Thursday, 16 September 2021

BDO: Return to Port

[Part of my Adventures in Black Desert Online]

A visit to the Temerian Night Market (hmm, I wonder if there were any Witchers there?) proved to be just the thing my corsair needed as from it she gained a 7-day Fish Suit, a gun-harpoon-sword (awakening) which she now can defeat Garmoth with, and a cute yellow bikini. She also learned about a mystical infinite HP potion but was unable to find even the very first component while using all the boons I had saved from the Heidel Ball.

That's ok though, since her specialty is water based she was far more successful doing the dive and fishing quests at Port Ratt - recovering all the sunken temple treasure easily since she can "sprint" under water with her mermaid skills. The fish suit boosts even that, meaning where I struggled to reach the objectives in the deepest trench with breath potions, she can zip down there AND back to the surface without running out of air!

Perfect for ocean exploration.

Indeed the most annoying part for her was catching the elusive Skate fish, but with perseverance and the knowledge to camp at the South West corner of the small tree isle on the edge of the Juur Sea (South of Nada Island) she finally passed that part of the quest line. This means that since the rest of the Kingdom or Haso is closed, I'm done with Port Ratt for now and have sent both characters back to Velia just as this season comes to an end.

I'll definitely keep my corsair around for her swimming utility but I'll retire her from active questing now. As a bonus, I've also used Fughar's magical Time Piece to auto boost a striker character to my corsair's level 61. Not sure when I'll get to play him though, as another season is starting up immediately with another available time piece. All I know for sure is I hate the equipment enhancing in this game. The odds suck and without any clear method to improve them, it's just really takes the wind out of my sails.

It doesn't help that there are hordes of add on items that do different things, but only for particular pieces of gear. Why do I need an Advice of Valks, or Valks Cry, or Cron stone or Caphras stone, etc? It's just stupid. I wish they just treated weapons like ships: Sure, buy or make this best weapon in the game but there's a lifespan but after one week/so much use it is destroyed. Buy or make another one. Obviously the game designers here haven't heard of the KISS method.

Anywho if Black Desert interests you at all this season gives you a chance to permanently play for free. All you have to do is level a character up to level 50 before this event ends. Reaching level 50 is pretty fast and quite achievable in four to five days of casual game play, so give it a try!

Insight: If you log off or disconnect while on the ferry, expect to be in the drink when you return as it will happily drop you into the sea. Carry adventurers maps (teleport to nearest town) just in case you want to avoid a long swim.

State of Decay 2: Nightmare Zone

[Part of the Diary of Zombies]

Little Joe, Krissy, and Parniyan of Team Humanity abandon their destroyed vehicle and cautiously decide to go looting before heading to their target house base. The first thing they spot is a feral, and a plague horde with a plague screamer and plague bloater. Indeed, in Nightmare mode everything but ferals have the blood plague. They befriend the nearby enclaves "the Long Rangers" (who are useful as cover against the zed armies) and "wrench turners", mechanics who help repair vehicles. Leland and Erica of the latter group are recruited thanks to their useful skills as cars are very precious now.

Krissy manages to kill the first plague heart but it doesn't stop the plague in the area as the hearts are more numerous and closer to each other now so Leland recommends moving base to the local police station which seems to be very well fortified. Parniyan, voted leader of this group "Sanctuary II", agrees especially when the Long Rangers are wiped out by zeds and quickly befriends the nearby enclave of "Happy Campers" as well as recruits hopeless Beau, Catherine, ex-con Delara and her dealer-boyfriend Donte.

It's safest to attack plague hearts from outside AND on a vehicle!

To supplement their arms, Parniyan also starts doing bounty missions for traveling trader Cash Beaumont - someone that all the previous leaders had simply ignored (which is a mistake, as the progress of his missions carry over regardless of community). Over the radio they also hear members of the Network trying to save displaced locals flee from the captivity they found at the hands of Red-Talon, who apparently are looking for humans immune to the plague. It seems like dark days indeed, but Parniyan is sure of a light at the end of the tunnel.

Insight: Toilets are awesome for morale. Clean toilets more so. Also if you come across a locked door you DON'T want to bash, press the crouch key again to let it go.

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Skyline, Beyond Skyline and Skylines

Don't look at the light!


Attending a birthday party in LA turns out to be full of surprises for Jarrod (Eric Balfour), the biggest one being that aliens decide to invade the very next day while everyone should still be having a hangover! Pity the aliens are in no mood for laughs as they send in hunters to catch those who eluded their opening, super effective vacuum cleaner attack. Never mind those poor saps, our unlucky protagonists are stuck in a posh penthouse of a huge building. Whatever should they do?

Silly decisions and bad luck drive the script at this point but you know what? It's still quite entertaining in a B-grade horror type of way. Most importantly, it sets up for the next movie. I just hope you enjoy your popcorn with cheese. Two fire doors out of five. Strangely I think I would watch this again!

Beyond Skyline

Set at the same time as the first movie (which is fortuitous as it means they can reuse CGI shots from last time), this one follows a group led by Mark (Frank Grillo) who is put through the wringer when the aliens arrive. Combat experience, iron will and a ton of HP from our main hero makes this a far more action orientated outing, especially in the surprising second half which randomly features some pretty good martial arts.

All up a better flick than its predecessor, though you might get confused if you don't watch that one first. This one gets three wrist blades out of five, and yep - I'd watch this one again too since I'm a Frank Grillo fan. The blooper reel during the credits is worth sticking around for.

Skylines (or Skylin3s)

What happens if you didn't watch  the first two movies first...

I sure hope you watched those first two movies before attempting this, otherwise you'll be reliant on the info dump narrator at the start to understand what's happening. Also, the aliens have learned to speak growly alien-english now so you'd best have those subtitles turned on as Rose (Lindsey Morgan) is recruited to travel to an alien planet to find a cure for an illness spreading on Earth.

While this movie leans heaviest into the Sci-fi genre of all three it still randomly features some epic martial arts sequences which always get thumbs up from me. The plot is way more flaky though, and I'm not sure they really needed all the "meanwhile back on Earth" segments which feel like filler. Two and a half tentacles out of five. Again stick around for the blooper reel, and yes I think I'd watch this one again too!

State of Decay 2: Team Fortress

[Part of the Diary of Zombies]

As the sole survivor, Goose becomes the defacto leader of Team Fortress and recruits Doctor Drew, hard nose Mia, Len, and ex-con Bryson in the continuing battle against the plague hearts. Alas Bryson is killed by a feral after destroying his target and Len falls to the same southern fast food heart that Maddie did. They are replaced by Aaron, Adriana, Sera and old Mary who learn from past mistakes and successfully clear all remaining hearts from the map!

It's safer to attack plague hearts from outside if possible.

During this time, Goose also befriends a representative of "The Network", a large commune of cooperative individuals on the radio as well as an odd group that sells "mystery meat". While this meat isn't so mysterious to her, at least they are sociable enough unlike the numerous zombies all over the place and she lets them stay - taking two of them and Doctor Drew as backup when the inevitable bandit invasion arrives.

While the two cannibals are killed against the bandit scouts, Goose works out the bandit base location then makes good use of noise makers and stereos to let zombie hordes do most of the work. She and Drew then chase the remaining three survivors to the rooftop where it comes down to good shotgunning and taking cover to win the day. With that her legacy is secured (map victory)! She only can hope that the other away team (now going into the Nightmare zone) finds less losses than she did to achieve it.

Insight: One feral seems to consistently spawn when attack plague hearts on this difficulty and above so look out! Also if you are in a non exploded but upside down or on the side car - keep driving and turning, somehow the vehicle will right itself.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

Spectral Travelers Batman Ninja

Two movies and a TV show where weird things happen!

Spectral (2016)

Having strange encounters with spectral beings in war torn Moldova, the US Army brings in a specialist engineer (James Badge Dale) to help investigate the phenomenon as it soon proves deadly - a trait befitting that of a horror movie. Only it's not really that scary. Given that it can't even be seen without special gear (great way to save on the FX budget btw) makes some serious scenes hilarious. The plot demands some stupid decisions too, even from the entities that fail to realize their full abilities.

I do have to give credit to the entity design though in that it is a unique one, and for all my dissing above it is actually a pretty entertaining movie. If you like the combination of horror and war, this will probably be right up your alley. I give it two and a half cameras out of five. Not sure I'd watch it again though.

Travelers (TV Show)

When the only way to try prevent a grim future for humanity is time travel, you know things are going to get strange really fast. The writing is superb and we found each episode to demand our full attention, not because our brains were melting trying to connect the pieces (though there is some of that) but more because we really loved all the characters and each mini-cliffhanger just wanted us to hit play on the next one.

It's now easily one of my favorite shows.

This is how you make an epic TV show. I only wish there were more than three seasons of it! Highly recommended to everyone, even those who aren't of a sci-fi slant. I'd would watch this entire series again and give it five messengers out of five.

Batman Ninja

When Grodds time machine sends Batman and a number of other well known Arkham regulars back to ancient Japan crazy hijinks ensue. How can Batman possibly survive as his toys run out? How did the Joker get so good at close combat? How much more absurd can the story get? Well, I can definitely answer the last one: A lot more absurd.

With most of the best story arc in act I, it only gets worse from there and it is surprisingly reflected in the art: mostly it is realy stylish high quality CGI but there's a segment in the middle where its like they ran out of budget and just went with line drawing, crayons, and stills. Why? It's not even one of those 10 second comedy bits that Japan likes doing. It's an entire segment that actually matters to the ridiculous story. All up, even as a Batman fan I disliked this one and give it one banana out of five. Not recommended as it just makes a monkey out of Batman.

State of Decay 2: The Dread Zone

[Part of the Diary of Zombies]

Des, Goose and cowgirl Maddie head to the dread zone and setup camp at a Firewatch tower. Since this is a higher difficulty than previous wins, the boons from the previous leaders cannot be used to help them forcing them to start from scratch. It is instantly obvious how much less stuff there is in each location, and how conversely there are far more zombies, plague hearts and a high infection rate. A plague juggernaut is even sighted right on day one but thankfully the girls can easily avoid it as they find fuel and tools to repair the initial vehicle they arrived in.

This car doesn't last long as when Des helps neighbor Casey to confront some thieves, Casey is killed, the car exploded and Des brought near death before a horde of plague zombies actually save her from the enemy shooters. The other two manage to hike and find a replacement vehicle (two actually, after a horde accident destroys the first). Des then takes on the first plague heart with molotovs as per usual and while she succeeds in destroying it, she also burns to death in the process.

Due to this loss Maddie recruits locals Yolanda and Taylor before moving base to a fortified truck stop. She also tries recruit Sharon who is hunting a southern plague heart at a fast food place. Unfortunately it is Sharon and Maddie on the menu as they are ambushed by hordes of hungry zombies. The other girls attack a different plague heart and while Yolanda's sword skills are awesome she still perishes to the hands of a feral. Goose finishes off that heart and takes a badly wounded Taylor back to the truck stop. Alas, Taylor now has the plague and without any remedy (rare to find samples on this mode) - Goose decides to euthanize her instead.

Bullets can also be the cure.

Insight: At this difficulty you should try avoid hitting things with your car, as not only are they great transportation devices but if you stand on the roof most zombies can't get to you. This is your safe spot for attacking plague hearts visible from the street, a lesson I learned during this play through.

Saturday, 11 September 2021

The King (2019), Outlaw King & Kingdom (Korean TV Series)

People with heavy heads.

The King (2019) (geez so many movies have this title, putting the year is mandatory!)

Prince Hal (Timothée Chalamet) has no desire to be king or to war with anyone, but despite his best intentions fate has other plans for the young prince. Especially since this is basically a war flick! That said, the story and acting is decent and the fighting scenes are cramped, dirty, messy "do what needs to be done" type which is probably more realistic than flashy displays of swordsmanship.

I'm also glad they didn't try force a love story in there for the sake of it, this way we can just focus on Hal's growth and all the people influencing it. Good movie and one I can recommend. I give it three and a half Dauphins out of five and would probably watch it again.

Outlaw King

The English have all but conquered Scotland as the remaining nobility including Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) bend the knee to King Edward I. Anyone that knows history though can tell that Robert doesn't bend the knee for long and instigates a rebellion. While the action bits are good and the opening is one of the best I've seen in a while, later cuts are very strange but keep the film moving at a reasonably fast pace.

Not a great title nor promo pic, but an OK movie.

There's a fair bit of singing too as I suppose was the way back then, but there's actually enough to make mention of it. All up this film is better than what I thought it would be but could have been better still. Give it a watch and see if you like it - especially if you've watched Mel Gibson's Braveheart recently. I give it two and a half bogs out of five.

Kingdom (Seasons 1 & 2) & Kingdom: Ashin of the North

During the time of swords and funny hats in South Korea, the cure to "save" / revive their dying king quickly turns into a pandemic... of zombies! This one surprised me in that a) it is a period piece and b) they found a way to make their zombies unique. It also helps that the action scenes are very good and the secondary plot of succession helps move things along when the zombies don't. Definitely recommended for zombie fans to try out!

Ashin of the North is a prequel to the tale, and while it is decent there are more holes in the plot and much fewer zombies. If you enjoyed Kingdom then by all means you should broaden the world building by watching this. Otherwise you can probably skip this and not miss out on much, should a season three ever arrive.