SIONR: Resident Evil Movies Getting a Six-Movie Reboot?! WHY?!

I don’t know how many of you know this, but the Resident Evil movies have sucked.  I can at least watch the first one because it has a couple genuinely scary moments, but the rest can’t even fall into the category of so bad they’re good.  They just suck.  They are cinematic abortions from first to last.  When I saw the preview for The Final Chapter, I was doing cartwheels because I finally thought that they were bringing an end to a series that NO ONE asked to go on this long.  No one.  People have been begging for this to end years ago.  Hell, the films aren’t even financially solvent, so why did this go on for so long?  Mysteries for the prophets.

But it seems that the films are already being planned for a six-film reboot.  Don’t believe me?  Check out this link and really soak in how stupid this is.  Naturally, it’s because of Germans that this abortion is being forced to keep going.  As they say, it’s brought in over $1.2 billion in profits.  For six films, with their level of production values, that actually seems pretty bad.  The article even says that the idea for six films is them milking it.  They want to suck this cash cow dry until there is absolutely nothing left.  I am in awe.

Can we please stop making video game movies?  I’m being serious.  These films suck.  Without a SINGLE exception, they all suck.  Everyone tried to defend the Warcraft film, but even then it was flimsy at best.  I can at least acknowledge that the original Silent Hill film was made by someone who at least loved the games and wanted to do right by them.  It still sucked, but there was at least a little heart.  More than most of this shit.  Video game films are becoming the bottom of the film barrel, and Hollywood is showing that they don’t care if film budgets are wasted making more of this garbage.  I honestly wish that Hollywood would realize that we need some originality in film.

Movies are getting so predictable.  I just got done watching Rogue One, and the whole time I’m like – something interesting is going to happen soon, right?  I liked Civil War, but that’s because it actually had heroes fighting each other.  That was unique.  But I am still tired of comic book movies.  Star War VII was a remake of the original with a check and even less fun.  None of the big movies even get my attention anymore.  And now they are releasing a new Pirate of the Caribbean film and I bet that film will die even more than the previous film did.  That franchise has been played out.  The only film I actually want to see coming out soon is Dunkirk, because it is being made by a direct who I know will make a film that isn’t just me watching a computer.

I know that there are people in Hollywood who have good ideas.  The problem is that studios are basically condemning them to never get anything made because all they care about is something easy to market.  Something that they can put out there and know there will be a return of investment.  It’s why we have Transformers VI, Star Wars: Independent Story Nobody Cared About, Cars 3, and other equally-uninteresting films that will still make a ton of money because the audience in this country is retarded.

And while we’re on the subject, can we PLEASE stop with these reboots?!  I am fucking sick of films that play on nostalgia as the only way to keep you in the seats.  All of these films just make me realize how much I loved the original.  That’s it.  I groan when I see a previews to another franchise or something that I loved being turned into a cash-grab.  Thankfully, these films are becoming less and less financially successful, which hopefully can give the six-figure salaries and two-digit IQs in Hollywood a clue that this crap is played out.

In the meantime, fuck this latest reboot.  I haven’t seen one of these films in years, and I am not going to now.  Who are the idiots who keep watching this shit?  I honestly want to know.

Until next time, a quote,

“Running out of ideas will put in you the dark until death.” – Cambodian Proverb

Peace out,

Maverick

Another Pseudo-Intellectual Wants to Talk About Video Games (A response to Ian Bogost)

I just love all these people with degrees from prestigious schools and 2-digit IQs telling me what video games are lacking.  It’s so charming.  These people who want to pretend like they got it all figured out, and then use the latest buzzwords to be able to bolster their arguments that sound like sophistry at best.  Is this lexicon verbose enough for you?  Our latest pseudo-intellectual wants to make sure that he sounds very smart while he talks about how videos really shouldn’t have stories, all the while ripping off arguments that Roger Ebert was proven wrong about 10 years ago.  It’s charming, in its own stupid way.  Here’s a link to the article, now let’s rip this bitch to pieces.

A longstanding dream: Video games will evolve into interactive stories, like the ones that play out fictionally on the Star Trek Holodeck. In this hypothetical future, players could interact with computerized characters as round as those in novels or films, making choices that would influence an ever-evolving plot. It would be like living in a novel, where the player’s actions would have as much of an influence on the story as they might in the real world.

First off, I don’t want games to be the Holodeck.  I’m not into VR.  Second, for the most part, the part about making an ever-evolving plot has already happened.  I’ve played it out dozens of times.  Whether it be something very linear, or something where I have choices and agency, I am able to help shape a narrative with the games I play.  Already there, skippy.  I look forward to what will be your solid reasoning for why that isn’t the case.

It’s an almost impossible bar to reach, for cultural reasons as much as technical ones.

Neat fact – immediately after this sentence, there is nothing about this for ages.  He goes on and on about how environmental storytelling works, but right when he makes a substantive point, he doesn’t go into greater detail.  I mean, if you are going to say why this bar is impossible to reach, shouldn’t you then follow that up with something about why this milestone is so impossible?  But let’s get into what he says about environmental storytelling and how it shapes a narrative.

The approach raises many questions. Are the resulting interactive stories really interactive, when all the player does is assemble something from parts? Are they really stories, when they are really environments? And most of all, are they better stories than the more popular and proven ones in the cinema, on television, and in books?

Well, yeah.  That’s easy to prove.  You use Bioshock as an example, a game with a very developed and rich lore with characters who you come to care about strictly from hearing about their trials in the city.  I’ve never met them, but there are some characters in the audio logs who was I sad to see go when you learn of their ultimate fate.  It was just another twisted end to a frankly depressing game.

Or let’s talk about my favorite game of 2015 – Life is Strange.  In that game, you look at pretty much everything around you and it tells stories.  You can see Chloe’s decent into a punk rock girl after her father died.  You can see her family with all their financial troubles and personal ones.  You can learn that David isn’t quite the asshole he seems, finding his book on recovering from war that he has read many times.  These things provide a richer canvas to the game’s narrative, which you grow to care about.  It’s what makes the fact that your choices ultimately don’t matter in the end that much more frustrating.

I think I see your problem – you are trying to make a direct comparison between video games and other visual mediums like film and television.  But you can’t do that.  I don’t play a game with the same mindset as I read a book or watch a movie.  I expect elements to be interactive and give me at least some agency in being a part of.  It doesn’t have to be everything.  As I said, I don’t want the Holodeck.  I just want a narrative that I feel immersed in.  My favorite games are ones where I feel like I was a part of the action.  It can still be linear and accomplish this, so long as the characters are well-developed and the world immerses me enough to want to see the story through.  Gaming is an interactive experience, not a purely visual one.  I didn’t like Metal Gear Solid IV because it felt like I had no agency.  60% of the time I was just watching the film play.  That’s not how games work.  For someone who purports to have a very rich understanding of the medium, this fact seemed to escape you.

In retrospect, it’s easy easy to blame old games like Doom and Duke Nukem for stimulating the fantasy of male adolescent power. But that choice was made less deliberately at the time. Real-time 3-D worlds are harder to create than it seems, especially on the relatively low-powered computers that first ran games like Doom in the early 1990s. It helped to empty them out as much as possible, with surfaces detailed by simple textures and objects kept to a minimum. In other words, the first 3-D games were designed to be empty so that they would run.

Okay…why did the male adolescent power line come up?  What did ANY of what followed in that paragraph have to do with men?  Are you clumsily setting the stage for where you blame men for video games being whatever way you don’t like?  I can see that coming from a mile away.  That is bad writing, dude.  If you want to take the Anita Sarkeesian route of saying men are pure evil in video games, then at least TRY and make it feel more natural.

The dude goes on and on for paragraphs about how environments in games aren’t realistic enough and that npc’s are all basically just going off a script, which I guess is supposed to mean that you can’t seem them as real.  Well…duh. I don’t see the vendor in Persona 5 selling me DVDs as a real person.  I’m not supposed to.  Half of this dude’s diatribes reek of a person who doesn’t actually have a lot of experience in this medium.  Or someone who is playing games with an agenda.  Seeing as how he brought up men in this article, I get the feeling him and Anita share similar social views.,

Environmental storytelling offers a solution to this conundrum. Instead of trying to resolve the matter of simulated character and plot, the genre gives up on both, embracing scripted action instead. The player’s experience becomes that of a detective, piecing together narrative coherence from fragments conveniently left behind in the game’s physical environment.

Well yeah, games that use environmental story-telling do have some convenience to them.  So do books and films.  After all, it sure was convenient that Tony Stark found out about the dead interpreter in Civil War, isn’t it?  Or it’s convenient that no one asked who had actually heard the main character say “Rosebud” in Citizen Kane when no one was clearly in the room.  All works of fiction rely on convenience to one extent or another.  Find me a piece of fiction where there aren’t some plot conveniences to move things along.

In 2013, two developers who had worked on the BioShock series borrowed the environmental-storytelling technique and threw away both the shooting and the sci-fi fantasy. The result was Gone Home, a story game about a college-aged woman who returns home to a mysterious, empty mansion near Portland, Oregon. By reassembling the fragments found in this mansion, the player reconstructs the story of the main character’s sister and her journey to discover her sexual identity. The game was widely praised for breaking the mold of the first-person experience while also importing issues in identity politics into a medium known for its unwavering masculinity.

Oh boy.  The pseudo-intellectual is about to talk about Gone Home.  This basically confirms to me that he is full of shit.  Every wanna-be intellectual and their SJW sister have talked about how this game is representative of some great milestone.  In this case, he says that it showed that games are basically on the level of young-adult novels.  Groan.  And the fucker actually makes the argument that this game represents the high water mark in gaming story-telling.  Give me a fucking break!

There are 1000 games, probably more, with narratives 1000X richer than that walking simulator could have ever hoped for.  Hell, I don’t even have a problem with the walking simulator genre and I see it as a lesser option.  When I think about the emotional levels the Mass Effect series got (before the STUPID ending to 3), or the moral implications of The Last of Us, and I see this clown telling me that some hipster-approved work.  Hell, Limbo, a 2D side-scroller was able to make a game world with more emotional weight, without any exposition of any kind.  Just from the environment you play in, you can see the story of a great civilization’s rise to power and then fall.  An art game called Journey did much the same.  Did this ass-clown actually play games, or is he just quoting the line from his contemporaries?  He is probably a grad with a fancy degree, who spent all his academic life citing other people in papers.  Thinking for yourself is hard, after all.

The result is aesthetically coherent, fusing the artistic sensibilities of Edward Gory, Isabel Allende, and Wes Anderson. The writing is good, an uncommon accomplishment in a video game. On the whole, there is nothing to fault in What Remains of Edith Finch. It’s a lovely little title with ambitions scaled to match their execution. Few will leave it unsatisfied.

Good writing is uncommon in video games?  Oh fuck off, you hipster culture critic.  Look me in the eye and tell me that Beyond: Two Souls or Uncharted 4 have bad writing.  And you better be able to bolster it with some strong argument.  By the way, dude, I was unsatisfied at that game.  Know why – because the ending was crap.  The game was FINALLY getting to the really good stuff, then just stopped.  It just ends.  And don’t tell me “it’s open to interpretation!”  That is a line used by people who have no other argument.  I heard that crap about the Mass Effect 3 ending by pseudo-intellectuals just like this.

And that’s really it.  He doesn’t go into any other genre or aspects to games story-telling.  I guess, in his mind, the only kinds of games that can tell stories are first-person ones.  That is beyond asinine.  When I play art games like ABZU, or JRPGs like Persona 5, both with very good narratives and stories that suck me in, I am realizing why this guy is full of shit.  Another person who had to write some bullshit about games and then peace out without even looking at anything else but the one thing he wants to focus on.  No wonder this guy came from modern university.  His argumentation is garbage.

Funny, he looks at three games to try and make his point.  I can talk about dozens to make mine.  Yeah, this dude sucks.  I cannot believe a publication like The Atlantic takes this bullshit seriously.

Until next time, a quote,

“If you don’t feel it, you won’t remember it.” – Bob Dickman

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: The Failure of Final Fantasy XV and a Road Trip Game Done Right

It’s no mystery that I view Final Fantasy XV as a game with a good idea, but a bad execution.  The problem is that the game devs decided that they were going to go the typical Final Fantasy game route and make it about saving the world.  Failing to realize that what drew people in was the theme song that was horribly misused in the actual game.  This game was marketed as Noctis and his friends going on a road trip in a fantasy world that is very similar to our own.  And I think that was a great concept.  If they had just gone all the way with it, that game could have been one of a kind.  For a while now I have been thinking of how this idea could be done correctly.  Let me share what I came up with.

For starters, there cannot be a plot outside of the road trip.  It would have to be a very small story.  No saving the world.  Maybe thwarting some threats that are posing a danger to the places that the party comes across in their travels, but that’s it.  You can even have the world’s politics play a part in it, but that has to come secondary.  It’s just an element of setting, not a core plot element.  But it should still be a part of things.  After all, you want the world to seem believable.  If the game’s world doesn’t feel like one that you can live in, then it is not doing its job in immersion.  However, none of the choices you make in a road trip game can affect politics on a large scale.  Maybe you can change a village or town or even part of a city’s mind about your group.  Maybe make it some kind of ethnic conflict.  But at the end of the game, the politics are what they are and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Next up, the stuff where the car is basically driving itself and you are just along for the ride actually didn’t bug me.  However, in order to do this concept better, I have some tips.  First – make a larger music selection.  Give the world some personality.  Make radio stations that play various kinds of music and add to the world by injecting some diverse opinions into the mix.  Maybe have one station who is very much a friend to your characters nation and political views, while having another that is very much opposed.  Run the gamut of political ideas, all while having lots of music that makes you feel like this is a real place.  Not just stock music options and soundtracks to other games.  Hell, the didn’t even do that right.  I mean, if you’re going to get soundtracks you can buy, why not have the whole thing?  And why not make it like when you are making an iTunes playlist and pick the songs you want to hear?  So many small details about this game that could have been done better.

Second – ditch the open world.  I am honestly getting tired of huge worlds that feel like there is no one living there.  Instead, why not make it so you have large levels at various places in the journey?  Open levels on your journey, rather than vast spaces that feel like not one person has ever lived there.  Since you are traveling in your car, that would allow you to make the set-pieces of driving and taking in scenery, characters talking, and the ambiance that much better.  However, too many games have vast open spaces that are just so boring.  I may be in a minority here, but a game that did this concept flawlessly was Uncharted 4.  Instead of being one massive open world, they allowed you to explore large contained areas at your own pace.  For a game about a road trip, with the idea being characters exploring what they come across, that seems much more fitting.

Third – immerse your character in the world.  Take a few cues from Persona 5.  Let your characters buy food at the restaurants they come across.  I wanna be able to buy their world’s version of a juicy burger at the gas station diner.  Or have some fancy meal at an upscale restaurant in some tourist trap city.  Maybe even take in a bowl of ramen or whatever the noodles of that world are.  Little touches like that go a long way.  When I am chilling at a hotel room or something, let me watch movies, read books, of something else that gets me involved in the area.  Maybe have doing that stuff help your character level up stats or something.  Give some incentive for taking the time for this.  Persona 5 had hilarious rip-offs of big movies that were terribly acted on purpose, but it was still so fun to do because you had fun laughing at the ridiculousness of a Batman knock-off talking about desserts.  Give the player incentive to learn about the world.

Fourth – side-quests, and don’t just make it busy work.  Have party members want to do stuff in towns, or developing relationships with random npc’s leading to bigger payoffs with fun missions that can either be difficulty challenges or give you special stuff.  Take some cues from The Witcher 3 and make the side-stuff just as interesting as the main stuff.

Finally – make the game feel like it’s a story about the group on the road trip growing as people.  A kind of coming-of-age story.  Maybe make them a touch older and have some ideas about the nature of growing up and having to be adults.

Final Fantasy XV had a solid concept, it just didn’t go all the way with it.  More than anything, that’s what frustrates me as a gamer.  A wasted good idea is the very worst, and too many games are guilty of it.  But what about you?  Agree or disagree with my assessment?  Let me know down in the Comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me.” – Walt Whitman

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

Critical Examination: Realism vs Style

Quite recently I have been playing Persona 5, and man am I in love with this game.  This game has taken the title of best game for me quite handily.  Sony seems to be eager to come out of the gate swinging with some very polished games.  First it was Horizon: Zero Dawn, now it’s Persona 5.  And given some of the exclusives we have to look forward to in the future, I am excited to see what happens next.  The thing to know about this game is that it is DRIPPING with a style all its own.  The punk aesthetic, vibrant colors, and jazzy soundtrack all mesh so well in immersing me in this world.  I feel like each of the Palace worlds was a place that I would at least like to see once.  Style was oozing out of every pore in that game, and bless it for that.

We live in an age where it sees like every game company is looking to go more and more into the realms of realism.  Seems like there is an arms race to get past the uncanny valley of a game that looks so real that I can’t tell the difference between it and reality.  However, there are pros and cons to both sides of that.  This is something that is being lost on people.  Let’s dive into this and show these elements in respect to one-another.

Pros: Realism

When I think of games that have embraced realism so heavily, two that come to mind immediately are The Last of Us and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.  Both games had incredible detail put into every element.  Naughty Dog has gotten something of a pedigree for games that are insanely detailed and have characters who feel believable.  This could only be possible with effects that fight that Uncanny Valley I mentioned earlier.  I could get lost in every environment in those games.  They were visual masterpieces, which I can and do replay over and over just for how beautiful it is to go through.

There is also the element when you are looking to capture how grim something is.  A war, for example, can be brought to life much more horrifically when you bring it into the realistic space.  Fear is also more palpable.  I played the PT demo like some of you, and holy shit!  The realistic nature of that is what made it so unnerving to play.  I had the shit getting scared out of me because it felt like I was really in that hallway, with that ghost who was after me.  And fuck that telephone!  Gave me a fucking heart-attack.  It’s hard to imagine such a game being done any other way.  Although, Silent Hill 4 did the concept pretty decently, for the part of the game where you are trapped in the main character’s apartment.

Pros: Style

Style allows a game world to feel unique.  When you want to create an atmosphere in a game, it helps when you have a universe where the rules of it feel unique.  As a frame of reference, let’s take a look at Persona 5.  This game is about youthful rebellion against authoritarian rule-making.  Every element goes along with this.  The vibrant use of colors in every regard, even the menus, makes you see this aesthetic.  Like watching a punk rock music video from the 90’s, and with the jazzy soundtrack to boot.  Everything goes towards making you feel like this world is all its own.  Plus, the style helps tell the stories of the protagonists.

Another game which had a unique style to see it was Life is Strange.  While the ending to that game was bullshit, it was still pretty awesome to play.  Part of this was because the style felt like a teen comic.  While the facial animations could most definitely used a lot of work, you still get invested because these characters have personality that goes along with the soft colors and pastel look.  It’s a game which uses that aesthetic to compel you to slow down, take your time, and investigate things.

Then it can be something that assists gameplay.  Look at Mirror’s Edge for that.  The world of that game was drenched in white.  It made the colors in it stand out so you knew to pay attention to them.  Not to mention that it made the authoritarian nature of the government more apparently.  The world is white, they are always in black and blue.  Their color tells you how you should see them.  It’s not the most complicated method of story-telling, but it gets the job done.

Something that you also have to keep in mind is that style is easier to do.  Games that go for realism take longer to get right.  And in a gaming market where people are demanding games quicker (I have no idea why.  I have no problem with delays to get it right), this ends up with a TON of bugs.  Style has no such limitations.  It can be done much quicker and use a smaller budget.  Which brings me to the cons.

Cons: Realism

There is something to keep in mind when you have games shooting for that Uncanny Valley – they have a bad habit of having bugs.  A TON of bugs.  And with the rush I said before, more and more games are being shipped with bugs that the industry calls “known shippable.”  Hell, when Naughty Dog was working on Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, they found a bug in the game just three days before shipping that would have crashed the PS3 console.  Thankfully they were able to patch it in time, but you see what I mean?  Going more and more real means that if you don’t want a game to have a shit-ton of bugs, you have to devote more and more time to it.  For me, that’s fine.  I wish more developers would take the time to hold back and get it right.  If anything, that is rewarded with player loyalty as we feel the developers want to take the time to make us happy.  Granted, that can go both ways.  Just look at the backlash with all the delays of Mighty No. 9.

Another thing is that games that shoot for that point are often pretty ugly.  People complain that games have way too much gray and brown in them, well, that’s part of the fact that they are shooting for realism.  Most apartments have white walls and tan carpets.  Most cities are gray and dismal.  Not everywhere can be Seattle or Tokyo.  So your palate of colors gets very limited the more realistic you shoot for.

Cons: Style

The biggest problem with a game that has a unique style is that you are almost certainly condemning it to be niche.  Remember all the games I listed above?  From Persona 5 to Mirror’s Edge, one thing they have in common is that they don’t appeal to a mass market.  There are so many games I can think of with a fascinating unique style.  Flower, ABZU, The Wolf Among Us, Journey, Borderlands, and one thing they all have in common is that they are niche.  Borderlands is the most mainstream, but even it doesn’t have the mass draw that other games do.  For whatever reason, people are just drawn more to the realism side of the spectrum.  Something I will never understand.

Then there’s the fact that the Uncanny Valley of facial animation is lost on you.  Without exception, it’s gone.  With realism they can use motion capture tech, and it is getting better and better at making facial animations that look like real people.  Stylization has that concept forever beyond its reach.  After all, if the feature of a character are off from normal people, you can’t believe that they are real when they talk.  It’s like how a cartoon can have good lip-synching, but you still know it’s a cartoon.  That’s just how it goes.  But that’s no excuse to skimp on the facial animations.  I’m talking to you, Life is Strange.  So many of the more emotional scenes in that game would have been better if we could see the character’s emotions better.

So, which side are you?  Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“Style – all who have it share one thing: originality.” – Diana Vreeland

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

Lucien’s Review: Horizon Zero Dawn

As a best foot forward goes, Sony has done a bang-up job.  Sorry this review took so long, but I wanted to get as far into this game as I possibly could before I talked about it.  This is a game that is fun as fuck, and challenging.  It’s a game that eschews all conventions about action shooters in favor of an open world that is beautiful, a world that is a little dry but still fun, and characters who are at the very least fun to talk to.  And the main character voiced by the same actress who did my favorite character from my favorite game of 2015.  Let’s talk about it.

The plot goes that it has been 1,000 years since a cataclysm of unknown origins wiped humanity out.  Now what remains of civilization is bands of tribal societies.  And surrounding all of this is a robotic horde who also has unknown origins.  Our story follows a girl whose origins are also shrouded in mystery.  Hated by the tribe and unsure of where she belongs, her quest begins with a simple mission – find out who her mother is.  It’s a really grim narrative, but one that keeps you enraptured from beginning to end.

First things first – this game is beautiful.  Absolutely gorgeous.  The surprisingly-small open world is incredible to look at.  Making everything pretty compact was a smart decision on the devs part.  So many open world games have a bad habit of there being nothing to do.  In this game, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  There is a ton of stuff to do.  And all of it hinges on how you like to play.

This game has two facets – stealth and action.  Stealth is my preferred method.  I love stealth games.  The next game I am stoked for is just that.  The game gives you tall grass to hide in and ways to sneak around.  In addition to killing robots you have human enemies to fight.  And when you up the difficulty, they are some attentive fuckers.  Once you have the bounty missions, things get a lot more fun.  Then there is action.  This is the harder one.  Weapons in this game are primitive.  You have to be smart when shooting your targets.  You can craft your own ammunition, which you will be doing a lot.  Even the most typical gun-like weapons will suck up your resources.  Add to that the fact that the robots are tough customers and playing loud is a dangerous gambit.

Loot-mining is the biggest thing you will be doing in this game.  Every robot you kill drops a ton of loot.  You craft your own ammo, which I guarantee you will be a LOT of.  Every potion you drink, trap you lay, or specialized arrow you make will be done with stuff you find on every single enemy, in the environment, and what you buy.  In addition, you can buy better weapons and outfits.  However, sometimes you don’t need the best outfit, as all you need is to add mods to your weapons and outfits to make them better.  If there is one thing that this game cannot be accused of, it’s limiting how you play.  Especially because of all the robots.

Speaking of, this game was marketed primarily on having giant robots.  It’s both this game’s best aspect, and sometimes not all of its best.  When it’s at its best is when you are using the tools you have, including the ability to hack the robots, to fight machines who are massive and powerful.  When its at its worst is when you have enemies who have a bad habit of being just like each other, just a little bigger.  There are five robots shaped like pack animals that you can ride.  There are three shaped like giant cats, and two shaped like dinosaurs.  A little variety would have gone a very long way.  As would some more boss fights.  Having specialized machines who you only face once.  This was a fun part of the game, but the tedium of how regular certain enemies got can’t be ignored.  When you are able to use robots against each other and play stealthy, these things are awesome.  When you are forced into a stand-up fight against machines who can easily kick the shit out of you, it kind of sucks.

The other thing about this game is that the missions can get a little repetitive.  My favorites are the ones where you use this fantastic plot-device called the Focus to basically turn into Batman and examine crime scenes and know what everything is.  I would call it an easy out for the game to have the main character be a super genius, but you know what, it’s still fun.  And to the game’s credit, when you are able to put the device to good use, it does feel like being a detective.  Now if only they could have had more effort put into the crime-solving as opposed to the robot-killing.

Make no mistake, there are no shortage of missions.  Whether it being going into the vaults where the machines are coming from, learning bits and pieces about the forces at work in the world which is keeping the mechanical monsters coming, or examining a crime scene to learn what happened, or going into a bandit camp to kill the worst bandit of them all.  There is a TON of stuff to do in this game.  For completionists like me, it’s a dream come true.  But for the casual player, you may find yourself getting bored.

Which brings me to the acting in this game.  Bless the girl who voiced the main character’s heart.  She clearly put her all into this.  However, for as hard as she tries, the rest of the acting in this game ranges from wooden to overacting.  I can’t be nice about this.  The cruel reality is that not one of these character aside from Aloy sounds even remotely realistic.  A couple do pretty well, but I could almost see the rest of the cast reading from a script.  That is a very unfortunate deal.  The roles who do stand out truly do.  No joke, a couple performances actually made me get invested.  But for the rest this was a paycheck.  Still, main character was great.  This woman clearly has a talent for this, and I hope she is in more games to come.

All in all, Sony definitely brought their a-game to the table.  While everyone is all about Nintendo’s latest under-powered console, I still have a ton of stuff to do in this game, and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick