Author Archives: Alex Park

The Town of Light Accolades Trailer: Praise = PlayStation 4 Release

The Town of Light is coming to Playstation 4.  Not bad for a game that failed its Indiegogo campaign.

It’s been a year since the psycho-thriller’s release on Steam, and since then, it has garnered accolades from everywhere.  Don’t believe me?  PlayStation published an accolades trailer to remove all doubt.

Why should you play this game?

town of light video game

The game is the definition of a psychological thriller.  16-year-old Renee has symptoms of mental illness.  Is she really ill?  That and other questions are the drivers that take us on ride that is very frequently uncomfortable.

The game, and the trailer, gives us an explanation, a disclaimer, at the beginning.  Informs us they take the issue of mental illness seriously and much sensitivity went into making the game.  Don’t sue us or accuse of being a-holes, basically.

town of light video game

But it is a game.  There are mysteries and places to explore, both real and “imaginary”.  And there is cruelty.  Cruelty beyond sanity.  Yes, the obvious irony is that those caring for the “sick” are the ones who are really messed up.

Beyond the clichés, though, is a real deep message.  One that resonates now.  In the presence of “The Other”, we need to examine our own messed up behaviors.

town of light video game

Injustice 2: The Lines Are Redrawn Story Trailer — Which Superheroes will Rumble?

A world where Superheroes can’t get along is a world that will suck for non-superheroes.  That’s the profound subtext of the story trailer for Injustice 2.

Get Injustice 2 on Amazon:

The trailer, which is annoyingly narrated – its thin script drawn out in short phrases over two minutes, gives us everything we need to know about the story.  Lois is dead.  She was pregnant.  Superman is irate.  Batman’s mad that Superman’s mad.  He condones crime and chaos.  This is the non-canon Superman vs Batman, with a rehashed storyline from Captain America Civil War.

But who really cares about story in a fighting game?  We just want to know who’s gonna show up.

In addition to Batman and Superman, the trailer gives us Poison Ivy, Robin, Brainiac, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, and Darkseid.  We’ll know the full lineup on February 7th.  Aquaman, Atrocitus, Gorilla Grodd, Blue Beetle, The Flash and Deadshot are also shoe-ins.  There are about 20 others that are yet to be revealed.

Whoever the remaining heroes are, when they rumble, we will crumble.

Game’s out May 16.

Injustice 2 video game

Mass Effect Andromeda — The Tempest and Nomad: See the Sights, and then Exploit!

We’re two months from Mass Effect Andromeda’s release, and the Tempest and Nomad Briefing Trailer gives us a glimpse of the ride.

And it’s a RIDE.

Get it now on Amazon:

The Tempest is fast and stealthy.  You won’t get much firepower on this sleek pretty thing, but the objective isn’t to blast our way into planetary exploitation.  Move fast – 13 light years per day – and hide and find and then deploy remote miners to take and run.  Ultimately, taking without asking is at the heart here.  Exploit what you can for your survival.  And now, with the Tempest, you can do it in style.

The pilot also tells us we can hide if we can’t outrun.  Foreshadowing of some of the madness we’ll encounter in the game.

mass effect andromeda video game

The Tempest

The 3-minute video, narrated by the Tempest’s pilot, provides a tour of your new home come March 21 when the game’s released.  Nothing too exciting – bridge, galley, meeting rooms, med-bay, etc. – but what stands out is the comfort and size of this “scout” ship.  It’s more than just a scout ship.  It’s a deep-space exploration ship with all its comforts.

And the nomad is basically a 6-wheeled ATV that you can customize it by painting it different.  And again the pilot foreshadows — tells us about boosters that will help us get out of dicey spots.  Yep, if you’re exploiting someone else’s planet, better be able to run.

Well, the video doesn’t WOW, but it doesn’t have to.  The Tempest is stealthy, the game’s release isn’t.

It’s out March 21 to PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

mass effect andromeda video game

The Nomad

Ghost Recon Wildlands Gameplay Video — Operation Skydive Extraction

Ghost Recon was my go-to game back in the day.  I’m talking about the first Ghost Recon on the original Xbox.  Six guys, two teams and 49 bad guys.  Yup, 49.  You can count them (and their bodies).  No spawning endlessly like Ghost Recon 2.  That was the Ghost Recon that shouldn’t have changed.

ghost recon video game

Old school was good school

But they changed.

Just to change.

To make it more arcade.  Make it more Rainbow Six.

No!!!

There’s a new Ghost Recon coming out.  Unfortunately, Ghost Recon Wildlands seems to be more like the lame sequels than the originally awesome original.  But the gameplay trailer gives me hope.

Less linear gameplay.  Different ways to approach and accomplish an objective.

Sniper, sneak, drop in from the sky.

At about :43, looks like some hostage-taking extraction, too. That takes skill.

First Ghost Recon wasn’t perfect.  Dumb AI soldiers that jumped in front of your bullets, for example.  But it was a good solid game that had you thinking tactically.  And then it just became another linear arcade game.

Anyway, Ghost Recon lives and Wildlands shows some promise.  It’s out 7-3-17.

ghost recon wildlands video game

ghost recon wildlands video game

ghost recon wildlands video game

Star Wars Episode VIII — Who is Rey?

Now that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’s canonization is complete, we look ahead to Star Wars Episode VIII.  The annual Star Wars release once again premieres in December, which should be renamed the Month of Dathomir, since other December movies will require a Mother Talzin resuscitation.

As much as I enjoyed Rogue One, it was not a fully satisfying addition given the breath of the Star Wars storyline.

Here’s What’s Wrong with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

So, I’m hoping Episode VIII is strong in the Force, and resists the cheapest of temptations, especially with one of the biggest mysteries:

Who is Rey?

Who is Rey?

First, here’s who I hope Rey is NOT:

A Skywalker

A common fan theory is that she is Luke’s daughter, making her Kylo Ren’s cousin.  I hope this is not the case.

The Force Awakens was A New Hope all-over-again.  Another Skywalker family reveal will be like Starkiller base: it’s different, but come on, it’s still another Death Star.  Too many guys making way too much money for us to see another Skywalker genealogy story.

It would also require a very awkward backstory-building that wouldn’t even make sense.  Luke is a True Jedi, like his masters Obi-Wan and Yoda.  He is more his mother than his father in disposition, which is why he was able to resist Palpatine.  To say he had a child will require a major character rebuild.

A Solo

Another theory is that she is Han and Leia’s other child, and of course Kylo Ren’s sister.  I would accept this more than a Skywalker story, but it’s limiting.  It’s Rey trying to redeem Ben, in a Galactic sibling intervention.  Again, this is derivative of the son-father conflict we saw in Episode IV-VI.  We need something new.  We need something bigger than another family soap-opera.

A Kenobi

The wildest theory is that she is somehow related to Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Perhaps a grandchild of Obi-Wan and Satine Kryze….

Nope, don’t go there.  Obi-Wan is a Jedi Master who reaches a state that only a few Jedi ever reached.  In other words, the only thing bursting out of his pants was his lightsaber.  To take him out of character for a cheap surprise is sacrilege.

Obi wan Kenobi

Obi Wan didn’t have to pay child support…trust me.

Who I hope Rey is:

A force-sensitive orphan who was chosen to train with Luke.  But before her training had begun, Luke hid her on Jakku since he foresaw the rise of the Knights of Ren and Kylo Ren’s turn to the Dark Side.  He knew that someone had to be protected to one day rise and challenge the new evil, Ren and Snoke.  Luke received help from Leia, and her loyal servant, Lor San Tekka, remained on Jakku to watch over Rey and to one day, provide a means for her to find Luke.

And who is Rey’s family?  The only family she knew as a child – Luke, Leia, San Tekka and the other Jedi younglings and Padawans, including Ben Solo.

So, she is a Skywalker and a Solo, and at the same time, she is not.

Anyway, something like this is what I’d like to see rather than the soap-opera-ish connections where everyone is somehow connected to everyone else.

Who is Rey?

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story — Here’s what’s wrong with Rogue One

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a highly entertaining, fan-serving, and re-watchable addition to the Star Wars canon.  But it’s got some problems.

Mainly, it needed to either scale-down or scale-up, but it’s stuck in Sarlacc’s throat, half-digested, left messy and smelly.

Here’s what I mean (Spoilers Ahead):

1) Too Much Fan Service

We already have a movie with tons of characters and places and events crammed into 133 minutes.  Fan Service is cool, but do we really need to see the two thugs who harass Luke at the Mos Eisley cantina?  And of course an SW film must have C-3PO and R2-D2, but their cameo seems more like an awkward product placement.  What I enjoyed more than these straight-up fan-pleasing moments was seeing Jimmy Smits, once again as Bail Organa, reminiscing about the good old days (AKA The Clone Wars) with another prequel holdover, Genevieve O’Reilly’s Mon Mothma.  I’m glad this Disney Star Wars film acknowledged that Episodes I-III exist, unlike The Force Awakens.

star wars ponda evazon

Ponda and Evazon made a stop in Jeddha before Tatooine.

2) Chirrut and Baze

Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Imwe and Wen Jiang’s Baze Malbus are the most interesting characters in Rogue One.  If any characters deserve a spin-off from this spin-off, it’s these two.  They have the best entrance but the worst exit.  I mean, Chirrut gets killed flicking a switch.  Single-handedly wiping out a squad of Stormtroopers is one thing, but when the Death Troopers arrive, we first need to see how bad-ass the Death Troopers are, and then we need to see how more bad-ass Chirrut is.  We don’t get either.  Come on!  Donnie Yen played Bruce Lee’s master in 3 films!  Let him go out whooping the Empire’s elite in dirty hand-to-hand melee.

star wars chirrut imwe

More Chirrut please.

There’s a lot more here with Chirrut and Baze.  Chirrut has great faith, and has Jedi-like command of his senses, but he is not force-sensitive.  He’s not a Jedi as we quickly learn.  If he were, he would have been purged anyhow.  Just the fact that a temple guardian survived Order 66 and the purges is an interesting story in itself.  Perhaps there’s guilt and why he’s loitered at a dead temple for almost two decades.  Lots here with these two and why Rogue One missed an opportunity.  Hopefully, there will be more on them.

3) Jyn’s Kyber Crystal Necklace

Whenever you introduce an object with significant weight, it needs to mean something.  At the beginning of the film, Jyn receives from her soon-to-be-murdered mother, a necklace with a Kyber crystal, which powers lightsabers (as well as WMDs).  Kyber crystals are a big deal.  At that moment, I’m thinking this artifact will have a pivotal role by film’s end, but it basically disappears by the time Scarif is blown up.  Again, more things thrown in to this messy stew, under-developed, that ultimately detracts more than adds.

What is the story with this necklace?  Remember, Galen’s generation fought in The Clone Wars.  That means he fought alongside the Jedi for the Republic (as well with Tarkin and Krennic), and probably knew at least a few of them personally given his position.  So the Kyber crystal must have greater significance than we get from the movie, but we just don’t get it and are left wondering.

star wars kyber necklace

It’s not exactly the Ring of Power but needs more play in Rogue One.

4) The Ending

The movie ends with Leia and the Tantive IV launching into hyperspace.  We know from Episode IV that she’s on her way to Alderaan and that she gets intercepted by Vader.  First of all, why isn’t she going to Yavin 4?  Why wouldn’t she go to the Rebel base directly?  Ultimately, that’s where the Death Star’s plans end up and where it’s successfully analyzed.  It’s probably the best place to go.

And I’m not sure how far Alderaan is from Scraif, but Yavin 4 is not that far.  It doesn’t take that long for the Rebel fleet to arrive at Scarif from Yavin 4.  So again, why wouldn’t Leia go to the Rebel base when it seems like it only takes a few hours, or even minutes, to get there?

Also, how does the Tantive IV get intercepted by Vader at the beginning of A New Hope?  We all know from the other Star Wars films, once you hit hyperspace, that’s it, they gone.  At the end of Rogue One, Vader’s watching from the Alliance flag ship as Tantive IV disappears.  How quickly is he able to get to the Devastator from there?  How is he able to stop Leia over Tatooine?  And why is Leia at Tatooine and not Alderaan or Yavin 4 by then?  Before Rogue One came along, we just assumed the battle happened nearby and Tantive IV had a reason it couldn’t go to hyperspace, probably damaged from the battle.  But now, we’re left wondering how it got stuck in the Outer Rim.

star wars tantive IV

Shoulda gone to Yavin 4.

5) The Big Fuse

Okay, so Galen Erso added a flaw to the nastiest weapon in Galactic history.  I wrote about this before watching the movie, and now that I’ve seen it…I still don’t like it.  It means that a dude designed a flaw that was meant to be exploited.  Something that was impossible without the Force suddenly became very much possible.  It gives too much credit to Erso, and takes away from the power of the Force, and Luke’s accomplishment in Episode IV.

rogue one star wars story galen erso

Galen Erso: the true hero of the Alliance?

That vulnerability could happen without Rogue One’s justification, which serves more to redeem Galen Erso than anything else.  Death Star was designed and built over twenty years.  Geonosians and the Separatists started it, and then was handed over to the Imperial designers, of whom I’m sure there were many.  It was relocated at least once and built by slaves.  There was great pressure to finish it — from the Sith Lords!  Of course there will be flaws!  Actually, I’m surprised there’s only one, and it was one that was impossible to exploit without providence, until Rogue One came along.

Rogue One could have done with less, or gone the other way and added another 20-30 minutes to clean up some messy distractions.  A movie with a similar plot, Guns of Navarone, is at 158 minutes.  And actually, why not go all the way and hit Seven Samurai epic-ness at 200 minutes?

Rogue One is not a bad Star Wars film.  Actually, I would place it above The Force Awakens (see my rankings here), but it could have been better.

 

 

Star Wars Films Rankings, from Best to Worst

Ranking the Star Wars Films, from best to worst:

1) Empire Strikes Back

star wars empire strikes back

No surprise here.  This is still the top SW film, by far.  Best acted, best written, best twist, and the best battle scene, even if the AT-ATs remain the biggest waste of military funds in galactic history.

Star Wars

AT-AT: they’re big, slow, and they’ll blow up if they trip.

2) A New Hope

star wars a new hope

Episode IV increases its value with the release of every new SW title.  It sets up Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi beautifully.  And the briefly mentioned lines of exposition in the first SW flick became “A-ha” moments with the release of Episodes I, II, III and now, Rogue One.  For example, Tarkin’s announcement that the Emperor has dissolved the Senate has a more significant impact having seen its corruption and incompetence.  After Rogue One, we know why the Death Star has a fuse.  A New Hope is the well-constructed bridge that keeps everything together, which hopefully The Force Awakens will be for future episodes.  Like the Battle of Yavin, it is the center of the Star Wars universe.

3) The Phantom Menace

star wars phantom menace

Yes, we have Jar-Jar and midichlorians and some bad acting and writing, but Episode I is a good movie.  Like A New Hope, it has to be re-watched after having watched the other Episodes.  We see how Palpatine uses everyone, even the Jedi, in subtle ways.  It’s brilliant.  And the movie establishes the emotional bond between Anakin and his mother, and his days as a slave, which resonates when we see Vader in Episodes IV-VI.  The Phantom Menace also has the greatest lightsaber battle, something I’m appreciating more after watching Vader mow down hapless Rebel shipmates in Rogue One.

4) Return of the Jedi

star wars return of the jedi

Jabba, Sarlacc, Rancor, et al, are all good fun, but what’s the purpose of the first half of Episode VI?  It feels more like a stand-alone than an Episode.  And does the chosen one, Darth Vader (w/ Luke’s help), really bring balance to the galaxy by destroying the Sith?  I mean, when Lando blows up the Death Star, wouldn’t Palpatine blow up with it?  Overall, though, it’s a satisfying finale to the original trilogy.

5) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

star wars rogue one

Entertaining action flick with fan-service galore.  No opening crawl, but they didn’t forget, “I have a bad feeling about this”.  What’s not to like?  Well, a few things I’ve listed here.

6) The Force Awakens

star wars force awakens

Good to see Han, Leia and Luke, and Rey is an intriguing character, but come on, the Starkiller base?  Just a bigger Death Star, of which we’ve seen two blow up previously.  Now we have #3, and it’s the same dance: disable shields, hit it with everything you got.  And a poor kid on a desert planet who turns out to be force sensitive.  Sound familiar?  Episode VII might move up the list depending on Episodes VIII and IX.

7) Revenge of the Sith

star wars revenge of the sith

When Anakin kills Dooku at the beginning of the film, that should’ve been it.  End of movie, Anakin has turned to the Dark Side.  But we have 2 more hours until Vader screams, “No!”

8) Attack of the Clones

star wars attack of the clones

Obi-Wan is a warrior, diplomat and a detective.  Who knew?  This Mystery Sci-Fi takes us everywhere from a noir-Coruscant to a very wet Kamino to a very dusty Geonosis.  What haven’t we seen?  Yoda is awesome, though.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard — Back to Simple = Back to True Evil

Resident Evil is going back to its roots, which is good news to end a pretty crazy 2016.

It’s horror again.  One place, one haunting, one madness.  The only difference is that Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is first person, but the guns and puzzles are still there.  And based on the trailer, we’re back to the “don’t-play-this-alone-in-the-dark” scary of the originals in the series.

The Japanese release trailer shows us what we want to see…or don’t want to see.  Creatures and ghosts and monsters in dark corridors ready to jump out and rip us to oblivion.

After the messiness of Resident Evil 6, simplicity is much desired, and 7 seems to be bringing simple back, with a vengeance.

Game will be out world-wide on January 24 and in Japan on January 26.  Windows, PS4 and Xbox One.

resident evil 7 biohazard video game

Seasons of Heaven — What the Official Trailer shows us about the game

Nintendo reminds me of childhood.  Lazy but magical summer afternoons playing Gyromite, Duck Hunt, Kung Fu and of course, Super Mario.  Many years since the first Nintendo Entertainment System and now we are on console #7, the Nintendo Switch.

And one of its first exclusives is a game about…childhood.

The official trailer for Seasons of Heaven sends us to one of those magical summer afternoons.  Grass is green, breeze is soft, and flowers are colorful.  There’s a child and a French bulldog who’s smarter than your average French bulldog.

But all is not well.  It’s a post-apocalyptic world.  There are monsters and other challenges.

seasons of heaven video game

Our protagonist is a special child.  He has Asperger’s syndrome, but he is strong and clever.  And good thing because danger and obstacles surface with each step in this mysterious world.

The trailer gives us a vast open world with high towers and plenty of puzzles to solve.  Many games come to mind, especially from the Nintendo world, but this one seems different.  There’s a quietness.  A peacefulness, even in moments of darkness.

Our hero gets help during his journey.  His dog, of course, but also angels and spirits.  And this world is indeed a spiritual one.  Stone heads, towers both tiny and gigantic, and even an Egyptian god.

Childhood is magical, mysterious and scary.  Seasons of Heaven gives shows we can make it, no matter how difficult our road may be.

Seasons of Heaven, which is based on the book, will be out in 2017.

For Honor Trailer: The Shugoki — More than a sumo wrestler with a big stick?

Next time you see a fine lady at the bar, ask her, “Who would win in a fight: Viking, Samurai or a Knight?”  It’s sure to start an engaging conversation and land you a date.

Yes, one of the more interesting pick-up questions of all time is now a video game.

For Honor pits Samurai, Knight and Viking, and it’s all mano a mano bloody warfare.

The Shugoki trailer showcases one of the samurais.  Actually, he’s more of a sumo wrestler with a huge staff-mace type thing.  Not the grace and speed of the samurai, but more of a European brawler.  Plate-crushing strength.

for honor video game

So far the historical mesh-up seems to be the only competitive advantage here.  It’s a first-person adventure game.  Hack-and-slash with intriguing multiplayer modes.  Ultimately, the character classes are the usual suspects (more or less) and gameplay appears to be standard hack-and-slash.

And the Shugoki is a turn-off.  It’s just a big dude with a big weapon hacking away.  Hopefully there will be more creative uses of this guy, but the trailer doesn’t show much more than a brawler.  I could just play Street Fighter.

More than anything, the big sell is the potential for major battles.  Large-scale warfare using real tactics.  A first person version of Total War.  That would be different and it would definitely set this game apart.

The game is available on Xbox One on February 14, 2017.

for honor video game