Friday, May 27, 2016

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Fallout 4: Far Harbor"

In the distance...far from the (lack of) relative safety of the Commonwealth...are the rocky shores of Maine and the settlement of Far Harbor. Here, the Harbormen of the titular town fight against the radioactive Fog and the creatures that it has spat out.  But also, a colony of Synths founded by a prototype in the hopes of finding peace for Synths, and a militant wing of the Children of Atom who may see all of go the way of the Pre-War world.  It's eerie...it's remote...it's isolated. It's Maine. And it's Far Harbor, the latest DLC for Fallout 4.

The plot is simple enough, the Sole Survivor gets a radio message from the Valentine Detective Agency - Nick has a new case to go and retrieve a missing girl.  All the clues point to her traveling far to the North from the Commonwealth, to the previously mentioned titular location.  Why? Because she believes she's a synth and has heard of Acadia, a refuge for synths led by the enigmatic DiMA. Traveling there, we definitely have a far different locale than the Commonwealth, full of rocky terrain and insidious, imposing swamps that are filled to the brim with a nasty assortment of creatures including Anglers, Fog Crawlers, and...wolves...

In a bizarre twist, radiation and evolution seem to have only spawned a few different species about.  I wasn't expecting a whole new bestiary, but it is a little strange to see only a few and the rest being filled out with the regular Fallout cast, including Super Mutants of all things.  But, at least, there's enough new stuff in the bestiary to say they have a unique set of wildlife.

Including the infamous RADCHICKEN!!!

And that's about all I can say for the designs and the beasties therein. It's definitely a welcome change from the Commonwealth and Far Harbor definitely is a very scary and foreboding place that will spell doom for the unwary and unwelcome. So, on that front, good job Bethesda.

The story, too, is actually a vast improvement over the vanilla.  There's thankfully less emphasis on the Settlements mechanic (even though there are a few settlements) save for a particularly annoying part of the plot that involves using a VR simulator to uncover a few hidden memories (as opposed to, say, forbidden ones) to help drive the plot along. While not wishing to go on a tirade about it (odd for me, I know) Bethesda...you're not making a puzzle game. Either put some more thought into it or don't do them at all, they end up just being tedious. Now back to concerns...

I highly recommend bringing Nick along as a follower as, fun fact, Far Harbor provides many opportunities to earn affinity with him as well as revealing major details about his backstory like the fact that he's got, that he was once the mayor of Diamond City, and he was once a little girl. One of those was a lie – can you guess which one? I guess you'll have to find out by playing the game.  Needless to say, it's definitely some good character building and has made me love the character of Nick Valentine even more.

And, of course, Far Harbor is plenty happy to further press the questions that the vanilla game did with synths. How close are they to humanity? Can they be considered sentient? If they're not sentient, how does one program things like fear, anger, or happiness? Can a Synth dream? How does a Synth know its a Synth? Ultimately, is there any real difference between Synths and Humans besides how they were made?

All facets of a debate sparked very well by Bethesda's work, bravo.

Of course, if you're not up for the semantics of moral debate, you can always join the Children of Atom and nuke everybody with a submarine.  Because "What Would Atom Do?", am I right?

Oh, and for the record: the harpoon gun sucks, the Marine Armor is pretty cool, and thank god no Ghoul Whale.

Fallout 4's Far Harbor DLC is now available from Bethesda Softworks for PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4.

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

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

MadCap's Mad Rantings - "#SayNoToHYDRACap"

I don't know what to say about this.

Oh, wait, yes I do. And that's why you're here.

I'll make this brief for the TL;DR crowd: this is offensive and wrong and Marvel should be ashamed of themselves.  For those that aren't...read on.

Picture a time, 75 years ago.  Captain America comes into being from the pens of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. He is a staunch anti-Nazi propaganda machine. Over the years that followed, he became a symbol of truth, justice, and the American way.  He was a paragon, a light to follow that would lead us to better, and we could all sleep a little easier knowing that the Star Spangled Man with a Plan stood ever ready to defend the principals, not necessarily the flag, that he loved. For years, he's been the moral center of the Marvel universe (when written correctly).  Often I have said that when one is in a moral debate with Captain America, one is wrong. And, until today (canonically within the Marvel universe) I have been right.

...and then, they went and made Steven Rogers, the true All-American defender of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...into a goosestepping Nazi.

The paragon of all those virtues I just mentioned for 75 years and he's been reduced to just another HYDRA thug in a single sweep, thanks to Captain America #1. And it's not even that he's been reduced to "just another HYDRA thug", oh no sir...it's about the fact that Marvel is telling us point blank that every single thing that Captain America has ever down in the pursuit of those ideals that he has held so dear for so many years has been an absolute lie. A farce that was perpetuated simply to further the goals of HYDRA. And the worst part is that it's not a clone.

It's not magic or mind-control.

It's not an alternate universe.

No, Marvel is telling us right out that Steve Rogers of Earth-616 is and always has been an agent of HYDRA from World War II on.  It is one thing to have a heroic character turn evil, its happened dozens of times in comic books.  This, however...this is so offensive and wrong that it burns in my gut. I feel physically sick as I sit here even thinking about this. You have taken Captain America and turned him into exactly what he has been fighting for all these years, and I do not approve. And many, many other comic fans  are likewise not amused by this vile perversion.

Why don't you just dig up the bones of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby and take a piss on them? Because that's clearly the level of respect you have for the two men who created a character that was supposed tell people that they never need to be afraid of the tyranny of evil men and that freedom and justice would always have its champion. A shining star in the sky that all humans could follow to help make the world better.  This man who has stood against evil time and again, both from the Earth and from realms beyond, and would stand against it all again just to keep the world he knew safe if only for passing moments.

...and you mean to tell me that this man has managed to lie to everyone for decades?

GET BENT, MARVEL!

I really cannot say anything about this just besides the fact that it's offensive and wrong.  I decried (and still decry to this day) the utter stupidity that is "One More Day". It was a complete and utter aversion of Spider-Man's moral of "with great power comes great responsibility". But it has those who will defend it, say it has some merits. I don't agree, but I can at least see some of their points (even if I don't agree).  This, though? This is absolute trash. This is a gigantic middle finger to anyone and everyone who ever cared about the character of Captain America. It is blatant and outrageous disregard for the very core of the character in question. And, worst of all, it is a slap in the fact to the legacy that Joe Simon and Jack Kirby left behind.

I do not advocate violence against another human being, at least never in any serious manner. However, it is clear that the people who came up with this incredibly disrespectful, vile, odius pile of clickbait bullshit is not human. Not of any sane mind or sound judgment, and I truly am amazed that someone at the writers' table did not immediate shoot that person in the face for even thinking of this idea. 

It is wrong, plain and simple.

It should not have been attempted.

This is beyond the rage about Fem!Thor or Falcon being Cap now (apparently at the same time that Steve is Cap, for maximum confusion). This isn't fanboy rage, Marvel. This is outrage that you have so completely failed to grasp the very core of one of your flagship characters, a character you claim to love and respect, and have lost all right to use.

Even a retcon won't save this at this point, because you have made the retcon. You have done the equivalent of sleeping with the Devil. To me, and to many others, Steve Rogers is dead. At long, long last, Captain America is dead for good. Even if they manage to retcon this, it won't save anything. The Clone Saga was eventually largely retconned, and it still sucks. One More Day got retconned by One Moment In Time, and it still sucks.  But, as I said, this is beyond even those atrocities.

I pre-ordered this comic, I admit it, but that was before I found out about this. I will not be reading this comic, I will be burning it. And, for those who did buy it, I encourage you to do the same thing.

If you haven't bought this comic, don't. It's that simple. Do not support this. At all.

Seriously. Don't.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

MadCap At the Movies - "Captain America: Civil War"

This movie is awesome.

I repeat: This movie is awesome.  Go and see it if you haven't.

...why are you still reading this? GO!

Captain America: Civil War is now in theaters from Mar-oh, you want me to do an actual review of it? Alright, alright, fine.

As far as the plot goes for Avengers 2.5, it's a few years after Age of Ultron and the world governments are in a little bit of an irritated spot about the Avengers operating with impunity, particularly after the incident where they nearly dropped a city on the Earth (totally Tony Stark's fault, by the way).  Nevermind how they have, by their actions, saved billions of lives and - in fact - the entire Earth twice.  But y'know, whatever. Clearly these are a group of dangerous individuals that need government regulations and save guards.

...what's that? Winter Soldier, you say? Never heard of that or the message it gave about how freedom, regardless of the consequences or the price, was the right option.

No, now it's a time for consequences! A conflict begins that will tear apart the very fabric of the Avengers and send them careening into oblivion from which there is no escape! Or...or...Tony Stark could just admit that he's a self-righteous jackass who screwed things up for everyone and needs to realize that when one is against Captain America in a moral debate, one is wrong.

And yes, this is a spoiler but...Cap is right. He's proven right. And Tony Stark does not spend the rest of his life in a maximum security prison.

Other than that, this is a great movie.  The returning cast from the Avengers play well, as we've come to expect.  We get a few scenes with Vision (Paul Bettany) and Scarlet Witch (Elisabeth Olsen) that serve to humanize their characters and give them some much needed development that they didn't get in Ultron, as well as some ship-teasing. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is almost a no-show, and the introduction of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is quickly rushed just to have another big name in there.  Of course, the latter is redeemed by the fact that any film that has Paul Rudd in it becomes 99% better, so this can be forgiven.

...oh, you want me to talk about that other guy.  Fine.

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) gets recruited into the Avengers in the latter half of the film.  He's a bit different from the last two times he was around but, honestly, I like the kid.  He hits pretty much all the notes that Spidey is supposed to, both in and out of costume, though it is a little jarring when supernerd Peter Parker refers to Empire Strikes Back as "that movie from a long time ago" (it makes sense in context). Other than that, if they keep this up, then I'll be happy to go see Spider-Man: Homecoming when it comes out.

...oh, the other other guy? Fine.

T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is awesome. Black Panther was done justice and you damn well better believe I am eager to see his solo movie. That is all.

Other than that, there's really not that much to say. We have visually appealing fight scenes, good humor (the scenes of Bucky and Falcon paired together are hilarious beyond reason), and even a good villain in (Not) Baron Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl). Mind you, his actual plan relies on a lot of circumstance and chance, but...ultimately...well, I won't spoil it for you here. But yes. Excellent movie, likely one of Marvel's best thus far.

And the best of all, there were no utterly confusing scenes or unclear motives. Everything had a serious tone while still managing to balance things with humor to keep them from getting utter and completely depressing.

See, Zack Snyder? THAT is how you make a superhero crossover movie.

Captain America: Civil War is now in theaters from Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios.

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

Friday, April 22, 2016

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Broforce"

You know my love of games that are quirky as all get out? I think I've mentioned it a few times. Broforce is not exactly quirky in the usual vein I go for, but I decided to go for it anyway given my love of stupid action movies and guns (lots of guns), and I am so, so very glad I did.  I'll go ahead and say it, this game is absolutely brilliant. You run, you gun, you slice, you blow things up, and you do it all in the name of America!

The entire game, in which you take command of America's elite squad of complete and utter badasses (known as the "Broforce"), is an unapologetic love letter to the action films of the 80s and 90s, with a few references to modern franchises that are just bursting with overpowering testosterone. All the names have been changed to avoid copyright, but it's very clear who "Rambro", "The Brominator", "Ellen Bropley", and others are supposed to be. And, so long as the player rescues the hostages held in cages by the various enemies, they can cycle through the entire Broforce pretty much with impunity.

That being said, don't think this is an easy game by any means. On the basic difficulty setting, it starts out fairly simple so you can learn the controls - fighting terrorists across the world in the name of America.  But as you go on, the difficulty curve ramps up nice and good to the point where you're fighting the Devil himself in Hell. It's some run and gun goodness, not going for the usual first-person shooter of dudebro culture. Every figure has two attacks (usually a shoot and a melee, though there are some exceptions) and a super attack that has a variety of effects ("Brobocop" will target multiple enemies, "Brolander" will destroy enemies with lightning, etc.). All kinds of attacks can destroy the environments, allowing unique solutions to problems a player may face in a combat situation.

Also, it's worth noting that while the game does let you brute force your way through a good bit of it, there are many situations where that's not the best approach for a simple reason - you're a glass cannon. You can rain the destructive wrath of God on terrorists, burn the acid right out of alien menaces, and even throw a grenade into the throat of the Devil himself without a worry...but the moment that random terrorist gets a shot off on you, you're a dead man.  Of course, if you have other lives to play around with it becomes less of a problem, but you start out with no lives in the beginning of levels and have to rescue teammates (kept as hostages by the various baddies) to have any extra lives.

And believe it or not, this is on the lower difficulty setting.  The other one is called "Ironbro" and has a permadeath status for any bro that falls. Having taken as long as I did to figure out what I needed to in order to beat the game...let's just say I'm immensely glad for the revolving door of badassery we have available to us.

That all being said, this game is immensely fun and definitely is a good challenge even on the regular difficulty.  The later levels are the stuff of epic legend, charging into Hell itself to battle Satan for America! It's indeed like something out of a cheesy 80s action movie.  Which, I think, was entirely what they were going for. So, needless, to say, it worked like a charm.

HIGH FIVE ME, BROS!!!

Broforce was developed by Free Lives and published by Revolver Digital for PC, OS X, Linux, and Playstation 4.

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

Monday, April 11, 2016

MadCap's Reel Thoughts - "Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs" (2015)

...I have no words. What were you people smoking?

I shouldn't be utterly baffled at the existence of a film like this, given the existence of many other imitators of trashy A-List blockbuster films, but I am. Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs.  It's like someone said "we can't do a direct ripoff of Jurassic World or Cowboys vs. Aliens, so let's just throw them both into a bucket and see what happens". While the idea seems utterly ridiculous - a mining explosion in a western town unleashing God's rejected tyrant lizards upon modern Earth - I have to admit the title is a hell of an eye-catcher and it alone interested me enough to see this movie.

Five minutes in, I almost immediately bailed out.

Since I already mentioned its only good sequel, consider the opening to Jurassic Park.  A team of the park's workers are working to get a raptor into containment when it breaks out and drags one of the workers into its cage, eating the man alive.  Now, you never completely see the Raptor, but the scene is fraught with tension and mystery. You wonder what kind of creature could do this to a grown man, how the protagonists can possibly stop it or even hope to survive it. You feel invested.

At the five minute mark of Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs, we are introduced to their version of raptors...which are CGI that the Syfy Channel would be embarrassed of attacking a bunch of assault rifle-wielding mooks we don't care about. In full view. There's no mystique, no build up. Just explosion and then raptors as if Michael Bay suddenly got a hold of the rights to the Jurassic Park franchise (don't you dare, Bay!). This encounter pretty much sets the tone for the entire film, and it never, ever stops.

As I said in the beginning, the film begins with a mining team accidentally unleashing dinosaurs which proceed to eat several of the miners and lead to a cave in from an explosion. That's not the end, alas, as we are given several subplots to juggle at once. There's that of the return of Val (Rib Hilis), nicknamed "the Cowboy" by the town, who apparently has some kind of past relationship with another character Sky (Casey Fitzgerald) that ended badly and thus he hasn't been to the town in some time and is currently at odds with the Sheriff (John Freeman), Sky's new boyfriend.

Then there's Sinclair (Sara Malakul Lane) who is on the payroll of a Mr. Marcus (Vernon Wells) and trying to get the mine reopened following the accident as well as holding together her wavering reputation being that she's fresh out of college and a flight risk for her company. And then there's the one survivor of the mining incident Quaid (Kelcey Watson), who tries to warn everyone but is just written off as a crazed lunatic suffering from survivor's guilt. So, basically, he's our Crazy Ralph for the evening.

Oh, and Val's father (Eric Roberts) is in jail because...town drunk? Not really sure what the deal is.

You know what all the subplots are lacking? A reason to care.  In the beginning, only Quaid's crosses over with the plot, with him discovering the first of the elusive raptor's victims. And, like any sensible American in any given hypothetical combat situation, he gets his guns...which leads to the most over the top sequence (and a welcome change from most of the bad acting) where he takes on a raptor with an AK-47, screaming in a way that would make Rambo proud.

Really, besides the bizarre choice of trying to marry the warring genres of the Western and Science Fiction, it's your standard monster movie.  Something is discovered, it kills people, the officials in charge of the area either can't or won't do anything about it because money, and it ends up being up to a group of ragtag regular folks to handle the situation. Add in some vaguely explained backstory and you basically have "Monster Movie 101" ready to go.

Unfortunately, a tried and true plot does not make a tried and true movie.  The acting is bad, and I mean atrocious. Most of the actors severely under act and give reads of their lines as though English isn't a first language of theirs, and the pauses in some exchanges are way too long, such as a point before Sinclair "angrily" tells Marcus to not point at her face. There are leaps in logic by characters that make no sense. And, as I've maligned it before, the CGI on the dinosaurs is just hilariously bad, especially when more flood into the plot following another detonation (because, y'know, if it's worth being stupid once...). On the other hand, one of the few places where I'll give this film credit are in the practical make up effects.

Though the wounds caused by the various dinosaurs are very gory, I wonder why they left corpses in such good condition after chowing down.

But really, I can't get onto this movie too much. For what it is, it's actually rather enjoyable. It's one of those "so bad, it's good" kind of films.  The only thing that keeps it from being truly awesome is the fact that focus is placed on the wrong character. Our main character shouldn't be Val, it should be Quaid. He has a stake in the events from the beginning, wanting to avenge his friends who were killed in the first mine detonation. He's the one to first take on one of the raptors and learn of their reliance on methane, which leads to their eventual defeat (read: BOOOOOOOOOOOM!). He even takes charge in a crisis situation when he and several other characters are boarded up in a bar Shaun of the Dead style. It makes sense and it gives the audience a way to sympathize with him, thus making him more relatable.

And we're supposed to care about Val and his issues with Sky because...umm...err...uhmm...

That being said, the film goes into full on insanity mode in the last twenty minutes, dropping the character building and completely embracing the campiness of the idea of raptors fighting a bunch of hillbilly townies. Now, am I disappointed that we didn't get an awesome climax of Ransik and Alex Grady teaming up to fight dinosaurs? Yeah, but at least they didn't do something insanely stupid with this concept like they could have. It's dumb action shlock that spits into the face of science, flips it off, and then blows up a town for shits and giggles. It's not Oscar bait for certain, but it isn't trying to be. It's just trying to be dumb science fiction and, as dumb science fiction, some enjoyment can be found in it.

Cowboys vs. Dinosaurs is a production of The Oracle Film Group and distributed by Marvista Entertainment in the USA,

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

Friday, April 8, 2016

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Fallout 4: Automatron"

Well, it was unavoidable.  Given that Bethesda has for some reason taken it upon themselves to do what the modding community does way better, it was inevitable that they would eventually come around to the idea of "hey, maybe building robots as followers would be something they'd want".  And, surprisingly, they hit the nail right on the head this time...unlike that time. But enough about gigantic wastes of time, here's another gigantic waste of time...the difference is that this one is actually fun!

Yes, there's a plot and it's even a fairly decent one that involves the Commonwealth suddenly being overtaken by a robotic menace that is taking a page from the aliens from The Twilight Zone and are trying to "save" man...by killing every last organic around.

We all knew it was coming with Windows 10. We were more than warned.

Thus, it's up to the Sole Survivor of Vault 111 who is now the General of the Minutemen/Agent of the Railroad/Paladin of the Brotherhood of Steel/Director of the Institute to team up with a dry-witted 'bot by the name of Ada and take out the bots in question and discover the location of their leader - the sinister Mechanist. Yes, it seems that the character is making a return from Fallout 3...in name, at least, but that's not really the main selling point (and, indeed, it should not be). No, the main draw here is the customizable robot buddies.

Once Ada gives you the blueprints for the robot crafting station, you can get to work on any assortment of robotic parts that you have while crafting others depending on the perks the player has in their Science and other crafting skills. Any combination, you can imagine. Even your robotic companies like Codsworth and Curie (the latter pre-synth) can be modified in various ways. If you're not looking to bump up your skills, though, bits and pieces of robots can be salvaged from the newly-implemented scrapbots (though, oddly, not from existing robots in the vanilla game) that can be used to modified robots.

And, if you're feeling adventurous, you can just build one at any settlement through the station using your resources.  Including adhesives. Adhesives, that thing that there is never enough of and really should have been implemented far, far more in the game due to the fact that it's part of the mods for almost every item you can craft! Really, Bethesda! I don't wanna get up on a soapbox here, but you're hilariously unforgiving about this sort of thing. And yes, before anyone brings it up, I know you can "grow" adhesive, that isn't my point.

Not much more I can say about the actual add-on, though. It's what you'd expect from a Fallout game and it brings with it the quirkiness of "lol robots". Having a customizable companion to be a combat heavy or to have a good packmule (I affectionately named my first creation "Packrat") or to be ready for just about any conceivable situation is definitely a handy thing and not something I could ding Bethesda too much for.

Fallout 4's Automatron DLC is now available from Bethesda for PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.

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

Thursday, April 7, 2016

MadCap's Trailer Reactions - "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"


You know what? Considering the last time I went to the movies (no, I'm not letting it go), I ain't even mad. In fact, I'm actually genuinely excited for this movie. Disney and Lucasfilm actually had the balls to set a film before A New Hope.  Really, I don't think that people appreciate the sheer testicular fortitude that was necessary to set a film before the original trilogy.  It was really a move that only a titan like Disney could do. After all, no one's dared to ever try it before...
NO! NONE OF THAT! SHAME ON YOU!
But yes, it seems that the Star Wars saga is getting a prequel movie that fans don't have to be monumentally embarrassed of,   This comes to us in the form of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  I have to admit, I was skeptical when I heard talk of a non-episodic Star Wars film coming out. Even more so when I heard of the upcoming Han Solo and Boba Fett (yes, he's still the most overrated character to exist outside of Batman) films. But this one, it seems, has some real promise and it's just oozing out of every detail of the trailer. Go watch it, enjoy it, imbibe what it does tease.

And yes, I know, I should be the first one to complain about what little the teaser gives. I did that when The Force Awakens released its first teaser. This, however, is a teaser done right - mostly because the plot would have been obvious to a brain-dead invalid if they saw this one, unlike Episode 7's.  Yes, it seems we're going back to the early early days of the Rebellion against the Empire, namely before Luke Skywalker left Tatooine to become a Jedi.  The plans to the Empire's newest battle station, the Death Star, are up for grabs and the Rebels send in a crack commando by the name of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) to steal the plans.

It seems that she won't be alone in this, but for now we see only Jyn as she fights off Stormtroopers and shows herself to be a competent agent who is not one to play by the rules. The internet being what it is, they've already taken her out of context and pulled her apart as some kind of uber-feminist icon who is going to be Mary Sue to the max.

Okay, internet. You've proven that 1) you don't actually know what "Mary Sue" means and thus have lost the right to use that word. And, 2) it's a teaser. It's not even a proper trailer! Let's wait and see before we start throwing around judgments, eh?

As for the rest - Mon Mothma only looks like the old Mon Mothma in the fact that they're both pale and woman shaped, the Empire looks as awesome as ever, and John Williams doing the score is never not a good thing.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is set to be released by Disney and Lucasfilm on December 16, 2016.

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