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Zeroing In on the 2017 NBA Draft

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Last year’s draft was interesting but this year’s draft is going to be eventful. The first thing that strikes me as utterly hilarious (or contemptuous depending upon where you live) is the fact that the draft is being held in Brooklyn and yet the Nets lost both first picks of each round to the Celtics and Hawks. In return for the first and thirty-first picks they’ve got the twenty-second, twenty-seventh, and fifty-seventh. So…not really quite the steal they were going for I’d assume.

Honestly it’s such a stroke of equal parts fortune and irony for Boston that they are the overall first round pick and still in the race for a Finals appearance having just offed the Wizards in seven games and headed to a matchup with Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Wizards get no love from the sports pantheon, but RIP John Wall- you really tried your damnedest and Bradley Beal could only flop so many times… At least the Wizards didn’t explode like the Rockets did in orbit around the Spurs when they got mugged 114-75. Speaking of the Spurs, they’re not doing so hot without Leonard so a Golden State return to the Finals is looking more probable by the day.

But we didn’t come here to talk about Chef Curry’s odd scruff or Manu Ginobili’s strange bout of utter clutch-ness, or even LeBron’s undying dominance. No, we came here to discuss some of the other interesting developments in pro basketball culture and what exactly is going on with the 2017 NBA Draft.

If you’ve been paying attention to college or professional basketball at all lately then you’ve probably heard the likes of names such as Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, Lonzo Ball, and Malik Monk mentioned. It doesn’t matter that those prospects (and others) are from big name schools such as Washington, Kansas, Duke, UCLA, or Kentucky. All that matters is how they’ve played and sometimes how they carry themselves as well. Whether somebody is going the one and done route or playing out a number of years at their respective college, making it this far is a testament to their talent and commitment.

I’ve been watching the NCAA prospects, the NCAA Tournament coverage, the NBA seasonal games, and any other basketball related coverage possible over the past few months. It’s been an intriguing time. But now it’s coming down to the draft season and we only have about a month before the decisions are in. Let’s look at the current standings between a couple of sports media outlets right now:

CBS/FOX

1. Markelle Fultz, Washington (PG)

2. Josh Jackson, Kansas (SF) / Jayson Tatum, Duke (SF)

3. Lonzo Ball, UCLA (PG) / Josh Jackson, Kansas (SF)

4. Jayson Tatum, Duke (SF) / De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky (PG)

5. Jonathan Isaac, Florida State (SF) / Lonzo Ball, UCLA (PG)

6. Dennis Smith, NC State (PG) / Jonathan Isaac, Florida State (SF)

7. Lauri Markkanen, Arizona (PF) / Dennis Smith, NC State (PG)

8. De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky (PG) / Lauri Markkanen, Arizona (PF)

9. Malik Monk, Kentucky (SG)

10. Justin Jackson, North Carolina (SF) / Frank Ntilikina, International (PG)

11. Frank Ntilikina, International (PG) / Jarrett Allen, Texas (PF)

12. Zach Collins, Gonzaga (C)

13. Donovan Mitchell, Louisville (SG) / Justin Patton, Creighton (C)

14. Justin Patton, Creighton (C) / Justin Jackson, North Carolina (SF)

15. Johnathan Motley, Baylor (PF) / OG Anunoby, Indiana (SF)

16. Isaiah Hartenstein, International (PF) / Ike Anigbogu, UCLA (PF)

17. Ike Anigbogu, UCLA (PF) / John Collins, Wake Forest (PF)

18. Ivan Rabb, Califronia (PF) / Terrance Ferguson, International (SG)

19. OG Anunoby, Indiana (SF) / Ivan Rabb, California (PF)

20. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue (PF) / Donovan Mitchell, Louisville (SG)

There are a few places where both sources happen to have the same person at the same rank and yet otherwise there are subtle shifts and differences between their top twenty prospects as of right now. If we were to take these top twenty and position notwithstanding assign them to the team with that respective draft slot, it would be an interesting picture indeed. As it stands, we’ve got the usual wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes as well and then there’s always the Ball family brand going after the Lakers hard.

Interesting enough, Frank Mason III only makes some of the lists in the top thirty- good enough for the first round but definitely at the tail end. It’s a shame that amazing players such as Mason will inevitably go much later because of aspects like size and durability which are much bigger issues in the pro league than they may be in college. Mason only stands at 5-11 and 190 pounds after all, but the senior was one of the most experienced and talented players in the country.

Similarly but on the flip side, let’s look at Caleb Swanigan who is in the top twenty at least as far as CBS is concerned. Swanigan is a 6-9 250 pound sophomore who has tournament experience and some crazy points totals at times as well. Comparative to his first season stats, he outperformed himself in every field with the exception of win shares- he played one more game this season but his rating was a 6.4 comparative to a career total 9.0. His 2016-17 season points, rebounds, and assists averages were over four points better (18.5 versus 14.4), two points better (12.5 versus 10.4), and half a point better (3.0 versus 2.4) than his career averages respectively.

If we are going to use him as a continued example and random player focus here, he also outperformed himself in terms of field goal, three point, free throw, and effective field goal percentages. His averages were 52.7, 44.7, 78.1, and 57.2 comparative to a career average of 50.1, 37.6, 76.0, and 54.3 respectively. His effective player efficiency rating (PER) also leapt from 21.5 to 26.2 so if his particular growth is representative of the other sophomores or non-one and done players, this will be an intriguing draft class indeed.

As it stands at the moment, the 2017 NBA Draft order is as follows for the first and second rounds (picks 1-60):

  1. Boston (From Nets) +1 -1
  2. Los Angeles Lakers +1
  3. Philadelphia (From Kings) +1 -1
  4. Phoenix +1
  5. Sacramento (From 76ers) +1 -1
  6. Orlando +1
  7. Minnesota +1
  8. New York +1
  9. Dallas +1
  10. Sacramento (From Pelicans) +2 -1
  11. Charlotte +1
  12. Detroit +1
  13. Denver +1
  14. Miami +1
  15. Portland +1
  16. Chicago +1
  17. Milwaukee +1
  18. Indiana +1
  19. Atlanta +1
  20. Portland (From Grizzlies, Via Nuggets/Cavaliers) +2 -1 -1 -1
  21. Oklahoma City +1
  22. Brooklyn (From Wizards) +1 -1
  23. Toronto (From Clippers, Via Bucks) +1 -1 -1
  24. Utah +1
  25. Orlando (From Raptors) +2 -1
  26. Portland (From Cavaliers) +3 -2
  27. Brooklyn (From Celtics) +2 -1
  28. Los Angeles Lakers (From Rockets) +2 -1
  29. San Antonio +1
  30. Utah (From Warriors) +2 -1
  31. Atlanta (From Nets) +2 -2
  32. Phoenix +2
  33. Orlando (From Lakers) +3 -1
  34. Sacramento (From 76ers, Via Pelicans) +3 -2 -2
  35. Orlando +4
  36. Philadelphia (From Knicks, Via Jazz/Raptors) +2 -1 -1 -2
  37. Boston (From Timberwolves, Via Suns) +2 -1 -1
  38. Chicago (From Kings, Via Cavaliers) +2 -2 -3
  39. Philadelphia (From Mavericks) +3 -1
  40. New Orleans +1
  41. Charlotte +2
  42. Utah (From Pistons) +3 -1
  43. Houston (From Nuggets) +1 -2
  44. New York (From Bulls) +2 -1
  45. Houston (From Trail Blazers) +2 -1
  46. Philadelphia (From Heat, Via Hawks) +4 -1 -1
  47. Indiana +2
  48. Milwaukee +2
  49. Denver (From Grizzlies, Via Thunder) +2 -2 -1
  50. Philadelphia (From Hawks) +5 -2
  51. Denver (From Thunder) +3 -2
  52. Washington +1
  53. Boston (From Cavaliers) +3 -4
  54. Phoenix (From Raptors) +3 -2
  55. Utah +4
  56. Boston (From Clippers) +4 -2
  57. Brooklyn (From Celtics) +3 -2
  58. New York (From Rockets) +3 -2
  59. San Antonio +2
  60. Atlanta (From Warriors, Via 76ers/Jazz) +3 -2 -3 -2

As you can see, not every team is picking up a top tier draft slot. In fact, several teams have traded away what would’ve been their slot and do not even have a single pick this year. Here’s the individual picks available to each team, from most to least:

  1. Philadelphia 76ers (5)- 16/17 Record: 28-54 (14th in East)
  2. Orlando Magic (4)- 16/17 Record: 29-53 (13th in East)
  3. Utah Jazz (4)- 16/17 Record: 51-31 (5th in West)
  4. Boston Celtics (4)- 16/17 Record: 53-29 (1st in East)
  5. Portland Trail Blazers (3)- 16/17 Record: 41-41 (8th in West)
  6. Sacramento Kings (3)- 16/17 Record: 32-50 (12th in West)
  7. Denver Nuggets (3)- 16/17 Record: 40-42 (9th in West)
  8. Phoenix Suns (3)- 16/17 Record: 24-48 (15th in West)
  9. Brooklyn Nets (3)- 16/17 Record: 20-62 (15th in East)
  10. New York Knicks (3)- 16/17 Record: 31-51 (12th in East)
  11. Atlanta Hawks (3)- 16/17 Record: 43-39 (5th in East)
  12. Los Angeles Lakers (2)- 16/17 Record: 26-56 (14th in West)
  13. Chicago Bulls (2)- 16/17 Record: 41-41 (8th in East)
  14. Charlotte Hornets (2)- 16/17 Record: 36-46 (11th in East)
  15. Houston Rockets (2)- 16/17 Record: 55-27 (3rd in West)
  16. Indiana Pacers (2)- 16/17 Record: 42-40 (7th in East)
  17. Milwaukee Bucks (2)- 16/17 Record: 42-40 (6th in East)
  18. San Antonio Spurs (2)- 16/17 Record: 61-21 (2nd in West)
  19. Minnesota Timberwolves (1)- 16/17 Record: 31-51 (13th in West)
  20. Dallas Mavericks (1)- 16/17 Record: 33-49 (11th in West)
  21. Detroit Pistons (1)- 16/17 Record: 37-45 (10th in East)
  22. Miami Heat (1)- 16/17 Record: 41-41 (9th in East)
  23. Oklahoma City Thunder (1)- 16/17 Record: 47-35 (6th in West)
  24. Toronto Raptors (1)- 16/17 Record: 51-31 (3rd in East)
  25. New Orleans Pelicans (1)- 16/17 Record: 34-48 (10th in West)
  26. Washington Wizards (1)- 16/17 Record: 49-33 (4th in East)
  27. Cleveland Cavaliers (0)- 16/17 Record: 51-31 (2nd in East)
  28. Golden State Warriors (0)- 16/17 Record: 67-15 (1st in West)
  29. Los Angeles Clippers (0)- 16/17 Record: 51-31 (4th in West)
  30. Memphis Grizzlies (0)- 16/17 Record: 43-39 (7th in West)

As you can see, some teams such as the Jazz, Celtics, and Hawks came away with quite the steal despite being pretty highly ranked in their own respective conferences. Some of the lower seeded teams such as the 76ers, Magic, Trail Blazers, and Suns came away with steals through a sheer higher number of picks as well. Meanwhile, teams such as the Grizzlies, Clippers, Wizards, Thunder, Heat, Pistons, Mavericks, and Timberwolves are all hurting for picks due to the fact they either have one or none.

As our last little bit of statistical crunching here, if we look at who made the most trades (either directly or involved via a trade) it also paints a particular picture as to who has already won or lost this draft class picks notwithstanding.

  1. Cleveland (4)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +4
  2. Philadelphia (3)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2
  3. Brooklyn (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +1
  4. New Orleans (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: -1
  5. Toronto (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: -1
  6. Sacramento (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +1
  7. Denver (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +1
  8. Memphis (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: -2
  9. Atlanta (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +1
  10. Oklahoma City (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: -1
  11. Los Angeles Clippers (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio:-2
  12. Boston (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2
  13. Houston (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +/-
  14. Golden State (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: -2
  15. Utah (2)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2
  16. Washington (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +/-
  17. Milwaukee (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +1
  18. Los Angeles Lakers (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +1
  19. New York (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2
  20. Minnesota (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +/-
  21. Phoenix (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2
  22. Dallas (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +/-
  23. Detroit (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +/-
  24. Chicago (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +1
  25. Portland (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2
  26. Miami (1)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +/-
  27. Indiana (0)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2
  28. Charlotte (0)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2
  29. Orlando (0)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +4
  30. San Antonio (0)- Picks/Trades Ratio: +2

Now the question undoubtedly remains: who has the best steal of a deal in terms of getting picks without sacrificing them through trades? Well here’s the top ten teams for that and with this final segment that concludes my lengthy draft preview.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers +4 *Currently @ 2nd in East, 6th Overall
  2. Orlando Magic +4 *Currently @ 13th in East, 26th Overall
  3. Philadelphia 76ers +2 *Currently @ 14th in East, 27th Overall
  4. Boston Celtics +2 *Currently @ 1st in East, 4th Overall
  5. Utah Jazz +2 *Currently @ 5th in West, 8th Overall
  6. New York Knicks +2 *Currently @ 12th in East, 25th Overall
  7. Phoenix Suns +2 *Currently @ 15th in West, 29th Overall
  8. Portland Trail Blazers +2 *Currently @ 8th in West, 16th Overall
  9. Indiana Pacers +2 *Currently @ 7th in East, 14th Overall
  10. Charlotte Hornets +2 *Currently @ 11th in East, 20th Overall
  11. (And San Antonio +2) *Currently @ 2nd in West, 2nd Overall
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The Future is Now

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Blade Runner is a classic, not just in terms of filmography or overall cinematic narrative but quite literally from the source material itself. Pretty much everything that Philip K. Dick has penned has gone on to inspire greatness- look no further than Blade Runner and Man in the High Castle, inspired respectively by Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and The Man in the High Castle.

Therefore it only makes sense that eventually someone would want to cash in on the concept of such an ingenious universe and narrative created by the 1982 neo-noir film. Do not mistake Blade Runner 2049 for just another shameless plug and attempt at rejuvenating or remaking the most famous films of the twentieth century however, as it is being made for the actual purpose of furthering the plot and passing it onto the next generation. I think that’s an admirable concept at the least, regardless of how this film inevitably compares to the original.

Whereas the original saw Harrison Ford gunning down escaped replicants and hunting at the merest hint of an existential crisis of faith, it also featured a brilliant setting and amazing cinematography. Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t seem so different in that respect as it also features Harrison Ford in some capacity, probably has several twists and turns in store for its characters and the audience alike, and also looks to feature prominent and iconic cinematic moments. The trailers have been simple but beautiful and I love the color palette and world on display.

It’s interesting to note that the film also features such prominent personas as Harrison Ford (reprising his role from the original), Ryan Gosling (as the next Harrison Ford), Jared Leto (probably being all method and pissing his fellow compatriots off), Robin Wright (not playing Frank Underwood’s wife), and Lennie James (hopefully wielding a bo-staff here as well) among others.

Such a talented and renowned cast isn’t always the key to success or even a good film- Star Wars did well with relatively minor talent in the prime positions and the acting greats taking a backseat albeit giving ostensibly their best performances of all time in some cases. However, I think it is fair to say that given the talented roster we are more than likely in for some interesting performances from major and minor characters alike. Gosling himself has been portrayed in some interesting role of late (La La Land, The Nice Guys, The Place Beyond the Pines) and I’m eager to see him give his own take on a neo-Rick Deckard essentially.

Harrison Ford is the man behind the mystery of the original film and I wonder how its respective conspiracies will play into the larger picture in this particular narrative. Here’s hoping Ford doesn’t take a lightsaber to the gut in this one at least, regardless of his character’s evolving arc. You can’t keep killing your darlings, man…

I’m eager to see the callbacks to the original but also more so how the original’s format is evolved and worked with in this sequel. The newest trailer has been fairly promising and also hints at a remarkable amount of content for the movie to discuss and viewers to digest. Even the simplest bits of dialogue have potential ramifications and spoiler worthy meaning if you’ve seen the first film and notice the references. Both the teaser and first official trailer thus far have been far more teasing and hinting than most film trailers are ever in their entirety and I love that.

Some of the aspects that I’m most curious about are of course how they handle the existential crises both Deckard and K seem to be having, as well as how this will tie into the ultimately overarching plot concerning both Leto and Wright. There seems to be a great deal of content and equal measures action and time for resolved reverie, so I’m also anticipating a lot of revelations and unraveling of a widening conspiracy in Deus Ex fashion along the way. In some respects, this is more Deus Ex: Mankind Divided than even Deus Ex was. And that’s not a bad comparison to make if 2049 can deliver on the concepts firmly laid by the original and expand in the right direction.

When it’s all said and done, unlike films such as Rings, The Two Jakes, or Caddyshack 2, Blade Runner 2049 looks to actually be both meaningful and memorable and perhaps the best way to toast the legacy of a classic film. Rather than spitting on what has been established it seems as if the crew is embracing it and furthering that legacy in a respectable way. Ridley Scott does have a way with backing ambitious projects to say the least.

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Absolving Us of our Sins

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Today’s post has to do with two games that are coming in the as of yet undetermined future, but supposedly within the bounds of 2017. The first title is Absolver- an action oriented role-playing game seeking to meld concepts of RPGs and MMOs in terms of story and open-world gameplay. The second is similar in design but follows a more rogue-like situation as it is none other than Capybara’s Below. While these two games bear similarities in both initial glances and potential expectations, they couldn’t be more different upon looking at the winding paths they’ve taken during their development and overall tenure in creative production.

I’ll start with Absolver, which is being developed by Sloclap- a studio made up of former Ubisoft veterans who have worked on a number of titles in the past including Ghost Recon. It is being handled on the publishing side by Devolver Digital- more widely recognized for their work on the Shadow Warrior reboot and sequel. In terms of technicality, the game is going to be rendered fully in a version of Unreal Engine 4 and therefore should be pretty versatile in what it can handle and how it can evolve throughout the single and multiplayer components of the campaign and story.

The game is set in a fantastical land rife with martial artists and warriors seeking to prove themselves worthy of admission into a class of peacekeepers which derive their names from the title of the game itself- Absolvers. The game seems to want to meld plenty of preexisting attributes from other titles into an original and inventive experience, which is commendable to say the least. Players will find themselves in 3v3 and 1v1 matchups against computer controlled and player controlled opponents throughout the story as they traverse an open-world setting. While at its core it wishes to be a fighting game, movesets will be determined by collected cards and skills- meaning the more gear and bonuses you desire, the more exploration and combat you’ll inevitably face.

As of right now, the game is set to be initially released for PS4 and for PC, which brings me to my smooth jazz transition to Below- set to show up on Xbox One and PC initially. Below has been in development for what seems like a very long time, and has consistently been one of my most anticipated titles of the year. Luckily, it seems like we may have an opportunity to actually witness its arrival in 2017 and alongside a slew of promising content and activities as well. I’ve already mentioned that it shares some single and multiplayer similarities to what Absolver wishes to accomplish, that it is a rogue-like title, and that it too has an evolving and open world. What also catches my attention is the fact that perspective and exploration play an even larger role in Below than combat and evolution seeks to.

It is, at its root, an adventure title seeking to send your tiny player-character into the world and the depths of caverns and crags in an ever-evolving experience and story. You will very definitely be able to write your own experience and your own narrative in the way you explore and the things you discover. The difficulty and overall mechanics sound very close in execution to Salt and Sanctuary- a title that many have enjoyed comparing to an independently developed Dark Souls, essentially for lack of a better comparison. If you think back to Double Fine’s Massive Chalice, which featured randomly generated worlds and stages and an interesting overarching narrative woven into the player-characters’ survival, you’ve probably got a firm handle on what Below seeks to encompass.

While the finer points and details of both titles are inevitably not going to release until closer to said games’ actual release dates as well, I’d like to think I know what to expect but also am open to welcome advancements and surprises. Below has been a long time coming and even Absolver has been in development for several years now, so it’ll be nice to see how they are received and if they live up to the hype and anticipation. I like to think that indie experiences constantly surprise and baffle us more than their triple-A competition, and that they’re more likely to garner praise and receive cult followings than to be belittled like annual releases and large IPs. I know today’s post has been a brief one but I’ll leave you with a gorgeous picture of Capybara’s adventure title as compensation.

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Daymare 1998

[As Read on GIO.]

I’m always down to be introduced to newer projects in the gaming industry and whenever I stumble across something that sounds interesting or seems like it has promise, I typically do my best to share it with people. My latest interest has been a game that initially started out as essentially a Resident Evil 2 fan remake and has since turned into its own project, albeit with similar roots and origins. Daymare 1998 seeks to add the current generation of visuals to the gameplay and atmosphere of some of the greatest nineties games and films. While in many ways this seems like the perfect combination of catering to nostalgia, it also looks to hold up by today’s higher standards as well.

This particular game was brought to my attention through the first alpha trailer that debuted not too long ago, although the project itself has been talked about since roughly September or October. I’ll admit there aren’t too many details out to discuss as of yet, however I do like the tense atmosphere and the haunting scenery that I’ve seen so far firsthand thanks to YouTube videos and discussion on other forums. Actually, one of the first things I noticed and thought when I glimpsed the footage was how much the third person perspective and outfit of the protagonist seemed to surprisingly remind me of Sam Fisher, best known for his role in the Splinter Cell games. While this is a far cry from that series and also bears striking similarities of course to the Resident Evil titles of old, it was an interesting connection for my brain to make.

As best as I can compare it right now without degrading the hard work of Invader Studios or the project as a whole, it sort of reminds me of a Resident Evil: Umbrella Corps look albeit with the horror and atmosphere of a traditional Resident Evil game. I like that the pacing seems to be on par with the older more tense and suspenseful horror titles, although the mechanics looked well-oiled an pretty good even for alpha footage. They’re certainly on the right track and seem to have an interesting horror game conceptually as well as physically on their hands. So if that alone interests you, I’d suggest you keep up with the project through their website and through Google, which offers plenty of juicy sites to view other people’s opinions and comments on.

I know there’s not too much to be said for the game yet despite it’s self-sufficiency as a third-person survival horror right now, but I do like what I’m seeing so far. It reminds me a little bit of Metro with the gritty visuals despite supposedly planning on utilizing Unreal Engine. I feel like drawing in some elements of other cult horror series might do it some more good, so perhaps we may even get to see familiar elements from FEAR or STALKER in there as well. You never know, and a guy can hope am I right?

I do hope you all enjoy these short blurbs and sort of previews I’ve done here and there lately, as well as the continual stream of content I’ve been trying to provide across all mediums- gaming, films, television, and more. I’ll do my best to stick to a semi-schedule and get posts out every few days or so at the least. After all, I do what I do not just because I enjoy it, but because I like being able to help others to see a wide variety of games that are released each year and to maybe discover a new project they hadn’t heard of previously as well.

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Gods and Monsters

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Today’s very early blog comes not so long after my last one, but concerns two games- one already released and recently updated and one that has yet to release, that are of great interest to me. One of those games, as you can see above, is the God of War sequel meets series reboot (in some selective ways anyway). The other title is none other than No Man’s Sky, the game with so much potential that received mixed reviews upon release and still puzzles players in many perplexing ways and also recently released the marginally better received ‘Foundation’ update.

First of all, I would like to talk about God of War (2017) which is among one of my most anticipated titles for the near future and already looking truly spectacular. If you would like to avoid spoilers, I recommend moving on from here to something unrelated. From what we’ve seen thus far, the game has a setting rooted in Norse mythology which is a lot different than the Greek pantheon we saw throughout the original series. While it has so far been confirmed not to be a reboot, there are many elements that are in some ways rebooting and evolving with the series and its new direction.

Kratos’ signature chained blades have been removed (narratively due to God of War III) and replaced with a magical axe which is also more fitting for a Norse-themed character. Plenty more has been changed besides simple aesthetics though, as Kratos has a son and the story itself is more deeply rooted in humanity rather than hatred for the moment. Kratos knows he has done wrong and is doing his best to atone for it in many ways, even if that ultimately will probably lead him to slaughter yet another pantheon of gods and monsters along the way. Combat has evolved realistically but also seems to retain some of the same elements from previous games. Everything we’ve seen up through Ascension seems to return with added capabilities such as Kratos’ son’s ability to aid him from afar with arrows and other light attacks.

The reason I stated earlier that the game isn’t a reboot in the traditional sense despite rebooting both the setting and a lot of the narrative in terms of what direction to go is due to the fact that it takes place after the conclusion of God of War’s Olympus and Greek narrative. This all takes place within the same universe albeit one where Kratos has now deigned to reside in a Nordic setting as opposed to a Greek one. It seems to be more focused on the bond between father and son as well as atonement for past crimes and the regaining of his own humanity, more for his son than for himself. Another note of interest is that it also seems to offer more of a surviving day to day dynamic as he and his son are hunters and gatherers, very much living off of the unforgiving land and battling creatures they encounter along the way.

I’m particularly excited, not just from a story or gameplay standpoint but from a talent standpoint with the game, as the newest voice actor for Kratos is none other than Star Gate SG-1 alum Teal’c (Christopher Judge, mind you). The soundtrack also shows immense promise as it has been worked on and composed by the talent behind The Walking Dead and Battlestar Galactica. In terms of other miscellaneous details and news about the gamer thus far, it is looking incredibly detailed graphically and the world seems to be a lot wider in expanse even though it has already been established that it will be a linear and not entirely open experience as with the previous titles.

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And now for my second and final act. No Man’s Sky has received mixed criticism to say the least. Hello Games should be lauded and commended for their incredible efforts with a small cast of developers, however the finished product is arguably also not everything they promised which shouldn’t come as too much of a shock but is still a little bit of a disappointment. It was definitely one of the most hyped up games of the year and of all-time in some respects and while it hits the majority of the mark sometimes it still feels like a directionless and purposeless romp through a boring galaxy mostly devoid of life.

I would like to say that for what it initially offers and what it offers now, I have been mostly a fan and less of a critic of the game. I enjoy exploration and deep thought at times more so than combat and action in games. It is the thrill of adventure that calls to me most and No Man’s Sky definitely does give a taste of that. I think procedurally generated worlds are a thing of the future and something that I’ve enjoyed immensely already through a few past experiences. In fact, games with the premise set to release in the future such as Capy’s Below and Double Fine’s Massive Chalice which has already released, have been my favorites.

No Man’s Sky recently released an update that essentially rearranges some of the game’s core elements and in my opinion is a better utilization of them then in the previous build. This is almost certainly in direct response to the criticism they have been receiving and I am wholeheartedly glad that they went out and did something about it rather than lashing out against the fanbase instead. The aptly named ‘Foundation’ update essentially offers three starting gameplay modes- a survival, creative, and normal mode each with their own difficulties and modded gameplay elements. As one should expect, survival takes the core premise and ramps up the overall difficulty whereas normal retains much the same experience we had so far experienced to date. The creative mode lies somewhere between the two and has the added benefit of being a sandbox test chamber of sorts, gifting players with nigh infinite resources in their romp across the galaxy and in base crafting paloozas.

The original and still main premise of the game is simply to explore and interact with the created environments and wildlife along the way. However with the added benefit of the free update, players can also gather resources in order to craft more items than before and to found their own base on a home planet. If this sounds pretty cool, know that it is even though crafting these locations can be somewhat of a bore in modes besides creative, where these resources take time and money to locate and peruse. No Man’s Sky is still very large and still mostly uninhabited as our own cosmos may be, and being one lone soul in it can often be excruciatingly boring and longwinded at times as well sadly. There’s no narrative pull besides your own fascination with what the randomly generated landscape may throw at you next honestly.

To spoil it for those of you who weren’t already aware- so steer clear if spoilers terrify you and you don’t want one of the major secrets of this game ruined, the breadcrumb trail to the center of the galaxy really only results in what is essentially a revelation culminating in a New Game Plus of sorts. Needless to say there is literally and virtually no end to the game or its random content, which is pretty fascinating as a matter of fact but besides being impressive is more of the same. I’m glad to see the developers have answered some of our criticisms and hope there is still more they can address in attempts to make the game both more exciting and lively. I’m interested to see where they go next in a literal galaxy of possibilities.

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Fallout 4 … Theoretically

[As Originally Posted June 01, 2013.]

Yes, this post was originally put up on this particular site, and others, quite a while ago indeed- several months in fact. However, in light of recent announcements, suspicions, and promises- I’ve decided to repost it as well, mainly to serve as a testament that I correctly guessed something right- should Bethesda announce the location(s) they plan to visit in their next Fallout title. If it really is one of these places, I’d be pleasantly surprised- but I’m an open minded individual, so… I could care less! Anyway, without further ado…your feature content…

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Aka- Theoretical Vistas that Bethesda’s Inevitable Sequel Should Consider Adopting

 

 

The following three locales are places that Fallout 4 could, and should go to in the future, when the game is (hopefully) released. Each of these places is interesting in their own right, and could really be something else entirely, adapting to the ever-growing console markets, and enriching the formulas established by Bethesda/Obsidian with 3 and New Vegas. Please, feel free to comment on any or all of my selections, and to give me feedback or even add your own opinions as to where the series could or should visit, if not with 4, then in another sequel (maybe New Vegas 2?). Enjoy the blog folks.

 

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Area 1:

 

America, When the Bombs Dropped

 

 

How cool would it be to go back in time to before the nuclear holocaust hitting the Americas occurred? How much cooler would it be to go back in time to when that was actually happening? Fallout 4 should definitely consider going back to this time period, as much as for a story purpose as for a nostalgic one. Ever since Fallout 1, we’ve heard about what happened to precipitate the following nuclear holocaust, but do we really know the true story? Perhaps it actually occurred as some conspiracy, later blamed on the Chinese. Maybe the US Government bombed its own country in some odd attempt to glorify itself and regain the trust of the people, but it all went wrong. Anything could’ve happened, and Fallout 4 could follow any number of individuals as that story is told. Maybe it could take place in two of the vistas we’ve already experienced time in- the Capitol Area, or the Vegas Strip. Either could be equally interesting, but I personally think the Vegas Strip would be a more interesting thought, and we could possibly follow the story of Robert House (aka Mr. House) as he defends the Strip from the nuclear attack, and somewhat saves that area from utter annihilation along with the Nevadan trope. Or perhaps we could go to the Capitol, and follow an unnamed or relatively unmentioned character in the aftermath of the holocaust, or within the vault system- right after they were shut for what was supposed to be forever. Perhaps, metro style, some rangers or soldiers could venture out of their vault- or be forced out if it were broken, and explore the now desolate landscape for materials whilst keeping an eye on their air supply and for the strange, irradiated creatures now roaming about. Would that not be neat? The name could be Fallout 4, a Fallout prequel called something like Fallout: Infamy, Beginning of the End, or something else, or even something new entirely such as Fallout: Washington, etc. Interesting, no?

 

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Area 2:

 

Alaska, or Colorado, or Another Snowy Place

 

 

So, we’ve seen a tad bit of snow before in the Fallout series, with the Operation Anchorage DLC from Fallout 3, and the small mountainous areas of New Vegas that the Super Mutants inhabit, so the white substance cannot be entirely out of the question. We could have a true nuclear winter, whether in some random place or in Alaska, but during the apocalypse instead of a simulation before it. Alaska is an interesting choice, because it will be a lot different looking and feeling than before the bombs fell, I bet. A whole host of new creatures could be introduced as adversaries as well, ranging from irradiated and crazed wolves and bears to frozen ghouls that can temporarily stop you cold…literally. There could be crazy snowshoe hares a la the New Vegas crows, basically sitting around for free +1 XP, and serving as simple life to spruce up the dead world. There could be fast travel locations that are on trade routes explored by bobsleds and parka-clad caravan traders. The options are nearly infinite and limitless, and it could all be so fresh as well, adding snow for the first time in the entirety of the landscape. How cool would such a simple aesthetic be? In hardcore mode, now you would not only have to deal with water levels, food and energy, and rest, but also warmth and limb strength against frostbite. What a challenge that would add… On the flip side, if it traveled to somewhere else such as say, the Rockies in Colorado, or maybe somewhere such as Olympia, Washington, but that has had weird changes in the climates that lead to a nuclear winter all year round where it once didn’t snow too much, then that could be quite intriguing. Along with the snow could come rain, and dynamic melting system that could present environmental hazards such as falling ice, sinkholes, etc. and so much more. Serious Bethesda, you should look into this. Swimming would certainly not be a viable method of travel this time around either, and not just because of rads…you’d freeze within minutes most likely. No Volare! quest for this game…

 

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Area 3:

 

Out of this World, or Country, Rather

 

 

I have had no complaint about the American places that the Fallout series has visited thus far, but let me ask you one thing- how cool would it be to explore a castle, or a loch, or ancient ruins? Well, these things could only be done out of North America, so that presents a small problem at the moment. But what if it didn’t? What if Fallout 4 took place in China, who probably received a retaliatory strike from the US after the initial bombing? Or maybe European locales, such as London, Paris, or Madrid? Maybe a nuclear cloud inevitably engulfed the whole entire planet, or a system of alliances a la WWII involved everyone once more, and no country was safe from the missiles that served as harbingers of destruction and death. Fallout 4 could take place in so many countries all over the world, each with their own reasons to convince Bethesda to choose them. Monuments, famous locations, and currently well-known attractions only being a few of them. Imagine visiting a post-apocalyptic Rio de Janeiro, New Paris’s Eiffel Tower, or Big Ben’s decrepit and collapsing structure in London. How epic would that be? Maybe they could even include the whole of Europe in one game, allowing players to use some sort of ferry system a la Point Lookout to travel from place to place across one gigantic wasteland, the likes of which never before experienced. Would that not be incredibly impressive, and offer so much content that the sheer possibilities would be nigh on endless? A win-win, right? Imagine the engrossing role-playing adventure before you, then. Fallout 4: Europe, or Fallout 4, or whatever it would be called- visiting anywhere else in the world could bring about an entirely new experience and certainly reinvigorate the series even more, as if it needed it anyway with its popularity. Since the next generation is coming, it’s time for the series to branch out even more, and truly make a mark to last for eternity, or at least until the next console apocalypse…

 

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Those are my thoughts on three incredible places or areas that the next Fallout game could visit, but of course, that is entirely up to Bethesda at this point. Wherever they choose to go, I am sure it will be incredibly detailed and exciting. Now, I’d like to hear some of your thoughts if you’d be willing to provide them, so be sure to leave me some feedback and comments here. Thanks again folks, and adieu.

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Battlefield 4 Thoughts Blog

[As Read on GIO.]

My Pre-Review Thoughts on the Game

In a few short days, I’ve earned all of the achievements but two in the Battlefield 4 Xbox 360 game version. How have I done this in such a short time? I’ll fill you in as we go. Battlefield 4 is not a bad multiplayer game by any stretch thus far, and the campaign itself isn’t terrible- however, it is definitely the weakest portion of the game’s offering. I’d go so far as to say the single player of Battlefield 4 is one of the weakest entries that the series has yet seen, aside from the classic B1942/3 seeing as that was multiplayer only. In my opinion, Battlefield 4 probably could’ve actually been better if it had ignored single player completely. I started off with only a few hours to play the game on release day, having to balance that time between Assassin’s Creed IV and Arkham Origins as well. Therefore, I was only able to earn six achievements worth 115 points total. Those achievements were the respective achievements for completing the first three campaign missions, and earning their easy-to-grab corresponding score achievements as well. Over the course of the next three days, I was able to earn 810 more points for the other thirty-four achievements of the forty-two total. As of now, simply playing through the short campaign once on every difficulty, choosing a different ending each time, will earn you thirty-seven achievements- assuming you also go through the efforts of finding the collectibles and scoring above a certain point total. Really, it’s not too hard if you put in about ten to twelve hours of hard work.

So, instead of simply bragging about how much I’ve utterly obliterated the campaign in four short days, I’m going to give you some of my pre-review thoughts concerning the game and some of its various issues or flaws. To make it a little bit easier without spoiling too terribly much yet, and to also maybe give you guys a hand with some of the achievements- those of you who try to earn as many of them as you can- I’ll be talking about each achievement as a way of breaking this down into points. Meanwhile, while I do so, I will talk about flaws and certain encounters I had whilst earning those achievements. If you were curious as well, the two achievements I have yet to earn are the Bomb Squad for 25 points and Call me “Sir” for 50 (the first for delivering 5 bombs in Obliteration, and the second for reaching rank 25). As of right now, I am ranked at 22- so I’m near there surprisingly enough… In such a short time. I guess it’s because I’ve been encountering a lot of noobs lately, and farming them for points he he he. Anyway, here goes…

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Un-Missable Campaign Achievements

Braving the Storm- All you have to do is complete Singapore on any difficulty level.

Wolves in sheep’s Clothing- All you have to do is complete Shanghai on any difficulty level.

The fall of a Titan- All you have to do is complete South China Sea on any difficulty level.

Dead by Dawn- All you have to do is complete Kunlun Mountains on any difficulty level.

Guns at Dawn- All you have to do is complete Suez on any difficulty level.

Fishing in Baku- All you have to do is complete Baku on any difficulty level.

Antediluvian- All you have to do is complete Tashgar on any difficulty level.

-These Next Three are Interchangeable-

For Tombstone- All you have to do is let the Valkyrie be destroyed in the ending. This is one of three endings that you can choose to experience. You will earn at least one of these each time you play through, but must play three different times to earn all three and the achievement for viewing every ending.

For the People- All you have to do is choose to sacrifice Irish to save the Valkyrie from being destroyed in the ending.

For the Cause- All you have to do is choose to sacrifice Hannah to save the Valkyrie from being destroyed in the ending.

-Earned if you Experience all Three Endings-

Patience is a Virtue- All you have to do is play through each of the three endings to get this achievement for doing so.

Points Total: 220 Achievements: 11

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Missable Campaign Achievements [Points]

Storm Bringer- All you have to do is earn at least 20,000 points in the Singapore mission, on any difficulty level.

A One-Man Riot- All you have to do is earn at least 11,000 points in the Shanghai mission on any difficulty level.

Terror of the Deep- All you have to do is earn at least 11,000 points in the South China Sea mission on any difficulty level.

Gladiator- All you have to do is earn at least 12,000 points in the Kunlun Mountains mission on any difficulty level.

Demolition Man- All you have to do is earn at least 15,000 points in the Tashgar mission on any difficulty level.

Guardian of the Fleet- All you have to do is earn at least 6,000 points in the Suez mission on any difficulty level.

Dunn’s Pride- All you have to do is earn at least 7,000 points in the Baku mission on any difficulty level.

Points Total: 175 Achievements: 7

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Missable Campaign Achievements [Assignments/Collectibles]

Above and Beyond the Call- All you have to do is make sure you earn the points achievements and complete each objective in every single mission, on any difficulty. That seemed to work for me. You can check these so-called assignments in your statistics menu at the start screen.

Full Arsenal- All you have to do is make sure you have collected every single collectible- single player weapons and dog tags, experienced each ending for extra tags, and completed all assignments as previously mentioned.

Stumbled Over It- All you have to do is find three collectibles in the campaign, across all levels, on any difficulty.

It was on the Way- All you have to do is find six collectibles in the campaign, across all levels, on any difficulty.

Took a Casual look Around- All you have to do is find nine collectibles in the campaign, across all levels, on any difficulty.

Done some Searching- All you have to do is find twelve collectibles in the campaign, across all levels, on any difficulty.

Methodical Search- All you have to do is find fifteen collectibles in the campaign, across all levels, on any difficulty.

No Stone left Unturned- All you have to do is find eighteen collectibles in the campaign, across all levels, on any difficulty.

Every Nook and Cranny- All you have to do is find twenty-one collectibles in the campaign, across all levels, on any difficulty.

Recon- All you have to do is find all twenty-eight, or at least twenty-eight collectibles in the campaign, across all levels, on any difficulty.

Points Total: 295 Achievements: 10

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Missable Campaign Achievements [Completion/Kills]

Fish- All you have to do is complete the full campaign on Easy difficulty.

Wolf- All you have to do is complete the full campaign on Normal difficulty.

Tombstone- All you have to do is complete the full campaign on Hard difficulty.

Well Placed- All you have to do is get at least 10 kills using C4 on the Baku mission, on any difficulty level.

Wrecker- All you have to do is get at least 10 multi-kills on the Shanghai mission, on any difficulty level.

Blood Wake- All you have to do is get at least 30 headshots on the South China Sea mission, on any difficulty level.

War Turtle- All you have to do is get at least 15 RPG kills on the Singapore mission, on any difficulty level.

Infiltrator- All you have to do is get at least 10 adrenaline kills on the Tashgar mission, on any difficulty level.

Shawshank- All you have to do is get at least 5 kills with the shank on the Kunlun Mountains mission, on any difficulty level.

Points Total: 190 Achievements: 9

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Multiplayer Achievements

Turn Around…- All you have to do is get 5 dog tag kills in any applicable multiplayer game mode.

Won them All- All you have to do is win at least one round of every single game mode in multiplayer.

.45 Old School- All you have to do is kill at least 45 people with the M1911 handgun in any applicable multiplayer match.

-Ones I’ve not Earned, but are Self-Explanatory-

Bomb Squad- All you have to do is successfully have delivered at least 5 bombs in matches of Obliteration. This is not in one single game I do not believe, although I have not really played much of this mode so it very well may be.

Call Me “Sir”- All you have to do is successfully reach the rank of 25 in multiplayer.

Points Total: 120 Achievements: 5

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My Final Thoughts Concerning the Campaign and Multiplayer

Battlefield 4’s story is only truly weak because it tries too hard to make players care about “the little guys” and sometimes forgets the bigger picture it could be painting. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the gameplay that I’ve seen as a major misstep, and the multiplayer is just BF3 and then some- aka better than ever. Bigger matches are appreciated, and commander mode returns better than ever. All in all, it’s a solid sequel if you’re willing to forget the campaign other than to farm in for achievements and enjoy the scenic vistas and explosive moments. The graphics are breathtaking and realistic, so that’s a plus as well.

Now, I guess I’ll actually begin working on my review in earnest, seeing as I’ve completely the majority of the game, or more than I anticipated well ahead of schedule. It was a lot easier than I’d expected- with the exception of playing through again on Hard, but oh well. If only they’d include some more multiplayer achievements…considering that is the largest draw for most people anyways… See you later folks.

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