far cry 4

I finished farcry4 recently and while being a pretty decent shooter the story got a little weird. In a weirdly political derailment the ending(s) of the game became statements about corruption and power. The game has 2 possible endings based on decisions made throughout the campaign. A third option also exists provided you do nothing but let the character sit in a chair for 13 minutes.

Ending A is a crazed despot turning the country you’ve just liberated into a drug mill. Thus enslaving the briefly freed people as drug growers. The biggest problem I had with this was how sympathetic the character appears to be. Just about every hint you get seems to say the other ending is the worst one.

Option B is a crazed despot turning the country you’ve just liberated into a religious zealots dream. Complete with beheadings of infidels. The problem with this ending is that a character that has been touted as ridiculous important to everything just despawns and is gone. Just poof. No more Bhadra. So it’s not just a depressing ending it’s an incomplete one. It’s like the dev’s couldn’t be bothered to wrap it up.

There is no happy ending. No satisfying conclusion to all the violence and work your character has put in. It seems to be some sort of statement about power and how it corrupts. A grimdark parable of religious zeal and greed and ultimately it’s disappointing.

I don’t play video games to understand the heart of darkness. Instead of spending all that time fighting to save my little pixelated kingdom and bring peace and happiness to it farcry4 forced me to leave the place just as fucked as when I arrived. My experience in Kyrat completely meaningless.

Sometimes a guy just wants to save the fake world.

far cry 4

What I Learned from Samurai Jack Episode One

The Beginning

Plot (spoilers)
The opening sequence of the animated series Samurai Jack is a great example of show don’t tell storytelling. What little dialog is there is sparse and forced.

We follow along as the ancient evil Aku is freed from his prison and sets out for revenge against the Emperor that put him there. As the city falls around him he sends his son off with his mother to escape. The mother hands her child off to strangers and disappears into the mist. It is a seemingly odd action and if it were a little girl instead of a boy we would probably come to unsavory assumptions.

The story does not pause to explain itself and continues on briskly showing how the strangers teach the boy how to sail and use the stars for navigation. They reach the land and the sailing strangers give the boy to horseriding strangers and the horseriding strangers give him to African tribesmen. The montage goes on, showing us how this boy travels the world and learns from many cultures.

The boy returns home and finds his mother hidden away in a temple, she embraces him and passes down his father’s magical sword. He fights his way into Aku’s lair and frees his father from bondage. His father warns him of evil’s trickery before he faces down Aku.

Aku takes many different forms during the battle, a scorpion, an octopus, a towering statue. It is all to no avail as he is powerless against the magic sword. Right before Aku is completely vanquished he tells the son he will destroy him in the future and casts a spell that opens a hole that warps the samurai away.

What I learned:

The animation style of Samurai Jack is sparse, whole backgrounds remain unmoving while the action plays out in small sometimes miniscule parts of the screen. I love it.

One of the things I liked most about this episode is the absence of dialogue , in 26 minutes only about 100 words are spoken, everything is pushed ahead by visual cues. This allows for what I call visual reading. There is no one telling you anything so you must come up with your own dialog.

It is said that Stanley Kubrick felt like people never watched his movies that instead they listened to them. He combated this by not allowing the dialogue to progress the plot. Everything is in the frame. Pay attention.

The makers of this episode of Samurai Jack definitely make you pay attention and compared to the nonstop in-your-face action found in movies and cartoons these days it is a breath of fresh air.

What I Learned from Samurai Jack Episode One

Fiction: The Courier

The sounds–repetitive, squishy thuds—were beginning to wear Denizen’s patience thin. It was no longer a case of ‘softening up’ the man, his face was now a mess of blood and jagged flesh. His eyes had nearly swollen shut and each breath whistled loudly out of the hole that no longer resembled a nose.

“All right Tommy, ease up,” said Denizen.

Tommy, an overweight youth with lots of prison gained muscle, stepped back and away from his victim.

Denizen studied the man sitting bound in the old wooden chair.

“Do we know him?” he asked.

“Calls himself ‘the Courier,’” said the Contractor, a scrawny old man with an ever-present stub of a cigar stuck between his rotting lips.

The name stirred an image in Denizen’s mind. He saw the bloodied man standing in a room surrounded by fifteen or so dead bodies. One survivor had tried to run but was now gagging and sputtering blood every which way, a knife protruding out of the nape of his neck. The Courier had thrown the knife with his right hand; his left hand held a semi-auto pistol, blue-and-black steel had been molded together giving the lightweight weapon an unusual look. He stepped over one of the fallen men and movement caught his eye, one of the bodies was moving, trying to crawl, he stepped to it and ended its escape with a single bullet.

Continue reading “Fiction: The Courier”

Fiction: The Courier

What I Learned from Jack Reacher

“I am not. hero.”

Jack Reacher

Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike
Directed and Written by Christopher McQuarrie

My reviews usually have spoilers…

Continue reading “What I Learned from Jack Reacher”

What I Learned from Jack Reacher

i am a violent motion

I can remember the first time I ever saw a violent movie. It was at my father’s mother’s house one christmas. I was probably 10 or 11. The movie was on TV, in the background, volume low, nobody really paying attention. It was Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. I could only catch bits and pieces and they terrified me, my sheltered little brain had no way of dealing with the stimulation. It made me uncomfortable and insecure. My mother had tried very hard to shield me from violence. I was not allowed to watch movies with any sort of violence, no Tom and Jerry because violence is never to be laughed at. I could not have toy guns or toys that had guns. There were no little plastic army men for me. Any GI Joes that made it into my hands had all conveniently lost their accessories. When we were at other people’s homes and something was on TV that had any sort of violent scene I would be sent out of the room. It’s not hard to imagine why she was this way. I am her only child and the world is full of ideas and actions that could’ve taken me away. I was 8 when The Cleveland School Massacre happened less than a mile away from where we lived. I don’t remember it at all but it must have been horrifying for her.

I am enthralled by violence.

Continue reading “i am a violent motion”

i am a violent motion