Friday, February 19, 2016

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Star Wars Battlefront"

Y'know, there's really no fanbase that I've ever seen that deserves the rage they kick up when they get mad as fans of Star Wars do.  Being that they recently received the first movie they can be not ashamed to call one of the franchise since 1983, it's clear to see that Star Wars fans have been through quite a bit of crap over the past thirty-two years, what with George Lucas wanting to suck out more money from it than a prostitute who just got cured of lockjaw with things like good storytelling, care for what the fans actually wanted to see, and common sense cast aside with reckless abandon.  However, I'm here to say something that I think everyone on the whole of the internet needs to hear.  So, uncover your ears, keep your hands off your keyboards and don't be clicking away to another tab, none of it.  Stop everything you're doing and read the following out loud to yourself.

"I really need to stop complaining."

...yes, you read that correctly.  No, I'm not saying it because the dark times of Star Wars are over (there are still at least two more films that can be easily ruined).  No, I'm not saying that because I'm a shill for Abrams or Disney. I'm saying it because I'm sick of hearing from everyone about how "Star Wars is ruined forever".  People, if we can get past Jar Jar Binks, we can get past EA making every single Star Wars game from now until the end of time.

Star Wars Battlefront is the third in the Battlefront series and the first to be brought to us by EA DICE, and everyone and their mother has an opinion of it. Most of them are bad, hatred-filled spewings declaring it the end of Star Wars games.  Uh, internet, just because everything's not going to be Knights of the Old Republic again doesn't mean that you need to condemn it to the Seventh Circle of Hell out of hand.  You could just condemn it because it's your standard modern day shooter done up with various multiplayer maps with bots in place of actual enemies.

And that's really it. It plays well as a shooter, but doesn't offer anything else new.  Strip the graphics and you can convince yourself you're playing a Call of Duty game.  It's the superficial trappings over some mechanics from somewhere else that they're more prevalent (sound familiar?), la de da, we've all seen it before.  There's nothing new or innovative and one really is dumb for expecting such things from any EA product that doesn't have Bioware attached - and even that is starting to be a particularly flimsy claim. You wanted a story? Don't make me laugh.

The only real major criticism I have for the game is the size of the maps.  I have literally - I swear this is true - gone from one end of a map to the other without once encountering a single enemy, which allowed me plenty of time to enjoy the recreations of scenes that are vaguely like the planet from the Star Wars saga that I'm supposed to be on.

So, am I going to defend this game? Absolutely not.

Am I going to ask people to not act like its the coming of the Anti-Christ and now nothing will be good again ever? You bet.

I mean, really, if we can get beyond The Force Unleashed, we can get beyond this, people!

Star Wars Battlefront is now available from Electronic Arts and EA Dice for Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.

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

Monday, February 15, 2016

MadCap At the Movies - "Deadpool"

Once in a lifetime there comes a character that defines a generation.  In comic books, this generally means redefining what it means to be a hero.  Wade W. not that hero.  What he is is Deadpool, the Merc with a Mouth, and an absolutely fun fun fun time.  Yes, he can get incredibly grating to some, but one has to accept that there is some kind of mass charm about the man that all the good guys just don't have.

Deadpool is the epic tale of Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) fresh out of his mouth being stitched shut days (which are apparently not canon anymore) going to hunt down Ajax Francis (Ed Skrein) in order to fix up his face after the experiments that made him immortal...and so ugly that he looks like chain smokers have been using his face to put out their cigarettes for the last decade.

In Highlander-style (albeit with Reynolds' narration) we are told the story of Wade from his days as a merc with a soft heart who falls in love with escort Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) and later learns that he has terminal cancer as interposed with him in the "present" hunting down Francis so that he can get a cure for his terribly shriveled looks. It's really a very excellent movie, if a little predictable in terms of how the plot flows.  I've seen some critics accuse it of being "formulaic".  Well, yes, critics.  That's rather how it works.  When the entertainment finds a formula that works, it will beat that dead horse until its congealed into a pile of dust.

Ant-Man followed a formula that was brought to us by Iron Man and both those movies were awesome.  Really, stop being such pretentious dicks.

Regardless, the formula is completely aided by the zany madcap (no relation) antics of Wilson as he shoots, stabs, and snarks his way through life's challenges that crop up when you face off the Weapon X program.  The jokes are almost nonstop, a tribute to the essence of the character himself.  Reynolds shows that he shines when his mouth isn't stitched shut, and the words put into his mouth by writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick are absolute gold when delivered by him.

The action scenes are also top notch - the one in the beginning has made its way into my top ten favorties of all time - as Deadpool is indeed a Merc with a Mouth and one of the greatest combat specialists alive, regardless of how addled his brains are.  Deadpool is also not one to be hindered by impaling, gunshots, or (self-)dismemberment, either, and as one would expect, there is a realistic amount of blood and gore with only a single Gory Discretion Shot in the entire film (and, considering the noises we hear, I don't want to know what he did).

I would go into the deep character bits (of which there are at least three), but that's not really what you go to see this movie for.  You go to see either your favorite character gorily dismember bad guys while spouting one-liners or you go to see Ryan Renyolds gorily dismember bad guys while spouting one-liners, there's no middle ground.  I will say, though, that that marketing technique seems to have worked well for Fox and Marvel.  For the first time in recent memory, the theater was actually packed and I mean packed to the point of people coming in during the opening credits looking to sit on armrests in lieu of unavailable seating kind of packed.

So, I do owe Fox an apology.  Yes, you made one movie right.  Now go fix the X-Men franchise and we'll talk about celebrating.

Deadpool is now in theaters  from 20th Century Fox and Marvel Entertainment.

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


Friday, February 12, 2016

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Shovel Knight"

Between the time when the oceans (of fans) drank (up) Pac-Man and the rise of the sons of Skyrim...there was an age undreamed of. And unto this were games such as Castlevania and Mega Man, destined to where the crowns of balls-breakingly difficult games upon a trouble brow.  It is I, he who has no relation to either of them, who alone can tell you of a game that homages them both and many others of the era.

...and this story has been told by many game reviewers. Never let it be said this chronicler is timely.

And now to drop the Mako impression and get down to the nitty-gritty of an awesome game. And it is an awesome game, make no mistake.  Brought to us by Yacht Club Games, Shovel Knight is a story about a knight (who, as his name suggests, wields a rolling pin) who returns to the land after a period of mourning the loss of his lady love the Shield Knight (who, as her name suggests, wields a pair of bolt cutters) to find that the entire land has been taking over by the evil Enchantress and her knights of the Order of No Quarter (who, as their name suggests, are a rather pacifistic bunch).

In all seriousness, the game begins and Shovel Knight is immediately thrown into a quest to get to the Tower of Fate - defeating all eight of the Knights along the way. And along the way he finds friends and foes such as the Mighty Troupple King and, of course, the Knights of the Order of No Quarter. Despite my amusing snarky version of the Rule of Three, they are not pacifists and each have their own unique level that Shovel Knight must traverse à la Mega Man and like Mega Man, the levels do have their own uniqueness beyond just being themed.  Some levels have to be traversed vertically as opposed to horizontal side-scrolling. Others have areas that go pitch black and others still are coated in ice which makes maneuvering Shovel Knight far more difficult.

And there are more besides that, but Shovel Knight is determined never to give up - bouncing around on enemy heads via his excellent shovel.  Much like Scrooge McDuck's cane in Duck Tales, the shovel is used for both combat and utility, such as digging up piles of refuse for gemstones that can be turned into weapon, armor, health, and magic upgrades (not that you'll need the last two, but I'll get to that).

In addition to his weapon armament of choice, Shovel Knight also has certain spells at his command such as fiery wand and a war horn which are charged with magic potions that he can find out. When he runs out, he's unable to use them further, but enemies will more often than not drop them upon death, so upgrades are definitely not a bad thing, but are by no means necessary provided you're smart with your attacks and don't go in guns blazing.

With those techniques aside, it's a standard platform with some combat elements. There's no RPG elements like gaining experience or leveling stats. The only thing that really comes close are the health, magic, and weapon upgrades, all of which are taken care of by money (or, in the case of health, special tickets that are found in the world).  It's a fun ride, for certain, from beginning to end, but there is no denying that it remembers its classic gaming roots well.  Almost too well, in face.

The 8-bit style is a throwback to the days of the NES, as well as the gameplay style in which you have legions of insta-kill pits and spikes.  Why? Because those retro games did it, so we have it here, too. It's unnecessary, sure, and it was also unnecessary back then, but it forces modern players a little out of their comfort zone by actually forcing a little more effort from the player.  On the whole, Shovel Knight is an enjoyable romp that has actually given me a bit more a challenge than I would have expected from a modern-day game.  With enjoyable gameplay, a touching story, and kickass 8-bit music, I highly recommend it.

Really, there's nothing more I can say that hasn't already been said.  If you haven't played it, then go get it now!

Shovel Knight is now available from Yacht Club Games for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, OS X, Linux, Playstation 3, 4, and Vita, and Xbox One.

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