Archive for November, 2014

What I Streamed This Week: Assassin’s Creed: Unity; Cook, Serve, Delicious!; Dragon Age II and The Walking Dead: Season Two

Assassin’s Creed: Unity:

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My first four hours with Assassin’s Creed: Unity and…it wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t nearly as bad on a technical level as reports around the internet had made me expect. I did have some significant frame dropping issues at times, at least on the stream, it wasn’t so bad for me playing the game, so I apologize to anyone who watches the video for those. Other than that though, there was only one significant glitch where i dropped through the ground and fell to my death. On a gameplay level, well, I’m a wee bit rusty. I died a lot getting my head back around the combat, which is weird, since I played Shadow of Mordor fairly recently and the combat systems for the two are pretty similar. It was a fun time though. Arno is no Ezio, but I’m enjoying the story as much as any Assassin’s Creed game, for whatever that’s worth.

Cook, Serve, Delicious!:

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In my defense of this game, it was cheap, and on Steam, that basically means you need to buy it. In all honesty though, I have a lot of fun with this game over the two days and two and a half hours I streamed it. More fun then any human playing a poorly simulated cooking game probably has any right to. Maybe I’m just a little weird.

Dragon Age II:

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I’ll be honest, I’m writing about this video rather far after the fact, so I don’t have the best recollection of exactly what happens in these particular three hours of Dragon Age II, but according to the description I put on YouTube, I die a lot. I expect I also killed a lot of things, so maybe it balanced out. I also made a couple new friends (and undoubtedly hit on both of them if I was able to) and had some technical issue, some resulting from my own stupidity, others likely attributed to a virus that was active on my computer at the time…that one culminated in the game crashing on me, which was when i chose to end that portion of the stream.

The Walking Dead: Season Two:

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It’s The Walking Dead: Season Two! Because I didn’t cause myself enough emotional torment just playing through Season One. I start things off with Omid and Christa but that….that doesn’t last. It’s alright though, because I’ve got a whole new characters to meet. On the way I kill a dog (it was self-defense I swear!) and then have to sew up a bite in my own arm (damn dog) because my new “friends” don’t believe me that it was a dog bite and not a walker bite. Past that the most significant things to note are that I really suck at shooting in this game (probably in most games actually) and Michael Madsen voices a Governor-style villain (it’s a vast departure for him, I’m sure). All in all, a horribly fantastic time as always.

What I Watched Today: Arrow (season 3 episode 6) & The Walking Dead (season 3 episode 5) Arrow: ArrowLogo

It’s Ted Grant’s time to shine as he practically has a starring role in this episode. Though we never actually see him in costume, it is very clearly established that during the period of time that Oliver was on the island (or in Hong Kong, just generally before season one of the series) that Ted “Woldcat” Grant did have a career as a vigilante, and a sidekick of his very own. We also get to see his mask (it’s not great, if there were whiskers I didn’t see them) being worn by that same sidekick.

The main thrust of this episode is playing off the end of last episode where Roy had a dream that he was the one who killed Sara. That brings us the story of Ted Grant and Isaac Stanzler, who were in a sense the Oliver Queen and Roy Harper of their time…and then Stanzler beat a criminal to death and it all ended. This revelation runs nicely parallel to Roy’s struggles with the idea that he is Sara’s killer. Struggles which, after conferring with Felicity, he reveals to oliver, Laurel and Diggle. I have to argue with Roy’s choice of words here. Despite there being no concrete evidence that he’s actually guilty (and by the end of the episode they seem to have done away with the idea) he just comes straight out and says that he killed Sara. A statement that wasn’t met with nearly as much anger as I would have expected it to be. It was a very good story telling device though to play the story of a fallen sidekick side by side with a potential fall from grace for Roy…and he even got a new name out of it. We’ll have to wait and see how much they actually end up calling him Arsenal from here out though.

I’m definitely glad that we seem to have done away with the plot thread of Roy potentially being Sara’s killer, and that we did so this quickly. I made my thoughts on how stupid I thought that idea was in talking about the previous episode. And then comes the end of the episode and the introduction of another archer villain, because with Sara being killed with arrows, we can’t have enough red herring archers running around this season. I’m actually not at all familiar with this character, but she does apparently have some basis in the comics, so I’m definitely in favor of her pressence. And from what little I’ve read about her since finishing the episode she sounds like she could be very interesting.

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The Walking Dead:

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Welcome everybody to the story of Crazy Rick. Crazy Rick has just lost his wife, and this tragedy has upset him to such a degree that instead of taking care of his newborn daughter he decides to go into a prison full of zombies, by himself, armed with a hatchet and a pistol, and paint the walls black (I assume zombie blood is more black than red at this point due to rot and decay and the like…also the phrase evokes a Rolling Stones song, so yeah). After killing many of these zombies, Crazy Rick gets a phone call (on a rotary phone of all things). Who could be on the other end of the call though? Is it actually for Rick? Who’s calling a prison during the zombie apocalypse? We’ll have to wait until next episode to find out.

Crazy Rick isn’t the only thing going on in this episode however. We also learn that that Daryl Dixon apparently has some sort of innate ability to take care of babies, though he did seem to try to name the kid asskicker, so that was a thing. Perhaps a larger portion of the episode though focuses on Woodbury and Andrea and Michonne’s time there. These are scenes, especially with how hostile Michonne tends to be in them, that I am so very wary of. I still have pretty clear memories of how things go between her and the Governor in the comics and I’m not sure I can hndle that in live action. I don’t actually expect the show to go as far as they go in the comics, and with Michonne now out of Woodbury maybe we’re safe…but Andrea’s still there.

Oh Andrea…I like you so much in the comics. You’re cool and badass and tough as hell. So why are you the way you are in the show? Obviously I don’t want you to go to the place Michonne goes in the comics, but I’d kind of be okay if you just died. I think I’d be cool with that. I might have more sympathy for you if you had just listened to Michonne and gotten out of that horrible community, but no. No, you thought it was a good idea to stay. Stay…and see the gladiator games. Gladiator games with not a ring of fire, not a ring of iron (cars) but a ring of zombies. But it’s ok, the walkers have no teeth. I’m sure nothing could go wrong. Gah, I really hate Woodbury. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this arc goes on for awhile in the series, but I just really want it to be over.

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What I Watched Today: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (season 2 episode 7)

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Wait a minute…we’re only seven episodes into the season and we’re already getting answers to one of the main plot lines. Is this really Agents of SHIELD? Alright, so I know we haven’t actually gotten real answers yet, but we did make some actual progress in the puzzle of the writing Garrett was, and Coulson has been doing. That’s just further evidence of how handcuffed the first season was while waiting for the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

So there were two main focuses for this episode. The hunt for the newly escaped Grant Ward and a serial killer from the T,A.H.I.T.I. program. While I have been enjoying what they’ve been doing with Ward so far this season (at least until he shaved his beard off), the Tahiti serial killer was definitely the main point of interest for me. It was an interesting idea to equate the writings to a puzzle with more pieces coming together the more sources the writings came from, though they did kind of abandon that idea by the end of the episode in favor of one 3D representation of them from a person who didn’t even realize he was doing it. I also like the idea that what the writings actually represent is a city…somewhere. Nothing from Marvel lore jumps to mind as far as a city that would draw the attention Kree-like aliens, except perhaps Kun Lun, but I doubt we’ll see that city explored until the Iron Fist Netflix series. My personal assumption though is that whatever this city turns out to be, it will have something to do with Skye and her father. But that’s just my guess.

Getting back to Ward, I’m very curious as to exactly what he is up to. It was made very clear at the end of the episode that he’s going after his brother in some way. But it was also made very clear that he’s not working with Hydra (he has said repeatedly that his loyalty was to Garrett not Hydra) and that he seems to be playing some sort of game with Coulson. With only (I’m guessing) 4 or 5 episodes left before the Agent carter break, I’m interested to see how much attention this plot line gets and how much resolution to either of these stories we’ll get.

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What I Got Today: Loot Crate

It’s that time of the month…Loot Crate time! Yes, my November Loot Crate is here and I’m going to give you guys a look at the haul and share my personal highlights. Admittedly, this month missed the mark a little bit for me. while it’s full of cool stuff as always, most of the franchises the items originate from aren’t ones I’m particularly into. A couple honorable mentions before I show the full haul and my favorites; the Halo mini figure (I didn’t get a Spartan though), the Mega Man helmet replica (got the Mega buster Blue one), the Street Fighter headband (if I was still a kid I’d probably wear this to school).

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– Ninjas vs. Pirates T-Shirt

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As usual the shirt is my favorite part of the crate this month. But, how could you not love this? It’s Ninjas vs. Pirates! Similar in design to the Link shirt from the crate a few months back, I really like the word collage and half ninja/half pirate design here. The answer is simple though…Ninjas. Ninjas every damn time!

– Super Street Fight IV: Arcade Edition and Lichdom: Battlemage Steam Codes

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So these aren’t really highlights for me in all honestly, but games are games so I’ve got to spotlight them. These aren’t games that I would have picked up on my own accord, but for free, I’ll definitely check out at least Street Fighter. i’m just not that big into fighting games, that’s why I don’t have it already (Mortal Kombat 9 and Injustice are the only fighters I’ve played in probably the last 5 years if not more). I’m still thinking about Lichdom. While it’s an interesting idea, it’s not a game that’s ever particularly grabbed my interest, so I may or may not give that code away at some point in the future.

What I Watched Today: Star Wars Rebels (episode 6) & Gotham (episode 8)

Star Wars Rebels:

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Oh good, this episode had my exact favorite thing in all of writing. It’s that story element where the entirety of the conflict in the episode could be avoided if certain characters *cough*Ezra*cough*Chopper*cough* weren’t stupid. I could include Zeb in that as well, but frankly it was started by Ezra and Chopper as it usually is. This sort of thing just drives me crazy.

What doesn’t drive me crazy though, is that Sabine took center stage for the greater portion of this episode, so that definitely made me happy. I know we’re only six episodes into this series, but it was feeling a little weird that we hadn’t gotten any real background on her despite her being only one of five members in the main cast (and one of those is a droid). I think was even the first time they referenced Mandalore despite her wearing their armor since the beginning (I could be wrong about that). So yeah, definitely happy to be getting some background on her. And I really like the idea that she’s been through some bad stuff so Hera’s secrecy and “need to know” attitude is playing into her pre-existing issues. That could make for a very interesting dynamic. I don’t like, though, that Hera and Sabine seemed to work right through those issues (for the most part) within the limits of the episode.

I do get that this series is more geared towards kids than older Star wars fans such as myself, but i think that’s just more of a reason to develop Ezra into a character kids can look up to. I really don’t want this to become a consistent problem of Ezra doing something stupid or creating a stupid situation that spirals out of control. It’s the most irritating of formulaic setups for a show. Also, Ezra needs to stop hitting on Sabine, it hasn’t been cute or funny since about the first time that he did it.

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Gotham:

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A young Hush, a precursor to Black Mask and the continuing saga of Jim Gordon vs. the GCPD. Sounds like a pretty good basis for an epidsode, but it also plays into what is and probably always will be the biggest problem with this series. Does anyone actually care to see the relationship between Bruce and Tommy Elliot when they were kids? How about Black Mask’s (I presume) father? Does anyone care to meet him? Or was Richard Sionis supposed to be Black Mask himself? If so, why change the name? Just to bug fanboys like me?

I’m being harsh here, but I will admit that I enjoyed the episode. I could have done without the Tommy Elliot pieces of the show, but it is good that he’s there, because to do young Bruce Wayne properly, he would have to be. Now they just have to find a way to continue that relationship in a way that makes sense after this episodes events but still sets up Elliot’s future as Hush. It was also kind of cute to see Bruce ask Alfred to teach him to fight. Obviously he has lots of teachers in his life to become Batman, but Alfred is a sensible place to start. Getting back to the adults, it was nice that the continued the Gordon vs. the GCPD plot line, but also kind of pushed through it. While it’s good to have him railing against the GCPD’s corrupt nature, the show would lose any semblance of sense if he actually had to do everything himself. Which brings us to Richard Sionis, where Gordon ended up essentially doing everything himself. I could gripe about how stupid (and what an obvious plot device) it was to have Gordon go after himself, and about how this isn’t the proper Black Mask because the name is wrong, but the plot produced a couple good fight scenes so I’ll leave it alone. I do have to call out the freaks who were watching the fights though. Who were this people? More of Sionis’ employees? Rich yuppies getting off on the violence? There was no explanation for them at all.

Elsewhere in the episode, the Liza/Fish/Falcone story continued and continued to be weird. There was a hint of Fish’s backstory here but that seems to have turned out to be lies to keep Liza playing the game. Which is disappointing. As cliche as these backstory elements were (mother was a prostitute killed by one of Falcone’s men more or less in front of Fish when she was a kid) at least it was some sort of backstory that could have helped me actually care about the character. And then there’s dear, dear Penguin. As strange as ever but still continuing his rise through the ranks and play his manipulative games, and really coming into his own as a bit of a crime boss. He really is one of the most interesting parts of this series. Certainly more than baby Bruce Wayne.

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What I Watched Today: Akame ga Kill (episode 19)

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If it wasn’t clear after what happened to Chelsea last episode, we’re in it now! Night Raid vs. the Jaegers, to the death! And oh boy, do we ever come close to losing another one of our heroes this time around. So very close! Not quite though, this round definitely goes to Night Raid.

So this episode took us deep into the fight between Night Raid and the Jaegers. Najenda facing down Esdeath. Akame and Lubbock taking out Bolic and his guard. Leone and Susanoo squaring off against Kurome and wave. Tatsumi vs. suzuka, the last of the Four Rakshasa Demons. The main attraction though, was unquestionably Mine vs. Seryu Ubiquitous, the looney lady of justice! This is where things got scary this episode. It was a pretty intense and we came so close to losing Mine. In the end though, the good guys prevailed. I have to point out just how crazy Seryu is. She’ds crazy enough that she let Stylish put what amounts to a small nuke in her head so if she’s about to die she can suicide bomb her enemies. And she had no issue with that. She thought it was great. That’s insane. I also need to call out Suzuka’s outfit. I didn’t notice this before, but she seems to be wearing a bikini top and a robe (a yukata perhaps?) with the bikini on top of the robe on one side. I get the idea of asymmetry, but that’s just odd character design, even for an anime.

Now, returning to Mine and how close we were to losing her, it was tatsumi who was the hero of the day here, saving her from seryu’s mini nuke. From there things got pretty sweet for those two. The had a joking scene earlier in the episode talking about the “red thread of fate” which was first mentioned I think last episode (might have been the episode before that) and how they are destined to end up together. I didn’t believe it at first. Since very early in the series I’ve been a firm believer that any romance would be between tatsumi and Akame, but after Tatsumi saved Mine and the scenes that followed, I’m actually sold that they’re really going with the Tatsumi/Mine romance. And I’m ok with that. Personally I prefer Akame and her meat gobbling ways (that’s not innuendo I swear), but Mine’s pretty cool too.

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What I Read Today: Attack on Titan, vol. 14

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Big things! Big things are happening this volume of Attack on Titan! The Survey Corps has seemingly become no more, at least officially. As a group though, Eren and friends are still together, and they’ve got a plan to take over from the King. Unfortunately though, Eren (and Krista) are in the hands of the bad guys…again, and Jean is questioning the Corps do direction as the war moves away from Titans to humans. Those aren’t the biggest developments in the volume though.

The two biggest developments in volume 14 of Attack on Titan are the reveal of exactly why Krita Lenz/Historia Reiss is so important in the grand scheme of things, and our proper introduction to Kenny Ackerman, who we previously met when learning about Krista’s past. He was the man who cut her mother’s throat. First, why is Historia so important? It’s actually pretty simple, and something that, if I’d really given it some thought I probably could have surmised. It turns out that the bloodline of Rod Reiss, Historia’s biological father, is the true Royal bloodline, making the Survey Corps new plan to inact a bloodless coup by installing Historia on the throne as Queen. That’s a pretty interesting development for sure, especially when it culminated, at least in this volume, in a very, I don’t want to say shocking, but definitely a surprising scene.

Even more interesting to me though, was Kenny Ackerman. I found him interesting not so much for what he did, although his battle with Levi was definitely entertaining. No, what’s really interesting is the name. Or specifically the fact that he, Levi and Mikasa apparently all have the same name. There are not enough characters in this series for that to be a coincidence. There is definitely meaning there and I cannot wait to see the reveal of just what exactly the connection between the three of them is. And how Mikasa apparently having biological family (I’m assuming) again will impact her.

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What I Watched Today: Log Horizon II (episode ) & Sword Art Online II (episode 18)

Log Horizon II:

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That was quite the episode. At once very lighthearted, and very heavy. It was all very calm and peaceful. Not a single attack. Not a single bit of combat. Throughout it all though, the specter of death hangs over everything in an episode book ended by Akatsuki’s journey back to life and an event that certainly appeared to be something more than just a death.

So, in the last episode, Akatsuki was killed in combat. Unless I’m mistaken, this marks the first time in the series that a member of Log Horizon has died (Shiroe appears to have fallen as well, but I don’t believe we ever saw that happen). And with the first death in the title guild, the show gets the opportunity to really give us a look at what happens when the adventurers die. This sequence, with Akatsuki and Shiroe in what can be best described as Elder Tale’s limbo was, well it was a little strange, frankly. It was also very sweet, as it was the first scene the two have really shared together since Shiroe left Akihabara. It was definitely nice to see them together again, and it also brought a little more clarity to the scene earlier in the season with Akatsuki and Shiroe in what seems to have been this same limbo. Once Akatsuki is back in the world and reunited with the rest of the adult ladies of Elder Tale we get some actual growth from her, as she not only opens up a little bit, but actually asks for help, and acknowledges how reliant she has been on Shiroe to this point. I am very happy with the Akatsuki’s story has been developing recently. It’s probably the most interesting part of the show so far this season (and I’m not just saying that because she’s my favorite character).

There was much more going on here than just Akatsuki though. The world of Elder Tale itself is changing. The world is getting larger (geographically). Males playing female avatars (and vice versa presumably) are having their voices chance to suit their adopted gender. And flavor text on items (which is supposed to have no in-game effects) is becoming real. That’s the important one, at least this episode, as it plays into the ending death that I referenced earlier, which I’m not going to spoil even as far removed from the original airing as this post is. What I will say, is that I can’t wait to see where this particular plot line is going, because this scene was easily one of the most haunting scenes they’ve done on this show up to this point. Hopefully the payoff lives up to the kickoff.

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Sword Art Online II:

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Well, I’m not quite going to go so far as to call this a filler episode, but it was probably about as close as you can possibly come without actually earning that classification. What I will call it, is the “Girl Talk” episode, because that’s exactly what it is. The vast majority of this episode revolves around Asuna, Leafa, Silica and Liz chatting in Asuna and Kirito’s (and Yui’s) cabin.

There is a little bit of story here though, both for a main (and I have a feeling rather short) plot line, and in the sub plot of what is going on in Asuna’s life (though that gets only a few flashes and no real exposition). The big main story here is the appearance of of a very strong swordsman newly arrived in ALO who is challenging all comers to duels. In order to entice all the players to duel him he has put an Original Sword Skill on the line. They make it very clear that this man, named Zekken, is a converted account from another game (as Kirito was when he went to GGO at the beginning of the season), but they also make sure to shoot down the natural assumption that this is another survivor from SAO. Perhaps the most interesting aspect here, is that Kirito fights, and loses to Zekken (seen in flashback and only in part), though there is some speculation amongst the ladies as to whether or not Kirito was going full strength, with Liz positing that he’ll probably never fight all out again in a game, unless that game isn’t a game anymore (as in SAO and GGO).

I’ve neglected a very important aspect of this episode up until this point. Kirito spent the entire episode, save for flashback sequences, asleep. And with Sinon (oddly called Shinonon) only in the episode for maybe 5 seconds, that left Asuna to be the focus, a very rare thing this season. Sadly though, she kind of comes off here as something of an empty vessel who didn’t have a purpose until Kirito came along. On the upside though, as her interest in Zekken grows, it starts to seem like there may actually be some character development going on. She even has a subplot going aside from the main plot, where it is pretty heavily implied that her family is trying to arrange a marriage for her. A marriage that doesn’t involve Kirito. I’ve probably said it before this season, but it’s nice to see Asuna getting some attention, and I really hope that something interesting comes of it.

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RedSonja13

With the gathering of the land’s greatest artisans and the Emperor’s final party behind us, it’s time for a brand-new story arc! And with this brand-new story arc comes new antagonists and likely a good look into Sonja’s past. Sadly though, it also means we have to say goodbye to Sonja’s companions from the last arc, at least for the time being.

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Originally posted on Nerds Unchained. Click here for the full review of Red Sonja #13.