I’m doing it again.
I have this terrible habit of buying a series game, and then deciding that I need to go back and play the last one before I jump into the shiny newness. So I picked up Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, ran smack into the Fergus vs. Wyatt choice, and decided to go back and play Wolfenstein: The New Order before I went any further.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t remember which choice I made–all I had to do was skim through the achievements to figure that out–it was just a sense of being disconnected from the story line. I do this a lot. When Watch Dogs 2 came out, I replayed Watch Dogs first. Sometimes I’m glad that I did; other times, it ends up feeling unnecessary.
In this case, I’m glad I decided to revisit The New Order before I moved on… because damn, I forgot nearly everything about it. It’s coming back to me as I advance through the game, but one thing that keeps surprising me is Order‘s sense of humor. I completely forgot about how weirdly funny the game was at times. I mean, let’s face it–when you’re knee-deep in Nazis or moving through piles of bodies and clouds of flies, it’s hard to imagine anything being funny.
The lines that Blazkowicz delivers after killing a giant nasty death robot, for example, are funny as hell.
The latest Wolfenstein games have done something nobody really bothered with before: they made Blazkowicz human. He was never a particularly nuanced character. Ok, in the early games, he was pretty much just a Nazi-killing machine. The new Blazkowicz is far more thoughtful, and his internal musings make it clear that he’s not just out to kill shit. He genuinely feels horror and disgust at what the Nazis do, and he wants to put an end to it and make the world a better place.
He’s also unexpectedly funny at the strangest times, and I think that’s something we really needed. It can’t all be Nazis and dogs and robots and giant robots and robot death machines and blood and yuck. The game is grim, and finding a tiny bit of funny here and there along the way is a welcome relief.
And the opposite of that is…
In the Mass Effect universe, Shepard and Ryder are heroes. Heroes can be dicks, but no matter what choices you make, the end result = hero. You’re going to save the galaxy, one way or the other. Or at least give the galaxy a chance to survive whatever evil is trying to mess with it. It’s hard for me to be an asshole in games like that. It just feels wrong.
Which means that I end up bouncing around the galaxy being noble and good and omgimgonnabarf. Being a dick feels wrong, but after awhile, all that uprightness starts to feel sticky and gross. Occasionally getting to choose to do something like, say, boot a guy off a building… well, it helps. I mean, that guy totally deserved it, right?
Mass Effect: Andromeda presented such an option during the second phase on Eos, and it was amazing how cathartic it was. Ryder is young, and nobody expected him/her to become Pathfinder, so I found myself feeling defensive and irritable on Ryder’s behalf an awful lot. Lots of people seem to expect Ryder to fail. Random citizens scream at you. That jerkwad Tann acts like a sleazy politician who’s all about taking credit for your success, but he’ll obviously throw you under the bus in a hot minute if you fail. Cora keeps moping around because she didn’t get to wear the big hat. Your crew is kind of a pain in the ass, especially in meetings.
Getting the chance to just take a bitch out helped. A lot. After, I kept hearing Margot Robbie in my head saying, “Now, that was gangster.” (*Video contains spoilers.)
Crisis on Earth X, part 2.
Let’s start with… thank you. Not that I think Felicity and Oliver will live happily ever after, but at least all that marry/don’t marry crap is over. Barry and Iris finally got hitched, too, so wedding shenanigans are over. (Unless… no. Over. Over!)
I have to admit, I never really liked Stein. Or Jax. I disliked them both in the beginning. Really, I wasn’t a big fan of the whole Firestorm thing in general. Stein was annoying, and Jax was kind of a whiner. Apparently they grew on me, though, because Stein’s death had more of an impact than I thought it would. I found myself thinking, “It doesn’t matter that Jax doesn’t have superpowers–he’s the mechanic! They still need him!”
Watching Overgirl (not the dumbest name ever, but definitely high on the list) explode was pretty climactic, but watching Nazi Oliver react to her death was a much more powerful moment. No matter what he said, he came across as a bit cold. Seeing him genuinely affected by her death could have been interpreted as trying to make him sympathetic, but I found myself thinking of it as more of a teachable moment. How many families had Nazi Oliver destroyed? How much suffering and despair had he wreaked upon others? Now he knew how it felt. At least, he knew how it felt for a few seconds, before Earth-1 Oliver put an arrow in his chest.
It’s amazing to me how DC television can get so many things right, while DC movies get so many of the same things wrong. I couldn’t really get into any of the new Superman/Batman stuff, and having not-Grant Gustin playing the Flash just made me feel even more alienated from the movies. We’ve been cheering on Gustin’s Barry for three years now, and suddenly we’re supposed to invest in some other guy? Some other guy isn’t the Flash. Sorry. Not right now, anyway. And the trailers made it worse. The movie Flash came across as a smirking douchbag to me, which isn’t really motivating me to watch another DC movie. I enjoyed Suicide Squad, but the Cavill/Affleck stuff leaves me cold. So cold that I haven’t watched Wonder Woman yet, even though everything I’ve heard makes it sound like a definite improvement.
Speaking of superheros…
I’ve been watching Runaways, and I have to say it’s been a nice surprise. Yes, it’s a bit high-school-centric, but hell, so’s Riverdale, and I keep watching that. The Runaways haven’t actually, uh, run away yet, so the show is giving us some time to get to know the characters before things really kick off. I think that’s a smart move. Giving us some insight into the adults and their behavior avoids turning them into cardboard cutout bad guys, which helps make the kids more sympathetic.
Every time I watch it, I end up thinking about the title sequence. It’s bright and somewhat sinister at the same time, with imagery that foreshadows events to come. They pretty much nailed it. Runaways is basically a YA entry in the Marvel Universe, but don’t let that turn you off. So far, it’s worth watching. (And, ahem… James Marsters! Who still misses Spike? I still miss Spike.)
And we’ll randomly close this out with… Murderbrawl XXXI!