PewDiePie and the Death of Old Media

Before you go off and say that I am doing what everyone else has been doing and mining what has happened for clicks, hear me out.  I got me degree in Journalism and Public Communication.  I have an understanding of this medium better than most.  And it is because of that that I feel a great sense of shame and pity for what has happened here.  Everything about what has happened was a sign of how the medium that I grew up loving, who was supposed to be the vanguards of democracy, is failing.  And there is no coming back from it.  But here’s the thing – we all should have seen this coming.  From a long ways off, this was apparent to me.  It’s happened before, and it now it is beginning to happen again.

Where did it start?  You could make the argument that it most recently started with the Wall Street Journal putting out a video which was an unfounded hit-piece on the YouTube personality PewDiePie.  There was no defending that video.  None.  It was such blatant bullshit that you felt ashamed of yourself watching it.  To think that a news outlet that was once believed to be a very respectable source could make an attack video against a YouTuber for a video where he was blatantly satirizing the people calling him racist and making a joke about finally giving in and becoming a Nazi.  It was all so obvious, and the Internet tore the Journal to pieces over it.  But that isn’t where it started.

Maybe it started back in 2014, with a little uprising known as GamerGate.  Indeed, the parallels between what happened to Felix and that instance are rather shocking.  We have a corrupt press colluding together to take on an Internet culture that is clearly a threat to their industry, and now we see the beginnings of a new culture war.  And just like with the “Gamers are Dead” articles, now we have every major media outlet releasing a barrage of articles lambasting Felix and his politics.  Also just like GamerGate, this is blowing up in the media’s face so badly that not one person involved is walking away clean.  I don’t think this is where it started either.

The first time I truly got a taste of the downfall was looking at a video on NPR.  I didn’t believe what I was seeing.  There was a link to a video that was, quite literally, an unboxing video.  That’s right, NPR, one of the most respected journalism outlets who does some truly biting work from time to time examining critical issues. was doing an unboxing video.  It was of a PS4.  A lot of people tried to make the argument that they were trying to talk about unboxing videos.  That’s wrong.  It wasn’t a video about unboxing.  It was a fucking unboxing video.  I was so embarrassed for them at that point.  However, that most certainly wasn’t where it started.

So where was it?  Where was the great downfall of the media’s beginning?  The beginning of the Internet?  Getting closer, but still no bueno.  It was actually around the time when Princess Di was killed.  The news at the time wasn’t talking about the facts of her death.  Instead, they were creating narratives.  It couldn’t be enough that a great woman died.  No, the narrative had to be that a wonderful, fantastic woman died.  And her passing needed a good catch phrase and sad music to be played over it.  It was when cable news decided to come into the picture and turn the news from a discussion about the events of the day that transpired, to a narrative telling their audiences how to think about the news.

Here’s the thing – this idea of unbiased reporting is bullshit.  There is no such thing.  You can strive to be as unbiased as possible, have a rigorous vetting process to remove the scruples of bias to whatever extent you can.  But the cold hard truth is that you still have to deal with the fact that bias exists, and it will always be there.  Edward R Murrow admitted his bias, but his way of counter-manning it was to let the other side have its day.  He let Joseph McCarthy come on his show and give a very passionate defense of his position, where he called Murrow and his ilk all sorts of unprofessional names.  In giving his stage to his opposition, Murrow did more to cement how right he is in the eyes of the public.  Still, Murrow was biased.  The best minds are.  Walter Cronkite told some harrowing stories about the war in Vietnam, but he did so with an agenda to get the troops out of there.  He had a bias, but he had enough dedication to his craft to make sure to get people to the truth as close as he could.  It wasn’t hard to sell people on the war in Vietnam being a bad idea.

PewDiePie is the victim of a medium that is lost.  Print media is dying.  I feel it all the time.  I am just one of a thousand blogs that are ignored by the masses.  My audience is still pretty awesome, but I realize that I am part of a bygone era.  I don’t have video-making chops.  This is the best I can do.  Like all animals that feel their end coming, the media is lashing out.  PewDiePie makes for an easy target.  His popularity cannot be overstated.  Traditional media has to work very hard for all of their stories.  Felix basically just gets in front of a camera and plays video games, then he makes millions.  He makes astronomical amounts of money just by exaggerating his expressions while playing video games, and now making more original content.  Of course the media who has to work hard to make any content would despise such a person.

And for those who will say “it’s not anything to do with that!  It was the fact that he used Nazi imagery in his videos!”  First, the video they went after was so cherry-picked and avoided context where Felix showed that he has no love for Nazis, but decided to give the media who attacked him to no end what they wanted.  They do everything they can to take his videos out of context.  And when the Internet took them to task for it, the media overall decided to try and make it in to a big deal about how context doesn’t matter.  Actually, dumb fucks, it does.  It really does.

Old media is dying, and its final death throes will not be pretty.  But I don’t miss them.  Sure, the person who spent $40,000 on a degree like me would be pissed that some guy on YouTube can make boatloads of money.  But I don’t see any of them trying to make a niche for themselves.  I mean, when a high school dropout can become the biggest atheist channel on YouTube and last for longer than anyone else on the site, that means that if you can keep a fresh idea and change up for your audience enough, then you can make a new brand for yourself.  Media has to change with the times.  Its refusal to do so leads to some unbelievably sad things.

Until next time, a quote,

“The trouble is, you think you have time.” – Buddha

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Dear White People (Netflix Trailer)

You know, I’m starting to think that anti-SJWs are becoming just as bad as the SJWs they mock.  Why?  Because it seems like every little thing now leads them to some stupid boycott that won’t work and doesn’t really matter, yet gets trending on Twitter to make them feel like they are doing something important.  Recently, the trailer that we are going to watch got them all to have their panties in a bunch and start a boycott of Netflix.  Really?  Over this?  I’m a fucking hipster douche canoe who doesn’t even have streaming on Netflix and still does DVDs and even I see this as stupid.  Yeah, you just learned something about me that really makes me look pathetic.  I understand if you look down upon me.  It’s the same reason that I will have such a hard time getting into downloading games instead of having a disc copy.

This stupid boycott was started over a trailer that has a like/dislike ration that eerily mimics another big SJW-approved piece of work.  I wonder what that could be…?  And just like that one, battle lines have been drawn.  The title of this work is “Dear White People,” and I thought that we would look at this trailer and break down our impressions.  Weigh in with a more sensible voice about the nature of how good or bad it is.

So, we first get to see an image of stereotypical white people.  We have Douchebag Von Asshole V, and Betty Steenvirgin waving, as a black woman is about to tell me what kinds of Halloween costumes are acceptable.  Here’s the answer – any fucking kind I want.  I have the right to dress whatever way I want for Halloween.  As do you.  As does anyone who is watching this bullshit.  If you don’t like it, you are free not to associate with me.  As you are clearly a person with far-left, SJW political opinions, I doubt we would get along anyway.

Then it has a headline – America Needs.  Boy, I can think of a thousand things that I could fill in that end space with.  How about – to get away from dogmatic thinking?  Or maybe – to kick these SJWs to the curb?  Or, perhaps – to stop being so fucking pussy that we can’t deal with opposing points of view?  Yeah, those are all great things to fill in there.

We then get her deciding to go into a tirade about blackface.  Here’s where I am going to say something unpopular – I don’t give a fuck about blackface.  Really, I don’t.  Is it stupid?  Yeah.  Does it portray an ethnic group in a way that may be unflattering?  Probably.  But here’s the thing – that kind of shit only offends you if you have some kind of allegiance to your race.  This is something that I do not have. For example, we see our white people stereotypes.  Are they unflattering?  Sure.  Do I care?  Not at all.  Hell, I think they are kind of funny.  Like the cliche of what liberal elitist snobs are supposed to be.  These are the same kinds of people who are listening to what this bitch has to say and taking it seriously.  It isn’t the frat boys who actually want to live their lives as they see fit without breaking the law.  It isn’t the middle class people who are just going through their day-to-day and don’t give a flying fuck about all this identity politics stuff.  It’s yuppie snobs who are in Ivy League universities who are the biggest proponents of this kind of rhetoric.  The very people this woman is using to deride white people are the exact ones who are the first to come to her defense.

I have no allegiance to white people.  Hell, I don’t have an allegiance to the human race.  I’m a misanthrope.  I hate my species off-hand.  So I take people as they come.  If someone wants to mock white people, I say go for it!  Hell, I’ll join you.  I have made fun of hipsters with such gusto that my disdain for them has reached epic proportions.  I’ve made fun of rednecks.  I’ve made fun of yuppie Ivy League college students.  You want to make fun of white people?  Go right the fuck ahead.  I don’t get offended because it doesn’t mean a thing to me.  My race matters just as little to me as your race does.  I don’t give a fuck about your race either.  Fuck ethnic groups and their pet issues.  It’s beneath my attention to talk about.

So when this woman gets all butthurt about blackface, my thought is – why do you care?  I’m sure I’ll get someone who will come on here about how black people have been marginalized and shit.  Well, that was then.  Back then, blackface was an insulting thing to black people.  Nowadays, people don’t do it because it isn’t funny.  It’s not culturally acceptable.  The people in her video as example of blackface all seem to have something in common – they are young adults.  They are people in their early to mid 20’s.  The years when they are rebelling against societal norms and living on the edge.  It’s frat people and college punks looking to be offensive on purpose.  Gee, when you look at it like that, it’s almost like she is giving these people attention that they were already looking for.  Much like how Bill Maher wore a costume of Steve Irwin with a stingray barb in his chest shortly after he died.  Yeah, that was offensive, but it was done intentionally.  Getting mad about him about it just feeds into what he was looking for in the first place.

These people aren’t dressing up as you for Halloween, sweetie.  They are dressing provocatively, with the intent of getting reactions.  The fact that you let it affect you so strongly says more about you than it does about them.

And that’s it.  So, is the entire premise just some radio chick who uses the latest SJW talking points with black comedy interspersed among it?  Huh, maybe Madea will make a cameo.  Is this some big statement against white people?  No.  That’s stupid.  Would I ever watch it?  Nope.  I don’t go to Everyday Feminism because there’s only so much stupid I can handle.  Why would I watch a series personifying that kind of thinking?  And here’s the thing – this series will likely go the exact same route as that other SJW hill they had to die on.  It will be forgotten not long after it debuts.  So, with that in mind, let me give my Final Verdict.  For those who know how I rate things, it will make sense.

Final Verdict
5 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Hitman: Season One

hitmanWhen I first heard about this game, I was annoyed.  Here we have a AAA title that is being sold in episodes.  What’s more, in order to play this game, you have to be online.  I was not going to stand for that.  I refused to participate.  Just like how I refuse to participate in releasing Final Fantasy VII remake in episodes.  However, when I decided on a whim to get the disc release of the game, and holy shit, I was impressed.  The wonders of what depression can do for a man.  Here we have one of the most fantastic stealth games ever made, with a few flaws.  All things considered, I am eager to see what comes next, even though I won’t be buying the episodes.

Have you ever wanted a game where you could actually feel like a secret agent?  If so, this is your game.  This game is at its best when you play it that way.  Agent 47 is back in action.  After the insane excess that was Hitman: Absolution, this is such a breath of fresh air.  However, much like that game, one of the biggest flaws of this one is the story.  To be honest, this game would have been so much better served if it nixed the story altogether.  Just have Agent 47 doing missions to kill people.  Play it like a Bond movie and have it be bad criminals doing bad things.  Hell, the game even frames one mission where it’s rich clients who are hiring the IDA to get justice that the legal system cannot give them.  They didn’t need another convoluted conspiracy involving some supranational entity who secretly controls the world.  This trope is so overused that I am genuinely sick of it.

The plot goes that Agent 47 is hired by the IDA as their newest operative.  They are a clandestine organization who works in assassinations.  Rich people, corporations, and even national governments hire them to do wet-work operations against very dangerous people, along with some people who slipped through the legal cracks but have some very violent retribution coming their way.  However, over time, 47 and his handler realize that they are being used by a dangerous individual to attack an organization who secretly controls the world.  To what end?  Wouldn’t you like to know?

As I said, this game is basically making you a secret agent.  Each mission has you infiltrating an open level so that you can take out a series of targets and occasionally take on an adjacent task.  The goal is to go through the level and be invisible.  The IDA values no collateral damage.  You are to be ghost, who kills with perfect silence, and never leaves a trace.  And the game gives you a plethora of ways to get the job done.  Each level has dozens of routes to get to the target.  You can take the direct approach, but shooting your way through a crowd looks bad.  The levels give you a good deal of freedom when it comes to dealing with individual targets.  Some of them have little side-missions associated with them.  Sometimes you can be a ghost and sneak around without ever having to change outfits.  There are tons of disguises and hidden goodies to help you get your mission done.  No one can say that this game is unfair.  The difficulty can be whatever you want it to be, but you are still being given as much opportunities to make the kill as you like.

The best thing I can say about this game is the levels.  Not only are the visuals fucking gorgeous, I mean holy shit, but the vast open spaces let you play around with how you want to get the mission done.  Since I love to make a kill in a way where I don’t even leave anyone aware that I was there, it feels so good when I am strolling out of a place and everyone still thinks that all is well in their world.  My personal favorite was in Morocco, where I got to walk out of the Swedish Consulate and have a massive protest outside, with me not having a care in the world.  I had just killed a guy from inside a TV booth, then dragged his body into a closet where he can rot in peace until some poor cleaning person gets to find him and the knocked-out security guard that I left him in there with.

Everything in the levels of these games plays a part.  If you get made, but are able to disappear, people will be talking about what happened.  If you kill one person in an area, other people will start to notice.  Take actions and you can see the results.  My favorite was in Paris, where I dropped a massive light display on a target and had the entire procession run screaming from the show.  That was cool.  A bit more flashy than I had intended, but sometimes flashy works.  How I dropped the guy’s lover was pretty epic.

The other flaw in this game, aside from the story, is how short it is.  With five missions and the training mission, there isn’t a lot of meat.  This is a game that is meant to be replayed.  To find all the ways that you can ice your target.  You can play each mission a dozen times and still be finding new ways to play.  Whether you go from disguise to disguise, slowly working your way to your intended target, or find a tall tower with a high-powered rifle to blow your target’s head off without anyone ever even seeing you, it cannot be said that this game doesn’t let you play your way.  Reminded me of that line in Leon The Professional, where he says that the best killer can get right up next to their target, while amateurs kill from a distance.

All in all, this was worth the wait.  It sucks that Square Enix has gone this route, but I can’t fault them for the final product.  This was one hell of a game, and I will impatiently wait to see what the next season brings us.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Kingdom Hearts II.8: The Final Chapter Prologue

Kingdom Hearts 2.8Alright, time to dole out some tough love.  Because this is a game that has some good parts, but some horrific and glaring flaws that REALLY need to be pointed out and analyzed.  It’s nice to have a final act to the plot as it’s understood now, however, the cruel truth is that for all the positive elements in this game there are some truly unpleasant realities about this three-pack that I think need to be accepted.  Let’s get down into this.

As with all the other culmination packs, this game is three games wrapped up into one.  Well, two games, really.  Actually, not even that.  One game, a piece of what should have been free demo DLC, and a long-ass cutscene.  That what it is.  Let’s break them down, one-by-one.

For anyone who says that Hideo Kojima has written some convoluted narratives, you don’t know what Kingdom Hearts’ story has become.  The first game is Dream Drop Distance.  In it, we have Sora and Riku taking a mastery exam to become true Keyblade masters.  They enter a dream world where they have to open seven keys that will unlock seven sleeping worlds.  In doing so, they will somehow prove that they are masters of the keyblade or some shit.  Yeah, the narrative is bunk.  This was a cash-grab game.  And as cash-grabs so…it’s pretty standard.

We have our two iconic characters reprising their roles.  We even have a ton of the extra case reprising their roles from the other games.  Really hoping that we get to have Axel’s iconic voice and tagline in Kingdom Hearts III.  Got it memorized?  Though, it seems that Hayden Penettiere didn’t want to reprise her role as Kairi.  Bummer.  I was really hoping that would work out.  Jesse Carter comes back as Roxas, which I love.  Dying to see him come back as Ventus in the last game.

Which brings us to the gameplay.  Anyone who has played Birth By Sleep will get this combat sequence pretty quick.  It’s not hard to follow.  We get these little spirit creatures that you can create who mix things up, but it really isn’t any different from Birth By Sleep.  Add to that more worlds that are so damn empty.  Why are all the worlds in these games devoid of npcs?  It’s so weird to me that in 2017, with limited level space, we have so little happening.  If that’s the case in the third game, I’m strangling a bitch.  This game widened out the areas a lot more, which just made it that much more noticeable how there is no one in these places but the main characters and villains.  Weird to watch Quasimodo at the center of the Festival of Fools and have it be nothing but empty space.

However, when the plot of this game rears its ugly head, it drags its ass so hard.  Granted, I am happy to see old chums from previous games coming together to kick ass.  Seeing Axel fighting against his old comrades is pretty sweet.  However, it’s not worth the painful exposition-dumping that this game has all over itself.  But the worst offense – the parts that shine of brilliance and go nowhere.

For example – anyone remember what I said would make for an awesome Kingdom Hearts III?  I said that there should be a world like Fantasia, where it’s nothing but music, without dialogue, and you get to just take in the visuals and gameplay with it.  They did it!  They fucking did it!  And I was in love!  Each of the areas themed after the areas in Fantasia were awesome!  For those scenes, I was enraptured.  But it’s so short!  Give me some Rite of Spring!  Give me some stuff from Fantasia 2000!  Go nuts!  Or even worse, you go to the world of Tron Legacy.  And they have one of the most fun segments in any of these games – light-cycle fights!  You alternate from the awesome energy ribbons to laser guns.  That was amazing!  More of that!  But then it’s done, and you can’t even play it like a racing game later!  What the hell?!

This game had a ton of potential, and there are a few moments that truly do realize it.  Then others that go fucking nowhere.  It’s such a shame.

Speaking of, let’s talk about Birth By Sleep 0.2, the second “game” in this collection.  Although, I am going to come right out with it – this isn’t a game.  It’s just not.  It’s a tech demo for how the third game will play.  And just on those merits, it is actually a lot of fun.  No joke, I had a hell of a time just going around and getting a wow out of the crazy awesome visuals in the game.

The plot goes that Aqua has been wandering the Realm of Darkness ever since Terra was taken over and Ventus’ heart was lost to the darkness.  Now she is trying to find her way to her friends, but time has no meaning in this place.  She’s been wandering for almost ten years, and it’s worn her down.  You can clearly see that she is tired of this endless drifting through shadow, and wants to go back home with her friends.  However, when the darkness beckons, and destiny comes into play, we get to see Aqua do random shit that goes nowhere.

As I said, it’s a tech demo.  A very pretty tech demo.  On visual and gameplay merits, it actually is a lot of fun.  If this is what to expect in the third game, then color me impressed.  However, the cruel reality is that this game clocks in at under 3 hours long, and the plot is weak as fuck.  This game should have been DLC for $5, or a free demo for the third game.

Which brings us to the final part of this game – Back Cover.  A cutscene that decides to fill us in on the events which led up to the original destruction of the world and the Keyblade War.  As well-voiced and beautiful as this digital film is, the cruel and honest truth is that it isn’t a game, and I could have watched this shit on YouTube.  Hell, most people will do that.

I am trying to be nice here.  I really wanted to like this.  However, the unfortunate truth is that this collection was INSANELY over-priced and not even remotely worth what they are asking for.  If you want, wait for the price to go down if you are truly a die-hard Kingdom Hearts fan.  For the rest of you, just skip it.  A YouTube synopsis will get you caught up the rest of the way if you have gotten this far.

Final Verdict
5 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

ghostbustersI finally got around to seeing it.  That’s right, because I’ve been bored and sick and laid up, I finally got around to seeing this remake that was so polarizing.  The Internet lost its shit about this movie.  The SJWs came out and made this film their hill to die on.  Sony was caught deleting comments in order to try and advertise this movie on how much people hate it.  Turns out, that was a bad idea.  See, when people hear that a movie is hated by everyone, that usually causes them to have some follow-up question.  Such as – why does everyone hate this movie?  At which point, they may do a little investigating, and discover that nothing in this movie looked good.  And let me tell you, all the people who believed that this movie was going to be some epic fail, I wish.  It’s not good, but this idea that it would be so bad that there would be a lot to make fun of is sadly too much for this movie to hope for.  I haven’t been more bored watching a “comedy” film in my entire life.

I remember when Nostalgia Critic did his review of that cinematic abortion that was Master of Disguise, he said “there’s only so many ways that you can say, ‘that’s not funny.'” And he is absolutely right.  There are only so many ways that I can say that the new Ghostbusters isn’t funny.  Ever.  I have laughed more at Wayans brothers sewage than I have at this movie.  At least with those they are so terrible that you can occasionally get a giggle out of what a piece of shit it is.  This?  This was tedious and if I hadn’t have been sick, I would have switched to something else.  The power of disease, people.  It’s amazing.  I’ve never watched any of Paul Feig’s other works, but if this is what he makes, then I am just that much more glad to have Edgar Wright making movies.  I’ve drawn it out enough.  Let’s talk about this…movie.

The plot isn’t a continuation of the Ghostbusters story, or even a soft reboot.  Nope, the original Ghostbusters are totally shit-canned.  It’s a hard reboot, only this time with chicks!  That’s right, this is basically just the original Ghostbusters, minus all the charms, wit, comedy, chemistry, and with chicks.  You can basically see where the plot is going to go from the start by keeping that in mind.  There isn’t a single deviation, aside from a queef joke or two.  Because that’s SO funny.  Ugh…

What to harangue first.  Let’s talk about the “effects” in this movie.  See, while so much of the rest of the film is boredom, the effects are pure ass.  These effects were dated in 2000!  I’ve seen Saturday morning cartoons with better CG.  Hell, Beast Wars looked better, and that was dated as fuck!  The ghosts in this movie look so bad, and it’s so clear that they were never in the room with these people.  I can only imagine what filming was like.  “Hey, look surprised at the green screen!”  Say what you want about the original movie, but at leas it looked like something was in the room with you.  For the days when practical effects were still a thing.

Now let’s get to the performances.  I remember when the trailer was coming out, and people were thinking that it was going to be kinda quirky and really cringe-y, that was giving this film too much credit.  Kristen Wiig looked bored.  Melissa McCarthy was actually trying, but was given absolutely nothing to work with.  Kate McKinnon was trying WAY too hard to be quirky.  There’s something for the restrained nerdiness of Harold Ramis in the original film.  But hey, if there is one thing that this new film can’t be accused of, it’s subtlety.  Every single thing that the film wants you to notice is so in-your-face that I half-expected a sign telling the audience “that’s the funny part! Laugh now!”  Too bad there wasn’t ever anything funny to go with that sign.  Oh, and the elephant in the room – Leslie Jones.  All the talk about how she is a stereotypical black person.  I wish!  At least that would have been funny!  Her character is just as dull and lifeless as the rest.  And not ONE of these actresses has any chemistry with the others.  None.  Their interactions was like watching a play in elementary school.

One of the performances that sticks out most to me was Chris Hemsworth.  In this movie, he is so fucking stupid.  Since his character meant to be the male equivalent of Janine from the original film, I have to ask – Paul Feig, is this how you saw Janine?  Did you see her as the stupid secretary?  If so, then I kinda say…fuck you.  Janine was a no-nonsense New Yorker, through-and-through.  She took shit from Bill Murray, but only because he was her boss.  To other people, she was blunt with a bit of a sassy streak.  I loved her character.  She was, what’s the word?  Oh, right, funny!  All of Feig’s talk of how women are so much funnier than men, and here I am appreciating a woman’s performance in a much better film.  To Hemsworth’s credit, he doesn’t appear to be taking any of what he’s doing that seriously.  As pants-on-head retarded as his character is made out to be, at least he recognizes that and isn’t going out of his way to do anything amazing with the role.  This is just a paycheck, to him.

Then there’s the villain.  This guy has all the subtlety of a Captain Planet villain.  It was groan-inducing.  We’re supposed to take this seriously?  Listening to this dude monologue just made me appreciate the villain in the original film that much more.  No painful monologues about how EVIL they are.  Just that creepy face and that creepy voice.  I swear, this movie tried my patience during those scenes.  It sure is nice that they have this villain explain how evil they are.  Because otherwise we might have had to have gradual character development.  That’s too much effort for this movie.

Next up, let’s talk about the cameos.  This shit was painful.  Bill Murray looked medicated.  Not a surprise, since the leaked emails from Sony showed that they were going to threaten him with legal action if he didn’t play ball.  Ernie Hudson finally got to be in Ghostbusters again.  Given how he has continually gone to Comi-Con in uniform for so long, it’s clearly something he wanted.  Funny that leaked info showed that he wasn’t a fan of this new film concept either, until he was offered a paycheck.  Though, he seems to be doing well.  After all, he was in the magnum opus that was God’s Not Dead 2, so I’m sure his career is just fine.  No need to worry at all.  Sigourney Weaver looked bored.  Annie Potts couldn’t have cared less.  Dan Akroyd was trying WAY too hard, but I guess he’s the one who actually wanted to be in this piece of shit.

But the biggest thing I have to stress is – this movie was so fucking boring.  Not one joke landed.  The only time I thought there was clever delivery was in the line after the realtor tells them how much it will be to rent the space of the original film.  The quickness of her response was pretty good.  Not funny, but at least it was good delivery.  Which is more than I can say for the rest of this snooze-fest.  I swear, I nearly fell asleep watching this movie.  Maybe that’s because I’ve been sick, but this film was about as interesting as watching flies fuck.  Not one joked landed.  That is two hours of my life that I will never get back.

Which is the best way to describe this movie.  After all the screaming and fighting about this film, it’s boring and will be forgotten in five years.  It’s another crappy reboot to add to the pile, all of which no one will remember.  That’s all for the good, if you ask me.  I wish I could give this movie a really low rating, but that would imply that it will be remembered by me.  After I publish this review, I’ll eventually look back through old posts and be like, “holy shit!  I actually watched that movie?  When was that?”  SJWs died on this hill, for absolutely nothing.  Were it not for the TERRIBLE special effects, this film would be a middle-of-the-road movie.  Let’s give this sucker a number and forget about it.

Final Verdict
4 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONU: Native Advertising in Video Games

Sorry that I haven’t posted in a LONG time.  Things are pretty quiet right now, so I haven’t had much to write about.  However, as I have been trying to get a total completion in Final Fantasy XV, I am sitting with an amused look on my face thinking about one of the missions.  After Gladiolus leaves your party, he comes back with a new perspective, on a very specific thing – Cup ‘O Noodles.  That’s right, Cup ‘O Noodles is in this game.  And one of the main characters gives them the ultimate dick-sucking treatment in a cringe-worthy piece of dialogue that made me laugh so hard the first time I heard it.

And they aren’t the only brand getting recognition in this game.  Did you notice the Coleman brand on all the camping gear that they use?  That is their brand logo.  So, I guess they also wanted to get some representation.  In Angry Joe’s review of Quantum Break, he noted how Nissan is very represented throughout the game.  I’m unsure how to feel about this.  On the one hand, it seems only natural.  I’m genuinely surprised that this hasn’t happened sooner.  Given how big a market gaming is, and how massive the production values they have these days, you would think companies would be all over having their brands represented in gaming.

Granted, it isn’t like this is totally a new thing.  Racing games have pretty much been car company ads since I was a kid.  Madden, FIFA, and MLB games are the same deal.  But this is the first time that I’ve seen native advertising in a fantasy game.  That was strange and awesome at the same time.  I get the feeling that this game was a field test of the concept.  None of the reviews I saw for Final Fantasy XV made a big deal about it.  There is an entire sub-plot of the game that is about getting ingredients for Cup ‘O Noodles.  The game doesn’t even try and hide the intent.  Which leads me to wonder if this just the beginning.  Like, am I going to see McDonald’s represented in a video game?  Uncharted 4 was basically open about pimping Sony’s products.  Everyone had a Sony phone.  Nobody  cared.

Which leads me to another thought – why is it that native advertising is hardly noticed in video games when news that does it is dragged through the mud?  I have a theory – it’s because gaming is such a different medium.  Seeing a product in something doesn’t automatically mean that you are going to get it.  Since gaming is a medium about gameplay and player involvement, something like native advertising just doesn’t have the same effect.  Granted, it can go too far – the Cup ‘O Noodles mission.  Listening to Gladiolus describe that stuff was amazing.  Made me think of the advertising in The Truman Show.  Hopefully I’m not too old for that reference to make no sense to people.

As gaming becomes more and more corporatized, should it surprise anyone that we are seeing game companies reaching out for sponsorships?  If anything, this whole deal has me thinking that it is on the verge of becoming a lot more common.  So long as I don’t have to listen to a character make a speech about the nature of a cup of soup, I can live with that.  It’s the future of gaming, people.  What about you?  What do you think?  Sorry if this post is a little short, I just wanted to get something out there for you all.  It’s a slow time of year, but will be picking up.  Two of the games on my Top 10 Most Anticipated Games of 2017 (linked here) are coming out soon.  I cannot wait!  I’ll try and get reviews out in a timely way, but at least one of them will have hours upon hours of gameplay put into it before I can give a good review.  So stoked.

Until next time, a quote,

“What the hell are you talking about?  Who are you talking to?!” – Truman Burbank, The Truman Show

Peace out,

Maverick

Critical Examination: Open World vs Open Levels

I’m about to make an argument that is more than a bit unpopular in today’s gaming world – open world games are really starting to suck.  It’s true.  As I was playing Final Fantasy XV, I was in awe of the beautiful visuals and the fun gameplay.  However, after a while, so much of the open world got very dull.  Why?  For the same reason that most open world games are suffering, these days – lack of stuff to do.  It’s easy to have a big, open space that has nothing in it.  That was the biggest flaw with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.  Well, that and the fact that the game was clearly incomplete.  Funny, that’s the same feeling I have about Final Fantasy XV, too.  The plot to both games was stupid in the extreme, while the gameplay was fun beyond all reason.

The simple reality is that with more and more games looking to go open world, they are sacrificing making the most of the space they have to just give the player more area to be bored.  Sure, there are the games that do it right, like the Grand Theft Auto franchise, or The Witcher 3, but the reality is that they are the exceptions, not the rule.  And both of those games have a mix of open levels to open world.

I can hear your question – what’s the difference?  What separates an open level from an open world?  It’s easy – open levels are contained spaces where things happen.  There are rigid boundaries that dictate where the player can and cannot go.  The common gaming culture says that this is nothing but making things linear, and while there is some amount of truth to that, I think people with that perspective are not seeing the bigger picture.  Just because it is a limited space doesn’t mean that it is a corridor.  Before we get into that, let’s analyze why an open world is not always a good thing, by showing when it goes wrong.

Games that do Open World wrong

The first big example – Watch Dogs.  Didn’t play the sequel.  Never will.  Was burned enough by the original game.  The original game had a vast, very tacky open world.  And like most Ubisoft sandbox games, something about that open world – it was boring.  There was virtually nothing to do.  It was the same repetitive shit, over and over again.  Without anything truly interesting to look at, the whole concept got dull almost like that.  However, then there were the internal areas.  Once you were cut loose inside of buildings or levels you had to infiltrate, using your hacking tools was infinitely more fun.  You could get through a whole mission without a single bit of violence, if you knew what you were doing.  Those were the best moments in the game.

Next up, let’s talk about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.  I actually do really like that game.  When you are doing what the game was meant to do, it is loads of fun.  Sneaking through a base, never killing a single soldier, is an awesome experience.  Sure, sometimes Quiet would blow someone’s head off because they spotted me, but that’s why I have her with me.  The base is on alert, but that just makes sneaking easier.  Now I can quietly get around in the confusion and tranq a few soldiers who just happened to be dumb.  The base levels are awesome, and make me feel like a stealth agent.  But then there is the overworld.  In Afghanistan, I’ll at least give that the overworld is fun to look at.  Hell, it’s downright beautiful.  The desert they rendered was simply fantastic.  Made me wish the entire game could have taken place there, because Africa was butt-ugly.

Speaking of games with an overworld that is nice to look at, but boring to traverse through – Final Fantasy XV.  The world of that game is sublime.  No joke, I love looking at it.  But the problem is that the overworld is really big, with not one fucking thing to do.  Sure, there are the monster hunts, and those are genuinely fun.  Aside from the nighttime ones, when you can’t see shit.  Or the wasp ones, where they spray the confusion stuff and make fighting them so much more difficult.  However, that game had the unfortunate distinction to not having many cool contained areas to explore.  Were it not for how fun the gameplay is, this game really would have fared much worse, in my eyes.

So, what have we learned?  Hopefully, that an open space means that you just have more opportunities for the player to get bored.  It’s impossible to have some massive space and have enough stuff to keep a player’s attention.  Ask the makers of No Man’s Sky how that works.  Let’s look at some games that took the open level design motif.

Games that did Open Level right

Let’s look back at 2016, and talk about Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.  This game was very linear, but was still able to use open spaces within its levels to give the player options.  Whether it be the driving segments in Madagascar that allowed you to explore a frankly-gorgeous terrain, or the areas in an action space that allow you to make use of stealth or go all-out, guns blazing, the game has lots of variety in its environments while still keeping it contained.  That was part of the fun.  Another Naughty Dog game, The Last of Us, used a similar style.  Anywhere that there was sneaking to be done, the game gave you lots of options in each level.  Each area had a ton of choke points or hiding spaces to make use of.

I haven’t played the newest iteration of Hitman, because of the episodic bullshit and the always-online DRM crap (planning on getting it when it comes out on disc so I don’t have to deal with that), but from what I was told, the use of open levels was done brilliantly.  The levels are large, and have a lot of moving parts, but because it is still a contained space, the game lets you play around within its space.  You have more tools at your disposal to get your signature kill done.  That’s smart.

Another example of doing it right is in most JRPG games like Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch or Skies of Arcadia.  In both of those games, they have a large overworld that you can explore at your leisure, but the details are vague and travel is implied to be over a period of time.  This is smart because it gives the player the chance to explore and find hidden secret areas, while having the individual levels be really open and interesting.  I have actually been missing such an overworld.  Been missing a good JRPG, too.

Both of these styles of games have their advantages.  The best example of both concepts coming together was in The Witcher 3.  That game not only had a very dynamic open world, but also very dynamic smaller levels to play around with.  It was right brilliant.  However, that game was the exception, not the rule.  Ubisoft has become the punching bag of the Internet for doing the concept wrong.  Sometimes they catch lighting in a bottle, like with Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, but that game REALLY was the exception.  Developers needs to learn that it’s okay to sometimes make things linear.  Just balance it out by letting the player have more open spaces to play around it.  Linear can be good for moving the story along.  Sometimes you don’t need a huge amount of space to fuck around in.  All you need is a hallway to walk down, or a building to explore.  However, then you go to a place where the game lets you unwind and explore at your own pace.  It has to be a balancing act.

Part of me is hoping that we’re going to be stepping away from these big open-world games for a while.  It’s become not only a hassle for developers, but also a crutch for games to lean on.  After all, if you can have a huge world for players to grind and do busy-work in, then that keeps them playing for hours and hours.  Makes them a lot of money.  However, true inspiration comes from when you are able to make the most of what you have.  Open levels give players the best of both worlds.  The linearity that gives games smooth plot progression, and a way for them to feel like they have control over the pace of how they play.

What are your thoughts?  Let me know in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“Choice.  The problem is choice.” – Neo, The Matrix Reloaded

Peace out,

Maverick