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.

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.

Game of Thrones Season 7: Episode 1 and 2 Reviews, Thoughts!

Posted in Game of Thrones, My Stuff, TV on July 24th, 2017 by thelonegamer

Winter is here.

I’m a bit late to this one, but with the awesome, awesome Game of Thrones HBO series now down to its final two seasons, I think I’ll be starting this weekly series giving my review and thoughts to these closing episodes of one of the finest, if not the BEST epic fantasy series ever seen so far. I just wish I had started this from day one and season 1 but, hey. Better late than never!

Season 7 has come, with last week’s episode ‘Dragonstone’ and today’s ‘Stormborn’. Here are my thoughts for each of the first two episodes. Of course…

SPOILER WARNING!!!

Episode 1: Dragonstone

• Easily the Best. Opening. EVER. Arya Stark’s single-handed annihilation of the Hated House Frey will go down in the series as one of the most satisfying comeuppance ever. Man, Arya has come far from being her Daddy’s little princess in Winterfell. That wasn’t her, indeed.

• Giant Wights. Or is it Wight Giants? SHIIIIIT! It would be heartbreaking to someday see Hodor’s corpse among the wights, but realistically there is no reason he wouldn’t be… unless his body was destroyed utterly…

• Cersei prepares as Jaime worries. So far Jaime has been faithful to his lover/sister/queen. But cracks are being placed thanks to his love apparently being open to an Ironborn suitor…

• Euron Greyjoy is a freakin’ ROCK STAR in pretty much every way. He’s going to be dangerous.

• Does Euron’s fleet really have 1000 ships? HOW did they manage that? Did they empty the damn Iron Islands of men to man these ships? At about conservatively 20 men a ship, that’s still 20,000 men- a large force in any book.

• The series seems to be dead-set on pitting Jon against Sansa. I don’t think it will come to that, openly. Sansa has a good heart, she just needs to reconcile that with the ruthlessness she’s been taught. I don’t think any Stark will end up dying because of their own kin (at least, I hope).

• Don’t know Ed Sheeran, so the cameo is lost on me. I did like the scene between Arya and the decent Lannister soldiers. It goes to show that Arya isn’t totally ruthless or heartless; while she may have had her guard up, she definitely warmed up to them after seeing and hearing what kind of men ALL of them were. That little jibe at the end may have been a bit daring of her, but obviously the men saw it entirely as a joke, and Arya’s sincere and uncharacteristically girlish laugh at the end revealed that her realizing how silly it indeed must have sounded. NO, I don’t think she kills or ‘silences’ them after.

• That entire ‘Shit and Soup’ segment went waaaay too long. GOT directors and writers have put in gory blood and guts, and now gross stuff.

• Little Bear Mormont is still Jon Snow’s MVP in the North.

• Tormund and the Wildlings are sent to man Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, the Wall’s castle that is closest to the threat of the incoming Army of the Dead. I really can’t see Tormund dying- he’s the ONLY Wildling character left. If he dies, so do the Wildlings as a faction we care about.

• Have to admit, a bunch of old, bearded guys isn’t the most entertaining bunch to watch despite the Hound being one of my favorite characters. The return to the old farmer’s house from many seasons back is an awesome touch and something you’d never have expected to see. How much the damn Hound has changed!

• Dany’s arrival in Dragonstone was a bit long and was a bit trying as it had no dialogue whatsoever, but I guess the sights and architecture of the awesome castle made up for it.

• “Shall we begin?” YES, DAMMIT!!!

Episode 2: Stormborn

• Dany was a bit harsh, but I guess her grilling Varys was probably a bit of a test as well as her getting back at the Spider for his past actions. But kudos to Varys for an awesome speech and proving himself to be one of the best characters in the show.

• The seeds for the Jon-Dany meeting are sown… YES!

• Dany’s first small council/meeting of heads is pretty much all women- Olenna Tyrell, Ellara Sand, Yara Greyjoy… Westeros is more advanced than a lot of places on present-day Earth.

• Grey Worm and Missandei have a long-deserved love scene. How does that work? I guess she gets most of the physical pleasure while he gets… fulfillment? DAMN I hope he doesn’t die. I like Grey Worm.

• Jon decides to accept Dany’s invitation to come to Dragonstone for the possibility of gaining her help against the Night’s King. Of course, the Lords of the North are not happy with their King leaving the North, but at least they get a Queen in his stead.

• Littlefinger is just standing around in Winterfell, just all this time looking shifty and whispering evil nothings into people’s ears. Jon makes his stand on the man who betrayed Ned Stark clear. I think Littlefinger’s days are numbered.

• DAMMN all of Sam’s scenes so far lead to VERY GROSS things happening. GRRRROOOOOOSSSS!!!

• Sam: “You’re not dying today, Ser Jorah.” But you may wish you did…

• That said, I still felt hungry when Arya gorged herself on Hot Pie’s, well, Pies. Nice scene and Arya finding out about the state of affairs in Winterfell had me giddy again. GO HOME, GIRL!

• Nymeria: I can’t go with you, Arya. We don’t have the budget for it.

• Euron takes down the Sandsnakes and captures Yara and Ellara. I don’t fault Theon for jumping ship- his side had lost, he had no chance of beating Euron with his blade at Yara’s throat. It was either live to fight another day or just die a heroic but stupid death. I do hope he tries (and succeeds) in saving Yara- she’s cool.

Next week, Jon Snow and Dany FINALLY meet. PLEASE don’t let it be at the very end of the episode with Dany saying, ‘Shall we talk?’ before cut to credits.

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.

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Tekken 6: The Under-appreciated Classic

Posted in Fan Service, Fighting Games, Gaming, My Stuff, PC Gaming, PS4, Tekken, Tekken 6, Tekken 7, Tekken 7 Fated Retribution, Xbox One on May 18th, 2017 by thelonegamer


Ah, the Tekken 6 Intro. Still pretty and epic even today.

It seems that when you ask Tekken fans, or fighting game fans in general, about which Tekken they like best, the answer is usually Tekken 3 (“Still the best ever! The highest-selling!) or Tekken 5 (“That was the last one I got into…”). I seldom hear praise for Tekken 6- the last canon Tekken game prior to the upcoming and long-awaited 7th installment in the King of Iron Fist Tournament. Much of what Tekken 7 is, owes a lot of Tekken 6- most of the animations, the general gameplay style, the story setup. Yet Tekken 6 is rarely talked about.

I’ll say it with pride- Tekken 6 is my favorite Tekken. It was the Tekken that I got into arcades for, bought a whole bunch of those cards for, and enjoyed hours playing on in my fave arcade up until they closed down the mall for the day. The visual style of Tekken 6 was a big leap from Tekken 5; characters suddenly looked more defined, with much more detailed and human character models. Animations went through a major overhaul, and the gameplay was forever changed with the addition of Bound combo extenders. Really, the first time I saw Tekken 6 in the arcade- after having to elbow my way past crowds of gamers waiting in line or just spectating- my mind was blown. It looked AWESOME. And it played even better. And man, the Customization. Best Character Customization in the series, ever, period. Tekken Tag 2′s customization was garbage, and sadly the Tekken Devs haven’t seemed to recover from that fully up to now. But I spent real money and lots of effort to customize my fighters as I wanted, and it was bliss.

Then came the home version- so chock-full of stuff, it was crazy. And really, though many despise it, I LOVED the Scenario Campaign story mode and the Streets of Rage-style beat ‘em up sections. Where else could you fight as your favorite Tekken fighter, along with a buddy, against throngs of mobs? It was cool as hell, though admittedly the controls left a bit to be desired. Still, it was well-meant as a mode, and I appreciated it.

The Characters added into Tekken 6 mostly persist to today- Bob, Leo and Miguel are back in the Tekken 7 roster and haven’t much changed, though Leo seems to have had more testosterone injections to make her (yes, Leo is supposedly a SHE) more male-looking. For some reason, Zafina, the Middle Eastern femme fatale, is so far missing… sadly she may have been replaced by the Arabic fighter Shaheen in Tekken 7, which I really hope isn’t the case. Her fighting style was very interesting, and I loved her look. Story-wise though, she seemed to be very much connected to Tekken 6′s boss, Azazel, so with his defeat she may have lost her relevance as well.

Tekken 6 is still a favorite of mine, and as long as my PS3 still works, it always will. Of course, once Tekken 7 arrives I’ll be hard-pressed to go back to the old game, more so as the sequel is looking amazing in so many ways. That said, I still think Tekken 6 deserves respect and recognition. At the very least, if you want to get ready for the Next Battle, I suggest you dust off your old Tekken 6 disc and start practicing.

Tekken 7 releases on June 2 for PS4, XBox One and PC (Steam).

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