Archive for February, 2014

Number 200

Wait, wasn’t January 2012 yesterday?

This makes my 200th post on Vagrant Rant, so I just thought I’d take a moment to reflect.

If you’re new to Vagrant Rant you might want to have a look at my review score breakdown or my unspecific thoughts on reviewing things. Or not. But stay a while and look around – you might find some stuff you like! Like my entire month of Zelda countdowns, for instance!

Use those links on the right there to direct your viewing, or use the search box to see if I’ve touched on something you’re keen on.

Follow my blog if you wish, but even if this is your only visit, thank you for coming! Have a wonderful life.

Moment over.

My Titanfall Beta Impressions

Shortly after it went live (in closed form) on February 14th, I dived into the very exciting beta version of Respawn Entertainment’s upcoming Xbox One pseudo-exclusive Titanfall and played quite a bit of it. Since then it has moved into open status and then finished up entirely. If you didn’t have a chance to play it or simply feel like reading about a different perspective on the whirlwind week, read on.
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MOTION FLOW

The first thing I noticed when I got started in the Titanfall beta was the immense focus on constant movement. Titanfall thrives on ensuring that every action flows easily into another action and it is this, rather than the presence of Titans per se, that defines the game. At least half of every match (much more if you’re me) is spent outside of a Titan, but that part of the experience doesn’t feel like a standard FPS might, due mostly to the ability to “wall-run” and double jump with the aid of a jetpack-style implement. Sure, you can stay low and take people on at street level as a Titan-less pilot, but that puts you at a tremendous disadvantage should you meet one. Verticality is the name of the game and going up is easy. Once you get the hang of the airborne movement mechanics, which are all about just one button and a sense of timing, the feeling is awesome. Comparing it to the action of anime series Attack on Titan yields more than just name-based similarities.
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Why You Might Want to Play The Last of Us’ DLC

So I just finished the single player downloadable content for PS3 exclusive The Last of Us, released a couple of days ago, and I have to say that it’s pretty damn good. Entitled Left Behind, it’s definitely short (around 2-3 hours, which is probably par for the course with this kind of DLC) and maybe you could argue it’s also a bit pricey for what it gives you. But I’m certainly glad I played it. As you might already know if you read my review last year, I adored The Last of Us and it only just missed out on my personal game of the year award for 2013. If you share my feelings on the brilliance of the original game then you owe it to yourself to consider playing Left Behind. Here are five reasons why:
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1. It fleshes out both the original story and its world.

Though it sets itself up as a prequel, Left Behind is only really half so. The narrative follows two interchanging paths, one set before Ellie meets Joel and one set during the events of The Last of Us’ main storyline. As such, if you face the temptation to play Left Behind first and let it lead into the main event, resist. You will have things spoiled for you in a big way if you elect to look at things in that manner.

Having said that, the bulk of the story of Left Behind focuses on Ellie as she explores a decrepit mall with her friend Riley, who has recently joined the rebellious Fireflies organisation. The brief tale is inspired by, and indeed connected to, the four-issue Dark Horse comic book series American Dreams that was released last year. It features callbacks and references to both major and side events in The Last of Us, particularly if you are willing to poke around the environment a bit, and its revelations add an extra layer to the main game’s excellent ending. TLOU rightly stands alone as a well told, standalone story, but Left Behind certainly makes it richer.

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Mega Ultra Blast Cast Ep.15 & 16


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I haven’t posted a podcast link in a while, so here’s a double dose. The first two episodes of the Mega Ultra Blast Cast for 2014 plow through a ton of gaming and movie news, stopping along the way to offer some alternating opinions on the PS4 from a couple of new owners known to their friends as Shane and Delaney. Episode 16 goes closer than ever to the magic hour-long mark, finishing agonisingly short, and features a slightly more professional new intro mixed by Dazidia, Soundcloud artist extraordinaire. Enjoy!

If you feel so inclined, go for a run, take a scenic drive or just curl up on the couch and play some games while you listen to the opinions of three Sydneysiders feeling the love.

You can play the whole episodes right off this page if that does it for you:


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Or you can go to the Soundcloud site/app and listen from there:
https://soundcloud.com/mega-ultra-blast-cast/mubc-15-welcome-to-2014

https://soundcloud.com/mega-ultra-blast-cast/mubc-16-44-seconds-overtime

(To download and listen offline, follow the link and then click the download tab)

As always if you enjoy what you hear please share the cast with your friends – Until next time!

New Experiences, Served Steamed

When it comes to videogames, I’ve always been a console guy. In terms of priorities when choosing how I want to play games, it has always been handhelds first, then home consoles. PC games have rarely, if ever, featured at all. That’s just the way it is. Real Time Strategy titles and MOBAs aren’t my thing and just about every other worthwhile title that comes to PC also hits the home console market in due time. Less hassle. Increasingly often, they also come to the Playstation Vita, which is an even better place to play them if you ask me. And yet late last year, I finally got a Steam account and bought a game on PC.

Why, you may ask? The short answer is Samurai Gunn, a four-player pixelated brawler I knew would eventually come to PS4 in the long run but just looked so good that I downloaded it through Steam anyway. Countless hours of ridiculous fun with friends followed, but Samurai Gunn just isn’t all that great to play solo and my Steam account was looking a little bare. So I picked up a $50 retail Steam voucher and decided to dive into some of the low-tech PC games I had seen on the big-name Game of the Year lists last year. That $50 bought me the following three games, with precisely three cents to spare. Here are my brief thoughts on them:

The Stanley Parable

The Stanley Parable is the kind of game that could probably only work on PC. A first person experience that both is and isn’t a game, The Stanley Parable digs its self-aware tendrils into every crevice of the gamer’s specifically-trained brain and dances around gleefully. Its designers evidently anticipated just about every possible way the average player would attempt to outsmart it, up to and including editing bits of the game’s code, which just shows another level of attention to detail. To say any more would be to ruin some of the game’s appeal, but I will mention that no game has ever made me feel so foolish for being so dedicated to the endless chase of Trophies /Achievements etc.

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Flappy *****

That’s it. This is as high as I’m ever gonna score on Flappy Bird. I’m done with this stupid game.

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I kinda wanted to get to 30, but I also kinda need my iPad for important stuff, so having it broken due to blunt force wall impact trauma is probably best avoided.

Oh yeah, while we’re on the topic of awful things, I made the rather embarrassing mistake of leaving out a big entry on my 2014 most anticipated movies list last week. This genuinely would have been number 2, wedged between the new X-Men movie and Interstellar. Behold the awesome trailer for The Raid 2: Berandal:

I am ashamed.

Ahead: 2014

Here we go again, with another bumper edition of pure, distilled anticipation.

Ah, 2014. How you promise such great excuses for us to use up our hard-earned time and money. Indeed, with another typically uneventful (though wonderfully relaxing) January out of the way, it’s as good a time as any to talk about what I personally am most eagerly awaiting this year. Some of these things will be disappointing, I have no doubt, but I have reason to believe most of them will live up to the hype. So exciting are the gaming and movie offerings of 2014 that I have had to expand my third annual anticipation list article to include multiple honorable mentions. I’ve also thrown some applicable trailers onto this page, because people seem to like something to look at. Here we go.

MOVIES

10. Mockingjay Part One


My excitement for the next movie in the blockbuster Hunger Games franchise is tempered by the general track record of novel adaptations that insist on splitting into two parts. It’s pretty well documented that “Part I”s tend to be a little on the unfulfilling side, as they are only ever one half of a whole story. Having said that, given the surprising quality of the Catching Fire adaptation, I’m keen to see how Francis Lawrence and co. treat the very heavy Mockingjay story.

9. Wish I Was Here


Whether you happen to be a lover or a hater of what Zach Braff did through the Kickstarter website to help his latest film stick to his vision, I can quite confidently say that I am the former. So much so, in fact, that I was one of the 47 thousand-odd backers who gave money to the project. I was a huge fan of Braff’s last writer-director effort, 2004’s Garden State, and the promise of Wish I Was Here serving as a pseudo-sequel to the decade-old indie gem is too hard to pass up. Hopefully it doesn’t suck.

8. Big Hero 6


We don’t know an awful lot about Big Hero 6 yet – only that it is based on a neglected Marvel superhero license, set in a hybrid between San Francisco and Tokyo, will be released at the end of the year, and most importantly, comes from the same wide pool of talent that gave us Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen. Expectations will be high for Disney’s intriguing next animation house effort.

7. How to Train Your Dragon 2


Speaking of high expectations, Disney’s number 1 competitor for animated movie supremacy is looking to come out firing in 2014 with the much-anticipated sequel to its super-charming 2010 hit How to Train Your Dragon. The trailers seem to indicate some real character growth across the board, as well as what appears to be a rather unconventional narrative structure for a family movie like this. But then again, you should never trust a trailer.

6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier


The next film in Marvel Studios’ ongoing lead-up to The Avengers 2 is being marketed as somewhat of an Avengers film itself, an “Avengers 1.5” if you will, considering the focus its trailers place on shots of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, Nick Fury and Black Widow. But far from being the distraction it was in Iron Man 2, this choice of direction actually adds to the appeal of the movie to me, as I happen to regard Cap as the least interesting of the four main movie Avengers. Add the appearance of characters like Falcon and, of course, the Winter Soldier himself, and you can consider me hyped.

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