Don’t Discount the Discount – Watch Dogs from Ubisoft

Why did I call this article what I did? Well, the game is about $15 USD and this is just because it has dropped in price, not because it isn’t an excellent game. My plan is to review the inexpensive gems that are more than worth the money.

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Ubisoft is a game company that tends to release staples in any gamer’s collection. Their most popular franchises include the Rainbow SIX series and the Assassin’s Creed games. Watch Dogs was promoted as “Assassin’s Creed meets the future” and I really feel like they delivered what they promised.

NOTE: I played this on the Xbox One console.

Gameplay
This game is one of those that you can’t really nail it down to only one genre. There is a tech, stealth, driving, shooting, and small puzzles. All of them work well but I o have one gripe: the driving. It is very loose and takes some time to adjust to the handling of the vehicles. Sometimes in a game, there is at least one vehicle that is the best to use but in this game, they’re all pretty terrible. I think a lot of the problem is that I own GTA V and Forza Motorsport 5 for the X-box One. Both of them have excellent car mechanics so having gone from them to this game is kinda unfair. That being said, everything else has been finely tuned to create a great experience. The game doesn’t exactly start of as a shooter but the further in to the story you get, the more puzzle-like obstacles and gunning you end up doing. Chicago is not only the backdrop for the game but it is also your weapon. You can control stop lights, car carriers, billboards….pretty much anything that can be connected to by your phone. Using these elements can help take out people chasing you or a security guard walking past a breaker box can be taken out with a well-timed electrical explosion.

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Graphics and Sound
The game is busy with visuals but not to the point where it may seem overwhelming. You just get a feel that you are running around the bustling streets of Chicago. And there is no shortage of content. You end up stealing someone’s information and the next phone that you hack, you might be reading their text messages or hearing their phone conversations. I have been playing this for a while now and I haven’t come across info that has been redundant or repetitive. The images are clean and look like you’re are playing on a next-gem system. The signals coming from your phones to the Wi-Fi systems are a little pixelated but I thin that’s so it doesn’t look like Spider-man’s webbing is shooting from the top of your phone.

Audio has a lot going on too with all of the city sounds. I typically play with 5.1 surround sound headphones and there is so much going on. There is also an mp3 player that you can play while driving or exploring the city with music that you download from the NPCs (non-player characters) in the game. Like most games, the use of the surround sound is excellent so as you move, the sound moves with you.

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My Take
Watch Dogs is a fun game with a lot of extra things to do aside form the campaign. The story is a little predictable but the characters that you encounter are pretty cool. The game mechanics are fun with you running around, hacking people and cameras on the fly, and using the city as a weapon. You can pick this up for around $20 or less and it is totally worth it.

Jim’s Movie Reviews: Mad Max Fury Road

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Don’t call it a re-boot.  It’s not.  Mad Max: Fury Road  can be considered the fourth in the series (at least, as far as I’m concerned) of George Miller movies featuring Max, a reluctant hero in a post-apocalyptic desert wasteland. As in two of the previous entries, Max (Tom Hardy) finds himself facing down the forces of chaos in an effort to help a group attempting to better their plight.  This time, Max lends his efforts to Furiosa (Charlize Theron), a warrior in her own right leading a group of refugee concubines of a mad cult leader to her childhood home across the wasteland.

Rather than return to the origin of the character, we get some simple callbacks to Max’s past as he flashes back to the murder of loved ones.  Again, we find Max with little left to hope for himself, but shepherding the hopes of those naive or innocent enough to yet cling to it. The interplay between Max and Furiosa is a new thing for the series, in that they fully share the weight of it all, each having seen a life before the endless waste and abject inhumanity.

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Fury Road , in my opinion, realizes Miller’s vision more fully than any previous entry in the franchise.  To put it simply, the film takes everything previous and goes to 11 on it.  Packed with incredible views from cinematographer John Seale, sewn together with a driving, punishing rhythm by editor Margaret Sixel, and so very Miller in its colorful originality, the first half hour had me abandoning all notions of a summer action film better than this one in 2015.  It’s metal.  If The Road Warrior was to be likened to classic, blues-y Danzig, then Fury Road is early 90’s Pantera or Judas Priest.

With the kind of eyes-bleeding visuals and breakneck action this film puts out, it’d have been easy to degenerate into an album cover caricature of itself.  However, the sparse script, excellent physical acting by all involved, and compelling story arcs for each character serve to tie it down, making the acts of heroism and sacrifice stand out amidst the lunacy of it all. The punches hit that much harder, the fires burn that much hotter, and the sacrifices of the protagonists are that much more meaningful for having the depth of character Miller brings to these figures both from the page and from those portraying them.  Charlize hammers it home, bringing audiences the most compelling agency in an action heroine since Alien‘s Ripley.  And (sigh of relief) Hardy makes a truly excellent Max.  Given only sparse dialogue, he conveys reams in every expression.

If I had a complaint (and I certainly don’t have enough to form a coherent complaint about), I’d say the film felt a little top-heavy in the first act…but it had the guts to break convention there, and it certainly made sense in context of the hero clawing his way out of a crucible alongside others on the road to redemption.

Go see it in the theater.  There’s two movies already out this summer I’d place ahead of Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and this is one of them (go see Ex Machina as well).  In my opinion, Mad Max: Fury Road operates on a level that Avengers simply can’t, or doesn’t.

This is high-minded sci-fi set to metal, and it’ll rock your tits off.

9.5 out of 10, one of my all-time faves.

 

Comics Podcast Of The Damned Ep. 07: 7-Year-Old Monkeys

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Join the CPOTD crew this week as we explore magical mystical Mayan artifacts, compare Arrow to Benny Hill, admire Frank Miller for being crazy cool, and much more!  Comics reviewed this week include Princess Leia #3, Sunstone Vol 2, Captain Gravity And The Power Of The Vril (trade), and Avengers #44.


Experience the wailing and gnashing of teeth!

My take AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON…a mini review

When it comes to my style of review, I’m pretty much a spoiler-free writer because I want people to get out there and see things for themselves. Don’t worry, as much as I’d like to, I’m not going to ruin a movie for people who haven’t seen it yet. I will however discuss how the movies leading up to this have had some meaning or impact.

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (AOU) didn’t just focus on the movies in phase 2, every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is relevant, even in Marvel’s AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. You aren’t expected to know every little thing about each character but having that knowledge does give you a leg up.

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Let me say that this movie completely surpassed my expectations. Typically sequels never hold up to the original but I think that AOU is in the minority. There are a lot of references and little knows to things in Marvel comics that AOU does great in getting out there. There is action, suspense, love, comic relief, but never done in an unbelievable way. The new characters were well developed in the time period they have. The 3D was amazing and, in my opinion, very necessary. I saw it in both the Cinemark XD and IMAX 3D…hands down, IMAX was the superior version. The 3D was a little more natural and on point. Audio wise, I think they were about equal but some of the bass felt a stronger in the IMAX. I’m thinking this is because the IMAX has speakers and subs that are broken in.

James Spader did a tremendous job as Ultron. He has a cold cynicism that flows within the character. When I first heard that they were looking to add some of Spader’s mannerisms into the movements of the machine, I wasn’t sure this could be pulled off. Man, was I ever wrong. Spader sometimes does these little head flicks when he gets intense and they make perfect sense for a character learning to fit in. My standout character is definitely Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch. She brought the character to life from page to screen. You can see her passion in trying not to disappoint the fans and no one can be mad at her take on Wanda. She is possibly my favorite character from the film.

Many times in comic book movie you’ll find that the director or creative team involved may say they have comic book knowledge but that could be the extent of seeing it on a spinner rack as a kid. Joss Whedon is not one of those kids. He took the team and the audience on a thrill ride that was perfectly executed and ,like I said, it is dripping with comic book jabs. He and the folks at Marvel Studios have created a universe that is not only true to form but feels very lived in with the films and TV series. Marvel Studios movies work something like a game of tetherball. Now…stay with me here… They hit the ball as hard as possible and that tether line getting shorter and shorter. The pole is like the Avengers movies. All that spinning was planned to make it to the end result of each phase. Make sense? I hope so because this is the way I see it.

The movie ran at 2 hours and 21 mins. I could’ve have easily done another 2 hours with all of the awesomeness that was thrown at me. Being a huge comic book nerd and following these characters for years, I can easily say that this is a movie that you shouldn’t miss. Get up….right now…and get your ass to the theater!

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