Games

Halo Infinite

The last time I played Halo, was the third game in the series, all the way back on the xbox360. Then I had the chance to play the master chief collection, which was well done. Now this version comes out, and what a pile of steaming trash (there’s only one redeeming quality – the grappleshot). Everybody associated with it should be ashamed. I’m not going to comment on the garbage dump that’s the multiplayer – those that decided to charge 20 bucks for a single cosmetic should be named, shamed, and blacklisted from the industry.

I’m going to address my first complaint. Who the fuck decided that bosses should be massive bullet sponges with no strategy involved other than running away while pumping ammo into them until dead? Secondly, who decided that bosses should kill you in one hit and then, surprise, gotta do it all over again? Fact check, this isn’t Dark Souls, this is Halo. Oh, if you try to use any other equipment than the grappleshot, you’re gonna have a bad time. See, every single enemy runs much faster than you, so in tiny boss arenas, they run you down like nothing, you have to keep moving about, swinging about. If you pause to try and switch equipment (another absolutely idiotic design), you get dead. To switch on a controller, I have to press right on the d-pad and then try and remember which direction is which equipment. I’m not a game designer, but even I know that pressing right on the d-pad to switch between all of the kinds would have been an infinitely (get it) better design option.

My second complaint is the difficulty and awareness of the AI. It is ridiculous that they have flawless aim, never missing any shots, and always know exactly where I am once combat initiates. Using a wasp or any other flying vehicle is instant death, because as soon as they see you, not a single round misses. Such fun! I’m playing on NORMAL, which means, it shouldn’t be this hard, except I’m fairly sure nobody at 343 Industries ever picked up a dictionary to learn what normal means. I won’t even bother seeing what Heroic or Legendary is like, to those that play on that, you’ve got serious masochistic tendencies.

So what does the campaign offer that’s worth 80 bucks? Honestly, fuck all. I’m glad I got the game through gamepass because I would never drop money on this. Unfortunately, the whales of the world are going to ruin every single franchise because they don’t care, that’s why they whale. Higher-ups will see that they’re raking in money, and will continue with their morally corrupt ways, milking and ruining longstanding fan franchises. Fans will get it because they love the game, and that will bite us in the butt because we can’t shove it in their faces that we don’t want things this way. All I can do is write a review showcasing my severe displeasure, anger, and annoyance.

The only enjoyable parts of the game are when you’re in the semi-open world, grappling about like a poor man’s spiderman. There is a real sense of speed, and power in that, and it makes it fun to go around killing the enemy. It gives you mobility and access to areas you couldn’t normally reach. It grants verticality. Unfortunately, the base combat is such a chore that you rarely get to experience true fun. Almost every fight is you vs overwhelming odds so you can only shoot a couple times before you have to cower and wait for your shields to regenerate. This slows down gameplay to a crawl. And with the abysmal checkpoint system, sometimes you’d lose upwards of an hour of combat, because I have no idea what triggers it. It seems to be pure luck and randomness to when the game will save.

With such vast empty spaces on this Halo ring, it makes me wonder what sort of content they cut out, because it is such a shallow experience to play. Besides a handful of side content, the world seems to only exist for you to traverse it. But why would you? There’s no reward for it, and the forest biome gets boring quick. I don’t care to explore a random corner, because what would be there? Some random weapon I can find anywhere? Oh, a useless doll that adds nothing but an Easter egg that I won’t even recognize because I don’t know who the doll is of. I only recognized the Arbiter doll from Halo 2. You can save some marines (which doesn’t do anything impactful overall, just gives you some valor points), by fighting waves of enemies. You can try and take out bounty targets by fighting the waves of enemies under their control, and then killing the mini-boss. You can capture a fast travel point that reveals the surrounding area (I didn’t realize I was playing Far Cry) by fighting waves of enemies. You can capture banished outposts by doing specific objectives meanwhile fighting waves of enemies. In short, all you do is fight wave after wave of enemies on a semi-open map. Then there’s upgrade points you can find hidden about, random audio logs for lore, and killing communication towers.

There’s also skulls hidden in the world but for the most part, they are in semi-obvious locations because you look at the spot, and you can’t help but think, they probably hid it there. And you’d be right! The skulls hidden inside of missions however, are nearly impossible to find yourself. And I wouldn’t be surprised if 343i leaked the methods how to do so because there’s no way you’d figure it out on your own, especially in the final series of missions.

I was about to write that not all boss battles are that bad as I reached the final boss. I almost spoke out of hand because nope, just as stupid and terribly designed as the rest. Have to fight it in 3 stages, with waves of enemies between each stage and checkpoints only exist for the first two stages. So when you die against the boss on the third stage, you have to clear an entire wave again before being able to square off against just the boss. I also fell off the map, not just once, but several times. Talk about triple A gaming. If I was shooting the gravity hammer enemy with my sentinel beam, and he hit me, off the map I went. “Wait, there’s something else here… Something’s helping me.” The greatest cardinal sin of all, being forced to hear the same dialogue over and over and over. So fun! The boss teleports around the arena, standing still for a millisecond, before going off to a new spot, good luck shooting her! Oh, and she also shoots beams of death that take out 1/4 of your shields/health, good luck!

Honestly, this game should never have been made. Or rather, whoever they brought on to scrap their previous efforts should never be allowed to work on a game again. I would have much more enjoyed a game similar to BOTW but Halo rings with dungeons, and other new ideas. This is just a rehash of old games to greedily cash in on fan’s nostalgia – seems to be a pattern as of late, fuck originality. Either make it fully open world with no linear corridors, or take out the open world and make it only linear. Why? I absolutely hated being forced into linear areas just to advance the plot so I could get back out into the semi-open world.

Overall, this was an exercise in frustration. This is not my Halo, this is a bastardization created solely by greedy entities wishing to cash in on 20 years of nostalgia. I do not recommend this game.

Movies

The Matrix Resurrections

I decided to read several user reviews before heading into watching this movie, to see what the general public had to say. Either they simply didn’t understand the movie, refused to, or were just plain old too stupid to get it. It happens. It’s why the original movie infamously changed the point of humans being used by machines because the writers thought the audience would be too dumb to get it. They were right.

My expectations going into this, based upon the knowledge of the previous movies, is that Neo and Trinity never got to have their own story. They never got to have the epic love they were promised, they were sacrificed for the greater good, they got to save humanity. So, I expected this movie to give them that catharsis, that emotional release that fans wanted, to see Neo and Trinity together, alive, happy. And guess what? I was right, the movie is a love story and a fan send off to everything The Matrix.

The story is once again filled with philosophical topics, and observations on current society. It begins with an in-depth and meta look at the Matrix movies themselves, and as them being existing pieces of artwork within the Matrix itself. This smart self-awareness allows them to simultaneously reference themselves as being a sequel while also riffing on topics of originality, and reboots – and how they sell. It gives the viewer a starting point that this is something new while also something old. By starting with the old, you can take the viewer on a journey to showcase the new and then bring in even newer ideas.

“Quietly yearning for what you don’t have, while dreading losing what you do. For 99.9% of your race, that is the definition of reality. Desire and fear, baby.”

Spoilers From Here On

Final Warning

So the point of the starting opener is that Neo is so ingrained into the Matrix, that the creator of it all, the analyst, even has Neo believing he’s a game designer for the video games based on the movies. However, deep down, some part of Neo knows this to not be true, and subconsciously or maybe consciously, he creates a modal window into the matrix reliving the opening sequences of Trinity’s escape at the start of the first movie. This is explained as a way to force the evolution or enhancement of a program, which turns out to be Morpheus. This aspect is taken from the games as Morpheus is dead. To get Neo out, the resistance, or the real world, tried to replicate his past in an attempt to spark his memories. Yet, the Matrix is tricky and resilient, and he is not willing to let go just yet. His therapy sessions basically convince him that everything is in his mind, and it plays on that trope of ‘how do you know you’re really insane or just being gaslit?’

Now they have to move past being meta, they have to directly reference it by playing the movie physically as a medium within the Matrix itself, to force Neo to realize what’s happening. He does, and his journey into the real world is again similar to the first time around. Even Neo himself has lines mentioning that. Then his acclimatization to the real world involves fighting Morpheus similarly to his initial fight against him, except this time, he does awaken his latent powers. His mojo slowly comes back to him. We get introduced to Ion, and how the definition of us vs them changed. And all the while, we are introduced to the new crew, led by Bugs, played by Jessica Henwick who does a phenomenal job.

“The sheeple aren’t going anywhere. They like my world. They don’t want this sentimentality. They don’t want freedom or empowerment. They want to be controlled. They crave the comfort of certainty.”

Now the story starts to get into new territory, once the connection between the past and present is now set up. Neo won’t do anything without Trinity and so he plots to get back inside, and free her if, and this is the most important part of it all. Having agency and choice. If she so chooses.

Then we add a bit of Mr Smith, back in a new body, played by Jonathan Groff, to add chaos to it all, and to let him get his own ending too. We bring back an older character, aged up, from the original series. Niobe. As well as other favorites, and tie up their plots and emotional arcs.

“For mom and dad, love is the genesis of everything.”

Lana Wachowski did a great job with the story. It was obvious she cared about these characters, and that she wanted them to have everything they deserved. I loved the ending because it ties into the idea of rebirth, of change. Of not doing things the same as before. In the previous movies, Neo held all the power, a male. At the end, it becomes subverted, a female has the power. This is even promoted further by using the song Wake Up, performed by a female artist.

End Spoilers

Overall, I loved it. Keanu Reeves was a pleasure to see again in action as Neo, Carrie-Ann Moss was powerful, and delightful. The action sequences were fun, the plot never boring, and all the while I was glued to the screen wondering how it all fit together. It tells you, and you’re never quite confused as to what’s happening. I recommend it.

“Media is nothing but neuro-trigger response and viral conditioning.”

TV Shows

Hawkeye

After the success of both WandaVision, and Loki, comes yet another Disney+ show about one of the lesser screen time heroes. This time we get a look at Clint Barton, and how he’s dealing with being an avenger, his family, and a newcomer that falls into his lap because of her own shenanigans. Kate Bishop is that person, a young girl that witnessed Hawkeye in the battle of New York which forever shaped her opinion on what it means to be a hero. Together, they team up and put an end to the nefariousness of the tracksuit gang, and that of a mysterious villain who controls the undercity.

It was enjoyable seeing battles take place in the street, at a very personal level, instead of being a ‘save the world’ type deal. Everything tried to be grounded, as best as one can being a hero that shoots a bow with trick arrows, but a few things slip by that ruin the immersion. For me, it’s the way they shoot their arrows, it’s painfully obvious they’re not actually drawing real arrows or pulling the bow string back, just using CGI instead. And then the finale, several instances of Deus Ex Machina (Mother using car to ram bad guy – first, when did we hear the ignition? And secondly, she’d have to drive down the street, pull a U-turn, and then come back and line herself up). Nobody bothers to seriously injure Kate Bishop yet she’s going way harder on them, injuring bad guys. Finale should have ended with Spoiler Big Bad knocking her out to kingdom come.

We did get a nice spiritual ending/send off for Black Widow that was better, and actually tastefully done, than her own solo movie. Guess you shouldn’t piss off the mouse by asking for equal money payments. Watching Florence Pugh again, after seeing her in the trash she was in, still not sure about her acting, though it is a marked improvement over previous efforts. Jeremy Renner is the same old, he’s always just been a meh actor to me. Hailee Steinfeld is always a pleasure to watch since her Oscar nomination for True Grit, she totally outshined everyone. I could just watch her character doing her own thing, with her own show. She’s a joy to behold on screen.

Overall, it was much better, in my opinion, than the previous two tv show outings by Marvel. It had heart, and character, but out of the 6 episodes, only the finale really mattered. The rest was filler, and I guess this is a problem with Marvel’s shows. They are designed to not matter because not every fan will watch it all, some will just watch the movies, and so the plot of the shows doesn’t really matter. If Billy Bob is just going to watch the movies, then the movie will have all of the relevant information, and retain nothing from the shows. Case in point was in Spiderman: No Way Home, as nothing of Loki was mentioned, just that the multiverse shouldn’t be doing that. I digress. Hawkeye’s a fun Christmas show. You might enjoy it.

TV Shows

Alex Rider Season Two

I’ll keep this review short. It was a fun background noise while I worked on other writing. The action scenes were meh, the plot was sort of interesting – mainly trying to figure out the nefarious purpose behind the video game. Sorry, getting ahead of myself. Story is there’s something shady about a billionaire named Damian Cray and his upcoming sequel launch to his bestselling game, Feathered Serpent. Alex Rider falls into the plot by sheer accident because a journalist winds up hospitalized, and the daughter happens to be someone Alex has taking a liking to during vacation. He takes matters into his own hands, and ends up saving the world, no thanks to his former spy employers.

It was fun to see all the characters back together, getting up to their usual shenanigans, while learning just a tiny bit more about the backstory of Alex Rider. The ending of the show seems to hint that the next season will explore that facet of his history.

Overall, it was a quaint watch, reminiscent of spy shows of old. I recommend it if you’re a fan of the books or character.

Movies

Malevolent

Sometimes I like to watch ghost stories because I enjoy that bit of supernatural fun, and for the possibility of being healthily scared – preferably without a jump scare. There’s only two or so in the movie which was nice; however, halfway through, the movie decided to shit the bed and stop being a ghost story. It turned into torture porn.

Is it so hard to make a pure ghost story with inventive twists and turns without devolving into some sort of Satanist bullshit?

Based upon a novel called Hush by Eva Konstantopoulos, who shares screenwriting credit, it’s a story about two siblings, a brother and sister, who run a medium investigation service in which they con grieving relatives in regards to their dead who supposedly haunt the living. They do a script, play some sound effects, and get the people to believe it worked. Angela, the sister of the duo, is the one that plays the role of the medium because their mother apparently was one before committing suicide. They get hired by some old lady to help her stop the children’s screaming at the orphanage where she lives. Cue murderous backstory revealing the gruesome demise of the children. Cue Edgar Allen Poe and the guilt of a murderer. And you can figure it out yourself.

There is no twist ending here, simply human beings being murderous monsters. I don’t know why you had to use a ghost story for that. Should have just gone with the murder murder path. There’s too many plot points trying to vie for time, it would have gone over much better if it stuck with just one. For example, her brother needs the money because of gangsters? I wasn’t quite sure. The whole ghost story angle, and how even the brother might be sensitive to it. And then the story of the orphanage, and the old lady could have been an entire story on its own.

I watched this because I was curious to see Florence Pugh, and how she could act because I only knew her from Black Widow. It is obvious she’s yet another star brought in by who she knows, her family, and not the strength of her own bootstraps. She was atrocious here, her emotions stilted, subdued. I would say it is the fault of the writing, but look at Henry Cavill, in the trash released the other day, he was the carrying force. Yet, it didn’t save the show at all there either.

Overall, it’s yet another trash horror release by Netflix, no doubt another in the latest long line of supposedly possibly without any proof, or hearsay, money laundering schemes. Or not, I pulled it out of my ass like Lauren S. Hissrich does with her writing.