Overview of the Nintendo Switch: An Underwhelming Console

The Nintendo Switch has been out on the market for a while now, so it’s high-time for an analysis of its current benefit-detriment cross-section. Let’s see how it stacks up to its market competitors and predecessor console.

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To get everyone up to speed, here are all the Switch components that lag behind the competition, i.e. Sony’s PS4 Pro and Microsoft’s Xbox One (soon to be Scorpio):

1.) 32GB of internal storage. For frame of reference, the baseline PS4 had 500GB and from the start people were ardently whinging about how that wasn’t nearly enough. 32GB won’t cover a modern game. Watch_Dogs can’t fit on this system in its default form. You can upgrade storage via SD cards, but that’s an additional purchase and therefore not a factor in assessing the baseline model.

2.) Minimal third-party support. A console relatively devoid of heavy-hitting publishers. Ubisoft is working on a peculiar Mario-Rabbids crossover and SEGA is bringing Sonic to the Switch, but beyond that there’s little fanfare from third-parties.

3.) $300 price tag. Currently, the PS4 and Xbox One are in the same exact price range and offer infinitely more value in terms of both game selection and hardware, which doesn’t bode well for a new console struggling to make a splash in the market pool.

4.) Charging for online. Nintendo’s market niche-cornering has never been focused on the online multiplayer demographic, and it shows. Without Battlefield, Titanfall, Rainbow Six, Call of Duty, Forza, Gears of War, or any other relevant multiplayer game slated to be on the Switch (besides Splatoon 2), the service doesn’t seem to be justifying its price all that well.

5.) 3 hour Switch battery life. Playing a graphically demanding game results in 3 hours of battery life. That’s less than half an average plane flight’s duration, and that’s exactly the situation Nintendo was advertising this feature for. Worse, some airlines are experimenting with restrictions that prevent you from bringing your Switch in carry-on, negating the purpose entirely.

6.) Accessory pricing. Scraping $90 for a pair of controller handles, known as joy-cons, is the current tag. Not even the main controller, mind you, as that’s the Switch’s removable screen itself. It’s a steep price point that sets a rough precedent for the accessories department, to say the least.

7.) Under-powered. Nintendo had five years to stare into their competitors’ eyes and work toward surpassing the PS4 and Xbox One in every way, and instead of rising to the challenge they’ve chosen to opt out of the race altogether. Objectively speaking, the hardware in this system isn’t competitive with boxes that have been out for nearly half a decade.

In conclusion, things are looking somewhat grim for the Switch. While Nintendo diehards have caused the console’s launch to be a massive success, sales are already starting to stagnate and repeat the pattern of the Switch’s failed predecessor, the Wii U. With only ports of Wii U games on the system at the moment (Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild), there’s virtually no incentive to invest in a Switch right now and there won’t be until Super Mario Odyssey secures a release date.

Rainbow Six Siege: The 10 Best and 7 Worst Operators

Rainbow Six: Siege is a competitive first-person shooter grounded heavily in tactical gameplay, and as such demands that you choose the best operator for a given job on your respective five-man team. These roles range from monitoring the enemy’s movement around objectives to jamming incoming drones before they can reveal your squad’s location, as well as a host of other vital positions in-between. But not all operators are created equal, and some can provide a much larger advantage to your squad than others. If you can have an advantage right from the character select screen, why not take it?

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With the game currently undergoing an intensive slew of technical maintenance in anticipation of Fall 2017’s new operator releases, now’s a good time to brush up on who’s currently the best (and worst) in Siege’s still-expanding roster so you can best assist your team in competitive play.
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17.) BEST: Valkyrie

In a game that’s all about having eyes in as many places as possible, Valkyrie’s assortment of relocatable cameras can give the defending team a massive edge on any map in Siege. To balance this out, drawbacks include that they’re destroyed easily and she only gets three total, not to mention they don’t actually impede the enemy team in any real way unlike most of her cohorts’ abilities. Still, if used wisely, Valkyrie’s cameras serve to provide intel that can end a match before it begins.

16.) WORST: MiraR6Siege-Mira

The reason Mira’s on this side of the fence isn’t through any fault of her own; her ability can be fantastic. The issue stems solely from its high liability potential. Here’s the scoop: Mira can place two one-way mirrors on walls, effectively allowing you to see the enemy but not the other way around. Additionally, you can shatter the mirrors from your side in order to fire on unsuspecting enemies. However, if the enemy has a Twitch, her drones can pop the mirrors remotely and create gaping holes in your defenses. Similarly, if your teammates aren’t very bright, they might choose to pop a mirror prematurely on your behalf, which is just as bad as dealing with a smart enemy Twitch.

15.) BEST: JagerR6_GSG9_Jager_4k_001

Jager has special devices that shoot grenades out of the air, something that really wasn’t that useful until the dawn of Glaz’s smoke-proof sniper scope. Seeing as smoke is currently Glaz’s biggest advantage, Jager serves as the only hope of destroying the sniper-friendly vapor grenades before they can detonate and render the most dangerous attacking operator invisible.

14.) WORST: TachankaTachanka_Spetsnaz

While Tachanka is a lord in the Siege meme community, he’s little more than a glass cannon in the game itself. He’s got a deployable turret that can mow down enemies with ease, but the vulnerable stance taken while using it leaves Tachanka immobile and defenseless while operating his biggest asset. He’s great for certain hallways on a select few maps, but moreso a waste of an operator on most of Siege’s battlegrounds.

13.) BEST: CavieraCaviera_model

Having a good Caviera on your team can be the biggest defensive asset in all of Siege, as her ability allows her to interrogate singled-out opponents and reveal all enemy locations on the map. The trade-off here is that she’s the least-armored operator in the game and can be easily picked off if caught alone–but in a game where knowledge is absolute power, even a chance at revealing the entire enemy team’s whereabouts is invaluable.

12.) WORST: BlackbeardBlackbeard

While he was once one of the best, he’s now one of the worst. After the most vicious nerfing to ever hit Siege, Blackbeard went from being the (arguably) strongest operator in the game to a mere afterthought during any smart player’s character selection phase, meaning the quantity of Blackbeards in ranked these days is dismal–and not without good reason. His sole perk, a rifle shield that protects his head and allows him to make all kinds of plays that are too risky for the normal operator, went from being nigh invincible to its current state of transparent eggshell, shattering after eating the daintiest of pistol bullets. The fallen king of Siege, Blackbeard is to be avoided at all costs.

11.) BEST: MuteMute_SAS

Mute’s jammers immunize reinforcements from both Thermite and Hibana’s arsenals, stop drones and prevent standard breaching charges from detonating, effectively serving as a blockade to any electronic offensive tool in the game. While he might not pack the useful sting of Bandit, Mute serves a broader range of preventative measures in ensuring your team’s security.

10.) WORST: PulseR6_SWAT_Pulse

Pulse can scan enemies through walls, which should be a huge asset. But given how slowly he deploys his heartbeat scanner and how long it takes to put away, there’s an outstanding chance the enemy on the other side will have already rounded the corner and killed you in the seconds it took to identify them in the first place.

9.) BEST: HibanaR6Siege-Hibana

While she’s essentially a weaker version of Thermite, she’s still one of only two operators that can destroy reinforced walls in any capacity. Couple that with her ability to detonate her unique breaching rounds remotely as well as lay claymore traps and she’s a decent ranged alternative to Thermite, and utterly essential on any team lacking the former. If you have both on your team however, she can serve her primary function as a hatch-maker, burning little holes in reinforcements for characters such as Glaz to snipe through.

8.) WORST: BuckTom_Clancy's_Rainbow_Six_Siege_Buck

Buck is not only one of the worst operators in the game, but also one of the least imaginative: he has a shotgun attached to the barrel of his rifle and nothing more. Mira and Jackal both have pocket shotguns and that’s just the third best thing about both of them, whereas said shotty is Buck’s primary selling point. The kicker? The gun his entire profile hinges on isn’t even good, being one of the most spastic and short-ranged weapons in the game balanced only by its high damage output. Continue reading

“Alien: Covenant” Review

It’s slow, it’s stupid, it’s sinfully bad.

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To put it bluntly, nothing happens in the first hour. There’s minimal characterization of the cannon fodder, lots of scenic shots of nothingness and absolutely no plot. Then, when we do get to the plot, we get the most underwhelming origin story explaining the xenomorphs’ creation, effectively ruining every other movie in the series. Then there’s an abysmal finale that tries to recapture the magic of the original Alien but utterly blows it, making a tense alien hunt no more than a five minute ordeal (and I do mean ordeal; it’s a minor inconvenience for the characters) that you’ve already seen the entirety of in the trailers. And that’s the thing, there are some cool shots in the trailer that never even make it into the movie.

Here’s the scoop: Ridley Scott thinks he’s made a very smart movie–but really, it’s a smattering of glorified philosophy 101 topics served to you across two and a half hours of lackluster horror. That, coupled with the most inept team of space colonists ever as the emotional “pull” of the flick, leaves you with a forgettable, damning piece of evidence as to why Ridley needs oversight on these projects. Or, better yet, hand the reigns off entirely to Neil Blomkamp and watch him make a far superior Alien 5.

Ubisoft and the Bastardization of Ghost Recon

This company is a heroin addict who needs its IP children to be adopted by a caring foster parent before it’s too late.

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Ubisoft, a company whose mission statement is mediocrity first and players second, has decided Wildlands will be the next installment in the Ghost Recon franchise. From high atop his ivory tower of corporate villainy, Yves Guillemot cackles deviously as he knowingly squanders 4 years of developers’ precious time on this planet, forcing them through wage slavery to produce yet another copy-and-paste open world borefest, squandering his underling artists’ valuable talents on a project he knows a disabled infant could produce comparable results for.

Where’s the issue? Is it the bland, uninspired open world? The wonky, B-grade shooting? The physics-less vehicles? The complete and utter lack of anything inspiring or original under the hood of a bland third-person shooter masquerading as a beloved tactical stealth franchise?

Could it be all of these things, perhaps?

Yes, it could. Now we’ve got another The DivisionFar Cry Primal, Watch_Dogs 2 to add to our collection of generic Ubisoft garbage.

Capture outpost A, slink around to outpost B. Use a helicopter to fly to outpost C and liberate the resistance. Protect a VIP as you escort him back to outpost A. Rinse and repeat for fifty hours. Jesus Christ, what a downgrade from Future Soldier, a game that came out over half a decade ago. Trading a tight, engaging and tactical linear narrative for a blase open-world snoozer is the dumbest yet most frequent misstep Ubisoft seems to love to make these days. Hope they love making it without my $60.

The Nintendo Switch: If You Don’t Learn From the Past…

The Nintendo Switch is looking to be an even bigger flop than the Wii U. Scratch that, flop implies they missed the bar by a smidgen. FAILURE. The Nintendo Switch is looking to be a gargantuan, dramatic FAILURE. Much better. This thing is so off-target that I don’t think Nintendo even realizes which industry’s shooting range it’s at.

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To get everyone up to speed, here are all the Switch elements currently acting as one-ton weights at the bottom of the sinking dinghy Nintendo calls its home console business:

1.) 32GB of internal storage. For frame of reference, the baseline PS4 had 500GB and from the start people were ardently whinging about how that wasn’t nearly enough. 32GB won’t cover a single modern game. Watch_Dogs couldn’t fit on this system. Pathetic.

2.) Minimal third-party support. A console entirely devoid of heavy-hitting publishers. That should go well.

3.) $300 price tag. Where’s that money going? To under-powered hardware? Another gimmicky Nintendo controller? A system with no games and no third party support? The PS4 and Xbox One are in the same exact price range and offer infinitely more value, to a point where it’s not even a competition. Nintendo is in its own league of ineptitude.

4.) Charging for online. Nintendo’s always had the weakest online infrastructure, not to mention the fact that no one goes to their system to play online. Without Battlefield, Titanfall, Rainbow Six, Call of Duty, Forza, Gears of War, or any other relevant multiplayer game slated to be on the Switch (besides Splatoon 2, pffft), what idiot would pay for this utterly unnecessary service?

5.) 3 hour Switch battery life. Playing a graphically demanding game? 3 hours of battery life. That’s less than half an average plane flight’s duration, and that’s exactly the situation Nintendo was advertising this feature for. What a joke.

6.) Accessory pricing. Scraping $90 for a pair of controller HANDLES. Not even the main controller, as that’s the Switch’s little removable screen itself. No, the HANDLES cost $90 on their own.

7.) Under-powered. Nintendo has had five years to stare into their competitors’ eyes and work toward surpassing the PS4 and Xbox One in every way. They’ve failed on all fronts. The hardware in this system isn’t competitive with boxes that have been out for nearly half a decade.

In conclusion, this was a shit-show of epic proportions. I’ve never seen a company so out of touch with reality before—even Microsoft’s initial Xbox One announcement can’t hold a candlestick to this trainwreck. Nintendo is planning to repeat the exact same mistakes that were made with the Wii U, the difference being this time all of the world’s expectations were on them NOT to.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is Deteriorating and No One is Going to Stop It

When you pull something off as magnificent in scope and unprecedented in scale as Marvel Studios has with their endless string of Cinematic Universe-entangled superhero flicks, you get too caught up in seeing how far it can go rather than how far it should. Herein lies the problem with Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, a Hollywood juggernaut set rampaging across box office records and gleeful moviegoers alike. It’s grown to a point where people just want to keep propelling it forward for the sole purpose of maintaining its “legendary success story in-the-making” narrative, rather than forcing it to earn that title on its own through actual merit in its films. Let’s analyze the core elements that made phase one of the MCU so great and how those same elements have turned phase three into little more than a dry-heaving mess limping towards the star-studded finish line.

The Avengers

Kicking off with Iron Man, Marvel brought quite a few unique items to the table. First, they were pushing mad money behind a relatively unknown (in the public eye) B-list character. Secondly, from day one they had plans to bring him into a much bigger fold across a series of movies, culminating in The Avengers. Thirdly, they were making something topical, given the Invasion of Iraq’s prominence in 2008. Relevant, unknown and secretly ambitious? An interesting mixture, no doubt. One that paved the way for Marvel’s road to greatness.

For the first phase that ingredient list was pure and fresh, culminating in the cinematic entree of superhero fine dining known as The Avengers, the most spectacular team-up to ever hit the silver screen. But anything after that, by the aforementioned film’s very nature, was bound to start springing leaks in the hull of the S.S. MCU. Phase two was rife with plot holes across all its movies, the grossly outnumbered critic-minded moviegoers pointing out odd omissions like “why couldn’t the Hulk help Iron Man when ____ was happening?” or any number of related crossover questions that sprung up whenever a hero needed to conquer an obstacle alone even though his friends weren’t busy and existed in the same world as the movie at hand. Then problem number two started to rear its ugly head: the lack of stakes. In order to give the big heroes sequels and trilogies, Marvel had to start scrubbing any stakes from its films to ensure heavy-hitters like Thor and Captain America would always survive for another solo round or Avengers sequel. This meant that when you walked into the theater you’d already know the ending, no spoilers required. The Avengers initiative was starting to poison itself.

Topical subject matters became a crutch for Marvel, being the only element to set Captain America: The Winter Soldier apart from its relatively cookie-cutter MCU brethren. The B-list (and later C-list) characters were being developed into full-on feature films because it was quirky and therefore meme-worthy, AKA big-bucks-baiting in a world revolving solely around Twitter hashtags. Before anyone knew it, the Guardians of the Galaxy and freakin’ Ant-Man were getting solo films devoid of consequence all in the service of building up a big ‘ol MCU for the grand Avengers: Infinity War finale, a construction project still underway at this very moment. And yet, now deep into phase three, the luster is gone. The magic has faded. While audiences still gobble it up because it’s light-years better than what the competition’s putting out (looking at you, Batman V Superman), there’s a somewhat sinister corporate greed starting to overshadow the artistic merit present during the early days of the first Avengers film.

Take Dr. Strange, for example. Stephen Strange goes through the exact same internal transformation as Tony Stark did in Iron Man. And look at Ant-Man—that story’s a near carbon copy of Iron Man at every major plot beat. Marvel’s got a nice cookie-cutter formula going for turning likable B-list and C-list characters into instant A-listers, but it doesn’t hide the blatant lack of creativity. Another glaring instance of unimaginative plotting is in the usage of superheroes making cameos in each other’s movies. While Marvel never, ever explains where other characters are in times of need, they’ll call on a poorly set-up Spider-Man to join in a massive Civil War fight for absolutely no other reason than to show off the prize they got from their deal with Sony. They’re now in the business of parading heroes around for market value rather than plot, and that, combined with the assembly line nature of the MCU’s recent entries, is starting to bode ill for any true artistic innovation left in this pocket of the genre.

Similarly to Thanos, the big villain of the upcoming Infinity War movies, the only entity that can stop Marvel is Marvel themselves. If Kevin Feige can descend from his ivory tower for just a wink to look at where this rollercoaster started and where it’s headed, maybe he and the suits in charge of the operation could redirect its course towards a more savory finish line, one not even considering a still-interconnected phase five AFTER the Infinity Wars have concluded. Because where there’s a new phase, there are extended contracts. Where there are extended contracts, there are recurring characters and no stakes. And where there are no stakes, there is no point at all.

The 5 Best Movies of 2016

5.) Kubo and the Two Stringskubo-main_0

It’s an animated movie with hutzpah; something that isn’t widely promulgated these days. Featuring beautiful art direction, great music and a narrative containing serious, mature themes that will resonate with child and adult alike, Kubo is a gem in the modern day animated dirt mine.

4.) The Accountantmv5bndc5mzg2ntyxnv5bml5banbnxkftztgwmjq2odawote-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_

This is on here because the first hour and a half was a remarkably delicate, thoughtful handling of a sensitive subject matter interlaced with guns, powerful flashback sequences and (against all odds) interesting mathematical content. Riveting stuff. Not to mention the second half wasn’t that bad either.

 

 

3.) Hacksaw Ridgeimg

I don’t normally watch WWII period pieces, but when I do I make sure Mel Gibson’s directing ’em.

 

 

 

 

1.) All I See Is You and The Autopsy of Jane Doe

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It’s a tie! While I like All I See Is You just a tad more because it speaks to my experiences in relationships (I know, yikes) and operates on a level entirely above and beyond any other romantic drama I’ve seen, the reality of the matter is that it’s a more flawed movie than The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Jane Doe accomplishes exactly what it sets out to without a single misstep. In any case, they’re both horror masterpieces and my movies of 2016.