Shmee Will Remember Telltale!

After fourteen years and over thirty games Telltale Games will soon be no more.  I will miss them greatly.  I loved their take on the choose your own adventure graphic novel.  I know some people say what they made are not really games, but I loved seeing where my story would end up, and entertainment is entertainment.  Sadly, I was probably part of the problem.  Why?  Because I always waited until the games were cheap or free to get them, and I know I was not alone.

Telltale was able to create its own genre of game, but then it was never really able to capitalize on it.  It kept spending money licensing movies, comics and TV shows, and then selling their games for very little money.  You can see the problem with that pretty quick.  Add the fact that their engine was ageing and was very glitchy, so they needed to spend a lot of money on an overhaul no doubt only added to their financial problems.

Still, with The Wolf Among Us, Tales From the Borderlands, and the Batman games, they created some classics that will stick with me for a long time.  I am sure that others will come along and build on their formula.  You never know, another company may come in and buy out their name and try to keep things going, but for the time being I going to miss their creativity and storytelling.  Shmee will remember that.

Shmee Is Asked A Simple Favor!

If a drama mixed with a comedy is called a dramady, what do we call a thriller mixed with a comedy?  A thrilledy?  I am not sure, but that is what you get with Paul Feig’s latest film A Simple Favor.  Now the movie aficionados out there may be wondering, “Wouldn’t the jokes ruin the slow burn tension of a thriller, and wouldn’t the slow pacing of a thriller take the punch out of a comedy?”  The answer to those questions respectively is, kinda and thankfully no.

A Simple Favor is about a single stay at home suburban mother named Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) who has a poorly trafficked Vlog.  Her life gets way more interesting when she is asked to come over for a drink by the fabulous and exquisite Emily Nelson (Blake Lively) who runs PR for a large New York fashion company and is married to a famous author (Henry Golding).  Emily is everything Stephanie wishes she could be, but things go sideways when Emily asks Stephanie for a simple favor.

The movie has some problems if it is viewed as a pure thriller.  The pacing is off, the twists are too telegraphed, and the stakes never feel that high, but Kendrick and Lively are immensely watchable.  Their on screen chemistry is fantastic.  While the jokes are not coming out a mile a minute, they almost all land, and since they are not coming out rapid fire, you get to savor them a bit.  I was quite impressed with how well it all worked, and the level of talent on display.

Paul Feig knows how to direct a good comedy, and for A Simple Favor he got play with the tropes and toys that come with a thriller as well.  It was a fun mashup.  With lesser actors and a less deft director it could have been a snooze, but I was quite enthralled for most of the movie’s 117 minutes.  You don’t get many thriller-comedies, and almost no good ones, so A Simple Favor is a unique movie going experience.  For some it may not be worth a trip to the theater, but definitely check it out when it hits your streaming service or DVD kiosk of choice.

Call Of Duty Goes After PUBG With Blackout!

I was a able to secure a few codes for the ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Blackout’ private beta that happened over the past weekend, and my initial thoughts are that it is a faster less janky PUBG.  There are some things that set it apart: instead of artillery zones there are zombies, the map is smaller, the times between circles are shorter and there is a lot more loot out there, so supply drops are a lot less interesting, but other than that, it is a lot like PUBG.

The rounds start off a lot faster in Blackout with eighty-eight people dropping in to a map that is probably a quarter of the size of either of the two larger PUBG maps, so there are less empty places to hide right off the bat.  Generally you will be shooting at someone when your boots hit the ground, or you will be the one getting shot at.  However, if you can survive the drop and the initial chaos, the familiar hide and seek gameplay that PUBG is known for starts to materialize.

Though just because Blackout is more PUBG than Fortnite doesn’t mean it should be skipped.  It runs at a much higher framerate than PUBG, it looks a lot better, still not great, but better, and if you prefer the shooting mechanics of Call of Duty over those of PUBG, this will feel better.  It just feels more polished over all.

The question is will I be shelling out $60 for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4?  I don’t think so.  It isn’t that much better than PUBG, and I personally don’t like Call of Duty’s zero recoil tinny sounding gunplay.  Plus, I am not a fan the standard Call of Duty multiplayer, or do I need to play the latest zombie mode, and you know future Blackout maps will be stuck behind a DLC paywall.  Which is something about big budget shooters that I have always hated.  In other words, there is still too much Call of Duty attached to Blackout for me to switch.  So for the time being I will be hunting down my chicken dinners in the jank-filled swamps of PUBG.

The Predator Hunts Laughs!

The Predator is back in its first solo outing since 2010.  What is different this time?  It is very silly.  I am not sure that is what Shane Black and co. were going for, but that is what we got.  Imagine a competently directed big budget SyFy Original film.  I am not saying it is as over the top as Sharktopus, but there are some tonal similarities.  For someone like me who enjoys that kind of thing, I had fun, but I can see fans of the franchise being let down.

As far as plot goes there isn’t a lot to talk about with The Predator.  A Predator lands and the government lead by Will Traeger (Sterling K. Brown) wants his stuff.  Complicating that is Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) and his elite Ranger squad are the first people to come in contact with this new Predator.  A bunch of stuff happens, McKenna gets a newer funnier squad, and the government chases him while he chases the Predator.  Meanwhile Dr. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) is there to do science on all of it (and by science I mean shoot guns).

The Predator only has one gear, and it is high.  This movie never really slows down, and if it does, it is usually for Brown and Munn to give us some exposition.  Speaking of Brown, if there is an MTV Movie award for chewing scenery, he is a shoe in.  I mean he is literally chewing all the time, and if he had a mustache, you had better believe he would be twirling it, even though they never give him a motivation for being evil.  I mean all the people he is hunting down would be on his side if he wasn’t trying to kill them, but hey, you can tell he is having the time of his life, and his fun is infectious.

It is obvious that Shane Black wanted to make a riff on the old 80s/90s action movies, like the ones he got his start in, and there is no greater action movie from that era than Predator, but somewhere along the line ‘a riff’ got turned in to a kind of self parody.  Whether that was on purpose or not, it is hard to say, but I am leaning towards ‘not’.  I am also guessing he got a few studio notes that he had to work in to The Predator, which is probably why it feels so overstuffed.

It may sound like I didn’t like The Predator, and to be fair, I am not sure I could call it a ‘good’ film, but I did enjoy myself.  I laughed nonstop, and the movie never slowed down enough for its flaws to really bug me while watching it.  However, if you were looking for it to return to its scary mostly serious roots, you will be disappointed.  In other words, I think in order to have fun watching The Predator you will need to adjust your expectations:  Just go in expecting to watch a glorious SyFy Original.

Shmee Tries Out Battlefield V!

I have been playing around with the Battlefield V open beta, and I am happy to report that things are shaping up nicely.  V is not a large departure from Battlefield 1.  It is more of an incremental update.  The characters move a little faster, you get to spectate your squad before jumping in behind them and everyone having automatic weapons makes a lot more sense.  There are no loot boxes, but I am sure once the game launches that there will be microtransactions for cosmetic items.

The biggest changes are how health and ammo are doled out.  When you spawn you get about two clips worth of shells for your primary weapon, so to get more you will need to pick up rounds off of dead enemies or have really good support players making sure they are running around dropping crates and throwing ammo packs.  The same thing for health.  It doesn’t regenerate as fast, so you can get health packs off of the other team, or hopefully your medic isn’t out there just going for kills.  There are also stations to pick up health and ammo, so if your team isn’t handing everything out efficiently you can memorize where those stations are and make them part of your route.

For most players I don’t think these changes are too much of an issue since they will be out there running and gunning, but it does force scouts and campers to have to relocate to go get ammo more often, or have a squad that can keep them in mind and continue to circle back to drop off supplies for them, so while I can tell you there are still plenty of snipers in Battlefield V, it doesn’t seem as bad as the snipe-fest that is Battlefield 1.

If you were hoping for something totally different for Battlefield V, you may be disappointed, but if you just needed some things tweaked and a bunch of new maps, I think you will be very happy when Battlefield V comes out this November.  It will definitely be on my short list, though I have a feeling Red Dead Redemption 2 will occupy my life for the foreseeable future.