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Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Hateful Eight Roadshow Review: Hang er' High.

Would you pay $15 for a taste of the soundtrack and no ads? I'd pay $30. That's heaven to me.

Before it's release Thursday, The Hateful Eight is showing at about 40 major cities in 70 mm film. One of those theaters happened to be close to me (for once) and after 3 and a half hours I walked out of the theater breathless. H8 is so many things. A gritty western, a locked room mystery, and treatise on post civil war racial politics. I had a total fu^&ing blast. It should have been a sloppy disaster. It's bloody finale should have been overwrought and embarrassing.

But just like the vast majority of Tarantino joints; the acting is so good and the dialogue so funny and meaningful, you just don't see it for it's flaws. Because this movie is built around a vast web of total coincidences that just don't add up to anything but the most dramatic situation possible. And that's fine. I could watch Samuel Jackson yell at and torture a confederate general all. Day. Long.

He's a national treasure and he knows it.

The plot starts simple. A ex union cavalry man turned bounty hunter (Jackson) happens upon a stage coach carrying another bounty hunter (Kurt Russel in a mustache to end all mustaches) chained to Daisy Domergue. A woman with a bounty of $10,000 who he means to bring in alive. In order to escape a blizzard they make their way to a road house to wait it out. Chaos, of course, eventually ensues. Unsettling, bloody, laugh till' you cry, chaos.

The plot and it's twists are essential to loving this movie so I'll keep my mouth shut. Every actor gives 100% and you won't see the end coming. Trust me on that. Though I will say the monologue leading up to the film's intermission had me cackling and the audience applauding.

You can't put a score, or a price, on a movie that gets a room full of strangers that riveted. Let me be clear, it was a damn fine film. But someone needed to tell Quinton to cut 20 minutes. There's too many loving shots of Wyoming mountains and stage coaches. Seriously, those sequences last 8 minutes each. And I'm actually a big fan of the little time waster scenes here and there. Kurt Russel making coffee or Walton Goggins staking a guide rope to the outhouse in a blizzard, drew me in more than not. Your mileage may very.

Don't expect a masterpiece. Expect something funny, thought provoking, and fiercely unique.

Shut the door!!!!!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Well that was unexpected...

I've recently dealt with a serious mold situation. Stuff was everywhere. The ceiling, the walls, and as it turns out... my most expensive posession:

My Legacy Classic Bed 


I was supposed to hold on to it for 10 years. I barely had 11 months. I couldn't afford to replace it and I didn't have a warranty. But on the off chance Furnitureland South just... knew a good guy to fix it, I shot them an email.

Long story short, I'm getting my bed and frame replaced for free. Christmas. Frikkin'. Miracle. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Still WAY into krampus

A week or so later, I'm still digging the Krampus soundtrack. So I'm also still digging Krapmus, here's a look at a gorgeous art book they put together:

Please note some are spoilers, but I think we both know that if you really wanted to see it, you would have by now.

Last Chance!

Now I wish it was animated...

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Krampus Review: The Gift of Sacrifice

Sometimes, you see a trailer and you start rooting for it. You buy into the premise, you get a little excited, and you lean into your gal's (or guy's... no judgment) ear and whisper "I really hope that's good." Having loved Trick'r'treat as well as Adam Scott and David Koechner. I'm hardly ever one to look at a tomato-meter score (in this case idling around 63%) and question it. But this time? This time, I'm  suspect.

I had an amazing time with it. It's rare enough to have a horror film (PG-13 or otherwise) that manages to be funny only when it tries to be and the acting is mostly tolerable. But that's what it does. None of this is winding up in anyone's Oscar reel but it's refreshing that every member of the film's (curiously nameless) family comes off only slightly heightened. Which in a movie with homicidal CGI gingerbread men is a minor Christmas miracle.

But while nearly everyone turns in B+ performances; shout out to Emjay Anthony for giving a child with anger issues believable depth and likability, its the shadow of St. Nicholas that rules every quiet corner of dialogue. Every disembodied hoof fall. Every knock on the ceiling. After his spectacular entrance (my vote for best scene in the film) you can't wait for him to show up again. He's not some mindless slasher villain. He's a hunter. A mad, pagan, god... and he plays with his food.

I could a spend a paragraph just describing the ol' goat himself. But his design is a bit of a surprise, try to get a good look at what he's wearing over his face. It's implications are... unpleasent. The idea someone like him can be in a PG-13 rating is incredible. I've always said if you can avoid blood, you can get away with murder.

The jack in the box in particular is a prime metaphor for what Kampus does best. It looks silly at first, but after you see what it's capable of, I sure as hell changed my tune. It never goes full bore body horror even though it seems like it wants to. So I can see why a hardcore horror fan might wind up with a less meaty meal then they would have wanted... but this isn't for them.

This is for the 6-13 crowd. The kind of movie you catch flipping through channels and just sucks you in. Before you know it, years go by and you're having a beer with friends. Somehow this movie comes up and you flinch. You're all "That Christmas angel f88ked me sideways when I was a kid." It's that kind of movie. One that eases you into deeper waters. A hearty and original appetizer.

All capped off with an ending that would befit the finer hours of the Twilight Zone. Something that leaves you both satisfied, yet unnerved. A classic it ain't, but neither is it a guilty pleasure. It's far too competent for that. Once people grow up with it, I'm sure the Devin Faraci's of the future will enshrine it.

So grab a couple friends, maybe pre-game a little, and just have fun with it. 

This is from a really, REALLY, good scene. I'll leave you with that.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Where has the time gone?

Man... I severely underestimated the time I needed to review Fallout 4. Because Bethesda games aren't meant for one solitary playthrough. It's the 4th or 5th character you roll that let's you know where the game really stands in their pantheon.

So I'm deep into character #2 and I'm so close to finishing just what kind of review (it's fairly positive) I'm going to have here.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Don't you dare break my heart Tim Schafer.

*Update: ...well that was fast. 

There are games I've liked, and then there are games I've loved. And then there are games that helped me out of the darkest parts of my emotional life and let me be the person I am today. Which is someone I'd hang out with.

Psychonauts is one of those games, Psychonauts 2 is something I've been dying to see come to light for nigh on 8 years. I want it to be real, but so many moving parts have to line up for this "FIG" campaign to work. I honestly don't think Double Fine has it in them.

I think this is a Hail Mary to put FIG on the map and it smells too strongly of desperation. 3 million is a huge ask for P2, but I remember when Notch approached Schafer a few years back and 20 million wasn't enough!

I don't like this. Not one bit.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

107 hours into Fallout 4 and someone finally said the magic word to me.

You're a prince Parker Quinn

"Retaughd." I guess I really was in Boston the whole time! Apologies to anyone who's back bristles at that word but... come on. If someone isn't calling someone "wikid retaughded" it's regionally inaccurate.

To an offensive degree.

Sense 8... does not suck.

After my gal pal made me sit through the first 3 episodes, I was seriously hooked. This is something that the Wachowskis either had barely anything to do with; or it's the best straight creative work of their entire careers.

The dialogue,while occasionally overwrought, always makes a decent point. The story has heart, laughs, bitchin' action choreography, and is just a confidant production across the aboard. The less you know about it the better, too.

I knew it was the Wachowskis' Netflix show, Korean kickboxing would factor in somehow, and that was it. I strongly suggest you give the first 3 a chance. It builds to one hell of a finale. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The great AC syndicate riddle has been solved.

Apparently AC Syndicate does NOT appreciate being in a EHD and can only stand to take up space in my C drive.

To those of you I just lost, this prissy game was not about to be played from some rinky dink flash drive.

Monday, November 23, 2015

This year... thanksgiving ate ME.

It's been CRAZY for me this week and it's only getting crazier, so here:

Have a couple mustaches

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Next October... call for a monster.

El Orfanato is the most beautiful movie I've ever seen. It's also the best ghost story too. I love that movie and I've shown it to more people  than any other. Juan Antonio Bayona has a children's film coming down the pike and it looks just as extraordinary.

So... AC Syndicate won't even launch...

I see them all the time on message boards, those poor bastards that can't even get their game to start! I always felt for them, even if I'd never actually had that problem. Well here we go, this is the third time I've restarted my  computer and... yep. that exe. just stalls out 9000k. Worthless.

I mean, I got it free with my 980, but still. This sucks, I heard this one was actually a step forward...

(update) I re-downloaded and re-installed. Yet it's exactly the same and no one else seems to be dealing with this... dammit.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Fallout 4 lost weekend butcher's bill:

12 Caribu coffe k-cups:

2 boxes of Keebler Club Crackers:

I thought, "hey! tea and crackers. That sounds good." I innocently put a sleeve next to my mug and then... it was gone.

17 bags of Twinings Earl Grey:

...all gone.

6 bags of Sleepy Time:

A serving size was what? 4. 4 goddamn crackers. The hell are you trying to pull, Keebler?!

18 baby portobello mushrooms:

8 Links of Chicken Sausage

What I can only describe as a crate of spinach:

2 goddamn pounds of penne

2 whole frickin' jars of bertolli

Are all the food groups recognized?  I don't want to think about it.

Fallout 4 review incoming!

I rather like it. Both the game and the first 5 paragraphs of my review. Lemmie just say that I don't understand all the negativity floating around. Obviously Fallout isn't everyone's bag, but as for all the folks who keep gabbing on about how this essentially the same game as 3 and new vegas?

I'm sorry, I'm confused. It's Fallout. Were you expecting Far Cry 5? Help me out here, guys. Because after emerging bleary eyed and emaciated after my 3 day weekend; all I could think of was that this was the best game I'd played in over 2 years.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Don't feed the supermutant trolls.

So... some jerk broke the Fallout 4 review embargo and had some allegedly nasty things to say about it. I say allegedly, because that shiz went down so fast reddit's head spun. I remember a similar thing happened for New Vegas. The dude only talked about stuff he could have easily gleaned from trailers and was just negative to the point where no professional review was even close to matching.

It was just too cruel to be true and New Vegas went on to be my most favoritist'est' game ever. All was well. Though in this case, the review's title "the danger's of hype" smacks of something a wee more credible. I haven't seen the review... but I have seen the leaks. I'm thinking maybe he has a point. The animation is still god-awful and the acting and dialogue is right back to Bethesda's constant level of "meh." Never bad but always frustratingly inert.

From what I've seen anyway.

But what if this guy was cashing in on being the first review? What would be the way to get the most attention for that sort of thing? By going against the grain and confirming our worst fears. Becoming a critical prophet of doom on the most ravenously in demand RPG in years. We expect to see 9's and 10's not a soul crushing 7.

So this could all be a cynical crock; but given how there's been a practical iron curtain over this game, and how Bethesda didn't let anyone actually play it before the review copies were sent out gives me pause.

Dark, depressing, agonizing, pause.

Goodbye Arkham Knight.

If I'm being brutally honest... Knight was the worst game in the series. I've always thought Origins got a bad rep mostly because it felt like too much of a retread. But I'd take O's killer premise and Christmas aesthetic over it's bloated, bored, and undercooked next of kin.

The performance wasn't a deal breaker for me, it ran no worse than Black Flag. But aside from a few new tricks for stealth combat and a couple fun batmoblie puzzles, so much felt shoehorned. We didn't need two face or penguin. They didn't matter and they weren't worth the disk space. And everyone saw the red hood twist coming 10 miles away.

So I returned it. I've never had the opportunity to return a digital game for cash and I'm taking it. I sincerely doubt I'd ever feel compelled to ever play it again.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Bethesda bans 20 minutes of Fallout 4. Microsoft releases 2 hours of Tomb Raider...

And no one cares. Nobody cares about Tomb Raider reboot 2 right now! Look, I loved the katniss-esque empowered revision of Tomb Raider. Loved it. But guess what you're not? You're not Fallout 4. I'd bend the knee and move in with Fallout 4. Tomb Raider... you're going to die on the vine on the 10th. You're the only one that doesn't seem to notice.

Becoming an Xbox exclusive was a bold move, but even you knew how stupid that was seeing as how you'll be across all platforms in a year. You can't fight F4 and Call of Duty AND Halo. You. Can't. We all want what's best for you, so why'd you have to jump off a cliff like that?

J-Stew's Back!

Or he will be, having just signed a 4 year deal with HBO. The Last Week Tonight crossover event is inevitable!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

WB interactive has thrown up it's hands and caved in.

Did you buy a PC version of Arkham Knight and are still pretty bummed about it's performance? Were the long months of hard work by their QA team ultimately pointless? Is it running worse than it did at launch?

Well... FINE! They didn't need your business anyway. Is is 2016 yet? No? Then HERE. Have your money back. All of it. Will that shut you up? Will that quell the incessant tide of mean comments and emails? Probably not, but I'm in the unique position of getting $60 back on a game I'll probably never play again.

I'm usually on the side of developers having to bow down to ridiculous deadlines set by clueless shareholders... but they really shit the bed on this one. Even my mighty 980 has serious trouble with the nvidea effects in there. Which means only people with cards upwards of $600 can even use them! That can't be more than a 7th of the player base. If the game is designed from the ground up to run at only 30 FPS... shouldn't be on the PC at all.

Friday, October 30, 2015

New Vegas Easter eggs roundup!

You play a game for 5 years, you think you've seen it all. I was wrong, camelworks's videos found loads of junk I'd never heard about. Did you know that the canon lone wanderer is in new vegas? Possibly?

It's good stuff.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Here, have some lovely Fallout 4 concept art!

Nerdist has a peak at Adam Adamowicz, Ray Lederer, Ilya Nazarov, and John Gravato's tremendous work for Fallout 4. There's some clay models in there that just give me the shivers. I had let the air out of my hype tires some time ago, but right now? They're ready to roll.


This is gonna be rough.

Dungeon of the Endless Ain't Dead!

They have a lovely little Halloween update with more on the way. We got a new secret merchant hiding out in there somewhere and a couple enemy AI tweaks. If you're interested in turn based anything you should take a hard look at this polished little gem. Seriously, a year later they're still globbin' stuff on to it.

So... yeah! Still a fan.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

I have super-duper secret Fallout 4 News!

No news is good news... right?

Except that I don't. Nobody does. A animated series on the S.P.E.C.I.A.L system? Great. A 15 second teaser for the Big League perk? Fine. Achievement list leak? Pedestrian. The first page of the manual that just describes the button mapping? Desperate.

Bethesda has kept the news stream about this game down to a torturous drip. The thing is... no critic has actually played the game yet. I think they were shown a closed doors expo a while back and everyone loved it, but nobody has kicked it's tires.

We've heard big talk about how ahead of schedule they were, how the game was finished the exact second it was announced. Let's hope this vow of silence is to preserve surprise and nothing else. May your inevitable bugs be cosmetic, Fallout 4. We're all ready for you.

Also the next Tomb Raider is launching the same day. That's just... stupid.

Monday, October 26, 2015

I got a new graphics card...

And for the first time in a long time I wasn't at least 30% disappointed in it. The GTX 980 is a knockout. I paid $700 for my 780 two years ago and this $500 number wipes the floor with it. I could fry an egg on the old guard, but this puppy is almost cool to the touch!

Holy crap, you guys. Holy crap. Wanna max out GTA V? This card. Right here.

Fallout 4 isn't gonna know what hit it.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Rising Tide Review: Red Sky at Night.

Remember, turning humanity into a collective hive-mind is a "victory" scenario.

But first things first, lemmie set the mood:

I may have been a early booster for Civ: Beyond Earth, but eventually I came around to the consensus. The folks who claimed it was an overpriced re-skin of Civ V became more right than I wanted them to be. But I really liked the dense and overwhelming tech tree and little things like how your military upgraded itself for free was a huge relief.

And unfortunately, Rising Tide is not the momentous step forward it's biggest detractors want. But it fixes my biggest and most personal problems I had with the game. So if I'm being perfectly honest... two of the best games I've ever had in "Civ" were with Rising Tide.

The most obvious changes are the overhauled diplomacy system and aquatic settling. What's something the original Civ, shackled to human history, could never do? Cities in the ocean! While it is a neat trick and potentially makes the most boring part of Civ worth fighting over, it's no where near as game changing as what happens when your supposed trade ally drags you into a war on two fronts.

Pretty and functional.

But lets get the little stuff out of the way. For one, the tech web is much more user friendly. Stuff like wonders and units are now color coded and there's a handy search bar if you just can't remember what to research to get those handy solar collectors. I always forget those. Also most techs give a little affinity xp instead of large payouts and you can combine affinities to unlock special upgrades and units. Want your gunners to be able to heal automatically every turn? How about a dedicated medic unit? They make defensive builds much more fun

AI players also won't bee line to the easiest victory anymore, resources are much easier to find, and you can mod your leader's traits to upend the vanilla game's draconian restrictions on health. I reached a point where I was sending out three settlers at once with a 40 health level when I was finished! They'll uh... probably patch that out eventually.

It also seemed like I was just making more money (scuse' me,"energy") in each game overall. Even jacked up the difficulty to see if that changed anything. Loosening the purse strings just made the game more fun. Though certainly not any easier. No, my biggest enemy is still not having a plan for the end game. But I haven't even touched upon the best part of this... slightly overpriced expansion.

I say slightly because the soundtrack is honestly worth $20 to me. Two more glorious hours of work from 3 amazing composers. Kirkhope, Knorr, and Cohen completely outdid themselves again. But they still aren't the best thing about RT. That would be the completely overhauled diplomacy system.

Diplomacy is now all about deals. Every Civ generates diplomatic capital that can be spent on deals with other nations. Give Bartra 10 DC per turn and have your outposts grow 30% faster. They'll also ask you for such an arrangement netting you more DC... but possibly giving them a severe advantage. The thing, the brilliant thing, is that these deals get stronger if you ally with that country. There are deals such as "every trade route that nets resources now nets 3 times as many" that are totally worth defending the weakest player in the game from a war on multiple fronts.

Polystralia was single-handedly bankrolling my entire military's supply line. I couldn't support a force half my size without him. The AI felt threatened by a couple players, saw how much the others feared me, declared war, then promptly hid behind my skirt.

I thought I had that game in the bag. For once, the end game became the most interesting part. I made peace with some leaders, bulldozed over others, and that was singularly the best game of Civ I ever played. Rising Tide made that possible.

I'll never forget it.

Though I wish the leaders would text me less in between turns. They're all really clingy.

Easter egg of the year. Right here.