Friday, September 16, 2016

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Fallout 4: Nuka-World"

What if there was a place with all the zip of Nuka Cola?

MadCap rambles for about five minutes on Nuka-World.

Fallout 4 is now available for PS4, Xbox One, and PC from Bethesda Softworks.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

MadCap's Game Reviews - "No Man's Sky"

Am I as upset as everyone else seems to be about this? Well...

No Man's Sky is now available from Hello Games, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and iam8bit for Playstation 4 and PC.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

From MadCap's Couch - "Sliders: Last Days"

"Nobody tosses a physics professor!"
...yeah, I'm not exactly sure how I missed this one. I blame Dinkleberg.

Yes, I know when I last left this little retrospective, I had finished up Season Two with the full intention to jump right into Season Three...but it appears that we must travel back along the timestream to an early point - a much earlier one, in fact. Back to Season One we go, when the show was still pure and innocent and, to be honest, extremely hit and miss.

...but then, that's Sliders in a nutshell, isn't it?

We begin with the Sliders Four falling from a vortex onto a street. They find it abandoned, with only a car that's run right into a fire hydrant as any evidence that people have been around at all. Heading into town, they find the cops running about calling for people to get off the streets as well as apples apparently being sold for an insane amount of inflation. It's chaotic, with alarms going off and people trudging about with reckless abandon. Taken in by an electronics salesman after he tells off a meter maid, they take a seat once more at the TV of Exposition and learn the terrible truth.

...DC MADE A GOOD MOVIE AND THE WORLD DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO HANDLE IT!!!

Yeah, just kidding. It's the end of the world via meteor. Because Armageddon...was still another three years from coming out.  (Suck on that, Abrams!)  They learn that the meteor will be there in two days, and the Sliders are unfortunately there for seventy hours and some change, making their position very uncomfortable indeed.

...I mean, unless they were to just make a blind jump, being that they are no closer to getting home than they were in the beginning and it really wouldn't hurt them...but that would make too much sense.
"Shut up about the meteor! I'm catching up on Thrones..."
Anyway, getting back to the plot, Remmy begins a tirade on Quinn for getting them into this mess (remember, we're still in the Season 1 "Everybody Hates Quinn" phase). He goes off on his own to mull over things, the group deciding to meet back there the day of the meteor strike (hopefully with a solution). While Arturo suggests they try to help the scientists of this world, Quinn ends up (with his mentor's blessing) going with Wade to check on their families. Arturo, meanwhile, goes to do the most local thing and check the internet!

A press conference does further plot dumping...and then Conrad Bennish runs in screaming about nuclear weapons, which gets Arturo's attention and they chat.  Apparently on this world, the atom bomb was never created because scientists such as Einstein and Oppenheimer said that was not enough uranium in the world to build a successful bomb. Bennish, however, claims that the original bombs were misaligned. Arturo starts helping him out.

We return to Remmy, who has taken to a church and chats with a pastor. Who gives some kind words.

Back with Arturo and Bennish, Bennish apparently has gotten not only plans but has examined the actual prototype for the original atomic bomb - Fat Man. With this in mind, Arturo conscripts Bennish with a plan for saving the world using a series of drills and timed detonations on the surface of the asteroid that will...

...oh, wait, I already did the Armageddon joke. Crap!

MadCap Crossed the Streams: 5

But yes, from the look of it, Arturo and Bennish are going to set us up the bomb.

MadCap Crossed the Streams: 6

THAT DOESN'T COUNT!

After the commercial, we're back with Remmy in a scene from The Warriors. Actually, he meets up with some yuppies and decides to party with them because good decision making skills.

Then we finally catch up with Wade and Rembrandt, who are using a key under the mat to enter Quinn's house on this world (which is totally not breaking and entering, because they left a key). With a picture on the fridge they confirm that Quinn does exist in this world and start checking the basement for any Sliding equipment. They find some, with Wade theorizing that the Mallorys here must have slid to avoid the asteroid and Quinn saying that its "their only chance".
About to drop a mixtape so hot, they'll have to measure it in Kelvin...
Back with the plot, Arturo and Bennish examine the Fat Man.  Arturo questions whether or not they have the right to use the bomb, but Bennish rightly points out that if they don't, there's not going to be a world left, so they have no real choice. They technobabble their way to getting to whether they can set us up the bomb.

We cut back to Remmy, who has made his way to the party and meets...Vash from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Huh.

They dance. NEXT SCENE!

Quinn and Wade are fiddling with the Sliding equipment and Quinn has been working eight hours straight...somehow.  From some tapes, we learn that this world's Quinn was big on dinosaurs and wanted to develop time travel. Depressing irony, huh?

Though Quinn is optimistic about getting them home, Wade is not sharing in the good vibes. Apparently, with only sixteen hours (again, how?!) left before the meteor hits, she wants to talk about their feelings. Quinn asks for a half hour to work on things, during which he does indeed get the devices working...but blows the power before he can make any real progress, even charging the circuit breaker enough that it actually bursts into flame!

Quinn is completely wrecked by this, having worked so hard on it, but Wade just embraces him and tells him that they'll be okay.  The next morning, however, Quinn's bad mood hasn't abated. Wade, however, continues to comfort him. She points out that she did volunteer to come on the first sliding trip and assures him that she has no regrets and all that schmaltzy jibberjabber that actually makes for a very good scene between the two.

Conversely, we have a scene of Arturo nearly killing Bennish over a boombox and finishing up the calculations for the detonation. They also take a moment to discuss the pros and cons of nuclear power, seeing as it will be the first time that this Earth has ever had the option. Bennish makes a rather meglomanical comment about no one saying 'no' to them, seeing as they have the atom bomb.  The music swells worryingly and...Arturo decides to look over the plans last minute while Bennish hits the head, taking one of the schematics and hiding it away.
"If you request 'Everybody Wang Chung Tonight' one more time, I will cut you..."
Remmy sings "Can't Help Myself" from that band that his band was totally not a parody of. And then gets caught up in a game of Russian Roulette, which he puts an end to and leaves with Vash.

Back at Casa de Mallory, Quinn and Wade twiddle their thumbs and build on that romance subplot that David Peckinpah is going to come in and shit all over. They have an almost kiss, some talk over a candlelight dinner, a dance to some porn music and then actual kissing. And one might call me just a Quinn and Wade shipper, but it's really done believable and they do both seem like they're trying to say everything they've wanted to to one another since the beginning, considering that they're both going to die within a few hours for all they know.

...and then Arturo comes in to cockblock in a major way. Douche!
About. Damn. Time!
But he does catch them up on the plot while eating their dinner,  In this time, also, Arturo has...somehow arranged for the bomb to be placed on a missile that's going to be shot at the asteroid. Damn! We must be in the last ten minutes of the episode! Already?

With four hours to impact, they roll up to the "Federal Space Agency" with a full police escort and arrive just in time to see the meteor come into visual range...

The TV of Exposition explains that Arturo apparently got together with a scientist who was heckling Bennish before who has it in good with NASA and so everything comes together with only sixteen minutes to go. As they discuss Arturo stealing the schematic to keep Einstein's secret safe (and out of Bennish's hands), Wade brings up that its well past time and Remmy hasn't shown up.

The Crying Man is back at the church from earlier with Vash, working a soup line for the homeless. He thanks the Pastor before sharing a goodbye with Vash and slipping away to meet up with the others. And arrive he does just as the final launch sequence is beginning. With less than a minute to go, they catch him up on the plot. They go outside to watch the impact of the bomb, Quinn and Wade holding hands as they prepare for either their salvation or damnation...and the bomb works.

Yeah, we've gone through to the end of Season 2, you know that they survive. Don't even act shocked.

Of course, now, the people of San Francisco on this world will die horribly over the next few months from the radioactive fallout of the bomb. Yay, Science!

Many joys are had and...the schematic for the bomb falls out of Arturo's pocket and is stealthily picked up by Bennish...

But yes, the sun once more rises on the world and all is well. Vash and the Pastor feed the homeless, Bennish gets the credit for saving the world, and the Sliders are preparing to slide when Arturo realizes the schematics he took are missing...but, they must slide on.

Bennish, meanwhile, plots from his evil lair about his use of the atom bomb...leaving the fate of this world forever in question.

This is a great episode, and I'm actually really glad I went back to watch it. Sure, the plot is a little silly but is clearly well-thought out. Arturo giving the questionings of morality as he has in other episodes is as sublime as ever. Quinn and Wade got some excellent moments to build up on their relationship. Some good moments. Short, but definitely very good and it becomes a shame that a lot of the things built up here are going to be wasted as we get into later seasons.

What doesn't really work in this episode is the pacing...and I know I've said before that critiquing the pacing in a Sliders episode is a fool's errand, but it really is. Sixteen hours pass out of nowhere with no clear sign that time has passed. Another thing that doesn't really work is Remmy's subplot. Unlike in certain other episodes - Summer of Love comes to mind - it didn't really do anything to further Remmy's character or tell us something new about him. He just decides to go party with a bunch of yuppies at some producer's house and then decides to leave when things get too real.

But, overall, this episode was great. Definitely one of the stronger ones in the first season, which is something that I won't turn my nose up at considering the quality of several Season One episodes.

Next time, we get into Season Three...and let me tell you, folks...it's all downhill from here...

Sliders and all related characters and concepts are the property of universal.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

MadCap At The Movies - "Suicide Squad"

Stop the presses! Stop the presses! Stop the presses!

Let me tell you, my friends, the critics don't know jack!

...except me. I'm a critic, and I know jack, and this is an awesome movie! I know, I know, I'm a self-professed Marvel fanboy and I railed against both this given its trailer content and the most recent cinematic abortion that Zack Snyder still suffers in the Phantom Zone for. But all my fears have been put to rest.

I feared that Will Smith would be underused and otherwise made out to be the "old guy" in the group.

He wasn't and he was phenomenal.

I feared that Margot Robbie wouldn't use Harley's traditional accent and would be nothing more than glorified eye candy.

She did and she wasn't. She was both sexy and funny as all get out.

And, I feared most of all...Jared Leto as the Joker.

He was excellent and didn't steal the spotlight as I feared he would, as he did in Batman: Assault on Arkham.

Now, the only problem with this film is...it doesn't really leave much to the other characters. Because, despite this being a team movie, they really aren't the focus.  I still have no idea (or inclination to go find out) who Rick Flag (Joel Kinnamen) is.  In fact, the only character I really care all that much to find out more about is El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), because he does get a good amount of focus in the film.

Not to say the other characters are bad, and everyone does get their moment in the sun - much like in Guardians of the Galaxy - but the main focus here is very much on Deadshot, Harley, and the Joker. And that's not a bad thing per se.

Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is very excellent in her role as a cold, ruthless government employee who puts together the team for the good ol' Red, White, and Blue (and her own agenda, of course). While it is sad that we're not getting the iconic voice of the character, CCH Pounder from Justice League Unlimited and other DC animated productions, Davis does do an excellent job and is a worthy successor to the role. I look forward to seeing her in the future.

In fact, I'd like to see more of all of this all over the DC Expanded Universe. This is the humor and joy that was missing from Batman vs. Superman. It was clear that not only was some real talent behind this, but they really cared about something other than exercising their fetish for hating buildings and destroying buildings. There is real character here, a real reason to get invested and care about this bunch of cutthroats, lunatics, and psychopaths.

I've seen this film, among other things, being accused of being a Marvel rip-off. Yes. Actually being good and successful are things that DC should be ripping off with its films. And, to its credit, the film revels in that fact. One of the major themes is owning what you are, and the film most certainly does that as do its characters within the narrative...but that's getting into spoilers.

Basically, go and see this movie! Have a popcorn, get an ICEE, sit back and ignore the critics.

Because they don't know jack.

...except me, I'm a critic, and I know jack. And this movie is really, really, really good!

Suicide Squad is now in theaters from DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

Friday, August 5, 2016

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Fallout 4: Vault-Tec Workshop"

Now in video form, because we know that nobody reads anything anyway. In fact, I bet you're not even reading this now, are you? ARE YOU?

No, of course you aren't.

Fallout 4's Vault-Tec Workshop DLC is now available from Bethesda across multiple platforms.

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Subscribe to him on YouTube!

Friday, July 29, 2016

MadCap's Game Reviews - "The Technomancer"

The last time I was on Mars in a video game, it was five years ago and had a giant hammer that destroyed things.

...what?

...

...Oh. Right. Forgot about Doom. Uh...anyway, now I have Sith lightning. On Mars.

Isn't life absolutely grand?

Also, because this is set on Mars, we can do the "Mars in Fiction" Drinking Game.  As I give an overview of the plot, take a shot every time you can point out a cliche.

You step into the shoes of Zachariah, a young man of questionable skin tone and hair cut, who is destined to become a Technomancer.  Technomancers, which are totally not Jedi, are apparently a psuedo-peacekeeping brotherhood (again, totally not Jedi) on Mars. Mars itself was settled by various corporations that all battle one another for control using tactics that would give Vampire: The Masquerade players the squeest of squeefits, and they battle over a single substance - water.

...okay, you guys seem good and schnockered, so let's get into the gameplay. You have three distinct styles of combat: melee and shield for your bruiser, melee and gun for the sneaky type, and staff for those who want to take the whole space wizard thing far, far too literally. Combat is actually pretty involving and even to a degree enjoyable. The problem I have with it is that it's honestly trying to do too much. It's good to branch out and try different things, but it feels a little bizarre to have so many options when you're only really going to choose one style and then have that carry you through the rest of the game.

And then you have your Technomancer powers. You have the electrical powers. Enjoy them. They are fun...at least until you run into enemies who have electrical resistance. Nice job, morons.

Also, while the combat can be fun, and does take more than a few pages from the Batman: Arkham Asylum school of combat, it unfortunately forgot to read up on the nice part about how to dodge with any fluidity. Zachariah, with the press of a button, will go spinning through the air like a prima ballerina, dodging whichever way you point him.  Which, again, goes to show that even being a magical space wizard means you still are worse at combat than Batman.

The difficulty is really weird and seems to spike at bizarre moments. For example, early on I had to get through a door to speak to a local crime boss in the slums. Choosing the badass approach of killing the men and then kicking the door in, I did...and got my ass handed to me. During my second attempt I tried the far more cowardly approach of hitting them and then running back...only to find my enemies weren't pursuing me beyond a certain point and when I returned, they ignored me and I could go in to see the Boss as though I had defeated them.  Yet another time, I went up against a group of at least twice that many and had no problem at all.

And I did not adjust the difficulty in any way during this whole time.

I've seen some reviews that praise the environments, but I really can't agree. They look nice enough, and I'm not going to get onto the fact that things on Mars look rather red and brown and dull-looking, but it is notable when it takes a page from the books of several other sci-fi series, going for a very Total Recall meets Blade Runner meets Firefly sort of look to things. Again, not bad, just...not anything particularly unique.

Which brings me to the crafting. Don't really see a need for it, nor for a resource system. Maybe I'm just still a bit peeved at Fallout 4 for trying to drive me completely insane from a lack of adhesives.

The game also touts a karma system. After defeating enemies in combat, you don't actually kill them due to some Technomancer vow of protecting the sanctity of human life or something like that. However, Zachariah can net Serum - the form of currency on Mars - with every person that he does kill, which can be done with a button press after you've beaten them with a stick, beaten them with a mace, or stabbed them and riddled them with bullet holes.  And that's not even getting into those that suffer from extreme electrocution.

I sympathize with them as I look at the minimap interface, which does very little to differentiate markers for where you're supposed to go. I'd almost rather have no markers than all than a bunch of identical ones that point off in different directions. And yes, some of them point to different entrances to a same section, but that does all of jack and squat to help me out. Skyrim did this far better, giving you one and letting you follow it for quest objectives.

This game also has dialogue trees and the like that we're supposed to be invested in, but there's really no real reason to do so apart from answering the lingering questions of "What the hell is going on?" and "Why do I care?". Granted, this is common, but it could flow a little bit better in the narrative rather than me having to hunt down answers. It wants to be like Bioware, which branching dialogue options and but didn't bother to set up the investment I would have had in one of those games.

Again, I stress that this isn't bad. It's okay, but it feels rather somewhat unfinished. If the interface were cleared up a bit and the combat made to steal a few more pages from Batman, it would be rather solid. It doesn't have much going for it in the uniqueness department, alas, which does hurt it, but I won't really call it bad.

The Technomancer is not available from Home Focus Interactive and Spiders for Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.

Friday, July 22, 2016

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Pokemon Black and Blue"

Damn it, PETA, who let you near a computer again?!

Seriously, this is yet another instance of absolute and complete research failure on the part of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. I am plenty for the ethical treatment of animals, but I also really, really like steak so I'm basically Hitler to PETA (though hey, it's the internet, so it's hardly the first time I've been called Hitler.

So yes, once again (thanks to the sharp uprising in series popularity thanks to Pokemon Go), we are thrown into the jowls of maniacal insanity that is PETA and their anvilicious quest to take Upton Sinclair's The Jungle to an ideological extreme that Lewis Carroll himself could not write something absurd enough to match. There is no joy, there is no humor - not unlike the last time we did a foray into the mind of madness. This is PETA using the thing guise of Pokemon to epouse their mission statement without any sort of subtlety or skill. It is shameless and nonsensical ramblings that strawman anyone who is a fan of the Pokemon series so intensely to almost make them seem more like Saturday Morning Cartoon villains than actual people.

The game begins with Pikachu, who you may remember from the last game, deciding that he has had it with all these fothermucking trainers ruining his fothermucking life and fights back against a Bizarro-universe version of Cheren - one of your rivals from Pokemon Black and White. Upon leaving, he takes Tepig with him and goes on a quest to free the good Pokemon of Unova from the cruel hands of trainers with the aid of Nurse Jenny - seemingly the only "good" human that exists in this universe.

The game mechanics haven't changed since the last game either, but then it follows on from how the Pokemon games themselves haven't changed in ever, so I won't rag on that point too much.

But again, what drags this down is the complete lack of attention that was paid to the morals that Pokemon tries to teach children, as well as a complete lack of humor and a sheer buffet table-worth of bad design choices and preachy moralities that leave anyone who plays this feeling disheartened or just plain pissed off that they wasted their time playing this crap.

And it is clear that someone at least played one of the games...or read the Wikipedia entries on it. Then again, maybe they just thought that Nintendo trying to brainwash into children the belief that Pokemon are just tools to be used for their whims and not living creatures that deserve their love and respect. I'm gonna go ahead and tell you, PETA...there's no subtext here. You're just a bunch of idiots. And idiots you have proven again to be.

Pokemon, ultimately, is all about how Pokemon are just as important as people, and that it's the bond between a trainer and his/her Pokemon that allows them to truly be great. Sure, there are people who will mistreat or misuse Pokemon, but through the games and the anime they are treated as the bad people.  Indeed, the one criminal group who claimed to be about the liberation of Pokemon...was headed by a man who really wanted all Pokemon for himself. As you actually pointed out in this game, when Ghetsis shows up and rants about how he'll use the skins and meats from Pokemon to feed the people of Unova.

Like I said in the review of the first one, the designs are awful and are so mean-spirited that they would almost be funny if it wasn't so sad. Professor Juniper looks like she just escaped from an asylum, frizzled hair and wielding a scalpel and a syringe in a menacing manner. Ghetsis wears a coat that is presumably stitched from Pokemon skins, and once more all the Pokemon look like they've just got off the set of an Eli Roth picture and haven't yet cleaned off the makeup.

The best part comes when you run into Ash. Yes, Ash. Ketchum. As in, the character from the anime who is not actually in the games (Red is completely different, being competent). The sheer madness and plain and simple disrespect for the franchise comes in Ash being portrayed as an uncaring, sociopathic jackass to Pikachu. Again, Pokemon's all about the bond that trainers and their Pokemon share, and Ash and Pikachu are the living example of that. Sure, they've butted heads over the years, but the two of them have stuck together through thick and thin ever since the Spearow attack in the anime's first episode, and there's nothing the two of them wouldn't do for one another.

Showing him like this...dressed up in a bizarre circus ringmaster get up of all things and wielding a whip and a bloodied bullhook is pretty much the death knell of any credibility you could have had in this, PETA. Not, after the first attempt, that you had any to begin with. You didn't actually care about making something enjoyable, you just made something preachy and ultimately rather boring. Really, like the first one, that's all this is - preachy and boring.

And apparently believing that Nintendo has some kind of cultist mentality to brainwash children into hating animals, which is absolutely insane for reasons that I've mentioned already.

So, for anyone who doesn't care to read all that: "0/10, too much water". For PETA, on the off chance that you ever read this (and I know you won't): go back to putting Pamela Anderson's boobs into faux leaf bras, because you suck - and I mean suuuuuuuuck - at making video games.

No, I'm not linking you to the game. If you want to play it, Google it. I have another steak to eat.

Can Nintendo go ahead and sue these people so they'll stop making these really, really bad games, please?

For the latest from the MadCapMunchkin, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MadCapMunchkin.