Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day Z: Day 0

Author's Note:  The following is a work of fiction.  These events are based on my gameplay of the Arma II mod: Day Z.  Day Z is a game in alpha development where you must survive against infinite zombies and players who will shoot you for a can of beans.  I'm writing these for writing practice as well as free entertainment for anyone interested in reading my story.

Survivor Viljo - Day 0
It was a miracle that I survived long enough to make it to Chernarus. The outbreak on the USS Stockdale happened fast. Most of the crew knew of the zed rumors.  No one expected an outbreak on the ship. The ship was overrun in under an hour.  Those of us with any sense of survival knew that the only escape required we leave the ship.
Forty of us made it onto an LCAC.  The USS Stockdale was too far out at sea for the LCAC to make it to the shore.  Our mission objective at this point was to get us as close as possible and drift the rest of the way.  The plan went smooth initially.  Land could be seen from our location.  What our scope also revealed was the zed.  Adrift, the survivors of the USS Stockdale discussed our next step.
Fate intervened.  A fishing boat approached us from Skalisty Island.  A few of the crew tried to wave them down for aid, but many of us were skeptical.  We had little firepower on our vessel due to the nature of our retreat.  If they were hostile, we were in trouble.
They were.
The open fired, mowing down several of our crew.  Planning was out of the window as survival became our only option.  In order to survive, we had to brave the watery depths.  Those of us still alive, scattered after shots were fired.  I have no idea how survived.
I washed up on the shore not far from Drakon. The glint of steel from Elekrozavodsk, Electro as I took to calling it, could be seen from my beach location. I had little gear and if I was going to survive, I needed to find something fast. I could have followed the coast to the east, but decided the closer city was my better choice. There’d be more, but more loot to find.
I’d like to say I did well at first heading into Elekro. It didn’t take too much running around to figure out what it took to shake of the zed. It wasn’t a perfect system, but I avoided getting eaten alive. I hadn’t been in the city for long before I got very lucky. I found myself an AK47 off of a dead Russian solider. He only had a few clips, not much, but enough to make me feel comfortable.
I huddled until dark in a corner of an abandoned building before setting out in the dark to find more supplies. I was hungry and badly in need of food. I found a few scraps here and there as well as some medical supplies and some emergency flares. I really wanted to light them up, but I did not want to attract zed.
In the end, I was glad I went out at night for supplies. It didn’t work out the best in the world for me. I hit a residence and a hotel. Saw a local survivor run by, never got a good look at him. Kept my AK47 ready in case he came after me. No one appeared. After a long wait, I ventured back out, found some more supplies in a church and then made a run for a nearby firehouse.
This time, my luck failed me. I was noticed by a couple of zombies. I ducked past the gate, ducked inside the firehouse and turned. My AK47 served me better than its previous owner and downed my pursuers. Unfortunately, this alerted the attention of a few more nearby zombies. I had expended more ammo that I had wanted, but I was alive.
I closed up the firehouse and began scavenging for supplies. I had a good stock of bandages now, lots of flares, and quite a few drinks. What I really needed was food, and I wasn’t finding any of that inside. It was getting late, and between my swim and my run, I needed a place to hide out for the night. I was overtaxed and had a lapse of judgment. I climbed my way up a tower in the firehouse to look at the city of Elektro for a place to retreat to for the night.
As I peered out a window to get a glimpse of the surrounding area, a sniper shot me.

Gameplay Note:  My first character lasted about thirty minutes.  I ran to a town, triggered some zombies, ran away and managed to lose them.  From that point forward, I knew this first character was dead.  I played conservatively at first to learn how to avoid zombies and then experimented to see what does and doesn't alert zombies.  One of my experiments failed.  As I do my play through, I will note all character deaths as they happen.  The above is my second character.

Friday, July 20, 2012

2012 King of the Hill: I'm Batman!


The Dark Knight Rises Above The Grey
Yes, you heard that right.  I announced the winner in the freaking title.  This movie rocked.  It was two hours and forty five minutes of pure awesome.  The story is very busy and there are a lot of details that were cut to keep this movie from being a week in film length.  The gaps are obvious, but the transitions are handled respectfully.  The movie jumps eight years from the second film and has an almost three month jump in the middle of it.  You miss pieces of that-  wait, hold that thought.

For those who do not know, the 2012 King of the Hill Movie Challenge is my system for determining the best movie of year that I saw. One movie from each month will be selected and, at the end of the year, I will do a tournament style showdown where they will take each other on until the final movie has been selected. Bracket placement will be determined by the number of movies the monthly movie faced and won.

There we go.  Now where was I?  Oh yeah, spoilers.  Spoilers.  And more spoilers.  The Dark Knight Rises is the final installment of the latest Batman releases.  And it provides you with a very satisfying conclusion.  There are spoilers further down in this review for both this movie and The Avengers.  Honestly, I could talk about many points about this film, there is a lot to discuss, but instead of getting into the finer details, I'm going to talk about a tweet I made.

The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers
I made tweet after seeing the movie about The Dark Knight Rises does something that The Avengers did not do right.  Before I get into this deeply, you need to know that I firmly believe Iron Man is Marvel's Batman.  Both are millionaires without super powers that rely on their use of inventions to fight crime.  Through complete coincidence, The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers both have a nuclear device as part of the plot.

In The Avengers, a nuclear missile is fired at Stark Tower to destroy the aliens and shut down the portal.  Iron Man responds to this by navigating the missile into the portal and ultimately defeats the aliens.  The weapon is incidental, adding a bit of tension and providing a last minute tool that can be used as a weapon to win.  Iron Man's choice to fly the weapon into the portal is a bit of character development.  Though the development is nice, the act is weakened by the fact the weapon is a last minute, external addition to the conflict that conveniently used to resolves the conflict.

In The Dark Knight Rises, the bomb is part of the plot from the very first scene though you don't realize it until half-way into the film.  It is the reason the government (and any other DC Super Heroes) aren't involved in the events in Gotham City.  It is the reason why the citizens of Gotham can't leave the city.  It is the reason why everyone has to work through blood, sweat, and tears to stop Bane.  After everything else has failed, the ONLY option is for Batman to remove the bomb from the city.  It isn't development either.  We know that Batman has given everything  for this city but his life.  It is inevitable that this is what must be done.  No one tries to talk him out of it.  It is understood.  And in this act, the Bruce Wayne Batman is no more.  A permanent, necessary sacrifice.

So, in The Avengers, Iron Man is given a convenient threat used for character development and conflict resolution.  In The Dark Knight Rises a similar threat exists, but throughout and the conclusion is not development, but the resignation that we the viewers must accept.

The Dark Knight Rises and DC Comics
In the same tweet mentioned above, I also said that The Dark Knight Rises did something that DC Comics could not do.  Actually, the truth of the matter, The Dark Knight Rises does multiple things better.  First of all, it passes the mantle.  If (and this is a pretty big if) Warner Brothers plans to do a Justice League movie properly, they can bring in a new Batman.  Even if they decide to not do the Justice League, they still have an opportunity to do more Batman with a new man behind the cape.  And, at the same time, they can end with the third movie and it ends, perfectly.  DC, however, cannot seem to bring themselves to end the Bruce Wayne reign of Batman.  Sure, he has had people wear the cape before.  Sure, Bruce Wayne has retired.  However, between the reboots, the new universes, and the inability to end a legend, Bruce Wayne is always back and behind the mask.

That's not the ONLY thing that The Dark Knight Rises did better.  The Dark Knight Rises actually surprised me when Bane detonated the explosives.  I jumped up in my seat as I watched the bridges explode and collapse.  You see, I actually have read the No Man's Land arc of Batman.  In No Man's Land, an earthquake severs Gotham from the rest of the world.  The city turns to chaos and the government declares it  a wasteland, unable to be saved.  In the story, Batman is gone from the city for three months as he, as Bruce Wayne, tries to get the government involved.  The city is without Batman for all that time and only underground police work is providing any sense of hope.

Yet, at the same time, the movie also managed to cover the events of Knightfall.  Knightfall is, well, basically the story of Batman getting his back broken by Bane.  It isn't a paraplegic break, but enough to disable him for a good portion of the movie.  If that's not enough, the movie actually managed to secretly slip in ANOTHER classic bat villain.  But, unless you are really sharp, you probably won't know it's coming until it is revealed.

The point here is that Christopher Nolen took TWO classic Batman stories, merge them together, make them better, and slip in another classic villain in such a way that it isn't painful.  And, then they end the legacy of Bruce Wayne all at the same time.  If that isn't impressive, I don't know what is.

2012 King of the Hill: July Clean-Up

I thought it would have won...
Another Battle Royale
I just got back from The Dark Knight Rises and this movie needs a detailed review.  To get there, I need to clean out my ENTIRE July list of movies.  Yes, that's right, it is time for another speed review.  Nine films, four rounds, and all of it will be absolute chaos as I knock down the list to one film to go head-to-head with The Dark Knight Rises.

For those who do not know, the 2012 King of the Hill Movie Challenge is my system for determining the best movie of year that I saw. One movie from each month will be selected and, at the end of the year, I will do a tournament style showdown where they will take each other on until the final movie has been selected. Bracket placement will be determined by the number of movies the monthly movie faced and won.

Round 1:  Bolt The Grey v Hugo

Bolt was the first movie that I watched this month and it was a good flick.  Bolt is an animated film about a stunt dog that thinks he has super powers.  After accidentally getting shipped to the other side of the country, he joins forces with a cat and a hamster to make his way back to his owner.  The movie was a great film, a bit emotional at times, and had a very satisfying ending.

The Grey is a must see film.  It is a powerful film that delves deep into the male psyche.  Liam Neeson plays a sharpshooter in Alaska.  His job is to protect the oil workers from wolves.  When the plane they are on crashes in Alaskan wilderness, he leads a group of survivors across the harsh wilderness before the wolves claim them.  The survivors are society's undesirables.  Yet, as the story progresses, you feel and connect with each of them.  The movie is a story of survival from yourself as much as surviving the world around you and impacted me to my very core.  My only complaint was my disappointment with the ending, but I understand it.

Huge sucked.  I hated it.  'Nuff Said.

Winner:  The Grey

Round 2:  True Grit v We Bought a Zoo v Sherlock Holmes

True Grit is a Coen Brother's western about a young girl played by Hailee Steinfeld.  She is seeking revenge for the death of her father.  She hires a US Marshal played by Jeff Bridges.  The US Marshall is less than satisfying for her needs.  The film is a dark story of the fall from innocence and the less that glorious truth behind western justice.  True Grit was a great film and I enjoyed it enough to call it my favorite Coen Brother's film.

We Bought a Zoo is a cute movie about a father of two trying to start a new life after the death of his wife.  The story is cute, heart warming, and more importantly, entertaining.  It is one of the better films out there about grieving for a loved one.  It isn't the best film in the world, but I enjoyed it all the same.

Sherlock Holmes was a movie I was afraid to watch and glad I finally did.  I'm a big fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.  If there is one thing that this movie proved, it is that the marketing department of big movie houses suck.  The trailer for this film, made the movie like it would have no grounded connection to Conan Doyle's work.  The trailer was a lie.  This film hit the real Sherlock Holmes perfectly.  It was great film and I'm glad I finally got around to watching it.

Winner:  Sherlock Holmes

Round 3:  Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist v A Beautiful Mind v The Fall

This is a simple round because I hated two of these three films.  Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist wasn't a great film.  The term "hipster" definitely applies to this film.  Still, it was a cute film that was amusing and I liked watching it.

A Beautiful Mind is about a genius with schizophrenia.  The movie is unnecessarily long and is more focused on the life of John Nash (Russell Crowe).  The movie spends most of the screen time focusing on John Nash's life and struggle of social awkwardness and less about his issues with schizophrenia.  Actually unexplained by the film, those strange behaviors of John Nash are symptoms of his illness.  This movie, basically uses a unique story of a real person with schizophrenia to make a good story.

There is one good lesson to be taken from The Fall.  Alice was the one who pointed this out, and I think that it is worth mentioning.  Stories don't just belong to the creator; they belong to the audience as well.  This movie is basically about an asshole who manipulates a young girl so that he can attempt to commit suicide.  I did not like the movie at all.

Winner:  Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Final Round:  The Grey v Sherlock Holmes v Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

The Grey and Sherlock Holmes both easily blow Nick and Norah out of the water.  The Grey and Sherlock Holmes are both good films.  They both had great stories.  Deciding which of these two films has been a struggle.  Though I greatly appreciate seeing a high quality Sherlock Holmes film, I cannot overlook the amazing work that is The Grey.  The Grey is an original story with an atypical ending and it leaves you feeling drained, but in a powerful way.  The movie was too good to be bested by the world's best detective.

Winner:  The Grey