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Month: March 2018

Disappointing Dragon’s Dogma Doesn’t Delight

(Originally posted on FB)

I recently found myself at a bit of a loose end, games wise. I’d been playing a lot of Star Wars: The Old Republic, levelling through six of the eight available class storylines, and wanting to take a short break from it. I was kind of itching for a sprawling Bioware/Bethesda style RPG, and debating doing another playthrough of Dragon Age or Fallout, when I came across “Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen” unplayed in my steam library. I don’t remember when I bought it, but it was probably deeply discounted during one of their sales.

The game was originally released for consoles in 2013, and later ported to the PC. It seems to have a fairly enthusiastic following, as I found from looking about online. And I had too look online, becuase otherwise I’d have no idea what was going on with it.

After a few hours of play, I have to say I can’t recall the last time I played a game so aggressively uninterested in giving me information about itself. The basic mechanics of the game are reasonably straightforward, which is good since it just drops you right in without much fanfare. The prologue has you playing a character who isn’t your avatar, but doesn’t explain much. You eventually pick up NPC party members, but the game is pretty mum on how you should evaluate these characters to join your party, and none of them are real characters in any sense, they’re just automatons. (Literally, in game. They’re called “pawns”, and they’re presented as soulless minions who only exist to serve your need.)

The user interface makes it hard to find anything, and there’s no way to tell if an area or a foe are appropriate to your level, short of charging in and seeing if you get your butt handed back to you. Conversations with NPCs are stilted, between the frankly awful voice-acting and the fact that you never actually respond to anything said to you. They react to you as *if* you said something, but it’s not like there was dialogue to choose that shapes the responses. They just say something, and you hit enter, and they say something else.

A friend I trust tells me the story is ultimately worth it, but I’m afraid that it’s just not engaging me. I might give it another try later, but I think for now I’m going to set it aside.

Review – Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Genre: Action/Comedy
Grade: A

Catching up on DVDs this weekend, becuase there’s a big stack of movies we haven’t gotten around to seeing.

I know everyone likes to complain about too many reboots and remakes of old favourites, but I have to say that “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is a wonderful homage to a film I really liked as a teenager, updated to be fresh and relevant to modern audiences.
 
What? No, I don’t mean the 1995 Robin Williams film “Jumanji”, which I’ve never actually seen.
 
But it is absolutely a wonderful update of the 1985 film “The Breakfast Club”. 🙂
 
Seriously, it really is a tremendously fun movie, and we enjoyed it a lot. I particularly enjoyed the way the four leads played both to and against type, and they certainly seemed to to be having a great deal of fun with it.   This is the sort of ensemble cast that lives or dies on the strength of its cast’s chemistry, and Johnson, Gillian, Black, and Hart have it in spades.  It really makes me want to see the four of them do another project together, just to enjoy watching them interact.
 
If you like well-paced, genuinely funny action-comedies which put as much effort into the action as the comedy, and have a real heart, definitely make some time for it.

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