There is No Dildo Bat

Saints Row IV

How much does the world itself matter in an open world game? Saints Row 2‘s Stillwater was busier and more active than Saints Row The Third‘s Steelport, yet I enjoyed the third game more thanks to its focus on a goofy story and fun missions. That said, could Steelport really support two entire games? Is the appeal of an open world game really to explore this massive sandbox? Is that why we play Saints Row games?

It’s no secret that Saints Row IV started as DLC, you could even see the roots of it in The Trouble with Clones DLC, which brought Johnny Gat back and gave the boss of the 3rd Street Saints super powers, albeit temporarily. Given THQ’s financial difficulties and presumably the ambition of that final DLC pack, Enter the Dominatrix, everything was expanded out into a new, full game. And while the budget probably limited them to reusing Steelport and many of the assets from Saints Row The Third, they managed to blow everything else out.

Extremely early in Saints Row IV, you’ll be given super powers. Specifically, you’ll get super speed, jumping, and the ability to throw elemental blasts. As soon as I got those powers, I stopped needing cars, planes, and really anything that wasn’t my character (a surly Vin Diesel, using a pitched down Male Voice 1). It’s crazy that such an important part of the game is pretty much unnecessary, but that’s kind of this game’s M.O: throw in everything you could think of, let the player decide what’s fun. And getting around Steelport is fun. Clearly modeled after Crackdown and Prototype, traversal in Saints Row IV never got old in the 19 hours it took me to 100% the game. The way my character barreled down the street, blasting cars out of the way was always fun.

The powers used in combat, such as blasting enemies with ice or fire, replace grenades. They serve more as an augment for your guns than a replacement, which I was OK with because there are a lot of really fun guns in this game. There’s a gun that shoots mini black holes, one that inflates people’s heads until they pop, and even the conventional guns can be made awesome. You can reskin every weapon in the game, for example, turning conventional pistols into Han Solo’s blaster from Star Wars. It’s a really great new touch.

In this game you’re always collecting upgrades, based on two currencies: clusters and cache. Clusters are orbs scattered around the city that can be collected and spent on upgrading your super powers. It’s really addictive. Cache is money, earned by doing pretty much anything and spent on upgrading everything from abilities, to clothes, to weapons. This is the first Saints Row game were I’ve found every side mission type fun, especially because there’s a narrative wrapper around doing them now.

Oh, right, the story. Basically, through some awesome events, the boss of the Saints becomes president. But that’s largely irrelevant because Zinyak, an evil alien, comes, abducts the Saints, and blows up the earth. Yeah, this game is going for broke. Zinyak traps everybody in simulations of Steelport were they must face their worst nightmares ad infinitum, except the boss breaks out and starts freeing the others. It’s basically an excuse to make a lot of somehow enjoyable Matrix references, and of course to give the boss super powers. I laughed a lot at this game, and I don’t laugh at a lot of games. It’s really good.

Of course it’s buggy too, I experienced a couple crashes and a weird bug during my playthough that made some weapons unusable. And yeah, it doesn’t quite feel like a new game since so much is reused from Saints Row The Third. But you know what? I’ve still got a bunch of games in my summer backlog that I need to get to, but I’ve been in kind of a funk since finishing Saints Row IV. It was just such goofy fun I don’t want to move on.

The Blue Jasmine of San Francisco

Blue Jasmine

It was interesting to see Blue Jasmine in the summer of hating on whistleblowers, because this certainly is a challenging portrayal of how it takes institutions, not individuals, to change the world. The movie is the story of Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), who moves to live with his sister in San Francisco after having a breakdown. Her husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin), was exposed as a total corporate fuck, and, after losing everything, committed suicide in prison. His exposure hurt a lot of people, including Jasmine’s aforementioned sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins) and her then-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), but it is Jasmine who struggles the most to keep going.

The movie never makes it exactly clear what Hal was doing, director Woody Allen basically just tells us it’s illegal. I’m not even sure that Hal screwed over Ginger and Augie, or if it was his being caught that was their undoing. And sure, things weren’t idyllic before and Hal’s a pretty scummy guy, but things seem to be tangibly worse for everyone involved since, well, justice was served. Jasmine becomes a burden on everyone in her life, with everything that defined her taken away, she’s unable to move on at all.

It’s Cate Blanchett’s performance that really makes Blue Jasmine a movie to see, but I’ve really been taken with this serious, cynical Woody Allen. I haven’t seen much outside of his romantic comedy work, and was surprised that he would tell a story that was so damn dark. I mean, Louis C.K. is in this, and he’s practically a villain! Lovable Louis! Andrew Dice Clay is basically the most unimpeachable character in the whole movie, and that’s bananas.

T3 65: Top 10 Against-Type Performances

Bryan Cranston was recognizable, if not an outright star. He was Snizard on Power Rangers, Dr. Whatley on Seinfeld, Hal on Malcolm in the Middle. He was a known quantity, a fun, goofy guy. His niche was carved. And then he started playing a chemistry teacher with cancer and revealed to the world that he was secretly just as good, if not better, playing a menacing, dangerous antihero. And everything changed for the guy. This week, we look for other, similar instances of actors going against their type and it working. Somehow we ended up with just movie choices, despite our obvious Breaking Bad inspiration, but oh well, don’t worry about it.

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Save the Last Tab for Me

The World’s End

All good things must come to an end. The final installment of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy aka “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” (a popular UK frozen confectionary) has come to a close. We saw bumbling buds Simon Pegg and Nick face great horror, delve into action, and finally sip down suds in the end-all sci-fi flick, The World’s End. It’s a bittersweet bookend to a beloved nerd trifecta but at least we’ll always have the memories.

Nostalgia is a prevalent theme in The World’s End as Gary King (Pegg), the film’s burnout lead reassembles his chaps to reclaim his glory years. The year was 1990 when Gary and his four best friends; Andy, Peter, Steven, and O-Man attempted “The Golden Mile” an epic twelve-bar pub crawl in their quaint hometown of Newton Haven. Though as Gary’s friends moved on over the years Gary found himself left behind, retelling the story of his greatest night to addicts and junkies in a recovery center. The only regret now in his egotistical noggin is that he never made it to the final pub, “The World’s End”. With the ever burning desire to relive his youth and complete the pub crawl, Gary manipulates his former mates to go back to Newton Haven. Though it doesn’t take long for the fivesome to notice something is off about their once humble hometown.

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Obsessongs: “Is This How You Feel?”

There hasn’t really been a precedent set on how recent these Obsessong things need to be, although so far I’ve made a habit of writing about songs that were recorded far before my time.  However, I’d say that finding a brand new song that you instantly fall in love with can be just as, if not even more exciting than discovering an old tune that’s worth obsessing over.  Also, I just feel way more compelled to write about this one song than any album that’s come out in the last few months.

Song: “Is This How You Feel?” by The Preatures
Album: Is This How You Feel? EP
Year: 2013
Written By: Isabella Manfredi, Luke Davison, Thomas Champion and Jack Moffitt Continue reading

The People’s Albums: #49 No Jacket Required

For as long as I can remember, this is more or less the image I’ve always had of Phil Collins.   That of a washed up old coot that churned out a bunch of infectious if unbearably cheesy singles way back in the ‘80s, and reemerged in the late ‘90s with the sole intent of snatching Oscars away from Trey Parker and Matt Stone.  But is that a fair assessment of the man and his music?  Well, let’s find out together…

Album: No Jacket Required
Artist: Phil Collins
Release Date: January 25, 1985
Copies Sold In The U.S.: 12 Million Continue reading

T3 64: Top 10 Dead People with Whom We’d Like to Hang

What if you had one shot to summon history’s greatest heroes …And then just hang out with them for a bit? Like, you know, do whatever it is you wish you could with them. Not like sexual stuff. Gross! They’re dead people. They have a word for that, you know. Necrophilia. It’s not cool. Not cool at all.

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