Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Do you blog or want to blog? Join Blaugust Reborn!

Belghast has revived Blaugust this year, a blogging event that I have always found handy for tips, tricks, content generation, and simply interacting with other bloggers. If you blog or are interested in blogging, I highly encourage checking it out!

I'll be signing up myself provided my home internet ever decides to reconnect. :P

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Forbidden Island

Cooperative Greed!

Inspired by my board game collection, one of our June guests decided to get Forbidden Island and got us all to try it out. In this prequel to the Forbidden Desert, players are trying to collect four treasures and escape before the island sinks completely.

It does give you that sinking feeling.

Gaining treasures feels very Pandemic-y though, as you require four matching cards to get the doo-hickey from the matching tile - and given that you can trade cards the game ensures everyone starts out separated at the beginning.

While the game plays just as fast as the Desert variety and the double sided tiles are just as pretty, it seems like a much easier game and one that will hit the "solved" stage right away. Sure, a bad draw might actually trigger a loss but a team working together should be able to mitigate most of that.

Still fun and one I can recommend to cooperative board gamers, though I feel if you are only going to get either Forbidden Island or Forbidden Desert, get the latter. I give this 3 sandbags out of 5.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Chocolate (2008)

A Thai movie that states "Disabled kids kick ass. Literally."

Born from forbidden love, Zen (played by Yanin Vismitananda) is a mentally handicapped girl who happens to be a savant at physical reflexes and later on, beating the shit out of people. In her quest to get money to pay for her mom's medical fees, she basically visits various groups of random thugs (with escalating weapon types) to rob them.

She's quite dangerous.

There's a tiny bit more depth to this martial arts flick but not much so I won't go into it, lets just say the story is "ok". Instead I will focus on how nice it is to watch the awesomely choreographed fight scenes and all the poor stunt actors injuring themselves, especially in the final showdown part. Yep, gravity hurts!

If you like beat em ups, you will enjoy this though it requires some suspension of disbelief for that little girl to have so much power in her strikes. I give it two and a half smarties out of five and would definitely watch it again. Especially the part where the two autistic kids fight each other. Lol. It sounds mean, but it really is very cool.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

The Solved Games

Where enough experience leads to almost certain victory.

After numerous play throughs I'm finding that a few of my cooperative board games have reached a "solved" status - where repetitively using the right tactic often leads to victory. Spoilers / Tips ahead, depending on your point of view!

Police Precinct - never had a defeat in this, the team just to divide labour between keeping crime in check and finding the murderer / preferably focusing on what their character is good at but being fluid enough to adapt to the board. I still really like the "emergency" system. Score Adjustment: -1.

Pandemic / Pandemic: On the Brink - while defeat comes quickly if you go for the full epidemic card set having less than that almost makes for an easy game. The red ones of On the Brink are almost mandatory for us now as we can even win with the full green epidemic cards of the base game. Obviously the bio-terrorist option (which we haven't tried yet) might mix things up. Score Adjustment: -1.

Shadows Over Camelot - on full cooperative it is almost impossible to lose provided the team works together. Defeat only comes if everyone does their own thing and tries tackle the harder group quests solo, or keeps quest hopping. You don't have to win every quest, just be sure to win the important ones. I can see why the traitor mechanic is almost mandatory. Score Adjustment: -1.

Operation Flashpoint: Fire Rescue - while bad luck can ruin any game it can be mitigated a bit here simply through communication. Planning ahead pays well, as does not intentionally damaging the building more than necessary. Almost trivialized if you have the driver in the fire engine to provide cover. Score Adjustment: -1.

Zombicide Season 2: Prison Outbreak - knowing your perks and staying together (more HP to share around) is the main rule here, as well as sharing the XP so that the spawns don't become overpowered ahead of your team mates. Bad things usually happen when people wander off on their own, and most scenarios later on even force the players apart because they know a team together is near unstoppable. And that's even without equipment juggling. Hot potato chainsaw is fun. Score Adjustment: -1.

D&D Adventure Boardgame System - all the ones I currently have reviewed (Ravenloft, Ashardalon, Drizzt, ToEE) fall into this category. Victory lies in finding the quest tile fast, and that usually means splitting up to burn through the tile deck quicker. Yes, this puts more monsters on the board but they are usually more manageable than the dreaded encounter cards. Score Adjustment: -1.

Xenoshyft - though it delivers a few brutal losses at the start, once you know how to manage your card hand properly (don't buy garbage), and how to position troops (weakest dudes NEVER go at the end of the lane) loss becomes a thing of rarity in this game. Just don't expect any of your troops to live through the whole thing. Score Adjustment: -1.

Forbidden Desert - PSYCH! This is the true stand out in my current collection. Despite having such a simple premise each game requires active thinking from each participant to mitigate those deadly loss conditions. Such a treasure of a little game, and one I'm going to recommend again right here: if you haven't played Forbidden Desert yet, please go do so! Score Adjustment: +1, and is now the "best" game in my collection.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Pick a Side: Bus Fare

Here's an interesting one I ran into a few days ago on the way home.

Bus Driver: Miss? Miss? Yes, you sitting beside the gentleman with the long hair. Are you going to pay your fare? Everyone else tapped on (card system), don't think I didn't notice you when you just walked in and sat down.

Woman: Hi! I have no money and I'm not going to spend three hours walking just to get home. If you single me out and just make us run late, I'm going to report you to your company for not doing your job.

Bus Driver: I -am- doing my job.

Who would you support in this situation?

Sunday, 8 July 2018

El Grande - Big Box Edition

You can't be the King, but you can rule!

I've had the El Grande - Big Box for awhile now and I think I've finally had enough plays of this territory control game to give it a decent review. The game play is simple enough, first every one places an "initiative" card if you like which determines who gets to act first. Higher numbers trump lower numbers, but lower numbers gain more troops than higher numbers.

Afterwards you pick from a small selection of actions to take to best conquer as much of Spain as you can while simultaneously blocking the other players. The King makes this interesting as you can only deploy in areas adjacent to him (or the tower) but his region itself is taboo and cannot be altered in any way.

It can have a problem of a runaway winner though, as I saw recently where I almost lapped my opponents on the scoreboard.

It's a pretty big board.

Of the expansions we've only played Grand Inquisitor and Colonies which adds France, Africa and America to the board opening up the options for points gaining and makes for a good "alternate" game play. This and the base game are good fun, and I can easily recommend them to competitive gamers.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Hacksaw Ridge

Good thing no one thought of cutting the rope ladder.

Desmond Doss (played by Andrew Garfield) grows up a man of faith who takes the commandment of not killing very seriously. This doesn't stop him from enlisting in the army for World War II as a pacifist medic and conscientious objector (one who refuses to wield a weapon or take lives).

Ofcourse he's good with ropes - he's Spiderman!

The film does a good job showing all the trials poor Desmond has to go through for being different, and also does a decent job depicting war is hell. I especially liked Hugo Weaving's portrayal of a character who already lived through the first World War in this respect.

Effects wise it's decent too with the blood,gore and explosions, though it does get a bit Hollywood at the end where the enemies can't hit a barn door and hip shots from good guys nail opponents each time. I'd still watch this inspirational flick again though, and give it three and a half Saturdays out of five.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Re-review: The true horror of Eldrich Horror

The answer is time.

I think I view Eldrich (and probably Arkham) Horror with rose tinted glasses, as they fill that whole "everything is doomed" bill so nicely. Only now that I'm getting them replayed or maybe because I'm trying to design a game of my own do I see the flaws more clearly.

Even after cutting Arkham's game time by half, "It is a long game," is still an easy phrase to throw around. Yes the amount of components make it long to set up, but the "long" part that is poorly designed - at least time management wise - are the actual encounter cards.

You look at the clock. Roll for sanity!

What!? But those give the story and the theme of the game! Yes they do, and they are fantastic. But they only apply to ONE player at a time - and I see now that it's a pretty big draw back. It's almost like everyone plays together in the fast "action" phase, then the momentum stops again when reading out the cards or indeed, fighting monsters.

Even if said encounter only takes 2 minutes, in a six player game that's 10 minutes of each player idling while the others have their encounter. In Police Precinct, you similarly have individual encounters but every other player has an opportunity to assist you. It doesn't make sense logically, but game play wise it keeps everyone invested in what's happening. Glasses off, score adjustment: -0.5.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Neverwinter Online: Ravenloft First Impressions

So misty. So cool. So Strahd.

Just before my internet conks out for the next two weeks I thought I'd give my first impressions of Neverwinter's latest module: Ravenloft, which has a pretty cool intro cinematic. After a cheesy quest hook that lets everyone traverse the "unescapable" mists (which is mandatory in an MMO I suppose), we finally get to the beautifully spooky land of Barovia which just oozes of theme. I especially like how Strahd's castle is literally just so close to everything.

It's nice that Strahd shows up early too.

The weekly bounty thing from Chult is here and the repeating quests are a bit more time consuming not only because of the slightly tougher baddies but also because said tasks are just slightly longer. Instead of killing 20 things, its now kill 20 of these AND 5 of those. Instead of get the 4 doohickeys, its get the 4 doohickeys AND put them somewhere afterwards.

Best parts for me so far are the night and day cycle which changes the spawns slightly. It's definitely scary to know that the Stalker from Warframe Night Terror (miniboss) shows up randomly each night to terrorize some unlucky adventurer.  Then there are the hunts which are amazing! No more grinding for bait, now you just hop into an instance with a difficulty of your own choosing, ala Mabinogi Quest Boards.

My personal favorite so far is using increase aggro range cards, the higher the better. This means the baddies aren't stronger but they come marching out for you from all over. While I first did it for a laugh, it's turned out to be a valid farming tactic since all those mobs can then drop more cool hunt cards. The bad part - I'm hunting all the time, and not actually progressing in the campaign! :P

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

The Sound of Music

My heart wants to sing every song it hears.

Truly a musical classic of love and change (with a dash of Nazis). I'm not sure how they shot the film to make it so vibrant but the locations, sets, casting and music are all top notch. Julie Andrews really is amazing as Maria, and many of the songs will stay with you for sometime after a viewing.

Everything is so pretty, even the stairs!

There are a few parts that I do find a bit slow and a few songs that go a little long but for the most part it's quite entertaining. I quite enjoyed the reprised songs in the later half of the movie too. I'm guessing all of you have seen this already anyway, but I'm going to give it four whistles out of five. Watch again? Maybe in a year or so.

Monday, 2 July 2018

July 2018 Status: Need to Catch up!

As expected last month was quite hectic for me. Fun too, but with significantly less compy and internet time (whose allotment is almost gone this month - I'm not on an unlimited plan). This already hampers July as "the catch up" month as I'm again reduced to dial up speed and means I'll be one month behind on Ravenloft's release as well as more mini-posts for awhile longer - though I'm kinda liking those now. On the plus side it should let me focus on the items that don't need a connection.

So much for dropping the back log section too, as a handful more items have found their way there recently! The list now looks as follows:

    End the year with less weight (-2.2 kg from last month, running total: -1.9 kg)
    Draw 12 drawings of anything (7/12 - no progress)
    Make board game prototype (no progress)
    Complete web comic chapter 1 (no progress)
    Clean out wardrobe (no progress)
    +Complete NWO: Ravenloft (0/2 not happening with slow internet)
    +Prep Eador Story
    +Board game re-review  
    +Witcher board game redemption trial?    
    +Update Facebook pictures (2 years behind lol)

Backlog Update:

FROM GIFTS (or freebies)
Sims 3
Eador: Masters of the Broken World (done)
+Hand of Fate 2
+Sniper Elite 4
+Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition
+Hyper Light Drifter
+Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown

COMPY CAN'T RUN (but I want to play)
Batman: Arkham Knight
Dying Light
Alien Isolation
Shadow of Mordor (oops: this is meant to be Shadow of War)
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Satellite Reign
Assassins Creed Unity

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Plastic Bag Ban?

Starting from next month my local grocery store is going to stop using free plastic bags. As someone who uses these as bin liners / trash bags, that slightly annoys me but I realize that a lot of other places must already have this ban in place.

So for people in similar circumstances, what did you do? Purchase plastic bags or stop using bin liners altogether? Not using liners seems icky to me, but I'd like to hear your experiences if you are willing to share. :)

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

A Funny Truth

Me: Pokemon is all about enslaving creatures then forcing them to fight other enslaved creatures for money and fame. Oh, and it's a kids show!

Guest #1: *ahem*!
Guest #2:  He's a fan of Pokemon.

Me: Oh, my bad - was anything I said untrue?
Guest #1: I... (pause) ... feel somewhat insulted.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Photobucket: Trying to be a Phoenix

While checking on an old post I was surprised to find the previously "burned" photobucket pictures returned to life. It is apparently old news, that the company back flipped on their $400 fee and restored what was previously missing.

Restoring image links is one thing, but regaining the trust of consumers is quite another. There are just some lines you must never cross, and I think there's no coming back from what they did. Then again, there are terrible game companies out there that somehow keep afloat so, what do I know right?

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Players make the Game

Just a quick follow up to the previous Forbidden Desert mini post, it seems the kids tried have a game on their own without me and found it less fun. I find that interesting given when I was "playing" I was actually only controlling the desert AI which traditionally is done by each player after their turn.

They've since played a few more of my other games and so far I've just been the arbiter / bank / rules person due to player number restrictions. It is interesting revisiting these though, and I hope to do a full list review of my collection once I have time to myself again. :)

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Printed Cartography Tip

Today's mini post is for those who still like hard copies of maps. You might find that printing out a google maps page is next to useless since the roads are white and the background is so light you can't make them out unless traveling through forest.

https://mapstyle.withgoogle.com/ works much better, especially the preset Retro style. Having visitors makes you learn things! :P

Monday, 11 June 2018

Better than Monopoly

Coming from a 15 year old who is a die hard Monopoly gamer, that's pretty high praise for the Forbidden Desert. It's definitely board game season at home, and I don't think I can do more than these mini-posts for a bit. This was quite the highlight so far though. :)

Monday, 4 June 2018

Deadpool 2

Even better than last time!

Once again Ryan Reynolds is fantastic as Deadpool, and with a less predictable script this time around, a handful of cameos, funny jokes and violent action sequences this is definitely now one of my favorite movies.

The bestest of frenemies!

The main negative I can find with it is that a lot of the humor will go over heads of people who haven't been watching (or have forgotten) all the other popular movies as of late (at least superhero ones).

Other than that it is an extremely well made action flick that has some surprisingly moving segments. It should be no surprise that I'm giving this five bowls of foreshadowing out of five. Will I watch it again? Yes! Even though I already watched it twice at the cinema! :)

Saturday, 2 June 2018

June 2018 Status: BUSY!

I haven't really added much from last month and that's because June is going to be very busy for me, as I'm having a lot of overseas visitors over. This means I'm going to be behind on Neverwinter's next module: Ravenloft, miss the Jubilee (again), and that I'm not going to get many things done in general. I suspect my blog posting will also decrease for a bit. The updated lists look like so:

    End the year with less weight (+1.5 kg from last month, running total: +.5 kg)
    Complete NWO: Lost City of Omu (2/2)
    Learn 3 more songs (3/3)
    Draw 12 drawings of anything (7/12)
    Make a parody comic (dropped)
    Make board game 19 prototype (procrastinating)
    Complete web comic chapter 1 (needs more condensing)
    Make a simple computer game (dropped for now)
    Clean out computer games (Done)
    Clean out wardrobe

Backlog Update:

Sims 3
Overlord 2 (Done)
Eador: Masters of the Broken World

COMPY CAN'T RUN (but I want to play)
Batman: Arkham Knight
Dying Light
Alien Isolation
Shadow of Mordor
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Satellite Reign
+Assassins Creed Unity

The "learn 3 songs" task was surprising as I learned 3 completely different ones to the ones I had intended to learn, and as I've started doing the drawing tasks I've realized how draining they are again. As such I've dropped the parody thing as I'd rather put effort into the actual comic, and I'm going to have to really plan the comic better to condense down what actually needs to be produced.

Also ditched the computer game inkling for now to focus on the original list. Game wise, Sims and Eador will probably get their own journals at some point but I doubt much will happen with that this month so we'll see how it goes. Step one is for me just to survive.

Either way I'll be dropping the Backlog section for now since it's pretty much under control, at least until I upgrade my PC. Alright June, here we go.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Neverwinter Online: Official Sexiest Creature

Not what anyone expected (probably not even the designers). Why?

Because there is no saving throw.
If you look at him when he dances (they're all male) you're stuffed.

[Added to the Gallery.]

Friday, 25 May 2018

Neverwinter Online: Finding a +6 Item

 Not that I've played tabletop D&D in a while...
 But I think that would still be the case.

[Added to the Gallery]

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Neverwinter Online: Arcane Reservoir Challenge

For those who want quests that aren't in the game. :P

It's been awhile since I made a challenge post, but I thought I'd do one for the Sharandar Weekly in Neverwinter Online. Most people fly through it these days (myself included), literally just running past everything to murder the boss and leave. Well, if you want to mix things up here's the task for you:

Get all four of the NPC Reservoir Guards to the final room.
This is the finish line.

Note that they will vanish when you hit the boss cut scene but that's fine, if all four of them made it there alive you win. As your gear score improves you also might want to add a few extra options like:

Complete the quest solo
Complete the quest in under 3 minutes

Shouldn't be that tough and if at first you don't succeed, don't worry too much since you'll probably be doing this quest every week at some point. :)

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Neverwinter Online: How to avoid fall damage

An easy tip for those new to the game...

Physics does not apply. 

MMO Design: Enemies should be like Plants

If we're farming we may as well be gardening.

I hate weeds. If left alone they grow and expand and become a lot tougher to remove. It does feel better removing a huge cluster than a single tiny sprig though. Now imagine if we translate that into MMOs. Lots of spawn points on the map but they all start out as weak critters with little loot. Much like there are different types of weed, these don't need to all be the same type though.

Areas that are frequently farmed or tended will spawn more of those weak critters again. Those less frequented will have mobs "grow" into stronger versions. Maybe a lizard becomes a small dinosaur or a spider becomes a bigger spider, and the loot becomes better. Maybe you can't get dragon scales until a lizard evolves that far.

Obviously the map design and available travel modes will play a big part in this setup. On a flat plain with teleporters equally spaced out among the spawns it's likely the player population will simply murder everything fast enough so that nothing will ever "grow" (though the "growth" stages only need to be a matter of minutes in between). In maps like in Guildwars 2 that has secret zones, jumping puzzles, bridges and gates that are only open when set conditions are met, this system might be better as it will force people to venture out and/or to return to zones already done in search of "big game".

Do you think such a system would be good in your (or any) MMO?

[Added to the Design Folder.]

Sunday, 20 May 2018

NWO: Siege of Neverwinter Voucher Tutorial

Avoid dragons, draw out the infantry.

As this event is on again I thought I'd put a quick post down for those who don't yet know the best method to farm those stronghold vouchers that drop from all enemies on this map. You will need a quiet, low-pop channel and as much free time as you can throw at it for best results.

Killing everything is a good start, but the respawn rate is kinda slow for the usual spawns which is why you want to look out for the non-dragon heroic encounters that pop up. All of these spawn a flood of infantry farm targets, and will keep doing so until the event is finished. That's right, the idea is to never kill any of the end generals or destroy the catapults. Ideally for the catapults, damage each of them without breaking any. If you do it right the spawning guards will chase you across the back end of the map making your farming even easier.

Also, if you are only after vouchers, avoid the dragon encounters as they eat up a lot of time and have no adds that drop them. Most importantly, don't get angry at people that finish the events you are trying to farm. They've been trained the whole game to do so, and have a daily that requires them to finish 2 of them. Regardless of what they are doing, just kill the infantry and if your channel gets too crowded, or has double dragons, its time to move on to the next quiet instance. :)

[Added to Tutorials.]

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Gallery: How to beat Zhaitan

[Part of the Gallery.]

It's been a while since I did this in game so it might have changed by now, but my general recollection of it went as follows...

The lesser dragons are more of a challenge.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Gallery: Powerslide

[Part of my new gallery!]

Whee I did it! I forced myself to draw something! Very rough but oh well, I'll need some work to get back to where I was and then more again to actually improve. :)

It's the most OP move in that game.

Gallery Works

Just a place where I can store all my masterpieces doodling (*cough*). :P

Official Sexiest Creature (29 May 2018)
Questionable Payment (28 May 2018)
Blacklake Burning (26 May 2018)
Finding a +6 Item (25 May 2018)
How to avoid Fall damage (22 May 2018)
How to beat Zhaitan (19 May 2018)
Powerslide (16 May 2018)

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Overlord 2

Because one was definitely not enough!

While this game plays much like the original with a story that's just as good, you as a new overlord have access to a few new features such as mounts, ships and siege weapons for and powered by your colorful minions. You need them too as your main enemies - an Empire who seem inspired by Rome make for decent adversaries.

New locales for your minions to trash!

The individual soldiers are no match for you but when assembled in formation even your horde of minions will suffer heavy losses if you don't proceed tactically. And that's what most of this game is, tactical puzzles with a very funny twist. There were some parts that did stump me for awhile (especially some boss fights) but usually a little looking around is all it takes to find the answer.

I also like that in your minion pool you can now bring back your favorite deceased minions, which is important as they do level up and become more effective on the field. It's left up to you if that one level 10 brown is worth 20 other browns as there is still a life force cost to everything. The only negative I have is a small one - in the previous game you could actually be "good". This is not the case here as it becomes a choice between destruction and domination (slavery).

Despite that I still highly recommend this game. It's not essential to have played the first, but you'll probably find it easier if you do. I give Overlord 2 four and a half mistresses out of five. Because you definitely can't have enough of those! :P

Monday, 14 May 2018

Today I Smiled: Eurovision 2018

Another year means another Eurovision! As you all know I'm a bit of a fan of this event, and this year had a combination of nice eye candya douchebag intruder for the UK's entry, a wiggly Australian, a pyromaniac piano vampire, some heavy metal screamers, an opera singer in a cool laser dress, and some peace loving vikings.

Sometimes I think there's a secret "who can burn the stage" contest too.

I quite liked those last two, as well as Greece's song and Albania's Rock entry. Even if you skip all the above, the next three you probably should watch: Moldova's superbly choreographed and humorous number, the actual winning entry from Israel which involves a bit of clucking and eye gymnastics, and my personal favourite this year: Germany's touching "You Let Me Walk Alone".

Last but not least, here's a clip of Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) questioning why Canada isn't a part of Eurovision. :)

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Old TV Reviews: Tyrant

No one is really good.

This story is about the two sons (and their families) of a widely unliked tyrannical president who suddenly dies during a crisis in their homeland of Abuddin. Since leadership passes down the family line it is up to the "good" brother to influence the "bad" one, who gains the top position.

While it took 2 episodes to actually hook me into this violent political drama, I quickly became a fan of this show and was very disappointed when it got cancelled after season 3. Alas it did suffer from a few un-needed characters but it was never shy to kill off people as it saw fit. Worth a watch if you're looking to try something new.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

TV Series: Gunpowder

Zealotry begets Zealotry.

Robert Catesby (Kit Harrington) is a devout Catholic living in a very Protestant England, hiding among people who regularly condone and cheer the brutal executions of those of his faith. Having had enough, he decides to become a terrorist and plots to kill the Protestant King and most of his court.

What could possibly go wrong,eh Fawkes?

While the sets and props are fantastic - especially those beautiful swords, this three episode drama has a minor pacing issue with some scenes being very drawn out then suddenly time skipping ahead to the next. Some lines also felt just a bit wooden, but maybe that's just because of the way they talk.

It's a decent show, especially for those who are not familiar with Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot, but if you expect action you will be disappointed. Also, be prepared for some gore. I like that stuff but I know it's not for everyone. I give it 2 executions out of 5.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Vengeance of the lab rats!

Following the events of the Scorch Trials, Thomas and his merry men go on a risky rescue mission right into the heart of the corporation hunting them. A simple story, executed rather well but one you won't be too invested in if you haven't watched the previous two.

I don't even see what you're shooting at dude.

The pacing (except for one small bit), settings, action pieces and effects are great, and acting wise everyone is fine. There are quite a few questions it leaves unanswered though, but as long as you aren't thinking too much - it remains an enjoyable action flick with some really cool camera shots.

Watch again? Maybe. If you liked the previous Maze Runner movies then you should follow through. I give the Death Cure 3 cranks out of 5.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Knights (1993 Movie)

What's worse than vampires and cyborgs? Vampire cyborgs!

Knights is a tale of one woman's revenge on a ruthless group of mystical vampire cyborgs led by Lance Henriksen who is either drooling or spitting while on camera, or is sporting an affectionate pet parrot who has no bearing on the story.

While the plot is ok, it is definitely on the low budget side of the track - making extensive use of fight scenes instead (reusing masked fighters and an obviously younger and more agile double for Kris Kristofferson's character). Fortunately Kathy Long makes a very watchable protagonist, and those old school stunts they do are quite cool / scary when you think about it.

Lots of acrobatic stunts in dangerous environments.

Not one I'd really recommend unless you enjoy B grade films, but strangely I think I would watch it again if given the chance. I give Knights 2 muddy pools out of 5.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Avengers: Infinity War

All hail Thanos!

Wow. This is a great film, packed with story and every actor brought their "A" game. As expected, the music, CGI and plot are all top notch too - it had to be to get all the heroes together, and while you don't get too much of anyone everyone does get their chance to shine.

I'm the glue that holds it all together.

There are action pieces a plenty mixed with strong story moments and Thanos himself (the villain) is surprisingly charismatic, which is great as the movie is basically about him. As far as I'm concerned, it was a perfect 5 infinity stones out of 5. I do suggest that you watch a few of the lead up movies though (at least anything with the word Avenger in it, as well as Captain America: Civil War and Thor: Ragnarok) or you will be very lost.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle

Stupidly missing the mark.

Continuing on from his first adventure, Eggsy and the Kingsmen must team up with their American cousins to counter a new global threat. There are a number of good action sequences here, a few surprises and decent music to boot.

Alas it falls apart somewhat as Juliane Moore's villain is much less effective than her predecessor, there are more than a few useless scenes that advance absolutely nothing (why is Elton John even in this movie?), and the main plot which the protagonists are trying to stop would actually be more beneficial to the entire world if they just did nothing.

Sup, we're just chilling.

That last point would have been easily fixed too had the villain been a mega pharmaceutical company (poisoned meds) instead of a drug cartel (poisoned recreational drugs). Not one I'd watch again and definitely falls short of the original. I give it 2 meat grinders out of 5.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

May 2018 Status

Another month down and this top list just keeps getting longer as I add more ideas and sundry items that I really should get around to... Also I've still mainly been focused on killing my backlog. Priorities right? :P

    End the year with less weight (-1 kg from last month, running total: -1.2 kg)
    Complete NWO: Lost City of Omu (0/2, 1-2 weeks to go)
    +Learn 3 more songs (0/3)
    Draw 12 drawings of anything (0/12)
    +Make a parody comic (planning)
    Make board game 19 prototype (procrastinating)
    Complete web comic chapter 1 (procrastinating)
    Make a simple computer game (procrastinating)
    +Clean out computer games
    +Clean out wardrobe

Backlog Update:

Sims 3
Loki (Abandoned. Mindnumbing.)
Overlord 2
Commandos 2: Men of Courage (Abandoned. Not user friendly at all)
C&C Red Alert (DONE)
C&C Red Alert: Counterstrike (DONE)
C&C Red Alert: The Aftermath (DONE)
C&C Tiberian Sun (DONE)
C&C Tiberian Sun: Firestorm (More of the same)
C&C Red Alert 2 (DONE)
C&C Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge (DONE)
C&C Generals (DONE)
C&C Generals: Zero-Hour (DONE)
Supreme Commander (Abandoned. Too slow)
Dawn of War II (DONE)
Universe at War (Done / Had Enough)
Sins of a Solar Empire (DONE)
Diablo: Reaper of Souls (Doesn't Work)
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty (Infinite Patching)
+Eador: Masters of the Broken World

OxenFree (DONE)
Grim Fandango Remastered (DONE)
Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire (No. Prefer to retry Free UO)

COMPY CAN'T RUN (but I want to play)
Batman: Arkham Knight
Dying Light
Alien Isolation
Shadow of Mordor
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
+Satellite Reign

I thought I'd just put in some mini reviews with each of those "abandoned" items, most of which I did try my best to play but ultimately just found it not to my liking. The only exception, and the one I'll start with is The Savage Empire.

Ultima in Africa is a bit strange, but I was willing to try it until I heard that Official UO has become free to play. If I'm going to play any Ultima, it's definitely going to be UO and there's no way The Savage Empire was going to stand up to that.

The ARPG diablo clone Loki is up next, and while the game is functional (though very texty) it just dove head first into the realm of mind numbingly boring. Regardless of what on the rails quest you were on, it boiled down to enter new area, kill the hundreds of things in the area (and that's already sneaking past half the map). Rinse and repeat. Just... no.

Eidos' Commandos 2 should have been perfect for me. A bunch of specialists sneaking around in Nazi Germany should be great right? Yes and no. In theory it's good, but lousy voice acting paired with the most unfriendly user interface I've ever come across sent me packing quickly.

Supreme Commander is another RTS game, this one taking place on maps so vast you often needed to zoom out to almost see the whole planet to manage your huge array of forces. With epic music, decent story (from what I played) and nice combat (if you zoomed back in to see it) you might wonder why I gave up on this one, and the answer is simple: build time.

It's a case of hoping your dots overwhelm the enemy dots.

Even compared to the slowest builds in Command and Conquer, this game moves at a glacial pace. Watching two glaciers crash into each other is grand, but waiting for to build your glacier (army) and then getting them to travel across the map was hours of boredom. Ultimately I decided that I simply have more rewarding things to do with my time. :P

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Sins of a Solar Empire

A space opera with zero story.

Three warring factions duke it out in this 4x platform (explore, expand, exploit and exterminate) which almost plays like a very cool board game. The music is fantastic, and a careful balance must be maintained with your resources.

Questions such as "do we build an army of little frigates or just a handful of capital ships?", "What research paths will best serve us now?" And "Do I have enough credits to pay off the pirates?" must be answered!

Some pretty scenery here, but you'll mainly be looking at the HUD!

That last point is a most interesting balancing item as the pirates are well established from the get go and are troublesome to eradicate. Giving them money to attack your enemies makes them pretty handy, as long as you can outbid said enemies trying to do the same to you.

The main issue with the game though is there is zero story outside the broad overview given in the intro. A game is played via scenarios, and for me (non pvper) that doesn't really give much in the way of replayability, so while as a game platform it is pretty great - as a game I can only give it 2 cruisers out of 5 and I can only recommend it for groups of friends who enjoy to PvP RTS against each other.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Universe at War: Earth Assault

Where aliens wage war on Earth!

Invasion stories usually have natives fighting off the invaders. In this RTS, you get to play as the humans for all of a mission and a half before being put in command of the Novus - a machine race that likes teleporting via alien telephone poles.

While the game play, battle pacing, voice acting, music and what I saw of the story are decent this game does suffer a little in the graphics area (for the humans anyway) but worse is that it does that annoying trope of forcing you to play as "x" to experience the story. I really, really hate that.

You will hate / love those giant walkers.

That's right, out of the 3 alien races you need to play all three in a predetermined order to complete the game. Working hard to win as the Novus only to then be shoved onto the side of the enemy to "undo" what I was doing just doesn't work (so obviously I stopped there). It's the same crap Blizzard pulls in the later Warcrafts and Starcraft.

If that's your sort of thing this might interest you, but for me I give it out 2 broken arms from carrying a gatling gun out of 5.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Dawn of War II

In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.

Now here's a fantastic squad based tactics game I replayed (despite saying I wouldn't), set in the Warhammer 40K universe and one that is very user-friendly as you lead the Space Marines into battle against a multitude of alien scum.

It is simplified to controlling the squad commanders, leveling and gearing them up, and making use of cover and special abilities. The extra nameless squad mates do help out but are just "tied" to their captain, vastly removing micro management.

Look out behind you!

There are also no structures to build, and though there are optional sites you can capture per mission that will give you boons moving forward in the campaign. The graphics, voice acting, music and story are all great too. Indeed the only fault I can give this is its penchant to reuse maps.

This one is an absolute blast to play, and for me superior to all the Command and Conquer titles I've previously reviewed. Highly recommended, even for non RTS folk. I give this 4.5 melta bombs out of 5.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: The Vampire Diaries

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

An 8 season story of two vampire brothers and the girl they like, this show has the most number of character "deaths" followed by "resurrections" or "reappearances" that I've ever seen. It's hilarious. The lore set for the supernatural creatures and is also decent though it took me awhile to get used to some of the lower budget effects, such as speed running (which they conveniently forget to do sometimes).

The plot is entertaining enough with a good amount of violence and most of the characters are likeable (Caroline played by Candice King being our favorite). Alas the main female lead does create quite a lot of viewer fatigue and is kindly put in the background for later seasons. There are some good moments here, and these are usually punctuated by some really good songs.

Turns out she's also a singer!

The series also finishes quite well, which is a decent reward for getting through the almost nightmarish middle seasons. Definitely not a show for everyone, it might interest the vampire aficionados among you. As a bonus, if you make it through season 4, then you also get the proper start of the much better spin-off, The Originals.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun

Earth 2030 is unrecognizable but war... war remains the same.

Continuing from the original game where Kane died but got better, GDI now kitted out with mechs instead of tanks, continue to oppose the Brotherhood of Nod who have upgraded their sneakiness to subterranean units. Tiberium is now wide spread and actual mutants also run rampant. They are handy as infantry though, since standing in Tiberium heals them while it still kills normal foot soldiers.

A little more and it might become Mech Warrior.

The live action cut scenes are at their finest here with a more serious tone to them, starring James Earl Jones and Michael Beihn as the leaders of GDI (who I played). Also the mission map is present here which is a big plus. The game play itself is fine though some build times were on the long side.

The Firestorm expansion continues the story with cyborgs and the Tiberium threat but honestly, its just more of the same - minus the high production cut scenes and minus the mission selection. Needless to say I didn't finish it. I give Tiberian Sun 4 veinholes out of 5. That's excluding Firestorm which would honestly only lower the score.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Grimm Fringe

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Grimm (Finished)

Policeman Nick Burkhardt is a cop, but also has the bloodline of a supernatural hunter (aka. Grimm) who can see Wessen (various types of lycanthropes).  Apparently, Portland is crawling with Wessen as every single case involves them somehow. They do come in numerous forms though, and are decently done CGI wise. Also the lore books in the show have some really nice art. The plot does suffer from repetition fatigue though and very slow character growth. Eventually we were just watching for the side characters Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee (Bree Turner). :P

Looks like we have another fan!

Fringe (Finished)

At a glance, this show is about a division of the FBI investigating cases involving Fringe Science and near impossibilities. To accomplish said task they need the mad scientist Walter Bishop (played by John Noble) and he is amazing. Everyone else is good too, don't get me wrong, but Walter is just that one level up and makes every scene he is in fantastic. Plot wise, the case per week method quickly falls into a really epic story and is a must watch in my book. I highly, highly recommend this one.

Ah Walter, there's nothing he can't solve with some LSD.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2

This time with crazier technologies!

Having lost the first war, the Russians have come back now with a vengeance and their secret weapon: a mind controlling wizard named Yuri. It's great to see the cut scene acting and prop department got a boost, with for Kari Wuhrer as Tanya and Ray Wise as the US President. There's definitely a more comedic spin than last time too.

Airship bombers are just one of the WTF moments.

While the selective progression map is still absent from this game and combat seems very fast-forwarded animation wise, it is quite a fun experience to play through (I played as the Allies again). The big change from its predecessor is that infantry can garrison buildings (like in Generals) - making them quite useful in certain situations.

The short campaign in the Yuri's Revenge expansion ups the difficulty somewhat, but I still played through all of it mainly because it still had live action cut scenes. Have to admit, I'm a big fan of those now. Thanks to all the above and the faster build times (less player idling), Red Alert 2 gets 4 clones out of 5 and my recommendation to any RTS enthusiasts who haven't yet played it.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Chuck the Lost Black Orphan Girl

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Chuck (Finished)

When the titular regular nerd played by Zachary Levi "downloads" a ton of classified intel directly into his brain, he is thrown into the world of espionage, danger, and humorous shenanigans! This action comedy is one of my wife's favorites, with her staying up in the wee hours of the morning probably because of the underlying romance story. Lots of laughs and some lessons to be found, and might be worth a watch it you haven't seen it.

Stopping bombs with porn. It's great!

Lost Girl (Finished)

Proving that sex sells, this 5 season show is about a bi-sexual succubus who is looking for her place in the world. As expected, many other mythological creatures are present here too (most of whom are shagged by the main character), often just in "human form" to save the already lacking CGI budget.

Plot wise this one starts well, then sort of gets lost itself with many characters having severe lapses of judgement, and culminates with a ridiculous final showdown. One of the worst ones in my memory anyway. Still, Anna Silk (the succubus Bo) is easy on the eyes but my favorite is easily Kenzie - seemingly the only human around. Not really one I'd recommend though...

You said it Kenzie!

Orphan Black (Finished)

A show about clones, most of whom are played by the very talented Tatiana Maslany who manages to make each of them different. Following the unraveling mystery of how and why the clones came to be and how they interact with each other is great. Consistent is how I'd describe it. Never bad, but also never making it to my favorites list. If you haven't seen it, just watch the first episode - you should be able to tell from there if it is for you. If you prefer it with a Japanese twist, there's a remake called Orphan Black: 7 Genes - haven't seen that one myself though.

One actress, many personalities.

Sunday, 22 April 2018


A horror mystery involving meddling kids, but no Scooby.

When a bunch of teens go to an island and encounter the supernatural, all sorts of crazy things happen... In this game it's talking. A lot of talking. Yes, you will still walk around the map with nice, stylized graphics but there's rarely a gap of 10 seconds silence in this game - and that's a good thing.

Beware of triangles.

You will have to be quick with the mouse to select one of the many speak bubble prompts (or not) which can change how events play out. Fortunately the voice actors do a great job as they (and the script writers) are the highlight. It also seems designed to be replayed but I didn't care to go through the whole thing again despite the short length.

Still it's a fun distraction that I give 2.5 radios out of 5.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: The Black Sails of Spartacus

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Spartacus (Finished)

A modern take on an old tale, this complete story of Spartacus' slave rebellion is one I truly enjoy as it features gratuitous gore and nudity combined with good action pieces and decent acting. Despite changing the lead actor midway through (due to death) it is still a very entertaining watch. John Hannah's Batiatus especially gets the two thumbs up for the seasons he is in. If you haven't seen this one then I highly recommend watching it, provided you can take the graphic content.

The show is this much better when he's in it.

Black Sails (Finished)

This prequel to Treasure Island was made by the same folks who produced Spartacus, so the same level of violence and filth is present here (though the filth is more dirty, rather than sweaty/oily). The story mainly follows how Captain Flint and Long John Silver came to be, and it is mesmerizing to watch. The props team also definitely outdoes themselves here. If you liked Spartacus, then you will probably enjoy this too.

Pirates ahoy! Hard to pick favorites when they're all good.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Ban those Lockboxes II

Now the enemy starts to pay for their sins!

[Part of the Design Folder.]

An update from last time, I am overjoyed to hear the news that game companies are starting to pay the price for using loot boxes. Heavily, in Nexon's case. I hope this momentum continues and sweeps across to the West to force devs to make actual content instead of cheap gambling alternatives.

Anything that someone pays for that only gives that person (and only that person/small group of people) a chance to get something is shit. I don't care if its a box, or a key to access an instance or monster that has a chance to drop something. If its not available to people who don't purchase "the extra doohickey", it is WRONG. In a game, everyone should have an equal chance. Always. Regardless of real life stature.

The real life loot crates are equally stupid and hopefully are banned just as hard one day. You want a shirt? Buy a shirt - the exact one you want. Don't buy a box that might contain a shirt that may or may not even fit you. What's next? Mystery pizza?

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Defiant Zoo Strain

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Zoo (Cancelled)

A global epidemic is mutating animals and giving them a penchant for killing people, so it's up to the most unlikely group (or just Billy Burke's Mitch Morgan sometimes) to save the world! While the effects are passable, the plot can get downright silly at times, but at least it's mostly fun. Alas the characters often make stupid decisions which is probably why this didn't make it past Season 3.

He's the hero the show needs.

Defiance (Finished)

Set in a future where a collection of aliens have come to Earth, this show focuses on a father and his adopted alien daughter finding their place in the city of Defiance which is home to all species and as such is open to all forms of trouble. Despite the setting, the show has meanders a bit at the start but it definitely improves as more alien culture is explained. Tony Curran's Datak Tarr and his wife Stahma, played by Jaime Murray, are stand outs for me here. The show also has a proper conclusion / ending, which is a good change from all the previous shows I've written about!

The best Castithans around.

The Strain (Finished)

This four season horror series is a tale of an ancient vampire's attempt at world domination, and is a good take on vampirism vs science, since the vampirism here is treated like an infection by Corey Stoll's CDC character Dr. Goodweather. There is a decent amount of action here, and some curious cases of plot armor. While I like most of the characters in the narrative, Richard Sammel's Eichhorst is by far my favourite and more than makes up for the very weak character/child actor of Goodweather's son. Definitely worth a watch.

In some ways more effective than the master.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Command and Conquer: Generals

Many steps forward, but just as many steps back.

Set in a period after the Russian menace but before the Tiberium future, this game and its expansion Zero Hour follows the very short campaigns of China, GLA (Terrorists) and the USA (who I played). So short that I actually played through -all- of the expansion missions as well this time.

While I appreciate the diverse units of each side and got the opportunity to "sample" China and GLA unit tree as "allies" during the USA campaign, I did find that it was on the easier side. Maybe my once woeful RTS skill is actually improving, but I have a feeling it's the in game "level up" perks that are very helpful.

Isometria ahoy!

As your units kill enemies and gain veteran ranks themselves (which makes them more useful), you also gain useful unlocks to stronger units or cool down abilities such as air drops and air strikes (for USA anyway). The voice acting is decent too, but the lack of having the mid mission live-action videos and a progression map really subtracts from the game, despite the in-game cut scenes.

Also, while everything is 3D modeled now, the result is they are actually worse than the sprites of its predecessors. All up I give this one 2 stars out of 5.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Seeker of Shannara, the Carter Chronicles

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Agent Carter (Cancelled)

AKA. The adventures of Captain America's girlfriend, this was a strange one to get into. Hayley Atwell did a good job portraying Peggy, but the episodes were very hit and miss for me. It was in the "not that bad" category when it got cancelled, and I think the events in Captain America: Winter Soldier nailed the coffin so to speak. A show for completionists, but not one I would recommend to anyone else.

Showing the proper way to deal with Hydra Nazis.

Legend of the Seeker (Cancelled)

Based off the Sword of Truth books, this series did the cardinal sin of going in a completely different direction. Sure, it can work if you veer off into tangents but not that far off the rails. I still found it interesting, and quite enjoyed Bridget Regan's Kahlan, Tabrett Bethell's Cara and Bruce Spence's Zedd - reason enough for me to want a 3rd season. They also had cool costumes, decent fight choreography and all that slow motion running. I can still picture it in my head. :P

Don't let this woman touch you.

The Shannara Chronicles (Cancelled)

Another fantasy story based on books, this one set interestingly on a future Earth. The story is decent, travels better than Legend of the Seeker and isn't shy in killing characters, while the sets and effects are good but not as good as Seeker. It also does suffer a little in pacing and in the acting department for the main cast outside Allanon (because Manu Bennet is awesome). It's a tough call for me to decide if it's better than Seeker, so I'll leave it up to you to watch both and decide for yourselves.

Post apocalyptic sword and sorcery.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Firefly - Above and Beyond

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Space: Above and Beyond  (Cancelled)

Focused on a war against aliens, this series follows the Wild Cards (squadron) formation and numerous deployments over the course of the season. Despite the name, half the episodes were planet / interior based which is a good way to save CGI, though the sets could have been better too. I guess the Earth forces were running low on troops given their fighter pilots often needed to do "boots on the ground" missions.

Guys, did anyone remember the guns?

I suppose it left itself with nowhere to go at the end as *spoiler the aliens were surrendering spoiler*. It still has one of the most memorable endings that I've seen though. Come get some!

Firefly (Cancelled)

A space show which followed Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his motley crew just trying to make a buck. Despite a good script, entertaining characters, and unsolved mysteries this show ended rather abruptly (on a regular episode) which is a damn shame. Fortunately the crew managed to get together for one last ride in the movie: Serenity.

Revolvers and shotguns are still useful in the future!

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Grim Fandango (Remastered)

Dark humor with a Mexican flair in a cute (but difficult) package.

Stuck in a dead end travel agent job, Manny finds something amiss in the land of the dead and soon is on a quest to make it right. This point and click adventure has a lot going for it: stunning backdrops, a super easy point and click interface, awesome voice acting and script, a decent plot and cute and memorable characters - which is amazing given everyone is a skeleton (or a demon).

There is decent music too.

It does lack the subtitle option, but more problematic are some of the puzzles. More than once did I need to look for online hints on how to proceed, and the reason was usually because I had to use an item on a non-active part of the background. The signpost in the forest is a good example: You can pick it up and put it down anywhere - but you need to put it down in exactly the right spot to trigger a cut scene to proceed.

If only it didn't have such frustrating segments like that - I'd give it a better score. As it is I give it 3 scythes out of 5. I do recommend it though as it is a very enjoyable ride, and if you can get through without use of tips then all the more power to you!

Friday, 13 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Forever Hornblower

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Forever (Cancelled)

A show about an ageless immortal. Ioan Gruffudd stars as a morgue based medical examiner who is trying to study his ability while hiding it from everyone else. Decent premise, decent execution, but even I wasn't sure where they could go after its one and only season without turning into Highlander.

Wouldn't this be easier with a sword?

Hornblower (Mini Series - Cancelled)

Another show featuring Ioan Gruffudd as Royal Navy Officer Horatio Hornblower, and one made with fantastic care, writing, and cinematography. Hornblower is one of my favorite mini-series with each episode being almost movie length. If you haven't seen them yet, I highly encourage you to give them a try. As they are quite dated, they can be found on Youtube now.

I prefer a pistol.