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.

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

SWAT (all 4 seasons)

I started watching this show because I was a fan of the movie with Colin Farrell, and I am a fan of Shemar Moore. And the more I got into it, eventually blazing through all four seasons, I have my ups with it and I got problems with it. First and foremost, the level of social programming at play and the PR publicity for cops is immense. Yet, it does manage to call awareness to societal issues that plague current and past times. Almost, nay, every episode is hammering home some sort of social justice which, over time, starts to pile up and become another mindless topic in the background. The fourth season is the only one that I enjoyed because it brought better awareness to the futility and failings of the American justice system. And to the racial politics at play, on both ends, cops and civilians.

That aside, it’s like watching trashy reality TV. You know it’s not great, kind of bad really, but you wanna keep watching to see what happens next. For my case, I had grown attached to the family structure at play between the characters. Between Hondo, Street, Luca, Tan, Deacon, and Chris. And then those outside that family, the Commander, Hicks, extra SWAT members – Rocker, Stevens and Mumford. I really enjoyed the dynamics between all of them, and that sense of camaraderie that follows. This for me was the bread and butter that kept me going. I wanted to see where each character would progress in terms of personal growth. I enjoyed Street’s arc the best, going from a hotshot to a dedicated member of the team. Hondo is the one I had the most issue with. He’s a straight up killer. And the show doesn’t acknowledge that. I’ve lost track of how many people he’s killed, upwards of 50 easily.

I find it ironic his character is trying to fight for what’s right for the black community and for the racial tensions between police and the community. He’s trying to stop the racial profiling at hand, yet if you’re a gangbanger with a gun, you’ll be shot dead. But if you’re a member of society who happened to pick up a gun for some misguided attempt at justice, you’ll be flash-banged and peacefully, albeit painfully, restrained. The show tries to make claims about rehabilitation, but with all the death, it’s clear that they’re trying to say only some lives matter and others don’t. 80% of actual swat calls are for narcotics, more often than not for someone OD’ing. Yet that show would have you thinking they’re used for investigative work (they don’t do that).

As for the acting, camerawork, and music: everything is quite well done. I really enjoy watching the shootouts, as mindless as they are. They give that fix of action in bite size format instead of watching a movie for it. I particularly enjoyed several driving sequences, they were inventive at times. And the camerawork takes some creative liberties that result in fun sequences. Music gets the blood pumping during the action, and pensive when it needs to be.

Overall, if you can get past the social engineering at work then you’ll have a fun time. If you can’t, you’ll not last a whole season. I’m excited for the fifth season, I’d love to see them explore Chris and Street’s burgeoning relationship further. If there was one coupling I was looking forward to the most, it was theirs.

Movies

Kate

Yet another John Wick attempt at mimicry that fails in its execution and delivery. Kate stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the titular character, who is an assassin for an organization led by Woody Harrelson. When she botches her latest job, she quickly realizes she’d been poisoned and has roughly 24 hours left to live. What follows is her rampage across Tokyo looking for the party responsible, and along the way, she earns redemption for a previous job that left a young girl fatherless.

The action is great in one sequence, at a geisha residence, with frankly, gory scenes of knife play. Everything beyond that scene is boring at best. John Wick’s gunfu worked because it was established that this is an entire universe of assassins, so in Kate, to have the bad guys try and do it, is hilarious. Sure, it’s fine for her to do it. She’s been trained since a young age. Everyone else should employ some sort of tactical sense, hide behind cover, shoot from cover. Not let’s have everyone stand in a line, while smoke comes, and there’s lasers on our guns to give off a stylish vibe. Most scenes are like this. Should we have proper gunplay? Nah, let’s go with style over function every single time. Hey, I’m a visual effects artist, I know what I’m doing as director (Cedric Nicolas-Troyan).

Despite Mary Elizabeth Winstead giving it her best – and her acting was the best part of the movie – the horrendous screenplay and direction could not save it this from being trash. The writer is one Umair Aleem, responsible for the other hot garbage movie called Extraction (Bruce Willis one). So much needless swearing, in both English and Japanese. The fight sequences lacking any knowledge of tactics, and just silly posing with guns all around. I skipped ahead using Netflix’s 10 seconds feature many times because it was simply a bore.

I don’t recommend this. Show Netflix they have got to stop dropping money on trash. Just skip it.

Movies

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf

Before this even arrived on Netflix, I was wary of it for several reasons. The first and foremost is the writer, Beau DeMayo. Looking his credits up, The Originals and a single episode of The Witcher TV show, didn’t inspire any hope. And within the first 5 minutes, it shows that the writer did not do any research into the lore and world of the Witcher. It’s like they read the books and then decided to recreate it based on what they could remember to suit their own fantasy of what the books actually are. What is on display, is your typical Netflix attempt at being woke and diverse. If I had to be frank, it’s a black guy’s fantasy of the Witcher. The black family at the start should have been from Zerrikania, not Kaedwen. And they would be a tribe of warriors if they were.

Before someone starts in with the whole, “but it’s a fantasy, anything goes”, it’s Witcher. It’s got its own rules, and law, and lore. It’s primarily Slavic and the time period that it borrowed from, had very few people of color that weren’t from their own lands. There is no racism at play. It would be like taking LOTR and making the hobbits black. It doesn’t add anything but try to appeal towards that so called diverse crowd. You can have diversity, when’s the last time we had Slavic good guys? Oh, my bad, I forgot, the Western world can’t have that. Is British-washing a term? Because that’s what they seem to be doing. Cast yet another British actor in the lead role. Definitely a type of whitewashing.

Grievances aside, animation is really good. Studio Mir does a topnotch job. Action is fluid, and easily seen. Fair bit of blood and gore to satisfy the mature audiences coming in from the games. Voice actors did fine with what they had to work with. Nothing outstanding. However, I spy with my little eye a little nepotism and I expected nothing less from Lauren Schmidt Hissrich. Casting her own son as the young voice of Geralt. After all, she’s the one whitewashing away any Slavic elements.

Overall, if I ignore the poisonous elements of the movie, and just focus on the action, yea, I would recommend it. But if you’re a Slavic fan of Witcher, and you can ignore the atrocity committed, you’ll still struggle like I did. I’m trying to not let my own venom and seething anger influence my review but it’s a struggle. Evil comes in many forms, destroying the cultural identity of an artist’s work is certainly one of them.