SIONR: Sony Admits to Censoring Sexual Content in New Games

Something people have been talking about for a long time now, and it’s finally been verified.  And it’s something that pisses me off.  Why?  Because now we have a major gaming platform that has openly admitted that it is going to censor the free expression of those who make gaming content.  It’s bullshit.  Weapons grade bullshit.  It will stifle creativity, and what’s more, I think it is going to fuck up one of the games I am most excited for.  I’m talking about Sony finally admitting that they are censoring sexually explicit content in gaming.  Here’s a link to an article, now let’s talk about it.

In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, Sony said that they are placing a strict limit on the sexual content that comes to games that go to the PS4.  Why?  Why do you think?  Because of all the #MeToo bullshit.  I should have seen this coming.  I really should have.  When Spider-Man: Homecoming had Mary Jane be SJW-tastic, I should have seen this coming.  Of all the movies that are basically Social Justice: The Movie, they seem to oscillate between Disney and Sony.  But now it’s finally come to their console.  It pisses me off.

I mean, why?!  Oh right, because they don’t want to “inhibit the sound growth and development of younger players.”  What a crock of shit.  But the source I cited did point out that the reason for this is almost certainly because of the fact that the PS4 is so big on streaming.  It’s a key part of the console’s features.  So naturally, young people can see games with naughty naughty things in them.  You know, because parents exist now just to put their kids in front of screens.  So the social justice gaming journalism circle-jerk has certainly written about this ad nauseum.  They’ve been trumpeting this shit for as long as I’ve been alive.

The source I cited definitely is pro-social justice.  They make a point in a positive that Sony is “taking a critical look at how game’s content portrays women.”  Yeah, because these digital women who don’t actually exist in the real world need to be protected, right?  Because fuck a developer’s creative freedom.  We have Sony being puritans.  This is such bullshit.  I wonder what would happened to Quiet in Metal Gear Solid V on their console if the game had been released now.

What’s more, Sony acknowledges that devs don’t like this, but their response – deal with it.  That’s just brilliant.  Creative freedom?!  Fuck that!  Artistic expression and not stifling the artist?!  But women, Lucien!  And I can already hear the social justice wankers response – if you don’t like it, don’t play it.  You know, maybe yeah.  I’m a console pleb.  Been all my life.  It’s easy.  You just buy a game, put the disc in, and play it.  That convenience has always been valuable to me.  But now I have my console of choice telling me, flat-out, that I can’t trust what they release anymore.  That now everything that comes to them goes through a puritanical censor first.

The reason this makes me so upset is that one of the games that I am most stoked for this year, Cyberpunk 2077, has already said that they are going to have explicit content in the game.  You can date, hook up with character in the game.  There’s also the fact that it’s a violent world where bad things happen to men and women.  Like in that demo where you see the naked bodies in the bathtub and you have to pull one of them out.  Guess that’s out in the game!  Same with scenes where if I choose to foster any relationships, I guess I get the neutered version of any intimacy.  It’s all such bullshit!

I like games where I can build relationships with characters.  It’s a big part of why I game.  So the fact that we have a company who has said that this new project, that looks so fucking awesome, also has that factor and even has it that you can grow relationships and get intimate?  That’s cool!  Wish I got to see Shepherd and Garrus hook up in the Mass Effect games.  Femshep was my girl, and Garrus is the coolest bro ever.  The thing that will never be.

One developer rightly pointed out that if you stifle the creativity of developers, you just push this stuff into niches.  And they will.  And people will go there.  Whether it’s to get their pervvy fix, or to get a game that isn’t afraid to go physical with stuff.  They will go to where the content is.  It’s funny, but people have defended game companies kowtowing to social justice by saying that they don’t want to lose customers.  I guess Sony is cool losing revenue too.  Because how much money will they lose on people going somewhere else?  Fucking Nintendo is letting explicit content onto their console!  Nintendo!  They are the family friendly icon, Sony!  What the fuck is your excuse?!  Oh right – Wahmen.

Creative freedom is looking more and more uncertain in the years to come.  I don’t like that.  I believe that all ideas and expression belong in the open marketplace of ideas.  But I know that I am in a minority on that.  A real shame, but whatever.  In the meantime – you fuck with my Cyberpunk 2077, Sony, and there will be Hell to pay!

Until next time, a quote,

“Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children?!” – Helen Lovejoy, The Simpsons

Peace out,

Maverick

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Lucien’s First Take: Control – Official Gameplay Trailer

This year seems to be the year of things flying under my radar, in terms of gaming.  First there is gonna be A Plague Tale: Innocence.  Then I was stoked for another game from the team who made Until Dawn called Man of Medan.  A game that is in the same vein, and the first of an anthology of horror games.  A concept that has been tried in films and failed, but maybe can work in a digital medium.  Both of those games have flown incredibly under the radar.  The former is one I haven’t heard anyone talking about, and that depresses me.  Now another game has made its way into my scope, and it’s one that has a unique look and seems to play in a way all its own.  Just one trailer has gotten me hooked to see more.  It’s called Control.  They just released a gameplay trailer.  Let’s take a look and then talk about it.

We start with what I presume is our protagonist telling us that what we’re about to see is gonna be “weirder than usual.”  Okay.  So I take it that weird is pretty normal in this game’s universe.  We then see a montage of a lot of stuff that I would call weird.  There are people floating in mid-air.  Some very open and ominous areas.  A yellow room with a ton of blood on the floor.  That’s kinda creepy.  There’s a decent amount of atmosphere here.

It seems that the setting for this game is a place called The Oldest House.  There’s a narration in a different trailer by some other character that this place is in New York and it has a ton of history.  Strange things happen here, and the US government has gotten involved.  Uh-oh, I think I see where this is going.

We then see our protagonist wandering some of these weird areas, with no HUD and the only weapon in her arsenal being this weird-looking pistol.  Okay, I’m interested.  The game tells us that if we want to survive in this strange place, we have to be strange too.  There are some freaky looking enemies, and it then tells us we have to right.  Rock on!  Let’s see fighting.  From there is one of the things that got me hooked.  We see our girl running down a corridor, and then it cuts to her just deciding to start flying into the air.  That’s awesome!  Is levitation just something we can do?!  Please tell me yes.  Every kid dreams of having the power of flight, so playing as a character who can just do that on the fly sounds pretty great.

There’s also her using that power along with telekinesis.  Alright, so we have super-powers.  Super-powers mixed with gunplay.  I am totally down with that.  Some bits of her shooting, and then we see her throwing a ball of fire.  So is pyrokinesis one of the tricks in our arsenal too?  That sounds fun.  Are we able to mix and match powers, or do we have a power arsenal that just grows over time.  I also saw our weird gun shooting what appeared to be electric bullets.  Does that mean there’s weapon customization too?  This game is growing on me.

More abilities, like somehow being able to stop a character from moving with the power of our mind.  That’s pretty awesome.  Or there’s our girl being able to pick up debris and use that as a shield.  I also think that’s rad as fuck.  I couldn’t help but notice there how the destruction of her would-be shield is pretty meticulous.  This game looks pretty damn amazing, graphically.  She can also dive-bomb an area with her levitation power.  Pretty cool.  Then there’s her picking up random things and showing how that power works, along with the destructability of the environments.  Loving this game more and more.

It seems that the weird gun we have is customizable.  I love that.  I guess that instead of getting other weapons, we can simply turn this gun into whatever we want.  From the research I did, you can do this with some kind of looting mechanic as well.  Alright, game.  I’m interested.

Finally, we get a montage of the various parts of The Oldest House.  Place looks pretty damn trippy.  I love a world that has visual flare.  Can’t wait to do some exploring.  We then see some kind of strange, enormous creature.  So this game also has trippy boss fights.  Down with that as well!  The trailer concludes with one of the strangest yet still interesting things – our character using her telekinesis on a film projector and smashing it into a wall filled with journals.  They crash to the floor and you can see and hear the details.  It really looks and sounds like a ton of journals are crashing to the floor.  This game is marketing on this aspect hard, and I have no problems with that.  Destructable environments is a lost art in gaming, as of late.

This game has captured my attention, and I am gonna be seeing what it is come August 27th.  Yet-another game this year that came out of nowhere, and got my attention immediately.  Hopefully it isn’t like Remedy’s last game.  We all know how that turned out.

Initial Verdict
You have my attention, game

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Borderlands 3 Official Reveal Trailer

I’ve only just discovered the Borderlands franchise a couple months ago with The Handsome Collection.  It featured the best game in the franchise, Borderlands 2.  That game is just awesome.  My favorite character to play as is Gaige.  Her death robot was so OP.  At first it’s just a good diversion, but once it’s leveled up enough, between it and me, we mopped the floor pretty hard with all the enemies we came into contact with.  Even ones higher leveled wasn’t that big a threat.  With all the fun DLC included and New Game Plus for even better loot, it just got better and better.  With hints of a new game coming, everyone had been chomping at the bits for something concrete.  It’s finally dropped.  A sequel is coming, and now we’ve gotten our first look.  Let’s see the trailer, then we can talk about it.

Oh boy.  I cannot express how excited I am.  This trailer felt Borderlands as fuck!  It had that signature sass that the best game in the franchise is known for.  We start out with the perfect hook – the psycho mask.  Get us all in the mood.  Then it switches over to a ominous thing – a sign for what appears to be a cult – the Children of the Vault.  Oh dear.  Then we see some nameless baddies looking ominous.  Finally, we get our girl who was leading the Crimson Raiders at the end of the previous game, Lilith.  Great way to start.  Got me hooked!

We cut to what I’m going to assume are our four main vault hunters of the game.  Okay.  this crew looks pretty ominous.  Was kinda hoping we could pick up where we left off.  I was REALLY hoping to see Gaige come back.  She was my favorite character from the last game, and I wanted to see what kind of trouble we could get her and Deathtrap into now.  Not to mention Zer0.  Where’s he?  Still, gonna give this crew a chance.  Let’s see what they got.

Now we see that the trailer is really about to get started.  We got a guitar, some crazy imagery, and people with guns.  Shit’s about to get real!  There’s a montage of our hunters being badasses.  It seems the new Siren of the game can summon six energy arms to help her in battle.  That’s pretty cool.  The vehicle combat is back.  That was probably the least interesting element of the previous game, but it seems they have upped their effort here, with floating cars and all sorts of crazy weapons.  Okay.  You got my attention.

A screen tells us we can become a vault hunter.  Alright!  Please, do tell me how this works.  In the montage that follows, I notice that our girl Maya is back.  That’s pretty rad!  I liked her in the last game.  She was the first character I played through it as.  So at least she hasn’t been abandoned by the franchise.  REALLY hoping Gaige and Zer0 haven’t been either.  Seems one of our characters is either a robot himself or has a head like a robot.  That looks cool too.  Seems the Commando class of this game is a blonde dude with robots doing his dirty work.  It would be cool if they are expanding on the turret concept of Axton.  That was lacking in a lot of ways.

The title screen tells us to explore the “worlds.”  This means we have more than one?!  Oh baby!  That makes my mouth water.  Among the montage of places, we see a REALLY cool cyberpunk kinda world.  Then there’s a jungle sorta place that brings back bad memories of Sir Hammerlock’s DLC in the last game.  That was the worst of the ones in that game.  And probably my favorite moment of such wonderfully sassy humor – a sign for Ellie’s Scrap, but with how the S is hanging off, it looks like Ellie’s Crap.  I love it!  Puts a smile on my face.  A sign that this game isn’t forgetting about the roots where it came from.  I’m so glad to hear that.

We then get introduced to the villains.  It’s the same duo from earlier.  And at least one of them is a Siren.  But wait, I thought only chicks could be Sirens.  The mythos of this game is deepening.  I can dig it.  Granted, I don’t know if any sequel can capture the absolute majesty that is Handsome Jack and the utter hate-ability of him.  You just loved to hate that guy.  He was such an asshole, but you loved him all the same.  Part of me hopes this game doesn’t try, and just does its own thing.  I think that would be better.  There are also fire-breathing dinosaurs, giant mech robots, oh, and a Brick Sax Solo.  I love this trailer.

And Tiny Tina is back!  She was my favorite character in the last game.  I was dead-certain that she was voiced by Lori Petty, but it seems I was dead-wrong.  She’s voiced by Ashly Burch.  A woman whose talent is becoming more and more known to me as time goes on.  My opinions about her views outside of her work aside, she has some real talent and I am DESPERATELY hoping they keep the obscene but lovable nature of her character in this one.  It makes me happy that she’s back.  There’s also Mordecai, who I’m glad to see as well.  He seemed like a cool bro.  We also have Sir Hammerlock and Claptrap.  Glad to see their faces as well.

Finally, this game decided to sell its most touted feature in one of the best bits of marketing that keeps with the tone of this franchise – Over 1 billion guns!  What a way to tell everyone that loot is making a massive splash.  We have guns with legs.  If what I’m seeing is correct, maybe we can even get mech suits?  A guy can hope.  They know to have a big finish of damage and carnage.  Glad to see Claptrap didn’t let his dreams of being a dancer die.

The next question is – when is it coming out?!  Thankfully, it doesn’t look like we’ll have to wait long to find out.  They say at the end of the trailer that on April 3rd, we will get more info.  Until then, I’m hyped.  One thing that people are worried about is if this game is gonna embrace the “live services” mentality that has infected far too much of the gaming sphere.  That’s legit.  Randy Pitchford even made a joke about this game not having a “battle royale” mode or anything like that.  Makes me unbelievably happy.  If this game goes the live services route, I’m gonna be pissed.  Not even kidding.  We’ll see.

Initial Verdict
I want my LOOT!

Peace out,

Maverick

Critical Examination: Games With Good Characters

I’ve recently been playing Borderlands 2 for the first time on my PS4.  I got the Handsome Collection, but in those there is only one that I really love.  The one I’ve been playing.  The Pre-Sequel isn’t bad, but it just doesn’t hit the same high notes that 2 does.  And holy fuck, this game is addicting!  Sniffing through hordes of loot to see what stuff is worth my time, facing down a villain who is so fun to hate, and all the stuff there is to do with both the main campaign and all the DLC that’s downloaded, it’s a ton of stuff, and I love it to death.  But the thing that really keeps me wanting to play are the characters.

One thing I’ve talked about is that the reason I game is for stories.  But it isn’t so much the stories themselves that keep me coming back.  It’s the characters in those stories.  Some of my favorite narratives are plot-driven, and some are character-driven.  The ones that really stuck with me are character driven.  It’s why the end of Mass Effect 3 pisses me off so much.  I was hoping for something like the Suicide Mission from Mass Effect 2, except bigger.  In the end I wanted for me to get to high-five my team after saving the galaxy.  Or if I REALLY fucked things up (which wouldn’t have happened because I’m awesome like that), to get to see the ultimate failure that I represent.  To get to have the ending to the best DLC in the series, Citadel, except more personal.  To have the ultimate conflict in the galaxy ended by my hand.  It almost would have been better if the Citadel DLC would have been after the game.  Like, you save the universe, only to have to face down your clone.  It would have made the humor in the game so much better.

I think back to all the games that I love recently, and why I love them.  I loved Life is Strange, despite the shit-tastic ending (seriously, it was worse than Mass Effect 3.  At least there you get three stupid choices), I still loved it.  I liked the romance I was brewing between Max and Chloe.  I liked Warren who was a pretty okay bro.  In the final episode I didn’t just shrug him off.  While I couldn’t be who he wanted, I still gave him a hug and let him know that I care.  It was touching.  Even at the end, he was doing his best to be a good person.  Not one of the so-called “nice guys.”  A genuinely decent person.

Or I think about my favorite JRPG ever – Persona 5.  The characters in that game are just the best.  I could have been friends with any or all of them.  Mona being such a superior asshole, Ryuji being a complete bro in the high school sense of the word.  Futaba being a nerdy bookworm.  Makoto being the mom of the group.  Being the silent protagonist, it kinda feels like I’m making friends with that group.  Developing the relationships with the tons of people I come to know and like was the best part.  In the end, having to leave all that behind sucks.

In all the games that I really love, the things that keep me coming back are the characters who I come to know.  Maybe it’s because of how socially awkward I am, and the fact that I’m not good at making new friends.  But they enrich narratives.  I wouldn’t have cared about saving geth if Legion wasn’t one of my crew and it gave some closure to old prejudices with Tali.  I wouldn’t have cared about avenging Roland if I didn’t see the reaction Mordecai had, along with the fact that Jack was such a prick and needed to die.  I wouldn’t have felt the need to bond with all my Confidants if each of them didn’t give me some fascinating and touching relationships that I feel I can always come back to.

Let’s look at it from another angle.  I’m in a minority when I say that I totally understand why Joel sold humanity up the river in The Last of Us.  It makes perfect sense to me.  Why?  Because of how much I come to know and understand the character of Joel.  There’s a reason why you see his daughter die in his arms at the beginning of the game.  It sets up the effect that had on him and slowly unraveling the person that he let himself become.  He saw how humanity decayed and why it wasn’t worth saving.  But then he meets this one person, this one little life, and the humanity he threw away starts coming back.

Then Joel realizes that to save humanity, this one person who is his link to the human condition, has to die.  I understand why he was willing to go as far as he did to save her.  The last part of him realized that humanity wasn’t worth saving.  It was over for us anyway.  But she was.  This one life was worth saving.  So many pretentious game critics were all “he felt as a man he had to protect her.”  Bull-shit!  Listen to the words he says to her as he’s carrying her out.  They are beat-for-beat what he said to his daughter as he was carrying her.  She’s become a surrogate daughter for him, and he’s a surrogate father to her.  It’s why the words we never heard at the restaurant are so important.  Whatever words passed between them was enough to open his heart, and have her ready to die at the end.

Good characters made better narratives.  It’s just a fact.  As it is in video games, it is in movies, books, TV shows, anime, whatever the medium of stories I take in.  Jack’s struggle in Prey is made all the more poignant because he knows the stakes and knows that he has to protect his children.  If he fails, they die.  Or worse.  Spike getting personal closure by confronting Vicious one last time, knowing he is probably going to die, is what makes his last conversation with Fey so powerful in Cowboy Bebop.

When I look at the gameplay footage of Cyberpunk 2077, I see that this game has the chance to not only have the same shooting mechanics of the Borderlands games, but also have some fun characters.  Jackie is such a bro.  Feels like a big brother to V.  The ripper-doc was pretty great too.  I know that CD Projekt Red knows their stuff, but for me it will all comes down to the characters.  Thus far, I am beyond hopeful.  The world of that game has so much personality, and I genuinely want to see more of it and get to know all the players in it.  Hopefully I can build all kinds of relationships of my own.

So as I see that Borderlands 3 is on the cusp of being announced, I think to myself – they better have some damn cool characters and be about more than just all the loot.  Though the loot is cool.  And for Groj sake, DON’T be some SJW-tastic game.  Be the edgy comedic romp Borderlands 2 is.  That game was able to poke fun at both sides without coming off as preachy.  Please let us do that again.  Wouldn’t mind getting to have Zer0, Maya, and Gaige out again.  Or Axton.  That guy is fun, in his own way.  Oh, and please keep the “games as a service” mantra out and just give us a good story with all the loot inside as well.

Who are the characters in games that stick with all of you?  Let me know in the comments.

Until next time, a quote,

“Part of why I started the lab is because I could never invent new friends.” – Okabe, Steins;Gate

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown

You know what feels good?  When you have something that lives up to the hype.  Something surpassing it is rad as fuck, but given how often things crash and burn and don’t live anywhere NEAR up to the hype, it’s pretty fantastic when something you are hyped for lives up to all your expectations.  And this game did just that.  It was amazing.  I haven’t played something this fun in years.  A lot of games I’ve played lately have been just okay or mediocre, but this was such a breath of fresh air in my life.  Ever wanted to RP as a pilot in Top Gun?  I just got done rewatching that, ironically enough, so I did!  This game gave me and a girly-mate of mine the closest that we’ll ever get to a dream we had, but can never have due to physical problems.  For me it was a head injury and the fact I’m a giant.  For her it’s being mute because of an illness.  But we got to feel that rush.  Lots to talk about, so let’s get down to it.

The plot of this game is set in the alternate universe Earth of Strangereal.  Here, years after the Lighthouse War, the space elevator has been completed.  But the completion of it brought strife between the kingdoms of Erusea and Osea.  When Erusea declares war, it’s up to you as the silent protagonist, callsign Trigger, to bring an end to the conflict.  The plot of this game is more window dressing than anything, so don’t take it too seriously.  They just needed something to keep you invested.  And it isn’t terribly done.  There are some neat twists with neat ideas.  Such as when the satellite networks of both nation crash and everyone is on their own.  Wonder what would happen in the real world with such a situation.

What’s great about this game?  Everything!  For starters, the flying.  This game, you can pick two methods of flying.  You can have it be more simulation, or it can be more arcade.  Both methods are fantastic.  If you’re a newcomer to the franchise, I suggest going arcade.  Trust me, it does nothing to hurt immersion.  I haven’t played a fighter jet sim in forever, so that’s how I play.  Flying in this game is intuitive and fun as fuck.

The environments are gorgeous!  Though, there’s a caveat to that.  See, the developers wisely chose to stress framerate instead of backdrops for more advanced consoles, so when you get up close stuff ain’t always pretty.  But that was not an issue for me.  Overall the environments are GLORIOUS!  I play on a PS4 Pro, and holy fuck!  This game looks amazing.  The lighting is always pitch-perfect.  No matter what time of day you’re flying, it looks stupendous.  There were only a couple missions where the visuals bored me, but given the number of missions and all the parts of them that play a little differently, that is not a black mark against it.

So, what do you do in this game?  Lots, actually.  There are a couple basic types of missions.  You have your straightforward affairs of going somewhere and accomplishing an objective, though you almost always have something coming into the mix to eff things up or making things more complicated.  Then there are the dog-fighting missions, where you are pitted against foes, either the annoying-at-first drones, or ace pilots who are not playing around.  Then there are my favorite types of missions – smashing shit up!  These missions are typically wide open, and you are given one directive – blow shit up.  Lots and lots of shit.  You have a score you have to get to in order to succeed in the mission.  These missions are awesome, and I would have liked just one or two more.  It was great to just let out steam and go nuts.

Now, as this franchise has a pedigree of being very faithful to the fighter jets they are using, since while the world is fictional the jets are not, the big question becomes – what about the planes?  I can say, they are amazing!  For those of you who didn’t know, I live just down the way from an Air Force base, and my favorite days walking are when I get to see the F-22A Raptors flying around.  Those things are awesome, so getting to actually earn and fly one was a dream come true.  No joke, I was in love.  I think I still am.  But there are a TON of fighters, from models in America, Russia, Europe, and even China.  Since the actual corporations who designed these things are represented, they clearly went above and beyond to get it right.  The detail in the jets if phenomenal, and I cannot tell you how much I loved it.  Which are my favorites?  Alright, you greedy people, here is a list of my favorites, in order of my much I love them – F-22A Raptor, F-15C Eagle, and the F/A-18 Super Hornet.  Have to show love to that last one, given that the Navy is my jam.  Hooyah!

What are the downsides?  The characters in this game are all stereotypes.  Plus, there are plot points that go nowhere.  Like one of your own having a person who was close to uncovering something killed, but they never tell you what and you never see that character again.  I don’t hate them, but there isn’t a single memorable character in this game.  The plot is also WAY melodramatic.  I mean to the ENTH degree.  That being said, it does keep you going.  It was neat to get to the conclusion.  Most of that coming from the well-animated cutscenes that mix in real world stuff with digital stuff.  Neat effect, and pretty to look at.

Overall, this game was everything I could have asked for and more.  It’s not the most complicated thing in the world, plot-wise, but that’s okay.  The goal is to keep you invested to see it through and want to hop into the pilot’s seat again to dog-fight once more.  Plus, since all levels have a score, you keep coming back to one-up your score and earn more currency to buy planes.  It was hard to earn my F-22, but when I finally did, so worth it.  Part of me wanted to be wearing a flight suit while I played.  I felt the need.  The need, for speed!  This year is off to an amazing start, and this game has set the bar INCREDIBLY high.  I love it so much.  If you have even a passing interest in a fighter jet sim game, you CANNOT go wrong by getting it.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, a quote,

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

Peace out,

Maverick

Critical Examination: My Vision for the Perfect Military FPS

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

A Different Kind of Narrative

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

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

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

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

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

Believable and Likeable Characters

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

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

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

Which brings me to another point….

More Open Level Design

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

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

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

Don’t Make it a Love Letter to the Military

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

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

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

Until next time, a quote,

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

Peace out,

Maverick