Let's discuss Avengers: Infinity War -- a movie BOUND to make you feel so good!

June 30, 2014

Coming Distractions (AKA Voltech the Dumb)

Whew.  Looks like I finally got over those Watch Dogs posts.  Finally.  I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: in a lot of cases, I don’t intend to write thousands and thousands of words on a subject.  It just sort of happens when I sit down to make a post.  It’s problematic, I know, but if nothing else I’m comprehensive.

But whatever the case, I’m done with Watch Dogs.  I’m tired of thinking about it, and I’m ready to move on to bigger and better things -- on the blog and off of it.  (I’m on my way to Ni no Kuni City, baby!)  I mean, I could go for a little bit of a cooldown period.  Maybe lighten up the load on things here, so I can redouble my efforts on other stuff.  I mean, it’s not like I can make good Let’s Discuss posts without playing games.  And beyond that, I --

*checks Blogger dashboard*

*notices that a major milestone is coming up*


June 26, 2014

So How Good is The Hunger Games, Really?

Oh, this is gonna make me popular.

Not too long ago, there was an episode of The Simpsons that took a few jabs at The Hunger Games -- in typical fashion, highlighting some of the franchise’s…shall we say, conceits while simultaneously being eerily honest.  For a guy like me with no real attachment to the tales of Katniss Everdeen and the rest of the Monster Buster Club (that’s what they’re called, right?), it was just the sort of thing I could laugh at and shrug off.  For others?  I wonder if it was something like an affront to all of the deities.

It came at just about the right time, though.  I’ve been thinking about The Hunger Games more than I should, for one reason or another.  It probably has something to do with web series like CinemaSins and Honest Trailers laying into them in their own distinct yet biting (but always hilarious) ways.  Sure, those two manage to succeed precisely because they play up faults and nitpicking, but sometimes the line between joke and complaint starts to blur.  And there’s no doubt that even more jokes will flare up, given that the last book is not only getting split into two movies, but the first of them, Mockingjay: Part 1 is due out fairly soon.  Ergo, this post.

So I think it’s time I open the floor for some input.  Though preferably, not arrows to the skull.

June 23, 2014

Watch Dogs, Revised

I would ask “what’s wrong with Ubisoft”, but that would imply that A) there was nothing wrong with them to begin with, and B) that their problems were all that different -- i.e. inlaid -- with the triple-A industry at large.

I almost feel bad about piling on the hate.  I mean, I’m pretty sure that by now you all know how I feel about Watch Dogs, and that’s a strike against the company if there ever was one.  And plenty of others have felt a similar sting, what with THE “first step into the next generation of gaming” being more like a drunken shamble across an oiled-up floor covered in marbles. 

That’s bad enough in its own right, but then people discover that the PC version has what’s effectively a switch to change the game back into its E3 super-mega-graphics mode because…hey, it’s not like people have ever poked around game data before, right?  And beyond that, there’s still the whole fiasco where nobody knows what’s going on with Ubi, the newest Assassin’s Creed, and its refusal to portray women in games.  (I’m staying out of the conversation, but I will say that “adding female characters” should have been part of the plan the SECOND they said “Okay, let’s start the new game”.)

But I’m not here to rail on Ubisoft, because people have done that elsewhere, and done it better.  This is Cross-Up, and as long as the subject isn’t Final Fantasy 13, it’s a happy place.  So let’s keep it that way.

Let’s do something constructive.  But first…

June 19, 2014

What Earns Your Brand Loyalty?

 So, how’s everybody enjoying Ultra Street Fighter 4?

I wasn’t exactly counting down the seconds over its release, but when I first gave it a whirl, I couldn’t help but get swept up into its pace.  Okay, sure, there are only five new characters (four of whom, along with the latest stages, are just carry-overs from the ill-fated Street Fighter X Tekken), but just being able to play as Poison -- don’t judge me -- in a new setting made that first session with the update surprisingly exciting.  We’ll see how long that excitement lasts, but as it stands?  I’m glad that Street Fighter 4: The T. Hawk Is Actually Kinda Good Edition is in our midst.

Though I suppose Capcom has kind of forced gamers’ hands with this one, especially those in the fighting game community.  They pretty much HAD to get the update, because if they didn’t, they’d get locked out of the competitive scene.  And the same applies to more leisurely players like me; anyone who wants to blow off some steam (or build it) online has to buy in or get locked out.  It’s a dirty trick, but I guess we’ve got no choice but to deal.  And we will deal, because even if these constant “new additions” are a pain in the ass to keep up with, the core game has always been worth it.  Worth our time and respect.

Which brings us to the question of the day…however circuitously.  As is my standard.

June 16, 2014

The Problem with Watch Dogs (Part 3 -- FINALE)

So.  Have you seen the new Godzilla movie?

I haven’t.  Plans were being made at one point, but they fell through when time ran out (i.e. we would rather play video games).  Just as well, though; I wasn’t in any rush to see it, because it would have meant I’d have to take time out to do at least one post on it…not to mention that I’d have to sit through it.  And the MovieBob review -- among others -- told me pretty much everything I dreaded would happen: 1) Godzilla is almost (not quite, but almost) marginalized in his own movie, 2) Bryan Cranston isn’t in it as much as trailers and promos would suggest, and 3) the story follows some generic soldier with a generic story instead of anyone interesting.  Like Ken Watanabe’s character, for one.

Maybe I would have cared about the movie more if I hadn’t seen the trailer -- or had thought it was “amazing”, since that was apparently enough to get plenty of people hyped.  But I guess that trailer, and the movie at large, offered more than enough.  It must have, seeing as how it’s become a runaway hit, and there are already mumblings of a sequel.  So if people are happy, then maybe that’s good enough. 

But maybe it isn’t.

Which brings me back to Watch Dogs.

June 12, 2014

E3 2014: A Not-Quite Lickety-Split Rundown

“Oh boy, it’s time for E3!” 

Typing out that line -- for once -- actually capitalizes on the lack of inflection in Internet-based words, rather than be hamstrung by it.  So depending on your disposition, you can either go with an optimistic reading, or a sarcastic one.  Funny how that worked out, eh?

As for me?  Well, I can’t say I was too excited about E3 this year.  I’ve done this dance before, and I’ve been…huh, what word works best when one E3 was a showcase for one stabbing after another while another (just as violent, but paradoxically even more boring) ended up getting irrevocably tainted by the then-horrific, DRM-peddling Xbox One?  I’ll let you fill in the blank on that one.

But like I said, I wasn’t exactly excited about E3 this year.  You know how it goes -- fool me twice, and so on.  On the other hand, this is a blog with a preeeeeeeeeeeeetty heavy focus on gaming.  And since I did an E3 post twice already, I suppose at this stage it’s a Cross-Up tradition.  Even if I don’t really feel like doing it, because I’ve got cooler stuff I’d prefer to work on. 

So you know what?  Let’s do this (relatively) lickety-split.  Here’s an assortment of random thoughts I have on E3 2014.

June 9, 2014

The Problem with Watch Dogs (Part 2)

You know, sometimes I wonder if I should just give up video games.

I wonder, but I never get that far -- never past that threshold.  That’s because there are still a lot of good games out there.  Metal Gear Rising.  BioShock Infinite.  GTA5.  The Wonderful 101.  Transistor.  Tokyo Jungle. Mario 3D World.  Dark Souls and its kin.  And most recently, Mario Kart 8.  So it’s not a matter of apocalyptic mumbling, or some assumption that the video game industry is doomed.  There are good games out right now, good games that have come out semi-recently, and good games that are destined to see release before year’s end.  There is absolutely no reason to give in to doomsaying and gloom.

That all said, there is a distinction.  There is something that I have no problem giving up -- and that’s bad video games.  Sounds simple enough, sure.  Nobody wants to waste their time with a bad game, least of all me; suffering through a stinker just reminds me how much more writing I could get done instead, and how much more fun I could have had typing out my yarns.  But recently, it seems like my instincts have gotten sharper.  For one reason or another, I’ve gotten better at suspecting trouble in games before they even hit the shelves.  So I guess from now on, it’s going to be a matter of trusting them instead of wasting my time trying to give those stinkers “a fair shake”. 

Is there a chance that I could be turning my back on a “great game, great experience”?  Yes.  But there’s also the chance that I could be 100% right.  That even if reviews give a game no less than a 7 (itself the “danger zone” of review scores), that’s no guarantee of its quality or even close to a good time.

And there’s no other game that proves that -- that tells me to cast judgment long beforehand -- better than Watch Dogs.

June 7, 2014

Introducing: The Cross-Up Subreddit!

A new warrior has entered the ring!  Well, relatively speaking.  There’s not exactly a ring, per se, but it has entered the virtual space.  Also I couldn’t resist the chance to make a Street Fighter reference in honor of the Ultra update going live this week.  Man, I was like one of the top 1700 T. Hawk players online.  Now I’ve gotta start all over again amidst the Akumas and Cammies and --

I feel like this post has gotten away from me.  Let’s get back on track.

June 5, 2014

RE: Mario Kart 8

I need a respite from Watch Dogs.  Let’s talk about something good.

You know what?  No.  Let’s not just talk about something good.  Let’s talk about something really good.  Really, almost unfairly good.

In a nutshell?  This game has officially earned Nintendo the right to drop the mic.

June 2, 2014

The Problem with Watch Dogs (Part 1)

Here’s everything you need to know about how I feel about Watch Dogs in one go.

At the end of my first session with the game I ended up jumping onto a freeway so I could get a car and head to the next mission.  I ran around for a little while, taking in the sights and fiddling with the in-game phone/magic wand to try and hack things in the environment.  I didn’t expect to find anything worth doing, but to my surprise I found a sign that I could hack.  So I hit the Square button, and it changed before my eyes.  So instead of offering some useful information, it changed to a simple message:


I sat there and stared at the screen for half a minute.  And then I threw the controller aside, turned off the console, and went to eat some hot dogs.

So yeah.  I would tell you that the bar is set pretty low, but I’m not the best judge.  That would require me to find the bar first, and last I checked it was hurtling toward the center of the earth.