Tag Archives: Writing

World-Building in Deus Ex

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As it currently stands, there are four main installments within the Deus Ex franchise. That’s not counting the variety of mobile iterations, versions, or other side content and activities. As with any good universe, there’s also a fair share of novels and fiction in regards to the Earth of the dystopian future depicted in each game. Deus Ex (2000), Invisible War (2003), Human Revolution (2011), and Mankind Divided (2016) are the four canonical entries I will be discussing to varying degrees here. I got the idea for this particular post somewhat out of the blue, and yet it is equally fitting due to the fact the series is going to be on somewhat of a hiatus whilst Square Enix decides how best to handle their new Marvel deal.

Without going into great detail and ruining the stories of each of the aforementioned titles in the series, I will say that each shares similar settings and ideas, especially in terms of overall world-building. Whether you refer to the first two titles or the most recent releases, some things have simply evolved rather than changed as the series continues on. Now what do I mean when I refer to world-building exactly?

In my mind, it is interesting to examine how a developer approaches crafting a living and breathing world for their players to exist within and for game-players to explore. This includes all of the lore in a fictional setting, the overarching design of the world and its environments themselves, the characters and how they are affected by or impact the environment, and any other details that fall into one or more of these categories. While this may seem like a complicated and extensive subject to handle, I am going to keep things simple and merely hit a few points here and there that remain largely constant throughout the series.

Deus Ex is so much more than the aesthetically pleasing triangles and grey tones that it seems to be nowadays. Rather it is a much deeper experience and one that oftentimes mirrors machinations and political or corporate ideology in today’s world as well. It is very much about corporations and secret societies influencing the general populace in efforts to exert some form of control over the world or another. And for this reason, as with the show Black Mirror, technology can be a strange and terrible thing- whether posing as an ally or used in corrupt schemes. Deus Ex is about alteration and advancement- as much of the human element as of technology.

There is such a degree of choice offered even from the getgo in the original Deus Ex all the way through Mankind Divided which released last year, that in many ways players can shape the world as much or more than the attributes of it have been altered or provided by the developers themselves. It is very much a living, breathing environment at all times and as with the augmentations that progressively alter the human race itself, the environment can be largely unrecognizable by the end of a game. Although you could boil down much of the chaos and change in each game to the Illuminati or other cabals’ influence, the player and player-character is largely the most influential aspect of all in and on the world.

In order to understand the majority of the worldview and built up infrastructure and integrity of the franchise, one must first get a handle on how each game fits into that structure chronologically. While Deus Ex and Invisible War are the first two titles, they are the last two on the chronological spectrum as it stands currently. Meanwhile, Human Revolution and Mankind Divided fall somewhere earlier on the spectrum. While the exact years are not necessary in order to understand this thought-blog, HR and MD take place in 2027 and 2029 respectively whereas DE and IW take place in 2052 and 2072.

In the world of Deus Ex, augmentation is no new thing. Both chronologically and chronologically in terms of release date, human augmentation has been an existing thing in the universe. It becomes bigger in Human Revolution and Mankind Divided, yet it is also a key component of your character in Deus Ex and Invisible War. It is more of a side-note in the original games, yet it becomes a very ethical and important factor as you progress through both of the most recently released titles. Technology rules the world and whomever owns that technology therefore owns the world- this is definitely a constant theme that Deus Ex seems to push and often goes to extremes to enforce and keep relevant.

In many ways, Deus Ex has some blanket themes that constantly overlap in both lore and actuality within all four titles. HR and MD both hint at much of the coming strife and activities of the original two titles, as would make sense in games that act as essentially a precursor or prequel to the events of the first two. Without spoiling much, there are underlying themes and additional lore to be found around the world that constantly hints at things to come. Whereas the Illuminati has always been a major player in the series, player choice largely depicts whether or not the world is plunged into anarchy and chaos, whether or not technology is heralded or despised, and how plenty of other equally monumental and important player choices pan out.

In terms of aesthetics and mechanics, the series has definitely evolved from the same core elements and still features such aspects as inventory management, gunplay, stealth, and choice-driven gameplay today. And in many ways, this ties into the whole world-development thing as well. There is a larger ability for players to determine not just the outcome but the evolution of the narrative and world today than there was when the series debuted, and yet that’s always been a constant. Whereas the original two titles largely focused players on determining the eventual endgame, Human Revolution and Mankind Divided continually place players in situations that demand determinations to be made on the fly and with unknown consequences potentially hovering down the road. Few things are what they seem and even the best of intentions, as in reality, can lead to dramatically unforeseen consequences.

Deus Ex has always fascinated me in ways that System Shock and Bioshock have managed to as well- largely due to the fact that their worlds are intriguing and believable, even for all the fantastical nonsense they also offer. Deus Ex has perhaps the darkest and most readily believable overtones, especially nearly two decades later as we come closer and closer to potentially seeing the effects of such globalized corporations and hegemonic entities today. And largely for that reason on top of the entertainment value of the series itself, the world, world-views, and choices intrigue me more than ever.

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Sniper Elite 4 VS Sniper Elite 3

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There are two things that I would very much like to stress to begin this particular blog entry: one- this is not a review, and two- many, many, many despotic dictators were hurt in the making of this blog post. Now that we’ve covered that, I think we can truly begin in earnest.

Sniper Elite 4 (Italia) recently released to mostly critical acclaim and I must say, as a fan of the series since its inception and soon-after reboot, I’m a fan as well. There are some aspects of Sniper Elite 4 that make it much more accessible than the previous two major installments, and yet curiously these same aspects sometimes make the game more challenging. Whereas Sniper Elite 3 (Afrika) featured a relocation warning of sorts between sniper shots or loud noises, Sniper Elite 4 does no such thing and immediately (as well as more realistically) expects players to handle this business on their own, free of warning.

As if the series could further refine its base concepts- that being gunplay that is predominately dominated by sniper battles, it somehow succeeds on this front as well. Sniper Elite V2 was received quite well for its mostly realistic portrayal and depiction of sniper mechanics in-game. Sniper Elite 3, though less-acclaimed overall, refined these techniques even further and opened the playing field to a wider variety of takedowns with the addition of sniper versus vehicular enemy type encounters. Needless to say, Sniper Elite 4 ups the ante for the third consecutive time with additional sniper options, more sensible and refined mechanics, and of course added takedowns- featuring more creative ways to kill the Fuhrer (to boot!).

I worry that the series may accidentally stagnate here in the near future if the trend of solely basing its gameplay off of WWII skirmishes and Karl Fairburne continues, however I do have hope that once they’ve thoroughly visited every major theater of war, they can continue into perhaps even modern conflicts with refined mechanics and technological advancements in combat. Sniper Elite’s modern day competition is essentially limited to Sniper: Ghost Warrior and thus far it is a battle Elite easily wins despite the latter series slowly improving itself over time (and the third title dropping later this year). Experiencing the tense action of Sniper Elite and utilizing a visceral setting such as the jungles of Vietnam would be truly awe-inspiring and potentially the best sniping idea since All Ghillied Up.

That having been said, let’s not stray too far from the matter at hand and the topic for discussion- how does Sniper Elite 4 compare to its immediate predecessor?

Despite its truly disappointing qualities and a great many flaws, once I got into Sniper Elite 3 (Afrika) I had a blast. The mechanics were rich to begin with in V2 and yet somehow they took everything from level design to weapon and equipment models so much further with the slight edge in technology over the console gap. What a difference three years can make. And the same can be said for Sniper Elite 4 in comparison with its direct predecessor as of right now as well. Sniper Elite 4 is truly a next generation Sniper Elite, and it is abundantly clear. Whereas Rebellion was still learning the ropes of what was possible with Sniper Elite 3 and as ambitious as it was it fell short at times, Italia is fleshed out a lot more and an overall better experience and more aesthetically and mechanically gripping world.

Granted, the experience by now can only be refined so much here and there, and yet the tweaks and additions that have been made in terms of assists and lack thereof work in perfect cooperation with the preexisting mechanics and ideas. There is a greater array of options when it comes to combat although stealth is still one of the ironically most finicky parts of gameplay in the series. There are more environmental opportunities and the game can be played in an entirely new way even when compared to Sniper Elite 3, much less to V2. All things considered, while each title in the series has had their fair share of minor flaws, Sniper Elite 4 is characteristically the most complete package to date. There is much less of a grind when compared directly to Sniper Elite 3 despite the campaign featuring the same number of stages that take roughly the same length of time to complete. And let’s not even get into the depth of the cooperative offering- it’s potentially expansive to say the least.

All in all, Sniper Elite 4 only does a few new things and even those are mostly aesthetic or minor gameplay and mechanical adjustments. However, the overall presentation is what Sniper Elite 3 could’ve or should’ve been, and therefore it is the clear winner where the two are compared. I’ll not lie when I say this post should and probably will be more helpful to those of you who have at least played a game in the series prior to this one and are deciding whether or not to purchase the latest and potentially greatest iteration. However, bear in mind that this is also by no means a review of the game or anything other than its mechanics in comparison to those of its predecessor. So I make no guarantees as to how it’ll hold up under much closer scrutiny than a day or so can give.

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Resident Evil 7 Review

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I just want to say that, first of all I will do my best to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible. I know that the latest chapter in Capcom’s zombie-fueled saga has only been out for not quite a month, and yet I feel like everywhere I’ve turned I’ve run afoul of spoilers and videos and all kinds of crazy stuff. So I’m going to discuss a lot of things in general terms when it comes to the story and the overall plot and setting, but I’ll be sure to dial it in and hone in on the important factors that should be touched upon in any respectable review as well. It’s been a short few weeks and yet we’ve already been treated to some arcade-style downloadable deals and add-ons, which is far from a bad thing either in this case.

In many ways, Resident Evil 7 is the reinvention that fans longed for and that the series needed, although once the outer layers are peeled away and the gentle facade of the beginning acts fades away you’ll soon come to see that it may be different, but the fundamentals are largely unchanged for better or worse. Resident Evil, for better or worse, has always had its viruses and its villains, and that aspect has not changed at all. You may be tempted to think there’s a lot going on in the Louisiana swamps that cannot be explained away as easily as the delights of Umbrella Corps have been in the past, but even with the twisted logic of the series’ past, these events can be explained in the present as well. Resident Evil 6 was a game that I thought was okay as it stood on its own and for what it offered, but when taken for the sum total of its plot and where it should stand in the larger RE universe it was just plain bonkers and had plenty of holes and lazy writing.

Resident Evil has always fallen victim to plot holes and whether or not players can get rid of their disbelief and just enjoy the games for what they are, so even with this reinvention, few things have changed there. Resident Evil started as a simple concept and its only become more and more convoluted from there on out. The first two main games are probably the most straight forward, but from then on with the successive third, fourth, fifth, and sixth entries things have only gotten grander and worse as far as plot can be concerned. I respect Capcom for largely toning it down with Biohazard and keeping things on a smaller scale, although still hinting that the title is a perfect fit in the semi-reimagined universe all the same. But that doesn’t change the fact that even some simple things such as procedural character damage magically healed and limbs magically reattached and VHS tapes still being used in 2017 and a seemingly omnipresent camera that is never shown onscreen or on characters just don’t ad up.

Like I’ve said- Resident Evil has always been about the experience first, the tense boss fights and survival-horror elements still present in the more action-oriented titles of the series in recent years. Once you’ve dispensed with pleasantries and mostly ignored the wild plots that are typically a mess anyway, you can settle into solid gameplay and fluid mechanics with relative ease. Capcom has done a wonderful job of crafting something seemingly new and yet deceptively archaic in its design and interpretation, making Resident Evil 7 a perfect fit for the series in that it expands into new directions in some ways with the plot and graphics and characters, and yet still retains the same brand name and doesn’t so drastically change the formula as Resident Evil 4 did once upon a time. If your main worry was that a first-person perspective could never work with a series such as Resident Evil, then worry no more because that is perhaps one of the brilliant strokes the game pulls off and never has much of an issue with outside of expected clippings and occasional environmental travesties.

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While I’ve got to give Resident Evil 7 points for originality in some cases, I’d also have to ding it for taking some credit where credit is not due- at least not to Resident Evil 7. Many of the plot elements may be new to Resident Evil, and yet they’ve already been done by other horror titles such as Silent Hill and F.E.A.R as well. In fact, the bulk of the story itself stems from essentially some mix of Silent Hill 2 and F.E.A.R 1 and 2’s own plot mechanics. And while this is totally acceptable even if it is not so original, it’s just a weird thing to notice if you’ve played those other titles and sense a mildly disappointing amount of deja-vu throughout Biohazard’s campaign. Resident Evil 7 treads new ground for the series in many ways and yet it follows the same cliched tropes of horror as a genre in general, and I suppose you have to take what victories you can, but that really rung hollow to me. An every-man searching a supposedly abandoned setting for his wife in what turns out to be a cunning trap and descent into veritable madness- it’s not quite the first time we’ve heard that line.

The largest criticism I have for this game, if you couldn’t tell from the paragraphs I’ve written on it already, is the plot. So now that I’ve pointed out that it’s bonkers and doesn’t ever quite add up, even mechanically in-game, let’s move on to some other critiques and praises. One last tidbit that’s semi-related though is that Ethan Winters as a playable character, while promising in exposition, is perhaps more boring and predictable than even Chris Redfield has become lately. He barely reacts to anything- bashing his missing wife’s face in with an axe, getting limbs severed, seeing a man whose entire body has been lit on fire and subsequently blown apart with a shotgun coming at him with pulsating brain matter showing through his destroyed skull, or even picking up the telephone every fifteen minutes when the omniscient NPC enemies and allies manage to pinpoint his exact location in the house and contact him. Getting over disbelief in a far-fetched plot is one thing, but things just not registering for the main character like they should is another annoyance altogether.

Thankfully, while Ethan is largely forgettable and the small array of side characters who aren’t trying to kill you are actively just as memorable, the antagonists- both actual and perceived, are the larger attraction where characterization is concerned. The Baker family- those crazies you’ve probably seen in the trailers over and over or played with in the few demos released, are the main draw in the beginning of the game especially (although they’re still memorable in the latter portions as well). Each has their own distinct personality, own distinct powers and abilities, and also their own distinct domain on their family lands. In many ways, they are there to herd players towards eventual endgame objectives, and yet the more you encounter them the more you come to wonder about their origins before you finally understand them later in the game. Resident Evil 7 is a lot of smoke and mirrors, but the crazy stuff and tragic details surrounding the Bakers is definitely not just a bunch of smoke blown needlessly your way.

Probably my largest bone to pick with Resident Evil 6 in retrospect is the fact that it so often and so boringly broke up combat and the tenseness of situations by presenting players over and over again with locked doors. To be fair, in many ways that is sort of an age-old Resident Evil thing, and yet Biohazard somehow avoided this mundane searching and backtracking by actually making it bearable. I think it may be largely due to the fact that the game features a much more organic and intriguing environment rather than the linear and forgettable monstrosities of the previous title. It’s not less confined or expansive, and yet suddenly backtracking to collect a key or disarm a booby trap or uncover some new evidence doesn’t seem altogether lackluster or painful. Naturally, expect your fair share of needless jump scares over and over again and expect them to be old after an hour or two- but such is the Capcom way sometimes.

In some ways Resident Evil 7 brings the series back down to earth and back to its roots, and yet in others it is even more fantastical than the last entry. Thankfully, one thing it does well is craft more believable and entertaining boss fights and encounters. Every enemy seems thought out rather than hastily thrown at you like Resident Evil 6 was wont to do. The Bakers and the other more powerful adversaries each come with their own specific methodology to battle, although a much more prepared player can potentially blitz their way through earlier encounters with sheer firepower and determination. Action is still a large part of the game, but it has taken a step towards being more cinematic so that the bulk of the experience can be returned to its horror roots. It makes for a better and overall more enjoyable and tenser experience to be sure. The gunplay and most melee moments are handled quite well although there are some unexpected hiccups here and there specifically where reactionary movement is concerned with special weapons. On the whole however, the first person perspective increases the enjoyability of the well-oiled combat both aesthetically and physically.

All things considered, Resident Evil 7 is the return to form that the series needed even if it ultimately doesn’t change things up quite as much as it probably could or should’ve. It is by no means Resident Evil 4, but then that isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. It stands largely on its own although there are still obvious and subtle connections to the rest of the series, making it a tad clearer than expected as to just how it fits in with the other titles. The expansion of the universe and video game lore is welcome and for a series that constantly retcons its own ideas and even who’s alive and who’s dead, it largely adds onto the Resident Evil fiction without taking anything else away in turn. Given the chance, whether you’re a newcomer to the series or a longstanding fan, you should give the game a chance- it’s as good a jumping on point as any, especially given the lack of need to know information considering past titles.

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Concept: Reinvent the Resident Evil series as we know it, adding a breath of freshness to a series that has otherwise begun to grow stale over the years. Introduce new characters, a new plot, and new gimmicks along the way.

Graphics: Particularly great animation and environmental work adds ambiance and aesthetic thrills to the tense adventure. Add in the fact that limbs are lopped off and gore is always present and you have a graphically sound and impressive piece of work.

Sound: There is often little to no sound and yet that works in a genre such as this. When there is something to be said or done, the voice acting is about on par with most triple-A titles and doesn’t disappoint. The minimalist soundtrack ratchets the tension at all the right times as well.

Playability: Exploration and tense combat are given their equal due and are the largest elements in play throughout the game. It handles well for the entirety of the campaign and is an incredibly well-played experience to boot.

Entertainment: Most of the entertainment can be derived from the expansion of the lore and in-game details strewn about the world. Making subtle and not-so subtle connections to the other games in the series is what Capcom often does best and it works here better than it probably ever has before. In an experience that could’ve been largely standalone, Capcom unites Resident Evil 7 with previous titles in thrilling and interesting ways.

Replay Value: Moderately High.

Overall Score: 8.0

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The Power of Three

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There’s something of a semi-fascination with certain numbers in specific cultures. It’s completely researched and documented as well- take morbid fascination in Chinese culture with the number four due to its closeness in pronunciation with the word for kill/death, as well as the more benign fascination with all things nine thanks to the belief that it brings good luck and good fortune. In the United States, people have a thing for sevens and thirteen for both good and bad luck’s sake. So what exactly is it with the number three, and what sort of mystical powers might it hold?

Books, films, and games so often find themselves caught in a series of trilogies. Even television shows often run for three seasons or series before deciding whether or not to continue the story- Supernatural was almost limited to only three seasons. But more importantly, I’m here to talk about games of course- specifically three titles that have each either peaked or regressed with their third entries depending on which authorities you ask. Two of these series have yet to produce a fourth game and the other has produced several over the years since its third title released, and yet is also currently on a bit of a hiatus while the developer publishes other works.

Many series seem to hit a high note at first that is never fully replicated over the subsequent titles. Still, many others manage that high or even the highest note in the first direct sequel and then can never accomplish such a feat again. And yet a few manage to perform such magic a third time, the first two attempts being good or bad notwithstanding. This blog seeks to discuss the allure, successes, and failures of Resistance 3, Dead Space 3, and Assassin’s Creed 3- three of my favorite titles and three that have been equally panned and praised. However, as a side-note where my first comment about magic striking once, twice, or three times is concerned, I’ve got a few other perfect candidates in mind as well.

Dead Space 1 is perhaps the most well-regarded in the franchise, even with the fact that the second and third games were handled great in their own different ways. However, there is no denying that with each new installment things have gone a tad bit downhill as well in general opinion. As each game became more focused on action and less horror-oriented, some part of the experience aged over time and wasn’t as well received. Dead Space has struck gold more than once, and yet the first title is undeniably the best, beating out even the second and third in small ways.

Another example not directly mentioned otherwise in this blog would be The Empire Strikes Back, if you don’t mind the abrupt shift in storytelling mediums. Perhaps even Aliens would fit in this category, if you’re more a James Cameron than George Lucas fan. The Empire Strikes Back is widely regarded as the best Star Wars film to date, especially where the original trilogy is concerned. Although it could never have been made without the magic that was A New Hope, it flashes lightyears ahead and encapsulates so much more than that first potentially stand-alone film would’ve and could’ve.

And my third and final example of such great things being part of three has to be The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The first Witcher title was a well-done game to be sure but it has had many more issues than the subsequent titles and is definitely the least impressive of the bunch. Sans the console port that never happened, we are left with Assassins of Kings and Wild Hunt- two phenomenal titles with epic, world spanning stories. As impressive as the direct sequel was, The Witcher 3 is the best game in the series by a longshot. It turns the world into a truly open and exploitable place, introduces yet more locales and lore, brings old and new characters alike together, and features more content than some entire series have.

So those three titles in and of themselves are some of the best of the best for cases to be made about the power of three- in some cases regarding the first, second, and final parts of trilogies or series. Now let’s talk about the main focus of my blog post here as well as three more heavily debated games (with regard to their quality or overall greatness). In the long years since their release- being 2011, 2012, and 2013 respectively, I’ve reviewed all three games and played them in-depth. I must say, I find myself in one of the rare parties that appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed each of the three titles as well. In previous reviews I’ve given both Dead Space 3 and Assassin’s Creed 3 a lofty 9.75/10 and I’ve also given Resistance 3 a commendable  8.5/10. There are probably just as many people who would rather torch these titles and give them somewhere in the 4-7 range as well.

I do not in any way think any title is perfect, even ones that I’ve awarded perfect scores (essentially only Wind Waker at this point) or ones that I’ve given nearly as high a mark. I recognize many of the missteps that these three titles have made and do not disagree that in many ways they are flawed, and yet they are still master-strokes for their respective series and a fluid evolution as such. Were there plenty of flaws in Assassin’s Creed 3? Was the story of Resistance 3 tragically bad just as it was tragically morbid? Was Dead Space 3 too heavily focused on action and transactions rather than the series roots and the success that predecessors found? Yes, yes, and yes. However, instead of raging against the machine and sticking it to the titles with a poor review score heavily influenced by one or two major missteps, I weighed the titles as a whole and decided how much I would allow any flaws to influence my final decisions. Did I still enjoy each of them overall? You bet I did.

Assassin’s Creed’s stories have always been hit or miss and Assassin’s Creed 2 will forever be the best in the series until proven otherwise. While it may seem like we can only hope to attain such highs in these three series as AC2, Resistance 2, and Dead Space 1 had to offer, the third entries are not losses nor do they suffer detrimentally from sins of their fathers. Dead Space 1 and 2 are about even with the exception of the first being the better horror title in the series as aforementioned and the second being the better action-horror title probably of the generation. The third offers the best complete package and well-oiled mechanics however, just as Resistance 3 does even if Fall of Man boasted the best story and Resistance 2 the best multiplayer. Assassin’s Creed 1 was jerky and weird when it began but when the sequel rolled around it was everything the series should strive to be. The third has been one of the most ambitious to date despite setbacks and flaws in the design at times and easily outranks scores of the subtitled adventures except for perhaps Brotherhood in overall scope and design.

I find that I am more readily available to discuss my likes and dislikes of titles across mediums with other people because I am never quick to condemn them (or other people) for their flaws and their opinions respectively. If you could support why you think Katamari Damacy is the best game of all time, then I’d accept that you thought that, my own thoughts notwithstanding. I enjoy reasoned and reasonable arguments and although people often associate debate and argument with negative connotations of such words, to me it is no more than mere discussion and the weighing of pros and cons in well-mannered and well-communicated discourse. For the exact same reasons, I enjoy games that others may criticize heavily to the point of near-ridiculousness, and I do not enjoy some games that have been lauded as the best ever. To each their own.

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Why You Should Watch Jack Taylor

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If you’re into the sort of thing, the online providers of mixed media (predominately television shows and films) such as Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, and HBO typically offer some quality entertainment and interesting specimens. One such series that has recently struck a chord somewhere deep within the dark recesses of my sleep deprived and otherwise addled brain is none other than ‘Jack Taylor.’ Allow me to state some of the selling points for the series to begin with, in all of its Netflix glory (although there are at least three new episodes not yet available on the streaming service).

Iain Glen, better known as ‘That Guy’ from the often sub-par Resident Evil films and even better better known as Jorah the Explorah from Game of Thrones (HBO), is featured as the titular character Jack Taylor. The series is predominately set in and around Galway- Ireland for those of you unfamiliar to the lay of the land. So you’ve got your fair share of drinking, smoking, and unsavory thuggish sorts going toe to toe with J.T. and constantly getting outwitted and beaten soundly (typically in the literal sense as well). The show is similar to the popular BBC Sherlock series in that it typically boasts three film-length episodes per series and is based upon novels revolving around the same titular character (written by Ken Bruen). One interesting additional note is that the episodes typically originate on local Irish television channels as well.

It is very much a dark, cynical, and gritty show- so essentially everything I love besides petting unicorns and smelling daffodils while skipping around meadows. Jokes aside, the show features story arcs and characters from the novels themselves and despite following in the same thematic footsteps and potential cliches, it all still works and is directed with such things in mind. Unsurprisingly, Jorah- er Jack, is easily the highlight of each lengthy film, although Garda Noonan (Nora-Jane Noone/Siobhan O’Kelly) is just as witty and well-portrayed. It won’t often throw you for true twists that you don’t see coming, but it’s far from mere pulp fiction or trashy romantic paperbacks that most people spend their time with. Think of it as something along the lines of Lee Child’s ‘Jack Reacher’ series, although not in terms of being made into a feature-length Tom Cruise film.

The gist of what I’m getting at here, without trying to give everything up and give everything away in order to ruin things for you, is that it’s definitely worth a watch. Perhaps the first few episodes get off to a little bit of a rocky start in terms of cliches and stereotypes typically found in thrillers and novels of that sort. But the characters are what really piqued my interest and got me invested and I’ll bet if the series sounds like it’s up your alley, then they’ll probably interest you as well. Iain Glen has long been a favorite of mine in terms of lesser-known on-screen actors who’ve come from great theatrical and producing backdrops. His film roles may be minimal in terms of the limelight (although Mountains of the Moon is pretty amazing) and he may be predominately known for guest roles or his acting slot on Game of Thrones, but he thoroughly sells the Jack Taylor vibe and has quickly become a favorite in that capacity for me as well.

And here’s a quick fun-fact for you as well. Glen starred alongside such notable names as Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Edward Norton, Ghassan Massoud, Alexander Siddig, Jon Finch, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Maton Csokas, and Michael Sheen. If those names themselves don’t all ring a bell, look up some of the films and works they’ve been involved in and you’ll get a better picture. Needless to say the most well-known involved include but are not limited to Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Penny Dreadful, and so much more.Iain Glen is good. Jack Taylor is good. Well, the show. Try it out.

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Life is a Backlog

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It’s been a while since my last actual blog post to go beyond mere update status or beyond predictions for some sport or another. I will not say I am necessarily back in the swing of things, as I am still acclimating to being a part of civilization again and not staying predominately in the outdoors and enjoying everything Mother Nature has on display to offer. I will, however, say that I hope to be getting more content out here and there despite having a busy ‘back-to-work’ schedule to deal with myself.

In many ways, the title of this particular post stems from the fact that moments throughout life strike me as not too dissimilar to a person trudging through a lengthy backlog- of any sort. There are certain goals you have in mind such as completing the next game on the list, and sometimes that happens but at the same time sometimes it’s pushed further and further into the future. For me, writing can often be like that. I’ve written three new manuscripts this year and yet I’ve struggled to fairly accommodate my passion for game journalism and writing reviews as well. It’s always been a balancing act for me where other priorities in life have been concerned, and I’ve done a poor job of it lately.

Not all hope is lost of course, as I am here now. I’m never too far from the front-lines myself and have been on the lookout through various sources for upcoming news and information of course as well. While I tend to steer clear of reviews now if not for one particular reason, then for the fact that I’ve written a plethora over the years and am now burnt out- I will not say that you won’t ever see me write one again. I’ll always be eternally intrigued by being able to generate my own thoughts concerning topical pieces, so of course some thought blogs may be the evolution and future of my editorials and reviews melded together.

I write most of my actual non-blog content offline and anonymously. Not because I have no wish to share with people I know appreciate what works I do share online and publicly, but for the sake of sharing content with an unknown audience as an unknown benefactor for the purpose of receiving unbiased feedback. That being said, I may or may not start sharing some more of my creative projects here in actuality although I warn you for the most part my short fiction is a tad dark and not always the most appropriate of subjects. I won’t compare myself to any “great” authors, but I won’t steer clear from the slight supernatural-horror niche that typically accompanies even the most benign of my works.

All in all, I’ve been lurking in the shadows for the past week or so, soaking up and absorbing the sights and sounds of online communities in order to get back into the thick of things. So if you haven’t heard much from me for awhile but you’ve seen me occasionally commenting or otherwise enjoying content here and there, I’m either fresh off of an important trip or fresh off of a lengthy period of business and busyness. I look forward to seeing what you all write and read in the future, as that is of course one of the most interesting and important aspects of my own life. Cheers, all.

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The Big Bowl

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This one’s for all the marbles as it would be. It’s come down to the moment of truth and also come time for me to post my predictions and results for the Super Bowl, as well as some interesting post-season stats on my part. Alas, I voted against the Falcons virtually every week save for this one and my sudden confidence in the surging team seems to have taken the wind out of their sails, or wings, or what have you. Truly, Tom Brady for better or worse must be one of the greatest of all time, and I think we can no longer deny it otherwise.

After authoring a twenty-five point comeback to tie the game and send it to the first ever overtime, the Patriots then surged ahead and clinched victory off of the dominant performance of their scat back, White. Whether or not you liked one team or neither, you cannot deny the first half consistency of Atlanta nor the second half magic of New England. What a game.

Final Score SB 51: NE 34 ATL 28 Pre: ATL Act: NE

Overall Post-Season Record: 6-5

WC- 4-0 | DIV- 1-3 | CONF- 1-1 | SB- 0-1

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Week by Week Walkthrough

2khihfz

The following is about to be a quick little runthrough of my stats totals for personal predictions each week of the regular season and into the post-season thus far. As of the time this is being written, I am four for four in post-season predictions and waiting to see the outcome of the rest of the playoff games leading up to the title matchup. Anyway, let’s get to it.

Week One: 8-8 | Week Two: 11-5 | Week Three: 9-7 | Week Four: 8-7

Week Five: 10-4 | Week Six: 9-6 | Week Seven: 8-6-1 | Week Eight: 7-5-1

Week Nine: 9-4 | Week Ten: 7-7 | Week Eleven: 10-4

Week Twelve: 10-6 | Week Thirteen: 11-4 | Week Fourteen: 7-9

Week Fifteen: 10-6 | Week Sixteen: 10-6 | Week Seventeen: 9-7

Wild Card: 4-0

Interesting Stats:

  1. Every week except for Week 14 had a winning or at least even wins/losses record for the regular season and thus far in the playoffs as well.
  2. Two weeks (1 and 10) had even wins and losses while two weeks also had unaccounted for ties which couldn’t necessarily be factored in.

Divisional Round Predictions:

  1. Seahawks v Falcons | Pre: SEA
  2. Patriots v Texans | Pre: NE
  3. Chiefs v Steelers | Pre: KC
  4. Cowboys v Packers | Pre: DAL

Notes: All of the games have the potential to be fairly close but I particularly think the Falcons/Seahawks and Chiefs/Steelers matches will be very close. Seattle has had issues of late but then they are still after all the resilient Seahawks. Atlanta has been an explosive offensive powerhouse for most of the year. Kansas City has the Swiss Army Hill. Pittsburgh has been on a hotstreak for a long time and dominated the Dolphins in a revenge game and wild card match. The Packers and Cowboys also have the potential to go either way and Aaron Rodgers’ promise of “running the table” could come through. I could see the Texans’ defense providing some hiccups for the Pats in their game, however I feel like barring an upset of epic proportions, that match is the surest of the bunch.

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Playoff Rankings

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First of all, yes I did not indeed post actual rankings for Week 17, however I will gladly add them in the beginning here with a simple list as at this point in the season there’s less of a need to explain things along the way. The main purpose for this post is to offer rankings going into the post-season in particular, and that is what I seek to do here. I will be traveling and as such still have paltry access to the interwebs so this may very well be the only week I get to on time for such rankings.

Week 17 Rankings By the Books:

  1. New England Patriots 13-2 +/-
  2. Dallas Cowboys 13-2 +/-
  3. Oakland Raiders 12-3 +/-
  4. Atlanta Falcons 10-5 +1
  5. Kansas City Chiefs 11-4 +1
  6. Seattle Seahawks 9-5-1 -2
  7. Pittsburgh Steelers 10-5 +1
  8. Green Bay Packers 9-6 +3
  9. Washington Redskins 8-6-1 +4
  10. New York Giants 10-5 -3
  11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-7 -2
  12. Detroit Lions 9-6 -2
  13. Miami Dolphins 10-5 -1
  14. Houston Texans 9-6 +4
  15. Baltimore Ravens 8-7 +/-
  16. Denver Broncos 8-7 -2
  17. Buffalo Bills 7-8 +/-
  18. Indianapolis Colts 7-8 +1
  19. Tennessee Titans 8-7 -3
  20. Minnesota Vikings 7-8 +/-
  21. New Orleans Saints 7-8 +/-
  22. Philadelphia Eagles 6-9 +1
  23. Arizona Cardinals 6-8-1 +1
  24. Cincinnati Bengals 5-9-1 +3
  25. Jacksonville Jaguars 3-12 +3
  26. Carolina Panthers 6-9 -4
  27. Chicago Bears 3-12 -2
  28. San Fransisco 49ers 2-13 +3
  29. San Diego Chargers 5-10 -3
  30. Los Angeles Rams 4-11 +/-
  31. New York Jets 4-11 -2
  32. Cleveland Browns 1-14 +/-

Who Has Been Eliminated:

  1. Titans, Broncos, Buccaneers 9-7
  2. Redskins 8-7-1
  3. Ravens, Colts, Vikings 8-8
  4. Cardinals 7-8-1
  5. Bills, Eagles, Saints 7-9
  6. Bengals 6-9-1
  7. Panthers 6-10
  8. Jets, Chargers 5-11
  9. Rams 4-12
  10. Jaguars, Bears 3-13
  11. 49ers 2-14
  12. Browns 1-15

Who Remains:

  1. Patriots 14-2
  2. Cowboys 13-3
  3. Chiefs, Raiders 12-4
  4. Steelers, Giants, Falcons 11-5
  5. Seahawks 10-5-1
  6. Dolphins, Packers 10-6
  7. Texans, Lions 9-7

Power Rankings:

  1. Patriots
  2. Cowboys
  3. Steelers
  4. Chiefs
  5. Falcons
  6. Seahawks
  7. Packers
  8. Raiders
  9. Giants
  10. Lions
  11. Dolphins
  12. Texans
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Final Predictions of the Regular Season

2khihfz

I’m a little late here with some of my posts, but I’ve had unreliable connection where I’ve been of late so that is semi-excusable. I’ll start off with the final predictions of the regular season and I’ll try to upload the final week’s worth of regular season power rankings here in the next day or perhaps later today or so. Let’s begin.

Week Seventeen Predictions

  1. Bills v Jets | Pre: BUF Act: NYJ
  2. Browns v Steelers | Pre: PIT Act: PIT
  3. Panthers v Buccaneers | Pre: TB Act: TB
  4. Texans v Titans | Pre: HOU Act: TEN
  5. Bears v Vikings | Pre: CHI Act: MIN
  6. Cowboys v Eagles | Pre: DAL Act: PHI
  7. Patriots v Dolphins | Pre: NE Act: NE
  8. Jaguars v Colts | Pre: IND Act: IND
  9. Ravens v Bengals | Pre: BAL Act: CIN
  10. Chiefs v Chargers | Pre: KC Act: KC
  11. Seahawks v 49ers | Pre: SEA Act: SEA
  12. Cardinals v Rams | Pre: ARI Act: ARI
  13. Raiders v Broncos | Pre: DEN Act: DEN
  14. Saints v Falcons | Pre: ATL Act: ATL
  15. Giants v Redskins | Pre: WAS Act: NYG
  16. Packers v Lions | Pre: DET Act: GB

Weekly Record: 9-7

Final Record of the Season: 153-101-2

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millie schmidt writes... with cats

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