Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Low Tech Future

Starting today, I'm going to be spending the next nine nights away from my beloved computer, Lord Stanzibar Quintilius di Montferrat. That means I'm going to be cut off from the rich array of luxury resources that make my blogs so great, like mouses and keyboards and screens bigger than the palm of your hand. I'm going to consider blogging from my phone, but I can't make any promises about their quality. There is a very real chance that they will read like telegrams rather than traditional blog posts. But I suppose half a blog is better than none, right?


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Star Wars Episode 1: 4 Kidz! (And the Top/Only Good Five Things in Episode 1)

I discovered this fragment of a post from February. I'm going to roll with it and see if I can remember the points I wanted to raise four months later.

I honestly cannot describe how much I dislike this video, which is a real thing made by people who work for George Lucas and were paid money to do so. Every second, no, every frame grates my nerves. From the stupid announcer to the way it highlights all the worst things about Episode 1 (Jar Jar, kid Anakin, Darth Maul dying), every single thing in this trailer is awful. The ironic thing is, Episode I is probably my favorite of the new Star Wars movies. (NOTE: This is where past Hunter stopped writing and present day Hunter assumes direct control).

You know what this blog needs? More Mass Effect references!

5. Pod Racing
Before I go on, I am aware that the Pod Racing scene goes on for ten minutes too long and never really elaborates on why Anakin is the only human who can pod race and raises a whole host of other issues. BUT, conceptually, the pod race is one of the few things in the entire new trilogy that is completely original and not desperately trying to call back to the Good Trilogy. Technically speaking, it is highly reminiscent of the speeder chase on Endor in Return of the Jedi, but there's enough of a change in context, environment, and the actual look of the racers makes it different enough to be enjoyable. Plus, the Pod Racing video game that came out with it (and undoubtedly was a primary motivation for its lengthy stay in the movie) was really cool and that's more than you can say for any of the other ancillary stuff from the other movies.

Plus, it didn't rely exclusively on lightsabers like every other moment in the Bad Trilogy.

4. The Villains

"It is a shame that nothing is known about my motivations, personality or beliefs other than I think Double Lightsabers are neat. Yet I am still more menacing that Grievous and Dooku put together"

For starters, Darth Maul was a fantastically designed villain and the only solid new villain the prequels provide. Dooku was just Christopher Lee (which is not scary) and General Grievous is a textbook example of a character they just never stopped designing (what if he was a robot and a lizard alien and had like four arms of lightsabers and had a bad cough...). Darth Maul is the closest the Bad Trilogy comes to capturing the essence of the great design behind Darth Vader. Whereas Darth Vader's design (and personality) was like a person but cold and calculating like a machine (so that we understood him just enough to be afraid of his capabilities), Darth Maul's design makes him like a person but with horns and war paint, like some sort of space barbarian alien thing. It would've been nice if they had spent more time establishing a personality for him to reinforce this design. But still, he's head and shoulders above all the other new villains.

Shockingly, I'm going to bring up the Nemodeans as a strength in The Phantom Menace, at least in comparison to the Separatists. Despite the myriad of problems there are with the Nemodeans (they're racist caricatures, they are completely ineffective fighters, they have no grasp on strategy and offer no real threat to anyone whatsoever), they have one thing that makes them better than the Separatists: a motive. Sure, it's a simple motive (become richer by plundering/owning Naboo) but I can understand that goal. I can see how the choices they make facilitate that goal. I honestly have no idea what the Separatists are fighting for. I don't care if it's brought up in an Expanded Universe novel or a comic book or 3-D diorama. It's the responsibility of the movie to tell me these things. Entertainment should not require outside reading. But I digress. What does the Techno Union gain by seceding from the Republic? You'd think the Techno Union army would fight for the preservation of the Union. After all, what would Techno Ulysses S. Grant or Cybernetic William T. Sherman have to say if they discovered the Boys in Blue turned secessionist?

Cybernetic William T. Sherman has a flamethrower for a hand. He approves of any strategy that destroys the Atlanta System.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Cycle Begins Anew

Last week, I finally finished my long awaited discussion of the five biggest problems in Mass Effect 3. That finally meant I could move onto other topics to discuss, like the Hunger Games or Game of Thrones or the fact that I have been work at a camp all summer and am now tan (which is somewhat unbelievable) or the fact I hate the NBA so much right now (why are you tormenting me so, David Stern?!).

But then, the long awaited Extended Ending DLC is going to be released on Tuesday. So that means I'll need to spend a few hours clearing out the Cerberus Base & Reaper-occupied Earth to see the ending that will do things that they promised (i.e. provide closure based on the choices you made throughout the course of the games). Then I can put a nice bow on my favorite game of 2012 and move on...

To my favorite game of 2011, Skyrim, which is seeing it's first DLC (Dawnguard, which apparently involves making sure the sun rises in the east and sets in the west and waging a guerrilla war against cloudy days) also released on Tuesday (NB: I am aware that it really involves stopping/causing a vampire apocalypse and that this is awesome). SKYRIM, MASS EFFECT! STOP FIGHTING FOR MY ATTENTION! I LOVE YOU BOTH!!!!

But in fairness to the rest of my reading community, I'm going to try to get in a few posts over this weekend so that there is a brief respite in the incessant Mass Effect chatter.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Bottom Five Things in Mass Effect 3

Well, it's been a ridiculously long time coming, but I'm finally going to talk about the worst five things in Mass Effect 3, and none of them are going to be the ending (which is terrible in every way a thing can be terrible and has caused irreparable damage to my immortal soul). Officially, I'm saying I was waiting for Pimpmaster Doug and Sam of Dr Pepper to finish Mass Effect 3 so I wouldn't spoil them. Without further ado, let's discuss The Bottom Five Things in Mass Effect 3.

5. The Checkpoint Guards on the Normandy
They're so annoying, no one actually has a screen capture of them.
The most common complaint in Mass Effect 1 was the elevator system. Rather than include loading screens, the development team decided to mask loading times by using very, very slow elevator rides. While this was justifiable (although still loathed) on a giant place like the Citadel, it's not possible when going from one level of your ship to the other. In fact, it was extra painful because this super slow elevator was what stood between the boring squadmates (Liara & Kaidan) and the awesome squadmates (Wrex, Garrus, Ashley, and Tali). So every time you wanted to chill with the cool people, you had to suffer for it. Now, you may wonder why I'm bringing up five year old memories of torment at the hands of a loading system. The answer is that I would gladly bring back all the elevators if it meant never having to listen to those stupid friggin' checkpoint guards ever again.

Once again, these two are the byproducts of a need to hide a loading screen. For whatever reason, Mass Effect 3 can't load the War Room AND the rest of the 2nd floor at the same time. So you need to stop off at a scanner to confirm that the most famous man/woman in the galaxy, whose name is synonymous with the SSV Normandy, is a member of the crew. In an effort to alleviate the boredom of waiting through a lengthy scan, the good folks at BioWare decided to have two lovable guards banter with each other. And by "lovable guards" I mean "stupid nimrods" and by "banter"  I mean "vapidly discuss things you already knew/would never think of because it is so stupid". To BioWare's credit, they tried giving them personalities. It's just their personalities were "Stupid One" and "Pretentious Stupid One". Here are a sample of some things you have to overhear every single time you want to go get some missions or talk to someone or maybe check on your Galaxy at War score.

SO: "Once we beat the Reapers, we should get some payback from all the races that didn't help us."

PSO: "Yeah, that's great. Let's follow up a war with another war."

-In this scene, it appears that SO has forgotten that we're facing an unstoppable armada from beyond the galaxy which has ended all life more times than can be remembered. But hey, don't let that stop you from assuming we'll win easily with enough military capital to overpower any adversary.

SO: "I can't believe the Asari won't help us."

PSO: "If it was Thessia [Asari Homeworld] that was invaded, you can bet we would be holding back around Earth."

-In this scene, PSO forgets that the Alliance's fleets were possibly crippled saving the Destiny Ascension at the end of Mass Effect 1. Also, she seems to be forgetting that these machines are invading everyone they can at this current moment. I guess the Asari and PSO think that the Reapers will kill all advanced life... except themselves.

SO: "We should bomb the Reapers"

PSO: "But the Reapers don't have any planets. If you bomb them, you're bombing yourself."

-There is literally so much wrong with this dialogue, that I will lose my mind if I specify all 17 ways it's wrong. Suffice to say, most planets invaded by the Reapers get pretty chewed up anyways, as is normally the case with world's assaulted by intergalactic genocide. Also, I'm pretty sure there's a level of bombing short of "Planetary Destruction" or "Ecological Collapse". Also, I'm pretty sure we don't have bombs capable of destroying a Reaper. Also, nothing you said or have ever said, made any sense. Also, I'm pretty sure I hate all of you and I just wanted to talk to Wrex. WHY AM I ALWAYS PUNISHED FOR TALKING TO WREX?!

4. The Galaxy at War system

"We are a force greater than any you could imagine. We have destroyed countless civilizations from the dawn of time. Your struggle is in vain, Shepard, for we... wait, you have over 4,000 Military Points! OH SNAP! *explosions*"
When I talked about the things I liked about Mass Effect 3, I mentioned how much I loved Search & Rescue. It was great to finally see a tangible contribution for all your hard work over the course of three games. The problem is the Galaxy at War system ruins it and makes all your hard work irrelevant if you're willing to play multiplayer or buy iOS games.