Hey folks, we at S&F would like to introduce the newest addition to our merry band of miscreants, The Cheerful Sarcast. He’s a good friend of mine, and will be contributing his video game expertise and reviews to our little slice of the internet. Keep an eye out for his content coming soon!
Some further thoughts had occurred to me since yesterday. Thought’d I’d toss ’em in while they were still fresh.
-Was I the only person who didn’t have any problem with Tali’s unmasking in ME3? Sure, it was a modified stock photo, and yes, I suppose I can see the disappointment with the relatively minor changes to the existing material. That being said though, I honestly think it was well-done, and a heartwarming touch to the end of an era.
-As I mentioned with a friend back on Facebook, I can’t stand Ashley Williams now. Her propensity toward honor, looking after her family, and fondness for poetry made her stand out initially, but these redeeming qualities were dragged down when she repeatedly made comments about not being too fond of crewmembers like Wrex, Garrus, Tali, and Liara – people who would gladly give their lives to save Ashley, but who herself admitted would do the exact opposite. Add to this her rampant paranoia and distrust in the start of ME3, and she’s lost every redeeming quality she once had. I had a lot more fun with the renegade dialogue options in subsequent campaign runs, it was enjoyable to tell such an irrational mistrusting bigot to go fuck off.
-I suppose I see where Javik is coming from in his harsh “defeat the Reapers at ANY cost” mentality, (and a similar line of thinking can be seen in Garrus’ “ruthless calculus of war” speech), but that doesn’t make him right. I still wish I could’ve spaced him after Thessia.
-Wrex sounds like he could’ve been voiced by John Goodman.
-I still fail to see the appeal of the M-77 Paladin, relative to the M-11 suppressor or even M-6 Carnifex. Smaller magazine capacity, negligible improvement in stopping power over the Carnifex, and unchanged rate of fire. If I’m missing something important here, somebody let me know.
-Also, I found the ME1 M-7 and ME-2 M-8 rifles to be a lot better looking with their built-in scopes. The ME3 one without just looks so . . . hideous. I like its handling better than in ME1 or 2, but god it just looks so damned ugly without that scope.
-Echoing Grunt’s drunken shower wisdom in ME3 Citadel, I always thought turians looked more like cats than birds. Hardassed cats, but still.
-Rannoch is gorgeous. Looks like the American Southwest, but with less sand and more water.
-I felt the rachni queen’s capture/cloning in ME3 was fairly contrived. It felt like the first major decision I made in ME1 that would come to major relevance in ME3. To have her just be captured after I freed her was irritating. I wanted to actually have a conversation with the rachni queen or her troops, learn more of their history (you get some backstory during your exchange in ME1, but it could’ve been expounded on more). Maybe actually have a level where saving the rachni queen gives you backup rachni troops in a ground battle that you otherwise wouldn’t have had.
-Grunt’s “heh-heh-heh” laugh is too goddamned funny.
-Also, Zaeed’s and Garrus’ home-defense planning in ME3 Citadel was among the funniest dialogue of the entire series.
-Cortez was . . . clingy. And weird. Damn good shuttle pilot, but still, ya know, weird.
-EDI’s new body could’ve done away with some of the obvious sex appeal. I felt it took away from the well-developed character she had built up over two games.
-Also, Samara was goddamned irritating. Wish she was never included in either game, at all. Her ill-fitting outfit just felt like EA was trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator of gamer, too. Her odd Justicar code and mannerisms didn’t help either. And no, Morinth wasn’t better.
-Resource mining felt POINTLESS in ME1, slightly tedious but mildly entertaining in ME2, and empty and lacking in ME3. Kinda liked littering an unknown planet with probes. Looked like I was destroying continents at a time from space.
-The human-alien tension could’ve been an interesting plot dynamic between Shepard’s crew and the Normandy’s Cerberus employees in ME2. Ya know . . . if it existed. At all.
-The concept of the geth consensus is a fascinating idea – networked intelligence, sharing all thoughts, ideas, and sensory data – communing with millions of other entities at any given time. It’s a shame I have to kill them all in ME3. Hopefully, the limited exposure to the geth aid on Rannoch would encourage the quarians to restore the species in due time – and with responsibility.
-I’m thinking on my next ME3 run, I might just kill Ash and Samara for the hell of it.
-I also recently discovered that Kal’Reegar, one of the Migrant Fleet Marines sent to backup Tali on Haestrom in ME2, was voiced by Adam Baldwin. For those who don’t know, Adam Baldwin portrayed Lusthog squad’s M60 gunner “Animal Mother” in the Stanley Kubrick Vietnam epic “Full Metal Jacket”. This both makes Kal’Reegar 8x more of a badass than he already was (which he was substantially), and kinda makes me with quarians shouted “fuck” a lot more. Or had expositions on getting killed for the word “poontang”. If that last sentence confused you, go see Full Metal Jacket today. It’s amazing.
That’s all I can think of for now. If I think of substantially more, I’ll post tomorrow night.
Keelah se’lai, folks.
A few weeks ago, Microsoft was doing one of their pathetic attempts at a sale on direct download games on XBL. I took a look at the titles, and was partly pleasantly surprised. Among them was Hitman: Absolution, a title I had been looking to acquire anyway, for $10. Not a bad deal. Among them were a few older titles, but they were going for $5. So I also picked up Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway (which, honestly kinda sucks).
Oh, and a podunk little game called “Mass Effect”.
Years ago, after the first one had come out, I had two of my best friends from high school tell me it had the “best video game plot twist ever.” I found the claim interesting, but largely went on about my CoD-saturated lifestyle. For which I am ever ashamed.
I think I saw an ad for Mass Effect 2 a few years back, and I actually had downloaded and played the Mass Effect 3 demo that came out back in March 2012. Seemed nice enough, but I felt I was missing a lot of context – thus, I decided to let it go until the right time to try out number one came around.
My god. I can’t believe what I missed.
All the hype was right. All the zeal was well-deserved. All the fandom was finally understandable.
I started out with Catienda Shepard (femshep) – Earthborn, sole survivor of the thresher maw experiment on Akuze, and a redhead. Shortly thereafter I was introduced to my first alien species in the universe, a Turian named Nihlus – part of some group called the “Spectres”. Sounded interesting,
I talked to Jenkins about our destination, Eden Prime. The way he described it, I was looking forward to some good looking 2007-era setpieces of paradise in the stars. Theeeeeeeen fucking Sovereign has to screw it all up. I remember when I first saw the video footage from the 212, it looked like a giant biomechanical hand grasping for the burning surface of the colony.
Then followed Jenkins’ inevitable demise and subsequent replacement by Gunnery Chief (and human loyalist in denial) Ashley Williams. I honestly didn’t dislike her much until I started going to the Normandy’s cargo bay to talk to her between missions.
Then the geth. Ahhhhh, the geth. What I thought to be mindless killing machines bred from that violent lamp in the Pixar logo for the longest time. Turns out I would come to rather like them. But more on that later.
After Eden Prime, it was on to the Citadel to meet with the Citadel Council – the cooperative alliance of species working together for the benefit of the galactic community – think the UN, but they don’t suck nearly as much. Plus, they have the Spectres, a group of soldiers granted galactic diplomatic immunity and tasked with doing the work of galactic peacekeepers or enforcers. I can’t imagine the UN having any such task force without the Security Council alone going absolutely apeshit.
From the city-state/space station of the Citadel my journey took me to the frozen corporatocracy of Noveria, the colony of Feros, and the almost-was garden world of Virmire. Saving the rachni queen, salvaging what I could of Zhu’s Hope, and sacrificing one of my Alliance comrades at the krogan cloning facility. Finally, after the Mako drop at Ilos and the subsequent war-ending conflict, you’d think it was over. I had gotten at least $5 of value out of the experience.
My bank statements would indicate this number to be considerably higher.
While it was by no means perfect (the obsessive inventory management system got irritating rather quickly, and my assault rifle couldn’t hit shit), I was VERY much intrigued. I had read reviews stating the maturity of the series and its universe – far greater than it should be for its age – and I could see why. A developed economic system, translation solutions, inter-cluster transportation, an established galactic history, and an honest-to-god attempt to address small arms advances over 200 years. This helped with immersion, but the desire to drive on comes from the interpersonal relationships you develop with your crew over the course of your fights against the geth, the collectors, and the reapers. But more on that later . . .
I wanted to touch upon a couple of random thoughts I had on various aspects of the trilogy. No rhyme or reason to most, just things that stood out to me.
-ME3: The damned Cerberus ninjas. They move just fast enough for you to be slow on the draw, but just slow enough for you to lead your next shot too much. If you’re running a shotgun (ESPECIALLY with the Graal Spike Thrower), it might as well be a death sentence.
-ME3 Citadel DLC: The M-11 Suppressor pistol is so beautifully, insanely overpowered. I keep it loaded with inferno rounds just in case a stray Atlas mech or a Banshee shows up. Comes in serious handy during the last fight in London.
-Garrus is such a badass, and a damn good friend. He and Tali never question your motives, they trust you with their lives, and they never hold a grudge against you. Unlike goddamned Alenko and Williams. Whiny bastards.
-When I first played Mass Effect, I had *NO* idea that Seth Green voiced Joker, the Normandy’s pilot. I was SOOOOOO excited to hear him at first, and very glad to hear him come back in every subsequent game.
-Thermal Clips: I get that it was necessary for game mechanics to introduce limited ammunition stockpiles in ME2 and 3. Unlike most everyone else, it seems, I actually like that system better. It forces you to actually control your shots, but it doesn’t prohibit heavier weapons from putting extra slugs downrange in an emergency. That said, it was nice to see the M-7 Lancer return for the last ME3 DLC.
-Also on the subject of weapons, the M-96 Mattock dominates all others. Kneel before it’s semi-automatic fury. I take it to every corner of the galaxy.
-My ME3 standard weapons setup:
-M-96 Mattock w/ magazine upgrade and thermal scope
-M-9 Tempest w/ stability upgrade and scope OR the M-12 Locust w/ lightweight materials and magazine upgrade
-Graal Spike Thrower w/ smart choke and heavy barrel (only added it recently – I gave it to Tali as it was the best shotgun in the game, then wanted to have it around when you solo Omega. It grew on me afterwards :D)
-M-11 Suppressor with heavy barrel (Omega DLC add-on) and magazine upgrade
-Also, for ME3, I felt they screwed up the ordering of the rifle heavy barrel models. L5 (think the A-280 blaster rifle barrel from Star Wars) should’ve been L3, L4 (looked like a modified Barrett M107A1 muzzle brake) was fine as is, but L3 (derived from an arrowhead-style muzzle brake for the Russian KSVK 12.7mm sniper rifle) should’ve been L5. Just looks better in payoff. I used to run my Mattock with a thermal scope and the heavy barrel until I got the L5 upgrade. It just didn’t look the same 😦 I decided the expanded magazine and the black finish looked much better, and didn’t sacrifice tactical capability.
-The geth in ME1 and 2 were nothing to shake a stick at – but with the Reaper upgrades in ME3, they actually became pretty fierce:
-Rocket troopers used homing missiles to cover their cover-to-cover advances. Mixed with kinetic barriers, this made even quick pop-up adrenaline-rush headshots sprees with the Mattock damn difficult to achieve.
-Hunters actually USED their cloaking abilities to flank – or even worse, corner – me in combat, and I died more than a few times at their hand.
-The Primes are now the rightful badasses they were supposed to be. Nearly unkillable, they require even more effort than Atlas mechs to neutralize. In a group of three, like just above the Reaper silo on Rannoch, they made a VERY formidable challenge.
-Javik the Prothean is a DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK. “These crew members are not your friends, they are merely resources.” Only his drunk talk around the Citadel party made him slightly redeemable – that and SOME of his dialogue on Thessia.
-Other than the heavy barrel pistol upgrade, I largely regret my purchase of the ME3 Omega DLC. Not a lot of story, lackluster weapons, bland environments, and as far as character development: what begrudging criminal respect I had for Aria T’Loak was largely destroyed by her dialogue and habits in the DLC. Further, the one interesting character I wanted to see more of, Nyreen (the badass female turian biotic), goes and gets herself killed because of Aria’s judgmentalism. I really wish I could have shot Aria at the end.
-People who play krogan in ME3 multiplayer are strong combatants, but I swear to god, their giant asses always block my shots when I’m about to neutralize a high-value target. They seem obsessed with meleeing EVERYTHING in sight.
-The Illusive Man is one of my favorite characters of the entire series. The moral shades of gray thing is used so goddamn well with his personality. I despise the man by ME3, but I do respect him. Plus, having Martin Sheen as his voice actor was beyond badass.
-Also, Jennifer Hale did an AMAZING job as FemShep.
-The galaxy map and Normandy themes – I could listen to them on loops for hours on end.
-The Illusive Man’s theme is also fairly awesome.
-I find it curious that Vigil’s theme became the default “feels” soundtrack of the series. It’s a good fit, though. After Mordin’s death after curing the genophage in ME3, it makes it eerily more…poignant.
-My favorite combat music has to be the first third of “Rannoch.” Makes for great chase music, but for the advancing cover-to-cover, dodging geth rockets in the level its featured in, it’s….just perfect.
-As for the three endings . . . can’t say I was thrilled with ’em, but the emotional connections I had built up over the past three games made me more concerned for my squadmates’ futures than the crappy writing and last-minute antagonist. As such, I can only bring myself to do the Destroy ending with my male Shepard . . . and I’m religious about keeping galactic readiness at maximum. Those who know how that turns out can probably figure out why.
That being said, these are my musings (for now) on the epic space opera that is the Mass Effect universe. I can honestly say that it has actually replaced Star Wars as my absolute favorite sci-fi saga of all time. Yeah. That amazing.
The only thing I would have left to comment on would be how awesome Tali is. But I’m keeping those memories for myself.
Keelah se’lai, folks.
I know there hasn’t been a clear direction for S&F thus far – the topic selection has been a bit haphazard. I’ll have a lot more time to blog in the coming weeks, so I’m going to try some more topic styles and see what comes naturally and which ones pose more of a problem. As such, I’ve still got post topics ranging from political theory to current events to food planned in the coming days and weeks. Bear with us as we climb from the primordial soup of the blogosphere.
I love the Evil Dead series
Like seriously the Evil Dead series were one of my first horror series. The original movies were hugely contributory to my development as a horror fan (Lets leave aside the fact that actual horror is lacking for the most part, I’m trying to make a point). As many I am very skeptical of remakes because quite frankly the majority of them suck and suck terribly. However my first reaction to hearing there was an Evil Dead remake was not the standard “Oh this is going to suck” rather it was “You better give this franchise the respect it deserves”. An opinion held by many is that something should not be remade unless the original was horrible. However my opinion is that you shouldn’t do a remake unless you have a good story to tell and the remake does tell a good story. It has gotten good reviews but some of the criticism was that it is not going to garner a cult following. I called this criticism and it is BS because the original Evil Dead and the remake despite following key notes are surprisingly different just based on tone. My goal here is to compare and contrast the two movies. So lets start out with what is similar. Spoilers will most likely follow
-Cabin in the woods
-5 vaguely 20 somethings
-Large amounts of gore via practical effects
Now that we have that out of the way lets talk about the original. The original film was released in 1981. It had a $375,000 budget. I understand that this isn’t a lot and it shows. While the film is good it doesn’t have the greatest effects. However the bad effects are part of the charm of the original. It was meant to be taken seriously ( I think) but everyone has a point when they stop and say “Okay this is now funny”. Two scenes that are like this for me are the point when an eyeball flies across the room into a girl’s mouth and the scene where Ash (who in subsequent movies became badaas extraordinaire) surrounded by Deadites who are psychologically torturing him says “You bastards. Why are you doing this?” in a monotone. So while the original tried for horror I also think that to some degree that Raimi knew he was making a B-movie. It has a tongue in cheek aspect you get when you pull some crap that says “Yes I know what I’m doing and I know you people like it”. Instead of the outright parody/ action-comedy that later entries in the series became. “Gory but kind of funny” That’s the original in a nutshell
Now by comparison the remake came out Friday. It had a $14,000,000 budget. It has grossed almost double that in the opening weekend in the US alone. Its difficult to say right now whether it will be as successful as the original which ended up grossing $ 2,400,000 in the US (speaking in terms of gross vs budget). Whatever the case this does demonstrate that the new film is not bad. However its tone is so amazingly different from the original. It plays everything straight. The Deadites are gruesome and do horrifying things to their vessels and to those around them. The imagery is disturbing even for a seasoned horror fan (needle meet eye. need I say more?). the gore is shoved in your face just as much if not more so than the original movie. There are loving send-ups to the originals and some dark humor but its very much restrained. The actors actually act, which as I pointed out previously did not always happen in the original. This is “What if we made a somewhat silly horror actually hard to watch (in a good way)”.
Now one more thing I should talk about is which is better. Many will say the original and they have that right that is their opinion. Hell I like the original better than the remake but (and this is where I’m going to catch flak) I think objectively this new one MIGHT be better. Lets face it the original had a cult following but i don’t think the original Evil Dead trilogy really reached the nigh-unstoppable juggernaut of geekdom until Evil Dead 2 hit and subsequently Army of Darkness made it an everlasting cult series. My advice? Watch everything. Watch the old trilogy and marvel at the awesome as it goes on. Watch the new one and see just how disturbing the premise can get. And watch out for any rumors of Cambell working with Raimi because according to Raimi Army of Darkness 2 might actually. This is me signing off and saying: If you find a book bound in human flesh and inked in blood, RUN AWAY, unless of course you want a chainsaw hand.
Alright, for the few poor souls who checked up on this blog fairly often in its early stages hoping for its success, you have thus far been greeted with no new content for over 1.25 years. My associate and I have a draft or two of planned posts from during that extended hiatus, but nothing has actually been released. In fact, a post I had planned on publishing concerning the current threat (or lack thereof) analysis of Iran and North Korea is more or less obsolete given the most recent developments (the Rodman Summit, the nuclear test, and the “repeal” of the 1953 ceasefire with the South). Needless to say, the life of the blog went not too far off from my most realistic expectations from the night I created the blog (in the stupid-o’clock early hours of a Friday after rampaging through a 2 hour-long take-home poli-sci final).
Well folks, I am here to announce the official return of the Schwarmenius & Friends blog! Sometime within the next two weeks, I will release the first regular post of our revival (gonna need some time to figure out material and whatnot). As a teaser, some of the ideas I’m tossing about mi cabeza include, but are not limited to:
-Firearms & military history
-Music recommendations & very shallow reviews (never claimed to be a professional)
-Political analysis & theory, likely focusing on topics such as firearms, national security, civil liberties, etc.
-TEASER: First planned post in this category covers my theory of “Paveway Diplomacy”
-MAYBE some wading into the shores of philosophical thinking
-Video gaming thoughts, reviews, analysis, etc.
-Some (likely sporadic) posts on various parts of popular culture (e.g.: TV, movies, stand-up comedy, entertainers, etc.)
-And perhaps even a post or two on “good” eating
-DISCLAIMER: In this context, the specific meaning of “good” can be subjective
This is just a couple of general categories I’m mulling about right now – some of those listed may not make it, some that I haven’t even thought of as of yet may make the final cut. In short though, I wanted to thank our (likely very few) readers for their past viewership, and hope I can add at least a handful more to those ranks in the coming weeks, months, and years. I strongly encourage you to participate in this blog if you feel the urge – comments, questions, debates, anything that livens up the place.
As a last order of business, I also wanted to state that as of now, we have only two content writers/contributors – myself, and the honorable Mr. Shane. If you think you’d like to contribute to creating content for this little slice of bandwidth (and can respect my ownership and, ultimately, supreme rule over the running of the blog), feel free to contact me here on on my Facebook page. Whatever you feel like adding to this site, no matter how large or small, I’ll be happy to discuss things with you!
With that said, I again thank our previous readers/friends/family/passers-by for their patronage, and eagerly look forward to the future of this Not-So-Grand American Experiment!
-E.M. Schwarm (A.K.A.: “Schwarmenius”)
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