I had been procrastinating watching it for a long time, but got through 1917 last night and wow, what a film. There’s something to be said for movies with very simple plots, Dredd, The Raid, Mad Max, The Northman, the Lighthouse, that just open up tons of possibilities for world building and character development that cannot occur when the plot is dominating screen time.

While the constant non-breaking scenes in 1917 are astounding to watch, the best part of the film for me was the changing landscape and how abruptly the characters go from pastoral grasslands to claustrophobia of the trenches, to the devastation of no-man’s land, within less than mile or so in most cases. The landscape becomes one of the characters in the film.

The film got me thinking about WW1 quite a bit as well, and it’s a grim reminder that no one in the first few weeks knew just how the war was going to play out, there were hints, for sure, especially during the American Civil War where Napoleonic tactics were annihilated by rifles that could shoot 3X as far with accuracy and near the end of the war, repeating rifles (see Hoover’s Gap). Yet no one could have guessed the massive trenchlines, mega fortresses and dominance of artillery. It was the end of the days where armies on the march feared nothing until the battle itself. More than that, WW1 represents the biggest fundamental shift in the paradigm of Western thought since the Enlightenment.

“The whole world really blew up about world war 1 and we still don’t know why. Before then, men thought that utopia was in sight. There was peace and prosperity. Then everything blew up, we’ve been in a suspended animation ever since” -Dr. Walker Percy

“The last complete normal year in history was 1913. Security and quiet have disappeared from the lives of men since 1914” -Konrad Adenauer

“World War 1 was more devastating to civility and civilization than the physically far more destructive world war 2: the earlier conflict destroyed an idea. I cannot erase the thought of those pre-World War 1 years, when the future of mankind appeared unencumbered and without limit.” -The Age of Turbulence, Alan Greenspan

“Everything would get better and better. This was the world I was born in… Suddenly, unexpectedly, one morning in 1914 the whole thing came to an end” -Harold Macmillan

“Historic events are often said to have changed everything. In the case of the Great War this is, for once, true. The war really did change everything: not just borders, not just governments and the fate of nations but the way people have seen the world and themselves ever since. It became a king of hole in time, leaving the postwar world permanently disconnected from everything that had come before” -G. J. Meyer

Post Funmatic Stress Disorder

I close my eyes and see Paris alleyways and cafes on fire with APV’s shattered in the middle of cobblestone streets with swarms of desert cammo’ed guys running around shooting AK-74M’s and throwing grenades, or goggled men in on their  belly in a long snake crawling behind a low wall as mortar fire rains down and people complain and complain.  Needless to say, a lot of battlefield 3 has been played by yours truly– about 12 hours of multiplayer so far, which is far less than many of the players, but quite a bit for me in less than a week.

The first days were just chaos, all the new maps and new players running into each other, having firefights with their own team mates, following people into dead ends or off the maps, crashing every type of vehicle off cliffs, into mountains either deliberately or accidentally but now, especially since the game came out in Europe, play is in earnest and has gotten much more focused and tactical without all the running around all over the place alone.

It’s a great game, and while I loved Battlefield Bad Company 2, BF3 is better, especially multiplayer.   Even playing alone and not listening to your squad at all, it’s a thinking man’s FPS, as the rushing in doesn’t work very well in most situations (some, yes), especially if you get spotted, and in the open, you will get spotted.  There are people that play that all they do is sit somewhere and spot people coming in for their teammates to clean up.  The difference when going into an engagement spotted compared to not is absolutely huge and, of course, most n00bs have no idea even how to do this.

I’m finally got 350 shotgun kills today.  After this I have no idea which weapon I’ll use– there are really too many guns and really all I want is my Baur from BF2142 (which I have heard is the G3A3 that can only be unlocked after (gulp) about ten hours of co-op match work).  For any new players, the gun stuff is very confusing– especially since when you use a gun you unlock the optics for it ONLY and have to start over with the next gun unlock.  For the Assault class, where every unlock is some random assault rifle, this can be pretty lame.  I guess because I didn’t play BF2 much, and the gun list was a lot smaller in BFBC2, I’m a bit lost (hence the shotgun only).    So as tired as the military shooter genre is, I have to give this game the highest possible rating.  My only complaint is the client side prediction–especially since I rarely get off more than two shots with the shotgun when near someone else– it can be frustrating to get the rubberband effect when you know you had a bead on someone.

Of the maps that are out– I like Caspian Border the best.  This was in the beta for a short time at the end, has a lot of open space and lots of wooded areas and is just a fluid, fun map with a lot of nervousness about the vehicles rolling around, though they are horribly vulnerable out in the open to the choppers.   The central three objectives (Woods, Hilltop and Gas Station) are just terrific to fight over as they are quite a bit like a Devil’s Den area of nastiness.  My least favorite is the Bazaar as it’s just too much about shooting down hallways with RPG’s for the entire map.  Meatgrinder maps can be fun, but the chokepoints on that map just get tiresome.

My shotgun build out, if anyone cares, is the 870MCS with the HOLO sight and Slugs.   This works at short range, but only does 91% damage without a head shot so you have to get two shots off for the kill, against someone with a submachine gun close up you are probably dead meat running and gunning.  However, compared to buckshot, which is better close up, I chose slugs because you can tag people at medium range and it still does a lot of damage– a head shot will kill outright.  So you can snipe with it (which is ridiculous but works) and you can shoot at people you are facing that are lying down and get a kill with one shot most of the time because there is the head right there.    One of the later unlocks, which you’d think would be better,  is the flak shell and this has not worked for me at all.  It seems to throw a lot of crap around but doesn’t get a lot of kills.  Flechette rounds– buckshot is better unless you are shooting through trees and stuff– not all that common.  Most of the sight unlocks are total trash for the shotgun– you don’t want a big ass scope getting in your way when you are shooting off the hip– and it’s too difficult to judge where your shots are going from a scope anyway (you don’t have any tracer shells to track).

Anyway, 6 more days until Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is out, which will likely put my BF3 playing on hold until early next year so I’m going to go get in on some good shooting.

Here are some insane videos just showing the breadth and depth of the chaotic madness that is BF3:

It came from the wave 10/24

In addition to being the one week in the next month or so where the gaming industry hasn’t forced us to spend our hard earned cash, this weeks theme, if themeing of such randomness is even possible, would be “I MOUNT MY PLATYPUS!

Apparently there’s going to be a micronauts film.  I don’t really think this is possible, but what the heck.

Some awesome color photos from the late 30’s and 40’s.  http://extras.denverpost.com/archive/captured.asp

Some dude despecialized the first Star Wars movie, i.e.: keeping as close to the original film while bringing it to HD quality.

I wouldn’t mind getting telefragged in this type of situation.

Close to the worst indy game I’ve ever played.

Beta stats for BF3.  Pretty amazing how many people played.  Makes you feel a bit like dust in the wind, except of course then you think again about the fact that you are a sentient being living out what is, compared to most other organisms in the biosphere, limited immortality,  in a universe that is largely filled with absolutely NOTHING — then you can feel like a unique little flower again like they taught you in the 70’s.

And then this, posted in it’s entirety:

At my old house I had this old man neighbor that would wait for me to rake my yard and then come out and use his air blower to blow the leaves from his yard into my yard. I was confused the first time I saw it happen so I didn’t think much of it. I thought to myself, “Oh he’s just an old retired boob and is sloppy with his leaf blower.” the first time it happened. But then when I went back out to rake up the leaves he had blown over I saw him in the fucking window watching and giggling.

When I went back out to rake my leaves later that month, I caught a glimpse of him in the window watching me rake the yard so I was aware that he was specifically waiting for me to be done. Sure enough, as soon as I went back in the house he came back out and did it again. I was fucking pissed. So I came back out and he wasn’t outside so I went and knocked on the door but there was no answer. The neighbor that lived on the other side of him saw me and noticed my hulk smash expression and came over and started chatting with me and said that he’d been living next door to the guy for 12 years and it has been happening the entire time he lived there. His retaliation, which I got to watch in action shortly after our conversation, was to buy a leaf blower of his own that was more powerful than his neighbor’s version, and blow all the leaves back into the guy’s yard and when the guy came out to blow them into other people’s yards again he would stand out there with his more powerful leaf blower and they’d have some super fucking silly old man leaf blowing duel shooting the shit back and forth at each other.

I didn’t have the money for the leaf blower, so I just took all of the leaves and raked them up and flipped them all over his bushes and shit so he couldn’t blow them out of there. I also started pissing all over his wife’s garden every night and killing all of the flower and sleeping soundly knowing that they were eating vegetables that had grown thanks to drinking my piss.

In the winter, the fucking guy would do the same thing with his snow blower. He’d wait for me to hand shovel the sidewalk and then blow the fucking snow from his section of sidewalk all over my front porch, walkway up to my house, and the sidewalk in front of the house. I hate shoveling, even more than raking, so I wanted to slaughter him but Midge thought that maybe if I did something nice for the guy and chatted with him he’d stop doing it. So I gave it a try and helped him out with fixing some shit in house, including his broken ass computer, and the thanks I got was he started plowing in my fucking garage door back in the alleyway. At that point I had to give him a quality sensless style shouting until he went in the garage and started brandishing some shovel or ax or something at me. This just made me even angrier so I started making a physical move towards him so he ran back in his garage and locked himself in there for awhile. After that, I started taking ALL of the dog shit from my back yard, which there was a huge amount of (two black labs worth) and threw it all over his fucking yard and continued to piss through the fence all over the areas that his wife’s gardens were

BF3 preload action

In anticipation of the 25th, pre-ordererererers can get the giant download of BF3 starting today (or once you get an email from EA) .  This in itself isn’t news at all, but I wanted to babble at some length about the excellent beta and other random stuff.

BF3’s beta was flat out the best I’ve ever been in.  It dispelled doubts about the Origin system being crap, let us play on one map a lot and another map for a few days both of which are absolutely worth playing over and over and over as even the small one without the vehicles is supergigantic, super intricate and most of all, fun as hell.  While there were bugs and issues, the long neck stuff, the dead-alive bug, crashing, not saving stats, and, of course, the servers being filled to the brim all the time, none of that really detracted from the hellacious amount of fun to be had running around, throwing grenades and just enjoying the carnival of carnage that BF3 has turned out to be.   With 154 shotgun kills (and the suffering that goes along with trying to get close enough to people to use a shotgun on them) I was just going berzerk.  EA is not a company I’m a huge fan of, so I went into the whole thing with a healthy skepticism born of being burned by their crappy steam-like client before (calling it steam-like is a bit of an insult to steam really) and the fact that it’s well know they want to eat into Valves electronic delivery mastery and BF3 is the engine that will lead them there.  However, after a good span of time  with BF2142, and a dabbling (as much as I had time for in the last year) with Battlefield Bad Company 2, I will buy every single Battlefield game made by DICE for the PC regardless of their publisher.  That’s just a cold hard fact of life.

Politically, we’re looking at a huge AAA+ title about ultra-recent warfare that again has the Russians vs Americans, which is getting sort of ridiculous at this point (about as ridiculous as the USA taking on a 5th rate economy in the cold war for 40 years instead of concentrating on hegemony and dominance of other areas of the globe that are now much more threatening to everyone else’s way of life).  However, if you look at the release trailer, Iran is in there as well and, of course, a good part of the game takes place in the middle east.  Doing something on the middle east during the absolute height of Arab Spring is a tough row to hoe and I’m a bit afraid of what the politics the single player will try to be.  We’re seeing the shitbags in power that the people of the arab world should have been burning in effigy for the last 30 years finally getting ousted or getting some bullets placed inside of them, and let’s face it, after the last year we can never look at Egypt, Libya and Tunisia the same again (and I hope we can say that about Syria and Iran soon) because everything has changed.  DICE obviously has been working on BF3 for years, and I can’t imagine the panic the writers may have been going through during the tyrant shake down that’s been happening.  Some of the factions they reference in the game may not even exist in the next few months.  Overall, this is a multiplayer game and no one is going to care if the political landscape is changed when they are blinding people with a tactical light attachment, base jumping off half-mile high cliffs or crashing helicopters into giant wind turbines.

Battlefield 3 beta, Origin and grenades

You are going to see this logo a lot in the next year or so.

Yesterday I cruised home over lunch to start the BF3 beta download, and for 3 gigs it went exceptionally fast.  80% by 2PM or so is no joke with that size download.   I wasn’t able to get in the game right away due to a driver update download (much slower from nvidia) and the CHILDRENS, but got in late at night for a span of time.  Suffice to say, this is really a must-have game for everyone that likes FPS, even if they play 10-20 hours with the singleplayer and dabble with the multi, it will be well worth it for the visuals alone, which are incredible.  EA knows everyone will want and buy this because, let’s just face it, it will be awesome incarnate. Like Blizzard with Starcraft/D3, and Stardock and every online publisher, EVERYONE wants to try to take a piece out of Steam. Since BF3 is going to be so awesome, EA wants to take a big piece out of Valve with it’s new Origin system.   You must have Origin installed and running to play BF3, even the single player, from what I understand. So EA is strong-arming people who want to play their awesome game to have their version of Steam installed.  Wouldn’t you?

Obviously, this has raised the same type of ire that D3’s “always online” with the master servers (like an MMO) issue that is causing lag in single player games in the beta (granted it’s still a beta).  What’s more, the older thingy EA did to try to mimic Steam really really sucked, so who can blame people that are gunshy after that crap was installed and polluted people’s systems?  However, just like D3, everyone will buy this game anyway despite complaints and suffer Origin’s existence.  Given that, after just a few hours last night, I think EA’s Origin is going to be a lot less obtrusive and annoying than Blizzard’s MMO style approach to Diablo 3– though Origin seems very strange at first because it is the game’s front end and it’s in a browser, I think  interface so far is top notch, everything is very cleanly laid out, it doesn’t seem to effect anything in game, chatting is very well implemented and overall stuff is very simple to find and use.  At first I was understandably annoyed, but after an hour or so with many crashes kicking me back to the interface, I started to think the Origin implementation is pretty neat.  If you are a hater without giving Origin a go, you know you cannot deny that BF3 is something you want and it makes total logical sense that EA would push it’s version of Steam off it’s super heavyweight title.  Just try it out. It’s not that bad.

Now onto the game:  BF3 crashed a lot.  I fell into the map twice and couldn’t get out until I hit a kill-brush.  There was horrible lag when I was near some other players, ending in my demise via the knife.  I couldn’t find a server that wasn’t full  for 5 minutes or so each time I tried to play.   I didn’t get on the map with the vehicles because they were all locked.  I couldn’t get in a game with any of my friends.   Lots of issues?  Yes.  Was it fantastic and would I face all of these issues to play more?  YES.    The feel of the game was great, grenade explosions are absolutely breathtaking (I threw one every time I respawned just to see it explode!), tracer rounds look gorgeous, the environmental damage effects are awesome, and you can go prone and, drum roll, you can get points for suppression fire!!!  Fire and movement tactics not only implemented in a game but rewarded. Finally.  Say you are a mid ranged, hang back and fire the LMG’s type of player– you may not kills that much but you are certainly helping your team by forcing the enemy to keep their heads down and restricting their movement.  Now you get POINTS for it.

As I mentioned above, I only got to play on the non-vehicle map in the park/subway and only for an hour or so, hence I can’t write that much about the game.  Despite no tanks and toys, it was absolutely engrossing– clearing halls and rooms with your squad via grenades, suppression and rush is what this is all about and BF3 does it well.  I’m itching to see what else the game has in store.

Also of note, on Origin Deluxe BF2142 is in the FREE GAMES section. Can’t argue with that!