Friday, February 23, 2018

Game Diary.

First up - Deadbolt is now available on PS4 and Vita! 

Okay so I get home and I make the purchase on my Vita, and I let Deadbolt download.

Then I opened Deadbolt, and started up the tutorial.

Then, before completing said tutorial, I closed the application, turned off my Vita, and set it aside.  I should have deleted it before turning off my Vita and setting it aside, but the general sense of "ugh" was driving me too hard. 

Eugh.  Newp. 

But two nights this week I had a pretty good time doing something I rarely do on weeknights - playing Overwatch

The extra competitive points I could score from placing in Capture the Flag's competitive mode are... desirable to me.  I haven't been able to do those placements, because when my brother and I hook up to play on the weekend, we're locked out of doing our CTF Comp placements together for some reason (it says our rank is too far apart but we're fucking unranked it's crazy). 

On Wednesday night, at 7PM, I had the opportunity to play.  I figured I could play for an hour, and then unplug and unwind for a while before sleeping - a necessary precaution and plan, given the amount of adrenaline the game elicits in me.  The hour I had planned amounted to two matches.

First game, headset on, joined voice chat, went Mercy because I'm sleepy and I'll just help out and it'll be fun! Besides, my Tracer game always takes some time to dial in... Everyone else just explodes on the mic, and one guy is saying "gay" a lot, so I tune voice chat wayyyy down, but loud enough that I can still hear 'em.

We have a Torb and a Sym and an Orisa and a Hog, and they have a Bastion, a Moira, a Lucio, a Zen, a Tracer and a Sym. It goes poorly for us. The Hog always goes down (Oasis) beneath the point, on his own. Orisa just kinda' hangs out halfway between our flag and the point. They're never DPSing together, so they just die, no matter if I'm healing them or not. Once, for thirty seconds, I healed the Hog against their Zen, while eyeing the Moira who was down there with us. Hog died, I turned around and killed Moira, and then their Tracer wrecked me.

The "gay" guy is espousing on how much of the game is "gay." Turns out it's a lot, and almost everything.  The fact that you can put a Junk trap on the flag, Tracer - just like, all of Tracer (I mean, she is literally gay, but I don't think he was explicitly describing her sexual orientation) and her balance in particular - and that Zen ends up capping the flag - just coming in, grabbing it, and getting back to his point, unhindered - twice.

I get on mic, and - careful to have an optimistic, friendly tone - say "it's fine, we just need to group up and push while our Torb stays with our flag." This results in no change in behavior from any of my teammates. They are spread out for duels that they inevitably lose as they are jumped by two or more of the reds.

The guy with Gay Tourettes announces his opinion of this entire affair, and we decisively lose, shortly after one of our team - also doing their placements - quits the game.

Second game,

well, wait. Before the second game, I went into my settings and turned off team chat. Then I retweaked my headphone volume, cued up and instalocked Tracer.

Ayutthaya. We win, I go 17 and 3, gold gold bronze gold, PotG is a pulse bomb on their point just after our Hog grabbed the flag. Lucio and Symmetra converge on us, and it takes 'em. Then I drop beneath the bridge and get Mei. The potg ends, but then I get their Genji, and then the Tracer. The Roadhog tried to stay with our Lucio and I tried to stay with them and oh wowww look at thaaaaat...

Things went similarly well last night.  Again, I had an hour, but this time that was enough for four games.  The first one, my system automatically joins team chat.  I instalock Tracer, some guy instalocks Junkrat and says "can we lose the Tracer?"  My mic's turned off - I don't respond.  We get a Lucio and a Roadhog and a Sombra.  "We really need to not have either Sombra or Tracer," he keeps going. 

I leave voice chat.  We lose, and I don't perform very well.  But I stick with it. The reason I was able to squeeze four games into an hour was because we won them all so damn quick.

I'm earning medals, putting in work, and it all culminates with another awesome 18-and-3 game on Ayutthaya, where two of the three deaths are the result of a Mei spamming icicles at head-height.  I'm doing a fabulous job shutting down their Sym's turrets and shield gen and generally staying alive, waiting for my team to join up and make a flag push.  Our Hog returns it twice.  The third time we grab the flag, the carrier dies about halfway to our base, and the reds all converge on it, body-blocking anyone from my team that might try to grab it.

The way picking up the enemy's flag and returning your own works, in Overwatch CTF 2.0 is...

  • you pick up the enemy's flag instantly by making contact with it. 
  • any movement ability (Tracer's blink or recall) will drop it instantly.  
  • once you kill the enemy carrying your team's flag, or they use a movement ability and drop it, the flag becomes locked out for about five seconds.
  • to return your own team's flag, after that lockout, you have to stand in a small circle around it and "capture" it - takes about another five seconds. 
  • during that five seconds, an enemy team member can pick it up... instantly, by making contact with it. 
...which is why teams will body-block the flag while trying to capture it.  It's an important five seconds.  

Tracer is not considered an optimal pick for Capture the Flag.  100% of her kit are movement abilities that will drop the flag, and her tiny little health bar ensures that almost all the time she grabs it, she won't get far.

But y'know what's not stopped by a body block?  Tracer's blink. 

My final game last night, the PotG was me, zipping around and through the enemy team as they all clustered over the flag, blinking through them to instantly pick up and drop the flag, twice, pouring damage in with every clip and getting in on three or four kills in the process. 

It was awesome.  I'm looking forward to tonight.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

No C&C today :(

Life has occurred, and swept our plans away with it!  Fear not, for we shall returrrn...

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

MOVIE - Black Panther.

Black Panther is already a bona fide hit, out there printing money, and its cultural importance shouldn't be understated.  It's a big, big deal, and a very good thing, to have a black superhero in a film full of black characters produced by a black creative team, backed by countless millions of major studio dollars, and I hope that in twenty years we look back at Ryan Coogler's movie and view it as far more important than we do today.  

There has, honestly, never been anything like it in that regard, but it doesn't exist in a vacuum - it's like, what, the twentieth movie in Marvel's cinematic universe? (Fact check: 18th.  That's still insane.)  Black Panther's both wholly unique and just the next movie from the studio that gave us Ant-Man and Thor: The Dark World - so how does it do..?

Don't believe the Rotten Tomatoes hype - it's not perfect.  It's not 100% fresh, but I'm not comparing it to fucking Ladybird or Zootopia.  You have to consider Black Panther in comparison and in competition with its peers - just as it's fair to compare Justice League and Batman Vs. Superman against everything in Marvel's sizable stable of film - and compared to its peers... I think Black Panther is The Best Marvel Movie, going back to Iron Man.  Yes, better than Winter Soldier.
It's fair to say that Winter Soldier or perhaps Avengers has the best action.  It's fair to say that Thor: Ragnarok and the first Guardians of the Galaxy and probably Deadpool are neck-and-neck for funniest, but Black Panther stands atop the entire Marvel and DC and whatever else superhero genre pantheon by virtue of having the best story

'Cause... we remember the action, the imagery of The Dark Knight Returns, but it's famous, it's huge, it's important because it was a comic book with an incredible story.  Comics, like books and movies are at their heart a medium for conveying a narrative, and it's just that simple - Black Panther has the most considered, well-plotted, well-populated story of any Marvel movie I can name. 
The Nova Corps and the universe of Guardians is pretty-darned interesting - as is the cool eastern-but-also-psychedelic spiritual trappings of Doctor Strange, but they've got nothing on the design, the concept, the execution of Wakanda in Black Panther
Almost more of a character - and certainly more fully-explored - than T'Challa himself, Wakanda is a beautiful, fascinating, rich place.  Rich in detail and thought and beauty.  The screen becomes a thousand tiny palms, slapping you across the face with little details you wish you could admire longer, but it’s so dense with awesome visual touches that it’s impossible to keep up, so all you can do is sit there, enchanted.  This is a place you want to visit, a place you'd like to vacation, a place people wish they could import fashions from.  It's the most fully-realized world a Marvel movie's ever suggested.
Goddamnit, he's so sexy.
Erik Killmonger is honestly the best villain any Marvel movie has ever had, full stop.  He accomplishes this without CGI armor (okay well he does have CGI armor – but it’s not doing him any favors) or a ton of makeup, without anything, really, except for the fact that he's got a point
He was deeply wounded by Wakanda's pride and protection of its interests - sins of the fathers, on his part and T'Challa's - and was raised in a country that brutally oppresses black people.  He believes it's Wakanda's responsibility to free black people the world over via its ridiculously powerful weapons technology - so while he has a point and what he wants to achieve is noble, the only way he can see to go about it amounts to potential genocide, and a world war. 
Michael B. Jordan is not as accomplished an actor as the rest of the cast, I feel, but he comes across as intelligent and honest, and brings a beautiful and imposing physicality to Killmonger.  Most of Black Panther's action, I think, is less exciting and impressive than you can find elsewhere in Marvel canon, but Killmonger's first duel with T'Challa, shirts off in a ceremonial pool, is brutal and awesome.  The fact that you can kind of empathize with his goal alone makes him far more interesting than any arms dealer despot or living planet or forgotten Norse God the franchise has offered in the past - as in all the best villains. 
He's crazy, don't get me wrong, and the fact that all of Wakanda doesn't rise up against his clearly insane notions of righting global society's wrongs is also pretty crazy when everyone you meet here seems pretty reasonable, but he's still more interesting than...
...who was the bad guy in Iron Man 3 again...?  I forget.  Was it Sam Rockwell?  Whatever.  Killmonger's light-years better, and that waterbound duel with T'Challa is the best action sequence in the film. 
The rest of the action I found pretty forgettable - perhaps a result of some judder in the theater I was in (some movies are actually best viewed at home, I find) - except for one moment with Okoye, the leader of Wakanda's elite security force.  A very serious lady with a shaved head, Okoye unironically walks around with a spear as her only protection, and scoffs at guns.
There's this part in the first half of the movie where she's in a car chase, right?  And she's standing on top of this car as it speeds through the streets in pursuit of her quarry, and she takes her spear and fires it through the back window of the car they're chasing, through the front window, and into the pavement in front of the car.
This results in the car stopping, very abruptly.  It was awesome.  Okoye is awesome.  The entire supporting cast is awesome.  Andy Serkis chews up the scenery as always, Martin Freeman is the clueless outsider, agape at Wakanda, Lupita Nyong'o is way-too-gorgeous as T'Challa's ex and love interest and also she's a super spy. Angela Bassett is this stoic, strong-silent-type matriarch of T'Challa's family, Daniel Kaluuya continues his effortlessly powerful emoting as T'Challa's good friend who does some very stupid things, and this guy Winston Duke plays the leader of one of Wakanda's tribes and he's... he's just awesome.  Oh there's also Forest Whitaker.  He's in there too.
Also awesome - half of the interesting, endearing, entertaining supporting cast I just mentioned are women, and if you've paid attention to anything around the 'net about Black Panther this past week, you've probably already heard about Shuri. 
Shuri is T'Challa's sister, princess of the Wakandan throne and Q to T'Challa's Bond, but that's giving her far too little credit.  She is, essentially, a sidekick, but she feels like a star who's just hanging out in her brother's movie as moral support, and every time she shows up Black Panther becomes twice as fun. 
This is a star-making turn for Letitia Wright, and I fully expect her to be 2018-19's It Girl as a result. I want to see this woman in romantic comedies and lurid thrillers and period pieces, stat.  Shuri is funny, warm, endearing, sharp and oh by the way she's a scientific genius who is at the bleeding edge of technology in a country that's a few hundred years ahead of the rest of the world.  She's a women-in-science superstar who sees buttons on gadgets as quaint, and Wright makes her the freshest, most-alive feeling thing in a movie that's already having a lot of fun. 
Wright steals every single scene she's in, and I kinda' want a movie where T'Challa gets knocked on the head and has amnesia or somethin’ for a few months, requiring Shuri to take over the Wakandan throne and run around in black/purple spandex saving the world (it's already happened in the comics). 
Oh, right.  T'Challa.  He's in here too.
The fact that he's the last thing that comes to mind when considering the film is my biggest problem with Black Panther.  Wakanda is incredible, and the design and costume and prop work that’s gone into it ensures Black Pantherconstantly dazzles, and the viewer is breathlessly trying to soak it all in.  You’re admiring the detailing on this dude’s suit and oh look at the way the spear works and oh that jet thing looks like a firefly! The story is a cool sins-of-the-fathers / thought experiment about what responsibilities a nation like Wakanda would have, if it existed (and you’ll wish it did), with each story point really driven by character – nothing feels forced, here.  The cast is wall-to-wall talent of the highest caliber, an explosion of interesting, sharply-realized people you’ll want to spend more time with… and T’Challa’s here too.  He’s just way, way less interesting than the visual design, the story itself, the world it takes place in, and the other Wakandans who surround him.
None of this is down to Chadwick Boseman – he’s still effortlessly charming, notably handsome, confident and cool with nicely human vulnerabilities, and he remains the remarkable talent we saw in Get On Up – but Black Panther is a lot more interested in exploring and celebrating the country of Wakanda and its people than it is in the titular hero.  He calls out hypocrisy and evil when he sees it – that’s cool!  He’s a good guy, and we want him to sit atop his rightful throne, but he doesn’t… he never really feels challenged over the course of the movie, physically or intellectually, he’s never really defined for us – and the fact that he didn’t intellectually disarm a half-dozen red flags we can see coming a mile away kinda’ throws a wrench into Black Panther, the character, as he’s rendered in the source material. 

The T’Challa of the comics is a smarter-than-Batman level genius.  He saved Earth from Galactus, Consumer of Worlds, just by out-debating him.  He’s a peerless martial artist and an infinitely sly opponent who has a contingency plan for everything – but we saw none of this in Black Panther.  Maybe the idea is – almost ignoring his presence in Captain America: Civil War – that this is his true introduction, and we’re meeting him before he really defines what kind of king and Panther he is, which is why he’s not truly explored here, but his homeland is. This doesn’t feel like the birth of his legend, it feels more like the exposition before we get to his Actual Adventure. 
Maybe Marvel Studios’ T’Challa really is just a kinda' boring but very well-dressed, suave guy, compared to the place and people he comes from, but I left the theater far less interested in how he’d save the world next time than what Shuri was up to, and how big her role will be in the sequel. 

But, again, that’s my one complaint about the film.  I’m wracking my brain trying to come up with a superhero movie that is as generous and accomplished as Black Panther in terms of overall story (maybe The Incredibles?), in terms of worldbuilding (maybe Blade? The first one, specifically - remember him walking through the pages of the Book of Arabus?  That was awesome), in terms of cast of characters (nothing), in terms of visual design and execution (nothing) and the fact is Black Panther is the new high watermark among Marvel’s very sizable library, and perhaps superhero movies in general.  It has its flaws – I wish T’Challa himself did more cool shit and was better-defined, but everything surrounding that cool cat is absolutely dazzling. 
To give it another, more personal spin - how good is Black Panther?  This is the first time I've used the review tag on this blog since July of 2015.  

Wakanda forever.   


This is one of those sorry-for-the-lack-of-posts posts.  Sorry about that.  I didn't like, stop playing video games or anything, I swear.  In fact I've been noshing on a fairly generous variety plate. 

Bayonetta is on my Switch, but I haven't played it yet - I skipped right to Bayonetta 2, which I'm frankly not sure is actually superior to the original (lack of quicktime events notwithstanding) - but it's still Bayonetta on a fucking handheld

I checked out Owlboy (also on Switch) before Bayonetta came out - put like a half-hour or an hour into it, so I didn't really give it a meaningful chance to get its hooks into me, but it was pleasant, so far.

After Chamberlain kept insisting that Assassin's Creed Origins is worth playing, I broke and snagged a copy (Amazon had it for thirty bucks cheaper than everywhere else), and unlike his last strong endorsement - Resident Evil VII - I actually played AC Origins.

It's good.  I played the game's opening chapter, and it's a smooth, easy-to-swallow drink - nothing offensive about it - and I legitimately love the setting.  I was really surprised by that - didn't think I'd love wandering around ancient Egypt, but I do - but AC:O is just Assassin's Creed: Again, to me.

It matters less that it lacks the sharp, distressing edges of Unity than it matters that this is not really unlike any other Assassin's Creed game I've ever played.  It's the same fucking game.  I've played what feels like dozens of these, and here it is.  Again.  I don't know why - maybe I was feeling nostalgic for the person I used to be - but last night I went back and re-read some of my old reviews.  For some reason, I re-read my God of War: Ascension review, and was like, "hm, this applies hard to Assassin's Creed: Origins."  Let me grab a choice quote:
"Santa Monica, you're an industry leader who's not leading.  You're rehashing - and not even to the same level you managed in the past.  You are as bound by formula as Kratos is by these chains.
So this is it.  This is your Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time.  This is your Tomb Raider: Underworld, your Devil May Cry 4.  This is the point at which your formula - which was excellent, once - has exhausted itself, and you need to put down the Kool-aid and step away. 

Take some time off, go out into the woods and just chill for a bit.  Reflect on what's important to you, what would actually inspire you, what you would feel genuinely passionate about.  Find something you would really get excited about - because it's not this.  Not any more.  It's time for a break."
On the one hand - god damn, it really looks like Sony Santa Monica read my review and was like "this unremarkable Canadian is right, we should do exactly what he says!"  On the other hand, Ubisoft, the shocking two-year break you gave the Assassin's Creed series has done it few favors, beyond that which another twelve months of polish would seem to allow. 

I've played Assassin's Creed, Assassin's Creed II, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Assassin's Creed III, Assassin's Creed: Liberation, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Assassin's Creed Unity, and after a few hours with Unity I was like "why in God's name am I doing this again?" 

I love the setting.  I think Bayek is a cool lead, a cool character and one standout stupid bit aside, I like the story, but I don't like Assassin's Creed any more.  It's not fun.  The concept of what you're doing is fun, but actually doing it is tedious old hat. 

Playing it, at first, I was reminded of what I found so beautiful about the original game - that it felt a lot like the pleasant platforming of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time in an open world.  Maybe if, like Chamberlain, I could stick with it and try to find that feeling again, I could enjoy Origins as he has, but... I've played Assassin's Creed before.  I've played it a lot.  I'm good. 

I'm good. 

Also, I saw Black Panther on Friday.  I think I wanna' talk about Black Panther.

[update] Turns out I really, really wanted to talk about Black Panther. [/update]

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Incredibles 2 finally gets a real trailer.

And I'm not even gonna' post it

You can just go Google that shit.  S'on YouTube

Wait, no, that's crazy.  Here it is:

In other news, Mercenary Kings' Vita version finally got its promised patch today, which we hope will prevent us from falling through elevators that are going up.  Elevators that are going down, weirdly, were never a problem. 


Oh, also, 

Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2 finally land on Switch tomorrow (why do I say finally?  It was announced like a week into December, now we're two weeks into February.  I haven't even been waiting for three months but I guess it felt like an eternity).  I am hyped

But yesterday Owlboy launched on Switch, and I put a half-hour into it last night, and I'm really curious to discover the game all those reviewers were talking about, 'cause it sounds pretty awesome.  

But Mercenary Kings is probably what I'm gonna' be checking out this evening.  And hopefully The Ritual on Netflix, which has intrigued me.  

Right up until it's time for Overwatch


And then tomorrow it's Black Panther and Bayonetta and hopefully clothes shopping and probably pizza and then Overwatch again and ahhh it'll be a good day.  

G'night everybody!

Oh also Royal Blood has a new album out.  I'm not sure it's as good as their first - there's only one song that really grabbed me, 

and I actually ended up listening to Nine Inch Nails' Downward Spiral for most of the day.  

Came out last year.  Had no idea!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Chamberlain & Chance 109 - The Comfort of a Good Game

Wiiiith Alex!  Alex thisChamberlain that podcast on iTunespodcast on Google Play!

Chamberlain and Chance - The comfort of a good game

  • Alex is fresh off a forty-eight hour Civ VI: Rise and Fall bender!
  • Chamberlain continues to insist that Assassin's Creed Origins doesn't suck!
  • Chance was right about what the best platform for Mercenary Kings would be. 
  • And how's Blanka lookin' in Street Fighter V?
You'll have to tune in to find out!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Here are some trailers.

Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2 launch this Friday on Switch wooo!

Also did you see the Blanka trailer for Street Fighter V?  It looks meh to me, but Chamberlain insists this bodes well.

And... okay, heck. 

I found a buncha' lovely drawings of the Overwatch ladies in like party dresses today, and I insist on sharing them.  Here's the artist.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Overwatch Match Highlights 15 / Long Cut 17 - Left Side (Oasis Tracer)

Hi!  Happy Friday!

I really wanted to do a vid of this match - 28 and 1 is pret-ty darned good, if you ask me - but let's face it, this vid is not my best work.  That's okay.  We can't all be Lone Digger

The first round has a buncha' cuts, just because a lot of my work there was putting in damage for other people's killing blows, and that ain't great watchin' IMO - but the second round is one long, uncut clip, because my God I didn't die all round and Winston, Pharah and I dominated them so hard they ended up just not leaving their spawn.

Also... I don't think I've ever been prouder of a PotG. Most (nearly all of mine, at least) Tracer PotGs are, you toss a Pulse Bomb, get lucky and get a multi-kill with it, and you go lookin' to land a clip on someone and maybe make it a little better. This is just landing shots. Just putting damage on target, and then putting damage on target, and then putting damage on target. The fact that... y'know... they were all backpedalling towards me and not shooting back...

...well let's not dwell on that. My aim is something I'm always worrying about and trying to do better, so it was a big deal, to me. I landed all my shots.

Also that Mercy pick at like 1:45? That's hot, right? (Nods.) That's hot.

That's hot.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Chamberlain & Chance 108 - Mostly Awake

Wiiiith Alex!  Alex thisChamberlain that podcast on iTunespodcast on Google Play!

Chamberlain and Chance - Mostly awake 

  • Chamberlain insists that Assassin's Creed Origins is actually good, and not bad!
  • Chance wants you to know about a not-great but super-cute movie called Unleashed!
  • Alex comes to the defense of Netflix's Altered Carbon!
  • And what is up with Megan Fox's thumbs?
You'll have to tune in to find out, but seriously, I actually look it up it's called "brachydactyly!" 

Overwatch's Year of the Dog event is now live, annnd...


Mercy got a new skin:

Like most the Lunar New Year legendary skins, it's very... busy.  I'm not a big fan.  I would've preferred something a bit more... I dunno, pretty, like Zenyatta, Rein or Mei's Lunar skins.

Widow got a not-bad one:

I don't mind McCree's, but literally everything else he has is cooler-looking:

He did get a pretty cool highlight intro... I hope this works:

Also there are other skins - a lot of people are happy about Pharah and Genji's...

And, of course, nothing for Tracer.  Because the folks at Blizzard were like "y'know what?  We really nailed it with Graffiti.  We'll never top that, and it's very, very important that we never try to."