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Będziem Polakami. Dał nam przykład Bonaparte, Jak zwyciężać mamy (Ida, 2013)

With Ida, it just seems that Nouvelle Vague hit Poland: a scenario that can fit in one or two paragraphs, never ending sequences where nothing happen just for the sake of a nice image. Boring. It should have a been a short film, if anything.

I was about to ask: why the heck these Poles are they frenching their movies now? But then I just found on wikipedia that the author Paweł Pawlikowski is “Paris-based”. In an interview, he says stuff like the ending would not go for the French (“Certains me disaient que j’étais foutu en France à cause de la fin du film”) which sounds to me a very French way to even think.

That can’t be good. Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła?

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So don’t take me home baby, your mama won’t like me (Razer BlackWidow)

I read in PC Gamer the following description of the Razer BlackWidow gaming keyboard:

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate: Razer premium keyboard is a nice full-sized board with extremely clacky keys, but doesn’t offer much for ergonomic support. It’s also premium priced, at $130, and includes no dedicated media keys. It’s a well-loved board, however, and could make a great option if you don’t like the K70.

Fact is I bought a BlackWidow (not ultimate) in august 2012 and this one got the spacebar broken last august, two years later. They talk here about the Ultimate version but this one apparently only really bring cosmetics in the mix (backlight, extra USB, i/o for headset).  For a keyboard of this price range, it’s quite unexpected. And looking at how it actually broke, I’m surprised in did not happen earlier: however essential as the spacebar key can be, it is only held by very tiny bits of plastic. I won’t buy any other hardware from this brand. I like your stimulation, but that aint enough.

(Note: the placement of macro keys to the left of the keyboard is also quite a nuisance, forcing you to look at the keyboard to get familiar with it’s otherwise standard layout)

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He sailed to the east and he sailed to the west (XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Within, 2012-2013; Shadowrun Returns, 2013; Expeditions: Conquistador, 2013)

As I mentioned The Bureau: XCOM Declassified the other day, it’s only natural to mention XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within, the later being an extension for the other.

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That’s a reboot from an old series of games made by MicroProse (yeah, Sid Meiers’s company at the time) now being developed by Firaxis Games (current Sid Meiers’s company) aside from the Civ series. Considering this, it’s no surprise that Enemy Unknown/Within are solid and well thought turn-based tactical games. To be perfectly clear, here you don’t win a fight because you were faster to react and to aim but because you placed on the map your guys cleverly, according to their characterists (some move faster, some have heavy firepower, etc).

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It can be compared to chess, except that you don’t start on a par with your opponent, since each have his own set of units and since the map is not a flat square board but some sort of destructible real life area. Loosing a fight usually means failure to anticipate the enemy moves. With no experience with the original old XCOM series, I found Enemy Unknown/Within to provide hours of interesting gameplay with a decent storyline (alien invasion based: not original but thorought nonetheless). The extension Enemy Within, adding numerous content (new resource, new enemy, new units) is worth having.

The only disappointment with Enemy Unknown/Within is the fact that difficulty is decreasing over time. Even worse with some series of scripted mission that can come late in the game only with very very basic enemy units.

Aside from this know well-established game, he comes Shadowrun Returns:

Not build from scratch but reusing board-game world and rules (always a good starting point, as Baldur’s Gates proves), serving a cool and funny story in futuristic/blade runnerish setting, the turn-based fights are very similar to Enemy Unknown/Within (duck & cover, different classes). It should be noted that the game is constantly improved and fixed -for instance, fixes added for the Dragonfall extension are included in the main game- which is rare these days, even though it should only be natural. The said Dragonfall extension was just released soon as standalone and copies given to people that have bought the extension.

I’d like to point out that Expeditions: Conquistador, that I already mentioned, provides also an experience similar to XCOM, having both a main campaign and turn-based fights, in a Brave New World setting. In my experience, it is best for a tactical gameplay to set difficulty to “custom” with smartest AI possible along with most damage advantage for your units: a mix of hardest and easiest settings. The campaign is smart in all accounts (very well written dialogs, historical consistency), giving you freedom enough to choose between playing like a hippie, a bigot, a crook, a warmonger or else. The replay value of the campaign does not seems overly high to me, redoing all the quest seems boring to me, but I nonetheless have around 37 hours on record for the game (after a quick restart after a first disastrous campaign) which seem kind of decent. So that’s definitely a very good game too.

He fought with his knife and he fought with his gun And he fought till his blood ran through!

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Inconsistency #6: Gotham S01E01

Solid cast they have for Gotham, a new TV series being sort of prequel to Batman. The first episode is promising.

The following is disturbing though:

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Not to spoil it for you, but Gordon’s partner gunned this Pepper down:

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That was in defense of Gordon: Pepper was utterly destroying him to resist arrest. So Gordon feels that he’s as much involved in the killing:

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But then they’re led to reconsider the motive for the arrest in first place. He was suspected of having committed brutal murder but they learned that he actually may just have been framed. They are suddenly thinking they’ll “loose their jobs” is the arrest was on erroneous grounds, since he was “innocent”:

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How come? Did they sentenced Pepper to death and executed him because they thought he committed murder or did they only kill him because he was a direct and immediate threat to Gordon’s life? It’s obviously the later and whether Pepper was guilty of the murder leading to his arrest, however sad it is, is actually completely irrelevant. Any detective, as Gordon, would get that.

A good actors cast is good but scenario matter nonetheless.

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Inconsistency #5: Z Nation S01E01

Tired of Zombies? I recently finished season 2 of Telltale The Walking Dead, I’m still reading the comics every month, you could say I’m not bored.

Or maybe it’s because this stuff interest was not solely based on the trend.

A contrario, I completely forgot about the TV show though – I’ve seen a few episodes since the middle of season 2, or more the first few minutes of some episodes, that’s all. I also lost hope on the idea to get a DayZ game playable. Arma 2 (DayZ) and Arma 3 (Breaking Point) mods are not much playable that they were when they started and it looks to me, from my (small) experience playing Arma 2 and Arma 3 themselves that it relates to shortcoming of the Real Virtuality engine made in-house by Bohemia Interactive. This engine is apparently great to give a very military/topographic map kind of ambiance but anything related to interaction with the environment or object sucks beyond reasonable expectations (entering a building is a mess! in 2014! not to mention taking an object on the ground or just organizing the character inventory). It’s acceptable just for some kind of virtual countryside trek (not even much, because the IA is fucked-up too in many regards, pathfinding to name one). It’s not for solo game in an environment filled by IA. It’s definitely not ok for a survival multiplayer game, with guys out there to take you out: the risk of random death squished by a door you’re closing yourself or pushed down a ladder by your friend following you is a definite game-breaker. The existence of DoomZ -self described as a remake of DayZ but made in a superior engine in which zombies can’t just walk through walls- is as much fun as tragic: Real Virtuality engine cannot do what id Tech 1 can, id Tech 1 initial release dating from 1993. About DayZ as standalone, it’s good to hear that it wont be using Real Virtuality per se but something called Enfusion but that’s only a “revamped” version of Real Virtuality and it’s very doubtful to me that you can build a good engine as an extra layer to a crappy one. If the code is shitty then it’s very likely due to a serious lack of planning and to general bad design. That’s cannot really be helped, even over time. I already published a long rant about it but I felt necessary to mention all that crap once more, since I was trying the other day to play a cool mod for Arma 3 and gave up due to more issue with Arma 3 (not able to load savegame to start with etc – isn’t it funny that “arma 3 not able to load save” give more than 500 000 results on google?).

There is still newsurvival/zombie based stuff released recently. Some of them seemed fishy from the start, some others I just failed to pay attention to. And so I’m getting on topic: there’s a new TV show called Z Nation and I decided to give it a try, mostly because I’ve seen the face of Harold Perinneau and I liked him as Augustus Hill in Oz. So far I’ve seen only one episode (out of two released). The zombies seems to have evolved, some are very fast, some other use tactics to defeat survivors: that’s an interesting take. You see survivors equiping some weaponry, discussing it smartly, for instance: should I use this bat? would be this pointy thing get stuck in a zombie? even though .22 is enough to kill a zombie, will it kill it/him fast enough? The apocalypse is happening since a few years. So we’re led to believe we’re are dealing with experienced smart guys. But, overall, not much of their decisions make any sense. They talk about saving ammunitions -good- but then use rifles full auto on zombies already dead with the first bullet fired. One though military character (played by Perinneau), commando-trained style, have both a handgun and an assault rifle: he uses his handgun in open countryside and the assault rifle inside buildings with no space at all to move around, how likely is that? The others, as a bunch of 6, they see one other character getting chomped by two zombies, they stay passive for 10 seconds -giving time for these zombies to actually be a danger for them too- and then suddently they all empty their weapons magazines on them. Are these guys serious about trying to survive here? How could these guy have survived several years already?

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I’m gon’ take you for an easy ride (The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, 2013; Mafia II, 2010)

Familiar with XCOM turn-based tactical games series? If not, it’s worth checking out, provided you fancy this kind of games. I could even write more about them, along with Shadowrun Returns.

Today, it’s The Bureau: XCOM Declassified that get my attention, an exception among these XCOM games: while it retains a bit of the tactical game spirit, it mixes it in into a third-person player. Not surprisingly, the game got lot of cold or bad reviews. So I did not even tried it until it got very cheap, despite having enjoyed XCOM: Enemy Unknown and it’s expansion XCOM: Enemy Within.

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Let say first that for a game released in 2013, graphics are not bad but neither smashing. The elephant in the room: being a realtime third-person shooter, this XCOM cannot have the chessplay gameplay of the other turn-based XCOMs. It’s something else. And it’s actually kind of fun, enjoyable -very Mass Effect 2-ish- with well-thought level design. The gameplay could prove boring/redundant over time but the game is short, finished in less than 14 hours, including minor missions. There are 2 DLC to extend the game lenght but, according to comments, the first in 10 minutes long -I don’t even understand how you put a price on that (0,05 €?)- while the second is ok but not making much sense in the whole story.


Anyway, the main story is set in the 60′s and it feels like it. It properly complement the rest of the series, it’s worth it, provided you get it on sale.

Another third-person shooter, set almost in the same period, easily found on sale these days is Mafia II.

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Likewise, the main game is a bit short: less than 17 hours in hard difficulty. By comparison to GTA-series, it’s damned short. But graphics are very nice, still decent even though the game was released 4 years ago. The only reminder that the game is actually that old are the few cutscenes that are pre-rendered videos clips: on my box and screen they are damned ugly (pixelated) by comparison the clean real-time rendered cutscenes.

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Not only graphics are nice but the environment (including the radio) is consistent. Add to that a good story that follows the codes of mob-related movies and you have this Mafia 2 experience.

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Boys, I am feelin’ mean.

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Your turn to drive I’ll bring the beer, it’s the late, late shift, no one to fear (End of Watch, 2012; Drogówka, 2013)

It’s hard to avoid cameras handled by individuals these days, is it not? Seems to me that Orwell got it wrong by large, mass surveillance is not the work of a Big Brother at all.

David Ayer and Wojciech Smarzowsky both made a movie out of that fact. Both are showing coppers at work: in End of Watch,  you got Los Angeles Police Departement street cops going on patrol with action cameras; in Drogówka, “Traffic Departement”, you got Polish traffic cops getting taped or taping with smartphones.

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Both movies share this aspect of stolen footage. But, obviously, they depict something a bit different: different places, different concerns. The first is more about gangs, the second about corruption.

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I’d point out that End of Watch main plot, unlike Drogówka’s, stops to make any sense at some point, loosing completely touch with plausible reality.  But that’s not exactly what matters. What matters more is the behaviors and relationship both movies describes. And both are worth being watched in this regard. Not to mention that they both have very entertaining action scenes.

The left newspapers might whine a bit, But the guys at the station they dont give a shit, Dispatch calls are you doin something wicked? No siree, jack, were just givin tickets.