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Movies Review

Movie Review – Captain America: Civil War

note:  some spoilers

There’s a huge reason Captain America: Civil War works and Batman v Superman doesn’t, and that’s emotional investment.  I know Zack Snyder and DC/WB wanted to do thing their own way and not ape Marvel’s so far successful approach, but when you are rebooting two legendary characters and making significant changes, you need to get the fans used to these new versions.  We KNOW Tony Stark and Steve Rogers.  We’ve seen them overcome numerous obstacles, both separately and together.  They’ve fallen on hard times, been betrayed, beaten, come back stronger.  Mistakes were made, characters have evolved, things have changed.  It’s why we can believe Captain America, the guy who wears flag colors and beat the snot out of Nazis and HYDRA for his country, would now decide “the safest hands are still our own”.  Why we can believe Tony Stark, the rebel genius whose not a team player, admonished for his ‘ready-fire-aim’ mentality, would toe the line this time after never even looking for the line before.  Cap, since being unfrozen, was lied to by Fury, found out SHIELD was infiltrated by his greatest enemy, and then had to bail Tony’s ass out after one of his creations came within a hair’s breadth of destroying the Earth.  Tony for his part, finally has to come to grips with the fact that his first impulse may not always be his best.  And this time, it wasn’t just his own life getting torn to shreds, but the entire planet.

Batman V Superman just didn’t have that weight behind it.  WB wanted us to care about them fighting, and spent a lot of words during the movie hyping it up, and trying to tell us how important it was, but during Civil War?  Didn’t need a word of it.  I felt every punch in that final battle especially.  Tony, GUTTED by the horrific video of the Winter Soldier killing his parents, feeling the sting of their death again, the betrayal that Steve knew about it (remember in CA:TWS it was shown by Zola), lashes out.  The battle, which had so far been over an idea, becomes brutally personal.  I was enjoying the movie to that point, but at that point?  Riveted.

She's got her own fan art already! @marcusthevisual
She’s got her own fan art already! @marcusthevisual

Shifting gears a bit, it’s kind of amazing that I can be this far in and only now discussing everything else that happened in the movie.  We meet Spider-Man!  And it’s a poor, nerdy kid whose quippy yet awkward.  Tom Holland nails it.  BLACK PANTHER, I mean, come on.  His moves are unreal, he dismantles Bucky, but even in the midst of righteous anger over the death of his father, T’Challa can step back from his vengeance to serve justice.  What an example for the two sides fighting, eh?  The Russos made Florence Kasumba’s “Security Chief” (gotta be one of the Dora Milaje) more interesting in one scene with one line than BvS did for 90% of the characters in it.

If you are concerned this sounds too heavy, well, it’s got more weight than a lot of Marvel movies, but rest assured, it brings the funny.  Many of the best lines aren’t in the trailers, including the scene with Falcon and Bucky in the car, or Falcon fighting Spider-Man.  Or Ant-Man and the truck.  Even crazier, there was a character building moment or two for everybody.  OH, and much has already been said about the Vision and his dapper look – his relaxed home attire always slays me in his current comic, and I’m glad to see it here, but it’s his interactions with Wanda that are most interesting.  He isn’t yet to “even an android can cry” territory yet, but the groundwork is there.

Zemo, technically the villain since he really sets in motion the acts that get Avengers fighting Avengers, fares better than some of the recent Marvel villains.  Quite different from the comics but built with real, complex motivations.

As for flaws, I think the movie wasn’t as well paced out as The Winter Soldier.  Considering the sheer amount of content, that’s understandable.  With that, Captain America: Civil War can’t quite dethrone Iron Man and The Winter Soldier as my go-to Marvel movies, but it gets massive, Giant-Man sized points for being to pull off as many heroes and storylines as it did.

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PC Games Review

State of the Game: Marvel Heroes

TooManyHours
You’ve played a game more than this, right? RIGHT?

Note:  I looked at Marvel Heroes before, but the game has changed even more since then so I’m starting fresh in this article.

I tried Marvel Heroes when it first came out (it didn’t have the ‘2015’ in the name then) but only played about 20 or 30 hours before setting it aside.  Loved the subject matter and style of game (Diablo with Marvel super heroes?  Sold!) but the execution just wasn’t there.  I kept on the e-mail list though, curious to see if the game would die out or come around, and ended up trying the game out again after I got a message about an event that sounded interesting.  As you can see, I’m hooked.

If you are not familiar with the game, Marvel Heroes is an action-RPG where you can play as one of forty different Marvel super heroes and villains.  If you’ve played the Diablo or Torchlight series, you know the style of game.  The difference here is MH is a free to play massively multiplayer action role playing game.  An ‘Action RPG’ is just a role playing game where you click on enemies to attack them, using various abilities directly, rather than selecting attacks from a menu and watching them happen.  ‘Massively multiplayer’ just means hundreds to thousands of users are playing alongside you, though in practice most places you go split you into manageable chunks of players in a particular zone.  ‘Free to play’ means you don’t pay up-front for the game but you can buy stuff, but unlike many games that make F2P a hated term, Marvel Heroes handles it pretty well.  A currency drops every 8 minutes or so, and you can use that to unlock every hero in the game, and many other things like some team-ups.  The main thing you end up running short of is storage space.  You have your inventory, your team-up inventory, and one ‘STASH’ but if you tend to keep interesting gear or play a bunch of heroes, you’ll want to chip in some bucks for extra space.  However, by the time you get to that point you’ll know for sure whether or not you like the game.

In my previous look at the game, I mentioned that the characters hewed pretty close to the standard Diablo archetypes (Ranged, Melee, Pet class) but I’m happy to report that as they’ve gone on, the characters have gotten more and more creative.  Rogue in particular is a ton of fun, as she can steal powers or knowledge from over a hundred heroes and villains in the game – the ultimate in customization.  The unstoppable Juggernaut was just released, and uses his momentum to power hard-hitting movement powers.  The devs are also deep in a process of completely revamping the earliest heroes to bring them up to the level of fun and uniqueness of the newer ones.

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Taskmaster is ready to take you chumps to school.

The story is fun the first few times through, with motion comics as the cutscenes at important spots.  Gazillion has tried to hit all the high notes in Marvel’s stable as far as enemies go, so you fight everyone from Shocker, Doc Ock and the Kingpin to Loki, Doctor Doom and Magneto.  Eventually as you gather more characters, you will not want to just go through the story over and over, and there are more options.  For instance, there is a Midtown Manhattan patrol (and within a few weeks, another Patrol map) where boss fights occur every few minutes.  Holo-Sim pits you against waves of enemies or boss events either solo or with a partner, which X-Defense lets you defend Xavier’s mansion against threats.  Gaz has also released two ‘One-Shot’ stories that exist outside of the story, the Wakandan Mines and the Bronx Zoo, which added the Lizard, Kraven the Hunter and Mr. Hyde.  They also set up ‘terminals’ where you can fight harder versions of some of the story chapters, with chances at better classes of loot or special drops from the bosses.

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Part of the training to defeat Shou-Lao the Undying is how to not check out every mutant who flies by. Also helps to remember that Misty Knight will kick your ass.

There is raid content too, though I’ve never done that – I have too much fun playing each character to the cap and trying the next one.  Cyclops is next, after I finish Taskmaster and Rogue.  I’m also excited for the characters coming this year, as the Winter Soldier, Iron Fist, War Machine and Blade are all on the way.

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One possible way to build Taskmaster.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out our Random Hero box giveaway!