The Going-Ons: Motivations and Journeys (January 21, 2019)

I haven’t written anything in a long time. I have problems with motivation and confidence – a lifelong issue. When I think about what I’m most passionate about, however, it comes back to talking about movies and video games, and writing/ creating in general. I did create another blog “Better Late” where I attempted to blog about geek-culture and review video games and movies. Unfortunately, it was in a time where reviews and reading blogs in general were in dire decline. So, why am I writing this now? Because I want to.

For my entire adult life, I have been out of shape. This past November I started working out – rotating between lifting weights one day and running another, with a one-to-two day break a week. I’ve lost weight and I’ve gained muscle (it’s so weird!). I also have more energy and body confidence. Despite my wife almost constantly telling me I’m a sexy man-beast, I’ve never been that confident about my physical appearance. Exercising is something that has really helped me looked at what I want to accomplish in life. It’s something I fretted, talked, and overthought about, until I didn’t anymore and I just started doing. Now it’s becoming a habit.

That’s what I want to accomplish by coming back to this format and talking about my interests – I want to make it a habit. Listening to and becoming indirectly with Facebook communities involving video game podcasts such as “The Giant Bombcast” and “That Pixel Life” has helped inspire me to become more socially involved in the world – in a form with which I’m comfortable. This blog, those posts of memes and comments on people’s posts aren’t much, but they make me feel involved and heard.

I’ve decided that this is my year of “doing”. I’m going to write more – post here and work on projects that have been rattling around in my noggin’. I want to talk about what matters to me: things like comic book movies, Star Wars, video games and various genres and interests. I want to share more personal experiences. I love my life and I am happy, but do have other things that have been itching at me that I just want to do. There may even be the occasional fictional story.

This past year, we traveled to Israel. I had never been further outside of the U.S. further than the Caribbean. It was an amazing experience where I met extended family and friends, and experienced food, culture and history that’s always fascinated me. I also recently finished the extraordinary epic video game “Red Dead Redemption 2”, which I will write about soon. This July, I’m going to the UK for the first time. More childhood fantasies have been realized magnificently on the big-screen. Paddington 2 made me cry. So far, the book “Lonesome Dove” rocks.

Maybe I do eventually need to narrow this down to a focus – self-edit what I actually want to accomplish. Right now, this is what I want – to share my thoughts and experiences with the world.

My wife and I at the Dead Sea in Israel.
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Better Late Hands On Impressions – Doom (PS4)

Note: This is an impression of roughly a couple of hours of campaign and more mulitplayer than I’d like to admit.  SnapMap, the game’s level editor, wasn’t touched.
The Bottom Line: I would buy the crap out of this game – in a sale.
The original Doom induced some nightmares in my already frightful child mind.  Watching my step-mom mow down demons with shot guns and a chain saw probably mostly lead to my lifelong weariness of horror games and movies.  Snap to 2016 and Doom is a frantic, and ultra-violent (parents be warned), shooter where you run around and mow down demons with a shot-gun and chain saw, among other gleefully destructive weapons.  The “nope factor” is still in the back of my mind as gore-streaked, dimly lit, hallways mark my path of progression.  It’s the draw to the kinetic, and surprisingly vertical, action that keeps me moving forward.
The story seems to be neither here nor there, which is appropriately deliberate.  I am Doom-Marine, I’m worshipped by Martian scientists and buried in a sarcophagus and my power armor is surrouneded by a makeshift shrine.  I’m also a pissed off bad-ass.  I punch screens and push them harshly against walls, as if they’re as offensive as the invading demonic imps chucking fireballs at me.  The metal soundtrack is the icing on the cake, making me realize that what developer id is going for is more important and fresh than what most recent big FPS’ have done.  They want me to have fun.
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Moving, and Doom-Marine moves really fast, feels fluid.  Shooting, running, jumping and punching/ tearing at flashing demons for much needed health or ammo looks amazing and plays great.  Being the main mechanics in the game, I do them a lot and glory kills add to the gamey immersion.  The game looks really nice too with a lot of debris floats around and wind whips up clouds of sand.  The explosions are super pretty and movement blur gives a great sense of speed and adds to the chaos.  The game just exudes nerdy awesomness.
There were some odd loading moments.  The game once briefly froze when I threw a grenade and blew up a red barrel (there are a lot of them).  Platforming and jumping feel a little laggy and sluggish, especially when compared to the frantic fluidity from combat.  It still works and is the best first-person jumping this side of Far Cry 3.

I played Team Deathmatch in multiplayer and came away impressed.  As someone used to CoD, and have been playing multiplayer since Halo 3, it’s nice to see a change of pace.  The fast and chaotic nature of the campaign carries over to the multiplayer.  Load outs are the name of the game, but the number of weapons are limited – even when you’ve unlocked everything.  The big glass ceiling comes from customizing my and my weapons’ appearances.  Like in the campaign, there is no auto-regeneration of health, or reloading of weapons.  Fleeing is a legitimate strategy.  Special weapons and power ups spawn at certain locations on the map and knowing where those spots are becomes as vital as winning those fire fights.

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I may have found that the best way for me to play Doom is in chunks.  The original game may have been the literal stuff of nightmares for me when I was little, and I may be a little weary of stuff jumping out at me, but this new Doom is both distantly familiar and a blast of fresh air among a genre mostly stuck in “Modern Warfare”.  The feeling of playing offensively rather than duck and covering to reload ammo and health is very welcome.  I get giddy from the idea of playing more and finding those much talked about secrets.  I didn’t think I would say that about a Doom game and much less one in 2016.
My potential grade: A –
Feel free to comment and/ or like.  I’m on PSN as bad_gamer83, feel free to add me or say “hi”.  And thanks!

Better Late Reviews – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

The first word that comes to mind when thinking about Zack Snyder’s latest comic book movie is “surprising”.  Fears of the movie being over-stuffed or “too self-serious” were extinguished by the end.  Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a fun and fast moving big-budget romp that is also the closest a DC comics movie has been to its source material.

In the movie’s beginning, Bruce Wayne’s (Ben Affleck) perspective of Superman’s (Henry Cavill) catastrophic battle with General Zod (Michael Shannon), and his attempts to save people while buildings come crumbling down and someone he knows is killed in the mayhem, it’s immediately apparent why he hates Superman.  Jump ahead 18 months and Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is doing investigative journalism in the middle-east when things go south quickly and a shoot-out ensues.  Superman arrives and “saves the day”, but is blamed for the deaths after returning to the US.

Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is up to no good, trying to coerce a governor (Holly Hunter) into letting him export a particularly green mineral found in the Indian Ocean, found in a broken piece of one of the World-Changer machines brought by Zod.  After a hearing involving Superman goes horribly wrong, Bruce Wayne privately declares he’s going to war against Superman.

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Ben Affleck is spectacular both as Bruce Wayne and Batman.  This is a Batman we haven’t seen on the big-screen before.  Gone is the oath of not-killing people, and those who aren’t killed are branded with the bat-signal, an almost certain kill sentence in prisons.  Batman hits hard, fights dirty and isn’t afraid to use a gun, or two.  This is an emotionally broken Batman and Affleck successfully conveys that.  Jeremy Irons also nails it as the boozy Alfred, supplying the movie’s comedic relief.

Henry Cavill continues to be this writer’s favorite Superman.  He looks the role and delivers the lines, and carries his burdens, with great weight.  Amy Adams also continues to be great as Lois Lane, questioning why she deserves to be loved by Superman and continuing to prove to be a great investigative-journalist.

Wonderwoman

The rest of the cast also do great jobs with their characters, with Jesse Eisenberg being the weakest among a strong ensemble.  He’s not bad as Lex Luthor, but with audiences never seeing Luthor portrayed as he is in the comics, the portrayal feels disappointing.  Martha Kent (Diane Lane) does remain a horribly written character.  Gal Gadot rocks it as Wonder Woman, brandishing the shield, sword, lasso and gaunlets like a pro.  She and Affleck have chemistry, and their banter is fun and sexy in a Bond-movie way.

Lex Luthor created monster, Doomsday, looks like a repurposed cave-troll from Lord of the Rings.  The creature still works though, as he is an energy soaking and intimidating foe that doesn’t seem to have a way to be killed.  The action in such fights, albeit a bit brutal, makes this the most comic-book like of the DC movies.  The in-your-face-symbolism is still there, but there is also a sense of fun that DC-based movies haven’t had in a long time.

Doomsday

Screen time is well balanced between Clark Kent/ Superman and Bruce Wayne/ Batman, preventing what could have easily been a way overstuffed, unorganized mess.  This is just as much of a Superman movie as it is a Batman movie.  What’s most surprising isn’t that Batman v Superman is successful, but that it stays true to its source material and makes what’s to come in the DC-franchises all that more exciting.

My Grade: B-

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice stars Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, and Amy Adams.  It is directed by Zack Snyder and rated PG-13 for: intense scenes of violence and action throughout, and some sensuality.  It is released by Warner Brothers.

Feel free to comment and, if you enjoyed, please like.  And thanks!

What’s in the Name

I had a moment of realization today that what may have started off as a self-deprecating joke, as is often my way, may have more truth to it than initially thought.  When I first bought my Xbox 360, I came up with the screen name bad_gamer83.  One of my good friends found it funny and we continued on.  Today it hit me, due to my growing “pile of shame” and continuing habit of not finishing anything, and jumping from game to game, I actually may be a bad gamer.

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As time lapsed since sticking to the name, to my dismay, I realized the name may be a bit of a repellent to other gamers who I try to connect with outside of the games I play.  I tell people my name and they mostly say nothing, the most recent, and probably longest response from someone on social media was “oh, well there you go”.  As shy and quiet as I can be, it was never my intent to repel fellow game-players.  This hasn’t been proven, of course, but it is a pretty solid theory.

My gaming habits have tended to follow other patterns in my life.  There would be excitement about the game, followed by brief but intense affairs and ending with me moving on to a different game, or one that was safe and familiar.  I do believe the last RPG I actually finished was “Mass Effect 3”.  There’s a lot to be said that I finished “Firewatch” within four hours and celebrated.  Unfortunately, this also has resulted in a form of hording –though trading in games tends to keep the literal pile small, though still ever-growing.  Even if a “new” game is easy, I tend to get nervous and drop off and just go back to what is familiar.

broken dual shock 4

Today I semi-committed to finishing “Fallout 4”.  I’ve never played through a Fallout game before and the franchise has always interested me.  It’s my way of taking another step in an actually important life-altering thing: stepping outside of my comfort zone.  Am I actually a “bad gamer”?  I think so.  Over the years, I kind of have become an undertaker of many, master of none.  It’s a label I want to stop living up to.

Better Late Vicarious Videogame Impressions – the Division (PS4)

In short: I want this game.  It makes more sense that I would be interested in Destiny: it’s a sci-fi space opera massive multiplayer-light first person shooter from the people who brought us Halo.  My affair with Destiny was intense, but brief.  Once I stepped away from it, I never felt that twinge to go back. I also never played the Diavision demo.  So, when a “realistic” Tom Clancy massive multiplayer-light third person shooter comes about, why am I excited?

Even in Destiny, I tend to play alone, mute my mic and ignore anyone who tries to talk to me.  I match-make for instances, and PvP, but that’s pretty much it.  In The Division grouping seems even more integral for main-mission progress unless you’re either really good at the game, or you want to throw your pricey controller out of the window.  I have been wanting to come out of my shell more in this type of game and this is my chance to branch out.

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The story seems compelling enough, even if it is inspired by Clancy’s more-pulpy plots.  Money is laced with a man-made virus and spread among the denizens of New York City (and maybe the rest of the country?).  The results are catastrophic and in a matter of weeks, Manhattan is quarantined.  You play as a member of the second wave Division group, a secret military group that exists only for such circumstances.

The RPG roots seem to run deep.  I like the typical satisfying insta-kill head shot as much as the next gamer, but there is also something compelling about the RPG bullet-sponge systems.  Maybe it’s the fact that I adore Borderlands and love seeing numbers flying all over the place.  There seems to be a lot here for those who love loot: different color-teared weapons, mods for your weapons, upgrades on various clothing, and a deep crafting system.   The upgrade system seems deep and forgiving, letting you switch to different abilities on the fly.  The PvP, set in the lawless and contaminated Dark Zone, is also the freshest multiplayer idea I’ve seen in years.

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There are things I have to look past.  There is a threat of the missions getting monotonous: running to point A, duck and cover to destroy enemy wave B, do that three more times, destroy boss C and get to mission point D.  When I’m playing alone, would I be able to team up?  I have heard that the main missions do scale based on how many people you have in your group, but they seem best played with groups.  The third person shooting is also my other concern: is it hard to get precise shots when DPS does matter?

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The game looks damn good and that’s just another reason for me to get excited about eventually playing the Division.  As it stands right now: the Metacritic user score for the PS4 version is 7.4, which is “average” in most rating circles (I have my issues on the number scales, but this isn’t the time or the place).  Though I have never been one for more “real life” settings, I’m quite compelled to sink my teeth into this meaty shooter.

“Tom Clancy’s The Divison” is rated M for Mature for: blood, intense violence, and strong language.  It is released by Ubisoft and is available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

If you enjoyed, please like, and feel free to comment.  If you want to send me a friend invite, my PSN tag is bad_gamer83.  And thanks.

 

Mulan: Best Disney Role Model by JOY (BLW Contributor)

It’s weird, I never thought I would be writing about a Disney character, but here we are. This all started yesterday when my friend and I began talking about our childhood memories and our favorite movies. She told me how much she loved Disney and how Cinderella is her favorite princess and then I proceeded […]

http://belikewaterproduction.com/2016/03/03/mulan-best-disney-role-model-by-joy-blw-contributor/