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Friday, April 29, 2016

Crackpot Confession: I've never beat a Souls game twice.

So. Sad.

I love the Souls games. They've never made me all that angry and I've never truly hit a brick wall with any game in the series. Until I beat them and then I get to play "new game +"which basically means I get to start a new game with all my money and my stuff, the catch being that it's much harder. I've made it halfway in NG+ and gave out every time. EVERY TIME!

The first game's NG+ was enough of a bastard but no one is talking about how downright diabolical first sin's mode is. Seriously, the biggest challenge in the entire franchise is in that game, red headed step child though it may be. It took the hardest encounters, turned them up, and then it can throw multiple phantoms at you at the same time. If you want an evil fan mod in your Dark Souls you should seriously check that out. I love DS2...

But yeah, I'm about at the right time in 3. The halfway point. Where my maxed out equipment and stats can't help me anymore. I've hit the ceiling and now have to rely on my own raw skill. Let's see if it works this time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Goose CAM!!!!!

....goose cam.

The Invitation Review: Cheap Wine. Fancy Bottle.

!! Quick thing, this review spoils the reveal and I hack it's framework to pieces. If you want to see it, don't read anything about it. It's much better that way. !!

"All right, who the F**K ate the last crab cake?!"

They say they don't make movies for adults anymore. The highest grossing films of the year used to be war epics, romantic comedies, and lethal weapons. No more. It's all superheros and CGI animated fare. Not that I have a problem with that. In fact, I'll even go to the mat for Age of Ultron. But it does seem like people are starved for an old fashioned thriller. So much so that I find myself in the rare position of wanting to rain on someone else's good word of mouth.

Because I don't think The Invitation didn't live up to it's hype. I'm shocked it has any real hype at all!  For the first time in a long time, I'm looking at a 89% on rotten tomatoes completely mystified. Or rather, I don't think I saw the movie everyone else did. Reading the comment sections at Birth Movies Death, you'd think we have a new Hitchcock on our hands. Jesus Lord is that not the case.

"Remember me? I replaced that one guy in Game of Thrones and I'm really good on Orphan Black?"

If you are at ALL familiar with what I choose to call the "ulterior motive dinner party" sub genre, you're gonna see every clue and red herring coming miles away. Like the wine. Every time a character gets their wine refilled they check it in the script. "More... WINE?" I seem to remember a character asking another. It's sloppy. So sloppy. If the wine pouring was something that happened while the characters were speaking dialogue worth hearing, maybe a fun anecdote or a small amount of character development, that would be fine. But a lot of the conversations with anyone outside of the main cast never evolves from "Hey! We were friends remember? Been a long time... yes I would like some wine." This tells us that the wine is either poison or will be poison and nothing else. Guess what? It's one of those two things.

That brings me to my single biggest problem. That nothing happens for what feels like hours and the shit that does happen was exactly what I expected. It tries it's hardest to drum up paranoia by suggesting Will (the main character) may be too obsessed over the tragedy preceding his divorce to see his ex's new life clearly. What kills me is that the red herring explanation would have been a vastly superior movie. If you're gunning for crazy in a thriller... make sure the logical explanation isn't more interesting than cult activity.

Sooooo bored.

Yeesh. I'm a bit testy today. This is a decent movie, don't get me wrong. Flat friend characters aside, the cast is peppered by a few great performances. John Carrol Lynch in particular has a monologue halfway through that's as eerie as all hell and Lindsay Burdge does a great job with a girl who lives in the house that's kinda... feral. It could have easily been overdone and I appreciate her restraint for most of the film.

But yeah, 15 minutes in I called crazy murder cult. It took 40 more to prove me right.What followed was luke-warm slasher material at best. If you spend an hour and a half building up a murder cult you better bring it. It doesn't.

 I'm normally not the guy to poke holes but The Invitation is so in love with it's admittedly scrumptious cinematography that it never gave it's corny script at least one of the multiple rewrites it desperately needed.

It's a smart movie. Just not as smart as it thinks it is.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Amilia St. John has a lot to say about her father.

Alex St. John is a guy from Microsoft who shored up a team that created Direct X. Who also burned out, lost his family, and recently gave a ranty power point presentation on how 80 hour work weeks are fine because coding isn't really work. You see, apparently if you aren't reaping wheat or mining coal you don't actually have a job. According to Alex St. John, if your job is sedentary you should thank your boss for the privilege of receiving his or her free money. Also a grotesque section where he claims all female coders have fragile egos. Yeah. It's fun stuff.

I've had a good chuckle at him, but his daughter Amilia had stronger words to use. Harsh words for her father and stunningly realized ones for the business world's patriarchy. It's an hell of an essay well worth your time. It feels like something she's been writing her entire life.

Monday, April 18, 2016

F***ing take THAT Ammo-conda!.

It's always the run you least expect that take you further into rogue-likes than you ever hoped they would. Often when you need to be somewhere in 40 minutes and you naturally expected to die after 30.

Coming back to Gungeon after a lost weekend with DS III went smoothly. TOO smoothly. I made it to the third (second to last) stage! I got a power up that gave me health (rare as balls) I gave up that bit of good luck to be able to do more damage (by accident) and I still effing held my own against gun-mushrooms and gun-totem poles.

See each time you kill one part of the totem another guy with a different gun drops down and... you get the idea. This is just as good as Binding of Isaac. Definitely not as emotionally unsettling, at least. No miscarried fetuses as power ups in this rogue-like.

No sir.

Potato Salad for Breakfast.

My new restaurant job is a double edged sword. For one, thanks to it's massive staircase and 2 pound plates, I'm in the best shape of my life. But for two, I'm too exhausted after to run little errands. Little errands for things like food... gas... laundry.

That being said, potato salad is right up there with cold pizza as far as f**k it breakfasts go. For me anyway.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Fallout 4 Review: The Great American Experiment.

I spoil the ending in this review... such as it is.

10 hours into Fallout 4 I happened across a trash filled, partially drained, pond. The morning sun came in over the leafless trees giving it a sort of pink-hued and solemn dignity to what would otherwise be a complete dump. There's a building on top of the hill and I investigate. It's a barely furnished cabin with a table, chair, hearth, and an empty bed frame. No ammo, medicine, weapons, or bottle caps to be found.

A waste of time.

But then I see what looks like a bird house just outside the cabin. Bird houses don't typically have glowing red buttons on them so naturally I have to press it. A voice begins an audio tour of Walden Pond, the two year residence of Henry David Thoreau. A mainstream video game with sales into the stratosphere has begun lecturing me on transcendentalism. After a few minutes of harping on Thoreau's rejection of society and distraction it then directs me to the Walden Pond gift shop. Where I could find Walden Pond postcards, coffee mugs, and inspirational T-shirts. 

If this game had a mouth I'd kiss it.

Yay, references!

But that feeling would dim over the coming weeks. Then those weeks turned to months. Then I just couldn't muster the passion to review the damn thing. Moments like Walden Pond are Bethesda's specialty, the big picture never is. Which is a shame because 4 had to come out years after New Vegas, the gold standard of long form interactive story telling... and my most favorite-est game ever. I expected the wrong sorts of things. Bethesda games are kinda like roommates. You spend so much time with them you can't help but pick out the flaws. Does the good handily outweigh the bad? (Fallout 3) Or did the then-revolutionary graphics paper over hours upon hours of tedium? (Oblivion... god I couldn't stand Oblivion). 

The covers of the magazines are their own reward.

I have serious qualms with Fallout 4, but it doesn't change the fact it's their best game. It's just a rotten shame it's not the best Fallout game. I can't deny they spent a long time staring at the fan treatise of what 4 absolutely had to be. I gotta say, they killed that list dead. Wonky facial animation? Vastly improved. Shaky, borderline unplayable, shooting? Perfected. Companions feeling like a weekend jam mod instead of what should have been the richest characters in the game? You get the idea. In fact all the greatest hits from the 3 and New Vegas modding community were made critical to 4. A brilliant and cavalier move... though I'm beginning to suspect that their idea well may be running dry. 

Every single gun can be modded barrel to grip. Rifles can become AK-47s, Pistols can become sub-machine guns, and everything in between. If you haven't found the right weapon for you, you probably have to make it yourself. I love it to bloody pieces. It's become my favorite crafting system in gaming, full stop. 

Not to mention the embarrassing amount of hours I spent building my gas station settlement's supply lines to my other allied settlements. These are some of the finest nuts and bolts I've ever seen prop up an RPG. So why did it all have to go so wrong?

This review's about to get, like, super bitchy.
I've struggled to put this into words for some time now, but F4 has the worst main story in the entire franchise. F3's ending was certainly disappointing, but at least it made sense and never lost sight of it's main thrust. What has made this such an exemplary series is the fact that all of it's convoluted conflicts are always based around the simplest things. 

Water. Electricity. Security. All dirt simple and relatable utilities you'd kill for in a post-apocalypse. Fallout 4 just wants to be Blade Runner. It's ridiculous. It hangs it's hat on something that's never really mattered in Fallout before and treats it like it's something it always had been leading up to. The weight and gravitas given to line reads about whether Synths (robots so human it's impossible to tell they're not) can be citizens makes it feel like heavy handed fan service. As if we were waiting 8 years on the edge of our seat to see how that "Replicated Man" quest from F3 finished. Not so much, guys.

Some day... someone will make a great "power under-armor" joke.

They had a great anti-villian in The Institute and completely squandered it. The idea that a literally underground society had advanced in the 200+ years after the great war and had decided to use Boston as it's own personal testing facility was bursting with potential. But again... all roads lead to sad robots who just want to be loved. I just don't understand why that was so important. We could have had an interactive equivalent to High Rise. Instead we got f***ing Chappie

I could have let all of this go if this was leading to an ending worth seeing. Every finale, no matter which of the 3 factions you chose involves hunting down and killing the other 2. Not in a well written way. In a "sh*t, we're out of time and we need 3 different finales!" kind of way. 

You go to 2 of the other bases and just... kill everyone. Everyone. It's disgusting in it's soullessness. There's no grand political surrender of the New California Republic to Mr. House's oligarchy. There's no weight to killing a trusted companion who doesn't recognize you after what you've decided to become. A switch gets flipped and now all your old friends are robotic cannon fodder. It is in my top 3 worst endings I have ever played.

Fallout... I just can't stay mad at you.

Whew! Still here? Good, because this is still the BEST game Bethesda has ever made. Outside of the main story, there is still an entire city filled with worthwhile stories, well paced dungeons, fun weapons, and breathtaking atmosphere. Also Nick Valentine, everyone's favorite companion, is perhaps the best character in the series. Which is why I'm so frustrated! I've been hard on F4 because Bethesda has come so far. I mean, Skyrim also had great gameplay and atmosphere but I was still violently allergic to it's lore and characters.

With F4 they finally had dialogue and characters worth getting excited about. With even a passable story I would have never brought any of this up. Even if you run a flawless marathon, if you trip over your shoe laces right before the finish line... that's all anyone is going to bother to remember. But flawed greatness is still greatness. And I love Fallout 4 in spite of how angry it makes me. And maybe I love it because it makes me angry sometimes. That can be the mark of true friendship. Though perhaps... not a healthy one.

Monday, April 11, 2016

And awaaaaaaaaaaay we go...

Please lord, forgive me for all the bullsh*t sick calls I am going to make this week.

Dark Souls 3 has what the entire series lacked... a decent score.

All the way back to Demon Souls nothing gave away just how low budget they were more than the "orchestral" score. That's in quotes because they clearly couldn't afford anything other than a high end synth. And nothing rattles my cage more than synths trying to sound like real instruments. It instantly rings hollow to me, though that is weirdly appropriate. It's only because each game is a masterpiece (Even 2. Don't give me that lip, son.) that I've overlooked it for this long.

No more! Dark Souls 3 has an honest to god orchestra with an honest to god choir. And a decent theme to boot. I'm ready to love you DS3. I'm ready.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Fits like an old shoe.

I completely mothballed my PS4 this year. It's the least Scottish (cheap) thing I've ever done. But there was absolutely nothing PS4 exclusive that I just needed to play. All year. Plus I've got a pretty serious frame rate drop allergy, hence I've always been drawn towards the PC "Master Race." I'm sorry I left you PS4, but thanks for not becoming damaged from... I don't know, dust or something. Because coming back to Bloodborne after more than 13 months has been electrifying.

I'm still a natural. The bullet parry is second nature to me now, so the first act was a delight. I still remember all the enemy "tells" and taking down the cleric beast on my first try whilst not being well prepared was a particular high note. I remember how that jerk used to wipe the floor with me and now that I'm able to kick his ass while not really paying attention feels amazing. The blood-starved beast also went down on my second try... didn't see that sh*t coming. Everyone's got that one souls boss that always gets their number and that flayed mutherf***er certainly has mine.

Though the load times are positively killing me. In Dark souls 2 on PC I barely have time to read the flavor text. That's what will drive me away from consoles in general. Those little things you only notice once they're gone. But Bloodborne is still the masterpiece I thought it was. The kind of game you think about when you're driving home or bored at your desk. That's a very exclusive club for this snooty Scottish bastard, I'll tell ya what.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Ya'll heard about

My taste's are pretty eclectic. Politics, technology, GAMING, movies, TV, all that jazz. Wouldn't it be great if there was a slick online magazine pumping out think pieces on how Captain America won a culture war over Superman. Also how the US government is collecting fund transfers through Vemo if you use the word "ISIS." Good stuff, right?

This place is a dream come true for me... hold on, a story that's just about the video game adaptations of Sherlock Holmes?! Get out of my head, Inverse. Out I say!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

This is me now!

Though I could use any and all suggestions on decor. The proverbial box is open.

Superego?! I... I thought you were DEAD!

 UPDATE: (*listens to episode* Oh. So this is the end, huh? That's cool. I'm fine.)

It's been a while since the last episode of superego. Last AUGUST to be exact. I'd truly feared the worst. Sure they'd been going strong since '06, sure everyone involved seemed a bit ready to move on. And sure, Paul F. Tompkins seemed to create a eerily similar show that reached a wider audience and was much more effectively scheduled.

But I had never heard anything like these guys before or since. I didn't know I could finally appreciate improv comedy until it was shown to me in the form of a well produced radio play. Now I'll be following every single thing Matt Gourley, Mark Mcconville, and Jeremy Carter do for the rest of my life. I once laughed at a sketch of theirs so hard I almost ran off the road. They're so funny they're dangerous.

 If you're pulling in Thomas Lennon and Patton Oswalt as regulars it's illegal to still be this unknown.

Enter the Gungeon has entered my heart.

You're playing on my spaghetti western fixation, ETG... and I'm gonna let you win.

Tuesdays are my Saturdays and today I felt like being bad and saving a dollar off ETG while I'm still barely a quarter done with Hyper Light Drifter. I'm a bad person, I know. But I also know that in the scant 10 minutes I've spent with ETG that I adore it. It's weird how some games take hours to grow on you and yet some scratch an itch so specific you're on board immediately. Care to guess where this game falls on that scale for me?

How they managed to fit this crisp art style into less than 200 MB is stunning. The tone and breezy dialogue are nailed down in the frikin' tutorial. Even if roguelikes aren't your thing, ETG will still charm you to pieces. I haven't played an indie this confidant since The Binding of Isaac and that was a long eff'ing time ago. Did any of you play that game for more than 10 hours? Then you need this. On a chemical level.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Best April Fools Joke I can think of.

Fighting games these days are getting a lot of mileage out characters like Freddy Krueger, Leather Face, the Giger alien, etc. How bout' next year, (in street fighter 5 or what have you) there's a one-day dlc pack for Indiana Jones!

And all he does is:


The Greatest Great Sword that ever Greated now physically exists.

I've been aware of man at arms for a while, but they've never forged anything I've truly cared about.

Guys... we can do better.

But now they've made one of my all time favorites:

Sunday, April 3, 2016

It's been a while since a Bethesda guard got me to laugh.

But man... you should try sneaking in front of those Diamond City guys. It's a perfect critique of their own silly stealth mechanics.