Suburban Timewaster

I play video games and review them.

Archive for the month “June, 2017”

Game of Thrones Episode 3: The Sword in the Darkness (Steam Store)

It’s out of the frying pan and into the fire for the Forrester family.  The Whitehills occupy Ironrath, Cersei reveals Mira’s alliance with Tyrion, the Lost Legion pursues Asher as he looks to hire sellswords and Gared must choose between saving the Forrester family, or staying true to the Night’s Watch.  Can the Forresters survive this entire struggle and win back their livelihood?

So far, there seems to be one serious problem with this plot and it’s that there is not one single likable person among the Whitehills.  Every single one of them has been made cartoonish to the point of being a Power Rangers villain.    They go so far as to re-enact the death of Ethan Forrester and run the land as if it is their own, chopping down trees needlessly to make ironwood and causing deforestation.  The only exception is their daughter, who I will talk about more in the future.  While the original Game of Thrones had your classic evil villains, such as Joffrey and Ramsay, there were plenty of smart villains to maintain the balance, Tywin Lannister and Roose Bolton being prime examples.  As the lawful evil characters, they were both responsible for keeping the chaotic evil characters in line.  Another thing that separates the show from the game is that, while Rob is clearly on the side of good and Joffrey on the side of evil, both have people of good and evil who fight for them.  For instance, Barristan Selmy is a member of the King’s Guard and, as such, shows loyalty to whoever the current King may be, whether his intentions are just or selfish.  The only reason Barristan sided with Daenarys is because Joffrey had the man thrown out.  Davos is another example of a good man who is on the wrong side, loyal to the insane Stannis due a lordship granted by him.  The prime example would be the episode where Stannis tries to siege King’s Landing to take his rightful place as heir to the throne.  Even though Joffrey is the villain, we still see the women and children huddled up in a shelter and know that, if Stannis is successful, his soldiers will rape and murder them.  Later on, Margaery Tyrell introduces herself to King’s Landing by helping the orphaned children, one of them living in these conditions due to a war Joffrey started.  Not only does it show the horrors of war, how it destroys lives and how, no matter which side wins, innocent people when die, it also serves to make Joffrey more despised as a character.  Those of you who’ve seen the show know that the War of the Five Kings started because Joffrey refused to show Ned Stark mercy when he pled guilty.  So many innocent lives lost because Joffrey acted through anger and hatred.

Speaking of Joffrey, the lengths this game goes to not show him borders on downright ridiculous.  At the beginning of Episode 3, Cersei forbids both Mira and Sera from attending the wedding, which contradicts the original show.  For those of you who don’t know, the designers based Mira Forrester’s look on that of an extra who played a handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell.

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Now, I might be wrong about this but, in the show, I distinctly remember that extra being at the wedding.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a little pointless to remake The Purple Wedding for the game, but it feels a little strange to contradict the show like this.  The only point this scene plays is that Tyrion Lannister, at first played as a valuable ally to Mira, is now a liability due to Cersei suspecting him of Joffrey’s death.

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This is what motivates her to take action.

Asher Forrester’s character seems incredibly similar to Han Solo from Star Wars. Lovable rogue who makes wisecracks, manages to make time for money and even gets a scene with an old friend similar to Han and Lando in The Empire Strikes Back.  For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, Han goes to see Lando when there’s no one else for him to turn to.  Lando, at first, greets Han with hostility but then laughs to reveal that it was little more than a joke.  Then he betrays Han to Vader.  Thankfully, Asher’s friend works for Daenarys, so it doesn’t play out exactly the same.  He also has his own little conflict between Malcolm and Beshka who don’t really trust each other.  Beshka is Asher’s partner in crime and I do appreciate that she’s not a love interest as so often happens when fiction teams a man and a woman up.  However, the game does imply that she’s a lesbian.  Malcolm is the brother to Lady Elissa Forrester and, in Episode 2, sent by her to retrieve Asher for extra muscle.  He is Asher’s only connection to the Forrester family.

Meanwhile, Gared continues serving in exile at The Wall.  His job is to locate the North Grove, even if it means breaking his vows.  For those of you who haven’t seen the show, when you join the Night’s Watch, it’s for life.  Desertion is punishable by execution, as seen in the very first episode.  Therefore, you can bet that Gared’s uncle Duncan is asking too much of him.  It doesn’t help that Britt, the man who murdered Gared’s family, has also taken the black.  Jon is the one who reminds Gared of his vows that he would never harm another member of the Night’s Watch.

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Regardless of whatever crime they committed. Those of you who’ve read my previous reviews for Game of Thrones know that Jon Snow is the love of my life.  I even have a T-shirt that reads Run like White Walkers are chasing you and Jon Snow is waiting for you at Castle Black that I wear often.  However, this is one of the instances where Jon is being too naive to see the big picture.  While he does remind Gared to uphold his vows and not kill Britt in vengeance, it doesn’t occur to Jon to give the same lecture to Britt regarding Gared.  I doubt it would’ve done much good, but Britt seeking out Gared and trying to murder him never even crosses Jon’s mind.  Spoiler alert, that’s exactly what Britt does.

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Earlier, I mentioned the Whitehills committing deforestation and the only good member being their daughter, Gwyn Whitehill.  However, what I have yet to tell you is that she arranges a meeting between herself and Rodrick, the current head of the Forrester household.  It’s Gwyn who wants to see peace between the feuding families while, at the same time, still loves her family.  She goes against her family’s wishes and sees Rodrick in secret.  Those of you who have read my review for Guardians of the Galaxy know the problem I have with Gamora’s character and I take the same issue with Gwyn.  While I appreciate that she expects Rodrick not to trust her, going as far as praising him for bringing a knife with him, once again the story tasks the only woman with being the good and reasonable one of the group.  This scene also takes the time to give an environmental message by showing the destruction the Whitehills have done to the forest.  Let me point out that the source of the Forrester family’s income is Ironwood, which they get from the trees in the forest.  While the Forresters also chop down trees, they are not so reckless in their endeavors that they destroy every tree in sight.  If they destroy the forest, then there is no more ironwood.  Such a move will destroy their business, something the Forresters take into consideration, and the Whitehills do not.  It’s similar to the message in Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, where reckless chopping for thneeds puts the Onceler on top for a while but, in the end, destroys his business and livelihood when the last truffula tree falls.  However, considering that the Onceler only needed the leaves, it was stupid of him to chop down the trees for his product in the first place.

In my last review, I talked about how amazing the ending to episode 2 was with the switch between scenes as Talia sings.  This ending, while not ending on a song, does not disappoint.  The scenes pan to Rodrick and Talia talking about how to handle the Whitehill occupation while Mira destroys the document Tyrion had not yet signed before Cersei arrests him.  Gared also faces trial for the murder of Britt and Asher meets the one and only Daenarys, who is my second favorite character on the show.  Each of them, in their own ways, is doing what they can to help House Forrester.  Even Mira, who is not combat proficient like her brothers are, but is still risking her life retrieving Tyrion’s unsigned document in order to make another deal to save her family.

The game play is typical Telltale with you getting to pick dialogue options for the characters you play.  Some choices are more important than others though, let me tell you, they don’t really matter in the end.  For instance, there is one point where Tyrion wishes to talk to you in private but Margaery, who tells you that she will fire you if you continue to associate him, won’t allow it.  She gets mad at you whether you go off with Tyrion or not.

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There will be times when you have to press the right button for QuickTime events or end up dead.  Other scenes will have you walk around with the character you play while examining certain items as you explore.  When you’ve finished the episode, you can compare your choices to that of other players.

This game is fun but, so far, seems like wasted potential.  I give it 6 out of 10, a must if you’re a Game of Thrones fan.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Episode 1: Tangled Up In Blue (Steam Store)

Thanos is on the rise and it’s up to the Guardians of the Galaxy to bring him down.  Can they save the galaxy and still make a profit doing it?

Many people might play this game thinking that it’s set in the movie timeline and they couldn’t be more wrong.  Others might suggest that the game is set in the comic book universe and I’ll admit to having a very limited knowledge of the comics.  Therefore, I wouldn’t be able to confirm that.  However, I have heard that, while the game draws inspiration from the comics and the movies, it actually takes place in its own universe.  For one thing, and this is a huge spoiler, Thanos dies in the first episode of the game.  There are also other hints, such as Starlord admitting that he never met the collector, Starlord’s tape being called the rad mix rather than the awesome mix and the flashbacks to Starlord’s past being different than what they were in the movie.

As I said earlier, this game takes place in its own universe.  For starters, I doubt setting the game in the movie universe would allow them to kill Thanos so easily.  Just in case you’ve been living on Mars for the past decade, Thanos is not only the Big Bad of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, but also features in the Avengers movies behind the scenes.  Rumors claim that Thanos will be the Big Bad in the Avengers: Infinity Wars movies, resulting in the Avengers and the Guardians teaming up to defeat him.  In the video game, the Guardians kill Thanos in the very first episode and the rest of the story is about life for the Guardians after the one enemy who brought them together is defeated.

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Despite not being set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the characters are still true to form to their movie counterparts.  Starlord is still the smartass leader, Drax the literal-minded vengeful warrior, Rocket the greedy tech genius with an attitude, Gamora the former assassin turned voice of reason and Groot is just… Groot.  Each of them even go through their own little subplots.  Starlord has to deal with his team falling apart, Rocket considers leaving and living off his fame, Drax is wondering what to do now that his quest is complete and Gamora has to make things up with her sister, Nebula.

As I mentioned earlier, there are flashbacks to Starlord’s past in the game, but what I didn’t tell you is that it’s the case of a new artifact known as the Eternity Forge.  This device is capable of bringing life back but at a strong price, you have to murder someone.  Therefore, you can bet that this device is trying to tempt Starlord to bring his mother back and he’s not the only person who wants it.  Hala the Accuser wants to use it to bring back the Kree race and is willing to kill billions in order to do so.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the smurfette principle, which is one token woman among men.  The Guardians are no exception with Gamora being the single woman among a whole group of men.  I’ll admit, I actually love Gamora’s character.  She’s a tough as nails former assassin gone good, she doesn’t take any crap and she actually lives up to her reputation.  Unlike most arrangements where you see the man with a sword and the woman with a gun, Starlord usually handles the guns and Gamora fights with her sword.  Since Starlord is a former space pirate and Gamora a trained assassin, it makes sense that the former would specialize in ranged weaponry while the latter is more proficient in close range combat.  Gamora also has her own past and problem and, despite being what tvtropes calls a Green-Skinned Space Babe, there’s more to her than being an exotic beauty.  If the Star Trek writers plan to bring Orion women back, they need to watch Guardians of the Galaxy and take notes.

However, there are still some problems with Gamora’s character.  More often than not, she is the voice of reason and morality.  When the Guardians discuss what to do with Thanos’s body, it’s Gamora who suggests bringing it to Nova Corps while Rocket wants to sell it to the Collector.  There is another situation where you have to choose whether to bring Drax or Gamora on a mission.  Drax is the one that wants to kill every Kree they come across while Gamora feels that it would be best to sneak in and not draw attention to themselves.  Maybe this wasn’t intentional but, to me, it feels like they purposely made the only woman on the team the mature and responsible one.  Which, as a woman myself, I am neither one.  Not to mention that, once again, a franchise makes a hot alien woman for men to gawk at but women don’t get exotic fan service.  Yes, I am well aware that Starlord is hot but keep in mind that he is also human.

The game play is your typical Telltale style.  You take control of Starlord and pick his dialogue.

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There are some scenes where you make important choices and you have to be fast to respond to quick time events.  Let me tell you, they will sneak up on you when you least expect it.  However, there are some differences.  One is the ability to use a communicator to contact people who aren’t with you.  You also get to explore the ship and can check the terminal for codex info and your email.

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I’ll admit, I have a soft spot for games that let you do the latter.  Don’t know why.

The game is intriguing and addictive.  I give it 7 out of 10, a good take on the Guardians of the Galaxy.

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