Wednesday, March 30, 2016

MadCap At The Movies - "Batman vs. Superman Dawn of Justice"

...look, I tried, okay?

I know what you'll say. "Oh, Madcap, you're just being a big, stinky Marvel fanboy!". "Oh, MadCap, I don't know why you're ragging on it so much. It could have been a lot worse and it's an improvement over Green Lantern, at least!" My answers are, in order, "You're absolutely right, and I've never claimed to be anything else" and "Yes, and I'm sure you love the writing of Russell T. Davies, too. Idiot." Really, though, I did walk into the theater this afternoon with an open mind and open heart. Though my dislike of Batman is well cataloged on this very blog (look back far enough, I'm sure you'll find something), I love Superman and I'm one of the few people I've found who bother to defend him as a symbol of hope and a defender of all things good.

...Zack Snyder is apparently not one of those people either, but I'll get to that.

Regardless, I went in with expectations low, but having some hope that maybe the critics were wrong.  Maybe the rage of the fanboys was needless and silly, and maybe DC had pulled out a golden egg from their goose instead of another pile of manure they would force feed into my mouth.  So, really, this one is on me. It's a lesson that sometimes it's not all hype and that things can, in fact, just plain suck.  And that's Batman v. Superman Dawn of Justice in a nutshell.

But let's start with the plot, shall we? There isn't one.  Okay, there's vague trappings thanks to the machinations of Not-Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) working over the government in order to get his hands on Zod's ship from the end of Man of Steel, spoiler alert.  He has somehow managed to set up conditions in various situations around the world that will eventually lead to rigging a fight between Superman (Henry Cavill) and Batman (Ben Affleck), as the title suggests.

And beyond this point, I give a spoiler warning.  So, if you want to know nothing else about this film, don't read past this point.  Now, if you're one of many, many people who word of mouth has reached about this and you're not going to ever see this, then read on.


...okay, you good?


Let me go ahead and talk about some of the characters.  Namely Lex Luthor, because he is a joke in this movie.

I'm sorry, let me rephrase that and make it more quotable for everyone.


I wish I were even kidding, but I can't joke about this.  Every single scene that he's in, He's melodramatic to the point that saying he's chewing the scenery would be far, far too polite to describe what he's doing.  He's chewing the scenery into a fine powder, spitting it out, then snorting it up Tony Montana-style. For Mr. Eisenberg, it seems that subtlety is a concept that he's vaguely heard of maybe once from someone who told him about a dream they had about it. Having seen none of Eisenberg's other films at the time of this writing, I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt and say that it's just poor direction from Snyder, which just makes it all the worse.

The film also goes out of its way in two scenes to mention that he's not actually Lex Luthor, but is actually Alexander Luthor, Jr., the son of the original, which to me smacks of last-minute reshoots. It's as if someone looked at the performance given and told Snyder that anyone who tried to convince the world that that abomination was Lex Luthor - a character who was played for years masterfully by such actors as Gene Hackman, Kevin Spacey, and the legendary Clancy Brown - would not survive the mass lynchings that would follow.  So, he's regulated to Luthor's son - who apparently is actually a minor character in the comics - and thus, Snyder presumed, saved him from his rightful fate for not stopping and saying "No, this is a really stupid idea".

Not in the court of the MadCapMunchkin, Mr. Snyder.  I find you...

Why didn't you go with Bryan Cranston, DC? He could have pulled this off.  This guy, though? No. Just no.  Your casting choice was bad, and you should feel very, very bad.

Now that my well justified rage is out of the way, and Zack Snyder will be in the Phantom Zone for a bit, let's talk about our two main characters. The ones people actually came to see.

You know him, you love him (I don't), and he's played by Ben Affleck this time around.  I admit, I was one of the several people who reacted to the announcement of his casting a while back with "Buwha-?!", but he's honestly not that bad. We've had worse Batmen, after all.  Even George Clooney proclaimed that he wasn't qualified to comment on who would make a bad Batman or not, seeing as he'd completely trashed the role (not that that was his fault entirely, however, but that's neither here nor there).  

Affleck, I think, legitimately balances the two sides of Bruce Wayne and Batman. That is to say, his performance acknowledges the truth that Batman is a sociopathic creature hellbent on justice and pretty boy millionaire Bruce Wayne is just the skin he hides behind in order to operate in the daylight.  And I don't say that as a bad thing, it's actually not something we get to see a lot of in the films. Also, another thing, is that we get to acknowledge that whole crazy fact that Batman is human and unless he has prep time and the proper resources is nothing more than a squishy meat shield when going up against god-like beings like Superman or Wonder Woman.

This when I was really afraid they'd go the Frank Miller route of having him be able to take on beings like Spawn without breaking a sweat, and that his eventual fight against Superman would be insanely one sided in his favor rather than the guy who actually has superpowers.

Also, I'll be blunt - he kills people in this version. Like other adaptations, there's...really no way of getting around this. He crushes people with the Batmobile, he ziplines vehicles with people inside of them so that they collide with other objects and assure that no one gets out of there without at least a severe spinal injury. It kind of completely ruins his moral grandstanding about Superman when he's outright committing mass murder.  Oh, because they're criminals, we aren't supposed to care? YOU HAVE A CODE, BRUCE! WHAT WOULD YOUR MOTHER SAY?!

The bits with his origin story are brought up and even have a few scenes, but don't actually clog the narrative thanks to the fact that DC must have had some brain cells still working and decided it ought not to be the focus of the film...except it kind of is, since it serves as a plot point in the final fight so that Batman realizes that Superman's actually not a bad guy. Because, y'know, the World's Greatest Detective can't do that by opening his eyes.

I will say, Snyder apparently hasn't gotten over his bizarre non-sequitur dream fetish from Suckerpunch!, since Batman has at least three bizarre nightmares that contribute nothing to the actual plot (except, I think, an early-bird cameo of Booster Gold. Not that that actually helps anything). By the way, he has one of these where he's murdering people. With guns. Because, y'know...Batman. Totally against guns. Though, again, this is another "wtf?!" moment I would question Zack Snyder about...if I hadn't banished him to the Phantom Zone.

My other problem with both his portrayal of Bruce and Batman...comes in the timing of the character. And that's more of a problem to put to the writers and director.  At the time of the film, Batman has been active in Gotham for twenty years. Twenty years. Twenty years of fighting crime, having sidekicks, and protecting Gotham that we have not yet seen, resulting in a far more dark and jaded Batman than the common one most people know.  It's a bit The Dark Knight Returns...and I both love and hate it. I love it, because Affleck's version fits so well to it...and I hate it because it's twenty years of character development that we haven't seen and are supposed to just accept regardless of what damage it might do to the character.

No, DC, you don't just do that. You don't just throw twenty years into the background and just insist that it's there. And no, I don't care if the solo movie for Bats covers it or not, the fact is that it wasn't important enough for DC to show us before they threw us into a crossover film.

Which brings us to Superman.  The golden boy of Metropolis, the hero who is a staunch defender of truth, justice, and the Ameri-why are they having Senate hearings on Superman? In a bizarre twist from where you'd think logic would follow, the people seem to have a mixed reaction to Superman from the events of Man of Steel, debating why he's here on Earth, what his purpose is and if he's here to help us or to destroy or conquer us.

...I'm not going to go into the fact that the people of the DC Universe are stupid, but the people of the DC Universe are pretty astoundingly stupid. Superman has, up to this point, done nothing but try to save people and protect the Earth. Please call me when you want to quit being idiots.

Then again, the same could be said of the people of the Marvel universe - I'm looking at you Civil War...

Henry Cavill's reprising the role of Superman...and he's adequate in the role. Nothing really to complain about, he's even gotten a little bit less wooden since Man of Steel.

Some quick notes here, since we're going to be going through here fast.  Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and the others returning from Man of Steel are pretty good, Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth is phenomenal and he should be in the role much as Michael Gough was.  That is to say, until he dies, if you please.  Who am I missing? Oh, right, Wonder Woman.

...yeah, she's in all of about ten minutes of screen time. Probably less than that. I'll wait to form an opinion on Gal Gadot or her acting ability until I've actually seen it.  That being said, she seems to have the physicality down well. Her short fight scene near the end of the film is pretty good and her entrance in the Wonder Woman costume is one of the few moments of this film that has any concentrated awesome - something that is absolutely vital in a superhero movie.  The only real problem I have with her being in the film is that she only serves to highlight cameos of other heroes...which I'll get into in a moment.
And now, at last, we come to the ending.  I don't have to give another spoiler warning, so here we go - Superman dies.

No, that's not a typo. Superman dies.

You see, that earlier plot point with Faux-Lex getting access to the Kryptonian spaceship? He uses it and Zod's body in order to participate in Kryptonian mad science and create...Doomsday. Yes, that Doomsday. And given the storyline that Doomsday is most famously attached to, you know what's coming. Yes, indeed, with the use of a Kryptonite spear (because shut up, that's why he can wield it without it killing him by proximity), Superman kills Doomsday and is in turn killed by Doomsday.

...except he's not really dead because the final scene of the film shows the dirt on his coffin (left by Lois Lane) starting to levitate off of it. Because comic books.

And I shouldn't be mad at that, but they really drag the scenes of his funerals (yes, funerals because - like in The Dark Knight Rises - nobody can acknowledge that the hero and his alter-ego are the same person) out way too long for such a rather pointless payoff. We know Superman is going to come back, we know he's not going to stay dead. There was no reason to do that. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan didn't feel the need to immediately make it clear that Spock wasn't really dead (spoiler alert) just after his passing (yes, I know Leonard Nimoy did the narration at the end after test audiences didn't like the original, shut up).

THINGS TO COME (Whether you like it or not)
I know that Marvel gets a lot of crap for its plot weaving in its movies, but this film has taken the cake. The LexCorp database on metahumans is so blatant an attempt to keep audience interest that its almost heartbreaking.  The appearances by the Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg are nice and are actually some of the highlights of the time.  Unfortunately, the entire thing smacks of DC realizing they screwed up by not following the Marvel method and bringing in everyone at once, screaming to their audience "You like these characters, right? Well, they're going to have their own movies. That's right, and you're going to love them. Please, stick around. Please! Please! HEY! STOP LOOKING AT MARVEL! STOP IT! STOP IT!"

But, nevertheless, as Bruce tells Wondy at Clark's funeral, he's getting a team together. A league for justice...if only they had some kind of word for that.

Also, Luthor apparently knows of someone "out there" who has seen the events of the film and is coming. Darkseid? Maybe he'll get to use the Anti-Life Equation in this universe. Hope springs eternal.

This film is just an absolute mess.  It smacks of laziness coupled with being rushed, being rewritten, and being reshot a few times over.  The main villain is an absolute joke, with a plan that anyone with common sense would have been able to figure out - much less super genius Bruce Wayne twenty years into the game - and that completely derails the film and removes the credibility from the name Lex Luthor to the point that they had to throw Doomsday into the mix to try and save it. And boy did you fail hard!

Mix it all in with the dark, depressing, humorless feel that Snyder's direction evokes from everyone and everything, a moral conundrum about the purpose of Superman that a brain damaged four year old could answer, and trying to hammer in cameos and promises of things to come that DC has repeatedly proven they no longer have the right or ability to make (if they ever did at all), and you end up with this crown turd of absolute awfulness. While there are a few good point, that's like finding the pieces of whole corn after an extreme bowel evacuation.  It doesn't really matter, because they're still covered in shit.

It ultimately comes back to the feel. Snyder is not a good director for Superman.  He was good with Watchmen, and I loved it. I will even say, to a degree, he was good with Man of Steel - which I liked, but I will never say it didn't have problems - seeing as he actually did something new with the character. But, on the whole, he just doesn't get Superman. Superman is not a dark and gritty character. Now, by that same token, I'd love to see a Snyder-directed Batman. He's already done it once (Rorschach taught Batman everything he knows, after all).

It's been a problem with DC films that Marvel doesn't have - the lack of just a good feeling overall. The reason Marvel films have done so well is that they're fun.  One of their most successful films to date, Guardians of the Galaxy is some of the most fun I've had at the movie theater in a long, long time.  Even their darker edged films, like Captain America: Winter Soldier, had the darkness but still managed moments to keep things light in the right moments. Yes, I said "in the right moments", because to do a good drama, you need balance. You go too far with the humor, it'll be taken as comedy. You go to serious on the get this.

And I'll be honest, I don't want this to be the standard that DC goes by.  Batman and Superman are two of the most iconic superheroes of all time, if not the most iconic superheroes of all time. People around the world who have never even seen an actual comic book, much less ever read one, knows who they are.  Before Marvel actually started producing their movies, I could only think of maybe a handful of their properties who had that kind of prestige. Batman and Superman are two parts of my childhood, and the childhoods of many other people all over the world, and they both deserve better than this steaming pile.

I sat in that theater, and there was not a cheer as Superman and Batman first met on the streets of Gotham. There was no cheering as they and Wonder Woman teamed up to fight Doomsday. No round of applause at the end, looking forward to a glorious future of the DC Extended Universe. It just...wasn't there. No heart, no mirth, no spirit. For the world is dark and hollow, and even hope is something nary a man dare have.

Wrapping it all up, in a nice little bow, for the TL;DR crowd - this movie sucks and you'd be better off never seeing it. Ever.

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice 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. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

MadCap's Reel Thoughts - "Watership Down" (1978)

...god, this movie is depressing!

Okay, that might be me just getting a little bit ahead of myself.  Watership Down is a 1978 offering from Nepenthe Productions and given to us by those wonderful folks across the pond in merry old England - and it shows with the use of John Hurt in a prominent voice role, as well as several of the other seven actors that the United Kingdom has to offer also voicing the animals in question.

...yes, I was too lazy to go through everyone's IMDB pages for any other connections that you might know.  John Hurt is good enough for me, he's good enough for you.

The film begins with an explanation of the lore of rabbits from the novel - yes, there was a novel and, no, I haven't read it - that they (and all animals) were created by the sun god Firth.  Rabbits, in the beginning, multiplied quickly and made food scarce, so Firth spoke to the Rabbit Prince and told him to keep his species in line.  When he refused, Firth gave a bunch of wondrous gifts to all the other animals and made many of them predators against the rabbits.  When he thought that the rabbits had learned their lesson, Firth blessed them with quickness and wit, so that they might be able to outrun and outsmart their predators.

As the tagline on the poster says, "But first they much catch you."

The actual plot picks up when the rabbit Fiver (Richard Briers) has a vision about the end of his warren. He goes with his brother Hazel (John Hurt) to talk to their chief, but are dismissed and decide to take on a journey to escape the fate of their home themselves. Eight manage to escape, finding a world fraught with dangers unimagined by the brace including snare traps, rats, a cat, and even...evil rabbits.  The film makes you really feel for the plight of the rabbits quickly, pulls you in and makes you want to see them overcome their adversity.

There are eight to start, but the film only really focuses on three of them.  Hazel (Hurt) is the leader and is the one who comes up with plans that will inevitably always go to pot because they always do.  So much to the point that he becomes one of the dangers.  There's Fiver, who is - like Cordelia in the early few seasons of Angel - known only for precognitive visions and wobbly bosoms (maybe not that last part).  Unlike Miss Chase, he spends most of his time either getting caught up in Hazel's plans or having trances that could either be mystical or epilepsy.  And then...there's Bigwig (Michael Graham Cox).

Oh, how does one describe Bigwig? Imagine if Miles Teg were suddenly polymorphed into a rabbit and was no less completely badass. That is Bigwig. (If you don't know Miles Teg, then go read Dune, you Neanderthal).

Their overarching adversity here being survival, and it's the theme that resonates strongly throughout the whole film almost from start to finish.  The rabbits journey to Watership Down (which is apparently the name of the hill, but is still rather confusing as all get out that that's the name) is the point of the entire film and, even when they have avoided a great deal of the troubles of their world, they are forced to fight for their small slice of paradise in order to keep it.

Also, to the film's credit, man does exist in this world but the film doesn't feel the need to beat us over the head with an environmental message about how they're destroying the environments of the rabbits or some such rot. There's only a few short scenes where the humans appear at all, and even then one of the humans actually helps one of the rabbits in the climax of the film. I can really say it's refreshing.

Another way this is refreshing is in the level of violence.  No, that's not actually a joke - this is insanely brutal for a kid's film.  And, yes, this was marketed to children being from that era where animated things were for children, as well as being an ironic twist on American's being considered the uber-violent nationality.  It actually reminds me of that one Eddie Izzard skit talking about the differences in British cinema and American cinema (Watch it here) being turned on its head.

Really, there's very little held back here.  There's blood, maiming, the whole lot of violent acts that one rabbit can visit upon another.  Really, for an American child having concepts like death and the afterlife even acknowledged is extremely hardcore.  The animation showcases it well, though, and helps add to the film's overall feeling.

The animation itself is really good (for the era) over all.  The rabbits are reasonably expressive and few of scenes are animated with anything less than top quality (again, for the era).. Mind you, there is one really trippy sequence set to Art Garfunkel's "Bright Eyes" that I'm almost entirely certain was inspired by long session that involved the use of expensive methamphetamines.

The villain is also entertaining, if a little cliched.  The "General" Woundwort is the leader of the evil group of rabbits and is made of pure, unadulterated badass from start to finish.  The rank is well earned, as Woundwort is one hell of a fighter and is able to take on Bigwig in a knock down, drag out, and then go on to fight a big, black dog - the latter fight of which he might have actually survived in the end.

...spoiler alert.

But yes, very glad I was coaxed into watching the film in question.  It's enjoyable, even if the ending left me more than a little confused.  But, I suppose, an ambiguous fate is better than no fate at all. If you get a chance to see this movie, I suggest you do it, if only because it's a really rather enjoyable one.

Watership Down is brought to us by Nepenthe Productions, and was distributed originally by CIC (in the UK) and Avco Embassy Pictures (in the US).

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

Friday, March 25, 2016

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Dragon Age: Inquisition - Trespasser"

So, we come to it at last. The thing with the very existence of excited me...and the denial of it for last gen folks by EA got me pissed off to no end.

And no, despite the best efforts of Bioware to see we could transfer our saves over to the next console generation, it doesn't help that Electronic Arts is a company run by a bunch of greedy, stupid, narcissistic douchecanoes who can't see the forest for the trees...of money that would earn by not being a bunch of greedy, stupid, narcissistic douchecanoes.  Alas, I made it clear that I will not be giving up on Dragon Age because I believe in Bioware, and I don't see fit to punish them for the stupid, greedy, narcissistic actions of their aforementioned owners.

So, anyway, Trespasser picks up two years after the death of Corypheus at the end of Dragon Age: Inquisition's main campaign (spoiler alert), with a Council being called to decide the fate of the Inquisition now that their mission is complete. Or is it? A Qunari body and some familiar magic mirrors tell of a conspiracy afoot, one that could threaten all of southern Thedas, and only the Inquisitor and their ragtag band of people who they had a high enough approval with in the vanilla game can save the day. But what is the Dragon's Breath? And who is Fen'Harel?

Unlike the last two DLCs, this one is all about resolutions. This is the end of the story for the Inquisitor and his/her companions, as well as the Inquisition as it currently exists. It is also the revelations about Solas, giving us not only the truth behind his mysterious origins, but also a set up for Dragon Age IV just as much as Witch-Hunt set up for Dragon Age II and Legacy for Inquisition.  However, it feels like there's a great deal more weight to the proceedings than in previous DLC. With The Descent, my primary issue was grand spectacle and vague hinting over actual substance.  Luckily, Trespasser doesn't have that problem.

While it does open up new questions to be asked, it answers just enough to allow us a feeling of resolution.  It also does what I praised Inquisition for doing as a whole - that is, set up the true weight and menace of a grand looming threat which the protagonist has to deal with or cataclysmic consequences will follow.

Unlike, say, Dragon Age II's vague plan of having a bunch of Dungeons & Dragons modules stitched together with a vaguely established plot sort of (but not really) serving as an arc.

Throwing shade aside, Trespasser serves as a fitting end to Inquisition's storyline as well as giving us something to look forward to in 4, whenever it should come out.  Now, that being said, was it worth restricting to just next gen consoles if EA had bothered to release the original game on the previous generation?


Dragon Age: Inquisition - Trespasser is now available for Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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

Also, side note. 300th blog post! Woot! Congratulations, me!

Friday, March 18, 2016

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Dragon Age: Inquisition - The Descent"

The Deep Roads. In the lore of Dragon Age, it is a place of foreboding and darkness that once served as a means of transit between the many thaigs that made up the vast dwarven empire.  Now, they are a charnel house.  A terrifying carnival show putting on full display the horrors of the twisted aberrations known as the Darkspawn. Their frenzied cries echoing through the halls of a civilization that has lost so much of itself.

...that is, until now.

The Descent is the second of Dragon Age: Inquisition's DLCs, this time going from the surface of Thedas and going into the Underdar-err, the Deep Roads.  Unlike the previous DLC, Jaws of Hakkon, this DLC cannot be taken until the player character has played through the main quest up to the destruction of Haven by Corypheus...err, spoiler alert.  Thus, it was once more time to take up the staff of Adaon Trevelyan fresh off the heels of his defeating of Hakkon, and answer to the call of a War Table quest to deal with a Disaster in the Deep Roads.

Long story short...yeah, we don't actually learn anything besides the fact that the Titans (mentioned in one bit of dialogue if you played as a dwarven Inquisitor, which I didn't) are connected to the dwarves in a deeply intrinsic manner that has yet to be fully understood.

Not much to say besides that, however.  Really, there isn't.  While we have some interesting story bits, a few creative puzzles, and even a few new enemies there isn't too much that we haven't seen before.  Also, the lack of answers isn't at all helpful.  While I'm certain this is a set up to something later - much like Origins' Witch Hunt, DAII's Legacy, and Trespasser which we'll be covering next week - it feels largely unsatisfying for what we have to go through to get anywhere for it.

It's not to say the combat isn't involving, because it is as always. But that's only part of what we need and Descent just doesn't deliver on it.  No, not even for the price.  A few hours for a confusing ending that is not so much an ending as someone holding up a card going "Sequel Tease!"

Dragon Age: Inquisition's "The Descent" DLC is now available to download for PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.

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

Friday, March 11, 2016

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Far Cry Primal"

It's Fallout with spears and clubs!

...did I do it? Did I turn it around on the Far Cry 3 morons?

Far Cry was a series I got into, like many people I know, with Far Cry 3 which I thoroughly enjoyed.  The exotic location of Rook Island coupled with the very unique and deeply intricate story arc that Jason Brody went through to go from 20-something SoCal douchebag to fearless, bloodthirsty warrior made it an absolute hit. There was a reason to everything, there were milestones to aspire to, and a bunch of tasty heavy ordnance to mow down the unsuspecting jungle mook with.  Really, it had a great deal more to it than the typical first person shooter has these days.  It aspires to greatness and, in many ways, exceeds it.

Then came Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.  Basically, all that but with the filter of 1980s sci-fi over it all.  Still good, and indeed even more enjoyable than the vanilla game albeit for entirely different reasons.

Then came Far Cry 4. which was...well...Skyrim with Guns as I said in my review of it. And, truth be told, I may have been a bit too nice to it.  Not that it was bad by any means, but it lacked the colorful cast that 3 and Blood Dragon had, thinking back on it only Pagan Min remains that fresh in my mind after so long.

Anyway, fast forward into 2016, and Ubisoft is taking another stab at the franchise.  Like Blood Dragon, they wanted to do something a little different.  Sadly, it wasn't getting a sequel to that 80s shlock masterpiece, so they decided to wind the clock back in the other direction...10,000 years back, in fact.  The Earth has come out of the last Ice Age and now the Wenja tribe are unifying under the banner of Takkar, the Beastmaster.  Okay, to be truthful, Takkar actually comes to the land of Oros and just so happens to start unifying the Wenja into a tribe following the destruction of his own.

But the opening cutscenes depict Wenja shaman Tensay telling the player about the exploits of Takkar and how he unified the Wenja, so we know it's gonna happen from the jump.

As far as mechanics go, we aren't too far off from Far Cry 3 or 4.  There's running, there's jumping, there's skill trees to make you run and jump faster.  The real difference comes in the weapons, and there's a tasty variety of them to scratch that caveman itch.  I enjoyed it in 4 when I had advanced enough to ride elephants and go plowing into enemy strongholds with all the subtlety of a cat being thrown into a a piano going over a cliff...on fire.  But I really had not anticipated how much I would actually enjoy the simple act of beating a caveman's skull in with a club.

Also, get good with the bow.  Really, it's the best weapon in the long run.

But yes, mechanics-wise if you've played either of the previous two games, you've played this.  Same goes for crafting, albeit it now extends to buildings in your tribal village and your very weapons instead of just toking the reefer. You want to make a spear? Find so much of this kind of wood and you can make it, on the spot.  No muss, no fuss.  And the best part is, you don't have to spend another three hours looking around for a pack of duct tape.

...sorry, I'm still a bit mad at Fallout 4.

However! A new feature is touted by the game.  As mentioned before, Takkar is the Beastmaster.  Following a vision quest he's sent into by Tensay (really, it's Far Cry, we expect drug trips by this point), Takkar suddenly gains the ability to bond with animals - provided he has the necessary talent to do so - and get them to aid him in battle.  Remember how you could use bait to lure animals into enemy strongholds in the previous games? Now, just have that clawed/fanged death machine walking alongside you ready to obey your every command.

Fire is also both your friend and your enemy this time around.  Fire can be used to fend off animals who would attack you, but everything will be set ablaze given the opportunity.  And with being able to set everything on fire short of your spear, you will accidentally set a field of grass or some trees on fire if you aren't paying attention. Pro-tip, keep stocked up on animal fat and you never have to worry about not having it as an option in your back pocket.

While it does follow a great deal of the formula of the previous games, it does actually bother to bring us something different with that concept rather than just retreading the same ground again.  The environments are lovely and the gameplay is, as I've mentioned with the combat, very fluid and an absolute joy.  Bringing us back to a land before time, showing us the simple joy to be found in being a beastmaster in their domain.

Sure, there are no dinosaurs, but if Far Cry 4 could pull yetis, I'm sure that Ubisoft could pull some strings with their DLC for this one. C'mon, Ubisoft! Make it happen!

Far Cry Primal is now available for Microsoft Windows, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.

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

Friday, March 4, 2016

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Dragon Age: Inquisition - Jaws of Hakkon"

Okay...yeah...boy is this a little awkward.

I wasn't originally going to do these out of protest, even play them.  I was finished with Dragon Age forever, I really was.

...then someone bought me the Game of the Year Edition because they knew that I had been a fan of the series...with a little less emphasis on the had been part of it.  So, call me a hypocrite if you like, I've never claimed to be anything else.  But I have come to the decision that it is unfair to punish Bioware for EA's business practices, so I'll continue to give Dragon Age patronage...and no other EA product.

...speaking of which, how are the Mass Effect games?

And while I avoid my stoning by the gaming community at large, let me get on with story such as we have it. It's once more back to the war-table as the Inquisition aids in a scholar's look into the Frostback Basin to find the remains of the original Inquisitor.  Thus it was time for me to step back into the boots of mage Inquisition Adaon Trevelyan.  Fresh off of using the Fade to burn the diseased crusty skin off of Corypheus' face, he decided to take a vacation into the snowy Frostbacks only to be besieged by a cult of Avvar barbarians known as the Jaws of Hakkon.

Thus, his holiday ruined, he decides to go and wreak a little havoc on the inconsiderate bastards by finding the remains of his predecessor and beating the crap out of their god.  I will go ahead and say that the final fight with Hakkon is a major high point for me, even if it does devolve into a slug fest with the occasion stunning attack that does nothing except waste my time and drag out the brawl even longer than it needs to be.

Also, sudden and inexplicable shielding to enemies after certain attacks? Get rid of them, Bioware. If I'm in need of padding, I'll be calling out to the Victoria's Secret shops, not you.

Mechanics wise, very little has changed beyond a few new things on the talent trees.  The Inquisitor tree in particular gets a fun little ability called Aegis of the Rift which comes into play later on, Adaon found it quite useful to block incoming projectiles so he could lay down the hurt.  However, despite the emphasis on strategy that was touted up before, it's literally a game of just making sure your group is well-equipped and of the appropriate level to be running about in the area. No muss, no fuss.

As for in-game, we get a more in-depth look at the Avvar in-game, which is very nice considering you have to learn everything else from supplementary materials and I have no interest in doing the summer reading for things that should be brought to my attention within the main form of media (and neither should you).  The Avvar really do have a very interesting culture and I would like to see more representation for them in future games in the series, possibly as a playable character background? Hint hint, Bioware.

Apart from that, not much to say. It's an adequate extension of the base game, topped with a battle against a spirit-god dragon and getting a snazzy suit of armor for your trouble.

Dragon Age: Inquisition - Jaws of Hakkon is now available for download for PC, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

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

...okay, yeah, I know you were expecting Far Cry Primal.  Next week!