Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Posted in Movies, My Stuff on December 16th, 2017 by thelonegamer


This is not going to go the way you think…

Star Wars: The Last Jedi or Star Wars Episode VIII picks up right after the events of the previous film, The Force Awakens. As the opening crawl mentions, the evil First Order launches a brutal direct assault on The Resistance, intending to wipe them out once and for all. Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley) has found the legendary Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), intending to bring him back to help save the galaxy from the First Order.

Of course, soon after that, everything starts to hit the fan. I’ve read reviews that compare TLJ to The Empire Strikes Back, perhaps due to them being both the middle chapter of the trilogy, and both with the enemy closing in. Here however, the good guys- The Resistance, is pretty much pushed as far into the wall as can be. The Empire never got this close to fully exterminating the rebels, and that alone probably sets The Last Jedi apart from previous Star Wars films. This film is not afraid to kill off characters (something begun in TFA) and makes it a point to burn down assumptions and preconceived notions.

As Rey soon finds out, Luke Skywalker is neither willing nor perhaps able to be the all-saving savior or Messiah the galaxy needs. He’s much older, embittered and seemingly cut off (by his own hand) from the Force. Still, Rey needs a teacher and she presses him on to somehow learn answers to her questions about her powers, her past and her future. Answers that just may be found with someone else…

Meanwhile, Finn (John Boyega) finally wakes up from his coma and finds himself in the dying Resistance. More or less by luck, he eventually finds himself on a desperate mission to save the rebels alongside a spunky technician named Rose (Kelly Marie Tran). Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) finds himself at odds with the Resistance leadership. With the Resistance at the verge of annihilation and Supreme Leader Snoke pulling all the strings, is there hope for the future or will the spark of hope be lost forever?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the most different Star Wars film I’ve ever seen. It feels modern and groundbreaking, if only for the simple reason that it finally says and does things unheard of before- things assumed, established notions and sacred cows (THE JEDI). There are things lost and destroyed, both good and bad, but it all feels that the series is finally headed into uncharted regions- and it feels exciting.

A gorgeous film, The Last Jedi has great setpieces, the expected space and ground battles, lightsabers, Force mysteries and all you’d want. It also brings unexpected and pleasant surprises, some genuine satisfying moments and an optimistic new direction. This is a wonderful sci-fi epic and classic in the making that every fan of the series needs to see.

Justice League Movie Review by MarcTheLoneGamer

Posted in Action Adventure, Movies, My Stuff on November 16th, 2017 by thelonegamer

DC’s iconic heroes come together.

It’s finally freakin’ here. Justice League by Zack Snyder brings together the iconic heroes of DC Comics in an enjoyable cinematic superhero romp that makes me excited for the future.

MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!

Set some time after the events in the controversial Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League sees a world (well, we assume its the whole world though mostly scenes we see are in the US) in mourning and depression since the death of Superman (or The Superman). As set up in the previous film, Bruce Wayne AKA Batman (Ben Affleck, whom I see as the best Bats since Michael Keaton) is trying to put together a team to fight a vague coming threat from ‘far away’. Alongside him is the Amazon Princess/demigod Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot, radiant as usual), who has thus far been fighting crime as well but keeping even more secretive than even Batman (unless there’s some French gendarmes looking for a super mademoiselle behind the scenes). There are three prospective candidates- Arthur Curry AKA Aquaman (Jason Momoa), a mysterious seaborne benefactor of some isolated island communities, Victor Stone AKA Cyborg (Ray Fisher) a cybernetically-enhanced son of a scientist, and Barry Allen AKA The Flash (Ezra Miller), a super-speedster. Against them is the monstrous Steppenwolf (a CG character voiced by Ciaran Hinds), an otherworldly warrior who is seeking to bring together the three ‘Mother Boxes’ that will reshape the Earth into a living hell for his (as yet unseen) master, Darkseid. With the recent death of Kal-El AKA Clark Kent AKA Superman (Henry Cavill), does even the hastily-gathered heroes of Earth stand a chance against this alien invasion?

First off, if you have been watching showbiz news online or elsewhere about superhero films, you’ll know this film has had a rocky history coming to screen. The DCEU films haven’t exactly been tearing the aisles up like their rivals in Marvel, with flops like Green Lantern and controversial hits/misses like Suicide Squad and Batman V Superman. It all kinda changed with Wonder Woman, which wowed both critics and audiences (and this reviewer) and set a new tone for the previously monochromatically-toned DC films- Yes, DC, not ALL your superheroes need to be gritty like Batman.

Even more, there have been behind-the scenes events such as Zack Snyder having to depart the film due to personal tragedy, extensive rewrites by former Marvel films director Joss Whedon, reshoots and all sorts of hooplah.

You know what? THROW ALL THAT CRAP OUT.

Come into this film with no baggage, and you’ll enjoy yourself. I did, and I LOVE the flick immensely.

Justice League is a pretty solid live-action version of the much-beloved DC animated series of the same name. You have an Alien Threat that is bigger than any of Earth’s heroes individually, which requires them to come together in a team. Each member comes in with their own personal ghost or issue to deal with as they strive to work as one. Affleck’s Batman is still wracked by guilt with his role in Superman’s death (although it was clearly the Cave Troll AKA Doomsday that killed him) and must also overcome his usual ‘I work alone’ modus and be a leader. As the single member who actually has no powers (but he’s RICH), Batman is still prepared to give his all- perhaps even more.

Wonder Woman, the one woman and herself rivaling Superman in power is the team’s heart and moral compass. Conceivably she can lead the boys herself, but chooses not to due to her own personal demons- something that has also kept her in the shadows for decades. Cyborg was given a new life by the alien Mother Box (a change from the comics), giving him his abilities and a link to the enemy- something that makes him feel that he’s a monster himself. Aquaman is a loner and has his own personal struggles beneath the seas in Atlantis. Finally, Barry Allen is a friendless youngster who is still trying to find his footing (ha), dealing with having a father in prison. How they all face and overcome their issues and become a team, interacting with each other makes this film as interesting as the actual battles with alien Para-demons.

The film’s casting is pretty spot-on. Of course, that is already obvious with Affleck and Gadot (and of course, Henry Cavill). But Ezra Miller’s Flash is a refreshingly earnest, giddy and humorous take on the character, very much like Spiderman: Homecoming’s Peter Parker in his wide-eyed amazement at all things superheroic that he’s seeing. Almost everyone else is a veteran, but Flash is once again the audience’s eyes, and the film’s welcome comic relief for the most part.
Ray Fisher as Cyborg is given one of the harder roles- his character is a second-tier hero, not usually affiliated with the Justice League in comics. However, he has a central role in this story given his link to the Mother Boxes. Fortunately, the actor gives a fine performance and keeps up with the rest as the one with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Still, fans of the Teen Titans series will enjoy him as well as his final line.
Jason Momoa’s Aquaman looks incredibly different from the comics, but I find the redesign, the look and the character as tonally perfect. He’s badass and strong, but he gets to give in some comedic moments that show off Momoa’s timing quite well. He and Wonder Woman take the brunt as the team’s muscle, and he has a couple of awesome scenes (which unfortunately are pretty much spoiled in trailers).

There has been much talk in other reviews about Steppenwolf, the film’s CG-only antagonist. As usual, many critics point to him as being another weak villain. I can’t totally disagree, as Steppenwolf is definitely one note and pretty much just a big brawny boss in terms of videogame terms.

However, I think he works. Steppenwolf isn’t the Big Bad in the big scheme of things- he’s a herald, an envoy. He’s a taste of things to come. Heck, even in the Avengers the Chitauri aliens were just goons with guns. Steppenwolf at least is an imposing figure, and he takes up a big body count before the film is done. Steppenwolf doesn’t need to be deep- he just needs to feel like a threat, and he certainly is. I think that Ciaran Hinds’ voice work is solid, although I guess more could have been done to give him more depth (humor even?)- perhaps we could have seen more personal motivations? His true thoughts of his master/nephew Darkseid? But then, this film was cut down to under two hours. Maybe in the extended cut we’ll see more sides to our Monster of the Movie.

Finally… SUPERMAN.

Yes, SPOILER ALERT… Superman comes back in this flick. I won’t spoil how or when. But when he does, he makes an impact. I’ll go to say that Cavill’s Clark Kent in this film is even BETTER than any of the animated versions of Superman, or even the live-action versions with respect to Christopher Reeve. Cavill’s Superman IS THE Superman, here in this movie.

FINALLY he comes back seemingly without any more of the mopey emo BS he had in BvS, and I hope they continue with that. Superman needs to be awesome, and here he finally IS.

The action in this flim is pretty great, with some setpiece action scenes that are pretty marvelous- Steppenwolf’s attack on Themyscira is amazing, although I wish the Amazons really got better weapons by now (bows and arrows versus lazer guns?), or at least were shown to be superhuman in skill relative to humans. The flashback battle of the Ancients versus Steppenwolf’s first invasion was near LOTR scale in epicness. Plus every encounter between the League and Steppenwolf was pretty cool- as well as the final minutes. BADASS.

As I said, forget all the side crap, the preconceptions, the biases and even any negative reviews. Justice League is grade-A, First Rate Superhero Fun, in my book just as good as The Avengers as a team flick. It’s not perfect, but then what is? It’s good and solid, optimistic and light but with enough gravitas to make you feel. Most of all, and perhaps most importantly, it makes me excited for what’s to come in the DCEU’s future. They way they end it, they could conceivably end it right there (although the end-credits scene already looks to a sequel) nicely, but I say this film deserves to hit and hit big.

Because I want more Batman. I want more Wonder Woman. I want more Man of Steel. The Aquaman and Flash movies, even the Cyborg movie. Bring them on. I WANTS IT ALL.

Movie Rating: 4 of 5
If you don’t go in hating this flick or expecting to hate it, you’ll like it. Jokes and levity are hit and miss, but overall it’s good, solid, classic Superhero team-building fun with the DC heroes at their best. Oh, and don’t leave until the end of the credits to not miss the two extra scenes.

Divinity Original Sin 2 is RPG Tactics BLISS.

Posted in Action Adventure, Game Advertising, Gaming, PC Gaming, RPGs on September 19th, 2017 by thelonegamer

Putting the RP back into RPGs, that’s Larian Studios’ Divinity II.

Rivellon needs a new god. Are you up to the task? This is the main storyline of Divinity: Original Sin 2, Larian Studios’ sequel to their critically-acclaimed (and I assume very successful) crowdfunded RPG, Divinity Original Sin. I admit, while I own the original game, I haven’t played it- but I am aware of its quality from reviews and LP’s I’ve seen online. However, something about the sequel just grabbed me. I loved the look, the design and the feel of this new game. The original ‘Original’ sounded great, but I admit I found the look a bit bland, and the story didn’t grab me (still doesn’t). You played as ‘Source Hunters’, adventurers specializing in taking on quests involving ‘The Source’, Rivellon’s answer to The Force, which has been used and abused by ‘Sourcerers’ for generations. That was all I knew about it. But the sequel impressed me with several things- one, the look.

It is GORGEOUS. I love the new graphics, the detailed new world, and the characters- the Elves are TALL, beautiful, more nature-y (yes that’s a word now) and apparently FLESH EATERS. There’s a new Undead class where you play as what appears to be a sentient lich-type being. And, while you can create a custom character all your own from scratch with the excellent Character Creation, the best bits of Original Sin 2 is playing through the several ‘Origins’ stories.

Several fully-voiced characters or heroes are available to be played to see their stories through- Sebylle, the vengeful Elven beauty, hunting down the Master who scarred her face. The Beast is a Dwarf sea captain (or pirate?) looking to overthrow his cousin, an evil queen. The Red Prince is a Lizard seeking to reclaim an Empire. A possessed bard, a ruthless mercenary, an undead scholar round off the cast. All these heroes have their own agendas, and they can do it by themselves or with the help of the other characters- but in the end only one can become the new Divinity.

This game follows the tradition of pen-and-paper-flavored RPGs like the Baldur’s Gate series, but on steroids. Instead of being solely an isometric 2D world, Rivellon is 3D, allowing you to rotate, zoom in and see the world from all angles. As with the original, the beauty is in the gameplay- the actual ‘RP-ing’ aside from just being a story with lots of fighting along the way. You’ll have to work the brain a bit to solve situations or decide how you go about things. How do you treat people and NPCs? Are you haughty and prideful, selfish and pragmatic, or will you be a good-hearted man/woman/undead of the people?

When a crucial NPC needs to be freed from captivity, you can try to do his evil captor a favor. Or you can just KILL EVERYONE. That is, if you can. While roleplay and multiple paths/methods are beautifully implemented, the game is of course firmly solid in combat. Fighting is tactical turn-based through and through, and you will have to exercise your noodle quite a bit to get through the many battles- Explorer mode is the easiest difficulty but even then, the game will often put you into situations that seem heavily weighed against you with punishing ambushes or deadly traps. But often, there always seems to be an alternate route or direction to take… if you have the right tool or talent at the crucial time.

A seemingly-unbeatable boss fight making you tear your hair out? Level up your skills and gear so you can kick butt like hell. OR just freaking find a sneaky way to bypass the fight and make the bastard literally grovel at your feet (HAHAHA). Some boss fights can be defeated by dialogue instead of combat, depending on your character’s persuasiveness. Or a special talent or item you just may have may also turn the tide or change the course of history. It’s awesome.

You start off his game, like many of the best RPGs, as a prisoner bound for an infamous penal colony and interment camp. You are dressed in scant rags, barefooted and armed with little more than primitive weapons or jury-rigged tools. Aside from your skills and abilities, you have to work on getting yourself kitted out to kick ass, both with gear to find, purchase, barter for or craft. Grab stuff you find and craft weapons, armor, clothing or potions. Search high and low and you just might find a magical weapon or suit of armor to bump you up a notch or two in the Rivellon food chain. And, if you’re an Elf- EAT EVERY CARCASS YOU FIND. GROSS BUT AWESOME.

Still, there are some times where I found the game being a bit unfair or weird- you have to be very careful during combat as sometimes you may find your character attacking the floor where you intended to just move. In very detailed situations with tons of fire everywhere (SO MUCH FIRE) it may get a bit hard to see what’s going on. But that doesn’t mar this game’s beauty, both in looks and gameplay, at all.

That all said, this game’s difficulty is easily one of its main appeals- its unflinchingly unforgiving, even at the easiest difficulty (Explorer). Simply walking into a boss battle or a trap will surely get you right between the jaws of an ambush or a deadly trap, and in a world where single archers can pack the punch of an airstrike and screw up your party from second one of the fight, you just can’t afford to simply traipse into the bad guys’ den and expect to power your way out of the situation unless you’re really, really strong or really, really good. Often this game will kick your ass the first time, making you try to seriously rethink a situation. The difficulty is two-pronged; if you don’t know what you’re doing, if you go in half-assed and unprepared, you’ll feel like the game is utterly unfair. Try it another way and you’ll be floored by how butter smooth things can go.

In fact, this game is such that you may find yourself restarting your entire game simply to rethink your character’s build, or your party’s composition and try something new. But doing so doesn’t seem to be a chore at all, but a tribute to this game’s amazing depth and replayability.

Divinity 2 is an RPG where RP-ing, and your choices, really matter. And it doesn’t only matter for the big picture or the main quest. Your choices can greatly affect how things go. in one instance, my main character had a flirty little episode with an NPC… when violence suddenly erupted in the area later, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was suddenly being aided in the vicious brawl by my new friend (who actually ended up turning the tide quite a bit). Its moments like these that made me realize- this game has got its thing DOWN.

Some easy but super-important tips: TALK to everyone you can. Explore everywhere, twice. DON’T fight every battle by your enemies’ rules. If you find yourself hitting a brick wall- think about how Batman or Superman would tackle the problem.

If you want an engrossing, incredibly playable challenging and incredibly replayable RPG with awesome roleplaying elements, where your choices really matter, with tons of options, both single and multiplayer fun that looks absolutely GORGEOUS, you can’t go wrong with Divinity Original Sin 2. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a city that needs liberating…

Divinity Original Sin 2 (PC): 5 of 5
THIS is how you do an RPG. It’s that good. It’s Final Fantasy Tactics with a far superior (and fare more comprehensible) story and a true playbox where your choices matter. Games like this don’t come every blue moon- this cannot be missed.

Resident Evil 7 Continues in December with ‘Not a Hero’ and ‘End of Zoe’ DLCs

Posted in Action Adventure, Game Advertising, Gaming, PC Gaming, PS4, Resident Evil 7 Biohazard, Survival Horror, Xbox One on September 5th, 2017 by thelonegamer

More RE7 is lurking this Christmas Season…

SPOILER WARNING if you haven’t played and finished Resident Evil 7.

It’s been a while since we last saw the Baker Plantation and tussled with Jack, Marguerite and Lucas. While Ethan (and possibly his wife, Mia) managed to survive the frightful night of horror, there are indeed loose ends to tie up yet with two additional DLC expansions coming in December.
‘Not a Hero’ has been known for a while, an image being shown to the player when you finish the main game. Speculation has been going on ever since the reveal of the mystery character named ‘Redfield’ who meets Ethan at the very end. It has recently been confirmed that this character IS indeed series favorite Chris Redfield, albeit looking quite a bit different from his incarnation in previous installments. But it is supposedly Chris, and he’s back to explore the Baker residence to hunt down the as-yet-unaccounted-for Lucas Baker, the maniacal Saw-esque trap master who plagued hapless victims with his lethal games. Chris will not be as unprepared as Ethan was, and will charge into the maze armed with potent weapons and equipment designed to take down bio-weapons. And he’ll need every one of them to deal with new enemies and Lucas himself.

Secondly, and a bit of a surprise is ‘End of Zoe’, which reveals the final fate of the Bakers’ daughter. End of Zoe is set after the events of both RE7 and Not a Hero, so we’ll learn what becomes of the tragic Zoe. What enemies or dangers are left to pursue her? Will she manage to escape or will the swamp ultimately claim her too? I actually really liked Zoe, and knowing that there’s more to her story is really intriguing.

Both of these DLCs got me excited and I can’t wait to see both. These expansions can be bought separately or as part of the upcoming Resident Evil 7 Gold Edition, which combines everything into one scary, but neat, package. It all drops on PS4, XBOne and PC this coming December 12, 2017.

The Witcher Series 10th Anniversary Video Tribute

Posted in Action Adventure, Fan Service, Game Advertising, Gaming, RPGs, The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt on September 5th, 2017 by thelonegamer

CD-Projekt Red, you rock.

In what is probably the coolest tribute to gamers ever, CD-Projekt Red posted a few days ago the above video- a wonderful cinematic showing Geralt of Rivia, Witcher Extraordinaire, celebrating his birthday (his 10th Birthday?) together with friends and family. It’s a bit spoilery, but the video is set at Geralt’s prosperous retirement home of Corvo Bianco, in the relatively happy and peaceful land of Toussaint. Geralt narrates how things have been since the end of his adventures, mostly kicking back and relaxing, playing Gwent, raiding nearby vineyards and having the occasional Witcher contract to keep the skills sharp. But ultimately, Geralt greets YOU, the player, thanking you for giving him his happy ending.

CD-Projekt Red surely put in a lot of effort into this video- it’s just as high quality as any cinematic shown in the series, and features pretty much every character Geralt can count as family, friend or ally who isn’t canonically dead. It’s a beautiful reward to players who have put many, many hours of playtime into this critically-acclaimed and super popular franchise. For a series rife with steamy sex and gory monsters, it was kinda odd to see it with such a sunny, warm ending… but I have no complaints for that.

To be honest, I haven’t completely played the Witcher 3 through yet- heck, I’ve never played the first game, and only played a bit of the second. But this video makes me want to go and give this series the serious playtime it deserves. THEN I can come back, watch this video again and then have the feels… with a lot more feel behind it.

I do think that while more Witcher games may be in the future, the story of Geralt is over and ends with this happy finale. Enjoy your sunny place, White Wolf. You earned it.

Game of Thrones Season 7, Ep.6 and 7 Reviews, Thoughts!

Posted in Action Adventure, Game of Thrones, My Stuff, TV on September 5th, 2017 by thelonegamer

“Beyond the Wall”

The penultimate episode of Game of Thrones’ Season 7 opens up with Jon Snow and his posse (AKA the Westeros Avengers…) long into their journey into the hostile reaches of the North. It’s an impressive bunch, made up of most of the series’ most badass fighters- seasoned knight and recent Greyscale survivor Jorah Mormont, resurrected Beric Dondarrion and red priest Thoros of Myr, ginger-haired Wildling warlord Tormund Giantsbane, Baratheon bastard and warhammer warrior Gendry and of course, the chicken-loving Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane. Their mission: bring back a wight to convince the Southron lords and ladies that the threat of the Army of the Dead is real.

There’s some glorious exchanges between the characters as they walk on, from Gendry finding out about Wildling survival techniques to him kinda-making peace with the Brotherhood, pep-talk between Sandor and Tormund about Brienne, and of course Jon offering to give back Longclaw to Jorah. It’s all awesome stuff that we’d probably never see elsewhere- some would say fan fiction-y, but I say SHUT THE HELL UP I’M LOVING THIS.

Of course, it’s not all sweet and softiness- back in Winterfell, Littlefinger’s manipulations seem to have Arya wanting to take Sansa’s place as Lady of Winterfell. Of course, its a flimsy conflict which will surely end badly only for one person- whose name rhymes with brittlefinger. Just a matter of how it happens and when- I expect with a Valyrian dagger next episode.

Back to Beyond the Wall, Jon and company ambush a wight patrol, led by a White Walker whom Jon bests in single combat- turns out all but one of the wights was apparently animated by said walker, which is mighty convenient. The bundle up the surviving wight, just in time to hear the rest of the Dead coming. Jon sends off Gendry to run off ahead to The Wall for help (in the form of a raven sent to Dragonstone), while the main party and their undead prisoner make their stand on a frozen lake.

There’s quite a lot of time compression as events shown happen with surely at least a day or so in between. Not sure how long Jon and his mates stand surrounded by the Dead before the raven gets to Dany, then for Dany to fly all the way to the lake (not sure how she actually knew where to find them though). It’s all kinda dumbed down and has holes larger enough for the army of the dead to march through but who cares- we FINALLY see dragons versus undead!

Sadly, while Dany manages to scoop up Jon’s party (wight and all) and Jon is eventually able to escape thanks to a brief return by Benjen ‘Coldhands’ Stark, in the process they lose Vicerion, one of Dany’s dragons, to the Night King’s ice javelin-throwing skills. But the good guys still score (as will Jon, I wager) as Dany is now aware of the threat posed by the Night King, and more importantly, is wanting payback for her slain ‘child’. Meanwhile, the Night King has Vicerion pulled up from the lake with some humongous chains (where did those come from?), and subsequently raises the dead dragon into his service. SHIT.

“The Dragon and the Wolf”

The Season 7 finale of Game of Thrones is the longest episode at about eighty minutes, and most of it deals with Jon, Dany and their forces meeting up in King’s Landing with Cersei to discuss an armistice and possible alliance against the dead. As a precaution against any treachery, Dany has her entire army- Dothraki, Unsullied and both remaining dragons- on hand ready to raze the city to the ground if Cersei tries anything funny. There are once again exchanges between characters we never thought we’d see together- particularly Dany and Cersei- the two most powerful women in Westeros. Still it’s more about the issue at hand- the Army of the Dead.

Jon makes a fine presentation, convincing Cersei that the threat is real, however botches it all by refusing to recognize her as queen since he’s already bent the knee to Dany (the guy only has one knee, apparently). It takes Tyrion talking to his most hated sibling to apparently convince her to play nice. However, ultimately its all a sham- The Queen of the Seven Kingdoms has no plans of sending aid to the war against the dead, instead revealing to an aghast Jaime that the Lannister armies are staying out of the fight, while Euron Greyjoy brings over the Golden Company from Essos to bolster their numbers. Aside from his sister’s dishonorable course of action, Jaime is understandably dismayed that Cersei didn’t trust him enough to let him in on the plans, and this is the final straw that breaks the lion’s back. A lone warrior now, with only his sword, armor and horse, Jaime heads off to the North to lend his aid to Jon and Dany, even as the first snowflakes start to fall on King’s Landing…

Meanwhile, in Winterfell there’s a trial held- ostensibly with Arya being held for treason against her sister. But SURPRISE- it turns out that the whole thing is for Littlefinger. Sansa reveals that know everything he’s done- from the murder of Lysa Tully and Jon Arryn, to his betrayal of Ned Stark. Baelish is abandoned by the Knights of the Vale, and is finally put down- his throat slashed by Arya with his own Valyrian dagger. Turns out Bran had seen everything, and has been telling. The sisters make peace, recalling their father’s lesson- ‘The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.’
Theon meets with Jon, and Jon finally forgives Theon for what he’s done (kind of), and Theon finally finds the balls (or finds strength in his lack of said balls) to go off and rescue Yara from Euron.
Oh, and somewhere along the way Sam arrives in Winterfell, meets up with Bran and they figure out that Jon is not Ned’s bastard but the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen- making him Aegon Targaryen, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. At the same time, Jon is making love to Dany as they sail north.

The episode ends with the Army of the Dead arriving at Eastwatch by the Sea, and the wall being breached by the Night King riding Vicerion, now an ice-breathing undead dragon. Tormund and Beric seem to narrowly escape even as the castle and a huge part of the Wall crumbles, leaving the way open to a calmly marching Army of the Dead…

HOLY CLIFFHANGERS, BATMAN!

Well, what else can be said but, darn… it’s going to be a long wait. The eight and final season of GoT is supposedly coming in late 2018 or could be as late as sometime in 2019. There will only be six episodes but each chapter will be ‘feature-length’. Which means- SIX Game of Thrones movies coming one after the other?
Game of Thrones has pretty much made itself THE top fantasy series on TV or movies with what its shown and will show- no other fantasy franchise yet put to screen, big or small, comes close (hell, even the LOTR movies pale in comparison to GoT, far and away). I hope they really put their best feet forward into these final episodes- this is where it all pays off.

Some thoughts…

• The producers and directors must know that the Dornish side story was really, really, really hated by a lot of people, which explains why there was no appearance, mention or even a hint of Ellara Sand, who should still be alive in the dungeon next to her daughter’s rotting corpse- I guess Cersei would not release her since that would mean Dorne would be back in the war. Oh well.

• Good to see Tyrion getting awesome scenes and making his presence felt in the finale, although once again it seems he’s played into his sister’s plans once again. Plus why does it seem that he still has ‘loyalty’ to his family? His ‘family’? I do hope he doesn’t do anything royally stupid in the near future.

• Looks like the Greyjoy storyline will be dealt with by Theon alone- my take is, he’ll have to kill Euron to rescue Yara AND gain back the loyalty of the Ironborn.

• A great part of Season 8 will surely be set in The North, with the defense of Westeros being joined by Dany’s armies alongside the Northerners. How effective will the Dothraki and Unsullied be in extreme cold? Perhaps the Horselords are best saved for when the Army of the Dead reach the plains, where the 40,000++ riders can fight best.

• The key is killing the White Walkers, and the Night King, to get rid of their army. Give archers a lot of dragonglass arrows, and this may prove a winning strategy.

• Jon may be the rightful heir, but does he really want to be King? What will this mean to his and Dany’s relationship? Surely a lot of drama, but hey… among Targaryens, incest is best, right? Heheh…

Our watch has begun. Season eight, here we come…

Game of Thrones Season 7, Ep.5 Review and Thoughts!

Posted in Game of Thrones, My Stuff, TV on August 14th, 2017 by thelonegamer

“Eastwatch”!

This week’s episode of Game of Thrones opens with the immediate aftermath of last week’s ‘Loot Train Raid’ by Daenarys’ forces. As expected, Jaime survived thanks to Bronn, and got them far downriver enough to escape. The rest of their army, including Randyll and Dickon Tarly, are captured. Dany gives the prisoners an ultimatum- join her or die. Randyll Tarly refuses, and his son Dickon follows him into death by dragonfire. Tyrion is understandably alarmed, which drives him and Varys to share some drinks together. They agree that they need to get Dany to listen more to advice that will keep her from becoming like her father, the Mad King.

Dany arrives back at Dragonstone, and as Drogon lands he approaches Jon and ultimately allows the King of the North to actually touch him. Jorah Mormont returns and is welcomed back into Dany’s service. Ravens from Winterfell at Bran’s behest tries to warn everyone of the White Walkers, but the Maesters at Old Town still refuse to believe the news, to Samwell Tarly’s disappointment. Eventually, Sam can’t take the Maesters’ indifference and leaves the Citadel, taking Gilly, Little Sam and a bunch of books with him.

Tyrion comes up with the notion that they need to capture a wight to show everyone- Cersei in particular- that the Army of the Dead is real. He meets with Jaime with the help of Bronn, and delivers their terms. Jaime relays this to Cersei and learns that she’s pregnant. While in King’s Landing, Davos finds Gendry, King Robert’s bastard, among the blacksmiths. He readily joins Davos back to Dragonstone, along the way showing his prowess with a warhammer.

Jon ultimately decides he needs to be the one to lead the mission beyond the wall, and leaves after convincing Dany. Jon, Jorah, Davos and Gendry leave for Eastwatch by the Sea. From there, they meet up with Tormund, who reveals that they have captured several men trying to get beyond the wall themselves- Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr and Sandor Clegane. Eventually all of them join up into a ragtag band, mistrustful of each other yet united in purpose, beyond the wall…

• Understandably, this week’s episode quiets down a level from last week’s big battle, dealing with the aftermath of this latest development in the war.

• So how did Bronn manage to drag a full-grown man in heavy plate armor underwater for what seems to be several miles to safety? Is Bronn part Merman? Sea Turtles? Unlike Jon Snow’s parentage, we’ll never know…

• I’m sure Dany’s decision to execute the Tarlys will polarize. It was a terrible thing to see, and roasting prisoners is not a benign thing. But in my opinion, Randyll was given more than enough chances to live (three in fact), and he still clung to his misguided principles. Nothing is black or white in this show, and I can’t find myself sympathizing much with him given that he betrayed his rightful liege of a lifetime (Olenna). Dickon dying as well was sad, but he chose it too- Dany at that point could not back down herself or she’d appear weak, at least to her Dothraki, and to anyone else if word of Randyll succeeding in his defiance spread. War is messy and ugly, but it needs hard choices.

• It now seems that there were a lot more Lannister troops lost during the raid than thought earlier- at least enough that Cersei would consider hiring mercenaries- perhaps even The Golden Company? That said, Jaime telling Cersei that the Dothraki will defeat any mercenaries, ANY army he’s ever seen in the world is pretty much the show saying that the Loot Train Raid was THE big battle of the season, if there was any doubt. There simply is NO army in Westeros (watch the Golden Company MELT if they came up against Dany) that can match the horde (except for the Army of the Dead, that is).

• Anyone who keeps saying ‘Dany is becoming a Mad Queen already!’ is an idiot, IMO. There’s already one Mad Queen in the show, and her name is Cersei Lannister.

• Was there only one Scorpion in the entire Lannister army? It seems likely- but now that Dany has seen it, there’s NO WAY she’ll fall for it again. Or at least have some contingents of Dothraki actively looking out for the damn things next time (and ready to intervene).

• Speaking of Cersei, one has to admire how well she keeps Jaime under her thumb. Just when we thought he was out… she pulls him back in. Is she really preggie? If she is, the chances of him abandoning her are pretty much nil, which is bad news for those wanting him to fully defect.

• The Winterfell parts were pretty slow as we see Littlefinger playing Arya. Not entirely sure where this is going, but he is definitely trying to take the siblings apart- we have two more episodes to see who wins in this contest.

• Still no word from The Unsullied, or Euron. One may assume they are keeping each other occupied. Anyway, I can’t worry about Grey Worm- the Unsullied are a full ARMY, and they wouldn’t be stupid enough to try and swim out to sea and fight the Ironborn. If they march overland, they should get back to Dragonstone hopefully before the season ens- there is no one strong enough (or stupid enough) to try and get in their way.

• Anyone else seeing a parallel between Jon’s band of misfits and the Justice League?

• Overall, a quieter episode but SOOOO many things happened, even if scenes were a bit shorter than we would have liked (they could have stayed with Tyrion and Jaime a bit more).

Man, next week’s episode is going to be CRAZY.

The King of Fighters: Destiny (CG Series) Episode 1 and 2 Review!

Posted in Action Adventure, Fighting Games, Game to Movies, Gaming, King of Fighters, My Stuff, TV on August 11th, 2017 by thelonegamer

The KOF Saga retold in slick CG!

A nice tie-in surely to the release of King of Fighters XIV on Steam is the new CG anime, The King of Fighters XIV: Destiny. The series will supposedly run for about 25 episodes, released first for free streaming on Steam and then apparently on SNK’s King of Fighters Youtube channel.

The story begins with a prologue talking about the Orochi, an ancient evil that was sealed away by three powerful clans (including Kyo’s Kusanagi clan). The story then picks up ten years prior, where ice cream vendor and father Jeff Bogard is killed by his rival Geese Howard for a mysterious scroll. His sons, Terry and Andy (who apparently looked like a very young Lee Chaolan back then) swear vengeance on their father’s murderer. Fast-forward to the present, where martial artist Kyo Kusanagi and his friends, Judo expert Goro Daimon and somewhat comical Benimaru Nikaido head off to join the upcoming King of Fighters Tournament, leaving behind Kyo’s father, Saisyu, in the lurch. Arriving in America, their paths soon cross with other KOF characters- Terry Bogard, Yuri and Ryo Sakazaki and Geese’s henchman, Billy Kane.

It seems that this series will mix in all the storylines of the various heroes- the team of Terry, Andy and Joe Higashi (which was already told in anime form years ago), the story of the King of Fighters Tournament and whatever shady dealings will be behind that, the Art of Fighting series and more. How they’ll handle all those heroes and villains should be interesting to see.

The CG animation of the show is pretty good, with fairly well-done fight scenes and generally slick-looking production values. The characters mostly look as they usually do in the games and artworks, which should please fans. So far the brisk pace, clean animations and a somewhat light-hearted tone make this a pleasant watch. Hey, it’s FREE so why not? I must admit, I may end up purchasing KOFXIV on Steam after a few more episodes.

The King of Fighters: Destiny is can be watched free on Steam or Youtube. Episodes feature Japanese dialogue with English subtitles.

Episode 2 is right here!

Game of Thrones Season 7, Ep.4 Review, Thoughts!

Posted in Game of Thrones, My Stuff, TV on August 7th, 2017 by thelonegamer

“The Spoils of War.”

With Episode 4, ‘Spoils of War’, the War for Westeros continues! Cersei continues to converse with the Iron Bank, promising the payment to the Crown’s debts soon. We then see the victorious, gold-laden Lannister-Tarly forces leaving HighGarden with their loot. Bronn complains about not being paid his due, as usual.

We head to Winterfell where we find Petyr Baelish trying to get on the newly-arrived Bran Stark’s good side, oddly enough by gifting him the Valyrian dagger, Cat’s Paw, which was wielded by a would-be assassin against him waaaay back in Season 1. Bran gets Littlefinger back by mouthing the words, ‘Chaos is a Ladder’ which probably makes LF pee his pants a little.

Arya FINALLY arrives home, despite some resistance by some surly guards. She and Sansa meet and hug in the crypts- they’ve never been close when they were kids- but now, seasons later each Stark girl, now grown and tested by so many trials, seem to finally have a bit of a bond- Sansa, from dainty little princess to high-stakes power player and lady, Arya from tomboy to full-fledged mystical assassin. Oh, and then they meet up with Bran, the new all-seeing demigod of time.

Daenerys, finally fed up with being held back after three episodes and having nothing but dead or captured allies to show for it, launches a full-scale attack on the Lannister-Tarly rear guard= for the first time ever we see the massive Dothraki Horde in full attack. The Lannisters may have been able to shore up a good defense, but the sudden appearance of Daenarys on Drogon pretty much spoils that.
After one of the most intense action sequences you’ll ever see on TV, and easily one of the FINEST fantasy battles EVER seen (Game of Thrones is kicking it out of the park with these battles!), we end with Jaime attempting to end the war single-handedly by spearing Dany but is almost fried to a crisp by Drogon… however, he may instead die a watery death by drowning in his heavy armor (he won’t, but hey, it makes for nice cliffhangers).

• This episode is apparently the shortest in the season, at less than an hour. But what a RIDE!

• Arya meeting Sansa was a wonderful moment, with a nice bit more emotion than the Bran-Sansa reunion last episode.

• The scene in the Dragonglass Cavern was a bit too dark to really make out the grandeur of the place, but still- it was nice to have Jon and Dany in a cave- and we all know how good Jon is in caves…

• Dany blowing her top at Tyrion is a bit distressing, but not without cause. They ARE losing, pretty much because they chose to handle the war with kid gloves. On the other hand, Jon still manages to rein in Dany’s impulse to BURN THEM ALL with a nice bit of advice.

• Arya versus Brienne was AWESOME. Best moment, Arya doing that slick leap up into that crouching stance. SO BADASS. Loved the end where each woman is smiling. They enjoyed themselves, as did the viewers surely.

• The Charge of the Dothraki with Drogon flying above them is sure to be one of the most iconic moments of this show- and there are so freakin’ many of those…

• I guess since Dany is basically their Khaleesi, there’s no need for any Khal anymore- there are no ‘named’ Dothraki, but it hurts to any of our fierce arak-wielding warriors getting killed. Yeah, Dany has many, many thousands of them but we’ll need as many of them as we can to face off with the Night King…

• I kinda like Dickon… I do hope he doesn’t die… but… I don’t like his chances of surviving the next episode.

• Bronn gets a Jon Snow-like single continuous, action-packed shot through the inferno of battle and dragonfire as he is pursued by an exceptionally relentless Dothraki, and it is glorious. Makes you wonder if Bronn is really a lot more important than he seems to be given such focus? That was amazing.

• Again, Bronn is the man of the episode. From some nobody sellsword who just appears out of nowhere hired by Tyrion to watch his back in Season 1, he becomes the one man in the Lannister army to actually injure Dany’s Dragon. What a rise!

• Oh, no! Jaime is dead?! No way.

“Spoils of War” surely has become the ‘Best Episode’ ever of Game of Thrones after today, but I think we’ll be seeing a lot more OMG moments and amazing episodes before this season is over. DAMN… only three more to go. THREE. I can’t. Wait. Till. Next. Week.

Game of Thrones Season 7 Ep.3 Review, Thoughts!

Posted in Game of Thrones, My Stuff, TV on July 31st, 2017 by thelonegamer

The third episode of Game of Thrones’ Season 7 is entitled ‘The Queen’s Justice’, and its pretty apt. There are queens aplenty in this latest chapter of GoT, all exercising their power, wit and guile in yet another hard-hitting bout of war, magic and politics in Westeros.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

• Without wasting any time, the show opens with The King in the North, Jon Snow, arriving at Dragonstone. He’s totally under Dany’s power at this point- he’s got Davos and a few guards with him, but really- Stark guardsmen have had a pretty bad record of protecting their lieges. Still, it’s not dread but giddiness that watchers should feel as these iconic characters meet after literal years apart. Jon and Tyrion, traveling companions to the Wall so long ago, meet and converse, and their exchanges are gold- heck, I would probably watch them just talking for an hour. But of course, they have to get on with the show and have The King meet The Queen. Jon and Dany’s first meeting is between rival rulers, and its tense and uncomfortable, but we know they’re both heroes and good people so there’s no real danger- all we want to see is them eventually seeing eye to eye… but of course it won’t- can’t- happen in their first meeting.

• “This is Jon Snow. He’s King of the North.”

• We see Euron Greyjoy, who has swiftly become Cersei’s champion on the seas, arriving to a hero’s welcome at King’s Landing. He presents his ‘gift’ to Cersei- none other than a captured Ellaria Sand and her one remaining daughter, the Sand Snake Tyene. Euron continues to be a dick to Jamie, which surely is only cementing a strong friendship between the two men vying for Cersei’s bed (well, Jamie already has it, Euron wants to grab it).

• The fate of Ellaria is textbook Cersei, and quite horrible. Of course, she won’t simply have The Mountain violate her like she did an unfortunate septa, Cersei has had quite some time to think up revenge. After a monologue, Cersei kisses Tyene on the lips, using the same poison Ellaria used on Myrcella on the lone remaining Sand Snake. Ellaria’s fate is now to remain alive in her cell to watch Tyene die a slow death from The Long Farewell poison, and then to spend the rest of her days with Tyene’s rotting corpse. UGH. Not sure how many will feel sorry for Ellaria, given how hated the character became after murdering Myrcella, but I guess its still a horrid end. Is this the last we see of Ellaria? Depending on how the war goes, she may pop up again if Dany manages to win and free her Dornish ally, but for now it seems she’s down for the count.

• We then head back to Oldtown and see that Sam has proven himself a healing genius, with a fully-recovered Jorah Mormont being presented to the Archmeister. Sam’s reward (or punishment) for this is a load of new chores, but at least he isn’t expelled for his transgressions. Meanwhile, Jorah says he’s headed back to his Dragon Queen. She needs all the allies she can get.

• Theon is fished out of the water by what we assume to be one of the few Ironborn ships not allied with Euron. Apparently they DID expect him to die with Yara, or at least die trying to save her. Not sure how this leaves him, as the Ironborn seem to shun him (but at least they didn’t throw him back into the water).

• We head back to Winterfell and see that while she’s still acting kinda emo, Sansa is proving to be a pretty good leader. Littlefinger gives her his ‘Every Battle in your Mind’ advice, which is sound but still you can’t trust him can you?

• Sansa is then called to the gates and for a bit I think its Arya, but instead its Bran and Meera. She hugs him but Bran seems to act a bit like an emotionless robot. They talk at the Godswood where Bran tells her about him being the Three-Eyed Raven, which he fails to properly explain adequately. However, he does reveal that he saw her on her wedding night to Ramsay, which utterly spooks her.

• Cersei meets with an official from the Iron Bank, and from all appearances she seems to have everything under control. She promises to pay back all her debts very soon.

• The Unsullied attack Casterly Rock, with a majority attacking the walls while Grey Worm and a small detachment head through the sewers (with information from Tyrion) and open the gates. They defeat the garrison but the victory turns to ashes when Grey Worm sees their ships being burned by Euron’s seemingly omniscient fleet. So now, the Unsullied have lost their ride back home and are facing a long march back home after taking what turns out to be a pretty useless castle.

• The main Lannister army wasn’t at The Rock since its off to Highgarden, led by Jamie who’s also with Randyll Tarly, who has chosen to forsake his allegiance to the Tyrells. We don’t see the battle aside from the imposing sight of the huge Lannister force approaching Lady Olenna’s stronghold. Jamie walks through the halls to the Queen of Thorns’ chamber, to have a talk before her execution.

• Thankfully, we won’t see an old woman beheaded or violated, as Jamie has seen fit to give Lady Olenna a painless, dignified end through poison. They talk as Olenna seems unsuccessful in trying to convince Jamie that Cersei is a monster who will ‘be the end of him’. However, Jamie (at this point) is still completely devoted and in love with his queen…

• Jamie’s gesture of mercy however flies back into his face as Olenna reveals at the very end that it was she who poisoned Joffrey, having the last word that she wants Cersei to know it was her.

• The Queen of Thorns leaves the show like a BOSS. Lady Olenna, you will be missed.

At episode three, the war between Cersei and Dany is taking quite an unpredicted turn. Where we thought that Dany would take Westeros back easily has been upturned quite a bit. Her Dornish and Tyrell allies are both gone, while her elite Unsullies are now far away and in danger of being trapped in Casterly Rock (unless they leave and make a dangerous march back to Dragonstone). Another large portion of her fleet has been lost to Euron’s magic fleet, which seems to know where and when to strike perfectly every single time- it’s getting a bit annoying.

• What’s Theon’s relevance now? Pretty sure he has only a few ships and men left, and their loyalty is suspect. His only path left is to try and save Yara, who is still Euron’s prisoner.

• No Arya yet, but the preview shows she may arrive next episode.

• The Lannisters so far have been batting well, reducing Dany to just her core forces. But yes, Dany still has her dragons AND the Dothraki horde- the game is far from over.

MAN, I can’t wait till next week. AS USUAL.