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Friday, May 30, 2014

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Watchdogs Launch Day Spectacular!

"Citra? No... no, Clara"

Watchdogs is out just in time for my 3 day weekend that happened to start yesterday. Launch quibbles aside, i.e. not being able to ping my activation code for 4 hours, everything runs decently. But only just so. I didn't invest in a high end PC (GTX 780 SC and a I5 3570k) to run at 30 frames per second. And WD veers wildly in the fps ditch whenever I hop into a car. Everything else is smooth as silk though, and it's a damn sight better than AC Black Flag. The thing makes my rig grind and whir like nothing I've ever heard, but if I'm being honest, it only looks slightly better than Sleeping Dogs and runs about 30% worse. There's clearly some next gen voodoo going on in there somewhere, but I don't see it on the screen.

As for the game itself... I like it. It's a very close cousin to AC but manages to do it's own thing. The protagonist is a raspy cipher, but I can handle that. Your sociopath fixer buddy has more than enough personality for the both of you. The main missions are fun, and the script is better than I thought. When meeting a hacker femme fetale (I know, I know, but just go with it) for the first time, she rolls her eyes at you saying "you're exactly what I expected." It's nice to see AAA video game writers hang a lampshade on their bore of a leading man. If nothing else, it's good to know that they know.It's not like they wrote a racist character arc for him, realized their mistake too late in the game to change anything about it, then had the gall to call it "satire."

Watchdogs is worth it. It's not the half assed insult that GTA IV was (performance wise) and it's original enough for me to recommend financially encouraging it. For all it's familiar choices I can say it's stands on it's own. But can you imagine what would happen if this fails? Can you imagine how much more homogenized AAA development could get? I'm not saying this game is a $60 ballot in the new IP electoral process, but don't pretend powers-that-be aren't paying close attention.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Josh Sawyer Speaks!

It's gonna to be an agonizingly long time before we hear anything else about the next Fallout game. We have Bethesda's torturously mediocre MMO to thank for that. But in the mean time, the New Vegas director sat down with Eurogamer for a chat. The timing seems perfect seeing as I've recently fallen in love with the Mojave Wasteland all over again.

Hit the link y'all!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hannibal Season Finale Post Mortum: "We're gonna need a bigger body bag..."

He never actually duel wields those kitchen knives. Damn near broke my heart.
I've followed Bryan Fuller for a very long time now. From Wonderfalls, to Dead like Me, to Pushing Daisies, and finally Hannibal. He's become a very different kind of artist since the beginning, one that isn't scared of where he has to go next season. Because he's never actually made it to a third season... ever.

With that in mind, Hannibal's second ended in what I'm choosing to call a bloody, fiery, temper tantrum the likes of which I've never seen before. An ending whose prevailing message seems to be "You can't fire me, I quit!" We will see Hannibal again next year, I'm over the moon with that knowledge, I'd have gladly sacrificed both Community and Parks and Rec to make that happen. Good thing I only needed half a recipe.

But what if this was the end? What if we were all left with Alanna, Will, and Jack all bleeding out in Hannibal's kitchen? That would be some confoundedly grim sh*t made worse by the mockingly upbeat end credits. So yeah, Fuller went full tilt Macbeth last Friday, and made one hell of a meal out if it.

We all knew Crawford was gonna get it, we knew Hannibal would see his trap coming, but damn if there wasn't one little surprise left. Abigail was alive this whole time, presumably living under house arrest to kill in the event Will broke Hannibal's heart. And Will did exactly that.

Thankfully Abigail wasn't just a human sacrifice. She managed to get to Alanna and throw her out a second story window. I for one can't wait for the indoctrination flashbacks for season 3. We already know how fond he is of keeping "pets."

The whole bloody affair was gorgeously filmed as always. Especially the shot with Alanna flying out the window. The way time slowed and the music swelled as everything went into soft focus and then the tiny particles of glass became sparkles? Phenomenal. Better photography than most movies I've seen this year.

So here I sit after gorging myself, week after week, on the best new show on TV. I'm stuffed. Almost glad it's over and I have time to digest. Does the whole plot string together? I'm not sure. The whole business with Dr. Chilton felt rushed. I mean, how long was Hannibal grooming him to be his fall guy? It had to be years. But that's beside the point. I'm not chomping at the bit for more, I'm happy sitting back and letting Hannibal slid into periphery of my attention.

Just so it can come out of nowhere next April and let me have it.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Here's a teaser for Disney-Marvel's first animated feature, and don't worry, it's pretty damn good.

Good physical comedy is a confoundedly rare commodity these days, especially in America. That's why I'll always have room in my heart for anything and everything Aardman produces. Actually I have this whole screed rattling around in the back of my head about how that's why Spongebob got such a strangle hold on the last decade. In that Stephan Hillenburg just knew physical comedy backwards and forwards, while nearly everyone else in TV animation largely ignored it (Dexter's Lab being the obvious exception).

But that's not why you're here; Big Hero 6 is being adapted, and it's teaser is a delightful about-face from the typical "you're so special, you have destiny" garbage that was trite more than 40 years ago. It's just a quick physical comedy sketch between a boy and his poofy crash test dummy robot.

I think you're gonna love it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Superego's H. R. Giger at Home

What better way to celebrate the death of a great artist than an animated short of a nearly 3 year old improv sketch? I really got to tip my hat to the Nerdist on this one, recently there were rumblings that superego was coming out of retirement and I can't help but think Chris Hardwick had a lot to do with it. So... I dunno, yay? Yes, YAY!

God bless Nerdist industries and long live the Superego Institute!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Superego's Maggie the GPS.

This is the kind of sketch that gets funnier the more times you hear it. Trust me, You'll think it's hilarious eventually. Matt Gourley's spot on computer voice gets me so good it makes me angry.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Superego's Hashimoto Wellness Lab

I've decided to start forcing superego into our conversations more frequently. You'll sit there and take it until you learn to love it. I don't have to go get Mr. Jumper Cables back in here do I?

I didn't think so.

Yep... I still love New Vegas.

You like this picture I took!? I do...
New Vegas found me in a rough time of my life. A lot of my old friends had left my school in the fall of 2010 and I was being frozen out of the scant number of cliques I still had connections with. That was all poured onto the sh*t sunday of a nasty breakup over that summer.

I'm sure I'm not alone in calling Fallout 3 Bethesda's best game to date, and I played the ever loving rads out of it. So my expectations were high for NV. I didn't just want it to be good... I needed it to be great. My first article here is literally a gushing love letter to NV. But I've always wondered if I really loved it, or just appreciated how it helped me through what I call the "Siberia" phase of my college years.

The student body could be spectacularly cruel in it's apathy towards anyone that hadn't shown up to several parties in a row... but that's a can of worms for a therapist, not blog readers. So I'm back in New Vegas and I can objectively say; now that I have a job that I love and a sizable gaggle of drinking buddies, I like it on it's own merits.

But seriously, my steam clock has reached Howard Hughes levels of devotion. I mean, look at that thing! Looks pretty crazy, right? Well what if I told you the first 5 months I owned it, I had to crack it? My school's internet was in a constant bandwidth drought (Charter treated Appalachia like a despot, selling crap internet at jacked up prices) and I could only really launch NV at 5 in the morning or 1 in the morning.

So really, I've played it hundreds of more hours than that. I'm not proud or anything, I absolutely never want to do that again. I clearly needed help.
Pickpocket Snuffles?! Buddy, look at me, I would never do that to you.  
Snuffles, you know you're my boy.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Did I ever tell you guys about Superego?

As a rule, I can't stand improv comedy. Anyone outside of the brass ring of Greg Proops or Jeff Davis or anyone outside of the Who's Line pantheon just doesn't cut it for me. But last year I ran across the superego podcast which spun me around and left me speechless.

It's like an improvised National Lampoon, but that doesn't do it justice. It's not just the best improv I've ever heard, it's damn near the funniest sketch comedy, period. I've compulsively listened to the last two seasons over and over and I just can't get sick of it. There's things you don't pick up on the first time, running gags years in the making... and Elevator Jim.

I just love them so much. I couldn't keep it to myself anymore.

Buy their sh*t. Do it.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Farcry 4's box art reveled.

Is it bad the second I saw him I thought of this? 

 It is... it's bad. I'm sorry.

But about Farcry 4*...

 It's set in a completely different place with the exact same color pallet... huh. I wonder that since the villain has a hand on another character's head, you play as that guy. Seeing as that's how the box art worked out last time. Maybe you're a put upon citizen of Nepal instead of FC3's insufferable trust fund baby taking up the white man's burden? God I hope so.

It took me over a year to appreciate how maddeningly thrilling 3 was, Let's hope 4 can follow in Uncharted 2's footsteps with style. If you're going to rip off settings why not go with the best?

I'm not being pissy, I honestly think that's a good direction.

Oh and guess what? 9 million copies of 3 have been sold to date! That's 3 million more than borderlands 2! And Farcry was even less of a multi-player game than that! Rumors of the death of the single-player AAA market, it seems, have been greatly exaggerated.


Monday, May 12, 2014

What to do... A half assed poem by Alex McCracken.

Dark Souls is over. I have won.
I've traversed Drangleic and praised the sun.
Though boredom now has me in it's sights, and thus,
I shan't make it through a new game +.

 But I hear of something that may break my curse.
A role playing game written wholly in verse.
With it's reviews positive and a cost that's slight,
I have now purchased Child of Light.

It's art is stark and it's tone is striking.
I may yet call it bottled lightning.
But if there's one issue I see time after time,
It's coherent stories sacrificed on the alter of rhyme.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Community is finally canceled. (and I'm glad it's dead.)


It's official. Dan Harmon's stalwart sitcom marginally about affordable higher education is finished. But looking back, I was more than impressed it got two seasons. "That's enough." I thought at the time. "That's enough to land gracefully." Imagine how 2010 me would react at the news it would end at season 5! That's amazing partly because it never compromised. It never tried to go broader in reaction to low ratings. It was always funny and it was always unique. I loved it for that, and I'll never forget how much I enjoyed it.

But these are darker times. I haven't blogged much about it because I didn't have nice things to say. I was one of the few that thought the Harmon-less season 4 was just fine (please save your boos until the end.) and that his triumphant restoration to the showrunner throne had far more diminished returns than his departure.

This was not his fault, no one could have made an amazing season 5. The budget was slashed to even ribbon-ier ribbons and Donald Glover bowed out after only five episodes. Episodes he barely featured in until the last. Jeff became a professor at greendale, but aside from adding Jonathan Banks as a new (and vastly improved) Pierce stand-in, nothing was ever mined from that storyline.

Season 5 felt like it was waiting to die the whole time. Like a funeral where nobody knows what to say. Remember when we did dungeons and dragons? That was fun, right? Hey, Duncan's been gone a while. Well he's back... we've only written one storyline that really uses him... f**k what's the point any more? TREASURE MAP! Now go home.

That's the kind of message season 5 left me. Aside from the bright spots of Troy's departure, meowmeowbeenz, and the Dean's fantastic freestyle in his payday bar costume, I was more depressed than entertained.

Do I wish they could make more? Of course. No real bridges were burned creatively, and no episode was out and out "bad." It was just personally disappointing. If that was the end, so be it. At least Harmon got to throw dirt on the grave in person.

Friday, May 9, 2014

NBC Serves up a 3rd course of Hannibal!

I'd like to go in depth on what this means to me. I'd like articulate why fans of film everywhere should be relived that Brian Fuller finally has a show that will last 3 seasons. I'm trying, trying, to come up with an unbiased critique of the show so far for anyone sitting on the fence.

But I can't.

My id is screaming in my ear and I can't help but join in.


...It's a really good show, guys.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Agents of Shield will return next year.

Get back on the front line soldier! Network Television is WAR.
I've said it once and I'll say it again, I'm a critic whore. If people say something's not worth checking out, I will believe every word I read. But once in a while I stare at the crowd of unimpressed critics aghast.

Agents of Shield was never Shakespeare, but good lord people jumped ship in a hurry. I couldn't blame them at first. Initially it was rough as a dirt road. I rolled my eyes at the sexy Colombian war lord, I winced at Coulson's flying car, and Skye was a Mary Sue for half of the season. But the scripts were witty and the acting was solid. I also had to admit this was the best show about espionage since ALIAS. From an acting stand point alone it positively blew ALIAS out of the damn water.

So that was the metric I gauged it against for the whole season "Is this as unbearable as the first season of ALIAS?" For the most part it was. They settled into a grove 12 episodes in and the fallout of The Winter Soldier kicked things into 3rd gear for the remaining 6. It's a solid show I feel isn't getting the credit it deserves. This is damn good pop fluff, guys. The fancy three flavor kind you get at fancy grocery stores at Christmas. It's not as good as we all hoped it'd be, but I'm absolutely jacked for season 2. I hope some of you will give the second chance I think it richly deserves.

But yeah... Deathlok's costume is FUH. KING. Corny.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fargo Review: It's pretty good, don-cha-know?

Breaking Bad ended quite a few months ago and I felt I was let down gently. I'm not exactly dying to fill a Walter White shaped hole in my heart. But I'm always on the look out for quality, and the buzz around the new mini series was good. I think it was because I hadn't been looking so hard for the next big thing (which is Hannibal) that Fargo got to me. It's good. Really, really, good. It feels like the work of budding talent that aren't just parroting Fargo, but have taken apart and reassembled it into something just as interesting.

I've been to Minnesota many times in my life, my mother grew up in Edina, but I can't say I remember much about it. I was 10 the last time I was there, it was always in the summer, and nobody had a particularly thick accent. So the Coen brother's Fargo was just as foreign to me as it must have been to most of you.

"No, I was the English Jim from the other offi- ...You know what? I'm sick of explaining this to you yanks."

Familiar beats from the inaugural film remain. There's a brow beaten man turning to a life of violence, mysterious vagrants stirring up more violence, and a strong female lead in law enforcement. But it's obvious from the get go that this is a format that can work for a lot of stories... hence the fact this is now an anthology series.

We open on Lester Nygard (Martin Freeman who's also nailing the accent) sharing a massive bowl of tomato soup with his wife, who nonchalantly (and oh so politely) calls him half the man his younger brother is. Well that's not true, we actually open on something much stranger, but I'll let you see that for yourself.

Does this feel ominous to you? I was going for ominous...
From what I know of Minnesotans (my mother) they are aggressively positive and polite to a fault. This politeness in my mother's case is, more often than not, slathered in mean spirited sarcasm. Everyone's dismissal of  Lester's machismo hit much closer to home than I expected. The casual racism Lester endures from his old high school bully later on, also rang bitterly true. But I'm not going into any personal anecdotes on that count.

I haven't even brought up Billy Bob Thornton yet, and he's having a grand old time playing what is essentially the devil. I'm not exaggerating. The man is cartoonishly conniving and violent. Thornton is clearly having a ball with the material, incredulous though it can be at times, and it's just as much fun to watch him wind all these people up.

It's the relatively unknown Allison Tolman who grounds the series as a rational woman surrounded by contented sheep. She's the only one in the sheriff's department who sees the connection between Nygard's evasive panicking and Thornton's trail of blood. I'm only three episodes in and the chase already has me hooked. Lester is much more sympathetic than William H. Macy's character, but he's still guilty as sin. I'd explain why, but trust me, you'd rather be surprised.

This all struck me as more interesting than the movie ever was, but for a 13 part mini-series I guess it had to be. Sure, a lot of what Thornton's character does seems to be violently creepy for creepy violence's sake... and there's a sub human set of teenage twins that are as boring as characters as they are bad at acting. But to be honest, the Coens did that sort of thing all the time too. Remember John Polito's son in Miller's Crossing? It was like he stumbled out of a completely different movie.

Quibbles aside, it's a damn good serial thriller regardless of the fact it's bobbing in the wake of Breaking Bad. That fact alone should be enough if you were worried about it. It's certainly enough for me.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I'm not feeling too hot.

Sleeping has become more of an issue for me lately. Not sure why. Sometimes I'm out like a light for 8 hours. Sometimes I'm fresh as a daisy at 3 in the morning... then not so fresh at 7:30. Either way, I'm not posting as much as I should.

So to recap:

 *Dark Souls 2 was wonderful and I plan on running through it a couple more times.

I don't have a "silly" helmet, You! yuh- YOU'RE a silly helmet.
* Last night's Hannibal was spectacular.

I said this was the best body horror in decades a year ago. They've improved since. How is this on NBC?

*And that Amazon Gary Busey ad is just the best. Didn't they do one with Kevin Bacon years ago? I didn't dream that did I?