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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Nothing. The iconic opening title and scrawl is conspicuously missing from the start of Rogue One, and this is the first of many reasons why “Star Wars” was not the start of the film’s title, but was tacked on to the end. What’s remarkable about this is how many artefacts and persons from the Star Wars universe can pervade the setting, without it feeling like a Star Wars film. The feeling that I did get from the first two thirds of the film is one of wasted potential.

It would be fine for this film to stand on its own in this way if the screen writing were not a complete mess. It tries to do too much in terms of characters for the time available in a single film, and ends up feeling hollow in this regard, because practically none of them are developed by the end of it. The only character which is really developed in any way is the lead, who starts out with an arc that could have been very well utilised, but then switches suddenly into hero mode.

All that said, this film is far better than The Force Awakens, which in itself does not say much because TFA was ridiculous. Unlike its predecessor, this leverages nostalgia very well, at least in the closing stages. When certain ships jump onto the screen near the end, it abruptly begins to feel like a Star Wars film, but only by association, since it’s a very familiar scene to fans. It maintains this energy all the way to the final scene, which is guaranteed to leave most fans with a high.

The cinematography, again, was spot-on. Like TFA it very much manages to capture the look of Star Wars, this time even going so far as to emulate the look of film stock from the late seventies. It’s just sad that with all the resources and talent available, a writer could not be found to capture the soul of this now-struggling franchise.

I’m Playing: Grand Theft Auto V

I recently started replaying the GTAV story missions from the start, having already finished the campaign twice. Before I did this, I took advantage of another perk that comes with using the pirated version of the game rather than the one you paid for: Practically unlimited modding.

Apart from the story being cut short for the benefit of GTAO, the only criticism I have of the game itself is that the tires are slightly too sticky. The game boasts a fantastic handling physics engine, and to have it nerfed is a shame. The same goes for the game’s analogue of the Veyron being merely a supercar. So I applied a mod to improve that.

This mod is better than the others I’ve tried, almost perfect, but modders seem to share a love of exaggerated deformation. Knowing I’m not going to be causing much mayhem on the streets of Los Santos if my wheel locks up after the second hit, I set about doing a little XML hacking. Soon I had all the benefits of the adjusted handling, while preserving the deformation of the original. And it was good.

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Still no

I did it. Despite my previous protestations, and saying that I would not. Somehow I got to be in a mood to watch a Star Trek film. One I hadn’t seen a million times already, so it had to be a new one. Yes. I rationalised this by realising that I was in the mood to see any new star trek film, even if it was another terribly bad one, such as “into darkness”.

When I decided to do this, I knew I would like it, and I did. It was fun. Nimoy had a cameo which is sure to make any fan one hundred times as nostalgic than any of his other entries into the reboot, and you know there is another actor you would never see in their role again. At one point it went past fun, and became utterly goofy. You will know which point this is. The film had undeniable strengths. And I don’t feel that it did the series justice.

I had previously been sucked up in the popular belief that the director is the film, when really, it’s the writing on these new sci-fi reboots which is lacking. Obviously this can be influenced by many things, from director input to director execution, not to forget the basic competency of the writer and their suitability to the subject matter. The number of films wrecked by studio interference alone deserves its own sentence.

The new star trek films and the new star wars one are not bad films, but the other thing they all share is a total lack of soul from their subject matter. I wanted to shit on Abrams because he was involved in all of these, but he nailed the star wars look a lot better than Lucas could in the prequels. The fact that Lucas managed to recapture the soul of Star Wars in the prequels however, even expanding on it, is all that kept them afloat over all the heavy-handed CGI. The first film in the Star Trek reboot was fun, a totally acceptable addition to the series, but only because there was just one of them. From here on the writers demonstrated that they had no feel for the series at all. The star wars reboot writers performed similarly, showing all the understanding of the content as someone whose knowledge of the subject ended at having completely read the first wikipedia article on it. Star Trek Beyond gave the distinct impression of flailing in the dark at the core of the series, and many other things. No, Star Trek was not about unity. The Borg were about unity.

If these same films were instead presented as their own thing, not based on other series, they would not be covered in the shame of such wasted potential. If this whacky star trek universe was truly the alternate universe, and we still had premium star trek material available, that would have been great. But what they’re trying to do now is sell two of the most cerebral and spiritual series to people who won’t care tomorrow to recall which film they saw, and that’s never going to work.

I’m Still Playing: No Man’s Sky – Bloody Pirates!

See above, me biting off a bit more than I could chew, taking on four pirate ships. I still have to stop myself from playing this game, otherwise I’d get nothing done, except wandering to the fridge every now and then in a screen stupor.

See below, the game’s many picturesque settings: (more…)

I’m playing: No Man’s Sky – quick thoughts and shots

Apparently some people have been having trouble running NMS, but I’m not one of them. It’s very close to what I expected it would be, and for now at least it has me completely riveted. A space exploration game with combat pushes all my buttons but, though I love the idea of it, I’ve never been able to get into something like EVE Online, because of the huge commitment of time that it requires.

I don’t expect to be riveted to NMS for the next two years, although there are changes they could make that would certainly cause that. What I want from it, after the initial shine has worn off, is a game I can pick up and play any time I have a spare half hour for some warping space exploration. So far it seems that it will deliver in this regard.

Right now I still put every spare moment into it, but in the meantime here are some screenshots. (more…)

I’m playing: Fallout 4 – Glorious Battle

I’m milling about Sanctuary, counting companions, because I’ve misplaced Piper. Somewhere from the white noise of the settlers’ babbling, the information that The Castle is being attacked percolates onto my screen as a note. I’m lucky to notice this because, like too many notes of the same kind, it’s only there for three seconds and then lost forever.

The bell has gathered the residents of Sanctuary into such an impressive gathering that I feel a little guilty for having nothing important to say. I’ve simply mislaid my lover again. I’m in no mood to hear Paladin Danse having a boner every time I do an impact landing, so Strong and I sprint over to the Red Rocket, where I store my power armour. All I’m missing now to have a complete set of X-01 armour is a right leg, and I’d never used it before. So while it was risking overkill, this seemed like a good opportunity to test it. I get into the X-01. “Human look like robot,” Strong ruminates. It’s satisfying turning on the eye lights.

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I’m playing: Fallout 4 – Vanity Building

So I ran out of space for my power armour at Red Rocket, and decided to do a little vanity building, like I’ve seen on the internet.

Now I’m out of steel.

Rockstar just sold me their last game

I’ve been a fan of grand theft auto for a long time. I played all the previous iterations until I had squeezed every bit of satisfaction from it. The only reason I ever owned any modern console was because GTA was released there first. Yes, I’ll drive a Vigero just for the way it looks, and drive a Comet smashed beyond recognition as long as it can still turn in at least one direction.

GTAV improved on IV in pretty much every way, except the story is half the length it should be. This was done so that people will grind out the second half of the story in GTA Online. I don’t know what the second half of the story is about, but I’m fairly certain it has something to do with waiting for other players to connect.

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I’m watching: Television

I should be posting a preview of my next game, but I’ve been keeping busy in… other ways. So in an attempt to make my loitering productive, I give you reviews: (more…)

I’m Playing: UFO Explorer

From the depths of the Unity engine, and the ##Indie-Games IRC channel on FreeNode, comes UFO Explorer, a game of skill, speed, and finesse.

The first release for Double Finger Play Games Studio, UFO Explorer has you navigating extraterrestrial caverns haunted by alien machines in a UFO modified to use rockets as its propulsion. Pressing right will activate the right-side rocket, causing you to go left, the opposite is true when pressing left. This inverted control scheme is the first level of difficulty to UFO Explorer, but I was surprised how quickly one adapts to it. (more…)

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