Month: September 2015

Hitman Absolution Review

Hitman Absolution Review

This is a review I wrote last year for GiantBomb, but I just wanted to give everyone a preview of what to expect from my video game reviews, because I enjoy these the most. I spend more time with video games than any other media, sometimes over 20 hours so there is a lot of stuff I have to say about them. I will be finishing up Mafia II soon, so look forward to that review. In the meantime, check out this review of the most recent Hitman game, Absolution and let me know what you think. – Peace!

Hitman Absolution was a game I never expected to play. It popped up on the Xbox Live games for gold program so I thought I would give it a shot. Little did I know how much I would be sucked in.

Story

The game thrusts you right into the thick of things as the Hitman agent 47 and starts you off on a routine mission for the Agency. Your task is to bring down Diana Burnwood, your old handler who has now “gone rogue” according to the Agency. At first, you think ok, she is going to be my first target out of many. While this is true, you end up trying to save her daughter, Victoria, because you find out she is gifted, and the agency wants to recruit her to turn her into their own “super” soldier. Its a nice twist that I wasn’t expecting and gives 47 a great reason to stay on the run, with each step he takes trying to keep Victoria safe and alive.

Gameplay

As someone who never really got into the Hitman series except to watch some friends play for a few good laughs, Absolution plays very nicely and to anyone who has played a third person shooter will be right at home. The tight controls make it easier to play this game, as it requires great patience and some minor planning. The whole disguise system works well, and you can stay disguised as long as your “instinct” bar has some remaining in it. The finite value of this requires you to constantly stay on the move, using it in appropriate bursts so that you stay hidden and To keep “instinct” going you have to kill people to use their disguise and regenerate your “instinct” bar.

Handling the situation like a boss
Handling the situation like a boss

Once you get past this concept, and if you sneak around correctly, you will do very little shooting. When you do the actual weapons feel not all that satisfying to shoot, with the sniper rifle excluded. This is forgivable though, since this is a stealth game, not an action game. One part of this game that does harken to some action games is the setpieces in the game. They are truly wonderful to behold, and will keep you on the edge of your seat as buildings explode, things fall apart, mass amounts of police chase you, and more that I wont spoil. They are a great surprise and make the game that much more engaging. The kills here are very brutal, but also extremely satisfying. The core Hitman formula is still intact here: recieve target information and location, sneak into location, kill a couple guys, hide the bodies/take the disguises, then find a death trap to coax them into. You really feel like a predator, stalking your prey, setting up a trap, and then watching as they fall into it. Demented fun!

2651603-hitman-absolution-terminus-hotel
One of my favorite moments from the game. Really shows off the power of the engine and attention to detail.

Visuals

Frankly, this game has no right to look or sound as good as it does on X360. For comparison I installed Absolution on my PC to see how it stacked up to the X360 version, and they were a lot closer in quality than I thought. The PC version looked marginally better, but not enough for me to recommend it over the X360 version. I played on the X360, and it looks very good. There is a lot of detail, little to no bugs/crashing, and a general sense that each location you visit was meticulously designed and labored over. All the fictional places feel real, and the locations designed around real world locations feel very alive as well, and the realistic crowds help that feeling of immersion as well. Speaking of immersion, its been a long time since I have played a game that sounded as good as Absolution does. It fully used my surround setup, and there were times when people would walk in my room and ask if I was talking to anyone. I had to assure them that it was just a game. I’ve never had to do that with a game before. Overall very impressive job here with the Glacier 2 engine. It looks great and has fantastic surround sound mixing.

Value

This is a single player only game, but once you beat it, you can try and go back to each stage to get a higher score, or get knee deep in the “contracts” mode. This allows you not only to create your own scenarios for you/others to play, but you can play other people’s creations as well. I’m not the sort of person that cares about scores or multiplayer all that much, but i’m sure if you had some friends to bounce off of with this mode it could be quite fun.

Overall, Absolution is a great game that just takes a little patience to enjoy. If you go in expecting that, and not another CoD/Splinter Cell, you will come out a very happy gamer!

8/10 – Great Stuff

Advertisements
Transcendence Review

Transcendence Review

**Minor Spoilers**

Rated PG-13, 119 min, Stars Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall and Morgan Freeman.

Movies like Transcendence I call pity films. They don’t come around very often, you hear bad things about them, you know they bombed at the box office, but there are a select few (thank you IMDB) that say “Hey! Don’t listen to the naysayers, this is a great movie!” Its got a 19% on RT and a 6.3 on IMDB…not exactly encouraging.

I got this film as a gift and didn’t know what to think. After a little research and a few good reviews, I decided to give it a shot, and i’m glad I did.

Transcendence is based around Dr. Will Caster (Depp) who is striving to make artificial intelligence (A.I.) that will exceed anything we could possibly imagine. “Once online, a sentient machine will quickly overcome the limits of biology. And in a short time, its analytic power will become greater than the collective intelligence of every person born in the history of the world.”

Are we evolving or devolving?
Are we evolving or devolving?

Just take a second and contemplate that statement. A machine that is more intelligent than anyone ever born? Is that something we would really want, or need? These are questions that permeate the whole film, and really immersed me in the content from the beginning.

There is an anti-technology group that is not in agreement with Dr. Caster’s vision and have had enough. After Dr. Caster does the speech, he is shot and is in critical condition. The A.I. he has been working on, called P.I.N.N. or “physically independent neural network” is incredibly smart at this point, and his wife/co-worker (Hall) has a crazy idea. What if we put his conscience in P.I.N.N?

It's worth a shot
It’s worth a shot

His conscience is put into the machine and it somehow works. Depp starts responding and if anyone has ever seen the movie The Lawnmower Man, you will start to see some similarities. The difference between this movie and that one beyond the special effects is not only the acting, but the vibe of the movie. While The Lawnmower Man was really about a doctor and his patient getting malevolent and out of control, here we see the real impact some project like this would have on the world as well as ambiguous messages that don’t make it obvious where this movie stands. I won’t spoil any more than I already have, but I will say this: what happens next is truly amazing. You get a glimpse into our near future.

Now why didn’t this film succeed? The film has a big budget with great acting, fantastic sets, amazing special effects, great advertising, some nice action, Christopher Nolan producing and a great story that moves along at a brisk pace that doesn’t overstay its welcome. There are parts of the film that can get a little predictable, but really the main reason I think this film didn’t succeed is because as I said earlier, the messages in this film are ambiguous. It does not take a firm stance on advanced A.I. like many other films in the genre have. It doesn’t even make anyone in the film particularly evil, it just makes them human. Everyone in the film just reacts to what is going on, as well as the quick evolution that Dr. Caster goes through once he is in P.I.N.N.

I think this is not only a bold decision, but one that will make this film very polarizing. Most people will not like it, but there are a few like myself that like to watch a film that really makes you think about what you have watched. It doesn’t tell you what to think or how to feel, it leaves it up to you. It lies somewhere in the grey area, and reminded me of a sci-fi favorite of mine, Blade Runner. There are not many films like this, so please give it a shot. Its a great film from a first time director, and you will either not think much of it, or you will get some nice food for thought like I did. Sci-fi is getting less and less far fetched these days, and this film really goes the distance.

Score: 9/10

National Lampoon’s Vacation

National Lampoon’s Vacation

**Minor Spoilers**

Rated R, 98 min, Starring: Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo

I am not a big fan of Chevy Chase. I thought Three Amigos was a mediocre film and I was not a fan of him in Community. I wanted to fall asleep watching him in Fletch, and he doesn’t seem to do anything besides comedies. I was curious for a while why he is so well known, and then I watched National Lampoons Vacation.

The Griswolds, one big happy family
The Griswolds, one big happy family

The film starts off like any other family travel movie you’ve seen. They have some fumbles leaving the house, and things seem like it will just be another movie with some hijinks and then it will get to some sappy ending. It’s not long before you realize this is an R rated comedy film, and family friendly stuff has been thrown out the window.

The whole film is centered around Clark (Chase) and Ellen (D’Angelo) trying to get their kids to Wally World, a big theme park. Sounds simple enough right? Turns out Clark is a total klutz, and at every opportunity to mess up he does. When the family gets lost in the ghetto and has to ask the local populace for information, I lost it. Guys are literally taking off the rims of the crappy station wagon as they are asking for directions. It is offensive but hilarious at the same time.

I would say that is most of what the movie is. Having situations where things go wrong, and the movie isn’t afraid to be politically incorrect and poke fun. If that isn’t your type of humor, then you will not enjoy this movie. This is one of those comedies that is irreverent but has heart, and keeps you watching the film. It’s not about seeing the family through to their final destination, its how they handle all the road bumps along the way, and there was more than a few scenes that I busted out laughing.

Like anything, this film isn’t without its problems. The humor can be crude and there are parts of the film that can get rather predictable. Most of that is made up by the last sequence, which really doesn’t go how you think its going to go.

I watched this because of the new Vacation movie that is out, and its supposed to be a sequel of sorts. On one hand I want to watch the other Vacation movies, but at the same time I want to hold off for a while so I don’t burn myself out of this sort of thing. This is a great movie, and its nice to watch a light-hearted comedy that focuses more on actually being funny. Too many comedies these days put all the funny stuff in the trailers and leave you feeling dissatisfied. Not this one.

Score: 8.5/10

Banshee Seasons 1-3 Review

Banshee Seasons 1-3 Review

**Minor Spoilers!**

TVMA, 1 hr episodes, Cinemax Network

This show is a guilty pleasure of mine. I remember feeling that way when I was hearing about it, I just had this lingering idea that I wanted to watch it, and i’m glad I did. Before I go any further, let me say that this show is very graphic and really earns the mature rating. So now that we got that out of the way lets get into it shall we?

Banshee is about an ex-con Lucas Hood (Antony Starr) who assumes the identity of a sheriff that was murdered right when hes passing through Banshee, a small Amish town in Pennsylvania. He really starts taking the role seriously and disbanding his own brand of justice. Its not by the book but he has his reasons and you sympathize with him because his character is pretty well fleshed out. The other characters are all very believable and well done, especially his old flame, Carrie Hopewell (Ivana Milicevic) who is a beautiful fighter that you really get to understand as the story wears on.

Don’t mess with Carrie

Banshee is really all about the action, it just helps that the characters are solid as well. There is a bit of disbelief you will have to suspend to enjoy this show, but its well worth it as the directing and script keep things going at a steady pace, and the choreography is fantastic. Things get very visceral in this show, and im not going to lie, season 3 will have you on the edge of your seat. This is one of those few shows that really does get better with each season, I cant believe they are ending it next season. Some of the action sequences are so good, I felt like I was watching a live action version of Mortal Kombat. The villain in the show, Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen) is amazing. You get to understand why hes become the monster he is, and you really sympathize with his need to break away from the Amish tradition that he was thrust into and become his own man, while avoiding the law and making shady deals on the side.

There are a few other characters that are very fleshed out and paid meticulous detail to that I wont spoil here. Banshee is one of those shows that just keeps getting better. If you like season 1, just keep watching, trust me.

Things get so crazy in season 3 you’ll be watching 2-4 episodes in a row. Its so well done, so addicting, that it just feels like a long, epic action movie that you just happen to be in the middle of. Turn up the sound, tell the neighbors to shut up, and watch some ass get kicked. Banshee is one of my favorite action shows, and one my favorite shows in general. No one feels safe, and the show really goes all the way. Check it out.

Score: 9.5/10

Mr. Robot Season 1 Review

Mr. Robot Season 1 Review

**Minor Spoilers!**

TV14, 1 hr episodes, 10 episodes, USA Network

My first post! Very excited coming off of the finale for Mr. Robot, a show I heard about that has been a magnificent surprise. I literally watch nothing else on the USA network, but have enjoyed every minute of this.

Mr. Robot follows Elliot (Rami Malek) a young programmer who suffers from social anxiety disorder and works for Allsafe, a company that is a digital gatekeeper for Evil Corp. In his free time he enjoys hacking people he is curious about, whether it be his therapist, his boss, no one is safe. He is very good at what he does, and the show is all the more believable when you notice that much detail has been paid to the actual hacking, this is not the typical Hollywood hacking your’e used to seeing. Elliot references packet sniffers, loopholes, scripts, and other terms that will be familiar to anyone who has tried programming before. That is one of the few downsides (or upsides depending on how you look at it) about the show, there are times when if you don’t really know what he’s talking about, you may be a little lost, but the show doesn’t spend too much time going into that so you can still know what’s going on.

Nothing is safe
Nothing is safe

He is so good, that an undercover group “fsociety” is revealed to him when Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) finds him and tries to recruit him into it, and he is reluctant at first, but one thing leads to another and he finds himself as the main brain of fsociety. This show has a feel to it that is different than anything I have watched in some time. What this immediately reminded me of was The Sixth Sense. What it shares with that movie is that you never really know whats going on. What is real? What is fake? Is Elliot just taking too many drugs? I felt compelled and excited when each episode would end, I just wanted to see what happens next, there are so many twists and turns (some I saw coming, but it was well done) that it keeps you hooked. This show also doesnt hold back as far as content goes, and it feels like it was a TV MA show that was cut to be TV 14, for better or for worse. There are only 10 episodes, so its not a huge time commitment, but wow. What a fantastic show about hackers trying to make a difference in this crazy world. Its not only a show that will make you think about the world, but it will make you think about yourself.

Anyone who knows the basics of technology owes it to themselves to watch this show. Its that well done and thought provoking. Give it a chance, you wont regret it.

Score: 8.5/10

Hello world!

Hello world!

Hey there, Im Frosty. Over the years I have put out game reviews on Giantbomb.com(Link will be at the bottom), have put my thoughts on Facebook, been an active member on IGN (mostly for commenting and staying informed) , so I wanted to come here where I can have a central place to put my thoughts on media specifically. I am into a variety of TV shows, movies, music and video games along with some sports here and there.

When it comes to specific media, most of them will be in the form of reviews, with a rating of 1-10. Video game reviews will be the only structured reviews, breaking up into story, gameplay, and visuals. Everything else will be a bit more casual and will probably be a bit shorter. As far as sports go, i’m a big fan of the Golden State Warriors and the San Francisco 49ers, so you can look forward to hearing what I think about that as well.

So what can you look forward to me reviewing you ask? Well I got a review of season 1 of the brand new show Mr. Robot coming up, along with the Attack on Titan anime. As far as movies go, I just watched Nationial Lampoons Vacation for the first time, and will have something up for that. When it comes to music, I am all over the place, but I will have some posts that highlight my favorite artists in the near future. Lastly, I am currently working on clearing out my backlog of video games (life has gotten busy, free time is getting harder and harder to come by) and i’ve been working hard on getting through Mafia 2, as I have the new Wolfenstein DLC, The Old Blood,  waiting on my PS4 for me. I currently play Battlefield 4 on there sometimes, and you can find me at Stayinfrosty707 on PSN. I look forward to posting my thoughts on here, and interacting with the WordPress community.

Giantbomb reviews: http://www.giantbomb.com/profile/chilipeppersman/reviews/