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