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Second verse... same as the first?
Our team now work as mercenaries. Now, they run afoul of the Sovereign, the Ravagers come into an unexpected circumstance, and everyone's relatives show back up... well, the ones that are still breathing. What? Everybody's got dead people! So the big theme is family. Because Vin can't keep that out of his franchises. Siblings, even if not by blood. Father *figures* if not biological ones. And it's explored incredibly well. It does grind the story to a halt.
By and large, this recreates, does twists on, and always increases in scope, what everyone loved in volume one. And most of the time, it's enjoyable. It does feel like it was written specifically to ensure it does well, where last time, it came out of the blue. The size is immense. At times, the amount of CGI on-screen is almost excessive. The smaller, personal scenes ensure it doesn't reach sensory overload. Fights get vast, and yet we can follow it. Heck, there are times where, intentionally, the action itself is literally off-screen, while we're watching something amusing or even "boring". The 3D is some of the best I've ever seen. There being so many jokes in this does end up slightly excessive, even forced, and there's too much low-brow stuff(and that's coming from someone who in general digs that kind of material).
There is a lot of content in this that is disturbing and/or violent. I recommend this to anyone who liked the original. And if you loved it, I will do more, I will implore you: you *have* to watch this one, too. 8/10
The Producers (1967)
Don't listen to him, he's crazy
In order to take advantage of a tax loophole, theater producer Max Bialystock(Mostel, flamboyant) and accountant Leo Bloom(Wilder, a nervous wreck) put on a play together that's sure to fail: Springtime For Hitler.
This is the only version I've watched. I've loved every Brooks-directed film that didn't have Dracula in it, meaning, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, History of the World: Part 1, Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights. And, yes, this. You can tell it's his debut. Quality, and thus, laughs, range greatly over the course of it. It's really broad. And vulgar from frame 1. For the first several minutes, it feels as though it's (possibly unintentionally) meta. Like the movie itself wants to offend the audience, not entertain. Then it starts to come together. The material that's strong in the good way piles on. And honestly, even when I wasn't laughing, the effort is still there.
This has tons of great personalities. Everyone is on the verge of a complete breakdown, many for different reasons and in other directions than the others. Adolf himself is portrayed by a flower-child whose mind is just barely still there from all the acid. He remembers his name only because the initials are LSD. Do note that the first performance of the piece itself, which is almost the only place that has musical numbers, is two thirds through the running time. This mocks all aspects of show business, and of Nazism. The aesthetics, the idea to wage war, and, yes, the devoted supporters that it still had when this came out. And sadly, to this day. Nothing disarms like comedy. Any moment that imagery from The Third Reich(which, as you might not know, meant Germany) is shown, it is ridiculed. The person, the clothes, the sound accompanying, the reaction, *something*, about it is risible.
The DVD has trailers for this, and movies like it. OSS 117: Cairo: Nest of Spies, OSS 117: Lost in Rio, The Last Remake of Beau Geste, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Silent Movie, High Anxiety, To Be Or Not To Be and The Cannonball Run. And since it's from Scandinavia, the ones with Brooks involved is listed under an alternate title involving the words "Springtime For". It also has posters for this, and pictures from it. I recommend this to any fan of those involved in making it. 8/10
What's in a name
You were there for an abortion. Which is ironically fitting for the quality of this. You wake up in a place you don't recognize, and they're going to take your baby. Hey! This kid is not dying! ...at the hands of anyone other than its mother. Watch as I, constantly, and fairly comfortably, fall hard front first, jump down, pull myself up... it's Prometheus all over again. Do these people have any experience whatsoever with pregnancy? And it all leads to an ending that feels as unearned as it is unsatisfying. This is a sequel to Stasis. It essentially does stand on its own. Still, there isn't much plot, or even backstory here. This is free, on GOG.com, as well as Steam, that one isn't(hence I haven't played it), and this one is to attract attention and support, for their Kickstarter, so it really ought to. I have to say, if this is indicative of how good it is, and I've heard it's in some ways better, I really am not interested in their other work.
You are Hadley. She's as mature, much or little, as the situation calls for. And like everyone else in this, in a desperate plea for the attention of teenagers, udderly(I had to), obnoxious, chatty, and miserably voice acted. Unlike the rest of them, she isn't largely expressing herself in PDAs that are trying wayyy too hard to be edgy, dark, bleak and gross. It's just awful people chronicling them being terrible towards each other. One of them is a literal bro, who calls another man "beta". And there must have been a drought of epic proportions, they're so freaking thirsty. Why yes, this *does* mean sexual kinks! They stop the gameplay dead, they are interminable, taking forever to read through. I would suggest you just skim them, since they do sometimes have information you need. Keeping in mind this is coming from someone who loves that aspect in Irrational's classic System Shock 2, BioShocks 1(and unfortunately, similar to that, all characters in this are crazy and hostile, just variations on that, it's old before it even starts), 2 and Infinite, and in Frictional's Games, such as Amnesia: The Dark Descent and SOMA.
There is some promise here. The level design requires an inordinate amount of insipid backtracking, and the hub areas are too open, with very little direction, and you forget which door leads where. Would a map have been too much to ask for? However. The various areas have personality. Medical ones contain chilling instruments: once ethics are out the door, what you do, and how you do it, faces almost no restrictions. Maintenance shows the tremendous power of the facility: this place is huge, and appears to have one, or a few, centralized sources of it. You get the sense that it could tear apart its immediate surroundings with little exertion. And then you realize that this is exactly what you have to make happen. A religious shrine, showing devotion. Quarters, displaying the luxury these... people lived in, while performing monstrous experiments on others. Anywhere that wasn't creepy to begin with, has been viciously attacked. And the genetically messed up, biological creature is still out there. Why would you be safe from it? All that blood, gore, so much destruction. The body horror here can be really effective.
This snarkasms at us, so we, in turn, start MST3King it. And it shows that it can rise about that, so why not do so all the time? When it's serious, the descriptions, events and the like are often compelling. The graphics are impressive, and not just for an indie. The isometric nature is rare today, and it makes an argument for a return to it. At least for some titles. The 3D is gorgeous. Beautifully animated full CG sequences. This knows that making everything dark grows stale, so instead the lighting underlines the perverse nature of this place. You can see a lot, and you'll wish you couldn't. Runs on PC/Mac/Linux.
This took me 3 hours, and others took less, or more. It depends on your speed at figuring out what you're supposed to do, or giving up and looking it up. No shame. As trite and inane as this is in general, it's at its worst when you look at the frequently simplistic, illogical and weird puzzles. Combinations, what you do with what you pick up and where you use them. I eventually stopped counting how many times I opened a door by a password, and then all I have to do is walk into the new room I, find a log or such, read it for the next code, and go all the way back, taking a whole minute or two, type in the new one, rinse and repeat. Like a children's game. I mean, a really bad one. One of the brain-rotting ones you try to avoid subjecting your offspring to.
Controls are straightforward and useful. The Inventory is in the lower left corner, and stores every item you've picked up. Put it together with another, or select it and go back. Point to anything, and the cursor will change accordingly. An eye if it's something you can only look at: you'll get a brief written, detailed description of it. The hyper-link, index-out hand if you can interact with it, either directly or with some item. And if you can walk down a path, an arrow. Er, the "return" one. Not sure why they chose that one. LMB to activate. If it's an in-engine cutscene that you can't interrupt, there'll be a small helix icon in the upper right. These don't tend to go on for overly long. The opening does take time, but it uses that to build suspense and a feeling of helplessness.
I recommend this only to those who play everything that they don't have to pay for. Money, I mean. The hours and IQ points, those are gone, wave bye-bye. 5/10
Body of work
You're a regular person. You need work done on your brain. You wake up afterwards, and you don't know where. When. How. Or what. But there's definitely something wrong. You will find out why you woke up in the situation you did. And you might end up wishing you hadn't. You're at PATHOS-II, a research station. Medical. Labs. Maintenance. It's located at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. And its cramped, worn mechanical innards bare only passing resemblance the grand Art Deco of Rapture.
You're Simon Jarrett(Zeus, sometimes nice, or a jerk, and occasionally dense). You live in Toronto. Work at a bookstore. You're in a car accident, and need work on your brain. You go in for an experimental scan. And the moment it's over, you find yourself displaced. It seems abandoned, and you'll find yourself wanting it to be. Everyone around is hostile. Well, almost... thankfully. Most prominent is Catherine Chung(Mooney, optimistic), who you spend a lot of time with. The extensive conversations between the two were unexpected, and they're a gamble that pays off. You'd think silence and solitude were necessary, or at the very least superior, when making someone scared, when shocking them to their core using themes of consciousness, body, identity, and other elements of transhumanism. And you'd be wrong.
She'll keep you focused, keep you from sulking, get you to snap out of your funk. Pointing out that you are lucky, both of you. Because where this could so easily be completely bleak, there is hope. A glimmer. A ray. You're not merely trying to escape(I'm looking at you, BioShock Infinite), the methods of doing so all failing for some reason or another. Big mistake. Obnoxious, repetitive, boring. You have a real goal. One that matters. Heck, the only one that does, that ever could again! I don't care how detached you might think you are, there's no way it won't inspire you. I won't reveal it here.
Anytime you face someone who you can converse with, you click to lead to a few more lines, or you don't, and move on. No dialog trees. Seriously, those would kill the tremendous immersion of this. And you aren't made to sit still and listen: you'll *want* to. This is also when you'll be faced with a difficult moral decision. Each time, there's some distinct aspect to it. You're not Harvesting/Saving adorable, huge-eyed 8-year-old girls ad nauseum. There's something to their situation. Their personality. History. Maybe they even ask you to... and maybe they don't. Perhaps they can't. At times they'll be tied to an enigma. Regardless of your choice, you'll have to live with it. And I'm not talking about your avatar anymore.
This has more different, in design and behavior, enemies than all previous Frictional's Games combined. Distinct, memorable. Some teleport, are blind, or leave you alone if you don't bother them. Noise will attract them, which is about the biggest use this makes of your ability to pick up, rotate, throw, just about everything that isn't nailed down. And sometimes, you'll be forced to do something loud. Maybe something breaks when you go near it. Or you have to activate something. Sometimes it'll be a door. Open, close, it'll be heard by anyone nearby. Whether it's you using the pathway... or if it's one of them. That's a lot like the travelling sound of the Thief series, and emulating those is always a plus in my book.
Ultimately, they do end up tedious. A little too often, you're already having trouble figuring out where to go since this has you disoriented so frequently. I wouldn't say I was ever truly lost. That would suggest something like playing Grand Theft Auto III and not having a printed out map. I never found myself having gone extremely far in the wrong direction. There's always a blind path if you keep going. It's just frustrating if you eventually reach that, and then there's someone or something in your way when you try to go back. Actual chases do tend to have you knowing where to go.
They went further in the direction of something like Outlast and Whistleblower. You keep an eye on where they are, you seldom stay completely still, you're always ready to bolt from where you are to where you need to go, which you keep making sure you know from looking. Doing that almost always works. As long as you don't slow down, you can outrun most of them. You don't randomly blunder into any. A lot of this is the journey to the destination. You often can't get very far "just" on foot. And unlike, say, Dead Space 1, it doesn't remain the same means for very long. So you fix, start back up and hitch a ride on, several major vehicles and systems.
You get to walk, and Sprint, across the surface down there. The one big chunk of it should maybe be trimmed by a third. Still, I am baffled by those who call it, well, anything less than stunning. Things float slower, and you have greater freedom of movement. That is one place where you can really enjoy the physics engine. It's gotten another immense upgrade, and it shows. Why it isn't used more for puzzles, I do not know. In general, those are made much easier, and, largely, simpler, albeit not to the extent as in A Machine For Pigs. They wanted exploration and storytelling to be more prominent. It leaves a hole in its place. You have no Inventory. You can carry one or two small things. Yes. They'll automatically be taken out or put away when appropriate.
I recommend this to any fan of cyberpunk, the survival horror game subgenre and this bunch of creative Swedes. And make sure you stay through the end credits, for the culmination of what took me 9 and a half hours to do, and will take decades upon decades to forget. 8/10
Bio Menace (1993)
You are Snake Logan, top CIA operative, awesome in name and all other respects. After you parachute out of the plane you were flying to do recon, you find yourself in the thick of it, in the city. You have to stop Dr. Mangle(oh, like Mengele... that fits pretty well), who's unleashed countless untold horrors upon it.
Though this is called Bio Menace, you go up against robots, in addition to the genetically mutated. They walk, run, hop, fly, drive. In patterns, at you. Ranged, up close, kamikaze. Lasers, energy, explosives. You can use those, as well, in addition to bullets. Once they spot you, a lot will remain focused on you, which is something you have to be ready for, and can take advantage of. Same goes for the fact that they and you can attack something that isn't on the screen as it moves centered on you.
If you don't have special ammo, you will fire in bursts(from your thankfully infinite supply, since you'd be out of luck without it), otherwise, you may be able to use the fully automatic nature of your rifle. You can aim left, right, and whether you are or aren't crouched or stationary. Never up or down, and not from ladders, though those could be incredibly useful. Your throwables are, and you have to use them in this order when you have more than one of them: the Landmines that you typically have too many of for how relatively, well, useless, they are. To be fair, they can take the brunt for when you're really being rushed, and some enemies can't be taken out with your gun. You *can* kill anything that moves. Incendiary, meaning they spit out a few flames, and then plain old pineapple, grenades. Careful when something goes boom... you'd be surprised how much of it can hit yourself, too.
This uses the same engine as Captain, sorry, *Commander* Keen: Secret of the Oracle. And, The Armageddon Machine and Aliens Ate My Babysitter!, , since it's the same. He even makes a cool cameo at one point! Stating he's on his way to, once again, teach Mortimer McMire who's boss(1 point higher IQ, my butt). Well, Id Software? You promised it here, in 1993, and then you didn't deliver until 2001! And then it wasn't even you who developed it! Cancelled for the sake of Wolfenstein and Doom, pfft... I demand you feed my addiction for Billy Blaze adventures! Here, though, you can't grab ledges. It sacrifices saving anytime(now only at the start of any given level), in favor of a replenishable health bar rather than contact meaning insta-death, which is now reserved for the toughest foes. While I miss the original way, here, hey, we do have VG's that way, and this is another flavor, and, in the immortal words of Cameron Poe("you... have been...near death... the entire... trip?" Con Air for life!), it tastes good.
And then, there's, of course, the adult tone. We've gone from Goonies and Flight of the Navigator to Commando and The Terminator. Giving a headache, complete with stars flying around the head in cartoony fashion? Nope! Let's blast them apart like it's StarCraft. Gore is plentiful in the corpses strewn about, as well. You die, you won't bounce out of sight, looking like you're in pain. No, you turn into a skeleton that then falls apart. Yeah, you'll wanna keep the kids out of the room for this one. They'll just try to yank the controller from you, anyway. From my cold dead hands! The story is paperthin, and yet, wonderfully, takes itself very seriously and is played straight. Twists aplenty, you'll have to go through all three episodes to see it all, and, thus, to figure out what is even going on, behind the scenes. Remember, you'll miss some if you don't click F1, in all 3. You can also use PageUp and, well, down, to look above or beneath you. Why did they move them from the arrow keys? ...well, you got me.
In order to complete any given section, you, well, uh, reach the exit. Except for the boss fights, which, to a greater extent than the rest of this, increase exponentially in how difficult it is(you may want to settle for Easy of the three settings), this means rescuing a hostage. They have the keycard that lets you leave. Why did they bother capturing anyone, when they annihilated everyone else with seemingly no regard for who? Hey, evil master plans are complicated, OK? It'll all make sense when you realize that...look over there! Of course, they're not merely tied up. Some including to a chair, which they hilariously kick back and forth with no impact on how trapped they are. No, there's a beam of electricity between them and you. Don't cross the stream. It'll need turning off, with a crystal. And you may need at least two to progress. They grant passage to an area you hadn't been to.
They're hidden inside doors. Of course, there are tons of those. And every last one of them requires a key. You will find a seemingly endless series of ones that don't have anything of the sort. Instead, they have point items. Not power-ups, such as health and armaments. Those you get elsewhere. So you spend a lot of time seemingly not getting anywhere.
It doesn't help that clearly, you're meant to know where to go and what to do, or you'll have to adjust inhumanly fast, based on where sources of your demise are and how you interact with them. So it may be useful to redo a portion after you've done it once. Inflating how long it'll take you, annoyingly. You already have a high score table. Which once full of players, not the standard it comes with, will grant you a scene of your character knocking off a small group.
I recommend this to any fan of action platformers. 7/10
A fitting farewell
Logan(Jackman, truly understanding the role that made him a star off Broadway too) is faced with helping a young female mutant who's having trouble with her powers. So it ends in much the same way it began. He's also taking care of Xavier(Stewart, grumpy and foul-mouthed, and we love it, but still some hope left). They're both dealing with aging, losing control of their abilities. The next generation need their protection. One last ride.
Third time's the charm. As close as the second solo outing got, this is what we've wanted from Wolverine right from when we saw him cage-fighting. And with X-23, or Laura(played to perfection by the incredibly talented young Keen), the torch is passed. The way is paved for the X-Force, as well as the New X-Men. This is a slow burn, and a road movie. The action is amazing, using the R-rating for the ferocity and brutality that is called for, never gratuitously. There is not as much of it as in other entries in the series, and if you're not that interested in the characters this studies, you probably won't be that compelled to watch this. You can go into this blind.
This has a lot of strong language, and brief nudity, in addition to what I've already described. I recommend this to anyone who even considers themselves a little bit of a fan. 8/10
Dead, floated up to shore
December 31st, 1959. The big night. And with a noir flair, familiar faces are moved into a place we recognize. What is going on? Why are they here? And what will become of them?
If you're considering getting any of this DLC, aim for the Season Pass. Even if you don't get into anything else, the Gears are great. You probably won't swap them out for anything. I didn't. Same goes for the ones in the only you have to buy separately from the rest, Columbia's Finest. Stuff is called what it should be, looks and sounds right. And of course, we meet characters that we're already familiar with. They even look as silly when changing facial expression as before! And Atlas is rendered more racist, because if you use offensive material without meaning it, that's controversial. And not just... y'know. Crass. Immature. And far too reminiscent of how Rise of an Empire, or 300 #2, uses its few swear words.
It was clear from very early on that Irrational's latest outing, despite several delays, and a 3-year-development, had at least as many bafflingly wrongheaded decisions as good ones. I crossed my fingers that it would end there. It did not.
In this, you can carry every gun you come across. You're not limited to 2. So why are you, at all? And why can I still not scroll through them using the mouse wheel? And couldn't you at least then have let me use it for the Vigors? Why only use a toggle key? And then a wheel for the latter, again showing that you could easily have done that with the former!
Carry capacity has been appropriately lowered. And custom/alternate ammo is introduced! ...so why only here?! Instead we were stuck with bland weapons. Down from 5 different Grenade types. Resource management is vital here. Don't get me wrong, ADAM remains gone. A return to Eden, this ain't. Still, you're keeping health kits on your person. So what's Booker's problem? How did he stay alive through all those armed conflicts he excelled at, without a shield?
And, more to the point, a permanent source of safely respawning? Though she does charge for the service, apparently. Hey, if you're good at something, don't do it for free. ...of course, everything else she does, she asks for nothing in return. She'll do it with a smile on her face, even though she's just been facing the darkness inherent in the world she's in. I'm on a Hook. Are you going to stay down there? As you have to? Like you always do? And as you are sure to tell me every single time, with barely any different line reads?
Don't get me wrong, real consequences still aren't a thing. Not since the System became the Bio. Let's go through it once more, for those who weren't paying attention. When you were dealing with SHODAN, the circumstances surrounding the resurrection stations were different. There was only one to a Deck. You had to find it and activate it. It might be very far away from where you had to go, so you lost a lot of time. More of a hassle than a challenge? How about this: a bunch of the sections, did. Not. Have. Them. At all. So if you had gotten used to a do-over, boy were you in for a surprise. You'd better have saved recently. Because it doesn't just send you back to the last portion. It put you back at the menu. You may even get to see your corpse be turned into a cyborg. You will serve her well.
You get to see Rapture before the fall. And yes, it *is* by way of walking simulator! How did you know?! 20 agonizing minutes. Out of 110 total! And after that, it's a decent recreation of what we've seen before. Which we could simply go back to.
Well, that amount of time covers the first episode. The more traditionally FPS one. Dull. And then you get to the other one. The worse one. That makes you wish you were just bored. It took me a little under 3 hours. I've heard others say they did it in 5, or 6. I'm not a leet master hacker. But when the choice is between obnoxious gameplay, and Sprinting past, yeah, you can figure out what I pick, then.
Like the name of the 1998 Mode suggests, it's Thief-style stealth. Except you don't know where the enemy is before they can easily spot you, too. The amount of light you are or aren't in, not to mention the distance between you, don't make the slightest bit of difference. So it's Dishonored. You even have a crossbow! It's not useless. Bolts for knocking out with a syringe of sedative, ones that use sleeping gas and can affect several at once, and ones that give off noise to distract. Yup, Garrett should message his lawyer.
Of course, you could also draw comparison to Splinter Cell: Blacklist. It came out around the same time. And it definitely has shortcomings, problems and such. Nevertheless, it wipes the floor with this. Reminding people of better things they could be doing is always unfortunate to do in your pieces of creative expression. And given that this lets you visit a firm, propagandaistic education center, I do find myself wondering if I could go to school, instead. Maybe clean my room. I'm certain I could find some paint that would be *stunning* to watch dry, by comparison.
The Tears let you move between the two fantastical cities. You get background on Songbird, and genuinely compelling interaction with a Big Daddy. Of course, it's also eager to awkwardly, terribly retcon plot twists that some found disappointing. Sacrificing for that thematic resonance, chilling realizations and historical significance.
I recommend this only to people who insist on trying every single piece of content. Otherwise, steer clear(you're welcome). 5/10
BioShock Infinite (2013)
Call of Duty: Head In The Clouds
At the onset, you know almost nothing. "Bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt". You've gambled. Owe the wrong people. You don't know her, the place, or yourself. Over the course of this, that will change. She's not "a" Disney princess... she's Rapunzel! You two meeting, and you getting her out of there, is right out of Tangled. You will be followed by the robotic creature Songbird. He's not in it much, though. It's almost like they forgot he was there. And there's a lot of that. This has a compelling, deep, emotional story and ending(you can't affect which you get, they wanted to tell a specific tale, and it was the right choice), though you could argue that it takes over from everything else.
You spend a lot of time simply admiring the world they built up, and that's what they wanted. At first, it simply looks beautiful. Stunning. Then you realize that you're only seeing whites. And then you do find them. Waiters. Cleaning personnel. The industrial plant is full of them. And the propaganda sends chills down your spine. "8 hour day? That's anarchy, which leads to starvation! Anything less than 16 is against all of our values. Of course you are to use *my* stores. Others might cheat you! That's not what laws are for. You will live right next to the factory. On cots, mere feet away from each other. Privacy, spare time, space, are not for you." They bid on what job to do, by how fast they can complete it. The hungry and dying are turned away at the door, rather than more positions created for them.
The walking simulator parts make you wonder why they didn't go for something like Penumbra and Amnesia. I'm not asking that they offer solutions for problems that don't involve a lot of violence on your part: this serves the interesting themes. But as it is, there are no puzzles. It's much longer than the plot needs it to be, thus it gets contrived and repetitive to pad it out, much like Max Payne 3. And the FPS is start-stop, underdone, and just as eager to throw out solid ideas that worked as it is to introduce new ones.
Enemies are stupid and too easy or annoying. The weapons are bland, too similar, overpowered, and you can only carry 2 at any time. Not asking for 10. I'd be happy with 4. You don't have to give us a proper inventory where we decide between them and other vital things. I mean, you took back carrying items. So you have to loot all the time.
Actually, Elizabeth(Draper, sweet, maturing) will do that, too. Not sure how she finds anything I didn't. I can't tell her what to look for. Sometimes a while will pass without any result. If I relied on her, I'd have a ton of trouble. Did they forget about one while working on the other? She'll somehow locate you a newly reloaded gun just like the one you were using. Though I agree it doesn't make sense, I do appreciate that the upgrades you've gotten are permanent to that one, no matter how many times you trade it out and back. Not every pistol to every other: rather, every Handcannon.
How does she make it? She kinda crouches awkwardly on the edge of the area during combat. A bunch of the foes are there to stop you and kidnap her: why risk live rounds? They *literally* worship her! Couldn't she hide, temporarily disappear or the like? You know, into one of her Tears? That's tares. Not tiers. Rittsch, not boo-hoo. You can use them for fares. Cover. Aid. Mechanical assistance... that you can get more than once, if it's destroyed! Lame. Only one can be active.
You point and press the key for it. That's the same way you move between the Sky-Line, Hooks and the ground. You can't miss, and you won't fall. Unless a Handyman electrifies what you were on which you can see and hear before it hits. This makes it accessible while allowing for complex combinations. And thus the fighting that would otherwise get tedious remains enjoyable. I will say that I spammed the 2 tactics that worked best, stuck with the Carbine and Hailfire and thus encountered little challenge.
Gears I also didn't swap much. Since the DLC ones are so strong. If you think you did get Columbia's Finest, even if Steam says you didn't, and won't let you post a review for it, you might have it. It didn't give me the money or such. You wear them. They're Hats, Shirts, Boots, and Pants. You use one for each of those, regardless of how many you've found of the same kind. They're like Tonics.
Vigors are the new Plasmids. There's no ADAM, it's Silver Eagles for them. You'll come upon all, not having to make a moral decision to determine whether you get more or less. It's true that there are issues with the Little Sisters. "Who would want to hurt this cute widdle girl with humongous, adorable eyes?" As has been pointed out, presumably if they had been overweight, middle-aged truck drivers, we wouldn't care as much. About this innocent individual's pain.
The ethics remain. Do you, or not, use force against those who cannot defend themselves. Here, they're NPCs. So it's more like Grand Theft Auto. Except it is truly just about whether you personally take satisfaction in shooting them. You won't earn anything by doing so. The society here does celebrate minorities. Used as slave labor, I mean. And that's just it. People who live that, who support that in that they aren't trying to change it. What fate do they deserve? No one can stop you. It's your trigger. Cops, you are just returning fire.
I recommend this to anyone that the hype appealed to. Adjust your expectations for reality first. 7/10
Bioshock 2: Minerva's Den (2010)
Cavern of Smarts
Machines need love too. And so, CM Porter(Lumbly, charismatic) tried to give just that to The Thinker, the central computer that runs all of Rapture. Yes, we're still there. Last time, thankfully. But now, it's in the hands of its worshiper and co-developer(read the fine print), Reed(Szarabajka, mad. Easily the dullest antagonist of the franchise). And he doesn't wanna let go. Ideally, you bring it to the surface. It can do a lot of good. That's what Charles Milton(that's what those stand for. Now sit down) tells you. And Tenenbaum(Bobby, caring) agrees. Of course, she's assisting you. Kind of a hobby of hers. "Underwater city in need of saving? I'm there." You're a Big Daddy. Again. Subject Sigma, instead of Delta. This keeps most of the things that BioShock 2 did, you know, better than the original. Nothing meant to be dramatic is unintentionally hilarious. It doesn't have a lot of new content. The returns are handed to you since it doesn't have time to build up. Upgraded firearms don't have to be bought! An Ion Cannon that feels a little obvious, attention-grabby, desperate, y'know. Come back, please! Uh... laser! Everybody likes those! And it introduces the Gravity Well. The reason you get it is contrived: to get through some doors, you need something to throw over a divider that can pull out the magnetic thingiemajig. So you'll need something that sucks. Hard. And it does that. It's fine, it feels showy, an over-baked concept. This took me 5 hours, I doubt I'll play it again, and I could have done it faster. It got pretty bland and boring. The ending(only one, regardless of the moral choices you make. They made the right decision. Of course, given the length, they could have removed it) does pack a real emotional punch. Heck, the whole thing does, even more-so than its core game. And the twists do really get to you, in addition to surprising you. There are further explorations of the characters, and of the new ones. The insulation and loneliness of leaving behind the rest of the world. Coping. The late Pearl(Ricks, sweet) is mourned over.
You move from point A to B, fighting Splicers, who have gone insane from the messing with their genetic code that they do. There are new types of them. The Fiery Brute, who's OK, and the Wintry Houdini. He teleports around. Now, he can temporarily take out of commission anything that, well, moves. They'll leave behind goodies, and you can loot closets, boxes and the like. You, too, can find and use Plasmids, which are powers that your mind can let you send out from your body. Set on fire, electrify, freeze, etc. Tactics come from which you carry and how you use them with the weapons. Shotgun, pistol, and more. You have a Drill instead of a Wrench. I do hope they give you a hammer next. Or let you screw. Let's go through all the tools. There are not many Little Sisters to Rescue/Harvest. They immediately take a liking to you after you killed the only defense they had from this volatile world. And you keep them safe as they get stab-by with the syringe on Angels. You also find that someone tried to do mechanical versions of them, and that didn't work. I imagine we're supposed to be creep-ed out by that. We even get a silly jump-scare attached to it. It does not land.
You also fight the robotic security systems, including cameras that will sound the alarm if they spot you. And Bots. Those attack as you can. This has some improved ones, such as using rockets, and using them feels like cheating. You do so by Hacking them, which you can do to a lot of automated things. Also vending machines. This can be done from a distance, or up close. When you engage it, there will be a readout, with a needle that moves swiftly from one side to the other. You click at the right time, it works out. What you want is green, or even better, blue. If you miss, it may alert if you hit red, or just zap you if it's blank. Comparatively, this is a lot more exciting, less over-involved, and it doesn't pause, so you have to keep on your toes. Unlike simply connecting pipes that water will flow through. Eh, maybe someone at Irrational loved that program when it originally came out. And I get it. Plumbing. And we're in the deep ocean. With metal keeping dry the... yeah.
Dying simply means you re-spawn at a nearby Vita Chamber. It's not difficult to have consequences to that! Most VG's get that right. System Shock 2, which these badly wanna be, did. You don't come back with full health. You may have to spend a while getting back to where you were geographically. And every time you reach a new section, you actually have to find, and activate, the resurrection station, or you'll just plain die. Not return to the previous area. No. You'll just be gone. Why these can't go there, I do not know.
Huh, prior to sitting down to type this review up, I never really looked at the voice cast for these. I guess it couldn't hurt to... Armin Shimerman? Quark? *He's* Andrew Ryan? I mean, the "cruel capitalist with low empathy" comparison is clear, I just didn't believe he could sound that classy. Is that what they mean when they say no one admits that's how they sound when recorded? Yuri Lowenthal, not surprised. Too bad he doesn't have a pouty Persian Prince to play here. Jodelle Ferland? As a creepy girl who has a connection to a parental figure? I coulda told you she'd fit that. At least she doesn't scream the title in this one. Matt Letscher? Good Morning, Miami's Gavin Stone? Man.
There is a lot of violent, disturbing content in this. I recommend this only to completionists. 7/10
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (2013)
I heard that
Revenge. And bounty hunting. Getting in the way of each other. Picking one and sticking with it, even if it were the latter, similar to Thief: The Dark Project and do world-building with, like this, relatively little plot, would have been preferable. Both do allow you to meet, and usually go up against, if not always kill or even win against, tons of infamous people. Name-dropping, mostly, albeit some get to do their thing, such as a bank robbery or blowing up train tracks, which you try to stop.
This whole thing is you, Silas Greaves(Cygan, charming), recounting highlights from his career to a handful of listeners in a saloon that you do get to visit, an opportunity they waste. That allows jumping around the US and in time. Along the way, they'll challenge your account. So you adjust to fit. Enemies and paths will come and go. They occasionally overdo it. And I can understand those who dislike this, well, gimmick. If you do, this is not for you. Or hearing them talk in general, which there could have been an option to turn off since most of it doesn't affect anything. Personally, I'm glad we're getting different approaches, as long as the ideas and execution are, at least, good, and here, they are. Not bad, and not ugly. I'll get to those.
This is essentially a shooting gallery. And Where's Waldo, since they blend in with the background, something I can't recall seeing elsewhere, even in retro stuff. Everything is an excuse for the bullets to fly in all directions. At least it's not really racist... the Latinos and Natives are treated the same as the Whites. Not better, either... after all, you *are* trying to snuff out each other, you're not doing reparations. They may charge at you, throw dynamite as grenades(you can, as well, and hit and blow it mid-air) and carry it on belts that scream "aim for me", hold up a wooden shield(feels like it was designed for another setting in time and place) and sometimes peaks out from behind it, or wear armor. That's how similar they are.
What you're using to deliver the lead matters. And ultimately, you only have revolvers(fast and weak, ranged and power, and the middle-ground), shotguns(short and regular. Good luck using them, what with being fought by their spread and frequent reloading) and rifles(one of the two being sawn-off). For all the limitations of the where and when, it still feels as lacking in variety as it is. I'm not asking to be able to pick up the Tomahawk, or the bow and arrow that they could have had. Just something. You can dual-wield the first four mentioned, using either the same one, or two separate, triggers. Ammo conservation is an obvious strength of the latter: if you run out in one, the other might have some left.
The upgrades don't alter much, other than stats. Compared to developer Techland's Dead Island, which is definitely overall worse than this, it's simple. There, they change how you play. Examples include boomeranging what you toss, crushing skulls of downed foes, the Rage attacks, customizing extra damage for weapons. It has special enemies that force you to adjust how you play when dealing with them. Varied ones in general. The fun of freely chopping off limbs instead of merely proceeding in a straightforward manner. I'm not saying all of these could be in this, or should be, still, the contrast is stark. The three are: speed, close range, and distance. Each has two skill trees, and can unlock two "Legendary"(read: improved version) firearm.
Completing this once unlocks level selector, the hardest of the 3 difficulties, with no HUD, and New Game +: Play again with all your stats carried over. It apparently gets tougher, as well. This is challenging on easiest. I personally got everything I wanted the first time through. I don't see myself returning to this. It took me four and a half hours, another two for the Arcade ones, each once. For the current asking price of about 15, bucks or Euros, that's basically fine.
Even if you're not doing Duel Mode, you will have to master the quickdraw to complete this. You know, where it's vital that you avoid being hit by this one person, when you take plenty any other time. It's awkward all the way. Hold a shrinking circle over the possibly-probably-not-though-moving-either-side to focus, and it'll zoom in on him. Eh, not too bad? Wait. For some reason, it moves slowly, barely, and going too far happens a lot. Position your hand over the holster. Or don't. Not sure it matters. This whole bit needs to be repeated each time you do, and you will, die. No idea why, you can't do it more than one way. Finally, at 80% or so, you can go for it. If you're fine with doing it dishonourably. Otherwise, wait for him to, first. Be polite about it. Then, you dodge to either side if he gets one off, which decidedly doesn't fit the period and location. At least the bullet-time mimics the reflexes. You, obnoxiously, adjust the reticule to get a mortal wound on them. And voila.
I haven't played the first three in the franchise... it's not quite a series anymore, not much continuity. In research, I did find that they had a lot this doesn't, and thus, is missed. Stealth. Two characters that offered abilities the other didn't. You might switch between them one level to the next. Or choose which. Maybe they go together, one of them controlled by AI. Riding horses and doing drive-by's as it were. Multiplayer, with modes beyond the bare minimum. Of course, at least this is considered to be superior to the dreadful third one. Not sure why the cover mechanic is gone. It left a gaping hole. It should be there.
I recommend this to the biggest fans of spaghetti Westerns. 5/10