Well, it’s June 2016, and unfortunately for you, we’re still alive and kicking! Join your hosts Matt, Robert and The David this week as they discuss the random events and poor decisions that make up their daily lives. From Pokemon and Magic Mushrooms to Horror and Setting Oneself up for Failure, this week has got a little bit of everything, bust most importantly, it has dice from Easy Roller Dice! So, settle in, roll some crits, and prepare to join your spirit animal, because it’s about to get weird on a brand new episode of Useless Drivel – A Podcast Without a Point!
With Halloween fast approaching it would be remiss of us here at… wait. Did you hear that? Was that a scream, or just the wind? Hmmm… maybe we should split up and investigate to cover more ground, or better yet stick together and try to survive! Join us this week as we get more into the mood for the bestest of best holidays and talk about the joining of two exciting forms of entertainment – Horror and Gaming! We cover it all, with some wackiness in between, so make sure your cardio is up, bring along some competent friends, and be careful of fatal camera angles as we talk Horror in Gaming on this week’s episode of Monkey in the Cage!
So, after growing up a die-hard Star Wars fan and loving all manner of science fiction movies my entire life, I find it a personal tragedy that I have yet to really sink my teeth into a Sci-Fi tabletop RPG. Sure, I’ve played any number of video games with a Sci-Fi slant (Mass Effect has been good to me) and have even rolled up some Star Wars Second Edition characters in the past (they were AWESOME), but the cards have not been in my favor of getting the chance to play what is probably the best genre of roleplaying settings.
It’s that time of year again, where everyone and their cat posts a top ten list, and I being the respected podcaster that I am will not lower myself to such a simple way to create a content post. Oh, who am I kidding … It’s time to jump on the bandwagon with yet another top ten list of video games ( I have played ) from 2011.
#10 – Brink
Brink had a whole lot of promise that it never was able to fulfill. During launch Brink was plagued with technical glitches including players being unable to join any multiplayer matches. After the first patch things started to look better, but by then most players had moved on to other games. Brink can be a great squad based shooter when you get to play with and against human players and can even be fun when running around destroying bots. Most gamers missed out on the fun that can be had due to the problems at launch.
#9 – Dead Space 2
I’m not one for cheap “jump out at you” scares whether it be in games or movies, so I initially didn’t think I would enjoy Dead Space 2 much, but I was wrong. The visuals and atmosphere are top notch and the monsters look great. All that said, Dead Space 2 can get repetitive even with all the different weapons and upgrades. I enjoyed Dead Space 2, but by the end of the game I was hoping the next hallway would lead to the final boss.
I love me some cyberpunk, so I was all in when I saw the first screen shots of Deus Ex: HR and read about the skill trees and hacking. I was mildly disappointed. While all of the things I was excited for didn’t really pan out the way I wanted, the game was still fun. There is nothing quite so enjoyable for me as to sneak around an entire compound picking off enemies one or two at a time by sneaking up behind them and bashing their heads together or snapping their necks. Sometimes it’s fun to get the heavy machine gun with explosive rounds and just mow down everyone in your way. Dues Ex: HR allows for multiple play styles which keeps it from getting too repetitive.
#7 – L.A. Noire
It is hard to categorize L.A. Noire as a game in modern terms. L.A. Noire is part point and click adventure, part driving simulator, and part body language reading simulator. That may not sound fun and it may not actually be, but L.A. Noire is really enjoyable to play. It’s strange how entertaining finding clues and trying to determine whether someone is lying can be.
#6 – Infinity Blade 2
I never thought I would put a mobile phone game on a list like this, but Infinity Blade 2 is worth it. Epic did something amazing by putting such a good looking 3D game on such a hardware limited platform and it is fun. While Infinity Blade 2 may not stay in the normal gaming rotation as long as a console game, it is well worth the money to time investment.
#5 – Portal 2
Portal 2 brings more of the same as the first game, but that is not a bad thing. Wonderfully unique puzzles and a great story help make Portal 2 one of the better games this year. Portal 2 added a bit more love to the levels and created a couple new side characters to help create a stronger narrative. The new levels also included more obstacles that gave Portal 2 a greater variety of puzzles.
#4 – Dungeon Defenders
Tower defense games were all the rage a few years back when flash gaming was taking off and they were all essentially the same thing with slight twists. Dungeon Defenders takes that old tower defense gameplay and adds an RPG element to it. You play as one of 4 character types who each have their own unique “towers” and weapons. As one of these characters you can build your “towers” and fight the flood of monsters using your own skills and magic. Dungeon Defenders is an enjoyable retooling of an old classic that hits all the right buttons.
#3 – Battlefield 3
As much as I want to hate Battlefield 3 due to it’s horrible single player campaign, the multiplayer more than makes up for it. Battlefield 3 is all about the multiplayer and unlike some other first person shooters, Battlefield almost forces teamwork on you. While you can win maps with everyone going lone wolf, it is amazing what happens when you hit that magic server where everyone is just gelling together, it becomes a whole different animal at that point and you are unable to put it down. Battlefield 3 is one of the best first person shooters on the market today.
Saints Row started as a Grand Theft Auto clone that eventually went so crazy it is now it’s own legitimate franchise. Saints Row: The Third is so over the top in every aspect that’s impossible to not giggle at it, hell one of the main plot points is that you are trying to track down a luchador and shame him by taking his mask. It seems the makers of Saints Row (Volition) just said “screw it” allowed the player to create the most powerful character possible. Once you level up enough you can become invincible while also duel-wielding pistols that have explosive ammo. You would think this would make the game less fun, but for some reason I never got tired of going on massive city wide rampages.
#1 – Batman: Arkham City
The part of both Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City that moves them from a cool Batman game to a great game is the combat. Never have I felt so in control of all the abilities of the character I am playing. While some may say it is just a rhythm game dressed up as fight mechanics, it doesn’t change the fact that it is damned fun. Arkham City has wonderful atmosphere and story. The voice acting is top notch (using voice actors from Batman: The Animated Series) and everything about it makes you feel like you part of the story. I wasn’t running around doing “quests” because I wanted to clear out my log, I was doing them because I was interested in the outcome and wanted to continue playing in that world. It’s a rarity that I will go back and play a game a second time just to finish off the trophies, but Arkham City was just as fun the second time around.
Do you enjoy feel-good movies that leave you with a sense of warm, fuzzy gooeyness from you head down to your toes? You do?? Then definitely DO NOT go see the newly released The Thing. If, however, you enjoy movies full of shocking gore, edge of your seat suspense and a feeling of desperate hopelessness, you, my friend, are in luck.
Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., and written by Eric Heisserer and Ronald D. Moore, this month’s release of The Thing is not a re-make of the 1982 John Carpenter classic. Instead, it a prequel, telling the story of the doomed Thule Station, a Norwegian research station in the desolate frosts of Antarctica. Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton, 2011’s The Thing is set three days before the start of the original film. Telling the tale of a groundbreaking discovery of alien life gone horribly wrong, The Thing is a nerve wracking gorefest chock full of paranoia and trigger happy scientists wielding flamethrowers. FLAMETHROWERS!!!!
I’m not going to go into details and spoil the movie for those of you that haven’t seen it already, but I will point out a couple of highlights that I found impressive. First was continuity. If you’ve seen the original, you’ll notice that the 2011 team stayed true aspects of the original film, particularly scenes from ’82 when Kurt Russell‘s character, R.J. MacReady is investigating the charred remains of Thule Station. Equally successful was the prequels capturing the sense of abject horror and paranoia so prevalent in the original. Winstead’s character, Kate, channels her own inner Ellen Ripley, taking the role of heroine in the film, leaving Edgerton’s very Kurt-Russelish-looking Carter to play the supporting hero role. It’s good to see hot tough chicks taking it to face shredding aliens again!
My biggest, I won’t say disappointment but rather “meh” about the film, comes from the alien Thing itself. As is par for the course in plenty of movies now, the creature is done primarily with CG. It reminds me of the Necromorphs from the Dead Space video games, which makes it sufficiently creepy. We all know how horrible I am when it comes to finishing video games, but Dead Space was successful in freaking me out enough to not be able to play too long without losing sleep. It was probably the whole play-at-night-with-all-the-lights-off-and-with-headphones-so-I’m-totally-immersed approach.
Anyway, for my money nothing beats practical special effects, especially for graphically horrific dog-melting, double amputation and disembodied heads running around on spider-legs…. Speaking of which, I’m off to watch the original on Blu-ray right now. Sleep tight boys and girls!