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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Postcards from the edge of a CL4P-TP.



Bubbles!

The Pre-Sequel gets a bad rap. Sure, it was a cheap cash-in that was  made up of  at least 40% recycled assets from Borderlands 2, but I loved it/am still loving it. Pretty much everybody that was on board for the PS cleared out by the time Clap-tastic voyage rolled around. The fact the expansion was also the funeral for 2k Australia made it's tepid reviews even sadder. But if you loved cl4p-tp the way I love cl4p-tp, this is was everything you could have wanted in terms of retroactive continuity and clappyness.

Here's a bunch of fun stuff you may have missed while not romping around in the code of a terminally insecure robot.


His name is Harold Tassiter.


The age old battle of cookies versus...


...shame.





Quake before the mighty SPONX, mortal!


His name's Jack and his head's in a box. Right?
 
Take some time out of your day. Sit down. Read quest flavor text.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

XCOM2: The deepening.

Scorpion voice pack mod incoming in 3, 2, 1....


I loved Xcom2. It wound up being my game of the year just barely beating out Civ 6. Mostly because I knew something like War of the Chosen was coming. Just like Enemy Within, War isn't an expansion so much as a second chance. The devs took a long hard look at the vanilla game and saw what they could do better. Enemy Within made the original almost perfect, I'm hoping for more of the same.

I'm going to tear into every drop of info Firaxis lets slip because this all looks spectacular. I mean... there's a whaler class now:



Silenced sniper rifles and claymore mines? Yippie-kai-Yay! 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ah, what the hell.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-CHANGES.
Ok, so Andromeda wasn't Bioware's finest. Inquisition wasn't exactly a home run either and ME 3 twisted it's ankle so hard in the end it's foot snapped off. Bio's seen better days, but even still, Andromeda would have been the first game of theirs in 10 years I've only played once. That kinda bummed me out especially since it's... fun. Not "great", or ground breaking, or even remotely as compelling as any previous ME, but still... fun.

I bet I make it halfway.

   
At least now your scanner looks more like a computer and lot less like melty copper bullsh*t. So that's neat!






A buring question... answered.



Why aren't there tent pole adaptations of Discworld in movies, TV, or even gaming? Now that I'm  knee deep in the work of a writer I've only recently discovered was my literary spirit guide; I notice the abysmal quality of his adaptations. The fact the first season of American Gods wrapped before anything noteworthy from the Pratchett estate got produced drives me nuts.

Is it the orangutan librarian or Death of Rats? No, even Sci Fi can afford CGI characters these days. It couldn't be the lack of material or a dearth of talented writers clamoring for a chance to produce their Vimes fan fics. This could be the next crossover hit. Pixar or HBO need get on this... why haven't they? We can get American Gods on the air, America! We can do anything.

Then I started Interesting Times. In which Terry Pratchett calmly, politely, and most englishly calls China a Kafkaesque hell hole. "OOOOOOHHHHhhhhh." I said to myself. "Yeah no, Hollywood needs China way more then they need the Rincewind saga." Do you remember Alibaba's credit during Rogue Nation? I sure as hell do.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Holy crap I love Terry Pratchett.



He was the kind of writer that's far more talented then they want you to believe. Sure, Discworld books are funny. Sweet Moses, they're funny. But after finally picking up Guards! Guards! I'm blown away at how much character and detail is every single line of his dialogue. Each character has lived a full life and will keep on living it after the book closes. I know we all want a Watch TV series, but Pratchett's other works have so much to offer you'd be just as happy with a show all about Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler.

Admit it.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Cowboy Bebop TV series! ... from the producer of Teen Wolf.

Are space corgis cheaper in CGI?

...and the writer of Thor: The Dark World. Yeesh. I'm all for second chances, lord knows I've been given a few, but this pedigree just makes my hair bristle. There's never a wrong time for a noir space opera with a barnstorming jazz soundtrack, but please not these guys and not this property.

This belongs to someone else. A mini series by Shane Black would be perfect. But we do not live in a perfect world. We live in a world where North American remakes of anime classics can't stop crashing and burning. I honestly forgot all about Scar Jo's Ghost in the Shell. Already.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How to make the Palindrome a Palindrome


Oh, is it?

I'm sorry, I'm still stuck on the semantics of Destiny's self serious gun names. I think I have a mechanics based solution: what if the Palindrome fired while you reloaded? ....right?

I've had a weird day.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

*psst* this is why you're my favorite.

Get it?


Here's a legendary pistol from Destiny:

Bungie I... look, the word palindrome isn't a palindrome. Don't think that flavor text gets you off the hook.





Here's a legendary sword from Diablo 3:

Jesus, can we instate a five syllable maximum? Please?


These are just some dumb boots from Path of Exile:




Aaaaaand this is one of the best sniper rifles I've ever found in Borderlands 2:



Most game's rare loot names sound like chapters in a high school poet's portfolio. Borderland's rare loot names sound like the drunken ramblings of an 18th century Quebecois fur trapper. Thus, I will always love Borderlands.


Monday, June 12, 2017

"Hey! Me from the past!"




Me from the Past

"Oh hey. What's up, Me from the future?"

Me from the Future

 "What if I told you Ubisoft could make up for 7 years of forcing rote formulation into each and every one of their games in 3 1/2 minutes?

Me from the Past

"What? No. Shut up. Get out. Absolutly not. No way in hell. F*$k you."




 Ooof. It's not very good at cursing, is it? STILL THOUGH!

Wonder Woman Review: The Man who Can.

...I want this poster.

In the history of superhero movies, Wonder Woman is sadly unique. Sure, there have been a few decent female superheros (Black Widow, Gamora, what have you) but those are foils to their male counter parts at best. Wonder Woman is a movie for women by women and it's about goddamn time. This is a superhero film without the male gaze and it's embarrassing how big a difference it makes. Now male charters suffer the same underwritten fate of Snyder's Lois Lane and there is some fun irony in that. Especially since Snyder has top screenwriting credit... we'll get into that. The take away here is that this is best DC film yet and it's exactly the kind of movie the world needs right now. A movie about badass, fearless, and compassionate women who get sh*t done.

Let's start with the great: the action sequences! For a movie as terrified of blood and dismemberment as this is there is still a lot going on. The amazon cavalry charge set against pearl white cliffs puts the lion's share of Marvel movies to shame. I may be a sucker for bow and arrow trick shots, but throw in some cliff diving and you got yourself the best fight scene this year. The centerpiece of the film takes place in the German front and the trailer didn't even spoil the best parts. Always appreciated. 

The second thing this movie nails is screwball comedy. Pine and Gadot's chemistry is f*&king electric and the best non action moments of the film exclusively come from their conversations. I was pretty tickled at how much bearing the lasso of truth had on the story... but it still looks pretty goofy in action.

But here comes the hard part. This movie can be... aggressively mediocre. The cast is uneven in talent and too many scenes with the mercenaries are drowning in first draft clich├ęs. Worse still, are the venerable English actors sleep walking through their lines and look like they're dying on the inside. After seeing David Thewlis having a grand old time chewing the scenery as a Russian mobster on Fargo; it's devastating to see the albatross of this nothing role weigh him down.

Just... here, watch this and then tell me I'm wrong:


Now that, that, is a villain. Something else the film is sorely lacking. At first it has one, then two, then 3. None are given enough room to breath and one is completely forgotten until the last minute of the last fight (which is also a weightless flaming ball of CGI bullsh*t. There's even highlander lightning). When I saw Snyder's writing credit I howled with laughter. I'm sorry. I'm sure he's a great guy and fun to work with, but he's the reason even mediocre Marvel movies blow DC off the board.

Remember how I said I like this movie? I really do, there's a charm here you haven't seen since Cap's debut. An earnestness that should have been all over the last couple Superman movies. The great war killed thousands of children and the way Diana's shaking anger about it rips through everyone else's war fatigue holds the film afloat. If you boiled down her character to a sentence it would be "None of this horrible sh*t should be happening and you know it." She is resolute in the face of cowardice and pessimism. That strikes a chord with me. According to the box office it strikes a chord with a majority of movie goers as well. I think that's pretty neat.

I'll play myself out:

Friday, June 9, 2017

Ja-Ja-Ja- JACKPOT.

I just need 137 more... CRAP.


Guys, I've been playing this game at least once a year for 4 years. Has a game you've practically memorized ever made you yell "HOLY SH*T" at the top of your lungs? Borderlands fan for life over here.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Just take those old records off the shelf.

......I think he cheated.

I'd love to give Diablo 3 the fair shot it deserves but since my battlenet account is tied to a email service Blizzard no longer responds to, I'd have to buy the sucker all over again. Hmm. That's not happening. What do I have rattling around in my library that could scratch... that... itch...


Monday, June 5, 2017

Prey Review: Just who do you think you are?



Prey is something of an anomaly. It's either a waste of time or everything you've ever wanted. I happened to love it, but there are solid arguments to be made about it being almost a failure. It depends on what you really want from a game and what you can ultimately put up with. What I'm trying to say is Prey is my "settling soul mate."

It's selling itself as a shooter while intentionally putting as little effort into the actual shooting mechanics as they can. I mean, sure you shoot at things, but it's all so maddeningly imprecise your reflexes don't count for squat. The thing is Prey has a lot more going on then then gooey black aliens. This is a massive escape room that is about all exploring and gathering resources.

And I promise it's so much more interesting than how I just made it sound.

It is nearly all because of level design. The kind of thing you only notice when it's done wrong, unless it's as gob smackingly perfect as it is here. This is a metriodvania, all areas of TALOS-1 bleed in and out of each other flawlessly. The enemy encounters are random all the time. After two playthroughs I hadn't seen all the troop variety tricks it had to show me. Again, the combat isn't the greatest. But your run ins with amorphic terrors from beyond serve a purpose: draining your reserves to force you to find more stuff. And again that's much more fun than it sounds.

"If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't."
Nothing about the nuts and bolts of Prey is sexy, but so much of it is interesting. Every item in the game is made of material that can be broken down. Banana peels, bullets, ramen noodles, emp grenades... gum drops. All can be broken down to their basic components and reassembled into something you actually want. I mean anything. Including this game's version of Adam (upgrade points). It turns every little discovery into a step towards whatever you want in that moment.

If you're inches away from that shiny new stealth upgrade or you need a fatter stack of shotgun shells, there is some combination of random junk in your bird's nest of an inventory that can get you what you want. It's the greatest inventory system I've ever seen... again, that sounds boring and I'm sorry. But Jesus Christ, it's perfect. Every item has so much personality. Frozen unagi rolls, Shaker Lemon Pie, Captain Spree's Fish Sticks, I adore this kind of detail.

MotherF**kin' Glucassist!

It's no accident that item discovery matters so much, because this is one hell of a sci fi haunted house. The best since the first Dead Space. The offices and living quarters are bursting with intrigue hidden on computers or notes. The station's "Guts" force you to become an anti-gravity fighter pilot. The outside is it's own wilderness pockmarked with treasure troves blown out into space. In other words, getting lost on TALOS-1 is the most fun I've had exploring a game since I... I honestly can't remember. Maybe New Vegas.

But sadly, all those unique strengths can't hide it's obvious weaknesses. The small character moments shine while the grand set pieces bore. The exploration and looting loop breaks down in the ultimately dull combat. The enemy variety eventually devolves into unimaginative literal blobs. The ending twist will not work for everyone. But it certainly worked for me!


Prey is what Warren Spector would have made if he had started out in this generation, for good and ill. The question is how much you like exploring. Did you tear Rapture upside down trying to shake out every last audio log? Then this. Is. Your. Sh*t. It may not go down as well as the other System Shock games; but it remains the closest thing to it in almost 20 years.

 I hope you like it.

Let's take a walk outside,