Tom Chick

Worst thing you’ll see all week: Those Who Wish Me Dead

, | Movie reviews

We can’t be letting city-slicker criminals murder kids out in the woods.  It’s just not right.  Fortunately, there are salt-of-the-earth outdoorsman types doing their part, some of whom are even ladies!  I consider this a subgenre in thrillers.  Movie about criminals in tracts of wilderness going up against people who are better than them at camping and whatnot.

For instance, Those Who Wish Me Dead, a thriller directed by Taylor Sheridan, a square-jawed TV actor who apparently had a drawer full of scripts.  

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Biomutant tells a cautionary tale about cleaning up your own mess

, | Game reviews

A colorful post-apocalyptic open world populated by intelligent mutated animals.  Tthe usual Ubisoft style open-world with a touch of Gamma World and a Secret of NIMH vibe.  Over-the-top brawler gameplay, intricate stat-based character development, and a hearty crafting system.  Mounts, vehicles, loot, exploration, puzzles, choice-and-consequence.  A robot cricket sidekick!  If games were bullet points, Biomutant would have a lot going for it.  But since games are games, Biomutant is only as good as the realization of these bullet points.

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Will stealth finally work in Phoenix Point? Find out May 25th!

, | News

One of my complaints about Phoenix Point is that the stealth is poorly integrated into the game. From my otherwise enthusiastic review:

Combat is very gamey and deterministic, but stealth is all under-the-hood voodoo.  You never know whether an alien will see you or not. You can see a stealth number and a perception number, and you can affect these numbers in different ways.  You know the interaction of these numbers determines whether someone is visible. But there’s no indication of how the numbers interact. It’s the worst kind of information: presented without any of the context you need to make decisions.  There’s no way to make sure your sneaky assassin stays out of sight as he creeps around the map while everyone else is shooting. Stealth is obviously supposed to be a gameplay system in Phoenix Point, which has cloaking suits and noiseless weapons and varying levels of light to affect visibility.  But in its current state, it is no such thing. It’s a locked black box, good for stubbing your toe and not much else.

Yet stealth is part of how gear is tuned, which in turn is part of how characters are developed and factions are balanced, both a fundamental element of gameplay progression. Will that change next week? From developer Snapshot Games’ latest blog entry about the May 25th update:

…understanding enemy awareness was important for players trying stealthy maneuvers, and we wanted to help players know when they might be in jeopardy. Enemy perception range is now visualized when hovering over a selected enemy, so you can see which of your soldiers may be at risk.

At least, my infiltrators might actually be able to infiltrate! The new Festering Skies DLC will also be available on May 25th. It adds more stuff for your interceptors to do and a giant alien ship that flies around terrorizing the globe.

Lady Dimitrescu and kin deserve a better game than Resident Evil: Village

, | Game reviews

Remember that time when Resident Evil tried something new and different?  Resident Evil 5 cast horror in a new light.  Africa’s equatorial sun blew the usual cobwebs out of the series in favor of something different and even controversial.  It finally played like the shooter it had been trying to be for so long.  It even introduced an exciting new character.  And that was back when representation was more a prerequisite for taxation than a cultural imperative.  But what’s become of Sheva now?  Why does Capcom keep going back to the white-bread familiarity of their Chrises and Jills?  Why are they all-in on the tragedy of the faceless Ethan Winters, aptly named for being as bland as the driven snow, searching for his wife and/or daughter the same way he searches for green herbs, handgun rounds, and whatever arbitrary cog, key, or crank handle unlocks the next heavily scripted set piece?  Mia, Rose, press X to Jason, all just meat for the refrigerator.  The shadow of Silent Hill looms over so many games, yet so few of them understand what made it tick.

Since Resident Evil 5, the series has alternated between updated remixes that work well enough and new stories that have been various levels of awful.  Maybe The Village can thread the needle between effective gameplay and a new setting, style, and characters.

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The absolute dumbest thing you’ll see all week: Godzilla vs. Kong

, | Movie reviews

I don’t mean to belittle dumb movies.  Some of my favorite movies are dumb.  But Godzilla vs. Kong is steeped in a special kind of concentrated studio inanity.  It stinks of dumb.  It is the most profoundly stupid “vs.” movie since Batman vs. Superman.  It’s not even worthy of Syfy’s Animal X vs. Animal Y movies, which can at least pretend they’re being deliberately campy.  Godzilla vs. Kong is so profoundly dumb that it doesn’t even know it’s dumb.

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Planetfall: the death of trust

, | Game diaries

After forty turns of searching for the Psi-Fish I’m supposed to defeat, and whose dwellings are supposed to be abundant, and with whom I’m supposed to be at war, I have found no Psi-Fish.  I have explored enough of the map to discover three NPC factions and their dwellings.  A map this size should have three NPC factions, and I’ve found Therians, Forgotten, and Paragon.  If there are Psi-Fish here, they’re a fourth faction tucked into tiny pockets of unexplored territory.  It seems unlikely.  

But just to verify that something is broken, I looked up how to unfog the map using a cheat code.  The situation is that dire.  I have resorted to cheat codes!  Sure enough, there are no Psi-Fish on this map.  It is Psi-Fish-less.  My mission to capture two Psi-Fish dwellings is literally impossible.

Cue the Lalo Schifrin!

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