Saturday, December 12, 2015

Review - Insurgent (2015), Xmas gaming review

I didn't like the Divergent movie.  I just want to make that clear.  I watched and reviewed the original, and it betrayed the very same values it set forth.  That's never a good idea when you're dealing with someone who can spot the plot holes, especially someone who's already managed to suspend their disbelief about the ridiculous ideas the movie sets forth in the first place.  In that vein, I decided to watch and review the sequel, Insurgent, just to let people know how bad I expected it to be.

Insurgent (2015) picks up the story 5 days after the end of the first movie.  If you remember, Janine and her Erudite cronies corrupted the Dauntless class (the warrior caste in a 5-class social system) and tried to take power over the other classes.  Because of a few divergents and some loyal dauntless, the plan failed, and Tris Prior (the heroine of the last movie) was presented with a choice.  Kill Janine, the Erudite responsible for the power-grab, or run and hide.  My biggest problem with the first movie was that Tris, going against all of her Dauntless training (a class she chose to become), chose to run and hide, instead of killing the bad guy, which is what she was trained to do.  It's not like it would have been hard to do.  She had Janine.  She already foiled the plan.  She knew Janine would only continue down her chosen path of power-hungry world domination.  The Dauntless are trained to protect the class system, and Tris chose to ignore her training and run and hide.  Insurgent continues Tris's struggles against Janine's power-grab, this time revolving around a 5-sided "box" that Janine thinks will re-invigorate the class system with a message from the Founders.  Problem is, only Tris can open the box...

Okay, let's start with the problems left over from the last movie.  Tris and her friends are hiding out, 5 days after the end of the first movie, and talking about how Janine is never going to stop, and they should have killed her.  Yes, I knew this at the end of the last movie, thanks for catching up.  Could have saved yourself watching the next two movies just by ending it there, but whatever.  Apparently, I'm 'Erudite' enough to have figured that shit out ages ago.

Next, we've got the Dauntless class searching for the rebel Divergents with a brand-spanking new handheld detector that can sniff out divergents in the blink of an eye.  Yes, at the end of the last movie, 5 days previous, they were barely even a rumor.  Now, every last Dauntless has a handy-dandy popup that tells him who to shoot.  Pretty rapid technological progress in 5 days, innit?

Then they have this stupid trial in the Candor class that somehow makes Tris alienate her only remaining friend.  I really have no idea why they did this.  Seemed ridiculously stupid, and doesn't do anything for the plot whatsoever.  She could have just told her friend the secret she was hiding, saving her friend the knowledge that she lied to her.  Also, there was no particular reason that the information needed to be revealed.  Yes, she was under a truth serum at the time, but the question of her friend's name didn't need to be asked.  Why was it important?  No reason!  Just farking with you!  Ha ha!  Good one, eh?  Stupid movie.

After all that, there wasn't even a good fight scene.  Just a bunch of CGI stuff that wasn't even real, and I'm not spoiling anything by saying that, because it's part of the plot that's it's not real.  I haven't even given away a single spoiler.  I'm sure there's other things that would bug me, if I hadn't been drinking during the whole movie.

Well, Shailene woodley showed a little leg at the beginning of this movie, and that's about all the good that I can say about it.  Not that she's particularly attractive, but meh.  I like my movies with more eye candy.  Perhaps it's overly masculine and not politically correct, but I am 45 years old and I was born before Political Correctness was invented.  It doesn't apply to me.  It's called a 'grandfather clause.'  Google that shit.

So, would I watch Insurgent again?  Hell, no.  I'm sorry I watched it the first time.  I didn't watch Divergent after the first time I viewed it again, either.  Given the past history of the series contradicting itself, I can't really expect the currently-filming third installment (and the planned fourth?  jesus there's 4 movies of this crap?  wtf!) to be any better at preserving the continuity.  Yea, I think I'm going to stop at number two and call it what it is.  Number 2, and I mean that in the excrement sense.  Insurgent is playing on HBO this month, if you think you can sit through it yourself, without tossing things at your TV.

In other news, it's the holiday season!  Yea, my second favorite time of the year, only approaching Halloween because I get presents in addition to tons of xmas candy.  I've already caught 2/3rds of my holiday favorites; the Charlie Brown Xmas thing aired a couple weeks ago, watched that.  They'll show it again before the 25th, I am sure.  Already watched National Lampoon's Xmas Vacation, my favorite Holiday movie ever.  We've seen it so many times, me and my family can quote the lines to each other all month long.  Only one that's left is the 1966 cartoon about the Grinch Stealing Xmas, and not that two-hour long crappy live action movie shite.  I'm sure I'll catch the original cartoon before Xmas, and if I don't, I still know it by heart, anyway.

I also caught A Very Murray Xmas on Netflix.  Bill Murray is a great comedian, and a good actor, but not a very good singer.  Still, he does his best to get through singing some holiday favorites with a few guest stars, notably Paul Shafer (from the David Letterman show) on piano, George Clooney (also a favorite of the Letterman crowd) making a guest appearance, and Miley Cyrus belting out some holiday tunes while wearing a rather short Santa outfit.  Now, I realize I am probably unique among the male gender in that, I have not actually seen Miley performing in a video before, but she does appear to be able to sing.  I know, it sounds like a bit of an understatement, given that she's a hugely popular singer and all, but I'm a bit slow to catch on.  Miley did do a good job with Silent Night (one of my personal favorite xmas songs), and was one of the few singers on Bill Murray's "xmas variety hour" that was worth listening to.  This may also be an understatement, but Miley is also easy on the eyes, too.  Meh, I calls 'em as I sees 'em.  Would I watch 'A Very Murray Xmas' again?  No, but it wasn't bad the first time.  I admit to fast-forwarding through some of the crappier songs, but come on.  I watch Bill Murray because he can make me laugh, not because he can sing.  If that makes him typecast, so be it.

I may start an annual gaming post about the games that I think are worthy of going under the xmas tree for the gamers in your life.  The only problem is, I don't like to review games I haven't played, and since Xmas isn't here yet, I don't have the games to review them.  This presents an awkward problem.  I can review a couple games I have played, purchased during Steam's Black Friday Sale (there were some huge discounts I couldn't resist).

Counterstrike: Global Offensive is pretty popular right about now, and very cheap.  $15 will get you the game off of Steam (a free service offered by Valve that allows you to purchase games directly from the internet, similar to GOG, but much more advanced and prettier, imho), and they may discount the price again once Xmas draws near.  Last time I logged on, I think it said something about 300,000+ players online, playing CS:GO at that very time, so you're pretty much not going to have any trouble finding people to play against.  There are several things I don't like about the game, but how well you do is mostly based on your skill.   The random weapons you get when you respawn are kind of hard to get used to, although I see people with customized weapons killing me all the time, so maybe spawning with custom weapons is something I haven't figured out how to do yet.  Also, there doesn't seem to be an 'iron sights' function usually common in other shooters, basically the ability to look down the sights of your weapon to increase your accuracy.  You can do this with sniper rifles, looking through the scope with the right mouse button, but for some reason, the right mouse button doesn't do the same with all the other weapons.  Seems goofy, but all the right mouse button does with those weapons is change the firing configuration (IF the weapons has another firing mode...  if not, it does nothing).  It seems ridiculous to me that an armed soldier cannot look down the sights of his own weapon to increase his accuracy, so neglecting to put this feature into the game seems retarded to me.  I've looked through the keyboard options and can't seem to find an option to make the right mouse button look through the iron sights, but maybe I'm just missing it somewhere.  (shrug)  Either way, it seems stupid not to have that as the default right-mouse button option, considering it works exactly that way for sniper rifles.

CS:GO uses the 'bullet circle' option common to most shooters nowadays, simulating how crappy a shot you are by drawing a circle on the screen that marks off where your bullets are going to go, randomly.  If your target is within the defined circle, chances are good that you will hit him, but it's not definite.  I think this was done to make sniping a more attractive option, but on the tiny maps that CS:GO offers, there's not really much need for the long-distance sniper rifles they are offering.  In any case, the only possible way to narrow the bullet circle (and thus improve your accuracy) is to stop and crouch, which, while it sounds ridiculous in a pitched firefight, is apparently what the game's creators think is the only way to make your shots more accurate.  Hey, how bout this for making your shots more accurate?  STOP DRAWING A BULLET CIRCLE ON THE SCREEN AND LET MY BULLETS GO WHERE THE DAMN CROSS HAIRS ARE.  Seriously.  I mean, that's how real guns work, right?  Look, you've got guys running around, blasting the shit out of each other with shotguns, smg's, pistols, whatever.  It's going to be hard enough to put the crosshairs on the enemy while they're hopping and jumping off of buildings like parkour experts while firing shots at me in midair.  I don't need the game to decide that I randomly miss a guy with a sawed-off shotgun while he's 5 feet away.  That's just stupid, and completely unrealistic, as is expecting every solider to stop running and squat so he can improve his accuracy during a running gun battle.  Also, maybe making the CROUCH button something I can find easily would be a good thing, don'tcha think?   I still have no idea how to crouch.  It's none of the usual keys, so until I find it, my game consists of running at guys with a machine gun, hoping some random bullet in my bullet circle caps the guy in the head before he guns me down.  It's an effective strategy (i often come in 5th or 6th place out of 20 some guys), but completely unrealistic.

Other than those nagging little issues, I guess CS:GO isn't a bad buy for $15, but I got it on sale at half price and I'm still wondering if I should have waited til it was cheaper.  On the plus side, if there's a pay-to-win feature involved in the game, I haven't found it yet.  Oh, I'm sure it's there, but it's probably as hard to find as the CROUCH key, so I can't rage about it yet.

Also, and I hesitate to review a game before it's out of beta, but I've been playing some ARK:Survival Evolved.  It's what I call a "dinosaur" game, one of those jurassic-park things that pits armed humans against dinosaurs.  In ARK's case, it starts out humans at the neanderthal level of technology, which pretty much tosses humans off the top of the food chain.  You start out naked and afraid (well, I was afraid) on a beach on an island dominated by extinct species, and if you don't start constructing some shelter and learning to make weapons pretty quick, you're going to end up T-rex food.  Or, raptor food (yes, there are Velociraptors).  Or scavenger food (yes, a couple dinos a foot tall will kill you quickly if you try punching them).  Or, you'll get trampled by a Triceratops.  Or eaten by Megapiranha.  Suffice it to say, there's a multitude of ways to die, and that's just single player.  In multi-player mode, your fellow humans will kill you before anyone else does, because they hate you more.  Raptors may kill and eat you, but humans will kill you just for fun.  They're dicks that way.

Still, the game's not un-fun most of the time, and fleeing for my life from a t-rex while turning and chucking spears at it over my shoulder is kind of a blast.  Sure, I ended up as food for the T-rex anyway, because he runs really fast, but death isn't necessarily permanent, unless you're playing Hardcore mode.  I don't like the fact that you need to "level up" in order to learn to construct additional (more advanced) weapons, but I guess they had to make some sort of method for gaining new weapons and learning to access additional resources.  It's far from ideal, but starting out by constructing primitive spears isn't without a certain appeal.  I don't think I'll soon forget the first time I threw a spear as hard as I could, sailing it through the air and into the side of a Brontosaurus, who only reacted to the offending poke enough to flick me with its tail (which was on the other side of a hill from me) and send me flying into the ocean, bruised, bleeding, and battered.

ARK is still in development, and things may change (including the half-off price of $17 that I got it for from Steam), but the graphics are good and the gameplay is more fun with a group.  Not sure if the final version will be worth the money, and the game has some player-base issues (including chinese hackers), but it might be worth a look for those gamers in your life.

The only other game I am playing this holiday season is Minecraft, and yes, I am still playing it after all these years.  I think I've been playing it since 2009 or so?  Just a guess.  It beat my Starcraft record by 3 years so far, and it's still going.  Minecraft is still fun, although I am still waiting for the addition of fish, birds (re-skin a bat already, would you?) and frogs (re-skin a rabbit and lop off the ears!).

That's all for now!  If I don't post again before then, Happy Holidays and a Merry New Year!  :-D

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