Tag Archives: Reviews

Gears of War 4 is a Fuller, Gorier House

Gears of War 4 (2016) opens with a formless efficiency. As First Minister Jinn broadcasts a speech commemorating the people lost in the war of prior games, the player is shuffled from body to body, firefight to firefight, as they witness the events leading up to the present peace from nameless (now) dead eyes. It is a tone that could have easily defined Gears 4 – anonymous soldiers fighting a constantly evolving enemy, where individual lives and stories are sacrificed in the name of an ambiguous “greater good.” This is the war familiar to games, a cold machine wherein a life is no more useful than the number it can take, and it would have been easy for the newly formed Coalition (the new caretakers to the Gears of War series, following Epic Games’ departure) to rely on this familiarity to carry their first game through to launch. But this intro is deceptive, being not a statement of tone but one of purpose. You are not, as it turns out, fighting as an anonymous cog in the machine of war – you’re fighting against that very machine itself. Continue reading Gears of War 4 is a Fuller, Gorier House

All My Friends Are Dead In Guitar Hero Live

The first three strums in Guitar Hero Live (2015) are electrifying. “Let’s try that again,” the engineer says as you power into the second half of soundcheck. In this dimly lit hallway stuffed full of bandmates and crew members, developer Freestyle Games tries to sell you on their vision of what Guitar Hero could be. A game not of highscores and increasingly ridiculous outfits, but a first-person, live-action concert experience. The proposal is one part intriguing, two parts outrageous, and as you hear the overdrive kick in and are waved onto the stage it starts to feel like this could actually work. But once the band begins to play it becomes clear something’s been forgotten. You may be looking out over a crowd of thousands, but you, yourself, are alone. Continue reading All My Friends Are Dead In Guitar Hero Live

Baby Driver is Edgard Wright’s Wunderkind

Smooth. It’s the word that comes to mind when discussing any of Edgard Wright’s films but feels especially apt to describe his latest genre-smoothie, Baby Driver (2017). Scenes dance from gunfights and street chases to diner chats and car seat makeouts with a confidence that is as intimidating as it is sexy. The camera spins and transitions through a film that almost dares you to look away and miss the next expertly choreographed sip of coffee. The dialogue is smart, but not too smart. It uses just as many words as it needs and lets the music do the rest. And by the time the credits role the film doesn’t appear transcendent, it just feels so much better than what the other guys are doing. In short, Baby Driver is smooth. Continue reading Baby Driver is Edgard Wright’s Wunderkind

The Unconditional Love of Dropsy

January, 2001.

I fidget in the pew, unable to contain my energy as the preacher goes on and on about God and money and who is even listening and would they care if I crawled under the pew? My mother shoots me a disgruntled look as she pulls me back into my seat. “If you are good and just sit still I’ll buy you candy,” she whispers into my ear. I sit as calmly as I can for the rest of the service. Continue reading The Unconditional Love of Dropsy

Killing Time at Lightspeed and the Ordinary Horror of Losing Touch

You are hurtling away from Mars aboard a vessel traveling at the speed of light; a journey of 29 years experienced in less than an hour. Behind you are your friends, family, the life you once lived. You seek something better at the far end of the galaxy, a fresh start in a new world. But still, you cling to pieces of your former life like a raft in the infinite void. You turn on your phone to check FriendPage, but with each refresh, years roll by for those you left behind. You are left to fill in the blanks as news travels slow, painfully slow, and you witness the lives of those you left behind as an in-flight movie, watching from afar more disconnected than ever. Continue reading Killing Time at Lightspeed and the Ordinary Horror of Losing Touch

Absolute Drift goes round and round and round and round

Drifting has always existed as a sort of accessory sport to traditional racing. Flashy and dangerous, drifting — the act of taking a corner so as to lose control of the back wheels and cause the car to turn sideways — prizes style and precision over speed and vehicular power. Though organized events such as the US’s Formula D series exist they are still searching for a large audience, and outside of Japan drifting remains largely a novelty, something to spice up action movies and arcade racers but rarely thought of as a legitimate sport itself. Continue reading Absolute Drift goes round and round and round and round

Geometry Wars 3 is too much of a good thing, but a good thing nonetheless

Geometry Wars 2 (2008) was never a game that demanded a sequel. From the series’ birth as an Easter Egg in Project Gotham Racing 2 (2003) to finding its home on the early Xbox Live Arcade, Bizarre Creations’ Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved (2005) made few drastic changes but by its second numbered iteration had refined its twin-stick, neon arcade-shooter score-chase into a neo-retro diamond. Aside from perhaps Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (2010) (which borrowed indiscriminately from Geometry Wars aesthetics and leaderboard systems) no game has greater exemplified the arcade game rebirth of the last decade as greatly as Geometry Wars 2 (2008). Continue reading Geometry Wars 3 is too much of a good thing, but a good thing nonetheless

Reigns invites you to be a king of inconsequential actions

If the 2016 US presidential election has shown us anything, it’s that politics is almost by design ruthless and unsavory. Though this is nothing new to most – few sentiments are as near universal across America as a disenfranchisement with the political machine – this election has proven exceptionally messy, sparking across the country a mood that in some ways approximate a mini civil war. There is no compromise, no understanding; only two sides with a widening gap in between. If keeping supporters happy is a difficult task for political leaders, appeasing everyone is utterly off the table. The best that can be hoped for is for this tension to hold, lest it break and plunge our country into even further anarchy. Continue reading Reigns invites you to be a king of inconsequential actions

Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire recalls history’s recursive war for equality

Near the end of the 16th century, Portugal, after being contested by Britain and France for control of the current slave trade along the West African coast, turned their attention toward Luanda (capital of modern day Angola) as a new source of black bodies to enslave. Continue reading Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire recalls history’s recursive war for equality

Magic Flute takes Mozart to Neo-Tokyo

My first time attending a performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute was something of a defining experience, though the reasons have less to do with the play than they do this particular performance and my…anatomical development at the time. Around halfway through a large dance began (what the actual scene was I couldn’t say), during which roughly a dozen women stripped off their jackets as they performed a line-dance in only sports bras. My mother was appalled, but being myself a sheltered, hormonally overrun preteen, I began to pay significantly more attention to a play I had been nearly sleeping through moments before. Continue reading Magic Flute takes Mozart to Neo-Tokyo