Top 10 Evil Video Game Characters

Boy, this is a very vague category, isn’t it?  There are a plethora of great villains in gaming.  Some of the best that have ever been.  The problem is that the bulk of those villains are crazy people.  Or they have some redeemable qualities about them.  No, I am talking about the straight-up EVIL characters.  The ones who consciously choose to do horrible things, out of pure self-interest.  This list is for them.  Not the insane loony-tunes who do evil shit because they can.  So sorry, everyone, but no Vas or Kefka.  They were crazy.  Really, really crazy.  I also am going to exclude characters who are driven by a sense of misguided good intentions.  So characters like Marlene from The Last of Us are out.  For the characters who choose to do horrible things, because…reasons.  Some of them better than others.

Celeste10. Celeste
Mirror’s Edge
Some of you might be scratching your heads at this.  I mean, what did she actually do?  I’ll tell you.  She was part of an operation that was working purely to kill all the Runners.  She assassinated two people who were going to derail the plan, along with framing Faith’s sister.  She even tries to kill Faith, once she is on Project Icarus’ tail.  Why does she do all of this?  Easy – to save her own skin.  Everything that she does is so that she doesn’t have to worry about being killed by Project Icarus.  What a bitch!  What’s more, she gets away with it!  She’s the only villain on this list who gets everything she could have wanted.  After her and Faith fight it out, the girl is able to slink away.  An evil bitch and lucky.  Not cool.

Albert Wesker9. Albert Wesker
Resident Evil (series)
This guy is a rotten egg from the word go!  When you first meet him, he is using the STARS team to get back into the mansion in Raccoon City, so he can download the data from his experiments and use it for his own ends.  After unleashing the Tyrant on the team, he is thought to be dead.  But he comes back later, shown to once-again be working to undermine Umbrella and get his own way.  Finally, you see that in Resident Evil 5, he has gotten everything he could have asked for.  By exploiting the Las Plagas parasite, he mutates them and plans on dropping the parasite on the entire world.  How does he gain all this power?  By using a community in Africa as his petri dish.  What a dick!  He is so low on this list because of how DUMB his death is.  For real, his death is when the series jumped the shark.  Well, more than having a zombie dinosaur.

Frank Fontaine8. Frank Fontaine
Bioshock
When it comes to self-interest, Fontaine is the absolute master.  When he arrived in Rapture, he saw a chance to make it big.  Exploiting the economic disparity between the rich and the poor.  But when Plasmids came along, he was on Cloud 9!  He knew that these things would be his key to rising to power.  It got him the biggest fortune in Rapture, turned the entire population into slaves, needing to get more and more to keep from going insane and mutating into hideous monsters.  Then, after all was said and done, he was planning on using the plasmids to become a god-like creature.  While not the shady businessman that Augustus Sinclair was, he definitely knew how to make the most of what he had.  A pity that you cut such a lively career short.

Ruvik7. Ruvik
The Evil Within
As far as evil people, Ruvik is the closest on this list to sympathetic.  But he really isn’t.  See, this guy is not really a guy anymore.  He’s a brain that’s being experimented on by the people that turned on him.  That sounds grim, but you find out that this dude REALLY had some bad karma coming for him.  He used the people in the town he lived in as test subjects for experiments where he toyed with people’s brains.  He lobotomized, used, and tortured people for his amusement.  His hatred of them is based entirely on the fact that the people lit the barn that him and his sister were playing in on fire.  Guess that he got the last laugh out of that.  When his former comrade turns on him, and turns him into a brain in a vat, he decides to use the boy Leslie as a living vessel to put his mind into.  Sebastian is supposed to have stopped him, but at the very end, you see Leslie walking away, very calmly.  Was it Ruvik?  Since they are saying that a sequel is not happening, I guess we’ll never know…

Vladimir Makarov6. Vladimir Makarov
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (series)
Talk about guys with big ideas, Makarov is by far one of the most cruel villain.  His entire goal that he is doing is to have Russia rise as the world’s greatest nation, whether it wants to or not.  To do this, he will even kill his own countrymen and women.  In one of the most insanely-evil and clever plots, he has his forces pretend to be Americans and butchers an entire airport full of people.  He then deploys chemical weapons to get Europe into the fight.  And when the Russian President is ready to talk peace, guess who’s having none of that!  Makarov is the most insane nationalist ever, who will kill the leader of his own mother country for the express purpose of keeping a war going.  He’s a real sick bastard, this one…

Seymour Guado5. Seymour Guado
Final Fantasy X
The Final Fantasy franchise has a ton of great villains to pick from.  But when it comes to evil people, there are very few who aren’t crazy people.  I know, so many of you were wanting to see Kefka on this list, but sorry, that dude is a bag full of cats.  Seymour, on the other hand, is a lot smarter than first appears.  This is a guy who is in the game to gain more power.  As part of the corrupt faith that worships Yevon, Seymour wants to get higher and higher up the totem pole.  To the point that he is really using all the other Maesters to get what he wants.  Eventually, he decides that the faith itself can’t get him what he wants, so he decides – I’ll embrace genocide!  He kills other Maesters, tries to marry and then subsequently kill Yuna, in order to turn her into an Unsent like him.  He genocides the ronso people when they try and stop him from chasing down the group as they make their way to Zanarkand.  And after all that, he decides that he is going to go into Sin itself and steal its power, in order to be a god.  This dude is more than a little ambitious, but he definitely is an evil prick.  He might seem crazy, but the fact is that this guy has all his ducks in a row.  He just gives ZERO fucks about who gets hurt along the way.  And he’s in love with himself.

Master Xehanort4. Master Xehanort
Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep
A lot like Seymour, here’s a guy who wants all the power, and doesn’t give a fuck who he hurts along the way.  In fact, the thing that puts him above Seymour is that he takes the time out to hurt the people who are after him.  Not only did he rip a chunk out of Ventus’ heart, which he then turns on him, in order to turn him completely into darkness.  Knowing that if Vanitas is killed, he still wins.  Then he decides to turn Terra against his master and his friends, having his heart embrace the darkness inside.  When his plan to make the X-Blade fails, he has no qualms with using the darkness inside Terra to forge a bond with his heart.  All of this is so the Keyblade Wars will start over again, and result in the forging of a new X-Blade.  He takes such relish in how much wrong he is doing so that he can get this sword and the power that comes with it.  The only bummer is that, now that Leonard Nimoy has passed away, we aren’t going to get to hear that awesome voice to end this character.  Bummer.

Van Grants3. Van Grants
Tales of the Abyss
You ever been so mad at society that you are willing to destroy it?  And when I say destroy it, I mean to kill the living shit out of people and destroy all of society?  If so, then you and Van have something in common.  Van hates the world, and the religion that it follows so much – the Score.  The Score predicts everything that happens, and people let bad things happen because the Score predicts it.  Van sees that as madness, and he wants to destroy the world in order to remake it as a world that is no longer connected to the Score.  His utter hatred for every single person in the world that isn’t with him is just amazing.  Hell, he doesn’t even care about his own people, either.  This man has a mission, and he’ll do whatever it takes to accomplish it.  Global genocide?  Meh.  Killing his own sister?  He acknowledges that that sucks, but he still is willing to go the distance to get the job done.  A man with a mission.  A violent, horrifying mission.

Dr. Angus Bumby2. Dr. Angus Bumby
Alice: Madness Returns
This good doctor is probably one of the calmest and most collected of the people on this list.  The doctor has a plan.  See, he is a psychologist, but the hospital that he runs is most certainly not a place of healing.  He takes in children, using hypnosis and mind games to turn them into vacant husks.  After this is done, he sells them into slavery.  He even has a plan for Alice.  After wiping out her mind, he plans to sell her into sexual servitude.  It is revealed that he was sexually abusing her little sister, and set the fire that killed Alice’s entire family.  This man is pure evil on a calm level.  Like he just takes the evil that he does in a cool way.  After everything is revealed, he still isn’t that worked up.  He sees that the damage to Alice is done, and even if she gets revenge against him, he will still have won.  A sick, sick man…

And the most evil character in video games is…

David1. David
The Last of Us
Some of you might want to argue that this guy is crazy, but you only really see his mind snap after he believes himself to be infected with the fungal infection inside Ellie.  Up til then, while he is a sick man, he is also very calm and collected.  He seems like such a simple and unassuming man.  But he is the leader of a group of people who have decided to throw all of their humanity away in the rubbish bin and embrace cannibalism.  He wants Ellie to become one of them, but he also wants her because he is sexually attracted to her.  It’s made clear when he is talking to her about why he is keeping her alive, and he touches her hand.  This man has a clear objective, all centered around this one little girl – break her, then have her as his own.  Given the level of cool and careful that he exudes, it’s clear that he has come to terms with how evil he is rather well.  That’s what really sets him apart.  So many evil characters in gaming all see what they do as part of some greater good.  David, like pretty much ever other character in The Last of Us, sees himself as a survivor.  One who has done what it takes to keep his little commune alive.  Given the fact that he wants Ellie both as a partner and for sex, it’s kind of disturbing, you gather that women who end up in his commune don’t last long.  This man is evil, totally fine with it, and even embraces it as the cost of living.  Makes you wonder if that’s what all people are capable of.

Let me know what evil characters you think should have made the list in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“You’re awful quick to judge, considering the fact that you’ve killed how many of my men?” – David, The Last of Us

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Detroit: Become Human – Teaser

For those who have never heard of it, there is a little gaming company called Quantic Dream.  They make some of the most depressing and visually-stunning games that have ever been.  The first time I heard of them was with a game called Heavy Rain.  That is one of the most miserable games I’ve ever played, solving a mystery of a serial killer.  It had a TON of endings, and no ability to fail.  Your fail status was when you got the shitty endings.  There was more than one.  But it was still a great game, aside from some of the control problems.  No joke, that game was a complete mess to control.  Though, at times, that made it even more impressive.  Something about controlling the limbs of a man who is cutting off his own finger to keep his son alive is just so horrible.  Makes you feel connected to the action.

Next there was a game called Beyond: Two Souls.  Starring the adorable Ellen Page and the cryptic Willem Dafoe, it was a great game as well.  While it didn’t have the vast amount of different endings as its predecessor, it did have a much better control scheme, and gave you a nice way to interact with what was also a very grim story.  But the visual style was a cut above the rest.  It showed off what the PS3 was capable of, and was one of my favorite games on the platform, second only to the absolute perfection that was The Last of Us.

However, we now have a new console, and it seems that this company is looking to show off what this is capable of.  They have released a trailer for a new game that is both cryptic and a concept we’ve seen before.  Rather than talk too much about it right now, I’ll show you the trailer.  Then we’ll discuss it.  The game is called Detroit: Become Human.

They say at the end that this trailer was done using an in-game engine.  Holy shit!  This game looks fucking gorgeous!  I get that the idea is to show off the very best that this game has to offer, but man, I am impressed.  Since this is a teaser, we haven’t learned much about how the game is going to play.

From what I can tell, the story revolves around a girl who looks an awful lot like Jennifer Lawrence, but isn’t.  I looked it up.  Hell of a likeness, though.  Maybe it’s that pixie cut.  Not the biggest fan, but there is enough here to sink my teeth into.  Like the fact that this game is about a near future, where mechanical androids exist and seem to function as slaves in society.  This game follows someone who was somehow able to get away from that.  She lives a free life.  How?  What is she going to do?  It’s all very in the dark, but this trailer was about setting up the world that the game inhabits.  Getting us all ready to see how much further we can dive in.  Not to mention being something of a tech demo for Quantic Dream’s engine.  Them getting their jollies off to their own power.

But, as I said with Beyond: Two Souls, the thing that worries me is going to be the control scheme.  It wasn’t perfect in that game, either.  There were points, a lot of points, where the game was awkward as shit to control.  Calling it tank controls is being nice.  The controls for Aiden were great, but Jodie was a pain in the ass to move around.  This game looks to be embracing a cyberpunk vibe.  Since it’s Quantic Dream, I am assuming that it’s going to be WAY more Blade Runner than Appleseed (a terrible film, but I needed an example of something in the cyberpunk genre that is fast paced.  If you have a better example, let me know).  But any good cyberpunk story is going to have some points where there has to be action.  Especially if the idea is that this girl is going to become a leader in some sort of revolution.  They are hinting at that, but I am hoping that it doesn’t go that route.  She wants to be human, so maybe there will be more to it than that.  I’m a story-seeker, remember.  That’s the thing that appeals to me first.

For a game from a company that has visual fidelity locked down, but clumsy controls, I am going to be a little careful when it comes to my Initial Verdict.  This game looks amazing.  As tech demos go, I’m impressed.  Now we’ll wait to see if this company is able to deliver on the controls and the great story angle, once gameplay trailers are released.  Since there is no established date on when this is coming out, that could be a while.  Until then…

Initial Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Critical Examination: Facial Expression in Video Games

Perhaps I haven’t talked enough about how much I like Life is Strange.  Now that I’ve gotten past my rage point about the ending to the series, I can’t honestly hate it.  It’s like my favorite book – The Amber Spyglass.  That book has one of the most miserably-depressing endings that I’ve ever read.  Sad endings don’t bother me.  At least, not on their own.  Where the Red Fern Grows is the saddest book I’ve ever read.  But I don’t hate the ending.  Okay, that bit right at the end is cheesy as fuck.  I mean, the tie in to the title is the ferns growing on the dogs’ graves?  Weak!  But everything leading up to that felt right.  It was sad.  So sad, that when my teacher was reading this to the class during lunch in 5th Grade, she couldn’t finish.  No joke, that was the first time I ever got to do public speaking.  It was when I went up and finished that story.  It was so hard not to cry in front of the class.  Felt very cool, too.  I was the one she picked.  That was special.

Sad endings, however, have to still make sense within the context of their universe.  Which was my problem with The Amber Spyglass.  That ending comes out of nowhere, is unfathomably depressing, and there’s no reason for it!  In fact, it is so bad that I actually listed it in a post of the top 10 plotholes in things I like.  That bad.  The ending to Life is Strange is much the same.  It is pointlessly depressing, for no reason.  Not to mention all the unanswered questions.  For a game that went so far out of its way to build up the quest for the truth, there were too many things that felt unanswered.  Which leaves me suspecting that there is a sequel coming out.  That bothers me, because I honestly can’t see it improving.

But enough of all that.  The reason that I am bringing up this game, for hopefully the last time, is because I want to talk about a really big flaw in this game, that unfortunately there is no way to fix.  If they wanted to,  they could redo the ending.  But they won’t.  However, the flaw that I am going to talk about now can’t be fixed, due to the limitations of the game’s engine.  That flaw is the facial expressions.

When I was a little kid, facial expression in gaming didn’t mean much, to me.  After all, gaming was too young for stuff like that.  Character thoughts and feelings had to be expressed with exposition.  I didn’t blame the games for that.  It was the tools they had to work with.  Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a great game, but the fact is that it is simply the story of the hero’s journey.  It makes some point about how hard it is to grow up and how leaving childhood behind is never easy (something that observing Tumblr has taught me oh so well, as it is filled with people kicking and screaming to stay in their childhoods), but the fact is that this wasn’t an especially complicated narrative.  Wonder if I’ll get any Nintendo fanboys (or girls) who will come and try and make a dissertation to me that I’m wrong.  Anyway, the fact is that due to the limitations of what they had, old games couldn’t tell stories about characters that involved too much emotion, because everything had to be conveyed through text or dialogue.  And early games were known for how atrocious their dialogue was.  I mean, have you heard some of the stuff from games like the first Silent Hill?

Yeah, that’s pretty bad.  But that’s just how things were, early on.  Gaming was a young medium, so it could only get so deep.  Let’s have another brief digression to talk about something else – facial expression in other visual mediums.  For those who know, one of the hallmarks of the series Cowboy Bebop was the fact that characters could say one thing, but through both dialogue and facial expression, say two or more things and once.  Anime has had some truly amazing pieces of facial expression.  Since it is a medium that is overly-expressive, emotions tend to be shown big.  Really, really big.  It’s like a neat amount of melodrama, that can be combined with subtlety as well.  Like in the original Fullmetal Alchemist series.  Unlike its successor, the original series was a very subtle story about two brothers and their journey to reclaim their bodies.  Over the course of the series, the two learn the true meaning of sacrifice, and were it not for the STUPID ending that is a complete deus ex machina (for real, memories as equivalent exchange for someone’s life?  Give me a break…), it would have been one of the greatest tragic tales ever told.  With Alphonse having given everything, and Edward realizing that while he could never get back when he lost, all he could do is move forward.  Cathartic?  In a way.  The series was about sacrifice and loss.  Alphonse would make that final sacrifice, to give everything about to the brother he loved so much.

Film, however, uses facial expression in a much bigger way.  Watch the film The Bad Sleep Well, and you will see what I mean.  Akira Kurosawa was a master of using subtle acting to tell great stories.  It helps that he was working with Toshiro Mifune, one of the greatest actors to ever live.  There is a great scene in the film where it is just three people in a room.  You have Mifune’s character, who is undercover.  A man that he is framing, to keep himself out of the line of fire.  And the person in charge, who could destroy him if he is caught.  Just through the use of expression, you can see the story get told.  It is a scene where you have a man go from being nearly in trouble, to being alone again, planning his next move.  There is almost no dialogue.  It’s all done through expression.  That’s amazing!  Film is the medium to capture this the best.

The first time that I genuinely saw what facial expression could be like in video games was in a little game called Final Fantasy X.  In that game, we have the story of a man who is thrown out of his world and forced to fight to defend another.  It’s a very emotional story, focusing on the young man’s inner hatred of his father, his feeling of helplessness at being trapped where he is, and the fact that he wants to go home, but can’t.  It’s a very hardcore game.  It also has some incredible use of just voice acting and facial expression to sell moments.  Like the following scene…

This scene runs the emotional gamut!  You have Yuna facing down the fact that she has lost her faith and feels lost and alone.  You have Tidus offering her a way out, appealing to the fact that he wants to go home, and giving her a way to leave all of her pain behind.  You have Yuna hating the fact that she can’t take him up on it.  Then, you have both of them sharing a romantic moment together, letting their love shine through.  Out of context, that is not the easiest thing to really see, but it’s there all the same.  Not only is that scene emotionally intense, but you can feel their emotions through the use of facial expression.  It was the first time that I saw that video games can tell emotional stories without a ton of exposition.  Or at least exposition alone.

In recent years more than any other, video games are capitalizing on it.  Without the incredible facial animation, would the scene at the end of The Last of Us be anywhere near as good?  Would you be able to sell the emotional gamut that that scene has?  Where Ellie is confronting Joel about his obvious lie, then choosing to accept the lie?  Without that amazing facial animation, how else could it be done?  Modern gaming has done incredible things with facial animation, partly through the use of motion capture cameras.  This technology was first pioneered in games like Heavy Rain, but didn’t really become the amazing force that it was until a game called L.A. Noire.  That game used facial expression to help you solve crimes.  If the game hadn’t felt the need to embrace the Grand Theft Auto side of Rockstar’s repertoire, then maybe it could have gone further with it.  But you take the good with the bad.

Video games have come a LONG way from where they started.  Games that would otherwise be rather unremarkable are made remarkable because of the fact that they focus on narrative-driven stories.  Games like Bioshock Infinite.  I think that’s a great game, but the reality is that without the truly wonderful characters and really insane plot, that game’s mechanics aren’t especially remarkable.  This is the thing that makes modern gaming truly special.  Which leads me back, finally, to Life is Strange.

The biggest thing hold this game back, in my opinion, was the facial animation.  The world of that game has some amazing depth and detail.  And the voice acting was at the top of its class.  While the dialogue could be utterly-ridiculous at times, it is the sheer emotional dedication from every character that sells it.  You feel for these people.  But I think you would feel for them more if the facial animation was better.  Let me give you an example.

This is my absolute favorite scene in the entire series.  Hands-down, this is where the peak of the emotion in this game comes in.  I had been wanting there to be a scene where Max tells Chloe the truth about what happened in the alternate timeline, along with how she feels about what she has done to Chloe in so many timelines, and nowhere was it more on display than right here.

But there is one major problem – you can HEAR the pain in Max’s voice.  You can hear her getting torn up and on the verge of breaking down.  But you can’t see it.  This scene could have been SO much better with better facial animation.  For one, why isn’t Max crying?  It sounds like she is.  Everything in that delivery says that Max is crying when she tells Chloe the truth about William and what she did to her in the alternate timeline.  Hearing the hurt is great, but this isn’t an audio medium.  It’s a visual one.  I wanted to see Max’s pain.  I wanted to see Chloe’s uncertainty and sudden diffusion of her anger as she is watching a girl that she may or may not be falling for sobbing in front of her.  Not only would it have made that scene a real tear-jerker, but it would have made so many other scenes that much better.  At times, the facial animation works.  But there are too many places where it works against the game, like these people are marionettes on strings.

Great facial animation means something, in gaming.  Now more than ever, games can have great narratives that make you feel for the characters in them.  It’s why I went from hate to love when getting to know the characters in Until Dawn.  It’s why Joel and Ellie are two of my favorite characters in anything!  Great voice acting is a great thing, but it can only go so far.  We need gaming to deliver something more.  Without characters to deliver on that, it is impossible to really take in how much great narratives can do in this medium.

But let me know what you all think.  Am I totally off-base on this issue?  Are you able to get all the emotional depth you need out of just voice acting?  Or does all of this seem pretentiously stupid?  I wouldn’t blame you if you thought that way.  I do overanalyze everything, from what I hate to what I love.  Let me know in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“No!  Not this way!  Chloe, I can’t keep fixing everything if all I’m going to do is just break it, over and over again!”  -Max Caulfield, Life is Strange

Peace out,

Maverick

RAB: Dildo Pipes and Halloween Insensitivity

You ever notice how pathetic the modern world of growth is?  By that I mean the fact that humanity has been able to travel into space and do amazing things with that technology, yet here we are, still stuck on this tiny orb that orbits the Sun.  Just this tiny orb.  Just one.  Am I the only person who feels that this is so much bullshit?!  I can’t be.  Someone else out there has to be as annoyed as I am that the limits of our species productivity is to be stuck on one measly little planet.  But hey, we have 3D printers that can make railguns now!  Wow!  Isn’t that so amazing?!  We also have 3D printers that can make candy!  Well slap some syrup on me and call it pancakes!  There are also these phones, where we can download apps that drown us in stupid bullshit for hours on end.  We even have made an app to give ratings to other people!  Yeah, because that’s a great idea.

Here’s another great example of how humanity is living up to its potential.  I read a story today about a pipe that you can smoke your weed in, that also doubles as a dildo.  Did you hear that, ladies?  There’s a pipe that exists that you can literally fuck yourself with!  Because who doesn’t want to put their lips on a pipe covered in vag juice?  Ladies, that sit well with you?  Sticking something in your pussy that has had pot smoke flowing through it?  Part of me is genuinely curious.  Another part is so utterly annoyed and embarrassed by how pathetic our species is.

But wait, it gets better!  In addition to a weed pipe that you can shove in your pussy, here’s somethings else!  There’s a product that is known as cannabis lube.  That’s right, you can rub weed all over your pussy before sex.  I honestly cannot describe how much I find that fact utterly repugnant.  There’s only one way that I can adequately describe my reaction to this.

It never ceases to amaze me how little humanity is doing with its potential.  Why do we not have a colony on the Moon?  Why are there no space colonies?  Why have we not wrangled an asteroid or two and are mining the living shit out of them?  Why do we not have any colonies on Mars?  It is utterly beyond me that we don’t even try and do amazing things anymore.  Not in ‘Murica, that is.  Other countries.  I am hearing other countries talking about colonies on Mars by 2020.  That’s impressive!  You know who should be heading that?  How about this country?  How about America taken some of the absolutely worthless military industrial complex and invest it in giving humanity a future?  Groj-dammit, we are coming out with a new shitty phone every few months.  Why can’t we be coming out with a new spacecraft that quickly?  If we were actually trying to invest in humanity’s future, this country would have production plants where we would be revolutionizing and building spacecraft.  America would be at the head of a mining effort that is absolutely sustainable and could take some of the heat off this world.  There is NO reason why we can’t invest in asteroid mining.  Or space travel in general.  We invested over $1 trillion in the F-35.  It doesn’t even work!  It will never see combat, and we sunk that kind of money into it!  Fuck me!

But maybe humanity isn’t supposed to last in the long term anyway.  After all, it’s another year that Halloween is rolling around, and the social justice crowd is in full swing talking about how awful and degrading and racist and every buzzword under the sun this holiday is.  I swear, BuzzFeed should just change its name to – Fck White People!  Especially White Men!  At least then, I could admire their honesty.  If the social justice crowd actually knew how to have fun, what a wonderful world it would be, am I right?  If they were able to take their minds off the ableist, sexist, transphobic, whatever bullshit sensors that run their lives, and instead make them actually decide to enjoy this time that they are given, who knows how things would get better.

There was a great video by The Vivian Project where she tells the story of a former roommate of hers that went full into the social justice mindset.  It sounds like it was so miserable.  To live your life constantly feeling oppressed and choosing to take every little thing as some horrible slight against you.  I honestly felt a little sorry for the girl in her story.  A pity that it ended the way it did.  But I recommend finding that video.  It will really change your perspective on these people.  How miserable a life must one lead where you are constantly having to point out how bad things are?  These people couldn’t like a video game that should have appealed to them because there were no women writers.  They hate on a video game that is based on Celtic lore, because there are no black people.  Wrap your head around that one.  They had to make a huge issue about a character that had NEVER been indicated to be trans, and make it a button issue because, “stop oppressing us!”

Life is short, SJWs.  There is no shame in realizing that things are what they are and trying to enjoy what time you have, the best way you know how.  To step out of the echo chamber for a while and just enjoy something because it makes you feel good.  I know, that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to you.  To just take something in and enjoy it because it’s a quality product.  I do it every day.  Granted, there are still things that annoy me.  But I don’t let that annoyance consume my life.  I get annoyed, feel the feel, then move on.  It’s a good way to do things.  Because if I didn’t, then this annoyance would become my entire life.  Just like it does theirs.  They see Halloween costumes and are angry at them.  Costumes.  A fucking costume is upsetting these people.  I can already hear the people who are going to come in here…

But Lucien, this is their culture!  How would you like it if people made fun of your culture!

How do you know it’s making fun of it?  No joke, how do you know that?  Are you in their heads?  If, a couple years ago, someone dressed up as PSY and did that stupid dance, does that make fun of South Korean pop culture?  If someone puts on white face paint and goes as some gothic emo kid, does that make fun of goth culture?  What if someone just wants to have fun, and likes that look?  How is that making fun of another person’s culture?  I legitimately want a fucking answer to this, because it’s so dumb.

In other words – it’s a fucking holiday about kids and candy!  Have fun with the kids and the fucking candy!  Or go get schnockered with some people.  Actually live a little.  You might just like what you find.

Until next time, a quote,

“I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.”  -Professor Farnsworth, Futurama

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Carmen (Anchorage Opera)

CarmenEvery so often, I actually am able to get out and take in some real culture.  Believe it or not, I really like that. I like to go to places where I am woefully underdressed – in my ratty trench coat, cargo pants and plain tee shirt – and see what life would be like if I were some poncy rich person.  But that wasn’t why I was at this show.  I was at this one because my cousin’s husband was in this opera.  He’s a talented guy, and I am glad that he’s putting his talent to use.  One of my button issues is when I see talent not being used.  It’s like a muscle.  Don’t use it and it atrophies.  Can’t have that.  So, he got me a ticket for the show, and I was stoked because without that, I wouldn’t have gone at all.  With that in mind, let’s talk about the opera by Bizet.

The plot tells the story of a young temptress named Carmen, and her seduction of a young soldier named Don Jose.  As is typical in any great opera, it is a story of love, loss, and tragic death.  I’d say spoiler alert, but come on.  You all know what this was.  Anyone who knows opera knows that it’s either comedic, tragic, or the germanic operas that Lord of the Rings took a lot of inspiration.  In other words, it’s either tragic or comedic.  This is the former.  The plot really isn’t why people come to see these things anyway, so let’s talk about the nitty-gritty.

For starters, I like the minimalist sets that they had.  It makes sense, considering this opera takes place in four acts, and each act is in a profoundly different place.  Plus, there was some expert use of lighting.  Good lighting can make all the difference, and this time they had a clever use of lighting behind the sets to help set the mood even more.  Not bad, my good sirs and madams.

Next ups, there were the costumes.  Props to the people they had working on this!  No joke, this was really something!  Of course, the thing that people pay the most attention to are the dresses.  Carmen was definitely looking her best through this entire performance.  But I liked some of the other attire.  Such as the soldiers uniforms.  Who knew that yellow could make for a good uniform color?  I certainly didn’t.  But it was set in Spain, so that’s how it goes.  Though the music is all in French.  Weird, huh?  My French is rusty as fuck, but so much of the verbiage was in French that I couldn’t help but taken notice, even if I didn’t know all the words all the time.  Lastly, there was the matador and his attire.  This guy looked great!  I get that all bullfighters were basically performers, but I got why he would catch people’s eyes.  All this, however, is totally beside the point.  It’s an opera.  The thing that everyone wants to hear about is the performances.  It’s where all operas get all their strength or detraction.  So, what’s there to be said about that?  Quite a bit, actually.

I feel kind of bad for the guy who sang the part of Don Jose.  He was REALLY putting his all into this, and it definitely told.  I gotta give this guy props, even if I am now about to say something that is detracting.  As hard as this guy tried to throw every bit of heart and soul that he could, he was simply overshadowed, by the two characters who absolutely stole this show.

The first was Carmen, performed by Audrey Babcock.  Holy shit!  Not only did this woman have AMAZING presence, but her performance was a cut above the rest.  I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.  The aforementioned cousin’s husband told me that she’s done this role roughly 30 times!  Well, props to Anchorage Opera, they’ve got an eye for talent.  This woman owned this role so thoroughly, and created a character that is both seductive and foul at the same time.  You love her, you hate her, and everything in-between.  This role was the one that made this entire show work.  Makes sense, given that her character’s name is in the title, but hot damn!  You could have had the cast not be there and it wouldn’t have mattered.

Next, there was the gentleman who played Escamillo (the matador), Guido LeBron.  If there is one thing about this performance, it is that I really felt like this is a guy that I would like.  There was something about this character that was so enjoyable to listen to.  It’s like some dude who you would LOVE to have a beer with.  He’s boisterous, a braggart, and totally in love with himself.  But he isn’t a total dick about it.  He can play to the crowd, have fun, and takes little personally.  There is a scene where he even admits that he wants to be with Carmen for the pure purpose of distraction.  But he plays it off so casually so as to tell her – this isn’t permanent, sugar, so don’t go getting too attached.  No wonder she found his company so enjoyable.  They were both looking for something from one-another, and both of them found it.

If there is one thing that I can say didn’t work about this opera, it’s the climax.  At the end, you have the ruined and lost Don Jose having tracked Carmen down and meaning to confront her for the last time.  It starts off very well.  However, maybe it was the stuff going on in the background, or the fact that the background stuff and the music felt kind of distracting, but the tragic side of the story seemed to get very lost in how quickly Don Jose stabbed her and she was dead.  Like, you could blink and you’d miss it.  That was a little bit odd, and left me feeling – did it end?  That was quick.  However, that is just me being a total nit-picky douche.  To my credit, it’s what I do.  Part of why I’m sure you all enjoy what I put out there.

This was an excellent performance, and everyone involved should be proud of their work.  Ironic moment – there was the scene where the audience gets to meet Carmen for the first time, but I couldn’t help but be transfixed by this stunningly pale blonde.  Carmen is beautiful, but my tastes will always get in the way.  Perhaps I just couldn’t be beguiled by her charms.  In any case, great show, and everyone involved should be proud.  It’s too late to see it now, but here is my review all the same.  Take it for what you will.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

My Relative Perspective on Review (A response to Total Biscuit)

A response where I’m not angry at the person talking?  Yeah, doesn’t that feel weird.  Normally I respond to people who I take umbrage with.  That’s not to say that I agree with all the people I watch all the time.  I really don’t.  Sometimes I very much disagree.  I did a response to Super Bunnyhop’s video about E3 2015 and hype for games.  I think that he sounds burned out of big budget games.  The games he praises these days are the smaller games.  That’s not to say that I think all big budget games are great.  Far from it.  This year has been an example of a game that had a huge budget, came from a great company, and absolutely sucked.  I am, of course, talking about Batman: Arkham Knight.  Between the repetitive vehicle combat and the story that shoots itself in the foot so hard that it legitimately pissed me off, this is a game that I am never going to be able to love, because it is just a let-down.

For those who don’t know, I’m a fan of a British game reviewer called Total Biscuit.  When I found out that his cancer has come back, and it is inoperable, it hurts.  This is a good guy, who is still going out of his way to bring reviews and thoughts about games to gamers, even facing adversity.  He has said that he is going to fight this cancer right to the very end, and I think that he is great for that.  I wish him all the best, and if his fight fails, and he leaves this world, he will have another person who is going to be saddened by his passing.  I’ve never talked to the guy, but that’s how I feel.  Best of luck, TB.

Anyway, he made a video talking about this idea of relativism in game reviews.  It is hard to be objective, after all.  If I were 100% objective, then my reviews of both Arkham Knight and the final episode of Life is Strange would have been very good.  Neither game had a problem, from a mechanical aspect.  However, when I couldn’t get away from the fact that I took MAJOR problems with both games.  With both of them, my chief problem is the story.  But I’ll get to that in a few.  TB put out a video some time ago, talking about how there is this idea that if a game reviewer doesn’t like the games that one likes, then their opinion isn’t worth taking.  I’ll let you watch the video, then I’ll talk about it.

This video got me to thinking about something.  TB says that when you look at a person’s review of a game, then you should really get to know a lot about what that reviewers stickler points are and use that to judge whether or not you take their reviews or thoughts on games seriously.  I happen to agree with him.  TB said that for him, the things he likes in games are things like mechanics and gameplay.  It’s why he despises games like Dear Esther and would most likely despise a game that I very much enjoyed – Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture.  That’s fine.  He is totally within his rights to enjoy games for his own reasons.  But as he said, it’s good to know where your game reviewer stands.  With that in mind, I thought that I would tell you, my faithful audience, where I stand on games.

I am a story seeker.  It’s always been the reason that I game.  It’s why I watch movies, read books, am very picky about my TV shows.  I like a good story.  Not only that, but I like stories that are more character-driven than plot-driven.  It’s why I love Game of Thrones so much.  There is a plot, in that series, but it is very second-fiddle to the characters.  At least in most seasons.  This latest one is definitely my least favorite, but I get why it went down the way it did.  They are setting things up for the end game.  There are three seasons left of this series.  The show-runners said that they will pay whatever it takes to get an eighth season.  I think that’s good.  Gives them time to take more time for character development, instead of the plot stuff.  Don’t get me wrong, I like some of the plot stuff.  I could watch that battle of Hardhome over and over again for hours.  That was fucking awesome!  That scene where Jon Snow is fighting a White Walker was so incredible!  I am one of the people who believes that he’ll be back.  He’s been seen on set too much for that not to be the case.  He’s gonna be back, but I am thinking that he’ll have some baggage along the way.

But I game for stories.  Am I forgiving of bad mechanics?  Hell no!  If a game is unplayable, I won’t tough it out for a good story. But if a game’s mechanics are simplistic, I can deal with that if the narrative keeps me going.  It is why my favorite game of 2015, up until now, had been Life is Strange.  A character-driven story about a girl who can alter time.  That was great.  If it hadn’t of ended on such a sour note, then it would be among my favorite games of all time.  The plot of a game is the thing that calls to me, and that is something that you need to know.  Not only that, but the characters as well.  If I can’t believe a game’s characters, then the game is very dead to me.  I can already hear some of my detractors…

But Lucien, you were all over DmC: Devil May Cry!  That game’s story was ridiculous and the characters were cardboard cutouts!

I’m working on a review right now for a movie I just got done watching.  It was made in the 90’s, and it has every single 90’s cliche, but god-dammit, it is has fun with them!  It is able to enjoy being dumb.  It is a movie we’ve seen a thousand times, but if you can embrace the silliness and not take it too seriously, then it is a lot of fun.  That’s how I am about DmC.  It’s a silly game, where you get to cut up demons.  I also just reviewed Wolfenstein: The New Order.  That is a game where they give you guns, ammo, and Nazis to kill.  It’s awesome!  But the games that I love, the ones that stick with me the most, are the ones with stories and characters that I can feel for.  Those are the ones that leave a lasting impression.  It’s why I am still sour about both Mass Effect 3 and the last episode to Life is Strange.  Both games had some INCREDIBLE build-up!  No joke, right up to the very end, I was in love with those games!  The former especially.  I was wrapping up plots three games in the making.  I was making peace between warring factions.  I was bringing life-long enemies like the geth and quarians together.  If it hadn’t of been for the lackluster final act, that entire series would be my favorite games of all time.  If it hadn’t been for that stupid, contrived ending, the same would be true of Life is Strange.

I do try and look at the various aspects of a game.  Really, I do.  If a game lacks in some area, I’ll point it out.  While I really like Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, I didn’t give it a 9 or a 10 because it isn’t a spectacular or perfect game.  But I won’t lie, the story is the thing I pay attention to first.  Hopefully those of you who actually read my reviews (they don’t get the views you’d think) and like what you see understand that.

So yeah, that’s my thoughts.  TB’s video is good, and while I don’t agree with him on everything, I can still enjoy his content.  Good luck in your own battle, you poncy British bastard.

Until next time, a quote,

“You and I have found out that being normal sucks, because we’re freaks.  The advantage of being a freak is that it makes you stronger.  Now, how strong do you want her to have to be?”  -Gregory House, House, M.D.

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Gaming Clips: Life is Strange (Max and Chloe, Parts Twelve and Thirteen)

This feels more like an obligation than anything else.  I don’t like leaving things unfinished, so I decided to finish up my series showing the growth of the relationship between Max and Chloe, in this final episode of a game that started out with so much potential, but then died on the vine.  I’ve written a post about how the ending could have been done better (linked here), so you can check that out.  However, for those who want to see it, here are the final bits with Max and Chloe.  A head’s-up, the ending here to the episode, depending on which choice you made, will be spoiled.  I say that you aren’t missing much, but that’s just me.  If you really want to get there on your own, then I guess go play it, then get back to me.  Enjoy.

And that’s it.  The end of this game.  Hopefully.  They can only make it worse from here.  Maybe you all found something to like in here that I didn’t.  Let me know what you think down in the comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“Chloe, I can’t keep fixing everything if all I’m gonna do is keep breaking it, over and over and over again!”  -Max Caulfield, Life is Strange

Peace out,

Maverick