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Monday, December 30, 2013

The Wolf of Wall Street Review: Ludefellas.

Talking about this movie is a struggle for a couple of reasons. One, it feels like there's too much ground to cover for a single review. Two, it seems like when I really think about it, there isn't much to talk about at all.

It's the same Scorsese shtick you've seen before, but different. A entire film's worth of material is covered in it's first 40 minutes alone, yet it seems to repeat itself two more times before the end... but differently. Half of me wants to call it a complete waste of time, half of me wants to call it a masterpiece. It's the most effective piece of manic film making I've ever seen. Except for the first 20 minutes, the entire film is paced like the coke sequence from Goodfellas. Does that sound exhausting? It should, because it is.

But it's a good kind of exhausting. Because it's just so charming, it felt like it was always two steps ahead of me. Say there's a scene with DiCaprio sniffing cocaine out of a hooker's butt hole with a straw (there is). In the back of my head I'm over it "yeah I guess that's kinda funny in a schlocky, desperate kind of way" I think to myself. But Scorsese knows I'm in that head space and adds just a little something that brings the visual punchline together and suddenly I'm laughing the loudest of anyone in the theater.

It's 3 hours of that, over and over. DiCaprio is coning the rich and poor alike with phoney stock bids and eventually sets the tone for the next decade of wall street trading. He uses that capital to land a trophy wife, a mansion on the most valuable real estate in America, and to fund a crippling addiction to a sleeping pill discontinued in the early 80's. He's so rich he was on drugs that didn't exist anymore!

I'd like to think there isn't a shirt that can make me hate someone instantly... but there it is.

This is the Dicaprio show, for sure, but a standing army of bit players get some of the spotlight too. Jonah Hill is the creepy sidekick and he kills it. Some of the more improvised scenes drag with him, but it's crazy how skeevy and adorable he is all at once. Also, Margot Robbie makes the most of her 20 some-odd minutes of screen time by owning every single second of it.

She's got the kind of screen presence you can't teach, and I'm not just talking about the her scalding good looks. On paper her role as the second wife goes from being naive arm candy to half-hearted landscaper. Not a whole hell of a lot for her to work with. But the more I think about her choices, the more I realize she's playing a lot more than she's getting played. Which is kind of awesome. But sadly there's no three dimensional female character within a square mile of this movie, but it's not her fault.

Does this film do justice to the reality of the real wolf's reign of life wrecking selfishness? I can't say, his daughter has some choice words for us viewers, and they're worth reading from what I saw. But what I can say is this is Scorsese's best movie in  well over a decade and it's extended quaalude overdose sequence is worth ten bucks on it's own. It's great, insanely repetitive, and if you give it enough time it'll give you one hell of a contact high.

Is Mob City smart, boring or... hell I don't know, Jay what do you think?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Troy Baker on the Indoor Kids

I'm no stranger to podcasts, which means I'm no stranger to the Nerdist network. The Indoor Kids in particular is one of the more interesting discussions being held on the games industry. Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordan are enjoyable enough on their own, but stir in some adorable marital back and forth you can only hear from the couples you know are gonna make it, and it becomes the most entertaining discussion being held on the industry.

They've had some legitimately good episodes before, the Bioshock Infinite double date was hysterical. But sometimes true luminaries from the business drop by, Tom Bissell and Film-Crit-Hulk come to mind, and those always stand out. But after their sit down with the actor Troy Baker (who's so effortlessly charming it makes me physically angry) something tugged at me in the back of my head. Something that said that this is worth remembering.

Some like to wring their hands and say the industry will soon crash just as it did in the 80's.
There may well be a financial culling of the herd. But to suggest our culture will simply abandon gaming as we did back then is absurd and I should probably write a whole 'nuther article about that... moving on.

But with people like Baker and Johnson turning in performances like Joel and Ellie, it's no longer a matter of time before games catch up with the quality and the subtlety of film. I say we're already there.

Listen to the episode not just for your own curiosity, but to pay things forward for people like Baker. He more than deserves an hour your time, and I promise it's worth your while.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Steam Winter Sale is scrumptious!

The best thrice yearly thing in PC gaming is here again, this time with a frostier texture. The Summer, fall, and winter sales consistently outdo themselves. And this one is no exception.

Max Payne for $4.00?

Right here.

Tomb Raider for $13.00?

They got that too.

Borderlands 2 GOTY for $15.00?!


Breath it in guys. Breath in the steam.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Yellow Sea is a Netflix gem.

I'm always up for a hidden gem. I'm usually never too hyped and almost always surprised. Sometimes the surprise is that I think the movie is actually terrible... but either way, I'm out of my comfort zone.

I've always wanted to dig more into Korean cinema. I goddamn loved  The Good, The Bad, and The Weird, but Thirst left me dry, and some bastard spoiled Oldboy for me. So when I'm not in the mood, 9 times out of ten, I'll stick with American Dad episodes I've seen a million times instead of broadening my horizons.

The Yellow Sea has a fascinating first 30 minutes (that's all I've seen so far, I got an early shift) and I can't wait to finish it. But before I go, I'll say I love how the Chinese/Korean border politics drive the conflict. I'm just along for the culture now. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Florida tea party Facebook group has co-opted that Bioshock Infinite mural for their banner.

Yep... that mural.

I wish I had something to say about The National Liberty Federation using one of the most satirically racist paintings I've ever seen unironically. But there are no words for this. Except maybe, wow.

...and why.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Here's a devilishly good trailer for House of Cards, season 2.

I really liked the first season of House of Cards. Perfect? no. But taken as an experiment for an entirely new mode of entertainment consumption I found it wildly successful. It kept everything that made the British original unique, while taking advantage of what would make an American setting interesting. So yeah, 2/14/14 is a red letter day for me, and those letters read Netflix.

And I like how the composer fit that spiritual into the main theme, there.

Nice one, Beal!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fallout 4 IS real. But the teaser was fake... I don't know, I've lost the plot now.

Kotaku's investigative team is saying that Fallout 4 is real and will be set in Massachusetts, as was long thought to be the case.  This comes from leaked documents from a casting call for a Bethesda project called "The Institute" in which the phrase made immortal by Ron Pearlman is found.

So, there! They're totally working on it. Boston's cool, I can get behind that too. I'm just breathing a huge sigh of relief here, it had been far too long for me. It's been over 3 years now, I need a new Fallout yesterday.

But I can wait.

Here's some of the leaked documents:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ben Whishaw as just been cast as...

The suspenders are a clue...

wait for it...

Freddy Mercury. And it's about damn time, I've been waiting for this biopic (for better or worse) for four years now. Now that Wishaw is surviving member approved, maybe we can finally get somewhere. I love Queen, goddammit. I just love them so much.

And if you don't (no judgement) then you hate life and/or yourself. No judgment.

 Life hater.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

TellTale Games is doing Borderlands now too. Seriously.

I did not see that coming. Don't they have enough pokers in the fire already? Between Fables, The Walking Dead, and now Game of Thrones odds are at least one of these is going to be terrible. But at the very least...

...we get a little more Handsome Jack!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rick and Morty Pilot Review: 100 all day long forever... some things.

Lord knows I'm a fan of Dan Harmon's work, and lord knows I've seen a fair amount of Adult Swim in my day. But given the economic circumstances of late night animation I've felt like too many concessions are made to create anything that rises above "yeah... that was pretty good." Everything that is, except the Venture Bros. But that started in 2003 and we're still months away from anything resembling the second half of it's 5th season. Again, concessions.

So what are we looking at here with Rick and Morty? A middle school kid named Morty and his estranged mad scientist grandfather Rick, dealing with "high concept, sci-fi rigamarole." In essence, an American hitchhiker's guide with a few family sitcom trappings. Rick keeps pulling Morty out of school for some quality adventure time, and his parents are trying to keep him from flunking out. That's about the gist of it, but is it any good?

If the pilot is any indication of what's to come (I've embedded it below) I think I've seen the Lawrence of Arabia of budget animation. It's shocking how fluid everything is, how alive everything feels. Having been subjugated to damn near every season of Aqua Teen Hunger Force and it's maddeningly repetitive character poses in college, this is the best I ever hoped to see from AS. You know, besides the Venture Bros.

But is is funny? Yes! Good lord, it's funny. It scratches my Douglas Adams itch something fierce, while also having some fun side details I didn't see coming. Rick sneaking in alcoholic belches in the middle of lines should have been irritating. In fact, a lot of critics give the show hell for it. But as a guy who tried his damndest at a formative age to master the comic burp, I gotta give Justin Roiland (co-creater of Lemongrab fame) credit for both variety and intensity. My ten year old self is seriously jealous.

This is hands down, the best AS pilot in history. It ain't perfect and it may not blow your hair back. But it's got a good budget, confidence, a solid story line, and a sexual dream sequence that had me in stitches. If you can't find something to like about Rick and Morty I will honestly be surprised. Or you just don't like Adult Swim and you take pleasure in stomping on other's positivity.

In which case, WHY?! I just wanted you to think I was cool...

Here's the stupid video, you jerk. I never liked you anyway.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Bioshock Infinite, Burial at Sea Review: A Little Moth to the Flame.

It's that time of year again, where you look back on what you've played and wonder which was the best. It's a short list this year and Infinite is definitely on it, so I picked it up again to see if I still had such strong feelings for it.

Normally when I hear a dlc pack is kind of a ripoff I stay as far away from it as I can. But damn it if Colombia didn't suck me back in again, and damn it if I didn't want to see what Irrational has been up to for the last 7 months. So I sprung for the season pass which netted me the "clash in the clouds" combat arcade mode, some exclusive equipment for the main campaign and of course "Burial at Sea."

Full disclosure, I've been a rabid fan of Rapture since '07. Seeing Ken Levine take another crack at it with a brand new engine and a stronger focus on character all set before the 1959 civil war sounded spectacular. But in my heart I knew I couldn't really go home again. There's no way they could really bottle that exact magic again. As much love as I have for Bioshock 2, as well as it's dlc, neither  developer truly nailed what came before.

A week ago, the notion of a nearly 3 hour experience for $15 would make me bristle. Artistically I knew it's possible for something that short to be worth that much, but I had to see it to believe it. And quite frankly, if I didn't bet on Bioshock I knew I'd regret it eventually. So here I stand before you, a true believer. In short?

I went home again.

We all saw the noir opening re-introducing Booker and Elizabeth as citizens of Rapture rather than fugitives of Colombia. It was pretty cute the way it mocked the private eye trope of lighting a feme fatal's cigarette with incinerate, but how soon would it be until that shtick wore thin? I'm all for a new and shinier version of what is, to me at least, the most perfect possible criticism of objectivisim. But seriously, why were we here again? Why are characters from an alternate reality a good century in the past doing here? Is there truly anything left to say about either them, or Rapture in general?

I didn't get answers to those questions. For the next four and a half hours, BAS slowly made me understand I was merely asking the wrong questions. From first stepping out of Booker's new office it hit me, that feeling only video games can hit me with. A need to drink in all the atmosphere around me as meticulously as possible.

A lot of games let me down in that regard, even Infinite itself at times. But BAS passed in flying colors. If a room doesn't have something for you to loot, it has something interesting to show you. Every inch of this chapter is dripping, positively drowning, in detail and fan service. Burial at Sea is something everyone can play, but it's custom built for the Rapture faithful. The required reading is only the original, in case you were wondering. Precious little of 2k Marin's crack at the franchise is present except for the Hop-up Cola boxes and a screening of the Cohen art film "The Black Dream." I could write a whole dang article on the deafening silence that is Ken Levin's opinion on Bioshock 2, but that's not important right now, and as long as we're talking about Sander Cohen...

I would have paid $60 for more of that magnificent bastard.
There is a spectacular Cohen cameo capping off the first 3rd of BAS that just made me weak in the knees. T. Ryder Smith's performance is one of my all time favorites and his ten extra minutes in the spotlight was more than enough for me. The whole thing could have ended right there, and I would tried to be upset about it. I would have certainly written a negative review. But deep down, I would have been satisfied. But that's where the chapter starts to get violent!

Things have swung back in the direction of survival horror, and it's surprising how intense the last couple thirds of chapter one get in such a short amount of time. It feels like a demo for a full game, that's how detailed everything is. There's so many new splicers, a new microwave gun, a spectacular jingle for bucking bronco, and almost 20 audio diaries. Again, my name tag might as well say "corporate shill." But I had a f%$king great time guys, hand to god.

Yes, you can totally run through it in under 2 hours. You shouldn't. If you're a rusher, this is not for you, it's that simple. Everyone else? The folks who like eavesdropping, staring at art in a gallery, digging through trash cans, and setting up traps? This chapter gets put on the shelf that houses the most exemplary dlc I've ever played. I'd like to be more objective and take off my moldy rabbit mask...

...but I can't.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I think I just heard the audio track of the Fallout 4 Teaser! ...I think.

UPDATE: This guy says he made it up. Thanks PoopF%&r!

Take this with a grain of salt. If it's a fake, it's the best I've ever seen.

I can't FUGG'IN WAIT!!!!

Yes, that did warrant four exclamation points. It's Fallout, man.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hangar 6 R&D Review: Yep, I still love The Bureau.

I booted The Bureau up again the other day out of curiosity, afraid I'd finally see the cracks so many professional and trusted critics wrote it up for. But to my pleasant surprise, I found myself sucked in yet again. Eager to shell out a modest sum for whatever DLC they had on hand. I still think it's more sharply written and plays better than almost anyone I've talked to about it. But I do concede it's far, far, away from anything approaching greatness. It's hobbled scope, conspicuously absent base building, and over recycled talking animations are real issues.

But I have so much fun with it! And the only substantial DLC we'll ever get from the late 2k Marin is an absolute steal for $5. It's a 3-4 hour campaign set a few days before the initial Groom Range invasion staring Agent Dasliva as he volunteers to assist in 11 waves of surprisingly violent psychological tests being run on the Bureau's first captive "sleepwalker."

Naturally I expected some fun waves of combat with truncated and unsatisfying story beats to set up the main game. Wrong again! Beginning with a well staged walk-and-talk with Dr. Dresner and slowly escalating to; well... where it ends, a decent yarn is spun as well as a half credible explanation for how you can fight the outsiders before they actually show up.

 So yes, I still love The Bureau, and Hangar 6 is a solid prologue.

As well as a bitter-sweet goodbye.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sherlock Season 3 Trailer. Has it been 2 years already?

After a very long (very BBC) hiatus, Sherlock will once again return to our respective airwaves. Wonderful. It's a very good show, a real drag on repeat viewings, but absolutely captivating the first time around.

... well that wasn't much was it? What about Orphan Black?

Come on! That could have been a teaser for the first season. Well at least I got a air date that time, Sherlock.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

TellTale Games takes a seat on the Game of Thrones... throne.

Is Tell Tale Games the best interactive storyteller in the business? I'd like to think so, and so do the folks that hold the keys the justifiably popular Game of Thrones IP. Like it or not, this is what the team behind The Walking Dead will be working on now as well.

I haven't gotten around to their "Fables" yet, but I like to wait until the majority of episodic content is released before I go all in. I hate being an early investor in matters not related to The Neverhood and I'm personally just keeping time until their second season of The Walking Dead sets in.

Can they handle it? Absolutely. Will they handle it... well I can't see the future can I?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I can't stand how Bob Dylan just blew my mind.

I am not the world's biggest Dylan fan. My feelings towards him are the same I have for the Ramones. I respect the hell out of him... but I'm not gonna spend too much time listening to his work. That being said, this new video for his almost 50 year old song "Like a Rolling Stone" is incredible. It's like a Warhol masterpiece for the internet age. Ambitious, broadly appealing, yet so deceptively simple I'm kicking myself for not thinking it up first.

So bravo team Dylan, this is one of the greatest music videos I've ever seen.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Britney Murphy's Death may have actually been Murder.

I don't like to rumor monger, nor give into baseless scandal, but this is turning into a fascinating little mystery. I'm not here to pass judgment, but if the new medical evidence revealed by the Huffington Post is to be believed, Murphy's hair contained a "high level set" of heavy metals. To an M.E. that's a sign that points clearly to a case of poisoning. That could be an accident... but the plot thickens.

Britney's husband (Simon Monjack) also died of pneumonia after allegedly suffering from similar symptoms associated with metal poisoning five months later. That could have been a coincidence. Murphy's mother had sworn up and down a "toxic mold" found in their home was responsible. Speaking of Sharon Murphy, according to TMZ (and for the love of Christ, take all this with the absolute grainiest of salt) she had been sleeping in her son in law's bed after Britney's death and had purchased medication prescribed to "Sharon Monjack"

Going by Moscow rules here, I believe we can call this enemy action. But this is all speculation at this point. Sure the juicy noir narrative is floating in front of our faces, but please don't go buying into it just yet. Murphy's father has done some great work trying to get to the bottom of her daughter's death, and I'm sure this is far from the last we'll hear about this case. But just because the mother looks really suspicious doesn't mean jack. Not yet, so stay tuned... or bookmarked, or just refresh Huff-Po. I'm  going to draw all my evidence from them anyway.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bethesda might, MIGHT, be teasing Fallout 4.

It doesn't matter though, I'm bouncing off the walls. So what if the only evidence is a teaser countdown site with an ominous morse code beep backing up a suspiciously fallouty type face. I don't care, I'll take the baseless rumor mongering because it's been over 3 damn years since I've heard anything at all about my favorite franchise.

Sure Erik Todd Dellums tweeted the possibility of the return of his DJ persona ThreeDog a while back, but that might also be a Fallout film project. A project that is also so up in the air the only thing confirming it is a character actor's twitter account.

For the record I am absolutely pro "more ThreeDog."

Grump! Fallout is too strong a brand to abandon, but I get the sneaking suspicion Bethesda is getting really sick of it. But maybe I'm panicking for no reason, (I tend to do that) seeing as they have a brand new MMO to promote. They probably don't want to become their own competition by advertising two products at the same time.

That being said, Skyrim was great and everything, but I couldn't be bothered to give two flying sh*ts about TES at the best of times. I can't help but feel like my true love is being held hostage by their pet IP.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

XCOM Enemy Within Impressions: "Solid Copy, Big Sky."

Bah da bam bam ba daaaaah.
So... my day off just disappeared in a puff of smoke. Wanna know why, or more importantly, how? Well, the new XCOM expansion came out today. An expansion so massive it's the size of the main game. Actually, it is the main game; tuned up, tricked out, and packing a brand new story thread. Not only are you facing a global invasion of the martian persuasion, but now you have a more... human threat on your hands. Well, more human than the other guys anyway. But I'm getting ahead of myself, I've never actually blogged about what I thought about this game before, so why don't I get that out of the way first.

Enemy Unknown was a Firaxis game through and through. Meaning it was so mercilessly addictive I'd put it down for months out of fear of what it would do to my social life. I really liked it, but there were some nagging aspects that kept me from letting it in all the way. To my heart, I mean.

Did that sound sexual? It wasn't supposed to sound sexual...
 Things like a shallow pool of maps, repetitive enemies, and having to move your troops by hand outside of combat ground my gears sumthin' fierce. But Enemy Within has been a long time coming; after getting about halfway through the game and finding myself in my first run in with the gene splicing terrorist cell "Exalt" I'm over the moon. There's tons of new maps, oodles of troop upgrades, and several new in-mission objects to spice up your everyday abduction sites.

Is $30 a little much? Yes. Are you essentially buying the same game all over again? Technically. Will you care about any of that 2 hours in? Not a chance in hell.

I got sick of fighting aliens. I was tired of fighting robots. But robot aliens?! I'm... listening.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Long, Sad, Death Throes of Blockbuster Finally End.

There was a time, long before I was even born, when VHS tapes cost almost $100 a piece. In that world, a rental store made almost too much sense. For 20 years Blockbuster dominated, with lesser franchises like Hollywood video nipping at it's heels. That all changed with the advent of the great red menace: NETFLIX.

I love Netflix so, so, much. I've been a constant subscriber for over 4 years now. That's over $400 dollars at least. Though my story is hardly unique because all of the 300 remaining (really?! that many were left?) stores will close this year.

They tried, lord how they tried. They grabbed onto the mail side of Netflix just as Netflix realized the real future was in streaming. So we all knew that was never going to be enough and saw the end coming miles away. They filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Now, three years later, it's finally shutting down the vital organs. I honestly can't believe it hobbled on for so long.

But now I can't help but feel for Netflix's mortality. After Starz picked up all it's toys and went home, I've feared $8 a month will someday only buy you a shallow collection of entertainment, instead of the still pretty monolithic selection ol' Netty has now. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Rest in peace Blcokbuster, I always said $7 2-night rentals were bullsh*t. Now who's laughing?

Me! I'm laughing, by myself, in front of my computer... worth it.

*Update: I called them death "throws"... I hang my head in shame.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bob's Burgers Returns! Seaplane Review.

After a baseball break that went on far too long (go Red Socks or... whatever) I've finally got my Bob back. It's no secret this is my new TV crush, it's been that way for quite some time. It's just been so consistently good for so long I want to shout my love from the rooftops. Baring that, this little blogspot should do the trick.

So what happened on Sunday? Will Forte guest starred as "Up Skirt Kurt" a seaplane instructor with less than admirable intentions for bored married women. After Bob refuses to spice up date night, Linda chooses to learn how to fly by herself and runs afoul of Kurt's master plan: a fake plane crash on "quickie-kiss-it" island.

One of the best things about Bob's Burgers is how each family member is strong enough to stand on their own, but somehow manage to be even better together. So having Linda being blissfully unaware of Kurt's advances is just as much fun as seeing Bob and the kids making a mad dash for aviation's make out point. That and Tina's musical fantasy about an Island all about kissing made me rewind at least three times. There was just really funny stuff from everyone this week.

From Gene's obsession with bread sticks to Louise commenting of Bob's belief that there has to be a boat for hire somewhere "This guy thinks every where's Key west!" to  Louise also commenting on Linda's infedelity "Don't get pregnant, I want to be the baby!" Not to mention some hearty Kevin Kline cameos as Mr. Fischoeder to bring it all home. This wasn't as brilliantly well structured as the Halloween special Fortnight (which was fantastic), or as heartfelt as some of the Tina centric episodes can be. But it was a rock solid episode nonetheless. Bob's Burgers continues to be the best show on fox by a mile these days. I honestly can't recommend it enough.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Why absolutely no one in the gaming community is surprised about

I don't like getting political, there's nothing I hate reading more than a partisan political sermon. But I'm not going to talk about politics. I'm not even gonna talk about health care. I'm going to talk about reasonable expectations for internet access and problem solving in this country. Both parties in America have collectively face-palmed over's inability to function. The tone I hear is one of complete surprise at something the pundit community seems to believe is almost unprecedented.

A website not working?! I understand how most folks can go through their professional lives and never feel the brunt of a really nasty connectivity issue. But here in Vidja Gameland, it happens all the goddamn time. Simcity is the most recent fiasco I can think of, and even in the long and storied history of video game launch disasters, it was really sumthin' special. EA had underestimated their sever load (how many people that it can support online at a time) by what seemed to be several million. The game literally didn't work for weeks.

Amazon pulled it from their proverbial shelves and critics (who had played it before release on private servers) updated their reviews to inform the public. Russ Pitts from Polygon had a particularly heavy conscience:

"Given this currently horrendous state of both accessibility and playability, and acknowledging the fact that even the drastic changes EA has made to the game in its attempts to address them haven't worked, it is hard to continue to recommend SimCity. The experience currently on offer is now significantly altered from what was reviewed, and there is simply no guarantee that the existing server issues will go away, nor what further changes may be made to the game in order to address them". - Russ Pitts, Polygon Features Editor and SimCity reviewer

Fans demanded an offline mode until the issues were fixed. But the developer assured the public that because of the way the game's artificial intelligence worked, an offline mode simply wasn't possible. It wasn't long before the game's more industrious fans discovered that not only did the game not appear to have any significant artificial intelligence at all (citizens only would work at the closest job and live in the closest home and a bunch of other embarrassing stuff), but eventually modded a perfectly functional (but very illegal) offline mode all by themselves.

It was plainly clear that the only motivation for the online connection came from upstairs. EA wanted an always-online Simcity no matter the cost. The funny thing was, Simcity was still a pretty big hit that didn't wind up costing them much at all.

That was barely six months ago, and a game that was reasonably anticipated, but not necessarily a blockbuster. But let's wind the clock back bit to summer 2012, and talk about a game that had fans clamouring for over 12 years...

How well did it launch? Well, you could make the argument that for hundreds of thousands of it's customers, it never launched at all. The problem went on for at least two more weeks. Customers couldn't reliably use their product because the demand was too great. So why does this happen? Why can't websites and online games just be "better?" To accurately answer that question I'd need a whole semester of an eerily specific telecommunications class, but here's the issue as I understand it.

Renting servers is expensive and you never want more server space than you need. But no one can see the future and you can never truly know how much you'll really need. "So just buy enough servers to feed the demand." Good point disembodied straw man! But what if you break the bank on enough servers and the demand goes into a freefall? Then you're only doubly screwed.

The whole point I'm driving at here is that the American government doesn't necessarily suck at running a website. Or at the very least, some of the most powerful entertainment companies in America and Canada (whose profit margins are almost entirely based around connecting to the internet) screw up just as spectacularly. This may be a humongous embarrassment to the Obama administration, but he's got so many more important things to do and even other more important scandals to worry about. The best and the brightest of the private sector don't seem to be any more competent.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why Steam users are exeptionally smug today.

It seems like Steam is snowballing into quite the console competitor. Not really though, Sony and Microsoft could take Newell with both hands tied behind their backs GTA V sold 39 million copies without a PC version at all, but the number of active users under Valve's belt is staggering. There are 65 million of us now, at least 30% of which joined in the last year.

This whole "Steam Machine" business may have a better shot than I dared hope. And this is all coming from a guy who couldn't wipe it off his hard drive fast enough. A guy who only saw Steam as the epileptic gatekeeper that would only let him play New Vegas between the hours 1:00 and 6:00 AM. Fast forward 3 years later and I've saved at least, at least, $300 dollars off of Steam sales alone. I'm not logging off anytime soon.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hey! So Mike Rowe was in this crappy 90's video game...

Everyone's favorite blue collar emcee and opera singer (seriously) went through some pretty lean years... come to think of it, he may be there again. But either way, we need to talk about "Radio Active." In that, I'm gonna let Rowe talk about Radio Active:

"And so it came to pass that I auditioned for and won the coveted the role of Bobby Arpeggio," Rowe wrote on Facebook, "the central figure in what the producers called 'the first truly interactive gaming experience designed exclusively for the personal computer — the music trivia adventure called Radio Active!" (I called it 'Name That Tune,' but whatever.) I packed a bag, flew to San Francisco, and slipped into the wardrobe that was waiting for me. A week later I had a check in my pocket, and was off to the next gig."
What prompted all this? A fan showed him a screen grab of him in the game and got him to open up about it a little.

Don't look directly at it. You actually need one of those mirror boxes they make for solar eclipses.

"When I saw this image, mixed in with all the other kind expressions of support, it made me laugh out loud, and reminded me that when a man can't deny his past (or his outfit), he might as well embrace it."

Thanks Polygon!

Monday, October 28, 2013

So it's been a while...

I have been reasonably busy the past week, what with a new night job and other nagging responsibilities... I kinda forgot about the crackpot. But no more! I guess I could talk about Netflix shows I'm trying to get into. Scandal is shaky, soapy, and ridiculous. But I can't shake the fact I kinda like it. In Bruges just popped up and I highly suggest you all watch it. It's both the funniest and most sympathetic performance of Colin Farrell's career. Plus he punches out Zeljko Ivanek. It's delightful.

Gaming wise I'm back on a self destructive Civilization bender. It's taken me almost 8 years but I've finally got one of these:
I  managed to pull off a science victory on normal mode. I feel like I finally "get" Civilization. Again, it's taken me quite a few years to get here. Game after game of me stumbling around in the dark tripping over feature after feature and slowly figuring out what to do with it all. Diplomacy? the hell do I do with that? Why do I have so many spies? Why is my entire empire represented by a red frowny face? But I think I get it now, maybe in another 10 years I can give hard mode a spin.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Games for Windows Live is irritating even in death.

I hate GFWL. I've hated it ever since it made Fallout 3 run slowly, locked me out of dlc in Bioshock 2 seven times, and just generally acted like a fidgety piece of garbage designed by people who live in a place that just rains bandwidth. But thankfully Microsoft is finally driving a stake through it's desiccated corpse.

Good news right? Well it turns out all GFWL save games are encrypted... so all of your saves are going to get wiped. Three days after I got back into Arkham City, BAM! The 30 some-odd hours I put into it's riddler trophies and challenge rooms evaporated. I love that game, but there was no way I had the patience to go through all that again. Thankfully my save files were still there, but I'd have to do some coding back flips to get steam to read them again.

The wages of sin in pc gaming is hexadecimal... and death.

After a solid three hours trying to untangle GFWL's wires I had nothing. But the great thing about PC gaming is there's always someone more talented than you out there working on the same problem. That person's STEAM id was Andrew and he patched up my files good as new.

Thanks buddy. I won't forget this.

He's one of the good ones, folks.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Ubisoft's delay of Watchdogs hit em' hard.

According to a up and coming indie rag called The New York Times, Ubisoft's stock has plummeted by a quarter following the decision to delay the game Watchdogs for would could end up being six months.

I'm all for new franchises and taking your time to get them off the ground right, but to the public it seemed like copies of the game would be ready to ship in a couple weeks. They even offered bundles of the game for the new Xbox and PlayStation. Something is seriously wrong with this company and the market has already said as much.

The rift between production and marketing was fatally massive in this instance. The left hand didn't know the right hand was months behind schedule and the whole company is taking the hit. The thing is, if the game really is as good as I hope it is, (I've got the same wait and see stance I had with Beyond: Two Souls on it) no one in the gaming community will care.

Like most art, nobody remembers if something was late, just that it was good.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

All is Lost is apparently one of, if not the best, movie of Robert Redford's career.

So why is this the first I'm hearing about it? There I was this morning on the lovely rotten tomatoes casually trying to remember what The World's End's box office was, and bam! A 93% film pops up that I've heard absolutely nothing about.

I pride myself on my nerdly fact checking ways. I'd like to think I have my ear to the ground with most things pertaining to news, movies, and games. In that order. I'd written Redford off years ago as his stint as a director dried up in the late 90's. He wasn't bad or anything, just not worth keeping an eye on. Now he's in a one man perfect storm with rave reviews? Shame on me, I guess.

Would you just look at that righteous crag? The man was born to be nautical.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sleepy Hollow Episode 1-4 Review: The Most Lovable Kind of Bonkers.

Hand to god... this does not suck.

The first few minutes of the pilot were off putting. The haphazard conveniences that throw the main cast together was even harder to sit through. From the first time I heard about the show's premise I was out for blood. This was all so ridiculous, so stupid, why was I doing this to myself? I don't really know. I could have spent those three and a half hours somewhere much more productive, but I didn't. You know what? I didn't mind.

Sleepy Hollow knows exactly how silly it is, doesn't care, and makes the very best of a bewildering creative situation. It's pretty good. As funny as it is scary. Nothing on the level of someone like James Wan, but there are very good ideas behind the show's monsters. A resurrected witch whose skin smolders like ember. A Native American sand man that takes on all the properties of actual sand. A physical performance behind the headless horseman that is just so ludicrously bad ass I rewound almost every scene he's in at least once.

The show simply does not deserve the actors it has. Tom Minson as Ichabod Crane and Nicole Beharie as his sidekick... wait, that's not right. The roguishly handsome British lead is totally second fiddle to the black female sheriff. I kinda love that. They are both everything the show needs and more. They can talk about things like headless zombies and apocalyptic prophecy as if they almost believe it. But they nail the levity harder than most dramas do. Ichabod messing with a car's power windows in awe had me chuckling in spite of myself. 

The show speaks to the child in me. One that grew up on Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Goosebumps, and Power Rangers. Sleepy Hollow is the blackest possible sheep those shows could produce, with more than twice the budget of all of them put together. It's a pretty good time If you turn off the side of you that loves Breaking Bad and French New wave, pour a drink or two, rip open some pretzels, and curl up under your favorite blanket in the dark.

It ain't Fringe, it ain't even The Walking Dead, but it's not bad. And as a guy with a violent allergy towards reality TV; I'll take well acted and executed hokum over Toddlers in Tiaras any damn day of the week.

Can we talk about how much I missed Orlando Jones?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Frozen's snowman mascot continues to freak me the hell out.

I get the economics behind children's entertainment. I get why Avatar has all those cutesy hybrid animals. I get why every princess movie needs a Flounder or a Chip or that chameleon in Tangled (which in itself was kind of an awesome about face on what girls should keep as pets).

Which brings me to this... this, thing:

"A flash of lightning illuminated the object, and discovered its shape plainly to me; its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect more hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was the wretch, the filthy daemon, to whom I had given life."

It's design is so lazy, yet simultaneously overproduced. Looking at it is like staring the soulless bureaucracy of Disney filmmaking in the eyes and I don't like what I see. It feels like one half of the production just couldn't be bothered to give two sh*ts (design), and the other is pulling all their dead weight (everyone else). If I directed this I'd make sure Olaf was either the most visually intersting character in the film, or that he was barely in the trailer and had absolutely nothing to do with marketing material.

It's gentle swinging hips follow you around the lobby and it is all you will see when you close your eyes at night.

Shockingly, we don't live in a world where we can just wish ourselves to the helm of a new Disney property. But what I do get to do is watch from the sidelines slowly and ominously shaking my head while judging a book by it's cover. You know what kills me though? I like Josh Gad. I really really do. He deserves better than this forgettable, by committee, homunculus.