“Legacy”: Why “Batman: The Telltale Series” is near perfection.

A little background, Telltale games began back in 2004 and since then they have specialized in making episodic games based on different properties such as “Game Of Thrones”, “Walking Dead” and most recently “Batman.” Their gameplay style has always been a point and click style with quick-time events for conversations, fights and decision making. They’re always very story driven over high scores and bragging rights. One of the best parts of the games is the instant replay-ability of it. The different choices you can make is so intricate and each decision changes the flow of the game.

Alright, I was late to the game of knowing that Telltale is absolutely fantastic but I’m willing to make up for lost time. When I heard that a game series could let me interact with Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister and many others then I knew that I had to at least give it a shot. I loved it and hated it when one of my decisions would kill a beloved character or would make the game more difficult for me on the next episode. The idea of controlling the game by having to make the right alliance was one of the best parts for me which leads me to my main point and the title of this article.

Telltale could easily be called “Legacy Games” because of their attention to detail and love for what they do. Even before you get to the menu in Batman, you see a montage of famous comic book covers from Bob Kane and Neal Adams to more recent artists like Tony Daniel and Greg Capullo. But it’s also apparent in the “Game Of Thrones” and “Fables” games(I haven’t played Walking Dead yet.) They have multiple callbacks to their histories and tell truly great stories within their respective universes. Fortunately, Batman has been no different.

Within the first episode(Currently the only one that’s out.) we get to be both Batman and Bruce Wayne and truly control the outcome of Gotham’s future. The idea of Legacy comes up about halfway through the game from Alfred, Harvey Dent and Bruce himself. When it comes down to it, three of the biggest players all have a concept of Legacy and power following them.

The point and click/quick time events gameplay isn’t for everyone but I love it and it works a lot better for Batman than I thought it would. Say the wrong thing as Bruce Wayne? You could lose your company. Be too slow as Batman? You could get stabbed or shot.

Bottom Line: This is a fantastic entry for TellTale and an all around great Batman story. I can’t wait for the next episode.

Overwatch (Or, “Why the Game of Thrones Article is Still Not Written”)

So… Overwatch has taken over a big chunk of my life.

Basically, for the past 5 weeks, Vance has been doing his best passive aggressive J. Jonah Jameson impression in order to inspire me to write my Game of Thrones Season 6 wrap up article.  There are two reasons that I have been behind.  First and foremost, this season of Game of Thrones was extremely involved, and I have had a hard time adequately writing about its intricacies.  Second, Overwatch has started competitive play and that has been loads of fun.

For the uninitiated, Overwatch is a 6vs6 multiplayer videogame that is a hero-based first person shooter.  But the focus is overwhelmingly on the “hero-based” part of the description, as opposed to the “first person shooter” part.  Overwatch features (as of this writing) 22 different heroes that each fall into one of four categories; Attack, Defense, Tank, and Support.  Attack characters are used for pushing towards an objective.  Defense characters tend to be more suited to holding an objective.  Tanks are huge targets who can soak up a lot of damage.  And Support characters are used for helping out the entire team, by healing or other means.  But the trick that Blizzard (the company that made the game) employs to make all this interesting is making each character incredibly distinct.  I cannot stress this enough; no two characters are alike.  What this accomplishes is a wildly varied experience each time one plays.

Before I get much further, I feel the need to address the central complaint about this game.  There are only a handful of modes within the game, and there is no story mode or offline mode.  With only 12 maps, and each map being designed for a specific match type, there is a case to be made that this game is not really worth 60 dollars.  My counter to that argument is that the sheer breadth of strategies that can be employed by each character add up to a game with near infinite replayability.  Those who make this argument seem to be confused about what the game is actually trying to be.  This game is not Call of Duty.  Instead, it is closer to a team-based Street Fighter, wherein the player attempts to master the skillset of a given character.

And it is those characters that make this, more than likely, the best game of the year.  It starts with how balanced the characters are.  While some have complained that certain characters are overpowered,  I have not found that to be the case in the 100+ hours I have put into the game, simply because I have gotten outplayed at one point or another by every player in the game.  Granted, I could just be bad, but I believe it is more likely that every character is designed to bring something to the table, while also having corresponding weaknesses.  Hanzo, for example, wields a bow and arrow that can do massive damage.  The problem is that he moves slower while aiming the bow.  Plus, his bow has an extremely low rate of fire, and has to be charged up in order to do maximum damage.  However, Hanzo is equipped with Scatter and Sonar arrows.  Scatter arrows are basically death if one is fired at someone in an enclosed area.  Sonar arrows let the whole team know where someone the opposing team is on the map.  It is the different abilities that make each character distinct, and useful.  Mercy can heal or boost a persons damage output, Genji can deflect projectiles back at the person who fired them, Reinhardt can put up a massive shield, and so on.  What this does is redefine “skill” within the context of this game.  One of my friends has spent most of his time playing as Torbjorn, whose primary skill is building turrets that automatically lock on to enemies.  Torbjorn also has a gun that fires a single bullet and can also fire in spread form like a shotgun.  My friend rarely fires his gun though, because he is more concerned with turret placement, and the upkeep of said turret.  Great turret placement, then, becomes a skill as important as good aim within this game.  This is just one example of skill being redefined within this game. What this does is make Overwatch a very open game.  Easy to learn, maybe, but definitely hard to master.

But will you want to master its intricacies?  My guess is yes, because the characters in Overwatch have to be considered one of the greatest casts of characters in videogame history.  Blizzard has given each character such personality, and one of the genius things they have done is design the game so that the opposing team is louder than the player’s team.  I love it when games do stuff like this.  One of my favorite parts of the Left 4 Dead series was hearing the crying of a witch, and feeling the tension that came from not knowing where it is coming from.  Overwatch does this as well, in the form of chants that signal an ultimate has been used.  So, for example, when I hear “Fire in the hole,” or “Nerf This,”  I know I need to be on the lookout for the death that is coming my way.  It is a simple, yet genius way to master tension.

All in all, the game is just fun.  If you have the means to play this game, I highly recommend it.  In all honesty, there are only a handful of games I have played that have been as fun as Overwatch.  I absolutely wish there was a story mode, but for now I will settle for one of the deepest and most engrossing multiplayer experiences ever.

“Let’s Go Home”: Suicide Squad review.

I need to preface this with a few things.

  1. Even as an avid comic book fan, I knew next to nothing about Enchantress, Slipknot, Rick Flag and Diablo going into this. That being said, the only one that affects the movie due to this is Enchantress but we’ll get to that in a bit.
  2. I’ve been called “Biased towards Marvel” and a “Marvel Fanboy” before. I’ll be the first to say that I enjoy their movies more but it’s not because I hate DC. I love DC Comics and I want these movies to be great but it doesn’t always happen like that. That being said, I’m still holding out hope for Wonder Woman.

This film was purely insane but that’s not always a good thing, I’m going to get into some spoilery areas later but I’ll let you know before that happens. The story structure reads like someone who was kicked out of Film School but was given his one shot before he left, quick cuts and a lack of focus on any certain character ruins what could’ve been a fun story about the villains of DC coming together for a common cause. The base concept of the film is that the government needs a privatized team that can defend them from Meta Human threats and can also take the fall for anything that goes wrong. It’s basically The Dirty Dozen set in the DC world. Amanda Waller(Played by Viola Davis) is the one who is bringing the team together but right after she initially gets her crew together, a villain pops up and starts attacking everything so she brings in the worst of the worst and they’re introduced in a very stylized way. We get some background on different characters like how everyone was captured and brought to Belle Reve and what their power set and abilities are. The rest of the film is very procedural: side characters get killed off like nothing else, primary characters get kidnapped cause they’re stupid, cool characters have to say cool lines and multiple fight scenes and shootouts happen before your eyes before you realize that none of this really has any weight to it unless Robbie or Smith is on the screen or unless it’s the scene in the bar. DC and Warner brothers have this insane way of putting characters that we enjoy reading about in front of us and then somehow making us not care about what happens to them. I’ve honestly never seen anything like it and I would’ve hated this movis if it wasn’t for a few factors

  • The action does have some entertaining moments, Killer Croc and Katana who don’t speak too much shine when it comes to these scenes.
  • Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn is absolutely phenomenal, she deserves a better film, a better script and a better Joker to play off of. Despite all those odds stacked against her, she’s pitch perfect and incredibly entertaining. That being said, she is overly sexualized and I always hate it when that happens to a character.
  • Will Smith was much better than I thought he would be. His Deadshot isn’t perfect but he’s still entertaining and he does fine as a leading man.
  • And most importantly…it’s still better than Batman V. Superman. That isn’t saying a lot but hey, it is still better.

So, to recap : Action’s decent, Robbie and Smith are great and it’s still better than BVS. Alright, let’s get spoilery.

Spoiler Alert(Don’t look, Ethel)

So right off the bat, Enchantress was really annoying to me. Cara Delevingne does the best she can but it’s honestly just her doing impressions of the girl from the Grudge, Gollum and Zuul the Gatekeeper. Her plan for world domination alongside her brother doesn’t really make sense and I never really knew what she was trying to accomplish. Earlier I said that not knowing much about her affected the story and I stand by that, I had no idea what her plan or goal was besides the classical: Villain wants to destroy the earth. Also, her hula dancing magical abilities were not only useless but also just stupid looking.

Rick Flag, Slipknot and Captain Boomerang are basically jokes all throughout the film, Slipknot dies after 3 scenes in the film, Flag is seriously just useless and Captain Boomerang literally does nothing. He has three or four scenes but it’s all just about him trying to run away as soon as he can.

Diablo is just sad because he could be a very interesting character but instead he hardly gets to do anything and when he does, it all seems very forced. Saying “I’ve already lost one family, I’m not losing this one” after being together for like two hours is just poor writing on Ayer’s part. He makes almost no connections to anybody except Deadshot and that’s a very small part of the film so when he gives his life to save the team, it hardly holds any weight.

But…I’ve saved the best for last, Jared Leto’s Joker is absolutely horrendous. It’s over the top when it doesn’t need to be, misrepresents the character beyond the level of Directoral/Actoral differences and becomes a metatextual joke by the end of the film. It’s like he just wanted to act really stupid instead of giving the role any level of intensity or care like it properly deserves. He wants to be a method actor like Heath Ledger so bad but it shows so much in the film that it just took me out of it entirely. Now, Leto himself has come out and said that most of his scenes were cut and that’s a heavy possibility but it doesn’t change the fact that he still filmed the scenes that were featured in the film. It wasn’t like they added things that weren’t supposed to be in there.

The film ends with Joker rescuing Harley Quinn and setting up the next Batman film with the simple line : “Let’s Go Home”…I agree, because if this is what DC can offer us in films then let’s go home and watch Marvel Studios films until they get a decent director and writer with a proper vision.