Saturday, May 23, 2015

Destiny: House of Wolves stinks

If you were hoping for redemption for the mediocre but addictive video game Destiny from the new DLC House of Wolves (HoW) , you can forget it. The HoW is very much like the main game. It's okay but has huge flaws.

A. The Good.

Gameplay and gunplay mechanics are excellent. Firing your guns are a blast. And your jump packs add much to the gameplay except for one jumping puzzle which is very difficult for the Hunter class unless she uses the super Bladedancer.

B. The Bad. And boy, is it bad.

1. The Story. IF you were expecting improvements in storytelling such as exposition and meaning, forget about it. The story is told through voice over as you are doing your mission from the two vendors of the new social area called The Reef. Yes, you heard that right. No cut scenes with exposition or action. There's not even characters talking to you directly ala Half LIfe. Heck, the Queen who sent you on these missions doesn't even make an appearance! That just makes the teaser trailer below a con job because the DLC doesn't live up to the hype.

The House of Wolves DLC has an anemic story compared to its trailer below.

So what's this DLC about? Something about Fallen guy Skolas who wants to be king of the Fallen or something like that. You, of course, have to hunt him down. Why? Don't know. Don't care.

2. The game design. In Mass Effect 3's DLC, you went to different places from the normal game maps. In HoW, you are using the same maps from the main game with the exception of the last part of the last mission. Okay, there are some minor differences. Some rooms are open on earth. But it's the same stuff. Ruins of a lost age. The only difference are the bosses. And they are just a variation of other bosses and enemies. This is lazy and cheap mission design. I mean this game had a budget of 500 million dollars!

3. The new leveling up process to the maximum. Before HoW, you could level up Legendary weapons and armor with Ascendant materials and Radiant materials for Crota raid gear. Cap level 32 armor came from the Crota raid and Iron Banner event. Yeah, it was bad for the Crota stuff since you had to play the Crota's End raid. But for all the Legendary you could farm Ascendant material from the Vault of Glass raid, the Daily Heroic mission at level 30 which was guaranteed, dismantling Legendary gear and doing Public Events. So you had multiple paths to get to the level cap of 32.

Now all Legendary and Exotic gear can be leveled up to the maximum. For armor it's 34 and for weapons it's 365. This sounds good until you find out how to do it. The process is called "Ascend." For Exotic gear, you need one Exotic Shard. Those can be bought from Xur at seven strange coins. Sounds good but remember you can only equip one Exotic per class.

That means you are going to have to wear at least three pieces of Legendary gear with an Exotic, assuming you don't get the armor piece from Variks, the Reef vendor. You can also have four Legendary pieces to max out your rank. Don't know if Variks refreshes his stock if it does. To level up any gear, you now need to do two things. Upgrade the gear to the maximum and obtain one Etheric Light.

So how does one get an Etheric Light? They are randomly dropped in Nightfall strikes now set at 32, the player versus player Trials of Osiris, and the cooperative Prisoners of Elders. For Prisoners of Elders, it's guaranteed at levels 34 and 35. Good luck playing at those difficulty levels, they're extremely hard. The Iron Banner tournament allegedly allows Etheric Light at levels three and five. I say "allegedly" as I have yet to see it. (Mashable article) But how much Etheric Light can you get? I've read it's dropped at level three and five. Does that mean that's the only amount for the Banner? Don't know but if you hate the Crucible, you're out of luck here.

I have played completed three Nightfalls, and three Prisoners of Elders matches two at level 28 and one at level 32, all with different characters. I have not received one Etheric Light. That stinks. Unlike using Ascendant material, you really can't farm for Etheric Light. Plus, you can only get one guaranteed Etheric Light drop per character on the harder levels per week. It's a crap shoot. So, again Destiny wants you to grind but punishes you for it.

4. The multiplayer modes. There are two multiplayer games with HoW. The cooperative Prisoner of Elders is an arena map where you face off against five waves of enemies. The difficulty levels are 28, 32, 34 and 35. It's extremely difficult even at level 28. Enemies swarm and flank you. And there are only three to a fireteam. There are no good areas for cover. Get the picture, it's near impossible at 34 and 35. Then there's this. NO MATCHMAKING AT LEVEL 32 AND BEYOND. So if you want to get in a match at your convenience to get Etheric Light without friends, you are out of luck.

Forget about the Trials of Osiris if you're not one of the best players in the world. I kid not. It's a three versus three deathmatch. There are problems not just with its elitist pedigree. (Check out the club for the Best of the Best, nine victories in a row.) One, there's no matchmaking. You must form a squad. Two, it's punishing. You must win nine matches to get the best stuff. Lose three and you're out. Look, I've suffered through Iron Banner and this thing is that but on steroids. Not interested, so no need to play this for the review since I'm not one of the best in the world and neither are many of you. Plus, I'm sure this type of thing will bring out the cheaters such as the lag switchers and modders. I've played many player versus player matches where I've seen them.

C. Conclusion

Destiny: House of Wolves is not an improvement but more of the same. Terrible storytelling. And now a fate based way of leveling up to the maximum levels. The game maybe addictive but is sadistic. The grade is C Plus. For us addicts, it's a B minus.

Destiny jumps the shark

So a couple of weeks ago, I'm playing the video game Destiny, specifically the Wrath of the Queen's bounties. That's where you hunt down targets across the maps. Well, I read the description of one target, Kaliks-12. Here's the quote:

"Kaliks-12 was high Servitor of Skriviks Ketch. It was captured during the Cybele Uprising with its mistress." (Video below)

Hold on. It's a servitor. In Destiny lore, these things are big ball like robots. (Video below) It is not an organic. So how does this affair thing work? I mean the thing has no penis. How does servitor sex work? It's simply ludicrous to write that the thing is having an affair. Folks, Destiny has jumped the shark.

Bill Maher destroys crazy Republicans

HBO's Bill Maher destroys crazy Republicans and their right wing conservative views. He does this by pointing out that "libertarian" Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) is now catering to the crazy conservative mainstream. Hilarious. Enjoy his New Rule.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Best Film of the Year for 2014

Usually, I try to write something witty or self deprecating about the Basement Blog Film of the Year award. But let's get onto the winner. It's the Oscars without commercials. The winner is: It's a tie! Tying for Best Film of the Year are The Imitation Game and Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Imitation Game is the story of English scientist Alan Turning who worked with the British government to solve the Nazi code during World War II. To the world, very little was know about him or his efforts. But it's because of his work, that the Allies won the war. To break the code, he built a machine which was able to decipher the code. In essence, he built one of the first computers. Unfortunately in his later years, he was prosecuted for his homosexuality which may have led to his suicide. Still, the world owes a debt to him.

The Imitation Game works on many levels. It's an intellectual thriller without all the explosions. It's a fine drama of a quirky genius. The directing by Morten Tyldum is confident and doesn't detract from the movie. The acting is superb. Benedict Cumberbatch's performance as Turning is subtle, realistic, and heartbreaking. He portrays a man who's more comfortable with mathematical equations than people. Bravo to all involved. The grade is A Plus.

The second film, Guardians of the Galaxy, has grown on me. It's a movie that can stand multiple viewings and never get tired. It's hilarious, action packed and entertaining. And it has one of the greatest, joyful scenes in the history of cinema. It's when protagonist Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) dances and grooves to Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love" during the opening credits. Reminiscent of Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain. I almost got up and started dancing with him. Enjoy the Redbone in the video below.

Science Fiction Film of the Year 2014

Director Christopher Nolan deserves all the accolades in the world for his filmmaking. He creates popular entertainment tentpoles that do not cater to the lowest common denominator. They're all smart and yet entertaining. This year's Basement Blog Science Fiction Film of the Year is Interstellar. While flawed, it's still a great movie.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The history of the Hulkbuster armor

If you've seen The Avengers: Age of Ultron teaser trailer, you may have noticed what looks like Iron Man putting on a gigantic exosuit to fight Hulk. has put together a history of the suit from comics to movies. Here's the article. Quoting from the piece, the "Hulkbuster was a specific variant of the Iron Man Armor designed to combat the Hulk." It begs the question, "Does Tony Stark turn evil or does he Hulk go bad in the upcoming movie?" We'll find out when the movie comes out. Meanwhile, check out the teaser trailer below.

Thursday, December 25, 2014