Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Esteemed Critic Reviews Civ 6, Shadow Warrior 2, Black Mirror

Look at all those wonderful little units about to do my bidding.

The Critic has been immersing himself in Polynesian shell art as of late and has only emerged from his studies to review two video games and a tv show so that he can pay the bills, which have been piling up, if you must know. Appreciation for fine art is at an all time low; nobody will pay me for my twenty-thousand word dissertation on how cubism changed queer culture, and I spent half a year writing it! Of course time spent on a piece does not automatically bolster its quality, but it's as good an indicator as any, as far as the Critic is concerned. Until I can sell my Cubism piece, I suppose my analysis of Manhattan toilets and their multitude of extraneous uses will have to wait.

Civilization 6: One of gaming's most venerable series, Civ 6 has the same base game every Civilization does. A lot has been tweaked beneath the hood, however, so much so that it will take some time for you to understand Districts and the new tech trees and Amenities and...wait, I guess I don't understand any of that. It doesn't matter though, because you'll want to play one more turn for your dopamine fix. It is really impossible to review a game in its nascent state that will consume months of your life. Let it suffice to say that, after fourteen hours, Civilization 6 is as addictive as ever. The game does have a Western view of history--Montezuma as the leader of the Aztecs? Gandhi as ruler of India? But who cares when your delightful little cartoon units are prancing about industriously, spurred on by their Puritan work ethic. Let it be known that I am a conqueror at heart, though I sometimes try for a Culture victory. Games are like a good bacchanal--it's all about roleplaying, baby.

It does not look nearly as good as this clearly doctored screenshot.

Shadow Warrior 2: Wild Hog's sequel to their 2003 reboot is something of a surprise. Instead of a throw-back shooter similar to this year's Doom reboot, we get a Diablo/Borderlands lootathon and procedural-generated maps. Loot in games has always stressed me out; I have enough junk lying about my house, I don't need my virtual inventory clogged with countless upgrades and stat-boosting detritus. Nearly every enemy slain in Shadow Warrior 2 will drop an upgrade that you can use to customize your weapons, of which there are many. The weapons are the best part of Shadow Warrior--you can make an acid-spitting chainsaw and dual katanas that shoot electrical beams. The non-PC humor falls flat, however. Lo Wang, your avatar, is basically a bad South Park joke. The story is also a mess this time out, for I found myself clicking through cutscenes just to get back to the action. Graphically, the game looks good most of the time, although human characters look as though they were stolen from Quake 2 (not a compliment). If your looking for a shooter, I would suggest the Doom reboot first. If you have any money left over, then maybe give Shadow Warrior 2 a try.

Black Mirror Season 3: Sort of a Twilight Zone for the tech generation, Netflick's Black Mirror is one of the better programs on the ubiquitous streaming service (which is nearly 3 billion in debt because of their original content). Indeed, the first episode, "Nosedive," featuring Bryce Dallas Howard in a pastel-coated future where every social interaction is rated on a five star basis, had the Critic deleting his Twitter account and scouring Facebook for needless personal information. There are a few duds, such as "Playtest," a predictable spin on the dangers of virtual reality, and "Hated in the Nation," about internet vengeance served through hacking a government nanobee program (I think I just coined a new word). But the horrors of "Shut Up and Dance," and the ethereal beauty of "San Junipero," which tells a tale about two women falling in love in a simulation for elderly people, will have you glued to the screen.

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