Star Wars: Jedi: Fallen Order is a mouthful sub-titled titled title. I don’t particularly like this cascading naming convention, but it’s rather common in big franchises. Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Pokémon all suffer from this.
So, EA published another Star Wars game. The default expectation is a TRASH game loop with microtransactions and paid loot. Battlefront 2 and FIFA will not let me lie…
But this one was… good!
I got it “for free” in the Amazon Prime deal. My original intention was to get both “free” shipping and streaming service for a fixed and low monthly fee. But they do give some video games for free too. And they are eventually good games. After activation in the yet-another-game-launcher Origin launcher, I decided to give it a try.
TLDR: it has all the mediocre elements of recent games. But the visuals and gameplay hooked me. I liked it very much.
The main protagonist is bland. Another white impetuous generic dude. The amnesia trope was also employed here. The guy, once fully skilled, now have to relearn everything.
The companions, however, are much more varied. They are never very relevant to the plot, nor do we participate in their journeys, but they add a great flavor to the story. Particularly the pilot Greez: funny, warm-hearted but scared little creature. And, of course, your droid companion. The villains are good. Some are visually memorable like the Ninth Sister. Some are, like Malicos, those type that appears, brags, and dies. Next.
The general assortment of goons is the stars of the show. From low-rank troopers to big machines, monsters, and fallen Jedis, the list is varied throughout the whole game. They provoke fear and anxiety and relaxation. They generally do not talk or express any particular personality, but all portray a very specific role.
The appearance of iconic characters is definitively a high point to mention. But no spoilers here.
Not much to add beyond what you can see in screenshots and trailers. The game is gorgeous. EA at least has to be praised in this regard: despite being bad games, all recent SW games are visually stunning. Squadrons, another Amazon free game that I’m still playing, is also amazing.
The main core loop is great. In the Metroidvania style, maps are presented but inaccessible until the player acquires some special ability. It implies that, when acquired, the player must revisit the same areas over and over again. There is a kind of fast travel mechanism, but the travel points are sparse and will still require some time traversing.
The combat is challenging. Being a Jedi presupposes being a god-like fighter. The game gives the player enough abilities to make one feel powerful but not overpowering. Even on late levels, it’s possible to lose health fighting goons. Health is important to face bosses and harder enemies.
Boss encounters do not change the general gameplay in any big way, which is a plus. You fight using the same muscle memory developed until it. There is always the annoying pre-cutscene that will be played over and over if you die a lot in these fights.
Visiting 5 different planets gives the scenery a great variation, even being particularly different regarding the traversal challenges. Ice planet, fire planet, vegetation planet, futurist planet/installation, underground… And all are beautiful to look at.
I got it for free, but I would pay for it if necessary. The game is fun, front and foremost. The story is a bit lacking, and the protagonist is definitively lacking but when I finished, I even tried to complete some extra objectives to extend the experience.
What a surprise! After playing several Ubisoft open-world games lately, I was expecting another result of a generic and repetitive side quest generator with a superficial storyline over it.
I was a bit reluctant to start WD2. I read that the original title was overpromised and under-delivered. The second one flew on my radar at the time. Recently I got it through the Epic free game initiative. Then I read some reviews and comments from the launch time and there were good ones. So I decided to check it out. Not without flaws, I enjoyed the time, the story, and the gameplay.
Far Cry 3 presented the very iconic and infinite memerable villain Vaas Montenegro. However, the Ubisoft writing team struggles to create memorable protagonists. I cannot name a single great protagonist in Far Cry and most Assassin’s Creed (old and new entries) are plain boring. AC3’s Ezio Salvatore da Firenze is the top of mind. AS Odyssey’s Kassandra was nice, despite being put in a split role with her unnecessary male version Alexios.
The player spends hours living the life of another person that she/he cares so little about. It’s sad really.
Marcus Holloway is a new entry on the likable protagonist list. Optimist, clever and lighthearted. His motivations seem reasonable and believable. However, there is a cognitive dissonance playing Marcus as an armed gangster, shooting at police and mob armies. From start to finish, all cutscenes present him, as well the other members of the DedSec crew, as non-violent watchdogs. People that fight to preserve individual liberties and respect life and diversity. Using machine guns to kill everybody on site feels wrong. I tried to play as much as possible in the way I understood the character: low profile, clever hacker.
For the rest of the crew, it’s a mixed bag. The only one that will definitively stick in my mind is the masked engineer Wrench. Horatio, the guy that works on Goog… Nudle becomes relevant. The rest is the rest.
For villains and NPCs, none are worth mentioning. The main villain, Dušan, is both an idiot and annoying.
The hacker theme is presented as the usual Hollywood cliché. Type furiously into the notebook and any bank account in the world is yours!
However, the overall universe is set using several references to popular culture. Movies, music, and video games are often mentioned by characters. Some are more obscure, but most of the time these references are more common sense. For those that know them, they are quite fun. For those that do not, is an exotic flavor.
Some references are less subtle: There is a search engine and maps company called Nudle. A rocket launcher Galilei commanded by a millionaire much like SpaceX. I linked the main villain company, Blume, as Microsoft, but it’s my own thing.
Watch Dogs 2 does not take the story and theme too seriously. There is even a good dose of self-mockery about being a hacker/programmer. It’s not like FarCry’s Blood Dragon over-the-topness. WD2 translates complex problems into smaller bites to make them more accessible and fun to a broad audience.
As I said before, it is possible to be Rambo and shoot everybody. Like GTA, you will attract police attention and will die, respawn and try again. But I feel that is not the way it’s meant to be played™. Harder, but more satisfying, is avoiding direct conflict and using gadgets and powers to sneak. The same could be said for old Assassin’s Creed games (the new ones embrace direct combat as pillars).
The hacking abilities are more useful for small interventions, like distracting guards, than creating mayhem. Hacking citizens’ phones in the streets are fun for 10 minutes, then becomes quite useless. Event robbing their bank accounts, money in general, becomes irrelevant mid-game, after upgrading Marcus’ drones.
Most puzzles are repetitive, but fun mini-game.
In the end, the core mechanics are solid. Open-world games tend to be repetitive, but WD2 scrambles the same basic mechanics offering variety.
Yesterday I finally finished Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Great game! Underappreciated and undersold.
It tells the story of Monkey, a brute man that is really flexible and versatile. Gameplay and game story wise, this character makes much more sense those characters on Assassin’s Creed, parkouring around. He is a humble and simple man, that was captured as a slave. He finds Trip, a beautiful and resourceful girl that faces the same destiny. However, their destiny changes when the transport airplane suffers a problem and crashes. Trip and Money survive. Trip wants to return to her father and see the opportunity to do something really bold: uses a device to enslave Monkey using a special collar. Or he helps her to return to her home, or he dies. If he tries to remove the collar, he dies. If he gets too far from her, he dies.
He wants to live. So he decides to help. So the game starts.
The gameplay is basically a combat and 3D exploration and parkour. In a sense, is a mix of old Mario 64/Lara Croft, with Assassin’s Creed combat. It sometimes requires some puzzle solving, but generally they are very easy. The combat is rudimentary and only require some tactics and button smashing. Bosses are difficult, however. Time to time, the mechanics change to something special, like controlling a gun turret, but 99% of the game is very straightforward. In fact, it is probably my biggest complaint about Enslaved: Odyssey to the West: after while, you will not get anything new to do. It’s just repetition of the same things. This is the reason I played about half of the game, stopped and only returned several months later, with the mission in my head to finish it once and for all. It was surprisingly good, nevertheless.
Oh, there is another thing: every time you die, you are moved back to the last checkpoint to try again. Great. HOWEVER, you are forced to see the cinematic that are often played before the action. Every time. If it is a challenge part, like a boss, I bet you are going nuts for the time wasted. Developers, never (I repeat, never) do this. It is super annoying.
The visuals are a big plus here. Even for an older game (originally released in 2010), the game is still gorgeous. It has personality, flavor. The scenarios are all very pretty as well the characters. Money and Trip show emotions in a level that more modern games still struggle to accomplish. The animations are great and fluid very plastic.
The story is also a great point for the game. It is original, personal and compelling. You will love the couple. The protagonist is likable! What a great feature, so rare! The companion is a bit arrogant, but she is also very likable. Only the third guy, named Pigsy, falls into the typical NPC of boring, arrogant and annoying. Yet he is cool. 3 characters total and the story is still super cool. Great achievement. The ending is a bit of “the architect moment in the Matrix”, trowing a lot of information to give it all a closure, but it is really great and memorable. The main “villain” is also played by Andy Serkis, which plays the main character Monkey, is a big surprise (don’t worry, it is not exactly a spoiler).
Overall it was a great experience. I believe it is a new classic. The same kind as Blade Runner, that was critic acclaimed, but a commercial failure.
I was wandering in the giant wasteland of TV shows, changing channels every 15 seconds, when I noticed that animation Sing was about to start. I decided to give it a try, but I had no expectations about it. For me, it would be another cashing animation movie.
When it ended I felt super surprised about how good it is. I was crying like a baby, but it is something I do often. 😛
The movie is about a theater owner that dreamed about having a great and successful show but got failure after failure. Deeply in debt, he decided to create a singing competition. It attracted hundreds of contestants, which one with a unique style. The narrative is very predictable, but nevertheless very emotional one. The main theme is believing in your dreams. But there is a bit of father-son relationship for some characters. They don’t run away from the typical stereotypes. And there a very few surprises along the way.
Visually stunning, the song selection is very nice (could be great, however) and the characters are very well realized. My personal favorite is the chameleon assistant. 😛 The cast is very good here, with solid performances. Some of them I did not notice who as whom. I don’t know if the actors actually sang for the movie, but I doubt it.
Very good pop corn time movie to watch with the family.
This 30 years old cartoon is still a charm.
This Japanese animation showed me the importance of being open to alternative views. The theme and pace of the movie is completely different from the western animations.
The story is about 2 girls (and their dad) moving to a new house. Nearby there are some fantastical creatures that co-exist in this world.
The pace is super slow. But not dragging-type of slow. It is contemplative kinda slow. They present the characters step by step, through small events. The two kids will slowly conquest your heart. They are so adorable. It was a great pleasure to care about someone, on the contrary of many of the western movies and games, that I could not care a thing about them. I loved Mei and Satsuki.
The visuals are great. Like watercolor paintings and classic anime style of drawings. The Totoro character is particularly funny! The other creatures are cool, but they are not thoroughly explored, so I cannot say they are great. The music is a bit sparse, with long moments of silence.
My mainly, maybe only, complain is the abrupt ending. With many spoilers, at a certain point of the story there is a big problem that the characters try to solve. But at any point it as said it was the major final concern. I was personally expecting to, after solving it, to get to this issue. It ends in moment that I was not expecting to happen. It left the story with too many open questions, too many mysteries. When the credits started to roll I was shocked.
It is a short excellent movie. It ends suddenly, but the whole ride is an enjoyable one. Totoro (the character) is now among my favorite anime characters ever.
Totally recommend you to watch it.
Bruno Massa é político, programador e fotógrafo.