Lucien’s Review: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

What garbage.  What absolute, unmitigated trash.  I have never hated a film as much as I hate this one.  I found Rogue One boring.  I thought The Force Awakens was stupid and derivative.  But this?  This movie is the death knell of Star Wars!  I hate this film more than I will ANY of the prequels.  I can enjoy those on some level of being so bad they can occasionally be funny.  And Episode III was at least TRYING to be good.  This?  This was every horrible cliche about modern film-making I have ever seen.  It took all of the things that were bad about The Force Awakens and cranks them up to 11, while adding NOTHING good.  Not one fucking thing.  I am DONE with this franchise.  Just done.  Gonna spoil the fuck out of this movie, because I need to rage.  Let’s get started.

This entire movie was basically side-plots.  There was NO central plot in the entire fucking thing.  None.  Even at the end, it felt like nothing happened.  So, we have Rey the Mary Sue giving Luke back his lightsaber (the film picks up literal seconds from where the previous film left off), and him taking it and literally throwing it over his shoulder.  Apparently Luke became the biggest curmudgeon in the universe between films.  So, all of that effort he took give clues to find him, as if he was meaning to be found?  Yeah, it’s never addressed.  Just like a lot of loose plot threads from the previous film.

Plot threads like – who Rey’s parents are.  It was a big plot point that was teased and everyone wanted an answer to.  Yeah, that’s out.  Oh, and what about the Knights of Ren?  Who were they?  Nope!  That never comes up.  What about Snoke?  What is his deal?  How did he end up meeting Darth Angst?  Oh, this film goes out of its way to not care about this character that they make into the big bad villain.  Not even a little concern.

And that’s just the start of how stupid this movie is.  We have some new characters!  Like Rose!  She’s overweight, and Asian.  That’s it.  Her entire personality is in those two points.  This woman has no personality.  Neither does Finn.  Neither does Rey.  Darth Angst gets himself a little more of a personality, but it isn’t enough.  This movie has a bad habit of believing that if we give these people character traits outside of their skin color or gender, then we suddenly wouldn’t be able to relate to them.  Can’t have that!  Speaking of, we have a purple-haired Tumblrina in this film!  She’s another character who is boring.  Except this woman is so frustratingly stupid.  She makes horrible decisions all over the film.  And when Po RIGHTFULLY calls her on that, Leia decides to literally shoot him in the back.  Because woman power!  Who cares that this stupid bitch is making horrible decisions that are getting a TON of people killed!  She’s a woman, so naturally she’s right.

Let’s talk about Leia for a minute.  I don’t get how people in the theater weren’t laughing so fucking hard with me when I saw the scene where she is thrown out into space, and yet somehow turns into Mary fucking Poppins and flies back into the ship.  The singles stupidest thing I have ever seen.  Nowhere, in any Star Wars material, has it been shown that you can do that.  That the Force can magically make you immune from the effects of being sucked out into the vacuum of space.  It’s retarded with a capital R.

Oh, but don’t think she’s the only character this film decides to shit on.  Remember Luke?  Remember his character from the original films?  Remember how he came from a rather boring kid on Tattoine, to having his faith in what he was told by people to the test and losing a hand for his trouble, only to grow from the experience and become a true Jedi Knight like his father before him?  Yeah, this film decided to throw all of that out the fucking window and turn him into a curmudgeon who made a really stupid decision to attempt to murder a fucking child all because he saw a vision that told him he might be evil.  Remember how far he went to bring his father back to the light side because he could see there was the potential for good in him?  This film wants me to believe that he would just decide that trying to save the child of his best friend and sister is not worth it because of a vision of what might be.  That’s fucking stupid!

But he isn’t the last of the original cast that this film decided to fuck over.  Yoda’s back!  Hey, remember how Yoda was a wise-cracking hermit who put on airs of being a crazy swamp man, until Luke realized who he is, and then his attitude changed and he became a very serious mentor?  Yeah, well I guess this film decided to forget that, because now he’s a wise-cracking idiot here.  All the stoic wisdom?  Nope!  This film has the same habit that most of Marvel’s latest films do in that every time there is a serious moment happening, they have humor that is cringe-worthy at best and just makes me roll my eyes the rest of the time.

Then we got the cute little animal helpers!  Because if this film can’t have interesting characters, it can be cute.  That’s totally how that works, right?  And we get to see Luke Curmudgeon milk a space cow.  Because why the fuck not?!

Oh, and Superman Leia isn’t the only time this film decided to just spit in the face of all reality.  Like at the very beginning we have these Resistance…fuck it, I’m just calling the Rebel, because that’s what they fucking are…bombers going after Imperial (they aren’t the First Order.  That’s stupid) ships and they open up the bottom of their ships to drop payloads like they are in fucking World War II fighters.  Are you kidding me?!  Did Rian Johnson just forget what movie he was making and wanted to make a scene from a The Sky Crawlers with bombs falling out of the bottom of these fighters?!  Ugh!

Let’s talk about Rey.  She’s back!  And she’s just as bland, boring, and completely uninteresting.  Her complete lack of a character is even more noticeable here, because at no point do I ever believe that she’s being pushed to her limit.  Oh, and she also just happens to be better at the Force in every way than Luke Skywalker.  That’s right, this character who has only known about the force for two weeks (at most!  This film picks up seconds after where the last film left off and it had her knowing about the Force for a day or two) is suddenly so good at the Force that she is better than her teacher.  Was there a scene where she gets to see the true power of the Force, as Luke had when Yoda moved the X-Wing out of the swamp?  Nope.  She’s pretty much moving mountains after a couple scenes because if she isn’t a complete Mary Sue then how can the Tumblrinas like her?

Finn served no purpose in this film.  You could cut his entire story from it and NOTHING would change.  Nothing.  Not one fucking thing.  His arc is being teamed up with Asian woman.  Oh, and killing off the female stormtrooper who was just as pointless and stupid as she was in the last film.

Then we have Luke Skywalker, who is supposed to be this great hero who has become a Jedi Master, being killed off in the stupidest way ever!  It should have been Leia they killed off in this movie.  And not just because Carrie Fisher is dead, although there is that.  But also because she did nothing to move the story along.  Except shoot Po in the back when he makes a very valid point that the Tumblrina can’t command and is doing nothing but getting people killed.

I hate this movie.  I am done with this franchise.  Thankfully, I am not alone.  The person who dragged me to see this with him, who loved The Force Awakens and is a die-hard fan of the franchise, hated this movie more than I did.  Now that I know what kind of director Rian Johnson is, I know that I get to ignore the trilogy he is helming.  The ONLY nice thing I can say about this film is that the cinematography was pretty great.  That’s it.  Fuck this movie.  Fuck this franchise.  Star Wars should have been left to die 30 years ago.  Thanks to Disney we’re never going to see the ACTUAL Star Wars story we wanted to see – 1313.

Final Verdict
4 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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Lucien’s Review: Life is Strange: Before the Storm – Episode 3

Ugh.  I don’t know what it is with game creators and stories with player choice.  For whatever reason, it seems that the vast majority of devs who make them find it difficult to end them in a way that reflects player choice.  But I don’t think that was the problem here.  I think the problem with ending this particular game is the fact that it has a continuity that it has to fit into, because it’s a prequel to another game.  And this game gave you the ability to completely break that continuity if you so chose.  Which I did.  I’m going insanely into spoilers, just a head’s-up.  If you don’t like that, get out now.  This episode had other problems too, which I am going to get into.  Let’s talk about it.

Here is a big issue – the first two acts of this game are done with such a mastery that it really blows my mind.  No joke, I was on the edge of my seat and feeling the feels in a big way.  It goes along with the narrative that it was so perfectly crafting.  Which makes the third act of this game and how far it dies that much more frustrating.  But my frustration with the third act comes from other places as well.

This is where I get into spoilers.  So anyone who doesn’t like that is advised to leave now.  For starters, what is the deal with the confrontation with Eliot?  That was bad!  Some of the worst writing I’ve ever seen.  It comes right the fuck out of nowhere!  So I’m just supposed to believe that he is secretly a crazy stalker who has a domestic violence complex when all the events up to now have told me he’s the sad friendzoned guy, based on the choices I made?  That makes no damn sense.  It was conflict needlessly thrown in there to add tension.  Or maybe to justify him not being in the game that follows this one.  I don’t know.  But that entire scene annoyed me to no end.

Next, why was the relationship I was cultivating with Rachel never acknowledged in the end?  That bugged me.  The previous game had Rachel and Chloe making out by my choices.  Why does it not have any amount of emotional intimacy between them.  It really doesn’t.  You could easily make the argument that they are just good friends based on how their interactions go.  Why?  This episodes goes out of its way to not say anything definitive about how their relationship is.  I know why – because of continuity.

And now we finally get into my biggest gripe with this episode – keeping the continuity.  See, here’s the thing: I broke that.  I broke the continuity of the game that follows it pretty damn hard.  With the choices I made, after a genuinely touching scene of David trying to reach out to Chloe, I had her finally choosing to make peace with him and set up a legitimate relationship for the family.  So they were on the path to becoming a real family, minus all the animosity.  Thus helping to set up a psychological balance with Chloe to help her heal.  Next, I put Nathan on the path to becoming a better person.  He had a real friend who was kind to him and treating him like he wasn’t a piece of shit.  That would set him on the path of becoming a better person and not needing Mr. Jefferson for his twisted fantasies.  Lastly, at the very end, I lied to Rachel about what transpired and the truth about her father being a real piece of shit.  That led her to having a very good relationship with her family that wouldn’t have had her and Chloe desperately looking to escape still.  Not to mention, I had set up in the previous episode that they would be heading to New York and not LA.  Since she wouldn’t have been self-destructive, there would be no reason for Rachel to be in Mr. Jefferson’s Dark Room.  Not to mention, since I had built up the relationship with her and Chloe so strongly (at least I thought I had), she’d have no reason for fooling around with Frank.  Unless she decided to cheat on her.

Do you see the problem?  The developers decided that it was better to keep the continuity intact than to allow player choice to dictate how the game goes.  Because, as I said, they had to keep to the continuity.  That’s bullshit!  If you are going to market a game as having player choice, respect their agency.  Yeah, I retconned the lore of the game that chronologically follows this one.  So what?  The original game, ironically enough, is an iron ball around the ankle of this one.  And that is unfortunate.

What’s even more ironic is that there is such an easy way around this!  Just have the continuity errors be Max in the future changing the past.  One of the bullshit endings to the game has it where Max goes back in time and lets Chloe die, ostensibly stopping all of the rest of the plot from happening.  The idea is that if Chloe had died, Max would never have gotten her powers, and none of the events that followed would have happened.  Even though, Max already fucking did that when she went back in time further than the events of the story and told David about Mr. Jefferson’s fucking Dark Room, which should have caused the same result!  Ugh!  I still hate the ending to the original game.  So yeah, if the idea was to stop the events of what followed after Max saw Chloe die, then anything she would do back in time before then to stop the events should work.  In other words, just have a bit where you see Max in Seattle having gone really far back and changing the timeline.  Then you can fuck around wherever you like.  A game with time travel allows for that.  Or have it be an alternate timeline Max created in time travel.  There are plenty of easy ways for this to work, and it doesn’t.

So, do I hate this episode?  I hate the final act, but just like the one that came before, everything leading up to that was pretty great stuff.  I guess you can make your own judgements on it from there.

Final Verdict
First two acts: 8 out of 10

Last act: 3 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Worst Game of 2017

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

Observer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, a quote,

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

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Best Game of 2017

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

Persona 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, a quote,

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

Peace out,

Maverick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Verdict
10 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick