2014 has come to an end. Another 365.25 days have come and gone. A year we had an Olympics, Midterm elections in America, and many celebrity losses, including Robin Williams. All I can say to this year ending is GOOD FUCKING RIDDANCE!
I mean it, I have nothing towards this ending year except contempt and furious anger. This year had nothing but hardships, tragedies, and frustrations for me. Such annoyances include, but not limited to, family loss, financial instabilities, horrible luck at the casinos, painful dental surgery, work-related stress, stress related weight gain, and weight gain-related lack of self confidence. In all honesty, I can think of one weekend this year that did not just happy, but happier than I think I will ever experience. But the negatives far, far outweigh the positives. And from conversations in and out of social media, I know I’m not alone. Fuck this year.
As such, making a blogger’s mandatory top ten list is much harder for both video games and movies for me. I only saw, maybe, 15 movies from 2014, and 7 of them sucked. And my video game playing, both retro and modern gaming had to be put to the side. I did manage to play plenty of new games on my aging PC and my brand spanking new PS4.
Thus, I came up with a new creation was made to summarize the year in a more detailed format. I give you my Four. Four movies and four video games that stand out and need to be accounted for. I mentioned the rules in a previous post, but if you didn’t get a chance to review, a quick recap of the rules.
The Rules of The Four
- One title must be selected in these 4, and only these 4 categories:
- Biggest Surprise
- Most Disappointing
- Absolute Worst
- The Best
- No Duplicates
- No Ties
- No Honourable Mentions
The idea is to make this a thought experiment. You can only choose 4 titles that and place them in the following categories. It’s diverse enough that you can use this for any categories, including movies, video games, books, sports, cars, or anything you are passionate about. For me, I’m listing off my Four in movies and in video games. Please comment on your four choices in any category you want. Let’s share our thoughts.
When I say, Biggest Surprise, I mean something that came out that exceeded any expectations I had going in. Something you can describe as “better than you thought it would be”. It could also be something you heard wasn’t good by other reviewers, but I liked nonetheless. It’s not necessarily the best of the year, nor does it necessarily mean you liked it, but it was the best example of something where sometimes, you really can’t judge a book by its cover. Or Author. Or size of the print.
Biggest Surprise (Video Games) – Hearthstone
I was there at Pax East 2013 when Blizzard announced Hearthstone. I didn’t get to see the presentation because I watched the Capcom announcement. But my friends, who were huge World of Warcraft fans, went. Apparently, the reception was relatively negative when it was announced, and people thought it was initially a joke. I was even told that people walked out of the presentation because they were so disappointed.
So when it came out this year, free to play with some in-game store for real money, I was originally hesitant. I mean, I hated World of Warcraft, and wasn’t interested in another free-to-play game, as I was playing League of Legends at the time. On the other hand, I was a fan of card games like Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-oh, and still play a lot of Texas Hold’em poker. Plus, it was getting a lot of buzz online.
So, I swallowed my pride and tried it out. And you know what, it’s so much fun.
The rules are incredibly easy, the cards are easy to understand, the graphics and artwork are bright and colourful, the music and sound effects are really uplifting and the fun is more than I expected. And the in-game store makes a lot of sense, as it’s not mandatory to win, but worth it to get booster packs. I realized that whenever I have some free time to kill, I get in a couple of games. It’s a true casual game that’s a lot of fun.
I totally recommend trying it out, if you’re like card games. If you already play it, add me to your friends list.
Biggest Surprise (Movies) – Divergant
Okay, let me make one thing clear. I don’t consider this movie to be fantastic. It would get my rating of “good” at most. I have a lot of questions about how this world works. Like, how accurate is this psychological test to determine what faction you belong to? What’s the purpose of a choosing ceremony if all teens are being tested? If you choose a faction that’s different from your result, doesn’t that make you Divergant by definition? Wouldn’t they check your choices with your results? Are they seriously going to make all the teens go through that ceremony? Wouldn’t that take a full year to get through everyone? And most importantly, if you were a teenager who got to choose which faction you belong to, why would you volunteer to be a farmer?
But needless to say, I heard all about, that it was nothing more than a Hunger Games ripoff. But to be perfectly honest, it’s not as bad as most reviewers are making it out to be. The acting isn’t bad, including Ashley Judd’s brief cameo and especially Kate Winslett’s villain character. The action scenes are pretty entertaining, and don’t abuse the shaky cam like the Hunger Games did.
I’m probably going to get reamed for this next sentence, but I really don’t care. I think Divergent is better than the Hunger Games. I think the characters in Hunger Games has more one-dimensional characters, has worse action scenes, and is just generally boring by comparison to Divergant. This doesn’t mean that I’ll be first in line to see the next movie, but it’s a movie that I think gets more of a bum rap than it deserves.
When I say, Most Disappointing, I mean something that didn’t live up to your expectations. Whether those expectations were too high to begin with or not, these are the titles that didn’t deliver on what was promised. Now, like before, that doesn’t mean that these titles were bad. In fact, one of them, I still thoroughly enjoyed. It just means that something about the title left a bad taste in my mouth.
Most Disappointing (Video Games) – Infanous: Second Son
I love the Infamous series of video games. I really do. I like them more than I like Uncharted. Infamous is about a world where regular people gain superhero-like powers, and you must choose the path of good or evil, and humans decide to fear and segregate the heroes. I love the lore, I love the world settings, and I love the characters. The controls are borderline perfect in execution, the powers you can collect and use, the setting is immersive, and the story is outstanding.
So when it came to the new game for the Playstation 4, I was really excited. And for the most part, I really think it’s an amazing game. The new protagonist is likeable, the supporting characters are unique and quirky and the villain is like the incarnation of Attitude Era’s Vince McMahon. Also the city is fully immersive and beautifully created, the new powers are so much fun to play with, and the fights and challenges are fun.
So why do I call it the most disappointing game of 2014? It’s the length of the game. I 100%’ed the game is less than 12 hours. That includes playing both Good and Evil stories, and collecting all the collectables and power-ups. That’s it. That, in my mind, is unacceptable and unforgivable. Especially when I bought the game at full price and it’s part of the new generation of video game consoles. Even with the side story DLC with Fetch as the playable character, it left me wanting so much more.
Sucker Punch, I love you guys, but next time you make an Infamous game, make it longer. Please?
Most Disappointing (Movies) – Godzilla
I already did an extensive review when it came out, but some things still need repeating. The biggest problem I have with this movie is that It’s a Godzilla movie where 1/5 of the whole movie is really Godzilla. And the movie was heavily advertised to have Bryan Cranston in it, and he was only in the movie for the first third only. It felt like one big bait and switch.
Now the parts where Godzilla was actually in it was really cool. It had the cool breath-fire-laser thing that he shot right into the creature’s mouth. And it had such an amazing Godzilla-like roar that matched the tone of the real Godzilla. This monster was much better than the 1998 Godzilla that not only looked more like a whale-lizard hybrid, and that one had so many opportunities to eat Matthew Broderick and chose not to.
You know that Phantom Menace edit some fan did that eliminated Jar Jar Binks from the whole movie, and made it more entertaining? Yeah, I need this done for this movie. Granted, it would only be 20 minutes or so, but still much better than watching the guy from Kick-Ass mope about how his girlfriend is the other Olson sister.
When I say, Absolute Worst, I mean the most vile, the most boring, the most frustratingly bad titles of the year. The one where after completing it, you declared it the worst you’ve ever seen. And even though that would be hyperbole, it’s not that far off the mark.
Absolute Worst (Video Games) – Destiny
Yeah, I admit, I bought into the hype. Literally. And to be perfectly frank, I have no idea why I did. I don’t like first person shooter games. Not everyone, mind you. I love Half Life 2 and Portal, I love the Metroid Prime series, and I regularly play Minecraft.
There are some positives to the game. The graphics are so beautiful, they are mesmerizing. The weapons are pretty fun to use, and the controls are very spot on.
But the gameplay is so repetitive that the pomp and pageantry of the presentation wear off really quickly. The character customization is laughable and shallow, with very little to offer in a selection. The story is so weak, but that’s because the full lore is online on their website instead of, you know, the game where it belongs. The random prize system is an absolute joke, and the boss battles are just not fun. And you have to grind to level 20 in order to get the best weapons. I only made it to level 16 before I realized it felt more like a job. Biggest purchase regret of the year.
Honestly, I don’t have much else to say. It’s a pretty game, but got boring way too fast. I felt the most ripped off spending money on this game.
Absolute Worst (Movies) – I, Frankenstein
Oh where do I begin with this hot mess of a movie? First, I know exactly what it was trying to be. It’s a mix of Van Hellsing and Underworld. Now, I consider Van Hellsing a guilty pleasure of sorts. The story and premise are silly, but Hugh Jackman made it a fun little adventure movie. And I consider the Underworld series mediocre at best, but I have to give credit to Kate Beckinsale for making a great performance in an action thriller, and a great premise of a modern battle between vampires and werewolves. (P.S. I’m always on team Werewolves, just not on Jacob’s side, that creepy, shirtless doofus).
But this abomination of a movie has been just all kinds of crap. First, of all the supernatural factions to choose from, why in Zod’s name would you have demons fighting gargoyles? I mean, even on paper that’s a stupid battle to witness. Not to mention the fact that for the demons to resurrect their fallen, they need Frankenstein’s notes of resurrection? Why? They are demons for crying out loud. Just send a tweet to your dark overlord master and he’ll send them back. Done! It makes no damn sense.
The biggest sin, outside of the crappy CGI fight scenes, nonsensical story, and horrendous acting, is the casting of the main protagonist. Hey! You know how Dark Knight was an awesome movie? Yeah, let’s get the normal looking guy who played Harvey Dent to play our Frankenstein! Brilliant. No offense to Aaron Eckhart. I love this actor. He was the saving grace in that Ben Affleck bomb Paycheck, and Thank You For Smoking is so underrated that it’s almost criminal. But this was a terrible role to choose. It didn’t fit. Plus Bill Nighy is in this, and he just flat phones in his performance. If you have Bill Nighy slack off in his overacting charm, your movie is really dead on arrival.
What makes this movie so bad is that it’s not even interesting enough to make fun of. It’s not like The Room, Birdemic, Battlefield Earth, Happening or After Earth where nitpicking the problems with the film are more entertaining than the film itself. I, Frankenstein is just dull from top to bottom.
When I say, The Best, I mean… Oh, you know exactly what I mean. It’s the best of the best. My personal favourite of all of 2014.
The Best (Video Games) – South Park: The Stick of Truth
RPG’s and I had a bit of a falling out. To this day, I still love the RPG games on my Super Nintendo, but almost all of the newer RPG’s that came out of the X-Box 360 and the Playstation 3 looked so bad, that I couldn’t get into it.
Then the South Park game came out, and I was blown away. Everything about this game is so much win.
Now keep in mind, I have not seen every episode of South Park, but I still loved the story, the hidden references to the episodes. And with top notch graphics and sounds, and less abrasive loading screens than most games, the experience felt so immersive that you felt you were actually playing an episode. And the comedy is spot on with the show. Even a guy like me who is not a fan of poop humour, I still found myself laughing hysterically.
Even the turn based battle mechanics worked incredibly well. The weapons and the magic all worked fluently, and didn’t feel like you were just playing repetitively. And the exploration of the stages felt gratified, finding all the secret items, like the hidden Chinpokomon, and entering the woods to land in 8-bit Canada. And the replayability is right there, to try the game with a new class.
It’s a rare game to say that I had a lot of fun and very little to say negatively. A lot of good games came out this year, including a lot of great independent games, but South Park was the most fun I had in a video game in 2015.
The Best (Movies) – Edge of Tomorrow (Live, Die, Repeat)
I had to think long and hard about what movie would I qualify as the best I saw this year. So I decided to narrow it down to any movie I saw more than once, which brought it down to 2 movies. After much self debating, I decided to go with the movie I want to watch again. And it ended up being the Science Fiction Groundhog Day, starring Tom Cruise.
Yeah, surprisingly Edge of Tomorrow was the best movie I saw this year. The story was absolutely fantastic. At first I thought it was going to be another simple science fiction movie, but the action was very well done. I loved the acting, I loved the battles, the montages, and the scenery. It had some well written dialogue and some funny moments that didn’t alter the tone of the movie. I even loved the mechanical suits they used in battle and training. Everything worked so well.
If you don’t know about the movie, it’s about a military soldier during an alien war who gains the abilities to repeat the same day to become a better soldier and to try to stop the war. Cruise’s character goes through an amazing path of character development that is just as intriguing as the combat scenes. And Emily Blunt’s character was absolutely amazing. Blunt plays an iconic warrior that survived an onslaught, but only because she got the same powers as Cruise has now, so she helps out in training and planning. It’s a great example of a strong female character. And that sword she uses is freaking amazing. She needs to be cast into more badass female protagonist roles. This movie proves she fits it perfectly.
This was definitely the year of great action movies, and even some great superhero movies. For me, Edge Of Tomorrow is one I have no issues with repeating.
So, that’s really all I can say. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to share your 4 in the comments. Also, keep an eye on this blog, as I want to work hard on getting back to my retro gaming reviews for 2015. Stay tuned around mid-to-end of January for the debut of the Randomizer (Title Pending) where a script I wrote randomly selects a game I own, and I must play and review. Also, coming soon, possibly later this year, a series called Gambler’s Fallacy (Title also pending), where we look at gambling side quests in gaming.
Also keep an eye out for my Twitch Stream as I plan on playing more games live. So far, all I have to go with it is my PS4, but once I get my new computer, I’ll be streaming a lot more retro games. Tell me what games you want me to play, and it might be played in the near future.
So with that, let’s welcome 2015 with open arms. As for 2014, well, Sayanara, Goodbye, and Piss Off. May a choir of singing devils stab your ears with flame-tipped pitchforks. Don’t come back. You will not be missed.