Lucien’s Worst Game of 2017

You know what I hate?  When a good idea is taken and used in something really, really boring.   To have something with so much potential just get flushed down the shitter.  It’s worse when it involves talented people too.  Because when something is boring and made by people you don’t care about, then you can just say that it tried something and failed and maybe they can do better next time.  But when it’s something where all the people involved are very talented, it makes you wonder what went wrong.  My least favorite game this year isn’t especially bad, it’s just inordinately dull.  And I genuinely don’t get how it can be as dull as it is with the elements in it.

Observer

I just can’t get over how a game with this much potential was such a snooze.  Set in a post-apocalyptic world where corporations rule everything and nations are now just corporate zones, where there are special kinds of cops who are able to get inside people’s minds.  That should be a recipe for success.  The potential of that is overwhelming.  We could have it asking some dark ethical questions, like when the main character goes into the minds of people who don’t want to be invaded, or what constitutes invasion of privacy when this guy is uncovering people’s weird secrets and has to live with that.  There is a lot of creepy places that this idea could go.  But nope,  It’s just a boring, bland, by-the-numbers horror game.

Why did they feel the need to have segments where you are hiding from a monster?  Because they’ve done it in all their other games?  This game was supposed to be about fear coming from going into the dark parts of people’s minds.  That’s a freaky concept.  The fear potential there is amazing.  Remember that god-awful movie The Cell?  Imagine if that concept didn’t suck and was done right.  Being able to jack in, with your own mind coloring the mind of the person you are in.  It would make more sense why the observers get so fucked up after a while.  They can’t handle the strain of being in a person’s mind that way.  Plus, you could see all kinds of people and how they process fear in different ways.  Maybe if this game had more budget or more time in the oven with ideas this could have gone a long way.

The game has you investigating crime scenes, and that’s actually fun!  Using your cybernetic implants to look at things in different ways is really cool.  But it’s all done so quickly and doesn’t go much of anywhere.  This game is too short for its own good.  Maybe with a AAA budget they could have really gone deep into this concept.  I don’t know.

But by far the most disappointing thing to me was that they got Rutger Hauer involved in this.  That’s some damn big talent right there!  And to his credit, he was interesting in the performance.  It didn’t sound like he was phoning it in.  I hate that such a talented man wasn’t being given the chance to reach his full potential.  Like seeing into some homely Christian’s head and realizing all the fucked up things there are in there, and then having to go into some deranged lunatic’s mind and seeing all the whacked shit in there.  Getting to hear his reactions to some of that kind of thing would be interesting.

Overall, it’s just boring.  Bad games are one thing.  They can be annoying.  But I don’t go looking for that.  Too poor to spend that kind of time and money.  I look for games I am going to like, and this game was supposed to be one of the.  The trailers had me really interested.  The end product, however, was a game too short to be interesting and with some insane voice talent that goes nowhere.  It’s more annoying than anything.

What was the game you liked the least this year?  Let me know in the Comments

Until next time, a quote,

“This better be worth it.” – Daniel Lazarski, Observer

Peace out,

Maverick

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Lucien’s Best Game of 2017

This has been an interesting year for gaming.  A pretty quiet year, to be honest.  At least up to the end.  Things have gotten pretty loud and insane over all the to-do with EA, and I have no sympathy for the.  Last night we got to see everyone gush about Kojima’s latest game, but here’s my question – when are we gonna get to see gameplay?  That’s my deal.  Naturally, Nintendo had everyone fawning and gushing, but for me, It’s Sony who stole the show.  My two favorite games this year were exclusive to them, and both were amazing.  The margin for favorite game comes down to such a narrow margin that I had a hard time picking.  But here it is.  My totally important pick for best game of 2017.

Persona 5

Never in all my years did I think I would end up hearing the words AAA JRPG.  This game had delay after delay, and man did it pay off.  Never has my belief that I don’t care how long a game gets delayed, if they can make it perfect been vindicated.  This game is a marvel of its genre.  We live in an interesting time.  We have AAA stealth games, AAA arena FPS games, AAA fighting games, and AAA survival horror games.  The AAA market is learning that players have gotten bored with the same old thing every year.  We want something new.  And wouldn’t you know it, Atlus decided to make it happen.

This game is a masterpiece of the genre.  An almost-perfect masterpiece.  The center of it is the story and characters.  I love every one of these characters, except Haru.  She’s kind of dull.  You have such a vast cast of characters that you can forge relationships with and then inevitably become either life-long friends or in some cases lovers with.  The levels are fun and all, but I always was way more interested in finishing those up fast so I could spend time with my favorite characters.  When I got to go through New Game Plus and develop all of my companion relationships and the rest of the cast, it made it so much more enjoyable.  My biggest gripe with the game is that because the time system is so skewed, we don’t get to spend enough time developing our character and growing the confidant relationships.  No such issue in New Game Plus.

Voice acting in this game is at the top of its game.  Every character has such personality that bursts onto screen in the best ways.  The Confidants should have just been boring subplots, but they’re not!  With so much of Tokyo to explore, you can take people around and get to know them in different ways.  So many permutations of interactions and places to see in different ways, it felt like I could never run out of things to do.

But the rest of the game is fantastic too.  The battle system is clearly mapped to the controller and combat flows as smooth as silk.  As you develop relationships with the confidants and companions, it affects your play style in a vast number of ways.  But the pinnacle of each dungeon are the bosses.  I love how unique and interesting every boss in this game is.  No two is alike, and while some of the later ones drag on (the final boss is ridiculously long to fight, almost to the point that if you don’t have a fuck-ton of potions, it’s going to really suck), they are still a real test of your skill.

One thing I like is that making confidants and growing tight with them isn’t just a fun narrative to explore.  There are real consequences to it in the rest of the game.  Leveling up with companions allows you to trade characters with them, have them back you up during hold-ups, or even take a hit for you when you’re at your lowest point.  Confidants can teach you things like how to trade out any character on the fly, customize your weapons, get better healing items, and become better at negotiations by getting leadership skills from a confidant who is a politician.

What’s more, the game has even more depth.  See, some characters can’t be leveled up until you level up yourself.  By paying attention in class, studying, and doing various activities, you can level yourself up.  The sheer amount of stuff to do is amazing.  It really wraps you up in the world of the game.  I can take on a crazy burger challenge one night, hang out with a friend at the movies, and then see my girlfriend the next.  So many options, except when the game takes away control from you.  Again, ties in to my biggest gripe.

Finally, there’s the music.  The jazzy tunes are the best!  I have so much of that soundtrack on my iPod.  So much of that gets stuck in my head.  The woman they got to do most of the numbers is just amazing.

Overall, this game is a milestone for its genre.  JRPG games are treated as just this niche thing that will never have a place in the rest of the market, but to have a game this good come from this genre, and for it to be a AAA title is just magnificent.  Atlus did an amazing job, and I am eager to see what they come up with next.

Until next time, a quote,

When I took you in, I thought I was the one helping you,but it turns out it was the other way around.  Take care.” – Sojiro Sakura, Persona 5

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Horizon: Zero Dawn – The Frozen Wilds DLC

This game was such a marvel.  For the studio that made it to have never done anything like this, and build everything about this game straight up from scratch, from the combat to the visuals to the world, it is a masterpiece of the medium.  It loses out to my favorite game of this year by the slimmest margin you can imagine.  I love it.  And to all the feminists who say that we don’t like games with female protagonists, suck on Aloy’s non-existent balls!  She is badass and doesn’t need you losers to defend her.  When I heard that they were making DLC for this game, I was skeptical at first, but I am so glad that I didn’t let that stop me from making the jump.  This DLC is everything that DLC is supposed to be.  It’s what I look for in it.  For $20, I got so much more than my money’s worth.  The ONLY detraction I have is that this is the only DLC this game is getting, so far as I know, and that kind of pisses me off now that I’ve seen what potential there is.  Let’s talk about it.

When you buy this DLC, it can be a little weird.  You wouldn’t know it was added on to the game unless you look at the map and see a mission marking.  A new area has been unlocked.  A banuk territory call The Cut.  And you are able to go in there and look around.  Take it from me, do NOT go into this place unless you have reached the end of the game.  Challenge is the word, but we’ll get there when we do.  Aloy reaches The Cut and realizes that not all is well.  There is a different demon in this place, and it is up to her to find out the problem and set things right.

Where do I begin in talking about this DLC?  First, let me say that this place opens up a whole new stomping ground.  And it is awesome!  My biggest problem with the actual game is that there are all these tribes and all of them have this neat cultural perspective, but we don’t get to see much of them.  We still haven’t gotten to see Ban Ur, or the Claim, or much of anything from this weird jungle tribe that you hear about but never see.  I want to!  You’ve shown all the potential for creating narratives and building culture just with environmental story-telling, so show me more!  I wanna see more!

In addition to have a ton of area to explore and a plethora of side-quests to do in addition to a fascinating main quest, you have a vast array of characters to meet and get to know as well.  It offers perspective on virtually every tribe.  But the banuk are the center, and I am glad of it.  Seeing so much about their culture is fascinating.  And the voice acting is phenomenal across the board.  Ashly Burch is quickly rising the ranks of my favorite voice actresses, and her role as Aloy is awesome.  Even for the smaller roles, no matter how briefly we get to know them, they are memorable.  It makes the fact that we never really get to follow up with characters later that much more frustrating.  That is one thing this game needed.  It got the action and RPG elements done well, but some of the world-building and character interaction could have been improved.  But that’s just splitting hairs.

We also get some new weapons to play with!  Each one is focused on an element, and that’s just super.  I legit cannot wait to put them to work on some of the monsters I’ve fought in New Game Plus.  A fantastic addition in an update, though I am kind of annoyed that the face paint is something you have to unlock.  I was hoping we’d get that as something you can buy and play around with.

The missions are all unique as well.  This game seemed to know that it was telling a 100% banuk story, and all of the story missions help you learn about their culture in some way or another.  I dig that.  Sure, there are a lot of hunting missions, but there was one mission where you get to track down killers and learn about crime and punishment that was fun.  The Witcher 3 had a lot of gamers seeing side-quests in a new way, and this game ran with that very well.  They are hinting at a sequel, so they better not lose sight of that.  This studio has proven themselves beyond anything I expected, so let’s see more!

Oh, and there are new monsters as well.  That was something I was also annoyed at in the original game.  The machine variety got pretty stale, pretty quick.  That’s not to say that it’s bad, I just really wanted to see more.  This game seems to realize that, and gives me what I want.  We have two new machine varieties that are tough as nails and fun to fight.  We also have legit boss battles!  Your first foray into The Cut has you fighting a boss that is a brand new machine variety.  It shows you that this DLC isn’t fucking around.  These things are tough, and are not messing around.  You either bring your A-game to the fight, or you are going to die.  A lot.

Which does bring me to being sad that this seems to be the only story DLC for this game.  Come on!  You’ve shown you can do this kind of narrative to show us a whole new section of the game’s world.  Let’s see more!  Show us some of the Claim!  Let’s take a look at how the osram live.  Or what about this mysterious jungle tribe?  When you talk about new enemy variety, that has potential in spades!  How about a snake machine!  Or insect machines!  Lets fuck with my arachnophobia and make a giant spider machine!  There’s an idea!  There is so much potential in this world, and I am loving this DLC so much.  It was a fantastic foray back into this world, and my genuine sadness is that it may be the only one before the sequel.

All-in-all, this is a masterpiece of a DLC.  It does everything good DLC should do, and I loved every minute of it.  If you loved this game and haven’t downloaded this, you are doing yourself a disservice.  Check it out, and fall in love all over again.

Final Verdict
10 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Life is Strange: Before the Storm (Episode 2)

Sorry this is a little late.  Been trying to organize my thoughts, and have other stuff going on.  Here’s the thing about this game – it’s kind of a mixed bag.  It’s not the original.  Part of me is impressed that it is not trying to be.  This game was created for one purpose and one purpose alone – to give players the back-story between Chloe and Rachel.  But it does make your choices feel weighty.  That’s one thing I’ll give this iteration that the original really didn’t have – player choice feeling substantial.  Since there are so few episodes, there aren’t a huge amount of choices to keep track of.  So the writing is easier.  Plus, it’s easier to make your actions feel meaningful.  Why am I going so far out of my way to preface this?  I guess it’s because I honestly like this prequel.  This review is going to be a little odd.  See, there isn’t a huge amount of stuff to substantively talk about.  The visuals are still in the same vein, and good.  Hell, even the kissing animation you have access to later on isn’t the worst I’ve seen.  It’s not Mass Effect 2 levels of clipping.

What do I think of this episode?  As I said, the core of this prequel is to explain the growth of the relationship between Chloe and Rachel.  And they got that right.  My favorite parts of this episode are when you see the relationship between the two deepening.  It feels pretty good.  It’s not perfect.  The dialogue is stilted as fucked.  But where this game goes right is making the emotions match the scenes.  You do believe these characters when they’re on stage together and Rachel is poetically confessing that she has a bond with Chloe that goes beyond typical friendship.  That scene is heart-warming.

Here’s my issue with this prequel – so much of this really doesn’t feel like it’s tying in to the story from the original.  It kinda feels like I’m ret-conning the lore of that game.  After all, I have worked hard to make the relationship between Rachel and Chloe feel real.  So if the events of the other game happen as you find out they did, then Rachel is doomed to basically cheat on Rachel with Frank.  Given the passion between them, am I to assume that in the months or years from when the prequel ends the two got distant enough for Rachel to leave her girlfriend and not feel at least a little conflicted about it?

Not only that, you can affect where the two girls are looking to run away to, which plays a huge role in what everyone believes happened to Rachel in the original.  Maybe all of this was developed just for fan service to fans of the original.  Maybe I’m really over-thinking this.  But as someone who genuinely enjoyed the original game, a lot of this plot stuff just rubs me a little wrong.

I don’t know.  Maybe I need to change my perspective.  Instead of seeing this as an extension of the original game, see it as its own story.  Where I a guiding the romance between two characters, one of whom I have really grown to like.  I still love Chloe as a character, along with the voice acting.  As stilted as the dialogue is, at least it feels genuine with all the emotion she puts into it.  I just know somebody is going to call me an SJW for liking this stuff.  This game definitely takes inspiration from social justice talking points.  Thankfully, that shit seems to be from characters in periphery.  Chloe and Rachel are not just walking stereotypes of Tumblr feminists.

One thing I really wanna touch on is the dream sequences.  I really do like them.  Each one has a thematic purpose.  The first is Chloe addressing the death of her father from her family, as more and more of him is being stripped away.  The second was her addressing the pain of having her blossoming relationship with Rachel seemingly going up in flames, while her father is the voice of reason who tells her that she still has a place in her life.  This episode had a really great sequence.  It has William sitting in front of the car he crashed, burning, roasting a marshmallow with the raven.  Really wondering what the raven is meant to symbolize in context of this story.  The butterfly from the original symbolized Chloe as a character.  The raven is a point of conjecture.  Chloe sits and starts roasting a marshmallow herself, and William tells her that watching everything burn is beautiful, but she might be missing seeing what other beautiful things are being hidden from her by her perspective.  We see this come to a point when she acts in The Tempest, with the stars in the sky sparkling like the ones on her outfit.

I also am really liking the new side characters you meet.  There is so much more personality from them.  Having a smaller cast let them give characters much more presence, and it really pays off.  This episode has a conversation you can totally miss but I’m glad I didn’t between Chloe and Steph where you can grow closer or end up hurting her and I went out of my way to be honest about the fact that I had Rachel as where I was setting up the romance between the two.  It led to a genuinely touching moment where Steph says you can talk to her about what it’s like, since she has been open about being gay.  Subtle touches like that go a long way.

One thing I wanna mention is the fact that the walking animation is so fucking weird in cutscenes.  During gameplay it’s fine, but in cutscenes the walking is just so strange.  And the running is even weirder.  Do the people who made this just not know how to animated that?  So odd.

Overall, it’s a good continuance of the story.  Granted, the opening act is painfully slow.  But once you get back to the junkyard, things pick up pretty quick.  I like this story.  With a bombshell having been dropped on Rachel at the end of the episode, I am genuinely eager to see how it plays out.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

What a weird year for Marvel films.  Everyone says that they’re getting tired of all the Marvel films, because they’re so predictable and stale.  Part of me thinks that someone at Marvel heard that, and has been eager to change things up.  And wouldn’t you know it, but this year has delivered two very good films that may not have shaken the formula to its core, but at the very least have made things different enough to have people enjoying them more.  Nowhere was that more apparent than with the sequel to one of the funniest films in the MCU, Guardians of the Galaxy.  A film that not only had some surprisingly good character development, but a villain who actually caught me off guard.  Sure, the formula is there, but at least this film plays with it, and it actually feels like it is expanding on the lore of these characters, rather than just retreading old ground.  Let’s talk about it.

The plot goes that sometime after the events of the first film, the Guardians of the Galaxy are now for hire heroes that do nice things for pay.  Not a bad racket.  However, after Rocket decides to fuck things up for them because he can’t stop himself, Quill’s father comes back into the picture.  Backstories are explained, and characters’ true motivations are revealed.  A villain who actually has a motivation that isn’t just copy-paste comes up and now another battle is on to save the galaxy.  Like I said, it still has that formula, but it does it oh so well.

I’ve complained to no end how films are now basically just becoming endless CG bugs me, and I would be lying if I said that it wasn’t the case here.  This film is ALL about the CG.  It’s fucking everywhere.  That being said, it was still pretty.  I think the director knew that everyone would be noticing the constant CG so he took a very interesting tactic – use brilliant colors as a way to offset people’s disdain for it.  That’s pretty clever!  The same thing was used to good effect in Doctor Strange, though this film also had color used for comedic effect at times.  Constant, vivid colors was all over this movie, and I’m genuinely glad it was because otherwise I would have been rolling my eyes a lot over how fake so much looked.

Which is one one of my flaws.  It’s pretty clear that while Baby Groot was cute as fuck, he was never in the shot and everyone who pretended to interact with him wasn’t really interacting with him.  That was painfully obvious.  Plus, yeah, some of the sets were so blatantly just people in a room with green-screen absolutely everywhere.  I’m honestly glad I am not one of these people who watches making-of videos of movies, because I bet watching people just being in green rooms acting is both depressing and funny.

The film also brings back it’s truly fantastic soundtrack.  I love the musical choices in these film.  How each track is used also perfect goes with every scene that it goes into.  The opening is the most known and parodied, but there is a ton of places that each track is used well.  This director knows his stuff oh so well.

Speaking of, the comedy in this film is so on point.  It’s kind of nice to see a film where all the heroes are pretty much anti-heroes pretending to not be.  These people are such assholes!  I love it!  Every single character in this film is kind of a douche, but the chemistry between all of them is just fantastic.  My favorite is still Rocket.  This guy is such a dick.  He is the biggest anti-hero of them all, but the way he plays with that just makes him so lovable.  Maybe it’s that inner asshole in me who can’t get enough of it.  Hell, even Drax is funnier in this film.  His complete lack of a filter is just too perfect.  Plus, he said one of the most cathartic lines to me on a personal level.

“When you’re ugly, people love you for who you are. When you’re beautiful, you don’t know who to trust.”

For someone who struggles with body image issues due to balding that isn’t especially pretty, this strikes such a chord to me.  My self-loathing is a constant struggle.

Overall, this isn’t a perfect movie.  Yeah, the formula is still there.  But it still feels like a breath of fresh air.  I’m glad I got to see this on Netflix.  A good Spider-Man film and now a good sequel to a flawed original that takes it to the next level.  With the MCU looking to wrap up now that Infinity War is coming, I genuinely think I’ll be able to look back fondly on it.  Marvel caught lightning in a bottle, which DC is now pathetically trying to imitate.  What a shame.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Death Note (2017)

Fuck this movie.  Fuck this fucking movie right up its ass.  This is the worst.  The absolute worst.  How terrible the live-action Japanese versions were should have been a big clue as to why this film wasn’t going to work.  The insanely over-the-top nature of the anime does NOT translate well into film.  So when you combine that with TERRIBLE American writers and a director who clearly has no talent for directing, then you end up with this pile of shit.  Yet-another anime adaptation to add to the pile.  Can whoever posed the idea of Akira being adapted into American take a fucking clue from this?!  They’re all bad!  Every last American adaptation has sucked, without a SINGLE exception.  Just like every video game adaptation has sucked.  When will Hollywood learn?  Wait, this wasn’t Hollywood’s fuck-up.  This was Netflix’s fuck-up.  I don’t have streaming here, but a friend invited me over to see it, and holy shit, it’s bad.  I hate when things I love get turned into shitty adaptations, and this was no exception.  There is so much to talk about, so let’s get to it.

The plot goes that Light…Turner (fuck that name) has the Death Note given to him by Ryuk.  That’s right, instead of Ryuk being bored one day in Shinigami Land and sending the book to Earth not caring who picked it up, in this version he gives it to Light and implies that he is the chosen one.  One of the many ways they fuck over EVERY SINGLE character in this film.  But instead of seeing this book as a way for him to create a world dedicated to his own personal sense of justice and becoming a genocidal monster in the process, Light decides that he’s going to impress a girl!  That’s right, instead of his character being a genius whose sense of morality becomes a twisted nightmare, he’s a pathetic high school loser who wants it is implied is just being used.  More on that later.  Then we get a dumbed-down version of L who is going to stop him.  Who wins?  Do you care?  If you do, you really haven’t been paying attention.

Nothing in this movie is good, aside from Willem Dafoe’s voicework as Ryuk.  Speaking of, let’s go into how every single character is fucked over.  So many people are going to say “it’s an adaptation!  You shouldn’t compare it to the original!”  Yeah?  Well then change the fucking name!  Light is turned from a genius who decides he is going to become a God under the assumed name of Kira into a pathetic angst-y teenager who is almost-certainly being led around with no agency of his own.  Whether it be Mia (their terrible version of Misa), or Ryuk, he always seems to be on someone else’s leash.  Did the idiot who directed this even see the anime?  Fuck this movie.  Light is not some brilliant mastermind.  In the anime, he is a calculating genius, who makes every move according to a plot to best the greatest detective of all time.  Every relationship in his life is part of a calculation, along with everything he ever does.  Part of what makes him so compelling as a character is how his urge to become a god ends up destroying the lives of every single person he touches, and he by the end he laughs his ass off about it.  In the film, he’s a pathetic pawn being used by pretty much everyone around him.  All of the brilliance of the cat-and-mouse game between him and L is gone.

Oh, let’s talk about L.  Do I care that they made him black?  Not even a little.  What I care about is the fact that they made him so pathetic.  I guess the director saw how he is in the anime and took that to mean that he isn’t socially awkward in the extreme and on the autism spectrum.  In this film, they decide to him him so pathetic that he has to have a song played to him to fall asleep.  This version of the character is pathetic.  That’s the only word for it.  You never sense this genius mind clouding a sense of detachment, which makes him believing that he is making a connection with Light so tragic.  He believed he had found a friend, and at the very end he realizes that he was just being used by Light.  In his last moment, he looks into Light’s eyes and sees that it was all a lie, and him and his companion died for it.  There are plenty of ways this character could have been 1000X better and been black.  The color of his skin had NOTHING to do with how pathetic and stupid this character was.  If anything, this actor is very competent.  I bet with better writing, he could have sold this a lot better.

Then there’s Mia.  A spin on the Misa character from the anime, here they make her out to be something of a force acting on Light, compelling him to do bad things with the Death Note.  Because we can’t have any of the morally gray stuff from the anime.  Everything has to be clearly black and white.  Fuck this movie.  The fact that so much of what initially makes Light use the Death Note is to please her just irks me.  In the anime, she was an insane groupie of Kira.  She was in love with him and would do anything, absolutely anything to please him.  To the point that she cut her own lifespan in half to get the Shinigami eyes.  But in the end, she realizes that she was used, just like everyone else, and it’s implied that she kills herself.  Another of those relationships that were nothing but a tool to Light and nothing more.  Can’t have that morally gray stuff in the film.  Doesn’t help that this chick acted like she should be in a sitcom.  Ugh.

Let’s talk about Ryuk.  Do you like Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin voice?  Well, he does okay with it here, so you can enjoy his vocal performance.  But here’s what pisses me off – in the anime, Ryuk isn’t on Light’s side.  He isn’t on anyone’s side.  When Light’s gambit is up, and he reaches out to Ryuk to help him, he outright says that he won’t.  Early on in the series, he helps Light out, not out of a sense of loyalty, but because he finds the game that’s going on interesting and realizes that if he doesn’t tell Light about the security cameras in his room, the game will end abruptly.  In the film, he’s painted as seeing Light as the chosen killer, and even compels him to do things.  Once-again, you can’t have all that morally gray stuff about Light seeing himself as a god and believing his genocidal rampage as a way to express that.  That might make audiences question who is the good guy.  We gotta see our protagonist as virtuous at all times.

Oh, and then there’s the book itself.  In the anime, Kira’s chosen method of killing is heart attacks.  There’s a reason – to show that these people are being killed and it’s him doing the killing.  It’s a way to spread the fear all over the world because no one knows who would be killed next.  In the movie, the vast majority of deaths are done through these Rube Goldberg machine ways of dying that REALLY make me think back to the Final Destination ways of dying.  It’s like the film wanted to show off the gore.  Funny, they want to have violent deaths, but no moral ambiguity.  The exact opposite of the show, which had very contained deaths, but a TON of moral ambiguity.  I guess someone assumed American audiences can’t handle that.  Fuck this movie.

As a fan of the anime, this film spits in the face of everything that made it great.  But let’s take that away.  Let’s pretend that the anime that this director halfheartedly riffed on never existed.  This film still sucks.  The performances are boring.  The motivations make no sense.  I’ll give that Light in the anime went from zero to Little Hitler in the span of a few moments.  But the series took the time to explain why he had this viewpoint.  Plus, there was the moral ambiguity of the battle between Light and L, where the body count gets higher and higher, and the audience is left wondering if either one is a truly good person.  In this film, the motivation is that Light is being manipulated by the people around him, with little agency of his own.  That’s boring!  Give me a reason to care why he’s so evil.  L is also a bad character, written to be so incapable of surviving on his own that he has to be taken care of.

I hate this movie, and can someone please make a note somewhere that American adaptation of anime don’t work so we can stop it, already?!

Final Verdict
2 out 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 1: Awake

I’ve talked at length about how my favorite game of 2015 was Life is Strange.  While it had its flaws, it told an interesting narrative about a girl with time powers and a mystery that unfortunately had a lackluster conclusion.  The outright-terrible ending of the game, however, didn’t ruin the entire experience for me.  I still love everything leading up to it.  It’s kind of like Mass Effect 3 in that regard.  When I saw the announcement for this, I was more than a little pissed.  I mean, why would I want a prequel?  It’s a story I already know!  Rachel and Chloe were tight as fuck, Rachel was secretly in love with Frank, she gets killed.  What more could they fill in?  I said in my First Take post that if this was just some stupid prequel telling us crap we already know and nothing else, I would ream this game a new one in a way that Square Enix would feel.  I’m happy to say that this prequel challenged my skepticism.  It’s not perfect, but for the flaws it has, it has some things done better.  Let’s talk about it.

This game is still a prequel.  Set four years before the events of the original game, we see a much younger and much more vulnerable Chloe.  She’s trying to get into a concert where a band who is weirdly playing the tune of another band (did the actual band not want their name associated with this game?  You’d think they at least would have had to have the song licensed, so why not just play as yourselves?  Odd).  After getting in trouble, it’s here that we see her meet Rachel Amber, the most popular girl in her school.  From there, our young protagonist gets involved in a new life of freedom, friendship, and maybe something more.

There’s a lot to say about this prequel, and it’s a lot of the same stuff one could say about the original game.  For starters, the dialogue is just as bad as the first episode of the last game.  Maybe this is a trend with this game.  I don’t know who their writing staff is, but no teenager anywhere talks like this.  But just like the original game, that grows on you after a while.  It sure as hell grew on me.  So there’s that.

The visuals are much better.  They’re using the Unity engine, and it really stands out.  The faces in-particular.  My biggest complaint with the original game was that the faces were so inexpressive.  Better facial animation would have made some of the best scenes of dialogue even better.  Here, there is much more expression, and it makes the dramatic climax of the episode really good.

One thing I do miss is that the time powers are gone.  Now, instead of being able to rewind and make a choice about whether or not you want to follow through with something, you have to basically own it.  Not gonna lie, that does bother.  You also can’t restart episodes from various chapters.  That’s kinda frustrating too.  Here’s hoping future episodes fix that.  But you do have some new mechanics.  Like this back-talk mechanic that makes no sense in reality but it is kinda cool that you get to play mental games with people.

Let’s talk about the characters.  There are some REALLY weird voice-actor changes that totally take away from characters.  For example – David.  I grew to like him at the very end when you finally see under the hood of his mental problems if you tell him that Mr. Jefferson killed Chloe and he shoots him.  Whoever they got to replace him as a voice actor does NOT sound at all like a torn-up veteran.  The first guy they got was a douche, but you believed he’s a tormented veteran haunted by what he saw.  This guy sounds like a fucking doofus.  There is no presence with this guy.  Same with the dude they got to replace William.  I can at least forgive that because you only see William in dreams.  His weird speech patterns fit with the scenes they are in, but still.

Ashly Burch is back to play Chloe, and I genuinely do like her character more.  It’s pretty clear that the voice actress is older, but the performance feels more genuine.  Stereotypical punk Chloe is cool and kinda hot, but young and vulnerable Chloe is genuinely more interesting.  One of my biggest complaints from the first game was the fact that we never got to meet Rachel Amber, since I assumed that the power Max had has some connection with her.  Thankfully, I at least know that’s right.  But that gets into spoiler territory for this game.

Something I’d like to add is that there is one genuine improvement over its predecessor.  So many choice-based games make it so that the choices feel meaningless.  This episode doesn’t!  There are a ton of variations, little things that change in scenes because of choices you make.  It was surprising when I’d go through the same scenes over again and have them play out differently because of things I’d done.  That’s pretty cool.  It gives me some hope that the decisions I make in the end will actually amount to something.

Overall, this game is about growing up.  It’s about Chloe accepting that her dad is dead and making a new friend and how she can’t deal with how alone she is.  We also get to peek into the life of a character who I always wanted to meet.  But I am glad to see that it isn’t just a prequel to stuff we already knew.  They actually go back even further than recent history and give us some stuff.  We get some hints as to the nature of the supernatural in Arcadia Bay, which I am desperately hoping they run with.  I’m curious to see where this goes, and while I do hate how much Max gets shit on, we have two new characters to see where things go.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick