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A review of Aliens: Fireteam Elite – fleeting entertainment

A review of Aliens: Fireteam Elite – fleeting entertainment

Despite being brief, crisp, and very superficial, this interpretation of the well-known series fulfills the whole Aliens power dream.
Alien: Isolation was certainly a success, but in my opinion, it was never a really alien experience. Indeed. Although Amanda Ripley is a badass and definitely deserving of her equally badass mother’s name, I never felt like a true Ripley as I had to skulk about to dodge a single, really horrifying Alien. It makes me feel cowardly to tiptoe around rooms and stuff myself into lockers so I can discreetly hyperventilate until the creature disappears once again. I feel too much like myself in it.

Fireteam Elite, Aliens? Even though we officially have nothing to do with Ripley this time around, Aliens: Fireteam Elite does allow me live out my power fantasies as Ripley with its wonderfully sticky intestines, chunky gunplay, and plenty of crazy battles.

I didn’t anticipate it coming in between us. Sure, the trailers and pictures were a little too generic, but we’ve already been let down by the Alien series, right? No matter how many different Challenge Cards we use to liven up the experience, I doubt many of us will be playing Aliens: Fireteam Elite for very long after the game’s four-six-ish hours of main campaign conclude. Still, those four hours are unquestionably hilarious. in the true sense.

But before I entered, I did worry whether this would be another Alien Isolation. As soon as you go inside the refinery, you’ll see a long, maroon line of blood on the floor, a faint flicker of emergency lights, and the clatter of a vent cover dropping from the ceiling that will capture your attention. It’s a great bait and switch, nothing happens until everything does, and then everything plays out just as I had hoped: heaps and piles of dead Xenos.

Twenty-three years after the conclusion of the trilogy, Aliens: Fireteam Elite dares to continue the plot. I swear not to reveal too much about what transpires here, but you can probably predict what occurs once I tell you that it begins with a rescue operation. The vast LV-895, a derelict refinery, and other locations will be seen along your journey. Although there should be enough variety in the backgrounds to prevent monotony, the familiar green, black, and blue color scheme won’t be seeing much change.

I’m afraid the individual tasks inside each chapter will provide much less variation. The campaign basically consists of you fleeing from one hallway to the next, with carefully placed ammunition boxes and oh-so-convenient waist-high cover. The weapons you may use and the adversaries you face will change somewhat.

That a game with the word “fireteam” in the title has cooperative play built in from the start probably doesn’t come as a surprise. Together with a few friends or AI allies, you’ll dutifully crawl from chamber to room and engage in combat with a variety of horrifying alien monsters. At most, the AI squaddies act as meat shields; at worst, they may be outright obstructive. They will never be able to fully make up for friends in real life, particularly in later stages when they are killed so often that my poor performance seems heroic.

It’s also different from other cover-based shooters because, in Aliens: Fireteam Elite, the Xenos don’t care much for the game’s rules and will attack you in any way they can, including galloping across the floor, running at you from the walls, or slithering across the ceiling. In other shooters, you can hunker down behind your wall and pop off a few shots until the room is clear. This implies that no matter how strong your holding position is, eventually some small gremlin will find a way past your defenses, so even when you feel safe—and believe me, that won’t be often—you won’t be.

Here, battling feels nice, for the most part. You may unlock a wide variety of weapons, some of which are class-based and others of which are not. On normal level, my Gunner’s shotgun proved to be so incredibly efficient, even at a distance, that it became my go-to weapon for the duration of the campaign. We didn’t run out of ammunition until the latter stages, but we quickly discovered that an ammo box and first aid kit would be waiting for us around every two or three encounters.

You’ll be facing off against a variety of Xenomorphs, including the eerie Weyland-Yutani synthetics that charge at you with frightening resolve, as well as Spitters, Warriors, Prowlers, and Drones, all of whom act pretty much as you would expect from their titles. Few of your enemies are particularly difficult to defeat on their own, but the Xenos’ real strength lies in their capacity to overwhelm and swarm you. You will come to regret staying in one area for too long. Yes, I most definitely did.

Fortunately, the marines are equipped with more than just weapons. In addition to having unique weapons and special powers, each class (more on that in a moment) also has a shockingly limited amount of consumables scattered about the area in boxes, such incendiary ammunition, and tech toys like drones and turrets. Even though they’re often found around ammunition stations, it’s always a good idea to thoroughly inspect an area for crates before proceeding, especially because each level has a secret cache that contains extra goodies.

What about the classes? To Aliens: Fireteam Elite’s credit, each of the five available characters—Gunner, Demolisher, Technician, Doc, and Recon—brings something new to the battle, and playing with them all was really enjoyable since there isn’t a bad character in the group. It’s true that the Demolisher is definitely the greatest option for novices—I can’t stress how effective those rockets are at controlling crowds—but you also shouldn’t undervalue the Technician’s very potent sentry turret.

But there’s still more! Additionally, there is a Perks system that requires you to arrange in a Tetris-like fashion a limited amount of attainable perks and modifiers to fit into your grid. Additionally, firearms may be improved by attaching various attachments, such as magazines, scopes, and muzzles, which raise your rank, also referred to as your combat rating. The fact that you can even add and customize the placement of your own hand-painted decals on your weapons, exactly like those real-fake Marines, will excite fans of the series. Though it’s unfortunate that you can only equip one at a time.

The weapons themselves? After going through the game twice and trying out every class (I must confess, I was always drawn to the Gunner and Technician), I hardly ever found a weapon that I liked as much as the ones included with the vanilla loadout. Even more unexpectedly, I seldom ever discovered a superior weapon during a run. Strange.

The Challenge Cards are the last. Along with the unlocked Horde mode, I believe these added layers of complexity—like the need to finish a late-game task without a fallen squaddie in one case and the spawning of more Xenos in another—are there to assist extend gameplay and give some spice. But with just 12 missions that repeat the same stand-here-shoot-this gameplay, I’m concerned that when you finish the main campaign, not many people will be left aside except the most devoted Alien aficionados.

The game consists of four chapters that can be completed in around twenty minutes if you’re playing with a friend and maybe thirty minutes if you’re playing alone. Each chapter is neatly divided into three objectives. There’s a strangely empty hub where you’ll stop off in between missions. Other than a requisitions store where you can cycle through new weapons, perks, attachments, and consumables, as well as cosmetics like armour items and paint for your guns, there’s not really much to this three-room game. I’m not entirely sure why it exists, unless more places become available in later releases.

It wasn’t all plain sailing, either. Several annoying audio problems were noticed, such as the sound of my teammate’s heavy gun recurring even when he wasn’t shooting it. Additionally, there were instances were the music appeared comically out of sync with the action taking place on screen. Yes, I realize that’s a strange criticism, but maybe when you visit you’ll get it as well.

All in all, though? Aliens: Fireteam Elite is just what the title suggests. With an all-new story that goes beyond the original trilogy and plenty of weapons, gadgets, and alien slime, it’s a hectic cooperative assault against some of sci-fi’s most recognizable creatures. It’s not the most complex shooter, and its short playtime won’t keep you occupied for more than a few evenings, but it’s still a really enjoyable game that should fulfill your thoughts of being a Ripley powerhouse.

No More Heroes 3 critique – Suda’s franchise returns to its eccentric prime

No More Heroes 3 critique – Suda’s franchise returns to its eccentric prime

Series hero Travis Touchdown makes an appearance on a TV program during one of the many, many, many fourth-wall breaching moments in No More Heroes 3 to talk about his admiration and enthusiasm for the work of Takashi Miike, one of the most prolific, diverse, and downright insane filmmakers in Japanese movie history. In a series full of them, this is just another self-serving pop culture allusion, but this one is unique in that it seems like Goichi Suda, the show’s creator, is at least somewhat in line with Miike.

This is highlighted when Travis launches into a long-winded tirade about how, in an attempt to bolster his production team, a filmmaker such as Miike—whose most infamous film opens with a splash of semen—went on to develop the idol series Girl x Heroines. It’s something that Suda himself accomplished with Travis Strikes Again, the simple spin-off he used to mentor his young crew prior to them starting development on the main No More Heroes game.

I hated that specific game for adhering too closely to the series’ excesses while eschewing most of its aesthetic, but now I am completely enamored with No More Heroes 3. What has changed, then? That this is a true No More Heroes game, with Travis slicing through tiny groups of enemies and taking on large monsters with his scythe, helps. With the open world elements that were removed for No More Heroes 2 reinstated, along with some style, it’s even more of a No More Heroes game than the 2010 sequel.

Although the setup is well-known, Suda deserves credit for making it seem even more ridiculous than previous attempts. A child becomes friends with Fu, a fluffy extraterrestrial, in this adorable cartoon parody of Spielberg’s schmaltz from the 1980s, and they assist him in returning to his home planet with the hope that he may one day make a return. He returns after around twenty years, but this time he’s transformed into a flamboyant, opulent, and, I must admit, brilliantly made alien who is hellbent on chaos. He’s also brought along a group of extraterrestrials from the jail he’s just had a stint at.

Thus starts Travis’s mission to eliminate each of them individually until he is recognized as the top assassin. Everything is the same as it was back then, but the action is also a little bit more intense since the stakes are bigger this time. I kind of forgot how much I loved No More Heroes’ unique style of action after the incredibly streamlined Travis Strikes Again. It was straightforward but satisfying and delivered with screen-filling exuberance, with the signature beam katana contributing to jaw-dropping Death Blows and the combat feeling strengthened by a few clever additions.

It’s true that one of them is directly lifted from Travis Strikes Again—perhaps I was too harsh on it after all—with a Death Glove that can be set to three different skills, adding a welcome variety. However, more significantly, Travis can now go “Full Armor,” donning a mech suit that ups the ante to an enjoyable level and, of course, comes with a “Henshin” battle cry.

One of the many minigames in the reopened open world is the shooting defense missions, where that mech suit makes an appearance. As apprehensive players of the first game may be relieved to hear, No More Heroes 3 is a rather dreary open world – partially as a kind of parody, and partially because of the lingering impression that it was produced on a shoestring on some backlot by a group of people high on cheap beer and even cheaper hash.

Which, despite its potential for division, is undoubtedly part of the series’ appeal. With its barren backlots and deserted streets, the bleached-out Santa Destroy somehow manages to evoke the baked banality of Philip K. Dick’s California. No More Heroes 3’s world, which is cleverly divided into five sections and can be explored with ease on Travis’s ostentatious big red bike, keeps all of that while outperforming its infamously leaden predecessor. Which is not to suggest that it’s attractive—far from it—but this time around, it works.

The gonzo stylings of Grasshopper Manufacture and Suda himself, on the other hand, are what I believe draw players to a No More Heroes game, and No More Heroes 3 delivers on that promise in a gleeful manner. With a longer playtime than its predecessors, there’s a good possibility that this will try the patience of even ardent fans. Whether it irritates or titilates is mostly a matter of personal taste, or maybe even mood.

Still, I kind of liked it. Does it make any significant changes to the No More Heroes formula? Not much, and the little additions and adjustments don’t quite equal a decade’s worth of advancement. Does it have all the vigor and bravado of those classic games, or does it misfire more often than not? Yes, it does, abundantly. This is a return to more intense, chaotic, and wildly extravagant action; it’s a loud, creative, and wildly uneven game. Still, consider it one of Suda’s greatest creations and maybe the best No More Heroes game to date.

A review of The Big Con – a thrilling escapade of a hustler from the 90s

A review of The Big Con – a thrilling escapade of a hustler from the 90s

When 2019 finally came, I was really irritated. Actually, ever since then, I’ve been irritated. Not that I’m the most knowledgeable K-pop fan by any means, but when I heard the 90s throwback song “Ring Ring Ring” by then-new boy band Verivery, I could see their appeal right away. I was brought back to my childhood by the vivid colors, haphazard forms, and yo-yos. Though sadly not many have joined me on the trip back in time to the days of California Dreams and The Battle of Seattle, I have no doubt that many more will make the leap to the same enchanted age as depicted in The Big Con.

You take on the role of Ali, a 17-year-old who is stranded in the video rental shop helping her mother (sorry, “mom”). In the days before internet-based streaming and downloading, movies were either purchased or rented on large, plastic video cassettes that resembled books. Data is stored on a roll of thin magnetic tape called a cassette. They were quite annoying. Heave heave. Unfortunately, your mother is sending you off to band camp for a fortnight so you may fulfill her dreams of becoming a well-known trombone, while all of your friends and classmates are preoccupied with much more exciting summer activities.

Sadly, just as you’re about to leave, you hear your mother talking to loan sharks who are desperate to get their money back or else Linda’s video store would have to close. By the time Ali gets back from music camp, she is so depressed about what the future could bring, even with the motherly promises.

Ted is a swindler who is killing time in town before he goes on to his next con. You encounter him when you’re lingering around the area of the closed-down ice cream shop. This might be the answer to all of your issues: a fast method to get money without going through band camp.

Pickpocketing random people of the public with a one-button quick-time event—which, fortunately, you can disable—is how you start. Ted, however, has his sights set on even greater gains. He suggests that in order to hustle for ever-larger sums of money, you should watch people, listen in on conversations, and wear various disguises (such false beards and moustaches). Given that so many people were compelled to carry cash in the 1990s as opposed to the convenience of contactless card payments in the present, the premise of the tale and gameplay works nicely together. The straightforward gameplay is effective: you go around various settings, robbing the careless of their money, listening in on their chats, and trying to find new methods to hustle. Taking a pair of sunglasses and selling them to a passenger seated at the train’s window is one example.

Ted takes you to the local mall after your first day together, where you continue honing these talents after you just lied to your mother. Before long, you’ll find yourself at Las Venganza, a map with movie theaters, lodging options, a thrift store, coffee cafes, and a used vehicle dealership. There are a variety of people and things to see there that are both connected to and unconnected to your primary responsibilities. You could even be able to pay off your loan from the video shop there. Additionally, there’s the companion ghost who resembles Earl (think ToeJam & Earl) who is willing to provide advice if you ever get into trouble. However, you quickly learn that attempting to con people out of their hard-earned, hard-saved money puts you in grave danger.

The Big Con’s lighthearted, vibrant aesthetics will undoubtedly pull in crowds. It’s what drew me in with an E3 trailer the previous year. Coincidentally, I had just looked at Disney+ for the first time before being given this article (spoiler alert: it’s just nostalgic and nostalgia-based junk?) merely to watch the beloved animation series Doug. Without a certain, the artwork is evocative of that time period, and physically, Ali reminded me of the fictitious figure Alex Mack from the 1990s. It’s amazing to look at the animation and visuals.

However, there are other reasons why the game succeeds beyond its captivating family-centered plot, which is reminiscent of 90s drama series and adolescent comedies. It also somehow conveys the (mature-rated) flicks of Richard Linkalter and Kevin Smith’s lethargic attitude of irony and unarrogant assurance that was so prophetic in the mainstream culture zeitgeist. I believe it’s because so many of them, such as Clerks, have intriguing protagonists who accidentally end up in settings and situations with intriguing and unique supporting casts.

Actually, The Big Con pays you for striking up discussions and interacting with as many people as you can—regardless of whether those folks have green or blue skin, insist on dressing like Jamiroquai, or seem to have stepped out of a Gabor Csupo cartoon like Rugrats. To add to the whole tongue-in-cheek vibe, the creators are also conscious of the allusions they’re using, both active and passive. One has an identical replica of The Rock (unfortunately, “Dwayne Johnson” did not exist in the 1990s), right down to the gold chain and fanny pack.

There are more decade-related inspirations to see. The pause screen appears with fake CRT-like scan lines, and the opening theme tune sounds a lot like a Plumtree or Letters to Cleo song. The folks at Digital Foundry would undoubtedly have a better understanding of these’s correctness.

The Big Con succeeds in spite of the abundance of fanny packs, and Ali is the key to it. She’s a confused girl who makes plans in her bedroom in the same manner that Kenan & Kel would get into trouble. She wants to do the right thing in the end, even if it means going down many wrong paths along the way. The game is applicable to many kids (or even adults!) who have felt lost about life, experienced FOMO, and want to do all in their power to make things make sense again. The teenage angst is brilliantly blended with grumpiness and snarkiness in equal proportion. The Big Con is a charming excursion that is well worth going on.