By hassun 0 Comments
A series about the greatest weapons in first person shooters (although I might widen it to shooters in general).
- Flak Cannon (Unreal Tournament)
- Rail Driver (Red Faction)
- Super Shotgun (DOOM)
A series about the greatest weapons in first person shooters (although I might widen it to shooters in general).
And the winner is...
This year I felt like I couldn't browse the internet video game sphere without running into these types of posts, videos or articles constantly.
The argument usually revolving around some variant of
"WHY ISN'T EVERYTHING ON THE SWITCH TO MATCH MY BUSY/MOBILE LIFESTYLE!?"
Either you stand around inspecting your loot and weighing your options for a considerable length of time which holds up your partner(s) or you ignore it and defeat the core progression mechanic and point of the loot game.
I'm just going to add my film review posts here so I can retrieve them more easily.
Maybe Jordan Peele films are just not for me?
Much like Get Out, it's well-acted, well-shot, well-scored, but nothing more than that. Us makes a little less sense as well, featuring some sizeable plot holes.
There is just nothing really remarkably bad or good about either of these films (other than how they function as reference and easter egg hunts perhaps). They're totally fine.
Alita: Battle Angel
The writing/script is terrible, probably the worst part of the film. On top of that, character motivations suddenly shift without any good reason or foreshadowing. I've seen people criticise some of the actors for being bad but I really think it's more the writing/script letting them down some of those lines... yeesh
It also has the CGI film problem of a decrepit slum/city looking too clean.
Good Robert Rodriguez-style action, a lot of brutality they got away with due to most of the characters being cyborgs. Decapitations, bifurcations, quartering, etc. A lot of remorseless killing by the main character.
They try to cram a lot of the source material into the film but at the same time it's mostly a setup for a sequel.
Good golly this film is every bit as good as the first one, only real downside is that it doesn't feel quite as fresh the second time around.
I can recommend this to everyone who enjoyed the original without reservations. It's still clear to see that this is a passion project for Reynolds and that passion shines through wonderfully.
This is the first time in years that I've had tears in my eyes from laughing at a theatre. (If you must know, it was during the parachuting sequence.)
Lots of fun references to the source material, other (comic book) films, and more but they never feel out of place because of the kind of character Deadpool is. I was never much of a fan of him in the comics or 4th wall-breaking stuff in general but it all just works in these films.
Avengers Infinity War
This film has no real ending since it's part 1 of 2 so it's hard to properly grade it.
There is also no dramatic impact or stakes since you know characters like Spider-Man, Black Panther, etc. are not staying dead so any them fading out of existence doesn't mean much of anything.
Other than that there were few real missteps, but nothing memorable either. It's just kind of there. It's just a well-trodden formula at this point and Disney has its execution down to near (soulless) perfection. I think it's telling that for all the film's length (2.5 hours) I have barely anything to say about it nor any standout memories of it.
In terms of Avengers films I would place this below the original one but above the awful second one and Avengers-film-in-disguise Captain America: Civil War.
Maaaaaaan, this hurts. I feel like I wanted to like this more than I actually did.
Sadly, it is very standard MCU fare. Nothing about it is particularly bad, just really average.
I'm happy to see this film is a commercial success since it helps prove that films directed by and mostly starring people of colour can rake in the big bucks but it reminded me a lot of the latest Wonder Woman film in a negative way. There is a decent basis here for a far superior film down the line. Sadly they'll have to wade through the whole Infinity War morass first.
All in all, Black Panther is a culturally significant, decidedly average film that should probably get an academy award nomination for costume design.
The Shape of Water
Very much a Guillermo del Toro film.
A standard but well-told story enriched by fantastical elements and intermittent sharp edges that prevent it from getting bland, boring, or cloying.
All this is supported by utterly gorgeous production design with a wonderfully tactile look. (The film stumbles just once in this regard in a throwaway scene: When Elisa and Zelda are dusting off the giant engine, it looks very CGI.)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Sharply written, dry, funny and tragic. Martin McDonagh has not made a bad film yet and it doesn't look like he will anytime soon. Highly skilled actors acting together in a sharply written film.
It's kind of acting exchanges people come to Tarantino films for, only not as self-indulgent/wink wink nudge nudge as those films have become in recent years.
That deer looked fake.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
A few niggles here and there but mostly a good experience I'd say!
The biggest plot hole was probably the hyperlight jump destroying the enemy fleet.
I'm happy they wasted that lame ass Snoke. Hux/Kylo is a great antagonist duo. I just hope Hux gets more good stuff and isn't just going to continue to be the whipping boy/butt of the jokes. He has the potential to be a far more menacing villain than Kylo Ren.
I'm also very thankful that they didn't go with Rey being of some Skywalker(-like) lineage. I remember the fanboys being all about that at the time of TFA and I really didn't want that to happen. It narrows the universe far too much and Star Wars is already a very small universe as it is.
I was warned beforehand about the quips/humour of the film and while it probably uses a bit too many of them I thought it was fine for the most part. It felt pretty close to the tone of the original trilogy.
The film was a bit overlong and the casino scenes were pretty uninteresting. It didn't help that the casino was far too close to our real life casinos.
I also wonder how much they have to rewrite the next film since Leia mostly survives against all odds in this one unlike everyone else. Even using the force to escape from being spaced. It feels like they had more material lined up for her.
This film was a lot of The Force usage we've never seen any also almost none of the type we have seen. Yoda's ghost summoning thunder/lightning, projecting yourself across the galaxy, memory/face time sharing, etc. That reminds me, Yoda nukes the tree with the jedi booksbut at the end you just see them again in a box. Implying Rey took them before the tree burning and Yoda was just pranking Luke.
Luke also clearly touches Leia and gives her Han Solo's pimp dice but then he turns out to be projecting himself across the galacxy and when Kylo later finds the pimp dice they disappear in his hand.
P.S. Seeing Adrian Edmonson in this film caused some serious whiplash. I've seen people talking about cameo castings left and right but this one was the real surprise for me.
All in all I am quite pleased with the film. Rian Johnson did what Abrams could not: Actually make a film about a new beginning instead of poorly rehashing an old one. The fact that Abrams is at the helm of the next one (and I assume last one in the trilogy?) does not fill me with confidence at all.
I enjoyed this one quite a bit! Top 5 MCU film so far. Maybe even top 3.
The casting is great, the tone is fitting and the story and writing are more than decent. There are numerous references that should please the more dedicated fans. It also manages to set up future films in a non-hamfisted way which is uncommon in this genre.
Criticisms include the messy, hard-to-follow end fight and the perhaps a little too "focus-group-tested-to-death-and-checking-all-the-boxes" school environment. The CGI isn't top of the line but adequate enough and, aside from a few odd cuts, there is very little else to really complain about visually or cinematographically.
A quality effort from relatively inexperienced director Jon Watts. May the sequels be at least this good!
Wonder Woman (2017)
Wonder Woman is... OK.
Nothing remarkable. But compared to the other DC films of recent years I guess "OK" is a huge step up.
Gal Gadot still isn't a very good actor but director Patty Jenkins manages to mostly work around that and surround her with good actors who can help shoulder the load. The classic "fish out of water" setup and the humour that it brings can also only be used once so I wonder where they'll go from there. The plot itself isn't the most sensical but my expectations were sufficiently low to not really care.
The quality of the CGI lags behind its contemporaries, giving the scenes which make heavy use of it a look that reminds me of Zack Snyder's early work and not in a good way. The action choreography is serviceable. Nothing really standout or impressive but nothing really terrible either except for the "final battle" which is pretty poor and really shouldn't have been there at all, although the studio execs would probably not allow that.
All in all, a step up for the DC movie franchise but not exactly a big one. Let's hope it's the first step towards something good or even great.
La La Land
Very well-made and overall solid film. The song and dance routines weren't on the level of some of the greats but other than that I have no complaints. It also has one of my favourite scenes I've seen in quite a while. Without too obvious of a spoiler: "I Ran".
In a fit of what was apparently self-hate, I watched Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman a few days ago. Both in their extended versions of course!
... Batman v superman might be the worst superhero film I've ever seen.
I mean, Suicide Squad is a weird collection of ill-fitting strangely cut scenes strung together with an aggressively stupid plot and its lame attempts at copying Guardians of the Galaxy are painfully transparent.
But holy hell.
Batman v Superman! 0 redeeming qualities!
Suicide Squad extended edition: 2/5
Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice extended edition: 1/5
And to think people paid money for this burning trash pile. It made $873,260,194
John Wick: Chapter 2
[In-depth spoiler review first, then a non-spoiler general thoughts bit at the end.]
Hmmm, they definitely went much more regular action flick with this one. It's a lot less tacticool professional assassin stuff and a lot more "Arnold Schwarzenegger singlehandedly shooting hundreds of people without needing to take cover". They kind of explain it away by introducing a slimline armour macguffin but it was still a bit much. I prefferd the more professional assassin antics from the first film. Just running around while getting shot in your magical (plot) armour while you pop 3 dudes with every salvo you loose does not make for a good action sequence.
A second problem with it is the intro, boy they should not have put that part in the film or at least not in that way. Getting Peter Stormare to wax poetical about how awesome John Wick is to an audience which I presume they think didn't see the first film was not a good idea. They should have gone straight to retired John Wick with the mob visiting him and maybe do something shorter/different with the car or a car chase. As a side note, the audio mix during the car scenes was also far too loud.
A third problem is the length of the sommelier scene with Peter Serafinowicz, did they just include that for gun-porn enthusiasts? In that case it wasn't porny/technical enough. Or was it because they needed some footage for the trailers?
Thankfully, there is still a lot to like here. The way they expanded the "world of assassins" is good. I especially liked Laurence Fishburne's whole operation and the "High Table" is interesting, althouh they will have to be careful with it because at times it seems there are more assassins than regular people in the world. Wouldn't want to create a Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions scenario.
The action locations were neat as well, from the subway station to the Colosseum and the Enter the Dragon-like mirror hallways. Great places for shootouts and fisticuffs.
The music and audio are good. (Other than the aforementioned audio mix being too loud at the start.)
Finally, the action choreography was pretty good on the whole despite the less tactical and more action flick vibe. They still use that same sacrificial throw a little too much but there were some fun action scenes for sure. Cassian and Ares were interesting characters and the fact that neither dies on screen could mean future appearances. A special shoutout to the scene where John Wick and Cassian are taking pot shots at each other in a crowd without anyone around them noticing. (One small niggle about the Ares fight is that at the end of it John seems to fish a fresh mag from her jacket. If she had ammo for her gun why on earth did she need to go with the push dagger? And maybe they should have gone with something more elaborate to show off her skills.)
All in all, John Wick 2 has some lesser spots but I liked it quite a bit on the whole. It definitely didn't peak too early and then petered out in an uninteresting way like the first film. And while there isn't a scene that reaches the same level of choreography as the JW1 night club there is still a lot to love.
[In-depth spoiler review first, then a non-spoiler general thoughts bit at the end.]
The biggest criticism I can level against the film can probably be attributed to its limited budget. (I hear that to make it R-rated they had to work with a reduced budget.) Basically the whole more accurate "X-24" clone of Wolverine part wasn't interesting at all. It didn't help they foreshadowed how they would get rid of him way in advance with the adamantium bullet. Some of the abilities/mutations of the children also seemed rather tame or useless considering they were raised as weapons but that's a very minor complaint.
The action itself is good. I was told beforehand that the violence was particularly gruesome but it's not that bad. It's just what it always should have been when you are slashing and stabbing people with indestructible claws. After watching the trailer I was also worried they would use too much wire-fu for the X-23 character but I was pleasantly surprised with her fight choreography. It's fast and vicious and while her foot claws are not used much they are definitely used well the 2ish times they do come into play.
The acting is good to great throughout. Jackman shines in his role as an old, worn down Wolverine who mostly just wants life to be over but sticks around out of obligation for Charles Xavier. Dafne Keen turns in a solid performance as (an at times near-feral) X-23/Laura. Child actors are always a risk but this 11 or 12 year-old didn't disappoint. The rest of the cast performs admirably as well. Patrick Stewart is great as always, Boyd Holbrook does a good job portraying Donald Pierce, Richard E. Grant puts in a solid performance as Zander Rice (although pretty far from his comic book inspiration) and you even get Stephen Merchant as well!
Audiovisually the film is fine as well. Borrowing from the western genre for its style and feel was a solid choice. The action scenes were filmed in a way to make them feel viceral without going to (comical) extremes.
Ultimately, the film really seems to be about two things:
Which can then be further condensed into one:
I'm happy to report that the film achieves these goals quite well.
A well-acted and reasonably solid film that doesn't aim extremely high but in return nails most of what it's going for. A worthy send-off for Huge Jackedman.
I hope it does well so other serious R-rated superhero films get another shot at life in a world of extremely sanitized, edgeless, never bad but also rarely (if ever) remarkable factory-assembly-line-produced Disney flicks and whatever garbage WB and the others are producing.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
[Not really a review, just assorted notes and responses]
I still think the extreme ease of destroying Death Star 3 might have been due to a pacing issue. Phasma being little more than a joke character was pretty disappointing. You're absolutely right about how casually she gave in and disabled the Death Star's shields. Maybe they will give her some character in future films where she's more like a Boba Fett type of mercenary character who places her own survival above all else but right now it's pretty disappointing.
Copied from this forum post: http://www.giantbomb.com/forums/general-discussion-30/share-your-2016-goty-lists-1805181/?page=3#js-message-8505202
The top 10 list I submitted for Giant Bomb:
1. DOOM ; The ultimate, well-oiled murder machine. Filled to the brim with lovely action scenarios, great interplay between its fast-paced action and ripping soundtrack and just the right amount of humour. *kisses fingertips*
2. Stardew Valley ; A hugely impressive one-man project which strikes the right notes and achieves its goals in just about every way.
3. Titanfall 2 ; I bounced off of Titanfall 1 during its beta phase but I thought that with a few changes and additions it could be a great game. Respawn totally delivered with Titanfall 2. Both the single player and multiplayer are great.
4. Hitman ; I've been a fan of the series for a long time and while there were gameplay improvements this time, the real reason it's up here is because of the release model, elusive targets and other non-gameplay tweaks and additions. ♫~Come with me, and you'll be, in a world, of pure assassination~♫
5. Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR- ; An incredibly deep fighting game with lots of lovely, player-friendly touches. Did I mention it also looks positively stunning?
6. Superhot ; [Disclaimer: I helped kickstart this video game.] It may be a g bit of a gimmick, but damn if it isn't a fun one! This game's got styyyyyle out the wazoo.
7. Thumper ; AC⚡DC's Highway to Hell performed by Aphex Twin or Squarepusher by the way of Guillermo Del Toro's Cronos. I'm terrible at rhythm games but this game's sinister attraction proved irresistible.
8. Abzû ; 2016's Soulja Boy Award for Games To Play If You Drink And Get Drunk or Smoke And Get High.
9. Dark Souls III ; The formula is getting a bit long in the tooth and repetitive. The series frustrates me in its inability to improve on what seem like brilliant ideas executed kind of poorly or incompletely. That being said, it's still a damn fine game. I'm just glad it's over.
10. Dishonored 2 ; Dishonored seems like the series a lot of people want to say they like but don't actually like or play that much. It's hard to deny this game's sense of style, design and its level construction though. What an impressive toybox to tool around in. And then they give you The Darkness as well? I'm totally on board with that!
I also want to give a special mention to the 2 games I played the most this year. Neither of them made it onto the top 10 list.
1. Street Fighter V
I played a solid 650 hours of this game, not including the beta, but I could not in good concience put it on my top 10 list. Don't get me wrong. The core aspects of the game are mostly sound and I also know why it launched in such an unfinished state but in the end I feel like it was a massive misstep for Capcom. A dearth of content at launch, limited battle lounges, technical issues during both offline and online play, no protection against -or punishment for- ragequitting. Its list of problems seems near-endless. And let's not forget one of this game's updates basically had a rootkit in it. I don't particularly blame Capcom for malice in this case, just gross incompetence. When I look at the polish Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs Capcom 3 had at launch I can't help but be sad about how things have evolved.
As someone who sunk a solid 2000 hours into Team Fortress 2 (without idling!) I was very hopeful for this game. I had not really liked any of Blizzard's output since The Lost Vikings so I was a bit apprehensive but I definitely wanted to try the beta to see if Overwatch could fill the hole TF2 left when it died due to Valve basically using it as a testbed for their other video games and letting go of all quality control.
I reconnected with a few of my old TF2 friends and off to the races I went. The beta was promising, maybe not on par with TF2 in its heyday but I felt it had the potential to get there for sure. After all, Blizzard's support for its franchises has historically been very strong and enduring. With that in mind I put down the money for the full release and jumped in.
I ended up playing a whole lot of Overwatch. I'm not sure exactly how many hours since Battle.net doesn't appear to show that information but I reckon it's my second most played game of the year after SFV.
However, as I spent more time with it I started to notice some structural problems. The 6v6 nature of the game actually made it far less forgiving or beginner-friendly than many other competitive multiplayer games. It also made it a terrible game to play by myself (aka solo queue) due to the fact that if you only have 6 players on a team, even having 1 player not pulling their weight can pretty much destroy any chance you have of winning the match (depending on the hero). After trying it a few times I quickly learnt to only ever play it with my dedicated group of friends.
Its usage of the MOBA-style Heroes instead of classes or loadouts also didn't really make for a more varied game, it actually made for a more restrictive one, often slavishly adhering to a certain optimal "meta", basically being forced to have certain characters on the team because their abilities are too essential (hello, Lucio!) really drove home just how limited this system actually was.
Then there was the general issue that hurts many modern multiplayer games: A slavish adherence to the matchmaking system and no dedicated servers. This prevents communities from forming around these servers and generally prevents you from really making new online friends to play with. To this day, most of my Steam friends are people I met playing TF2 on a few great servers with awesome communities. Online friendships which have lasted for years and which are basically impossible to build up in many of today's online games.
The far more locked down nature of these types of games (no custom maps, no fun rule or physics changes aside from the ones Blizzard gives the community to experiment with, etc.) also limits the amount of variation you can have within a game which in turn hurts their longevity.
As these issues started to become more apparent my interest in the game started to wane. I think I had reached around level 79 when Blizzard rolled out its competitive mode and I stopped playing cold turkey shortly after that. (I went back one more time a while later because a friend invited me to try Lucioball but that's about it. Lucioball sucked btw.) The game's problems had combined and amplified, resulting in a profound sense of boredom and lack of self-expression. Playing became a chore even when grouping up with friends the lack of variety in maps, strategies and hero combinations turned me off faster I had thought possible when playing the beta.
For the reasons I stated above and a few others, Overwatch is the recipient of my "Most Disappointing Game of the Year" award.
Not many people liked Raiden in MGS2. He had the whiny boy/manchild syndrome multiple Japanese works of popular fiction have and of course people were expecting to play as Snake, not some wimpy ersatz Snake. Personally, I never really had that much of a problem with him. Sure he was not cool or badass and his 'relationship' with Rose was cringe-inducing (mostly because of her), but he did get fleshed out and his backstory as a child soldier was interesting and humanizing.
That all changed with MGS4. MGS4 really made me dislike Raiden. They way they tried very hard to make him "cool" was immensely immature and ham-fisted. It's as if someone at Kojima Productions went "Well people sure disliked this character, what can we do to make him seem badass? Oh I know, let's ask an 11-year-old boy!" It's sad too because they were working with an existing template (Gray Fox) but made mistakes they never did with that character.
And the biggest mistake of all? They did it at the cost of making everyone else (and especially the player/Snake) look bad by comparison.
Some of these issues already appeared in MGS2 (E.g. Snake's encounters with Vamp and Fortune) but MGS4 Raiden does so much ridiculous shit in every action scene he's in it even makes the Metal Gear universe's take on nanomachines look tame. He's like an actor going off-script and chewing the scenery as much as he can before being escorted off the stage by security.
There is a lot of silly stuff in Metal Gear games but no sequence of events illustrates my problem with the evolution of the character of Raiden better than the last quarter or so of Act 4 in Metal Gear Solid 4:
After beating Vamp (another terrible character) Snake/the player is tasked with holding off suicide bomber Gekkos while Raiden and Vamp have their 1 on 1 on top of Metal Gear REX. I understand that the developers might have thought it would be better for Raiden to finish off Vamp considering their history but it's a good example of the player being tasked with a menial job while someone else gets to do the cool shit. After that it's time for a great moment of fanservice: You get to pilot Metal Gear REX in an attempt to escape Shadow Moses and even fight Metal Gear RAY piloted by OceLiquid in an awesome Metal Gear vs Metal Gear throwdown. After you win the fight you are treated to what is probably the funniest and silliest cutscene in the entire game. OceLiquid running away from Snake while taunting him and Snake limping after him, trying to give chase. Then Outer Haven appears from below the waves, adorned with a Mt Rushmore style set of heads. It's a beautiful Kojima moment.
But then it all goes to shit.
OceLiquid makes Outer Haven set course for the quay a battered and broken Snake is kneeling on. This prompts Raiden to free himself (he had been conveniently trapped under some rubble since before the start of the rock 'em sock 'em robots battle) by cutting off his own arm and coming to Snake's aid. He single-handedly holds back the entirety of Outer Haven while also managing to snap Snake out of his daze so he can get out of the way. The scene ends with Raiden seemingly getting crushed, replete with flashbacks of his time with Rose.
This is a perfect example of how events which the player has nothing to do with far outstrip anything the player/Snake actually does in terms of ability, scale, importance and intensity.
This is also why I understand the people who don't want Revengeance to be part of the MGS canon. Although at the same time I think he already does so much damage in MGS4 that it's kind of a moot point.
The way the game forces Snake out of prone when near an enemy corpse just might be the worst thing in the history of MGS.
I am genuinely surprised and still think it's pretty insane that they are doing this. I was convinced they would make it permanent or at least create a bundle which would end up creating the same value per component.
That is all.
Use your keyboard!
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