Monotony Monday #25 – More Melon-choly
Sweet as a Persimmon, Full of Emotional Dig Ins
The short of it: He’s got a voice like a flower dying in the growing cold and lyrics much better than that simile.
The short of it: He’s got a voice like a flower dying in the growing cold and lyrics much better than that simile.
The short of it: It’s more of what made the original great, with just a few stagnant stumbles to slow it down.
There’s basically three major points of discussion for this game:
It runs pretty great. It looks just a little bit better than its predecessor, but it feels a lot smoother. The facial animations are fantastic, the character animations and motion performances are just delightful to watch.
The most pressing problem I run into is character pop in after fast travelling. With a lot of emphasis on the bow as a tool, it makes it feel a bit useless when you have to wait out the orc load time to skip manually climbing up a cliff face. Other than that, though, nothing really performs poorly.
Once again, the story’s been pretty mediocre. It’s doing an okay job of building up the tension between Talion and Celebrimbor, but it’s more obvious than an orc ambush. There’s certainly more allies and actually interesting NPCs, which surprisingly works in the face of being a death-defying god. These regular people and orcs with their regular Middle-earth problems offer a different side of Talion– I think my personal favorite moment so far has been Talion sitting back and listening to a guy talk about his personal problems and worries. Just a casual type of buddy interaction. It doesn’t drastically impact the story or up the stakes. It’s just Talion getting the chance to be human again.
Yeah, there are lootboxes. Yeah, you can blow cash on them for premium items that would otherwise be difficult or time-consuming to do. And yeah, lootboxes need to be discussed as a form of gambling and appealing to children and those with addictions.
But man, it’s barely a thing here. The best you can get is something you can just stumble upon in the massive field of orc captains. It’s a waste of game to roll on these boxes. I’m drowning in currency without ever equipping any currency generating items. The premium currency is pretty consistently accidentally acquired through daily challenges, and I’ve yet to spend any of it.
I think the worst part of this whole thing is just how many bad buzzwords are sunk in these systems. Gems, gold coins, silver coins, legendary, epic, heroic, followers, daily challenge: all of these are garbage.
Alright, that’s not a great subhead.
But here’s the thing: I need to finish this game to truly see how this game handles its women. There was some argument about Shelob’s female form, and it made sense at the time. Why make the giant spider into a sexy lady? Well, it actually serves a pretty good knock against Talion’s hero complex. Like a spider, she lures him into this web by preying on his weakness for women. Of course, Talion’s complex is deeper than a hero stereotype due to the fact that he watched his wife die as he watched, powerless. And again, this is such a deeper debate than initially expected because it shifts the power dynamic that’s typically so one-sided.
And then there’s the sexy tree lady. And the woman soldier who apparently earns her title of “Warrior” by superseding her femininity (“She’s no longer a woman, she’s a warrior!”).
So I’ll be back for this one. I’ve got to get my corkboard and yarn ready.
I took most of this week off, so I’ve been trying to do some recovery type stuff to feel better physically and emotionally. Part of that has been, admittedly, just lazing about and enjoying some good ol’ fashioned media. Berserk continues to be a fascinating, disturbing journey and Shadow of War is still pretty fun and all.
This is a simpler pleasure. It’s a neat little indie game (made by a frequent poster on the /r/gamephysics subreddit ) played by some neat dudes with some neat editing.
I mean, it’s got a “Guns that only shoot snakes” mode and some friends having genuine fun.
The short of it: It’s just a dope track with a sweet sample.
That list doesn’t even include his exile from and eventual rejoining of G-Unit. Of course, that’s a whole issue besides the beef– he’s a dude best known for being a part of 50 Cent’s crew. He isn’t a well-known name anymore in today’s waves of Soundcloud and social media rappers, and, for the most part, he’s a forgotten part of the early aughts scene.
And it’s a damn shame because he made some dope music.
The sample of Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang” makes a beautiful hook and those little strings just make this track hit that sweet, moody spot. Buck delivers with this serious, unhappy tone that compliments the almost sad brags that make up the reality of a life that can end with a single bang.
The short of it: Pro: excellent plot, storytelling, music, acting, choreography, setting. Con: No giant steampunk spiders.
Fine, I’ll say it. Westworld kicks off harder than Game of Thrones.
To be fair, androids broaching sentience and a park for the darkest of human desires is easier to sell than medieval political intrigue. Both have plenty of radical murders though.
Westworld delivers this puzzle that leaves you grasping at straws rather than pieces, because it can’t be that obvious. And then it is. Then it isn’t.
My edge lord description of it is “It’s like if Jurassic Park had androids and didn’t suck.” The idea of a whole “world” dedicated to man’s recreation of life is fascinating; the fact it’s a world meant for amusement, not reflection or evolution, opens up a whole new level of questions.
The short of it: Westworld manage to reinvigorate one of the most tired covers out there by pairing it with near perfect choreography.
So I just started watching Westworld (guess what’s coming up for WW #23) and holy smokes, cowboy. It’s hard to turn off, partially because of its captivating performances and stories and partially because I accidentally kicked the remote out of reach.
Point is, it’s really good. Some of the scenes are just so masterfully composed that I keep replaying them in my head. The foremost scene that’s been on a loop in my brain is the heist scene.
Everything is just so radical. The quick spins during gunfire, the sweet lines, and, most of all, that kickass rendition of “Paint It Black.”
Let’s be honest though, it’s a song with one too many covers.
From the good,
to the okay,
to the no-one-asked-for-this version.
Point being, this song is very easy to screw up in its application. It’s pretty tired as a song itself; hell, there’s basically an entire game based on the song.
So when the heist scene rolls up and those woodwinds and horns start swelling, damnit, it makes sense that it costs $40,000 a day to stay in Westworld. Rodrigo Santoro’s handsomely scarred face and killer black outfit make him the outlaw of everyone’s dreams, especially when backed by Djawadi’s composing. Everything in this scene just works so well. It’s got me unironically humming that “dun dun dun dun dun dun” every second I’m not watching Westworld.
The short of it: It’s got wheels, and they run wild.
Once again, I get my dose of gaming variety through the Games with Gold program.
Trials is arguably a classic of the seventh generation. It was a flagship of the Xbox Arcade and a standard of any Let’s Player of the past few years.
And it’s fine. It’s like every bit of gameplay you’ve seen from it or its predecessors. It’s fun enough and checks all its boxes.
The problem I run into is the delayed satisfaction– or at the very least, the delayed possibility of satisfaction. I admit to being obsessed with achievements, despite the fact that I still haven’t broke 100,000. Yet.
Trials’ campaign of sorts is a series of worlds, each with their own levels and minigames. Each level comes with three varying challenges, like don’t tilt backwards, do a 50m wheelie, run over all the flowers, or do five flips. Here’s the thing: not all of these challenges are immediately accomplishable. I spent far too long on the first world, only to find out that I couldn’t do certain moves until I advanced. Then the same thing happened again in the next world. I kept having to earn new licenses to learn to new tricks to beat challenges in levels in earlier worlds.
It’s a minor complaint about a longstanding way to teach gameplay mechanics in consumable bites. But it still grinds my gears.
The short of it: Well, they are the short of it.
Joyce Manor is an emo indie rock outfit with four albums under their belt, giving them a total run time of about 80 minutes. Every album ends up just around 20 minutes, meaning they managed to cram a whole lot of music in a surprisingly small amount of time.
The result is a discography full of songs as catchy as they are short. None of them ever overstay their welcome, even if a few end suddenly. “Heart Tattoo” off their third album is pretty decent example of what to expect: a frantic instrumental with a passionate poem, with a crazy catchy chorus to infect the listener in the song’s brief runtime.
Punchy and poignant, they manage to balance a good amount of emotions in their little runtime. From the nostalgic melancholy (“In the Army Now”) to melancholic nostalgia (“Beach Community”).
Simply put, they’re a joy.
The short of it: It’s all the satisfaction of watching those fantasy character fights with none of the boring commentary and all of the actual fighting.
Salty Bet is a constantly streaming pseudo-gambling site running the M.U.G.E.N. fighting engine. It pits two computer-controlled characters from pretty much every medium, from manga to Sega Saturn games, against one another in a best of five match.
It’s often a series of lightning quick exchanges, the two sprites darting back and forth before becoming wrapped in the other’s combos. Occasionally a match will simply devolve into a stomp fest, with one character easily sweeping the other. Sometimes it’s a bad matchup or a broken character, like a custom Aladdin that uses a sprite from a GBA game for movement and a secondary sprite from a Sega Genesis game for sword based attacks that go full screen.
So it’s a crapshoot. And that’s the best part of it.
The randomness of the matches, combined with the high possibility of upsets and the hyperbole of Twitch chat, makes it a hell of a lot of fun. It satisfies the curiousity of that inner combative nerd that needs physical validation of the quality of their favorite characters.
The short of it: As entertaining as it is macabre, My Favorite Murder is the perfect combination of laughter and looks over the shoulder.
My Favorite Murder is a podcast where two people talk about their favorite murders.
Not ones they’ve committed or anything– the local or legendary murders that horrify and fascinate us as a society. Hosts Karen and Georgia publicly embrace the terrible interest we have in the darkest parts of humanity.
It scratches that itch that you get when it’s late and you’re alone, with your laptop’s glow as the only light in your home as you painstakingly scroll through the excessively detailed Wikipedia page on some serial killer or cannibal or serial killer cannibal. This terrible fascination overcomes you, leaving you tied up in horrible taboo like a victim of a home invasion.
Karen and Georgia are the angels (or demons or hallucinations that encourage murder, whatever works) on your shoulders as they reveal various murders and monstrous acts, punctuating gruesome descriptions with gasps and squeals.
Of course, I’m in that beautiful podcast listening honeymoon phase where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts– except the recently added ad reads to their first couple of episodes. I listen to the podcast at max volume just to be able to fully hear the two women. I’ve yet to be as scared of any of the atrocities they’ve discussed as I am when I’m immersed in a story they’re telling when suddenly, mid-sentence, my eardrums shatter. “The victims reported hearing a gentle patter on their roof, just before th-HEYMURDERINOSDOYOULIKESNACKSNATUREBOX HERE!”
Apparently this gets better as the episodes go on and they get a sound guy, but I haven’t been this frustrated with poor audio mixing since Crit Juice, where I had to panic-lower the volume every couple of minutes. It’s murder on the mood, nerves, and ears. So not my favorite murder.