Articles Reviews Barnestorming #378- Revolver in Review, Witcher 2, Death Grips
 

Barnestorming #378- Revolver in Review, Witcher 2, Death Grips Barnestorming #378- Revolver in Review, Witcher 2, Death Grips Hot

revolver Ayeeieeieeeeeeee, wa wa wa.

On the Table

I’ve been playing Stronghold’s new issue of Mark Chaplin’s Aliens card game, Revolver. Of course, it’s not Aliens anymore, but as a consolation prize it’s a bona fide Western. And a pretty damn good one too. No settling, no cattle-counting…bounty killers, bandits, exploding trains. I like it quite a bit, but I am worried that it’s not going to have legs over time, and the really successful two player games tend to not fall into predictability. It’s a “time will tell” issue, but for now it’s a good one, and if you’re looking for something to play for two in 20-30 minutes, you can’t go wrong. Yep, Gameshark.

I also have Lost Temple, which I’m playing and will review next week. Short version- Citadels with a race instead of building. I'm really happy to see Stronghold gaining steam- this is a good company with a diverse stable of interesting games and some amazing reprints. Can't wait to see Crude.

Asked Minion Games for a copy of Manhattan Project, but they’re completely out of it. I snoozed, I losed.

I did snag a copy of Banditos, a sort of under-the-radar title from a tiny publisher about robbing Mexican banks in 1982.

On the Consoles

Nothing but Witcher 2. Probably won’t be playing anything but Witcher 2 for the next couple of weeks. I’m still not even out of the first chapter, but I finally beat the Kayran this morning. Epic battle…it was quite difficult, but eventually I worked out how to beat it.

Had a great side quest last night. Drank a few rounds with some soldiers, woke up naked and with a new tattoo. Had to ask around to find out what happened. The madame at the brothel explained most of what happened…which was bizarre, hilarious, and decidedly not very sexy at all.

The game is actually really funny, very vibrant and alive despite the grimness and darkness.

It’s without a doubt one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played, if not the best. What’s more, the game represents a kind of value that other publishers have abandoned. You get a two-disc, content- packed game filled with extra material not in the original. A quality port. A soundtrack disc. A map. A full manual. A quest guide. No DLC, no preorder bonuses, no online passes. It’s worth $60.

On IOS

I asked for a review code for Marvel vs. Capcom 2, but I was told that they had “no more product for press”. A damn $3 value code…

I haven’t really touched anything on it, not even Nightfall lately. River’s been playing Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride on the iPad, and that’s all the gaming it’s really seen this week.

On the Screen

Witcher 2 is taking up most of my viewing time, but I did start re-watching the Sci-Fi channel’s Dune miniseries. If it weren’t for the embarrassingly horrendous Babylon 5-quality acting, production design, and direction it might have been the definitive film version of the novel. The long-form adaptation is good and works in a miniseries context, and it covers the lion’s share of the material and themes.

But it looks fucking awful. That’s harsh, uneven is probably a better word. Some of the costuming looks like it came from Liberace’s closet and some of it is so cheaply and poorly executed it looks like really, really bad cosplay of random, unknown characters. I mean, seriously…purple lame in a science fiction picture that ISN’T Flash Gordon? The Sardaukar outfits apparently are some kind of chef garb with big floppy hats.

Then there’s this weirdness were some of the effects are fairly high quality and look good, but then you have- literally- a crude painting outside of a set wall window. Not like a high quality matte painting. Something really crappy that’s supposed to show what’s outside. Amateurish and ugly.

I do not get the Harkonnen thing with the bizarre camp samurai style either. It’s actually a little more upfront about their sexual decadence than the Lynch film, but the Giedi Prime sets look like something left over from Buck Rogers.

Also, if you’re making a science fiction film…take note. Battlefield: Earth pretty much ended the Dutch angle for the entire genre.

On Spotify

Lady and Gentlemen, I give you the sound of 2012, the undisputed (at this point) Album of the Year.

It’s Death Grips “The Money Store”, just released on Epic Records (WTF?!) this week. Signed by L.A. Reid himself who apparently insisted that nobody mess with what they do, regardless of how uncommercial and uncompromising it is. And it’s one of the most extreme, transgressive, and utterly thrilling releases on a major corporate record label in…I dunno, decades?

More or less, it’s a hip hop album and there is some mighty, mighty fine rappin’ courtesy of MC Ride, a very scary looking man with the sigil from the Necronomicon tattooed on his chest. Choice line “soon your crew will be making sandwiches named after me/Vietnamese style, fool”. His style is jagged and fluid and it sounds like 40 years of MCing brought to full flower. West Coast, East Coast, Dirty South, New York City…none of it matters at the end of the world.

But it’s also noisy and industrial, highly manipulated with found sound and with an almost musique concrete approach. It’s also rock. And punk, post-punk, and death disco. It’s more visceral than intellectual, abrasive and experimental but there’s a couple of cuts built on some pretty violent party-rocking beats- mostly performed with real drums.

It’s an exhausting album- the energy and aggression will wear you out. It’s the sound of collapse and construction simultaneously, and it’s terrifyingly modern while feeling like something you might hear on a broke-down radio in a third world country. It’s the sound of 2012 apocalypse, built from YouTube samples, abusively overprocessed synths, and almost subliminal hooks.

If you only listen to two tracks, make it “I’ve Seen Footage” and “Hacker”. I had a physical reaction to both songs. Goosebumps. The former almost sounds like Salt n’ Pepa’s “Push It” overlayed with a queasy, half-remembered Gary Numan keyboard riff, sirens, scraping bass licks, and a ridiculous dance beat. The latter is an utterly breathtaking conclusion to the record, climaxing with the hook of the year- “I’m in your area”. You know those parts in a song where you’re just like “yeah, this is that really bad ass part”? This whole song is made up of those really bad ass parts.

I honestly don’t remember the last time I heard a hip hop record that I loved like this. It feels like a bomb going off, like “It Takes a Nation of Millions” or “Straight Outta Compton”. But it’s so far removed from cartoonish gangsta rap or politics. And it wipes the floor with all of the empty over-commercialized junk that’s poisoned hip hop and rap music over the past decade.

They have another record, “Exmilitary” that I’ve been listening to and it’s very good as well (one song is built off a sample of Black Flag’s “Rise Above”), but "The Money Store" is definitely a quantum leap forward. It’s the classic sound of a band Getting Their Shit Together, and it’s absolutely exciting to hear.

And they’ve got another record coming out later this year.

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Comments (13)
  • avatardragonstout
    Quote:
    And it’s the really good kind of Western concept, more Peckinpah and Leone than Ford and Wayne.

    Them's fightin' words! I nearly closed the review right there. I'm a huge Western fan, and as far as I'm concerned, the two best-ever Westerns were Rio Bravo and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. I really love Peckinpah, but I still don't think he touches either of those (and neither of my two favorites of his are Westerns).

    Quote:
    It’s a great fit for players looking for something with more teeth than something like Lost Cities or Battle Line

    WTF does "teeth" mean? If it means depth? Then this seems unlikely, based on how you describe Revolver's replayability. If it's about aggressiveness/nastiness/confrontation: how can anyone not feel at each other's throats playing Battle Line? That is the single most tense two-player game I know, it cuts the fat and goes straight to the sweating of bullets.

  • avatarSuperflyTNT

    TFDTBS.

    I almost got the robochubb going and rushed to Gamesnark to go see the review. I got 8 words in and went flaccid.

    Don't tease me with cowboys, Barnes. "2 player card game" is Anti-Timber for me. Ascension is 99 cents on IPad today, so I'm revisiting deck building to prep for Clowdus' new awesome mash up deck builder. So far I hate Ascension because of the wankiness of the monsters and shit. They couldn't come up with better than a Cultist and a Snapdragon? Booooooo :(

  • avatarmikecl

    I've had Revolver on order for months and should be receiving it soon. I followed Mark Chaplin's PnP Aliens: This Time It's War with interest and being a sci-fi fan was kind of disappointed it wasn't made.

    But I love Westerns too and the artwork looks great. It looks like a good little filler. The only complaint I've heard from some is that it plays itself with no deep decisions, but I'll reserve judgement until I play it.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    I'm not a big Ford fan. Obviously I appreciate his work and understand why they're great films, but I'm just not really into his vision of the West- regardless of how impactful it was on Peckinpah and Leone. I'm really more interested in the operatic, comic book, superheroic westerns or the revisionist, fatalistic ones.

    As for John Wayne..."John Wayne was a Nazi".

    "Teeth"...come on man, it's self explanatory. It's got bite. Friction. Viciousness.

    As for it playing itself...that does happen, but I've found that it's situational. What can happen is that a player will blow their hand on a turn and wind up with only two cards (and thus two, one, or even no decision points) in hand. But blowing your hand unless it's a last ditch effort is kind of a strategic mistake in this game. It's easy to play the game with blunt force but that seems to be a good way to lose it. Finesse, timing, and knowing when to throw caution to the wind are the skills you need.

    I can't think of any way that this concept would work multiplayer.

  • avatarJonJacob

    That Kayran kicked my sorry ass. I loaded an older save because I think I wasn't ready yet. I had the Mongoose potion and wasn't sure what to do with it and was level 7. I couldn't even hit the damn thing once, it was terrifying. Maybe there's a trick but I didn't give it much time, I still have a lot of sidequests to do first. I've really enjoyed some of those quests actually. There was this cool one where I was blindfolded and brought to a dungeon, I was pretty sure I shouldn't trust the guy but I was too damn curious to see what would happen if I followed it through.

    Another one I liked had me checking facts on an Elven whore who was telling soldiers that she didn't know where their buddies dissapeared to. I entered the cave they were last seen in and it was so terrifying in there I found myself running away from monsters because there was too damn many of them. I still found the soldiers though, I followed that story through to the bitter end as well but I won't give any more away.

    Sometimes I think the material feels well written and sometimes I think the swearing seems excessive and incongruous with the setting. It's not as bad as most RPG's I play but I do notice it and occasionally I can feel them trying to make sure I know this is for adults. Still the world is so much easier to follow then Skyrim and I can actually understand the politics because they introduce it in a much more logical order and never overwhelm you with excessive information for no good reason. I also have never felt like taking time to do side quests ruined the story. Like in Arkham Asylum (minor spoiler) I kept thinking: "There's no way I'm stopping to do 8 side quests when I'm dying of some poison" yet the game encouraged me to do so. Skyrim did that too. I like the way Witcher 2 is set up so far.

    What's difficult to me is understanding what all the loot means. Do I use brown Oil on my sword this time? What bonus does it give? I know I have a ton of oils and potions but the menu's don't tell me what they do so I just experiment. It's not a big downside but it does bother me a little to not be spoon fed some basic information. I love the quest book though and the combat is much better then I'm used to in a fantasy RPG if still a little basic for a fighting/aciton game fan.

    It's the best RPG I've played but I usually avoid RPG's since I find it's really hard to keep my interest for the length of time they run for.

  • avatardragonstout  - re:
    Michael Barnes wrote:
    As for John Wayne..."John Wayne was a Nazi".

    That's a big part of why he's so perfect for Howard Hawks' & John Ford's Westerns, he's a violent, racist, unintellectual, outdated "hero" of the West who manages to be simultaneously sympathetic, so that it's easier to understand just how *instrumental* his kind was in the days of the West, and even necessary. This is made most explicit in The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, but it's there in just about all of his Westerns. I think he is also seriously underrated as an actor. He has a great way of conveying pent-up, repressed emotions. He doesn't have a lot of range, but like many classic Hollywood actors, he didn't need to, thanks to frequently getting recast as different shades of the same iconic character.

    I don't have much interest in his war movies, though.

  • avatarmikko_r

    I didn't feel the aggression on the two songs you listed, but your description made me think of Plague Soundscapes by Locust so I listened to that instead.

  • avatarMattDP

    I listened to the whole Death Grips album. A note to anyone who tries the same - the opening couple of tracks are awful, and it gets much, much better toward the end.

    I'm split. It's undeniably interesting material but part of me feel like it's being experimental for the sake of it, rather than from some underlying creative vision. I mean anyone can randomly genre-blend and make a racket, right?

    The more melodic, beat driven bits reminded me quite a lot of B. Dolan's Fallen House, Sunken City.

  • avatartscook

    Been up on Deah Grips since this vid hit last year:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Orlbo9WkZ2E

    Which may be one of the worst I've seen.

  • avatarMichael Barnes

    Oddly enough, the first couple of tracks were singles, apparently. Not the more accessible tracks I listed.

    As for the aggression...well, it's not like listening to old Ildjarn or Negative Approach. Held against its hip hop/rap contemporaries, it's much more abrasive and antagonistic.

    I like the B.Dolan record, but it's still pretty squarely in the current hip hop camp. I find Death Grips much rawer. I dunno, in a genre that's become stale, safe, and overexploited, a little experimentation for experimentations' sake is pretty welcome as far as I'm concerned.

    I also like that the record is divisive...it means people are actually listening and thinking about what they're hearing.

  • avatarBearn

    I am curious Barnes if you had a chance ever to play Witcher 2 on the PC? The controls for it are absolutely unbelievably bad and it's only slightly better using a Game Pad on PC. Hopefully they got the Game Pad to work better on console with it.

    It really sucks because it is a good game just like the original but poor interafce really kills it. No real exscuse for such a thing either when they got Arkham Asylum perfect on a PC using the Game Pad.

    Huge John Wayne fan and not just his westerns. He actually did some good work outside westerns with The Green Berets, Hell Fighters, Hitari and The Quiet Man. Still one of the great legends of hollywood that actors today cannot stand up against.

  • avatarEvilOne  - re:
    Michael Barnes wrote:


    "Teeth"...come on man, it's self explanatory. It's got bite. Friction. Viciousness.

    As for it playing itself...that does happen, but I've found that it's situational. What can happen is that a player will blow their hand on a turn and wind up with only two cards (and thus two, one, or even no decision points) in hand. But blowing your hand unless it's a last ditch effort is kind of a strategic mistake in this game. It's easy to play the game with blunt force but that seems to be a good way to lose it. Finesse, timing, and knowing when to throw caution to the wind are the skills you need.

    I can't think of any way that this concept would work multiplayer.

    Michael,

    Many thanks for the review and the good words about Stronghold Games! We appreciate it very much.

    BTW, as for the game having "legs" (and "bite" :)), how about if I gave you a little inside info...

    EXPANSIONS should be coming! :)

    I can't get TOO specific here, but... White Goblin Games (another fine smaller publisher in the EU) will be supporting Revolver strongly over the next two years, and of course, since we are in bed with them (ummm, figuratively speaking, of course, so stay away from me Lotter! :)), we'll be bringing all of these expansions and new versions here as they become available later in 2012 and into 2013...

    Giddy-up! :)

  • avatarjohnnyspys  - re:

    Quoting MDC songs....awesome fucking band!

    Michael Barnes wrote:
    I'm not a big Ford fan. Obviously I appreciate his work and understand why they're great films, but I'm just not really into his vision of the West- regardless of how impactful it was on Peckinpah and Leone. I'm really more interested in the operatic, comic book, superheroic westerns or the revisionist, fatalistic ones.

    As for John Wayne..."John Wayne was a Nazi".

    "Teeth"...come on man, it's self explanatory. It's got bite. Friction. Viciousness.

    As for it playing itself...that does happen, but I've found that it's situational. What can happen is that a player will blow their hand on a turn and wind up with only two cards (and thus two, one, or even no decision points) in hand. But blowing your hand unless it's a last ditch effort is kind of a strategic mistake in this game. It's easy to play the game with blunt force but that seems to be a good way to lose it. Finesse, timing, and knowing when to throw caution to the wind are the skills you need.

    I can't think of any way that this concept would work multiplayer.
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