilated the CGF troops was not looking good... Dammit Randy, tricking Lloyd and the others that he was fine...considering what was seen in the Ao opening movie, I was kinda doubting that he really wasn't going to do anything, especially since he was so distraught after the Trade Conference slaughtering earlier. Was a cool moment to have Wazy "confront" him outside, but at the same time allowing him to do as he pleases. This is why I think they really can understand each other's motivation, etc. on a personal level, even if they both don't entirely realize it and Randy doesn't exactly know Wazy's past. (Note that this is considering what I learned after Wazy's final bonding event) They both wanted to be free from their previous life, yet at the same time it comes back to haunt them. Randy's in a more direct way with the Red Constellation physically present and causing horrible things. While Wazy's is always with him on a more abstract level, since developing a stigma and hence, becoming a Dominion, entails that there is always a physical reminder of the mental trauma from such an event. Their overall demeanors are different, yet there are aspects of their personalities/tendencies that are similar- they both put on a cheerful front and are very secretive about their past (for good reason). Was still kinda amazed that Wazy was concerned enough that he considered sending Abbas after Randy, but at the same time was fine letting him go off to do as he pleased, even if it ultimately ended up with Randy dead...interesting that he was so surprised that Lloyd and the others would go so out of the way to figure out where he went. In hindsight it says a lot about his past and how everyone from his village despised him after the whole "killing their god" thing...I don't think he expected people to go that out of the way for each other. Coming out on the other end of those old mine tunnels and hearing the battlefield sounds was crazy. Thank Aidios they got to Randy in time. Seeing him in action was pretty amazing, but Lloyd and the others were even more so. With Lloyd directly confronting Shirley with just his tonfas. Randy grabs Lloyd by the collar and criticizes him for leading his team into danger...but Amazing moment where Lloyd finally stops tiptoeing over consideration for Randy's situation and grabs him by the collar right back. That a leader has to guarantee the safety of all on his team. Then when Randy finally comes out with the truth of why he left his life as a Jaeger...this entire scene was a top-tier moment in a video game for me. A+ all around. Then Randy tries to push the blame all on Wazy. Lol the lighthearted SSS banter returns. But mood shift AGAIN WHEN FLAMES ARE SEEN COMING FROM CROSSBELL. truly Ao's wild ride....the mood whiplash is strong in this game. Chapter 4 All the scenes during the Raid were INSANE. Bloody Shirley, Ilya, and Rixia at the Arc-en-Ciel. Poor Sully with having to live with knowing that Ilya was severely injured for pushing her out of the way...and poor Rixia knowing Shirley made such an appearance to force her to fight...and of course out of anyone, poor Ilya :( CSPD under attack and Fran getting caught in that blast. Arios and Dudley giving it their all defending Orchis Tower. Also really sad to see demon Wald attacking Downtown. Especially after he wipes out his old gang members even after they were so worried about him over the last couple chapters. Cool seeing Abbas and Ashley bring out the big guns to defend Downtown though. Sigmund directly confronting Cao in his very own Heiyue building. Especially considering how Cao didn't let anyone touch the top floor of the building during the Revache attacks in Zero. Everything really was going to shit. I didn't even come close with that timed fight. Then IBC becomes a huge ball of flames. I really was worried seeing that pretty much the center of banking for the entire continent, and the symbol of commerce was so thoroughly destroyed...thank goodness the data was backed up and recovered at Orchis Tower (still suspicious of what Mariabell could really be up to though). I really liked how the somber ost of Downtown picks up again to the regular city theme after you finish all the recovery sidequests. Actually a lot of the sidequests during this time were really fun, heartwarming, and just what was needed after all the devastating losses. The appearance of that couple from Liberl who were only just engaged back in Sky SC was a great throwback. Escorting Jona into the other Geofront division and encountering that pretty high-tech AI robot pointed towards the Society's advanced technology once again. Then the day ends with the results of the referendum in and MAYOR DIETER OFFICIALLY INSTATING CROSSBELL'S INDEPENDENCE. DIETER NAMING HIMSELF PRESIDENT OF THE SOVEREIGN STATE OF CROSSBELL?! ARIOS LEAVING THE GUILD TO BECOME SECRETARY OF DEFENSE?! REORGANIZING THE CGF AND CSPD INTO ONE MILITARY FORCE, THE STATE GUARD?! I'm usually not one for caps lock but this was an INSANE DEVELOPMENT. And then my stomach just plummeted after that meeting with Lechter and Kilika stating how powerful of a military force both the Erebonians and Republic are sending into Crossbell due to authoritarian President Dieter's actions. Then Lechter confirming Lloyd's bad feeling that the Imperial government's contract with the jaegers ended all the way back to right after the conference...seems like a major conspiracy is about to be uncovered...Not only this but KeA was taken by Arios of all people?! The Castle at Michelam was the first taste of that great ost that would later be the entire overworld map in the final chapter. Instills so much agency and drive. Then just to add on to that, one of my favorite tracks from the entire ost makes its first appearance as Mariabelle, KeA, and Arios' true roles are revealed. Pretty heartbreaking that KeA willingly goes along with it at first because the reality is without her, there was no way that Crossbell would have survived that pincer attack by the two nations. The confirmation of the Society's hands in this when their faces first appeared in those "magic screens" was just the oh shit icing on the cake. Arios battle was tough, but not too bad with Lloyd evasion tank. I've been following the Nielsen hidden quests this whole time, so I wasn't too surprised when it was revealed Arios was working with the conspiracy. (and involvement with Guy's death) Lloyd definitely had that feel too though, since he was the one to ask Arios to confirm. Those invasion cutscenes was one of the most memorable in my experience playing video games. A small country that has been subject to the whims of larger ones suddenly develops a "technology" that puts those who exploit them to shame. The fact that we get to know people from all participating countries to such a great extent, it's sad seeing the big guns brought out on all sides. Was amazed that Noel was the one to apprehend the party. I was honestly hoping for more inner party conflict from this. Especially when Noel isn't wrong to feel outrage that the Empire willingly fired those rail cannons. They definitely shafted what could have been stronger development for Noel in the final chapter. Fragment Chapter Wow, first time seeing Lloyd giving up. Amazing cameo chapter for Garcia though. How an enemy was able to help the very person who put him in jail...giving Lloyd his drive back after recounting Guy's unwavering spirit. It's probably an insult to Garcia to see a person who relentlessly pursued Revache stuck in prison... I wrote in my Zero post that I appreciate the multi-faceted antagonists, and Trails succeeded with this minor one. Busting out with Inevitable struggle super arrange was A+ hype. Zeit coming to save the day in his DIVINE FORM. That was something I actually wasn't expecting at all. The story of that Sept-terrion was really sad... With the whole taking on the follies of mankind, while still also having human emotion in order to understand man...the story definitely did what it needed and made me extra worried about KeA's future. Wazy and Abbas' official reveal. Lloyd's reaction was as expected though haha. I probably would have felt the same way if I wasn't spoiled early. Olivier's reveal was one of the greatest things to come out of Sky for me, since I somehow overcame the need to look up stuff about the Sky cast while playing- Wazy's reveal felt similar to that setup/the Crossbell answer to that kind of character I guess. Was happily surprised to see Kevin and Ries pitching in to help the others get in to Crossbell. Lloyd having to bring up that tough question about what the church will do about KeA...of course they would be worried about what is happening everywhere on the continent. Wazy was really sincere in his answer though. Chapter 5 (Final) Return of final dungeon's from Zero's ost, but super arrangement, during the infiltration mission with Kevin and Ries drawing the Aion's attention. So. many. hype. moments in this game damn. THE MERKABAH. JUST WHAT I ALWAYS WANTED IN THE TRAILS GAMES. One of my favorite things about this game tbh. Really felt like we were on a top-secret mission. Was so cool having to overcome various "barriers" to reunite with all of our comrades while avoiding detection. It makes perfect sense that the antagonists would split their opposition's numbers up so they have the lowest possible chance to cause havoc. Nice getting to visit all the other villages on the outskirts to hear how the Crossbell barrier and the azure flowers are affecting their lives. Heiyue cooperating with us for the time being and RIXIA OFFICIALLY JOINING! "Poor Cao" losing Yin though. Seeing some factions standing in opposition (i.e. Mireille's CGF squad) to President Dieter's rule was a nice touch of realism, not everyone's gonna just hop on board when a person essentially makes himself dictator. Meister Jorg preparing the Pater Mater... Loved the high stakes of the Michelam infiltration, fighting against all those Red Constellation jaegers. Elie's reunion has to be what it was since she's pushed as canon girl Once again, I'll bring up the slight disappoint in Noel returning to the group so readily. From my understanding of Lloyd's fight with her, he proved that her resolve was wishy-washy since she's normally a stronger opponent...? It's a shame that more of her thoughts (though not much) regarding this was locked behind her final bonding event. Would have been nice to include it in the main plot since Noel's dilemma was so relevant to many in the State Guard as a whole (just following orders). Amazing use of Crossbell's political framework, having Chairman MacDowell announcing the dissolution of the Independent State of Crossbell since it was instated through undemocratic methods. Throwing Dieter's words back at him...then the reaction of all the underground groups still within Crossbell city was so rewarding. Campanella fight was really tedious. Perfectly encompassed the Enforcer's personality though. Unfathomed Force is such an incredible boss ost. Was able to "beat" Arianrhod, though there were some instances in that fight where it wasn't looking too good. Crazy that Elie was able to deduce that she's from the War of the Lions over 250 years ago...?! Or I have a feeling based on Arianrhod's response that she's "based" on that...? I expect more will be revealed in future games... The first stage of the Crossbell Liberation was the moment that Ao surpassed Sky SC for me. So many incredible things, so many factions, both people we were familiar with from past games (Estelle, Joshua, Renne, Kevin, Ries), and the NPCS we grew to love from Crossbell. Everyone contributing in their own way to get the SSS in. Pretty chilling having the ost from the Marshlands as the background for the city. Interesting scenes involving people who know "the lawyer" if you follow a guide... then finally Lechter and Kilika's intel proves invaluable again. Someone else is pulling the strings. Second stage of the Liberation begins with Orchis Tower infiltration. Seeing Kilika and Lechter in action was crazy. Thanks for your sacrifice SSS car. Kevin's stigma then the Merkabah going down, wow. And then Pater Mater's sacrifice to save Renne (a true father and mother's sacrifice). When AI gives you feels, Nier Automata vibes man. Mystic Core dungeon looked really cool, I'm always blown away by the dungeon music in Ao. EP drain was annoying at first, but max-Emblem master quartz is too op here lol. Finally meeting Shizuku again. It must be hard for her, since she can see again, but her friend sacrificed her "freedom" as part of the price, not to mention seeing her dad following his path so rigidly...touching moment to finally get Guy's tonfas, but this new evidence also brings into question if Arios really was Guy's murderer...I feel like I kinda "cheated," since even though the guide is "spoiler free," finding all those hidden events makes it so there's really only one other person who at least makes some sense... Dieter and Colonel Richard similarities: That final battle with Dieter was cathartic but also rather sad. Since he really did remind me of Colonel Richard. They both were willing to harm their own country men (arrests that were set up by the ID in Liberl; Raid of the city in Crossbell...the Cult sacrifices too...) in order to bring to light a power that could protect their country. They were both willing to install a new ruleleader, though Dieter installed himself instead of a proxy. Their love for their homeland was both genuine. Too bad that Dieter actually obtained the power he was seeking, and that absolute power corrupted absolutely. Richard on the other hand ultimately never reached that power he was seeking for Liberl. And then of course, both were actually pawns in someone else's game. Mariabell is cold af. Just throwing aside her father like that. Lawyer Grimwood's reveal makes a lot of his involvement throughout the Crossbell arc. It's definitely easy to see how this seems completely out of left-field if the player wasn't able to find all those random hidden scenes and people to talk to. Definitely think the game itself could have made it easier to deduce this outcome in mandatory scenes, while still making it difficult enough that only the most observant players could put it together... Final Dungeon What an incredible final dungeon. It kinda felt like mashing all of P4/P5's dungeons/palaces into one massive place (since the mini-dungeons are based on the personality of the boss. Return of a stellar lineup of both dungeon and boss osts. Not to mention the track for the tree itself is hauntingly peaceful but also somber. Definitely reflects KeA's mind I guess. Was gonna comment on the final character growth of Wazy, Rixia, and Randy, regarding their final bonding events and the boss fights, but will have to save that for another post... (sorry this has gotten so LONG). That Firm Strength super arrange that plays in Arios dungeon...makes sense since the original track first plays when he shows up to save you in the GeoFront on the SSS's very first mission in Zero. And then the return of Get Over the Barrier ~Roaring Version. A lot of people say Inevitable Struggle is like the Silver Will of Crossbell. But I think this special version of Get Over the Barrier fits that title more. Total feels seeing how far Lloyd and the entire SSS has come. Arios definitely was bogged down by his guilt over Guy, doubling down on the conspiracy that led to his friend's death. The Loewe equivalent in regards to that firm will, but still is able to stand completely on his own as his own character. And finally, the truth of EVERYTHING. HOLY. CRAP. Never expected time reset to be a part of this mess. But it finally answers the question I had about that first scene in Zero. I thought Estelle and Joshua were left out as to not completely spoil right away that they would be in the game, but wow, this reveal is so much better. I'll admit, I'm a sucker for those time rewind stories (ala Higurashi and Umineko). Though it's interesting that there was seemingly no real "butterfly effect" asides from getting closer to the Brights and Renne....well I guess it makes sense since they say KeA can also influence the future...? While it's understandable to want a power that can erase the pains of the past and prevent future tragedy, ultimately it's true that humans only grow through experiencing adversity. Was a bit unbelievable seeing how quickly Lawyer Ian sided with the party again...I can only attribute it to perhaps he was the one to connect all those moving parts to each other (Ouroboros, jaegers, Arios, Crois clan), but ultimately it's still Mariabelle who's the de facto leader in charge of everything. Since she's just so driven and a natural manager, especially since she studied it. That's just a headcanon though... I cheesed the fight with Mariabelle with ATS up food and Wazy's Reincarnation/Tio's Around Noah. It one-shot her cronies every time she summoned them. I ended that fight with 9999 exp and 999 of every sepith lol... Still curious about KeA's power to influence people to like her. Is that deliberate on her part...? Or is it just something that was "programmed" into her as a homonculus...? Still don't entirely understand what's at play during that part, but I do understand it was brought up as to question whether she violated the SSS free will, and to also mentally traumatize her further to awaken the Azure Demiurgos. People weren't joking around about how amazing Azure Arbitrator is. I definitely enjoy some symphonic metal (I'm probably considered light though, considering I mostly only listen to older Kamelot and Within Temptation tracks, some Rhapsody thrown in). Definitely had a feeling of finality to it. Lloyd meeting with Guy again in that "Zero zone" ....man so proud of how far Lloyd has come. Reminded me of Estelle's scene with her mom in that dream world created by Luciola back in SC. Seemed believable to me that KeA would return to the SSS so readily after just a few choice words from Lloyd since she's still so young emotionally. Easily swayed by true feelings and such. That reunion with the entire SSS with KeA apologizing for worrying them all...she's such a sweetie. Mariabelle actually doesn't bother me too much. Could another villain have been better? Probably, but ultimately I think she stays consistent with the person Falcom is trying to build after her true reveal back in chapter 4. It's just as Elie says about her being able to stand firm on her own in order to obtain what she wants. She willingly discarded her father, Lawyer Ian, KeA, Elie and the rest, when they no longer served a purpose to get what she wants. And think that's where an answer lies to her other infuriating traits...as of Ao, we're still not entirely sure what she actually WANTS now. For all we know, Mariabelle was probably crafting these plans with the cult and Sept-terrion stuff her entire life. She obviously put that above everyone else in her life, which allows her to so easily leave her friendship with Elie behind. Since she was unable to prevent KeA's powers from disappearing, there's nothing more that she can do regarding the Sept-terrion of Zero project. Elie says it herself that Mariabelle seeks what she wants without hesitation. I'll probably form a more complete opinion of Mariabelle when she appears in future games. Relieved to see that political consequences weren't avoided compared to other games where such things are brushed aside. Of course the Empire would invade and annex them after everything that has happened. Final thoughts: Wow, Crossbell has been such an enjoyable ride. Even though the translation wasn't perfect, and especially lacking compared to the Sky games, I have been so touched by this cast's journey. My personal preference is definitely Crossbell, mostly due to the overall focus of the plot. The political situation of this city-state is much more complex compared to the Sky games, and I am personally biased towards political intrigue in any given medium. Liberl's geographical location, monarchy, and relatively homogeneous society makes it much less susceptible to all the corruption that occurs in Crossbell. But don't get me wrong, I still love the Sky trilogy and cast. Also all the battles of differing ideologies when it comes to war and protecting one's homeland were A+. Liberl had some great glimpses of this too, but such topics really shined more in Crossbell arc. The Church is also my favorite/most intriguing organization out of the Trails games (yes, moreso than Ouroboros), so having all that good Gralsritter and Merkabah resources boosted these games for me. And Ao hit the sweet spot with just enough appearances of the previous arc's casts to really feel like one huge cohesive Trails game (prior to Cold Steel at least). TL;DR Ao has been one of the most enjoyable experiences I've ever had in gaming. Pacing was great- the plot just kept building and building; stakes kept getting higher; never really seemed to be a dull moment. Even the intermission chapter was much welcomed as a necessary break for the cast. Definitely appreciated the more grounded themes/realistic world problems overall in Crossbell, what with political corruption and organized crime. Ouroboros' influence was very minor here, which was both a good and bad thing I guess. OST was AMAZING. Not just the battle themes but the ambient and dungeon tracks as well. Still a bit sad that certain characters got shafted in character development in the main game (Elie, Tio, and Noel in a sense), while others needed final bonding event to get the context of their full character development when facing respective bosses in Azure tree. I can overlook that though since people are so kind to post all the final bonding scenes on youtube. Great seeing the return of some Sky trilogy characters. Overall loved the main cast of SSS and all the other Crossbell NPCs from so many factions in this game. Sky had bracers, military, Ouroboros, and civilians for the most part, but Ao was insane with how many moving parts existed. SO THANKFUL TO HAVE HAD THIS OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY THIS GAME DUE TO ALL THE KISEKI FANS WHO MADE THE TRANSLATION, EDITS, PROGRAMMING POSSIBLE. And thanks to all who have had their eyeballs bleed after reading this huge massive wall of text.
I wrote a new, updated, more comprehensive and neutral wiki for the sub, but I guess the mods didn't want it. Here's u/garethom's guide to Birmingham.
I sent this is in a message to the mods a little while back after seeing that the existing wiki was a little out of date, really centric to certain areas and tbh, not very neutral when it came to other areas. It's my no means the end of any recommendations, but considering we have a lot of questions about what to do/see/eat/drink and where to stay or live, I thought it might be helpful. Anyway, I haven't got a response, and I'm not even sure if any of them are even still active here, so I thought I'd just drop it here and maybe somebody can get some use out of it anyway. I'll clarify that outside of playing for one of the American football teams currently, and having previously played for another, I'm not affiliated with any organisation mentioned herein.
Birmingham is the second city (don't listen to anything Manchester says!) of the United Kingdom. It is the largest and most populous city in the United Kingdom, as well as the centre of the second largest urban area after London, with a population somewhere between 1 and 1.3 million people. Birmingham boomed from a non-descript market town to a juggernaut of a city during the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s/early 1800s, and is called "the first manufacturing town in the world". Although the steam engine is Birmingham's most famous invention, did you know, that amongst hundreds of other things, we're also responsible for the birth of the modern chemical industry, cotton spinning, the Baskerville typeface, building societies, powdered custard, the modern postal system, medical plaster, lawn tennis, plastic, medical use of x-rays, The Lord of the Rings, and the Football League? Well now you do! Today, we don't manufacture so much, but we're still an important city on the global stage. We're now a centre for both the public and private service industry, and one of the most important centres of finance in the country. We form the centre of a metropolitan area, spanning from Solihull in the south east, to Wolverhampton and the Black Country in the north west, and we make up an interesting group of people. We're a city of younger than average people, and are the UK's most ethnically diverse city, with large numbers of immigrants from Ireland, South Asia, the Caribbean and China. This make up has majorly shaped the city we live in today. Whether you're visiting for a day or two, or you're a born and bred Brummie, Birmingham is still a city that can amaze you. And yes... it's true. We do have more canals than Venice.
Big Name Attractions
BBC Birmingham: Visitors can book tours of their working building that take you behind the scenes of their television and radio productions. There is also a visitor centre that doesn't require booking.
Botanical Gardens: A 15 acre selection of gardens and greenhouses containing some of the world's rarest (and in some cases, entirely unique) plants. There are also a number of exotic birds.
Cadbury World: The world famous chocolate manufacturer was founded in Bournville. There are exhibits on the history of chocolate, the making of chocolate, the story of the Cadbury family, and if you hadn't guessed by now, a massive Cadbury shop.
Library of Birmingham: This striking building opened in 2013 is the largest public library in the United Kingdom, and the largest "public cultural space" in Europe and hosts a number of nationally and internationally significant collections.
National Sea Life Centre: Even with our extensive canal network, perhaps not the most appropriate location, but still... A giant aquarium with a range of sea and river life, from sharks, to penguins, to otters.
Sarehole Mill: A working water mill that has played a significant park in the history of both the industry and literature of Birmingham. Matthew Boulton, one of the fathers of the industrial revolution performed experiments there, and Lord of the Rings author, J. R. R. Tolkien lived just a stones throw from the mill. It is located in the Shire Country Park, named for its influence on the location of that name in the aforementioned books.
Thinktank: A family-oriented science experience with a focus on Birmingham's manufacturing and industrial history. You can see real WWII era aircraft, steam trains, and the world's oldest working steam engine. There's also a planetarium.
Aston Hall: The "leading example of the Jacobean prodigy house" has a storied local history, from the Civil War-era onwards.
Back to Backs: The "city's last surviving court of back-to-back houses". Get a feel for life amongst the common folk of the city during the population boom of the Industrial Revolution.
Blakesley Hall: One of the oldest buildings in the city, and an archetypal example of Tudor architecture, originally owned by the famed Smalbroke family.
Coffin Works: A restored factory that historically manufactured brass fittings, and, you guessed it, coffins, including those of famed statesmen and members of the royal family.
Birmingham is a city quickly gaining a world-class reputation for food, with an exploding independent scene backed up by an enviable selection of fine dining options. Fine Dining You may have heard that Birmingham has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any UK city outside of London, and that's (sort of, if you're including Solihull) true! With five (strictly four) restaurants boasting a star, Birmingham has plenty for those desiring a fine dining experience. Purnell's, ran by regular TV face Glyn Purnell, and Adam's are both located in the city centre. Simpsons is just a mile-and-a-bit outside the centre in leafy Edgbaston, and Carters of Moseley is just a little further out, in, well, Moseley. The most recently awarded star goes to Peel's, located in the Hampton Manor hotel in Hampton in Arden, a quick drive from Birmingham Airport. But it's not all about those famous stars. There's also several restaurants that make the Michelin Guide. Asha's (Indian), Opus (European), The Wilderness (British/European), Lasan (Indian), Waters (European), The Boot Inn (European/Fusion), Opheem (Indian), Folium (British/European), and Harborne Kitchen (British/European) are all places you're almost guaranteed some good eating! Street Food & Independents While the Michelin-club get all the plaudits, many prefer Birmingham's proud independent food scene for a cheaper, more relaxed meal. The jewel in the crown is Digbeth Dining Club. The now three-day-a-week event sees an area in Digbeth in the centre of Birmingham closed off and populated by some of the countries finest streetfood vendors for a festival of food, drink and music. Many of the regulars have been crowned winners of something in the various country-wide streetfood competitions in recent years, and you'll get anything from Indian snacks, decadent waffles, slow cooked BBQ, and mouth-watering cheesecakes to award winning burgers. Additionally, in a very similar vein, is the much more recent Hawker Yard. Looking for a burger? You're in luck. There's Original Patty Men (who are so renowned, Drake opted to miss out on the Brit Awards to eat their burgers) and The Meat Shack both located in the city centre that make some of the best burgers you'll ever taste, and have a great selection of beers to go with them. Thanks to the city's impressive Chinatown, you're guaranteed some good authentic Chinese food. Our recommendation? Head to Peach Garden or Look In and order a selection of roasted meats (just look for the hanging ducks in the window, you won't miss them!) Perhaps Birmingham's most world famous offering to the culinary world is the Balti. Named for the thin-pressed steel dish it's served in more than any particular method of cooking, the Balti is a garlic and onion heavy curry that is cooked over high heat, rather than simmering all day. If that sounds enticing to you, then I've got good news. Birmingham is famed for the Balti Triangle, an area around Sparkbook, Sparkhill and Moseley that has an eye-wateringly high concentration of restaurants serving Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi food, almost all of which serving many variations of the eponymous dish. While the Balti may have spread across the entirety of the UK, it's well known that Birmingham still has the best. Looking for a recommendation? Check out Adil's, the place that lays perhaps the strongest claim to creating the dish in the first place or Al Frash. We're also locked into an ongoing battle with Glasgow as to which city created the creamy, mild curry, the Chicken Tikka Masala. Added bonus? Many of the city's balti houses are BYOB. Outside of those mentioned, there really is something for those that want something a little different. The Karczma serves authentic Polish food in amazing decor. Bonehead is the place to go for fried chicken. If you're not feeling a full three course balti, Zindiya offers amazing Indian street food. Loaf is a co-operatively ran bakery and cookery school that offer literally the best sausage rolls in the world. Whatever cuisine takes your fancy, you will find a restaurant in Birmingham cooking it to the highest quality. If there's anything that will force you to make plans to visit Birmingham again, it's the food. Drinking And what d'you know, it's not just great food here, but great drink too! In the city centre, you're spoiled for choice. There's a Brewdog bar, serving a range of beers from the eponymous brewery alongside a smorgasbord of guest brewers. Just opposite is Cherry Reds (they also have a location in Kings Heath), serving craft beers in a cafe atmosphere. Located in a former, guess what, the Post Office Vaults invites you to take a look through their "Beer Bible" and select from hundreds of beers from around the world. Purecraft serves beers from the renowned Purity Brewing Company, and the food is amazing too. Around what was formerly a financial district, you'll find a lot of popular bars in attractive buildings, such as The Old Joint Stock, The Lost and Found and The Cosy Club. In the Jewellery Quarter, you'll find the reasonably priced 1000 Trades (usually with a pop-up dishing out great food) and further afield, the Plough in Harborne. Cocktails more your thing? You won't miss out. The Alchemist, Fumo, Ginger's and Gas Street Social all serve proper cocktails in trendy atmospheres. On the same street in Stirchley and Cotteridge, you will find two of the countries highest-rated off-licences. Cotteridge Wines has been voted The Best Bottle Shop in England for five years running, and Stirchley Wines, just a few minutes walk away, is held in similarly high regard. Both have been listed in RateBeer's top four locations in the country.
Birmingham is famous as a sporting city. The Football League, the world's first league football competition, was founded in 1888 by Birmingham resident, and Aston Villa director William McGregor. Along with the aforementioned Aston Villa, Birmingham is also home to another of the oldest football teams in the country, Birmingham City. Birmingham City's Ladies play at the top level of Women's football. The football season runs between August and May. Edgbaston Cricket Ground is home to Warwickshire County Cricket Club, but is also more prominently used for Test matches, One Day Internationals and Twenty20 Internationals. The County Cricket season runs between April and September. The Twenty20 season runs between July and September. Birmingham and the nearby areas are home to two PGA standard golf courses; The Belfry, which has hosted the Ryder Cup more than any other venue, and the Forest of Arden, a regular host of tournaments on the PGA European Tour. Arena Birmingham, formerly known as the National Indoor Arena, has hosted a number of World and European indoor athletics championships, and the Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr is the headquarters of UK Athletics, and the home of the Birchfield Harriers, which counts a number of elite international athletes amongst its members. The first ever game of lawn tennis was played in Birmingham in 1859 and the Birmingham Classic, played annually at the Edgbaston Priory Club is one of only three UK tennis tournaments on the WTA Tour. There are two professional Rugby Union teams in Birmingham and the surrounding areas. Moseley Rugby Football Club play in the National League 1, and Birmingham & Solihull Pertemps Bees play in the Midlands Premier division. The Rugby Union season typically runs between September and April. Birmingham is also home to the oldest British American football team, the Birmingham Bulls and the most successful team in University American football, the Birmingham Lions at the University of Birmingham. The Tamworth Phoenix, the current BAFA National League champions, are located in nearby Coleshill, and the Sandwell Steelers are located in the Black Country. The BAFA National Leagues season typically runs between April and August and the University season typically runs between October and January. The Birmingham Bandits play in the National Baseball League, the top level of competition in the country. The season typically runs between April and August. Birmingham will host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Film For those that want to catch a movie, there is, as you might expect, a range of chain cinemas in dozens of locations across the city in which you can catch the latest release. But if you're looking for something really special? Why not check out The Electric, the UK's oldest working cinema? Of course, they show the latest blockbusters, but they also show classic movies and special events throughout the year. Music Whatever your preference, there's a good bet that Birmingham has had an impact. We have the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra playing at the Symphony Hall for those with a more refined ear. There are regular jazz festivals across the city and surroundings through the year. Perhaps you've heard of the small time bands Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin and Napalm Death? Birmingham is the home to metal, and it's an influence that is still obvious today. You'll find local bands playing the full spectrum of metal at music pubs across the city. If you want to check out a band on tour, we've got arenas that range in size from the huge (Arena Birmingham, Genting Arena) to the more modest (Hare & Hounds, HMV Institute) and those in-between (O2 Academy). TheatreThe Repertory Theatre is the UK's longest-established "producing theatre" and the Alexandra and Hippodrome are the go-to places to see shows on tour. Those looking for a particularly classy night out can choose from the Birmingham Royal Ballet, resident at the Hippodrome, or the Birmingham Opera Company, known for their avant garde performances in non-typical spaces. Museums & GalleriesBirmingham Museum & Art Gallery is the big one. A notable collection of Pre-Raphaelite work and the Staffordshire Hoard are probably the stand outs that it's known for, but there's a temporary exhibition space that hosts events like student exhibitions from local universities. The Barber Institute of Fine Arts is located on the campus of the University of Birmingham, and was one of only five galleries outside London to receive five stars for having "Outstanding collections of international significance", and this relatively modest sized gallery hosts works by the likes of Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Auguste Rodin and J. M. W. Turner and has one of the world's largest coin collections. If contemporary art is more your thing, then the Ikon Gallery in Brindley Place is for you, hosting rotating exhibitions throughout the year. The mac, located in Cannon Hill Park is an art gallery with rotating exhibitions that also hosts plays, concerts and film showings. For further Museums & Galleries see the "Attractions" section. Nightlife As a young city, there's plenty of places in the city to while the night away. Broad Street is Birmingham's most well known area. It's a long street with very popular, relatively "bog-standard" bars and clubs, with large dancefloors and loud, popular music. PRYZM is the largest nightclub in the city, and Grosvenor Casino, open 24 hours, is nearby. You'll most likely find single 18-25 year olds along this busy street just a few minutes walk from the very centre of the city. Birmingham's Gay Village is also well established, with Nightingales being arguably the biggest name. Nearby, the Arcadian hosts a number of smaller bars and clubs. The Jewellery Quarter offers more intimate nightlife options, and you're more likely to find a slightly older clientele sipping cocktails and listening to live bands than on their feet on a dancefloor. Digbeth is where the cool people go in search of more underground fare. DJs and producers playing House, Techno (including the world famous "Birmingham Sound"), Dubstep, Garage and Drum & Bass congregate in the clubs in this area, catering to those that are happy to go all night. If you want to go even further off the beaten track, check out PST where you're likely to find Listening Sessions, showcasing a range of music from local producers. ShoppingThe Bullring is the major shopping centre in Birmingham. It is one of Europe's largest and houses just one of four Selfridges department stores, housed in an iconic building. There are a number of stores selling fashion, cosmetics, toys and gifts and food. The Bull Ring markets see 140 stallholders offering fresh fruit and vegetables, meats and fish, and basically every non-food item you can think of. The Jewellery Quarter is Europe's largest concentration of businesses involved in the jewellery trade, which produces 40% of all the jewellery made in the UK. The Great Western Arcade is a Grade II listed row of shops that cater almost entirely to independent retailers where you're almost guaranteed to find something unique.
We're a relatively temperate city, in that it rarely gets super cold, and rarely gets super hot. In the summer months, you can expect a twenty four hour swing from around 11°C(52°F) to 23°C(73°F), and in the winter months, anywhere between 0°C(32°F) and 7°C(45°F). We get roughly 10-13 rainy days per month throughout the year. Compared to other UK cities, we are relatively snowy, due to our inland position and high elevation, however, it rarely snows to a degree that it causes problems.
Birmingham is, perhaps surprisingly given its unfair reputation, an outstandingly green city. We have a stunning 571 parks in the city, more than any other European city. Sutton Park is the biggest park in the city, and is Europe's largest urban park outside of a capital city. Around a quarter of the former Royal Forest is covered by ancient woodlands, and there are a number of large ponds and pools. It is relatively common to see deer and exmoor ponies in the less busy parts of the park. There are several sporting events held in the park throughout the year. The Lickey Hills are home to a Green Flag awarded country park that offer picturesque views of the city of Birmingham, and are home to several species of deer, badgers and around ninety bird species, and some believe this favoured haunt of J. R. R. Tolkien formed the inspiration for the Shire in his famed The Lord Of The Rings series. Cannon Hill Park is a 250 acre area consisting of woodland, grassland and several large ponds. There are areas for soccer, boating, fishing, tennis and mini-golf.
Due to its centralised location, Birmingham is well placed for transport. It is served by the M5, M6 (famed for the Gravelly Hill Interchange, more commonly known as Spaghetti Junction), M40 and M42 motorways. Birmingham Airport (actually located in Solihull), is an international airport, with flights to and from to many destinations in Europe, North America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Birmingham New Street is the largest railway station outside of London and serves locations across the country. Snow Hill and Moor Street act as the northern termini for trains coming from London Marylebone. Buses are mainly administered by National Express, and the West Midlands bus route 11, also known as the Birmingham Outer Circle, is the longest urban bus route in Europe at 27 miles, taking around three hours to complete. Uber operates within Birmingham.
Living In Birmingham
Many times we're asked here on brum "where should I live", "is area X ok to live in", etc. Much like everything else in Birmingham, there is a lot of variety. Houses can range from cheap as chips to pretty expensive, and each area of the city has its own up and downsides. It's not so easy to divide Birmingham by distinct areas of desirability, and some of the most expensive and sought after suburbs border those that aren't as popular.
Living in central Birmingham will be similar to living in the centre of any other big city, if you've ever done that. There will always be something to do on right on your doorstep, the social opportunities are immense, and your commute can be but a short walk to the office. Of course, this is often at the expense of a smaller, more expensive property, greater noise and everywhere is pretty busy 24/7. There are a number of distinct "regions" in the city centre. Brindley Place & Surrounding Areas Likely the priciest part of the city centre to live in, but there are often more than small flats available. Penthouses, townhouses and large apartments are more common in this area. Average property price: Anywhere from ~£150,000 to £1m+Brindley Place on Streetcheck Digbeth An area still undergoing gentrification, but also a focal point for up and coming independents in business, food, arts and culture. Most, if not all, properties in Digbeth will be flats. Most of Digbeth is a five minute walk to the centre of the city. Average property price: £158,024Digbeth on Streetcheck Jewellery Quarter Great for food and drink, the Jewellery Quarter, while still a stronghold in the UK jewellery industry, is fast becoming one of the "cooler" areas to live in the city. Most, if not all, properties in the Jewellery Quarter will be flats. Average property price: ~£200,000-250,000Jewellery Quarter on Streetcheck
North Birmingham has a large swing in terms of lifestyle. Some areas closer to the city centre are more economically deprived, whereas further away, the likes of Sutton Coldfield can boast some of the most expensive and most desirable locations in the Midlands. The transport links are, to some, an attraction to living in North Birmingham, usually being just minutes from several junctions on the M6 and M5. Aston Aston as a settlement is very old, and has a real mix of history, ranging from the medieval to Jacobean to early 1900s. Most properties in Aston are terraced houses. Average property price: £107,137Aston on Streetcheck Erdington Lying between the city centre and it's more expensive neighbour, Erdington is fast becoming a desirable location for those priced out of Sutton Coldfield. There is a range of properties from detached housing to flats. Average property price: £163,075Erdington on Streetcheck Handsworth An "on the rise" area that can boast perhaps the longest list of famous residents in the whole city. There are a wide range of properties from detached housing to terraced houses. Average property price: £144,484Handsworth on Streetcheck Sutton Coldfield A "Royal Town" and the fourth-least deprived area in the country, Sutton Coldfield is renowned as a very affluent area with many attractions. There are a range of properties from terraced houses to very large detached houses. Average property price: £314,808 although houses can and do regularly top £3m+Sutton Coldfield on Streetcheck
East Birmingham is home to a diverse population, and a relatively green area stretching from the city centre to neighbouring Solihull, and is quickly finding itself a niche as younger folk priced out of Solihull move to a desirable location between the leafy town and Birmingham's centre. Bordesley Green Traditionally an area popular with immigrants, and mostly consists of terraced houses. Average property price: £122,712Bordesley Green on Streetcheck Stechford Mostly terraced housing with a tonne of local ameneties and is cut almost in two by the River Cole and has a large nature reserve running through it. Average property price: £150,085Stechford on Streetcheck Yardley & Sheldon An historically old suburb of Birmingham, with a dedicated conservation area and many local ameneties. There are a range of properties from detached houses to a small number of flats and apartments. Average property price: £162,601Yardley & Sheldon on Streetcheck
The south of Birmingham is home to some of the "coolest" suburbs that are quickly gaining popularity, seated between the city centre and what you might call "countryside" towards Warwickshire. Hall Green Encompassing much of the Tolkien trail, this suburb borders Shirley in Solihull. Average property price: £209,923Hall Green on Streetcheck Kings Heath, Stirchley and Cotteridge These three closely related suburbs are quickly becoming seen as an affordable alternative to Moseley. Average property price: £211,276Kings Heath on Streetcheck Moseley With a real "village" feel, there are many renowned drinking holes and eateries, with a large range of property types. Average property price: £276,533Moseley on Streetcheck Sparkhill Home to a large population of immigrants, it's not surprising that Sparkhill is home to much of the famed "Balti Triangle". Most of the properties are terraced houses. Average property price: £142,394Sparkhill on Streetcheck
As you move away from the city centre towards the Black Country, you'll come across some of the city's most sought-after locations for both young and old alike. Edgbaston A very affluent suburb that is also home to much of the University of Birmingham campus. There are a number of very large houses, but also a large number of flats and terraced houses. Houses can and do regularly go for £1m+ Average property price: £301,851Edgbaston on Streetcheck Harborne A Victorian-era suburb with a large amount of terraced and semi-detached housing, located between Edgbaston and Quinton. Average property price: £278,266Harbone on Streetcheck Selly Oak The majority of residents in this suburb are students at Birmingham's universities. As such, it has many transport links to the city centre. Most of the properties are terraced houses. Average property price: £221,046Selly Oak on Streetcheck Quinton This green suburb basically forms the very western border of the city before you enter Sandwell and Dudley. Most properties are semi-detached. Average property price: £258,077Quinton on Streetcheck
Outside the city
Birmingham is part of the greater West Midlands conurbation, so it can be used as a hub for exploring the region easily. Solihull is situated on the south-eastern edge of Birmingham. Solihull is an affluent town with a mid-sized town centre, and a number of smaller villages located more rurally. Coventry can be reached via the M6 or A45, and is roughly a half an hour to fourty minute drive from the city centre. Stratford-Upon-Avon, famed for being the home of William Shakespeare, is located roughly an hour away from the city centre. Warwick, the home of Warwick Castle, is located near Royal Leamington Spa, and is about an hour by car from the city centre. The Cotswolds, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, can be quickly reached, anywhere from one to two hours away from the city centre. Worcester and the Malvern Hills, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, can be reached via the M5, around an hour and a half from the city centre. On the western edge of the city, the Black Country, consisting of Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton can be found. Further out west, the Shropshire Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty can be found. To the north of the city, Cannock Chase, a large, heavily wooded Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is located.
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