Ok, so it happened at last. Suicide Squad came out and it’s a little bit shit. Ok, it’s quite a lot of shit but that is sadly becoming par for the course with DC films these days ain’t it? A lot has been written about the failings of Warner Bros attempt at creating their own shared cinematic universe with some of the best-known characters in all of fiction. Perhaps it’s down to poor management from WB or directors and writers that either don’t get the source material or just don’t like it that much, to begin with (Looking at you, Snyder) but that’s for the scholars to decide. I’m just here to hurl my own ad-hoc reckons in the vast wastes of the internet (Also I’m about to start playing No Man’s Sky so I could be gone for a while)
WHO ARE THE SUICIDE SQUAD
Comprised of a lot of C/D/E list DC villains the Suicide Squad are a government tasked force sent on missions no one else can do, because if they get killed who cares?
The film’s chosen line up is:
Deadshot – A man with guns
Harley Quinn – A women with guns and a boyfriend whose a bit of a dick
Rick Flag – A man with guns. Not a villains, just a bit daft.
Captain Boomerang – An Australian
El Diablo – A character who ran away from the X-men and sold crystal meth for a bit
The Enchantress – A really crap villain (Spoilers)
Slipknot – A character whose main contribution to the plot is to punch a woman then die very quickly. Also, he climbs things.
Killer Croc – Because King Shark would have been too cool.
Katana – A women with a sword. Not a villain, just kinda there.
So that’s your line up for the movie. In terms of supervillains, most of them are just a bit crappy when it comes to the whole ‘super’ thing with only Enchantress and Diablo having any real super-powers (No Killer Croc does not count, he’s just got terrible skin.) So what that they have barely anyone with powers? Well, it’s indicative of the whole films premise being dreadfully squandered. The action scenes are dull gun battles for the most part with only a few brief moments where Diablo actually sets fire to stuff.
Even Captain Boomerang only seems to use his bloody boomerangs for hand to hand combat, which he isn’t that great since he gets stabbed but SPOILER lives because he had crammed some cash in his jacket because he can’t stop stealing. Also, he is Australian.
The goons they’re up against as well are perhaps some of the dullest I’ve seen in all of cinema. Black and grey goo goons with loads of tiny eyes on their heads, the image in your head maybe of some Lovecraftian Horrors that might be kinda frightening to behold, unfortunately, the film is so poorly lit that you never get a good look at them, so they just look like poorly rendered poo goons.
Deadshot, Rick Flag and Harley Quinn are the three who get the most screen time and character development, which isn’t saying much since Deadshot is just Will Smith, an actor with such a well-managed screen presence it’s hard to tell when he’s acting these days. Rick Flag is played by Joel Kinnaman, an actor I’ve been hard on in the past (I’m still getting court orders after my 3rd-year uni review of Robocop) here however Joel is somewhat watchable, even being the emotional core of the group by the time the third act rolls around.
Harley Quinn is of course played by Margot Robbie. Robbie does a decent impression of a Harley Quinn cosplayer, all “Hiya Puddin” and crazy for Mr J but she’s actually quite boring for much of the film. The worst Quinn stories focus on her relationship with the Joker, never exploring who she is when he’s not around and this film never lets us forget that Mr J is coming for her, giving her no chance to be more than just a girlfriend.
Well, now I’ve mentioned the Joker I suppose it’s time to address the egomaniac in the room.
JARED LETO IS A TERRIBLE JOKER
Do you have that friend who thinks they can do a good Heath Ledger Joker impression, and can’t resist doing it every time Batman is mentioned? Jared Leto is that friend and he fucking sucks.
I’ve been told the Leto is a good actor, don’t think I’ve ever sat through any of his other work and after SS I really won’t be trying to change that because he’s so very bad in SS that it’s almost like he was trying to break the film with his mere presence.
Joker has about three scene in the entire film and each one could have been cut from the film and would have made it a stronger film. Joker is looking to get Harley back from the government clutches so goes about harming people until he finds out how, then he rescues her in a helicopter but it gets shot down, he disappears. THE END. There is some origin story stuff for Harley of how she met him blah blah, read a comic book, they’re better written than this film.
Obviously, with a Batman in this shared universe, there needs to be a Joker, it’s the law. We all knew he’d show up sooner or later and thanks to Harley Quinn’s presence in the film we know that he exists somewhere. So why not leave it at that? Joker exists, let him be big bad off camera who Harley is on edge about.
There is a scene in one of the trailers for SS where the Joker laughs and Harley says “Say that’s not good”. That line gave me so much hope for what they’d do with Quinn in this film. Have her try and escape her awful boyfriend because she knows she can’t say no to him.
That would have been a great direction to take Harley for this incarnation of the character, and one that would have set-up for some great stuff further down the line with other Batman films and maybe a Harley Quinn solo film (Can’t be worse than Aquaman)
Anyway these have been some completely off the cuff thoughts on Suicide Squad I thought I’d share with you.
Now to go play No Man’s Sky and call everything Buttzilla.
Ok, so there is a new Battlefield game that has been announced. I’m not going to link or embed the new trailer because I’m not a fan of the game thanks to the rather jarring premise.
Battlefield 1 will be set in the First World War.
I’ve written before about how I’m not overly fond of shooters set in this particular period in human history already over at Indie Haven. As wars go this one of the most complicated and morally ambiguous wars ever to take place. A planet-wide cluster fuck of colonial powers (Mostly European) releasing two centuries worth of pent up hate upon one another’s populace. It was a stupid war.
It was also the one of the most horrific wars imaginable thanks to deplorable ingenuity each side used in trying to kill one another from various ranges. Chemical weapons such as Chlorine and Mustard gas were fired indiscriminately at the opposing sides. 1000 of young men were killed by these weapons without a chance, without a hope of running for their lives.
Battlefield 1 will let the player use chemical weapons.
Maybe one of the reasons I’m so uncomfortable about a first person shooter in the first world war was my upbringing. I’m from England where the first world war is still looked on with horror. We are taught it in schools never to forget it, not just in history classes but in English classes as well. For an entire term, my class was required to study Wilfred Owen’s Dulce Et Decorum est. For those unfamiliar with it please read on.
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.
Now imagine why I’m uncomfortable about this game.
I’ve said it a thousand times before and I’ll say it again; games can cover almost any topic and any time period if the makers of the games understand the topic, treat it respectfully and know what is and isn’t appropriate to include. Ubisoft tried and somewhat succeeded in creating a game about WW1 with Valiant Hearts, a game that explored the human side of the cataclysm (Although the games boss battles were unnecessary)
Zombies are to video games what mildew is to my bathroom, troubling abundant but tolerably present. At this point in time, we appear to have struck a happy compromise with these shambling horrors, using them to bring drama and conflict to scenarios in games such as the Walking Dead by Telltale or the good old fashioned cathartic joy of smashing their heads into the blunt end of the baseball bat. In return, we granted them near ubiquity in Videogames, the likes of which even makes the trusty Ak-47 a little jealous. These undead denizens of our iron sights are the primary antagonists of one of my favourite games of all time, but it’s not because of them. It’s because I will never get bored of exploring Trumbull Valley from State of Decay.
Now State of Decay is a game you’ve probably heard about (If you follow me on Twitter it’s one of my most frequent talking points) but for those poor sods among you who are in the dark to this particular joy allow me to briefly sum it up. State of Decay is open-world survival games set in a fictional valley in northern America that is currently overrun by Zombies. The goal it to build up a small settlement with a bunch of other survivors, scavenging for resources, weapons and vehicles. It was just one of those many zombie games released in the wake of DayZ, with the noteworthy distinction of being actually good.
Mechanically the game is nothing noteworthy, with a basic levelling systems for various character attributes, combat mechanics that grow as your characters do and driving that feels a tad floaty (4×4 can just flip over on tight bends). It’s not the base mechanics though that drew me into the world of State of Decay but the world itself that I so loved discovering time and time again.
Trumbull Valley isn’t a special place, there are no cities, no shady government facilities or bastions of occult power. All that makes up Trumbull is a sparse collection of settlements of various size all strung along a circular road with a large expanse of farmland in the middle and mountains to the north. It’s this normality, this air of the every day that makes Trumbull so fascinating to explore. Many of the locations you’ll end up scavenging for resources tell their own story. An old fairground filled with military equipment now abandoned once the army pulled out or was overrun. A campground scattered with entrails and a rifle that never fired a shot.
One of my favourite books is another piece of zombie fiction called World War Z by Max Brooks. It’s an anthology telling the story of a Zombie plague that sweeps the world and the fight back humanity desperately wages to take back the earth. One of my favourite parts is where a pilot is explaining her training and told that when confronting the walking dead or the scene of a massacre is to never think of them when they were living, to never eulogise them. It’s a natural impulse to come up with stories about locations or zombies and it’s one that State of Decay plays with beautifully.
To date, I’ve played what Steam claims is 223 hours worth of State Of Decay and almost all of this time was spent in one of the games DLC’s called Breakdown, where the game lets you off the story leash and lets you discover Trumbull at your own pace. From the start of any Breakdown playthrough, you’re given the same level of freedom that you would find in Skyrim or GTA, a huge world to explore at your own pace, allowing you to write your own survival narratives.
My oh my has it already been a year since my last BAFTA round up? How time flys. Well since I so enjoyed doing this last year how about I treat you all to my thoughts on this years winners and losers for the Video Game BAFTAs?
Artistic Achievement Award
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Batman Arkham Knight
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
Ori and The Blind Forest
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
Got to say the nominees for this category are slightly lackluster in my honest opinion. The winner among them was Ori and the Blind Forest and quite deservedly so when compared to the other games which all strive to look good but are in no way breathtaking or artistically unique in any way. Little shocked that Bloodborne didn’t get at least a nomination for this category as it is visually striking.
Audio Achievement Award
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Batman Arkham Knight
Everybody’s gone to the Rapture
Star Wars Battlefront
The Witcher 3
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
Not really an audio guy (He says while also being the host of a podcast) so find this one difficult to judge for myself. The Winner was Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Sorry Battlefront, getting us nostalgic with laser noises ain’t enough. EGTTR as I’m now calling it also won best music
Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes
Lovers in Dangerous Space Time
Ori and the Blind Forest.
At last, some love for the Indie amongst us. I’ve heard a lot of praise heaped on most of these games (Even heaped some myself for Mini Metro) The eventual winner was Her Story, a game I really should write about sometime.*
So that’s Part one of this years BAFTA winners. At the moment I’m just skirting around the big categories as I think I’ll need to write an entire essay about why the winner of Best Game is a little off the mark.
*Her Story also won best Handheld, which i can’t be arsed to write about
So After about 4 months or so Bethesda have at last released the first bit of DLC for Fallout 4 in the form of the Automatron. If the title and picture up top haven’t yet clued you in, this DLC is all about our robotic friends in the Wasteland. Well all about killing Robots and building your own robotic friends out of the charred remains of less friendly robots certainly.
Hope you like Robots: If killing a ludicrous amount of Robots ain’t your thing then I will happily advise you to save your money and avoid the Automatron.
Oh GOD, COMPANIONS: My character build is all about stealthy tactics, using long range weaponary to take out my foes before. Naturally then I like to play the game as a lone wolf, slowly creeping through buildings, picking off my targets as I see fit. What I don’t want to play is a DLC all about giving me robot companions with A.I so bad that I can no longer play the game as I want to. No longer can I be the lone bullet in the dark, instead I’m the lone bullet in a well-lit area thanks to a bloody robot mate of mine firing lasers into anything that moves. Seriously, why would Bethesda make a DLC about companions who have never been very good in any of their games?
Build a Robot, If you want: One of the DLC’s biggest additions is the robot workbench that allows you to build and customise all manner of Robots to fit whatever role you’d like them to have. Hell, you can wipe out your towns filled with real people and have friendly robots do the townspeople’s job, which is neat. I guess. If I had 20 hours and a fuck tonne of resources to waste on that.
The customization for the robots* works a lot like the way you’d mod your guns, swapping out various bits and pieces to alter stats and abilities to suit your play style. But, since my playstyle doesn’t involve having bloody huge walking cans following me around the place I’ve found them a little bit shit, to say the least in almost all cases.
As you can probably tell I’m not the greatest fan of the Automatron. The main questline is a bit lacking with all the predictable twists, turns and robotic misunderstanding of morality you’d expect in a world where human brains are used to pilot robots.
DLC for these Bethesda open world games has always been hit and miss over the years, most of Fallout 3 and Skyrim’s DLC was forgettable with New Vegas getting some interesting pieces of DLC to play around with (Although the Sierra Madre one is hell on earth)
From what I’ve heard about future DLC for F4 we may be in for some good times soon but honestly, there are a ton of better games out there right now you to pouring your time into.
So it’s been about a week or so of playing more Far Cry Primal and I’m ready to spout more wise words on various aspects of the game.
Let’s talk about the Map – So you’ve probably been seeing a few things on social media saying that the map of Primal is almost identical to that of Far Cry 4. Having looked at the evidence myself I can safely come down on the side of “Yes, it’s the same. Now who cares?” Now I never played FC4 so maybe I can’t share this weird sense that I was robbed of some poor map designers 2 or 3 years of their life just so I can feel like I’m playing/exploring somewhere new.
Also, while we’re on the games world and map let me say this: It’s really big! Not even joking, it’s bloody huge, or at least feels huge (Which is what I tell all the ladies) this probably comes down to the fact the fastest way to get around is by riding a Sabertooth tiger around who is permanently pissed off at having to lug a shaved Ape about and not eat them (The Ape is human BTW)
Wooly Rhinos are dickheads – Let me share a tale of woe that befell me while stalking my prey through the wilderness one day. As I chased my target (A bloke who needed shooting and looting) the target ran into a herd of Wooly Rhinosaurs who decided to then guard the corpse of the now dead feller with all the ferocity you’d expect from something called a Wooly Rhinosaurs. In my attempts to lure these befleeced bastards away from my prey, I was rammed, gored and verbal abused (I think) by these fluffy gits more times than would seem possible. I was assaulted so I often I was expecting their horns to be whittled down after such frequent heavy blows to my fragile human skull. I only managed to limp away from the encounter after climbing a rock and setting fire to anything in sight. The fire by the way just angered them further and they decided to attack my pet badger.
Oh yeah did I mention I have a pet Badger – He’s name is Brian May and he is unstoppable.
The most dangerous game of all …..Man – Now, for the most part, I’ve found FCP rather easy to play. The difficult is only a factor in the first few hours or so and once you’ve got a few basic upgrades and skills the game quickly becomes a nice big murder sandbox for all the family. That is until I find a chieftain to fight and suddenly the game becomes a tiring grind to play in which I must smash my face up against a brick wall to till one of us stops caring.
Think I’m done with this game – Now according to my in-game progress I’m about 65% through the game and at this point I think I’ve found pretty much everything do and see that I wanted to in a stone age survival game. I’ve played about 20 hours or so of hurling spears and swinging clubs around that the game has lost it’s novelty value and is now like every other Far Cry game where you’re max leveled enough to be basically unstoppable. So yeah I’m probably going playing less Primal and might just revisit it in a few months time.
At last! A new game from 2016 that I can write about over the course of a few weeks that doesn’t devour all my free time like X-COM 2 (Which is still just great). Yes, Far Cry Primal is out, finally giving all us comfortable couch potatoes the chance to hunter and gather are way around vast, unspoiled lands that are filled to the brim with homicide cave men and killing machines of various different species. So what do I think of FCP then? Well after a few hours in the game I’m ready to give some first impressions on the game and a few quirks I’ve found with it.
I Don’t give a shit about the story – *Gasp* In 10000 BCE people didn’t speak English, this is a widely accepted fact. Now I do from time to time watch foreign language films such as Old Boy, The Raid 1&2, Battle Royale (Really any film with Asain people murdering one another) and I diligently read the subtitles to try and understand the film, what can I say I’m just odd like that. But in a game that where every character is speaking what I’m going to politely call “Gibberish” I just don’t have the patience to read a series of subtitles all telling me to “Go murder that other bloke for his stuff”. So yeah I’m skipping most of the story cutscenes, please tell me if I’m missing the caveman version of Othello would you?
Damn is this game pretty – I should have taken a few screen shots to prove my point but my word is this game gorgeous on the PS4. I’m sure it’s lovely on the Xbox as well and on the PC, it will actually perform fellatio on the user at higher settings but yeah it’s pretty.
I AM THE BEASTMASTER – I can ride a sodding Sabertooth Tiger into battle. GAME OF THE YEAR – Also I can set an owl to attack people – GAME OF THE DECADE- and the owl can drop bombs filled with Bees – GAME OF THE CENTURY!
What’s so special about Northern Wood? – Ok, like the other Far Cry games, Primal has a bugger ton of crafting and gathering for the player to perform and it all involves finding the correct leather pelts for particular items. Please inform me how the skins of a deer and tapir differ in such a way to make one usable for crafting a bag of meat while the other is useless? Please do tell.
So yeah, I like Far Cry Primal, now I’m off to play some more and make friends with more murderous killing machines.
I’ve been playing a lot of X-COM 2 because it’s brilliant and you should probably be playing it instead of reading this blog (It’s what I’ve been doing instead of writing it) The game is the most part terrific and I’m already planning my second playthrough but one part I’ve found slightly lacking is the games weak sauce approach to how the everyday men and women of the world are treated in game.
Let me explain:
When fighting across various urban environments, it’s not uncommon for civilians to be caught in the crossfire of battle. At the start of most levels, your team will be in concealment, allowing them to move across the map unmolested by any aliens as long as they keep a reasonable distance from them. Aliens aren’t the only thing that can detect you and blow your cover, civilians can to and if you get too close they can absolutely ruin your plans by revealing your position on the map and attracting nearby patrols to come and blow holes in you.
In this way, civilians act as minefields which you must skirt around in order to proceed. You have no way to ‘disarm’ the threat they pose and so must treat them with extreme caution. This is because in the world of X-Com 2 you are the aggressor, the terrorist, the bad guy in the eyes of the people on the ground who the aliens have control of. At the beginning of a campaign this status as the enemy makes sense, but as the game progresses and the war becomes a little more even this doesn’t change in any way aside from a small cutscene close to the end of the game showing the people rising up.
To me, this is a missed opportunity (or an idea that will be expanded on in an expansion in a year or so) that could have added another interesting set of mechanics to the way each game plays out. Let’s call this part of the game the PR War. Everything you do either has a cost or boon to your perception by the public. Play the game in a very PR friendly way and you’d get bonuses to resources and have more recruits joining up. But play in an unfriendly way and you’d find that the public would be rising up against you, pressuring ADVENT to bring you to justice or even setting up vigilante groups to hunt you themselves.
Say for instance I’m given a mission to either kill or kidnap a VIP of the alien forces. This VIP is human and will typically be in a highly urbanised environment with plenty of witnesses. If I kill the VIP in a hail of bullets this footage could be played back to the civilians by ADVENT to show just how nasty I am and causing a penalty to my public perception. But, If I kidnapped the target, there would still be a penalty (Kidnapping is still pretty bad in most people’s eyes) but it would be reduced.
Now in a game where you are already juggling so many competing resources and strategies at anyone time I can understand why no one would want to add this further layer of complexity to a game that already devours time like I devour crisps, still I thought it was a fun thought experiment that I wanted to share and get your opinions on.
The name Just Cause is the sweetest treat to any reviewer out there. It’s the perfect set up for countless jokes about the games quality and the off the wall hijinks you can get up within it. “I Just used a statue’s head as a wrecking ball attached to helicopter then used it to smash a load of fuel tanks, why? Just Cause!” So far so trite.
Cracking jokes about this series name is the video game reviewer equivalent of “What’s the deal with airline food” a punchline to itself that no one ever laughed at the first time round.
The Just Cause series is one of gaming’s oddest creations. Starting on the PS2, this series has seen three games in the series that are basically flashier more explosive versions of the first one. You play as Rico Rodriguez, a CIA agent with a reckless disregard for the laws of physics, self-preservation and the precise uses of what a parachute can and can’t do. Across each of the three games of the series, Rico is used as a tool to spark revolutions in various fictitious dictatorships (All inspired by real world ones) across the world (Hence the rather one the nose Che Guava imagery on the box of the first game)
Having played each game in the series I’ve got to say I’m rather fond of both Just Cause 1 and 2. They are dumb games that gave the player a hit ton of explosives and said “See that red thing, blow it up”. They were the Michael bay of video games, with a dash Robert Rodriguez to help lighten the mood (These could basically be Machete games).
It is then with great sadness that I can report that I’ve had absolutely no fun playing Just Cause 3 at all and will, in fact, be trading it in at my local Game shop the day this piece goes out.*
When I first sat down with JC3 I immediately had a problem. My hard drive was full and I needed to unload some data. First I uninstalled Assassin’s Creed Black Flag. A decent game but one I haven’t played in about a year so no biggie. But JC3 demanded a greater sacrifice which I gave it; Witcher 3. I know I’ll never finish Witcher 3 but me uninstalling it was me admitting to that fact, something I’m not sure any game critic is allowed to do.
When I had finally allotted the massive amount of Hard Drive space to allow JC3 to lounge around the PS4 I was met with a massive install time that let me catch up on watching some old episodes of Family Guy that were on TV at the time. One of them was the episode where Lois becomes Mayor and is then persuaded to pour toxic chemicals into the town’s lake. It’s an alright episode, a funny gag with Jason Vorhees but nothing too special. Also, who is Donnie Most?
While the game was installing I did have the chance to play around in a small portion of the game, allowing me to practice with the wing suit for a bit, but I found that after a few minutes doing this I had kinda had my fill already. So I went back to Family Guy, Stewie is kinda funny at times ain’t he? Not a good sign.
When I finally got the game running I started it to find the game ran like shit. Several minute long loading screens between deaths and a frame rate that dropped to single figures whenever I picked up speed on the roads. I tried to get into it but then I crashed after an hour and I decided I wanted to sleep more.
The next week followed a similar pattern. I tried to get into the spirit of the game, liberating bases, blowing shit up etc but the game was just terrifically dull in almost every way. The shooting (Which has never been great in these games) was weak and felt like I was pelting my enemies with piss from Rico’s flaccid johnson.
Explosions felt milquetoast and underwhelming.
Driving was like handling a Rhinosours with a pair of electrodes to the nut sack. Dangerous to everyone around me and lethal to me.
After a week of trying and trying again to like this game, I failed to find a redeeming quality to this game other than the occasionally amusing voice acting. While we’re on VA in this game, What the fuck is David Tennant doing in this game? He’s pretty funny in it for sure but couldn’t he be doing better? Telltale, hire David Tennant for your next series, use his talents.
I finished Mad Max, I found it tolerable if dull at times. I finished Watch Dogs, I found it hateful but passable to the end. I didn’t finish Just Cause 3 before I traded it in. It didn’t offend my storytelling sensibilities, it just bored the living shit out of me and I never want to play it again.
*This isn’t a review