Posted by The Lam | Jan 25, 2016
Star Wars Battlefront!!!!!! (PS4)


Perhaps timed with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and to ride on its publicity train, Star Wars Battlefront was released in November of last year.

Star Wars Battlefront is a predominantly multiplayer shooter.  It features a wide variety of modes focusing on player versus player content.  It includes a “Fighter Squadron” mode where Tie Fighters pit against X-Wings, “Heroes VS Villains” where some of Star Wars’ iconic characters do battle, and “Walker Assault”, probably my favourite mode where the Imperial soldiers protect the AT-ATs from being taken down by the Rebel scum.  It also includes the standard modes that one would expect from a multiplayer shooter like a team deathmatch (which they call Blast), capture the flag (which they call Cargo) or capture the point (either Droid Run or Drop Zone).  There are also offline “Mission” modes where you and one friend can do more simple missions, like ward off a squadron of Stormtroopers or… ward off a squadron of Stormtroopers (i.e. there’s not too much to do in Missions).  It’s clear that the focus is on multiplayer.

In this game, since you’re firing off lasers instead of bullets, you’re given unlimited ammo.  The only kickback is that your gun overheats if you fire too often requiring a momentary and defenseless lapse before it cools down.  So timing between shots is key, or else you’re left with a firearm that’s too hot to handle.  You’re also given a “Hand”, with three cards that you’re allowed to equip.  Two of the cards you can pick are item related, for example, a homing missle, or a sniper rifle or Chewie’s bowcaster (!), to name a few.  These items can be used unlimited times in battle, with each having its own cool down.  The third card you get is a special item that has a finite number of uses.  When activated, they can do a number of things, like takeaway overheating on your weapon or fire charged shots with your gun.  Each time you use this item, it eats up a charge.  You can gain more charges by finding a thunderbolt like item on the battlefield (not too hard to find) or by purchasing them with your in-game credits.

After each battle, you’re rewarded with experience points of which 10% of it is awarded in in-game credits, which you can use to buy a number of different upgrades.

Sometimes you run across Vader... who will slash your face with his Lightsabre.

The game has been criticized for the lack of depth.    Although there is a leveling and progression system in the game, there’s not much to be done with it.  The higher level you get, the more opportunity you have to unlock items, appearances/skins and emotes.  You can get all the weapons once you hit level 25, and all the useable items once you hit level 32.  Everything after 32 are only cosmetic upgrades making the leveling system a bit superfluous.  And on top of that, even with the weapon unlocks, with a dozen or so guns in total, very few of them feel different from one another. 

In some modes, you’re also allowed to play as heroes (Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo) and villains (Darth Vader, the Emperor, Boba Fett) from the game.  Unlike your normal Rebel or Imperial footsoldiers, these characters have a life bar that doesn’t regenerate, so although they are quite powerful, they are also disposable. 

Technically and artistically, the game captures the sights and sounds from the original movies very well.  When you’re running through snow with 19 other Stormtroopers on the ice planet Hoth, you can’t but feel like you’re back in Empire Strikes Back.  It’s made all the more exhilarating when you run across Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader, fighting by your side.

 ...Sometimes you ARE Vader, and deal the face slashing.

Despite the criticisms, I’ve really enjoyed the game.  I’ve sunk about 45 hours so far into it and I’m still enjoying it.  It’s true, the depth isn’t there.  However, it feels to me that they traded in depth for a lower barrier of entry which is more welcoming to players who aren’t as great at shooters.  And the team at DICE who developed it, pointed that out too.  They wanted to make sure it was an experience that could be had amongst a broader range of gamers.  I just feel better hopping into these battles than in Call of Duty where you could be decimated as soon as you step in the field.

I think my biggest complaint though is the matchmaking process and the team balancing or lack thereof.  I suppose because the game wants to give you a chance at playing each side, between rounds, you’re whole team is switched between Rebels and Imperials.  There is no auto-team balance or any shakeups between rounds.  This can be frustrating as if you land on a bad team, you’ll likely lose and lose and lose and lose.  Conversely, if you find a great team, you’ll roll over the competition round after round.  I would prefer them to have an auto-team balance instead of just switching your whole team en masse to the other side.  I don’t mind playing as a Rebel or Imperial multiple times in a row, I’d prefer a fair game.


Aside from that, I’d still recommend the game.  It’s not a hard recommend as the multiplayer only focus stifles the experience and there’s the depth issue.  However, if you want to feel like you’re part of a Star Wars battle, then this is an easy one.  Until next time, later geeks!


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Posted by The Lam | Jan 20, 2016
Ash vs Evil Dead!!!!!!!! (Season One)


Like many of you out there, I’ve started watching more hours of TV series/seasons than I have movies over the past few years.  As some say, it’s the golden era of television, with strong and impactful stories told across the long form medium that is television.  I’ve watched and caught up (and am still catching up in the case of Sopranos) on a number of great series the past few months, so I’m hoping to write a short little write up for each of those.  The good thing is because I’ve had so many shows on the backlog, it becomes easier to filter out the shit, as I can see others reviews and public reaction to these shows.

I need to start somewhere, so I’m going to start with the best.  Ash vs Evil Dead.  This is the best show ever.  But I am biased.  Evil Dead 2 is my favourite movie and has been since 2001 (at the time, I was a late bloomer).  It is the perfect mix of horror and slapstick comedy.  The franchise solidified Bruce Campbell as a cult hero of sorts.  Ash vs Evil Dead continues in the spirit of the Evil Dead series, and expands on the lore and universe we already knew.

Thirty years later and a few pounds heavier, we follow Ash as he lives a mundane life of working at a department store, getting wasted at local watering hole and shacking up with the local broads.  He now lives in a trailer park, amongst other knuckle dragging life forms.  On one particular drunken binge, Ash, in an effort to impress one of the aforementioned local broads, brings her back to his trailer where they both recite some incantations out of the Necronomicon – the book of the dead.  STUPID!  They unknowingly summon the evil spirits who once again take possession of everyone around him, in attempt to finally kill off Ash Williams, our hero and saviour. 

As the season continues we journey with Ash and some of his new friends.  There is Pablo, a young latino who worked with Ash at the department store, and Kelly, a young female that Pablo’s got the hots for.  Together the band are on a journey to put to rest the evil that Ash accidentally brought back to life!  Expect zaniness and blood and guts along the way!

One thing to note is because of some rights issue regarding the Army of Darkness (the third Evil Dead movie in the franchise), they don’t really reference that movie, save for the fact that Ash currently works at a local store.  We’re shown clips throughout the season, but they all reference the first two movies.

The new band.

Going in, I had some trepidation as I was afraid they’d ruin such an iconic character.  However, everything about the series works!  It’s still the smart mouth, chainsaw wielding, evil fighting Ash that we know and love.  But aside from Ash, what makes the season work is the chemistry he has between his new friends Pablo and Kelly.  It’s risky changing a dynamic that was tried, tested and true, however, in this case, I think it paid off.  The new characters play off of Ash so well and none are annoying (and you just know in another movie, they could be).  Each brings some sensibility to balance Ash, while adding their own sort of comedic wits, but never to such a degree that it overshadows him.  They are a cohesive unit to the point where the few times they teased breaking up, it made me feel sad for the characters.

I’m grateful that they stuck with practical effects and not just CG!  There are some CG, but it is predominantly practical and man, some of the effects are gross!!!  And it’s great!  Probably the funnest scene was in the first episode as Ash battles a possessed toy doll at the retail store.  This fight will be a future classic!

I also loved the licensed music they chose for the season.  It really emphasizes the FEEL of the 80s even though the show takes place in present times.

One problem I did have with the show is that I felt at least with the earlier episodes in the season, they didn’t give Ash as much dialogue as they did one-liners.  It felt like they were trying to get over new lines instead of having him talk normally.  Maybe I got used to it as the season progressed, but it felt like that problem largely went away in later episodes.

Apart from the season opener and finale, each episode runs less than 30 minutes, so you get quick hits!  And actually, it works really well with its runtime!  So much, to the point that I wished the Walking Dead were shorter sub-30 minute episodes.  It made binging the season really fast.


Friends, if you love horror and if you love the Evil Dead, please do watch Ash vs Evil Dead!  It is a good time for all!  Until next time, later evil deadite geeks!


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Posted by The Lam | Jan 15, 2016
The Fade OUT!!!

Ed Brubaker is my favourite comic book author, and perhaps in contention for my favourite author across all mediums.  Whenever I see his titles on the store shelf, I purchase them sight unseen.  The last series he did, Fatale, with frequent collaborator, Sean Phillips, was a favourite.  Blending in noir with mystery and horror was a joy to read.

With Fade Out, he returns to the noir genre with a murder mystery.  Gone are the fantastical and horror elements of Fatale.  Instead, it’s a story about 1940s Hollywood centered around a murder of a hot leading actress.  The story mostly follows a young script writer, named Charlie Parish, who wakes up one morning and discovers the body of the actress his hotel room after a night of partying.  His memory is hazy and fragmented and he doesn’t remember how he got there.  He covers up his tracks and it’s soon revealed that a bigger cover up may be going on; this one murder may be tied to the larger Hollywood murder.  But… we don’t yet know.  Along the way, we meet a number of other dubious characters including a hotheaded German director, a blacklisted film writer, a brute that serves as the head of security/muscles of the movie studio and an assortment of other colourful characters.

Admittedly, when the first volume of Fade Out was released earlier last year, maybe because of the hype I had in Brubaker, but I felt a bit let down.  Not that the story wasn’t captivating, but it just didn’t grab me the way that Fatale did.  It felt like just a straight up murder mystery.  However, having read the second volume (that was originally released in October of last year), the story and the intrigue has improved.  The first volume was more focused on setting the stage, however, it lacked a real hook.  The second volume expands that world by introducing interesting peripheral key players and exploring more of what appears to be the seedy side of Hollywood.  This is the hook that it was missing in the first volume.

As smoky as Hollywood could be.

Story aside, together with the art of Sean Phillips, they’ve successfully crafted the smoky and dark atmosphere of the 1940s.  At least, it’s the 1940s that one would expect depicted in a current day movie of that era.


Despite it not being my favourite Brubaker story (at least so far) it’s hard to not recommend his work.  He is still a great writer and this is still an interesting story.  So if you’re down for a good murder mystery, the Fade Out has you covered.  Until next time, later geeks!


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Posted by The Lam | Jan 9, 2016
Call of Duty: Black Ops 3!!!!!!!!!!!! (PS4)


Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 is Activision’s latest entry into the bestselling Call of Duty franchise.  Developed by Treyarch Studios, the Black Ops subseries of Call of Duty games has been considered by many as the best of the COD games.  Whereas Black Ops 1 and 2 were direct sequels, BO3 seems only to be a spiritual sequel to its predecessors.  There is no direct or clear continuation of story from the previous entries.  Rather it takes the ideas of mind control and manipulation, and spins off its own story.

It’s a futuristic world, where humans are infused with technology (much like Robocop!) and fight alongside and against robots.  This time around, you assume the role of an unnamed soldier, who together with your partner Hendricks and a CIA agent named Rachel Kane, track down a former Black Ops commander named John Taylor as he and his former squad appears to have gone rogue destroying CIA sites around the world.  The story will take you to Singapore, Egypt and even wackier, you’ll have battles inside someone’s head, taking you to World War I and even in a cabin fending off zombies.  Of the Call of Duty games so far, and strictly from a campaign standpoint, this one was probably most wackiest (yes, even considering the space and underwater fights in Ghost)!

The game allows you the option to play the campaign offline by yourself, or online with three other human players in your squad.  The game balances this out by increasing the bullet sponging of the bad guys.  As I recall, they don’t do this with the human bad guys, but since half the game you’re fighting robots, I guess they justify it by giving them stronger armor.


The campaign structure received an overhaul this time around.  Between each mission, you can completely customize your loadout, similar to what you would expect in previous COD multiplayer modes.  However, not everything is given to you from the outset.  Your mission performance awards you points, where the more you points you get, the more you level and the more unlocks are given to you.  From there, you can pick what weapons, perks and add-ons you want at your disposal.

Furthermore, you’re given the option to pick between different cybercore abilities which are additional skill sets you can use during the game.  The three are Control, Martial and Chaos.  Control, probably my favourite of the three, allows you to hack into the different robots or tech that you’ll encounter in game.  For example, you can disable a bad guy’s armor, or shut down the flight system of drones, or even hack robots such that they turn on each other.  Martial, which I used the least, relates more to maneuverability related abilities.  Finally, Chaos as one would guess, is related to more offensive type abilities such as shooting out a wave of fireflies to eat at enemies or exploding robot soldiers.

Of the modern COD games, this campaign felt the longest to me.  On average, I’d spend an hour per mission, including all the cut scenes.  And with 11 missions in total, it took around at least 10 hours to beat the first time around.  That’s double than what I’m used to for a COD game.  I can’t say that this is exactly a good thing.  Part of the reason why I enjoyed previous entries was that the story gave you a quick hit but never overstayed it’s welcome.  Perhaps it’s because of the shittier story, but the game just felt like it dragged on!

I really enjoyed last year’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, but Black Ops 3 really felt like a step down from that.  I think part of the problem is that in AW they really changed the dynamic by giving you dashes and speed boosts as well as the aerial thrusts.  This time around, they’ve brought back the aerial thrusts, but the speed boosts are gone, so the dynamic of multiplayer matches really took a hit.

That said, I haven’t spent too much time on the multiplayer side, but from what I’ve played so far, it seems to be the Call of Duty as we knew it.  If you liked it before, you’ll like it this time, but if didn’t like it before, don’t look for anything to change your mind.


There’s more fun and interesting games out there, so unless you’re a diehard COD fan, I think you can pass on this one.  Until next time, later geeks!


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Posted by The Lam | Jan 4, 2016
The Hateful Eight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The Hateful Eight is Quentin Tarantino’s latest masterpiece and is somewhat more akin to chamber theater. 

The movie opens off following a stagecoach that’s rushing through the harsh winter terrain avoiding a torrential blizzard that’s on its tail.  Within the coach is a rugged bearded outlaw named John Ruth, also known as the Hangman, and his captive, a feisty woman named Daisy.  An route to collect his bounty, they come across Major Marquis Warren, another bounty hunter, and Chris Mannix, who are stranded in the cold and request a ride from John Ruth.  Not knowing if they can be trusted, Ruth grudgingly gives them a ride, keeping his fingers hovering closely over the triggers of his firearms.  As the blizzard becomes more perilous, the band arrives at a lodge, where they meet the remaining eight.  However, everyone looks a little too greasy, and smells a little bit too much like gunpowder.  Who can be trusted?  It’s not too long after their arrival that the Hangman realizes this and that there may be a ploy to free the captive Ms. Daisy.  Everyone is on the edge.  But who will make it out alive?

Clocking at over 3 hours (including an intermission), the Hateful Eight is quite a long journey.  And as it is similar to a chamber piece, the majority of the time is spent in dialogue.  It’s not until the last 40 minutes or so that moves are made and the action happens.  But it’s not a movie about action anyways.  It’s a methodical piece that slowly unravels the layers to its mystery.  This is a type of movie where the terms ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy’ are all relative.  No one is truly good, everyone is just looking out for themselves.  It’s just a matter of who is least bad amongst these outlaws.  One minute you’re pulling for one character, and the next minute, another.  Your emotions move along with the story.

I was listening to Tarantino’s interview on Howard Stern just before Christmas.  He described enjoying old western shows, notably the Virginian, and especially episodes where an unknown figure shows up in town.   Up until the end, you never know if they stranger is a good or bad person.  This inspired his Hateful 8.  He wanted to make a movie that only starred these unknown and foreboding strangers.  What a fucking genius!
  

Tarantino as always crafts intriguing dialogue between his players.  And fortunately, he chose strong players to fill out his script.  Notably for me, Walton Goggins was the standout as the Chris Mannix.  More so than Kurt Russell (who seems to be an extension of his character in Bone Tomahawk) and Samuel L. Jackson who both always shine in their roles, he fully portrayed the untrusting mysterious stranger up until the end.

It’s an engaging story and worth to see, as all Tarantino movies are.  However, I don’t feel like it’s his best movie if only for the reason of its long runtime which I feel could have been tightened up and condensed. 

Tarantino has been imploring the public to see the film in 70 mm if possible and I find that interesting as the movie really only has two settings (a carriage and the lodge) and doesn’t really take advantage of vast landscapes which would look beautiful in 70 mm.  To that, I’d say the 70 mm is not necessary, just so long as you get to see the movie at all!


It’s an easy recommend!  Until next time, later geeks!


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Posted by The Lam | Dec 24, 2015
Star Wars: The Force Awakens!!!!!!!!!!


(Warning: Spoilers Ahead)

Star Wars!!!!  After a 10 year gap we finally receive a new entry into the now Disney owned Star Wars franchise!  So it is apt that the new entry is called the Force Awakens.

The movie starts off 30 years from where the Return of the Jedi last left us.  The Empire has fallen and the Rebels have seemingly disbanded.  But from the ashes of the past, a new threat has risen.  Out of the fallen Empire, a new army called the First Order has spawned, threatening to finish off what the Empire set out to do –  eliminate the force by terminating the last known Jedi, Luke Skywalker.  But as the Empire has evolved so have the Rebels.  Led by General Leia Organa, the Resistance (or the new Rebels) aims to find Luke first, to stop the First Order.

We are told this story through two new main characters.  Rey, who is a scavenger on the planet Jakku, who harvests scrap metals to earn a meal.  Finn, a turncoat stormtrooper who realizes his purpose could be something more than just plight and destruction.  Along their side is a new droid, BB-8, who holds a clue to Luke Skywalker’s location.  Together, the three must deliver this clue to the Resistance base such that they can find Luke and stop the First Order.  However, Kylo Ren, one of the leaders of the First Order, along with a stormtrooper army are hot on their trail and keeping their mission from becoming all too easy.

The new trio.

The Force Awakens is a very exciting and entertaining entry to the Star Wars franchise.  It is by no means perfect, but it is perfectly enjoyable.

I’ve been trying to watch all the old Star Wars movies to prepare for this gander.  I watched the original trilogy and the Phantom Menace (I’m still meaning to watch Attack of the Clones and the Revenge of the Sith).  I’ve watched AotC and RotS a number of times, but the Phantom Menace only once, in its original theatrical run.  Admittedly, at least at the time, I didn’t hold as much disdain as the general populace did for the prequel trilogy.  However, having watched Phantom Menace again, I think I see more of why people felt the way they did, especially in light of the original trilogy.  However, as I recall AotC and RotS were much more entertaining than the Phantom Menace.  Now, this all being said, one of the reasons why I enjoyed the original trilogy overall compared to the prequels was that the story was easier to understand.  When it’s boiled down, the stories were very simple.  In the prequels, the stories were a bit muddy and difficult to understand, especially with all the politics and Republic shit.  I didn’t understand what everyone’s angles were.

And this is a reason why I enjoyed the Force Awakens.  The story harkens back to the story structures of the original trilogy; it’s a very simple story.  It really boils down to a search mission.  There are twists and turns and surprises along the way, but the main mission is always in focus.

The Force Awakens also introduces us to new characters that are likeable and that we can get behind.  While they’re not carbon copies of old characters, the new characters are filled with traits from the pool of past characters.

One of the biggest themes of the movie deals with lineage.  The galaxy and their stories have evolved into a new age.  The Empire and the First Order.  The Rebels and the Resistance.  The Deathstar and the Starkiller.  Leia and Solo’s child.  The droids, R2-D2 and BB-8.

Which brings us to Rey.  There is mystery and intrigue into who she is.  She’s one who we can see is strong with the Force, or at least will be, with more training.  She was left by her parents on the planet Jakku and we are told not much more of her origin.  Of the discussions I’ve read so far, the prevalent theories seem to be that she is spawn of Luke Skywalker or Obi-Wan Kenobi.  While we won’t know until at least the next movie, my guess would be that she is Leia and Solo’s child.  Keep in mind, I know nothing about the expanded universe, just the clues from this movie.  The way Han Solo looks at her, how he simply offers her a job on the ship (to keep her close), how Chewie likes her!  It would all make sense.  Thematically, if we’re talking about lineage and homage, whereas the original trilogy brought us a story about brother/sister allies, the potential evolution of that could be brother/sister adversaries.  If this would indeed be the case, looking back, the fight between Rey and Kylo Ren would be even more significant.

The new face of evil.

Without over-nerding here, the mystery and the intrigue are delicious!

However, as I said before, the movie isn’t perfect.  There are some things that I wish they didn’t do.  I feel like there was a lot of winking and fanservice when paying homage to the old movies.  The ambiguity of Finn’s death wasn’t needed.  This one seems like a lose-lose situation.  If he lives, then the tease of his death was pointless (as I guess a tease is in essence), and if he dies, then the last moment we shared with him seemed anticlimactic.  There was no need for us to see Kylo Ren’s face.  It takes the bloom off that rose.  The threat that Darth Vader originally exuded was in part because we never saw his face, until the last movie.  With Kylo, they could have held it off until at least the next movie.  We just met the guy!  Give him some fucking space!  These are all however, minor gripes.


There is much to enjoy, and Star Wars is back!  This is really timed well for a Christmas release, as its viewing and its success are celebratory.  If you can find a ticket, go watch it!  It’s worth it!  Until next time, may the Force with you geeks.


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Posted by The Lam | Dec 16, 2015
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain!


It’s been over a month!  There’s so much I wanted to write about but I feel like I didn’t have the time!  Hopefully I’ll have more free time now that we’re nearing the holidays and I’ll catch up on all the items I’ve had in mind.

But since I haven’t written anything on a game for a while,

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is presumably the last entry in the series from video game mastermind, Hideo Kojima.  The Kojima, the game and the publishing company itself, Konami, have been mired in controversy this past year.  In fact, Kojima has officially parted ways with Konami as of yesterday, ending a decades long relationship.  (News sites claim that his new studio has an agreement to make a PS4 exclusive game as their first outing).

Phantom Pain continues (or fills in) some of the gaps in the Metal Gear Solid saga.  Granted, I haven’t played ALL the MGS games so I don’t have a complete grasp of the whole story.  Even then, the story is so convoluted and wacky that I don’t think those that have played all the games fully understand the story.  This Reddit post (here) does a pretty good job of giving you the bullet points in chronological order from each game.  It gives a better general understanding, but I’m sure if I prodded specific details, it’d be confusing.

Fortunately, story is not the point in Phantom Pain.  The game takes place in the 80s and for the most part, tells the story of the formation of Big Boss’s army across Afghanistan and Africa.  There are secondary stories dealing with rogue organizations, Skullfaces and children soldiers, but they really feel ancillary to the larger picture of the army formation and the seed planting for the future (or past) MGS games.  Unlike all the other MGS games, surprisingly, the game is light on story and gone are the hours and hours of cutscenes and exposition.  This time it’s more focused on gameplay.  Fortunately, the game excels at this!

The game is filled with 50 main missions that must be completed to advance the story.  Additionally, you’ll have side ops in both countries, which are 99% of the time optional (sometimes you’ll need to complete a certain side op to unlock a main mission, but rarely).  What’s interesting is how they encourage different styles of gameplay depending on if you’re completing a main mission or a side op.  In main missions, there’s a point system where you’re evaluated on how stealthy or sneaky you were, how precise you were in combat and quick you were.  Going gun blazing into a mission, although may be a successful, would provide you with an overall lower mission score.  The mission score in turn rewards you in cash for which you can use to do an assortment of things.  More on this later.  So while the main missions requires you to exhibit some tact in your performance, the side ops basically throws all that out the door and says, do whatever the fuck you want!  It’s here that you’re left without constraints and can deploy a tank in the middle of the battlefield or go commando style in your missions.  Grenade launchers everywhere!  Do what you want, just get the mission done!

Big Boss and Quiet.

Before deploying into any mission, you’re allowed to customize your loadout, which includes your primary and secondary weapons and also your partner.  Of the partners selection, you’re provided with D-Horse (who provides for quicker transportation around the map), D-Dog (who sniffs out enemies and loot!), the scantily clad Quiet (probably the most useful partner, and the only human partner at that), and a walker mech (admittedly, in my 100 hours of gameplay, I didn’t use the mech once).  Quiet, who I think most players probably used the most due to her usefulness, is a sniper who can mark enemies.  At first, she comes with a standard issue sniper rifle, which makes a lot of noise and attracts a lot of attention.  But later on you can upgrade her gear so that her rifle is equipped with a silencer, for more stealthy approaches.

Probably the most satisfying aspect about the gameplay as least for me was the extracting system in the game, dubbed as “fultoning”.  Basically, the fultons are balloons that you use to launch/extract almost anything from the mission field.  You’ll be using this system to extract and recruit enemy soldiers, vehicles, weapons, crates, animals (including BEARS!), and so forth.  The fultons are attached to the subject, and after a few seconds of dangling in the air (and if no enemies shoot the balloon down), they’ll be shot off into the skies and returned to your home base.

Aside from the missions, you’ll also be spending a lot of time in the menus!  YAY!  While a lot of it is necessary, there are a lot of equally unnecessary parts.  Of the necessaries, you’ll be building and upgrading your base, researching and upgrading your weapons from these menus and managing your resources.  Apart from going on missions yourself, there are a set of missions that are intended only for your army to go on, so you need to choose the best suited soldiers to deploy these affairs.  Those are the main necessary ones.  Of the unnecessaries, they are mostly related to the online functions.  There’s options to combat with other players and infiltrate other bases to gain resources and troops.  I only dabbled a little bit into these online options.

A sheep getting fultoned!

I guess what makes the game so fun is the freedom you’re given to complete any of the missions.  Basically, if you don’t care about score, you can do whatever you want!  The system only encourages you to play a certain way, it never really penalizes you (aside from a lower score, which doesn’t really matter) if you want to go out a certain way.  But from my experience, it’s the small touches that make you smile.  For example, in your home base, you’ll see soldiers patrolling or on guard duty.  Sometimes they’ll be talking to each other and you can sneak up on them to listen in on their conversations.  Oftentimes they’ll be praising you for doing inane things like how you’re such a great person for saving animals.  Or how cute D-Dog is.  It’s just funny in the context of these macho soldiers.  The part that got me every time though is whenever you fulton a friendly character.  For some reason, whenever you fulton an enemy, they’ll scream in fright, but if you fulton a friendly, they’ll scream in delight and joy at the ride they’re getting.  The screams of ‘yahoo!’ are joyous!  And it’s just a little detail.

Needless to say, there is a lot of game in this little package.  I completed the story and most of the side ops.  At the end of it all, I reached about 100 hours of gameplay.  That is more hours than I can remember having spent on any other game in recent past (I think Final Fantasy X was the last game that I spent an exorbitant amount of time on… but I was 20 at the time).  You’ll definitely get the bang out of your buck!  And too much in fact!  There were times when I wanted to give up on it because it was just too much!  But if you stick it through, I think you’ll be rewarded with a memorable game experience.


If you’ve got the time, it’s worth it!  It’s a game that you can just pick up and play, if you’re not worried about the lack of story.  This is an easy recommend and possibly, this year’s GOTY!  Until next time, later geeks!


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