Barnestorming #1954- Mage Wars in Review, Black Ops II, Godzilla, Prometheus

Barnestorming #1954- Mage Wars in Review, Black Ops II, Godzilla, Prometheus Hot

Michael Barnes     
 
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 Avery was right.

On the Table

In some ways, Mage Wars is this year’s Mage Knight. The games couldn’t be more different from each other, but both are deeper-than-usual, more complex than  usual titles that are definitely “long haul” games requiring more commitment and attention than many of today’s popular games. When I first got Mage Wars, I thought I was in for it. It had that kind of look that you recognize when you’ve reviewed games for a long time, that look that says “you probably shouldn’t have asked for a review copy”. But after a fumbling learning game, I realized what a treasure this game is. If Summoner Wars was too light for you, if you wish that Magic had dice-based combat, or if you wish somebody would have taken Dreamblade seriously then you should take a look at this game. It’s a little bit of a hot mess, but if you put in the time to learn it, it’s like getting an all-new CCG but with board game elements in one box. There’s WAY more value than in an LCG without expansions here.

Does anybody play with the core spell set? Wondering if I need it.

Article 27 is great.

City of Horror isn’t. It’s fucking terrible. Take Mall of Horror and add a bunch of pointless bullshit that clutters up the mechanics and the theme and you’ve got this god-awful contraption. It feels like kitchen sink ideas that were wisely cut out of Mall of Horror before it was published. It’s really almost the same game, just awful.

 

On the Consoles

I wound up picking CODBLOPSII even though I didn’t think I was going to. It just wouldn’t feel like the holidays without some Call of Duty. Anyway, it is what it is. The campaign so far is terrible, worse than any of the others. Yeah, supposedly you make Meaningful Choices and there are branching outcomes, but it’s incredibly dumb. The part where the future super-soldiers put on flying squirrel costumes and fly cracked me up. I’m not kidding. Did you know that all you needed to do to fly was to connect space age fabric from your hands to your ankles?  Or that Nanogloves can make you stick to rocks? The gameplay is, so far, pretty bad. Lots of those terrible scenes with endlessly respawning bad guys that you’re just supposed to mow down en masse until you hit a checkpoint.  Invisible walls by the meter.

It’s unbelievably stupid. Moreso than other COD games. They’ve gone so far over the top they’ve come round the bottom and back over the top again. There’s a hallucinatory one-man machete massacre. There’s a scene where you fight HIND helicopters on horseback, firing stinger missiles at them. There’s a dance club. Another hilarious scene where robots fight guys on horses, exploding the horses into the air. And on top of it all, a guest appearance by the Original Panamaniac, Manuel Noriega.

The strike force missions, which are one of the game’s new features, are terribly handled, sloppily executed RTS levels where you can jump in and take control of a soldier or robot. They’re a total mess, there really isn’t any strategy to them at all.

The multiplayer, on the other hand, is quite different and remains great. The Pick 10 thing is brilliant. The scorestreaks (not killstreaks) are brilliant. All in all, the MP part feels like it’ll be the best COD ever.

WiiU on Sunday. Getting Mario and ZombiU. I’m sick of zombie games, of course, but this looks pretty good and it’s one of the only launch games that isn’t a port.

 

On IOS

I’ve just about resolved that my phone is more of a comics reading device than a game-playing one. I just haven’t seen much interesting lately, lots of the same kinds of games repeated over and over again.

On the Comics Shelf

I buckled down and read all 30 issues of Seven Soldiers and holy crap, that was amazing. I’d probably put it just under Doom Patrol, the Batman run, and All-Star Superman on the Grant Morrison best-of chart. It’s sprawling, bewildering, awkward, manic, nonsensical, and exhausting. But it’s also incredible long-form storytelling with a great deal of subtlety, wit, and energy.

It’s all definitely very Fourth World-influenced, particularly when Mister Miracle gets involved in the series’ most confusing and abstract set.  I was surprised at how much I liked Zatanna’s books, given that I don’t really like that character at all. Bulleteer was great, and all the business about superheroine pornography was just crazy. Klarion’s books were creepy, weird, and oddly kind of fun. Shining Knight had some awesome artwork. Frankenstein was great, I’ve never read the DC interpretation of him. I _loved_ the subway pirates thing in Manhattan Guardian. I liked how all the characters were really down-to-earth, not really heroes at all.

Such a great, great series. The revelation about the Sheeda just blew me away. It also blows me away at how good Morrison is with not directly telling you something until way later, after it’s actually been revealed.

I just started reading James Stokoe’s Godzilla: The Half-Century War. Let me tell you, if you like ANYTHING to do with Godzilla…read this book. It is the BEST Godzilla story I have ever seen,  barring the original 1954 film. The artwork is amazing, something like a cross between classic manga and Geoff Darrow. Intricate line work, garish colors. The writing is quite good too, and it answers the question “what would happen if Godzilla went to Vietnam in the middle of the Vietnam War?” This book completely rules, I hope they do a hardcover because I will buy it day one. I haven’t been this excited about Godzilla anything since…I dunno, maybe Final Wars. But this story blows Final Wars away. It’s really interesting to see how GREAT a Godzilla story can be when it’s not bridled by a terrible movie.

One of the coolest ideas ever in the history of the world- different themed teams to take on different kaiju. The Mothra team are hippies in a VW van. That gets melted by Hedorah. I’m telling you, this shit is SUPERLATIVE.

The new Captain Marvel series has been getting good reviews, but I’m just not feeling it at all. Ditto the New Deadwardians, Dan Abnett’s most recent work for Vertigo.

Looking at finishing Court of Owls, starting on Sweet Tooth, and maybe reading Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

 

On the Screen

What was everybody’s problem with Prometheus? Did you people that didn’t like it expect to be a high-minded science fiction film and were disappointed that it was a mummy movie set in space?

I liked it quite a lot- I liked that the story beats and characterizations were very much in line with Alien, I liked the science fiction including the business with the Navigator (which wound up being pretty interesting and not at all destroying the cool mystery of it), and the body horror stuff was awesome.

The problem is that the film has an identity crisis. It has the right kinds of hooks for it to be a serious SF film- all the talk about meeting our makers, the Chariots of the Gods business, and so forth- but it really wants to be a gross-out body horror movie like the first film was. Yeah, the first film had all this Darwinian subtext, but really it was just a rung above a straight exploitation film like Planet of the Vampires. So I can see where people expected the Next Great SF Film of Our Time (especially coming from Scott), but it’s an Alien prequel, and a pretty darn good one at that. There’s only so much banter about god and faith and such that can stand in the way of OMG tentacle monster antics.

The scene in the surgery bay, that was just nuts. I kind of couldn’t believe it.

But yeah, think about it. It is TOTALLY a mummy movie. When they first got to the tomb, that’s all I thought about was mummy movies. I thought “they’re going to get attacked by a mummy at any point”. And they did.

 

On Spotify

Waiting on Repo to take pity on me and send me a cassette adapter.

Barnestorming #1954- Mage Wars in Review, Black Ops II, Godzilla, Prometheus There Will Be Games
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