Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Year in Gaming

Happy New Year's Eve everyone!  Well... almost.  It's almost a new year!

I don't want to do a top ten list or anything so formal this year, I just want to talk about games that stuck out in my mind from the year.

Mario Maker has got to be the coolest thing that came out this year.  Infinite Mario levels plus the tools to make your own?  I'm in.  I love this idea so much and the execution has been fantastic.  Not to mention that Nintendo keeps updating and improving the game too.  It's nice to see them finally getting with the times and offering expanded content past a game's release.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate turned out to be my favorite Assassin's Creed game so far.  I was expecting some fun but most just another entry in the series.  That's generally what we get year-to-year.  But honestly, I love all the small changes that they made to truly tighten the game up.  It's now my favorite game in the series.

Hearthstone was a constant companion this year.  I did more traveling than usual in the last year and Hearthstone has been my game of choice on the go.  After giving up on it a month after release I'm been so surprised to get back into it.  I love all the new modes and that they're constantly adding to the game.  Tavern Brawls give variety every week and the Single Player adventures are a ton of fun too.  This is a game that will continue into the new year for me.

Persona 4 was my biggest find of the year even though the version I'm playing, Person 4 Golden, was released in 2012.  I played the first few months of the year in the game and realized that I wanted enough free time to truly give Person 4 my full attention.  So I put it on hold until I'm not so busy.  I'm still waiting for things to calm down because I really want to get back to this game.  It might become one of my favorite JRPGs ever.

Final Fantasy XIV took up a lot of the early part of my year.  It was the first time I seriously got into an MMO since before my kids were born.  Going into not expecting much I was blown away by how much this game earns it's place in the Final Fantasy mainline series.  The story is Final Fantasy through and through.

Having wrapped up FFXIV after beating all the content in the expansion I was finally officially caught up with my Final Fantasy Project!  A couple years ago I set out to play all the Final Fantasy mainline games in chronological order and this year saw the culmination of it!  I'm so happy to have done this project and it's only made my love for the Final Fantasy series grow.  I'm super excited to see what Final Fantasy XV holds.  Hey, it might even come out this year!

Indie games have become a mainstay in my life now too.  I love picking up little games released by small teams and experiencing new things from them.  There's so much more innovation in the space.  I still enjoy my AAA big budget gaming experiences but now I constantly have my eye on the indie scene as well.

PAX was one of the highlights of my year.  I got to go to a gaming convention for the first time ever and it was awesome.  It was especially great because I got to go with my brother.  I wish it could become a yearly thing, but being in the middle of the country means the cost of long flights to get to any PAXes.  Hopefully we'll do it again sometime in the next few years.

I have to end with my biggest gaming accomplishment of the year.  I cleaned out my Steam library.  I had hundreds of games that needed to be played and I gave each one at least 30 minutes of my time and tried them out.  I was able to separate out the really good games and give them the time they deserved but the rest of my library got organized into folders and hidden from day-to-day view.  It's so nice to look at my Steam library now and not feel overwhelmed.

Overall I had a really good gaming year!  How about you guys?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Clone Wars Season 6 Review

Ok... so I kinda got on a roll and flew through the last three seasons of Clone Wars.

Season 6 is interesting since it's the season of "Lost Episodes."  It turns out they were halfway through production of this season when they decided to cancel the Clone Wars TV show.  They decided to finish up production on the first set of episodes they were working on but they didn't actually air until much later.

Now they're on Netflix as part of the show.  It's interesting to see how much better they've gotten at storytelling by season 6.  None of it packs the punch of the Ahsoka story arc at the end of season 5, but there are a bunch of good episodes in this "Lost Season."

There are four main story arcs in the season and I felt that two of them were worth my time.  One of the others was about politics with Padme.  The one that made me cringe was all about Jar Jar and Mace Windu going on a mission together.

But the very first arc of the season is about a clone trooper who has order 66 activate early and kills a Jedi.  The rest of the story arc is about another clone trying to get to the bottom of what happened and if there's something mentally wrong with all clones.  It was well done.  Clone episodes tended to be good throughout the entire run of the show.

The best story arc was the final one that closed out the show.  It starred Yoda and his journey to learn about becoming a force ghost when he dies.  It directly ties into the original trilogy as well as the prequel movies.  It gives more depth to yoda as a character and shows new aspects of the force.  It's right up there with the best story arcs in the entire show.

And that closed out Clone Wars for me.  The Yoda story arc is where the Clone Wars ends.  After that it's Episode III Revenge of the Sith.

I'm glad that I've watched the Clone Wars because now I'm once again 100% caught up on the Star Wars canon... but I wouldn't actually recommend it as a show.  Your time is much better spent watching Star Wars Rebels or just revisiting the movies themselves.

Clone Wars finds it's feet by the end but it really struggles to get there.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Clone Wars Season 5 Review

For me this season of Clone Wars justified watching the entire run of the show.  It ended with one of the greatest Star Wars stories I've seen.  And I've seen a lot.  And read almost the entire extended universe.  And played most of the games.

The last story arc in season 5 is, in many ways, a stronger story than any of the prequel trilogy.

There were still some rough spots earlier in the season, but wow, it ended with a bang.

It's the ultimate culmination of Ahsoka Tano's story as a Jedi.  Now I see why she has turned into such a fan favorite in the Star Wars universe and why it's so awesome that she showed up in Rebels.

I don't even want to talk about the rest of the season even though it had some cool episodes with Darth Maul coming back and an in-depth look at the process of Jedi building their first lightsabers.  Those were great episodes.  But the final story arc was amazing.

I don't even want to spoil it with discussion of the episodes at this point.  Even though the show has been out for years.

If you're interested and you have Netflix you should watch the story arc.  Go to Clone Wars Season 5 Episode 17 titled "Sabotage" and watch the four episode arc.  All you really need to know is that Ahsoka has been Anakin's padawan throughout the majority of the Clone Wars and they're a tight knit team.  It's worth your time to check out.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Clone Wars Season 4 Review

Clone Wars keeps getting better as it goes along.  I can tell they're getting better at telling compelling stories.

This is the first season where there aren't huge sets of bad episodes.  There are still some lame storylines that don't really lead anywhere, like the droids random adventures or Obi-Wan going undercover to bust a crime syndicate's plan.  But, for the first time, the majority of the season was good.

The season opens with a multi-episode storyline about underwater war on Mon Calamari that has cool battles and unique underwater stuff.  The storyline could have been faster but it was decent.

There's a mid-season storyline dealing with the clones that's amazing.  It's easily in the best storylines of the whole series so far.  It's about what happens when a general treats clones more like droids than like men.

The second half of the season has a compelling storyline about Anakin (and crew) dealing with slavers that makes him come to terms with some of his past.  It actually develops his character further which is something I always like to see.

And then the season wraps up with Asajj Ventress, the night sisters, and the return of Darth Maul.  After that, I'm really interested to see what they do with Ventress in the final seasons.

This is the first season where I can recommend most of the episodes as good, and that's a great change from the past seasons.

Now there's only one "true" season left in Season 5.  Season 6 is the bonus episodes that were completed but never actually aired on TV.  Now that I'm on a roll I might try to wrap these up quick and move on to a new show.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Holiday Gaming

Merry Christmas!  Or Happy Holidays!  Or whatever applies to you!

Today I'm curious about everyone's holiday gaming traditions.

What do you guys do for the holidays?  Does the holiday season inspire you to play a certain type of game or is there a specific group of people that you play with?  What are your holiday gaming traditions?

For me, I just try to find some time to play Mario.  I got an SNES with Super Mario World one Christmas when I was younger and it's one of my strongest holiday memories.  So now I always try to make some time for Mario on Christmas.

Besides that, the fall into winter holiday season always gives me a craving for a good RPG.  This year I spent a ton of time in Fallout 4 for the first week or two that it was out and I'll probably revisit it again.  But I'm also eyeing Persona 4 because I really want to get back to it and one of these days I'll revisit Final Fantasy X-2 since I haven't played it since it originally released years ago.

Let me know what your holiday gaming traditions are!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Gaming Gifts

What should you get for the gamer in your life?

I always struggle when people ask me what I want for the holidays.  I'm in an interesting (and lucky) position now that I'm an adult with a decent income, if there's a game or system I want I can usually find a way to buy it.  It might require a bit of saving if it's a new gaming system, but even those aren't out of reach.

These days my limiting factor is time.  I put a lot of time into my family and into my work, so my leisure time is what takes a hit.  Of course, no one can buy me more time, so I never know what to say when asked what gifts I want for the holidays.

I usually default to saying a Kindle gift card is a good bet for me.  I mean, I'll always buy more books.  I love books.

What about you guys?  Is there anything that you're really hoping to get for the holidays?  Do you have any tips on getting good gamer gifts for people that are hard to shop for?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Star Wars The Force Awakens Novelization

I finished The Force Awakens novelization this weekend after seeing the movie twice.  It's probably not something most of you would get a lot out of.  The movie is obviously the superior experience here.

But the novelization added some additional context to situations and that's what I was really hoping for.  It had bonus scenes that were either cut from the movie or never actually shot.  And it added just enough that I found myself drawn through the book in two sittings.

Especially towards the end of the novel it delved more into what the characters were thinking and feeling during the final scenes.

Again, it's too early to throw spoilers into a post like this.  I don't want anyone to accidentally have the movie ruined by me.  But, if you're a die hard Star Wars fan like I am chances are you'll get something out of the book.  If you're not, then go see the movie!  It's fantastic!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Master of None Season 1 Review

I really liked this show.  Master of None is about modern life in your late twenties or early thirties.  And it's definitely a show aimed squarely at people in their late twenties and early thirties.  This is exactly where I am in my life at the moment.

It's quick 20-25 minute episodes each focus on an aspect of life and explore it.  They never overstay their welcome and it's always easy to just click to watch the next one.

The acting can be a bit off sometimes but I think it's mostly the actors figuring out their roles.  By the end of the season it's not evident anymore.

Overall it's another good Netflix Original Series.  I love seeing things like this that we wouldn't ever get to see on broadcast or cable TV.  And I still love Netflix's model of releasing an entire season at once.  My wife and I watched all of Master of None over two nights.

I'm also starting to really dig this trend of 10-15 episodes in a season of a show.  A lot of shows that I really like have adopted it.  Game of Thrones, Jessica Jones, Star Wars Rebels, Downton Abbey, and this one.  10-15 episode seasons make for more compact narrative and less filler.  They also make it quicker to digest seasons of content.  It's really cool.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Clone Wars Season 3

Clone Wars keeps improving as a show each season I watch but it's still not a good show overall.  It's wildly inconsistent with the quality of it's episodes.

Clone Wars is at it's best when it's either adding to the dynamics between main characters from the movies or actually putting some of the key Clone Wars characters in danger.  Part of the problem is that anyone who is in the later movies has complete plot immunity so they're never in real danger.

At this point, Ahsoka is my favorite character.  She's an original creation for the Clone Wars TV show.  She takes the role of Anakin's apprentice and basically picks up his attitudes toward the force.  That means that she sometimes rides the line between the dark side and the light side, which is where most of the interesting aspects of the force are.

There was one fantastic three part storyline in this season.  It involved Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka stumbling on a planet that the core of the Force flows through.  The events on the planet have the ability to affect greater conflicts throughout the galaxy.  It's inhabited only by three people, one represents the light, one the dark, and the last represents the balance.  Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka all have force visions and character development.  The episode manages to tie in the entire prequel series of movies into the plot.  It's amazing.

But that's three episodes out of twenty one.  The overall quality and entertainment is better than seasons one and two so I'm hoping that trend continues with season four.

Honestly, at this point I'm mostly just watching Clone Wars to understand Ahsoka's story.  She shows up as an adult in Rebels, which I'm loving, and I want to understand her better as a character.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Star Wars The Force Awakens (non spoiler) Thoughts

I don't feel like I want to do a formal review for The Force Awakens.  It's much too difficult to encompass all my feelings and thoughts.  But I've seen the movie twice already and I have to say I love it!

The Force Awakens captures the spirit and the feeling of the original trilogy while still managing to become it's own movie.  It feels like the Star Wars franchise has finally gotten a movie to live up to the originals!

This may become my favorite Star Wars movie.  I'm too close to it to tell right now, and hype is crazy.  Perspective and time is needed but I know that this one is right near the top of my favorite Star Wars movies.  The Empire Strikes Back is a difficult one to topple from the top spot but I'm thinking The Force Awakens may have done it for me.

Like I said, I need time and perspective before I'll truly know.

But I love what they've done.  The new cast is fantastic and they are definitely their own characters.  They don't fall squarely into any of the tropes of the old characters and I think it's going to give us a different view of the universe.

Not to mention that this is the movie where the original cast is starting to hand the series over to the newcomers.  I'm so excited to see how that happens over the course of this trilogy.

There are so many things I want to talk about but I know that so many people haven't seen the movie yet.  I don't want to accidentally spoil it for anyone.

The Force Awakens makes me really happy as a Star Wars fan.  I think the series is in good hands going forward.  You should see it if you haven't already!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Battlefront Battle of Jakku

The Battle of Jakku is the first (free) downloadable content for Battlefront.  It's the setting of the first major battle that happens after the events of Return of the Jedi.  I got to read all about the battle in Lost Stars which is an amazing Star Wars book.  It's cool to actually get to see the battle in action.

In the battle tons of ships get destroyed, fall into the gravity well of the planet, and crash.  It seems like this has made it into a ship graveyard by the time The Force Awakens happens.  I'm writing this post earlier in the month, but I'll probably know one way or another by the time this post goes live since I'm due to see the movie yesterday!

Anyway, it's cool to see the battle in full force.

It also introduces a new game type that I actually like.  I was mostly only playing Walker Assault and Squadron modes but this new control point mode is really fun too.  I hope they roll it out to other maps as well.  Basically you have a series of staggered control points and the attacking team only needs to capture one in a set to push the defenders back to the next set.  It starts with three points in the first set, then two in the next, two after that, and finally culminates with one control point.  This has the effect of the battle slowly closing in as the game moves on.

I'm happy to see them rolling out new content for free.  It'll be interesting to see how much more content they give out to players before they make us pick up the season pass that they're pushing so hard.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Telltale Game of Thrones Season 1 Finale

Episode six in the Telltale Game of Thrones games wrapped up what is apparently only season 1.

I was actually really frustrated by this episode.  I'd been loving this game so far and it seemed like everything would come to a head in episode six and wrap up the story.  Instead, there are some character deaths and big shifts in power but there's not actually a conclusion.

It appears that they've kicked resolution down the road so that they can create an entire season 2 of the Game of Thrones game.  I wanted definitive conclusions and I didn't get them.  At this point I wonder if they'll just try to milk it and create as many seasons as they can out of it.  That's not what I want from a Telltale game.  I want a quick series of episodes that give me a complete narrative arc.

Not to mention that episode six was the buggiest one in the whole season.  Loading times were terrible and I experiences a ton of glitches in graphics and with characters saying things twice or not saying things when they should.  It just felt shoddy compared to the previous five episodes that I loved.

Overall it was a disappointment and now that I know they're averse from actually concluding the story I'm not sure if I will be tempted to pick up the inevitable season 2... since it might just leave resolution until season 3, or 4, or 10.

I still like Telltale games in general.  By all means I think what they did with Tales from the Borderlands is amazing.  But this may be where I bow out of the Telltale Game of Thrones series.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wayward Cultural Lessons

You never know where you're going to be exposed to a new way of thinking.

Earlier this week I mentioned that in finally sampling 90ish comics from last year's free comic book day I found two series that inspired me to actually pay money and pick up more comics.  One of those was Wayward.

Wayward is about supernatural occurrences happening in modern day Japan while most of the people are none the wiser.  It has relatable characters, fun powers, and an engaging story.

The thing I like most about it is the section in the back of every issue that has a short essay on a facet of Japanese culture.  It's honestly the thing I look forward to the most in each issue.

It's often an essay explaining the Japanese mythological origin for a character or group encountered in that week's comic.  But sometimes it's simply about the structure of day-to-day life in Japan.  I find both unbelievably fascinating.

I love being exposed to new culture and finding out about new belief systems.  It's amazing how things are set up in different parts of the world.  Right now I'm finding myself excited to get the next issue of Wayward so I can read the next essay but I'm realizing there may be an itch that hasn't been scratched in awhile.

I might need to venture outside of my normal pop culture channels and actually do some research or find some books about other cultures around the world.  I didn't realize how much I had missed the subject.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sunless Sea Impressions

Sunless Sea is a game that got a ton of praise when it came out last year.  It finally fell enough in price that I picked it up in the latest Steam sale.

It's a narrative driven game in the vein of Fallen London.  Fallen London is a free browser based story driven game that I got fairly heavily into for about a month a year or two ago.  Sunless Sea is actually created by the same team and with the same engine as Fallen London and it shows.

It's basically Fallen London with more gameplay elements tacked on top.  There's a ship that you navigate around the sea while having to manage your crew, inventory, and combat.  It's a smoother and more engaging version of the free Fallen London game that's been available for awhile.

My problem is that I got my fill of Fallen London when I dove deep into that game a few years back.  This feels like playing it again.  It's an interesting game and the sea is fun to explore... but I've already gotten my fill of this style of game in this particular engine.

I can see why a lot of people liked this game.  I'm sure I would have loved it if I hadn't already played Fallen London.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Belated Free Comic Book Day!

Free comic book day is something that happens every year in May.  I've still never gone to a free comic book day in person at a comic book shop, but the last few years Comixology has done free comic book day digitally.

When I first started getting into comics it was digitally with Comixology and right around the time of year for free comic book day.  They released a ton of comics for free and I devoured them.  The last two years I've been busy during that time of year but I go "buy" them all digitally for free and download them.

I just finally got around to reading through all the free comics from the past two years worth of free comic book day.  I started it on my trip last month and finished them all up within a week or so.  Most of the comics were either an issue one, special issue, or one-off.  They're meant to entice you into picking up more comics from the series and get invested.  Honestly, it's really smart.

I read somewhere between 80 and 90 comics in that week.  It was fun to see such a variety but I'm really picky in my comics, I don't like a ton of them but the ones I enjoy I really latch onto.  Out of the 90ish I read I picked up more issues for two series.  That sounds like a really low success rate but I was actually not expecting any to intrigue me enough to the point where I would pay for more.

The two I liked are Wayward and Rat Queens.

Wayward is all about a half-Japanese transfer student who just moved to Japan for the first time in her life.  She quickly finds supernatural happenings going on and she starts having encounters with traditional Japanese monsters and spirits.  I really like it as an interesting look at Japanese culture and Japanese mythology.  The fact that the main character is an outsider helps me relate since I've never stepped foot in Japan myself.

Rat Queens is a sarcastic look at a fantasy world full of quests and monsters.  It definitely shows DnD roots but it's the sarcasm and the main cast of female party members that make it entertaining.  I've already read the entire series that's been released to date and it's wonderful.  The adventuring makes a nice backdrop for a lot of mature issues and interpersonal relationships.  Rat Queens deals with characters and relationships just as much as it deals with adventures and violence.  Chances are good that I'm going to keep up to date with this one going forward.

Now I'm really excited for next year's free comic book day.  Sampling so many different comics in such a short amount of time was a ton of fun!

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Escapists Impressions

Continuing with my new Steam game impressions is The Escapists.

I like the premise of this game.  You're an inmate and you need to escape a prison.  There are different difficulties for different levels of prison.  It seems like there are quests, routines, items to buy and sell, and some light crafting.  I really like the premise of this game.

I played through a couple levels but on PC I had a lot of frustration with the controls.  It's not intuitive at all when to use which click or how to interact with different types of objects.

I think I would much rather be playing this game with a controller.  Sadly, it doesn't support a controller on PC so I can't play the way I want to.  I bet this would even control better on a touch screen.

At this point I've basically been striking out on all the games I grabbed on the Steam sale.  I'm mostly ok with that.  I picked up all these games on the cheap for just this reason.  I knew that I might not like them but the premises were interesting enough that they've stayed in my Steam wishlist.  I have a couple more to try out.  I'm hoping to find something that sticks.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Subnautica Impressions

Subnautica is another game I picked up in the latest Steam sale.  I had overheard some people talking about it and the general impression I came away with was that Subnautica is a game about underwater exploration.

It starts out with you crashing on an alien water planet and basically just tells you to go.

I was really excited to splash into the water and start swimming around to discover new life and strange oddities.

What I actually found is an underwater game with a limited oxygen meter that is channeling the crafting mechanics of Minecraft.  I've done enough Minecraft style crafting for one lifetime... I don't really need to do it in any other game again.

Granted, Subnautica is still in early access and things could change.  As it stands it isn't a game I want to play.  But if they make a mode with no oxygen meter and free exploration of an underwater realm then I'll jump back in and have fun exploring.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ori and the Blind Forest Impressions

Ori and the Blind Forest is another game I grabbed during the Black Friday Steam Sale.

It's a beautiful platformer with great sound design.  It set a mood and made me feel for the characters within the first ten minutes.  It seems like it has high production values and offers a lot for platformer fans.

I'm coming to realize that I may have played so many platformers in my life that I'm not nearly the fan I used to be.  I'll still sit down and love all my time with a new Mario game... but beyond that I'm finding the genre less and less interesting.  Everything feel derivative and samey.

That's how I feel about Ori and the Blind Forest.  I can tell intellectually that it's a really good platformer with fantastic art direction and a story to tell.  My problem is that moment to moment it's not doing much for me in the gameplay.

I'm going to set this one aside and if I'm ever in the mood for a solid platformer that's not Mario I'll come back to it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Titan Souls Impressions

I picked up a couple new Steam games in the Steam sale over Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  At this point I have almost all the Steam games I want, I just keep indie oddities on my wishlist so if they drop low enough I can grab them on the cheap.

Titan Souls is the first one of the games in this category that I grabbed in the latest sale.

The basic premise of the game is that you are given one arrow to shoot (and retrieve), one point of health, and one hit kills.  One hit on your character will instantly destroy you but one arrow in the right spot at the right time will kill a boss too.

It makes for an interesting dynamic.  The entire game is made up of boss fights and the open world spaces between them.  In a big way it reminds me of the structure of Shadow of the Colossus.

Bosses are scary and imposing at first while you figure out their weakness and their patterns.  Then you think you've figured it out but can't quite execute the kill correctly.  And finally you have a good run and vanquish the boss.  I really like the structure of the game and the fights.

I beat about four or five bosses and had fun with the game.  I'm going to put it on hold to try out other games but I think Titan Souls is pretty cool.

Monday, December 7, 2015

StarCraft II Legacy of the Void Multiplayer

Ugh.  So.  I tried to get back into StarCraft II multiplayer after playing through the single player campaign the other week.  While I was immediately able to throw myself back into that single player campaign it was really hard to get back into multiplayer.

I basically failed to get into it.

I was placed in Bronze league and I lost a lot.  Bronze should be the easiest league in multiplayer with the newest and worst players.  I think at this point there aren't really any new players.  Bronze league was a great place to learn the game back in 2010 when it first came out but now the people there will tear a newbie apart.

I'm sure I could buckle down, look up some current strategies, check out a few guides, and work my way back into StarCraft II multiplayer.  But I don't really want to.  That's a lot of work for something that doesn't seem very rewarding for me these days.

I still think StarCraft II is the best RTS game out there right now, but if you aren't already deep into the competitive multiplayer it's not worth it to attempt.

There is a new archon mode which lets two players control the same units.  That's novel, but doesn't add much.

The co-op mode is fascinating.  You're given a hero with specific special skills and a limited army and then asked to accomplish tasks.  There's not a ton of variety in that mode though.  There are only about 6 maps and after playing each one once you've essentially seen the entire mode.

I really respect StarCraft II as an amazing RTS.  It's an amazing game.  But outside of the single player campaigns it's just not a game for me anymore.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Video Game High School

Video Game High School (VGHS) is a YouTube series by Freddie Wong.  He's a creator that I've followed for awhile because he does tons of videos about film making and special effects.  Since that was my profession for the first ten years of my career I've always been interested in his videos.

VGHS is his first long form show.  It's structured like traditional TV shows into longer episodes.  It's all about a group of kids that enter into a high school specifically for gamers.  Everything in the school revolves around gaming.

As a gamer I find so much enjoyment in this show, even though it's often rough around the edges.  I've been watching it since season one but I hadn't realized until last week that the third and final season was finally out.  I got to binge watch it over the holiday break and it was a fun diversion.

If you're a gamer and you've never heard of it I would definitely check it out.  There are three seasons and each one is better than the last.  As they go on the individual episodes and the seasons get longer and longer as they get more complex.  I'll embed the very first episode below.

Or if you're like me and you were caught up but didn't realize season three was in the wild, here's the first episode of season three:

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Jessica Jones Season 1 Review

I think this is the best thing that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has created so far.  It's so much better than the other shows I've watched, especially compared to DareDevil.

Where DareDevil left me frustrated with the pacing problems and inconsistency in quality, Jessica Jones is well paced and interesting the entire way through.  I watched it in two sittings but stopping that first night because I had to go to bed was painful since I was so engrossed in the story.

The premise is that Jessica Jones has super powers but doesn't want to be a super hero.  She's super strong and can heal faster than normal people but she mostly just uses her powers in an everyday sort of way while doing her job as a private investigator.  The story is all about her dealing with her powers and confronting her past with the villain Kilgrave, who is played by the amazing David Tennant.  I thought he was good in Doctor Who but he's amazing in Jessica Jones.

Kilgrave is a mind controller who does basically whatever he wants.  In the past he had taken control of Jessica and used her powers against her will.  The main thrust of the story is about Jessica deciding to fight back against Kilgrave and the ways she goes about it... while still being worried that he might gain control over her again.

The show gets dark and violent but never for the sake of darkness or violence.  In DareDevil I felt like they made things extra bloody or violent just because they could.  In Jessica Jones whenever it goes there it feels like it fits the story.  That makes such a huge difference in my ability to enjoy the show.

It also deals with adult issues like sex and complex relationships.  The thirteen episodes truly do cover a lot of ground.

If Marvel makes more shows like this as part of their Marvel Cinematic Universe then I'm in.  I'll be watching them all.  Now that I've finished Jessica Jones I'm really excited to see what they do with the next couple Netflix Original Marvel shows, Luke Cage and then The Defenders.  I have high hopes.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Battlefront Follow-Up

Now that I've had more time with Battlefront I really need to follow up on my initial impressions.  While I still think this is a must-have for Star Wars fans I'm also starting to see the limitations of the game.

Don't get me wrong, it still gives an amazing sense of place and of being in the Star Wars universe.  When I need a quick fix for Star Wars this is an easy game to reach for.

But from a gameplay standpoint as a shooter... it doesn't have the same refined qualities as a game like Destiny, Halo, or Call of Duty.  The progression system is too slow and doesn't give enough options.  There are only 4 big maps, and they're cut up into smaller maps for different game types.  So while they say there are something like 16 maps... it's really just 4 tilesets and you'll quickly start to recognize parts of maps within different game types.

I'm also a bit disappointed with the single player offerings.  There are a few missions and survival mode... but they just aren't that fun solo.  Luckily they can be played co-op, which is a lot of fun.  But if you want to sit down for some non-competitive Star Wars action solo there isn't a lot here for you.

There are a lot of game modes, but most of them aren't that fun.  At this point I'm basically only playing three.  Walker Assault and Squadron modes are amazing.  They're a ton of fun.  When I need to break it up I jump over to Heroes vs Villains mode and take control of some of the special characters.  None of the other modes really clicked with me.

I'm still loving being in the Star Wars universe.  And I know that they're adding new maps and new abilities to the game for free as time goes on.  Jakku is the first new map being added and it comes out this week.  I'm interested to see what else they add for free before they kick off their season pass.

I'm also cautiously optimistic about the season pass.  Depending on how much content it adds I might pick it up.  If they use the season pass to actually add Galactic Conquest mode back into the game I'll probably have to buy it.  That's where almost all my time went in the original Battlefront games on PS2 and Xbox.

I don't regret my purchase at all, I just love Star Wars so much.  But I wanted to temper my initial enthusiasm because if you aren't as big of a Star Wars fan as me you could easily be disappointed with the amount of content in this game.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

StarCraft II Legacy of the Void Campaign

While I got delayed by Fallout 4, I did get around to playing Legacy of the Void.  I've always been a fan of Starcraft and I think Starcraft II is the best RTS out there.  I'm not as big into the multiplayer as I was when it first released, but it's still an amazing game.

Legacy of the Void is the final campaign in StarCraft II finishing off what started back in 2010 with Wings of Liberty.  The main campaign follows Artanis and the last of the uncorrupted Protoss as they try to regroup and then eventually retake their homeworld.  All the threads start wrapping up as the Hybrids, the relationship between the Zerg and Protoss, and the Xel'Naga are all explained.

I loved the Protoss campaign because I got to play my favorite race in the game.  In all honesty, I think that Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm had more variety in missions and more unique missions.  But, I've been waiting more than five years to finally get the Protoss campaign and I enjoyed it immensely.

Where the Protoss campaign ends the StarCraft II epilogue begins.  It's included with the expansion and it ties up all three campaigns in a series of three missions that totally wrap up the StarCraft and StarCraft II storyline.  After finishing the prologue it doesn't seem like they'll ever be able to revisit this time period or these characters.  If we eventually get a StarCraft III it will have to be something new.

I should warn you, the epilogue is super tough.  The first mission you control the Protoss, the second you get Terran, and the third you get Zerg.  Since I barely ever used Terran or Zerg in multiplayer and haven't played their campaigns in years I struggled a lot to finish the last two missions.  For perspective, I beat the Terran campaign (back in the day) on hard, the Zerg and Protoss campaigns on Normal, but for the last two missions of the epilogue I had to drop it down to Casual difficulty.  I actually needed to use cheats to finish the very last mission for the first time.  After I saw how it played out I was able to go back and finish it on Casual regularly.

At this point it's really nice to have completed character arcs for all of the main characters in the StarCraft and StarCraft II series.

If you've played Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm you deserve to see the end of the story.  Definitely pick up Legacy of the Void.

I'm going to start digging into multiplayer and seeing what's new.  Expect a report back soon!