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.

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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.

The 5 Worst Movies of 2016

My definition of worst for the sake of this list: anything that let me down so substantially that I feel it was a waste of my time on this earth. Disappointed, wronged, call it whatever you want. I’m calling it “worst.”

5.) Neighbors 2: Sorority Risingimages

This is the kind of inane movie that panders to the brand of feminism people like Laci Green preach. It’s utterly idiotic in every way, to summarize. The jokes fall flat, the characters of the first are brought back for a pointless sequel, Seth Rogen drops the ball, you get the gist.

4.) Sausage Party

And look at that, Seth is back on this list already! The funniest thing to come from his two 2016 releases is the fact I usually like his brand of humor. Yet here we are, with a raunchy, incoherent mess of a two-hour food orgy. Literally. Ever think about the CGI artists who pay for their children’s food by animating a hot dog ass-fucking a bagel? You do now. Continue reading

Review of “Assassin’s Creed”

As a marketing tool, this movie fails. It only contains content that fans of the series will appreciate, meaning it’s preaching to the choir and no one else. With that said, I liked it—a lot.acm.jpg

I think the biggest problem with this movie, the only one by my estimation, is the abysmal writing. It’s atrocious. Dialogue is beyond shoddy, the plot itself is a mess and every single aspect of this movie that was dictated by the screenplay is garbage. The writers, Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage should honestly be so embarrassed that they omit this credit from their resumes. Every single Assassin’s Creed video game features better writing than what’s on display here, and that’s saying something.

Here’s the good news: everything else is spectacular. If you go in expecting a visual extravaganza filled with superb acting, video game Easter eggs, historical celebrity cameos and dope Spanish Inquisition action set-pieces, you’ll walk out satisfied. Given the awful hand director Justin Kurzel was dealt with the aforementioned screenplay, the cinematic God-king himself made the most of it and delivered on everything he possibly could from his position. The movie looks stunning. Sounds stunning. IS stunning.

The Game of the Year Award for 2016

The first few months of this year didn’t seem to exist, as far as video games were concerned. No relevant triple A releases, no worthwhile indie games, nothing. Between January and August, one of the only two new releases I purchased was The Culling, an early-access mess of a game that revamped every piece of in-game weaponry with new nerfs and buffs bi-weekly, to the point where you never knew what weapon would have what impact. Hence why I dropped it. What started out as a very tense Hunger Games-style multiplayer madhouse dissolved into overly long, drawn-out matches of poke the bad guy with a spear forty times until one of you gets bored and dies. Such a shame.

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The other new release was Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, a fine if unremarkable game. Terribly short but notably sweet, it’s nothing more than a faint whisper in my memory at this point.

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From there I snagged Deus Ex: Mankind Divided in early September, the best half-complete product I ever bought. If acts 2 and 3 of the story had been included and the overall narrative delivery hadn’t been so utterly pedestrian, this would’ve been my game of the year easily. Ah well, maybe the trilogy’s finale will feel like a complete product when it comes out in three to four years.

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Two disappointments and one neutral release in and finally the holiday heavy-hitters started to make their arrivals, kicking off with Titanfall 2. I still haven’t touched a second of the campaign, instead soaking up every last multiplayer match the dying community will afford me in the time it has left. Given the positive word of mouth circulating around the story component however, I’ll give this one the benefit of the doubt and say it’s a great purchase overall. We’re one for four now, those of you keeping tally at home.

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Next up came Hitman, the surprise show-stealer of 2016. Featuring insanely creative and aesthetically inventive levels, a refined and revamped mechanics set for Agent 47 and an overall sense of bold direction no other game this year had, the DRM-laden episodic caper from Square Enix comes out on top. Two for five.

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And lastly, at the twilight of 2016, after the horrendous PC launch had subsided and my unwavering love for Dishonored grew to a fever pitch, I picked up Dishonored 2. Having just gotten past the infamous clockwork mansion, I can attest to the game’s merits. It’s wonderfully inventive in its level design and gameplay structure. But its story is weak and contrived, its launch was terrible and because of these things I can’t grant it nearly the amount of praise I heaped upon the original.

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So where does that leave us? Nowhere, frankly. This year was a bust for games as I don’t see myself actively pitching any of the aforementioned titles to anyone simply because they’re “that good,” though Hitman comes close. Hell, I didn’t even mention Unravel, a cute little platformer I bought solely because the lead developer put on a good show at last year’s E3. I’ve played one level and it’s nothing to write home about, though it’s serviceable and deserves a mention on here for being heartfelt—something these soulless sequels and corporate cash-grabs could learn from. Notice how all of the major releases above have a literal or proverbial “2” at the end of their titles?

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My God.

I almost forgot the worst game of 2016. The absolute worst port in the history of PC gaming, as far as my firsthand experiences are concerned. It stuttered more than a nervous high-schooler with a lisp, screen-tore like an iPhone made of wet paper and shit the bed so frequently that its myriad of disabilities almost distracted me from the piss-poor narrative and lacking runtime lurking beneath the surface. The studio’s fallen since the heydays of Max Payne and Alan Wake.

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