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Friday, March 31, 2017

I've been distracted.

The world of entertainment has so much to talk about right now, but I find myself silent. Because it's raining dropped shoes in the world of politics. Kinda like how John McCain said it would. We haven't had a political scandal like this in decades and the journalist in me can't get enough of it. I'm just endlessly refreshing Politico over here.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Andromeda continues to impress and vex in equal measure.

Just when I think I'm falling in love with Andromeda it does something stupid like make a character say "let's get out of here" or "we got company." Screen writing 101 should have made those radioactive to a writer worth half a damn. But then I go on Drak's loyalty mission where we get into a spectacularly bro-mantic chase for a stolen seed vault and I forget it's flaws for a while. It even gave me my favorite ME gun yet, a space age revolver that just melts my heart. Accurate enough for off hand head shots yet still decent at long range with a scope. Perfect for sniping and close range "where the f**k did you come from?!" moments. So I basically use it all the time.

Can't say for sure whether everyone should play this eventually, but $60 isn't worth it for most of you. Because most of you hated the first ME. Unless sci-fi western stuff is as much your thing as it is mine.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Your emails are all pretty funny.

Good on you, Andromeda.You're really no where near as bad as I feared. Doomed to be the red headed step child of the Bioware library, but still genuinely fun. Also thanks for getting DA2 out of the dog house, it never deserved the rap it got. Avaline forever!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

ME:Andromeda is... sumthin'.

'Scuse me for Goldbluming but this game is just... ummmmm... well, yeah.

I've gone through some mental gymnastics to appreciate Andromeda. I'm pretending this came out two years after ME3 and I've put off buying it until they remastered it. Because this couldn't possibly have been in development for 6 years. Because that would be a goddamned tragedy.

Everything you've heard about the first hour or two is true. ME's dialogue wasn't exactly Mamet* at the best of times, yet this manages to be a pale imitation of that. I'm still in, though. There's no question it's the worst cast in the series but that's still good enough. At least for me... at least for now.

There is still one amazing thing Andromeda's got that the originals don't have and that thing is jetpack fights. 

Motherf*&%ing Jetpack Fights. That is all.

*look how crazy young Spacey is! I bet the guy passed for 50 in his 30's

Monday, March 20, 2017

I'll buy Mass Effect Andromeda... for the blog.

For 7 years I've never hesitated to buy a Bioware game. Not even for a second. Yes, ME3 and I had irreconcilable differences. Sure, Inquisition ultimately drowned in a sea of it's own half baked "content". But Bioware has never hit below an 8/10 for me. Andromeda looks poised to break that streak.

It looks... rough. Like a cheap straight to video spin off of a once great series. Reviews are harsh. Polygon literally called it "a total goddamned mess." I do not wish to play it at launch as I'm already knee deep in Horizon. While it's pretty bland in the story department, it's refreshingly confidant and reeeeeaaaaalllllly pretty. Andromeda is none of those things, but I need to know. I need to know how far a great studio has fallen, if at all. The blog and the podcast deserve to know too. Hope tips are good next week.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Night in the Woods Review: Rite of Possum Springs.

Do you ever get the feeling that something was made just for you? Something that seems to take your musings on fear, insecurity, and loathing and makes them funnier than they have any right to be? Night in the Woods is a watershed moment in gaming. It's almost like I've been waiting for something like this since 1996. I don't want to oversell it, but there is a very good reason it has a 10/10 on steam reviews. That reason is I have NEVER played a game this well written. I just want to shout superlatives from the rooftops now, so here we go.

People may argue that NITW is visual novel, that it's not interactive enough, that it's forced ending robs it of any lasting impact. You may feel like your time in Possum Springs is "wasted" and there are solid arguments for calling this a flash in the pan. I'll even fess up that the final act is a rushed misstep. But I say it's all about the journey. I can only speak to my own experience and my own experience was a goddamn trip, man.

The story of Night in the Woods is a new one, though painfully familiar to anyone in their 20's. Mae is a cat that was too anxious and depressed to finish college and chose to move back home with her parents while she figures out what to do next. All day every day she hops around town meeting up with her friends at their workplaces, walking on power lines, getting heckled by old neighbors, anything to drown out her creeping feelings of failure and inadequacy.

This shouldn't be anything but a stone cold bummer. So why did it make me laugh out loud more than any game I've ever played? I'll give you a hint, because this is the seminal creative text of my generation. It earns that title by understanding that everyday life can be funny or sad and is routinely both at once. This is the millennial tragedy writ small and it. Is. Hilarious

Punch lines are set up that don't pay off for hours. There are quick 30 second conversations with your mother that manage to be emotional roller coasters. There's a scene in which you start a knife fight with your best friend and it's not a mellow dramatic showdown. It's just some dumb fun you're both having. 

When NITW has characters read poetry, it's actually poetic. When you think the story is going to point towards a happy ending for anyone, a barbed anecdote about their past suddenly makes it impossible. Addiction, abuse, loss, and irrational self destruction are given a grace and humor that escapes not just most games, but a lot of writing in general. No, really. Stephen King couldn't pull off characters this three-dimensional or fun to save his life and remember I warned ya'll about the superlatives.

The one aspect that falls short is it's attempt at cosmic horror. That's kinda my wheelhouse and if you came to play you best not give me the ending to American Gods (but with a mine this time instead of a lake). How is it that in a game about a sad small town the ghostly kidnapper manages to be the least interesting thing about it? It also comes perilously close to having the villain be a problem that solves itself and for a game that's so good at dialogue and characters... that's a stark rookie mistake.

So I'd say take your time. Talk to everyone. Climb the buildings. Go to Church. Just fall in love with Possum Springs and take the ghost hunt with a grain of salt. This is just the first project from these guys and they've already thrown down the gauntlet for anyone trying to tell stories through games. If you can't see that this is now the high water mark then you aren't paying close enough attention.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

RayBans, Anyone?

My twitter got hacked for the very first time. Chance pointed it out to me as well as making me this lovely screen grab. It's like a magic eye poster but with words. The harder I try to read it, the less it makes sense. So thank you twitter bot, thank you for being a confounding word salad.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Day in the Life.

A woman who has been a tenant for 5 years got a package this morning and asked if I was "new." I said that I had been here for a year and a half. She then said I didn't have to be so rude about it and I wanted to scream "I wasn't the first 2 times we had this conversation!!!!"

Saturday, March 11, 2017

In which I still jabber on about Hollow Knight:

You can tell a lot about a game by it's bestiary. Did the designers bother to write a story for their enemies or did they just make a bunch of monsters that looked cool? There's nothing wrong with either approach but I love it when they try. All these enemies speak in a Japanese like gibberish and it's charming as all f**k. So you know I'm going to try to kill enough of them to see what the game's sociopathic hunter god thinks of them. Some are not worthy, some are delicious, and some are painful reminders of the fall of the Hollow Nest.

For a game obstinately aimed at children (that's still pretty damn hard) it's strange how much of the spirit of Dark Souls translates to a G rating. Oh, and you need to buy it. Hardly anyone is playing it and THAT I cannot abide.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Upon further review, Hollow Knight is in fact "The Goods."

Just when I thought my indy thirst was slaked by Night in the Wood's adorable (yet crushing) small town ennui, Hollow Knight done gone swept me off my feet. I haven't played a good metriodvania in a crazy long time so I was going to be an easy mark to begin with. I didn't expect to see greatness in Hollow Knight, which was one of my first mistakes.

It begins deathly simple with light platforming and light combat. Hop on these ledges, avoid those spikes, slash them earwigs, and so forth. Every platforming segment is straightforward and every enemy dies in 3 or fewer hits. But then I got lost. For a solid hour. I found a mapmaker and thought, "great, now I can see where I haven't been!" but it wasn't a modern video game map. It didn't have greyed out areas or a pin where the player was standing. It was inert and un helpful. With it's hand drawn animation and cutesy gibberish for dialogue I had falsely assumed I'd get more hand holding. Come to think of it, it never came close to holding my hand at all. The mapmaker told me to speak with his wife in town for further assistance and the game made me turn out my wallet for the stuff that I was complaining about earlier.

So already it was making me pay for things I had took for granted and it was about to kick my ass. I found the first boss and was not disappointed. I finally died which means you loose all your cash (saw that coming) but you also loose your healing magic (*t) and you have to fight the ghost of your corpse to get it all back (rad as hell). Games that are this fun to play, that are this challenging, that are this beautiful, and this charming do not come around every day. I feel bad for bloodstained right now. I honestly don't know how they can follow this even if they have till 2018.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Hollow Knight seems legit.

You want to get my attention, be a metriodvania. You want me to throw money at you, show me your map in the trailer. This certainly looks like the goods. Deep combat, lovely art style, reviews that boast 30 hours or so. That's great, I'm sure I'll probably break down and buy it this weekend. Which is actually today. Hooray service industry!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Legion is the weirdest show since The Prisoner.

So... did Noah Hawley help an FX executive bury a body? Because that's the only scenario in which this show gets made.

This isn't something networks make anymore and when they did the best you could hope for was the production value of a black box theater. At first I thought the pilot was going to be the artsy outlier that transitions into the more expected X-Men vs the world scenario. That... did not happen. If anything the pilot was holding back. This show was getting away with murder before we got to the astral projection of Jemaine Clement doing beat poetry. My buddy who was chomping at the bit to see a big budget X-Men series enjoyed it but gave me a  "Well... that was not... yep." when I asked what he liked about.

That means this is probably going to be a mini series. A second season would be great but I'm not fooling myself into thinking this is something the fans want. This is something I want and I'm insufferable. This is a Kubrickian Twin Peaks with super powers and I can't stop watching it. The dream like dialogue, the anachronistic wardrobe/sets, the torture sequences that are actually torturous, I could go on. This show is the best kind of crazy because it knows how ridiculous it looks (remember Jemaine Clement?) and it doesn't give a good god damn what you think. At the same time it respects the pain of mental health issues and engenders respect for schizophrenia while being  honest about what David has done wrong.

Or you can just tune all that out and treat it like a straight forward psychological thriller. You'd miss out on about 2/3rd's of it's depth, but I wouldn't blame anyone showing up solely for the monsters. The world's angriest boy in the world sure looks like the nightmares I used to have as a 6 year old. And that's awesome.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Night in the Woods soundtrack rulz, OK?!!!

Cards on the table, I'm worried that nitw isn't anywhere near the top sales on steam. I'm worried it'll get labeled hipster trash and get lost in the shadow of Horizon: Zero Dawn. Which no matter how good that game may be, I had to use that garbage title to describe it. So nobody wins. We also desperately need to lay off the colons in game titles.

So to get some of you readers in the mood, listen to the music. It's soundtrack helped garden state get a foothold on pop culture and this is a much better written story than that:

That last 2 are covers, but still.