Thursday, February 23, 2017

Jake Maracle's 89th Academy Awards Picks!

   Well its that time of year again, the 89th Academy Awards are here and all of Hollywood is abuzz and blah blah blah. Despite all the annoying usual hype this year the Academy seemed to get it correct for the most part (AMY ADAMS!!!!) as every category is top to bottom stacked with amazing work in film over the past year. Now i'm not going to cover every category here because quite honestly i've seen none of the more obscure category nominees (sorry Best Short Form Documentary) but i'm gonna do my best to get into as many as i can truthfully give an opinion on. So without further adieu here's my picks for the 2017 Academy Awards:

Best Original Screenplay
  • "Hell or High Water" - Tyler Sheridan
  • "La La Land" - Damien Chazelle
  • "The Lobster" - Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou
  • "Manchester by the Sea" - Kenneth Lonergan
  • "20th Century Women" - Mike Mills
What Will Win: "Manchester by the Sea" - Kenneth Lonergan

What Could Win: "Hell or High Water" - Tyler Sheridan

Best Adapted Screenplay
  • "Arrival" - Eric Heisserer
  • "Fences" - August Wilson
  • "Lion" - Luke Davies
  • "Moonlight" - Barry Jenkins; Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney
  • "Hidden Figures" - Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
What Will Win: "Arrival" - Eric Heisserer

What Could Win: "Moonlight" - Barry Jenkins; Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Best Visual Effects
  • "Doctor Strange"
  • "Kubo and the Two Strings"
  • "Deepwater Horizon"
  • "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"
  • "The Jungle Book"
What Will Win: "The Jungle Book"

What Could Win: "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"
Best Make-up and Hairstyling
  • "A Man called Ove"- Eva von Bahr and Love Larson
  • "Star Trek Beyond" - Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo
  • "Suicide Squad" - Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson
What Will Win: "Star Trek Beyond" - Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo

What Could Win: "A Man called Ove"- Eva von Bahr and Love Larson

Best Editing
  • "Arrival" - Joe Walker
  • "Hacksaw Ridge" - John Gilbert
  • "Hell or High Water" - Jake Roberts
  • "La La Land" - Tom Cross
  • "Moonlight" - Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon

What Will Win: "La La Land" - Tom Cross
What Could Win: "Arrival" - Joe Walker

Best Director
  • Mel Gibson - "Hacksaw Ridge"
  • Damien Chazelle - "La La Land"
  • Denis Villeneuve - "Arrival"
  • Barry Jenkins - "Moonlight"
  • Kenneth Lonergan - "Manchester by the Sea"
Who Will Win: Damien Chazelle "La La Land"

Who Could Win: Denis Villeneuve "Arrival"

Best Animated Feature
  • "Kubo and the Two Strings"
  • "Moana"
  • "Zootopia"
  • "The Red Turtle"
  • "My Life as a Zucchini"
What Will Win: "Kubo and the Two Strings"

What Could Win: "Zootopia"

Best Supporting Actress
  • Viola Davis - "Fences"
  • Octavia Spencer - "Hidden Figures"
  • Michelle Williams - "Manchester by the Sea"
  • Naomi Harris - "Moonlight"
  • Nicole Kidman - "Lion"

Who Will Win: Viola Davis - "Fences"

Who Could Win: Michelle Williams - "Manchester by the Sea"

Best Supporting Actor
  • Jeff Bridges - "Hell or High Water"
  • Dev Patel - "Lion"
  • Michael Shannon - "Nocturnal Animals"
  • Lucas Hedges - "Manchester by the Sea"
  • Mahershala Ali - "Moonlight"

Who Will Win: Mahershala Ali - "Moonlight"

Who Could Win: Jeff Bridges - "Hell or High Water"

Best Actress
  • Meryl Streep - "Florence Foster Jenkins"
  • Emma Stone - "La La Land"
  • Isabelle Huppert - "Elle"
  • Ruth Negga - "Loving"
  • Natalie Portman - "Jackie"

Who Will Win: Emma Stone - "La La Land"

Who Could Win: Natalie Portman - "Jackie"

Best Actor
  • Ryan Gosling - "La La Land"
  • Denzel Washington - "Fences"
  • Casey Affleck - "Manchester by the Sea"
  • Andrew Garfield - "Hacksaw Ridge"
  • Viggo Mortensen - "Captain Fantastic"

Who Will Win: Casey Affleck - "Manchester by the Sea"

Who Could Win: Denzel Washington - "Fences"

Best Picture
  • "Arrival"
  • "La La Land"
  • "Fences"
  • "Hidden Figures"
  • "Hacksaw Ridge"
  • "Lion"
  • "Hell or High Water"
  • "Moonlight"
  • "Manchester by the Sea"

What Will Win: "La La Land"

What Could Win: "Moonlight"

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Jesse's Number One Game of 2016: Let It Die!

We're now a few weeks into 2017 and most of the "Best Of 2016" lists have come and gone, but here at The Loud Table we never got the chance to go through our games of the year (for me personally, the roadblock was managing holiday retail coupled with closing a store- my cruel mistresses). This past year saw a litany of high quality releases from big developers and indie studios alike and while this list doesn't comprise the full scope of what I played throughout 2016, these are my personal top picks of the year.

    While not the most polished game of the year, the free to play PS4 exclusive Let It Die, from developer Grasshopper Manufacture and publisher GungHo Online, stole the year for me with a combination of style, attitude, addictive gameplay and brilliant design. At the core of Let It Die is brutal, roguelike hack n' slash action, fueled by over the top gore and an almost manga style visual flare. The usual pains of free to play games are kept to a surprising minimum here, meaning that one of the most unique gaming experiences of the year can be had for an entry price of nothing.

    Grasshopper Manufacture frequently breaks the fourth wall in their games, and Let It Die continues that tradition, technically being a game inside of a game. Players are tasked with climbing the Tower of Barbs, a twisted, post apocalyptic mass of buildings and areas that popped up near Japan after a cataclysmic event known as the Earth Rage. All the meanwhile, the player is technically just that - a gamer sitting inside of an arcade playing Let It Die on the Death Drive 128, the latest, greatest video game console in the world.

    The world of Let It Die overflows with unique characters, enemies and environments. Your guide to the Tower of Barbs is Uncle Death, a skateboarding, crazy-glasses-clad grim reaper whose witty one liners and humorous dialogue have made him an instant hit with fans (just check out all the cosplay and fan-art going around twitter). Other friendly characters include a lady obsessed with mushrooms, a space helmet wearing weapons and armor vendor, a robotic mannequin and other eccentric personalities. Enemies range from the zombie-like Screamers, strange technological horrors dubbed Tubers and bosses including a mass of body parts sewn together into a hulking monstrosity, a giant head with nails for a beard attached to a mecha body and a wailing, deformed mass with machine guns strapped to it. Environments in Let It Die are just as twisted. Players start their journey in crumbling sewers and subways, climbing their way through labyrinthine passages higher to dilapidated industrial and residential areas that all have a sort of supernatural edge to them, never seeming quite in the realm of reality. All the while a haunting soundtrack from famed composer Akira Yamaoka frames the grim but irreverent tone of the world.

    The majority of the game is comprised of climbing the Tower of Barbs with various fighters, slaughtering all the deranged masses that stand in their way. Starting off in their underwear, fighters will have to scrounge together weapons and armor off of their defeated foes. As players progress higher up the tower they find schematics for building weapons and armor, and gain skills in various weapon types. Being a roguelike at heart, expect Let It Die to present a good challenge. Enemies, even seeming weaklings, can ruin a fighter if not careful. If a fighter dies, they're gone for good unless you have the resources or the skill to get them back. Players can either go find where their old fighter died and defeat them or pay Kill Coins (a currency in the game) to retrieve their fighter. The alternative to death is to pay a Death Metal to negate a fighter's death on the spot. Death Metals are the main microtransaction currency in Let It Die but are hardly mandatory to have a good time with the game.

    On top of the addictive gameplay of crushing enemies, upgrading gear and climbing the Tower, Let It Die offers a unique form of asynchronous multiplayer. Players sign up to be part of a group representing their State (in the USA) or Country and can then go and raid other players bases through a system dubbed the Tokyo Death Metro. While not true multiplayer, players can set up their stock fighters to protect their base while they're offline or while they climb the Tower with another fighter. It's a real risk/reward system because if a fighter dies while on a raid, all of their gear is gone for good. It's a fun distraction from climbing the tower for a while and the rewards make it worth the time.

    Let It Die was my personal favorite of 2016 so it's good news that the game will only continue to grow in 2017. Within a month of release, Let It Die saw over one million downloads, and that was before releasing in its native Japan. The development team has been working on patches and content updates and the games social media team have been very active in keeping the community involved via live streams, timed events and giveaways. If things continue to progress and the content updates are substantial, I can see myself climbing the tower well into 2017.

Jesse's Top Five Games of 2016: Number Two

We're now a few weeks into 2017 and most of the "Best Of 2016" lists have come and gone, but here at The Loud Table we never got the chance to go through our games of the year (for me personally, the roadblock was managing holiday retail coupled with closing a store- my cruel mistresses). This past year saw a litany of high quality releases from big developers and indie studios alike and while this list doesn't comprise the full scope of what I played throughout 2016, these are my personal top picks of the year.

    Very few games had as much riding on their shoulders this year as Final Fantasy XV. Having been bogged down in development hell for nearly 10 years, shifted lead directors and development team staff, changed what platform it was being developed for and hell, even changed from Final Fantasy Versus XIII to a full blown new numbered entry in the franchise, things were looking grim for the title and possibly the franchise at large. It's with a happy heart that I can list Final Fantasy XV as one of my favorite games of the year. This is the reinvention that the series needed to stay relevant with the modern, western gaming community, while still staying faithful to long time fans. Though Final Fantasy XV is a complete overhaul of the franchise, it still feels like a Final Fantasy title. The world is massive, the enemies are otherworldly, the story is grandiose but everything is still focused into a cohesive package.

    Focusing on struggles of the Crown Prince Noctis of the Kingdom of Lucis and his band of cohorts, Final Fantasy XV is a story of friendship. The game picks up with Noctis and his friends Ignis, Gladiolus and Prompto leaving their kingdom's capital city on a road trip to meet up with Noctis' fiancee Luna. Things quickly take a turn for the worse and, without spoiling anything, Noctis and friends must set off on an epic journey to retake their homeland and save the world from darkness. While that's a rather tropey setup for a fantasy RPG, it's the brotherhood between Noctis and the gang that take the forefront in the game's tale. The banter between the group is entertaining and informative. I quickly grew to know each of them and the whole of the story was made much richer through their friendships.

    The biggest difference between Final Fantasy XV and its predecessors is in combat. Tossing turn based combat to the curb (let's be honest here, Dragon Quest always did it better anyway), FFXV presents players with one of the slickest real time action systems I've ever played in an RPG. Though Noctis fights alongside his three friends in battle, players only control the Crown Prince. I chose to use Wait Mode, a system that pauses time when the player stops moving, allowing for tactical decision making and scanning of enemy weaknesses. Hits feel powerful, smooth and natural. Spells are massive and disregarding of what they destroy, friend or foe. Notctis' signature teleportation powers are sleek, allowing the player to jump from enemy to enemy in the blink of an eye. Whether out in the sprawling open world or deep into one of the games many large dungeons, combat always felt intense and never like a chore or a stepping stone to something more engaging.

    Featuring a fantastical but believable world, a beautiful and emotional soundtrack, combat that's new but still fits in with the Final Fantasy moniker, instantly relatable characters and an engrossing story, Final Fantasy XV is a must play for new players and long standing fans alike. It's not perfect, as there are some plot holes (though I had no trouble piecing things together, use your brains and imaginations, people), but the good far outweighs the bad in this fantasy epic for the ages.

Jesse's Top Five Games of 2016: Number Three

We're now a few weeks into 2017 and most of the "Best Of 2016" lists have come and gone, but here at The Loud Table we never got the chance to go through our games of the year (for me personally, the roadblock was managing holiday retail coupled with closing a store- my cruel mistresses). This past year saw a litany of high quality releases from big developers and indie studios alike and while this list doesn't comprise the full scope of what I played throughout 2016, these are my personal top picks of the year.

    Yet another game that had a rather troubled development history, DOOM came out of the gate ripping and tearing all other FPS games a new orifice this year. Originally the ill fated DOOM 4, this title threw away modernising in favor of the best kind of ancestor worship. Eschewing the cover-based, health regenerating, near-future-realism of many recent popular shooters, DOOM is everything that was great about classic first person shooters with the polish of a modern AAA title. In an industry inundated with shooters that try so hard to come off as edgy and relevant, DOOM flips a bloody, demonic middle finger to them all and proves that what once was great can become great again.

    Gunplay is at the forefront in DOOM and gods damned does it do it well. Running and gunning hasn't felt so good in years. The plethora of weapons available in the game, all with their own unique upgrades and specialties, all feel smooth and gut wrenchingly powerful. From leaping from a high ledge and splattering the walls with demon guts with a rocket launcher to strafing around a group of enemies disintegrating them with the plasma rifle, the weapons are fine tuned to keep the ass kicking coming. There's no hiding behind cover, regenerating health or reloading to be found here. Via DOOM's new melee finisher moves, the game rewards players for getting into the fray and crushing demon skulls up close and personal, showering not only blood and gore, but armor, health and ammo after melee takedowns. Visceral carnage has never played so smoothly.

    Another modern FPS trend DOOM bucks is serious narrative, not to say that there isn't one there if looked for carefully. The game opens with the player coming out of what seems like a tomb and then being quickly thrusted into a demon infested Mars colony with little explanation as to what's going on. The protagonist never says a word but conveys more emotion through movements than I've seen in even the most highly regarded FPS campaign cutscenes. For example, while listening to a character prattle on about something, the Doom Marine impatiently punches a computer terminal, clearly giving zero fucks about anything besides getting back out there and decimating the demon hordes. DOOM constantly reminds the player that they are there to rip and tear, not to worry about it.

    Outside of a rip roaring campaign, DOOM features a fully fledged competitive multiplayer mode. Though it's taken some flak from purists for not being a true arena shooter, it's seriously fun in its own right. Game modes run the gamut of standard team death match variations. It's nothing that hasn't been done before, but keep in mind that the original DOOM was the forefather of all FPS deathmatch. The addition of Demon Rune power ups, allowing players to transform into one of a few different kinds of demons, can seriously alter the tide of battle in the hands of the right player.

    A shining feature of DOOM that I feel hasn't gotten enough praise is Snap-Map, a beginner friendly level editing tool that allows players to make their own maps for single player, co-op and competitive multiplayer. Even if you never even try to make your own map once, you can enjoy the fruits of the community's labor by downloading maps that people have shared online. Snap-Maps rabid fan base has created entire campaigns, creative co-op modes and excellent competitive levels. People have gone so far as to create entire new games with the Snap-Map toolset.

    It's rare in these days of rampant corporate fudging of our favorite franchises for a single game offers so much content as DOOM. A heart-pounding single player campaign that has plenty of replay value (especially since the addition of an arcade mode), a competitive multiplayer mode with a surprising amount of depth and a fully featured community creation toolset and browser all housed within one game is supremely impressive. If you've enjoyed a shooter even once in your lifetime, you owe it to yourself to check out DOOM.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Hell or High Water: Review by Jake Maracle

  For all intents and purposes the classic western is a dead genre nowadays in terms of American cinema however the so called "Neo-Western" is alive and well and "Hell or High Water" is an excellent example of why that is.

   Based on a script by Taylor Sheridan, who also penned last years also amazing "Sicario", the film follows brothers Toby and Tanner Howard (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) as they go on a bank robbing spree through west Texas to raise money to save the family ranch. Meanwhile Texas Rangers Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham) are hot on their trail as Marcus is on his last case before retirement. A cliche plot perhaps but there's a reason people keep using it, because it works. Especially in a case like this where you assemble such a talented cast and let them go to work.

   At the top of the bill is Jeff Bridges, a man who has perfected the "lawman on his last job" character as he's played it a few times before. He brings the gravely voice, southern twang humor you'd expect but also injects Marcus with quite a bit of sadness. This is a man who knows how to do only one thing, be a Texas Ranger, and will soon be giving that up due to the creep of age and is left realizing that the job he's losing is all he has left in this world. We initially see him as a rather jovial figure, laughing and ribbing his partner and generally appearing to enjoy himself. Its in the times he's by himself that we realize what a sad and lonely figure he truly is. 

While everyone else speaks of their families or plans for the future Marcus has only this job left and soon he won't even have that anymore. He's built his whole life, his whole identity, on being a Ranger and being "one of the boys" but what is left for a man after that time is over? Bridges handles this complexity brilliantly and gives us one of his better recent performances in recent years. Nothing flashy or over the top, just subtlety mixed with gravitas and tragedy. Gil Birmingham is also very good as Marcus's put upon Mexican/Native American partner. 

Constantly the punchline for all of his partners off-color and racial jokes who is both tired of his Marcus's constant teasing but also knows its all the man has left and puts up with it anyway, partially because it'll all be over soon. 

   The other duo is the Howard brothers. Toby is the down on his luck family man who came up with the idea of robbing the same banks who are trying to steal their land through a reverse mortgage deal that was upon their dying mother in her last few years. He now has less then a week to raise $40,000 or lose the family land, upon which oil was recently discovered that could change his families lives forever. To pull this off Toby calls upon his unstable brother Tanner, recently released from jail after a 10-year stay for manslaughter and the only person Toby knows he can rely on to do this. 

   Chris Pine is playing the role of straight man Toby here and is better then expected in this spot. We see a guy who has never done anything illegal before but is forced into it by circumstance and who also is resigned to the idea they won't be getting away with it without going to jail, all that matters to him is securing his estranged children's future and changing his families fortunes for the better. His desire to change his families fate while also being resigned to his life most likely ending in jail gives Pine a chance to flex some acting muscles he doesn't get to do very often and he handles it very well. 

Ben Foster is right in his wheelhouse here as the unstable brother Tanner. Tanner's self-destructive behavior and disregard for his own safety/future gives Foster a chance to be a bit more flashy in his performance but luckily he keeps it just below to parody line and delivers a very compelling character who feels like someone who would grow up in West Texas. This behavior seems to highlight a guy who can't stop jumping from one adrenaline high to another and seems destined to end his days either in prison or at the end of a gun. Both performances are outstanding by themselves but its the when the two are together that the real magic happens. 

Pine and Foster do indeed feel like brothers onscreen as they play off and compliment each other perfectly. Their playful nature with one another, as well as the loyalty they feel towards defending one another, is really the heart of this movie and if it didn't work the whole thing falls apart. Luckily that's not at all an issue here as you can feel the bond and love between the brothers even when its not explicitly stated.

   I'd also be remiss if i didn't at least mention the pseudo other main character in "Hell or High Water" and that's the state of Texas itself. This movie feels like it could only take place in Texas and it takes full advantage of that. From the scenery to the history of Cowboys vs Native Americans to even the fact it seems everyone in Texas is carrying a gun this is a movie that takes full advantage of its setting and, in a way, makes it a character all its own. It adds to the flavor even more when things take a more action-centric turn near the end and the idea of this as a modern western is truly revisited in the last few scenes. Not to mention how you decide to interpret the ending and where it leaves our remaining characters. 

   Whether you're looking for a crime movie, a western or a character driven action film "Hell or High Water" delivers on all fronts and shows why so many critics deem it as one of the best movies of 2016. Don't miss this one folks!

**8.5/10 Stars**
"Yippee Ki-yay get along little doggies"

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Jesse's Top Five Games of 2016: Number Four

We're now a few weeks into 2017 and most of the "Best Of 2016" lists have come and gone, but here at The Loud Table we never got the chance to go through our games of the year. The past year saw a litany of high quality releases from big developers and indie studios alike and while this series doesn't comprise the full scope of what I played throughout 2016, these are my personal top five picks of the year. Side note - All of the games in this series have killer soundtracks that you should go check out immediately.

      Destiny: Rise of Iron

    You’re likely having one of two reactions my number four pick. It’s either “is this guy fuckin serious” or “right on, Rise of Iron is fun as hell.” Destiny has always been a hate or love game since it’s initial release in 2014. Clearly I fall in the latter camp, so buck up and keep an open mind or put on your hater shades and wait for the number three pick. Destiny: Rise of Iron is about as solid as a $30 expansion to a game can be. Offering new story content, new solo and cooperative missions, a new PVP mode and maps, new Challenge books (milestones to keep players involved), a new six person cooperative raid and continued updates, this expansion was no slouch.
The story content of Destiny throughout the past two years has been a point of contention, and Rise of Iron likely won’t sway anyone into thinking that developer Bungie has created a narrative juggernaut here. Focusing on the return of a long dormant artificial intelligence virus/plague dubbed SIVA, the story of Rise of Iron sees players combating the newly awakened plague, restoring glory to and ultimately joining the fabled “Iron Lords” who once fought against the SIVA threat. While it’s not going to win any awards, the story is told better than earlier stories in Destiny and new characters are well introduced and acted. For players invested in the lore of the series, there’s a lot of cool information to be had here.
In contrast to the narrative content of the short lived campaign, the missions and zones themselves are masterfully executed. New areas are brought into the world with surprising fluidity, with nothing feeling like it was simply hemmed in with no attention to detail. The areas of the game that were altered feel substantially different. Giant sections of walls are ripped off, plasma burns in metal still crackling hot. Winter blankets everything, drifts of blustering snow wisping into players faces. SIVA pustules burst into the landscape as a visual queue of the severity of the plague. The new SIVA infested enemies are strange to behold and fight differently than their less augmented cousins. Bombastic fights in a variety of locations had my heart pounding, regardless of whether I was playing solo or with friends.
As Destiny has been since its initial release in 2014, a huge amount of content awaits players once they finish the campaign in Rise of Iron. The new raid, Wrath of the Machine, is streamlined in comparison to the multi hour long affairs that came before. It still offers plenty of challenges to the uninitiated but once players know what they’re doing it’s possible to clear the raid in less than an hour. This has been a godsend for me, and probably others, as I love the cooperative challenge Destiny’s raids present but don’t always have a few hours in a row to dedicate to the game.
 Outside of the raid, the endgame of Rise of Iron offers plenty of other activities. Weekly bounties to explore the expansion’s new zone, the Plaguelands, and the ad-hoc cooperative arena of The Archons Forge can lead to special gear and new paths to endgame advancement. Multiple post-campaign quests can lead the player to new Exotic weapons, Destiny’s most sought after gear. This time around the weapons all have more of a story behind them, making obtaining them feel more like epic quests than a list of chores to complete. Crucible and Iron Banner offer plenty of challenges for PVP junkies looking to try out all their new toys against their fellow Guardians, and the new Supremacy mode is a welcome addition to the various game types in PVP.

Content updates has been a little light since the new year, but unless you’re going hard at the game, there’s truly bountiful amounts of content to be had in Rise of Iron. Strikes recently got an update that added an arcade style scoring component and new bounties to go along with it. Right at the end of the year Bungie brought back the fan favorite Sparrow Racing League for a couple weeks and left the game mode available for players in private matches. The winter lull in content may continue for a little while longer, but Bungie promises fans that their live team is hard at work to bring rabid players the next update. Rise of Iron ate a good chunk of my late 2016 and it still occupies my attention from time to time. With more updates and the oft-rumored Destiny 2 supposedly on the way in 2017, should Bungie’s shooter/rpg hybrid continue producing quality content, it will likely continue to garner my praise in the coming year.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Jesse's Top Five Games of 2016: Number Five

  We're now a few weeks into 2017 and most of the "Best Of 2016" lists have come and gone, but here at The Loud Table we never got the chance to go through our games of the year. The past year saw a litany of high quality releases from big developers and indie studios alike and while this series doesn't comprise the full scope of what I played throughout 2016, these are my personal top five picks of the year. Side note - All of the games in this series have killer soundtracks that you should go check out immediately.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ( Number 5 )

    It’s not often that a sequel makes my list of favorite games of the year, but in the case of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided I had to make an exception. The follow up to Eidos Montreal’s 2011 title Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Mankind Divided gets players right into the thick of a world wide conspiracy and controversy surrounding people who have augmented their bodies with cybernetic technology, or augs for short. Players take control of Adam Jensen, an augmented Interpol agent who, after the events of the first game, has become deeply involved in the conspiracy behind a global terror attack that caused millions of augs to lose control and begin killing people indiscriminately; referred to, rather banally, as the “Aug Incident.”
  Complex conspiracy driven narrative aside, the Deus Ex series has been known for being a beacon of player choice in gameplay. Want to go into a situation with guns blazing and explosions booming? OK. Would you rather creep in the shadows, silently eliminating your enemies one at a time with brutal stealth efficiency? That’s perfectly alright as well. How about the pacifist route, never killing anyone, never even being noticed by your enemies, or possibly talking your way out of a conflict? Deus Ex provides you with those options as well.

  Not only does Mankind Divided provide players with these options implicitly, but it also does so on a more structural, gameplay based level. Every situation in the game, from navigating the hub cities to the sprawling missions, afford the player with multiple paths to tackle any given situation. Verticality is more prevalent in Mankind Divided than its predecessor, allowing the player to scale buildings or dive into subterranean tunnels to find new ways to approach different conflicts.

   The same level of choice can be found in dialogue in the game. Early on, players have the option of unlocking a conversation augmentation that allows Jensen to read the facial reactions of the people he speaks to. Maybe a Russian Mafia boss requires a more blunt response, while an Aug Rights leader would respond better to a more diplomatic approach. These discussions can sometime have a direct result to gameplay. Jensen can avoid conflict, or cause it, just by opening his mouth.

 In Mankind Divided Adam Jensen himself feels like more of a super agent than in Human Revolution. All of his gadgets are embedded in his flesh and can be unlocked throughout the game, offering the means to tailor to players specific gameplay preferences. Cybernetic shielding from bullets, lightning fast dash moves, an active camouflage stealth system, noise dampening leg augmentations to make running silent, aim enhancing arm augments and
many more upgrades make Jensen feel like the Cyberpunk James Bond.
 Compared to Human Revolution, Mankind Divided feels more streamlined and refined. Augmentation tiers make more sense, are more sensibly grouped according to playstyle and can be adjusted if need be. Jensen feels more powerful than in the last game, without feeling overpowered or that the player has no challenges in front of them. The overall pacing of the game has been upgraded as well. While the game keeps Jensen in a single location for longer, it’s not to the detriment of world building, but to the benefit of narrative expansion and deep exploration. There’s still a plethora of things to do, but everything fits together as a whole better than it did in the previous title.

  Cohesion seems the central mission of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. The main narrative surrounding the oppression of Augs and the conspiracy behind the aftermath of a catastrophic terrorist attack seem more plausible than its forebearer. In presenting a more comprehensive and streamlined progression system the core gameplay tenants make more sense. By offering players more choices in navigating the world physically and through interaction with characters, without things becoming overwhelming, a more immersive world has been crafted. Eidos Montreal has taken a big step with Mankind Divided towards what made the original Deus Ex so great and forged new ground at the same time.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Loud Table Podcast; Return To Sensibility.. and Gaming Stuff

The Gang is BACK, from The Loud Table Studios in buffalo, NY. Now back on iTunes after some "technical issues" and after a nice summer break and a dip in the liquor pool or two, we jump into the shit starting with,

Indeed, it's been a long while since we have been able to sit down in a studio and shoot the proverbial shit together about the things that truly matter at the moment, and get a little more personal.. No indie film, arthouse HollyWood gossip Max Landis talk here. Just a few dumb ass dudes who talk too much.

Thanks for listening.. check out our YouTube for our season 3 starting Late October baby. Right in time for battlefield and Rogue One disussions eh?

Follow us, comment, like and subscribe @TheLoudTable everywhere below!



Thursday, July 28, 2016

Batman: The Killing Joke FILM REVIEW

Batman: Killing Jokes?

This animated "Rated R Animated Movie" we were all so crazily awaiting to the point of our gigantic nerd elephant blue balls just ripe for bursting. So much so, Fathom Events sold out of the one day screening in theaters that they added a second day!

So this last weekend at SDCC the film finally debuted, and after the first thoughts, I knew I'd just wait to rent at home. Not for the reasons most people are mad about like the added scenes and terribly forced screenplay. [ More on that below ]

The Killing Joke IS a joke.. and honestly, the added batgirl stuff didn't even bother me. Everything bothered me.

This film may be good for newer fans of Batman but the older ones are scratching their heads at the decision to change a few things up and just waste so much extra screen time  by what you chose to fill it with IMO.

Also, two head shots, some sexy braw, "bitch" and a "goddamn" does NOT warrant an R rating. Probably the most boring all together Batman-Joker film I've ever seen.

Mark Hamil still shines as the clown prince of crime but.. does he though? They gave him a GREAT musical number that surprised me and reminded me of something out of a RockSteady "Arkham" video game. Unfortunately Kevin Conroy was VERY flat and Tara Strong was WEAK as Batgirl.. Because, screenplay.

[ What changed my mind about going out to theaters for this ] Speaking of the screenplay, at the Q/A after the  world premier, a fan asked "Why did you turn Babs into a whiny sex object to "Deepen the story".. and he replied, "Wanna say that again, pussy?!" Really? Yea I'm good on that.

Some of the most quintessential Batman tales written, don't necessarily need movie adaptations. That's why Alan Moore boycotts every film made from his work. Now he sits alone in his big dark mansion hating everything. Thanks, Hollywood!!

Also as a life long Batman/Bruce Wayne fan, just as I hated it in the book.. the worlds greatest detective would've known that wasn't Joker in that Arkham cell.. That problem made it much worse for me in animation form. I don't need a Joker backstory. I don't need to know who he was and where he came from and how sad he was.. NOW HE'S HAPPY.

No. He's chaos. He's evil. He's a menace in form. He IS the antithesis of tranquility and peace, everything Batman never had, yet risks his life to give that tranquility and peace for Gotham.

I am disappoint. Some may love it.. Some may be bored out of their minds but one thing is for sure.. Nothing can ruin the original source material because it's ALWAYS going to be there when you need it.. Like Ghostbusters. Oh that "movie" sucks ASS. Don't go see that piece of shit. This new Batman-Joker film is much better but ehh..

Buttered Noodles.


Monday, June 6, 2016

Hideo Kojima DROPS new Lead Character art, Internet Shits self.. here's probably why!!

I actually think you are REALLY over thinking this one, folks... 

Any Kojima fan ready for my fucking stupidly long blog about ONE god damned promotional Photo released today by Kojima Productions? Well I noticed other fans had SHIT TON to say but nobody mentioned anything I'm about to drop all over the face, neck and chest of your Kojima San random, son, kid, dad, mom, dude chick, trans ( enterALL OTHER gender trigger words here since I'm just a stupid dumb 30 year old man with college knowledge just without the paper to prove it. Thanks, Obama.)

Anyway, let's take a look at this photo and then I'll take a DEEP dive into the sweaty pool that is and forever will be known as "Metal Gear Fan boys" OR best known as "Guy who didn't give a shit about quiet being NEARLY nude and gave MORE of a shit about the story of MGSV being NUDE. To any NON film/story driven gaming folks, NUDE is a new term I just made to to explain a shit film with NO LAYERS.. see where I'm going? Anyways, I digress, here's the new picture.. and give ME a chance to add my own two cents on what's possibly going on here.

I believe "I'll Keep Coming" is very simple. I believe it's a very simple message from him to US. Meaning exactly what it says. Nobody will stop Kojima San and oust him and shame him EVER again. Sony has given him a new home, power over creative control and hiring an incredible inner circle of some of the best designers and lighting programmers we might ever see under one roof. Also has control over his intellectual property and a blank check!!!!!!!!!!!! ( something almost no game designer/writer gets besides the fucking Naughty Dog writers but none of those names will ever show up on the cover art for the game they helped create.. and will be included in the 25 minute long credits some-wheres.. I digress however because THIS IS GREAT news for ALL gamers not just the fans like us. This new game of his will bring in new fans from all over without the MGS stigma hovering over it for a completely new generation of PS4 and soon to be NEO owners. Whatever that turns out being by the time it's out and this comment gets read in the future. I'm no stunning storyteller but read below for the sweaty details on why I think this means what it does.. and what we MAY be in for..

CLEARLY ( not intended to sound condescending I'm such a passionate MGS, ZOE, Night Trap fan ) if you have been following Kojima as long as I, some of his Interviews/Game Trailers/marketing and now social media just has him gushing at the seems to mess with us but also be truthful ( especially MGS 2/4/5 sorry Snake Eater had not a single flaw and had the GREATEST triple plot twist to end a game in history JUST IMHO ) He always acknowledges the fans and reminds them in strange easter eggs that he still loves US and what he does.. so think of it as another sign of SUBTLETY and the genius tactician that Kojima San is, and probably always will be.

Here's another theory nobody brought up since this IS MGS.. What if the quote is actually from this character "Luden or Leiden's" is the VILLAIN... WHO WON'T STOP UNTIL the UNKNOWN protagonist he will spring on us appears OR what if this character ( if it's a character we control ) is actually a villain and the entire game if from the "Bad Guy" point of view? ( also this still image looks like they made a few changes to the Fox Engine or whatever Konami let him keep of it because as a still 3D Character frame, the "uncanny valley" is almost disappearing ( google it, its a great thing to learn about ).



Keep in mind that for MGSV "Men become Demons" was about Konami and was featured in an ad for the game. The game that almost destroyed his career because of the forced release of Ground Zeroes ( which is actually my secondALLtimeGS game because if you really dig into that base, everything is positioned PERFECTLY for a nice sandbox espionage game where you ACTUALLY get to play as Big Boss... THE REAL REASON WE WANTED MGSV..

"heheh,oh Ground Zeroes"

"I TOTALLY agree with this Bad MotherFucker right here tho.."

To find out later that the game was rushed onto shelves with an "I OWE U a Missing Chapter" REALLY could've ended his career but luckily the game play was so amazing we didn't even notice.... Until we are betrayed at the plot twist ending which I hated at first.. and after over MONTHS debating about it with friends and myself, I realized the fact that he made US the hero in that game was fantastic.. Not the first time for a twist ending but c'mon, think about it.. WE took over the bases, did the footwork necessary to eventually help out our favorite Character ever in the series IMO, BIG BOSS. Plus it tied together the MSX game making sure you KNOW that as Solid Snake on your very first mission, the real big boss instructs you to take down Venom Snake, The guy you ran a muck with building an offshore army with a WEIRD cult following at his bidding by the end. I've now casually hit over 250 HRS of game-play just because I love the stealth and possible entry points for EVERY level. Genius way to make an open world stealth game.. just sad to see Konami stomp on his initial vision, thus ruining the final product he intended us to have. Therefore, "I'll keep Coming" is him reassuring us, that no corporate roadblocks won't ever stop him...



Kojima will on for his fans and deliver us his first new IP in years under his own creative control. We all win here either way no matter what the quote ACTUALLY means but I think in this context is very simple and clear as day to me. But after all.. This is Kojima San..

If anyone else feels this way or wants to argue one of my many points here, let's do this.. You can find me below.. Let's have a discussion about a franchise we grew up with and care so much about! Let's also see where Kojima San takes us in the future!

La Lu Lu Le Lo,