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

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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

Lucien’s Review: Observer

I find myself in a very strange position – having a game where there is nothing wrong with it in terms of appearance, gameplay, or performance, and yet I was totally and completely bored by.  This is a game that has nothing fundamentally wrong with it.  I just got so bored playing it.  How is that possible?  Maybe it’s just not the kind of game for me?  I honestly don’t know.  There could be a lot of self-reflection in my future as I think about this game and what it represents to me.  This review may end up with me just stroking my own dick as I think about why I didn’t really enjoy this game as much as the Steam community seems to, but so be it.  I do want to talk about it.

The story goes that you’re in a 1980’s style dystopian future horror movie.  Everything about the aesthetic screams old school horror films.  This game seems to have taken some cues from Alien: Isolation in that regard.  You play as Daniel Lazarski, voiced very well by Rutger Hauer.  I like the voice acting from this character.  Rutger isn’t known for being able to boom.  He plays the broken down old man very well.  He is an Observer.  They’re a new kind of law enforcement who can go into people’s minds and take information that they don’t want to give up out of their heads.  It’s a dark concept, that admittedly has a lot of potential.  Now he’s on the trail to find his son, with whom he is estranged, and gets involved in a plot of murder and deception, all inside the heads of the dead or dying.

This game has a very unique look.  I liked the retro feel of the tech in this game.  You have all these holgraphic displays, mixed in with computers that look like they were coughed up from the 80’s.  It’s cool stuff.  Seeing games willing to eschew the modern film convention of making all the technology super advanced is really refreshing.  A pity Hollywood can’t seem to do that.  The problem here is that since the game really doesn’t take a large amount of time building the world it inhabits, I didn’t find myself getting into this beyond the most basic “that’s kinda cool” sorta way.  Which is really unfortunate because there was a lot of loving detail put into the environments.

Hacking into people’s minds brought me to another game that this one clearly took a lot of cues from.  Well, not really a game so much as what could have been a game – P.T.  After the death of Silent Hills, a TON of games have been trying to take that concept and run with it.  To extremely varying degrees of success.  In my opinion, this game didn’t seem to rise to the ambitious goals Hideo Kojima was trying to do the way others appear to be.  All the intricacies of P.T.’s environmental puzzles connected to being in a single hallway are lost on this game.

Then we get the sections that it’s clear they took from a previous work, Outlast – the moving around and hiding sections from a monster that you can’t kill.  These sections got very tedious, very quickly.  It was so easy to predict where the monster would be, so all the tension that could have come from hiding from the creature was lost in a nano-second.  I found myself wishing that they could have just ditched those entirely for maybe more creative environmental puzzles in the world of people’s minds.  For all the potential the idea of jacking into people’s heads has, they really seemed to not want to take any crazy chances with it.  I can think of 100 ways to make it a surreal nightmare all off the top of my head that they didn’t even try.  I kind of want to see this idea done again by a studio that is a little more ambitious.  Maybe Kojima can take a crack at it after he is done with Death Stranding?  Just a good idea.

Which brings me to the fear element – this game isn’t scary.  At all.  They really should have ditched the fear side.  I guess the fear is supposed to come from the idea of what it means to get into people’s heads and how that is violating their minds.  But here’s the thing – 99% of everyone you jack into is dead.  This concept could have been made immediately more disturbing if you had living people who are desperately fighting you in their minds from getting to their secrets.  Like maybe have an investigation where the Observer is so desperate to get to the answer that he’ll do all sorts of crazy shit in people’s head.  As I said, this is a really neat concept, that I want to see done better.

I guess my biggest problem here is that this game feels like a ton of potential that wasn’t wasted, per se, just not taken far enough.  If they wanted to make a game where the implication of what you’re doing is supposed to be the scary thing (which I like on a VERY large level), then why not go all the way with it?  I mean REALLY fuck with the player.  Make it so that the player feels like they are partly to blame.  Have them also so eager to get to the answer that they are pushing the main character to do all these things.  Maybe some Fourth Wall moments where you put on the player that what they’re doing is wrong.  So much potential in this thought process.

This is not a bad game.  I just got very bored by it.  To me it feels like a game that is riffing off other games and doesn’t go out of its way to be its own thing.  Which is a bummer, because the kind of game I described above, I can see Rutger Hauer being an amazing addition to.  Hopefully this isn’t his last foray into video games before he passes.  He is quite old.  It will be a shame when he goes.  He’s a great actor, and has the chops for great voice acting too.  But that’s just my thoughts.  Let me know what yours are below.

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Shin Godzilla

What a fascinating film I just watched.  I love me some old Godzilla movies.  The effects are so bad, but the kaiju fighting is just too much fun.  Plus, watching them dubbed adds an extra layer of cheese that cannot be compared.  I didn’t really like the new Godzilla movie that America made, partly because there was so little of the actual monsters.  A similar criticism could easily be leveled at this movie, but I won’t.  Why?  Because this film just took the most fascinating approach.  There is a lot to unpack here, so let’s get down to it.

The plot of this film is just focused exclusively around Godzilla.  No other kaiju to fight.  This movie has our titular monster as the big bad, which again sounds like it would be boring, but this movie just so odd.  It tells the story of a new Godzilla in a world where he never existed, now coming for Japan (what is his beef with that place?  What the fuck did they do to him?) and the Japanese government desperately trying to save their country from destruction.

This film is perhaps the most political movie I’ve seen in years.  It’s weird.  95% of this movie is spent with characters just talking.  There is so much talk about Japanese politics that you almost forget that you’re watching a Godzilla film for a while.  I wanna hate that, but I don’t.  Getting to see this Japanese government and some genuinely-likeable characters desperately trying to figure out what to do in the face of an international threat that is looking to take excessive measures to stop Godzilla is genuinely touching.  The head of a special department who is trying to figure out a way to stop Godzilla specifically is my favorite.  You genuinely get the feeling that he is invested in this effort to save his country.

Since the entirety of the movie revolves around the political sphere, if you hate listening to people talk about politics for almost the entirety of the 2 hour runtime of this film, you’re gonna hate it.  That’s the big and small of it.  Even when you see things happening in service to the plot of the film, they always find a way to bring it back to the the government’s efforts and how international pressure comes into play.  It’s actually kinda smart.  You genuinely feel for these people who are stuck in a world where they have red tape and public to worry about.  I like this perspective.  In the American film, it was all about a small section of military characters, none of whom were particularly interesting.  This movie has a kind of authenticity because they keep it focused on Japan and make the outside world as not evil, but disconnected.  You can take all this for what you will.

That being said, this film has a LOT of elements that are silly to the point of ridiculousness.  Since there are a lot of American characters in this movie, you get some genuinely funny Engrish.  This female character who is the American liaison to Japan is my favorite.  It’s clear that she’s a Japanese actress and English is NOT her first language.  But believe it or not, they get real American actors to play American parts.  The problem is that the writing for these actors is clearly done by somebody where English is their first language.  So the dialogue is so fucking stilted.  It’s kind great.  Oh boy.

Speaking of ridiculous things, let’s talk about the effects in this movie.  In the old films, it’s clearly someone in a suit.  This time they decided to trade in the suit for CG, and it’s…terrible.  I love it.  When you first see Godzilla in his original form, it looks so bad that I was laughing my ass off.  The eyes especially.  That was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time.  Maybe that’s why they worked so hard to keep the focus off him.  Because too much time with the monster and we would have been laughing our asses off.

But it isn’t devoid of cool effects.  There is one scene that just blows me away.  It’s when they finally do real damage to the monster, and he loses his cool.  What follows may not be amazing, but is done with so much finesse and really good musical cues that you feel how desperate the situation is.

One thing I do wanna point out is a track used in this film.  When I first heard it, I laughed my ass off.  It’s so clearly robbed from Evangelion.  I mean, to the point of shameless.  If it wasn’t for the fact that I know that FUNimation is at least partly licensed in the production of this film, I’d be amazed that they haven’t sued the living shit out of this studio.  It’s so obviously the track from Evangelion.  They do change it just a little bit later in the film, but it’s not enough to make me think it’s anything else.

I also wanna talk about this film’s weird habit of suddenly taking strange angle shots right the fuck out of nowhere!  I mean nowhere!  They’ll suddenly have a shot from the weirdest angle and then cut away.  Whoever was behind that decision, I want to know why.  These shots just come and go in a split-second, and serve no purpose in any scene they are in.

Overall, I’m not sure how to rate this film.  There are a TON of flaws that one could easily nit-pick to death.  But, I had fun watching it.  This is a genuinely entertaining movie, for me.  Maybe it’s because I liked these characters, and the politics they were talking about was genuinely interesting.  I don’t know.  But your mileage with this movie will vary.  So glad I watched it with subtitles.  If I had had to suffer the dub, I know I wouldn’t have been able to take ANY of it seriously.  The genuine strength of the performances comes out only in original Japanese.  This review may not make much sense to you, but this is the best I can talk about it.  Do with my review what you will.

Final Verdict
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

I’m about to get very unpopular right now.  I hated the first three Spider-Man films.  Why?  Because I hate Tobey MaGuire.  I’m sure he is a perfectly nice person, and I have seen movies with him in it that I like, such as Pleasantville.  However, I do not like him as an actor.  How he was able to carry the role in the aforementioned film is beyond me.  Maybe they got that one director in a million.  I don’t know.  Whatever the case, he was insufferable as Spider-Man.  There is the meme about the many faces of Tobey Maguire, well, that’s all I can think of when I watch those movies.  Andrew Garfield was a little better in the role.  At least in the first film he starred as.  I at least felt like he was trying to fit into the role of the character.  Still, he ended up being destroyed by studio interference.  Though, that’s what happened to the original films too.  Huh, there might be a clue about Sony and their vicegrip on this franchise in there somewhere.

But for the first time in, roughly 15 years, I actually feel like I have watched a Spider-Man movie.  It’s finally happened!  I knew it would be after I saw this actor in the role in Civil War.  Tom Holland was perfectly cast.  He looks the part.  He sounds the part.  Everything about this kid just screams Spider-Man.  I really liked this movie.  Is it perfect?  Hell no.  But as far as doing justice to this character and making a good Spider-Man film, this movie is the closest we have ever gotten, and part of me is worried that Sony is just going to fuck that up down the road.  Let’s talk about it.

The plot picks up 7 months after the events in Civil War, where Parker is back in school and trying to balance being a superhero and desperately hoping to be involved in something larger by Stark once-again.  Meanwhile, there is a villain who actually has a pretty neat motivation secretly working toward a goal, and Parker is the only one who can stop him.  It’s pretty standard superhero fare, but man is it all in the execution.

Once-again, Tom Holland rocks this role.  I feel like I am legit watching Spider-Man live up to his namesake!  The acting is great all-around.  Holland rocks the main role.  His buddy Ned is pretty fun too.  He’s funny.  He plays the sidekick role really well.  Plus, you actually believe that him and Parker are friends.  Their friendship all comes through due to the chemistry of these actors.  Next up we have Aunt May, who is featured much less than I thought in this movie.  They also gave her glasses for some odd reason.  But you actually feel her compassion for Parker.  The love interest in the film is actually a pretty nice character.  I don’t care that they changed her ethnicity.  It’s all good to me.  I liked her character.

A role that stood out to me was the villain.  Everyone knows it’s the Vulture, so I’m not spoiling anything there.  But he is a pretty neat character.  So many superhero films lately have a problem of boring antagonists.  We actually get to see where this man’s motivations come from.  Is he super deep?  No.  But it’s a hell of a lot deeper than the paper-thin villains I have seen in some of Marvel’s movies.  Plus, he is played by Michael Keaton, who totally owns the role.  He is nefarious and in it for himself, but you can see where he’s coming from.  And I like how they were able to get past the whole “we’re not so different” angle in this film in a pretty clever way.

But there is one performance that just bugs me – Mary Jane.  Do I care that they also changed her ethnicity?  No.  Not even a little.  What I do care about is the fact that they made her into the biggest garden-variety SJW ever!  She’s annoying.  She’s preachy.  I half-expected her to talk about her Tumblr page, it’s that bad.  How Peter is going to get past that and want to be with her in future films is beyond me.  This character was downright insufferable.  Is this a nitpick?  Absolutely.  It didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the film overall.  See, I can handle SJW pandering so long as it’s in a good movie.  But whoever directs this next, can we PLEASE make this character a little more likeable?

Tony Stark also comes back, and I was a little disappointed in this.  Robert Downey Jr was fine and all, but I was kind of thinking that Stark was going to go at this from the angle of him trying to become a father-figure in Peter’s life.  They framed it that way in the trailers.  There is one exceptionally-good moment where he is castigating Parker, but that’s pretty much it.

Finally, I have to talk about something which is a minor spoiler.  Spider-Man unlocks an AI program in the suit Stark left him, and she is entirely too much fun.  The scenes where her and Parker are arguing about stuff are just great.  Desperately hoping this character becomes a mainstay of the series.

The effects and action in this movie are pretty good, but since this film is really character-driven, I honestly don’t have much to say about that.  Vulture was a pretty good villain.  Seeing Spidey doing his thing is pretty awesome.

The final thoughts on this movie is that it’s loads of fun.  It’s not perfect.  It’s being held back by the fact that it has some scenes that drag and an SJW-tastic character who was grinding my gears every time her preachy ass was on screen.  But overall this was loads of fun, and it is my favorite Spider-Man film to date.  But here is where I am worrying.  Sony has said that after the last Avengers film, they are cutting ties to Disney’s Marvel.  Please don’t.  These people know what’s what!  Having their input has gotten you so much farther.  Let them stay involved.  Granted, Kevin Feige is leaving the MCU after this, which is when I plan on tuning out, so maybe it’s all for the best.  We’ll see what happens, but at least I finally got ONE good Spider-Man film that makes me believe this character is Spider-Man.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: What Remains of Edith Finch

From the creators of The Unfinished Swan, a very depressing but poetic story comes another tale that is equal parts depressing and poetic.  There is just one major flaw holding it back.  It is nowhere near the artistic rendering that its predecessor was, but that doesn’t do too much damage to it. The problem is that doing a review of this game means that I get to go into more the artistic merits of it than the gameplay elements.  This is a game for those who like unconventional games that take your mind to very strange places.  If that isn’t your jam, trust me, best to just pass.  So now let’s put on my hipster hat and go into a game that I can already see the anti-SJW crowd calling a “walking simulator.”  A title that this game whole-heartedly does NOT deserve.

The plot goes that Edith Finch is returning back to the family home.  It’s a dark house that has as many stories as it does dead bodies in its cemetery. A tragic story of a family that Edith has returned to so she can uncover.  And along the way, she comes to some realizations about this home and what it represents.  Does the mystery come together in a fitting climax where all the disparate elements make sense and you have an emotional catharsis much like the previous work of this company?!  Well…no.  But props to how close they got.

As I said, this game is not a walking simulator.  To call it that is to be underselling how this game plays.  Sure, the story of Edith is pretty much just walking from place to place with basic environmental interactions.  However, each of the narratives that tells the story of one of the Finch family dying incorporates all kinds of gameplay dynamics.  My favorite being where you have to manipulate the sticks on the controller to do different tasks at the same time.  Can get confusing, but that fits with the narrative.  While this game lacks the novelty in the pain elements from the last game, it does at least have something going for it.

When I saw the original promo for the game SJWs fawn all over, Gone Home, this is what I thought I was going to get.  A game where you explore an abandoned home, but there is a definitive creepy edge to it.  While I wouldn’t call this a horror game, its use of atmosphere is truly fantastic.  Without a single jump scare, this game makes the house it is set in very ominous.  As you uncover all the secrets and build up the narrative, the place gets less and less inviting.  Which just makes the fact that it never really builds to anything that much more frustrating.

The best thing about this game is the first three quarters of the narrative.  Sure, the exposition can be a little much, but you learn to roll with it because you think it is building to something.  Which brings me to the thing that I need to talk about.  I will try and avoid outright spoiling the ending, but I will spoil the elements of how it comes together which may set your expectations.  If that’s something you want to avoid, go to the Final Verdict now.

Here’s my problem – the ending.  This game has some pretty great build-up.  Right as we are FINALLY getting to see where it was all building to and if it would be something more, the game just stops.  In the most anti-climactic way ever, it just stops.  I was so frustrated by that.  I mean come on!  We are finally going to know what the mysterious force surrounding this house is, and you stop?!  What the hell!?  I was actually really stoked to see just what it was that had come into contact with this family.  It is hinted that the actual stories being told in this game give the forces at work power, but since you never get to find out what it actually was, you never know!  I hate that this game has so much great narrative tension build, only for it to crash and burn.  Part of me thinks that the development of the game got a little rushed at the end, or maybe they had written themselves into a corner and decided to go with the “you never know what it was” thing, but I honestly think that works against this game.

All-in-all, this is a decent game.  As games purely for art’s sake go, it’s fine.  But I think the lackluster ending really does damage to the whole narrative, and that is a real shame.  That doesn’t make this a bad game.  Just not one that I would recommend.  Do with that what you will.

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Persona 5

First things first – fuck Atlus for their stupid policies about people live-streaming this game.  It’s bullshit, and I guess they don’t like free publicity.  Nintendo should tell them how well that is working out for them.  That being said, hopefully this company’s asinine decision doesn’t ruin your drive to play this game, because this is one HELL of a JRPG.  I haven’t played a JRPG this fun in years.  With how this genre has scaled down to the point that it seems like it’s on life support, for a game this good to come out is truly a marvel.  This is my first game in the Persona series, and hot shit.  This game is nigh flawless.  There is one major thing that just eats away at me, but we’ll get there when we do.

Never has the idea that delaying a game until they get it right hold more weight than it did here.  I am so glad this game got delayed.  The polish on this final product is fantastic.  This game is incredible, and I cannot recommend it enough.  Sony really is putting their best foot forward lately.  Seems they are aware of how they are not doing so well, but they have come back swinging this year with two exclusives that are beyond the pale.  And if this is a sign of things to come, I am so stoked for the other exclusives of theirs that I am waiting for.

This game has you playing as the Phantom Thieves, a little band of high school kids (of course they are) who are going into a parallel universe to steal the hearts of people twisted by their own desires.  This game has a lot of REALLY dark themes, and not once do they shy away from it.  In fact, the way this game tackles the dark subject matter head on is actually pretty impressive.  I expected them to get kind of antsy about going this deep into the scary stuff.  But nope!  Not once do they shy away from the twisted shit that is in this game’s villains hearts.  Not to mention some of the darker implications of what you are doing to these people stealing their heart’s treasure.  The moral implications of some of what you do can get a little disturbing.

Which brings me to the acting.  A game this twisted can only be sold with great performances.  Every role in this game is fantastic.  Your character is a silent protagonist, which admittedly isn’t as fun as I would like, but I can overlook that with a superb cast of supporting characters, all of which have their own personalities and quirks that they bring to the table.  Not to mention the relationships that you build up over time and how your actions with each character can change all sorts of variables in the game.

So let’s talk about the visuals.  Oh my Groj!  This game looks amazing!  The use of color is fantastic.  The punk aesthetic that they were going for is all over this game, and bless it for that.  I love every second of the visual candy that I see.  The real world is even pretty nice, with every area having a lot of personality.  But the Palaces are where the game shines the most.  Each one is unique and has a design that will blow you away.

The thing which will make or break this game for a lot of people is the combat system.  If you don’t like turn-based strategic combat, you are going to hate this game.  It’s that simple.  Fighting in this game took me back to Final Fantasy X.  Every move is a carefully planned decision, paying attention to your enemies, your stats, and what Personas you have equipped.  Which brings me to the primary way you will be fighting.  Each of the side characters can only have one Persona, which is fine.  The idea of micro-managing an entire team of interchangeable Personas gives me a headache just thinking about.

You have a TON of customization options in this game.  Whether it be the skills you teach your Personas, the Persona crafting system which has some dark implications on its own, or the customization of your characters and the sheer amount of items there are to collect, you will never find yourself in a position where you don’t have options to play with.  The sheer amount of stuff to do in this game is incredible.  Which brings me to my one and only beef with it.

For coming so close to a perfect score and crashing on this, it is a little frustrating.  This game has a time based system, and here’s the problem with it – the game will often fight with you about it.  Instead of allowing you to make use of your time as you see fit, there are so many points where the game will fight you.  Why can’t I spend a little time at the gym and a little time at the baseball cages?  Why can’t I do a little studying and then catch a movie?  This game’s limiting factor in what you can do is so frustrating.  This is made all the worse because leveling up your personality traits is a HUGE part of this game, and you don’t get the time to really do a lot with it.  I don’t like when this game fights me, and it does that a lot.  To some this might seem nit-picky, but when I have the option to eat ramen and then chill at a bathhouse, I don’t want to have to choose between the two when I could so easily do both!  It is so frustrating at times.

This is not a game for everyone.  The pace is slow, and you will find yourself wishing you could get more side-tracked with stuff.  It doesn’t help that leveling up your personality traits is so fucking inconsistent.  If only I had more time to do the stuff necessary!  But if you love JRPGs, then you owe it to yourself to play this game.  It is a cut above its contemporaries, in every way.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick