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Messages - honk

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1
Arts & Entertainment / Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« on: January 25, 2020, 05:42:37 AM »
Star Wars: Fallen Order

Like junker said, the ending of this game is dogshit. It's not quite as bad as, say, Shadow of War or Far Cry 5, but it's up there. There are two main reasons for this.

The first is a gratuitous and entirely random appearance from Darth Vader after the final boss is defeated, resulting in a very brief and not at all challenging sequence where you attack him futilely and then run away. The scene serves absolutely no purpose other than to apparently demonstrate what a badass Vader is and how he's so much tougher and more awesome than the hero and any other character in the game. It's shallow pandering to the Vader fanboys, in other words, and I wouldn't be so concerned if not for the fact that this is the second time this has happened recently - the other example being, of course, the ending to Rogue One. Is this going to continue to be a thing in the future? Pointless Vader cameos where he swoops in and shows everybody up as an ending, all to earn the adulation of idiot dudebros on the Internet screaming, "OMG IT'S VADER HE'S SO BADASS I CAME LOL!" These are supposed to be professionals who write these things, and yet Vader keeps entering stories with all the grace and finesse of a fanfic written by a teenager starring his favorite character as a Mary Sue.

The second problem with the ending, and it's a far more substantive one, concerns the MacGuffin the plot centers around. It's basically an encrypted list of all the Force-sensitive children in the galaxy, and after spending the whole game being motivated by the thought of rebuilding the Jedi Order, and so many solemn conversations about the importance of rebuilding the Jedi Order, the main character ends up nonchalantly smashing the device after a premonition shows him that they could be putting those children in danger from the Empire. And then the game just ends abruptly. Now, I can see where they're coming from, and it's perfectly reasonable for the characters to simply have a change of heart and realize that the best thing to do sometimes is just leave everything alone, but they never really treat the idea of what to do with the list as a dilemma at all, and only vocalize concerns about the danger to the children once or twice before the ending. The way the scene plays out, it looks like it was supposed to be a twist that we didn't see coming, and that just leaves you feeling like everything you did in the game was for nothing. Incidentally, I wonder if concerns about making sure the story stayed faithful to the films' canon played a role in ensuring that nothing really big or galaxy-changing (like, say, founding a new Jedi Order during the reign of the Empire) could happen as a result of the story.


All that aside, the game is pretty good. It's an odd blend of genres, on the one hand being a Soulslike, but on the other being a cinematic, scripted action game in the vein of something like Uncharted, with a heavy emphasis on platforming. There's a lot of cool lightsaber and Force action, where you can throw enemies into each other, toss them off platforms, deflect lasers back at them, hold them in place in front of you and pound them, and so on. The parrying system, and more broadly close combat with enemies you're expected to fence with, doesn't fare so well. It's not broken, far from it, but there's a distinct lack of polish there, especially in comparison with, say, Sekiro. Blows that don't visually connect with your character still do damage, weapons on the other side of the enemy's body to where your blow is landing still somehow manage to block you, along with a few other little quirks of that sort. It gets the job done, though, and you can usually just back up and push them off a ledge anyway.

The story and characters are about what you'd expect from a fairly average Star Wars movie. It's a tired MacGuffin hunt, with all the typical clichés, like villains popping up to predictably reveal that, oh no, you led them to their goal! The main character is bland, but at least he's an endearing kind of bland, and I really do appreciate that he looks nothing like a typical video game hero. There's a mentor character who inevitably reveals her dark origins, because of course that would be a part of her story. There's an adorable droid who steals the show entirely, because I guess creating cute droids is something that all SW creators have prioritized lately. Not complaining. There's one great character who ends up joining your ship's crew - but this is at pretty much the end of the game, so there isn't much point to it. In short, I guess you could say that the game really does feel like the SW experience, for better and for worse. It's hokey as hell, but that's not always a bad thing.

My biggest problem with the game is how cumbersome it is to traverse the levels. Why, oh why, couldn't they have given us some warp/fast-travel points? Just having them in a few key spots in each level would have made exploration so much more bearable. Yes, there are shortcuts you unlock, but they're not usually very convenient ones, and there's still a ton of running and jumping and climbing you have to do to get from one end of a level to another. The game encourages you to return to previous levels to find things that are now available to you because of your new abilities/equipment, but then I'd glance at the map and think, "Oh hell no, I'm not going to go through all that again just to get these new items." A mini-map and compass in the HUD would have been nice to include, too. It's tiresome to always be having to pull out the map in order to get a bearing on where you are and where you're going.

All in all, good game. It killed a couple of days for me, anyway.

2
Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Trump
« on: January 23, 2020, 03:47:14 PM »
No, people do still vote in presidential elections;
To determine how their state will vote, in accordance with that state's particular rules. This is distinct from the people directly voting, as evidenced by the fact that Hillary Clinton is not currently POTUS.

As opposed to counties, which don't vote at all.

3
Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Kyle Jurek
« on: January 23, 2020, 12:57:56 AM »
Every campaign has hundreds of field organizers. There's nothing suggesting that this guy is at all especially important or influential, and I don't see him as a credible source for his claim that his beliefs are widespread among the campaign. I'm embarrassed for O'Keefe that he's trying to present this as as some kind of takedown of Bernie.

4
Arts & Entertainment / Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« on: January 22, 2020, 01:52:38 AM »
Sekiro is brutal, but you've inspired me to give it another shot. Despite being superficially a Soulslike, you don't have nearly the same number of options to building a character and fighting that you would in those games. You really have to master the system of split-second parries and counterattacks. You can't level yourself up, you can't switch out your equipment, you can only git gud.

The Punisher

GUN wasn't the only third-person shooter released in 2005 with Thomas Jane voicing the main character. This game is dated and janky, with some pretty crappy boss fights and Z-grade writing, but I still enjoyed it. For all its faults, it is entirely unapologetic about what kind of a character the Punisher is, and lets you gruesomely gun down, torture, and creatively execute hundreds of criminals with gleeful abandon. Hilariously, some of the more grisly deaths are crudely censored by quick cutaways or the screen abruptly turning black after the ESRB wet themselves and threatened the game with an AO rating once they saw them. What I'd really love is a modern game as a sort of spiritual successor to this one, one that can do for the Punisher what the Arkham series did for Batman and that PS4 exclusive did for Spidey. But that seems incredibly unlikely now, as such a game would of course become a firestorm of controversy of the kind that Marvel and Disney would be desperate to avoid. Stupid puritans ruining our fun. Anyway, I loved the game, and I'm sure that most Punisher fans would too.

5
Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Kyle Jurek
« on: January 21, 2020, 08:24:00 PM »
So basically, James O'Keefe recorded some random-ass employee of Bernie's campaign saying stupid shit, much to the jubilation of right-wing media across the Internet. Shut it down, Bernie, you're in disgrace.

6
Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Trump
« on: January 19, 2020, 12:10:19 AM »
Counties don't vote! People vote!
Given that we're talking about US presidential elections, you're obviously wrong. States vote.

No, people do still vote in presidential elections; they just don't directly decide the winner. Measuring votes by county, however, is entirely arbitrary.

7
Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Trump
« on: January 17, 2020, 08:54:45 PM »
Trump doesn't care, his fans don't care, and the Republicans in Congress determined to protect him don't care.

https://twitter.com/betsy_klein/status/1217907254688657414

That stupid map again. Of course Trump would just have it lying around as an ego-booster for an election that was over three years ago. Counties don't vote! People vote!

8
Arts & Entertainment / Re: Cyberpunk 2077 E3
« on: January 17, 2020, 05:33:23 AM »
DOOM Eternal was delayed from last year to this March, and that's being published by Bethesda. Also, relevant:


9
Arts & Entertainment / Re: Cyberpunk 2077 E3
« on: January 16, 2020, 09:56:08 PM »
We are clearly being punished for something.

10
Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Trump
« on: January 14, 2020, 04:55:01 PM »
His presidency was predicted by those with insider information such as the producers of the illuminati cards and the producers of the Simpsons (zionist jesuits)  for an example They showed him descending on the escalator with Melania, he was holding his hands in the exact same way he actually did and behind him was a woman who dropped a card with the same words on it on the floor at the same moment. How can someone predict such details about the future president without inside knowledge of staged event? Are they time travelers? It’s probably more likely that they have insider information and it was a staged event.

Trump announced his candidacy with the escalator ride on June 16th, 2015. The Simpsons short "Trumptastic Voyage" aired on July 7th, 2015.

11
Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Trump
« on: January 11, 2020, 05:13:40 PM »
Omar didn't "advise" Iran to do anything. She just made the perfectly reasonable point that Trump's multinational business interests pose a major conflict of interest to his role as president, because he could be provoked into war if Iran targeted his overseas properties. Yes, ideas can be spread indirectly through innuendo and suggestion, something that Trump does all the time when he pushes conspiracy theories with his "A lot of people are saying..." lines, but that's hardly what happened here. Like, come on, of course the Iranians would have already thought of threatening Trump's properties. It doesn't take a brilliant military strategist to have that idea.

12
Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Trump
« on: January 11, 2020, 06:57:21 AM »
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-angered-by-house-allys-push-to-limit-his-authority-on-iran/2020/01/10/f4daba9c-33f5-11ea-a053-dc6d944ba776_story.html

Another key Trump ally is thrown under the bus for removing his lips from the God-Emperor's ass for just one second. To Trump, loyalty means nothing less than public fealty at all times. Gaetz may learn his lesson from this, or he may just abandon his last shred of dignity and try to crawl back into Trump's good graces.

13
Arts & Entertainment / Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« on: January 09, 2020, 02:13:37 AM »
A few more thoughts on RDR2: If the abysmal control scheme is its biggest flaw, then the general mission structure is a close second. The story and side missions are all rigidly linear and scripted to a painful degree. You're almost always partnered up with an NPC who's always telling you exactly what to do and when to do it. Switch to your bow. Take out your spyglass. Search that room. And if you want to stop and do something, like loot some bodies, he will continue to nag you until you finally do what you're "supposed" to. I could be wrong, but again, I feel like there wasn't this much scripting in the first RDR and GTA V. It really makes me question how much I'm going to want to play through this game again in the future.

I don't want to end my musings on a negative note, so I'll just return to a subject I touched on above - Arthur is great. Unlike John Marston, who comes across as a decent guy who's put his life of crime behind him from the very beginning of the first RDR, Arthur is seen at some of his lowest, darkest points. His villainy is openly and frankly presented as what it is, and while Arthur is superficially a likable and endearing character (examples of this include his loyalty to the gang, his affection towards his horse, his dorky habit of writing and sketching in a journal, and even how he pronounces the word "sure"), that's never used as an excuse to simply brush off his behavior like it would be for a GTA protagonist. It's only over the course of the story, as Arthur examines his dark life and the legacy he'll leave behind, that he manages to achieve the "redemption" of the title and make it feel truly earned.

GUN

When life robs Colton White of all that matters, the only thing he can trust is his GUN.

I'd probably have liked this game a lot more if I had played it when it came out in 2005. It's an open-world third-person Western shooter, and there is absolutely nothing in it that both RDR titles don't do considerably better. At least the Call of Juarez series is distinguished by being first-person. To look at it more objectively for what it was for its time, it's okay. The run-and-gun action is okay, the story is okay, the voice cast is solid, the soundtrack is actually pretty good, and I enjoyed it well enough. The open world is really lackluster, though. It's very small, with just two tiny towns, and despite the nominal presence of NPCs on the streets, the world feels eerily dead. There's no chatter, no bustle, no energy, no sense that there's a real world you're interacting with. A number of games that came out around that time or even earlier had much better open worlds, like Morrowind, Spider-Man 2, and the three latest GTAs. I guess this game does bear the distinction of being the first open world Western game, but that's not worth much if the world isn't any good.

GUN is an interesting game more for its role in the history of Western vidya than its own qualities. I'm glad I played through it, but I can't really recommend it to anyone when you could just be playing either RDR instead.

14
Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Trump
« on: January 06, 2020, 09:01:23 PM »
And it's not envy, it's just a fact that Trump thinks he is the expert on every subject when the reality is he knows very little.
Most of what he says is demonstrably not true.
And he's in charge of the most powerful country in the world.
Will it affect you and me? Probably not. But it does affect a lot of people. Just because you're not one of them, doesn't make it OK.
Orange man bad. Yeah sure. You need to deal with not getting the thing you wanted. I don't know if it is only child syndrome or everyone gets a medal culture ... but you need to learn to take defeat with humility.

This is not even close to being a relevant response.

15
Arts & Entertainment / Re: Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
« on: December 28, 2019, 09:04:36 PM »
Yeah, it really takes genius to make a blockbuster that lends itself easily to heavy merchandising and appeals to Chinese audience. It's not like we get a dozen or so of those movies every year, and it's certainly not like any of them ever turn out to be good. Quality and profitability are simply mutually incompatible.

16
Arts & Entertainment / Re: Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
« on: December 28, 2019, 05:31:19 AM »
Okay, I'm still grasping for the relevance of your random comments on white people or whatever to my post. And Abrams - or whatever faceless committee conceived that moment - were not trying to do the right thing. They were trying to score points for being woke while also catering to homophobic institutions by ensuring the gayness was confined to one tiny moment that could easily be censored without consequence. This is far from the first time this has happened, and it's not a coincidence that so many blockbusters lately been "representing" gay people by putting them into a minuscule moment, usually in the background, that's of no real consequence to the story. They're doing it to accommodate Chinese censors, or ideally to not offend their sensibilities in the first place. Being pro-gay rights but only to the extent that China is willing to tolerate is not a laudable stance to me.

17
Arts & Entertainment / Re: Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
« on: December 28, 2019, 02:11:30 AM »
“How DARE they try and represent a homosexual couple!!!! It should have been two white people because I know what they were thinking and it was obviously dishonest.“

-Saddam, Obviously

???

Quote
How the fuck are you supposed to progress to a world where these moments are second nature if you don’t consciously introduce them first?

???

You seem to be having an argument with someone who hasn't posted in this thread.

18
Arts & Entertainment / Re: Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
« on: December 27, 2019, 08:20:24 PM »
Oh, and you know another thing that was bullshit? That gay kiss at the end of the movie between a couple of extras that idiots online that are now lauding as so wonderfully historic and progressive of Disney. Fuck off with that noise. It's a second-long moment that was clearly tailor-made to be conveniently snipped by those countries and broadcasters that frown on homosexuality. As much as I hate to use this term, it really is a perfect example of virtue signaling - pretending that they care about gay rights while quietly providing anti-gay institutions the means to easily censor the offending moments. If Disney really wants to make a stand for gay rights and give them some representation and everything, they should have actual major characters who are gay and doing gay things in a way that can't easily be censored, and take the loss when countries like China refuse to show the movie. And if maximizing their profits outweighs their progressive ideals, then they should stop pretending they give a shit to begin with.

19
Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Trump
« on: December 25, 2019, 01:33:40 AM »
He isn’t desperate, he is playing to his base.
His base that can't win an argument against a liberal without 'talking tips'?

Whether the readers of that website actually debate their liberal relatives is beside the point. This is just meant to excite Trump fans by impressing upon them that the facts are (supposedly) on their site and amuse them with the idea of triggering their "snowflake" relatives with their reasoned, logical support of the president. Like Rama said, this is red meat. It's for the benefit of Trump's base and nobody else.

20
Arts & Entertainment / Re: Now Playing (the Video Game Version)
« on: December 24, 2019, 05:22:56 AM »
My new thing is Western vidya, inspired by RDR2's recent PC release.

Red Dead Redemption 2

I feel like most people here who would have cared to play this game have probably already done so by now, but I'm still going to share my thoughts on it. RDR2 is largely carried by its two biggest strengths. One is the enormous, beautiful world, packed full of people to meet, animals to hunt, secrets to find, crimes to commit, and all of that other open world shite Rockstar gives us. I really like that the animals behave like actual animals, and that even the predators will usually try to flee rather than attack you. It's a pleasant break from franchises like Far Cry that deliberately make their animals insanely aggressive because they think it's funny. I didn't think I'd like the heavy focus on realism when I first heard about it, but it grew on me, and managing the more realistic needs of your character soon became an interesting new detail to complement my explorations. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I like that you have to eat and sleep, care for your horse, store most of your equipment on your horse, etc.

The other key strength of the game is its writing. It's wonderfully sincere and tragic from start to finish, and it's incredible for me to think that these same writers were just a few years ago churning out shallow, dated, cynical pop culture references with the GTA series when they were capable of this kind of strong dramatic work the whole time. The basic setup is of course that it's a prequel to RDR, focusing on a gang of twenty or so outlaws led by eventual RDR villain Dutch van der Linde. Every one of these characters is distinctive and interesting in their own way, and it's a joy to hang around in the camp to watch them chat, play games, sing songs, party, and plan robberies - and take part in any of these activities yourself. The player character, Arthur Morgan, is the best of them all and the worst of them all. He more than anyone else seems to recognize that no matter what wild promises Dutch makes about their future, the gang's activities just aren't sustainable in the modern world, and yet his life of crime and violence has left him unprepared to do anything other than continue down the same destructive path. If not for a very ill-advised decision to break up the gang in the fifth chapter and put the story on hold for a few action-heavy, plot-light missions, and maybe a couple of nitpicks like the fact that I didn't find Dutch to be even remotely charismatic or compelling, and an unnecessary late-game twist about a traitor in the gang that I felt weakened the thematic clash between Arthur and the game's main antagonist, I'd call RDR2 a narrative masterpiece.

I just wish the rest of the game could have lived up to the strength of the writing and the open world. The biggest flaw for me are the controls. Yes, I know that Rockstar games have never had great controls, but this game feels like a major step backwards from the first RDR and GTA V. The controls aren't just bad, they are buck wild. They feel like they were designed by aliens. Like, the aim button is also the button you have to hold down to non-violently interact with people. That's led to me accidentally threatening innocent people I only wanted to chat with more than a few times. And the fire button can also just be the aim button, depending on the context. How do you do that? Seriously, what is the thought process that leads to such a batshit design scheme? And there's more! What the hell is up with those shitty radial menus for your equipment, where you have to highlight your wanted gear (but don't hit a button), wait as the game does absolutely nothing, and then pull up the menu again to highlight the gear so you can use it? I don't even know if it's just a glitch that the first time you use the menu you can almost never actually activate your equipment. That's how bad it is! Continuing on, why do you have to hold a button for a couple of seconds instead of just tapping it for so many mundane actions? Why do you have to keep tapping a button to sprint or gallop? Why is the reload button the same button you use for melee attacks?

Speaking of the combat, it's not good. It doesn't seem to be any more sophisticated than the first RDR's combat. The cover system still feels very rudimentary and awkward, with your character seemingly confused on a regular basis about what he's supposed to be crouching behind and how to emerge from it, and the aiming is so slow and sluggish that you're pretty much forced to rely on the auto-aim system. "Slow and sluggish" could be applied to the game as a whole, really. Like I mentioned earlier with the inventory, there are a lot of issues with responsiveness, where the game simply does not do what you're telling it do via the controls, and then doesn't bother telling you why either. I'm not the first person to have suggested this, but I honestly think that Rockstar prioritizes its animations remaining smooth and consistent on screen over promptly responding to player input. For example, if you're sprinting past a shopkeeper and you hit the button to interact with them, pretty much any other game made by any other dev would have you stop mid-sprint and begin your transaction, whereas Rockstar will ignore your input and have your character continue their sprint and not let you interact with the shopkeeper until you stop sprinting and stand still in front of him. That sort of design philosophy is frustrating. Yes, there should be a balance between having things make sense on screen and allowing the player a certain level of convenience, but Rockstar leans far too heavily towards the former. The lengthy, elaborate animations for everything, requiring even more precise positioning, don't help on this matter. It's neat the first few times you see your character carefully skinning an animal, looting a corpse, or searching a cupboard. It's not so interesting after you've seen them a hundred times.

Despite its flaws, this is still a terrific game, and one that I would recommend pretty much everyone play. The things it does well, it does arguably better than any other game out there.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

I haven't played the other Call of Juarez games yet, although they're coming up. This one's good, though. It's a fun, stylish Western FPS that encourages you to rack up points by killing enemies in quick succession and in unique ways, and maximizing your score is a lot harder than it seems when you first start playing. The main story is essentially a retired gunslinger entertaining a few people at a bar with a series of tall tales in which he claims to have fought alongside and against pretty much every one of the Wild West's most famous outlaws, with the details of every level changing whenever he remembers new facts or his listeners interject with objections or corrections. It's not a very long game, but it's reasonably-priced to compensate, and I had a blast playing it. This is another one I wholeheartedly recommend.

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