Tag Archives: Writing

Gaming March Madness Round 4

ncaa_march_madness_logo_2016

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

EAST BRACKET

4 DRAGON AGE ORIGINS WIN (OVER FABLE II)

7 THE WITCHER 2 WIN (OVER MASS EFFECT)

WEST BRACKET

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

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

MIDWEST BRACKET

1 UNCHARTED 2 WIN (OVER UNCHARTED)

3 LEFT 4 DEAD WIN (OVER MORTAL KOMBAT X)

SOUTH BRACKET

1 BORDERLANDS 2 WIN (OVER ROCK BAND 2)

2 PORTAL WIN (OVER LITTLEBIGPLANET 2)

ROUND FOUR:

4 DRAGON AGE ORIGINS V 7 THE WITCHER 2

1 MASS EFFECT 2 V 11 MIDDLE EARTH SHADOW OF MORDOR

1 UNCHARTED 2 V 3 LEFT 4 DEAD

1 BORDERLANDS 2 V 2 PORTAL

Tagged , , ,

Broadchurch Series One- A Retrospective

broadchurch-season-1-finale

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged , ,

Gaming March Madness Round 3

ncaa_march_madness_logo_2016

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

EAST BRACKET

8 FABLE II WIN (OVER BIOSHOCK)

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

3 MASS EFFECT WIN (OVER SUNSET OVERDRIVE)

7 THE WITCHER 2 WIN (OVER BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM)

WEST BRACKET

1 MASS EFFECT 2 WIN (OVER FAR CRY 3)

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

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

2 DEAD SPACE WIN (OVER SKYRIM)

MIDWEST BRACKET

1 UNCHARTED 2 WIN (OVER DMC DEVIL MAY CRY)

4 UNCHARTED WIN (OVER GOD OF WAR 3)

3 LEFT 4 DEAD WIN (OVER DESTINY)

7 MORTAL KOMBAT X WIN (OVER MASS EFFECT 3)

SOUTH BRACKET

1 BORDERLANDS 2 WIN (OVER SLEEPING DOGS)

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

3 LITTLEBIGPLANET 2 WIN (OVER KILLZONE 3)

2 PORTAL WIN (OVER SNIPER ELITE V2)

ROUND THREE:

EAST BRACKET

8 FABLE II V 4 DRAGON AGE ORIGINS

3 MASS EFFECT V 7 THE WITCHER 2

WEST BRACKET

1 MASS EFFECT 2 V 4 MIRROR’S EDGE

11 MIDDLE EARTH SHADOW OF MORDOR V 2 DEAD SPACE

MIDWEST BRACKET

1 UNCHARTED 2 V 4 UNCHARTED

3 LEFT 4 DEAD V 7 MORTAL KOMBAT X

SOUTH BRACKET

1 BORDERLANDS 2 V 4 ROCK BAND 2

3 LITTLEBIGPLANET 2 V 2 PORTAL

Tagged , , ,

Marvel’s Iron Fist Review

iron-fist-splash-2-1024x514

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged ,

Gaming March Madness Round 2

ncaa_march_madness_logo_2016

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

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

EAST BRACKET

1 BIOSHOCK WIN (OVER DEAD SPACE 3)

8 FABLE II WIN (OVER CRYSIS 3)

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

4 DRAGON AGE ORIGINS WIN (OVER HORIZON ZERO DAWN)

11 SUNSET OVERDRIVE WIN (OVER ALAN WAKE)

3 MASS EFFECT WIN (OVER KILLZONE SHADOW FALL)

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

2 BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM WIN (OVER THE WITCHER 3)

WEST BRACKET

1 MASS EFFECT 2 WIN (OVER BATMAN ARKHAM CITY)

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

5 MODERN WARFARE 2 WIN (OVER FALLOUT 3)

4 MIRROR’S EDGE WIN (OVER TOMB RAIDER)

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

3 PORTAL 2 WIN (OVER UNTIL DAWN)

7 SKYRIM WIN (OVER BIOSHOCK INFINITE)

2 DEAD SPACE WIN (OVER VVVVVV)

MIDWEST BRACKET

1 UNCHARTED 2 WIN (OVER HALO 3)

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

5 GOD OF WAR 3 WIN (OVER FALLOUT 4)

4 UNCHARTED WIN (OVER RESIDENT EVIL 7)

11 DESTINY WIN (OVER RED DEAD REDEMPTION)

3 LEFT 4 DEAD WIN (OVER DIRT 3)

7 MORTAL KOMBAT X WIN (OVER SKYWARD SWORD)

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

SOUTH BRACKET

1 BORDERLANDS 2 WIN (OVER STARCRAFT II)

8 SLEEPING DOGS WIN (OVER SAINTS ROW IV)

12 METAL GEAR SOLID V WIN (OVER HALO REACH)

4 ROCK BAND 2 WIN (OVER MINECRAFT)

6 KILLZONE 3 WIN (OVER UNDERTALE)

3 LITTLEBIGPLANET 2 WIN (OVER XENOBLADE CHRONICLES)

10 SNIPER ELITE V2 WIN (OVER DARK SOULS)

2 PORTAL WIN (OVER ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST)

ROUND TWO MATCHUPS:

EAST BRACKET

1 BIOSHOCK V 8 FABLE II

5 ASSASSIN’S CREED II V 4 DRAGON AGE ORIGINS

11 SUNSET OVERDRIVE V 3 MASS EFFECT

7 THE WITCHER 2 V 2 BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM

WEST BRACKET

1 MASS EFFECT 2 V 8 FAR CRY 3

5 MODERN WARFARE 2 V 4 MIRROR’S EDGE

11 MIDDLE EARTH SHADOW OF MORDOR V 3 PORTAL 2

7 SKYRIM V 2 DEAD SPACE

MIDWEST BRACKET

1 UNCHARTED 2 V 9 DMC DEVIL MAY CRY

5 GOD OF WAR 3 V 4 UNCHARTED

11 DESTINY V 3 LEFT 4 DEAD

7 MORTAL KOMBAT X V 2 MASS EFFECT 3

SOUTH BRACKET

1 BORDERLANDS 2 V 8 SLEEPING DOGS

12 METAL GEAR SOLID V V 4 ROCK BAND 2

6 KILLZONE 3 V 3 LITTLEBIGPLANET 2

10 SNIPER ELITE V2 V 2 PORTAL

Tagged , , ,

Gaming March Madness

ncaa_march_madness_logo_2016

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

EAST BRACKET

1 BIOSHOCK V 16 DEAD SPACE 3

8 FABLE II V 9 CRYSIS 3

5 ASSASSIN’S CREED II V 12 BLACK OPS

4 DRAGON AGE ORIGINS V 13 HORIZON ZERO DAWN

6 ALAN WAKE V 11 SUNSET OVERDRIVE

3 MASS EFFECT V 14 KILLZONE SHADOW FALL

7 THE WITCHER 2 V 10 THE LAST OF US

2 BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUMV 15 THE WITCHER 3

WEST BRACKET

1 MASS EFFECT 2 V 16 BATMAN ARKHAM CITY

8 FAR CRY 3 V 9 GRAND THEFT AUTO V

5 MODERN WARFARE 2 V 12 FALLOUT 3

4 MIRROR’S EDGE V 13 TOMB RAIDER

6 METRO 2033 V 11 MIDDLE EARTH SHADOW OF MORDOR

3 PORTAL 2 V 14 UNTIL DAWN

7 SKYRIM V 10 BIOSHOCK INFINITE

2 DEAD SPACE V 15 VVVVVV

MIDWEST BRACKET

1 UNCHARTED 2 V 16 HALO 3

8 XCOM ENEMY UNKNOWN V 9 DMC DEVIL MAY CRY

5 GOD OF WAR 3 V 12 FALLOUT 4

4 UNCHARTED V 13 RESIDENT EVIL 7

6 RED DEAD REDEMPTION V 11 DESTINY

3 LEFT 4 DEAD V 14 DIRT 3

7 MORTAL KOMBAT X V 10 SKYWARD SWORD

2 MASS EFFECT 3 V 15 SUPER MARIO GALAXY 2

SOUTH BRACKET

1 BORDERLANDS 2 V 16 STAR CRAFT II

8 SLEEPING DOGS V 9 SAINTS ROW IV

5 HALO REACH V 12 METAL GEAR SOLID V

4 ROCK BAND 2 V 13 MINECRAFT

6 KILLZONE 3 V 11 UNDERTALE

3 LITTLEBIGPLANET 2 V 14 XENOBLADE CHRONICLES

7 DARK SOULS V 10 SNIPER ELITE V2

2 PORTAL V 15 ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST

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

Tagged , , ,

Soundtrack of My Life

a6525fe78b5621aecf1f046ad67abcc3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged , ,

In the Beginning there were Games…

636055001539251795-1357923173_635983613404157242542681755_video-games-in-a-nutshell1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tagged ,

Games I Didn’t Review in 2016: Obduction

obductionconcept01-100469063-orig

Silly old me thought for the longest time that the title of the semi-spiritual successor to Myst/Riven/All-That-Good-Stuff point and click adventure was a mere typo or perhaps creative indifference to the spelling of abduction. As it stands, I think it rather ironically would encapsulate the narrative in either its present spelling or that alternative. Obduction instead refers in no small part to something along the lines of opposite subduction, or rather oceanic lithosphere forcing itself over continental counterparts.

All that scientific banter aside, Obduction really is a fitting title for this game and since I’m seeking to avoid spoiling the majority of the narrative, I’ll say little more than that. At first glance it seems like just another adventure seeking to cash in on this newfangled idea of nuevo-retro. What I mean by this is that it takes an old gaming concept and places it into a new gaming era and melds the best of both worlds, or in this case multiple realms. The narrative and lore behind Obduction is certainly one of its strongest points and like the Myst saga, I really enjoyed how it was fleshed out and how things are rarely as they initially seem.

Even with Cyan Worlds having developed the game with the thought in mind for it to be a spiritual successor to Myst/Riven, the only ways in which it is truly similar stem from the gameplay and some of the ideas of travel and various worlds and time displacements and similarly intriguing alien technology. If you know anything about the Myst series- whether it be lore or gameplay or overall narrative, then you may find this particular title engaging as well. The most interesting of all the narrative elements and potential in Obduction is definitely the meshing of several worlds and several time periods. For example, there is an advanced alien subculture lying dormant right alongside a displaced wild western town straight out of the late eighteen hundreds.

Perhaps another of the unintended and yet awesomely interesting elements of the game is the ambiguity surrounding narrative and character choice. Certainly, some things will undoubtedly seem and in fact be very linear throughout the adventure. However there are also particular points littered throughout the story where your character’s journey or the concurrent adventures of the few other beings you encounter may come to an abrupt and even brutally twisted end. I won’t say much more for fear of ruining some of the finer endgame moments, but suffice it to say few things are as they seem.

Obduction, if it aspires to be anything else or anything other, is certainly a game revolving around unintended consequences and brilliance of simple design. I think that is probably one of its other admirable traits, and it is definitely something we don’t see as much nowadays or perhaps ever. I thoroughly enjoyed the adventure itself for the feelings it elicited, the narrative tropes it trod, and the lore it hid slightly beneath the surface. It is always invigorating to experience something along the lines of a thrill ride in such a seemingly archaic and simple adventure game revolving around core mechanics such as light puzzle solving and information gathering. Yes, it can inevitably have its boring or even low points, but if you stick by it then the payoff is totally worth it.

For what it’s worth, I have only good things to say about this particular title as a whole and I would probably give it somewhere between an 8.0 and 8.5 out of ten. That’s high praise coming from me and something I believe it is entirely deserving of as well. I implore you to give it a whirl if you’re into old school adventures, an interesting story, or simply want to branch out into a new genre of gaming.

Tagged , , ,

Alien: Covenant- A Return to Form?

alien-covenant-cast-700x300

The Alien franchise is one that has certainly seen its fair share of commercial success over the years since its initial inception. Whether it be through film, video games, or merchandise, it has been marketed to an ever-broader audience over the years. While this has its own array of ups and downs, Ridley Scott seems to be of the mind that a return to form mixed with this new-age horror business is of grave necessity and in the best interest of the saga itself. I can’t say I disagree.

Alien: Isolation was something of a rare gem for me just a few years ago when it released- managing to bring the tense action of the original film, mixed with some story background in the lore, to the forefront of a series previously only known for video games of the typical sub-par quality. Alien vs Predator and Colonial Marines are the other two most recent games of any renown in the series and neither is a good indicator of the quality work people should come to expect of it. Similar to Isolation being a breath of fresh air for the video game counterpart, I think Covenant can and should be the film iteration that bridges the gap between Aliens and Prometheus- being able to do what the first films did well as well as on the grandiose playing field of lore Prometheus introduced, albeit in a confused manner.

As the name would suggest, Alien: Covenant seeks to tie the prequel trilogy to the main body of films in more ways than just a shared history and shared name. There are bound to be countless characteristics from both the new and old films and history, plus there are still plenty new threats to be introduced on-screen that have yet to be seen. I love how Ridley Scott isn’t afraid to up the stakes by adding more revelations and more variation to the alien species itself, but that he also plans to still directly tie things together and come full-circle at some point as well. What once began as a small-scale story should and ultimately seems to be headed towards resolving itself that way as well, whatever galaxy-wide implications and revelations and earth shattering lore dumps may come between those two points.

The first film is renowned for its tense, atmospheric horror and its bursts of action, among other cinematic qualities. The second is known for broadening the scope of the infestation and introducing us to an even broader cast of characters and setting. The third film attempted to venture down some semblance of a path between the two original titles while the fourth went full-blown science fiction and started a downward spiral of plot and sensibility in many respects. As far as the four main sequence Alien films go, they taper off towards the end if only for general concerns over plot and making sense of it all.

We’ve also been gifted with a few Alien vs Predator films which managed to tie-in the popular and cult classic Predator character and universe to that of the Alien setting. While that has largely been a marketing success, it has never been nearly as successful in terms of producing quality projects on par with what each series has managed to do separately. On the whole, even the confusing and ambitious yet inevitably fallible Alien-prequel Prometheus has done a better job of that. Prometheus managed to take some higher caliber actors and throw them into the existing universe (at least for us movie-goers) while forcing them to combat a threat altogether new to their characters. It has been criticized largely for its plot but on the whole it does what it intended to do all along- establishes a baseline from which the prequels and main series can stem.

I was way more excited than I honestly had any right to be when I saw the first few trailers for Covenant just last week. I’m not sure if it was the trailer itself or perhaps my own reaction to a series that I’ve been close with since my early days, but I really enjoyed it and have thought about writing this blog for several days now. I do not think it will be the cramped corridors of Dead Space 1 (er, Aliens 1) but that’s not to say it isn’t seeking to return to the successful format of the first film in many ways. Just look at the trailer yourself- the evidence is there, even if it’s presented on a larger than life level at times. By now I think we have to in some ways embrace the fact that it is the twenty-first century and grandiose posturing is a large part of cinematic film-making and camera angle, lighting, and amazing effects are here and now. So just because Prometheus or Covenant do or did a ton of special effects should not take away from the overall story or end project quality.

I’m curious to learn more about the paradise and hell that these new and familiar faces alike have stepped into. I’m also eager to push past Prometheus and head towards Alien, both in terms of setting and story and influence. I’m more than okay with injecting new ideas and new life into what is otherwise an old tried and true formula, but I also want to see it be more successful and more simplistic and meaningful. You can have your lore and your grand plans but sometimes less is more and not the other way around. All in all, these are just my musings on the tail-end of a crazy weekend and I hope that everyone else has already formulated their own (and already seen Logan).

Tagged ,
Mr. Miniike's Tea-Sipping Reviews

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

ultimatemindsettoday

A great WordPress.com site

Selected Essays and Squibs by Joseph Suglia

The Web log of Dr. Joseph Suglia

The Ninth Life

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

Elan Mudrow

The Ridges of Intertextuallity

Storyshucker

A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

What Inspires Your Writing?

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

%d bloggers like this: