Blade Runner 2049 – Nope

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***WARNING: There are probably spoilers below, so if you haven’t seen Blade Runner 2049, turn away now***

Blade Runner was a brilliant movie.  Blade Runner 2049 was a terrible movie.  Placing aside some of the more disturbing issues the first movie had, and make no mistake, in hindsight there are troubling power-dynamics between Decker and Rachael – especially when viewed through a modern lens, it was a stunning film.  Visually, aurally, metaphorically, it was a fantastic film.  I’ve seen the various versions several times (5 different cuts last time I knew) and though it’s been years since I’ve watched the theatrical version,  I have no problem admitting that each version has its merits.  Even the voiceover in the original theatrical still holds a little spot in my heart.

BR2049 was slow.  Really slow.  A slow glacier of slowness.  My boredom grew weary of itself, if that’s possible.  I will concede that the movie was a looker.  Visual effects aside, there wasn’t much else going on.  The set pieces felt empty, disjointed, disconnected.  The characters felt empty, disjointed, disconnected.  The plot felt empty, disjointed, discone…..you get the idea.  I felt nothing for Ryan Gosling’s character.  Throughout most of the movie my prevailing attitude was to just get on with it.  I couldn’t buy into the idea that replicants, so soon after a full-on revolt, would even be allowed to be manufactured, let alone live amongst the public in an apartment.  And what can I say, Jared Leto gave a Suicide-Squad Joker level performance, which is to say it could have been cut from the film entirely and saved us some time.  And the statues of women in all sorts of…interesting…positions?  And really, what the heck was up with that birthing chute?

The ending was nonsensical.  It was painful.  It was not good.

You can probably tell that I didn’t like the film.  Yes, the visual effects were good, but that’s all there really is.  Maybe I just didn’t see the same film all the critics saw.  Maybe I need to see it again.  Don’t hold your breath though.

Eh, your mileage may very.

Cheers,
Stu

 

 

 

Titanfall 2 – A Meager Meal that Satisfies

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Titanfall, for those not in the know, is a FPS with giant mechanical war machines(a.k.a. mechs)called Titans that you can hop in and out of while traversing a map to capture objectives and/or pound the snot out of an apposing team.  You play as a “pilot”, an individual with the specialized skills needed to operate a titan, who, it should be added, is bonded to you with a neural link.  When you are not in your titan it operates independently and can either follow you, acting as your mechanized wingman, or can be ordered to guard a location.  As a pilot, you have significant mobility, being able to “double-jump”, run across walls, and in some cases even hover in the air for a short amount of time.  Other abilities which you can swap in and out of your kit include a cloak, electric smoke, and a host of other ways you can utilize to take out your opponents.
The original Titanfall was a limited success.  The game was multi-player only and had a small (but dedicated) following.  Titanfall 2 includes a single-player campaign which, I am happy to report, is quite enjoyable.  The campaign is not a terribly long affair, I was able to complete it in the span of two days with plenty of time left over to hit up the multi-player modes.  That said, it could probably be played through within a single day without too much difficulty.  That isn’t to say it’s bad or unenjoyable, it’s just really, really brief.
Without putting out any spoilers, I will say that the campaign held some refreshing surprises and touches on some game mechanics that you don’t see coming.  Of course wall-running and parkour of the first game makes its return an most of the game requires these skills to navigate the map.  The game is forgiving, during some of the harder wall-running if you get so-close-you-can-taste it, the game well respawn you as though you completed it successfully.  A purest might not appreciate it, but after trying a run 8 or 9 times and finally, almost, barely getting to the end, it is a welcome concession and still remains a satisfying effort (it prevented me from rage-quitting more than once).  Respawn Entertainment made some solid decisions and gave those looking for an entertaining single-player experience a little something to chew on.  It’s disappointing that the story is so short.  Just as you are discovering how much fun you are having, it’s over.
The multiplayer is pretty much what one would expect in an FPS with giant robots.  The game modes vary from old standbys like Capture the Flag and Skirmish, to a mode I found myself returning to again and again, Amped Hardpoint.  In Amped Hardpoint, there are three locations on the map that can be captured and held.  If you capture a location and remain close by, the location becomes “amped” and generates twice the amount of points for as long a player stays in close proximity.  At the end of most modes when the winning and losing teams are declared, the losing team must make it to an evacuation point and board a ship that will carry them off-planet.  At this point it is up to the winning team to either eliminate all the remaining pilots before they board, or just take out the ship leaving remaining pilots stranded.
The maps can be large, open affairs with wide areas that you can be exposed while traversing the landscape, to cramped cities where there are ample buildings to duck in and run through.
Leveling up has been revamped in this installment.  You can level up not only your pilot, but your titan as well as your primary and secondary weapons.  Leveling up unlocks new abilities or weapon attachments.  Regeneration is still in the mix but now weapons and titans can be regenerated and quite frankly, it feels a little confusing and clumsy.
Though this has been a brief review, I can say that the game is enjoyable.  Only time will tell how long the community will stick with it, additional maps are supposed to be arriving in December which should give it a little replayablity. I’m not sold on the $60 asking price, but if it follows the same trajectory the first game did, you may be able to pick it up on sale before too long.  If you already have it, please feel free to leave your impressions in the comments below.
Until then, keep your eyes peeled, and prepare for Titanfall.
-Stu