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…

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!

The Lone Gamer Reviews: Zombie Gunship Survival

Posted in Action Adventure, Android, Gadgets, Game Advertising, Gaming, iGaming, iPad, iPhone, Mobile Games, My Stuff, Zombie Games on May 18th, 2017 by thelonegamer


Take on the Zombie Apocalypse from the best seat around.

A few years ago, Flaregames released a fairly unique zombie fighting game on mobile/iOS, Zombie Gunship. It put you in the gunner’s seat of an AC130 flying gunship (you know- that large plane that ‘brought the rain’ in the first Bayformers flick), fighting zombie hordes from the air. The original game had a nice concept, eerily atmospheric if monochrome visuals and very tense gameplay. Ultimately though, it was a matter of being accurate with your alloted guns- usually an automatic machine gun and a couple of one-shot cannons- and waiting for them to reload/cool down even as the hordes converged on the vulnerable shelters you were tasked to defend. Things soon became repetitive, with progression mostly being your earning enough coins to upgrade your ship and armaments.

The sequel, Zombie Gunship Survival, was soft-released some months ago here in The Philippines, but it will see a wider release soon. For all the faults, the original game was a favorite of mine, so when I saw this on the AppStore I jumped in.

Unfortuantely there was a red flag- the dreaded GET in the app’s store entry. Yep, ZGS is a Free-to-Play title (whereas the original was a premium game for the most part, with iAP being mostly unnecessary). Despite that, I installed and dove in. Pleasantly there are quite a few changes to mix things up, more goals and building elements, even if you may find yourself spending a bit to get into the meat of this zombie title.

Zombie Gunship Survival once again puts you as the commander/gunner of the last AC-130 Gunship around. The introductory mission sets up the story as your plane intercepts an out-of-control cruise ship headed for the mainland. A ground team boards the ship as you provide fire support, but no matter your skills, you can’t stop the coming of the apocalypse. The ship eventually crashes onto shore and all hell breaks loose. Lucky for you, you’re up in the air with a bunch of guns and ammo. Lucky bastard!

So the story picks up months after- you and your crew have survived, and have decided to continue your duty to fight the good fight, even as other military units have become self-serving hostiles. Fortunately, you are able to link up with some soldiers who team up with you to provide ground support. Securing an old air base as your headquarters, you continue your fight against the zombie hordes, who are a continual threat as the hours tick by.

Aside from the flying missions where you provide air support to your ground team, there is a base building element to ZGS, where you set up your facilities for storing resources and work towards upgrading them. As mentioned, zombie hordes will regularly attack your base, so you’ll also have to fly your gunship to defend your home turf. To help, you can set up walls and barriers around your valuable facilities, and have actual defense towers with machine guns and mortars to help in the defense. Thankfully, buildings that are ‘destroyed’ in these zombie attacks don’t remain permanently ruined when you return to normal status (otherwise I’d call foul for this game), and you won’t lose any of your hard-earned upgrades.
The bread-and-butter gameplay, where you fly missions and air support for your ground teams, gets some more variety with elements such as buildings to enter and loot, barriers and obstacles like derelict buses to destroy and break through. This is a change from the previous game which lacked any such features. Zombies spawn from ‘nests’ which are basically groves of irradiated trees. Some times there are small bands, sometimes there are huge crowds. You’ll have to manage your guns, avoid them overheating (and thus temporarily unusable) and keep a cool head. Your ground team is also armed though, and you can upgrade their armaments so they won’t be helpless when walkers come too close. Zombies themselves come in several varieties- the usual human walkers or shamblers, hellhounds or zombie dogs, and the giant-sized Titans. The kind of zombie may require specific weapons, so you’ll have to work at getting new gear by winning and opening crates which provide you these new resources.

As a F2P game though, Zombie Gunship Survival has the usual tropes- upgrades are bought with resources that are doled out in small amounts with every accomplished mission. Crates, which are often earned in gameplay, take time to open- time that can be ‘rushed’ with gold (that is bought with real-world money). So either you are patient or you’ll spend a few real dollars or whatever to get your team the gear you want. Still, there is stuff that can’t be bought readily- your Headquarters or main building, which is key to all upgrades, can only be upgraded as your character ranks up, so you WILL need to play the game a lot.

Myself, I will admit to have spent about ten dollars to get my base HQ to Level 4 and my Hangar to Level 5, which basically unlocks three gun slots for my gunship. At this point, further upgrades look absurdly far away, so I think this is where I can quit spending and just play and grind. Which is fine, as despite everything- building a base, gearing up a team and riding on an airborne angel of fiery zombie death is pretty awesome and worth a look at if you have an iPad or iPhone.

Tags: , , , ,

Logan (2017) Movie Review by The Lone Gamer

Posted in Action Adventure, Movies, My Stuff on March 6th, 2017 by thelonegamer


Wolverine’s last(?) film is gloriously depressing, exhilaratingly violent.

Has it really been 15 years? Yep, fifteen years since we first saw Aussie actor Hugh Jackman take the role of Canadian X-man and arguably the most famous and beloved mutant of all, Wolverine AKA Logan. From the original X-men film by Bryan Singer, to X2: X-men United, X3 The Last Stand, X-men Origins: Wolverine, The Wolverine and X-men: Days of Future Past, we’ve seen the triple-clawed warrior slash his way through evil mutants, commandos, cyborgs, ninja and giant robots- who’d have thought it would be his own secret weapon- his adamantium skeleton- that would be his downfall? Reuniting with fellow X-men mainstay Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier, Logan takes us into the waning days of a beloved comic book-turned-film hero. The result is depressingly glorious but strangely satisfying.

Sometime in the future, we are reintroduced to Logan= The Wolverine- a once infamous superhero and mutant, but now noticeably older, more scarred and looking more vulnerable than we’ve ever seen him. No longer a scion of Xavier’s School, or even a care-free drifter- ‘Old’ Logan is now apparently working as a Limo driver for some kind of Uber service. A scuffle with some car thieves near the border with Mexico reveals that Logan isn’t as formidable as he was before, but he’s still go the claws, and when he connects it does DAMAGE.
Unfortunately, it is soon learned that Logan is dying. His adamantium skeleton- since time immemorial his claim to fame and invulnerability- is now poisoning him, causing his incredible healing factor to slow and even fail. And he’s not the only one on his last legs. We learn that Professor Xavier is also still alive, cared for by Logan and the living mutant-detector Caliban (Stephen Merchant) in an abandoned factory, the Professor being housed in a huge metal silo in an effort to contain his often-out-of-control telepathy. Stricken by Alzheimer’s and dementia, Xavier’s mind can potentially release a lethal, paralyzing psychic attack in a wide radius unless he takes regular medication. In fact, we learn (in no ready detail) that one such psychic episode was responsible for the deaths of many of the X-men (and presumably the decline of the School). Now all Logan and Charles have to look forward to is a hopeful solitary, final vacation out to sea- if Logan can gather the funds to buy them a boat.

But of course, that isn’t to be as Logan is soon sought out by a woman named Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez), who pleads with Logan to take her and a girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) to North Dakota. Laura is soon revealed to be a mutant- the first seen by Logan and Charles in years (mutants having seemingly gone extinct in the last several years for some reason), and she’s naturally being pursued by the ones who created her. So now it’s up to Logan, a dying warrior who just wants to slink into a dark hole to die quietly in peace, to find what remains of himself within to protect the next generation of mutants from some truly despicable villains.

Taking inspiration from films like Unforgiven, Logan is in some ways a breaking down of the superhero movie- the film itself takes potshots at itself, with Logan remarking at how X-men comics don’t actually show the real deal. Nope, not at all. In Logan, heroes aren’t clean and flawless and always save the day… they can die, and along the way, other people, even good people, can get caught in the crossfire with them. Somehow though, there is still redemption to be found even if everything is at its bleakest and there’s no happy ending in sight. Just lots of blood and more blood.

Logan is a gloriously depressing road trip movie- certainly a radical departure from all the previous X-men films, and it prospers because of it. The down-and-dirty, R-rated action is never truly gory or gratuitous, and at times is quite satisfying thanks to how truly needing of some much-deserved killing the baddies are. Jackman and Stewart, as the franchise mainstays, decisively give their onscreen characters their most memorable performances. In no other film is the bond between Logan and Prof. X this more profound and touching. As X-23 AKA Laura Kinney, Dafne Keen is eye-catching and amazing in the fight scenes- one hopes that perhaps there will be future romps with her, but only time will tell.

I’ll admit, I would have wished for a slightly less depressing conclusion to Logan, but then again, the guy’s had over 200 years to walk the earth, and he’s made his three-clawed mark on it many, many times. You’ve earned your retirement, Wolverine. What a way to go.

Logan (2017)
The Lone Gamer’s Movie Rating: 4 of 5

New Ghost in the Shell Trailer hits!

Posted in Action Adventure, Anime, Fan Service, Movies on February 13th, 2017 by thelonegamer


Scarlett Johansson is The Major coming this March.

Ever since its announcement and subsequent casting of actress Scarlett Johansson, the live-action version of the anime Ghost in the Shell has been controversial. Of course there’d be hubbub over having an American in the role of a Japanese anime character named Motoko Kusanagi (I think they just call her The Major in the film). One would wonder though if a film starring a Japanese actress (Rinko Kikuchi perhaps? Maggie Q?) would be more successful with decidedly less star power. Hell, we don’t even know even with Miss Johansson that GITS will be a hit.

The second trailer shows off more previously-unseen footage along with the now-familiar scenes of The Major in her ‘naked’ bodysuit and the nightmare-fuel mecha geishas. But now there’s a bit more talking and some bits of the plot. While the film does share some scenes with the original film and manga (some, like the confrontation with the gunman at the waterway seem painstakingly-reproduced), the overall storyline seems to have been simplified a bit, or at least made with The Major more central to the story. It seems more of Kusanagi seeking her actual identity, rather than the more existential jargon in the anime. I guess it may take a bit of fixing to make the original’s concepts and musings about what corporates being human more easy to digest (the anime tended to be very long-winded in exposition). There’s Blade Runner-esque imagery, some cool action and a hot lady in a form-fitting bodystocking… what’s not to love?

Well, we’ll see if this is a hit or a hack this March. Ghost in the Shell also features Takeshi Kitano as Daisuke Aramaki and Pilou Asbæk as Batou.

Kingsglaive: The Lone Gamer’s Movie Review

Posted in Action Adventure, Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy XC, Game Advertising, Game to Movies, Game-related Events, Gaming, Movies, My Stuff on September 18th, 2016 by thelonegamer


Well, at least it’s much better than Spirits Within.

As the gaming world counts the weeks to the late November release of the long-in-development Final Fantasy XV, gamers all over have a wide selection of material to occupy their attention before the actual game hits. Of course there’s the anime OVA series, FFXV Brotherhood (nowhere near as good as FMA Brotherhood, I assure you), which is of course made to introduce us to the heroes of the game- Prince Noct of Lucis and his roadies. Kingsglaive, a fully-CG animated film, is another such prologue, though much more immediate to the events within the game.

As the opening seconds of the movie roll in with the familiar voice of Lena Heady (our most beloved mad queen of Westeros) giving narration, we are introduced to the big players- Lucis is the ‘peaceful kingdom of magic’ while opposite them is The Empire of Nifleheim, a militaristic nation powered by Magitek (ah, Magitek, we know you so well). The Empire of course is on the verge of total victory, with the capital city of Insomnia (really? A city is named after a sleeping disorder?) the only remaining bastion of Lucis’ control. After a flashback showing some tragic events that befall Lucis’ former ally, the country of Tenebrae, we get into the thick of action with the Kingsglaive.

The titular Kingsglaive are apparently Lucis’ main (or perhaps only) military force- not sure about how many, but there seem to be not many- certainly nowhere near a hundred strong. The Glaive are ‘mighty warriors’, all of whom are recruited from Lucis’ provinces (all of which are probably now under Empire control or attack) due to their ability to use magic. The magic they wield though comes from one source- the King of Lucis himself, King Regis (voiced by another GoT stalwart, Sean Bean). So who are the Glaive? They look kinda cool- very similar to Assassins from Assassins Creed, but in black and wielding one main weapon- a dagger or short blade which they use primarily to ‘Warp Strike’; as in, they throw the dagger and then can teleport to wherever the weapon goes. While it certainly LOOKS awesome, I find it highly impractical and sorta haphazard. I guess the Glaive are trained to be really good and accurate throwers, but come on- you’re limited by throwing range, the speed of the person’s arm, his accuracy, the fact that they can go wildly out of control (and many do in the course of the action) with a bad throw.

Anyway, in these couple of dozen or so fighters is Lucis’ main defense. What has the enemy got? Oh, aside from armies of certainly a lot more soldiers, both human and mechanical (armed with GUNS), they have Magitek war machines AND apparently controlled monsters (just like in the games!) which range from flying creeps and cannon fodder to larger beasts like a Cerberus (three-headed fire dog) and a smoky demon which also seems to be half mechanical. How a few guys with daggers is able to hold off such a force is beyond me. But well, somehow they do.

Or do they? At the moment of apparent defeat, the Empire withdraws, allowing the Kingsglaive to get a breather. Later on, the court of King Regis is visited by a strange visitor- the shabby but kinda cool-looking Ardyn Izunia, perhaps the first Final Fantasy villain ever to sport a fedora and what seems to be a beak on his right arm (really, WHAT THE HELL IS HE WEARING?). Ardyn brings an offer of peace- well, pretty much an armistice, which offers a stop to the war at the cost of Lucis surrendering all its territories save Insomnia itself. Oh, and the Prince must also marry the Princess Lunafreya, who has been an Imperial captive/ward all this time.

Of course, you just know that the Empire is up to no good, and from there it’s a nice build-up to the day of the treaty signing. In the meantime, we see ugly sides of Lucis, which utterly puzzle me. So the Kingsglaive are all recruited from non-residents of Insomnia… WHY are they regarded by Insomnians with an obvious racist disgust? They are DEFENDING YOU, IDIOTS. The Glaive themselves are not your picture of loyalty or unity either- of course, you have the gung-ho, fearless hero Nyx, his clumsy oaf of a best friend Libertus and the one hot girl, Crow. The rest are either faceless and unimportant or belligerent or smarmy. With their ranks thinned and dissent growing cracks in their resolve, in the Kingsglaive may lie the fate of Lucis as the Imperial plot soon unfolds.

First off, the movie is GORGEOUS. That much can be said readily. There’s a lot of detail in the characters, and its much improved from previous Final Fantasy films. Faces of many characters look great, and at least by this time we don’t really think uncanny valley that much any more. However, there seems to be a slight disjoint between lip syncing- or perhaps the mouths of characters don’t quite seem to jive with the words.

While the first half of the movie up to when the shit hits the fan, the movie is quite engaging. However, after a certain point and we head into an unwieldy final act, it all crumples into a mess of a pursuit/chase, and large scale “Giant Monster’ action and action that’s so zippy and flashy, it can only be described as anime. Things happen to characters that normal humans would not walk away from easily, betraying the CG nature of the actors and the world. And the action in the final battle, while pretty amazing, seems hollow, without weight and ultimately, unsatisfying.

But then, I guess Kingsglaive is not meant to satisfy. It’s here to set the stage- with the bad guys winning or on the upswing, while the heroes are- well, they’re not here. The real heroes are in the upcoming GAME, which you will need to play to get closure. I wonder though how closely they’ll keep this movie to the final game? In that way, I guess that while Kingsglaive has its faults, it was worth seeing and certainly has me stoked into kicking Imperial butt this November on my PS4.