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All is safe and all is good but lately I’ve had dreams of blood (The Detail, 2014)

Presented as “The Detail combines the emotional impact of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead with the themes of a realistic crime drama like HBO’s The Wire, delivered with our own unique visual style inspired heavily by graphic novels.”, I was afraid it would be too-much.

As the next prick, I both love The Wire (not that much season 2) and dislike pricks that love The Wire – I watched it first when it was on air though. So anything pretending to be related in any way to The Wire has to be treated with suspicion. But the game was on sale so I went for it.

And I’m actually glad I did. So far (the game is delivered by episodes) The Detail is good. Not surprinsingly, it depict a sick sad world, it was not expected to be original in this regard.

2015-02-02_00001

The characters are likely, the graphics are nice and the gameplay is really well thought of, you navigate a bit in a comic. I dare say Telltale people should take a look at it, there are some good ideas. From time to times, the interface is inconvenient but it’s very rare (I was also forced to play with the gamepad, but that’s the same with Telltale games and their keyboard setup stuck to QWERTY keyboard). Ambiance wise, in my opinion it does not relates that much to The Wire or The Walking Dead but more obviously to NYPD Blue (already mentioned there): the main cop in the game is totally a Sipowicz in any aspects.

I’m looking forward the following episode or any other game from Rival Games. You had me where you want me so you thought.

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Piszę do Ciebie mały gryps, wiedz że broniłem poczty w Gdańsku… (Westerplatte Broni Sie Nadal, 1967; Tajemnica Westerplatte, 2013)

A Battle of Thermopylae during early-WWII? It did not happen during la Bataille de France, when we managed to loose against an enemy not that much stronger (except aircraft-wise – long time I’ve talked about armored vehicules on this blog). 8 month earlier, during Fall Weiß, in Westerplatte, you had your 209 guys defending against circa 3500. They were tasked to hold this little piece of land around Gdańsk/Danzig, obviously overly symbolic for Germany in the same fashion as Eupen-Malmedy or Elsaß-Lothringen (up for grabs). And that’s exactly where WWII started for Poland.

 With a decent amount of machine gun and not much else, they were supposed to stand for 12 hours until reinforcements. They were never reinforced but stood nonetheless 6 days.

 Good movie material, wouldn’t you say? There are actually two movies made about it.

Westerplatte Broni Sie Nadal was made in 1967 by Stanisław Różewicz. Kind of conventional in fight scenes, some dialogs made me wonder. For instance, there is a scene where polish officiers discuss reddition, afraid they might actually get shot on the spot: one of them mention he was himself in Prussian army during WWI and witness that germans are not per se criminals. Could be a simple fact: any random man born in these contested territories might have been involved on one or another side depending on the timeline. Could also be seen as a communist point of view to which no national allegiance matters, honoring the fighters but sligthly disregarding their cause nonetheless. Thinking about this, I’m curious to know how many movies were made about WWII in Poland during the communist era. The year is 1939. August 24th, Nazi Germany sign a non-aggression pact with Soviet Russia – even if the secret provisions are not yet known. September the 1st, Nazi Germany invade. September 17th, Soviet Russia invade Poland. Short acceptable timeline. Kind of hard for Soviets to looks like they’re part of the good guys in this story, and I’m not going as far as talking mass-murders and deportation. Soviet Russia actually started what is called there the Great Patriotic War against Nazi Germany war by attacking on their rear people defending against Nazi Germany. If that was a joke, it would be funny. It’s not.

Tajemnica Westerplatte was directed in 2013 by Paweł Chochlew. However slow at times, it’s decently done, good dialogs, comedians (Michał Żebrowski: Jan Skrzetuski in Ogniem i mieczem; Geralt of Rivia in Wiedźmin – the Witcher movie which I’ll watch any time soon but I’ve been told is astonishingly cheap; surprisingly Polish hetman Kybowsky in Kremlin-sponsored movie 1612released on November 1, 2007  to coincide with the celebrations of National Unity Day on November 4 that marks the expulsion of Polish troops from Moscow”, that he does not find more anti-polish that Ogniem i mieczem would be anti-ukrainian), special effects. In Tajemnica Westerplatte too there are debates among officiers -and troops- about whether they should surrender or not.

not a polish flag

In 1967 movie, Major Henryk Sucharski was outright portrayed a charismatic, down-to-earth, caring, commander of Westerplatte. Each time he thought about surrender, he did it with regards of saving lives of his troops. Each time, except when he actually surrendered, he consulted with his fellow officers. It was stressed several times that, unlike his second, Captain Franciszek Dąbrowski -much more warmongering-, he was a son of peasants like the rest of the soldiers. In this new movie, Sucharski would be shell-shocked and Dąbrowski in command.

It apparently leds to arguments summarized on wikipedia as “(the dispute) centres on the question of who commanded the defence of Westerplatte […]. Interestingly, this dispute does not involve historians since it is not taking place as an academic debate. It is the domain of disputes of people passionate about history on the internet and in the press, in an atmosphere of gradual and consistent repetition of various unconfirmed sources […] This dispute has gone so far beyond its narrow circle of fans of the internet, moving into the mass media as a dispute over a film script and the spending of public money on a film which aims to show the new ‘truth’ about the defence of Westerplatte […] Regardless of the disputes, Sucharski and the two hundred other defenders of the WST will remain in the circle of good memory, regardless of whether they wanted to defend it to their last bullet, or whether they contemplated putting down arms already after 12 hours of the first shot of the Schleswig-Holstein on 1 September 1939″.

As a matter of fact, even in most hardcore german units where fanatism was a priority matter, giving up when there was no longer any ammunition and mean to continue the fight was not considered undignified. No matter how much true they historically are, none of this couple of movies is depicting a shaming way the defence of Westerplatte, on the contrary.

the end
Tych parę słów na koniec już, wspominajcie mnie i pożegnajcie, Gdy odnajdziecie gdzieś mój grób, dopiszcie “bronił Poczty Polskiej”

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Silence warps through the halls (Alan Wake, 2012; Murdered: Soul Suspect, 2014)

Did I ever tell that I’m not fan of horror-based-whatever? Why would I enjoy putting myself into a serious disconfort? I did not like Doom 3 because it was all that: crap appearing behind your back to suscitate sudden fear, nothing more.

There are games somehow horror-related that I enjoyed nontheless – fear was a part of them but not the only content. Alan Wake is a good example. The gameplay is both and innovating, thriller story is captivating, fear is the beat of the game and not its essence.

Murdered: Soul Suspect is made in a similar fashion. You can be frigthened/surprised a bit but since your character is already dead (I dont think I spoiled much here, it happens as soon as the game starts) you don’t feel you risk too much. The story is quite conventional but quite solid. Graphics are clean. Ambiance (sounds, visuals) well set. While non-essential, I’d almost recommend playing it. Unless you have to pay it’s full price. Because the gameplay is a clunky as a console-designed game usually is. Because it’s buggish: I had my share of issues (unexpected framerate drop, sound out of sync with image during cutscenes, etc) that could not be fixed, enough for me to look on the support pages to find many similar reports. Because of very backward design in some regards (cutscene prerendered and in low quality, forced advertisement videos on game startup not even letting the game load on background, etc). 30€ is too much for a play-once buggy but otherwise fine adventure.

Silver moon silhouette, In due time you will forget

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What prey for us today? (The Wolf of Wall Street, 2013; The Wolf Among Us, 2013-2014; Grimm, 2011-2014)

I was in no hurry to watch The Wolf of Wall Street, even though critics are apologetic about it, even though I generally enjoy Martin Scorcese stuff. I don’t think traders of Wall Street are contributing to worldwide economy is a useful way for mankind and I’m not readily able to devote 179 minutes to hear about them and their life concerns, no matter how it’s done.

But I had to watch it -it’s still Scorcese- and I did. Well, it’s unsurprisingly a good movie. Well played, well produced, blah blah. But in the end, I really don’t care about the characters, my mind is set to side with the FBI (the yacht scene in which the main character tries to bribe an agent is a delight)… and I did not really pay attention to the last 20/30 minutes of the movie.

You even have to wonder about this wolf-naming scheme: in what manner this main trader character even slightly relate to a wolf? Wolf-wise, I’d more enclined to think about the main character of The Wolf Among Us, the big bad wolf doing some bad and some good as any proper sheriff of Fabletown should.

Not creating but dealing withDirty to keep you safe Still the bad guy

You haven’t played it yet? As every other recent point-and-click Telltale adventure, that’s a must play, a must watch. Tremendous graphics, captivating story, I would have said the best Tellgame game ever but Tales from the Borderlands and Game of Thrones, after one episode each, both felt as good.

That's the job
Not as perfectly executed but interesting nonetheless is Grimm, also taking fairy tales/folklore characters and planting them in our current world. That’s some sort of new Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The main character is actually not of much interest (I’ve seen only season 1 so far, though) but people around him are. For instance, Monroe the Blutbad played by Silas Weir Mitchell.

 Fulfill the given promise, grim legacy to come?

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Cruise around in a rag top ride (Total War Rome II, 2013; Don’t Starve, 2013-2014; Tales from the Borderlands, 2014; Game of Thrones, 2014; Evolve, ?; etc)

I’ve been a bit flooded by games releases and steam sales. As always, too much produce not enough. Hence, not enough posts here. But I’m bringing it back, bring it back, bring it back again.

Let’s mention a few game I played these days and expect to play much more:

A few years before, I enjoyed Total War Rome, even though graphics we’re already seriously outdated. Same goes for Total War Medieval. Napoleon Total War is ok multiplayer-wise but the campaign really bored me. Probably similarly to Hearts of Iron, the further you start in history and the less room you have from the start in a strategy game. Anyway Total War Rome II is fine in both regards of graphics and gameplay. Plus the campaign is properly playable in multiplayer -provided you focus to do common offensives with whoever you multiplay it with. Even though the interface is far from being perfect, it can be slightly improved with mods. I’m now looking forward an updated Total War Medieval.

Familiar with Don’t Starve? No? That’s a survival game with neat cartoon graphics that now goes multiplayer. Still beta, Don’t Starve Together is working fine and, at least, a must try if not a must have. It integrates with steam workshop were you can find collections of small interface improvements.

So Telltale Tales from the Borderlands & Game of Thrones were released. I was looking forward these two and hoped they would meet the quality of the original series. Hoped, was afraid even. Not about the graphics or interface, Telltale talent regarding graphics is a constant and, since The Walking Dead series 2 and The Wolf Among Us, their engine is working fine (best played with a gamepad), but about everything else.  And that’s a relief, in both case the result is beyond my expectations. Tales from the Borderlands makes me feel I’m restarting a Borderlands 1 game, as if Borderlands was new to me. Game of Thrones starts slow, I was wondering what to do with the moron I was entrusted with in first chapter. I won’t spoil the rest but the next few chapter was as predictable and unpredictable as is Games of Thrones. Obviously, I’ve read on Telltale forum some complains about how much or how small your choices affect the game. As Telltale put it, your choices tailor the game, as if you were reading the book and had the opportunity to follow one character instead of another or make one die instead of another; but there is a well-written story behind, so there are mandatory events -chapters follows, there are not random. Plus the story you are playing must stay consistent with the rest of Games of Thrones: you cannot make Hodor wed Cersei. Anyway, both are refreshing. You should try them.

Let’s mention now future expected releases:

As the next guy, I’m a bit puzzled by announced requirements for The Witcher 3. My current box runs most game in ultra quality but looks like it won’t even meet the minimum requirements. We’ll see.

I played Evolve‘s beta and it seemed neat to me. Smooth action and all. But I don’t picture myself paying 40€ or 60€ for a game that will have DLC and season pass. The business model seems horrendous. Wait & See.

Same goes for GTA V, I’m obviously interested. But I won’t be paying 60€ for a port of a game that was released more than one year ago on console. If there’s no hurry for them to make the game available, there is no hurry for me to play it. Why paying full price to play an already old game that is not even designed for your hardware but just a dumb late port? Wait & See.

Wide open highway and the sun going down make me feel alright, make me feel alright.

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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?