What we REALLY want!

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STEM, Matrix and VR

To accompany my previous post about The Evil Within 2.  I decided to delve deeper into the main theme of the game:  Virtual Reality.  Since the movie The Matrix, the thought of virtual world went mainstream.  To think that a person’s consciousness can be placed into a virtual world as real as the one you and I live in right now, truly gets us to think about our OWN reality.

The STEM system.

In The Evil Within series, that same idea of a virtual world is represented by a fictional machine known as STEM.  In short, the machine uses targeted areas of the brain in order to create a virtual world where all those participating will share a consciousness together.  Imagine a world that doesn’t have disease and that happiness can be made without even physically moving a muscle, this is STEM.  However, in the game’s story the virtual world that was viewed as a utopia, only ends up becoming a living nightmare.

https://i0.wp.com/gameranx.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/the-evil-within-1.jpg

But I’m not here to write about the plot of the game, but to further analyze the virtual world from the real and fictional perspective.  After watching an episode of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” called “PTSDee”.  (Which was recommended from my wife, Louie.  See the 2 clips below.)  I began to think about what kind of true dangers lie in store for us, as virtual and alternate realities continue to advance in our everyday lives.

Lol, okay I know Always Sunny isn’t greatest example to bring up a serious discussion of the negative aspects of what can come from VR and AR.  But you have to admit, eventually the technology may get THAT GOOD!  (or BAD)  The Evil Within 2 addresses this in the worse case scenario.  Hundreds of people that are currently hooked up to the STEM system suddenly begin to die off and once the story goes into play; all hell breaks loose.  Everyone inside the STEM system either transforms, gets killed or hunted by their own shared virtual consciousness.

Knowing that a machine could either transport you into a paradise or a life as a vegetable, is horrifying.  Like this and The Matrix, if you die inside, you’re toast in the real world.  Add along the potential that any traumatic experience you see or experience in those worlds could affect you in the flesh.  Look at it this way, in games we die and retry until we overcome and succeed.  Now imagine yourself feeling REAL PAIN and DEATH.  Would we be the same?  If it got that bad, would we push on and continue using the technology?

Hell, there are a ton of questions that we can ask here.  That’s why I’ll leave it up for discussion.  Leave any comments below.

-Racoon Daddy

 

The Evil Within 2 – A Clearer Picture to an Already Cloudy Mirror

I should be saying “hey everyone, nice to see you!” But its been like 6 months since I last said anything on here. For now, I will save the summary and move onto my motivation to write today. I just finished The Evil Within 2; officially checking this off of my list.

Like everyone in the gaming universe, you’re going to here my muses and perspective. Hopefully you’ll choose to read further…most likely because that’s Metacritic is for! But if you do, there will a nice treat in it for you. (Actually, no there won’t) Okay, its safe to say I’m a little insane. But maybe that is because I’m still feeling a mild bit pseudo-PTSD from playing this game.

Starting off, I’m a vet of the series and survival horror since 1998, so I know my way around a hand crank, if you know what I mean. I play mine on hard and keep my eyes and ears trained, with the lights off! So you know, I like me some good scary shit!

Moving on!

The Evil Within 2 is a direct sequel in number and in story. (Which doesn’t always happen in TV, movies and games these days.) Following the events of the last game, Sebastian Castellanos is drowning himself on 1 bourbon, 1 scotch and…polishing off those bottles before he gets to that last beer and…

giphy

Its safe to say that this detective’s life is in the toilet. (Hah!) Thankfully, a familiar face comes back into his life and tells him that the worst parts in his life, didn’t really happen and just an elaborate lie. (Save for all of the murdering and havoc caused by Ruvik, AKA the cheapass teleporting monk, from the first game.) Enter the evil corporation and a motivation for Sebastian to go back into the hell that made him miserable in the first place! BAM!! There you go, EW2’s intro in a nutshell.

Thankfully, not everything is as cliche as you’d think. Sabastian goes in, with a mission to fix “The Matrix”-inspired virtual network and rescue some very important people. In exchange, all of Sebastian’s problems will go away. (FYI, I’m trying to be as vague as possible, because there is a pretty good story to this game!) Sounds easy right? NOPE!! THATS A BIG…

Right as I started playing it, the game thrusted me right into the main antagonist. A seriously F*CK’D UP psychopath who really should’ve been written for “True Detective” season 3. (Come on. HBO!! DO IT!) All I can say is, he reminded me of one part Joker, another part Ed Gein (real life murder who inspired half of horror’s household names.) and a dash of a creepy department store photographer. To be honest, IT WORKED and everything related to him was either terrifying, disturbing or unsettling.

Playing EW2 DOES FELT unsettling and remained so for about 75 percent of the game. As for the survival horror aspect, the game makes you feel like every item counts. Even on normal, I was always looking to scrounge up parts and supplies. Some areas it became a gamble because maybe I didn’t sneak around the enemies good enough or used up too much ammo. This added to the tension when I was exploring new places, along with: the jump scares, when the game screwed with me or mundane moments that turn into “OH SHIT!”

I say that, because there was a lot of that, said by me during my exploration of the town of Union. Searching the town really feels like you are looking for survivors or clues, literally every area will have you on your toes. Sadly, once those areas were explored, the spookiness faded near the end. At this point, the game focused on combat, wrapping the game up and getting me ready for the final push. Ultimately EW2 did redeem itself with huge nods to the previous game and a good finale.

The Evil Within 2 does not leave you hanging or have asking all kinds of questions when everything is said and done. But it did leave itself open for a sequel. I thoroughly enjoyed the game and will go back and finish it on Nightmare, in the future.

I really cannot recommend this game enough you are a survival horror fans. Although fans of Silent Hill and atmospheric horror games may not like for its heavy reliance on combat and stealth. Hardcore survival gamers may think the combat make it easier, but that is what Classic Mode is for! (unlocked after beating it) Rest assured, you’re in for a wild ride that is well worth a trip or two.

One last thing…you’ll never listen to this song the same way again! Enjoy the warm and fuzzies!

As always feel to COMMENT and DISCUSS below.

Prepping up for holidays! Part 1

Yeah, yeah, its not even past Halloween and I’m talkin’ Christmas right?!  No one wants to hear about the long-ass lines to see Santa/Black Friday/parking/food/decorations/slash (lol!), do Christmas cards or deal with the family events.  But if you’ve got little ones, getting your shopping (or a planned out lay-away) over time is the way to go.

Personally, Louie and I went to Toys R Us and got it locked down last week.  Frankly, its a good strategy if you haven’t done it before and really doesn’t cut a hole in your wallet/purse.  That and we dodge all of the BS, while still ACTUALLY DOING the shopping.  Sure, I could do everything online and get a sweet deal.  But it just doesn’t feel the same.  Actually doing the legwork for me, seems to have a weird sense of self accomplishment to it.  Go figure on that one.

I know, ZERO care factor from ya’ll!

Overall, Grace is getting a pretty nice haul for her presents from us.  Most notably, she’s getting a 2DS with a few Mario games.  (With me quietly getting Smash Bros for it!)  🙂  Right now, I do feel she’s pretty young for it, but it seems that she gets on the phone a bit and plays Mario Run too much, along with the usual My Little Pony and Learning games.  But that is where we’re putting a limit on our mobile/gaming time to rainy/cold days, when we need a break or half hour here or there.

As of now, we’ve been pretty light on enforcement with the rule.  But I’d rather she spend her childhood outside, doing activities and less gaming/phone time.  Hopefully it will turn out that way, as I’ve always been a good balance of outgoing and a homebody.

But I really didn’t get any inspiration to write anything down about making a list until I read about the upcoming Wolfenstein: The New Colossus.  Which is one of my must-plays for the upcoming year.  For those that haven’t been following any of the upcoming titles, I’ll give a few bits about them.

1)      Wolfenstein: The New Colossus

If you grew up playing PC games, there is NO WAY you’ve never heard of Wolfenstein 3D.

It was the game that started the First Person Shooter (AKA FPS games) genre and got its reputation for its kill all Nazis gameplay.  The New Colossus is a direct sequel to both Wolfenstein: The New Order and The Old Blood.  (I know, confusing.  The latter is a DLC expansion that is just as good.)

What’s so special?    –  Well, The New Order is a phenomenal game that plays very simplistic.  With its single player only, story driven, shootfest that gives you the option to go stealth until the shit hits the fan.  Its gameplay barely penalizes you for just doing a kill em’ all type of run-through.  It plays just like it used to, when it came out way back in the 90s but runs smooth and combat is tense and satisfying.  That and the story is great take on an alternate-reality of the World War II.

The New Colossus is a clear continuation of that story and gameplay.

This isn’t Call of Duty, I assure of that!

Why am I excited?  –  The new setting and how the events changed things that happened from the previous entry.  It has a brand-new engine by Id Software, which is known for making some powerful engines that rival Unreal and Crytech.  (Which are what MANY of the games we play, run on.  In case you didn’t know.)

That and killing Nazis in Wolfenstein is way better than CoD:  Zombies, without question.

Also, I enjoy a truly mature gaming experience.  Which is where the title has no censorship, the violence, gore and nudity/sex is used correctly and not forced or thrown on a canvas like a trashy painting.  Wolfenstein did that.

Release Date October 27th

2)     The Evil Within 2

The sequel to the former director/creator of Resident Evil, Shinji Mikami.  The Evil Within was a pretty frightening game to experience.  Although it seemed to rely way too much on the mechanics of one of his older titles:  Resident Evil 4.  Which is a classic survival horror game, but most people saw TEW as a clone.  In response to that, The Evil Within was a GOOD CLONE gameplay wise, that did have its moments where you had more bullets than the enemies you were fighting.  But had MANY twisted, tripy and frightening moments.  The first game made me feel tense and on edge throughout my first playthrough.

What’s so special?  –  The first game left a lot more questions than answers, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  It just left everyone that enjoyed or cared about the story, with a big fat, SO WHAT’S NEXT?!  Most likely, survival horror fans will pick this up, especially if Resident Evil 7’s move to 1st person didn’t sit well with you.  Which was a solid and well executed move for that series.  The Evil Within plays like Resident Evil 4, except on acid.  So you’re in for a wild ride!  It’s release is THIS FRIDAY THE 13th, so it’ll be a no-brainer for a great Halloween title.

Why am I excited?  – Years back, Shinji Mikami made a claim, that he was, “going to bring survival horror, back to its roots”.  Personally, he didn’t really do that in the first game.  Hopefully, he pulls this off and the second one is a phenomenal experience and succeeds on the market!

3)  Star Wars Battlefront II 

Two years ago, DICE released the first Battlefront and the gaming community went apeshit in the WRONG WAY!  Sure, it was DICE’s Battlefield sort of gameplay with everything done up in a beautiful Star Wars fashion.  But a large majority of its gameplay was focused on the multiplayer aspect.  Which is great and all for a military shooter, but this is STAR WARS we’re talking about here!

Seriously, where the HELL was this in the game?! Oh wait, it wasn’t.

The fan base for the series is MASSIVE with only Trekkies and comic fans being the only groups to rival that demand!  So they completely failed in catering to casual gamers that just wanted to boot it up and play a story/reenactment of the series.  That, and it lacked in content or was paid DLC.  (Albiet pretty good DLC)

I’ll admit, there was a lot that was done right about the game, too.  Walker Assualt was pretty cool and the Death Star DLC is pretty badass.  All of the content that was present was faithful and true to the series.  Space and X-Wing/Tie Fighter dogfights were a blast! (Pun intented.)  Battlefront II is set to surpass this in spades and remain true to fans of both shooters and the Star Wars series.

What’s so special?  –  Well it’s Star Wars, with plenty of vehicles, blasters and gadgets to use.  Also, it’s going to be a clear improvement over its predecessor.  Not only will it cover ALL three Star Wars generations, (prequel, original and sequel) it will feature a new story campaign that will cover the period between Episode VI (Return of the Jedi) and VII (The Force Awakens) using an original character.

Yesterday, I sunk my teeth into the Multiplayer Beta.  From what I saw, it looks to be a solid improvement.  The content has been TRIPLED and it seems that EA/DICE is doing away with paid DLC for this.  (SOURCE)  All of this covered by a teaser video featuring John Boyega (AKA Finn)

Why am I excited?  –  The beta is kinda making me a Day 1, which is NEVER what I do.  But this may be the Star Wars/Battlefield experience I was looking for in the first!  I’ve been a Battlefield veteran since Bad Company and Battlefront 1 was the only DICE title to let me down.  (But the DLC did make the game better!)  It comes out November 17th

  • That and well THIS!

MORE TO COME ON PART 2

 

 

Who we play as cuts deeper than we think!

Why is there such a deep connection with us and the characters we play as?

Every time we sit down and load up a title on our weekly play.  Many of us really don’t stop to realize.  Why are we fascinated with an Italian plumber in a red cap and suspenders or an over-muscled Greek demi-god.  Sure, it may go back to what we learned in high school English class about, “the hero’s journey” and how we all wished we could experience such feats.  In a way, that’s clear and present in our minds as we infiltrate an enemy base or raid a building for supplies.  We experience the journey first-hand, albeit in success and failure.  Yet there are underlying reasons as to why these avatars of our digital are so identifiable with us.  Like Spike Lee once said, “It must be the shoes!”  In reality, it isn’t just the badass war paint or double barrel shotgun.  Let’s take a look at some of the more memorable characters throughout our not-so daily grind.

Doomguy (Doom)

Credit – Id Software

This unfortunate Marine, is thrown into the bowels of hell right from the start, with only 10 unbloodied knuckles, a full magazine of ammo and one serious case of paranoia.  We all know where this goes; all of his war buddies draw their guns in the wrong direction (his).  This only leads to their last gasp and post-mortem gurgles.  By the first level’s end, he’s armed with a shotgun and chainsaw in hand –   From there, it’s all on us to do the rest.

GROOVY!

Doomguy is in a situation we’d never want to be in, where it’s everyone against us.  Yet it’s a first-hand account on how we’d survive it.  Laying down buckshot into a cacodemon’s face and watching tumble with on three percent health hits home with us.  Because it was at that moment, we’d that could been the end and it wasn’t.

All of us experience this at some time in our lives, where death comes close in the flesh and almost taps our shoulder.  Be it, by narrowing being hit in a pedestrian crosswalk while the light was clearly red or accidentally cutting your hand pretty bad while dicing onions.  That impeding sense of Doom that is right around each of life’s corners.

Sure, we’d continue to get that same adrenaline kick with each Team Deathmatch session or CoD/FPS game.  But the feeling you’d get, is irreplaceable to that of the dark and bloodied corridors of hell itself.

Mario

 

Credit – Nintendo

He’s our favorite red and blue plumber, whose on-call for all the wrong reasons.  (Seriously, have we ever seen him really fix a sink or toilet?)  Mario has more skill with eating mushroom and jumping to Shaun White distances.  With a smile that never drops and the nerves of diamond, he stomps Bowser and his crew every time.  (Provided we succeed!)   As a reward, he gets the girl and simple peck on the cheek, as gratitude.

 

Doing what Mario does and how we get him to the nice green and white flag, takes a lot resolve.  Avoiding the turtle shells, bullet bills, bomb-oms and flames pits can seem like an impossible task.  Eventually, we make it through and the success doesn’t seem any sweeter.

Mario is our perseverance, the will to adapt and overcome through the chaos and dangers very similar to us.  Some challenges are greater than others and vary to our own lifestyles.  Tight deadlines, balancing the household checkbook, being a good parent, taking extra classes; can seem like those same impossible feats.  Still, we move forward, try our best and make it work, even if we fully succeed or not.  In our later years, that perseverance pays off, with less or no debt, a home that is ours and the true reward for all of our hard labor.

Sheperd (Mass Effect 1-3)

Credit – Gamespot

Three epic chapters of space exploration weren’t enough for many of us.  The recent entry Mass Effect: Andromeda left deep yearns of space exploration and saving the universe from rapture.  Regardless of how well your experience was with that title, there was one big thing that wasn’t the same – Ryder.  As a replacement, to the neutral character of the original trilogy, Shepard became Ryder.  Both were open to be either a male or female option, with each having their own personalities depending on the choices you made.  Shepherd had options that could lead you into firefights, a resolution of a conflict or even convince someone to commit suicide.  Sadly, Andromeda’s Ryder was never given the same sort of ability of true conflict resolution.

Like the Star Trek multiverse, Mass Effect focused on the fragile relations of the intergalactic races of The Milky Way and beyond.  Many instances Commander Sheperd ends up being right in the middle of a bog of diplomacy.  Depending on how the Commander responded, the end result could be successful or disastrous.  Ultimately, it could always be finished with good firepower and biotics (space magic), though.

Sheperd is our free will, the choice is unique only to the player and leaves permanent results, much like you and I.  Our real lives have confrontations and disagreements where an outcome is dependent on what comes out of our mouths.  Very much like Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Natural Law, “for every action there is an equal or opposite reaction.”  Our free will to speak holds the gravity of infinite possibilities of our own future.  (Pun intended)

Tommy Vercetti (Grand Theft Auto: Vice City)

Known as the 80s anti-hero and narco druglord in the fictional metropolitan, Vice City.  Tommy was given the short end of the stick, even when he became a made-man in the Forelli crime family.  From the moment he stepped out of the taxi cab, Tommy was bound to end up as a chalk trace on the hot pavement.  Guided by his own actions and rage, Tommy took Vice City for himself, piece by piece.

Almost everyone that booted up Vice City, knows that you really didn’t play for the missions or story.  It was great excuse just drive around like crazy, solicit a prostitute then get a “return” of service, blow up the cops and beat down pedestrians.   Causing this sort of havoc is what really coined the term “sandbox” in gaming and we loved every minute of.  At least until our parents found out after hearing hours of police sirens coming from the bedroom.

Tommy is the underlying rage and frustration we have inside us.  Much like Fight Club’s Tyler Durden, no one wants to admit they have an animalistic urge to channel their aggression.  Grand Theft Auto was one of our first real punching bags to the stresses of teen adolescence, work and life as a whole.  Gaming is hobby and an escape for many of us, regardless if you want to believe it or not.  Perhaps we aren’t bound by our desires and impulses, like Mr Vercetti.  But we all know that you cannot keep it all bottled up inside.

Sometimes it’s just best to seek help…right Michael?

 

The Big FIVE!

Yesterday we celebrated my daughter’s 5th birthday, (Her name is Grace for those who don’t know.)  and I got to say, I feel proud and sad at the same time.

Overall, I’m proud of what Louie and I have accomplished as parents so far.  From the sleepless nights of feeding a peanut-sized baby girl to chasing around a little kid around the house, until WE tire out.  All of this being done, while she and I worked opposite work schedules and STILL managed to live comfortably.  (Granted, we continue to live paycheck to paycheck.  Let’s face it, the economy is going no where still.)

She’s made me so proud, with how far she has come in school and how she’s become so creative.  Sometimes, I stop and wonder, where did our creativity go as we grew older. Did maturity and circumstance douse our many of the creative fires we had as children?!  Or did it just hid away until our children could find it and point it out to us once again.  Truly, it’s a perplexing dilemma, trying to find that spark of inspiration or the drive to create something SHINY and NEW.  But maybe I’m thinking or searching to hard to realize that my own creations aren’t solely from the mind or the heart, but from EVERYWHERE AROUND US.

Experiences, our senses, the passage of time; the seed of creation is all right there!  For children, it isn’t that deep, they look to us, school, their friends and what they see and learn.  But as they age, the picture of their creativity becomes a jigsaw puzzle, that only continues to add more pieces as the time goes by.

Perhaps, that is why I should be striking while the iron is hot, while there are less pieces to the puzzle.

Away from my rambling now, let me get back to my girl’s big day.  It was filled tons of laughter as she led her friends around the park and they eventually got to beat on a My Little Pony pinata.  Mike Tyson in his prime couldn’t beat the ring time these kids had with poor lil’ “Pinky Pie”.  In 8 seconds flat, Grace and ten other children decapitated and spit the poor pinata in half.  They were happy as clams; WE…WERE…HORRIFIED!!

REST………..IN….PIECES!!

Needless to say, they had a blast; especially when Grace got her brand new FART GUN.  OH YEAH!  Nothing makes laugh uncontrollably like when people fart.  The smell is negligible…all she cares about the rip.

7…6…2 Millimeter Full FLATULENT Jacket  

 

As of tomorrow, summer vacation will start for both Louie and Grace.  (Louie is a teacher.)  So I’ll be picking up the pace at work and pulling the weight for a couple months.  It’s gonna suck, but I sort of feel re-energized where I left my writing behind.

 

Hopefully, you’ll be reading more from me and I’ll sharing more of my writing.

Soup Rockets!!

Hey everyone!  Been a bit, but everything is going well.  Over the last month or so, I’ve spent some serious quality time with the lady and Grace!  Things have been pretty chill, so I can’t complain.  Louie has gotten most of her gardening out of the way and the little one is almost done school.  (Can’t believe she’s almost into Kindergarten!)

During the break, I noticed that Grace (the lil one) has been more and more interested in gaming.  First, it started with me and her playing Super Mario 64, Pokemon Snap! and Mario Kart.  Now she’s been asking for more time on my PS4, with Louie helping her out with Nom Nom Galaxy.  Which is an indie game, where you explore a planet in order to make soup!  Currently, that is her favorite and I can’t blame her.

Just so you know, Grace.  This is the only place daddy will allow you to hold a circular saw!  Oh, that and launching rockets in the house.

I mean, how many kids get the chance to make soup in outer space and ship it off in a rocket to other aliens?!

Now, for a long time, I was a bit apprehensive about her playing, despite me being a serious gamer.  But I soon realized over this month, that was an inevitability or I had to quit gaming altogether.  After all, our children always want to be just like us and are our direct reflection of ourselves.

Funny enough, though!  I think she’s been playing for little too much in recent days and needs to take a break.  Perhaps it’s about time, Louie and I have a talk about rationing that time out, vice asking for it RIGHT away, after coming home.

BTW, how’s everyone doing?  ANYBODY HOOOOME????

 

Playing Final Fantasy VII again…this had me on the floor!! :D

Cloud:     OKAY!!!  All Geared up, right guys?!  LET’s GOOOOOO!!

 

 

YEP!!! Ruby Weapon is like Andre the Giant of bosses.

Now put that in your pipe and smoke it!!

Courtesy of:

http://beermumbo.com/andre-the-giant/

(ALSO SOME GREAT STORIES ABOUT HIS LEGENDS IN BEER DRINKING!!)

Just throwing this out there…

For anyone whose played Watch Dogs and MGSV.  Watch these videos and tell me how similar they are…

Watch Dogs combat demo

Now look at Metal Gear Solids V 

(FYI THIS VIDEO IS LONG, SO WATCH A LITTLE OF IT!)

All I have to say is…