The Promise of Oasis

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The best thing I’ve read regarding the pilot of 2017’s Oasis is that it features Game of Thrones alum Richard Madden as a Scottish space priest- yes you read that correctly. And in a weird sort of way that’s exactly what the premise is here and why the Amazon original show has such promise and I hope that it can find its way into a full series.

I urge all of you science fiction geeks and thought-provoking television fiends to delve deeper into the details regarding the show because I do not think you’ll be easily disappointed. Not to be confused with a 1993 series of the same name but revolving around a completely different genre of television, Oasis does indeed follow a space-faring priest as he makes his way to a remote colony. If you’re interested in the source material itself, look no further than Michel Faber’s writing.

In many ways, the sense of exploration and wonder the pilot alone has wrought within me reminds me of something akin to my time with Mass Effect and of course other science fiction materials that I’ve read in the past- notably Robert Heinlein and Spider Robinson’s Variable Star. There are several moments where the camera pans to show the awe-inspiring desert that surrounds the exoplanet settlement, or as it is in real life, the desert regions in which the show is shot. For an original film that probably doesn’t boast the largest of budgets, I’m really excited to see an emphasis on story and dynamic character contrast if it kicks off for good.

Besides its obvious messages on the human condition and themes revolving around the inevitable environmental calamity facing our planet even now, what most excites me regarding the story is the scribe behind it. The pilot itself is written by Mat Charman- of Bridge of Spies nomination fame, and directed by Kevin Macdonald- of The Last King of Scotland and 11.22.63 renown. If you want to get into talent within the show itself, look no further than Richard Madden (Robb Stark of Game of Thrones) and Aislin McGuckin (of Outlander).

From my own viewing experience last week and combined with what general sentiments I’ve heard from others who’ve watched and/or reviewed the pilot, Oasis draws many similarities and comparisons with classics such as Dune and contemporary televisions shows and films like Interstellar and The Expanse. Having heard of but not read the novel it is based upon, I’m interested to see where the show itself could go if it is given the promising funding it deserves. I am not aware of the current state of Amazon’s ‘originals’ program in comparison to networks such as Netflix, however I do think the pilot has made a strong enough showing for why the show deserves a chance. And it probably doesn’t hurt that it’s received good reviews.

I definitely think it is important to search the web for some of the behind the scenes flicks and videos that explain sort of what vision the show is going for and some of the mystery and world-building it is attempting to pull off as well. There are some gorgeous shots and also some themes that in a way remind me of amazing space epics such as Joss Wheedon’s Firefly as well. In fact, many tropes sort of emerged that reminded me in a way of the misadventures of Captain Reynolds and his crew, albeit without much of the spacefaring adventuring and privateer lifestyle.

Especially in light of some of the projects that have been given life on subscription based media outlets such as Netflix or Hulu in the past, I think Oasis could be a very strong and unique showing for Amazon and its ‘originals’ programing. I’m really interested to see how this series progresses in the future and whether or not we get to see the continuation of Peter Leigh as a character as well.

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How Wild Hunt and Breath of the Wild are Highly Comparable

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It is no small secret that I’ve praised and lauded CD Projekt’s Witcher series and most recently the third (and probably final) adventure that Geralt of Rivia embarked upon. It is very much a dark fantasy universe in every sense of the genre and quite possibly the closest we will ever come to a truly spectacular Game of Thrones adaptation as well. So how exactly does a dark and gritty fantasy game match up with a more childhood friendly (and less-nightmare inducing) fantasy title? You’d be surprised just how well they fit together when taken apart and looked at side by side. Each finds their major strength in the most expansive element of all- open world roaming.

Breath of the Wild isn’t just another game in a decade-spanning series, excellent though the majority of the games in that series have been. In its own right, taken away from The Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild would stand on its own as an even more impressive statement in an otherwise over-saturated open world market. Ubisoft, god bless ’em, churns out semi-open world shooters and third-person action titles multiple times a year. Open-world had sort of plateaued a bit until The Witcher 3 came along. And now with Breath of the Wild here to push the bounds of credibility and monumental achievement in virtual fictions ever further, there’s certainly a new benchmark that games will have to meet in order to be impressive.

Let me sidestep for a second to express my love and attachment to a third open-world title here before I move on to bigger and better points that must be made. Horizon: Zero Dawn is a phenomenal action-adventure game with constant role-playing elements littered in between its mechanics. Guerilla Games has an astonishing level of quality on most of their projects- certainly with the Killzone series, and it goes to show that they aren’t limited in scope to first-person shooters in the slightest. However, that having been said- Zero Dawn very much utilizes the same well-trodden tropes that Ubisoft and Bethsoft and virtually everybody else has and does in order to play it safe with open-world titles. Now, admittedly this works for Horizon, but it doesn’t push much past the plateau.

Hustling back to our previous sentiments, two titles on the open-world radar have piqued my interest in the past few years- The Witcher 3 and Breath of the Wild. That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed plenty of other games in the genre- we’ve seen The Elder Scrolls V, Far Cry 3, 4, and Primal, and plenty of other quality games as well. But none of those have done things with the same level of attention to detail or attention to the simple things that CD Projekt Red and Nintendo have done. Really, I wasn’t at all surprised that Breath of the Wild was a good game- the Zelda series typically has been, especially on consoles. However, I was thoroughly surprised and impressed by its attention to the overall mythos as well as its ability to both connect back to that and also start things relatively anew. There are plenty of shout-outs to previous iterations and yet there are also plenty of things we’ve never seen before.

To give you the barest of glimpses at the level of creative detail that both teams have exercised with these two projects, allow me to blow your mind with some interesting information. Wild Hunt is so varied in its narrative exposition and exploration that it has roughly forty possibly ending combinations- that alone is impressive to say the least. But let’s steer clear of story and focus on gameplay shall we? As a Witcher, Geralt can utilize so-called signs which generally perform a variety of functions from shielding him in combat to blasting flames from his palm- essentially for those of you Bioshock fans out there, think plasmids. There is a depth to the upgrading of these various genetic mutations that should be similar to any role-playing fans used to a couple of skills trees a la Borderlands or any notable RPG. However, what isn’t well-known or old at all is the level to which the combination of these signs can impact enemies, allies, and the world itself. For example- casting a Fus Roh Da kind of force-punch will not only bowl enemies over but put out environmental hazards such as flames licking at their skin. So theoretically in combat you could engulf your opponent in flames, put them out, knock them over, and then coup de grace them as well. And that’s just the tip of the veritable iceberg.

So we get it- The Witcher 3’s attention to detail is pretty much unparalleled in many ways. Now let’s talk about where Breath of the Wild comes into play, shall we? You could very well compare the newest Zelda game to the post-apocalyptic stories of the Fallout universe- the degrading weaponry, immense customization options, and varied enemy types are all there, excluding the actual post-apocalyptic narrative elements that are also present. So while this is an impressive change for the series in and of itself, it is exactly how every system fits together in the well-oiled machine that is Breath of the Wild that further impresses me. Like CD Projekt, Nintendo has more than likely put there hands on every minuscule detail in the game- so if you find something that seems like it shouldn’t be possible or seems really odd then you’ve more than likely stumbled upon yet another intricate detail they’ve added into the game.

If you’ve been around long enough and paid enough attention, you’ll more than likely have already seen the multitude of ‘Mythbusters’ sort of videos regarding Breath of the Wild. I urge you to check them out on YouTube or elsewhere if you haven’t already, as it’ll really open your eyes to the possibility that this may be the one game we’ve yet to see in our lifetime that offers virtually everything you can think of, and then some. For example, you can utilize the environment in nearly every way thinkable- even going so far as to climbing onto sleeping Hinoxes by riding their hand up after essentially tickling it with your touch. I mean, literally the lengths to which you can go to even just explore the world is incredible- you can move boats with magnetism, power a felled tree into low-flying orbit thanks to explosive powers, and much more.

So on some base level, even once you’ve moved past the obvious comparisons- they both have ‘wild’ in their titles, they are both fantasy adventures in expansive worlds, so on and so forth, Breath of the Wild and Wild Hunt are immensely comparable games and experiences. And the most dramatic irony of all is that in this comparative greatness, no two games could be any more different than them as well. They are highly comparable in the fact that they do many important things right that few games have ever done before, as well as the fact that they accomplish an untold number of even greater, minuscule things as well- the extent to which we may never find out. At the end of the day, despite any small amount of glitches or rough patches they may show as they age, it seems a no-brainer to me that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt are destined to be included on plenty of lists of ‘greatest games’ both in their genre and in the industry as a whole.

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Gaming March Madness Round 4

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Now that the real-life Final Four has been set in terms of Men’s Basketball March Madness, it’s time for us to move onto our next stage in the virtual world. Who will come out on top and who will be upset? Well, you’re about to find out as a matter of fact. Here are the results from the third round:

EAST BRACKET

4 DRAGON AGE ORIGINS WIN (OVER FABLE II)

7 THE WITCHER 2 WIN (OVER MASS EFFECT)

WEST BRACKET

1 MASS EFFECT 2 WIN (OVER MIRROR’S EDGE)

11 MIDDLE EARTH SHADOW OF MORDOR WIN (OVER DEAD SPACE)

MIDWEST BRACKET

1 UNCHARTED 2 WIN (OVER UNCHARTED)

3 LEFT 4 DEAD WIN (OVER MORTAL KOMBAT X)

SOUTH BRACKET

1 BORDERLANDS 2 WIN (OVER ROCK BAND 2)

2 PORTAL WIN (OVER LITTLEBIGPLANET 2)

ROUND FOUR:

4 DRAGON AGE ORIGINS V 7 THE WITCHER 2

1 MASS EFFECT 2 V 11 MIDDLE EARTH SHADOW OF MORDOR

1 UNCHARTED 2 V 3 LEFT 4 DEAD

1 BORDERLANDS 2 V 2 PORTAL

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Broadchurch Series One- A Retrospective

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By now I have no doubt that many of my closest friends and companions know I am a huge fan of British television shows and all things of similar status. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy television shows from every nook and cranny, just that I happen to have acquired a particular fondness for many of the recurring actors between BBC network dramas and typical British soaps. The subject of course of this particular blog post is none other than the first of the would-be and will-be trilogy, Broadchurch. It is not in fact about either a big church or even a church at all, but rather the name of a quaint Wessex town where devious cases are brought to life.

If you’ve seen or know anything about Doctor Who then no doubt you’ll see several familiar faces in both the Tenth Doctor and Rory Pond (I jest of course, it’s Williams), or rather David Tennant and Arthur Darvill. This is no Hamlet and certainly no Legends of Tomorrow, and yet both of these high caliber actors find themselves similarly in specific and terrific roles alongside many other talent castmates- look no further than Olivia Colman. You may be wondering why it is I am just now bringing up the series, and it’s actually quite timely I’ll have you know. The third series of Broadchurch started a little bit shy of a month ago and I’ve been rewatching the first two as both preparation and penance for when the third is finally available to me.

First things first, allow me to tell you several of my favorite items and themes from the show- they’re probably not quite what you would expect. The first series has some amazingly emotional and believable moments and none have been hammered home more vividly than anytime the scene just sort of pans out and allows the sweeping musical score to roll in. It is in these moments that silent revelations take place, new clues develop, and all sorts of emotional deliveries are given without a single word having to be spoken. In essence, it’s genius. Musical scores have always been and will always continue to be some of the best ways to convey ironically silent messages through sights and sounds.

My second point of interest is the scenery and vivid imagery presented throughout the series- it honestly helps sell the story and plot lines more than even the best deliveries on the part of Tennant or Colman. You cannot develop a good story or film or television piece without apt usage of scenery in conjunction with metaphor and imagery. Many things are as unspoken as with musical scores and evidently people do like to see aesthetically enthralling or pleasurable images as well- who would’ve thunk it. There are countless moments- some of which take place in conjunction with sweeping musical melodies or melancholy camera panning, where the show just pans to something that offers the viewer their own off-screen revelations or makes something equally exciting known. Those are the moments we live for.

The third and perhaps most obvious and equally important aspect of the show is that the acting is phenomenally handled and sold whether it be simple investigative scenes or brilliantly heartbreaking revelations regarding murder. The first and even second series follow along the same familiar narrative lines, and yet there is still so much room for the injection of ample amounts of backstory and tragic character development outside of those two well-tread case lines. I never got tired of progressing the plot of the first series particularly, nor did the slight deviations into side characters or the main scenes steal any of the drama or tension away from the murder investigation processes themselves. Truly, I echo many viewers’ and critics’ sentiment that this could be many of the involved actors’ finest work to date.

I’ve been meaning to write on a more regular basis, and in some ways I’ve met that goal while in others I’ve noticeably lacked and lagged behind. Hopefully these tidbits here and there are enough to keep what fans I have satiated and my varying topics prove to be both engaging and interesting enough as well. I’ll do my best to be back when I can with more content in the future, and of course to write my own vivid opinions about things that crop up over time- as is all one can hope to do as a writer, pleasing both their own frantic heart and the minds of the reader. Cheers, all.

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Gaming March Madness Round 3

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Not so long ago, I posted an update to my ‘gaming bracket’ of March Madness-style games. Today I come bearing more updates to the bracket just a couple of days before actual March Madness play resumes. It’s been interesting to note the road so far in both tournaments and I’m curious to see where these games end up when all is said and done. Here are the results of the second round:

EAST BRACKET

8 FABLE II WIN (OVER BIOSHOCK)

4 DRAGON AGE ORIGINS WIN (OVER ASSASSIN’S CREED II)

3 MASS EFFECT WIN (OVER SUNSET OVERDRIVE)

7 THE WITCHER 2 WIN (OVER BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM)

WEST BRACKET

1 MASS EFFECT 2 WIN (OVER FAR CRY 3)

4 MIRROR’S EDGE WIN (OVER MODERN WARFARE 2)

11 MIDDLE EARTH SHADOW OF MORDOR WIN (OVER PORTAL 2)

2 DEAD SPACE WIN (OVER SKYRIM)

MIDWEST BRACKET

1 UNCHARTED 2 WIN (OVER DMC DEVIL MAY CRY)

4 UNCHARTED WIN (OVER GOD OF WAR 3)

3 LEFT 4 DEAD WIN (OVER DESTINY)

7 MORTAL KOMBAT X WIN (OVER MASS EFFECT 3)

SOUTH BRACKET

1 BORDERLANDS 2 WIN (OVER SLEEPING DOGS)

4 ROCK BAND 2 WIN (OVER METAL GEAR SOLID V)

3 LITTLEBIGPLANET 2 WIN (OVER KILLZONE 3)

2 PORTAL WIN (OVER SNIPER ELITE V2)

ROUND THREE:

EAST BRACKET

8 FABLE II V 4 DRAGON AGE ORIGINS

3 MASS EFFECT V 7 THE WITCHER 2

WEST BRACKET

1 MASS EFFECT 2 V 4 MIRROR’S EDGE

11 MIDDLE EARTH SHADOW OF MORDOR V 2 DEAD SPACE

MIDWEST BRACKET

1 UNCHARTED 2 V 4 UNCHARTED

3 LEFT 4 DEAD V 7 MORTAL KOMBAT X

SOUTH BRACKET

1 BORDERLANDS 2 V 4 ROCK BAND 2

3 LITTLEBIGPLANET 2 V 2 PORTAL

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Marvel’s Iron Fist Review

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It’s no secret that I have a healthy amount of respect for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in both its silver screen and small screen iterations and adaptations. The films do the things that they do right and the grittier, believable, down-to-earth television adaptations do what they do right. I’ve been a fan of the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, Power Girl, and Luke Cage- but now the time comes for me to deliver my verdict on the last of New York City’s would-be ‘Defenders.’

Iron Fist is easily the weakest link in the otherwise spectacular story that has been Daredevil seasons one and two, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage thus far. Iron Fist is one of the stronger heroes ironically and yet the weakest of the stories. It is, at its base, a story of vengeance and betrayal as have been the others and yet it misses the most steps and is inevitably the dumbest of all five to this date in terms of the writing and human quality. Don’t get me wrong, Danny Rand’s story still features some excellent characters like the ever recurring Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) and Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), enigmatic and villainous Madame Gao (Wai Ching Ho), and newcomer Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick).

The pacing and story have been up and down in each of the MCU television shows so far, and yet for the most part I’ve found myself enjoying their stories and the massive amount of time, effort, and lore involved in each project. All of them are slowly meshing together in anticipation for The Defenders and I honestly cannot wait to see the might of four unlikely teammates pitted against the always dark and shady Hand. Both seasons of Daredevil were phenomenal and easily started the network show formula off in the strongest possible way, but as much as I loved Wilson Fisk I adored Jessica Jones’ David Tennant-played Kilgrave even more for his quirks and flaws. Luke Cage is an excellent study in lifestyle and the effects violence and education and other things can have upon people and their families, but it had a very typical Marvel problem in that it couldn’t firmly establish a “big bad” or make you extremely invested in most of the conflict.

Whereas each of the first three heroes’ stories are strong to me in their own unique ways, Iron Fist is the proverbial black sheep in that it largely falls flat where the others have held strong in every way before. Then again, even with the quality being the same or similar to the other projects, who could’ve thought that even Marvel would go five for five in such a short time span and churn out critical acclaim once more? Iron Fist is far from terrible, it just needs to gain its footing in the future and allow us a chance to better grow alongside and get to know the character. A lot of this first season is spent talking about things versus showing them, particularly where Danny Rand’s backstory comes into play. And with film or television this is all well and good but eventually people are going to want to see things play out rather than hear needless exposition dump after needless exposition dump.

In an extended and connected universe on the small screen alone where we’ve been blessed with the likes of Mahershala Ali and Rosario Dawson and Jon Bernthal who’ve been side characters with more story and connectivity than some series’ main character even have, it’s been a real letdown to only meet one or two new side story characters whose arcs are even of interest. Of course Madame Gao and her sect of The Hand has the continued interest that any previously unknown enigma offers, yet the only two memorable characters that were newly introduced in Iron Fist were Colleen Wing and Bakuto, perhaps even Ward Meachum as a distant third. The majority of the others fell flat including Danny Rand himself, and others that would’ve been even more interesting- such as Davos or Joy, found themselves sidelined too often to be of much interest.

All things said and done, I’ve tried to mostly avoid specific spoilers as best as I can here. It is my hope that whether or not you enjoy or even like superhero genre stories, you give Marvel’s network universe a chance. Unlike the CW’s DCU or even Marvel’s Agents of Shield or Agent Carter, these series are a lot more down to earth, believable, and quirky. Each hero has their flaws, each of them is after all only human. Each story isn’t about saving the world but rather the people that matter and the daily personal conflicts that everybody must go through. It’s not always fun to watch the characters struggle and go through hell but it sure is dark, vibrant, and violent and time and time again that’s been proven to be what show-watchers love.

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Gaming March Madness Round 2

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A few days ago, I posted the first round of my ‘gaming march madness’ bracket shenanigans. Today I come bearing updates for the now completed first round and insight as to how this whole thing will be conducted. First and foremost, I’m going to take the easiest route and make sure it remains wholly unbiased by basing my winning seeds in each round off of the corresponding tournament team that wins those matchups in real life as the tournament progresses. It will save me a lot of trouble and everyone else a lot of bellyaching and ire.

Without further ado, allow me to post the updated results of the initial round and who will be facing who in each region for this next round in the next few days.

EAST BRACKET

1 BIOSHOCK WIN (OVER DEAD SPACE 3)

8 FABLE II WIN (OVER CRYSIS 3)

5 ASSASSIN’S CREED II WIN (OVER COD BLACK OPS)

4 DRAGON AGE ORIGINS WIN (OVER HORIZON ZERO DAWN)

11 SUNSET OVERDRIVE WIN (OVER ALAN WAKE)

3 MASS EFFECT WIN (OVER KILLZONE SHADOW FALL)

7 THE WITCHER 2 WIN (OVER THE LAST OF US)

2 BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM WIN (OVER THE WITCHER 3)

WEST BRACKET

1 MASS EFFECT 2 WIN (OVER BATMAN ARKHAM CITY)

8 FAR CRY 3 WIN (OVER GRAND THEFT AUTO V)

5 MODERN WARFARE 2 WIN (OVER FALLOUT 3)

4 MIRROR’S EDGE WIN (OVER TOMB RAIDER)

11 MIDDLE EARTH SHADOW OF MORDOR WIN (OVER METRO 2033)

3 PORTAL 2 WIN (OVER UNTIL DAWN)

7 SKYRIM WIN (OVER BIOSHOCK INFINITE)

2 DEAD SPACE WIN (OVER VVVVVV)

MIDWEST BRACKET

1 UNCHARTED 2 WIN (OVER HALO 3)

9 DMC DEVIL MAY CRY WIN (OVER XCOM ENEMY UNKNOWN)

5 GOD OF WAR 3 WIN (OVER FALLOUT 4)

4 UNCHARTED WIN (OVER RESIDENT EVIL 7)

11 DESTINY WIN (OVER RED DEAD REDEMPTION)

3 LEFT 4 DEAD WIN (OVER DIRT 3)

7 MORTAL KOMBAT X WIN (OVER SKYWARD SWORD)

2 MASS EFFECT 3 WIN (OVER SUPER MARIO GALAXY 2)

SOUTH BRACKET

1 BORDERLANDS 2 WIN (OVER STARCRAFT II)

8 SLEEPING DOGS WIN (OVER SAINTS ROW IV)

12 METAL GEAR SOLID V WIN (OVER HALO REACH)

4 ROCK BAND 2 WIN (OVER MINECRAFT)

6 KILLZONE 3 WIN (OVER UNDERTALE)

3 LITTLEBIGPLANET 2 WIN (OVER XENOBLADE CHRONICLES)

10 SNIPER ELITE V2 WIN (OVER DARK SOULS)

2 PORTAL WIN (OVER ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST)

ROUND TWO MATCHUPS:

EAST BRACKET

1 BIOSHOCK V 8 FABLE II

5 ASSASSIN’S CREED II V 4 DRAGON AGE ORIGINS

11 SUNSET OVERDRIVE V 3 MASS EFFECT

7 THE WITCHER 2 V 2 BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM

WEST BRACKET

1 MASS EFFECT 2 V 8 FAR CRY 3

5 MODERN WARFARE 2 V 4 MIRROR’S EDGE

11 MIDDLE EARTH SHADOW OF MORDOR V 3 PORTAL 2

7 SKYRIM V 2 DEAD SPACE

MIDWEST BRACKET

1 UNCHARTED 2 V 9 DMC DEVIL MAY CRY

5 GOD OF WAR 3 V 4 UNCHARTED

11 DESTINY V 3 LEFT 4 DEAD

7 MORTAL KOMBAT X V 2 MASS EFFECT 3

SOUTH BRACKET

1 BORDERLANDS 2 V 8 SLEEPING DOGS

12 METAL GEAR SOLID V V 4 ROCK BAND 2

6 KILLZONE 3 V 3 LITTLEBIGPLANET 2

10 SNIPER ELITE V2 V 2 PORTAL

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Gaming March Madness

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As you all may or may not know, today starts the official round of sixty-four games for Division I men’s basketball in the so-called March Madness tourney. In honor of that, it is my goal to bring to your attention sixty-four games from the past decade or so in a mock March Madness style bracket. Without further ado, I shall begin. Keep in mind, as the tournament itself progresses I will update my games bracket as well.

EAST BRACKET

1 BIOSHOCK V 16 DEAD SPACE 3

8 FABLE II V 9 CRYSIS 3

5 ASSASSIN’S CREED II V 12 BLACK OPS

4 DRAGON AGE ORIGINS V 13 HORIZON ZERO DAWN

6 ALAN WAKE V 11 SUNSET OVERDRIVE

3 MASS EFFECT V 14 KILLZONE SHADOW FALL

7 THE WITCHER 2 V 10 THE LAST OF US

2 BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUMV 15 THE WITCHER 3

WEST BRACKET

1 MASS EFFECT 2 V 16 BATMAN ARKHAM CITY

8 FAR CRY 3 V 9 GRAND THEFT AUTO V

5 MODERN WARFARE 2 V 12 FALLOUT 3

4 MIRROR’S EDGE V 13 TOMB RAIDER

6 METRO 2033 V 11 MIDDLE EARTH SHADOW OF MORDOR

3 PORTAL 2 V 14 UNTIL DAWN

7 SKYRIM V 10 BIOSHOCK INFINITE

2 DEAD SPACE V 15 VVVVVV

MIDWEST BRACKET

1 UNCHARTED 2 V 16 HALO 3

8 XCOM ENEMY UNKNOWN V 9 DMC DEVIL MAY CRY

5 GOD OF WAR 3 V 12 FALLOUT 4

4 UNCHARTED V 13 RESIDENT EVIL 7

6 RED DEAD REDEMPTION V 11 DESTINY

3 LEFT 4 DEAD V 14 DIRT 3

7 MORTAL KOMBAT X V 10 SKYWARD SWORD

2 MASS EFFECT 3 V 15 SUPER MARIO GALAXY 2

SOUTH BRACKET

1 BORDERLANDS 2 V 16 STAR CRAFT II

8 SLEEPING DOGS V 9 SAINTS ROW IV

5 HALO REACH V 12 METAL GEAR SOLID V

4 ROCK BAND 2 V 13 MINECRAFT

6 KILLZONE 3 V 11 UNDERTALE

3 LITTLEBIGPLANET 2 V 14 XENOBLADE CHRONICLES

7 DARK SOULS V 10 SNIPER ELITE V2

2 PORTAL V 15 ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST

*Note: Seedings are completely random and have literally NO meaning. I assigned completely random games to a random number is all. So please don’t feel hurt if your favorite titles didn’t make it where you would like.

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Soundtrack of My Life

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This particular blog post is an interesting one for me personally- not saying that my others aren’t or shouldn’t be. I’ve taken a lot of time to think about and reflect upon what some of the most stirring songs or soundtracks are for me in terms of what I enjoy listening to while gaming. Then again, I also occasionally enjoy listening to music while reading and therefore many of my most memorable moments in excellent stories have come hand in hand with tunes that you wouldn’t immediately think of. For example, in one such amazing chapter of the ending to a trilogy of books I’ve always enjoyed, I happened to be listening to Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” at a time when nearly every main character was dying and the hero sacrificed himself to close a wormhole to a demon-infested plane. Needless to say, it was rousing and emotional and totally struck me at the time and still does when I think of that moment.

So essentially what I aim to do here is just briefly touch on three or four amazing scores that really get me in the mood for gaming, tackling epic quests, going on an adventure, or all in my feels for some narrative exposition. I won’t be putting in any videos or anything but you should be able to find any of these soundtracks with a relatively simple search. The first of these, if you couldn’t tell from the title picture, is Han Zimmer’s amazing score for Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.

If you know anything about Hans Zimmer and film soundtracks then you know this entire list could easily be made up of his scores alone. Particularly known for his sweeping works with the Nolan films such as Interstellar, he has a distinctive sound just like any other composer and I utterly adore it. Really, any soundtrack of his could fit the bill right here but there’s something about Interstellar that just clicked perfectly with the ambiance and sounds and rushing scores accompanying tidal waves or cornfield chases or emotional reunions. All in all, you really should give a few of the tracks a listen if you ever get the chance or even if you’ve already seen the movie before.

My next epic theme song and ensemble is none other than John Williams’ brilliant Indiana Jones soundtrack. If you mean to ask which one then I daresay all of them are fair game but I am of course referring to the main march that is foremost in any Harrison Ford fan’s heart. While I won’t discount the fact that seemingly everything John Williams has produced has been gold (see the Star Wars themes), Indiana Jones strikes a chord with my inner adventurer and has been played unashamedly alongside Uncharted time and time again to be sure. Needless to say, you don’t have to be a sweeping or upbeat piece to get my attention, but it’ll certainly be easier to do so if you are.

My next addition to the list is by far the most recently produced and released and probably the most surprising and inventive as well. I’m sure by now many of you know of the success that has been the Broadway and subsequent recording production of Hamilton- detailing, in a truly festive and entertaining hip hop fashion, the life of Alexander Hamilton. Well, if it can be played them by god I can play it to a game or two. I typically am want to steer clear of lyrical soundtracks and pieces in my gaming as I get too caught up in the song and forget what I’m actually supposed to be doing, and yet somehow Hamilton’s witty and quick verses and refrains have made their way into even my multiplayer sessions of online shooters. I most definitely do not waste my shot.

And for my final trick, I bring to you a masterful collection of ditties that are perhaps some of my favorites of all time and that get played in any setting in my humble abode, whether that be reading, writing, or gaming. Yes, you may not have guessed it but I’m talking about the stirring and bumping Tron Legacy soundtrack- courtesy of one Daft Punk. If you know anything about Daft Punk then you probably know sort of what to expect here, but regardless you cannot deny they craft some catchy and inventive beats. Tron Legacy wasn’t a terrible movie but I definitely walked out of the theater thinking the most memorable part of its copycat plot (in terms of the original anyway) was by far the soundtrack to each epic moment and every showdown. Take me back to the grid again soon.

These are just a few of the interesting soundtracks or playlists or songs that have become a part of my everyday gaming life and as such have developed more of a symbolic meaning to me as well. I’m eager to hear what some stoic or exciting pieces are that you all may listen to when you play as well, or perhaps even when you’re just chilling out and sitting around. These are hardly the only things I listen to, as I am open to just about every genre and do have a love for instrumental music as well when it comes to gaming sessions.

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In the Beginning there were Games…

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Allow me to take you back in time, upon a retrospective tour of my gaming foundations and collectively of my once and future youth. I was always a reader but I was also a gamer in my youth and in many aspects am unchanged even today. Back in the good year of the pig (1983), I was but a wee lad of July origins. So I’ll let you all do the math on the good old age there as well. I didn’t start playing games for several years actually, and it’s probably a good thing as well- heaven knows I’d surely be burnt out by now otherwise.

As it were, my gaming exploits would have to wait until 1989- five years after George Orwell’s dystopian Big Brother spied on everyone and one year prior to one of the greatest and/or strangest decades known to mankind. Even then, to call my exploits mere exploits is both too simple and entirely too much. My experiences were limited but I did get to play several now classic titles and I’m thankful for the opportunity then and now to get my hands on them. Amidst the games released that year I dabbled in Sega’s Phantasy Star II- one of the best role-playing titles of the time, the Game Boy’s Super Mario Land, Sega’s original Golden Axe- long before Beast Rider came in and mucked things up, Mega Man 2, Capcom’s Duck Tales, the original Prince of Persia- a series I’ve been in love with ever since, and Minesweeper on Windows.

So as you can see, I didn’t miss out on much although I did sadly miss the opportunity to play other classics such as SimCity and Castlevania 3. Some of my other exploits that year have to do with games that were previously released such as Galaga, Gauntlet, Super Mario Bros, Duck Hunt, The Legend of Zelda, Contra, and probably other titles I’ve since forgotten. Obviously, although I dabbled with plenty of content ahead of my time, I still missed greats like Zelda II, Metal Gear, Punch Out (Mike Tyson’s), and Bionic Commando. Needless to say, it was a busy year for six year old me at the time.

Flash forward to another hectic year, this one in the nineties (1994 to be exact), and you’ll see a slightly different picture of ten or eleven year old me. By this time I’d gotten to experience Final Fantasy, The Secret of Monkey Island, Street Fighter II, Mario Kart, Wolfenstein 3D, The 7th Guest, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Doom. Somehow I survived playing such mature games and haven’t turned into a psycho killer quite yet. Then again, I never did play Ninja Gaiden or Mortal Kombat when I was that young so who knows. I’ve since gone back and played some of the games I remember from my earlier days, as well as others that I missed out on, but there’s something truly special about your initial playthrough at the time that some things just can’t top.

It would only be a few short years later that I began to make my way through senior high and my time to game ultimately would wind down a little bit for some time leading into college as well. It’s hard to believe that 1997 and 2001 would be such influential years in my young life and yet they were truly. Of course I’ve since continued my education at the master level in recent years (circa 2014 to the present) and yet it seems as if some things have never changed. For quite a while after the early 2000s I would have plenty of time to balance work and life and games and relationships, and yet now I find it difficult to include gaming although I still try to do my best to write fairly about it as a way of remembering its impact in my youth.

By 1997 I’d witnessed Star Wars Dark Forces, Chrono Trigger, Descent, Earthbound, Mech Warrior, Command and Conquer, Tekken, Rayman, Donkey Kong Country, Warcraft II, Zork, Super Mario 64, The Elder Scrolls II, Crash Bandicoot, Tomb Raider, Fallout, Diablo, Riven, and Quake II to name a few influential games of the time. I think the scariest thing is that several of those are games I would still be interested in investing hundreds of hours even today. So many classic series started back in the early to late nineties and are still hitting their stride today.

Things tapered off a little bit as I’ve already said, but somehow I still managed to sneak in Resident Evil, Spyro, Baldur’s Gate, EverQuest, System Shock, Soulcalibur, Planescape, Thief, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Silent Hill, and Ico by the time I would start college. It might seem as if I’m just naming names to name them, but many of the titles that are well-known and popular today were fairly well-known then as well even if they may not have exploded to as much critical acclaim initially. Only once you’ve gone back and really looked at what has been released over the years do you truly begin to pain the picture of just how many games and experiences have shaped your life as a whole. It’s quite astounding actually.

Over the next few years, my college adventures would be largely shaped by late nights spent studying, doing probably illicit and illegal things in regard to the things everyone experiments with and subsequently vomits because of, and playing competitive couch cooperative games here and there. 2001 to 2005 would pretty much be the era of Grand Theft Auto, Halo, Metal Gear Solid, Mario Kart, Splinter Cell, Sly Cooper, 007, Star Wars Jedi Knight II, Knights of the Old Republic, Call of Duty, SSX, Half-Life, Metroid Prime, Guitar Hero, and God of War. Litter in a few sports games like Madden and NBA 2K and that’s about the extent of my minimal gaming influence for a few years where I didn’t really have the time necessary to dedicate to many time sinks or RPGs.

From 2005 to roughly 2012 or maybe even 2013, I saw something of a sort of resurgence in both my playing and in the then-new console generation. I got an Xbox 360 having been a legacy Xbox player and didn’t regret it in the least. That was the first console generation that I made an effort to pick up all three major consoles so that I could experience Nintendo’s adventures, the epic Play Station exclusives, and my favorite cooperative Halo and Gears games. You’ve maybe seen my 1000 Club details on my home page, so you can probably tell 2005 until now have been some busy times with gaming.

I’ll hit some of the series highlights from 2005 to 2012, but I’ve seen games such as Resident Evil 4, Time Splitters 3, Doom 3, Gears of War, Resistance, Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, Bioshock, Portal, Uncharted, Dead Space, Left 4 Dead, Mirror’s Edge, Batman Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, Borderlands, Dragon Age, Infamous, Fallout 3, Ghost Recon, Halo 3, The Witcher, and Alan Wake come to prominence. Now, a lot of this modern day stuff is probably going to be a retread for those of you reading if you know anything about or play games yourself.

For the past four or five years, I’ve toned down my gaming a lot and yet I’ve still somehow found time to enjoy epic adventures and massive undertakings. We’ve been treated to plenty of Telltale’s adventure sagas, the continuation of Killzone, reboots of excellent series such as Devil May Cry and Tomb Raider, the explosion of Call of Duty and Battlefield onto the near future scene, moving experiences such as The Last of Us, gore and glee in Sniper Elite, crazy multiplayer matchups between Titanfall and Destiny, touching indie projects, long anticipated sequels for Fallout and Metal Gear, and even new consoles. It’s been a lengthy trip and sometimes I still think last year is 2010 or 2011 and yet here we are all the way in 2017 and man I feel old.

I think some of my most meaningful experiences over the years have stemmed from my favorite titles like Myst, Zork II, Tomb Raider, Halo, and The Witcher. I’m a fan of plenty of genres and thanks to that fact I can enjoy a plethora of different experiences for entirely different reasons. Dark adventure tales, tales of sacrifice, blood and guts, frenetic racing, text adventures, backflipping for days- you name it and I’ve probably enjoyed it. As it stands, gaming isn’t my life and yet it has certainly always been a big part and will continue to be. As little time as I necessarily have to dedicate to it right now between life calling my name, responsibilities to my friends and family, and outside influences- it will always be a factor to me.

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