In the second episode of this season Doctor Who, our heroes travel across an insanely hostile planet to retrieve the TARDIS…and it’s all a bit bland, really.
Doctor Who’s Back! And A Woman!
This week saw the return of perennial favorite British science-fiction series Doctor Who, with a brand new actor in the (sort-of) titular role and a new man running the show. One of those I’m excited for. The other I’m sort of dreading.
The Webcomics Ouevre of Mary Cagle
Since the launch of Kiwi Blitz in 2009, Mary Cagle (alias CubeWatermelon, which is an adorable moniker) has been hitting the internet with comic pages. She followed up Kiwi Blitz, a still-running comic about teenagers fighting crime with a giant avian robot, with Let’s Speak English, an autobiographical gag comic about her time teaching English in Japan, and most recently Sleepless Domain, a unique and delightful comic about Magical Girls who protect their city from monsters in the wee hours of the night. Her comics are notable for their gorgeous colors (LSE, which is uncolored, excepted), distinctive characters, and round cartoon style. Although none of these have exploded in popularity like some of the classic webcomics of old (although, really, what has? Has any webcomic really blown up since Homestuck took off like a rocket?), I discovered all three within about a year of each other, and I’ve enjoyed them greatly, which inspired me to do one big post reviewing all three.
I struggled to decide what order to discuss them in, because the order I read them in is completely different from the order of publication, and each one has colored my view of the one that I read next. In the end, I decided to review them in the order I found them in: Let’s Speak English, then Sleepless Domain, and then finally Kiwi Blitz.
I’m not going to beat around the bush: I love the new Hitman game. It is an absolutely fantastic return to form for the series after the deeply flawed Absolution. It combined the things Absolution did right with an infusion of the series’ core gameplay flow, and some of the best level design in the series thus far. If you’re a fan of the series, or are looking for a jumping-on point, you should definitely buy it.
Hitman: Absolution Review
Important Note: the contents of this post were written in 2014 for a series of tumblr posts analyzing Hitman: Absolution and why it failed so hard. I intend to refer to it heavily in my upcoming review of 2016’s Hitman: Season One, and am not particularly happy with how tumblr handles long text posts, so I’m republishing it here and reformatting it into a single post.
The latest title in IO Interactive’s long-running and much-acclaimed Hitman series, Hitman: Absolution, was fairly controversial on release. Although it reviewed about as well as previous entries into the series (it brought in high-seventies to low-eighties on Metacritic, depending on the platform, whereas Hitman: Blood Money rated low-eighties; Hitman 2: Silent Assassin came in in the high-eighties range but was also released all the way back in 2002, so the numbers may not be perfect comparable), many devotees of the series were profoundly disappointed, even angry, about changes made to the series’ formula, to the point that IO Interactive started the development of the next Hitman title with an open letter promising a return to form. But in the meantime, it’s worth looking back at Absolution, a few years after its release, and asking: was it really as bad as all that? Was it really as broken as its detractors claimed it to be?
Spoiler alert: Yeah, it kind of was. What’s more interesting is why. Closer examination reveals that although some of the game’s problems were unique to it, many others were not. Rather, these flaws were minimized by the level design in previous games, whereas in Absolution the levels emphasized these faults and made them stand out. In this post, I will be looking at the game in three areas (Narrative, Game Systems, and Level Design) to try and clearly express what sets Absolution apart from its predecessors and why it comes up short in the process. Click on the read more for an introduction to my perspective and the context in which I will be writing.
Gaming Hot Takes: Round 1
Everyone who spends any amount of money on Steam is liable to wind up with a bunch of games they never play. I’m certainly no exception to that. And I’ve decided to turn it into a feature! Using the Wheelhaus, I’ve rolled up five games in my Steam library which I’ve never so much as touched, and given each of them half an hour of my time. I’ll play exactly half an hour of each, and write up my thoughts. The only condition on which I’ll stop early is if for whatever reason, I just can’t get the damn thing to work and 5-10 minutes of troubleshooting doesn’t solve it, in which case I’ll skip it and roll a new one.
Although I normally don’t like scored reviews, I am going to give each of these games a score on a scale from 0-5. This score reflects one thing and one thing only: how likely I am to play the game again. 0 means the game didn’t work at all, 1 means it’s shit and I’ll never touch it again, 2 means I probably won’t play it again, 3 means I might, but don’t feel strongly about it, 4 means I likely will come back to it, and 5 means it’s awesome and I plan to complete it.
Scorpion: Ethernet Cables on a Plane
We interrupt your regularly scheduled Power Rangers to bring you something truly special. My friend forced me to watch this, and now I feel obligated to share it with you as well, so that you too can comprehend my suffering. For your consideration, I present the dumbest thing I’ve watched this year: the first episode of Scorpion.
Right, that one. Although actually, that first one feels thematically appropriate.
Manga You Might Have Missed
…and other amazing alliterations.
No Power Rangers this week, for the simple reason that my back acting up delayed Sunday’s post to Monday, which gave me a shorter timeline to pop out today’s post, and the Power Rangers Retrospectives take longer to do than other posts. Instead, I’m going to review and recommend two of my favorite obscure manga series: Double Arts and Qualia the Purple. Both of these are short-running series which can be consumed fairly quickly.
There will naturally be some spoilers within, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum.
[Review] There Are Stranger Things In Heaven And Earth…
There are some shows that need time to breathe; where it’s not clear until you’ve given it a few episodes to sink in whether or not it’s good. Netflix’s new hit series Stranger Things is not one of those shows. From the very first minute of the first episode, it was clear that I was in for something truly special, and for its entire run of eight hour-long episodes, creators the Duffer Brothers never failed to meet the expectations they had set for themselves. Stranger Things is spooky, touching, well-directed, well-written, and endlessly nostalgic for the eighties. If you want to go in entirely unspoiled, you can stop reading right there, and walk away knowing that it has my highest recommendation, and you should go watch the first episode immediately. If you want to know a bit more, click that read more link. I won’t be spoiling anything major, but there’ll be some minor ones.