Star Wars

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

After watching this movie in theaters three times, I think I can finally articulate my thoughts on the new installment with something approaching objectivity:  The movie is fucking awesome.  It absolutely crushed records, it explained away many of the complaints people had about the trailer (e.g. black stormtrooper, the crossguard of Kylo Ren's lightsaber), and it restored the faith of the anti-prequel crowd.  It, quite frankly, was an immensely enjoyable movie going experience that was only amplified by the hype and expectations that I had because of its universe.

It's not without it's problems though: For all of the originality and complexity of Kylo Ren, and all the mystery of Rey, The Force Awakens simply falls flat on the actual plot itself.  Which is absolutely surprising because the characters - aside from a few minor annoyances, looking at you Captain Phasma - absolutely drove the movie.  Which, if you look back at all six movies objectively, is completely opposite of every single movie:  The acting was abysmal and the characters were difficult to empathize with.

This saga of Star Wars, led by this new generation of actors, seems to flip that problem on its head:  Retell the old, unoriginal stories, with new and relateable actors. While the actors capture the hearts of the viewers, it's up to the writers of Episode IIX to come up with a new story arc, one that captures our imaginations and minds.  The ground work is set, and J.J. Abrams has instilled new life into an old franchise, but fans will be eagerly waiting to see if a new universe can be built atop the ashes of hundreds of fan-fiction novels.

Star Wars: An Abridged History

Star Wars: An Abridged History

With Star Wars: The Force Awakens hitting theaters this week, it'll be a helpful reminder to know about where we are in the Extended Universe.  I'll be covering canon, non-canon but legitimate, and retconned material that's simply too good to ignore in a brief synopsis of Star Wars history.

It's worth noting that since we don't yet know the plot of The Force Awakens I can't accurately portray events beyond the destruction of the Death Star, so I'll only be covering three eras of Star Wars history:  The Old Republic, The Rise of the Empire, and The Rebellion.  Each of these eras have a date associated with them annotated in BBY or ABY, which stand for Before (or After) theBattle of Yavin.  Within these eras, I've outlined the books, games, movies, and animated series in chronological order; however, there is a significant amount of overlap in some areas of the franchise, so the order may not be precise.

So, without further adieu, let's get you spun up on Star Wars history so you can fully enjoy the face melting awesomeness that awaits us next week!

Gates, Goblins, and Girls

Gates, Goblins, and Girls
There has been a lot of talk recently about the amount of outrage by young white males in the gaming community as game developers have started to diversify their target audience. This outrage has ranged from boycotting Bioware for offering a subtle LGBT romance option to chasing women out of their homes with death threats. Obviously, it goes without saying that this sort of behavior is inexcusable.
 
So I won't spend a lot of time talking about how this behavior is wrong; you're adults, you should know better. If you don't, then you're not really someone I want to talk with anyways, so let's leave it at that.  What I do want to talk about is gaming culture in general.

The Force is Weak With This One

It's with a bitter sweet taste in my mouth that I move on from Star Wars: The Old Republic.  The sporadic nature in which Bioware updates the game, the mediocrity of the content, and the weaning server populations have made the MMORPG the first ever MMOSPG.  It's with reluctance that I say that, at this point, a game that had potential to be such a trail blazer simply created a new genre of Massively Multiplayer Online Single Player Games.  

Midnight Reveries, which was once ranked tenth in the world, has retired from raiding.  We were very active raiders and theory crafters in this game and offered well written reviews containing specific suggestions to the development team.  Version 1.2 "Legacy" was the defining moment for SW:TOR.  The first major content patch of any MMORPG defines the tempo in which the game lives or dies; and while it is possible to recover from a poor showing in that first major patch, it is certainly difficult.

The majority of the challenge from the game consisted of run times, trash clearing, and fighting bugs.  While we did manage to down Kephass hard mode with the bugs, after they were fixed, we had no difficulty in downing him -- the encounter was almost trivial; but prior to this we spent nearly thirty hours tilting at the windmill known as poor programming. 

This same poor programming would lead us to become excited at work arounds for game functions we took for granted in TOR's predecessor, World of Warcraft.  Functions like damage meters were cumbersome and required third party applications with a simplistic, but painful, pass phrase system to synchronize with fellow party members.

With Diablo 3 out and MMO enough to saite our appetites until Guild Wars 2, most of our raiders have retired and are cancelling our accounts as I type this message.  Farewell Bioware, good luck, and I hope your game makes it long enough for me to return to it.   I loved the game, but a dying game is simply no fun.



SWTOR Review

SWTOR Review

We are all playing this game for various reasons, and while our reasons for leaving Funcom, Blizzard, and Sony to join Bioware's team may be diverse, we can all agree on a few things.  Bioware has a history of building strong, story based games that fundamentally change their genre for the better.   The Old Republic is no exception to this rule, and even if this game is as good as it gets, we're happy to have been a part of this historic release in the MMORPG genre.  The voice over of all of the quests, the engaging story plots, and historic references to previous games (KOTOR and KOTOR II) are all spot on and leave the players wanting and begging for more.

However, we all also agree that we would be doing ourselves and this company an injustice by simply sitting by and singing the game's praises when there are so many inadequacies that need addressing.  There is a lot of leeway for RPGs with regards to patching and bug fixing, but MMORPGs have a monthly fee associated with them.  They require not only a lot of time and effort, but a monthly fee to play; and as a result, the race to get the game "up-to-par" is an ever present challenge.  It is for this reason that our guild, Midnight Reveries, having cleared all of the content in The Old Republic (in two different raid groups), have decided to address these issues in the forthcoming thread.