Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

I want to start this off saying that Guardians of the Galaxy, (the first one), is my favorite MCU, (Marvel Cinematic Universe), movie and one of my favorite comic book movies, (Kingsmen holds number one if you’re curious). I would also like to add that if you haven’t already seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, I’m going to spoil a lot of things for you, so be warned.

With that out of the way, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 starts the film out the right way with one of the best opening credit scenes: a toddler Groot dancing to Mr. Blue Sky by Electro Dance Orchestra. The music really sets the tone for the film, but since it is a sequel we can’t help comparing it to its predecessor and in comparison to the first Guardians, the music is definitely used better in the first. Now that isn’t a knock on how Vol. 2 used its soundtrack, the music is wonderfully woven into the movie making those great moments even better. Tyler Bates, the composer, and James Gunn, the director, have created this wonderful blend of film and music that really makes the music a staple in this franchise.

With this being the sequel, one of the things they didn’t have to worry about was getting the team together, that gives them some room to flesh out the Guardians more. Gunn does a wonderful job at giving these lovable characters a couple more layers. One that was really quite surprising was Yondu (Michael Rooker), when we learn why he never took Peter (Chris Pratt) to Ego (Kurt Russell), who is, you know, just trying to use his children as batteries to make the universe nothing but him. We also learn that Yondu lost his Ravager title long ago and has been flying a false flag. Sylvester Stallone plays Stakar Ogord, (one of the original comic book Guardians and leader of the Ravagers in the MCU), and plays a big role in Yondu’s closure as a character (Spoiler: he’s dead and gets a proper Ravagers funeral). Rocket, (Bradley Cooper), is just one of those tough guy characters with a soft heart who actually cares for his friends but shows it by being an asshole; and yeah, it was nice to get a little more of the lovable asshole raccoon but his story was just easy to see where it was headed. Another storyline that felt a little flat, but I was glad I got a little more of ,was Gamora, (Zoe Saldana), and Nebula (Karen Gillan) Their story, like Rocket’s, was easy to pinpoint where it was headed. It isn’t a knock on how they performed, they did a wonderful job, it was just not wonderfully written.

One of the problems with the first film was Ronan the Accuser. In Vol. 2, it somewhat leads you to believe that Ayesha,(Elizabeth Debicki), and The Sovereign were the villains even though they honestly really aren’t. The Guardians are, specifically Rocket, the ones who stole the Anulax batteries from them. The Sovereign are actually just trying to get back their stolen goods, which is a pretty honorable thing if you ask me. Then there’s Ego, the celestial planet who uses his children from all over the universe for his own plans. Kurt Russell does such a wonderful job winning you over, playing catch with his son making you think he actually cares for a relationship with his half celestial son. In some weird way he did want a relationship with Peter, he just went at it in a terrible way. Learning from the first Guardians, Gunn gave us more time with the villain, giving us more time to learn his motives and appreciate his character.

CLOSER:

While I do have some issues with the film, all in all it’s really fun ride and with some great character stories; and some not so great ones. That’s why Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 gets a 4.0. Go out to the movies, watch Guardians Vol. 2 or watch a shitty movie, just go out and watch a movie and enjoy the media. Make sure you give them your money so they can keep on doing what they’re doing.

(4.0/5)

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Preview: Hover: Revolt of Gamers

Before beginning this preview, Dwellers Included would like to break the editorial norm and speak in the first person for a moment: we haven’t had this much fun just screwing around in a game since Jet Set Radio came out on the Dreamcast. No, you aren’t a gang of rollerskaters trying to vandalize the entirety of Tokyo-to with your personal tag while evading the police. In Hover: Revolt of Gamers, you’re part of a group of kids who are trying to essentially do the same thing with the addition of a few customization aspects. You play as an unnamed character, (you design their color scheme and give them a name), who is part of a group of youths who have the ability to hover around DStown with these super nifty suits, grinding and performing tricks everywhere.

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You’re friends give you a series of different missions that will test your ability in performing tricks and being able to do things like wall grinding and deliveries. You are rated on how quickly you do these trials and I’ve gotta say, some of these are much harder than you could imagine. Sure, the game focuses on the whole hover aspect, but sometimes the fluidity of it all forces you to over-jump a landing or completely miss your mark. It could be a little frustrating, but then you find yourself pressing the R button to rewind, allowing you to literally retrace your steps up to a certain point to try that jump again. You can’t really be upset when you’re given the tools to retry almost immediately; it’s whether you remember that the button is at your disposal or not.

The aforementioned missions are given to you by other teammates on your squad, (ahem, Team N-Asty). These missions grant you different abilities that allow you to level up different parts of your suit for better handling. Pretty much anything you do will level you up in that aspect and make you a better… hover-er? Alongside some of these difficulty missions is a whole playlist of music that mixes funk with hip-hop to create some of the most fun music I’ve heard in a game in quite some time, (next to Persona 5).

It isn’t an exact replica, no, but there are plenty of aspects about Hover: Revolt of Gamers that feels nostalgic and gives players the freedom to just play a game and have fun. Midgar Studios have done an incredible job bringing back the leisure of playing a game without the frustration of trying to play through an engrossing story and enhanced game mechanics. In this game, you’re free to hover around and do tricks while leveling up your character and playing with your friends. The game is single-player; however, there are certain missions in which it seems as though others could join you, hopefully meaning that this will eventually be a multiplayer game.

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Considering that this is the alpha of the final game, there are a few flaws regarding misspelled words and the vibrancy of the world itself. Since you do have the ability to tag over the propaganda put out by the anti-leisure tyranny, sometimes the colors of the tag jump off of the walls and are displayed as colorful orbs that don’t go away. Sometimes, the colors do get a little distracting and blow up to take over the screen, but that hasn’t happened enough times to find annoying.

The game officially hits Steam on May 31; meaning, the game will no longer be an alpha after that date. It is currently available to purchase for $19.99 and let me tell you, if you’re a fan of mindless fun and dope beats, you will not be disappointed.

Check out the trailer for the game below:

A preview copy was provided for the purpose of this preview.

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series – Episode 1: Tangled Up in Blue

Yes, the first episode came out a while ago and yes, we know we are a little late to the show; but, we only just picked up the Season Pass disc and that wasn’t released until just a couple of days ago. So, Episode 1 of Telltale’s latest adventure delves into the lives of this group of misfits as they roam the galaxy as the famed Guardians of the Galaxy. The Nova Corps asks them to face Thanos as he is on a nearby Kree planet searching for some kind of relic. The Guardians kill Thanos, using a powerful gun created by Rocket Raccoon, and celebrate their victory, Star-Lord himself drinking out of the cup-shaped relic that Thanos had found. As opposed to the blockbuster film, this is where you’re able to delve more into the personalities and thoughts of each of the Guardians, (even though Groot doesn’t really have a whole lot to say).

Stepping away from the story for a moment, the physical look of the game is something that I believe needs to be talked about: this game would have definitely benefit physically with the outlined look of games like Tales From the Borderlands and The Walking Dead. Besides that, the game looks stunning in both the aspect of detail to the environments and on character design. Mechanically, it also plays very well considering you are essentially playing as the Guardians as a whole. When you’re playing the game itself, you control Star-Lord, but when you’re working on quick-time events, you essentially play as all of them. That being said, you make all the decisions and moves as Star-Lord, a charming and witty guy who fights within the means of his team and for the protection of the galaxy: a very specific kind of character.

Many of the choices in the game require you to behave as you would normally, making the choice you feel best fits the situation. Playing as Star-Lord, I found myself making decisions that I felt he would make instead of what I would do. Yes, there are plenty of people who are playing the game without already knowing about the characters beforehand, but some responses just happen to feel all too genuine while others feel as though they were put there just to give the illusion of decision making. There are some very important decisions you do have to make. Like, whether you should listen to Rocket or Gamora about who to sell Thanos’ body to or who you should take with you to explore the Kree warship. Those decisions do build up tension within the team and kind of leaves you feeling like you need to make sure you don’t piss everyone off; however, it would have been nice to feel like I’m more in control of my decisions as myself, not as Star-Lord.

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Clocking in at a little bit over an hour, the first episode of Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series really does open up the story in a very interesting and intriguing way. The ending leaves a lot of questions unanswered while forming a million new questions as well. Fortunately, the series has much to explore in the ways of exactly who our characters are and why they are the way that they are. It feels as though the game is going to take a very serious turn in the coming episodes and give these characters a story worth remembering. I mean, exactly how many moms are there who ask alien hunters to care for their kids should something happen to them?

CLOSER:

While the game might not look as physically appealing as other Telltale games, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series really gives these Marvel characters the attention they deserve in a story about just one of their many misadventures. This episode really does leave me with high expectations for the upcoming episodes between the fluidity between members during quick-time events and more insight into this incredibly interesting story.

Released on April 18, 2017

Developed and Published by Telltale Games

Reviewed on PS4

(3.5/5)

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A review copy was provided for the purpose of this review.

Review: Banner Saga Complete Pack with Survival Mode

With their world coming to an end, an army of Dredge are sweeping across the land and they must fight to survive against Varl, Human, and Dredge alike. Traversing across this hand painted landscape, you  craft your own story in this beautiful world that seems to be falling apart while learning bits and pieces of the world and its inhabitants, each having their own motivations and striving for their own goals. Create a team along your journey to band with you and help survive what seems to be the end of your world.

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The Banner Saga has been out for some time now, and I’m sure some of you have heard of it and others haven’t, and that’s fine, we won’t say you’re uncultured or anything like that, (but you are). Stoic has really done something wonderful with this series and have created such a beautiful and captivating world with it’s own set of captivating characters to match. It’s surprise to say that The Banner Saga was the first Game developed by Stoic Studios, with it all coming together so beautifully.

The first thing you’ll notice when you start playing The Banner Saga is how beautiful this game is; from the characters, to the backgrounds, even the animations, every visual aspect of the game is absolutely stunning. The most minimal things will catch your eye, like a flock of birds soaring across the sky above your caravan, or the details in each of the characters designs and animations. What really ties the animations and the world all together is the game’s score and how well it’s used, even in the most minimal ways. When you’re having a conversation between characters and you can hear the world going on in the background, it sound so authentic; it just makes the world all fit together. The score really shines when you’re traveling with your caravan from one town to the next, getting the beautiful landscape shots alongside the great music going on in the background. There is some minor voice acting, but the little voice acting done is absolutely wonderful, it’s so engaging and powerful. Not only is it well done, but it’s also perfectly placed, giving that extra ‘oomph’ to the story.

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After you get over how beautiful The Banner Saga is, you start see how engaging the story and characters can be. Jumping from different points of view in the beginning of the story, allowing you to create your own ideas an opinions of the world and characters. With some interesting choice-based mechanics, every decision you make affects you in some way. The decisions you make also affect the characters around you, which may cause you to lose some of your party. Not only do you have to worry about your party members along the way, but you also have your caravan to take care of. There are plenty of ways to handle the caravan and you can either care for them or let them take care of themselves; however, how you handle the caravan and its morale can affect your party members in various ways. The caravan really adds something interesting to the game, opening it up to more than just a strategy RPG.  

With all the great The Banner Saga utilizes, it does have some hiccups. One of the things that stood out the most to me was the lack of customizing to your party. You know, maybe I’d like to throw a dope-ass cloak over Rook, or maybe give Gunnulf a badass long sword. Really, other than that, I would appreciate a couple more cutscenes just because they’re absolutely beautiful and really adds to the beautiful story.

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The Banner Saga 2 is a direct sequel from the first one, and you can choose to continue with the path you ended in the first game or make that one crucial change to the end of the game. It does have some new features, and they do add plenty of cutscenes which was something I wanted more from the first one. The gameplay and art style are still the same, which is totally a plus. We also get to spend some more time with the cast and world of the first game, building on the lore and making the world feel more alive and natural.  

One of the new features I enjoyed in The Banner Saga 2 was the caravan. They really made the caravan more vital to the game, with the more clansmen you have the more they can go forage for you; but, you can now train your clansmen to become fighters and give you a bigger advantage on the battlefield. Once your clansmen become fighters, you’ll start getting less supplies when your clansmen go out to forage. It really adds a new dynamic to your caravan and opens up the gameplay a little more.

The really aren’t many differences on gameplay mechanics from the first to the sequel, and the story is still just as great and engaging. Stoic continues to hit the ball out of the park with The Banner Saga and if you’re a fan of strategy games, I definitely recommend it. I actually implore you to play this masterpiece of a video game series.

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Stoic didn’t stop there they also added a survival mode, which is pretty obvious with a name like that you’re going through different levels, taking on the Dredge with a set of heroes, unlocking new ones or upgrading the current ones you have. There’s a small story for you to tie all the levels together but it’s nothing crazy and it makes it a little more engaging. What the survival mode does great is allowing you to fall back into the wonderful mechanics of the game without the weight of the story on your shoulders, making you slightly less nervous in each battle.

CLOSER:

Like I said earlier, Stoic just hits it out of the park whenever they step into this world; even in a small mini game they added to just please fans.  I can’t stress enough how wonderful these games are. From the gameplay, to the art style, to the lore of the world, The Banner Saga series is one of the best strategy series today and I would even say that it’s almost on par with the XCOM series.

With that said I’m going to give the Banner Saga Complete Pack a 4.5, Which you can pick up On the PlayStation Store, and the Xbox Store for $37.99.

Released on March 16, 2017

Developed by Stoic Studios

Published by Versus Evil

Reviewed on PS4

(4.5/5)

A review copy was provided for the purpose of this review.