Letter to the Editor: Dunleavy Wants to Sink Alaska for Your Free Money

Back when I was an office assistant at the part of the state I work for now, I got a call from a guy very upset that we were garnishing his PFD because of what he owed.  He said that we can only take a portion of it because it’s income.  I told him that’s wrong.  We can garnish up to 100% of any lump-sum payment, and 40% of wages.  The response I got was classic – the PFD is wages.  To which I rightly replied – what exactly is it that you did to earn this money?  The answer I got was about as incoherent as it could be, and he angrily hung up.

Wanna know the truth?  He did nothing.  This is free money that he got for living in Alaska.  He did NOTHING to earn this money.  But in his overwhelming sense of entitlement (for the old people who think this was a young man, think again.  Dude was in his 40’s) had him actually believing that he was owed this payment from the State of Alaska.  That it wasn’t a gift that could be taken away.  Looking at all the madness surrounding Dunleavy and the crazy nonsense he has done and is still doing, I’m starting to realize that he isn’t the only one.

During the last election for governor, I knew exactly what the issue on the table was going to be – the PFD.  My prediction was that those on both the D and R side of the table were going to use it against the then-Governor Bill Walker and destroy him with it, because people had their dander up about the PFD because Walker had cut it for three years.  Cuts done because he was too conservative to do what now HAS to be done – raise the income of the state.  He couldn’t cut his way out of the problem, so the idea was to use PFD money to plug the massive financial hole that the state dug because the oil is drying up and our state made the unfathomably-stupid decision to tie our entire economy to a finite resource.

All of my predictions were spot-on.  Both Begich and Dunleavy were doing nothing but using the PFD as a bludgeon against Walker.  To the former Governor’s credit, he actually did step up to that.  A pity he dropped out.  Would have liked to see what it would have looked life if he hadn’t.  So we had a pretty much substance-free election, all tied to everyone yelling about their free money.

Now, a year later, and Dunleavy intends to keep to his word.  His one major campaign promise – a full PFD, with an amount for what was cut in previous years to be included.  But since he’s a Republican and has a single-digit IQ, he decided that doing the smart thing like raising taxes (which has to be done.  We’ve long passed the point where we can cut our way out of this) along with cuts (which also does need to happen.  It has to be both, not either), he opted for something that is outright insane.  In a series of line-item vetoes, he cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the state budget, smashing so many programs that actually helped people to bits.

The biggest thing that he slashed to ribbons was the University of Alaska budget.  $130 million cute from the University, effectively disabling it from dozens upon dozens of degree programs.  And this may not even be the end of it.  In one fell swoop, Dunleavy crippled one of the biggest things that Alaska has going for it.  Don’t believe me?  I’ll explain.

A few years ago, there was a big push to keep Alaska students in Alaska.  The reason being that most who leave for college never come back.  There was also the goal of getting those who are out of state to come to Alaska.  Things like UAA’s excellent nursing program, or UAF’s amazing engineering program.  These things are known nationwide.  Not to mention using the UAA teaching degree program to help get new teachers to Alaska, or at least get people to be aspiring educators.  One can never see how the future will pan out.  Especially with the turnover rate for teachers.

The powers that be at that time could see what I do now – Alaska’s population is getting old.  As more and more young people leave, and fewer young people are having children than ever before (guess they got the memo about overpopulation killing our species), the population of Alaska is very old, and getting even older.  Back before the oil market started to crash, this was worrisome.  Now, as industry is leaving Alaska and the recession of 2008 has finally arrived, the aging population of Alaska is a bigger threat than ever before.

One doesn’t have to look far to see what population decline is doing to some of the state where there is no major industry to speak of.  With fewer and fewer people coming into the labor-force, jobs will be unable to fill positions.  Experienced leaders who are retiring can’t be replaced, and as more people are looking for jobs out of state, that leaves an even bigger hole.  The cost of living in Alaska keeps growing, and people are fleeing major cities like Anchorage because the cost of housing never stops going up.  Another thing that Dunleavy is helping facilitate.

What does this mean long term?  For starters, ghost towns.  Places that are economically dead, and people just leave because there are either no good jobs, or no jobs at all.  Businesses that can’t staff their stores will close.  In Anchorage, this is especially important.  Nordstrom just closed.  The 5th Avenue Mall is holding on by a thread.  If JCPenney closes, that’s it.  It will join the Northway Mall in being effectively dead.

You can’t sell the direness of the situation to the entitled people who want their free, unearned money, however.  They won’t listen.  They don’t care.  While the state is dying a very slow and ugly death, while the PFD is on borrowed time because to give people the PFD Dunleavy promised (because he is having to dip into state reserve money to pay for it), while young people will leave Alaska to pursue education opportunities elsewhere, they just want that free money.

In a previous article, I talked about how what’s happening in Alaska is a microcosm to what is happening nationwide, and I’m certain I’m right.  Now more than ever.  Alaska is bleeding to death, but everyone is blissfully unaware, or outright doesn’t care, because they want things their way, and to hell with anyone who says otherwise.  Plenty of people say that the left just wants free stuff, but those people aren’t paying attention.  Medicare For All wouldn’t be free.  The difference is that for people like me, instead of paying premiums to private insurance, it would be paying to that.  It would probably be cheaper than my plan.

The PFD, on the other hand, is free money.  Not one person complaining about it has done one thing to earn it.  It’s money that the government gives you.  And if we don’t do something, now, to increase revenue and cut the oil tax breaks that we should have 20 years ago, that free money will go away.  With as old as the population of Alaska is, maybe they don’t care.  After all, it’s not like they’ll live to see it when it’s all gone.

Until next time, a quote,

“You can’t sell smart to the American people.” – Toby Ziegler, The West Wing

Peace out,

Maverick

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Letter to the Editor: The PFD and Alaskans Refusing to Face the Truth

(I submitted this to the Anchorage Daily News, but they wouldn’t publish it.  No surprise why.  This is something that entertains disrespectful notions and actually challenges people to do what’s right in the face of having to do what is difficult in the fact of an ugly situation.  You can’t preach that to stupid-ass America, and especially not stupid-ass Alaska)

Are you tired about hearing about the PFD? Wouldn’t be surprised if you are. It’s the talk of the state, and every state news channel and talking head has their own opinions on it. The current governor won his entire campaign with that as the focal point, and nothing else.

The big debate right now is the amount of the PFD.  It’s what’s holding up the state budget, which threatens to put state workers like myself in lay-off status until a budget gets passed. One side of the debate wants a $3,000 PFD. It’s what Gov. Dunleavy promised during the last election cycle. The other half wants a PFD that is more modest, and doesn’t dip into the state emergency revenue.

You know, the emergency revenue for things like natural disasters. Could have sworn we just had one of those.  Something about a huge earthquake?  Was working at the Atwood Building, so didn’t notice it over all the shaking and people scared and hiding under their desks.

The PFD and the fight over it are a microcosm of the current state of America. Alaska has a problem – the recession finally found us. What the rest of the country had to deal with back in 2009. Alaska weathered it the way we did because the oil industry was booming at the time.  Basing your state’s economy on a finite resource, however, can be a bit of a dilemma when that resource starts drying up.

Alaska’s financial hole is too big to get out of by cuts alone. Unless you want to put all of the state out of employment (there are plenty of people who think we do nothing but spin in our chairs all day) and then shut every service in the state off, it is literally impossible to get the state’s budget under control with cuts. Something the conservative element of this state simply cannot understand.

So, what does that mean?  What has to happen?  It’s pretty simple – revenue has to increase.  Which means talking about a dirty word that no one wants to talk about.  Taxes. Here’s where all the “no more taxes!” people get to have their moment of righteous indignation over the very mention of it.  But the truth is that reality doesn’t conform to the way you want it to be.  You can have your own opinions all day, not your own facts.

What taxes are we talking about here?  For starters, close all the loopholes the oil companies use. That line about how they would leave is a lie that has been going around since my generation was in diapers, and it’s just as wrong now as it was then. Not while they’re money to be made.

Second, we need to bring back the state income tax. Nobody wants to hear this.  Those who think that anyone in this state wants to hear this are foolish. But it needs to happen. So few Alaskans will even qualify for it given how poor this state is, but the richest will, and do we really feel bad about making them pay?  Migrant fishing workers who come from out of state would be the biggest. They make a fortune each fishing season, and don’t collect the PFD.  They would still go home with a fortune.

Third, the city of Anchorage needs a sales tax.  It’s the most populated (and grimiest) city in Alaska. A sales tax would bring massive income spikes to the state. Granted, with all of President Trump’s tariff’s spiking the cost of everything at the grocery store, this will hurt. No one said weathering a recession would be easy.

Finally, we need to increase the gas tax.  Yeah, you might have to pay ten to twenty cents more at the pump, but that’s the situation we’re in.  It isn’t pretty, but we’re all in this together.

The comments of this article will be a litany of vehement denial and yelling about why this shows how ignorant (insert political ideology) is about things in Alaska. That’s why this issue is a microcosm of what’s happening all over America. We have a problem, and the solutions to it aren’t pretty. We’d all be hurting for a while. But you don’t fail to act just because it will make people mad.

When you look back through history, great leaders were defined by how they took charge in a situation that was grim. When they told people what they didn’t want to hear.  That’s what’s needed now. Because the cruel truth is – if we don’t act now, then soon, the argument won’t be if we can fully-fund a PFD.  It will be if the PFD will exist at all.

Until next time, a quote,

“You can’t sell smart to the American people.” – Toby Ziegler, The West Wing

Peace out,

Maverick

The Pursuit of Visceral Gaming Warfare and Games Journalism

By now it isn’t a secret to anyone about the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot.  Infinity Ward has not been shy about talking to the media and making sure people know exactly where they’re coming from.  After how far Activision has pushed the franchise to being over-the-top post-modern to outright futuristic warfare, Infinity Ward actually wants to push the envelope completely in the opposite direction.  They want to get back to what made the best games in the franchise the hallmarks that they were.  More specifically, Modern Warfare 2.

That game is regarded pretty much universally as the best game in the franchise, and rightly so.  It was perfect.  While the protagonists of the game were always silent, the people you served with had personality.  The conflicts you were involved in were intense and fun.  From fighting in the Middle East, to war back home.  War on American soil made that game what it is.  It was portrayed as terrifying and tragic.  One mission begins with you hearing nothing but the alert television ad, giving you time to think about what you’re about to experience, before you wake up in an underground bunker where wounded Army troops are dropped off and the radio chatter tells you that the battle isn’t going well.

People think that the thing that everyone remembers about the game is the “No Russian” mission, and while that was the big juicy thing that the media everywhere was talking about, in my eyes it’s not what made the game great.  What made it great is that warfare in it seemed genuinely difficult.  You go from an elite group of troops to Army Ranger soldiers in the thick of a battle that they are losing.  Regardless of you getting your mission completed in the game, the military is still losing.  It takes an insane act by Capt. Price to save the military from utter defeat, and he had to break all the rules to do it.

The new game coming out this year looks to go even deeper into making war not something that is bombastic and cool, but ugly and visceral.  You see in the trailer a bombing in London, with a terrorist jumping on top of a car and shooting the people inside.  A cop that I’m assuming you play as is behind cover, and when you hear their gun fire, you can almost feel the weight of it and how scary this situation would be.  Articles about the demo they showed off tells of an elite SAS team in the UK who is going after the terrorists, and how you have to breach and clear a safehouse of theirs.  Descriptions of that are hardcore.  You will have to make calls about if someone is deadly or not.  There is room to kill innocent people.  It’s an ugly business, but that’s what warfare is.  Reading those articles was making my mouth water.  Finally, a game about modern warfare that treats it with the respect for how violent and intense it is!

Gaming journalist outlets, however, are already disagreeing.  Dean Takahashi wrote a long article about how Infinity Ward should censor themselves and not make warfare so ugly.  Especially since it involves brown people.  Specifically radical Muslims.  You know, a problem that Europe has been dealing with, along with the violence that has come with it for years now.  I wonder where Infinity Ward got their inspiration from.  Oh right, they said outright that it was from the headlines.  From real world problems that they are adapting into fiction.  IGN did a video where two chicks were talking about how the demo made them really uncomfortable.  As if that’s a really bad thing.  Hell, another person at IGN wanted there to be a non-lethal option.  In a war game.  How utterly absurd.

I have one person who is near and dear to my heart in the Navy.  I have a friend who is in the Air Force.  I know from talking with them about their training and the world they live in that war is no joke.  It shouldn’t be treated as one.  But it also means that when war is the situation you’re in, violence will result in people dying.  That’s part of how this works.  Why is it that gaming journalists are so desperate for there to be nothing in a game about war that is meant to be realistic to a large degree to not be uncomfortable or to have an option where no one has to die?

Honestly, it’s pretty simple – brown people.  When you make a modern warfare game based on the world we live in now, it’s a foregone conclusion that a large chunk of who you are going to be killing is Middle Eastern.  So for journalists whose publications have been completely ideologically consumed by the social justice community, this fact makes it so they have to make sure that they put out that they decried the whole exercise, how they were so offended, how they wished it didn’t have to be this way.  It doesn’t matter what the context is.  It doesn’t matter that known terrorists who just committed a violent act against innocent people are confirmed to be in there, along with their families who probably are brought in against their will.  They have brown skin, so it’s wrong.

When I heard Rock Star talking about how they couldn’t release Grand Theft Auto 6 in today’s climate, I got where they’re coming from.  Games journalism does more to go after the medium they are supposed to report on than accurately report on it.  A new game in a franchise that is known to have killable people and the much-maligned sex with prostitutes who you can then kill, it’s almost a guarantee that gaming media would immediately work to turn people against it.  That’s the world we live in now.  I don’t know it, but what can you do?

For my part, when I hear Infinity Ward now talking about how they are toning stuff down, it gives me pause.  They have sworn up and down that this isn’t them censoring themselves, but is just part of the development process, I’m skeptical.  Their initial push for this game had me hooked.  I still am.  But the conflict between games journalism and the people they are supposed to report on is starting to have a clear connection on the medium that I love and how people are starting to censor themselves.

The market seems to agree with my sentiments.  Games that embrace what Infinity Ward is pushing for sell.  They sell really, really well.  People want this level of realism in their military FPS games, and a company like Activision understands how to read market forces.  Why do you think they gave Infinity Ward the go-ahead for this?  It’s because their brand is tanking and they desperately need someone to bring it back from the depths.

I genuinely hope that the Modern Warfare reboot lives up to the hype.  It would be a game that EVERYBODY would be talking about, which is probably what Infinity Ward is hoping for, along with Activison.  A game about the ugliness of war, where one mechanic has it rating if you were precise or if innocent people got killed is pretty fantastic.  I mean to be a precision-based machine.  When this game drops, it’s almost a guarantee that the articles about it are going to be everywhere.  We’ll see what the limp-wristed, easily-offended people in the medium will say.

Until next time, a quote,

“Well Summer, maybe the people who create things aren’t concerned with your delicate sensibilities.  You know?  Maybe the species who communicate with each other through the filter of your comfort are less evolved than the ones who just communicate.  Maybe your problems are your own to deal with, and maybe the public giving a shit about your feelings is a one-way ticket to extinction.” – Morty, Rick and Morty

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Control – Official Gameplay Trailer

This year seems to be the year of things flying under my radar, in terms of gaming.  First there is gonna be A Plague Tale: Innocence.  Then I was stoked for another game from the team who made Until Dawn called Man of Medan.  A game that is in the same vein, and the first of an anthology of horror games.  A concept that has been tried in films and failed, but maybe can work in a digital medium.  Both of those games have flown incredibly under the radar.  The former is one I haven’t heard anyone talking about, and that depresses me.  Now another game has made its way into my scope, and it’s one that has a unique look and seems to play in a way all its own.  Just one trailer has gotten me hooked to see more.  It’s called Control.  They just released a gameplay trailer.  Let’s take a look and then talk about it.

We start with what I presume is our protagonist telling us that what we’re about to see is gonna be “weirder than usual.”  Okay.  So I take it that weird is pretty normal in this game’s universe.  We then see a montage of a lot of stuff that I would call weird.  There are people floating in mid-air.  Some very open and ominous areas.  A yellow room with a ton of blood on the floor.  That’s kinda creepy.  There’s a decent amount of atmosphere here.

It seems that the setting for this game is a place called The Oldest House.  There’s a narration in a different trailer by some other character that this place is in New York and it has a ton of history.  Strange things happen here, and the US government has gotten involved.  Uh-oh, I think I see where this is going.

We then see our protagonist wandering some of these weird areas, with no HUD and the only weapon in her arsenal being this weird-looking pistol.  Okay, I’m interested.  The game tells us that if we want to survive in this strange place, we have to be strange too.  There are some freaky looking enemies, and it then tells us we have to right.  Rock on!  Let’s see fighting.  From there is one of the things that got me hooked.  We see our girl running down a corridor, and then it cuts to her just deciding to start flying into the air.  That’s awesome!  Is levitation just something we can do?!  Please tell me yes.  Every kid dreams of having the power of flight, so playing as a character who can just do that on the fly sounds pretty great.

There’s also her using that power along with telekinesis.  Alright, so we have super-powers.  Super-powers mixed with gunplay.  I am totally down with that.  Some bits of her shooting, and then we see her throwing a ball of fire.  So is pyrokinesis one of the tricks in our arsenal too?  That sounds fun.  Are we able to mix and match powers, or do we have a power arsenal that just grows over time.  I also saw our weird gun shooting what appeared to be electric bullets.  Does that mean there’s weapon customization too?  This game is growing on me.

More abilities, like somehow being able to stop a character from moving with the power of our mind.  That’s pretty awesome.  Or there’s our girl being able to pick up debris and use that as a shield.  I also think that’s rad as fuck.  I couldn’t help but notice there how the destruction of her would-be shield is pretty meticulous.  This game looks pretty damn amazing, graphically.  She can also dive-bomb an area with her levitation power.  Pretty cool.  Then there’s her picking up random things and showing how that power works, along with the destructability of the environments.  Loving this game more and more.

It seems that the weird gun we have is customizable.  I love that.  I guess that instead of getting other weapons, we can simply turn this gun into whatever we want.  From the research I did, you can do this with some kind of looting mechanic as well.  Alright, game.  I’m interested.

Finally, we get a montage of the various parts of The Oldest House.  Place looks pretty damn trippy.  I love a world that has visual flare.  Can’t wait to do some exploring.  We then see some kind of strange, enormous creature.  So this game also has trippy boss fights.  Down with that as well!  The trailer concludes with one of the strangest yet still interesting things – our character using her telekinesis on a film projector and smashing it into a wall filled with journals.  They crash to the floor and you can see and hear the details.  It really looks and sounds like a ton of journals are crashing to the floor.  This game is marketing on this aspect hard, and I have no problems with that.  Destructable environments is a lost art in gaming, as of late.

This game has captured my attention, and I am gonna be seeing what it is come August 27th.  Yet-another game this year that came out of nowhere, and got my attention immediately.  Hopefully it isn’t like Remedy’s last game.  We all know how that turned out.

Initial Verdict
You have my attention, game

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown

You know what feels good?  When you have something that lives up to the hype.  Something surpassing it is rad as fuck, but given how often things crash and burn and don’t live anywhere NEAR up to the hype, it’s pretty fantastic when something you are hyped for lives up to all your expectations.  And this game did just that.  It was amazing.  I haven’t played something this fun in years.  A lot of games I’ve played lately have been just okay or mediocre, but this was such a breath of fresh air in my life.  Ever wanted to RP as a pilot in Top Gun?  I just got done rewatching that, ironically enough, so I did!  This game gave me and a girly-mate of mine the closest that we’ll ever get to a dream we had, but can never have due to physical problems.  For me it was a head injury and the fact I’m a giant.  For her it’s being mute because of an illness.  But we got to feel that rush.  Lots to talk about, so let’s get down to it.

The plot of this game is set in the alternate universe Earth of Strangereal.  Here, years after the Lighthouse War, the space elevator has been completed.  But the completion of it brought strife between the kingdoms of Erusea and Osea.  When Erusea declares war, it’s up to you as the silent protagonist, callsign Trigger, to bring an end to the conflict.  The plot of this game is more window dressing than anything, so don’t take it too seriously.  They just needed something to keep you invested.  And it isn’t terribly done.  There are some neat twists with neat ideas.  Such as when the satellite networks of both nation crash and everyone is on their own.  Wonder what would happen in the real world with such a situation.

What’s great about this game?  Everything!  For starters, the flying.  This game, you can pick two methods of flying.  You can have it be more simulation, or it can be more arcade.  Both methods are fantastic.  If you’re a newcomer to the franchise, I suggest going arcade.  Trust me, it does nothing to hurt immersion.  I haven’t played a fighter jet sim in forever, so that’s how I play.  Flying in this game is intuitive and fun as fuck.

The environments are gorgeous!  Though, there’s a caveat to that.  See, the developers wisely chose to stress framerate instead of backdrops for more advanced consoles, so when you get up close stuff ain’t always pretty.  But that was not an issue for me.  Overall the environments are GLORIOUS!  I play on a PS4 Pro, and holy fuck!  This game looks amazing.  The lighting is always pitch-perfect.  No matter what time of day you’re flying, it looks stupendous.  There were only a couple missions where the visuals bored me, but given the number of missions and all the parts of them that play a little differently, that is not a black mark against it.

So, what do you do in this game?  Lots, actually.  There are a couple basic types of missions.  You have your straightforward affairs of going somewhere and accomplishing an objective, though you almost always have something coming into the mix to eff things up or making things more complicated.  Then there are the dog-fighting missions, where you are pitted against foes, either the annoying-at-first drones, or ace pilots who are not playing around.  Then there are my favorite types of missions – smashing shit up!  These missions are typically wide open, and you are given one directive – blow shit up.  Lots and lots of shit.  You have a score you have to get to in order to succeed in the mission.  These missions are awesome, and I would have liked just one or two more.  It was great to just let out steam and go nuts.

Now, as this franchise has a pedigree of being very faithful to the fighter jets they are using, since while the world is fictional the jets are not, the big question becomes – what about the planes?  I can say, they are amazing!  For those of you who didn’t know, I live just down the way from an Air Force base, and my favorite days walking are when I get to see the F-22A Raptors flying around.  Those things are awesome, so getting to actually earn and fly one was a dream come true.  No joke, I was in love.  I think I still am.  But there are a TON of fighters, from models in America, Russia, Europe, and even China.  Since the actual corporations who designed these things are represented, they clearly went above and beyond to get it right.  The detail in the jets if phenomenal, and I cannot tell you how much I loved it.  Which are my favorites?  Alright, you greedy people, here is a list of my favorites, in order of my much I love them – F-22A Raptor, F-15C Eagle, and the F/A-18 Super Hornet.  Have to show love to that last one, given that the Navy is my jam.  Hooyah!

What are the downsides?  The characters in this game are all stereotypes.  Plus, there are plot points that go nowhere.  Like one of your own having a person who was close to uncovering something killed, but they never tell you what and you never see that character again.  I don’t hate them, but there isn’t a single memorable character in this game.  The plot is also WAY melodramatic.  I mean to the ENTH degree.  That being said, it does keep you going.  It was neat to get to the conclusion.  Most of that coming from the well-animated cutscenes that mix in real world stuff with digital stuff.  Neat effect, and pretty to look at.

Overall, this game was everything I could have asked for and more.  It’s not the most complicated thing in the world, plot-wise, but that’s okay.  The goal is to keep you invested to see it through and want to hop into the pilot’s seat again to dog-fight once more.  Plus, since all levels have a score, you keep coming back to one-up your score and earn more currency to buy planes.  It was hard to earn my F-22, but when I finally did, so worth it.  Part of me wanted to be wearing a flight suit while I played.  I felt the need.  The need, for speed!  This year is off to an amazing start, and this game has set the bar INCREDIBLY high.  I love it so much.  If you have even a passing interest in a fighter jet sim game, you CANNOT go wrong by getting it.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Most Anticipated Games of 2019

2018 has been a pretty ho-hum year for gaming.  There have been some big games, but nothing that really sticks with me at the end.  Nothing that has crossed my mind into territory of something truly extraordinary.  However, all of that is looking to change in 2019.  As the current generation is winding down, as is typical, we are looking to get games that will define this generation.  For whatever reason, consoles always show what they can really do when things are drawing to a close.  I’m stoked for next year.  So many releases, so much to talk about.  Let’s get down to it.

10. The Pathless
Made by the same studio who did ABZU, they are back to do something 100% different.  Instead of an artsy game about a beginning-to-end water level, we get to see an adventure game about an Asian-looking protagonist in a forest world.  The visuals are in the same vein as ABZU, but the content is so much different.  We may even have boss fights, with the only weapon our character has – a bow.  This studio came out of the gate swinging, but I am definitely curious to see what this become.

9. Ghost of a Tale (PS4 Port)
A game about a cute mouse bard on a big adventure through a castle?  Why yes, I’ll have some of that.  This game has intrigued me since I first heard about it.  The visuals look absolutely breath-taking, and the gameplay makes me think you actually are playing as a mouse.  It’s cute, it’s different, and the stealth action gameplay mixed with interaction with adorable little woodland creatures is just the best.  Makes me wonder if you have bigger woodland predators as bosses.  We shall see.

8. Resident Evil 2 (Remake)
It’s really cool how we live in this time where game companies are remaking classic beloved games from the ground up.  And they aren’t doing them in a shitty way.  It’s some high quality stuff.  So when I heard that a classic game from my youth was getting this treatment, I was stoked!  Everything I have seen about the final product looks like it is going to mesh brilliantly with my expectations.  The action is still tight.  The zombies are tougher than you’d expect, making conservation of ammunition even more important.  They have taken the formula they were given, removed none of the difficulty, but updated it to the current age.  That’s brilliant!  Not to mention, the Tyrant in the suit and hat reveal scared the shit out of me. The fact that you can’t fight this thing and can only run from it is great.  Though, why don’t the infected ever attack it?  That’s weird. It would be cool if I could use infected against it.  That’s some neat strategy.  Oh well, over-thinking.  Still looks cool.

7. Man of Medan
A couple of things.  First, a lot of movies have tried the horror anthology idea, but it’s always died.  Never has it stuck.  Second, I LOVED the predecessor to this game – Until Dawn.  That game was such a great visualization of a horror concept, putting the player in the driver’s seat of a horror movie where how many people lived or died was at your control.  That’s fantastic.  So when I heard that this concept is being turned into an anthology, I thought that this idea is ambitious, never been tried, and could become something spectacular.  It’s first part/attempt is in this game, Man of Medan.  And man, I couldn’t be more stoked.  It’s got it all.  Atmosphere, characters that are stereotypes just like the last game, and a mysterious enemy to survive.  Who will make it out alive?  Well, all of them, if I have anything to say about it.

6. Doom: Eternal
You know what was awesome?  The remake of DOOM!  That game was such chaotic, fast-paced, always in motion action.  If you stayed still, you died.  If you weren’t willing to take the occasional risk, you died.  An itchy trigger-finger and a desire to rip and tear were all you had against the armies of Hell, and holy fuck-balls, it was awesome!  I loved that game.  So when I saw that there was a sequel in development, I was stoked.  The initial trailer didn’t do much for me, but then came the Phobos trailer, and I was hooked.  The changes made in this game look so spectacular.  I can’t wait  to see what’s happened between games.  What happened to the DOOM Marine when he was sent back to Hell, if Samuel lost his mind to the demons like his former protege.  Lots of unanswered questions, and demons to rip and tear my way through.

5. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
When I saw that Bloodborne was not getting a sequel, I was sad.  However, then I saw the latest project that From Software was doing, and holy shit was I hooked.  An infinitely faster-paced game, with Japanese samurai action, a complex battle system, and the trademark punishing difficult that From Software is known for?  Sign me up!  With a compelling narrative about a fallen warrior with the prince he was supposed to protect stolen from him, I couldn’t be more excited.  This game looks awesome.  The action is so fast-paced that it is almost like a rhythm game at points.  That’s perfect.  It will be punishingly difficult, but that’s all part of the fun.

4. A Plague Tale: Innocence
This game really snuck up on me, but it left such a mark the second I saw it.  You have a narrative-driven action-adventure game, set in Medieval France, with the backdrop of an illness and a plague of rats.  I have already gathered that the infection isn’t the Black Death, but it is still a plague of rats.  Now, you play as a girl who is trying to get her brother to safety, with their young guide.  Puzzles to overcome, stealthy gameplay, and some really inventive use of the environment.  Plus, it looks incredible.  I’m not sure exactly what to think of this game, but we’ll see when it gets here.

3. Cyberpunk 2077
This game doesn’t have an official release date, but I am one of the people who whole-heartedly believes that it’s coming out in 2019.  The reasons for that are many.  First, the developers did a big interview about how this game is being optimized for current-gen consoles.  If that’s the case, then it would have to come out next year.  Otherwise, it would be ported over to the next.  Next, everything I’ve heard says that CD Projekt Red is nearing completion, but are being REALLY coy about when it is being released.  Some info from a Turkish publisher that hasn’t been refuted by the developer makes me think that there is more to it.  And man, I cannot wait to see what this game is!  The gameplay demo had my jaw dropped more than once.  If I am right, then this game is likely going to bring the house down.  If I’m right, of course.

2. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
Neat fact about me and a girly-mate of mine, we both always wanted to be fighter jockeys.  But since my head injury has precluded me from military service (along with the fact that I am a giant meaning I can’t be a pilot anyway), it’s a dream that is far away from me.  However, when I heard about this game, you cannot believe how stoked I was.  It got my attention in the biggest way possible.  The gameplay looks incredible!  The environments are amazing.  The weather integration is phenomenal.  The coolest fighter jet ever to exist, the F-22 Raptor, is in it.  This game has everything I want.  The more I learn about it, the more stoked I get.  This game looks incredible, and since flight combat sim games are a dead art, it’s nice to see this genre making a comeback.  The closer I get to it, the more impatient I become.

Before we get to my #1, here are a few Honorable Mentions:

  • MediEvil (Remake): one of my favorite hack-and-slash games from the PS1 getting remade from the ground up.  Really am loving this new push to do these games.  It’s producing some of the most faithful remakes ever made, with modern sensibilities.  Can’t wait to see one of my favorite derpy knights back in action
  • Tales of Vesperia (PS4 Port): One of the greatest Tales games being brought to current generation console.  I’m down with this.
  • Panzer Dragoon (Remake): This just got announced, and I cannot tell you how stoked I am.  These games are a relic.  They are some of the greatest that gaming has created in terms of flight combat.  Before there was Star Fox 64, there was this.  I am so excited to see what they do with it.

And my most anticipated game of 2019 is…

1.Death Stranding
It’s finally here.  The first project of Hideo Kojima’s since he left Konami.  A lot of people have been annoyed at how coy Kojima has been playing with his latest project, but not me.  I am so utterly stoked.  Everything I’ve heard and been told says to me that this game is going to be unlike anything I’ve played before.  Everyone who is annoyed that the game isn’t spoon-feeding them what it is are so dumb, in my opinion.  They should love the vagueness.  It means you get to think and wonder about what it is!  Is there no appreciation for anticipation?  Has the endless Hollywood trailer machine that spoils everything before you get it spoiled audiences?  Not me.  I may not know exactly what this is, but I am DYING to find out.  Norman Reedus has said to expect this early in 2019.  Dying to know if he’s right.

I can feel that 2019 is going to be a hallmark year for gaming.  I know it from the bottom of my heart.  What about you?  What are the games you are most excited for?  Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“What’s your status?”
“My status is fucked.” – Sam Porter Bridges, Death Stranding

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Aladdin Trailer (2019)

You know what I hate?  Modern Disney.  Modern Disney has lost every ounce of the creativity that old-school Disney had.  Their creativity hit its last peak in the 90’s, and after that it’s all been downhill.  Now, because Disney is so devoid of creativity and desperate for quick bullshit that they can cash in on because they need to get pools of money that they can dive into like Scrooge McDuck, we have live-action remakes of their biggest movies back when they were animated and cool.  And they have, without a SINGLE EXCEPTION, sucked.  Badly.  They are all terrible.  The worst offender among them is the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast.  A film that proved that not only can Emma Watson not act, but she also can’t sing.  Go figure.

Since Disney is out of creativity, they also decided that they should take the time to shit on the legacy of Robin Williams as well, and make a remake of one of their best animated films, where the late actor was able to bring so much to it.  His role as Genie is iconic.  But hey, that’s just how it goes.  I guess Will Smith will get a crack at it.  The idea of having to hear him sing “Never Had a Friend Like Me” makes my cringe muscles go out of control.

However, they have finally released a trailer.  Before this, there was the poster for the film, and I will say that if there is one and only thing that they did right in this, it’s that the lamp looks cool.  That’s it.  Now, let’s watch the trailer for this movie and see what the damage is.

We begin on what is, admittedly, a very cool shot of the Arabian dessert.  Sand dunes are always very beautiful to film.  While the heat and I are not friends, part of me would love to see that scenery in person someday.  But we have this terrible orchestral version of the song that begins the animated film, “Arabian Nights.”  Oh Groj.  Not holding up well and we’re only a few seconds in.

Then we cut to another shot of the dunes, but look!  A CG city in the background!  Oh boy!  Obvious CG is obvious.  It’s not even well integrated.  It looks so out of place in this setting.  We get a closer shot, with CG parrot who I am going to assume is Iago.  It’s a safe assumption.  And just like every CG character in all the live-action versions of these movies, it looks bad.  These films really have hit a high mark in all having consistently terrible CG creations.  That’s almost impressive.  Not a single film stands out in any real way for quality CG characters.  Maybe it’s because I am just so conditioned to this shit and it has gotten to the point that I don’t take this shit seriously anymore.  Oh how I long for the days of practical effects.  Would it have been that hard to train a real parrot to fly around?  I guess they couldn’t do that over a CG environment where everything looks fake.  The bird would get lost in front of a green-screen.

We get to hear the voice of the Cave of Wonders!  Oh boy!  The creepy cave that appears from the dunes because of a weird magic beetle thing.  So how bad is this CG going to look?  The irony is that it was CG in the animated film, and I guarantee that will have looked a million times better.  Wait, what?  It’s a regular cave, but with glowing eyes?  Then how, exactly, has no one gone to get that lamp before?  If this cave is just sitting there waiting, then how has no one gone in there?  The voice-over tells me that only the “diamond in the rough” can enter, but if the place doesn’t open, then that rings hollow.  I’m sure that the cave disappears without some terrible CG effect.  I was right, though.  The Cave of Wonders in the original film, with dated CG, looks better than this.  Can nothing impress me in this trailer?

Oh look!  CG cave!  With CG treasure!  In an entirely CG backdrop without a single bit of an actual set!  Wow!  That’s so fake that the fakeness of it is leaping right off the fucking screen at me.  We get the title in that iconic font, and then we have Arab main character guy reaching for the lamp, which, as I said before, does look cool.  There.  I found one thing that impresses me – the lamp.  Congrats, Disney.  Some underpaid artisan worked really hard on a cool piece to go with a terrible movie.  Kudos to that craftsman.  Whatever you paid them, it wasn’t enough.

This looks so fucking stupid.  This is the next entry in the creatively bankrupt Disney corporation, who is so desperate to just cash in instead of taking risks.  Gotta love.  Of course, these films make bank, so I guess the retarded American public eats this shit up too.  So I get to be in a wonderful minority of people who see all these truly amazing films languish on the vine, while endless dreck like superhero films and whatever cash-grab remake, reboots, sequel, or live-action version has the intellectually-void public paying money for.  This country needs to fucking die.  Not kidding.

Initial Verdict
I’m so sorry, Robin Williams, that Disney wants to shit on your legacy

Peace out,

Maverick