Reviews

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Review

The latest Mission: Impossible installment hit theaters this weekend. Here’s my spoiler free review of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

Overview:

Following the events of Ghost Protocol, the IMF is under investigation for their often explosive tactics. Leading the investigation is CIA director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin). Amidst the political problems, IMF agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has found evidence of a terrorist organization known as the Syndicate. As the IMF is under threat of being permanently shut down, the ranking head of the IMF, William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), urges Ethan to hunt down and expose the Syndicate in what could be his last mission.

Rogue Nation – The Good:

1. There are many returning faces in Rogue Nation. In addition to Renner, Ving Rhames, and Simon Pegg reprise their respective roles of Luther Stickell and Benji Dunn. It was nice to see Luther back as he only made a cameo in Ghost Protocol.

Simon Pegg reprises his role as Benji Dunn in Rogue Nation.

Simon Pegg reprises his role as Benji Dunn in Rogue Nation.

2. Rogue Nation also has a few new characters as well. Solomon Lane (Sean Harris) serves as the head of the Syndicate and as a sort of Moriarty to Ethan. We are also introduced to Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), an agent of the Syndicate whose own loyalties prove to be a mystery throughout the film. It was nice to have another female character in the franchise who was quite competent and also has an interesting background.

3. The opening of Rogue Nation is hands-down the best one of the series. It features the exceptionally real airplane stunt performed by Tom Cruise instead of a stunt double. The scene is intense and fun with Cruise hanging onto the airplane as it takes off. In addition to serving as an excellent hook for the audience, it also leads right into the rest of the plot rather than just being a standalone scene.

Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust in Rogue Nation.

Rebecca Ferguson as Ilsa Faust in Rogue Nation.

4. The film follows all the rules of a Mission: Impossible movie with action, twists, as well as an “impossible” break-in to a well-guarded complex. The formula is an old one, but it still seems to work for Rogue Nation.

Rogue Nation – The Bad:

Since Mission: Impossible III, we have been seeing a lot more returning characters to the sequels. But once again, the previous female agent, Jane Carter, from Ghost Protocol is not among them. It felt a bit unbalanced with a team of guys working together instead of at least one female. And yes, we get Ilsa, but, as previously stated, she is a wildcard. We don’t know where her loyalties lie until the very end of Rogue Nation.

Rogue Nation has plenty of action.

Rogue Nation has plenty of action.

Conclusion

 

It’s sort of strange to think that Tom Cruise has been making Mission: Impossible movies for almost 20 years, but he’s still throwing himself headfirst into the role. It’s unclear how many more of these movies he has in him, but, as long as they prove to work with the excellent formula set up in the previous films, I for one will continue to watch them. Rogue Nation still does not surpass Mission: Impossible III for me, but it’s a fun movie that has earned a place in the franchise.

Have you seen the latest installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise? Let us know your thoughts on Rogue Nation in the comments below!

 

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation Review

The Glamourist Histories – Review

There is a concept in writing that I was recently introduced to, known as a ‘strange attractor’.  This is when you take two previously unconnected ideas and build a story around them.  Quite a few novels have been published over the last few years.  The two easiest examples of this phenomenon are:

Pride & Prejudice + Zombies = Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Abraham Lincoln + Vampire Hunters =  Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

Yes, I know both of those examples are from the same author, who I’m not actually talking about today.  But his novels are very good examples of ‘strange attractors’.

Of Noble Family, Book 5 of The Glamourist HistoriesJust a few months ago, Mary Robinette Kowal released Of Noble Family, the fifth and final novel of her Glamourist Histories series.  If I needed to describe the series to someone that had not read the books before, it would be like this: imagine that Jane Austen had written the same kind of novels she actually wrote…but had also incorporated some magic into the world.  And that this magic, called glamour, was generally considered one of the ‘womanly arts’, along with painting, music, and such.

When I first heard about these books, I was completely hooked based just on that strange attractor combination.  I hadn’t really heard of Mary Robinette Kowal before, but the premise sounded amazing.  And not once was I disappointed that I decided to pick up these books.

Light spoilers ahead, but nothing you couldn’t have picked up from the book jacket of any of these books.

In fact while reading the first book in the series, Shades of Milk & Honey, it’s quite easy to pick out specific characters or events in the book and say, “Oh, that’s just like this character/event that happens in Pride & Prejudice, but with a twist.”  But Shades of Milk & Honey is most definitely NOT a straight up adaptation of Pride & Prejudice + Magic.  These are original characters and the story doesn’t slavishly copy Pride & Prejudice.

And the similarities to that particular book only lasts for the first book in the series.  The other four books take us to a variety of different places, and forces the characters into various complications, that Jane Austin’s characters never faced.  The language and style of writing remains wonderfully reminiscent of Austin, but the content is wonderfully new and exciting:

Our heroes journey to France and become involved in events following Napolean’s return from Elba.

They return home, to deal with family matters and ultimately become embroiled in events that appear treasonous.

They travel to Italy and after being robbed, have to figure out how to put their lives back together with virtually no resources.

They travel to the West Indies to resolve issues with the family estate, and discover complications there that nearly pushes them to the breaking point.

All of these events set within a few years of each other, during the era of Victorian England.

Shades of Milk and Honey, Book 1 of The Glamourist HistoriesAt the heart of all of these novels sits the relationship and marriage of our two protagonists, Jane and Vincent.  The fact that Mary Robinette Kowal doesn’t use the ‘wedding’ event as the ‘happy ever after’ it is normally portrayed as is wonderfully refreshing.  As I’m sure nearly anyone who has ever been married before can tell you, it’s rarely a happy ever after.  It’s not even an ‘ending’, it’s a beginning of a whole new phase of life.  And that is abundantly and exquisitely true for Jane and Vincent.

There are relatively few book series where, once the story was truly and finally over, I felt completely satisfied with the ending.  The last series that managed to pull that off, for me, was Harry Potter.  This series has the perfect ending.  It’s wonderful and I loved it, even though it really messed up my emotional state for several hours.

In fact I tweeted at Mary while reading the final chapters of the book:

I don’t think I can give a book, or a series, a better compliment than that.  If you’re at all looking for something new to read, that’s a little bit different from the standard fantasy fare, and does a wonderful job of portraying a real romantic relationship between two characters while they have some amazing (and terrifying) adventures, you should pick up The Glamourist Histories books.

Oh, and how did Mary respond to my tweet?

The Glamourist Histories – Review

X-Men: Rogue Cut Review

Welcome to my review of the newly released X-Men Days of Future Past: The Rogue Cut. This review will contain spoilers so be warned.

Last time we saw Rogue she had forfeited her powers with a cure in order to be closer to her boyfriend Bobby Drake. Since the events of X-Men: The Last Stand she gained her powers back and hasn’t been heard from since the war in the future broke out and escalated. X-Men DOFP (Days of Future Past) The Rogue Cut is known as the Director’s Cut for the film. It not only adds in all of Rogue’s scenes portrayed again by Anna Paquin, but also adds in new scenes featuring various action sequences, character arcs, and deaths, and a few scenes particularly with a blue shape-shifting mutant and a beast of a man. Now some people may be apprehensive about buying this movie again when it came out on DVD last year, either because they already own it or hate what the films have done to a beloved character like Rogue. Well this isn’t the same movie and even though Rogue doesn’t get her powers like she does in the comics, she still is a kick ass female superhero and we always could use more of those in films. This movie adds in nearly 20 minutes of extra footage to the theatrical film and it is like watching a completely different movie than the one that was released in theaters.

Rogue Cut - Anna Paquin

The Rogue Cut Details

The Rogue Cut opens up the same. The future is all dark and gloomy, mutants being hunted, and the X-Men are on the run trying to find Kitty Pryde and her gang. There have been added scenes and dialogue with Warpath, Bishop, Sunspot, and Blink with all them deciding on whether or not they want Wolverine to go back in time to change the past, fearing that altering that past will have them not be born or die in some other fashion. Storm interjects saying that even though those four may never be born if Wolverine succeeds, hundreds of millions of people will survive and have a future to look foreword to. There is also a really sweet scene between Kitty and Bobby, A.K.A. Iceman, saying goodbye to one another and they will see each other in the next life. Jump ahead to Wolverine waking up in the past with a little more action scenes involving him taking out the body guards and him driving away to find Charles. The rest of the movie flows like the normal theatrical release until you come to Wolverine, Charles, and Hank arriving at Quicksilver’s house to recruit him to help rescue Eric from the Pentagon. There we have the brief appearance of Quicksilver’s little sister dressed as a princess asking Logan who he is and in return he says, “I’m the Wolverine.” Interestingly enough fans have thought from the release of a promo picture with the little girl on Quicksilver’s lap to be his sister Wanda Maximoff, A.K.A Scarlet Witch. Fans will be pleased to know this is not her, for the little girls mother then asks her to go find her big sister, which we now assume to be Wanda who is upstairs during all this. We sadly do not see her at all during the movie so hopefully we will in a future film set in the X-Men universe. All of the scenes that were added in the past are so brilliantly done and transition smoothly with how the theatrical cut was originally released you can’t tell it was an added scene. The movie works both ways. Now there are a few more scenes that are in the past that are very cool involving like Mystique and Beast, but I won’t get into those here. You will have to watch those for yourself. Other than that the scenes and sequences that take place in the past generally stay the same. The main stuff that has been added or changed happens in the future.

Rogue Cut Poster

Now what you all have been waiting for, Rogue’s scenes! Jump into around an hour and a half into the movie and Kitty is gravely wounded by Wolverine when he slips from her grasp on sending him back to the past. Bobby informs Charles and Eric that Rogue is alive and being experimented on in order for humans to add her power absorption capabilities to the Sentinels and is being held captive at the X-Mansion in Cerebro. That is the reason why Charles could not locate her and assumed her to be dead along with all the others. The three then take the new X-Jet and fly to the heavily guarded X-Mansion now turned into a base of operations for the Sentinels and humans. Rogue is rescued by Bobby, Charles, and Eric but sadly Bobby does not make it and dies at the Mansion while fighting off Sentinels. The one major difference in character deaths from the theatrical release. Now do we get the flying kick ass Rogue we loved in the 90’s cartoon and comics…sadly no, but we do get to see her save everyone by taking over for Kitty because Kitty is bleeding out so the only logical person to save them is Rogue because of her powers.

Summary

There are still quite a few more scenes involving Rogue and the others so don’t be afraid that I spoiled it all. Believe me there is a lot more where that came from. Anna Paquin still looks the same as she did when we last saw her in The Last Stand and still stands out in a huge cast for her brief but pivotal scenes. This film sheds a whole new light on characters and events that we either didn’t get to see in the theatrical release or were briefly mentioned. I know a lot of people feel like the character of Rogue has been watered down so much from her original comic portrayal that they were happy she was cut out of the film. If you still feel that way I would give this version of the movie a chance. Can I also just say Anna Paquin looks absolutely beautiful as Rogue? Say what you will but don’t forget that a few months prior to filming she also had a child. So for her to be wearing a skin tight white suit is impressive to say the least. Rogue is still a cool and vital character and it was nice to see her added back into a film where most if not all the original cast returned in some shape or form. I am not sure if the Rogue Cut will be counted as canon leading in to X-Men: Apocalypse which opens in 2016, or if they will stick with the theatrical release for the canon. Either way I am very happy that I own and have seen what Bryan Singer has been teasing us with for the past few months. All if these scenes have added so much to the film and have made it so new that it truly has been like watching a whole new movie. I won’t say too much more about most scenes, you will have to just wait and see those for yourself when you buy the copy of X-Men Days of Future Past: The Rogue Cut, in stores now.

X-Men: Rogue Cut Review

Ant-Man Review

I’ll admit to being a fanboy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Marvel’s movie studio has managed to consistently do two things that so far, no other movie studio churning out comic book adaptations has figured out yet:

1. Remain faithful to the heart and soul of the original material

2. Present these crazy characters and ridiculous concepts to the general public in a way that doesn’t make them feel like they’re missing vital information because they don’t already read the comics

Ant-Man follows the MCU movie formula, which isn’t terribly surprising considering how well it has performed for Marvel so far.  The humor in the movie is great.  But the moments where the movie wants you to feel some kind of more serious emotion didn’t work very well.  In order to discuss why that is, it’s necessary to discuss some extremely minor spoilers for the movie.

*************************** MINOR SPOILERS BELOW ***************************

Ant-Man poster

For example, Scott Lang befriends one of the ants he works with, and names it Anthony.  So when Anthony is shot later on in the movie, and the camera does the slow-motion linger on one of Anthony’s wings as it falls to the floor, we’re supposed to feel some measure of sadness, right?  The problem is that not enough time was spent in the movie actually seeing the relationship between Ant-Man and Anthony develop, other than in a training montage.  And then after Anthony dies, he’s immediately replaced by another ant who remains nameless.  It’s hard to feel any sense of loss there.

*************************** MINOR SPOILERS DONE ***************************

Ant-Man Evangeline LillyOverall Ant-Man does a great job of fitting nicely into the MCU.  Multiple references are made to the Avengers as a whole, and to individual members of the team.  There are a number of fun cameos that I hadn’t expected.  Falcon gets to make a more-than-cameo appearance, which in some ways makes up for his lack of involvement in the battles scenes from Age of Ultron.  There’s even a line or two that points to Spider-Man already being active and doing his thing out in the world.  That would be great.  We do not need another Spider-Man origin movie.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the movie, while definitely a solo film, is meant as a stepping stone for Ant-Man to join the Avengers.

One of the major criticisms that the MCU has faced, especially recently, is the dearth of female superheroes.  Thankfully Ant-Man introduces us to Hope Pym (Evangeline Lilly), the daughter of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and by the end of the movie, well, let’s just say this:  I started imagining what it would be like if Marvel made a movie where Black Widow and Wasp become friends, snark off about (among other things) how dumb the men in their lives are, and generally beat the crap out of everyone that tries to stop them.  There is only one response to that dream:

GIVE IT TO ME NOW!

So here’s hoping that Hope Pym will be making many more appearances in the MCU.  Between Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Wasp, and the upcoming Captain Marvel, it feels like the MCU is ever so gradually trying to bring more of these strong and amazing characters (that just happen to be female) to the screen.  Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before we’ll have more solo films starring these characters.

But I digress.

Ant-Man was fun.  The humor is great, the action is well done, especially when it works the humor into the action.  I was a little disappointed that, despite showing Scott Lang tinkering with the suit at various points of the movie, nothing really happened with it.  There is a case to be made that it was his tinkering that allowed him to do something late in the movie, but I disagree with that assessment.

All in all, Ant-Man is a great addition to the MCU, and definitely feels like the end of Phase 2.  Stay all the way to the end of the credits, and tell me if you don’t walk out of the movie theater thinking, “Uh oh, something big is coming…”

What did you think of Marvel’s latest film? Where does it rank for you? What are you hoping to see in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War? Comment below!

Ant-Man Review

Steam World Dig: A Fistful of Dirt – Review

Today’s review check outs a fantastic Indie game from Image & Form studios out of Sweden. Image & Form has been around since 1997, consists of 14 people, and have put together a great game here. Now, I’ll be covering Steam World Dig: A Fistful of Dirt from the Nintendo 3DS XL perspective, though the title is also available via Steam for Windows, Mac and Linux, as well as the Nintendo eShop for the 3DS, 2DS, and Wii U consoles, PlatStation 4 and Vita. Yeah, that’s a lot of platforms. In fact, you can purchase a cross-platform, DRM free version on their website for $9.99.

Steam World Dig - RustySo what is Steam World Dig: A Fistful of Dirt? Well, to use the developers’ own words, it “is a hardcore platform mining adventure game”. That really is the best way to describe it in a single sentence. In this game, you play as Rusty, a steambot. You’ve inherited an old mine from your uncle who’s been missing for some time. The plot of the game follows you as you mine deeper into the depths of the dirt. Along the way, you uncover minerals that can be sold on the surface for equipment upgrades. This quite literally, steampunk style game brings a ton of uniqueness to the equipment you can use. While upgrading your pickax is an option, you’ll have access to teleporters, explosives, shielding and drills. As the digging level gets deeper, you’ll uncover special areas where strange, fantastical items can be obtained. These items provide new, intense ways to smash the harder rocks deep in the dirt, like a drilling arm or steam powered fists. It’s not all smash and grab down below. As you dig deeper, dangerous and powerful enemies await, ready to attack and protect the secrets of the underground.

Steam World Dig - TumbletonWhat I love about this game is that it is not a money grab in any sense. As I noted earlier, it can purchased for $9.99. All in-game item purchases are done by selling the minerals collected during digging and no real money is ever used. That’s right, you buy the game and everything is in the game, no outside purchases. In the world of free-to-play and micro-transactions, this is a relaxing relief.

Let’s meet some of the characters of Steam World Dig: A Fistful of Dirt. First, there’s Rusty, the player you control. In the town above you can sell your minerals to a lovely female steambot named Dorothy. Her father, Cranky, is nearby ready to sell you basic items, health, and upgrades throughout the game. Later, you’ll be introduced to Biff. He’s a competing equipment dealer with some more advanced (and expensive) items. There’s a few other characters you’ll meet along the way, but I want to save a few surprises.

Steam World Dig - Oldworld

Steam World Dig - DorothyThe mechanics of the game are complex but surprisingly user friendly and easy to pick up. There are a few metrics that are very important. First and most obvious is health. Rusty has a health bar and it can be increased as the game progresses. Healing can be done on the surface with Cranky or by getting health from killing enemies. Later, a water meter will be added. Some of the more advanced abilities require steam power and therefore, water. Things like the steam jump, drill, and steam punch all require water for power. Water can be found underground in patches. Enemies will sometimes provide some when killing as well. Then there’s the light. Since the vast majority of the game is played underground, the sun doesn’t help out much. There are some lights planted in the depths of the planet but additional lights can be placed by you and purchased from Cranky. On top of that, Rusty has some light of his own. This light diminishes while underground and is replenished immediately after returning to the surface. How long the light lasts can also be increased throughout the game. With that said, don’t forget about the teleporters. Early on in the game, these will be discovered. One sits on the surface near the mine entrance. Additional units can be purchased from Cranky and they can be placed underground. This allows Rusty to jump back and forth from the mine to the surface instantly. Trust me, this will become very important. You’re going to end up very deep. In the two times I’ve played through the game, I hit 400 meters after just 3 hours of play. You do not want to hike all the way back up on foot every time you need to sell minerals or regain light and health.

Steam World Dig - Laser DodgingSelling minerals is a cornerstone for this game. Certain rock blocks contain minerals that can be easily seen. In fact, you can see a few of them in the “Old World” screenshot above. Some minerals are worth more than others and the deeper Rusty gets, the more the minerals found are worth. Rusty has a pouch that he uses to carry minerals. This pouch is limited in size, though larger ones can be purchased from Cranky during the game. Once the pouch is full, it’s in your best interest to return to the surface and sell them to Dorothy for the in-game currency.

Steam World Dig - CrankyAs I noted at the beginning of this review, I am playing Steam World Dig: A Fistful of Dirt on the Nintendo 3DS XL. The two screen experience is perfect for this game. The top screen, which is 3D enabled provides a brilliant universe to play in with depth, color and incredible detail for a handheld game. I’ve played with the 3D on and off and honestly, either way is great. If you’re a big fan of the 3D experience then you’ll gain a slick sense of depth but if you aren’t a fan, you won’t be missing out on much. The second screen, which is touch enabled, provides access to in-store items, and, most importantly, your digging map when underground. I can’t imagine playing this game with just a single screen. It truly feels like it was made for the 3DS/3DS XL/2DS market.

Overall, this game is just a ton of fun. Its unique steampunk style is exciting, new, and just plain interesting to watch. The characters are fun and entertaining, while the story continues to expand. At the beginning of the game, Rusty is a simple miner looking for his uncle but just a couple hours in, a new world is being uncovered. This world isn’t exactly new. In fact, you might find it surprisingly familiar. I’m not going to give any more away here, but what I began to find deep in the dirt is not what I was expecting.

If you like platform games, steampunk, and the 3DS two-screen experience, Steam World Dig: A Fistful of Dirt is the game for you. But don’t forget it is available on Steam and PS4\Vita. The game is even available via Gog.com and Humble Bundle.

Fans of this game will be happy to know that another SteamWorld universe title is set to come out this year, SteamWorld Heist. The new title takes place in the same universe but it’s a space adventure set to release for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, PlayStation 4 and Vita, Xbox One, and Steam Fall 2015.

For more information on this title and their developers check them out here:

Steam World Dig Games

Image & Form Games

*Please note that the game play screenshots are based on the Steam version for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Have you played this game before? Are you looking forward to the new one? What are you excited about? Let us know in the comments.

Steam World Dig: A Fistful of Dirt – Review

A Review of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” Apparently this is even true in galaxies far, far away. Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope is a masterpiece and succulent fusion of two very different genres. Contrary to what one might think, it is not simply Star Wars written in Shakespearean dialogue, but its own separate piece of art generating flawless finesse in taking our boy from Tatooine and re-imagining his story told in Victorian England by the Bard himself.

It may be fruitful to compare this style to something akin to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame Smith. However, I find it very different. Smith simply took the original writing of Jane Austin and had fun playing with the words by changing out words like “love” with “brains.”  Doescher doesn’t do this at all. Apparently, Lucasfilm gave him all sorts of freedom to do pretty much anything he wanted. So this book is best described as a Star Wars and Shakespeare fan’s attempt to blend the two genres into something equally as beautiful. If you’re asking me, he succeeded. Now to the good stuff. What makes it awesome?

ShakespeareswvaderThe Mechanics 

Anyone who paid attention in High School English remembers that William Shakespeare is arguably the greatest writer/storyteller/poet/Renaissance man of all time. They will also remember that the reasons he is recognized as this is by his impeccably unique writing style. He pretty much invented the English Sonnet for crying out loud, not to mention modern story telling. The man was a genius to put it lightly. So, like myself, when hearing that this book existed, you most likely asked yourself, how can someone pretend to match the elegance, craftsmanship, and artistry of the The Bard? it’s simply impossible. Call me a little obsessed with the guy, but It is virtually impossible to match Shakespeare’s talent. Doescher doesn’t quite make it there, but he’s pretty dang close. Here were the main pieces of Shakespeare’s writing style that Doescher nailed on the head.

  • Iambic Pentameter. Once again, for those of you who paid attention in school, this word is familiar. But to those who didn’t, you’re very confused at what I may be getting at. An overwhelming amount of Shakespeare’s work is written in iambic pentameter. I would go as far as to say that around 95% of it is, making this the most essential thing for Doescher to excel in. Quick English lesson to aid the confused: most people in school are taught that iambic pentameter is simply ten syllables per line. However, it is far more complex than that. It follows five (penta) pairs of iambs (one unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable) to create a cohesive rhythm. If you would like to learn more about this in detail, follow the link here for a great TED video explaining it in depth. Doescher does this without breaking a sweat. It seems, flows, and sounds nearly exactly like Shakespeare. In fact, he even uses it with characters speaking different languages, like Chewbacca with Shyriiwook, Greedo with Rodese, Jabba with Huttese and even R2D2’s beeps and squeaks. Here’s an example from Verily, A New Hope next to a selection from Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare so you can get the idea of what this looks like in action.
    • “How LONG, now, ERE thou CANS’T aCHIEVE lightSPEED” -Obi Wan (Act III, Scene 4)
    • “if MUsic BE the FOOD of LOVE, play ON” -Duke Orsino (Act I, Scene 1)
  • Puns: Shakespeare is truthfully the King of Puns.  One of my favorites comes from Romeo and Juliet in a conversations between Sampson and Gregory in Act I, “Sampson: I will show myself a tyrant. When I have fought with the men, I will be cruel with the maids, and cut off their heads. Gregory: The heads of the maids? Sampson: Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads; take it in what sense thou wilt.” Doescher includes several puns throughout, but most of them are a play on what us Star Wars fans expect to see vs. what he actually does. So I’ll let them be a surprise.
  • ShakespeareswlukeAsides and Soliloquies: One of the most common ways that Shakespeare develops his characters is by allowing them to talk privately to themselves. It’s a well known proverb that “a man is really only himself when he is alone.” Shakespeare utilizes this truth in every play he wrote in order for the audience to fully understand his characters better. He does this with two different methods, either an aside (character talks only to him/herself and no one else can hear) or in a soliloquy (a monologue or long speech when the character is the only one on stage). These mediums are especially helpful to aid the audience to see development in the most difficult characters. In Hamlet, the main character with the same name has, over the years, been labeled the most difficult character. This is why Shakespeare awards this character with 4 of the 5 soliloquies in the play, one of them carrying some of the most famous lines in history, “To be or not be, that is the question,” and “Aye, there’s the rub.” There are two characters in particular who are given multiple asides and a few soliloquies to gain our understanding. Han Solo and R2-D2. The latter is most interesting, because, when speaking to others, R2 uses his beeps and squeaks, but, when speaking to himself or the audience, he speaks good old Galactic Basic Standard, or what we call English.
  • Songs: Shakespeare loves to write lyrics to songs to express deep emotion with his characters and allow them to pour out their feelings. Two of the most famous songs are sung by Ophelia in Hamlet and Ariel in the Tempest. Doescher gifts this wonderful blessing to none other than Princess Leia after the destruction of her home planet Alderaan, and it is beautifully written as well.

The Art of Re-Imagination

shakespeareswjabbaAs hinted above, this story is not simply a carbon copy of Star Wars. It’s a beautiful merger of two different genres in a new re-imagination of a well known story. Doescher takes some liberties, and includes some scenes I may not have. Namely the discussion between Jabba and Han. Deoscher also sheds some light on some arguments and where he stands on them. So you should read it and see where he stands and keep your eye out for my review of The Empire Striketh Back.

Are you a Shakespeare enthusiast? Have you read this book? Let us know what you think in the comments.

A Review of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope

Babylon 5 Rewatch – The Gathering

Looking back it feels like we owe a lot of the current trends in serialized storytelling on television to Babylon 5. It was one of the first shows that I remember watching that was telling a story much larger than single episodes, or even the occasional two or three parter. Every season had an overall story and theme, and all of the seasons taken together were part of this epic story that J. Michael Straczynski had created for our enjoyment.  

I’ve been enjoying various TV Rewatch article series over on Tor.com for a while now.  I kept hoping that eventually someone would put together a Babylon 5 Rewatch, but it finally occurred to me that with this site launching, it might be a better use of time to just start one here.

Let’s start with The Gathering, which aired in 1993, the 90 minute TV movie that ultimately led to the launch of the Babylon 5 TV series.

The Babylon 5 space station has recently come online and is operational, with most of the diplomats from the various governments who have an interest in the station are already aboard:

Delenn, Londo Mollari, and G'kar

Delenn, Londo Mollari, and G’kar

  • Delenn, the Minbari ambassador, played by Mira Furlan
  • Londo Mollari, the Centauri ambassador, played by Peter Jurasik
  • G’kar, the Narn ambassador, played by Andreas Katsulas

koshThe final alien representative, Kosh from the Vorlon Empire, is due to arrive shortly. In fact, his ship arrives two days earlier than expected, but within a minute of disembarking the ambassador mysteriously falls ill. The cause of the illness is eventually determined to be poison, and the commanding officer of Babylon 5, Commander Jeffrey Sinclair (played by Michael O’Hare), is fingered as a suspect in the attempted assassination. Ultimately Commander Sinclair is exonerated as he confronts the true assassin, who was using a device called a ‘changeling net’, which allowed him to take on the appearance of other people.

 

While these events unfold, some extremely dense world-building and a number of mysteries are set up that become recurring themes throughout the first season of the show and have repercussions throughout the series:

  • Ten years prior to the start of The Gathering, the Earth Alliance and Minbari Federation were at war with each other, with the Earth forces severely outmatched by the more advanced Minbari. The war culminated in what came to be known as ‘The Battle of the Line’, where every available Earth ship that was combat worthy was called in to defend Earth. As G’kar put it when discussing events with Delenn, the Minbari were “one stroke” away from defeated the humans completely. But for as yet unknown reasons, the Minbari suddenly surrendered to end the war.
  • There were 4 prior Babylon stations that were built for the same purpose to serve as a neutral place to foster diplomatic relations, and hopefully to prevent another war like the recently concluded Earth-Minbari war. Babylons 1-3 were all destroyed before they were completed, by acts of sabotage. Babylon 4 disappeared without a trace 24 hours after coming online.
  • The Earth Alliance knows next to nothing about the Vorlons. They’re extremely old, have extremely advanced technology, and are never seen outside of their encounter suits. No one knows what they look like, or anything about their culture. And the Vorlons like it that way.
  • Full blown telepaths have emerged among most races, including humans. Human telepaths are registered with, and monitored by, the Psi-Corps. The Psi-Corps has very strict rules regarding how telepaths are to act in the performance of their jobs. One specific proscription mentioned is that an unauthorized mind scan, performed without a court order or consent of family members, is illegal. (That’s not to say that such things don’t happen. After all, how would most people even know that a telepath had taken a look around?)
  • The Minbari are governed by a group known as the Grey Council.
  • The Minbari are divided in castes, but the only caste mentioned by name at this point is the Warrior caste.
  • The Narn were, until relatively recently, essentially enslaved by the Centauri. The Centauri occupied the Narn homeworld for 100 years, and were extremely brutal during that time.
  • The Narn are the only race specifically pointed out in the series that have no telepaths at all.
  • The Centauri Republic, once a significant military power in the sector, is now much diminished in power and dignity. Londo, the Centauri ambassador, wistfully describes how they were once a mighty power, and have now become little more than a tourist attraction.
  • Mars has been colonized by humans, but the relationship between Earth and Mars is strained, at best. At one point there were ‘Food Riots’ on Mars due to the unrest there.

In addition to the big world-building story points, there are also a variety of character specific storylines that are introduced (or at least alluded to) here:

  • Commander Sinclair fought in the Battle of the Line.  He was a squadron commander, and his entire squad was destroyed in the battle. He attempted to ram a Minbari cruiser, but something made him black out. He woke up 24 hours later in his ship, with no memory of the missing time, only to find that the Minbari had surrendered. That’s not suspicious at all.
  • In the recut version of The Gathering that was made after Babylon 5 moved to TNT, one line of dialogue was added to the scene where Kosh meets the disguised assassin (wearing the appearance of Commander Sinclair). Kosh says, “Entil’Zha Valen.” Why he says that is a mystery that will have to wait until Season 3 to be resolved.
  • In one of the final scenes of the movie, we’re introduced to Sinclair’s fondness for poetry. When asked by Delenn why the humans took such pains to build Babylon 5, after the first 4 stations were such disasters, he specifically quotes Tennyson: “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
  • Prior to the assassin killing himself with a bomb, he tells Sinclair that “there is a hole in your mind.” Sinclair makes the obvious connection that this is a reference to the 24 hour gap in his memory at the Battle of the Line. When mentioning this to Delenn, she plays it off as just an “old Minbari insult,” but the implication that the Minbari had something to do with what happened to Sinclair has already been made.
  • Michael Garibaldi, the station’s chief of security, has something of a checkered past when it comes to his job performance. While he is heading the investigation into the attempted assassination on Kosh, a Senator from Earth Gov questions if Garibaldi is the right person from the job, given his history.
  • Londo Mollari dreams of the glory days of the Centauri Republic, but is quite honest about the fact that his purpose on the station is to “grovel before your wonderful Earth Alliance in the hopes of attaching ourselves to your destiny.”  He later caves to blackmail against him by G’kar.  He desperately wants a restoration to glory, for the Republic and for himself as well.
  • G’kar is, in a word, angry. He orchestrates the assassination attempt and the framing of Commander Sinclair in order to upset the balance of power, hopefully in his favor. When all is said and done, Sinclair knows that G’kar is responsible for everything that has happened, but has no hard proof to act on.
  • Dr. Ben Kyle, the Chief Medical Officer of Babylon 5, breaches Kosh’s containment suit in order to treat him, and sees what he really looks like (though we as the audience are left to wonder on that point). Lyta Alexander, the recently arrived commercial telepath from Earth, reads Kosh’s mind in order to find out what happened to him. Neither character makes it into the Babylon 5 TV show, and we’re given the explanation that they were both reassigned due to their close and unprecedented contact with a Vorlon. Dr. Kyle never appears on the show again. Lyta will eventually return, at first as a recurring guest star, and eventually as a series regular.

babylon5I’ll admit to not being a fan of Babylon 5 when it first started. I was a die hard Star Trek fan at the time, and Babylon 5 was just so…different. The look of the show was so different when compared to the science fiction I was used to seeing on television. What won me over though was the realization that the entirety of the show would give me a complete story.

As much as I loved the Star Trek television series, I will also mock them mercilessly for their rampant use of the Universal Reset Button. No matter how big the problem may be in act 1, by the end of act 3 everything is back to the way it was at the top of the hour. No problem is too big to be resolved, and there are rarely lasting consequences.  Yes there are some rather exceptional, well, exceptions to that rule in Star Trek, but generally the reset button was standard fare there.)

There is no reset button in Babylon 5. The choices that the characters have to make will all have consequences that will ultimately need to be faced. Sometimes by the character that originally made that choice, sometimes by other characters entirely. It’s in the making of those decisions, and reacting to the consequences that emerged from them, that these characters begin to change. Some of them grow into the best possible versions of themselves. Some of them make horrific mistakes that they end up paying for for the rest of their lives. And both processes are extremely painful for the characters involved. That’s why I love this show.

Have you ever watched Babylon 5? What did you think of the movie pilot? Let us know in the comments.

Babylon 5 Rewatch – The Gathering

Marvel’s “Princess Leia” Fails to Impress

Marvel’s five part series, Princess Leia, isn’t perfect—despite how much I wish it was. As the industry sits, there aren’t an overwhelming number of female protagonists in the well-known Star Wars canon. A comic centering on women was a welcome, refreshing tide to the often stagnant diversity pool.

If you haven’t read it, the comic portrays Leia’s life between “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back.” It details her grief over losing Alderaan, and her struggle to keep her culture alive. (A responsibility she takes very seriously as the princess, yet one she seems to blow off once she’s ready to move on.) Through the story, Leia is accompanied by the ever-faithful R2-D2 and a new face, Evaan. That’s a 2/0/1 ratio of women to men to droids. It was a little bit exciting, to say the least.

Marvel's Princess LeiaPerhaps that’s why I had such high expectations. After all, if you’re going to do something, you need to do it well. It’s evident that a large amount of planning went into the storyline, but there are moments when it falls short. As your eyes grace certain pages, it’s almost as if you can hear the makers debating the plot.

“How do we get them out of this situation?” they say. “What if we included yet another last-second, un-foreshadowed, confusing rescue sequence?”

That, paired with the lack of panels depicting what and how many of the rescues actually happen is almost inexcusable. Instead, the story opts to flash forward to after the battles. In one of the worst instances, we’re given a single panel of Leia, summarizing what happened with dialogue that sounds unnatural. Disappointing much?

The character arc of Evaan was severely underdeveloped from what I had hoped. Her personhood and ideals changed in a single panel, as she sits and explains to Leia how exactly she has changed, and what’s even worse, how the reader can go back and see it happening over time. Apparently, the change should’ve been apparent through Evaan’s beginning to call Leia by her first name. That plot device would’ve worked on a mediocre level, if the authors hadn’t pointed it out to us with a strobing road sign. Evaan had such a strong potential, and I was so excited to see how her character would grow. Unfortunately, the integrity of the arc was compromised in favor of anything and everything else.

Marvel's Princess LeiaThe comic does have strong points, however. The world-building and exploration of Alderaanian culture brought a fascinating element to the story. Watching the destruction of the planet on screen, with no cultural background, it’s sad and a crime against humanity. After learning about the way Alderaan society operates, the ideals its people hold dear, and the deeply ingrained traditions, the world came alive to me, and I found myself mourning its passing in a deeper way.

Additionally, we were provided with some colorful and sweet insights into Leia’s childhood. Though the series did seem a little flashback-heavy, the flashbacks were all events I wanted to see.

If the comic’s purpose was to enlighten the reader on Leia and the culture of her homeworld, it did a rather decent job.

However, if the comic aimed to illustrate a story of a race finding their way to each other, it was shoddily done. A more focused story goal would have benefitted the series, as the completion of this goal is brought about in a hasty, awkward way through a group of people that the reader has seen very little about. In fact, the large group of Alderaanians that join Leia are not introduced as a story concept until the last issue. After escaping by the skin of their teeth through yet another rescue, Leia decides to return to the Rebellion. As she leaves, she  gives Evaan little information on how to proceed with the large group of Alderaanians seeking guidance on rebuilding their culture.

Marvel's Princess Leia with Chewie, Han Solo, and Luke SkywalkerIt was too vague and far too shallow to buy into. As a reader, I suspend my disbelief enough as is when reading science fiction. I know these things are not possible, but, if the events cannot really happen, the characters need to live, breathe, and feel as real, humanistic beings. I need to relate to them because their changes and emotions ring true.

Princess Leia failed me on that front, though I am very open to seeing any future works that center on her work with rebuilding Alderaan’s spirit.

Marvel’s “Princess Leia” Fails to Impress

Terminator Genisys Review Discussion

Well, Arnold said he’d be back, and he kept his word… But was it worth it? Timothy Jackson and I discuss the latest installment in the Terminator franchise. Obviously there will be some spoilers below.

Terminator: Genysis Sarah Conner & Arnold

Timothy: So… Initial thoughts. What was your overall feel of the movie?

Zach: It was definitely a Terminator film though it failed to top the first two movies. There were some fun moments, but it was a bit busy and lacked clear direction. What did you think?

T: This one felt like a Terminator movie… However, it was jumpy. It lacked focus and seemed like a rehash of Terminator 2 and Terminator 3. Let’s stop Skynet from being created! Like we haven’t seen that one before.

Z: Yeah, it tried to do what other franchises have done in recent years by acknowledging its history while charting a new course. Jurassic World, for example did a better job of this. Terminator managed to take its own fairly complex time travel mythos and muddy it further.

T: I was fairly confused midway through the film because of all the time travel elements of alternate timelines and such. I eventually figured it out, but I doubt all movie going audiences will be able to sort it out. Here’s a question, did we really need a revisiting of the 1980s Terminator movie?

Z: Not only did it re-tread on itself, but it re-explores territory of science-fiction without saying anything new or relevant. I think the biggest issue I had was the fact that I struggled to care about any of the characters or the outcome of the film. And this is supposed to be the start of a new trilogy?

T: Agreed. I was not worried during any of the perils our characters had to face. That’s an unfortunate problem if you don’t care about them when they could die… Maybe it’s because I knew they wouldn’t kill them. As for a new trilogy, I think that the next film could be better if they take more risks and don’t rehash. In other words, Judgement Day needs to happen. Our world needs to fall. That will be the only thing that will keep my interest.

Z: Agreed. Perhaps the apocalypse will look much different than what we’ve seen in previous installments. Reese is still alive, maybe he and Sarah get pregnant, but this time it’s a girl? Or maybe they don’t have kids. Maybe the second film is just Sarah and Reese out on a date talking about how happy they are to not have the extra responsibility. Terminator John shows up and whines about the fact that his parents refuse to create him. His limbs will start fading away like Marty McFly’s did in the first Back to the Future film and then when he disappears John and Sarah have a good laugh. Then Terminator “Pops” forces an awkward smile before getting really serious and saying “No, seriously… don’t have kids.”

Terminator: Genysis Arnold SmilingT: Hmmmm… A girl. Joanne Connor, perhaps? But wait, Kyle Reese is still alive. Wouldn’t it end up being Joanne Reese? Or maybe Sarah Connor wants to express her independence and make her kid have her last name. Overall, how would you rate this film? Is it worth watching?

Z: I’d give this film one awkward Arnold thumb’s up (complete with cheesy grin). Worth seeing, despite being largely forgettable. It was an enjoyable ride for a holiday weekend. What do you think?

T: I’d say two and a half teaser trailer spoilers out of five. Like you said, it’s worth a watch but it’s just passable. I expect more from my cinema experiences.

What did you think of Terminator? A worthy installment in the franchise or a forgettable mess? Let us know in the comments!

Terminator Genisys Review Discussion

Halo 3 – Retro Review

The following is a review I wrote in 2010, three years after the release of third installment of the legendary Halo series. So forgive the poor writing of a 17 year-old high school student.  I simply thought it would be a fun throwback on a huge game in my history.  I’ve edited some glaring grammar mistakes and some things that didn’t make any sense, because they were really bad….I’m an English teacher, forgive me. But other than that, the review is complete in all it’s retro glory, so enjoy!!

Halo 3

Halo 3 has a very bland campaign as far as story line goes, but comes jam packed with action and conflict offering a very balanced difficulty on all four playing levels: Easy, Normal, Heroic, and Legendary (and Mythic after locating and activating the Mythic Skull) which is where I think that the first Halo may have made a mistake. Feel free to argue with me on this one, but I think that the campaign on Halo: Combat Evolved was far too difficult. This may be simply an excuse cause I have yet to finish it on Legendary but that’s beside the point.

Halo 3 - Chief & Cortana

Like I stated earlier the campaign on Halo 3 is very bland and offers little character development or story. In this area, its predecessors succeed where it fails. If you are planning on buying this game simply for story then you will be disappointed. It’s very difficult to follow and all the characters (including Master Chief) are very flat. It took about three plays through the game to actually figure out what was going on.

Halo 3 - Master Chief

Now on a much brighter subject the multi-player. The Halo franchise is and always will be about the multiplayer. If you are one of those wackos who still think it’s all about the story, please read again the first couple of paragraphs. (Future Kyle interruption, you probably also read those horribly written books too!  Ok future Kyle out.) Halo 3 brings a few extra things that the originals didn’t offer such as additional equipment like power drains and bubble shields. I am still trying to figure out if I like these or not and I’ve been playing this game for quite a while. They add little to the gameplay and seem pointless at times but there are a lot of people who can execute them with great skill and it really adds to their game strategy, then there are people like me who just don’t use them that much. Ehh to each his own I suppose. One of the earlier complaints about the multiplayer was constant lag. The game still is somewhat laggy online on a few occasions but for the most part its pretty normal. Not nearly as bad as MW2. The only problem that people have expressed and I am going to completely shut down the argument is that the shields your character have are completely unrealistic and stupid! Well the point of the matter is OF COURSE THEY’RE UNREALISTIC THE GAME TAKES PLACE IN THE 26TH CENTURY FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!!!!!! They can get away with stuff like that, and its not a bad thing that it is harder to kill someone; it just requires a different skill and technique.

Halo 3 - Master Chief Running

 

On a different topic, let’s discuss game types for multiplayer: there are a lot of game types because year after year they have added so many. The classics are all still there like slayer, territories, odd ball, ctf, and juggernaut. Some new ones like assault and now online plenty of strange and different variations of these games have been designed such as Griffball, fiesta slayer, SWAT, and Team Sumo. All of them (with the exception of territories) rock in their own way; everyone has their opinions. It’s up to you to decide what your favorite game type is and which ones suck, no review could tell you otherwise, but just so you know, territories suck… a lot! (Future Kyle interruption, which is why this playlist no longer exists.)

Halo 3 - Legendary Edition

What did you think of Halo 3? Was it worthy of the franchise? Comment below!

 

Halo 3 – Retro Review

Batman: Arkham Knight – Review

I just finished my first play through of Batman: Arkham Knight. To fully explain how I feel about the game, I have to start by describing how I felt about the other installments of the series. There will be no spoilers for Arkham Knight, but previous games in the series, as they are all old at this point, are fair game.

I enjoyed Arkham Asylum quite a bit. Arkham City was fun, though at times it was difficult to figure out where I needed to go or what I needed to do next.  And honestly I was really annoyed that Talia died before the story was over. But after two games with the Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill in what I can only describe as an iconic performance) inserting himself as the main villain of the story, I was really quite ready to move on. Batman has other villains you know. How about allowing one of them to be the spotlight central villain for once?

 

Arkham Knight - Joker Which brings us to Batman: Arkham Origins, the one game in the series that I never purchased or played. Why not? Well, first off, because these days, I have a general dislike of prequels. I prefer to get to see what happens next, not how it all began, since I’ve already seen pieces of that, or enough to feel that there isn’t much of real interest there. Then I learned that the primary villain for Origins was Black Mask…except that it was really just Joker PRETENDING to be Black Mask. So that makes three games with Joker as the primary villain. Color me not interested.

Now we have Batman: Arkham Knight. The graphics are beautiful, the controls nice and clean. Driving the Batmobile around Gotham and generally causing mayhem with it is incredibly fun. But my first concern was that, despite the fact that the Joker died at the end of Arkham City, he would somehow come back and once again insert himself as the primary villain to the story. And while Joker does show up in the story, the way in which he participates is extremely different than previous installments of the series, and gave both Joker and Batman a new twist for us to enjoy the characters through.  And Mark Hamill once again delivers an amazing performance as Joker.  It’s going to be very difficult for me to accept someone else ever voicing that role again.

 

Arkham Knight - Female Characters

 

A conversation with some friends on Facebook brought up a post over at The Mary Sue (warning, the article contains spoilers for the game) bringing the game to task for its treatment of the female characters in the cast. But what it ultimately boils down to is that all three female characters in this game (Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and Oracle/Barbara Gordon) seem to exist primarily so that Batman can save them. Poison Ivy and Oracle at least have a slight boost in that they also serve a very specific plot function, but Catwoman is literally restricted to a single building the entire game.

While I dislike how those characters are treated, the male supporting characters only seem to come across marginally better. The general sentiment I came away from the game with is, everyone is incompetent except for Batman. There was a moment during the game where I thought I would switch to playing Robin for a bit, while Batman recovered for a bit…but that didn’t happen. Instead, Batman runs off on his own again to prove how awesome he is… because he’s Batman!  With this being the last game in the series, and considering how the game ends (more on that in a minute), I was really hoping that some of the other characters, specifically Robin and Nightwing, would get more screen time or have more of an opportunity to shine.

Arkham Knight

Then there’s the Arkham Knight character himself, which I have a problem with. I’m going to try and not spoil who the character is, since the reveal itself was fairly well done… but by the point the reveal comes, it isn’t exactly a surprise anymore. It’s telegraphed fairly strongly about halfway through the game when Batman is seeing/hallucinating certain events that Joker was involved with regarding another character. As I’m watching that scene, I couldn’t help but think, “Oh that’s who the Arkham Knight is.”  The fact that it is telegraphed fairly early isn’t the problem. Who the Arkham Knight ended up being isn’t the problem. The problem is that, after finally being able to confront the Arkham Knight, the character essentially disappears. This is the character that this installment of the series is named after, and it was really disappointing that we didn’t get some kind of real resolution to the character.

Of course, given the way the game ends, that’s how I kind of feel about the conclusion to the game in general: disappointed with the lack of resolution. And since this is the last installment to the series (at least as far as developer Rocksteady is concerned), I have no hope of getting the resolution I’m looking for. We get nothing in the way of real parting words or last wishes from Batman to the people that he has trained to be the next generation of heroes. If you solve 100% of the puzzles and quests in the game prior to triggering the ending cinematic, you’re treated to an ever-so-slightly altered ending cinematic (that contains a few sentences of additional dialogue and one additional scene at the end) that leaves you with more questions than answers. For my money, that’s a rather distasteful way to close out a series.

All in all, the game is fun to play, but on days where I’m looking for a good story to experience, I’ll have to play something else. I guess this is what the Batman: Arkham series wants to be: a way for you to experience the thrill of being Batman and punching out the bad guys, without regard to how any kind of narrative connecting events together.  Perhaps Joker best sums up my feelings on the game, in one of the first lines he delivers in this game:

“Oh, Bats, how I’ve missed you. All the subtlety and nuance of a napalm enema…”

Batman: Arkham Knight – Review

Call of Duty 2 – Retro Review

The following review was written in December 2010. It has only been modified in the way of format.

Overview:
Call of Duty 2 was one of the last World War II first person shooters. A launch title for the Xbox 360, the game alternates between three major fronts in the war. In the first section, you play as a Russian in Stalingrad. In the second, you play as a British soldier in North Africa. In the third, you play as an American storming the shores of Normandy. As far as a story goes, that about sums it up.

The Good:
call-of-duty-2-131. The game features a lot of varied level design (once you get past Russia) and gameplay. For example, in North Africa, you will fight and take over a village. Once you have the village, you have to climb to the top of one of the buildings and call in mortar strikes on advancing tanks. This helps keep the game interesting enough so you don’t get bored of just gunning down Nazis (which is still pretty fun).

2. The Nazis do not stop coming until you have reached the position you are supposed to take. Remember when you could just sit back and take out the enemy one by one with the sniper rifle? Well, this is not the case in Call of Duty 2. The game forces you to advance and fight the Nazis close and personal. If you do not do this, then the Nazis will continually spawn until you get the nerve to go after them.

capitan_price_call_of_duty_by_march3lo3. In Modern Warfare, we are introduced to one of the most memorable characters in the game: Captain Price. It turns out Price has been around for a long time because he makes an appearance in the game. Of course, the natural conclusion could still be that he’s a descendant of this World War II veteran. Still…

The Bad:
1. This game has absolutely no story and no character development. I do not remember any of the names of the characters you play. The basic premise of each level goes along the lines of “Take this town!” or “Destroy those guns!”

2. Modern Warfare gave us the perfect control scheme; however, this control scheme went through quite a few stages of evolution before being refined in that game. In Call of Duty 2, the sprint button is replaced with some pretty worthless binoculars. Sure, they are kind of cool; however, I rarely used them and found them to be more of a nuisance rather than an aid in combat. The melee also leaves much to be desired since it is not always responsive when you press it. There is no knife.

cod23. Your squad is very unhelpful. They mostly tell you what to do and watch while you go out and get shot. I could overlook your squad’s utter uselessness if it was not for the fact that they also get in your way when you are moving to cover. This often results in your death and makes you want to shoot and kill all of your squad members.

4. My biggest complaint with this game is a glitch that kept me from finishing the game. Call of Duty 2 skips the last British mission and moves you straight into the American campaign; however, upon completion of the British mission, the game moves into the first American mission again. I attempted to replay the first American mission again, but, even then, the game would not let me progress.

Conclusion:
Call of Duty 2 was very nostalgic for me. I got my start in first person shooters with the Medal of Honor series. Overall, I enjoyed Call of Duty 2; however, the game relies too much on chaos to keep going. The whole game is fighting past one chaotic thing after another. It ends up being mostly about explosions and not much else.

COD2_Screen_06For some people, this fact would not hinder the game’s enjoyment. For me, part of what keeps me hooked on a game is the story. Part of the reason I finished Modern Warfare 2 so quickly was because I really wanted to know how it was going to end. This is not the case with Call of Duty 2. After walking down another street and seeing yet another tank waiting to be destroyed by my rocket launcher, I got bored.

Thankfully, developer Infinity Ward solved this problem by leaving the World War II genre altogether and giving us Modern Warfare. If one looks at Call of Duty 2 as a bridge between the World War II games of old and what we have today, then one can appreciate its place.

Call of Duty 2 – Retro Review