Monday, April 20, 2015

Review Links, Bloodborne, Airmech Arena, and all the TV I've been watching!  


Thanks for once again tuning into Coffeecola! Let's get the show rolling…


Games: First, here’s a collection of links to all the new reviews that @Gamecritics has posted in the last week.

>Dragon Ball Xenoverse also by @InsrtCoins

>Over 9000 Zombies! by @Hawk_SE

>Summon The Apgrod by @ODellHarmonJr

>Aaru’s Awakening by @RetroRedemption

>Diablo 3: Reaper Of Souls by @KayinAmoh

Now, looking at the games I’ve been playing… Well, it’s not a whole hell of a lot. Most of my free time has been taken up with Bloodborne, and a reliable source tells me I'm getting pretty close to the end. I'm probably not going to replay the game, so I want to see all of the stuff that I can do in one run, and my playtime is being a bit inflated by I making sure I’m hitting all of the optional areas and doing as much as I can.

What do I think? Although I'm not totally finished yet and a fair amount will depend on how the game wraps up, so far I’d have to say that it's been a pretty mixed experience. I like a lot of the concepts -- the trick weapons, the Lovecraft influence, the semi-Victorian flavor -- and the faster action hasn't been entirely unwelcome.

On the other hand, it feels like the game isn’t totally dialed-in for me. While I'm enjoying it, it’s definitely not the best From experience I've had. 

I was thinking about it over the last day or two, and one big thing that really sticks out for me is that I don't have any real motivation as to why my character is in this world, or what they're doing. I'm going from area to area because it's fun to play through them and that’s what you do in a game, but there's nothing that really explains to me what the point of it all is, narratively. Maybe that will change after the ending (after all, quite a bit of information was detailed at the end of Dark Souls 2) but in the recent From games, I at least had a vague notion of what was going on.

In Demon’s Souls, I was a character coming to a ravaged land in search of whatever remaining power that was left to grasp. In Dark Souls, I was a ‘chosen one’ picked to fix the problems of the land, and in Dark Souls 2, I was a character who was looking for a cure for a curse before getting wrapped up in the secrets of the kingdom. Hell, most of the King’s Field games even gave the player an initial kickoff to the story as well. I may not have understood all the intricacies of those stories at the time, but I understood enough to know who I was, and what I was doing there.

In Bloodborne I know I'm a hunter, and that's pretty much it. It's not entirely clear who I'm hunting apart from the fact that they're obviously monsters, and I'm not clear on why I came to this land in the first place. This lack of narrative impetus on even a base level combined with the visual sameness in architecture (so… many… statues…) and heavily muted color palette (so… damned… grey…) make me feel like a lot of the game is just washing right over me.

I don't want to sound too negative -- I'm very happy that From has found such great success, and I do think they’re an extremely talented studio. This might not be their best work, but their not-best work is a lot better than what many other studios can turn out on their finest day, and it says something that I actually care enough to Bloodborne all the way through, compared to the other games that I have no problems tossing aside unfinished.

Long story short? I guess the jury is still out.

In terms of other games, I haven't started in on anything else with any seriousness, although I have been playing a bit of AirMech Arena with my son. I downloaded this free-to-play game on 360 a while ago, but never got around to it. It originally grabbed attention because the developers are local to Seattle, and I had seen their game a few times at local shows… Plus, pretty much everybody knows what a sucker for mechs I am. I’m glad I finally fired it up, though. It’s been a ton of fun.

Basically, it's an updated version of Herzog Zwei with MOBA and RTS elements combined. The player picks a mech which can transform between robot and aerial modes at will, and they then proceed to set up bases and ferry troops back-and-forth across the map while engaging in combat.

I haven't spent any money on it yet (it’s F2P, remember!) but the initial offering is more than enough to play around with for a while, and it seems like there’s a good chunk of the core content available in one $20 package. There are other things to buy past that and I was just about to drop a couple dollars when I heard that it's coming to PS4 and Xbox one, so I held off on any spending to wait for those versions.

From what I can tell there's been no official release date announced other than ‘spring’ of this year, but when it comes to PS4, I'll be all over it.

TV: Although I wouldn't say that I watch very much television overall, I've been catching a few episodes of this and that here and there, and ironically, I just finished three series within a couple days of each other.

First, Season Eight of Face Off just wrapped up, and that's always a fun watch for the entire family.

In case you haven't seen it, it's a competition where the contestants are special effects makeup artists creating costumes for various challenges every week. This particular season’s lineup of contestants were probably the weakest that have ever been on the show, and although there were a few standout pieces here and there, I can't say that I was very impressed. Even so, it's still an incredibly entertaining show to watch, and I loved seeing the creature features each week. 100% looking forward to Season Nine in July…

I've also been watching Kroll Show for the past couple of months, and we just watched the final episode of the series tonight. 

It’d a bit tough to describe it, but it’s sort of like a sketch comedy show where the characters were all in their own TV shows. Sadly, it only ran for three seasons, but Nick Kroll, the man behind the show, came up with so many interesting characters (so quotable!) and his particular brand of meta-commentary on television and American culture seems like someone could probably create a college course out of it.

The final show we finished tonight was Daredevil on Netflix. I was pretty hesitant about it before we started watching, but now that it's all said and done, I think the creators did a fantastic job.

While the program is very clearly set in the same Marvel universe where the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy take place, the focus of the show was much smaller and more focused than those epics. It sounds bizarre, but Daredevil was mostly about a lawyer taking on a crime boss engaging in payola and really crappy tenant policy, with some ass-kicking sprinkled liberally throughout. This worm’s-eye-view of a world populated with superheroes was something we haven’t seen much of in Marvel lately, and I ate it up.

A special shout-out has to go to Vincent D’Onofrio for his portrayal of the Kingpin. I wasn't sure what to make of him at first, but he brought a real sense of broken humanity and complexity to the character, and rather than being a stereotypical super villain, he was relatable -- even sympathetic at times. He's easily the best villain in any of the Marvel properties so far, and it was fascinating to watch him -- maybe even more fascinating than Daredevil himself. That said, I think everyone in the cast did a great job, and DD has always been one of my favorite characters ever since I started reading comics way back when, so I'm thrilled that this interpretation turned out so superbly.

Speaking of superheroes, we haven't finished the season yet, but we've also been watching a lot of The Flash lately. 

Thematically, it's probably the complete opposite of Daredevil with the hero being the classic do-gooder type and most of the enemies being cartoon characters, but the show has a great energy, the special effects are excellent, the cast is wonderful, and I love having a show that’s safe and interesting enough for the whole family to watch. I thought it was going to be pure cheese when we started watching, but it turned out to be the best kind of cheese, and I’m becoming a real fan.

Also, kudos to the show for making one of the main police characters gay, and absolutely not making a big deal out of it whatsoever. It's not a plot point, it's nothing that causes drama… The guy is just gay, and nobody blinks twice as they get on with the rest of the show. It's a little detail, but one that I appreciated.


That’s it for this week. Thanks very much for reading!!


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1 comments: to “ Review Links, Bloodborne, Airmech Arena, and all the TV I've been watching!

  • Anonymous


    Although it's not outright stated, the reason your character goes to Yharnam is fairly clear: Yharnam is the home of the healing church, an organization known for its almost miraculous "blood healing". The only people who travel to Yharnam these days are ill foreigners seeking such a miracle. The very first NPC you can talk to (the coughing man near the first lamp) is one such foreigner, and going by his conversation and the description of the starting attire, you are such a foreigner as well. Why your character is a hunter goes pretty deep into spoiler territory, though.