Review of “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided” for PC

After having seen where this game chooses to roll the credits, it’s clear mankind isn’t the only thing that’s been divided.slider_459_5

Set two years after Human Revolution‘s grandiose finale wherein the protagonist sacrificed himself for the greater good, our hero Adam Jensen has been miraculously deus ex (eh? eh?) machina’d back to life and is now on the hunt for the Illuminati. Fair enough. In a surprising twist, however, by the end of the game Adam’s still on the hunt for the Illuminati.

… Wait, that sounds redundant. Oh, right, because nothing gets resolved. Nothing changes. Imagine if Star Wars: Episode 5 ended after the Hoth battle. Sure, the first act has set all of the pieces in place, but where’s the main struggle? The climax? You know, those things they refer to in the business as “acts two and three.”

The answer: nonexistent. This game is nothing more than a two-part setup for the rumored next game, Deus Ex: Humanity United (or whatever human-themed subtitle it’ll have), which will round off the trilogy and make Square Enix approximately twice as much money (they’d hope) as opposed to just letting this game complete its narrative.

To elaborate, this theory comes as the result of an anonymous dev having recently went on a rant to Jim Sterling about working under Square’s corporate umbrella. Therefore, as much as I’d like to think the unfinished narrative is only a perception-related thing on my cynical end, it seems we as a gaming community may not be that lucky.

Beyond that, the gameplay of the, ahem, video game is really solid; a refined version of Human Revolution with a few more gadgets and tighter level design. While the amazing level design is self-explanatory, the gadgets need a mention as they unbalance the experience to a noteworthy degree. I’m not sure if it’s because of the pre-order praxis kits I got for my initial playthrough (I didn’t pre-order the game, mind you, just got a pre-order code for it), but I had a lot of the new augments fairly early on and, frankly, they just give you a massive edge over competition that the old augments from Human Revolution already compensated for, balancing-wise. So now that the fight’s not even remotely fair, I recommend playing on the hardest difficulty out of the gate. I got the pacifist achievement on normal difficulty without so much as a sweat during my first run, so a little challenge would’ve been nice.

Technical aspects of the game can be summed up like this: character models are gross and blatantly polygonal (besides Adam and his AMAZINGLY DETAILED COAT. It’s fucking incredible), lip-syncing is terrible, and framerate issues/memory-leak stuttering are waaaaaaaay too common.

In terms of the content’s quality and quantity, Mankind Divided manages to balance both fairly well considering its halved story. Side missions are varied and abstain from any copy-paste content that, say, Ubisoft sandboxes love to pile on, meaning each mission is a unique experience. That really is the case, mind you; one of the only two boss fights in the entire game is hidden away in a completely avoidable side mission, so do ’em if you want your money’s worth. Beyond that, the main narrative is short and simple, featuring levels that favor sumptuous visuals and attention to detail over runtime. And while the clock won’t be on your side when assessing Mankind Divided‘s bang for the buck factor, venturing into fully aesthetically realized and graphically magnificent venues such as the Aug ghettos of Golem City will remind you you can’t always put a price-tag on art.

It’s a shame, then, that these aspects are consistently overshadowed by the overall package’s mediocrity, chief among the flawed inclusions weighing Mankind Divided down being a tacked-on Breach mode that acts as a free-to-play mobile-esque version of the core game. It exists solely for micro-transaction consumer farming and is devoid of any creativity whatsoever.

Overall, they screwed the pooch. Small time. While corporate shenanigans may have damaged this game’s story irreparably, the love that was put into the title is so apparent that if you were a fan of Human Revolution then I can’t not recommend Mankind Divided.

Review of Quantum Break (PC) — The Worst Port of All-Time?

Across years of PC gaming, I’ve stumbled upon a few bad ports, sure. Trash ports, even.

None of them hold a candle to this.keyart_quantum_break_microsoft

Quantum Break should be re-titled Hardware Break on PC, as it’s a mess. I know the developers issued a big update to remedy (unintentional developer pun) some of the original port problems, but the game must’ve been unable to load fucking menus at that point if this is how bad it is post-“fix.” Make no mistake, this is by far the worst port I’ve ever encountered.

The issues started early on, in an unprecedentedly severe fashion. Boatloads of stuttering and framerate drops began during the very first instance of interactive gameplay, an indicator that I was in for a bad time. So after a minute of the choppiest, most broken third-person action I’d ever experienced, I paused and began tinkering with settings. During this tech-support mission I discovered that the most random changes would boost my framerate for a few brief, blissful seconds. Turning textures from medium to ultra? Less stuttering. Turning off the framerate cap? A more steady framerate. These elements were helping, but nowhere near enough to make the gameplay, well, playable. As such, this experimentation went on for a good hour until I did the unthinkable: I lowered every setting to its lowest possible level, and only then did the game become (barely) playable (25-ish frames consistently). Problem number one averted.

Keep in mind my rig’s above the minimum specs; a GTX 960 shouldn’t be chugging because of this shit. Yet here I was, just thankful to be able to play the game in some fashion even though it looked like a first-wave Xbox 360 title. Then crisis number two struck.

Now, I’ve got 8GB of RAM, the acceptable bar for this title. So no funny business should be happening in that department, right? Wrong. After about thirty minutes of any given gameplay session, memory leaking would begin. Even at the lowest settings with a GTX960 and 8GB of RAM, I was suffering memory leaks and a framerate that could barely cling to a consistent bar of just below 30. It was bad. Against all odds, it somehow found a way to get even worse. Strap in, ladies and gents, it’s story time.

I’d made it to the final battle, the big ol’ boss fight at the bitter end. No amount of stutters, framerate drops or freezes could stop me. Or so I thought. See, the final boss uses screen-cluttering effects the size and scope of which the game hadn’t had to render in real-time prior, meaning my rig was unprepared for a fresh new wave of paralyzing code to strike. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The first time I lost the boss fight was because my character’s foot got caught in a web of suspended scaffolding, a simple obstacle hit-box error on the part of the designers who created the map. That was simply the game’s cluttered design at work, nothing technical… yet. Round two is where the tech errors really began cropping up. The second time I lost the fight was because I paused the game, alt-tabbed to see if anyone else had gotten texture-caught during the fight. Thanks to UWP (Universal Windows Platform), my game decided that alt-tabbing meant I was done playing and TURNED OFF THE PROGRAM MID-PAUSE. Very, very frustrating, after having waded through a murky six hours of the ugliest, most poorly optimized game I’d ever played, during round two of an unimpressive boss fight. But this was the final conflict. I was determined to see it through. So I booted up the game and delved into the abyss of Windows 10 gaming once more.

I blast through the intro cutscene, making quick work of the bad guys that stood between me and the arrival of the final boss. Cue cutscene number two. The big boss sends his goons but no amount of AI baddies in the world can stop me at this point. I’m determined, baby. I’m on fire. I blast the first teleporting enemy with a time bomb, freezing him in place as I dash my way over to bad guy number two, punching him straight to hell before warping backwards and slowing time to a crawl, firing off a series of shots at the frozen dude and a third scrub right next to him. No problem. After one more bad-ass time-dash into an enemy and one satisfying punch later, I was ready for the big boss’s screen-shattering attack. The room goes red and my framerate starts to tank, but I’m not worried. Relying on pure instinct, I press buttons that I know will guide me to the right side of the room and, lo and behold, after the stuttering is finished, I’ve successfully evaded his attack straight from muscle memory. Awesome. Now I’m onto wave two of bad guys. A heavy troop enters the room with a cohort of fellow rifle-wielders, unaware of what he and his friends have just walked into. I time freeze the big guy before bubbling myself, becoming immune to the grunts’ bullets while I pour into their leader. Within seconds he’s down and I’m dashing around the room like lighting, speed-punching troops left and right with reckless abandon. Before I know it, another ten guys are dead on the floor and it’s back to my one v one with the final boss himself. Alright, Paul Serene, you son of a bitch. Let’s finish this.

He lights up his big red glowing spirit bomb in a desperate last-ditch effort to stop my push, but he’s no match for me. I’ve not come this far to let a smarmy AI bend me over and fuck me sideways. I run as fast as my time-travelling legs will carry me, the room aglow with ghastly red hues as the blue triangles of my speed effect are consumed by the enemy’s color, a sign that he’s nearing max attack capacity—then the screen becomes awash with white, a sign of the most powerful attack in the game, a force stronger than anything I’d seen Serene throw at me up ’till this point—Quantum Break has crashed.

At that point I uninstalled the game and ten minutes later here I am writing my review.

Yes, that means I haven’t seen the game’s intended ending. But I DID get an ending. The end to my time buying Windows 10 Xbox One ports. The final boss is Phil Spencer, and I’ll be damned if I let him beat me again.

In conclusion:

Pros
-Fun time powers
-Solid cast of characters

Cons
-It’s seven hours long, and that’s including the hour and a half of integrated TV episodes
-Story is kooky and not in the quirky-girl-next-door kind of way
-Enemies are uninspired, constantly counteracting time powers and taking away the game’s only fun element
-Walking simulator
-Lapses in story logic are all over the place
-Live action TV episodes are amateur affairs by people obviously better suited producing and directing CG drama
-Map designs are uninspired, leading to hit or miss combat situations
-The final boss is broken in more ways than one
THE GAME IS UTTERLY BROKEN ON PC NO MATTER YOUR SYSTEM SPECS

If you’re reading this as a PC gamer (it’s in the title, dude), then that last bullet point should be the only one you need to determine if this game is right for you. Simply put: it’s not. Avoid at all costs on PC, unless you want to suffer through an ugly slog of a game (lowest settings) at 25-ish FPS that demands you forfeit any love you once held for Remedy Studios. Alan Wake, if your long overdue sequel is headed to Xbox One and Windows 10 any time soon… atone.

“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” –It’s only feminist if you’re an idiot.

To give you an example of one of the many scenes that spelled this movie’s doom: at one point, Chloe and crew throw real used tampons at a mom, dad and baby. Apparently we’re supposed to be supporting this because feminism. THEN, Chloe draws a false parallel and says Zac is being sexist because if he’d thrown a bag of dicks that’d be okay. I don’t know what fucking planet you live on, but getting hit with a clean synthetic rubber tube is NOT the same as getting hit with a bloody rag of uterine lining that could transmit fucking AIDS.images

Anyway, time for a half-review half-rant on Neighbors 2. The review: it’s eh, at best. Onto the rant.

So many politically correct assholes on Rotten Tomatoes are calling this movie a progressive feminist story, solely because it shows college sorority chicks can be just as stupid as frat bros. WOW, so you’re telling me no matter what gender you are you can still be a total loser in college?!?!?!

Give me a break. Yes, if you’re a college girl and this “empowers” you to be a dumb-ass through your time in (supposed) higher education, be my guest, be a moron. But at the end of the day, whether you’re in a frat or sorority, male or female, remember: you always have the option to not be a dip-shit and actually make something of yourself.

Basically, the third wave feminist agenda has spun out of control to such a point where it’s empowering to be a joint-rolling prospectless teenage girl who makes stupid decisions and openly commits crimes against a nice couple simply because “fight the establishment.” It’s everything you can hate about Bernie, millennials and third wave feminism rolled into one.

On the bright side, Zac Efron is very funny and leads the show. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne are basically cameos in their own movie because of this. There’re some funny throw down scenes. Dave Franco’s gay now, because the director openly admitted he wanted to shoehorn in a gay character to check off the last box on the list. Let’s count: black guy who makes fun of cop shootings? Check. Edgy feminist chick who’s a complete loser? Check. Token fat chick and black girl backup singers for aforementioned edgy feminist? Check. Gay guy? Cheeeeeeeeeck.

I just wish Chloe Moretz had had the guts to call out this idiotic script for encouraging blatant delinquency, rather than pretend it’s “progressive.” But no, no, her and the rest of this shitfest will continue to call it feminist because apparently… wait… it makes sense! They’re arguing for the right to be obnoxiously progressive by being fucking morons! That’s literally the moral of the story! Now it makes sense.

In short: if you like the usual slew of politically correct buzz phrases and insanely flawed gender argument logic shoved down your throat in the name of entertainment, check out this movie. Sane people, stay away.

Review of “Zootopia”—Politically Correct Fun

First off, it’s a good kids movie with good kids morals. Secondly, it’s a gigantic anti-Trump ad with a gaping logic flaw.
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Here’s the skinny: I went to see this because I wanted to hear Jason Bateman be a sly fox. And while he’s not quite as sly as I’d hoped (even though his bunny companion constantly refers to his “slyness” in an attempt to make the audience believe he’s actually that sly), the movie overall is fun. I smiled a few times here and there. And it doesn’t pull any punches with the vocabulary, meaning your kid might ask you what a lot of the dialogue means. I like that, a film with the balls to encourage kids to crack open a dictionary.

Beyond that, though, consider this: the film’s central themes are that we should all get along and hug each other, that breaking stereotypes is only a matter of willpower and determination, and that it’s good to be politically correct.

While two out of those three things are admirable goals, here’s the truth: reality doesn’t work like that (and can’t, the way our society is going about it). And that’s how Jason Bateman’s fox starts out in the story, as a realist who acknowledges just how shit the real world is. Then, through a RIDICULOUS set of circumstances, he manages to overcome his negativity and embrace hoppy-bunny’s go-getter SJW attitude. But let’s say his character hadn’t happened to meet this one bunny destined for greatness, that he ended up living out his life broken and sad like most Zootopians. Well then, nothing would change for him. Because the truth is, most people don’t get along. And most people don’t (honestly) try to break the stereotypes they (more often than not) fall into.

Now, consider this: the whole movie’s theme is that cohabitation is achievable and that segregation is bad, with plenty of direct references against Trump’s “kick the illegals out” mantra. Yet, in the movie, Zootopia only functions because most animals reserve themselves to their own respective biomes. Jungle animals live in the jungle, tundra animals live in the tundra, etc. What does this mean? While it preaches anti-Trump rhetoric, its world actively practices his ideology and directly supports it in its inhabitants’ actions. Even when it’s foaming at the mouth with positive integration-based rhetoric, Zootopia can’t escape its separate but equal trappings.

World Exclusive: The Division Review (PC)

Having procured myself a copy of a game the world is dying to play, I couldn’t not go ahead and break the nonexistent embargo to provide you all with my thoughts on the next generation of third person shooter MMO RPGs. With online servers currently live for last-minute dev testing and nothing more, I’ve gotten ample time to play through the experience in its entirety. Here’s my full-fledged review of The Division.Tom_Clancy's_The_Division_Box

A desolate New York Cityscape enters my view as the chopper drops off my custom avatar into the middle of a virus-outbreak hot zone, and right off the bat I know I’m in for something revolutionary. Let’s take it back a second, and analyze that first part. Innovation number one of The Division: custom avatars. I can make my guy (or girl!) look like he’s white, Mexican, Asian or even black. He (or she!) can even have black, white, blonde or brown hair. In other words, the customization is detailed enough that it’s like looking into a mirror every time I see my character.

Now, let’s get to talking about the wintry NYC cityscape that makes up this game’s map. What can I say: it’s a breathtaking experience. All the grays and whites are so varied in color, the urban jungle literally pops out at me every time I turn the game on. And the snow, the snow does visual wonders. I practically forget it’s concrete tower after concrete tower from start to finish on the map solely because of how alluring the snow textures are. Star Wars Battlefront, eat your heart out.

Of course, the core of any video game is its gameplay. So how does The Division‘s stack up? Pretty damn well, I’d say. It’s visceral as hell, with enemies constantly firing bullets at you. It’s innovative as fuck, letting you do this insane new thing where you can close car doors. Not re-open them, but hey, don’t want to push too many boundaries before the sequel comes out, am I right? It’s immersive as shit, letting you crouch behind cover, a cutting-edge feature sure to spawn tons of copycat third person shooters down the line. It’s revolutionary as piss, giving enemies health bars so you can actively see how much damage your gun is doing to them. What other game lets you keep tabs on enemies like that?! But most importantly, it’s dynamic as cunt. You can play your way, anytime. Care to shoot a bad guy? Go ahead. Want to fire a gun at a not-so-good dude? The world is yours. Down to penetrate some unrighteous skulls with bullets? Have it your way. You choose your play style in The Division.

And the premise shouldn’t be undersold for its ingenuity. A deadly virus being spread throughout an urban population? That’s never been done before in the entire medium! Ubisoft isn’t just breaking molds with their storytelling. They’re making new ones.

You’re probably wondering about content, at this point. Just how much gameplay can you expect to enjoy in The Division? As much as you want. If you like missions where you collect stuff, get ready for the Game of the Year, baby. This shooter sends you on hundreds of missions where you procure supplies, guns, more supplies, food, and even supplies if  you 100% everything else. And rumor has it, if you 240% complete the game you can unlock an Aiden Pearce costume. GG, Ubi.

If you’re not won over yet by the groundbreaking innovation that is The Division, I’m not sure I can save you. But, I can try. If you’re on the fence about forking over $60 for the game and aren’t sure if you’ll be satisfied with your purchase, allow me to ease your nerves. You only need to spend $40 extra dollars to guarantee year-long satisfaction with your purchase and experience unsegregated gameplay through the revolutionary season pass system. With this, you can pay for the whole game up front and let the content come to you at a carefully planned pace designated by Ubisoft to ensure maximum fun over the course of the year. This game has your best interests for the next 365 days in mind from day one. You can’t beat that.

While I could comment on the expert voice acting and stellar performances in The Division, I just can’t find the right words to describe them. Same goes for the graphics, which have only been exponentially upgraded since E3 2013. So instead of rambling about all that, I’ll finish my review on this note: if you trust Ubisoft to deliver a quality product, then you’ve had this masterpiece coming at you for a long time.