Jake

Idle Weekend May 8, 2017: Good Old Games

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Jake   

Idle Weekend May 8, 2017:

Idle Weekend May 8, 2017


Good Old Games
This weekend, we're talking about games that are old... but despite our approaching them with the trepidation befitting older, jankier software, they hold up like a dream. Elsewhere, we talk about difficult media (again, with a content warning for the mention of movies that depict sexual assault), and really, REALLY enjoy our weekend projects.

Discussed: Alpha Centauri, The Last Express, Brutal Legend, System Shock, Tex Murphy, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Assassin's Creed, LA Noire, Persona 5, sexism at E3, Dawn of War 3, Cloud Atlas, Jessica Jones, GNOG

 

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Listening to you guys talking about Jessica Jones gave me severe 2015 flashbacks to just being floored with that show. I loved it so much I went back and rewatched the first like six episodes again just because I wanted to spend more time with that character in that world. 

 

However. 

 

Marvel and comic books are just the worst. I, because I'm a creature of the internet, watched the trailer for The Defenders and wanted to sink into the core of the planet. It's taking one decent to fair show whose worst moments came when they deviated from the central premise (Daredevil) and one fantastic, beautiful show whose only mistake is maybe going an episode or two too long and getting a little in-the-weeds with Marvel Netflix world building and two shows I have not and never will watch and just making a comic book trash fire. That little shot of Jessica Jones doing weird eyes at self-serious, weird Matt Murdoch was the only thing that gave me hope about it. It just feels like such a 'oh no, big bad is coming, we have to save the whole planet again, comic book time". Like, didn't Murdoch already beat these guys once? Are we really recycling the same basic threat from Daredevil S2? 

 

All I want is a cool detective show in Jessica Jones, and a cool crime drama/faux-legal drama/Oldboy clone in Daredevil. I don't need tie-ins, I don't need all the worlds to collide, why must comic books always get in their own way? 

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Totally agree about Brutal Legend. Such a charming game. It's not without flaws, the open world mini side missions are a bit repetitive and you do sorta feel the absence of the once larger scope (which apparently had campaigns for the other factions) ending rather abruptly, but it's a lot of fun and if you like Metal at all it's a real treat of sight and sound. It's fun to just drive around and hop out to collect more music and car upgrades, melting faces with guitar solos or taming and riding assorted beasties. The strategy has a bit of an odd learning curve. I recall the first major stage battle against Drowning Doom being more of a learning wall (tutorials could have been expanded some) but after looking up some strategies online I found the RTS side to be highly enjoyable as well. I think the game was mainly hurt by EA's decision to downplay the strategy in the marketing in favour of portraying it more like an action game, so people went into it with the wrong expectations. Crying shame, cause it's a great game.

 

About the charm of smaller scope versus big open worlds: I agree there's something about more compact spaces that allows for so much more detail and personality. Prague in Deus Ex Mankind Divided was a good recent example. Less recently Gothic 1 & 2 or Vampire Bloodlines. Also many argue Arkham Asylum, with its tight focus and contained setting was the better Batman game... All great smallish worlds that went for depth over scale. Game Maker's Toolkit had a good video on the topic:
 

 

 

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Just wanted to weigh in on my thoughts about Cloud Atlas. Like Rob had heard, I also thought that it was sort of a secret masterpiece. It's not nearly as thoughtful or subtle as the book, and it can be a bit heavy-handed with its philosophical musings (I mean, these are the same people who did the Matrix sequels), but I thought it was a rather brilliant and entertaining take on what must have been a very difficult source material to adapt. So obviously, the controversy about the film is that there are some prominent Asian characters in the film portrayed by white actors. It's definitely true that Asians are grossly underrepresented in Hollywood, and even when they are represented, it's often through tired stereotypes, many of which are demeaning and insulting in some way.

 

But I think Cloud Atlas is a little bit different in this regard. Reincarnation, karma, and fate/destiny are all central themes in the text, and the book makes definite allusions to the idea that some characters in earlier timelines are directly linked to characters in later timelines. I suppose the movie could have cast different actors for each of the 'linked' roles and given subtler clues to indicate that those links, but the filmmakers are going for accessibility here, so they went with the idea of having the same actors portraying multiple characters. As you watch the film, it is really obvious that there are connections between each timeline, so it lets you focus on the more interesting question of 'what do the links mean?'

 

The difficult part is that different timelines occur in different environments, so a white character in one timeline is linked to an Asian character in another, and vice-versa. That's why you have Jim Sturgess and Hugo Weaving in 'Asian face' that mostly looks distracting and unconvincing. But on the other hand, you also have Halle Berry and Bae Doo-na in 'white face', among others, and Hugo Weaving playing a woman. As a white male myself, I have absolutely no right to tell you how to feel about this, but I do get the sense that this was a very carefully considered move on behalf of the filmmakers, who ultimately decided to court a certain amount of controversy in order to execute a vision they had for the film. Contrast that with a film like 'Aloha', where Emma Stone portrays a woman of Hawaiian and Asian heritage for no good discernible reason at all. So I do think the casting decisions in Cloud Atlas are defensible in a way that many other examples of 'whitewashing' are not.

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