Tag Archives: spoiled

Sneak Preview: Assassin’s Creed Bore-Again

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Allow me to first state that I have always been a fan of Ubisoft’s history spanning series and that despite its many flaws I have always found the entries to be entertaining and enthralling in many ways. This particular blog post today is indeed a spoof and not reflective of any actually Origins gameplay or any of the Assassin’s Creed titles although I will be combining certain elements of many of them here.

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The Assassin- we do not know his name yet or what exact time period this is as it seems the Animus has broken down and isn’t processing differences between the different time periods we’ve seen or anything else lately, opens his eyes. Benjamin Franklin is whispering some sort of weird incantation at the foot of the bed. Theon Greyjoy stands in the corner muttering to himself about letting everyone down and that he can never go back to Westeros and face his evil uncle- probably a side quest offered in the season pass bundle.

As you stand up and look around the room your feet buckle and you collapse to your knees in agony. Looking down at your hand you notice that it is a solid red mechanical prosthetic and that you also have some sort of weird green glowing mark or energy emitting from your palm. Just from these few opening moments it seems that Ubisoft is really cashing in on going big or going home, making it their goal to copy the best and brightest that the industry has seen these past few years. I think this could be a really interesting project indeed and I’m excited to see the inevitable decision later on in the game to battle the Animus itself as a final boss and eventually destroy both it and the series as a whole, once and for all in a blazing flame of glory and the best Assassin’s Creed game to date.

I finally gain control of my character after a quick cutscene of Altair and Ezio “meeting” re-cut from good old Assassin’s Creed Revelations. Piloting my Assassin in the familiar slow walk of confidence I stride around the room and interact with several papers and notes scribbled furiously by Subject 27- this game’s new version of ‘The Truth’ it seems like. There’s also some sort of odd wall-art that reminds me of Rat Man’s den from Portal but perhaps for the sake of this game series it would be better referred to as Rat Man’s Eden.

Walking outside, Casandra Pentaghast runs up to me and demands that I look at the gaping hole in the sky where a giant mechanical Reaper-like being is entering our world/dimension/simulation through. It releases a swarm of those alien guys from Saints Row IV who fall to the earth and then set up a tutorial of the new combat system. I hop from cover to cover like it’s Deus Ex: Mankind Divided meets Gears of War 4. Ubisoft is really making the most of the various parts of all the interesting games of the past decade but so far we haven’t got to see all of the amazing ideas they’ve come up themselves.

Eventually I get close enough to perform a stealth takedown on one of the aliens but the game demands I make a $0.99 microtransaction in order to do so because my allotted four takedowns have already been expended. Not the greatest method of moderation but I’ll pay it this one time for the purpose of this preview and also being able to see what must be an amazing kill animation. After a small loading gap and confirmation of my payment plan, my character whips out a small dagger and throws it into the neck of a nearby enemy, thus taking him down. I’m severely underwhelmed but I’m sure there’s more great content on the way.

I take down the rest of the enemies through traditional means- noting that this new combat system seems remarkably similar to the first few Assassin’s Creed games that had no dedicated counter buttons or counter killing. I whip out my Black Flag blowpipe for a gruesome finisher involving a dart to the brain. I swing my chain/sword/axe things that I paid $2.99 to rip directly from God of War. I do some sort of odd super-jump thing courtesy of the exo-suit enhancements added to both locomotion and combat in this newest entry. All in all the experience thus far is shaping up to be like Dark Souls meets The Surge and it’s an interesting new direction for the series ironically filled with old ideas.

Now I get my first opportunity to try out some of the new side content available in this five hour demo segment. It seems that my choices range from collecting chicken feathers to delivering letters in timed races against thieving children. I go with the latter because I don’t feel like giving into the fetch quest mentality and also want to see how the free-running holds up in this newest installment. As the clock countdown begins, I take off and immediately notice that I can spam my boost capabilities in order to quickly mantle almost all objects. I rapidly press the jump button while holding down the bumper, all the while paying close attention to where my opponent is behind me.

As I pass through the third checkpoint gate, suddenly the area is closed off and I am attacked by a massive group of other thieves while my adversary gloats and darts off ahead of me. I only have ten seconds to defeat thirty enemies and then I have thirty more seconds to finish the race itself. Just as I am about to despair the sheer improbability of it all, UPlay happily updates me that I’ve earned the ‘Comet Crushing Finishing Blow’ and the game pauses to give me a tutorial as to the particular usage of said combo. My Assassin yells something along the lines of Hakuna Matata or Kamme Kamme Ha and suddenly the sun is blotted out and a tactical comet nuke thing rips my foes to shreds.

I finish the race with a quick coup de grace on my opponent prior to crossing the finish line where I am awarded with an upgraded belt that offers more running stamina, sort of like The Witcher 3 and various saddles for Roach. The demo ends here because I’ve used up all of my allotted time with the game for the time being. It really seemed to go a lot faster than anticipated so I guess that must mean I was having a blast with all of this newfangled tech and cool stuff this year’s game has to offer. I’ll think of what other thoughts I have when they finally release the story only CG trailer prior to the actual game release. In the meantime, feel free to comment with questions or concerns. Cheers!

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Sadness and Silence in Epilogues and Epitaphs

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Although I very recently wrote another piece on Dragon Age, I’m here to give you yet another spoilery good time. This particular piece applies only to Dragon Age: Inquisition but more importantly it applies to two characters and their potential fates after the events of Inquisition itself. Those two characters are Commander Cullen- who has been present in either presence or speech in every Dragon Age game to date, and Warden Blackwall- who is in fact much more and much less than that.

To start with, I’ll talk about Blackwall’s epilogue segment that stems from romancing the female Inquisitor and go from there. As it reads: “After the Exalted Council, Warden Thom Rainier was summoned to return to Weisshaupt fortress. Reluctant to leave the side of the woman he loved, Rainier ignored the Wardens’ request for nearly a year. When the messages became too urgent to ignore, he left for his duty, promising to return. Weeks turned to months, and then years. The promise remained unfulfilled. Eventually, a gift came to the Inquisitor, unsigned, with no accompanying letter. Wrapped in aged leather was the Warden-Constable’s badge and a single pure white griffon feather.”

To assuage some necessary confusion, Warden-Constable Blackwall is actually not Gregory Blackwall but in fact a former Orlesian captain by the name of Thom Rainier- on the run after a messy debacle years ago. There are other companion quests which cover this revelation but otherwise it comes up in the Trespasser DLC and later as codex entries if Rainier is no longer with your party. If the would-be Warden is pardoned however, you can still pursue romantic options with him and should you continue to do so until the game’s true ending you will see such a epilogue entry perhaps as well.

It’s such a sad thing to read and may be one of the most emotional of all the potential epilogue endings as it seems obvious that many Wardens, Blackwall included, met their end at the hands of Darkspawn or other horrors plaguing the land they’ve sworn to protect and serve. What makes matters worse is that the man dedicated himself to the woman he loved and fully intended to return but when it had been so long and it seemed perfectly clear that he would not, all she received was his badge and a symbol of the Warden and their memory. Although Blackwall may not be the memorable character that Varric or Cassandra might be in Inquisition or Dragon Age in its entirety, that is a truly sad tale to hear.

This brings me to the second epilogue entry which seems to be one of equal sorrow and one that pained me to read on one of my many playthroughs as well. Commander Cullen, as a former templar knight, of course suffers from lyrium withdrawal and addiction which is also the driving focus of one of his unique quests. Depending upon how you resolve or don’t resolve this issue, you may be treated to several endings in the official epilogue for Cullen.

If Cullen is still taking lyrium at all, regardless of the Inquisition’s final choice- disband or continue in any capacity, you’ll be treated to the grisly details that follow: “There was no sign of him until a year later, when Scout Harding heard rumors of a Fereldan man begging for lyrium in the streets of Val Chevin. According to Harding, the man she found was in the final stages of lyrium madness. He barely remembered himself, let alone her. It is unclear whether Harding gave the man a few coins, or a gentle knife to end his misery. What is clear is that Commander Cullen was gone.”

Considering the fact that the alternative means a prosperous and often happy future for Cullen and even potentially a female Inquisitor, this is purely a sad and desperate tale to witness. I only ever receive bad outcomes due to purposeful choices in the Dragon Age series- decisions made in order to utilize a very particular world state for a new adventure in the future perhaps. Even still, it pained me to hear of Cullen’s fate thanks to my inability to step in as Inquisitor and put him on the cold turkey path to survival and regaining his former vitality and stamina. Despite being one of the three characters that act in a purely advisor role and not also a party member during combat role, Cullen has been an integral part of Dragon Age lore as much as Leliana has been since the beginning.

These were just two of the most memorable and intriguing and particularly sad endings in the true ending to the game, however there are plenty of other outcomes for these characters as well as your other party members and important players you’ve encountered throughout the political landscape of Thedas. I do hope fans of the game will have enjoyed this particular blog and that if you haven’t played the game I haven’t spoiled the best parts for you quite yet. Cheers.

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Dragon Age 4: Go Bolder, Not Just Bigger

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I recently replayed a pretty thorough runtrhough of 2014’s Dragon Age: Inquisition and let me just say that the game definitely stood the test of time these past few years. Inquisition is easily the best game in the series- managing to successfully implement the strategy of Origins and the action focus of DA2 while also providing a lovely narrative and plenty of lore and exploration. I find it highly comparable to The Witcher 3 in many ways and all of them are good, so despite my personal belief that Wild Hunt is the better game, Inquisition all but ensures that Dragon Age remain one of my favorite series ever.

Although we recently got a fourth Mass Effect game and it wasn’t quite what fans should have expected or were clamoring for, I have high hopes that when a fourth Dragon Age title eventually releases sometime after Anthem or any other in-house projects are completed, it will be yet another stroke of fortune for role-playing gamers. The ending of Inquisition and specifically the Trespasser downloadable expansion largely set up the theoretical next title and certainly both the state of Thedas as well as the conflict inevitably to come. Why, with your very last decision you decided whether or not the Inquisition should remain unchanged and unopposed or whether it should be altered in any way. Beyond that, you even decided to seek redemption for the Dread Wolf Fen’Harel and the Elven people or to condemn them and do battle in the future.

Each of the three expansions within Inquisition do a good job of continuing the intricate tapestry of a story that Dragon Age has been known for as well as establishing unique and new characters on a level playing field with already-known factors. The Descent ushers in a whole literal new world near the Deep Roads and Orzammar while Jaws of Hakkon introduces players to the Avvar culture as well as the story of the first Inquisitor, the Elven mage Ameridan. In both Jaws of Hakkon and Trespasser we begin to see the true nature of the conflict with Corypheus throughout the majority of the main game as well as the underlying Elven presence consistently there.

This blog has obvious spoilers so if you haven’t treated yourself to the lengthy but worthwhile experience that Inquisition is then fly you fools.

Solas is the Dread Wolf, also known as the moniker Fen’Harel- notably similar to Fenrir of Earth’s own mythology, also a wolf. He is a likeable and respectable foe to have and while he may or may not be the Inquisitor’s ally and friend he will undoubtedly be an antagonist in the future, if not a direct enemy in his quest to tear down the Veil and bring back the Elven age of old. In doing so he will destroy the modern age of Thedas as it is currently known and that of course does not bode well for Hawke, the Grey Warden and Hero of Ferelden, or any other characters we’ve built or known along the way. Dragon Age 4 could very well be the last of the series and close the book on many things while leaving others happily unknown.

I want to see the series continue to be as bold as it has been with Inquisition but I also think the size and scope of Inquisition is the perfect fit for a game. I want to see even more narrative exploration and ideas and lore if possible. Give me as much context as needed and make as many references and jokes as you want, I’ll even stand to see some tie-ins from previous choices and the lovely World State generator and save files. I want this to be the most expressive and expansion title yet from the series and most definitely not to fall into the same trap as Mass Effect Andromeda. We shouldn’t see the conflict with Solas coming from an already known perspective such as the Inquisitor or the Grey Warden or Hawke, although that’s not to say we shouldn’t work with them or be able to see their presence as well.

I want to be a relative unknown persona in Thedas and yet still be able to take part in the quest, much like JRR Tolkien establishes with his Fellowship in his lore and mythology as well. One part of many but one integral nonetheless to the completion of the quest to destroy the ring and free Middle-earth from Sauron’s clutches. I want to be able to craft my character and shape my destiny and then form some unruly band or another and whether it be on the Divine’s orders or somebody else’s or even my own, to go out and seek to resolve the would-be Elven and agents of Fen’Harel war on the world. We already know some of the proposed details of this next adventure in terms of what should be coming and what has been teased but I can’t wait to see how every little detail continues to play into the larger scheme of things.

We learned so much throughout Inquisition: for example, all of the old gods (those that actually even were gods and not mages or mortals) were typically spirits or the flip-side of demons from the Fade, not quite the deities they’re perceived or believed to be. As the Inquisition would lead us to believe at the end of DAI, the battle begins with the chaos breaking out between the Qunari and Tevinter Imperium- the Inquisitor him/herself marks the Imperium on the map as the place to begin. While once more a mortal conflict will draw the attention of others whilst the immortals and ancients fight over larger scale things such as world destruction and rebirth, all conflicts will inevitably tie together in the long run. Just as Jon Snow ponders the coming Long Night as the Seven Kingdoms find themselves battling for the Iron Throne, so too will Thedas have to focus on multiple aspects of a multi-faceted battle.

Suffice it to say, this isn’t merely a post about everything I think Dragon Age 4 should be- it’s just a word to the wise. If Bioware is as smart as they typically seem to be, then they should recognize that Inquisition worked and all they have to do is tweak the formula and give us more than before, much like they did with DAI after DA2 and Origins. Instead of going bigger in every aspect- keep the world size the same or make it larger, it matters not, just don’t make the player character any more important or it’ll border on being unrealistic. The scope and scale of the central conflict itself is just as grand as before- the entire world is at stake in one way or another. There are so many difficult decisions to be made and certainly all the endgame decisions in DAI will have some dire consequences as well. I’d love to see that all and more, but I want the time to be right. Take your time Bioware, I can wait and I can remember. Cheers.

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Thoughts: Two Weeks Into GOT S7

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I’ve been an avid reader of George RR Martin for quite some time, not just of A Song of Ice and Fire or a viewer of the show itself. So to say I’m a fan would be somewhat of an understatement but accurate nonetheless. The seventh season of the titanic show recently began its arduous journey towards the shows eventual conclusion and already its been interesting to see the dynamics put into place for establishing this season’s battles and encounters. I won’t be going in any particular direction or order of precedence with my points in this post however please do be aware that it blatantly and obviously will spoil the season and show thus far.

First of all, I’d like to point out that whenever a minor or side character that is not one of the hallowed main characters receives special attention in an episode, they typically die a tragic and grisly death later. So I really, really, really hope Greyworm isn’t going to bite the dust like dear old Ser Barristan Selmy already has on the show. Also, all roads apparently lead to Dragonstone- as Jon Snow seems to be heading there and Dany is of course currently residing there whilst Cersei undoubtedly plans to attack there. We may see several more large battles yet- Casterly Rock and perhaps Kings Landing still included, however the Greyjoy conflict on the high seas was one of the bloodiest and boldest battle scenes in the series to date.

The Battle of the Bastards is one of the highlights of battle scenes in modern entertainment and certainly of the show, yet for every bold stride it made the Greyjoy civil war had such raw emotion and manic fashion. Euron is obviously crazy but you can’t fault him for his boldness- he went and seized the gifts he promised the current Queen of the realm and he also took his insubordinate niece hostage whilst Theon vanished into the ocean in a PTSD induced fit. The relationship between Theon and Yara Greyjoy has always been a strained one and yet now it will be more so and perhaps Euron would even use that to his advantage and as a way to torture the eldest Greyjoy rather than outright killing her.

I’m eager to see how Euron looks so alive and well after seemingly taking a few dagger swipes to the midriff in his choreographed battle with two of the Sand Snakes whom- as we all know by now, are infamous for coating their weapons in various poisons. Perhaps Euron picked up some magical remedies in his time on the sea as well, the world may never know. Regardless, the first battle surprisingly goes to Euron/Cersei who we should really, really never underestimate in the slightest. I feel like Ellaria Sand and her daughter’s fate are pretty much sealed at this point considering either Jaime or Cersei would be apt to execute them immediately merely for the death of Myrcella and the betrayal of Dorne. I’m quite curious to see what “poetic justice” Cersei deems fit to author.

Of other interest to me is the interaction of Arya and Hot Pie, something we’ve seen done before but something that was also quite a bit different and less personal this time around. Arya seems a lot more detached and understandably preoccupied with the intent of killing Cersei rather than interacting with her old friend. Hot Pie on the other hand just had to go and make a comment about also being a “survivor just like you” which means the divine hand of direction is more than likely going to swoop down and order a band of mercenaries or a gang of thieves to terrorize Hot Pie’s inn and slice the poor boy’s throat.

That wasn’t the only reunion for the youngest Stark girl as she also met her former direwolf companion Nymeria and her adopted wolf pack. It was a touching moment even if it ultimately played out exactly how the majority of Arya’s relationships thus far have: with either herself or someone else leaving and abandoning companionship in favor of self sufficiency. I got the feeling that Arya herself understood this could and would be a possibility as her heartbreak gave way to pride in her direwolf mirroring her own decisions ultimately. Plus, now she gets to chase after Jon Snow and probably run into Sansa along the way seeing as Jon is due for a meeting with his own flesh and blood whether he knows it or not.

It’s interesting to see that Melisandre is still doing what she does best: orchestrating things from behind the scenes and moving about with all of the players in the game. Whether or not shes had much success in the past, I am at least glad that she’s bringing both Dany and Jon one step closer to more than likely discovering his heritage and what their destinies may hold in store for them as well. She does serve her purpose well when the time comes, even if that also happened to lead Stannis Baratheon and his family to their deaths. Speaking of families that have suffered greatly, let us not forget that Jorah Mormont may yet get the chance to reunite with his Queen or with his own clan if he ever returns to the North and is cured of his affliction thanks to the helping hand of Samwell Tarly.

One of the scariest things undoubtedly to be coming down the pipeline right now also pertains to the North and that would be the fact that Sansa will be governing while Jon is away and Littlefinger will undoubtedly be either trying to manipulate and coerce the girl or whispering in her ear. He holds the knights of the Vale at his disposal and could quite easily ransom the North and Winterfell or even Sansa at any given time if he thought it was a strong enough and had the guts to do so. This would be an interesting turn of events and yet I still think at this point in time if he steps too far out of line Sansa could very well order his execution at some point, mistake or not to do so. For the time being he’s at best an unreliable ally and at worst a creep and villainous schemer.

It’s going to surely be such an interesting meeting for Jon Snow and the others set on traveling to Dragonstone. Snow goes to potentially barter both an alliance with the Targaryen Queen and to hopefully receive the permission to mine dragon glass or obsidian in order to defend against the impending wight attacks. I’m definitely curious not only as to how asking the King of the North to bend the knee will go- historically, not very well after all, and also as to who makes it to Dragonstone considering the rumors about what characters will end up where. While there is the setup for an interesting Jon and Tyrion reunion, we also have the unique possibility of there being an Arya and Hound reunion at Winterfell around the same time. Even more pressing though, what happens when the Night King slaughters the Nights Watch and shatters the Wall before emerging into Westeros?

All of these questions and potentially even more could be raised or even answered as e push forward into the season and I’m severely interested already. These are just some of the most prominent things I’ve thought of thanks to the happenings of the first two episodes, although there are plenty of other issues on my mind as well. For example: how far has Gendry been rowing by this point? What will the fate of both Tormund and Dolorous Edd be when the Night King attacks? Will the Brothers without Banners and Thoros and the crew finally make it to their destination? Ahh, so many questions…

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Discussing TWD: A New Frontier

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It’s only been five years since gamers everywhere were first introduced to Lee Everett and Clementine. Since then we’ve been rocked by revelation after revelation and brutal death after brutal death in first Lee’s and since Clementine’s journey through the world of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. Of course by now you’ve no doubt heard of Telltale Games’ episodic properties as they’ve exploded in popularity since The Walking Dead in particular. You might’ve even played a few episodes or perhaps entire series such as Tales from the Borderlands or The Wolf Among Us or Game of Thrones. While some of the more popular properties have already garnered sequel seasons others have yet to see the light of day despite their popularity and success.

I was initially going to do a group review of the newest season of The Walking Dead and the next semi-segment of Clementine’s adventure, as I’ve done in the past with both the first season and bits and pieces of the second season. However I think it would be best to instead simply discuss the merits of the entire season as a whole and hopefully not spoil too much for those of you who have yet to play it for yourself or perhaps even to play through and experience the adventure series at all yet. So this is your last warning- once you go past this there’s no going back in terms of potential spoilers and discussion about all things The Walking Dead (in terms of the shared universe as well as Telltale’s slice of the pie).

To date we have seen several episodic incarnations of The Walking Dead universe- Season One, 400 Days, Season Two, Michonne, and A New Frontier. A New Frontier is something a little different than we’ve come to expect as it fully features two interactive characters- even more so than Season One did with the interesting parent/child dynamic between Lee and Clementine. Now we actually play the majority of the time as Javier (Javi) instead of our young femme fatale herself, who is an integral part in the story but who only influences events and helps build a larger picture as opposed to outright commandeering the story. Once more, Telltale has proven that at any given time they can shift the point of view from even the most beloved of their characters and still keep the plot exciting and fresh and worthwhile. That’s some potent stuff. It also scares me because that means Clementine might not be the Rick Grimes we are looking for- meaning her stay in the universe may not last forever.

Daunting notions and fears aside, A New Frontier is a thrilling adventure and although at times it falls into many of the same pitfalls as previous episodes and seasons, it is the first time since Season One that I’ve truly enjoyed myself completely and been satisfied if a bit horrified by both my actions and their consequences. Although it wouldn’t be The Walking Dead without meaningful and meaningless deaths and destruction at times, I actually found myself quite satisfied by the ending I received upon completion of the season’s story- even though it cost Javi a brother and nearly an adopted son. I must really be a piece of work if I’m okay with being family first one moment but then screw over my admittedly unlikable brother and take his wife and surviving family members. But hey, it’s Telltale and we can’t always be as roguish and likable as Tales from the Borderlands or Batman.

Telltale’s biggest critique in terms of this whole episodic content delivery thing has always been the degree to which your choices matter in each episode and particularly season to season. I’ve enjoyed the little ways in which they bridge the gaps season to season and the ways in which they retrospectively go back to things that happened in the first season as opposed to simply the last episode, however I still see the glaring problem on hand. Admittedly, A New Frontier has some fan service available for those of you who still remember each and every gritty choice you made in the last two seasons of The Walking Dead as well as in some of the other downloaded segments and bonuses. However that’s not to say that there aren’t still plot points that I’d love to see addressed or be more visibly memorable to Clem and her companions than seem to be at least on the surface. A New Frontier does a wonderful job of mixing in meaningful flashbacks so what if in future seasons we could even go so far a to flash back to previously made and saved decisions at integral plot moments? Instead of a little cog and a ‘[blank] will remember that’ actually show us that moment when Clem shoots Lee or Kenny or Jane or something like that as she battles herself internally over what to do.

A New Frontier is very much the story of Javi and Javi’s family, however once you go beyond the themes of companionship and blood being thicker than water you’ll also find that it’s very much an important part of Clementine’s tale as well. A New Frontier shouldn’t so much be considered a full fledged season three as it should be essentially season two point five. It makes strides in terms of believable conversation and emotion and narrative pacing, but it also falls prey to some of the same mistakes that the first two seasons did in retrospect despite being a much smoother and more aesthetically pleasing experience. What I’m perhaps most excited about is the way in which the ending itself showcases Clementine’s development and how that is going to play into what will more than likely be her own adventure and own outing again in the next offering or next expansion or season or whatever. Through her shared experiences with Javier you get to see Clem grow into an even more adult and sure-footed version of herself and strengthen her beliefs as well as double down on her values. In a world about survival that’s something pleasant to see.

Season One holds a lot of nostalgic memories of characters and moments for me but Season Two didn’t always click and I rightfully never became too attached to characters outside of perhaps Kenny (again) and Luke. Everyone had even more visible and glaring flaws in that season than they even did in the first one but it seemed more forced and by the end of it I didn’t particularly care who lost as every decision felt like a bad one or a forced situation. Thankfully even in its darkest moments A New Frontier lightens up a little bit and provides the tensest situations with some redeemable learning points or even the no-win situations with a potentially less harsh and even less fatal factor. Yes, some of your favorite characters will develop ugly flaws or mean untimely ends but then such is the way of Kirkman’s world as is the way of many fictional worlds (I see you George R.R. Martin).

Whereas Season Two left me out in the cold quite literally, A New Frontier genuinely pleased me and I enjoyed the experience even if Javi’s family found it a hard one throughout and Clementine left with an uncertain road ahead. Despite losing David to the horde of walkers he foolishly drove into, I managed to save Gabe and Kate. I managed to rescue the majority of Richmond’s population despite angrily putting a bullet into Joan’s conniving head and ushering in a huge herd of walkers unwittingly. I managed to forge a lasting relationship with people when I needed to most, earning the respect of Jesus and the trust of Clementine and my fellow comrades in arms. Above all else, I paid for the sins of the father, mother, and brother throughout my adventure. A New Frontier pushes past the first few weeks and year of the zombie outbreak and into territory familiar to those up to date and current with the comic series. I really like the way we’ve seen little cameos from characters such as Glenn before he discovered Rick Grimes in Atlanta and Jesus as he’s out and about checking the status of his people away from the Saviors and Whisperers and other dangers.

It’ll be most intriguing to me now to see if we ever get an appearance from Clementine or other beloved and popular characters in the comics or show or vice versa. I know it’s a foolhardy dream perhaps to have and yet it’s one that would wow me anyway so long as it be faithfully done. Those are just some of my thoughts on The Walking Dead and A New Frontier in general but seeing as I am a huge fan of the property (comics in particular), I’ll always be willing to discuss details and other crazy theories and spoilers with anybody interested. Cheers.

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Best Moments of Injustice 2’s Main Story

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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!

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Wildlife Reserves and Hyperion Hijinks

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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.

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Milly Schmidt

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