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

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Blizzard Doesn’t Care About “Inclusion”, Neither Does Any Other Corporation

Recently Blizzard announced that Soldier 76 in Overwatch was gay, as part of their big push to be all progressive and whatnot.  However, a former employee who recently went public with the harassment they were getting at work decided to squash this idea that Blizzard cares about inclusivity pretty hard.  The post they wrote was pretty interesting, for those who think that Blizzard is adding themselves to the list of companies that they believe care about the LGBT community or any minority community.  As for me, I wasn’t surprised at all.  It seems that Blizzard says one thing, then does another.  For some, the revelation was shocking (assuming what the ex-employee said is true).  Not for me.  This all made perfect sense.

I have talked, at length, about the fact that companies like Disney are nothing but shilling to make money.  They put out info that they believe will get them social justice points because that’s mainstream, and Disney is all about pandering to the mainstream.  However, when you look at all their black and other minority characters, you can’t help but notice something – that the LGBT community is not represented at all.  Not even a little.  Strange, right?  I mean, Disney will preach on and on and on about how they want to promote diversity.  Wasn’t Finn supposed to be the first gay character in a Star Wars movie?  Well, that died and got replaced with him sucking face with a fat Asian chick.  Fat-ish, anyway.  Why did it get replaced?  For the same reason that Disney is full of shit – China.

China has one rule in American cinema that gets shown there – no ghosts, no gays.  The LGBT community does NOT make an appearance in the movies that go across the pond to an audience that is eclipsing the American one.  As streaming gets bigger and bigger here, that eclipse is only going to get larger.  And as Hollywood and the major corporations only care about making money, they won’t let that market slip away, regardless of how many people bitch and moan.  So all you #GiveElsaAGirlfriend and #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend people, you’re fucked.  Because Disney doesn’t care about you.  Hashtags be damned, you don’t mean shit to them.  They will swear up and down that you and yours are so important to them, but you are just a dollar sign to them.

So, when I hear that Blizzard is equally full of shit, saying one thing and then doing another, I am not surprised.  After all, this social justice stuff is just as much of a dollar sign to them, and since social justice stuff is the mainstream view right now, and Activision is their new overlord, they can’t afford to not do whatever they think the mainstream wants.  Ham-fisted pro-LGBT characters?  Sure, why not?  Even if it’s just another Dumbledore being gay or Lando being pan, talked about but never seen in the actual films (or books in the former example)  Never gonna be in the game, but it’s out there for the brownie points.

To all you social justice types who are so pleased about Blizzard making some rando character gay, or inclusion in Disney films, keep this in mind – the SECOND that the public at large is tired of all this social justice stuff (and make no bones about it, that day is coming), they are going to sell all this inclusion nonsense up the river just like Joel did to humanity in The Last of Us.  They care about your money, nothing else.

Until next time, a quote,

“But the chart says…!” – Rob Walker

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Villains I’d Like to See in a ‘Marvel’s Spider-Man’ Sequel

Incomniac’s newest game is a marvel (no pun intended).  The fact that they were able to create a Spider-Man game this good amazes me.  This game really is the best in its class.  While it isn’t perfect, it still is able to have an engaging narrative, fun characters, and a world that is fun to explore.  There were some parts of that which could be improved.  Like how you take pictures of stuff, but there is no in-game codex of what stuff is.  You have one for characters you meet, but that’s it.  I would have liked to see one for the places you see and how they connect to Spider-Man’s universe.  Another thing the game did well was having a big part of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery.  Even ones that aren’t well-known, like Screwball.  So I got to thinking – who would I like to see in a sequel?  Insomniac has said the idea for a sequel is open, but they aren’t committing to it yet.  That’s fair.  Better to not have a sequel than a half-assed one.  But assuming they do, these are the villains I want to see.  By the way, Venom and Carnage aren’t going to be on this list.  Too many games have done them, and I’d honestly like to see more of the rest of the Spider’s gallery get their due.  Let’s get started.

10. Jack O’ Lantern
This dude is definitely not a central tier villain.  He’s a gun for hire in every sense of the word.  But the original game showed that you can have those, along with a bigger bad and it works.  That was the entire third act with the Sinister Six, after all.  A former CIA agent who became a merc, this guy is all about some pretty clever weaponry.  The suit for this villain has it all, and the helmet is rigged to be imposing, but still be something approaching practical.  It’s kind of a bummer how little fanfare this dude has had, especially on his ridiculous circular hoverboard.  Not a super complicated villain, but one I’d like to see get his time in the sun.

9. Mysterio
A former stage magician turned small-time crook, a lot of the versions of this character that have been done in gaming have not done him justice in the way I think they should.  Also not cool enough to be a big bad, this guy would be a fun side-quest character.  But the real potential I see is in the boss fight.  Too many games have made battling this dude very straight-forward, when that wasn’t the kind of villain he was.  Mysterio was about performance and using trickery to get the best of the Spider.  So their fight should reflect that.  Have Spider-Man working to unravel his projections or traps or what-have-you, while having to work around the main villain himself.  A fight about subterfuge sounds like a lot of fun.

8. Kraven the Hunter
I’ve talked about this dude before.  The ultimate hunter who decided that he got tired of hunting game, and wanted to try something a little different on for size – the Spider-Man.  This would definitely be a boss that is more about the story that leads up to him than the man himself, because Kraven’s tale is a tragic one.  The original game showed that it can weave a tragic narrative, so I’d like to get to know him.  As for the fight, it would be cool if this was a battle where he is hunting you, and you are constantly having to stay on your toes.  It’s all about knowing the angles and getting around them.  One false move, and you could be dead.  I dig that.

7. Swarm
Anyone remember the battle with The Pain in Metal Gear Solid 3?  I do.  That fight wasn’t especially interesting, but it got me to thinking about one of the most unknown of Spider-Man’s villains – Swarm.  This dude was a former Nazi scientist who tried to enslave the queen of a mutated bee colony, and then subsequently had his consciousness absorbed into the hive after they devoured him.  Yeah, it’s comic book logic.  But the dude is literally a giant swarm of bees!  He has no shape, can become any shape, can control thousands of bees, and go anywhere.  This would be one crazy fight, and I kinda wanna see what Insomniac could do with the character.

6. Hydro-Man
So, we have a villain who is literally a giant swarm of bees.  Why not have one who is literally a human personification of water?  Some of this may sound like going over the same kind of fighting as Swarm, but not only does this guy have an interesting back-story in connection with Spider-Man, but this would be another interesting fight.  I think back to the fight with Clayface in Arkham City, and that’s kind of what I think of with this.  It would be kinda neat if the Spider had to think up tricks on the fly, or have the fight be more about trying to contain Hydro-Man than fighting the person him.  Of course, I can already see how the battle ends – with him being frozen and then contained – but maybe Insomniac could surprise me.  We don’t get many water-based villains in games, so I figure that a sequel could let this dude have his due.

5. Morbius
Given that the first game was very family-friendly, this may be a hard boss to include in a sequel, but I really want to.  This vampire has been haunting the Spider for a long time.  Part of me is trying to think of a way that he could be integrated into a family-friendly Spider-Man game.  Naturally, this would be one HELL of a boss to fight.  The vampire powers, along with the fact that he can go toe-to-toe with the Spider in terms of strength and speed, he really would be hard to take down.  Part of me hopes there would be some kind of daylight device.  But this boss would be more about the mystery.  I can already hear the bad jokes now when Spidey actually has to go after a real vampire and him having trouble accepting that.

4. Alistair Smythe
Part of me is kind of surprised that he wasn’t in the last game, since it opens with taking down Fisk.  Smythe has been one of Fisk’s right-hand men for a long time.  When he is first in the comics, he is in a wheelchair, with his weapon being the asset that Fisk has the most use for.  However, over time he gets himself some a neat biological upgrade that turns him into a monster.  That could be an entire plotline in the sequel game.  I can already see him being part of a plot of Spider-Man trying to clean up the remaining assets of Fisk, only to realize that Smythe will go to any lengths to look after his boss’ interests, even if it means turning into a freakshow.

3. Beetle
This guy is ostensibly Iron Man, with more tools dedicated for the purpose of killing the shit out of people.  I was hoping to see him in the films with Tom Holland in them because Stark has become a father-figure to him, but the angle in the games would be more about the Spider having to overcome this guy’s tools of the trade.  However, since the Avengers exist in that universe, and Spider-Man has remarked to having knowledge of them on some level, any chance there could be an Iron Man cameo?  Perchance to dream.  Still, this would be a fun fight.  I imagine the battle with Hammerhead in the most recent DLC, but with Spider being alone, having to figure it out.

2. Lizard
Now, the thing about this character is the fact that Lizard is to Spider-Man what Two-Face is to Batman – a character that is tragic, a reminder that you can’t save everyone and that sometimes you have to accept battling friends.  I see this more as a narrative driven character than someone with a cool boss fight attached.  In the comics, Parker had a deep connection with Dr. Connors, so it would be nice to see the two facing off once-more.  It’s implied that he is incarcerated at the beginning of the first game, but since The Raft was opened and everyone was let out, I wonder where he will end up next.

And the villain I want to see most in the next game is…

1. Green Goblin
I mean, it’s almost dead certain that he will be in the next game, right?  Norman Osborn is one of the secondary antagonists, and the plotline of Harry being in the weird tank is left unresolved.  He was trying to reverse-engineer the Spider’s abilities, so I figure this is all heading to him being either the central big bad of the next game, or one of the big ones.  It is gonna be interesting to see what angle another game in this franchise would take, as they just had a big showdown with the Sinister Six.  Lots of things to consider.  So long as they don’t make him an overacting idiot like the one in the Sam Raimi film (I hated those movies.  Blame the fact that Tobey Macguire is the titular character), I’m good.

What about you?  What villains would you like to see?  Let me know down below.

Until next time, a quote,

“I learned how to disarm opponents by making bad jokes.” – Silver Sable
“Yeah, you mean good jokes.  But I know that humor’s subjective.” – Spider-Man, Marvel’s Spider-Man

Peace out,

Maverick

Critical Examination: My Vision for the Perfect Military FPS

I’ve been replaying the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games.  It’s the last time that I think the single player in this franchise was anything approaching good.  The most narratively interesting was Modern Warfare 2.  The idea of war coming to American shores is actually kinda unique.  I can definitely dig it.  But as I was playing, there were a whole bunch of thoughts that came to me.  Namely – why is this concept not being done better?  I thought about the things that I would want to see in a military FPS game, and figured that I could go deep into this.  Here is the military FPS game that I want to see, but know that it will never be made.

A Different Kind of Narrative

Something that I noticed is that all the enemies in these games are the same.  Mostly Russians.  Part of what I like about the Modern Warfare franchise is that you have some interesting locales.  There is a Brazil, where you’re dealing with a militia.  Then there’s a munitions factory in Africa.  The chemical-doused streets of France, and a German city.  Lots of neat places, all with different kinds of potential.

But the enemies are always the same.  I think the kind of narrative that I would be looking for is one that looks at all the different kinds of warfare.  Maybe like you’re teamed up with various elements of the military and you get to go to all kinds of places for all kinds of missions.  Like going into Africa for a kind of Black Hawk Down sort of mission, then infiltrating a compound in Morocco to assassinate a high value target.  Then you have to go to a South Korean mansion to get another target.  Maybe like a Black Ops unit with a target that has no nation.  The kind of Makarov without the Russian nationalism.  I like the concept of a killer who has no rules and will do whatever it takes to make the almighty dollar.  But maybe this person is ambitious. The kind of Petr Baelish type, who wants to watch the world burn to make a better one.

I also would love to see different armed forces.  Maybe this mission is huge, and involves the British, Americans, Korean, and all kinds of other militaries from different nations.  I want to get to know the world that I live in.  See the attitudes of different nations and how they approach things.  Maybe take on the Brazilian militia aspect from the perspective of their national government as it grows and see them teaming up with some American outfit central to the plot or American intelligence to get their job done.  Perhaps I’ve been inspired by the various locales in Rainbow Six: Siege, but it is a neat concept, am I wrong?  I want to know how the rest of the world approaches war.  What is war to Brazil, South Korea, or the Kurdish fighters?  This has so much narrative potential.

The whole point of this is to inject some kind of realism into this.  Make this feel like a world I can be a part of.  That can even shut up the social justice types because now you can have all the inclusivity in the world, by seeing all kinds of places and learning about how they see the world.  It would also make the story pop because you can see the real-world effects of this villain at work, in real time.  See them using chemical weapons against a South Korean city, or bombing a Brazilian government office, or helping a coup against the Mexican President.

Something else I want to mention – nix the big, elaborate set-pieces.  I have no problem with set-pieces, but military FPS games have gone out of control with this stuff.  Keep it simple, make it semi-believable.  Don’t have characters surviving insane things that make no sense and no realistic person ever would.  I don’t mind the pomp and circumstance, but don’t go overboard.  Which ties into something else…

Believable and Likeable Characters

Another thing I’ll give Modern Warfare – you had likeable protagonists.  Characters like Soap and Price.  Sgt. Foley (voiced by the ever-fantastic Keith David),Sandman and Truck, voiced by William Fichtner and Idris Elba, respectively.  I want characters that have personality and get me wanting to see where things go.  This ties in to wanting to see the way the world at large sees warfare.  If the idea is to have an enemy who is the kind of Big Boss type, it would be cool to have the story centered around smaller characters.  Like maybe an intelligence officer or a special forces unit that is the center strike team of the story, along with the people they find along the way.

Also: don’t just have one branch of the armed service doing everything.  Something I noticed in Modern Warfare 3 is that the same people are doing everything, with a few exceptions.  The SAS and Russian secret service missions were fun.  Now perspective.  But it’s the same with the US military.  Sometimes you have things to do that only the SEALs or Delta Force or whoever can do.  Let us see the different sections and have them do different things.  The idea of an interconnected military is important.  Let us see that.

Not only that, but give us time to get to know them and the world they inhabit.  If it’s people in different branches of the US military, show us their world.  Seeing the Delta Force, Navy SEALs, SAS, or whoever else.  I want to see what kind of world these people live in.  Would this mean a lot of cutscenes?  It doesn’t have to.  Let your character explore it.  Maybe have it that during missions you can play as a certain character, but between missions we have our intelligence officer or something exploring the part of the world that they are in while they do them.  Like an SAS base while working with them for part of it, and a South Korean SWAT team base for another.  There is so much narrative potential that is not being addressed by not giving us time to get to know the people and their worlds.  Give players the chance to explore and we’ll do it.

Which brings me to another point….

More Open Level Design

Notice I didn’t say open world.  Didn’t mean that.  I don’t want some big, empty open world.  Instead, I want larger levels that can have different avenues that one can explore.  Like how you can go to X place and exploit terrain in a certain way to accomplish your mission, or Y place and take an approach to your mission that takes longer, but will minimize your risk of casualties or being detected.  Give players a choice of weapons and equipment, so they can exploit different aspects of a level.  Like hacker tools, or demolition equipment, sniper gear.  Is this sounding too much like Hitman?  I don’t mean for it to.  I don’t hate linearity on the face of it, so long as I feel like there are points that I can play with that a little.  The perfect example of this is Uncharted 4.  There is a lot of linear areas, but there are also the more open spaces that let you play around with how you want to approach things.

They found out that people really liked the level All Ghillied Up in the original Modern Warfare, because it let you do what I’m talking about.  Personally, I like the idea of having the aircraft boneyard from Modern Warfare 2 but let you have all kinds of ways to get through.  The potential for gameplay there is out of control.  Give the players choice, let us figure things out.

And for fuck’s sake, don’t hold our hand!  Stop having a button-prompt for everything.  Let us learn some things by trial and error.  That’s the sign of a developer respecting gamers’ intelligence by assuming that we can learn from our mistakes.  The worst part is when the games are yelling at you all the time about what to do.  How about you let me figure things out?  Maybe have a character in a position where they are cut off and have to figure out what to do without someone there.  Like the comms are out, and now it’s just you and your weapon, having to get through hostile territory in one piece.  There are lots of ideas here.

Don’t Make it a Love Letter to the Military

I know this is the hardest thing to ask for.  After all, America is all about making the military look good.  The military goes over stuff with the military in it for just that reason.  But war is difficult, and I wouldn’t mind if we show the real-world cost.  Have people who feel real seeing this and having to see that what they are doing is right, but that it needs to be brought to a conclusion because the stakes keep getting raised.  See the devastation and human cost of war.  You can do that without making it an insult to the military.  In the beginning of the Exodus mission in Modern Warfare 2, you have the character seeing an Army base set up while the conflict still rages, seeing tired soldiers, wounded, and hearing the desperate battle outside over the radio (though I always wonder if military lingo in these games is legit, or just made to sound cool).  That’s what I’m talking about!

The whole idea of this is to look at modern warfare as more than just badass dudes killing people.  Humanize war.  You can still do that without making it not fun.  I’m not talking about making the player feel bad about it.  There is still a villain who needs to be stopped.  What I’m talking about is making this personal.  See what this monster leaves behind, and have the characters be tested, but then push past that by their resolve being strengthened by each other.  War is ugly, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to fight it when you are pushed to that point.  Granted, in the modern world, all America does is fight wars because that keeps our economy going, so maybe this is going to romanticize the concept a little, but you can do that without making it so that the brutality is totally lost.

So what do you all think?  Is my idea totally a pie in the sky fantasy?  Probably.  Without name recognition, this concept would likely die.  But I think this is a game that a lot of people would be talking about.  I really do.  If only we had a studio that was willing to put a ton of money into something like this.  A risk, but one that is trying something totally different.  Too much to ask for in the AAA world today.  It’s depressing.

Until next time, a quote,

“The healthy human mind doesn’t wake up in the morning thinking this is its last day on Earth. But I think that’s a luxury, not a curse. To know you’re close to the end is a kind of freedom. Good time to take…inventory. Outgunned. Outnumbered. Out of our minds. On a suicide mission. But the sand and rocks here, stained with the blood of thousands of years of warfare, they will remember us, for this. Because, out of all our vast array of nightmares, this is the one we choose for ourselves. We go forward like a breath exhaled from the Earth. With vigor in our hearts and one goal in sight.” – Capt. Johnathan Price, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

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: The Pathless (Reveal Trailer)

When I first heard about this game, I didn’t think much of it.  But then something found me – it is being created by the same people who created ABZU, one of my favorite Indie games of all time.  After that, my curiosity peaked pretty damn fast.  That game was visual poetry, paired with some incredibly music.  The idea that a video game could be made that is nothing but a non-stop water level and it’s fun was mind-boggling.  So I’m curious to see what this stupid is up to next.  What is this new game, The Pathless?  Well, the trailer has dropped, let’s take a look.

We open up with some wonderful music, which tells me that Austin Wintory is back in action.  This trailer is really starting off on the right foot with me.  We start off with our veiled Asian-looking character landing on a beach.  Okay.  We look up to see a massive structure in the sky that is vaguely like the giant underwater inverted three-sided pyramid in ABZU.  Are these universes connected?  There’s a fun thought.  I will be watch-dogging for signs of that as I play through it.

A shot of our nameless character walking through the woods, and the perspective gives some definite size to this place.  It’s pretty intense.  There’s a foreboding atmosphere that is palpable.  We see into a ruin, and this is REALLY giving me some serious ABZU vibes!  I mean, look at the architecture!  I can’t be the only one who thinks that these universes are connected, right?  Our nameless character finds an eagle in a stone structure, and they seem to hit it off.

Then we’re racing through the woods!  This place is so gorgeous.  This animation style does so much for me.  Our character is running along, when she can draw her bow and shoot at these targets in the air.  Curious what that’s about, but she’s making good time.  The eagle is with us now.  Guess they hit it off.  There’s this bit with her running alongside a flaming monster, using her bow to shoot it.  Does this mean there are boss fights?  That’s a curious thing.  The main character jumps off a cliff and grabs onto the eagle and somehow is gliding downward.  Silly, but alright.  Then they’re flying past the inverted glowing structure in the sky.  So curious to see what that is.

We have a montage of what might be stealth gameplay, tons of creatures, some of whom look like bosses, our character using her bow, and a strange character with three eyes, then it closes on our character and the eagle having a hug.  That’s pretty cool.  Alright, game, you have my attention.  I differ from a TON of my contemporaries when I like games that are different.  Games that appeal to a more niche audience.  I love the artsy kinds of games like Journey and Flower.  It’s cool to see games that try new and different mechanics to make stories that are vague come to life in the best of ways.  Why I am in such a minority baffles me.  Color me impressed, Giant Squid Studios.  Let’s see what you got.

Initial Verdict
Let’s see what you can do

Peace out,

Maverick

Bad PR 120: EA, Battlefield V, and Not Learning From History

There’s a golden lesson to be learned in PR – don’t make the same mistakes that others in the field have done.  It’s not hard.  So many people don’t learn this lesson, and it baffles me every time.  You’d think, in the age of online connectivity, learning from the mistakes that others have made would be easy.  You can see, in real time and archived, the history of the Internet and the horrible decisions other companies have made.  Which brings me to EA, and their absolute ignorance of history and them choosing to die on a hill that we’ve seen others die on.  I speak of course of their tripling-down on the historical inaccuracies in Battlefield V and deciding to make this a big gender issue.

Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Well, in the big reveal trailer for their now-tanking latest entry in the Battlefield franchise, ostensibly set in WWII, we see a British female soldier, with a prosthetic arm.  For a franchise that touts itself as historically accurate, this caught a lot of people’s attention.  Not to mention the male soldier with a katana on his back.  That was just stupid.  When it was pointed out to EA that this is historical fiction at its worst, they didn’t take it well.

The now-former EA CEO told people that if they don’t like that, “don’t buy it.”  Guess they should have given people other advice, because the game is doing so bad that they have cut it by 50% after only two weeks of it being out.  Ouch.  The disrespect for their fans didn’t end there.  Instead of just admitting that they totally are fucking over history here, EA decided that they would double-down on this, saying that it is totally historically accurate, and those who don’t believe that are “ignorant.”

I love that video game publisher can’t do research that a bachelor’s degree journalism grad can do.  A little history – there were women assisting the military in Britain, but there were NO women on the frontlines of British forces.  None.  There were women serving in World War II, but it wasn’t in Britain.  It was in Russia.  Stalin is a horrible person, but his philosophy was on point – if they can hold a gun, they can fight.  He took total war tactics to the next level, and had every single person capable of holding a weapon fight.  The history of women in the Russian military is fascinating, believe it or not.  Given how many in the regressive left love themselves some Marx, I’m genuinely shocked that they aren’t more made about this too.  Oh, that’s right, so long as women do stuff in gaming, the SJW crowd is happy.  Even though, as we’ve SEEN, they don’t buy these games anyway.  Love it in principle?

Again, the Internet saw fit to destroy their historical ignorance, but it seems that EA just can’t stop this madness.  In a photo from a press event, they showed off the Battlefield V logo surrounded by gender comments that they drudged up, tripling-down that this is historical ignorance on the part of those who are against it.  The person in charge of development apparently was given the idea to go this female route by their little kid, who plays a girl in Fortnite, and wanted there to be one in Battlefield too.  Given how the left LOVES to make story about little “woke” children, all of which are complete bullshit, I’m reticent to believe this is true.  However, let’s take this at face value – it’s still stupid.

I know you all probably haven’t thought about this in forever, but anyone remember the marketing behind the TERRIBLE 2016 remake of Ghostbusters?  When people naturally reacted negatively to that cinematic abortion, more specifically the release trailer, Sony decided to make it all about the gender issue.  That was the cornerstone of the marketing.  Anyone remember how that all turned out?  The movie sucked and everyone hated it.  It was box office suicide.  Paul Feig, the director, harassed and ridiculed fans of the original to no end.  It was a PR disaster, to the point that no sequel has been green-lit.  I don’t feel bad about that.  That movie sucked and I’m glad it’s dead.

Making gender the center of the battleground in EA’s latest financial suicide note is strange, to me.  We can document that the social justice people that they are trying to appeal to don’t play these games.  They don’t.  So why try and make this market to them?  It won’t appeal to hardcore fans, when you spit the face of history and make that the cornerstone of your reveal.  It destroys suspension of disbelief.  Not to mention that stupid katana on a British soldier.  That doesn’t get enough coverage in the historical butt-fucking this game did to a real historical event.

I think I’ve figured out why EA and DICE did this.  See, games journalism is overrun with SJWs.  It’s just a fact.  The media is such a social justice blitzkrieg, outside of YouTube.  With all the endless coverage to one side of the fence that you see everywhere, it’s not hard to see why someone would think that these people have the pulse of the gaming crowd.  It doesn’t help that these people come after their own audience of gamers in defense of corporations now.  For the uninitiated gamer, these are their news outlets too.  So they see this kind of coverage and think they’re on to something.  Which means, after years of games media yelling about women and minorities and whatever in gaming, big companies have decided to shoe-horn in “woke” characters wherever.  EA is already hemorrhaging money after the Battlefront 2 debacle.  Their stock prices crashed.  They crashed after this too.  Investors are starting to see that the gaming crowd is not happy with EA.

Which brings us, finally, to the PR lesson.  It’s this – don’t fuck with your audience!  Learn from your mistakes and move on.  EA could easily have just let this go and taken the hit, maybe marketing the multiplayer aspect or something of Battlefield V and not bring this up.  But nope!  This is the hill they’re choosing to die on.  Just like Ghostbusters (2016) did.  And make no bones about it, they’re gonna die on this hill.  It’s only a matter of time.  The women and social justice types they’re trying to reach don’t play games like this, and the crowd who does is not impressed.  So why choose to take failure and turn it into more failure?  This is the most asinine thing I think I’ve ever seen a multi-billion dollar company do.  It literally makes no sense to me.

Don’t spit in your audience’s face and then yell at them for being mad at you.  Especially when you REALLY need to start building audience confidence, and you have another big title launching soon.  I’m talking about Anthem.  A game with a troubled story already and fears that this will be microtransaction, EA gambling nirvana.  This is a bad time for you to attack your audience.

Until next time, a quote,

“You might as well aim high.  Why shoot yourself in the foot when you can shoot yourself in the head?” – William Shatner

Peace out,

Maverick