Hello everyone. It has been a while since my last post, and for good reason. My life has gotten a lot busier and I just simply don’t have the time to keep this going and make progress through my backlog right now. Once things simmer down a bit I will definitely be doing regular posts again. I love the community on here and my supporters have been instrumental into not only giving me motivation to keep going, but on how to improve. I look forward to being able to do this again soon.
Dying Light is yet another game I can add to the ever growing pile of games I really wanted to like. The demo on PSN was fantastic, and I was drawn into this beautiful hell that Techland had created. The demo was an hour long excursion into Harran, a city decimated by the zombie virus that has broken out. Techland wisely didn’t include much side missions, and for good reason; but i’ll get into that later. There is so much this game did right, but for everything it nails, there are 2 or more that were a letdown.
You are Kyle Crane, an employee of the GRE, or Global Relief Effort. This company is pretty self-explanatory, and goes around the world helping others who are trapped by volatile circumstances. What follows is at first engaging, but eventually becomes a cliched, forgettable story of mediocre relationships and passion fueled redemption. The main story is just good enough to keep you going, but completely falls apart in the last 1/3 of the game.
To add insult to injury, the final boss fight was one of the worst I have played in recent memory. It was frustrating, and threw in horribly timed QTE’s that not only felt out of place, but it felt like a lazy decision to make things seem more dramatic. The story just gets silly near the end, and I could not wait for this game to finish. The side missions that the game throws in are one of the worst I have ever seen, and the laziness of the developers really starts to show here. They are not only numerous, but involve the typical side mission tropes. Go here, retrieve/kill that, rinse wash repeat. You’ve done it all before, and not even playing these in online co-op could remedy this.
Dying Light nailed the visuals here. Everything besides the character models are top notch, and the game is drop dead gorgeous, and ran with no hitches whatsoever. This game was very stable throughout, and had no bugs at all. The gameplay felt very smooth, and doing parkour around the city had a great feel to it. The zombies all looked amazing, and each location comes to life.
I would’ve liked a bit more variety in the environments, as they do get old after a while. Eventually you get tired of going through tunnels, slums and whatnot. I don’t know why the character models look so bad, they are just kind of…..off. They just aren’t on the same level that the rest of the game is, and they stand out because of that. They needed a lot more work and it shows. The weapons and the executions all were very nice looking, but once again a bit more variety here would’ve been nice. Techland’s last game, Dead Island, had a bit more variety in the weapon crafting, and that is missed here.
I’ve found some nails, I got a blueprint, and a mean looking sicle. Time to make a death machine am I right? Well…you can. But only for a limited time. This mechanic makes the game feel extremely tedious after a while, as you can’t really get attached to any one weapon. Everything breaks eventually, and has only a certain amount of repairs. While this may sound realistic, it doesn’t make for an interesting game mechanic. A lot of the fun I had from the first Dead Island was doing some quests until I found a blueprint for an awesome sounding weapon, and then I would get to stick with it for a while. That is sorely missed here, and while it does add a degree of difficulty to the game, it gets pretty freaking annoying after a while.
Another big selling point of the game that I was looking forward to was online co-op. It ended up being a minor diversion more than anything else, and I didn’t really care much for it. Sure, it’s nice to have some people around, but if I want to complete my mission instead of getting distracted fighting random zombies and attracting a horde then it just feels sort of weird. Most of the time you can only fight a small amount of zombies, because once more than a few start coming, you are pretty much screwed.
Also fighting at night was a joke. The “volatile” or buffed up zombies were so insanely hard to kill, that it just stopped being fun after a bit. You combine that with the fact that you can’t see much, there are many patrols, and everything is stronger, and It just wasn’t very fun. I usually skipped doing missions at night if I could, it wasn’t worth e extra xp I got from it.
The weapons and combat are fine, but they never get beyond that. Sure, there are some nice slo-mo moments where you get a breath of fresh air as you whack a helpless walker in the face, but those moments get old pretty fast. Once you get past that initial rush, there just isn’t much here. The guns are ok, but make so much noise that they aren’t worth the trouble unless you are fighting humans.
This is a difficult game, but if you stick with it, Dying Light becomes a bit easier, but not any more satisfying. There is an overwhelming sense of laziness that permeates the whole game and not only led me to skip most of the side missions, but led me to want to speed through the main story and get done with it already.
Overall, this game is a huge disappointment. Many would say it’s what Dead Island should have been, but it’s too little too late. I wanted to like this game so much, but it ended up being an exercise in tedium. Skip it if you can, and maybe find some other outlet to fuel your zombie desires. This isn’t it.
Starring Daniel Craig and Cristoph Waltz; Directed by Sam Mendes
PG-13, 2.5 hours, **No Spoilers**
I’m not going to lie, I had high expectations going into Spectre, but after the flawed gem that was Skyfall, how could you not? What was advertised as Daniel Craig’s and Sam Mendes’ final bond movie, with Cristoph Waltz as the villian and Monica Belucci as one of the bond girls somehow managed to disappoint on all fronts and instead becomes a hard movie to recommend and one that should be watched as a passable action movie instead of a legitimate entry in the 007 franchise.
Well, what did Spectre get right? The opening sequence was fantastic, with an intricate day of the dead scene, and some of the effects were pretty well done throughout. As soon as the action heats up though, the film falls apart and as you watch it, Spectre starts to collapse under it’s own ambition. The cinematography feels like it should, but the script is something that would fit better in a direct-to DVD action movie than a theatrical release.
One thing I have to give this movie is how consistently bad it is. The humor falls flat (and feels very out of place overall), the characters are underused, and Bond is very hard to like here. Christoph Waltz and Monica Belucci acted like they were going through the motions, and didn’t get much screen time at all. Belucci literally shows up for only one sequence, and is then forgotten. Bond manages to also be a manipulative asshole to her in a scene that was very awkward and hard to watch. Waltz also should of had a bigger role here. He spent most of the film shrouded in darkness, behind a desk or behind a window. He felt more like a toned down Joker than anything else, and was by far the most disappointing aspect of Spectre. I was looking forward to seeing him really go off a la Inglorious Bastards, but it was pretty forgettable.
The three bond girls in total are such a letdown as well. They all fit nicely into the cliches we’ve come to expect from a generic action movie, and aren’t given enough respect to be looked at as strong women. The first two are literally in Spectre for one scene, and the last one was in constant need of saving which I just found boring more than anything else.
Overall, Spectre is just a huge waste of time. The story panders and while it offers some interesting tidbits to keep you going and some ok twists it’s not enough to distract the viewer from feeling like they’ve seen it all before. I enjoyed Kingsman: The secret service much more than I did Spectre. It’s a similar movie, but it knew what it wanted to be, Spectre just feels aimless and it’s a very poor way to end Craigs’ and Mendes’ collaboration. It should be interesting to see how the franchise is handled in new hands down the line, but the 007 franchise needs a break for a while.
Created by Kurt Sutter, Starring Lee Jones and Katey Segal
I was pretty stoked for The Bastard Executioner, and for good reason. This is Kurt Sutter’s highly anticipated TV show coming hot of the heels of a disjointed, but very good Sons of Anarchy TV show and the thrilling Southpaw. The short ads for this show also showcased stunning vistas and intense battles with bloodshed aplenty.
Bastard is a show that knows it audience. That audience is one that wishes Game of Thrones was on, but has to wait until April. So in the meantime, we get this medieval show. The plot was fairly interesting, and it just enough so to keep you hooked, but not so confusing that you didn’t know what was going on.
The star of the show here is Wilkin Brattle (Jones) who after a stroke of luck, survives an epic battle and comes into contact with a witch/healer of sorts, Annora of the Alders (Segal) who gives him a scar that is similar to an executioner that was in the battle and did not survive. Brattle then takes that identity, and travels to find somewhere to settle down and figure out what to do next. His family, along with his friends’ have been slaughtered and he pretty much has nothing. He doesn’t travel long before he comes to a Baron’s castle and has to execute the one man that still knows his former identity from the battle. Thus is the basis for the show, and we spend most of the next 10 episodes here.
Bastard gets the essentials right for an ultraviolent show like this. Before I continue, let me stress that this show is extremely violent. I really can’t stress that enough. It pushes the boundaries of what you think can be shown on TV and is definitely not for the squeamish. That aside, it’s very well done. It all looks and sounds very real, and the camera sometimes gets uncomfortably close. Just like in Game of Thrones, there are many people who do horrible things to others just to get by or fuel their own fires. Some characters do come full circle and learn from their wrongdoings, which did give the show some humanity and helped it feel less bleak.
The cinematography is also fantastic, and showcases some stunning landscapes and was shot in Wales, UK. This show isn’t extremely action packed, but when things do heat up the battle sequences are breathtaking, and definitely worth the watch just for those. Beyond that, the story was pretty solid, the characters were very relatable and the show doesn’t overstay it’s welcome with a perfect 10 episodes. So what went wrong?
Well, I have to address the elephant in the room here; and i’m referring to Katey Segal. She is by far the weakest part of the show, and her accent was atrocious. It just came off as a poor idea that they stuck with for some reason, and the intro music wasn’t very fitting as well. I would usually just skip through it. Segal was extremely miscast, and it’s a shame because if they had gotten a little younger character that doesn’t hail from the USA.
Besides that, there is some serious pacing issues. After some episodes I was asking myself: “Well, it didn’t seem like much happened here, but i’m still intrigued to see what happens.” It felt like these episodes were just a trail to the next one, but luckily there were just a couple of them.
So ultimately, this is a show that fills in the gap between now and April 2016 for Game of Thrones. It’s a decent, violent medieval show that gets a few things right, but ultimately it wasn’t enough, as the show is not getting renewed for a second season. As it stands though, there are a satisfying 10 episodes here to get through, and the finale does wrap up a lot of loose ends. Bastard is just interesting enough to keep you going, but it’s not nearly the experience that Sons of Anarchy or Southpaw managed to achieve.
Change is in the air! I feel like trimming some fat on here, so i’m going to start with cutting out the Warriors Update and Song of the Day. Neither seem to be garnering much attention. Besides that, everything is the same.
Now that we got that out of the way, here’s what you can look forward to in the near future:
The Bastard Executioner season 1 review. New medieval TV show by Kurt Sutter, the creator of Sons of Anarchy.
American Horror Story: Hotel review, as well as the 4 earlier seasons. That should be a juicy one.
Spectre review. Saw the newest 007 at the theater recently, was it any good?
The Last of the Mohicans review. This was a movie I finally got around to finishing up.
Dying Light review.Techland, the developers of Dead Island are back in a shiny new zombie game, but were they able to get it right this time?
God of War III Remastered review. Kratos’ legacy comes to an end in this epic action game, remastered for the PS4.
If you have any thoughts on what’s coming up or the changes i’ve made, be sure to sound off below. Besides that, some of you may be wondering if i’ve picked up Fallout 4 yet. Well, the question is no. I’m waiting for the first big patch to hit the PS4 as I got burned on Skyrim from playing it day one, and the extra time right now gives me more opportunity to get through my backlog. I imagine i’ll be picking it up sometime before Christmas.
Speaking of backlogs, I have some links to share with y’all. I will be keeping my backlog up to date on howlongtobeat.com. You can see what i’m going to be playing in the future, what i’m currently playing, and what i’ve completed. It’s a great site, and let me know if there are any additions you think I should have. Finally, I have a bunch of videos that I need to upload to my YouTube channel (mostly just highlights of PS4 games), so you can keep an eye on that here: My YouTube Channel. There’s not much there now, but I should have some more time in the coming weeks to add some more fun stuff on there. Well that’s it for now! As always thanks for reading and happy holidays.
Starring Sir Patrick Stewart and Adrian Scarborough.
Created by Jonathan Ames
Starz is really on a roll these days. With great shows like Black Sails, Survivors Remorse, Ash Vs Evil Dead and now this, they have proven to be a reliable provider of quality content. Blunt Talk is no different, and succeeds because it’s incredibly refreshing.
Blunt Talk centers on Walter Blunt (Sir Patrick Stewart) as a news anchor on a struggling station. His manservant (Scarborough) is always around to provide support as well as heavy doses of alcohol, and is pretty funny to boot. One of the most interesting plot points of the show was learning about their relationship and how they got to know each other. It was deep but also very real, and by far was one of the highlights of the show.
Blunt Talk gets a lot right, and one of those things is heart. All the characters feel deep and flawed, but Walter Blunt is the most flawed of all. He is a man who makes decisions that have good intentions, but don’t always pan out too great. I think all of us have had moments like this where in our head we thought “this is a really solid, genuine idea” that ended up biting us in the ass.
Each episode moves at a great pace, and you learn more about what makes each character tick. There are a lot of characters, but the show spends just enough time on each one to give you an idea of what they are like, but it never feels like there are too many. This show is not afraid to shy away from deep rooted traits/flaws in each character and Blunt Talk deals with mental illness, drug/alcohol addiction, sexuality and others that make it truly bold.
My only real complaints for the show would be its length and humor. The 30 minute episodes really zoom by and I think this show could easily fill about an hour’s worth of content. There is so much potential for a longer show that maybe Starz will consider extending the run time for it next season? Regarding the humor, I found it pretty funny, but many may not. It relies on very situational, sometimes very dark humor that feel at home on a premium channel but definitely isn’t for everyone. I was chuckling most of the time but there were moments that didn’t work too great.
I can’t use the word refreshing enough to describe this show. It somehow juggles having hilarious moments, heart, sincerity and a distinct playfulness throughout each episode. Everyone surrounding Blunt just wants him to succeed, and you can see at his core that he is a good person that struggles with the stress of being in the spotlight. Shows like this don’t come around too often, and i’m very glad Blunt Talk got a solid viewer base to give Starz enough reason to renew the show and keep this fun story going. I can’t wait to see what Walter Blunt does next.
Starring Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain. Directed by Ridley Scott
The Martian is one of those films that will be a different experience based on what kind of person you are. Do you find science interesting? Are you the sort of person that has to understand everything that’s going on?
The plot revolves around Mark Watney, an astronaut left for dead after an accident with his crew ship as they are trying to leave Mars. He awakes with a small amount of supplies and a harsh wasteland that makes his existence a struggle every step of the way. Movies like this are tough to pull off; they delve deep into science, have a lot of politics and have many slow sequences that follow one character.
The Martian moves at a great pace, and looks beautiful to boot. Everything looks very real, and the sets are well done. Mars comes to life, and you get a feel for the struggle of day to day life as Watney tries to stay alive.
The problem with these sorts of films is that they get very repetitive. The movie switches back and forth between Watney and those that are still on Earth and this works to a certain extent. At first it’s rather refreshing, because it’s been a little bit since i’ve seen a good space thriller, but over time I thought this film could’ve cut out quite a lot, as there’s a decent amount of filler in this film, and the run time could’ve easily been cut down to 2 hours.
Essentially this film boils down to Watney encountering a problem, getting through that problem, then having to get through another issue as that one pops up. This is complimented by the politics that go on at NASA back down on Earth and it’s all very convincing. You feel for Watney, and you just want NASA to get their shit together so they can get him. You really just want Watney to get home!
The biggest problems I had with The Martian was the predictability and character development. The problems that Watney encounters are truly horrible, but at the same time The Martian constantly reminds you that you are watching a movie by upping the ante of each problem to keep you engaged. This gets tiring by the end of the film and in that respect it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. You know where the film is going about mid-way and what it’s trying to do. We also don’t get to know too much about Watney. He’s a guy with no significant attachments (that we know of) besides his parents back home and he hates disco. I would’ve really liked to have less time spent on NASA politics and more spent on Watney’s backstory so we could understand him a bit more and see how he got to where he did.
Speaking of science, wow there is a lot of that in this film. At first it’s very intriguing, and as someone who struggles with science I thought it was pretty cool. But as time goes on, I understood less and less of what was actually going on but I knew that Watney is a smart dude and that he knows what he’s doing. The main problem with this is that the film became a one-sided affair and creates a shallow energy. Watney knew what was going on, but I didn’t. This is a daring film for smart people in that respect, because the more you understand about this stuff the more you’ll get out of it. The Martian explains just enough so that the viewer can have a general idea of what’s going on, but it does get a bit crazy towards the end of the film as he gets himself in some pretty ludicrous situations that reminded me that this was based on a completely fictional book.
The humor helps balance out all the science that is thrown at the viewer, and there are times that this film was pretty funny. It’s all pretty tasteful humor, and the music was also great to listen to. Watney is pretty much stuck on Mars with disco as the only thing to listen to, so having that in the background of his Mars rover was pretty great. Donald Glover adds some fun to the film as well as Rich Purnell, the eccentric smart guy, but besides that The Martian is a pretty serious film.
To me, Kirsten Wiig as Annie Montrose, a NASA employee, was an obvious miscast here. She added absolutely nothing to the film, and was just a pretty face. The weird thing is that the film portrayed her as a more prominent character as she shows up multiple times throughout the film, but she just didn’t need to be there. I haven’t read the book, but I do know that cutting her character out would’ve been the right choice.
Everyone else did a fine job here, but there was a sense about halfway through the film that people were going through the motions, and I couldn’t help being reminded of Interstellar. Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain were in that as well, and they both seemed to be doing a 1.5 version of that character. If you haven’t seen that it’s definitely worth a watch.
So ultimately, The Martian was a decent film. The best thing about the movie was that it helped me to look forward to Prometheus 2 a bit more because of the way Scott handled the cinematography. The movie is so nice to look at, and it’s refreshing to see Scott back in space. But like Prometheus, this is a nice looking film that isn’t particularly memorable.
The Warriors (aka Dubs) absolutely killed it again this week! Somehow they stayed undefeated at 11-0 and avoided the Nets onslaught. Recaps are below, enjoy. It was another fantastically fun week to be a Dubs fan, we are witnessing history in the making yet again. I’m looking forward to next week even more now, because the Dubs have a big target on their head. Being undefeated is tough to do, and now everyone wants a piece of the Warriors. 😉 I hope Klay Thompson and Leandro Barbosa come back soon, we missed them against the Nets!
The Order: 1886 was a game that I had pretty low expectations for going in. I knew this game was going to be a short, guided experience. This is a game on rails with very little exploration. It’s perfectly content with sitting back, telling you what to do, when to do it, and where to go. While this may be ok with some people, I had a hard time looking past these constraints.
The Order is one of those games that starts from the near-end of the game, then rewinds to the beginning to have you play things out. The whole idea of a covert special ops sort governmental unit is nothing new, but the melding of steampunk style technology, Knights of the Round table werewolves, vampires and Nikola Tesla had me very intrigued.
I’ve always wanted Tesla’s cool inventions to be in a game, and steampunk is always welcome in my book. I was actually surprised by how good the story was. It was filled with interesting, conflicted, complex characters that seemed very real with their own viewpoints on the world around them. On top of that the story at large had many great twists and turns that kept me engaged, and while some I saw coming, most were pretty interesting and definitely helped to motivate me to see this story through to the end.
By far, this was the best part of the game. Everything is exquisitely detailed, and 1886 London really comes alive. The sound design as well was superb, and each of the weapons not only sounded fantastic, but were a joy to use. The Thermite Rifle was an obvious standout to me. To use it, you have the primary fire fling out a bunch of highly flammable magnesium, then using the secondary fire you hear this “thwoom” sound of a flare sort of thing that sets the magnesium ablaze. This was satisfying to use because not only does it make cover irrelevant as you can shoot over it, but it sets your enemies on fire(i’m totally not a pyro) 😀
The werewolf transformations were also incredibly disturbing, as you see a normal human transform their body into a ghastly beast before your eyes. The incredibly dark sections looked stellar as well, and the lighting in this game is top notch. Your lantern flickers in the darkness as you strut towards the mysterious future ever so slowly, and you hear the scurrying of rats as well as other little creatures beneath your feet. It’s all really quite immersive, but what brought me out of this was the aspect ratio. The Evil Within is the only other game that i’ve played that’s done this, and it’s a fad that I would like to see die a quick, painless death. The Order displays in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, which you can see below.
At least The Evil Within had the smarts to put the fullscreen option in a patch that was released later on, but The Order never wisened up. It creates a lot of problems that led to much frustration. It can be difficult to see over cover, and a lot of the time you just can’t tell what the heck is going on. It works for a movie because there are many different angles and you don’t have to control what is going on. It’s just not something that works for a game, and the whole “cinematic” argument for this is just silly. If you really believe in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio so much, fine. At least give me an option to play in regular fullscreen! I hope they make this adjustment in the sequel.
By far the weakest part of the game. There are many things that really ticked me off here, to the point that a couple times playing through the 7-8 hour campaign I had to put the game down and play something else. For starters, the only real incentive to explore is to find audio logs. Now pretty much every game in the last 5 years or so(some even before that) gives you the option to listen to audio logs while you play the game. Not here. You have to go into a menu, select the audio log, then wait as it plays it. You can’t do anything else. At first I was fine with it, but then over time I just wanted to exit out of the menu, and listen to it as I walked around. Whoever thought that was a good idea needs to get with the times. It’s 2015. If I pick up a goddamn audio log I want to be able to listen to it while I play the game. The voice acting is good, but the content of these logs was not so incredibly interesting that I wanted to sit at the screen and wait for it to finish.
Second, the game literally restricts when you can run and when you can’t. This is another issue that just grates on you the more you play it. Maybe I’m not that interested in the surroundings and want to just get on with the game?! Why the hell can’t I just run when I want to run? Is there a part of the The Order manifesto that says I can’t at least do a jog in a non-combat indoor section? WTF?
Third, the stealth sections are shit. Luckily there aren’t many of them, but they are the “get seen and die” sort that was also employed in Killzone: Shadow Fall’s epilogue that made me want to throw my gamepad into the wall. Somehow The Order manages to be worse than this by employing a QTE (quick time event) mechanic into the stealth, so even when you creep up on a guy and he doesn’t see you, you still have to press triangle at a certain time. This leads into my last complaint.
Oh man, the QTE’s! There a lot of them, so I hope you like button mashing! I’m sure I knocked a significant amount of life off of my gamepad just playing this, as there were a many section where I had to mush on X for what seemed like forever. QTE’s are something that should be used very rarely in a game, and it just came off as lazy here. They use it a lot, and I grew sick of it very fast just as I have in other games.
Now, this is a shooter at heart, that’s why I played it. In that respect, it’s ok! It’s not better than stuff like Tomb Raider or Uncharted, but it’s solid enough. The shooting feels decent and gets the job done, but little things like having to equip a grenade instead of being able to assign it to a shoulder button really make this game feel like a polished last-generation title. It could’ve been a lot more streamlined.
Lastly, this is more of an observation than a complaint, but local/online co-op was a huge missed opportunity here. In a single player only game, not having any sort of multiplayer really sticks out. You are pretty much always with an A.I. partner of some sort, so why not just have the ability for someone else to control them? I think this would’ve given the game a bit more staying power.
Overall, The Order: 1886 was a bit of a disappointment. I can sadly add this to the pile of lackluster PS4 exclusives. This is worth a playthrough for the solid graphics that create a believable world and an ok story that keeps you somewhat engaged. If you can rent it or borrow it from a friend that would be ideal, but don’t spend more than $10 on it. It’s pretty forgettable stuff, and i’m not sure they are going to be able to make a solid sequel to this without some huge changes.
This film is a tense, slow burn, so if that’s not your thing, then stay away. Black Sea is about Robinson (Jude Law) a submarine captain who gets laid off and accepts a sketchy contract to make ends meet. The job involves going down to the bottom of the Black Sea, an inland sea located in Turkey, and recovering gold from a downed Nazi submarine. To aid his venture, Robinson has to scrap together a crew in a small amount of time, and all the characters feel authentic. The Russian actors sound great and it’s because they are actually Russian actors which is a nice touch.
The whole film has a very high attention to detail, and they used a real 1960’s decommissioned submarine to shoot the scenes. Once the submarine descends, that is where the rest of the film takes place. It’s very refreshing to watch a film that forgoes usual Hollywood conventions and tells a tense story about the desperation to survive and prosper.
As the film moves along, there are many twists and turns that keep the film going at a nice pace. I’m not usually a fan of films like this that take their time and center around one setting, but the plot ended up being pretty surprising and was very well written. This is coming from Kevin Macdonald, the director of the shocking but exquisitely done The Last King of Scotland, and his directing chops really show through here. There is a certain respect for the viewer that permeates the whole film.
As far as complaints go, there isn’t much to complain about. The only real nitpick I have is that the film could’ve gone a bit more into character development so you could care a bit more about each guy. Besides that, the film doesn’t overstay its welcome and peaked my interest all the way to the exciting conclusion.
Overall this is a fantastic film that anyone with a love for the sea and gritty films can enjoy. Just don’t go in expecting your typical Hollywood Submarine movie. This really is a film that stands out among Jude Law’s career and I look forward to seeing him play more roles like this.