Shmee Visits The Good Place!

Do you like The Office or maybe Parks and Recreation?  What if I told you the same guy that wrote and produced those shows, Michael Schur, made another show about ‘heaven’, The Good Place.  While it is theologically unsound, it is very funny, and since it has been out for a year you can blitz through the first season right now on Netflix.

The Good Place is about Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) who ends up in the titular Good Place by accident.  She of course doesn’t want to admit she is in the wrong place then be sent to eternal damnation, so she has to do her best to fit in, but her innate selfishness keeps getting her in trouble.

The Good Place is unlike any major religion’s idea of paradise.  Pretty much if you are good, like really good, you end up in a little neighborhood with a soulmate, and you can do whatever you want.  Things are fine for most of Eleanor’s neighbors, but she keeps doing things that screw her neighborhood up.  Making it hard to keep up her lie.

Like all comedies, they are only as good as their cast, and The Good Place has a great one.  Bell is hilarious, and Ted Danson as ‘The Architect’ of the neighborhood is still at the top of his game, but rest of the cast is great too.  They have good chemistry, and the laughs don’t stop coming.

While I doubt The Good Place will be used in seminary classes any time soon, it is a funny show, and another hit for Michael Schur.  You can watch the first season on Netflix, and the second season is airing now, so you can catch up on Hulu.com if you have it.  In these dark days without The Office or Parks and Rec it is nice to have The Good Place to visit.

I Am Not Sure If Prey Is Its Own Game Or Series Of References!

I get the distinct impression that I have played Prey before, and not because I played the 2006 original.  No, because I have played the three games that Prey uses as its foundation extensively.  That being the case I find when I play Prey, I play a lot of it, but I am not sure it is because I like it, or because there is not a new System Sock, Bioshock, or Deus Ex to play.

In Prey you play as either a male of female Morgan Yu (I am playing as a girl) who has taken a job with her brother, Alex, aboard the scientific space station Talos I.  Morgan was going to be doing advanced science and research, but instead she finds the station overrun with unknown aliens.  It is up to Morgan to figure out what has happened and stop the aliens from getting to Earth.

To help Morgan on her way she can gain new abilities by getting Neuromods that jack in to her brain and help it function better.  Much like Praxis Kits in the newer Dues Ex games you need a set number of Neuromods to unlock an ability, so to get the more advanced skills you need to collect or manufacture a lot of Neuromods.

The most unique part of Prey is the ability to recycle everything and then make new stuff from the parts.  Practically what this means however is that you will find less ammo and useful stuff around the game, and end up just stuffing your inventory with a lot of junk until you can find a Recycler.  Then holding on to the recycled materials until you find a Fabricator, so this functionally ends up working like the vending machines in Bioshock.  Except instead of cash you carry around junk.

Like all games these days you get what I call a puzzle gun.  The gun you will use as your tool to get out of all your unfortunate circumstances.  Instead of a gravity gun, a portal gun, or a bow and arrow with cool stuff attached, you get a GLOO gun that can patch holes, make bridges and ladders, and entrap enemies.  It doesn’t quite do everything, but if you are stuck, it is safe to say it is at least worth pondering if the GLOO gun can help you out.

Almost everything in Prey is a reference to another game.  Right down to cribbing Bioshock’s Art Deco look, System Shock’s atmosphere (though a lot of games have stolen that), Dues Ex’s progression system, and Half Life’s special gun mechanic, and if I am honest, I think those games did their shtick better than Prey does.  However, Prey weaves them all together pretty well, and it is competently made, so it is worth your time and money.  Especially if you like the games it barrows from.  I am enjoying myself, but I just wish it was more original.

Marvel’s Runaways Is Like A Teenage Version Of Its Netflix Siblings!

Marvel’s first show on Hulu feels very much like it should be on Netflix with Daredevil and his pals, but in this case they moved the action over to LA, so they didn’t have to deal with all that.  It is also feels like they aged it down just a touch, so that it would be more appropriate for teenage viewers.

The show is about a bunch of kids who think their parents are just everyday billionaires and super-scientists, but one night during one of their parents’ meetings they find out that their parents are involved in something troubling.  They obviously take it upon themselves to figure out what is going on, and they find out that they may not be as average as they thought they were as well.

So far the show is a little uneven, and the budget seems to be constricting them a bit, but it is fun to watch these kids deal with learning that their parents may be evil, while at the same time figuring out that they may have the power to stop their parents.  It is a little X-Men-y, but that is quite all right, and the natural separation that is caused by moving everything to the west coast works in Runaways favor.

As with most shows featuring a bunch young actors, the acting is a mixed bag, but in general it is pretty good.  Though what the show really has going in its favor is James Marsters (AKA Spike from Buffy).  It is always a treat to have him show up.  Also, I am once again not sure if his character has a soul or not.

The first season has seemed like a pilot so far.  Like they are testing the waters with this new show and streaming service, but not going all in.  Regardless, I have enjoyed Marvel’s Runaways, and I hope it keeps getting better.  The show has only aired four episodes, so maybe it finds firmer footing as it goes.

The Gang Is All Here For Avengers: Infinity War!

The first full trailer for Avengers: Infinity War has landed, and it is as epic as you would expect for something that eight million movies have been building towards.  It was fun to see everyone in one trailer, and it looks like it will be a good flick.  It won’t be long now until we see the first real finale in the Marvel Cinematic Universe according to Marvel Studio boss Kevin Feige.

Batman Works On His Relationships In Enemy Within Episode 3!

While what happens in Batman: The Enemy Within, Episode Three, The Fractured Mask, depends on what you did in the previous episodes, and in this episode’s case the last game, no matter what, Bruce Wayne will be dealing with his relationships.  Which is something new for Bat-fans.  Especially in the dynamic that Telltale has setup for us.

Bruce will somehow have to try and keep Batman’s friendship with Jim Gordon on the up while being forced (maybe not) to work for Amada Waller’s Agency.  All while his favorite thief Catwoman arrives back on the scene, and trying to help (or not) John Doe (Proto-Joker) with his relationship with Harley.  In other words it is an almost impossible task, and how all those relationships fit together depends on how you have been playing the game.

This is the first episode where my failures as Bruce/Batman have really come back to bite me, and it was fantastic.  Doing everything I can to keep everything working to the good, and watching myself fail to do so.  Things just keep crumbling around me.  Not to mention with all my previous knowledge about Batman, wondering if I can save poor John Doe from his fate.  I am guessing not, and I hope Harley’s fate has nothing to do with his pre-destined fall.  Because I love her as an independent, and quite scary, criminal mastermind.

While I will say I do miss the old style adventure games of the past, Telltale really knows how to weave a good story together, and this Batman tale has been one of their finest.  If you haven’t played either of their Batman games yet, you really need to because Batman: The Enemy Within has been fascinating.  I keep looking at my Steam queue hoping to see Batman update, and then I play it right away when it does, and so should you!