The First Half of 2018

It’s been a while (2 or so months) and I have no good excuse. Not sure if I’ll return to regular posting but I figured I could go through the first half of 2018, including a ton of stuff I didn’t review.

Movies:

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Over time, this movie has grown on me more. Even if it doesn’t quite work as a comedy, fantastic performances, and a great story easily make up for it. This is the only movie I’ve seen this year that I could easily recommend to anyone.

Unless you’re sensitive to swearing, which makes me wonder what the fuck are you doing here?

A Futile and Stupid Gesture

As someone who was absolutely unfamiliar with Doug Kenney, I found this movie rather hard to get into. The movie seems more focused on delivering laughs than telling any sort of story, which to me was a detriment. My other problem is that the movie seems to gloss over the more tragic parts of Doug Kenney’s life. Still, if you are familiar with Doug or National Lampoon, you may get a kick out of it.

Den of Thieves

A mindless action movie that is way too long. It’s also a rip-off of the vasty superior Heat. I can’t say it made me angry, but at the same time, I can’t recommend it over Michael Mann’s masterpiece.

Flint Town

This documentary focuses on the lives of the police officer’s in Flint, Michigan, during the water crisis, the 2016 Presidental campaign and various police-involved shootings such as the shooting of Philando Castile and the Dallas shooting where five officers were killed. Combine that with high crime rates, political distrust, funding, and staffing issues and you have a city seemingly on the brink of collapse.

My only complaint is that at times the series becomes more focused on style rather than substance, but you have any interest in policing or the situation in Flint you need to watch this documentary.

Black Panther

Although I’d consider this movie overrated, it still was entertaining. A solid villain and interesting visuals keep Black Panther from being completely disposable. If you’re looking for a fun comic book movie you could do much worse, but you could also do much better.

Red Sparrow

Despite an interesting concept, Red Sparrow offers nothing but boredom and desperate attempts at shock value. I’d probably recommend Atomic Blonde before this one, and I fucking hated Atomic Blonde. Except for the stairwell scene. That scene is dope.

Jessca Jones Season 2

Although nowhere near as good as the first series, Season Two of Jessica Jones is the best series in the Netflix Defenders series since at least Luke Cage. An engaging story and good lead actors carry somewhat bad effects, filler side plots, and a frustrating start.

Annihilation

Certainly not a movie that’s for everyone, and that would happen to include me. For every interesting idea or great visual effect there seem to be bad dialog or holes in the group’s planning. That said, it’s in no way a bad film and if you’re interested in seeing it, I’d say it’s worth a watch.

Rampage

If you need a review of this movie you’re not the target audience. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and a big CGI gorilla tell science to go fuck itself for the entire runtime.

Happy! – Season One

Take one part Sin City, one part Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and one part Crank, and you’ve got yourself Happy! What really carries the show is Christoper Meloni, who is fantastic as the detective-turned-hitman Nick Sax. That being said, sometimes the show gets a little sidetracked on trying to be whacky and eccentric rather than developing the plot.

Deadpool 2

Although the story and directing are better this time around, Deadpool 2 never really seem to rise above its peers. I still can’t bring my self to get all that invested when all the main characters are practically invincible and there are no real consequences to what happens. You can spout all the movie references and meta jokes you want, but if there’s no consequence, I’m going to lose interest.

At least the trailers were fun.

Games:

All Walls Must Fall

All Walls Must Fall is so close to being an indie gem it’s painful. Unfortunately, an interesting concept with fun combat isn’t enough to save the game from its repetitive nature and bland level design.

Battletech

Coming of the fantastic Shadowrun games, I figured Harebrained Schemes would have another home run on their hands with Battletech. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Oddly enough it has the opposite problem as the Shadowrun games, with decent (yet not amazing) combat and a bland story. As much as the combat was weak in the Shadowrun games, the world building and stories kept me motivated, whereas the story in Battletech is so generic and by the numbers, I just don’t give a shit.

Another game I’d compare Battletech to is Jagged Alliance 2. Both games center around a group of mercenaries who are hired to liberate people from a tyrannical government. The difference is that Jagged Alliance 2 has personality and charm. Even with its very basic story, Jagged Alliance 2 has fantastic characters, great dialog, and diverse playstyles. It’s honestly frustrating to see a game that was made 19 years ago do so many things better than a game made recently.

This is what my life’s become.

Hopelessly searching for a worthy successor to Jagged Alliance 2.

Even as the industry moves further away from what made Jagged Alliance so good…

i keep screaming

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All Walls Must Fall (Don’t Tell Trump)

This game came out of nowhere for me. One day whilst browsing the Steam store I saw a cheap, turned-based, cyberpunk-themed game called All Walls Must Fall. Developed and published by inbetweengames, All Walls Must Fall occurs in an alternate timeline where the Cold War never ended. It is now 2089 and a rogue nuclear strike has devasted Berlin. Your objective is to go back in time and figure out who is behind the attack.

Every mission has you moving around a nightclub, with your objective involving the idea that you must locate a person or an object of sorts. Whilst sulking around these bars you will most likely end up talking your way into off-limit areas or ventilating agents that are coming after you.

During the game, you are able to manipulate time. You can rewind time, rewind enemies, or rewind yourself. This allows you to do things such as regain health and ammo or rewind enemies to a point where they hadn’t detected you. This is truly the only gimmick this game has to offer and is the only reason I’d give it any sort of recommendation.

My first problem with this game is the level designed. It’s bland and repetitive, even though it’s all procedurally generated. If you are a game developer and you are reading this: STOP USING FUCKING PROCEDURALLY GENERATED LEVELS FOR MAIN CAMPAIGNS! All it says to me is that you cannot be bothered actually designing levels. If you want to have a sidemode with procedurally generated levels, that’s fine, but I have never played a game where an algorithm has created a compelling experience.

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The worst way to open your game.

All the levels take place in the same locations with the same grey look with the same NPC models where you have the same conversations and complete similar objectives. There is one thing a short game shouldn’t be and that’s repetitive. Sure, games like Max Payne 3 or Bastion may be short, but they have at least have visual and gameplay variety.

Not only is this game visually repetitive, but it’s also ugly. The world looks grey and bland. Additionally, characters all have this really unnatural walking style that looks ‘off’. Other indie cyberpunk games such as Ruiner, Dex, and the Shadowrun Returns series all have much richer and engaging art directions.

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Get used to this. It’s how the entire game looks.

Things do start to light up when gunfights begin. Bullets illuminate the area and there’s an impressive amount of carnage from environmental destruction. The gameplay also becomes much more interesting as you try to juggle the ever-increasing amount of guards with a combination of time manipulation and deadly weapons.

The music is also appropriate, although it’s repetitive. The fact that the music does follow the action occurring on screen is pretty cool, but I can’t say I really cared for it either way.

I never really engaged with the narrative as both main characters are uninteresting. There are also two moments that I felt completely failed. One of these is where the character looks out to the ‘beautiful sunset’ where the world looks grey and bland as the rest of the game. The other is a really lame attempt at breaking the 4th wall that was cringe inducing. Even worse, the only way to get the ‘good ending’ is to complete the game without killing anyone. These means no combat, which is the only part of the game I’ve praised during this review.

The only thing saving this game is that it can be had for the low price of $10 US. That said, this game could have been a turn-based classic if it had more focused content. The premise is great and the gameplay is fun, but the overall execution lets it down.

The Cinematic Video Game Experience

Games inspired by movies are nothing new. Straight adaptions used to be rather common, despite their poor reputation. That said many games do borrow from the big screen whilst providing an entertaining experience. Down below you’ll find a few of my favorites.

Duke Nukem 3D

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That 40-pixel kid would’ve been fine if he’d kept his hands inside the ride. It’s called natural selection.

Probably the closest we’ll ever come to Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Video Game, Duke Nukem 3D puts you in the boots of the crass but lovable Duke Nukem as he fights the aliens that have taken all of Earth’s babes.

When he’s done murdering aliens, Duke often takes the chance to spout out a one-liner that is likely borrowed from a movie such as Evil Dead, Aliens or They Live, where ‘his’ iconic line “I came here to kick ass and chew bubblegum, and I’m all out of gum” comes from. Levels also often make direct reference to movies such as Star Wars, Mission Impossible, Die Hard and Dirty Harry among others.

The game itself has rather solid gameplay. This is your typical 90’s shooter with fast movement, fun weapons, sprawling level design, and creative enemy design. It’s aged rather well and with a modern control scheme, it plays like any modern shooter, only with effort and care put into the level design.

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Fuck you Levellord, I’ll do what I want.

Unfortunately, the only version available is the Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour, published by Gearbox Software. This version costs $20 US and only comes with two expansion packs whereas the previous Atomic Edition came with all four expansion packs (granted the 20th Anniversary edition comes with an exclusive pack unavailable anywhere else). It also means you’ll give money to Gearbox Software and between Duke Nukem: Forever, Alien: Colonial Marines and the highly overrated Borderlands series I do not believe they deserve the money.

After Duke Nukem 3D, two similar games came out, Shadow Warrior and Blood. Both these first-person shooters run on the Build engine and seek to parody Asian cinema and Horror movies respectively. These two games are much harder than Duke Nukem 3D and can be a pain to get running on modern hardware. That said, if you’re up for the challenge you will likely find a lot of enjoyment from Shadow Warrior and Blood.

Jagged Alliance 2

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No screenshot will really do Jagged Alliance 2 justice, so I’ll just make fun of EA instead.

A crack team of elite mercenaries liberating a small third-world country run by an over the top dictator sounds like the perfect premise for a cheesy action movie. Jagged Alliance 2 puts you in charge of this mission, guiding mercenaries through their mission.

Many of the mercenaries you hire fit the mold of action movie stereotypes. You have the overly-serious Europeans, tough as nails military guys, and mysterious assassins fill out the cast of colorful guns for hire. These characters spout constant one-liners whenever they make a kill or do something good.

The game itself is a lot of fun. Combat is challenging and only ever feels somewhat unfair when you have to fight indoors. Every character oozes personality and you genuinely care about the wellbeing of your mercenaries. In addition to managing your mercs, you also have to train militias to defend towns and protect your precious mines from recapture.

I can’t preach about Jagged Alliance 2 enough. Still to this day I have yet to find a turn-based game that gets me excited as much as this one. It will take some patching to get working on modern systems, but the juice is worth the squeeze.

Max Payne Series

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The only thing in this kitchen being served is a dose of lead. (Max Payne 3)

I’ve already typed my love for this series on my blog before. A cop on the edge, on the run and out for revenge. Whether it’s the hard-boiled Hong Kong action offered by the first, the over the top, Matrix-like combat of the second or the brutal nature of the third game, this series has always provided an action-filled experience that is not to be missed.

F.E.A.R.

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AKA I’m Glad I’m Not Cleaning This Up: The Game

Continuing with slow-motion badassery, F.E.A.R. combined Hong Kong action with Japanese horror and American sci-fi to create an amazing experience. The first F.E.A.R. has you playing as a pointman for First Encounter Assault Recon, a special forces unit that investigates paranormal happenings.

Forced acronyms aside, this game has some of the best firefights ever put to pixels. Enemies are intelligent and communicate with each other as they try to kill you.  To even the odds, the player is able to use bullet time, and a variety of weapons that include dual-wield pistols, a shotgun, and a laser gun that strips the flesh off of enemies.

The combat in F.E.A.R. absolutely wild, with blood and debris spraying all over the place. The carnage provides a visual feast that is rather brutal, especially when Alma gets involved.

My only complaint is the game does get repetitive. Most firefights are against similar enemies, but the way the AI engages the player makes up for it. I’d recommend skipping the sequels. I refer to the second game as Diet F.E.A.R. as it’s a watered-down version of the first game, and the third game is just a bad Call of Duty clone.

Splinter Cell: Conviction

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Spiderspy, Spiderspy. Does whatever a Spiderspy does.

This is an odd sequel for the Splinter Cell franchise, but that doesn’t make this any less fun. Just about every cliche is in play here, from the grizzled veteran operative, his obligatory family member, a friendeus-ex machina, henchmen who spout constant taunts, and the bad guys with a plan so ridiculous it probably has more plot holes than I care to acknowledge. Combine this with a conspiracy to take over the US, an orchestral soundtrack and even a handheld camera effect during some cutscenes, playing Splinter Cell: Conviction feels like your blasting your way through a modern-day thriller.

The thrilling cat and mouse game this game makes you play is much more engaging than the typical wack-a-mole shooting that plagues modern cover-based third-person shooters. If detected, enemies will hone in on your last known position. You can use this to set up further ambushes with silenced weapons, explosives or surprise melee attacks.

In a lot of ways, this is John Wick the video game. Playable characters often use the Center Axis Relock shooting technique like Wick does. In addition, there is a focus on headshots as they are the only reliable way to eliminate enemies, and many enemies refer to the player as if he’s some sort of unkillable legend.

With all that said, I feel this game can be too forgiving at times. The player does get unlimited pistol ammo, and the enemies can be rather easy to evade at times. Granted, this does help in making the player feel like a near-unstoppable bad ass, and you will still be punished if you try and go full Rambo. Also, as much as I love the cheesy story, it is well, cheesy. It’s a pretty short campaign too at about 5-6 hours, but the Deniable Ops mode does add an element of replayability.

Tomb Raider (2013) and Rise of the Tomb Raider

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Rise of the Tomb Raider has to be one of the most graphically impressive games I’ve ever played.

Finally, the Tomb Raider reboots focus on telling the origin story of Lara Croft. During these adventures, the player is put on the edge of their seat with death-defying platforming among breath-taking environments.

The camera often shifts as you move around ledges or through tunnels, often used to show how long the possible fall will be or another sort of danger. The visual carnage on show feels like it belongs in a Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich film, with buildings often crumbling down as the action and dramatic music ramps up.

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Hang in there… (Tomb Raider 2013)

Both of these games have rather fun combat and well-structured levels to explore. I know linear games cop a lot of flak, but I feel these two games have a sense of progression and structure that is really satisfying. Compared to some open world games where you can become rather overpowered quickly if you grind early on, the Tomb Raider games give players tools progressively, always adding something new and exciting as the game goes on. Despite this, exploration is still encouraged, with many bonus items and secrets to find.

Although Lara is a great character, I can’t say the same for the supporting cast in either game. The best thing I can say about them is none of them ever become annoying in any way. Both games also have rather predictable stories that are at best serviceable.

These games are also rather easy. As I mentioned before, platforming is generous and will generally guide the player to where they need to land. Of course, I’d take easy platforming over a game with outright broken platforming.

The End

I know this is just a small sample of games that are heavily influenced by cinema. I know this list is missing many console exclusives (*cough* Uncharted *cough*) that I have not played.

Straight video game adaptations of movies are often clumsy in execution, but that doesn’t mean the art of cinema has nothing to offer gaming, and the games I’ve listed are proof of that.

South Park: The Stick of Truth and The Fractured But Whole

I’ve decided to review both The Stick of Truth and The Fractured But Whole as I have very similar thoughts on them. In these role-playing games, you play as The New Kid, who has moved to South Park with his family. He then goes on adventures within South Park that start as innocent games with the kids of the neighborhood but quickly become involved in the sort of wackiness you’d expect from the South Park franchise.

If I had to say one thing, it’s that your enjoyment of these games will be measured by how much you enjoy South Park. I happen to really enjoy the show so therefore I enjoy both these games.

The two games effortlessly capture the feel of the show. Although the visuals aren’t going to be taxing on any hardware, they perfectly replicate South Park, with The Fractured But Whole having a bit more visual flair. Additionally, both games feature the same voice actors and songs from the show, plus the over the top, satirical and highly offensive humor audiences have come to expect from South Park.

I find The Stick of Truth to be the funnier of the two. Part of that has to do with the fact that it’s referencing older episodes of South Park, which I am more familiar with. The Stick of Truth also has much more relentless pacing compared to The Fractured But Whole. Finally, I found some of the running gags in The Fractured But Whole became a bit repetitive for their own good.

 

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It’s also worth noting that even though Australia now has an R18+ rating for games, the government still felt the need to censor The Stick of Truth.

 

The Fractured But Whole is the longer game, taking me 16 hours to complete compared to 7 hours it took me to beat The Stick of Truth (which was admittedly a fast playthrough that would have skipped a fair amount of sidequests.)

Both games have turned based combat, with The Stick of Truth having a Japanese RPG style whereas The Fractured But Whole has a turned based tactics system that plays out like a simplified version of X-COM or Jagged Alliance 2. This gives The Fractured But Whole a more in-depth combat system that really comes into play during boss fights, where the player must use different strategies to win. The Stick of Truth, on the other hand, is rather simple, where all the player has to do is spam their most powerful attacks to win. Then again, I’d argue some of The Fractured But Whole‘s balance is less than ideal, especially on the highest difficulty, which relies on reducing the player’s damage and increasing enemy’s damage output by ridiculous amounts.

In both games, you have to select between various classes. With The Stick of Truth, I feel this is rather pointless and I honestly never noticed the difference between any real differences between any of the three classes I’ve played.

Classes in The Fractured But Whole, however, plays a much more important role. Instead of choosing between one class, the player is given access to multiple skills from multiple classes as the game progresses. These skills also relate to different attributes, Brawn, Brains, and Spunk, which can be improved via artifacts and DNA strains, which replace weapons and armor from the previous game.

When not engaged in combat, the player will spend their time exploring the town of South Park. To search every part, one will have to use abilities that are unlocked as the game goes on. The Stick of Truth is more enjoyable in this aspect as the interactions are a lot quicker to perform. For some reason, the developers of The Fractured But Whole decided it’d be a great idea to bog down these interactions with an awkward interface and cutscenes.

Despite their flaws, I’d recommend both these games unless you despise South Park. I’d assume that’s a pretty small group of people considering both these games were published by Ubisoft.

High Hell Review

High Hell is a first-person shooter developed by Terri Vellmann and Doseone. The objective is to burn through levels as fast as possible, by completing a set of objectives. These objectives range from collecting/destroying something or killing someone. Every five levels, a boss fight occurs. Additionally, you can find dolls, burn money and kill enemies to help max out your top score. Finally, you are racing against the clock to complete levels as fast as possible.

Visually the game is great, with its cell-shaded graphics. There’s also a level of silliness to the environments which is rather charming. That said I found the look to get repetitive, even with the game’s short runtime.

I also enjoyed the music. It’s the kind of electronica-dubstep stuff that I assume robotic people listen to in clubs as I stay home and play violent video games such as High Hell. It’s high energy and perfect for this game.

There’s just one problem: High Hell can be beaten under an hour in your first playthrough. The idea is that you’re supposed to play through over and over again, completing the game as fast as possible or getting a high score.

I’ve played through this game twice, and both times after beating it I just shrugged my shoulders and said: “Okay then.” I feel no need to play through it again and it’s a shame because I think this game is one element away from being brilliant. If the campaign had multiple paths that lead to different levels or needing to complete different objectives, it’d be so much more engaging. Failing that, a level editor or a random level generator of some sort would add so much more to this game and elevate it to something I could easily recommend.

It’s a shame too because the actual gameplay is solid. The AI is aggressive, and also duck to avoid your attacks. The player needs to keep moving and hit accurately to be successful. That said it’s very minimalist. The game only has one weapon and although I can understand the need for some simplicity, I feel a few additional elements would be nice. Something like a grenade that you can only use once per level would really add an extra layer to the game.

Unfortunately, the developers seem to feel that the game is completed. This game is one step away from being an indie gem, but as it is, it will only appeal to a niche audience. To be fair it’s priced right at $10 US but I could only recommend this if you’re a perfectionist.

 

The Later Half of 2017

With the year coming to an end, I’ve decided to compile all the new releases I watched/played that were not mentioned in my post The First Half of 2017.

Movies:

I No Longer Feel At Home In This Word:

I didn’t even bother to review this one. As I watched this movie I just kept thinking of how much Super did a similar premise better. Watch Super instead. Super is love, Super is life.

Dunkirk:

With a fantastic score from Hans Zimmer, seemingly random bombings and artillery strikes and gritty camera work, Dunkirk, despite not being very violent, is an intense war movie that is well worth a watch. The only fault I have is the out of order editing that doesn’t really add anything to the movie.

Atomic Blonde:

A thriller with no tension, overbearing music, a boring story, and mostly bland characters. This type of MacGuffin plot has been done better so many times before. Director David Leitch can put together a good action scene, but everything else around said action falls flat. Ronin is a fantastic example of a similar premise in a spy film that does it so much better. Watch Ronin. Ronin is love, Ronin is life.

Marvel’s Defenders:

Although much better than the trainwreck that was Iron Fist, Defenders has done little to restore my faith in the Defenders series. The Hand organization is an unengaging antagonist and the Iron Fist still comes across as a whiny asshole. Despite that, the rest of the cast does a good job, and their respective series all still have potential.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle:

Another unnecessary sequel that tries to one-up the previous film, but just falls flat on its face. I’m honestly going to pretend that this one never happened and I’d advise you do the same.

The Wheelman:

Drive without the style. Locke without the good writing and amazing lead performance. Victoria without the whole movie being filmed in one take. Collateral without the brilliant main performances and awesome gunplay. Take your pick of movies with similar premises, and I ensure you The Wheelman will pale in comparison every time.

Blade Runner 2049:

It’s a little slow at times, but Blade Runner 2049 was a very engaging film with fantastic visuals. I enjoyed it more than the original, and it’s probably the only movie from 2017 I can’t wait to watch again. I’d highly recommend this one if you have the patience for it.

The Punisher (2017):

Despite the perfect casting of Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle, this series was a real dud in my opinion (which admittedly seems to be in the minority). The story was bland and by the numbers. The characters were unengaging and the action was uninspired. This type of ‘one soldier/ secret agent in a conspiracy’ premise has been done a thousand times before, and it’s been done much better. At least the Iron Fist wasn’t in it.

If you’re looking a good Netflix series based on the premise of a soldier in a conspiracy, I’d highly recommend you seek out Nobel instead.

BoJack Horseman Season 4:

A fantastic continuation of what is becoming one of my favorite shows. I feel Season 4 added a storyline that helps separate it from the previous three. With plenty of laughs and emotional moments, BoJack Horseman is an easy recommendation for me to make.

The Killer (2017):

To think that if this had been made a few years ago, I would’ve probably never of heard of it. It’s really cool that Netflix is bringing foreign films like this to a wider audience. The Killer isn’t perfect, but I found it rather entertaining despite the large amounts of CGI blood and somewhat odd pacing.

Longmire Season 7:

I didn’t review this season in fear of giving away too much of the previous seasons. That said I felt this was a solid ending to a show that’s a bit hit and miss. Like always the portrayal of Native-American issues has always been done with maturity and respect, without ever feeling like it’s trying to pander to a certain audience. I’d also say the lead performance by Robert Taylor is spot on. In fact, it’s so good I was surprised to learn he was from Australia. That said there times where people act irrationally to a level that goes beyond ‘dramatic license’, and some plotlines got a little too convoluted. I’d give a cautious recommend to Longmire if you’ve run out of shows to binge watch on Netflix.

Ozark Season 1:

Combining a constant sense of dread with superb performances, Ozark is certainly off to a good start. Although I had a few minor faults with some plot elements, none of it was too distracting to take away from my overall enjoyment.

Bright:

With a heavy-handed social message, unlikeable characters, and terrible writing, I found Bright to be an absolute chore to watch. There are some decent action scenes but that’s about it. There are plenty of better buddy cop films which may lack orcs, but make up for it in quality. Where’s director/writer Shane Black when you need him?

Castlevania (2017 Netflix Series):

This one almost missed the list because I completely forgot about it. That should say enough about how I felt about the show.

Games:

Pyre:

Whilst visually appealing with fantastic audio, Pyre‘s repetitive gameplay unfortunately holds it down.  That said I respect what they tried to do, and I can see this game clicking for certain people, just not me. I’d still recommend checking this one out just to experience it and form your own opinion.

Ruiner

Despite great visuals and a solid soundtrack, Ruiner had potential to be so much more. The story lacked depth despite the possibility for interesting themes, and the short length of the game did not compliment the high learning curve.

Battle Brothers:

I haven’t reviewed this game either, although I may do in the future. Battle Brothers is a turned-based tactics game where you manage a group of mercenaries in a medieval low-fantasy setting. Although I can’t say there’s anything outright wrong with the game, I found it to lack personality compared to games such as Jagged Alliance 2 and Silent Storm. I am also not a big fan of procedural generation which Battle Brothers relies heavily upon. Despite that, if you’re a fan of turned-based tactics games, there’s a good chance you will enjoy Battle Brothers and I’d still recommend it.

 

 

 

Ruiner – Ruin’meh’

Ruiner is a twin-stick shooter where you play as a man who is controlled by a hacker only referred to as ‘Her’ to go rescue his brother. You’ll spend the rest of the game fighting through waves of bad guys and bosses in a dystopian cyberpunk world that’s visually similar to Ghost in the Shell or Akira.

I found this one to be bit of a mixed bag. There are certainly some great ideas, but I feel these ideas have not quite been expanded on.

What I can say is the soundtrack is perfect for the setting. I’m not sure if I’d buy it separately, but it works. The voice acting, however, is missing completely. Don’t get me wrong, I know this is an extra expense, but I felt this game could have done with it, rather than awkward silence.

Visually this game is incredible. The environments look great, and there’s this very horrifying look the characters. Most of them are cyborgs who have lost the ability to control themselves.

Unfortunately, this idea isn’t used at all storywise. The idea of losing your free will is really unsettling. Being the toy of a hacker with their own agenda could have been brilliant. To begin with, the game could have started with you killing the bad guys, but as the game goes on, the morals become murkier. Your character could stop seeing his opponents as people, and more as just another target to kill. You could force the player to do things that make them uncomfortable, much like Spec Ops: The Line did.

There’s also no real characters to follow or care about. I found it really hard to invest myself in the story. Villians seem disposable and just come and go. I predicted part of the end twist right away, and it ends with a cliffhanger. The developers have promised the story will continue with future DLC, but this was pretty disappointing considering Ruiner took me five hours to complete.

This game is also brutally hard, especially to begin with. There’s also a certain point in the game where enemies start teleporting, to which I suffered many deaths. This isn’t a bad thing, but I found the game ended right as I was getting the hang of things.

This can be a visually busy game with a lot going on and at times I just had to stop playing. Those who suffer from motion sickness should avoid this one.

Not helping this is the fact that this is another game that feels the need to have RPG elements. Honestly, this just made the game needlessly confusing. For example, there are two skills you can map to the ‘Q’ button. This can either be a health regeneration skill, or a skill that ‘hacks’ enemies. I found the health regen skill to be more useful, but whenever the game would start up, the game would default to the ‘hack’ skill. You can imagine my frustration of thinking I was going to heal yourself, only to end up doing nothing.

There are plenty of weapons to use. The main character can carry both a melee weapon and a firearm. You have a default weapon in each slot, a pipe (that later is upgraded to be a sword) and an automatic pistol. Certain firearms are probably better in certain situations, but the fact is you’ll probably just use what you can get. I found automatics and shotguns to be the most effective, but just about everything was an upgrade over the base weapons.

Overall I think Ruiner is okay. I can’t say the gameplay grabbed me, but that doesn’t mean it’s terrible. I can see certain people loving it. That said I think the story is a missed opportunity for a truly captivating narrative. I’d recommend checking this one out when it goes on sale. That said there is a good chance that there will be new content which may expand on the elements I felt were lacking.