After finishing my play-through of Rayman: Legends and discovering a new-found interest in the series, rewarding it a rare “Perfect” score in a review, a rating I've only given to three other video-games in the nearly eighty video-game reviews I've done, I realized I hadn't given the rest of the Rayman series the proper time of day. The first step to remedy has proven decidedly unorthodox. Although it might seem more logical to start from the very beginning, playing the first Rayman on the Original PlayStation and working my way up, I've decided to go straight to Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, or Rayman 3 HD as I will be reviewing the remastered version released on the Xbox Live Arcade (available at a reasonable $4.99 and backwards compatible with the Xbox One). If you haven't already experienced Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc for yourself, maybe you're wondering if it's an entry in the Ubisoft series worth checking out. Here are my thoughts...
I've always had a “love-hate” relationship with the Tomb Raider franchise, in that, although I adore the plat-forming and puzzle-solving adventures very much, the series can't resist its urge to repeatedly kick me in the teeth. Skipping over the mere minutes I spent on the Original PlayStation games, where I can only recall vague memories of locking the butler in the freezer, a memory so common I'm not even entirely certain it's my own, my first experience was with Tomb Raider: Underworld. I had fun with it, having played some of the Uncharted series beforehand, and being a long-time fan of Prince of Persia, hanging out with Lara Croft scratched a similar itch. Underworld was a good game. Unfortunately, I encountered a game-breaking glitch more than halfway through that kept me from ever finishing it. Tomb Raider: Legend was fantastic, but the less said about my time with Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, the better. In early-2013, Crystal Dynamics hit the reset-button, rebooting the series and restructuring Lara Croft's origins, opting for a darker, more cinematic approach. Although it was adored by many, and I certainly enjoyed it, it wasn't until Rise of the Tomb Raider I felt we were back in peak form, except for one small mishap – in my first play-through of Rise of the Tomb Raider, near the end, I encountered a game-breaking glitch, forcing me to re-play the campaign of what was, other-wise, a very good game. Developed by Eidos Montreal (in-conjunction with Crystal Dynamics), Shadow of the Tomb Raider marks the end of this re-imagining Tomb Raider trilogy, does it kick the curse? And, better yet, is the new developer at the helm able to properly stick the landing? Here are my thoughts …
Although many moviegoers are likely still riding the high that is being able to see our favorite web-crawler in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, whether it be his most recent showing in Avengers: Infinity War or awaiting Spider-Man: Far From Home, however, with that said, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a film worth seeing for all true believers, as well as fans of animation alike. Even if it may not be blowing up the box-office the same way as its live-action counterpart, a better way to look at the film is to compare it with the rest of the Sony Pictures Animation catalog, which includes the highly successful Hotel Transylvania and Smurf franchises. Say what you will about those films, Hotel Transylvania has managed to improve on itself with each installment, starting out with a 358 million worldwide gross for its first film, and surpassing half a billion-dollars in its third. A 350 million worldwide total appears to be in reach for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and with that, I have no doubt we'll be seeing more animated superhero fare in the near future. This also builds credibility for the Sony Pictures Animation, which hasn't had a truly well-received film since Arthur Christmas, usually appealing strictly to a young-audience and adhering to a very conventional formula. Critics have raved about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, I've even heard some refer to it as the best Spider-Man film ever made. Is this an example of overzealous enthusiasm (which isn't a bad thing!), for instance, I heard the same thing about Spider-Man: Homecoming, and while it was a fun film, I didn't think it was better than the first couple of Sam Raimi films, or is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse truly up to snuff?
The DC Extended Universe has been ripe with debate and disillusion. Whether it be the stigma it has as badly trying to imitate what was established with Nolans' Dark Knight Trilogy or the sentiment that it's high-scale, low-logic. In my opinion, while I don't necessarily hate the DC Extended Universe altogether, nor do I necessarily want it to approach all of its subject-matter with a light-heart nature akin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I definitely think it has a lot of flaws that keep it from being as good of a representation for DC Comics as the Marvel Cinematic Universe is for Marvel Comics. Unless it's a rendition of Adam West's Batman, I think the Caped Crusader is best-suited with a more mature, jaw-clenched approach, whereas I think The Flash is better off with a more light-heart, vibrantly enthused approach. Instead of having every film carry an inherent tone, I think each film should play it out in whichever way best plays to the strength of their characters. As far as what the approach should be for a film like AquaMan, I would say, what I wanted from the film was a charming, action film, that would focus less on exposition and being a high-stake, grandiose epic, and more on energetic, ludicrous fun. That said, here are my thoughts on DC's splashing new fish-into-water story Aquaman.
It seems appropriate we'd segue from my review of Rayman Legends, discussing my criticisms in-regards to the present decline of local co-op gaming in-favor of online multiplayer, to a review of the action role-playing game Ashen. Developed by New Zealand studio A44 and published by Annapurna Interactive, I was excited for Ashen when it was first announced for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One (and even more thrilled when it was made available on Xbox's Game Pass subscription service on-launch), enticed by the suggestion of a video-game mixing multi-player with a low-fantasy environment. Unfortunately, I was disappointed to discover Ashen as more of a traditional dungeon-crawler heavily-inspired by Dark Souls, that incorporated online multi-player, which simply isn't what I'm interested in. I think it'd be fair to say that realization deflated by enthusiasm, but, in the end, is Ashen worth experiencing, are the positive-reviews representative of its actual merit, or does its sudden, unannounced release, coupled with its on-launch inclusion with Game Pass suggest it something worth sweeping under the rug? Here are my thoughts …
It can often feel like local co-op has been thrown to the wayside when compared to the presently more prevalent successor: online multiplayer. It never occurred to me how anemic the selection of local co-op outings available on plat-forms are until after I had someone in my life that I could play with on a regular-basis, that being my fiancee. Rayman Legends is the fifth main-title entry in the Rayman series, acting as a direct sequel to Rayman Origins, which was released a couple years prior. Developed by Ubisoft Montpellier and published by Ubisoft, Legends marks the first installment in the Rayman series I've played from start-to-finish. I had some familiarity with the franchise, playing some of Rayman Origins, and owning a scratched-up copy of Rayman on the Original PlayStation. Although it has been too long to speak on my experience with the original Rayman for a review, I can say the reason I never played Origins from start-to-finish is because I think it's an experience that plays best when you have a buddy to tag-along with you. In the midst of waiting for Studio MDHR to release the Cuphead DLC, Beccah and I decided to sit-down and check out Rayman Legends, which I'd owned a copy of for years, but never actually played. Does Rayman Legends scratch the itch I needed scratching, and how is it as an overall gaming experience?
I didn't know a lot about Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. Saying that might even be an understatement, in-retrospect. I can remember seeing a teaser trailer for Mutant Year Zero and immediately knowing it was something I was interested in, however. An apocalyptic setting with a twist, and I don't know who I'd be if I ever missed the chance to play as a talking duck. I was surprised when the title showed up on the Microsoft Store in early-December, because I didn't know it was that far along in-development and I didn't remember hearing a release date. I was even more surprised when I found out it was added to Microsoft's Game Pass subscription-service on-launch. I hadn't bothered with a Game Pass subscription in over a year, and so, it was a cool coincidence I decided to renew it right as Mutant Year Zero was added. I was a little skeptical when I finally beheld Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden and the sum of its parts. I had only seen a teaser trailer, and so, I didn't know the slightest about its game-play mechanics or how it'd work. When I saw actual game-play footage, an immediate comparison I made was with XCOM, a series I'd never been able to get into like some have. Suffice to say, turn-based strategy role-playing video-games aren't usually my cup of tea. Regardless, I stuck with Mutant Year Zero. After a couple weeks, I have completely played through the campaign, and feel ready to share my thoughts over it.
I was excited when Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them first arrived in 2016. Like many of you, I am an avid-fan of the Harry Potter franchise and have a nostalgic affliction with it. Whereas the Harry Potter series felt fun and unique, however, I found the opposite could be said about Fantastic Beasts, which boasted a story-line and performances that simply didn't mesh well with what I wanted out of the film. Many others seemed to believe the “magic” was still there, but I didn't share the sentiment, citing it as an average 5-out-of-10 film in a series where the standard is usually higher. Nevertheless, I was excited for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, perhaps that's out of loyalty to the J. K. Rowling Wizard World, but it's also because I've found that with long-form storytelling, once the initial groundwork is laid, the meatier, more realized drama can come to fruition. The tenth film in the Wizarding World franchise, it follows Newt Scamander and Albus Dumbledore and their efforts to defeat the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald.
As a devout fan of the slasher genre, I was looking forward to the eleventh installment in the Halloween film series, aptly titled Halloween, acting as a direct-sequel to 1978's classic, also titled Halloween. Although the series' story-lines and continuity are muddied and confusing to the uninitiated, I was excited when I found out this film would build from the original and disregard the rest of the series.
After Carpenter's first film, the series went in a different direction. In Halloween 2, Laurie Strode was revealed as Michael Myers' sister, a fact I always felt undermined the mystique and aura of the character. Halloween 3, notably, went in an entirely different direction, focusing on the Silver Shamrock organization, whereas Halloween 4 revealed Laurie Strode died in a car accident, with that film and Halloween 5 focusing on Laurie's daughter Jamie Lloyd. Halloween 6 took a wild turn, focusing on Myers and a mysterious cult, and, by the next film, Halloween H20, it was revealed Laurie Strode faked her death and Jamie's character was thereby retconned (but, she did have a son). In Halloween: Resurrection, Laurie Strode was killed by Michael Myers, then, Rob Zombie rebooted the series. Now, here we are, forty years later, Laurie Strode has been “un-remade,” brought back from the dead twice, and is no-longer related to Michael Myers.
Review written Summer 2014
Books have been adapted into some of the finest films we've ever seen, and so, why is it so difficult for video-games to bring about the same? You can bet your ass that the creativity is there, as well as the structure, there is definitely enough available to create a worthwhile screenplay depending on what it is that you are adapting. In the end, it matters what the director or the company involved wants to accomplish. I hope this is something that will be demonstrated in the eventual adaptations for Sly Cooper, Ratchet & Clank, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted, Twisted Metal, and The Last of Us, but those are all far away and there isn't really any reason to become bent out of shape or worry about any of them. Why are there so many bad video-game movie adaptations? A lot of that has to do with how they tackle it. If you are attempting to make a film about something that already has a well-respected following, you have to be able to embrace the finer parts about it while at the same time enabling it to embrace the cinematic aspects that the movie-industry beckons.
Also, a skilled director will be the difference between something worthwhile and something that is most-obviously meant as a cash-in. Ladies and gentleman, have you met Uwe Boll?
If you haven't, some others have, in-fact, some have even referred to him as a modern-day Ed Wood. That is, in other words, calling him one of the worst directors ever. Say what you will, Boll's existence is actually a stroke of genius. By manipulating German laws about filmmaking, Boll has successfully made tons of high-budget films that have been enormous box-office failures. He bought the movie rights to various different video-games, notably Far Cry, Postal, House of the Dead, and Alone in the Dark. He bought the rights quick before everybody realizes how bad he is or by buying them before the video-game is even released, which is what he did with FarCry. I decided to review this film, not because I wanted to bash it but because I reviewed the first video-game and found it for two bucks, so why not?
What is Mishmashers (dot) com?
Started in late-2017, Mishmashers.com is a website by brothers Scott Moore and McConnaughay as a way to share their opinion on an array of different topics, as well as shine a light on their written works. Both brothers are passionate about their work and have dedicated a significant amount of time and resources to their respected works.
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