Tag Archives: Heroes

It’s time for a Rebirth

DC, after 5 years of The New 52 has finally done it. They are once again rebooting the Universe and setting things up for a new era of comics. Honestly, it’s less of a reboot and more of DC stepping away from the core ideals of The New 52 and readdressing their series. It’s a return to a form of DC comics we haven’t seen in a long time. It’s important to note that I’ll try and avoid the big spoilers of the book. But in order to properly talk about the implications I will need to address a few key moments. If you’re just interested in the fate of DC comics going forward, we’ll get to that. As for now, I need to go into the details of Rebirth #1 and what they all mean, at least to me.

The book opens with a disembodied voice, that we learn belongs to Wally West. Not the new 52 Wally, but the original. Kid Flash, The Flash, Wally West. He talks about how he’s been gone for a while, trapped in the speed force. He says that ever since Flashpoint (the event that kicked off the New 52) things have been different. Things aren’t right. He says that the only way for him to return is for someone to remember him. First he goes to Bruce Wayne, who is deep in the mystery of the Joker. Batman learns a surprising fact that will propel him into his next arc, when Rebirth properly comes out. Wally is unable to connect with him, and is once again pulled back into the Speed Force. Before he tries to reach out again he muses on the fact that the events of Flashpoint didn’t create the new universe. Someone from beyond time and space has been reaching in and removing bits of time, sometimes decades. Next Wally reaches out to Johnny Thunder, another speedster from the golden era. A member of the Justice Society, Johnny mistakes Wally for his lost companion, Thunderbolt. Wally, unable to make the connection is once again hurled out of existence. Again Wally muses. He says that the one thing that has been missing from the world is Love. The thing that his unknown being has taken is the love and hope that the heroes of this universe once had. Ollie Queen and Dinah Lance, once deeply in love, have been set apart by the being. He witnesses Aquaman proposing to Mera, and realizes that’s the connection he needs to make. He needs to reconnect with his once love, Linda Park.

Here is possibly the most interesting part about Rebirth. This is essentially Geoff Johns saying the thing that has been missing from the new 52 is love. Love between the heroes. Love for saving the world, and crime fighting. New 52 has been so dark and dour, things need to change. There needs to be a sense of happiness brought back to the DC universe. His connection to Linda doesn’t work out. She doesn’t remember who he is and once again he is sent back. At this point he realizes he can’t connect to anyone and he’ll be consumed by the Speed Force. He sees the new Wally West save a little girl’s life and he remarks that he isn’t needed. His mantle is in good hands. He then goes to make one final visit. He goes to see Barry Allen, the current Flash. He goes just to say goodbye. Once again Wally remarks on love. He says Barry always has a smile on his face. He says Barry is the only one left who actually loves his job. He loves helping people in need. Wally says that Barry is the only hero who stops and talks to the people he’s rescued after. Wally and Barry have a heart-felt meeting, even though Barry doesn’t recognize him. Wally tells Barry that he’s the reason Wally’s life is so great. Barry has been an inspiration because of the love he’s shown the world. Wally is no longer so obsessed with returning to existence and is happy to part because of the love for the life he once had. At this moment Barry recognizes Wally and pulls him into existence. Wally then tells Barry about The Being.

We finally have the return of a hero who has been lost to us. We finally know that the new 52 was created not by the Flashpoint, but rather by someone removing love from the universe; someone experimenting on the entire universe, seeing what would happen if love was taken out. This mysterious Being is the DC company, and Wally West was a voice for both the writers wanting to work on something new and the fans wanting a change from the dreary New 52. Over the course of Rebirth we get a few glimpses of other heroes, such as The Atom and Blue Beetle. We see Superman from the Louis and Clark series, as well as the pre-crisis Superman who died in his world and appeared on earth prime. This gives us a good look at what other series will pop up in Rebirth. Ultimately DC is going to return to more light hearted, fun stories. The grittiness of New 52 has put a lot of people off of reading DC and it’s time to change that. Happiness and Love will return to this company and we’ll see what new exciting stories will arise.

As for what’s actually coming out? Well, there are a lot of different rumors about what’s happening. But as far as I can tell, several series are sticking around, several are being discontinued and a bunch are being merged into a single series.

The series going forward are as follows:

• AQUAMAN
• BATMAN
• THE FLASH
• GREEN ARROW
• GREEN LANTERN
• SUPERMAN
• WONDER WOMAN

ACTION COMICS #957
• DETECTIVE COMICS #934
(an inspiration of the return to form that DC is going through, and the notion that the comics will be more like the originals in tone, both Action and Detective will return to their original numbering)

HAL JORDAN & THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS
• JUSTICE LEAGUE
• NIGHTWING
• BATGIRL
• BATGIRL & THE BIRDS OF PREY
• THE HELLBLAZER (John Constantine)
• RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS

• THE SUPER-MAN
• TITANS
• CYBORG
• DEATHSTROKE
• HARLEY QUINN
• JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA
• SUICIDE SQUAD
• BATMAN BEYOND
• BLUE BEETLE
• EARTH 2
• GOTHAM ACADEMY: NEXT SEMESTER
• SUPERGIRL
• SUPERWOMAN
• SUPER SONS
• TEEN TITANS
• TRINITY

As for what’s still around, there are again a ton of rumors. But most sources point to these being the only series going forward and everything else will either be promptly canceled or phased out over time. I for one am really excited about everything. I loved reading Rebirth. I think it was brilliantly written and there is so much more analysis that can be done. I just lightly touched on some major themes and gave a run-down of what happened. If you are interested in a deeper analysis with all the spoilers of the book, please read:

http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2016/05/23/why-dc-universe-rebirth-is-a-gutsy-work-of-comics-criticism

It’d be unfair to say that what I wrote was entirely from my own ideas, and that I didn’t take influence from the aforementioned article. Happy reading fellow comic fans. I hope you are all just as excited about this as I am.

-Jordan Kamm-

Haven Review: Overwatch

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Not since the early days of Team Fortress 2 (TF2) have I been as enamored with a multiplayer experience as I have with Overwatch. There are definitely similarities between the two, and honestly these are what interested me in the latter to begin with. But once in the game, there are many nuances that have surprised me, to the point where I’ve fallen in love with Overwatch for a variety of reasons. However, the game is definitely not without it’s faults.

Another entry in the Hero-shooter genre, Overwatch pits a cast of eclectic characters against one another in team-on-team combat. The entirety of the gameplay happens over the course of 15-minute matches. Yet the game is packed with amazing design, wildly diverse settings and…if you know where to look…tons of interesting lore. The maps are scattered with informational tidbits. Since you’ll mostly be basting hunks of scrap metal at the opponent, it’s very likely you’ll miss them (and Blizzard seems to not care). This only adds to the charm of the game. If you’d like to hunt down these bits of info, go ahead, although your team might not be so interested in you doing that. If you want to just partake in the combat, there’s no need to know the minutia of the lore. But Blizzard, as they always seem to do with their games, has taken the time to put it there. All of these things come together to form a world that seems to have been inhabited. You’ll find tea still sitting out, or a magazine that was abandoned hastily when the fighting started.Overwatch 2016-05-30 15-26-58-49

The fighting revolves around teams of six heroes duking it out over capture points and payloads. Each player chooses a hero, and while there are some helpful guidelines that pop up during selection, the game doesn’t limit how many of each hero your team can select. I love the freedom of creativity that happens when opposing a team comprised of 6 “Reinhardt” characters, a tank with a large shield and hammer. I was particularly drawn to “Roadhog”, a character with a big ol’ hook that can grab people and reel them in, only to be finished off with a devastating shotgun blast to the face. Most of the other characters I tried were fun to play, as well. There wasn’t a character in all 21 that I hated.Overwatch 2016-05-30 15-43-30-05 Each one is interesting to learn and wildly different from each other. That’s not saying I was good at all of them; in fact the opposite. I’m fairly poor with most. But, that doesn’t mean I didn’t end up laughing and rolling around as I got the shit beat outa me for utterly fucking up the play style of a particular hero. Therein lies the joy of Overwatch! The colors and designs, the silliness of the heroes, the wide variety of projectiles being fired all over the place, all come together to bring such joy to my heart that even when I’m doing my absolute worst I’m still having fun. It seems like the game even rewards you for just having fun and trying your best.Overwatch 2016-05-30 15-33-58-46

The most experience you get at the end of a match comes from just sticking around for the whole thing. If you played at all then you’ll get a bunch of experience and level up. Other factors are also involved. If you finish in the top three of your team, or in the top 50% of a category (damage done, time spent on an objective, etc.) you’ll get a little more XP. If you participated on the winning team, then you’ll also get a nice chunk. However, the only thing you get from leveling up is cosmetic, in the form of skins, victory poses and sprays. With sprays you can choose a mark and then leave it anywhere you’d like on the map. It’s pointless but wickedly fun. You’ll sometimes get into spray wars with others who are trying to find and cover up sprays they left while they do the same to you!

Overwatch does have a couple of problems that are present. For the most part, they are easy to ignore, but they’re still there. The first is that the game contains micro-transactions. If you like, you can spend about one dollar (USD) for a loot crate (which gets cheaper the more you buy). This is the same reward you get for leveling. Again, crates only contain cosmetic items. It’s not invasive; there aren’t ads for them all over them game. They don’t boost your ability to play the game, but they are still there. In this $40 game title there are still micro-transactions, and it makes me a little sick to think about. But what else can we expect from Blizzard? They sure do love their money. The other problem (which is less of a major issue and more of an annoyance) is with some character balancing. Right now turrets are a huge deal in the game. They have the ability to wipe out a team without much effort. The worst of this phenomenon is from “Bastion”, a robot who can transform into a powerful turret whenever he wants. He can also self-heal. I’m not saying Bastion needs to be nerfed, or that nobody should play him. It’s just that when Blizzard‘s motto behind Overwatch is that everything should be fun, it’s not that fun getting mowed down from 100% health to zero in less than a second. Bad Bastion players are easy to deal with, and certain heroes do it a lot better. But Bastion is easy to get good at and even a novice player can still get the “Play-of-the-Game” fairly easily. Without a dedicated anti-turret class (like there is in TF2), it can definitely get a little overwhelming. We’ll see as time goes on how everyone deals with this. Whether Blizzard introduces an “Anti-Bastion” class, or players simply find good strategies against him, I definitely believe that the game already has ways to deal with it, and it’ll just take some time to find the right combinations.Overwatch 2016-05-30 15-30-58-45

Overwatch let’s you be so creative; it doesn’t try to narrow down anyone’s play style. If you want to try and pull off a crazy thing that just occurred to you, go ahead. I think a factor that really adds to this creativity is the map layouts. There are so many back alleys and rooftops to access. It’s crazy trying to find all the different directions you can go, and figuring out which characters can fit to what spots. Certain heroes like “Widowmaker” (a sniper) and “Genji” (a ninja), can traverse the map differently than others. With things like grappling hooks and wall climbing, they can get onto rooftops that no one else can. However I’ve seen all sorts of characters come up with inventive ways to get to those positions. Once they do, the enemy isn’t expecting it so they’re able to get the drop on ’em. Overwatch does very little to hinder you. It gives you a set of tools and lets you go crazy. While other games are trying desperately to rein in players and limit them, it’s absolutely a pleasure to see a game that doesn’t. This title has done so much to capture my heart and give me a new FPS to obsess over(watch).

overwatch

-Jordan Kamm-

Haven Review: Battleborn

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Battleborn is the new team-based hero shooter from Gearbox. The first thing I really noticed about the game, and what has stuck with me throughout my playing experience is that it’s a lot slower than I thought it was going to be; both in game play and waiting. Honestly, in the week after its launch, the queue for games has become a lot shorter.

Battleborn takes heavy inspiration from the MOBA genre much more than it does a standard FPS. I don’t play MOBAs very often. They tend not to interest me, and when I do play it’s with some friends already invested in the genre. However, Battleborn is different. When I started playing I didn’t understand some of the key ideas surrounding the gameplay. Things like “Don’t rush in”, Take your time” and “Be precise”. Doing what I do in other FPS titles, I completely disregarded these fundamentals and got horribly destroyed…again and again. At first I didn’t like Battleborn at all and kept trying to find excuses other than “I’m just bad at it”. I didn’t seem to even be having that much fun with it, but I kept wanting to try again and see if I could get a little bit better than before; try learn how this game actually worked, and what I was doing wrong. The more I played the more I found myself enjoying it. I haven’t really gotten any good at the game, but I’m at the point where I’m “usually” not the worst person on my team. When I try not to go for kills and just stick to the aforementioned key ideas, I tend to do alright and honestly have a bit more fun with the game.20160513162144_1

As well as these over all fundamentals, it’s taken me some time to learn the fundamentals. There are over 20 characters to choose from, however only 5 of them are playable from the start. At first I wanted to play a heavy damage dealer. I was wanting Battleborn to be more of a straightforward FPS, so I tried to play the characters who I thought fit that (or ones who had giant swords, because giant swords are pretty cool, too). I was far too aggressive with these characters; running into enemies only to get killed and deal no damage. Recently the characters that I excel in are the more support ones. I tend not to like playing support, but it forces me to be less aggressive. I stay back with my team. I help out and not just suck and die. Even going back to the offensive characters, I do a little better because of what I learned playing support.

One thing that happened to me many times starting out, and something I still think is a huge problem with this game is the level system (not the overall progression system, I’ll get to that later). With each level you get, you can choose one of two options to specialize your character a little bit, and tune them more to your style of play. That’s all fine. The problem is that the primary way you level up is by getting kills. 20160520141416_1If you aren’t getting kills you aren’t leveling. Eventually you’ll be so under-leveled that you practically can’t do anything. I’ve quit half way through games because everyone else was three or four levels above me…I could barely do any damage. Luckily, a way to alleviate this a little is that support characters will level if they are supporting and doing other things to help your team, like building various structures or fighting the little minions. This will give you some points to level up, but doing this is nowhere near as fast as getting kills. If you’re playing on the capture point map, rather than the MOBA map, there are virtually no minions to find and kill. This is a frustration I’ve had with most of the MOBA’s I’ve played, and Battleborn is definitely no exception.

When you complete a match, win or lose, you get experience points for both your “command level”, as well as for your particular character type. These are completely different from the in-match leveling system. The command level is your rank as a player. You get different stuff for reaching higher levels, including character unlocks and new items for your loadouts. When leveling up the character, this will unlock new options to choose in your “helix.” These are the choices you can make for each in-match level up. Unlocking these allows you to specialize your character even more. The more you play with a particular character, the more you’ll learn exactly how you like to play with them. These “helix” unlocks allow you to do just that. In order to unlock new characters you can do one of two things: You can either reach the “command” rank needed (the earliest hero will unlock at rank 10) or you can complete their challenge. Either way, it’s nice to see you can unlock all the characters through game play and there are no micro-transactions. The challenges can be anything from “win a certain amount of games” to “play as a certain faction for so many games”. You can also unlock a handful of characters through the “story mode”.20160520144445_1

The story mode is such a weird inclusion to this game. I really like the idea of it, but at the same time don’t think it’s that great. Probably the weakest part of Battleborn, the story mode is a weird combination of the multi-player game play mixed with Borderlands. It’s like Gearbox doesn’t know how to do much else. It’s “Border-Lite”, if you will. Each story mission gives you a short level to get through, and then finishes with some sort of boss. There’s really not much to them, other than the ability to unlock new characters. This may not always work out the way you want. If you decide to play a story mission, it works much the same way as multiplayer. You are put into a group and then everyone votes on which mission to play. You’re given three choices, so you better hope the one you want is among those (then hope that the others also vote for the one you want). The matchmaking for the story modes is all over the place. There isn’t any sense of grouping based on a common level. So one of two things tends to happen: You get grouped with someone way over-leveled and blow through the mission in about 10 minutes, or everyone but you is brand new to the game and you can’t complete the first half without using up all your extra lives. The stories themselves tend not to be too interesting. They consist of re-hashed Borderlands jokes, or some sort of vague rescue mission; possibly both.20160520142232_1

Battleborn is an interesting experience that I’ve had many mixed feelings about. However, the more I played it the more I’ve come to understand and enjoy it. It may not be exactly what I want in an FPS, but learning through the systems and practicing more and more has definitely made me appreciate it. At the very least it’s kept me driven to play more. It hooked me, even if at first I didn’t necessarily like being hooked.

battleborn

Disclaimer: We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

-Jordan Kamm-