Thursday, April 19, 2018

Channel Awesome: The Continued Downfall

If you ever find certain people on YouTube, odds are a few are part of a group or big website. As long as things are fine, there shouldn't be any big name issues. I don't know what is going on at Channel Awesome, but if you thought things were at the bottom, the hole just got deeper and bigger if this rumor is true.

Lately, a lot of people that have worked on Channel Awesome have left and the numbers keep dwindling down in support from subscribers and the people involved. Now, the supposed rumor is that Doug Walker, one of the original people for the site, has left it. If this is true, then it will be on that list of many dead websites. Odds are this is the one you remember the most because of his character, The Nostalgia Critic. That alone probably kept the site going over the years.

When a website runs well, it knows and is fully aware of what needs to be done in order to keep the same group of individuals. Plenty of support and content that can drive a site's numbers can reflect on their purpose. Whatever the main management at Channel Awesome did, it's all coming back to bite them via the Google Doc from a number of producers and administrators. (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WZFkR__B3Mk9EYQglvislMUx9HWvWhOaBP820UBa4dA/preview#)

In a nut shell, whatever happened behind the scenes is enough to create more than just controversy. It will be a big stain on Walker's legacy as a YouTuber creator and website creator. From lack of understanding how things worked to unprofessional approaches to filming stuff, it is clear he didn't understand how to handle work in a good manner. He seems like he is trying to do whatever is necessary to hide from all of this. Looking at all the abuse, overworked environment, and administration being assholes, it's a miracle Channel Awesome even stayed relevant until the last few years. Luckily, a few of these people are still around and doing their own thing, but it's probably not worth it for others.

Whatever the case, this was going to end up sooner or later being exposed. This Mike Michaud was going to get the whipping he deserved, as will Walker. It's like what is going on in Hollywood this past year with all these accusations. Was it really worth it? I have a feeling Michaud and Walker will be kicking themselves and regretting all the shit they have done for the past 10 years. Fame is one thing, but to treat others like crap brought their website down.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Full Metal Jacket's Big Appeal

After the success of Platoon around Christmas 1986, film companies were looking for that next big war film that would captivate audiences. None really had the success critically and commercially. Full Metal Jacket was that kind of example. It wasn't a huge hit by any means, but it did okay in June 1987. Now these days, it's looked at very fondly, and I'll be willing to bet, most will remember it mainly for its boot camp scenes.

Part of that appeal of the boot camp scenes lies solely on Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. His portrayal was done by R. Lee Ermey, who has just passed away from pneumonia complications. Ermey in real life was a military guy before doing films. He was a Marine in the 60s. He was put on as a technical adviser for this film. Although Full Metal Jacket was scripted,  and director Stanley Kubrick was known as a guy who was strict by how things should go when shooting a film, he did a number of lines on the spot after convincing the director that he could do the role justice. Just that kind of authenticity can help make a movie seem more real and relatable, as I'm sure there are a number of ex-Marines, Army, and Navy guys that have had drill instructors that are tough as nails and not going to take anybody's crap.

As websites have documented, Kubrick was very impressed and gave Ermey a bigger role. Personally, I think Full Metal Jacket would not be remembered fondly if it weren't for the character Hartman. They do take some liberties such as him slapping Private Leonard Lawrence, A.K.A. Private Pyle and punching Private Joker in the groin for making a joke. Something like that would not fly, even for the 60s. Even Ermey knew the ramifications. That could be a court martial for a superior being abusive to the recruits.

Regardless, this film took a very long time to make, and it almost didn't make it to theaters. One thing that hurt was Ermey getting in a car accident, as sites have documented from what Kubrick discussed. It resulted in broken ribs and being out for over four months. Even with that, this is one of the shining examples of war not being always dark on the front lines. Deep in your own home, the worst can come from where you train, and Ermey's performance is a phenomenal one as the drill sergeant that will scare his recruits.

You don't see guys like these anymore. And it's these types that can deliver toughness with such ease and real authenticity.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Dark Side of YouTube

I usually wait a while until things cool down to discuss certain things, and this is one of those times. Not too long ago, a woman entered YouTube headquarters and shot a few people before killing herself. What drove Nasim Aghdam to do this, and why the video sharing website? And is this a reflection of others frustrations at trying to grow their channels?

Several sites spoke to Aghdam's brother and he went on about her issues regarding YouTube. Stuff about not being given the chance to grow her channel, which was mostly a vegan type channel. That being said, it's a very petty thing to get upset about. Vegan lifestyle isn't something you think of trying to promote on YouTube. That seems more suited for something like this, a blog. Word of mouth would be a lot better on this than a video sharing site. Unless there was something in Aghdam's videos, there's no way the website was causing her channel not to grow.

Now, YouTube hasn't always exactly been on good terms with people, either. Last year, advertisers were pulling ads off the site because of some of them appearing in hateful videos. They have tried to work on what can be "advertiser friendly" and it still frustrates some. A problem with the site and Google is that they don't always have explanations for what works and what doesn't. Asking questions is a joke with answers typically being handled by bots and not being informative. People do get ticked at what this giant does. It doesn't matter if you are big or small on YouTube. They determine what is good for advertisers in their own way and you don't have a choice of anywhere else to go, unfortunately.

I view Aghdam as one that was mentally unstable, a common thing for when these shooters find themselves plastered on the news. There are better things to have a grudge on, and YouTube is not one of them. At the same time, the site is not always understanding how things work in certain circumstances. A lot of things have to be fixed in multiple areas. It's just a matter of when.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Super Troopers 2's Ultimate Test

We are not too far from the crowdfunded Super Troopers 2 hitting theaters as it releases Friday, April 20th. As their promotional tour wraps up, Broken Lizard hopes it achieves any sort of big success from this. That, however, is their biggest test. Will it do anything in its first weekend? If so, it better make the best of it before yet another brain dead Marvel popcorn flick comes out on the 27th.

When the original came out in February 2002, it was not a huge hit. Still, it made some money considering the starting dominance of DVD. Broken Lizard has had more of a cult fanbase and Super Troopers remains one of the bigger comedies of the 2000s due to its approach to humor, characters, and quotable lines. With that fanbase in mind, it's time to put up or shut up. Just the idea of doing another one was deemed impossible at one point. Three plus years of trying to get it done and they have succeeded.

With crowdfunding, there hasn't been too many movies through this kind of system. Most notables for theatrical releases are Veronica Mars and Wish I Was Here. Super Troopers 2 should be able to get past the hurdles those two had for a few reasons. One is that it's something people have been begging for in the last decade. Two is that Broken Lizard has made a name for themselves and have appeared all over the United States through stand up along with a few other films. They are a draw compared to the other two examples of crowdfunding and the notoriety helps their case a lot more.

The kid gloves are off for this one. It's just of matter of who will actually see it in theaters.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Wolfenstein: The New Order Review

WARNING: To anyone that is reading this in Germany, this might be censored.

If you've read a few of my blogs, I am big into Id Software. Mainly through Doom and Wolfenstein. The Wolfenstein reviews are some that I have thoroughly enjoyed writing. It has had several revivals in the new millennium with the recent one beginning back in May 2014 with The New Order. To say it's a refreshing game is an understatement. This was a shot in the arm that first person shooters needed.

Let's pretend that World War II still continued. MachineGames gives audiences an alternative history. Once again, B.J. Blazkowicz  is leading a group to kill General Deathshead in 1946. Things go awry and shrapnel hits his head. This leads to a coma that lasts for 14 years. In that time, Nazis have taken over the entire world. Not even its Italian allies were supported. Determined to do whatever it takes, B.J. tries to assemble resistance members in hope of eradicating the Nazis and bring the world back to normal. Normally, Wolfenstein games are pretty weak in story, but this is developed very well. It gives you a range of characters with their strengths and weaknesses. You feel for the resistance group and it gives B.J. a personality beyond killing Nazis. Retconning his life to this is not a bad thing. It may not be the strongest story of this generation, but they do good with what they have.

Why is this game refreshing? Because it doesn't cater to the way Call of Duty and Halo are played. You got 16 levels. Each one has you completing various objectives. These are pretty lengthy. You're going to spend quite a bit of time exploring each area. It's a love letter to both old school and new school games. Obviously, it's a love for the Wolfenstein 3D and Doom. Levels with tons of exploration, secrets with valuable items. It's also a tribute to late 90s and early 2000s games like Goldeneye and Medal of Honor. Games that had you as a one man army, but doing objectives, finding tons of ammo at your disposal. New school wise, it's more in line with 2009 Wolfenstein and a bit of BioShock. Locations take you through parts of Europe and even one special level that you have to experience yourself.

There is a lack of a muiltiplayer. That isn't a bad thing. While it might hurt its value, MachineGames had one goal in mind. Deliver a single player experience that has been sorely missing following the first Modern Warfare game. To be able to have a game that is like the early Medal of Honor games, and Goldeneye along with Id's early shooters is why this gets a lot of praise.

It's a very early title for this generation's set of systems, but it looks nice. This feels optimized and developed with PS4 and Xbox One in mind. The areas and character modeling is nice. How the Nazis built parts of Europe are crafted beautifully (ironic, isn't it) and showcase what the hardware is capable of. It's audio reminds of Medal of Honor and Doom. They have parts with orchestra for certain parts, but with gun play, it's rock music that gives you a rush to go after the Nazis. Overall, they got both facets done well.

New Order's set of weapons is not huge in variety, but it gets the job done. What really helps is each one has good use and you have to rely on them, with MachineGames making sure that each one is not forgotten. You can dual wield guns. The knife aspect going back to 3D is still here. Grenades can still be carried. Some of them have certain upgrades like rockets and silencers. The idea is not always to run and gun your way through an area. Taking the stealth approach is more rewarding than most other games. There is perks that can be unlocked if you perform certain kill tasks and add to your trophies/achievements.

The health system is a combo of regenerating and a health bar. Once again, the love letter to 3D and Doom are there. You have armor pickups as well as health. Even dog food is a pickup. You can overcharge your health, but it will drop to whatever the maximum you can have. There are upgrades to both, increasing by 10 each time. Treasure is still a trademark to the series, so there are plenty of gold to find. Quite a bit more is added to the mix like enigma code pieces, letters, and concept art of levels, all of which can be accessed at any time in the main menu. It adds to the phenomenal level design. To be fair, it is linear, but it still gives you the freedom at times to take a look before heading on to the next area. You have to figure out how to deal with Nazis, since each kind is not the same.

For the difficulty, it's pretty good. They give you different difficulty modes, and the combat against the Nazis is mostly fair. There are some cheap moments at points during the game. My biggest complaint is the armor. At times, you can get hit with little damage from gunfire or too much. It's hard to explain, but I feel at times it is useless, especially when trying to hold off certain enemies on your own. Some levels do have certain parts that are questionable, but not anything to where you give up very quickly. But overall, Wolfenstein: The New Order is a great game that needs to be played. Worthy of the praise it has had the last four years.

Score: 8 out of 10

Monday, April 9, 2018

Sega Genesis Compilation for a New Generation

In a world where selling older games individually is common thing, only a couple companies are willing to continue selling compilations. One of them is Sega. It goes all the way back to the Genesis around the mid 90s beginning with 6-Pak and Sonic Classics. As the 2000s started, they became more interested in bringing their older game lineup to modern systems. At the end of May, Sega Genesis Classics will make its way to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Over the years, consoles have seen a set of games from Sega. The PlayStation 2 saw an arcade set and a Genesis set, the latter going for 20 dollars with over 30 games and also appearing on PSP. Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection had just about 50 when it made it to the PS3 and Xbox 360. This new one will have just over 50. For people on computers, this isn't exactly new. Steam has a version of this, but in different volumes when it came out back in 2010, though it's all together as one package.

Some notable inclusions are Gunstar Heroes, ToeJam and Earl, and Landstalker. The same usual suspects are here like Streets of Rage, Phantasy Star, Sonic the Hedgehog. One of the most notable omissions as some websites have mentioned is Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic and Knuckles. Why, I don't know. Unless there is something regarding the music or some other nonsense, there isn't a reason why it shouldn't be included. Doing the lock-on feature shouldn't be this complicated. It's not like it's on a disc that holds a few gigabytes.

Articles have gone on about Sega planning the use of online multiplayer for some of the games. That will help a bit if you don't have someone to sit with you and play. As with other compilations, it will have filters for the games. One interesting aspect is a mirror mode where it is played but flipped horizontally. That would be something to see if speedrunners try to play in that style.

People will bitch about it not being on the Switch, but these compilations are usually not on Nintendo systems. If they are, it's a very small set on a handheld. Not to mention the eShop and Virtual Console, though for the latter, it's over on the Wii. Some stores are putting up prices for 30 dollars. That's a huge bargain, but I wouldn't count on it yet for the official price.

Overall, it's seems like an easy choice. This is a must buy for anyone that likes compilations and Sega's output on the Genesis.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Spyro Reignited: More 32-bit Interest?

The last 24 to 48 hours has been an interesting one if you are into gaming. If you grew up in the 90s, odds are you are familiar with Spyro the Dragon. It was one of the reasons to get an original PlayStation back in late 1998. Much like Crash Bandicoot, the original trilogy is about as beloved as most other games from that era. Some have wondered if it seemed inevitable that there would be a remastered set following N. Sane Trilogy last year. That's put to rest with Reignited coming out in September for PS4 and Xbox One.

Whether you want to call it a leak or not, this will excite a lot of people. Judging by the trailer for this, Spyro is getting the same kind of makeover like Crash. I'd like to say it looks a lot better, but it's a matter of what will be seen when it comes out. Activision is at the helm of this with development by Toys for Bob, who have made Skylanders. If it's anything like N. Sane Trilogy, that will mean a few things. One is that it will be the same games you remembered playing in the late 90s and early 2000s. Two might be additional content, meaning some cut levels that never made it into the game if there is any. Three could the possibility of seeing if new interest in the franchise will spark a demand for new games.

At the moment, there is no plan for a Switch or PC release. N. Sane Trilogy is set for Nintendo's hybrid in July along with the PC and Xbox One, with Toys for Bob developing the former. It would be nice to see beyond Mario and Sonic other platformers onto the system, but depends on what the sales expectations Activision wants from Crash. This should be a no brainer to bring it over, but the stigma associated with Nintendo home systems since 1996 will leave companies with a bit of concern.

Could this make companies really interested in the 32/64-bit era? Maybe. There is a bit of games that will make you want a remaster or remake of. It could bring back certain franchises, but that's just an idea that seems more of a fantasy. Either way, Spyro should be another huge hit for this generation. If it's anywhere like N. Sane Trilogy, it will score well critically and commercially.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Why Id Software Had Balanced Hard Difficulty

If you have played a first person shooter that was released between 2004 and today, you will know of the choices in difficulty. Call of Duty is probably the most famous with veteran, the hardest single player difficulty. When some people say it is next to impossible, they don't exaggerate. About two to three shots and you're dead. Some games try to cheapen the experience by adding more damage required to kill an enemy like Duke Nukem Forever. If there is one game that did hard difficulty justice, it was Doom and Wolfenstein 3D.

Id Software knew how to deal with making a game worthy of picking up and playing, as well as making it a challenge without ruining the experience. What helped them with their early efforts was that there was no need to double an enemy's health or require more shots put into them. Taking down an imp with one shot from a shotgun will always be one shot. Or two depending on how far you are. There was always a strategy on how to defeat them and find a way to get through it unscathed. There was no cheap shots to them and you know what you were getting into.

It's a philosophy that has been largely ignored for a long time in favor of going the Call of Duty and Halo route of a couple shots and you're gone. Even Goldeneye, which came out long before those two, had that kind of cheap difficulty combined with a few other cheap factors. The closest to what Doom did was the early Medal of Honor games up until Frontline, Duke Nukem 3D, and maybe Half Life. At least that's what I can think of. Third person games kind of have that same mentality of Halo and Call of Duty, but they are not as bad as those two. And I say that as someone that has beaten a handful of the Call of Duty games on Veteran, and those have a lot of very cheap moments.

If developers want to know how to be pleasing to all audiences, Id's early games are a good indicator. There's a reason Wolfenstein 3D and Doom are considered some of the greatest games ever.

Channel Awesome: The Continued Downfall

If you ever find certain people on YouTube, odds are a few are part of a group or big website. As long as things are fine, there shouldn'...