The latest season of Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 got pretty dark, huh?
Jessica Jones is Marvel’s second Netflix series, this an adaptation of Alias, title changed for obvious reasons. Jessica Jones is an ex-superhero (of sorts) turned PI, and the series has kind of a Veronica Mars with superpowers vibe (dark crime show with a post-traumatic, sardonic, yet totally hot investigator protagonist), sans the high school.
Krysten Ritter stars as the titular Jones, David Tennant as the Purple Man, Mike Colter as Luke Cage, Carrie-Ann Moss as for some reason Jeryn Hogarth, and Rachael Taylor (the Aussie from the first Transformers movie) as Patsy Walker. Clarke Peters from The Wire also has a small role as a cop from Rucka’s awesome Punisher run.
I worried my hopes were too high for this. I liked Daredevil a lot. I like PI stories. I like Krysten Ritter. I liked the source material. I like seeing them do superhero stuff where the protagonist isn’t a white dude. But did that mean if it turned out mediocre, I’d be disappointed?
It turns out not to matter. It’s very good.. Kristen Ritter nails the attitude for the part. Killgrave is appropriately unsettling/terrifying. Luke Cage is Luke Cage. It fits with Daredevil‘s tone but doesn’t shy away from superpowers quite as much.
Into the Badlands is AMC’s new supernatural martial arts series, which I only found out at the opening credits was created by the Smallville guys, and that’s not a great sign. I would have passed on the show, since I’m not much of a fight scene fan, but there appeared to be a lot of really attractive women in the trailer.
Unfortunately, they were only shown briefly in the trailer, which I think caused my brain to overestimate their hotness, and though they’re perfectly nice looking, they’re not hot enough for me to watch a show I’m not otherwise excited about.
Fallout 4 is the latest post-apocalyptic action RPG from Bethesda. It’s basically more of the same, with better graphics, a new setting, and a few new features. And it’s a little bit buggy at launch, but not unplayably so. Which is all fine, I do love the Fallout games, so more of the same is actually good.
In this, you play a member of an ideal family in a quaint Boston suburb when the bombs fall. You rush off to a nearby Vault, which turns out to be running a non-consensual cryogenic experiment. You wake up from deep freeze briefly to see someone pop open your spouse’s freezer, kill him/her, and steal your baby. You wake up again later to find the other frozen folks dead, and you’re forced to wander out into what is known as “the Commonwealth,” the Boston area wastes.
Following the Vault Dweller, Chosen One, Lone Wanderer, and Courier, this one is called the Sole Survivor. I made a lady, largely with the understanding that the actress who voiced Jack from Mass Effect was doing her voice, and it’s pretty great (also the guy who voiced Garrus does the voice for a lot of random unnamed NPCs, so that’s weird/cool). I’m finding myself picking more of the wiseass dialog options just because it seems more appropriate for the voice.
It is a little bit odd, to be a Fallout veteran but playing someone who should be totally floored by everything. Previous protagonists knew the world was destroyed, and though the particulars of the wasteland may have been a surprise, they at least had some idea what to expect. Here, you’re living your white picket fence life one day, and the next there are ghouls, super mutants, and whatever the hell else. You’re not nearly as freaked out by it as you should be.
I can’t really judge the story at this point, because I’m totally distracted with sidequests that I’ve barely progressed the story at all. I’ve only just gotten to Diamond City, but I’ve built up quite a few settlements and connected trade networks and all that.
- The Pip Boy app is neat but useless. It’s easier to go to the pip boy in-game than go to my phone, so I do that. But the instant interactivity between game and app is nifty. Switch weapons on our phone, and your player in game switches weapons. Use a stimpack and your health goes up. But after about 5 minutes, the thrill is gone and I never used it again.
- They really stripped down the dialog options to a much more Bioware approach. You get some options with a 2 or 3 word description, and sometimes when your character speaks, it’s not exactly what you intended. But this way does make more sense if your character is going to have a voice actor.
- You can only have one companion at a time, which is probably the worst thing about this game so far. One of the better things Bioware games have started to do is banter between NPC companions. It adds to the characters, and peppers story and comedy into the parts of the game that are just exploring and whatnot. But sticking to just one companion at a time makes that impossible. He just says random shit to you. Including complaining when you pick up junk, which is nuts, because junk is really valuable.
- Also similar to Bioware games, instead of one general karma figure, your decisions affect your companions’ opinions of you (except, I think, for Dogmeat, who is appropriately loyal). Oddly, the first human companion I picked up is too much of a goody-goody for me, so I went back to the dog. He kept disapproving at me trying to finagle a few extra caps out of someone for doing a task.
- Reloading the laser musket by turning the crank is hilarious.
- Some keys can’t be configured. I prefer ESDF to WASD, but E is the key to loot items out of things, which can’t be changed. So it’s automatically selected (or oddly sometimes you end up picking up a corpse) when walking forward into something lootable in my preferred key config. So I have to use WASD, I’m constantly putting my fingers on the wrong keys, and exiting my power armor when I don’t mean to.
- Speaking of, the idea of the power armor as more like a vehicle is kinda cool. It feels like getting into the Iron Man suit every time.
- You get a whole different interface in power armor vs outside of it. Which would be kinda cool if the outside interface wasn’t overly minimalist, and the inside interface wasn’t ugly. But it’s also important, because the power armor uses a special fuel now, which you can sometimes struggle to find. Which I guess is good, because I’m nigh invulnerable inside it, so it’s only fair to force me to sometimes do without. All my deaths but one so far are via nuke or deathclaw (the other was due to negligence, I feel so invulnerable I walked into a difficult fight at 1/3 health and didn’t realize it).
- They did a pretty good job with Fenway, though they left out the bullpens. In the alternate history, they retired Cronin, Doerr, and Pesky, but not Ted Williams? The history diverges in ’45, so maybe they decided he died in the war before he had a HoF career? And then from ’45 on the numbers diverge, so no Yaz or Jim Rice or Pedro or Jackie Robinson. A broadcast in 2077 indicated they were still without a title in 2077, though in the series. But since the bombs fell on 10/23, the series never finished. I feel like someone high up at Bethesda is a Yankees fan.
- The radio is about 1/3 recycled from Fallout 3, 1/3 other old songs (more rock and roll than the Jazz type stuff from Fo3), and 1/3 original songs. The DJ is kinda weird, but amusing.
- The crafting system is pretty nuts. They basically made it worthwhile to pick up all those bent tin cans and pencils and stuff. You end up building not just weapons and armor, but entire towns. The only problem is that this is really the only non-intuitive part of the game. I had to read a guide to follow parts of it.
- The lip sync is pretty weak. If the character models weren’t as good, it wouldn’t be a problem, I don’t think. But the characters have improved dramatically and the lip-movements haven’t improved at all. It just makes it a bit of an uncanny valley thing.
- Super serious statements in Boston accents are hilarious.
- There are two guys with Russian accents, which is confusing as hell. That one guy had a Scottish, I think, accent in Fallout 3, which was already weird. But Russian is just confusing, because you get that accent by being a native Russian speaker and learning Russian later, right? How does that happen?
- It is pretty buggy. I’ve had a couple NPCs fall halfway into the floor. I had to close the game and start it up again because my weapons disappeared from the UI. The ammo count on the HUD sometimes just randomly says zero even when I have hundreds of rounds. Scripted dialogue segments talk over each other sometimes. Spots where you’re supposed to follow someone, they get stuck for 15-20 seconds. Your companion ends up on a different floor of a building from you and you don’t see him for like 30 minutes. Fortunately on the PC you can still bring up the console and turn clipping off when you get physically stuck, though I imagine that’s frustrating as hell for console people.
Agent X is TNT’s new action show which sorta combines James Bond with National Treasure, where VP Sharon Stone discovers the hidden basement in the official residence from which the Veep traditionally operates his one-man spy network. The guy from Boss who had sex with Kathleen Robertson a lot plays the secret agent guy, Gerald McRaney is the Veep’s assistant guy who’s in on the secret, James Earl Jones is the Chief Justice of SCOTUS, Lex Luthor from Lois and Clark is the President, and Olga Fonda plays the hot evil chick who is basically the only redeeming part of this dumb show, hence the picture being of her rather than anything else related to the show.
Spectre continues Skyfall‘s approach of a more cinematic take on Bond’s adventures, but this time bringing in some of the more ridiculous aspects of the Bond mythos. Which can be a little bit weird, in that it all seems very serious, while he just assumes the villain will do stupid things that Bond villains do. It was overall good though, Craig is a fine Bond, and the cinematography is great, which really nice for the globetrotting adventures and exotic locales and all that. About average for the Daniel Craig Bond movies, I’d say, which is pretty solid.
As an aside, the imdb trivia page for this movie is garbage. Incredibly long, and it has to be at least half “[somebody] is the [oldest/first/most often] to do [something] in the Bond franchise.” Or even worse “first since [not that long ago],” like the one about how this is the first Daniel Craig Bond movie to be partially set in a snowy location, and the first since Die Another Day. They made three whole movies that didn’t have snow? Amazing trivia, imdb!
It appears to be semi-autobiographical, since it’s pretty similar to every other character Ansari plays, except he’s an actor living in NYC, and his real life parents play his parents. Noelle Wells (very cute in this), H Jon Benjamin, David Krumholz, Todd Barry, Busta Rhymes (looking very old), Claire Danes, and probably some other people of note (I’m not quite finished yet) appear.
It’s very good. Occasional bits of seriousness, but never for very long. Not any real big, big laughs, but a lot of little ones, and a little more engaging on the story fron that I’d have expected.
Ash vs. Evil Dead is Starz’s series that follows the Evil Dead/Army of Darkness franchise. Bruce Campbell reprises his role as Ash, the Raimi/Tapert crew is on board with Sam Raimi directing the pilot, so it’s pretty in line with the movies… for the most part.
I remember reading in some article about the demise of Party Down that they were constantly getting notes from Starz that they wanted to put in more sex and nudity, and barely a few minutes into the pilot, there’s a sex scene that seems pretty out of place. To me, anyway. Maybe I’ve forgotten stuff because it’s been a while since I’ve seen them? I dunno. But I think it’s Starz just wanting to add some lowest-common-denominator stuff. Also they say “fuck” a lot more than I remember. But aside from that, very similar to Army of Darkness, except it’s in modern times and Ash is old.
This takes place about 30 years after the events of Army of Darkness, though it appears they have no rights to anything from that movie. He works at an S-Mart-like store, but it’s not called S-Mart. They flash back to the events of Evil Dead II but skip the part about time travelling and all that. The Deadites have been gone that whole time, and Ash has apparently been directionless and letting himself go the whole time. So when they inevitably come back, it’s a challenge he might not be up for.
Lucy Lawless and some people I don’t recognize (I would’ve expected Ted Raimi, since I don’t think he’s doing anything, but he doesn’t appear) round out the cast. It’s certainly good enough to watch. Especially on Saturdays, with little else on.
Might & Magic: Heroes 6 had me ready to hate it before even getting the game to launch. First, they changed the name of the series for some reason (Heroes of Might & Magic 1-5 followed by Might & Magic: Heroes 6?). Then they bundled it with Ubisoft’s uplay, which is their always-on DRM thing. Then the older version of uplay bundled with it crashes when trying to update to the new version.
But once I finally got it going, it’s actually really good. Other than sometimes Ubisoft’s servers crap out and I get kicked out of the single player, off-line game for bullshit DRM reasons. But I like the game a lot. My only two complaints with actual gameplay:
- The campaign levels are really long. Twice as long as the HoMM3 levels, I’d say, which weren’t exactly short. 6-8 hours, and there are 4-ish maps in a campaign, and at least 6 campaigns.
- They put a lot more story in, and the more I play these the more I think story just doesn’t really work? You play from the PoV of like 6 different factions. And when you’re playing the Griffin people, you want to stop the demon invasion. But later you’re going to be the demons, so anything you do either has to be an unsatisfying semi-victory, or a non-canon triumph. Either way, underwhelming from a story point of view.
But they really upped the cutscene game from the 5th one, they realized requiring you to rotate the map just made navigation confusing, they vastly improved the city UI, and the one positive of the uplay is that it does cloud savegames (of course they could do that in Steam, but since Steam didn’t have that listed, I thought I wouldn’t be able to easily move from desktop to laptop).
The length of things might make me unable to finish before Fallout 4 comes out, but for the time being, I’m hooked (it’s the methodone to my former Rocket League addiction, since it’s turn-based and not real-time, I’m not falling behind on RSS and stuff, and I’m making some progress catching up on comics).
The Last Kingdom is BBC America’s new show. Not unlike The Bastard Executioner, I suspect this is a response to both Game of Thrones and Vikings, so everyone just wants to make old timey shows with swords and stuff.
This one is set during a 9th century Danish invasion of England. A boy, the son of the king, gets kidnapped by the Danes. And then, at least based on the promotional images, I’m guessing there was going to be a time jump forward to where he’s a young adult and does stuff, but I didn’t make it that far.
Though I could fit another show on Saturday nights, I’m glad to not like this enough to follow it. I thought it did a better job than The Bastard Executioner of laying out a story to try to engage the viewer, but it also goes for more realism. So instead of a dude running around busting heads, it’s a shield wall. Which is great, except less exciting. And I’m not much of a history buff, especially old British history. Also, superficially, no hot actresses, at least not in the first half. So, this is a pass.
Heroes of Might & Magic V (for some reason I didn’t see IV on the Steam sale) is I guess the one where they converted to 3D, and it’s a bumpy conversion. At first I considered the game a total pile of garbage, but it turns out their implementation of windowed mode is awful. The mouse pointer is off by about 15 pixels for some reason, which I obviously struggled with until discovering it was a bug.
I didn’t want to switch to full screen mode, since my short attention span would like to occasionally alt-tab over to do other stuff, and even at the same resolution, there’s a 1-2 second pause to reset video when you exit fullscreen. And in a turn-based game, I like to switch out pretty frequently, but here I had to stick to fullscreen.
Anyway, the 3D doesn’t add anything and makes things a little clunky, but it’s not a terrible game. It’s the same basic concept, run around the map claiming things and picking fights, which switches to a tactical combat thing, your cities generate income and produce units, etc. The only real differences I’ve noticed thus far are hero-related stuff. Your heroes get to actually act in combat other than with spells. You can ride out on your horse and take a whack at a pile of units, who can’t counterattack. Also the ability tree is different.
But the building stuff is really similar, the map stuff is almost identical, the units are very similar, the tactics are similar except “wait” seems to have unpredictable results… basically the same game with a worse interface. And a story, but I never paid attention to the story.
So anyway, it’s not actually that bad, I’m going to at least finish the first campaign but I might keep going. Unfortunately, since neither this nor the 6th one support cloud saves, it’s a pain in the ass to move a game between my desktop and laptop, so I think I’m going to be trying the 6th one concurrently.