Lucien’s First Take: MediEvil – Announce Trailer

Something I’ve been really enjoying are these complete remastering of classic games that I grew up with.  The Spyro original trilogy is coming out soon and I can’t wait to play it.  There was the remastering of the original Crash Bandicoot games, which was fun, albeit with some of the same flaws intact.  The dedicating to keeping these games in the spirit of their originals but with visuals that are out of this world has been admirable.  Now it seems that another game that I loved from yesteryear is getting the same treatment- MediEvil.

This is a franchise that I figure a lot of people have forgotten about.  The quirky adventures of the derpy knight Sir Daniel Fortesque, I remember first being exposed to the original in the form of a demo on my cousin’s PS1.  It was so much fun!  Taking a lot of cues from The Nightmare Before Christmas, the aesthetic and gameplay were great.  It has a style all its own, but was forgotten about by gaming, until now.  The remaster has been announced, now let’s see it.

We begin with the upbeat, lively music.  These games were never self-serious, and if you took them that way, you’re doing it wrong.  And nowhere is this more apparent than when our hero makes his entrance.  That derpy face.  It’s adorable.  I love this guy.  The trailer gets right into showing us the action, which is nice.  I prefer trailers with gameplay.  This game is a hack-and-slash, which is conveyed.  The environments are just great.  The aesthetic from the original hasn’t been lost in this remastering.

Next up, we have some great back-to-back shots showing the original versus this version.  It’s glorious!  Just like the remastering of Spyro, I cannot praise the visuals enough.  This game looks fantastic!  Even the puzzle-platforming has gotten a boost in the looks department, which is just fine by me.  A montage of the action, and it finally ends with a cut to the title.  Then we get to hear Sir Daniel’s derpy voice.  I love this guy.  He’s too adorable for words.

I am stoked!  This game has already gone to my list of Top 10 Most Anticipated Games of 2019.  Working on that for the end of the year.  So much to be excited about.  Back to a classic hack-and-slash adventure with one of gaming’s forgotten heroes.  Can’t wait.

Initial Verdict
Arm up, Sir Daniel!

Peace out,

Maverick

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Spider-Man Isn’t Political Enough! (A response to Kotaku)

Anyone remember when Far Cry 5 came out and all the SJWs were bitching about how it wasn’t political enough and didn’t make a caricature of conservative America enough for them?  Well, it seems that the new Spider-Man isn’t exempt from this intellectually-vapid “journalism” either.  Because now we have Kotaku writing another insipid piece where a game that was targeted at young people to put them into the role of their favorite superhero to beat up bad guys isn’t political enough for them.  Letting kids have fun?  Fuck that!  We have to put them into the political arena and tell them how to feel about things!  Because that’s what general audiences love – blatant political messages.  That’s not to say that Spider-Man doesn’t have themes and messages.  The problem for them will become apparently soon enough.  Here’s a link to the article, now let’s talk about it.

Spider-Man has taken on his share of street thugs and supervillains, sometimes teaming up with the police to face down foes and rescue the people of New York. While Spider-Man on PS4 undoubtedly shows Spidey’s allegiance to his community, it also casts him as a big fan of police and their tactics that sometimes conflict with that civic mindset.

So yeah, their problem is that Spider-Man isn’t making enough of a statement about the cops.  Ugh.  Of course, Heather Alexandra wrote this.  What a shock.  He’s a fan of New York.  He wants to take down bad guys and protect good guys.  So yeah, he is on the side of law enforcement.  But since the first part of the game has some dirty cops trying to kill him, it isn’t like the game is ignoring that things are complicated.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s keep going.

One of the earliest things you do in Spider-Man is go around activating security towers, made by Oscorp but used by the NYPD, that make it easier for Spider-Man to track crimes as they happen. Narratively, these towers allow the police to better surveil citizens; they also give Spider-Man access to police frequencies.

Um, when does he use the towers to keep track of average citizens?  Nowhere in the game does that happen.  They are only ever used to track police frequencies.  Hell, there’s a bit on Jameson’s radio show where he makes that exact same argument, but you the player get to see it’s more of his conspiracy theorizing!  Man, Heather, it’s almost like you just heard that and assumed it’s true.  I get the feeling you would be a big fan of Jameson.  I love when a game attacks the arguments of it’s detractors directly.  Really saves me a lot of work.

Not to mention, I love how you gloss over the fact that Oscorp made the towers.  Because you have this chip on your shoulder, so fuck the ACTUAL context of the game – that Oscorp is a corporate monolith and is corrupt.  A theme that is central throughout the entire game.  The idea that corporate monopoly is bad.  Seems like you missed that.  Just putting that out there.

Meanwhile, Spider-Man’s enthusiasm for the police—from his stated love of busting drug deals to his cheesy “Spider-Cop” impersonation—had my coworker Tim Rogers calling Spidey a “narc.” While I found Spider-Man as good-hearted and heroic as ever, he was also way more accepting of state power than I expected from a hero with a history of being wrongly maligned by the press and police.

He’s trying to stop bad guys, moron!  That means that, by virtue of what he does, since he absolutely refuses to kill, he is on the side of the police.  Yeah, they malign him, but part of the thing is that he wants to be accepted by the public at large.  It really looks like you’re cherry-picking data points to back you up here, and it’s kind of annoying.  But I guess assisting the cops to any extent makes you a “narc.”  Wow.  Look, I have my issues with the police state as much as anyone.  But the idea that the police are, by virtue of existence, to not be trusted and a hero who wants to help people and save innocent lives should be against them is asinine.

In real life, the conditions at Rikers Island and the systems surrounding it are complex, but games like The Division and Spider-Man flatten that complexity in favor of giving you criminal enemies to overcome. The Division features “the Rykers” as an opposing force for much of the mid-game, and while its radio makes mention of how many prisoners are in jail for minor crimes like drug possession, your primary interaction is to shoot everyone. In Spider-Man, these prisoners function as generic thugs to fight in waves. Despite being a superhero who is on the side of the people, when faced with this element of his city, Spider-Man forgets his allegiances and just enjoys beating the shit out of them.

Um, no he doesn’t.  He fights back against people who choose to fight him!  The people busting out of Rikers aren’t the gentle lambs of the world.  They are violent.  They are choosing to attack cops.  Every single one of them that is in the riot is attacking the cops, attacking Spider-Man, or often both.  If Spider-Man went from cell to cell kicking the shit out of people, you might have some semblance of an argument.  But he doesn’t.  One of his quips is that he will be perfectly content to leave them alone if they go back into their cells and stop fighting.  More and more, it looks like you are just cherry-picking based on a narrative you like to spin.  I can’t imagine Heather Alexandra doing that.  Nope, not once.

Spider-Man’s simple presentation of crime and policing feels tone-deaf in the modern age, when more and more people are growing aware of the class and race dynamics of policing.

You wanna know what’s funny – so many people who think like this fail to understand that police brutality has a deeper problem.  Not the racism, though there’s that.  There is a lovely need in the SJW community to talk about how black cops in the inner-city can be just as violent as their white counterparts.  There is a deeper problem, one that might actually have a chance to be solved now that more and more states are moving towards legalization of marijuana.  The problem is the drug war.  It’s the thing that has destroyed so many cities.  And yeah, there are DEFINITELY racial components to it.  Like how white people and black people do drugs at a commensurate rate, but black people are penalized far more.

However, the solution to this isn’t to imprison more white people.  It’s to end the drug war.  Once that’s done, so much good can be done for the black community in this country.  More than Black Lives Matter will EVER accomplish.  What do I mean?  I mean that we can get non-violent drug offenders out of prison.  This would free up such a vast amount of prison space, allowing there to be some hope of rehabilitation.  What’s more, the legal market would CRUSH the illegal one in a matter of months.  Once the gangs are out of business, businesses would feel safe going back to the black communities.  This would mean more jobs, more income, and help income disparity.  Plus, it would help tame the racial stigmas.  Though the black community would then have to step up and help the police to crush the last vestiges of the crime that destroyed their communities.  Once that was done, what a wonderful world it would be.

This is contingent on mass decriminalization of all narcotics, but one step at a time.  Once the government sees how much money there is to be made with this stuff, it will happen.  The film Layer Cake made a great point about that.  But I don’t expect Heather Alexandra to get that.  She has hair dyed a color not found in nature.  I see such people, I just assume they have nothing of value to contribute.

Spider-Man’s portrayal of policing feels divorced from reality, to the point that it feels out of line with Spidey’s comic book heritage. Comics often speak to what’s happening in the real world. Captain America assumed the role of Nomad in 1974, the same year that Richard Nixon resigned from office in the wake of the Watergate Scandal. The X-Men have a history of allegorical representation of minoritized and persecuted groups. Spider-Man doesn’t seem interested in reacting to the real world.

I’m not aware if you know this, but comic books and video games are two different mediums.  Insomniac didn’t want to make a comic book.  They wanted to make a video game.  One that’s fun for as many people as possible.  One that would appeal to the fans of Spider-Man, with an emphasis on young people.  Kids who saw Tom Holland rocking the role, and then wanted to play a game as that character.  That’s who this was meant to appeal to.  But you want this to be some political screed.  I’m sorry (not sorry) you don’t like that.  You’re reporting on the wrong medium for that.  Video games are about being fun for the audience.  Sorry that bothers you so much.

Until next time, a quote,

“For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” – H.L. Mencken

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Marvel’s Spider-Man

The game I have been super stoked for ever since I started working at an office with a big-time Marvel fan as a coworker.  Granted, I was already excited for this game, but him and I talking about it got me even more stoked.  This license has unfortunately been abused by so many people.  The number of bad games vastly outnumbers the good ones.  But when I saw Insomniac putting out a gameplay demo, I could see that they had learned so much.  Sure, parts of it looked like they were riffing on the Arkham games, but whatever.  It’s still Spider-Man at it’s core.  After all that waiting, does the final title live up to the hype?  Let’s talk about it.

The plot goes that it has been eight years since Peter Parker started to do his thing as Spider-Man.  He’s firmly established, and has put away a decent amount of his rogue’s gallery.  After all these years of doing his thing, he’s not too far from where he started.  He’s poor as fuck (because he’s an idiot and keeps turning down money for ethical reasons.  Dude, you can’t do your best as a super-hero without a decent bankroll?  Ask Tony Stark how that works for him), but doing his best to improve humanity as much as he can.  The game begins with him putting away one of the biggest of his baddies – Wilson Fisk.  Just when you’d think things would calm down with Fisk behind bars, a new baddie is on the scene, ready to make things even worse.

I have so much to talk about with this game.  Let’s start with how it plays.  Everything about making this a fun game hinges on how well it plays.  And this is where I get to tell you – this game is buttery smooth!  While I’m sure the size of the world is not to scale with actual New York, it is a huge playground, and everything about getting around it is great.  This game’s web-swinging is all about getting and maintaining momentum.  The developers knew that if that aspect sucks, the rest is going to be tedious.  Getting around New York is so much fun!  You unlock fast-traveling pretty early on, but I never found myself using it.  Jetting around the city as the Spider is just too much fun not to.

Combat in this game is similarly about maintaining movement.  Spider-Man isn’t the toughest dude, so you have to be able to move.  Using your webs, dodges, and gadgets, you keep the flow of battle going.  As time goes on, there is a diverse amount of villains, though that does eventually tie in to one of my criticisms.  But we’ll get there when we do.  My favorite way to play is stealthy, and it’s kind of a bummer there aren’t more levels that let me do that.  Even the areas where you have to clear out enemy bases, they don’t let you clean the whole thing out stealthily.  I wish they did, because it’s the most fun part.

However, another thing that all of the fun in this game hinges on is the boss fights, and holy shit did they get that right!  The only complaint I have about how fun these boss fights are is how few of them there are.  Each of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery that you get to right has a unique way to fight them, and there isn’t a single one that I wasn’t at least a little wowed by.  There is a new villain brought into the game who hasn’t been seen outside the comics – Mister Negative.  And this dude is no slouch!  Not only is he a cool character with a neat narrative to tell, but he is not fucking around.

In addition to getting to play as the web-head, you also get to play as MJ and Miles Morales.  Oh no!  Getting to play as a woman and a black young man!  How will I identify with them if I don’t share a gender or skin color with them?!  That’s what idiots in the social justice sphere think when I see things like that.  But you know what, I think of my favorite part of the game was getting to play as MJ.  There is a bit where you have to use her to give directions to Spidey in order to stealthily save a ton of hostages.  That mission was tight!  You are almost entirely through MJ’s perspective, seeing the Spider do his thing from her point of view.  Kind of gives me some sympathy for being one of his villains.  Chasing this guy must suck.  But Miles’ bits were fun too.  A part where he is sneaking past two of the Sinister Six made my nerves go haywire.  Since neither him nor MJ has Spider-Man’s abilities, you have to play their bits as stealth missions, and every one of them is fun.

Oh, and I can’t talk about this game unless I sing the praises of the visuals.  This game looks unbelievably good!  I mean holy shit!  The environments are phenomenal, and it looks so good as you’re blazing through it.  Each time of day brings a nice perspective, though night and rain aren’t the prettiest.  Still, it’s a great-looking game.  Every environment is brought to life with incredible attention to detail.  Especially with the titular character.  Whether it be the Iron Spider suit from Avengers: Infinity War, or my favorite suit, the Dark Spider, each of them looks fantastic.  And you get them almost all the way through.  None of that cutting to the suit that appears to be the mainstay of the Spider in this game.

But with all the good things, there are some negatives.  First, the side-missions are not especially interesting.  There is the intro of Black Cat, but I’m only stoked for that because of the DLC with her that I cannot wait for.  I wish I could get to actually go after her in one of those games.  People think that everyone ships her and Spider-Man together just as a fanfiction thing, but there is an actual bit on the comics where he outright does the deed with her.  There is a panel where you see both of their clothes, and him saying it was a good decision.  Spider-Man has a habit of getting with almost all of his fangirls.  His sexual resume is actually really impressive, when you think about the fact that he is such a dork in his alter-ego. There was a digression.

The side-missions in the game are almost all either tedious or not especially interesting.  For example – you go around taking pictures of all the various landmarks in New York, in addition to the Avengers Tower, the Sanctum Sanctorum, and the Wakandan Embassy.  You know what would have been nice – something to go with that.  A kind of journal entry or something.  A little blurb on Parker’s experience or knowledge of these places.  He talks about knowing King T’challa when you take a pic of the Wakandan Embassy so why not give us something about that?  It’s a weird thing to not include.  Would have made me more excited to get this pictures if I could have had me a little NYC Wikipedia in the game.  Have some comic book perspective, which is especially prescient since there are plenty of things you take pictures of that are only in the comics.  Should give the people who aren’t super initiated some context.  Just seemed like a missed opportunity.

Also, the enemy bases that you take out got REALLY repetitious after a while.  Especially as it becomes just new varieties of enemies that have bases you have to take out.  It would have been nice if there were bases where you could only use stealth, or at least could take out every enemy with stealth and have that be the end.  Instead, no matter how quiet you are, the game eventually forces you to right waves of enemies, and especially with the Sable bases, it gets tedious really fast.

Another thing that I thought about – if you are going to riff on the Arkham games, which I have no problem with because they made it their own, why are their no character models?  The character trophies in the aforementioned game series let you take a look at the characters after you take them out.  I kinda would have liked that.  Especially since so many of them have a very unique look.  The game has a cool photo mode, so why not that as well?  Just putting it out there, it’s a missed opportunity.  While I’m at it, you let me choose so many different suits for Spidey, why not some outfits for Peter Parker?  Always seeing him in flannel gave me hipster flashbacks.

Lastly, why is there no New Game Plus mode?  Another easy piece of missed opportunity.  The Dark Suit is my favorite, and I kinda wanted to go through the game with it the whole time.  Maybe this is just me nit-picking, but it seems like an obvious bit to have.

Overall, this game is very, very fun.  I am liking it a lot.  But it’s not perfect.  The side-stuff can get a little old, and the enemy variety does grow stale after a while if you work diligently to get through all the character stuff.  But this is definitely a Spider-Man game in a class of its own.  It’s a perfect template to build off of if there are any sequels.  Hopefully we get at least one.  Norman Osborn being in there means that Green Goblin has to make an appearance at some point.  Guess I spoiled there that he doesn’t in this game, but it isn’t that bad.  He is still a central character, and you can see that when it gets there, it is going to be insane.  With three pieces of DLC that the devs have promised are going to be big story enhancements, we’ll see what it becomes.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown – E3 2018 Trailer

Here is a number that slipped my radar during E3 this year, and now that I have seen it, I really want to talk about it.  Something to know about me – I loves me some fighter sim games.  The Rogue Squadron games were my jam on previous consoles, save the third entry.  That game had TERRIBLE third-person shooting segments that were just the worst.  The Ace Combat franchise has a dear place in my heart.  It is a game where they set it in an alternate universe so they don’t have to address real-world politics, but in a universe that has fighter jets in the same way that we do.  Both myself and a girly-mate have loved these games.  For her, it is serious wish-fulfillment.  She always wanted to be a fighter jockey, but after a medical issue that has left her unable to speak, she can’t join up.

Now we have a new entry in this franchise, and it seems I am a little late on the bandwagon because they’ve put out other trailers before now.  Well, I’m here now, and this new trailer has me all giddy inside.  Let’s take a look.

We open on some dark, very Soviet-sounding music.  I like it.  We have a brief shot of a skyline with the sun, and it gets my heart pumping.  This is gonna be good!  It then takes us to a series of hangars, each with a different aircraft inside.  This makes me happy for a couple reasons.  For starters, they clearly want to show off how good their birds look, which is just fine by me.  But this makes me wonder – am I gonna get to have a hangar where I can customize my bird?  I really, really want that.  These games are definitely more Air Force, but since I have a girly-mate who is near and dear to me in the Navy, I am hoping to customize my bird to show some Navy love.

Then we’re taken to some amazing shots of the terrain that I’m sure we’ll be fighting in, and a voice-over comes on to tell us about the score that’s coming in this game.  Alright!  Let’s do this!  She says first that the unit we are with is a penal unit.  Interesting.  So, this nation is getting prisoners to fight for them?  That is interesting.  It’s an unusual premise.  Seeing our birds on the move, and we learn that our character is a nameless new prisoner that this woman believes has a lot of potential.  We also get to hear the commander of this squadron telling me how I have a call-sign for the air, and it’s my prisoner number.  A grim situation.  Getting more giddy.  The birds take off, and we get to see them fly!

Some amazing shots of the sky from the cockpit of our bird, along with a kind of aircraft that is different than the ones we’re flying.  A kind of sky fortress.  That’s cool.  I remember the old boss-fights in these games.  This could be interesting.  But we move to what everyone wants to see – gameplay of dog-fighting in the air.  And this looks amazing!  The visuals are so badass, and it feels like you are right in it.  Some of these fights are at higher altitude, some of them are closer to the ground.  The ones closer to the floor are the ones that freak me out.  A place where altitude is a constant worry and you have to be aware of that and your enemy.  Yes!  I like it.

Meanwhile, we have another voice-over telling us that the slashes on the tail are indicative of our crime level, and that we can work them off over time.  So, this nation gets prisoners to fight for them, with the idea being that if you do well enough, you get your freedom.  Cool!  Lots of things to like.  One last shot of the base, and the person in charge telling us that we’re expendable.  I’m in!  Let’s get in there!  As there are rumors that this game is delayed until 2019, I guess we have to wait until Gamescom to see more.  I cannot wait!

This franchise has never been huge, but the following is loyal.  As for me, getting another chance to jump back into the cockpit is just fine.  Let’s do this!

Initial Verdict
So close, yet so far!

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Death Stranding – E3 2018 Trailer

Finally, we get to the piece that I would say is the most controversial in that it still has people guessing.  This game has had a very strange hype cycle around it.  Everyone is wanting to be told everything about it, and I think that’s unfortunate.  It’s a Kojima game, so of course he’s going to play things close to the vest.  During the Sony press conference, I saw person after person bitching about this.  It was unfortunate, because when I saw this trailer, I was genuinely curious.  A lot like all the other trailers, it opens the door for more questions, but that’s not a bad thing.

Why is it that everyone wants everything spelled out for them?  We asked for gameplay, and we got it.  It’s just that the gameplay is as enigmatic as the story.  It always bugs me how everyone is looking to be spoon-fed everything.  When people were talking about the old Metal Gear Solid games, people had no idea what the first one was until they started playing it.  Even the box was enigmatic.  It had the title on a white background.  That told you nothing.  People who know Kojima know that this is his MO, so they why is everyone shocked that he doesn’t hold your fucking hand?  I swear, gamers are some of the biggest babies.

A lot like the last trailer, we’re going to be asking some questions, which I think is what this trailer was shooting for, so all of the good.  Let’s take a look.

 

Okay, so the first thing we see is…a baby’s ass.  This is how you know Kojima knows what he’s doing.  He did that deliberately to fuck with us.  People think that he doesn’t plan this stuff out, but you couldn’t be more wrong.  Baby gives us a thumb’s up and we’re off to the plot.

We have some chick and Norman Reedus talking about things that are a little vague.  At the very least, we learn that there are levels to what people who examine this world have, and that some people have the ability to see the creatures in the shadows, while our main character can feel them.  The chick offers him a job, but he turns her down.  There is some implication that what she does is dangerous, and he prefer what he does so he doesn’t have to be in that.

Now we get to the gameplay, and just like all the games I’ve talked about, the visuals are breath-taking.  We have Norman Reedus walking through a giant grassland that reminds me a lot of Scotland, for whatever reason.  You also see these spires going into the sky.  Landmarks of objectives?  That’s smart, given how you have this HUGE open area to traverse.

After more traversal of the landscape, we see Norman Reedus in a bath, washing away what appears to be blood from a lot of scrapes.  To me, this says that this world is dangerous as it is, and that’s why Reedus isn’t looking to get with the chick for her job when it is going to put him in even more danger.  He has his own problems.  Then we get to one of the weirder things – him carrying a corpse.  That’s kinda weird.  Why do they harvest bodies?

Then we see a destroyed metropolitan area.  This has me wondering if there was some kind of cataclysm and now the people in this world are having to survive in what’s life.  Kind of a post-apocalyptic sorta deal.  Lots of questions, which has me even more excited. More traversal, and we see Reedus pulling something really gross out of his foot.  That was so eww.  But has me wondering even more.

As he gets to the top of a ridge overlooking what appears to be a camp of some kind, he pulls out a gun.  Does this mean that there is fighting for resources?  More interesting questions.  I dig it.

Now we get to the various screens telling us things, and I think we get to the juicier stuff.  Like Norman Reedus trying to get a picture, but there is a weird shadow entity that seems to be walking on its hands, and wherever it presses down, grass grows.  That’s is surreal and creepy on a whole lot of levels, and it’s pretty clear that our main character is terrified of it.  As he tries again to get the picture he was going for, a hand grabs his, and we see…is that Lea Seydoux?  I remember her from Blue is the Warmest Color.  There’s a hard turn.  She’s dressed in pretty hardcore gear, so what is her deal?

Something I noticed about the scene after she arrives – did you catch that music?  Did that style not seem a little familiar?  Call me crazy, but since Kojima was originally intending to make a Silent Hill game with Norman Reedus and Guillermo Del Toro, and now he is basically doing the same collaboration in this game, it got me thinking.  Didn’t that music sound like Akira Yamaoka’s style?

We then get a bombshell thing that most people seem to have missed.  She says that she’s headed into town.  So there is SOME kind of infrastructure to this madness?  Is her logo on the outfit a faction?  This trailer is so good about giving us more and more questions, all of which I cannot wait to answer.  Next up we hear people on the radio talking to him, and it implies that whatever these creatures are, there is method to what they are doing as well.  Lea’s character alluded to as much as well.

Then we see that the baby that this dude carries around serves a kind of function.  The part of the machine that can detect the shadow creatures is contingent on using the baby.  That’s neat.  What follows is a genuinely tense scene where we see the shadow creatures above in a way that almost looks like The Sorrow boss fight from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.  Kojima couldn’t get away from the stealth gameplay, but that’s fine by me.  If the dude knows his shit, no sense telling him not to do what he’s good at.  The umbilical cords connecting the creatures implies some kind of mother organism.  That’s another neat clue that people don’t seem to want to pick up on.

After trying to dodge the creatures, they sight him and pull him into the ground.  Since I know that death in this game means being sucked into the much more violent purgatory realm, I figure that he didn’t actually fail in that section.  We also get Lea Seydoux eating a bug.  That’s gross, and weird, but she says that the eating of them is beneficial.  Dying to know why.

Finally, we get introduced to a blonde chick that seems to have some connection to Reedus, but he doesn’t know who she is.  Well dressed, but seems to exist in the purgatory universe of the game.  I wonder what her deal is.  So many questions.  It’s great.

Most people I talk to hate this trailer.  I love it.  Something that gives me more questions than answers while showing me the game is always for the better.  Do we want trailers that just spoil the whole damn thing?  I don’t.  Between movies and video games, so many trailers tell us everything there is to know and leave no room for interpretation.  Kojima loves him some intrigue and likes to keep gamers wondering right up to when we see what it is.  That’s what I like in his games.  You never truly know what to expect.  If all I had with games was the same shit over and over again, I would get bored very, very quickly.  Why is that what everyone wants?  It makes no sense to me.

Initial Verdict
Can’t wait to see what comes out next

Peace out,

Maverick

Detroit: Become Human – Hank and Connor

I’m depressed today, and so I went back and did a video series on my favorite bromance in a long in my favorite game so far this year – Detroit: Become Human.  The relationship between Hank and Connor is just great.  Their chemistry is fantastic, assuming you did your due diligence to try and foster their relationship.  Not sure what their hate chemistry is like.  But yeah, here is my little homage to one of the best bromance stories in gaming that I have ever seen.  It’s pretty great.  Enjoy.

I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did playing it.  The best part of a game that wasn’t perfect, but I can easily look past its flaws.

Until next time, a quote,

“Thank you in advance for your cooperation.” – Connor, Detroit: Become Human

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: God of War (2018)

Holy shit.  I just went through an experience.  It was a pretty damn awesome experience.  Sony is showing that it does single-person games like nobody else.  Both my favorite and second-favorite games of last year (Persona 5 and Horizon: Zero Dawn, respectively) were Playstation exclusive.  In the age when you have companies like EA saying that single player isn’t what people want anymore, Sony is showing them just how wrong they are.  It’s pretty great stuff.  And thus we get a game that isn’t a reboot, but an actual sequel to one of the greatest franchises of all time.  But this is a game all its own, and while it isn’t perfect, it is so fucking awesome.  Let’s talk about it.

The first things to know about this game is that it is NOT for the uninvested in this franchise.  If you aren’t aware of what happened in the previous entries of the game, you are going to be SO lost.  Everything from where Kratos gets his unbelievable strength to why he is so dead-set on not telling his son the truth about what he is and where he comes from will fly right over your head if you don’t know what happened.  And the game doesn’t exactly help that.  There is no true exposition dump, but given how the game is set up with one of the most marketed mechanics, maybe that’s for the best.

Next, a lot of people have said that this game is riffing pretty hard on The Last of Us, and I would be lying if I said that I can’t see the influence.  But there are some pretty clear places where it differs from the other game.  Lastly, this game controls VERY differently than any God of War game up to this point, so if that’s a deal-breaker for you, then you’d best give this a pass.  The older entries were all about fast-pacing and combo build-up.  This game is about strategic combat and good use of power-ups.  There are even moments where you have some Dark Souls peek in.  But it also fits with how this game is designed.

The plot of this game is where you have Old Man Kratos (yeah, it feels like an Old Man Logan kinda story) in Norse mythology land.  After the events of the previous game (which they never really say what happened.  Like, how did Kratos get there?  How did he survive stabbing himself with the Blade of Olympus?  Who is Atreus’ mother?), he has fled Greece and the utter destruction he left in his wake and started a family in this new land.  Having met a woman, fallen in love, and had a child, some unknown event happened and the mother died.  The plot of this game is pretty simple.  Kratos and his son Atreus are taking the mother’s ashes to the highest peak in all of the Nine Realms.  But as with anything associated with Kratos, what stars as something simple becomes something very complicated.

What do I love about this game?  There are a lot of things.  For starters, while I wasn’t expecting the slower pace in combat, I got into step and began to see things more strategically.  You start with the Leviathan Axe, shield, and your bare fists.  But over time, you gain a new weapon.  One that should be familiar to everyone who played the previous entries.  The moment when it revealed that you get your old standard back, I was giddy as a school girl.  The nostalgia factor was palpable.

Which brings me to the next thing I love.  This game knows what franchise it’s in.  There are moments, a lot of moments where Atreus is talking about the crazy things that his father is doing and making it sound like this is such a crazy thing, and you’re thinking “oh kiddo, I’ve faced worse.  A lot worse.”  This game does a good job putting you in the seat of being Old Man Kratos, partly because of how this story is told.

They did change the voice actor for Kratos, and it isn’t the worst pick.  This guy is actually what I think of when I imagine Kratos as an old man.  The deeper voice is pretty alright.  Which made it annoying when there is a scene in Hel and you have this other guy doing the voice of a younger Kratos who appears in flashback.  Why?  It totally would have worked to have this dude be the person who voiced Kratos as an old man.  Why not have the older version for a scene referencing what happened in Greece before?  Kind of an homage.  They had the same voiceover for Zeus, so I just don’t get it.

Next up, I love the characters.  Everyone you meet in this game has so much personality.  What’s more, it’s pretty great to see Atreus being all youthful and nice with people, while his father is still the ultimate prick.  Part of why the voice change works is because this guy is still such an asshole!  He got the Kratos character down to a fault!  It’s pretty great stuff.  Which brings me to Atreus.  I like this kid.  For the most part.  For the first two thirds of the game, this character is a nice contrast to the cold, dark, violent mannerisms of his father.  His kindness and optimism, and the way he talks about how his mother was a lot like that, makes me really come to care for him.  It makes a scene later when he is horribly sick and potentially dying that much more impactful.  That being said, in the last third of this game, they give this kid a HUGE character shift after the truth about his existence gets known that just bugs me.  He does eventually come around, but for a while there the little bastard was downright insufferable.  Props to the voice acting for Atreus.  The kid they got for this was on point.

But don’t go thinking that Kratos is just a stick in the mud the whole time.  This guy has some real character development.  It is pretty awesome seeing how his character grows over the course of the narrative from a stern asshole, to a loving father who genuinely does care for his son and wants to do right by him.  I feel his compassion there as he talks with Atreus and more and more becomes a loving and outgoing father.  At least as much as his Spartan nature allows him to be.

I’ve spent a lot of this talking about the story stuff, but for those who read my site, you know that the story is the thing I care for most.  If that sucks, it doesn’t matter how the rest of the game is.  Let’s talk about some of the other stuff.

This game is GORGEOUS!  I have a basic bitch PS4, and it looks absolutely stunning.  The visuals are a cut above.  It’s not Uncharted 4 levels of detail, but it is still downright fantastic.  I love this game’s visual design so much.  Some of the Nine Realms aren’t especially interesting, but when this game shines, it really blows me away.

One thing that I am surprised they didn’t get very well was the sound design.  The soundtrack for this game is really…forgettable.  It doesn’t stick with me the way any of the other games have.  I can still hum some of the tunes from God of War III pretty clearly, but not this game.  In fact, there is a very large amount of quiet time where you are just listening to the environment.  It’s kinda nice.  But then the music that does kick in, it lacks a certain amount of punch.

All in all, this game is damn-near a masterpiece.  It’s one of the most engaging narratives I’ve played in a VERY long time.  A lot like Uncharted 4, it feels like a logical extent of the story, and while there are a few things holding it back, it’s pretty damn great all the same.  And this is the FIRST of the PS4 exclusive games this year.  Sony is really coming out swinging this year, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick