The Confession Post

I confess. I'm a chocoholic.

No, wait, wrong blog.

Annnnyway, I think I've come to realise that I haven't really done much of the little things in my life. You know, like going out randomly in the middle of the night, or sending random text messages or playing pictionary. Scratch that last one though, I did that the other week (and won thank you very much. I retire unbeaten!)

My point is, I need to be more random, spontaneous. I'm sure I've blogged this previously (let me just check here, oh look, there it is). I think the longer I stick around these waters, the only way I can have fun and break loose from my little moments of bleak disdain against reality (and that's the only poetic moment of this entire post, I promise) is by running with plastic scissors screaming 'I'm Wolverine!'

The more obvious answer to my problems is simply just smiling more, that's what I need to do. I'm still the kid at heart, just need to show it a little more.


The Avengers: How Hulk Got His Groove Back

** The following contains spoilers. Not all of them, just subtle hints. Though I get the feeling you all already know it anyway. Meh.**

The Avengers, or as I mentioned above, how the Hulk got his groove back. What a flick, worth the wait for sure. Now, allow me to break it down into easy to digest chunks.

What I Liked:

* S.H.E.I.L.D: The last crux, in my mind, was building up this secret agency into something more powerful than the previous movies in the series, while maintaining a sense of believability. I think Joss and co. certainly got that job done here. There's now an underlying  power struggle at play for the future of the series, between Fury and whoever the 'secret six' like government collective are. Whether this will slip into the shadows or become a bigger issue when the galaxy comes calling will be interesting to see. And being a fan of the Invincible Iron Man series, I was glad to see a certain Maria Hill get some screen time. Which leads me to:

* Hawkeye and Black Widow: Thank the Gods for Joss Whedon. He turned one of the most stale and typical characters of Iron Man 2 and turned her into a real threat, both with brain and brawn. Now I want more of it, and if Joss or someone of his ilk sits in the director's chair or behind the pen, then I can see both of these characters becoming even bigger stablemates of the top four. She isn't perfect, but there's a great character in Widow just waiting to bust out. No pun intended for those of you who like, uh ... boobs? That's it right? Boobs? More of a legs man myself ... what was I talking about again? Right, Widow's boobs...

* Loki: I always thought he was underrated in Thor, but Loki gets the reward of being a top class villain, both power hungry and conflicted. Surprisingly, he also has some of the funniest moments. He's a trickster of course, but some of the lines he gets are pure Joss, and they work so well.

* The credits sequence: Okay so I won't spoil this bit just yet, but safe to say, it sets up a mouthwatering Avengers 2 in a few years time.

* Surprise Cameos: Again, won't spoil them here, but I liked the continuity at play. To be fair, fitting so many characters into this kind of movie was a hard call to make, but all the ones that make sense and get the fans right into each plot point are here, which means the flow of the story never stops in order to introduce anyone. Hill is the only real outsider that hasn't appeared before, but fits right in.

* The action beats: The one thing I really did enjoy about the entire thing was the action sequences. It could have been so easy to just throw them all together in a melting pot and have at it, but there's a sense of intelligent planning here, carefully drawn out moments that bring to fore the strengths of each character. Even better, there's some team-up moments too, such as Cap redirecting Iron Man's repulser blasts with his shield. It's things like that that made me smile.

* Hulk: What can I say, they got it right. The action, the humour, the humility of Banner. It's all there, and it's all good. To think that Marvel doesn't have plans for another Hulk movie, it would be a damn shame not to give Mark Ruffalo a chance to prove how good Hulk can be. Hopefully we see him again before the next Avengers movie. Iron Man 3 cameo perhaps?

* Iron Man: Do I really need to explain? It's Mr Jnr. doing what he does best, and I loved every minute of it.

* The 3D: Weird thing is, it works. It's converted, but there's a few shots that really make use of the medium. Loki's wand thing sticks out towards you, bits of metal and rock fly out as Hulk smashes. Actually, my favourite shot was Hawkeye inside his transport as it flew over the Hellicarrier. Strange as it sounds, but it actually felt like he was standing on the edge, with the inside of the little ship way behind him and the carrier dwarfing them all. Colour me impressed, especially when I don't normally recommend 3D movies unless they're fully animated. If you get a chance, give it a shot.

What I didn't Like:

* Captain America: Now don't get me wrong, all of these dislikes aren't big issues, just minor gripes. In terms of Cap, I felt there wasn't enough exploration into how he was fitting into the new world. Clearly that's been kept aside for his own flick later on, but I would have liked a little more here instead of a punching bag and a few off side references he doesn't understand.

To be fair, Cap proves his worth as the real leader of the Avengers towards the end, and even though most of his action sequences don't seem to have the same impact as the rest of the crew, he'll always be the guy who doesn't give up and has the best interests of those around him in mind.

* Thor: Here's what I don't get. All that setup about how he doesn't know how to get back to Earth, now that the rainbow bridge has been taken out, but how do they get around it? The old man's dark magic. Dark magic?! Please, please explain this further in Thor 2, especially while little miss Natalie Portman gets nothing but a passing mention who, I might add, is desperately trying to find him. But dark magic? Really? That's the best they've got? Why couldn't they have shot a sequence where Thor and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy finds Loki's secret way to get to Midgard? This just felt like a cheap work around to me.

* Hawkeye and Black Widow: Yes, I did say I was happy about them. The problem rests with Hawkeye, not that he was a bad character, there just wasn't enough of him. In fact, I'd go as far to say that Hawk is a better character that has yet to be fully realised, which means there's plenty to look forward to then if they do go ahead with his own flick. But, I will say, I'd prefer these two to stick together, not be split into two separate adventures.

* Joss' Habit: In typical 'oh no he didn't!' fashion, there's a death in the family. Joss pulls the strings the only way he knows how. Damn you Joss and your evil, evil ways!

I'm kidding, of course.

But he is evil.


Marvel did it. They got the job done, and then some. I'll admit I was worried after Iron Man 2, but I shouldn't have been. It's all just a great thrill ride, an adventure that will take some beating as the series pushes on, with that little hint of humour that all of the characters should have on their resume.

So what's next? The extremis story arc for Iron Man 3 for sure, that's a perfect way to evolve Stark further. Thor 2 would do well to explore less of Earth and more of the rest of the galaxy. Rocket Racoon anyone? Cap will get used to the new world around him and connect with lost family (and here's hoping Red Skull gets more screen time). Finally, fingers crossed, Hulk appears somewhere. Anywhere. Just do it Marvel!

As for Avengers 2? An Ant-Man movie is in the works (Wasp with him), Doctor Strange isn't far behind, and we all know the secret ending to this by the time the week is out. Yup, it's all coming together nicely. Though there is one small, tiny little problem that still needs to be solved. Where the hell was War Machine in all this? Enjoying his new toy a little too much, huh? Lazy good for nothing little...

*ahem* Avengers gets four and a half 'Hulk Smashes' out of five.

Also, I apologise if this was a TLDR moment and you just skipped to the end. If you did, it was good. Real good.


Family Values

I've had an indifferent week, some good bits and some bad. What I've come to realise is that family, if nothing else, means the world to me. My Mum hasn't been the best this week, I spent most of Friday trying to help her out as best as possible. Some would consider that a waste of a day off, but I wouldn't have it any other way. The health of my family is more important than anything else.

So tonight, I was greatly pleased to see her out and about. She's been waiting to see Mary Poppins on stage for a long time now, I was concerned she was going to miss out. But she's always been a fighter, it would have to be one major issue to keep her down for too long. After a long day at work, it was good to see her and the rest of the immediate family (minus the dog, who unfortunately can't partake in restaurant dining just yet) for a nice dining moment. They're off to see the show now, maybe I'll get a chance to see it too before the run ends.

Also, kudos to my sister for sharing the teramisu!


While EA wilts, Activision are Laughing...

Poor EA. Seems as though they are the unfavourable flavour of the month. Millions hate them for what they've done to Mass Effect, there's a large gay hatred campaign against two of their games, and they've been voted the worst company in the US.

And Activision are loving it.


Cast your mind back to last year. Activision cut loose some of its franchises (including former big timer Guitar Hero) thanks to poor sales performances, while its biggest partner suddenly became a rival over the most expensive franchise on the market, and all the while fans were laughing and EA was on the hunt. Not forgetting the now famous quotes of CEO Bobby Kotick, such as milking their own franchises for all their worth, etc.

Call of Duty, of course, was hanging around, but its future was unknown thanks to a major lawsuit from former creators Jason West and Vincent Zampella. EA saw it as a chance to attack one of the worlds biggest companies, what with Battlefield 3 on the horizon and the sour taste that Medal of Honor's reboot left behind to make up for.

It should have been the big, world changing, multi-million dollar battle for the ages that the gaming market had been expecting. If anything, the fortunes of both companies have now switched. Suddenly Activision aren't the bad guys anymore, and EA's big brassy marketing push of how Battlefield would take down CoD for good while Mass Effect waited for the killer one, two punch has ... well ... it hasn't exactly worked out well for them.


Let's get one thing straight, however. Both BF3 and ME3 are money spinners, they've sold as much as was expected of them. But they didn't exactly accomplish every goal, mighty as they may have been. You already know the Mass Effect 3 ending saga, but BF3 is almost as intriguing. Where as CoD continues to stream out updates and DLC, Battlefield has been lacking greatly in that department, leaving many gamers annoyed and some times stranded thanks to game breaking bugs.

Modern Warfare 3 has continued its winning ways, despite slightly lower review scores compared to the previous two in the series. I, for one, don't have any interest in playing the game, largely because I'm more interested in a single player story driven experience, not the constant multiplayer mayhem that fills the shelves more often than not.

That's not a reflection of quality, both games achieve a distinct level of it, but world changers they certainly are not, and EA hasn't eaten up as much as the pie as they hoped, leaving them with a bigger hill to climb as Call of Duty readies itself for the next iteration (rumoured to be a return to Black Ops, which at least affords it a more interesting story setting.)


Lately, besides the Mass Effect debacle, EA has found itself in a fairly large hole. Recently the company was voted America's worst, placing it well ahead of companies who, arguably, should be higher than them. Now considering where the world is lately, it's intriguing to question why EA came out on top. Certainly the poll came at the wrong time, when you couple the issues of ME's disgruntled fan base with the recent anti-gay protests against some of its biggest games it could explain a majority of those who voted them down.

Maybe it's just that, bad timing. Had the vote been six months ago, when the only real thing holding EA back was the delay of Mass Effect's impending release, perhaps the results would have been different. It's certainly a boon time for Activision. They're not on everyone's mind for the time being, which at least affords them more time concentrating on upcoming releases such as stablemate Blizzard's Diablo III, arguably the biggest title of the year.

EA may have a lifeline or two. The equality awareness group 'All Out' is supporting the companies choice of gay and lesbian relations in the likes of Dragon Age, Mass Effect and The Old Republic, and with equal rights being such a big issue around the world, the publicity could be a good thing in more ways than one.

And then there's the Mass Effect 3 resolution. Free DLC is a small step towards mending wounds, but who knows how long or how much it will take. Battlefield, of course, will finally get a major upgrade over the coming months. Whether that's too little, too late is up to the masses, who may have already moved on towards the next big thing anyway.


The Old Republic is just another intriguing plot point to this entire saga. Presenting one of the biggest names in entertainment and pitting it against the biggest MMO in history (as owned by its rival) was a big risk, one that has cost EA a ton of money even before the games often unknown release. The game itself finally came out at the end of last year, and while the subscription rate has been steady, it hasn't eaten into World of Warcraft's massive fan base just yet.

Time will tell whether the gamble will eventually pay off. It's a solid start, and from what I've played of it (unfortunately moving house thwarted any attempt to play my way through it as much as I wanted to), it's a fun ride for fans of Star Wars and MMO players alike. But will it beat WOW? Probably not, but what can? Guild Wars 2? Maybe. But if TOR is a failure, what then?

WOW, of course, is also starting to slow. More and more are leaving the series, not in major 'oh God, it's all over!' ways, but enough to make things interesting. Another expansion (featuring Pandas ... PANDAS! How can that NOT work?) will soon fend off any speculation that Blizzard are about to leave it behind, but to consider at all that the series is on its last legs would be like suggesting The Simpsons will soon rap things up. We all know that isn't going to happen ... ever. Whether we like it or not.


EA has been trying so hard to knock Activision of its lofty post, and just when it thought it possible, it's made it even harder for itself. The big A, meanwhile, may be able to look forward to a year where the games take centre stage, and not the behind the scenes strife that nearly toppled the giant last year.

But to be fair to both, they're just as bad as one another. When you're that high up the food chain, a gamer's perspective can be easily tarnished by one little mistake. Greed is good, they say, but not when artistic integrity is tarnished beyond belief.

At least we have the fine adventures of Kickstarter to give us all that warm, fuzzy feeling. Shadowrun anyone?


I've Finished ME3: The Results (UPDATED)

I've finally completed Mass Effect 3. Spoilers to follow:

I've deleted this post three times now because every time I try to answer the biggest questions, or solve the biggest riddles to the ending, I find myself shaking my head. Not because I'm wrong, or that anyone else is wrong, but that everyone's perception of what the ending is will always be different. Even Bioware.

In the end what matters to me is how I saw it. I'm quietly satisfied. My Shepard made the right choice, the people I respected and loved survived, the galaxy is saved. That much is over and done with. What happens next, whether Shepard's story is really over? Well, the last sentence out of Buzz Aldrin suggests it's not over at all.

We will bitch, we will moan, and in the end Bioware will save face by doing what they always set out to do. Release DLC. Because that's how people make money these days, expanding the experience after it's done. The story isn't over yet, it's waiting in the wings for our credit card. That's what annoys me, not the ending itself. That I have to pay for the REAL twist to the story, not the one we're fighting over.

If nothing else, Bioware dug themselves a hole by not revealing what they really wanted to. Maybe that's because of EA, or of personal greed, or this supposed Indoctrination Theory, but either way this isn't over yet. Perhaps, out of all of this, Bioware has played the greatest trick of all, by forcing its fan base to believe in the conclusion to a story that didn't even exist (at least in the game). It's backfired, if that's the case, but it's ingenious all the same. Time will tell.

As for the God child? I get it. I like it as a story element, I honestly do. But I think the execution of that story was wrong, rushed perhaps. It makes sense, to a point, but it needed further clarification which the Extended Cut DLC will hopefully provide (thankfully free of charge too).

EDIT: Having read up fully on the Indoctrination Theory, and the hints Bioware have been dropping, it seems more and more likely that the ending to Mass Effect 3: Disc Edition isn't the ending to Mass Effect 3: The Full Thing. It's easy to be angry at this, like I said above, Bioware seems to have been too smart for their own good and this intriguing idea has backfired on the audience. The Director's Cut will more than likely make it more obvious to us that it's a fake ending, while 'THE END' dlc will hopefully be free to make up for the miscommunication.