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.


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 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" 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 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...
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.

Friday, April 1, 2016

MadCap's Game Reviews - "Castlevania"

Retro cover, retro caption!
Does everyone remember when I went into the Nintendo Rebirth Universe? Good, then I don't have to explain ti all.  Needless to say, the second offering from Nintendo's company-wide reboot of all of its properties would not have been completely without their acquisition of Konami and their bringing in the Belmont clan to the new multi-game universe they've started up with the new Super Mario Bros. (not to be confused with New Super Mario Bros. a few years ago).

Indeed, our game does begin with the Mario Bros. being brought by the enigmatic Mr. Game N' Watch to a location described as belonging to the "Smash Bros. Initiative" and he shows them a familiar whip and the Belmont family crest, which transitions into a flashback to Transylvania in 1691 and we are introduced to our protagonist, Simon Belmont (voiced by Nolan North) heading into Castlevania proper to tackle the Belmonts' long-time foe Dracula (voiced by Troy Baker). We are looking at a young Simon who has thankfully not suffered from the events of Castlevania II: Simon's Quest.  Because, y'know, this is a full on reboot. Although they do have a funny scene when Simon reaches the first checkpoint of a man in the words telling him to "prosess Dracula's rib" before Simon punches him in the face and demands he speak English.

But it seems that the battle against Dracula is not to take place in the beginning like in Symphony of the Night, but is - in fact - a vision of the future given to Simon by a mysterious seer, who sets him on his path to Transylvania.  This time, unlike Symphony of the Night, the entire game does not take place within Dracula's castle, but there are several (admittedly linear) paths to the castle through such scenic locations such as graveyards, forests, and even an underground cave system.

Castlevania makes a smooth transition to 3-D (at long last given the N64 attempts).  Simon controls very well with the Wii U remote. Cracking that whip has never felt more visceral and satisfying as Vampire Killer whacks into an enemy, like any good beat 'em up.  The secondary attack items are very useful in this, and control just as well, though the Boomerang Cross spawns at an admittedly much lower rate than I would like, and you sadly don't get to keep items between the separate levels save for the lead in to the finale fight with Dracula.

If you've played the first Casltevania on NES, then you've pretty much played this with a slightly less nice coat of paint. Each level ends with a mini-boss and the difficult is ramped up as you go on in a way that we haven't seen from Nintendo in a long, long while and it's a welcome change very much in line with what they're bringing with the reboots. So well done, Nintendo.

Also, much like the DC Extended Universe, they're doing plot weaving flawlessly.  Throughout the game, there's hints of a greater evil even beyond Dracula, as well as cameos from Alucard and Simon's ancestor Trevor that warn him of it.  Indeed, even as Dracula is defeated, we get a post-credits scene of several of his minions being led by Death (who is, unsurprisingly, not dead after his particularly difficult boss battle) who are putting away a sarcophagus into hiding that Death says contains the "Master Hand". It's up in the air what he means, but there's no doubt that it's going to be something important to come, as Game N' Watch mentions it to the Mario brothers as well once the game is finished, and it seems to be enough to get them to agree to join the Initiative, ending the game.

However...there is the matter of a little light-blue light that's seen in some scenes with Simon, and is again seen in the present spying on the Mario Bros. and Game N' Watch, and even gets to deliver the last two words of dialogue.


...gee, I wonder what it means...

Castlevania is now available from Konami and Nintendo for the Wii U.

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