Category Archives: Spoiled

Best Moments of Injustice 2’s Main Story

injustice-2-brainiac

In case you couldn’t immediately tell from reading the title, I am going to thoroughly spoil some of the most explosive and interesting moments from the Injustice 2 story mode- whether it be battles or epic cutscenes. That having been said, if you continue reading past this point and don’t want the story ruined for you, you’re probably in for a world of hurt. And now without further ado, let’s get this show on the road.

1. Krypton Destroyed, Kara Zor-El Revealed: It’s fair enough to state that Injustice 2 starts with as much or more of a bang than its predecessor because within (literally) the first five minutes Brainiac and his minions utterly destroy Krypton. Now this retelling that some of us may be used to while others may not- Krypton was failing of its own accord in some comics and movies, establishes both Clark and Kara’s set paths and provides a prologue of sorts for things to come in the future. Both Kara and Clark play a large role in the story of Injustice 2 and this calamitous event sparked the flame that ignites that story.

2. Superman Recruits Damian Wayne (aka Robin): While we’re still relatively in the past and tying together the plot of the first Injustice game, Batman and Robin head to Arkham Asylum to stop a grief-stricken Superman from murdering all of the incarcerated criminals. Along the way they fight the likes of Cyborg and Wonder Woman along with other foes. When they finally arrive to battle the head honcho himself, Batman easily gains the upper hand over the enraged Kryptonian and has just convinced him to leave when Damian Wayne comes back into focus. Robin has a knife to Victor Zsasz’s throat and true to his League of Assassins upbringing he slits the serial killer’s throat, fights (and loses to) his father, and then is scooped up by Superman as they fly into the moonlight.

3. Harley Fights Scarecrow and…The Joker: For those of you wondering how any incarnation of the clown prince of crime may be in Injustice (beyond popular demand alone) after the events of Injustice 1 led to his death and his alternate universe self’s exile back to his home, I’ve got you covered. During a multi-stage fight and cutscene which sees Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Harley Quinn fighting the likes of Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, and Swamp Thing, Dr. Crane doses them all with fear gas and H.Q. hallucinates Mr. Jay forcing her to kill people and generally be a bad person. As she approaches a tied up Batman menacingly with a knife she suddenly snaps out of it and starts fighting the newest incarnation of the Joker, leading to her shattering the fear gas induced hallucination in time for the trio to pursue an injured Dr. Crane.

4. Doctor Fate Intervenes in the Name of Order: In between the dynamic duo of Green Arrow and Black Canary fighting Gorilla Grodd’s Society- comprised of Bane, Grodd, Deadshot, Catwoman, Cheetah, Poison Ivy, Captain Cold, and Scarecrow, Doctor Fate shows up to warn of an impending danger which these heroes aren’t supposed to face. If you remember correctly then after the events of the first Injustice, certain heroes such as Green Lantern and Green Arrow were killed or exiled from their specific world and now occasionally show up on this one. This impending danger is of course Brainiac, which Doctor Fate will actually later not fight against because Nobu sees Brainiac as a bringer of Order amidst the Chaos that Superman and Batman’s war has caused. Doctor Fate is ready to ferry both Black Canary and Green Arrow away which in turn naturally leads to another fight.

5. Brainiac Makes His Entrance: It shouldn’t have been long before gamers put together than Gorilla Grodd’s so-called silent partner and Brainiac were actually the same being. As the machine-driven alien ships descend over the largest cities in the world carnage ensues. Green Arrow and Black Canary are picked up by a ray of light transferring them to Brainiac’s capital ship. Oliver Queen actually even asks Brainiac if he is related to Martian Manhunter thanks to the green skin but otherwise the two heroes are rudely detained and Black Canary is nearly choked to death because they both rebel against their captor. Brainiac’s end game is obviously something along the lines of what happened to Krypton and yet many details are hazy at this point and his mere entrance alone is entirely epic and ruthless.

6. Barry Allen’s Fight Through Metropolis: After the events of the previous game Barry Allen was given something of a second chance so long as he refrained from using the Speed Force. He is forced to abandon this promise when Brainiac invades and begins destroying the denizens of Metropolis and other cities. The Flash speeds from his Arctic research station to the city and quickly defeats many of the robotic enforcers vaporizing humans right and left. Make no mistake, Brainiac and the Society planned for this and Deadshot lies in wait- coerced by a bomb inside his skull (Suicide Squad much?) and able to shoot Allen in his calf and slow the runner down. Next he must fight through a veritable gauntlet of foes- Captain Cold (angered by the death of his friends and family), Deadshot (only here by coercion), Reverse Flash (trapped her by a time paradox), and Green Lantern (because he wasn’t douchey enough the last time). It’s epic and in particular the Flash x Reverse Flash matchup has the best of dialogue and references.

7. Green Lantern Meets Atrocitus and Dex Starr: In the previous Injustice Green Lantern made the dumb decision to join Superman and became a member of Sinestro’s Yellow Lantern Corps which, long story short, is a group of bad dudes. After being exiled and imprisoned by the few remaining Lanterns in the galaxy, Green Lantern has returned and is now fighting on Batman’s side and for the correct ideals for once. Hal Jordan continuously suffers minor pauses in battle and cutscenes throughout the game and these headaches stem from Atrocitus the Red Lantern (Ragey Rage Monster!) toying with his mind and feelings. When Lantern and Aquaman are defending Atlantis from Brainiac, Atrocitus takes the time to warp in and spew rage fueled blood into Jordan’s eyes whilst trying to tempt him into taking up a Red Ring. It’s all very Lord of the Ringsy but Green Lantern resists and continues to battle his emotions (as well as Atrocitus and his feline friend).

8. Firestorm Transmutes Flames Into Kryptonite: At the facility where Superman has been held (using Lex Luthor’s brand no less), Firestorm and Blue Beetle are defedning themselves from the likes of Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Robin, and Supergirl. Of all of these people Kara Zor-El is the most manipulated and innocent, however that’s not apparently obvious to herself or to her current enemies. After recovering from the initial shock of seeing a second Kryptonian, Firestorm briefly uses his power of transmutation in order to produce green kryptonite fueled flames and keep the woman at bay. It’s downright dastardly but it’s also pretty darn awesome. Of course later the whole battling to free Superman point is kind of moot when Batman releases Clark himself seeing as he may be their only shot at facing down Brainiac successfully.

9. Wonder Woman Fights (Pretty Much) Everyone: Wonder Woman is a pretty powerful gal and this is never more apparent than when she’s forced to fight the majority of the Society and even some of her own supposed compatriots. While she and Supergirl are investigating part of Metropolis, Cheetah shows up to crash the show and shoots both of them with a massive laser. Shortly afterwards Captain Cold and Reverse Flash show up to crash Diana’s party and she has an epic moment where she reflects Cold’s ice beam and freezes the yellow speedster temporarily. After fighting Cold and Reverse Flash, she steps into what looks like fear gas and soon Superman shows up- first happy and then angry about Diana’s (actual) manipulation of his actions. In her vision she stabs the man of steel through the chest before actually fighting Jonathon Crane and likewise slicing his hand. Next up, Wonder Woman (and Super Girl) down Cheetah whom Diana says deserves to die. Cue Harley Quinn intervention and Wonder Woman stabbing her in the chest. Side Note: H.Q. has been so beat up in this entry- stabbed, heart stopped and restarted, etc. Oh, and then of course Diana and Kara fight as well.

10. Brainiac (Seemingly) Vaporizes Superman: Somewhere during their continual fight and flight throughout Metropolis, which always seems to be a focal point of utter ruination and destruction on the silver screen and in video games for Superman, the man of steel meets his maker. Or at least that’s what it looks like at the time and it’s truly gut wrenching even after all that he has done to this point, if only because Kara is so visibly shaken and everyone from Diana to Bruce Wayne isn’t sure what to make of Earth’s mightiest superhuman being ground to dust. Honestly, it’s all a little reminiscent of Darkseid using his powers to vaporize the guy. Superman has been battering the shield covering Brainiac’s ship for some time when he is hurled to the center of an already blasted crater and unceremoniously pounded by rays from the ship which leave no trace of the Kryptonian. Of course we later realize he’s probably been digitized rather than vaporized.

11. Black Adam and Aquaman Take Down Brainiac’s Shields: Injustice 2 is every bit as “go big or go home” as the previous game was and no moment more readily encapsulates this than Black Adam and Aquaman’s use of the Rock of Eternity in Kahndaq to take down Brainiac’s shields. First the duo must fight a Gorilla Grodd mind controlled Green Arrow and Black Canary as well as several other foes (Blue Beetle) prior to unlocking the mystical other dimension housed in Kahndaq that leads to Adam’s Rock of Eternity. Once inside it appears to have been a trick and they battle Grodd himself before Aquarman dispatches the gorilla permanently, ending his mind control and machinations against villains and heroes alike. Black Adam stays behind to channel the mystical energy of the Rock and sends it blasting through Aquaman’s trident and across half the planet in order to down Brainiac’s shields and allow the others a chance to confront the big bad himself.

12. Batman and Supergirl are Rescued by Superman: Upon infiltrating Brainiac’s capital ship by themselves, both Kara and Batman are trapped by the villain’s mechanical tentacles and at his mercy. When he orders his minions to kill Batman since he is only an ordinary human, Superman makes his survival and presence known and appears to narrowly prevent his former friend’s death. With the combined might of Superman and Batman they fight their way through the ship in an effort to discover where Brainiac has taken Kara and what intent he has with the rest of the world beyond mere destruction and digitization. They fight a mind controlled Swamp Thing and Firestorm, eventually realizing that they can be released when Batman uses a disruptor in close proximity to both. Doctor Fate himself shows up in order to fight on the side of Brainiac because Nobu has come to realize that Brainiac is the ultimate Order. As soon as the crew defeats him, Brainiac himself shows up and plunges a tentacle through Fate’s chest after Superman has crushed Nobu’s helm. Superman proceeds to fight Brainiac and subdue him at least for the moment, leading to Kara’s release from near vivisection.

13. Absolute Power Corrupts and Betrayal is Inevitable: In the final act itself, having subdued Brainiac for the moment the ship is falling uncontrollably and in order to save the cities and people on board Superman fuses with Brainiac’s ship and mentally steers it. After this and another fight against Brainiac, Superman and Batman return the majority of the cities not outright destroyed to their rightful places in the world. By now the majority of Earth’s heroes and villains who’ve been fighting against Brainiac show up as this is a crucial moment of decisions to be made regarding what to do with the ship and the remaining equipment and powers. Just when it seems like Superman is a decent guy again Diana of course whips him into a frenzy and all hell breaks loose. The final confrontation between Batman and Superman begins here and players are given the choice between Batman (good ending) and Superman (bad ending) before watching two versions of events unfold. I won’t ruin what comes next but allow me to say that the bad ending is one of the most chilling things I’ve seen in a superhero game.

As I’m sure I’ve by now ruined the majority of the plot of an excellent game and narrative, I hope that you heeded my warning and didn’t read through the entire thing despite wanting to come into the game relatively fresh or unknowing. If you’ve played the game yourself then I hope you’ll enjoy what I’ve talked about here and comment below. If you’ve played parts of it but not the entire story then hopefully you haven’t read through past wherever you may currently be at- I labeled things pretty specifically for that particular contingency. As always, cheers!

Tagged , ,

Wildlife Reserves and Hyperion Hijinks

borderlands-2-complete-edition-22726

Well, it’s been a little while since my previous Borderlands 2 romp and subsequent blog- Face Pizza and Flaming Midgets, but I’m here to tell you that drought ends today. I am still painstakingly making my way through Borderlands 2 and will also be replaying Mass Effect 2 more in-depth once I’ve devoted enough time and attention to Gearbox’s epic masterpiece. As usual if you’re walking into this blog series blind it’s gonna cost you probably vision or hearing or something equally painful between my mindless reference making and spoilerific attitude. So really, you’re bringing this upon yourself at this point because you’ve been forewarned twice now.

Like I’ve mentioned previously for those of you who remembered to read the first blog post, while I’m predominately playing through Borderlands 2 to completion, this particular series will actually be focusing on my musings about the series as a whole. So don’t expect a necessary play by play of the game as opposed to some lighthearted commentary on the franchise itself.

It’s intriguing to me to note that the main antagonists of the series have always largely been parts of or heads of corporations. This seems to be one of the most realistic narrative elements of the series just due in part to the fact that a lot of times corporations really are the bad guy after all. I mean, first we have the Atlas corporation in Borderlands and just the overall attitude that these corporations have such a huge stake in the world of Borderlands even if they are sometimes a joke (see Dahl). Of course by the time Tales from the Borderlands and Borderlands 2 has rolled around there’s Hyperion to deal with in all their Handsome Jack glory.

We’ve seen everything from a zombie outbreak on a distant island to the pretty much nuking of the moon Elpis thanks to various corporate bad guys in our time and it really says something ironic about both companies and sometimes environmental regulations. I know, who would’ve guessed there’s anything remotely realistic to be found in the Borderlands series right? I mean, I’d imagine the desolation of the vast majority of Pandora’s already desolate landscape and the forced terraforming and destruction of an entire moon’s surface don’t really do much for company morale or support after all. To be fair, space pirates are more at fault than Hyperion for once in the instance of the latter but I digress.

Categorically, each game has had its fair share of big bads and yet there’s always been a company or band of mercenaries involved somewhere across the narrative in a substantial way and that’s pretty telling of what Borderlands 3 or Tales 2 may have to offer as well. Although I’ve envisioned Borderlands going beyond a mere trilogy I could just as easily see Borderlands 3 as a finale to the saga put in place by both Borderlands and Borderlands 2, as well as even including the decisions made within the confines of The Pre-Sequel and Tales from the Borderlands. So far the narrative fits together perfectly albeit in a sometimes confusing way. So why should we make any drastic changes to a narrative formula that works already and not have another big bad stir due to the actions of one company or another?

Vault hunters and vault hunting always have and always will play some part in the narrative, even if it’s a doozy and red herring the size of a gigantic tentacle monster- seriously, that’s already been done. Things won’t and don’t always work out quite how you expect and yet for all of that there’s a big bad corporation as the front man and then of course the popular shadow bad guy a la any Final Fantasy game right behind them pulling the strings or itching to show up in your penultimate encounter. I’m not here to say we should be sticking it to the man or that all corporations are evil and worth disbanding (unless you live on Pandora that is), but it’s definitely interesting to look at how even such an absurd adventure as Borderlands can sometimes find ironic details in the real world as well.

Mainly I’m just entertained by the prospect that this evolving and living, breathing world has so much more to offer as we’ve been shown time and time again. I’m also intrigued by the fact that we are still discovering secrets within it and that the art style alone has guaranteed that it never grows old or wretched in any way. I can still go back and play the first Borderlands game and in fact I often do. You can see graphical improvements even in this cel shaded art style and yet it’s still easy to pick up and enjoy regardless of that simple fact. Much like a corporation constantly improves its business model and sales (in theory), Borderlands as a series and franchise can and will continue to evolve in every way and that’s a truly beautiful thing to ponder in between braining psychos with Krieg’s buzz-saw axe.

As always, feel free to send your comments and concerns my way in equal numbers as I will always read and reply to worthy comments and questions.

Tagged , , ,

The Greatest (Un?)Intentional References in The Witcher 3

geralt-of-rivia-in-the-witcher-3-wild-hunt-game-wallpaper

The Witcher 3 is still one of the greatest games of this generation and perhaps once you really get into it one of the greatest and most ambitious projects of all-time as well. As with any expansive quest to combat evil and save loved ones, there are plenty of popular references along the way- harking both to previous adventures of Geralt’s as well as to things that exist in other worlds entirely. I will only be discussing two of these references today- one of which I’ve talked about at some length previously either in comments or my other Witcher 3 discussion blog which can be found here.

The first reference is perhaps the deepest and potentially even completely or mostly unintentional in its origin and yet still altogether interesting whatever the case may be- me reading too much into it and nerding out or otherwise. I must warn you first and foremost, if you’re reading this post then know that I will be shamelessly discussing things of the spoilery nature that pertain not only to The Witcher series (although are predominately limited to Wild Hunt), but also to popular fiction and other mediums. The first reference I have comes in two very simple words and is in fact related to the name of one Gaunter O’Dimm- a non-playable character whom Geralt first meets in White Orchard at the onset of the game but becomes shall we say more important in the Heart of Stones expansion.

maxresdefault

Yes, that’s the guy right there. Now, you may be wondering how it is that a simple thing such as a name can in any way, shape, or form be a huge pop culture reference. Well, this one goes pretty deep so just bear with me as we descend into a rabbit hole of sorts and I try to make sense of the startling revelations I’ve been having lately. Gaunter O’Dimm seems to be a little bit off but it’s not until you really get to know him that you begin to realize that being off is just the tip of the iceberg- he’s obviously some sort of djinn or conjurer or demon as Geralt himself deduces.

Now here’s where I do a bit of conjuring of my own and send your brain into oblivion with my next few words: Gaunter O’Dimm can be related in more than one way as a reference to Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. BAM. Didn’t see that one coming now did you? Oh yes- I assure you there is at least marginal ground for this presumed assumption whether intentional or not. You see, In the fifth book of the main novel series (Wolves of the Calla) there is a character referred to as Walter O’Dim- or Randall Flagg for those of you into Stephen King who recognize the demonic presence in both The Dark Tower series and The Stand.

So in essence this is pretty much a reference within a reference within a ton of references- confounding, I know.

The reason I say there is very definitely at least some sort of relation here is mainly because of some of the elements that make up Flagg/O’Dim’s character and contribution to the story overall. In many ways the devious and devilish acts that O’Dim and O’Dimm try to pull off are vaguely similar in scope and design. Plus they have semi-similar existences and inevitably come to about the same conclusion in terms of character arcs as well. Just as Walter O’Dim toys constantly with King’s Gunslinger in the series, Gaunter O’Dimm toys constantly with Geralt of Rivia in Wild Hunt- often working with him as much as against him behind the scenes as well as completely out of the shadows.

It’s an interesting relationship that both sets of characters have and one that dynamically affects their respective stories as well. Another interesting note is that whereas King’s O’Dim is an evil wizard who also maniacally permeates the very fabric of fourth wall breaking time and appears time and time again throughout King’s works as a minor yet outwardly evil presence, O’Dimm is as far as anyone knows “evil incarnate” and can manipulate both time and souls on a whim. Needless to say both are incredibly terrifying and powerful forces of nature and not to be trifled with.

Although their relationship as far as references go mostly stems from very similar names and highly suspect powers and intentions, it’s interesting to see that two well-known and well-respected worlds of fiction should share such amazing entities that are startlingly similar after all.

man-in-black-header_1050_591_81_s_c1

I’ll leave you clinging to your seats with a little glimpse at at least one incarnation of the infamous Walter O’Dim of King’s legendary series…

But now we must really be moving onto our second and most interesting in-house reference, at least as far as CD Projekt Red productions and games go. It is not secret that the talented minds behind The Witcher series have been putting their respective time and effort towards a new, much more modern (but no less dark and gritty) world. Cyberpunk 2077 understandably strikes a lot of Blade Runner-esque chords and looks entirely too promising not to be an interesting next project for the team.

Although there have been recent stories in regards to the nature of the proposed trademark and how it might affect others attempting to create games in the cyberpunk genre, which has been around long before CDP deigned to craft their role-playing adventure, I believe we are in much better hands than the whole Scrolls debacle between Mojang and Bethesda seemed to be industry-wise. Potential scandal and news tidbits aside, there is an interesting relationship between both Wild Hunt and Cyberpunk 2077 and it stems from a direct and quotable source within the confines of Ciri and Geralt’s adventure. Literally- there’s dialogue support of such a reference and even lore to back things up.

cyberpunk

Later in the story- actually, shortly after you rescue some dwarves (or leave them to die, your choice really) from a misty island filled with plenty of nightmare-inducing creatures, Ciri will be reunited with Geralt and there will be plenty of ensuing dialogue. At one point, Ciri will mention offhandedly that she traveled to other worlds (as is well within her power) with Avallac’h and one of these worlds boasted flying carriages and people with metallic heads and something of the general futuristic-y kind of noire vibe essentially.

Well, if that obvious and blatant references doesn’t just light the signal fire for Cyberpunk 2077 then I don’t really know what will. As The Witcher 3 is probably Geralt’s last huzzah at least for the foreseeable future and a completely appropriate end to an amazing generational character arc, the next project predominately on CDP’s plate is of course none other than 2077. As such, it would only make sense that they include some kind of passing of the baton and what better way to do it than to actually confirm that both The Witcher and Cyberpunk actually exist in the same universe/multiverse? Actually, it’s quite brilliant from a developer perspective and even gave them an excuse to build in other worlds (showcasing their design abilities and unique ideas) as well as time bending mechanics into Wild Hunt as well. Really, well done CD Projekt.

Although the first of these two references is of course a lot grander and perhaps more farfetched than this second quite brief one- both are thoroughly interesting to ponder and the mere thought of Geralt and cyborg ninjas (or whatever) existing in the same dimension is mind blowing to be honest.

1245-2-1454177541

I don’t know about you, but I’m sure Geralt has always wanted to travel between worlds and get attacked by what Stephen King would eagerly refer to as massive “lobstrosities” as well. Well, you’ll have more than one opportunity to travel to other realms and not all are as sunny and forgiving as this ruined desert world that echoes of human vanity and global warming and other issues prevalent in our culture today. For example, you may find yourself in a future where the Wild Hunt has decimated Gearalt’s world with the White Frost and the mere touch of snow chills you literally to death.

Or in another instance if you descend from suitably safe platforms and into the fern forest below then you suffocate and die thanks to toxic fumes. Really, Avallac’h and Ciri were lucky to wind up in a dystopian future rather than the places that Geralt was spun all around creation and quite literally through time and space for. The man just attracts bad luck and worse monsters like no other, it’s true.

Anyway, it’s been a long haul and I’m sure some of you have thoroughly fired your brains by now with at least one of these supposed references- real or otherwise theorized. I do hope you’ll share your comments and questions or even discuss some of the other spoilery intricacies of The Witcher 3 with me either now or in the future. If you cannot tell, sometimes I’ve just got to nerd out. Cheers.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Ice In My Veins: The X-Files Retrospective Pt. 1/XX

15-underrated-xfiles-episodes

If you know me at all, then you’ll know that enjoy a wide variety of television shows- virtually any genre is game if it features an interesting story, memorable characters, and overall quirkiness. I enjoy everything from Quantum Leap to Firefly, but the object of my affection for the purpose of this post is The X-Files which debuted in 1993 and has never quite left the scene, fading in and out of existence all the way up until this year.

It is my goal to provide a random blog post here and there with the intent of tackling one of my favorite episodes from each season of the show. I predominately liked the first few seasons, however that’s not to say there aren’t memorable episodes among the latter years as well. The specific episode in question for today’s retrospective look is the eighth episode of the first season, entitled “Ice.” Here’s a little backstory for it for those of you who haven’t seen the show, who have but don’t remember, or for those of you who may be interested. WARNING: Spoilers abound! I won’t ruin every minute detail, but I may come pretty close.

Chris Carpenter- cited with creating the series as we know it and also with the writing and filming of the majority of its episodes, essentially states that this episode was heavily influenced by films such as “The Thing” and novellas such as John W. Campbell’s “Who Goes There?” As with the majority of The X-Files’ episodes, which deal with extraterrestrial or paranormal activity, this episode falls into the former category and deals with a team of deceased scientists inside an arctic research facility. Just where do everyone’s favorite FBI detective duo come in? Sent to investigate the mysterious radio silence of the base, Mulder and Scully (accompanied by several scientists and their pilot) encounter a strange alien organism that has lain dormant in the ice for thousands of years.

For a show rooted in genres and tropes such as the supernatural, horror, modern myths, and conspiracy theories, this particular episode got my blood pumping and my mind thinking. Between the thought of what an organism such as the parasitic worm they encountered could do should it break quarantine, the creeping sensation that anyone in the group could be infected and masquerading as sane, and the moral choices and dilemmas between how best to approach the situation, it is a tense thriller of a forty-five minute episode.

The most obvious inspiration for the episode is John Carpenter’s 1982 rendition of “The Thing” which has since been remade by other cinematic directors to varying success. The X-Files’ take on “the thing” is intriguing in its own narrative and nail-biting, chilling, and overall sensational in my own opinion. It quickly establishes a narrative for the one-off story of the episode and introduces the key characters- three scientists of varying backgrounds such as geology and biology, Mulder and Scully who hardly need an introduction by this point, and the maverick plane pilot crazy enough to fly them to the remote arctic ice core drilling facility.

Sticking to the vein of tense alien horror flicks, the episode goes by but not without killing off a few of its cast for added effect. It helps that the set is one confined location and that the arctic weather outside and the death of pilot “Bear” effectively traps the crew in with the parasite. Knowing next to nothing about the worm-like creature, how it is transferred from hosts, and more importantly how to eradicate its presence in their body, this serves as a tense experience overall. Perhaps the greatest moments of all are when each member of the crew showcases little ticks as lack of sleep and exhaustion get to them, causing viewers to question who, if any of them, may be infected with the parasitic life form.

This culminates into a wonderful scene where Mulder puts Scully’s trust to the test and they square off with guns held on each other, leading the former to be briefly imprisoned on suspicion of infection while the others search for a cure. Later on there is another brilliant scene between them that ratchets up the tension even further when Doctors Hodge and DaSilva ambush Mulder and Scully, seeking to introduce the alien life form into Mulder’s bloodstream in hopes of combating the one they think is already inside. I won’t completely spoil the twist, but needless to say Mulder isn’t the one who is infected and things play out quite differently than expected, blood-curdling screams and all.

As with the best moments of the show, “Ice” embraces the cliches of horror thrillers and tense extraterrestrial encounters, making for an interesting homage and an intriguingly moral episode. To top matters off, when Mulder recommends returning to the base in order to more properly investigate the alien life form found there, he is told that the army has destroyed all trace evidence. As will be a continuing theme for the show, there’s something potentially much larger at stake and in play. Conspiracy theorists abound!

Tagged , ,

Retro Review: The Clone Wars S1E12-22

star-wars-the-clone-wars-season-1-20090327075032925

Continuing with my reviews of the animated series The Clone Wars, and by extension Star Wars Rebels, here is the second half of season one’s episodes. Whether or not the second half of this season will live up to the precedent set by the first half is for you to decide after reading through this review. Now, let’s get onto the subject material shall we?

Episode Twelve- The Gungan General

Where we left off in Episode Eleven, Count Dooku had been captured by some pirates and the Jedi were off to capture the Count for themselves. Continuing the trend in this second episode of that story arc, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker find themselves taken prisoner and sure enough must ironically work with the Count for a time in order to escape from their captors.

Grade: B

Episode Thirteen- Jedi Crash

Not so invincible as he oftentimes seems or rather seems to think, Skywalker is injured after a massive battle and comatose for a short time. Meanwhile Aayla Secura and Ahsoka Tano team up to not only find supplies and help but to find a way off of the seemingly uninhabited planet they’ve crash landed on. Along the way expect the usual problems to arise as they often do in such situations.

Grade: B-

Episode Fourteen- Defenders of Peace

The Jedi find themselves caught in a potentially deadly civilian crossfire between Separatist forces and the pacifist Lurmen when the latter think that not fighting will guarantee their safety against the Separatist forces. Needless to say, the droid army tries to raze the local population regardless of their will to fight or not and the Jedi and clones must intervene. It is an interesting look into oppression and war from a different perspective.

Grade: B+

Episode Fifteen- Trespass

Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker once more team up to visit an icy outpost where clone troops have been recently disappearing and the local forces have taken over control. As it would turn out, a before undiscovered race of Talz on the planet has been attacking the troops for encroaching upon their territories unknowingly. The conflict begins to heat up between the Talz and the allies when a series of misunderstandings leads to one debacle after another. Obviously, peace must be made before more casualties are sustained on either side, as the Separatists are the true enemy to be rallying against.

Grade: A-

Episode Sixteen- The Hidden Enemy

Upon invading and attempting to liberate the planet of Christophsis, Skywalker and Kenobi find evidence of a traitor among their men and seek to discover who it is before it is too late for the invasion. Along the way they run into difficulties with Asaj Ventress while Cody and Rex must hold their own as their base is continually sabotaged by the traitor. In the end, it is a matter of ethics and the questionable freedom of the clones that is philosophically discussed at the end of the day, setting a later stage for their eagerness or not in carrying out Order 66 I would assume.

Grade: A

Episode Seventeen- Blue Shadow Virus

Once again we see an already old trope of Padme and Jar Jar Binks being captured after exploring somewhere they should’ve been more careful. This time, it is a weapons facility on Naboo, hidden deep in the swampy lands far away from any major cities. Instead of developing new weapons of war, it turns out the Separatists have successfully raised a previously eradicated plague from the dead and seek to unleash it upon the unsuspecting galaxy, not just the Republic as a whole.

Grade: A-

Episode Eighteen- Mystery of the Thousand Moons

In the continuation of the Blue Shadow Virus story arc, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi search for a way to cure the infected of the virus before it is too late. They end up searching the nearby moons for a particular root said to combat the disease and discover more than they bargained for. First they happen upon a massive debris cloud surrounding Iego and then they discover the Separatists have booby-trapped the field with an energy shield preventing anyone from leaving the planet upon landing, lending to the local mythology of a mysterious spirit called Drol, who guards the planet. Upon successfully getting the root they need, with the help of a young mechanic they disable the energy field and successfully return to cure the afflicted.

Grade: A

Episode Nineteen- Storm over Ryloth

The majority of this episode is one of the rare episodes set entirely during and around a space battle in the surrounding space of Ryloth, Separatist controlled homeworld of the Twi’leks. This is also an episode largely used to harp on philosophy and respect, especially after Padawan Learner Tano loses the majority of her men in battle after making several costly mistakes. The fog of war is lifting and lessons must be learned as the Jedi face off against a Separatist general who is blockading the planet.

Grade: A-

Episode Twenty- Innocents of Ryloth

The continuation of the invasion of Ryloth story arc, this episode sees the Jedi landing and attempting to push into town in order to evict the Separatist forces and protect the local population. Things aren’t exactly going as planned, especially since the droid army successfully learns the Jedi battle plans and knows their every move. Even worse, the droids are using Twi’leks as living shields to protect their cannons from Republic bombing.

Grade: A

Episode Twenty-One- Liberty on Ryloth

The conclusion of the Ryloth story arc and a major victory for the Republic all occurs within this episode. Mace Windu joins the fight and attempts to convince a local resistance general to aid the Republic in throwing the Separatist forces off the planet, only if the clones and their forces agree to leave soon thereafter as well. Politics behind the scenes threaten this new proposition as well however.

Grade: A

Episode Twenty-Two- Hostage Crisis

This is the final episode of the season and a standalone story in what will become a bigger part within the beginning of season two as well, introducing Bounty Hunter Cad Bane and his crew as Separatist agents. Bane takes over a wing of the Senate building, striking a ballsy blow against the Republic by forcing them to release a criminal Hutt. Anakin Skywaker does his best to foil their plans with mixed results.

Grade: B+

Trivia:

In Episode 21- Liberty on Ryloth, the resistance general by the name of Cham Syndulla is of close relation to later hero and Star Wars Rebels cast member Hera Syndulla.

Tagged , , ,

Retro Review: The Clone Wars S1 E1-11

star-wars-the-clone-wars-season-1-20090327075032925

Seeing as the trailer for Rogue One recently released, I’ve decided to mix things up a little bit and break from reviewing games in favor of going back through the seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. While we wait for both Rogue One and for Episode VIII, I see no reason not to enjoy the other developments of the now entirely canon-based Star Wars universe. That having been said, I will be reviewing a couple of episodes at a time, offering pros and cons and an overall grade for each of the episodes.

Episode One- Ambush

Starting off any series, even an animated one, on the right note is crucial in television. Thankfully, Master Yoda is here to ensure that is the case for The Clone Wars. Although the show is known for jumping all about the timeline of the Clone Wars in general, I think this was a welcome stepping off point. Following a tale of Yoda and a few clones pinned down by a droid army ambush, it established the tone of the animated adventures.

Grade: A

Episode Two- Rising Malevolence

The Clone Wars plays to its strengths by visiting other recognizable yet not-so-well known characters of the Star Wars universe. In this instance Master Plo Kloon takes the role Master Yoda took in the first episode. It also features an interesting new Separatist super-weapon, a ship of sorts- not quite on the level of Destiny’s Dreadnought or Star Wars’ Death Star, Starkiller Base, or Galaxy Gun, but something like that. Needless to say, this episode begins an interesting three episode story arc.

Grade: A

Episode Three- Shadow of Malevolence

The second episode of the three episode arc featuring the Separatist warship Malevolence continues with an interesting story integrating yet more classic Star Wars action into the mix. Anakin Skywalker and friends pursue their plans of leading a bombing run on the ship, but suffice it to say things don’t exactly go as planned. The episode also does a great job of fully integrating Skywalker and co into the mix, as well as some modified Y-Wing bombers and General Grievous.

Grade: A-

Episode Four- Destroy Malevolence

In this particular episode we see the first of many times Padme and C-3PO will inevitably be captured and used as hostages to negotiate with the Jedi. Naturally this provides ample opportunity for General Grievous to escape a la Episode III, as will also become commonplace and old at times. The one thing to be said about it however is that it naturally puts the finishing touches on the three episode story arc revolving around the Malevolence.

Grade: B+

Episode Five- Rookies

Enter Officers Cody and Rex. They may not entirely be commanders at this particular time, as they are quite assuredly leading together. However, they are no less formidable or interesting than their Episode II and III big screen counterparts or their Extended Universe compatriots. As the title would suggest, their biggest goal is to train their rookie troops to fight off a droid invasion of their base. It has its dark moments, as far as the animated series is concerned anyway, however as always things end on a relatively upbeat note.

Grade: A

Episode Six- Downfall of a Droid

And thus begins a two episode story arc revolving around R2-D2 being captured and held by the Separatists. As would be the Republic’s luck, R2-D2 is holding onto some sensitive information that could mean bad news if the Separatists got their hands on it after probing through the droid’s memory banks. It’s not quite the plans for the Death Star we’re talking about here, however I’d imagine Jedi military tactics and battle plans in the enemy hands would be a catastrophe indeed.

Grade: A-

Episode Seven- Duel of the Droids

This particular episode finishes up the whole “R2-D2 gets captured” story arc and also manages to somehow make the little astromech droid that much more lovable and enjoyable to watch onscreen, even in animated form. As the title would suggest, the episode has to do with an ironic showdown of sorts between droids at General Grievous’ listening post when Skywalker and Ahsoka go in to rescue their metal friend.

Grade: A

Episode Eight- Bombad Jedi

If you hoped you wouldn’t have to constantly be reminded of The Phantom Menace, keep wishing. Not only does Jar Jar Binks feature prominently in this episode, but Padme and Viceroy Nute Gunray make their appearances as well. It’s essentially a similar theme to The Phantom Menace, centering on saving Padme and subsequently Threepio from the Viceroy, with Binks being the unlikely “hero.” Somehow, it could’ve been worse.

Grade: B-

Episode Nine- Cloak of Darkness

Here we see many familiar faces in Star Wars mythos, all set in an interesting and exciting chapter of season one. Count Dooku, Asaj Ventress, Ahsoka Tano, Master Luminara, and more make appearances. The premise seems simple enough: escort Gunray to trial and successfully place the captured Trade Federation leader under arrest for good. However, whenever Ventress is thrown into the mix, you cannot assume things will go so easily and they of course do not.

Grade: A

Episode Ten- Lair of Grievous

Being that it is an origin story of sorts for the Clone Wars itself, The Clone Wars seeks to feature General Grievous heavily and puts that to good use in this episode. Pursuing Count Dooku, Jedi Master Kit Fisto and his troops chase the Count into the middle of what turns out to be Grievous’ hideout. Needless to say, true to the warlord’s infamous reputation, few survive the ensuing battle. It’s as tense as the show has gotten thus far.

Grade: A

Episode Eleven- Dooku Captured

As we come to the halfway point of season one and the end point for this series of short reviews, I want to remind you that so far everything has been pretty solidly laid at the foundation. Things won’t begin to get too old until you start seeing the same characters getting put in pretty similar situations. As of now, even for an animated series, it is fresh and enjoyable which is always a good thing. The title of this episode should tell you just about all you need to know, however what you may not realize is Count Dooku has in fact been “captured” by pirates, although Skywalker and Kenobi seek to capture the Count themselves as well.

Grade: B+

Trivia:

If you glance a bit into the future, specifically Episode 21- Liberty on Ryloth, you’ll have a chance to see Separatist leader Wat Tambor loading the Ark of the Covenant onto one of his ships at around the thirteen minute mark. Consider this Lucas’ ongoing cosmic joke of sorts. Your welcome.

Tagged , , ,

Who’s Who that Should be in Arkham Knight? Pt. 3

[Spoilers Abound!]

Hey look! More Villainous Foes!

Another day, another customary ‘Who’s Who?’ for my Arkham Knight series of speculation blogs. Again, I don’t plan on there having to be very much of an introduction here, so let’s go ahead and get this thing started then. As you’re probably expecting now, here are twelve more villains to marvel at that could really put on some whoop-butt for the Bat. Or at least a good side show. Obviously, not all of them would be cut out for the spotlight…yet…

Professor Pyg aka Lazlo Valentin: Several things are certain when the ‘Good Doctor’ is concerned- number one: there is nothing remotely good about this psychotic former chemist, two: he is one of the most truly insane characters in Batman’s large and crazy world, three: it’d be a terrible idea to blow this little piggy’s house down, especially since he’d butcher you for it. Professor Pyg is one of Batman’s newer and darker foes, as he is commonly known- infamously so, for butchering his victims and transforming them into lobotomized, genderless creatures fitted with fleshy masks and done over with odd hairdos. Needless to say, he runs a freakshow and adds to it whenever possible. Oh, and there masks- yeah, those get plastered onto their faces…permanently. Professor Pyg is also another member of the group notably referenced as the Circus of Strange, and although he is technically only a part of Doctor Hurt’s cabal, he is much more outlandish and gruesome than that particular fiendish doctor. Interestingly, which could potentially fit into Arkham Knight’s plot quite well, both Scarecrow and Bane confront Pyg at a later date and effectively force him to join their cause(s) in crime. Interesting and insane thought, no?

Firefly aka Garfield Lynns: A truly intriguing character and a relative newcomer to the Arkham-verse as well, Firefly actually made a recent appearance in Arkham Origins here not quite a year ago. Although that particular battle was relatively short-lived, as Firefly’s jetpack joyride was taken care of with ease from the Bat, I imagine this fight not being so easy and the backstory and build-up this time around being more interesting as well. Ultimately, of course, this will just be one more side battle, as I don’t ever see Firefly being a major villain at all, however, it could make for an interesting side-track path say with arson missions or bombs spread around Gotham to defuse and whatnot. Firefly isn’t too bright at times, however he does have some neat tools and splodey-s at his disposal- namely a large rocket launcher and some flaming grenades. Can’t argue that he’s at least prepared in his homicidal and arsonistic tendencies.

Death Rattle aka Erasmus Rayne: Death Rattle may not be entirely well known at all, however as both a cultist (and a leader of cults) and a serial killer, he has been quite well known indeed. He’s so psychotic that he actually decided to found his own religion and proclaim the amoral and absolutely insane as okay to peruse. Insanely, he also thought he could perform such amazing feats as talking with the dead and being psychic as well. Eventually however, these voices of the “dead” convinced him to murder over fifty members of his congregation of worshipers, and he was captured and sent to Arkham Asylum- coupled with the Great White, Warren White in a cell. What happened next is not very well chronicled, however, for the sake of the Arkham-verse and this particular sequel, we should assume he survived this trial and tribulation.

Doctor Death: Doctor Death is actually one of the very first major supervillains that Batman encountered, and therefore I think it would be quite fitting to incorporate some version of him into what is supposedly Rocksteady’s final bright light in the Arkham-verse main trilogy and overarching series of games. Although now quite a cliched character by today’s standards, Doctor Death is a mad scientist who develops lethal chemical gases and injections, threatens the wealthy and powerful of Gotham, and demands that people pay him tribute money or else suffer the consequences. He is essentially a mad crime boss with an affinity for powerful nerve gases- a dangerous enemy to have. He has even been cast as a black market biological weapons dealer, which could fit more with the plot of Arkham Knight potentially and in the so-called Nolan-verse or realistic side of things for the Bat.

Fright aka Linda Friitawa: Oh boy, this albino medical practitioner has done some pretty gruesome things over the years. In fact, I’d say she more than earns her spot on this particularly gruesome list of Batman villains. Ironically enough, while she was busy helping Scarecrow with some of his experiments she was actually working for the Penguin and plotting against Scarecrow, despite her kind attitude towards the masked maniac. She was supposed to be weakening his toxins instead of strengthening them as he intended, and also corrupting them so that they would turn the Scarecrow into a monstrosity known only as the Scarebeast- whether or not this succeeded varies with different interpretations…

Lock-Up aka Lyle Bolton:Lock-Up is an interesting anti-hero, vigilante turned villain by circumstances. All he ever wanted was to capture the super villains and punks of the world, or at least of Gotham City, but then he started beating the Bat as well. And we all know that’s a big no-no. Lock-Up is an expert at incarceration and torture methods, and is well-known for instilling fear in the villains he captures, as well as often murdering them in heinous ways before they can be freed. He was dismissed from the police academy and several security positions for being too “gung-ho” and abusive to those he was supposed to capture, not harm completely. At one point Batman actually allowed him to lord over Blackgate Penitentiary while the city would otherwise be overrun with mad villains thanks to an earth-shattering quake, but he soon rectified that when given the opportunity. At one time, Lock-Up held Two-Face, Nightwing, Robin, Charaxes, Allergent, Ventriloquist, and Killer Moth in check and imprisoned. Needless to say, he’s memorable for his ruthlessness and imprisoning techniques and cunning- he could be a semi-major player at some point in Arkham City, and an interesting foil to Commissioner Gordon as well.

Flamingo aka Eduardo Flamingo:Flamingo is as fearlessly weird as they come. His get-up would be almost comical and laughably stupid if he weren’t so insane and ruthlessly efficient in his killing of others. If you couldn’t guess, he dresses all in pink, has pink hair, and even rides a pink motorcycle- which he also uses to run people over before eating their faces off, after he murders them…sometimes. If that doesn’t sound bad enough and oddly intimidating, he also totes several different guns and a sword. A sword, yes. On top of the fact that he was lobotomized by the mob and honestly can’t think straight at all, he changes moods crazy fast and is so unpredictable that you never know when he’ll attack- now…or now. In one particular universe (of New Earth) and with one set of Batmen, he nearly killed the Red Hood, Robin, and Batman (Dick Grayson, in this case). I guess you could call him a rip-off artist, if ripping faces off is considered art in that universe… He”d certainly be a dark villain to include in Arkham Knight, and though I think the chances are slim- mainly because it’d be too gritty and a pink motorcycle wouldn’t fit in so well, it could still be done for all we know.

Jane Doe: Another intriguing and very dark persona, Jane is quite literally a cipher- even in her own explanations. She has no real reason to live, so she takes the lives, minds, and bodies of others in order to live their lives out for them. How kind of her! She will obsessively learn the patterns and mannerisms of her victims before killing them and taking their skin and essential body parts (for later use). Her guise is often so convincing that she herself even begins to think of herself as the person whose skin she has acquired, making her a veritable zealot whilst in ‘costume.’ Once, while imprisoned in Arkham Asylum, she took the guise of a psychiatrist and administered evaluations to other inmates there, before attempting to escape. She also tried to murder Warren White and take his flesh- resulting in his frozen features and new moniker as the Great White after a freezer incident.

Onomatopoeia: Little is known about this particular super-villain in terms of features and identity, which he has craftily and carefully concealed over the years in any encounters with the law or other human beings (that are still living, that is). However, what is well-known is that he is a master of mimicry and a serial murderer who commonly targets non-super powered vigilantes and heroes, though is not adverse to taking down the unwary villain as well on occasion. He can imitate any sound from gunshots to leaky faucets and often leads his prey into traps by sounding like friends or rescuers. He is obviously in tip-top shape as he is a martial arts master and expert marksman, carries a plethora of guns- from rifles to handguns, and a common commando knife for close quarters confrontations as well. He could be a really interesting foe in Arkham Knight as a side-boss, where almost like the Killer Croc chase in Asylum, he lures you about and you must stealthily avoid his traps. Rocksteady could also take some creative freedom with his character model as well, on the bright side.

Tally Man: Need I even say it any more? He’s a dark, taxing sort of guy- literally. As a boy he grew up with his family constantly being harassed by the “tally men” or debt collectors of the mob and other criminal undergrounds. After his father’s death, the continued to extort his family for cash, and when they had no more, the boy brutally murdered one debt collector- winding up in jail for his antics. After his release a long while later, he discovered his sister dead and his mother committing suicide, which broke him completely. After a lengthy hiatus, he returns ‘reborn’ as Tally Man- working for the mob to collect debts of human lives, not cash. He twice tried to “collect” on Batman’s debt- but faced down Azrael and Nightwing instead during their stints as the Bat, instead of the Dark Knight himself. Beaten both times and horrendously scarred after some events concerning Two-Face, he hasn’t been seen in some time…but maybe a gritty return in Arkham Knight is just what he needs…

The Wrath aka Elliott Caldwell:Essentially a copycat of Batman himself, this particular villain makes it his goal to take down cops, not villains as the Bat himself has deemed worthy. The Wrath’s parents were “gunned” down by a then young Commissioner Gordon, although he was actually acting in self-defense. It is this similar yet opposite start that makes the man’s story as well as his costume, sidekick, and motive quite similar yet still distorted from Bruce Wayne’s own methods and motives. Later, his sidekick (Elliott) becomes The Wrath, only after the first one dies unfortunately after his fight with Batman during their first major encounter and confrontation. I guess you could say it was just “bat luck” on his part though… Ironically, it is later revealed that The Wrath actually respected and admired Batman and created his costume to model him, seeing the “similarities” in origins they shared (having discovered he was Bruce Wayne). This did not, however, save him from his own folly and death. Imagine if Arkham Knight actually depicts Batman accidentally killing him- as he does in the comics, with a fire bomb deflected and a blast knocking him off the building they’re atop. Maybe we could work Firefly in here and Batman could battle to two villains, ultimately trying yet failing to rescue Wrath before his plummet… Interesting thought.

Zeiss aka Philo Zeiss:Zeiss also has a tragic backstory, as do many heroes and villains of Gotham’s universe and in DC’s universe as a whole. However, it is interestingly enough his current story that is the more intriguing of the two. He is just some normal guy- except for the fact that he has had various cybernetic implants and reflex amplifiers surgically placed in his body and wired to his brain, making him a very formidable combatant and foe for Batman. He totes goggles which can be used to analyze and adapt to any fighting style, has a strengthened spine and fists, and also is a martial arts master. He has been known to relentlessly pursue the Bat on occasion, completely forgetting what he was intending to do in order to fight the man who he has a large vendetta against. He has also been known to fight the Bat to a standstill several times, only losing because Batman has changed his tactics quickly enough to outwit his clever goggles- or even shattered them with batarangs. He’d certainly be a great hand to hand foe to face in a brawler such as Arkham Knight, and a pretty classic boss battle as well…

Tagged , ,
Milly Schmidt

The Cat's Write

Mr. Miniike's Tea-Sipping Reviews

Album reviews and pop culture nothings by a Christian INFP New Yorker turboplebe with no musical talent. Mostly empty gushing. How can you resist?

ultimatemindsettoday

A great WordPress.com site

Selected Essays and Squibs by Joseph Suglia

The Web log of Dr. Joseph Suglia

The Ninth Life

It's time to be inspired, become encouraged, and get uplifted!

Elan Mudrow

The Ridges of Intertextuallity

Storyshucker

A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

What Inspires Your Writing?

A blog dedicated to writers...and the people, places, and things that spark their creativity

%d bloggers like this: