Mob Mentality

I love gangster movies. Goodfellas, The Godfather, Scarface, there’s something about organized crime that’s always been interesting to me. So in 2010, when a game literally called MAFIA was coming out, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

I had never played the first Mafia game, and I couldn’t get my hands on it, so I watched the scenes on YouTube to get a sense of the story. I remember really liking it, the 1930s atmosphere, the way it’s told as a testimony to a cop, it was what I believe to be masterful storytelling, and I didn’t even get to play it!

I picked up Mafia II and played through it over the weekend. Again, the story was perfection. Sure, it was another rise-in-the-ranks story with the Italian mafia, but it was the little things in the campaign that I liked about it. A quick war flashback scene, selling counterfeit stamps, do a little dock work. You could tell 2K Czech wanted to make a game that prioritized story.

Now I was really into the franchise, looking forward to the next game. Finally, I started hearing about Mafia III. The trailers looked great, the story looked awesome, I couldn’t wait to play it.

Now, after having made my way through the story, I feel conflicted. It’s one of those things where you like the game, but you have problems with it. I enjoyed myself, but I was a little disappointed.

When you play each game in a franchise (or in my case, I like to say “experienced”), especially in a row, like I did, it’s easy and actually expected that you’ll start comparing them, and that’s what happened here. As I mentioned, I think the first two were way more narrative driven, and that’s what I really liked about them.

It sounds really dumb, but Mafia III is way more like a video game.

Hear me out. Mafia II is very much an Italian Mafia movie that’s a game. There’s fifteen chapters telling Vito’s story. Despite it being an open world game, there’s little room to do anything except advance the story. There are some collectibles, but if you want to search for them, be prepared to see an objective in the corner of the screen, because you have to load up a chapter. There’s no free roam. It’s clear that they want to tell Vito’s story. Vito came home from the war, and he’s working up the ranks of the Italian mob with his childhood friend, Joe.

As I mentioned earlier, during the game (spoilers, obviously), you get to fight in the war, work at the docks to pay off your father’s debt, go to jail for selling counterfeit stamps, do bare knuckle boxing while in prison, and beat up your sister’s husband for abusing her. And while they don’t sound important, they all are, because it’s Vito’s story. These are all the things that make him who he is.

Mafia III is just a tale of revenge. It’s not really Lincoln’s story. He just happens to be the one killing people. The story doesn’t feel as organic as it did in the previous game.

I think part of it is Lincoln just decides to start his own family. There’s not a whole lot of working up the ranks like with Tommy and Vito. He starts as the boss, and he kills anyone to get what he wants.

He also doesn’t really have many relationships. He just has people he knows. Vito constantly had Joe by his side, there was dialogue and comraderie. Lincoln has underbosses that don’t really do anything except complain when they don’t get territory, a CIA agent he gets information from, and a priest he goes to when he wants to feel bad about his choices.

It’s a good game. I like it and what it brought to the lore. I like that it continues the idea of presenting the story in a unique way (in this game, it’s as a documentary), and that, spoilers, there’s not really any good ending. But it’s not exactly what I expected from a Mafia game.

Can’t wait for Mafia IV.

Mass Effect: Andromeda Whining

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I’ve started playing Mass Effect: Andromeda on my PlayStation 4. I haven’t delved very deeply into the game yet, but I have one thing to gripe about that I haven’t seen anywhere else (I haven’t exactly scoured the ‘net for this info, either) –

For a game that takes place on a current generation console in an era of great science and technological marvels that we can only dream of, I am deeply disappointed that you can’t pause the game unless your character is doing absolutely nothing.

Color me unimpressed at this lack of forethought.

Failure to Launch?

Launching a new console is a huge undertaking, and one fraught with risk to boot. There are many things that can hinder a new gaming console as it comes out of the gate. Maybe it’s under-powered like the Nintendo Wii was when it was released against the PS3 and Xbox 360. Or maybe it has technical issues much like the red ring of death. To my knowledge there is only one thing that can sink a console faster even than weak or buggy hardware, and that is a lack of good games to play.

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To switch or not that is the question.

So the Nintendo switch has arrived and I did an unboxing for it and been playing wherever and whenever I can. Which is the beauty of the switch isn’t it? For me, personally, legend of Zelda has so far lived up to the hype, it definitely is one of the hardest and most fulfilling games I’ve ever played, however, the switch does suffer from some minor issues, battery life is as what was reported. I’ve yet to have an issue with the joy-cons. They are great in my hands, and I have minor arthritis and some friends enjoy how separate the controllers can be used similar to the Wii. Breath of the wild is a fantastic game and it runs better in handheld form than on my tv so that’s how it’s been. I got super bomberman r and that pales in comparison to legend of Zelda. So should you get the switch? In my opinion? No, I’d wait till a bundle around Christmas time. I love my Switch but objectively speaking, it needs more at time of release.

Psychonauts is Back!

Twelve years ago I discovered a PS2 platformer that would embed itself in my imagination for years to come. This game was called Psychonauts. Psychonauts follows Raz, a young boy who goes to camp with hopes of becoming the next mind bending superstar secret agent when hi-jinks ensue. Psychonauts was’t just an excellent platformer, it was also one of the funniest games I have ever played. Every cut-scene had hilarious dialog and every level had sight gags and wit, it was glorious. I have been hoping, nay, praying for a sequel since I initially beat the game for the first time. I am happy to say that after a long 13 year wait Psychonauts 2 will be coming back in 2018!

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Horizon Zero Dawn: First Impression (mild early story spoilers)

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I know I’m a bit late with this, but bear with me; I haven’t had a ton of time to write lately (I still have other posts to get up and out of the way and I’m also working on voice overs for a Fallout 4 mod) but I wanted to at least shout out Horizon Zero Dawn – the game that has had a monopoly on my spare time.

Horizon Zero Dawn – at a first glance – seems like a generic game with lush landscapes and a rugged female lead. While playing it, it has common ground with games like Tomb Raider (the reboot, at least) and Uncharted. Don’t let similarities fool you – this title stands on its own and shines for miles.

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Sonic the Hedgehog…Movie Star?

Hollywood isn’t exactly known for bringing new and fresh ideas to the silver screen these days. So far every comic book and Y.A novel has been ripe for the picking when it comes to adaptations for the box office and video games are no exception. The problem has been that most movies based on game franchises, for lack of a better word, suck. There are of course exceptions to the rule, Resident Evil was enjoyable, or at least the first one was. But for every Resident Evil Hollywood has churned out a host of bombs like Doom, House of the Dead, and all the R.E. sequels (seriously why do they keep making these!?). I have no idea if the Sonic the Hedgehog movie will be any good, if I had to guess I would say that it probably won’t be. If the movie is somehow successful it begs the question, what’s next? There are several game franchises that would translate incredibly well to the big screen, maybe Hollywood should take a look at these.

  • Call of Duty: This is a franchise that would rake in millions at the box office! No matter which era the movie is set (WWII, Modern Warfare, Infinite Warfare) there is a good enough story for an action packed and gripping action movie. Just don’t let Michael Bay anywhere near this series and you have a gold mine!
  • Heavy Rain: Like drama and intrigue? Heavy Rain has it in spades. This game could be turned into a modern film noir classic in the right hands. Under the creative eye of a director like David Fincher, Clint Eastwood, or Christopher Nolan this adaptation could be Oscar worthy!
  • God of War: Why hasn’t this happened yet? Revenge, violence, sex, this movie has it all! I can see Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones, Justice League) playing the titular character Kratos. Go ahead and get Zack Snyder to direct if you have to, but this movie would put 300 to shame.
  • Guitar Hero: Hear me out before you start trolling! Can you imagine a great rags to riches story in the vein of Rockstar? Or the hilarious meltdowns of This is Spinal Tap? I can! People love an underdog and success story and how can you get better than going from cover band to selling out Madison Square Garden. Not to mention all the drama and comedy in between.

You might notice a lack of RPG’s, well that’s on purpose. Games like Skyrim, Zelda, Final Fantasy, or my personal favorite Chrono Trigger are just too big and plot heavy to be done right on film. I don’t know if the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie will be any good, needless to say I have my doubts. The good news is that while the Hollywood industrial machine can’t and won’t be stopped, there is a ton of great source material available in the world of video games.