Freitag, 23. August 2019

Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Ranking Campaigns & Characters

Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Ranking the Campaigns and the characters

So I liked Radiant Dawn and Awakening a lot and even Fates was far from being a bad game but none of them really came all that close to being as good as Path of Radiance which was my entry into the series.
Enter Three Houses, the newest installment of the series and the first Home comsole title since the Nintendo Wii.
And. It. Rocks.

I'm not gonna review the game, not "really" at least. Instead I'll take a look at the the 4 different Campaigns (well...3.5) and all the characters (except only the students) and rank them because that's the cool thing to do in the internet and because I don't have to keep out the spoilery stuff.


Without further ado, lets start with:

The Campaigns

4) The Black Eagles / Adrestian Empire

Judging from online statistics, it's far and beyond the campaign most players chose. I don't want to accuse anyone of anything but I will say I would be surprised if the fact that this Group has most of the pretty girls, including the House Leader, wasn't one of the bigger reasons for that.
That's not to say that the Eagles are the weakest team out of the three, far from it, but given that you can recruit most characters into your House no matter which one you choose it's only Hubert and Edelgard who are limited to this route and I'm not a big fan of either.

Edel especially is a character I thought would come off much better in her own route than it others because she's the Villain in every single route except this... but is she even the Hero here?
Even with the Church being turned up from "somewhat suspicious" to "controlled by an insane woman" kind of enemy in this route only it feels like you are playing the bad guys here.
From the first few seconds after you choose this path midway through the Campaign something feels off.
Byleth just grins smugly at Rhea after siding with Edelgard for... not really all that many reasons at this point in the story, later on almost every Student that's gone with you will mention that they are just here because they trust YOU, all the former Students and Colleagues you will have to fight and kill after your side started a continent wide war will question your decision (duh), you are essentially okay with teaming up with the baddest of bad guys (who were the ones turning Edelgards live into a living hell and who actually were the ones who created what she hates and wants to see gone in the first place) in the game who killed your father on the vague promise that Edelgard doesn't like them either (and by the end, there is no proof she ever manages to get rid of them), blatant lies from the new Emporer regarding the real backstory of Nemsis and his 10 Elites or when she blamed the Church for bombing a Stronghold they never bombed, the lack of the battle of Gronder Fields which is a big deal in every other route and was all over the trailers and lastly the fact that this campaign is by far the shortest.

All things considered it feels like a "What if" Storyline rather than something that was meant to be seen the same way as the other paths and Edel is not nearly as convincing as a Heroine as she is as a Villain, especially since Dimitri and Claude on the opposing sides are presented as nothing but good guys throughout.
Dimitri comes off almost more heroic than on his own route since the whole Storyline where he's captured and sentenced to death which transforms him into a bloodthirsty beast for a while, is completely missing and lastly: None of them use Demonic beasts by transforming their Soldiers into them (with one exception were it made a lot of sense plot wise).

On the other hand it's those things that still make the route worthwhile since the interactions with characters outside your team are really intriguing, especially when you have recruited people from other houses who now fight their own friends and family.
Ingrid's and Dimitri's reaction to having to fight Felix (and Sylvain in Ingrid's case) really stand out to me.

3) Black Eagles / Church of Seiros

For most of the Black Eagles Members this just feels right and their explanations as to why they are here just sound more convincing and "in character", especially for the likes of Ferdinand and Petra.

What's pretty nice here is that you aren't at war with everyone else. The Alliance even helps you in secret, the Kingdom would like to join forces with you and your opponents are really just the Empire and Those who slither in the dark uuuuntil the game throws one last level into your face were Rhea suddenly is unable to control her Dragon side and you have to slaughter what feels like half the Order.
It feels tacked on and unnecessary but at least it gives you the nicest day of free roaming the monastery where everyone thinks you are done fighting. Having played two Campaigns before I started this one I knew this couldn't be the end yet (since I was still able to freeroam after all) but for a moment it was just really nice.

I'm a bit disappointed you don't get to participate in one way or the other on the side of either the Alliance or the Kingdom in Gronder Fields especially since it's followed up by a dream sequence that leads nowhere but all in all it's just a really satisfying route to play even though Seteth takes over the role of the Co-Main character which isn't exactly a great fit.

2) Blue Lions / Kingdom of Faerghus

Other than the other routes you barely delf into the lore and overarching backstory of the game, instead it's very focused on the characters and their relationships and personal pasts.
The tragedy of Duscur, Dimitri's childhood friendship with Edelgard and how the betrayal affected him, Dimitri's personal demons born from what happened in Duscur, edelgards declaration of war after being revealed to be the Flame Emperor, capture by his own Kingdom, the loss (or not) of his best friend and how he eventually overcomes it.

Sure focusing on him during his Edgelord phase could be very cringy all things considered but the fact that everyone but him considers it to be an actual problem and that he gets back to his true self make for an interesting devleopment.

We never get to the point were we have to fight those who slither in the dark (well we do but we kill Thalus without knowing who he is) or a crazed Rhea in dragon form.
It's just a well written crew of people, the best house by the way bar none, overcoming hardship and eventually beating the Empire.
The Ending is also the one that has by far the least casualties since it's really just the Empire that gets in the way. No Nemesis Army killing everyone, no dragon Rhea going insane, those who slither in the dark dealt with without even revealing themselves as what they were, etc.

1) Golden Deer/ Lancaster Alliance

Basically the better version of the Church Route, the Golden Deer Route feels much the same in terms of the kind of levels you'll play and the reveals that take place troughout.
Except you learn even more here, including were the legendary weapons come from and how fucked up those who slither in the dark truelly are. (Killing someone with the bones of their relatives is pretty metal but not the kind of thing a Hero would do, take note Edel).

But really this is first and foremost Claude's story. While the majority of the Golden Deer House Characters just aren't terribly interesting or cool (with exceptions) Claude very much is.
He's a Jokester and a master marksman, a capable leader and an awfully good guy all around.
Especially since his dream about connecting people and tearing down walls make him the kind of  Hero we need in Stories in 2019.

Furthermore he gets the most Cutscenes out if all the routes and the last two are just straight up badass.
Even the Ending, while also a bit tacked on, is just a whole lot of fun. Taking down Zombie Nemesis and his 10 elites beats Rhea or Demon-Edelgard any day as far as final fights go.

And now let's do the same thing for ...

The Characters:

(I actually used a ranking tool for this because doing it manually was already a pain with my Mass Effect Character List.)

25 - Flayn

Your average nice and polite "cute" anime girly. Hard pass.
What makes matters worse is that you'll have her among your team no matter what, if only temporary in one case.
While her backstory with Seiros and Seteth is intriguing it somehow doesn't make her more interesting, it just makes her part of an interesting sub plot.

24 - Caspar

Your average overly enthusiastic good boy. Hard pass.
Caspar, much like Flayn for that matter, is always the most annoying person around in every single cutscene. The only reason he doesn't get the last spot is that I enjoyed his interactions with Bernadetta.

23 - Ignatz
His shared backstory with Raphael is pretty cool and ties into the larger political powerplay of the Lancaster Alliance as is the conflict between his own goals and those of his Family.

Apart from that I keep forgetting he exists.

22 - Hilda
The sort of bitchy, sort of not, sort of egoistic, sort of not archetype just isn't my cup of tea. And I don't really like the J-Pop Star look much either. But it would be unfair to dismiss that she is reasonably complex as a character and Claude's line if she is killed in the Black Eagle Campaign lamenting the fact that she didn't fall back as he had expected is the perfect example to show that she was a better person than most think. Still she often annoyed me.

21 - Lorenz
Much like Hilda, probably even more so, he ends up being a better person than one would think and his sort of rivalry with Claude given their roles in the Alliance was certainly fun but looking back there were more instances of him annoying me than those that intriguid me.

20 - Mercedes
Her. Voice. Makes. Me. Angry.
Another character that is a stereotype I usually don't like, namely the overly gentle soul, I found myself surprised on more than one occasion to how much I enjoyed her support conversations with many of the other Blue Lions, especially Annette.

19 - Marianna
The games resident Emo hides a pretty cool backstory that comes with a great paralogue quest. Also: She gets over her constant despair over time.

18 - Hubert
I never felt bad for having to kill him as he is a nasty bastard but that's exactly what makes him stand out among the rest . He's dirt and he knows it. I do like that he reveals the Location of those who slither in the dark. One last noble (and probably first) noble deed.

17 - Linhardt
I actually found his constant sleepyness to be somewhat tiring... get it?...oh well.
But it was the person that came to light when wasn't just about to run off to sleep which I found interesting. A calm, calculating mind that doesn't fall into the trap of being socially awkward because scientists are nerds.

16 - Annette
The "girliest" girl in the Blue Lions house is really just that: A girl. And I say that without any sort of sarcasm. Annette feels like a believable person, has a kinda cute friendship with Mercedes and can be excited without being annoying. And her backstory with her dick of a father (who is still kinda cool) adds so much more. to whats already there.

15 - Edelgard
Yeah, yeah. Keep your pitchfork, I've got my own.
If you have read this far it shouldn't come as a surprise that Edel won't make it in my "Favourite FE Characters ever" list.
I really do like her as a Villain but it was her own route (and to a lesser extent, her fanboys and girls all over the internet) that soured me on her.
Her reasons for attacking the Church are flimsy, her reasons to team up with her real enemy even worse. But I can live with her just being misguided, many great Villains are.
However her own route is trying to portray her as a Hero except when it's not.
She's shown using those around her and twisting the truth to achieve her goals being all ruthless, except when she's not.
It kind of feels like Nintendo realised too late that Fans would want to side with her to the end so they through another path in there hence she feels very inconsistent.

14 - Ferdinand
If you had told me at the beginning that I would end up liking Ferdie as much as I did I wouldn't have believed you but the five year skip really worked wonders. There are still signs of the arrogant brat that was a student of the academy but he grows up to be a decent guy all things considered, especially in the Church route. Also: That long hair after the skip makes him look hella badass.

13 - Ashe
The Blue Lions nice guy (not the internet kind if nice guy M'Lady) is one hell of a bad unit gameplay wise. But hey that's not really what this list is all about.
Ashe is a decent character from the getgo, from his backstory to his ambitions it's all just pretty darn alright. However I very much enjoyed his interactions and reaction to and about his foster-father who is one of the earliest enemies in the game and seemingly hellbent on killing Arch Bishop Rhea.
Despite having to fight against him and taking this duty seriously he vows to be the kind of men he knew his foster father was or at the very least how he perceived him. That's just neat all around, ain't it?

12 - Bernadetta
From the beginning I didn't really know whether I thought Bernie was either super annoying or super funny and I couldn't make up my mind for a long time. But I tell you what she never was: Boring.
While still over the top, her bakstory explains her behaviour as well as possibly and the voice acting is so on point that I couldn't help but start to laugh eventually.

11 - Lysithea
A backstory much like that of Edelgard it's Lysithea's personality that's just much more fun.
Being the youngest student she hates being treated like a kid, despite very much still acting like one at times. But she's one badass kid with loads of interesting support conversations.
Her A rank support with Edelgard was a bit disappointing given all the hype I've seen surrounding it.
Yes it's the only one where she ends up living longer (so I assume) and yes I like that this possibility exists but uhm... her sudden enthusiasm in supporting the one who is ALLIED TO THE PEOPLE WHO TORTURED HER AS A CHILD just feels off somehow.

10 - Ingrid
The resident watchdog among the group of old friends that are the heart of the Blue Lions House, Ingrid is just one cool Lady who wants to become a Knight yet she knows that she'll have to just marry some noble because that's just the world she lives in.
Overcoming this idea (and her racism towards Duscur if her support with Dedue is high enough) make her a badass woman with just enough character devlopment to crack the top ten.

9 - Raphael
Okay so I can hardly argue with character complexity here but I don't have to. A powerhouse in fights, Raphael is just the perfect example of the dumb but well meaning brute archetype and he mad eme laugh a lot. next.

8 - Leonie
Okay let's get that out of the way: Leonie should be the Golden Deer's Archer. Not just the Lance Knight who also shoots arrows every now and then. Half of her supports are about archery, she's the only character to wear dedicated archer gloves and the teams actual archer can't see without glasses.
Let. That. Sink. In.
With that out of the way: Leonie is the Tomboy with Mercenary dreams who looks up to a badass character. That's way up my alley. ALso: Her paralogue mission is hilarious.

7 - Dedue
Dedue, who is at first glance nothing more than the average stoic Bodyguard type, somehow has some of the coolest scenes in each and every Campaign. His support conversation are all throughout good stuff and his reasons to stick with Dimitri just sound really believable.

6 - Dorothea
Doro is just one of the most interesting and fun characters from the getgo. It doesn't take long to see the person under all the smiling and flirting and while she openly admits to just planning to find someone to marry who can keep her safe and fed into her older years she doesn't really come off as cold and calculating since she's just way too nice... when she isn't being all sassy that is.
After the timeskip she is one of those who yearns for peace the most and is gutted about the fact she is forced to fight old friends. Her conversation with Ferdie when they fight on the bridge is just heart shattering stuff.

5 - Dimitri
From everyones favourite son in law to a man barely sane enough to even breath to a humble and reasonable King trying to redeem himself, Dimitri grows from someone who seems to be the most boring house leader at first glance to someone you really root for.
His childhood friendship with Felix, Sylvain and Ingrid is the core of the Blue Lions, his childhood friendship with Edelgard is the core of his entire Campaign which has a really nice pay off.
Betrayal, Redemption, drama, death, love. His story has it all and affects the other House Members more than any other House Leaders story does and his last stand in the Empire Campaign is just really cool.
Shame he dies off screen in 2/4 Campaigns.

4 - Sylvain
Another example of someone who is so much more than he seems to be.
Sylvain is the worst kind of Womanizer. He's also a man with a heart of gold, much smarter than one would expect, a good friend for everyone who needs one, a guy who thinks very critically about crests and nobility and a guy I'd just like to hangout with, really.

3 - Claude
Far and beyond the breakout start among the House Leaders. Even though he has what I'd argue is the worst support cast, a role in the story that makes him seem like an afterthought to some of they keyplayers in the other factions and has my least favourite paralogue mission (out of those I played) his inquisitive nature reveals the most details about the continents lore, his conversations, be that support or not, are always either interesting, entertaining or both and his relationship with the Magister feels the closest.
To Dimitri Byleth is a mentor, to Edelgard they are either a beloved tool or a sort of close ally but to Claude, they are just the best fucking friend in Fodlan.

2 - Petra
That girl is just the most charming and adorable person in the entire game. Petra is a fish out of water who bravely faces enemies, a foreign culture way different to her own and ... language barriers.
Never before have I encountered a character in Fire Emblem games who amde me go "aaaaawww" every time she opened her mouth without being dumb, silly or even naive.
Petra is smart and self sufficient but also caring and inquisitive, determined to lead her own people one day. I couldn't help but feel that deciding to go against the empire felt much more in character for her just as it did for Ferdinand (and Dorothea to an extent) given that she is basically a hostage in the beginning but that doesn't change that I just really like her no matter which campaign I chose.

1 - Felix
The brooding lone wolf whose main interest is getting harder, better, faster, stronger is a character I liked from the beginning. It requieres a bit of digging but his support conversations with pretty much anyone shine a new light on him, especially those that deal with his past as a much more open hearted kid until the thing happened that also changed Dimitri, except Felix never bothered to hide it.
What really made me put him up on the very top was a conversation that only occurs when you recruit him on the Golden Deer Route. Prior to that he spends most of his time badmouthing Dimitri because he knows from the start what's hiding underneath.
However after Dimitri's death, Felix is beyond gutted when you talk to him, lamenting the fact that he couldn't help the person who used to be his best friend so long ago.
Also: If you play a female Byleth and romance the guy you just get the best Ending possible.
Just two badasses in love who spend the coming years duelling each other with smiles on their faces.,
True Love, right there.

So yeah: That's it! Do you agree? Ah who am I kidding, chances are you really, really don't if the online statistic are anything to go by. But hey, it's my list. YOu are very welcome to make your own ;)

Freitag, 5. Januar 2018

Superhero Movies 2017 - Ranked

Beware of Spoilers!

So actually I wanted to review Star Wars Episode 8 but for two reasons I decided against it.

1) The Movie so packed with Content I have to see it a second time first.
2) There is so much negativity surrounding it I can't help but being annoyed by it and it doesn't help that it's mostly of the non-constructive kind.
That's a shame you know, because even though there were some flaws I loved the Movie and consider it the best entry in the Series (not counting Rogue One) since probably Episode 6.

But enough of that let's rank some Superhero Movies, shall we?
Again, I'll only rank what I've actually seen. That means there are no animated Movies except one and the Power Rangers didn't interest me enough to give them a go either.

7 - Justice League

Right so, no one is surprised that DC's answer to the Avengers is at the very bottom of this List, right?
After Man of Steel, Suicide Squad and the ever so loathed Dawn of Justice nobody expected much.
After endless re-shots, background troubles and way more years of Production than necessary expectations probably sunk even lower.

To the Movies credit there were some things that actually worked very well. The Characters had distinctive and likeable personalities, the interactions between them worked surprisingly well, there were some good jokes in there that legitimately made me laugh and the Action Scenes were mostly pretty good.
Sadly the tone drifted from gloomy to ridiculous without any rhyme or reason, Supermans return had been part of the marketing campaign so there was no surprise there and the plot itself was as a whole not terribly interesting.
It didn't help that the dialogues varied from alright to outright terrible and that Bruce Wayne was very tame in this. I know we all hate BvS and I am not a huge Batman Fan in general but the Intensity Affleck had brought to the table in that movie had been rather compelling.
Here he just comes off as someone who's too old for this shit.

6 - Thor - Ragnarok

Whoa! Put the forks and torches away I'll explain myself in a second. Remember that I rank those Movies in order of how much I enjoyed them not in Order of Quality.
I am not a professional Film Critic nor someone who earns his money by shouting stuff about Movies in a youtube Video so ranking stuff in quality is not something I am qualified for.

The Fact that Thor is this far down the list is actually not a knock on the Movie itself but rather a testament for 2017 as a Comic Book Movie year.
Last year this one would have been up rather high in my List since the transition from funny Action Movie to outright Comedy worked really well.
There were some cool Action scenes, dialogues, revelations, world building and character interactions the latter being ALWAYS right on the very top of my priority list. It's without a doubt Thor's best Solo Movie but there were some things I disliked a lot.
First things first: The beginning of the Movie flew by way too fast.
Thor beats Surtur, the one destined to destroy Asgaard, he fucks up Loki's plan, travels to Earth, meets Doctor Strange, finds their father Odin, Odin dies, Hela shows up, destroys his hammer, sends them off to a far away planet and takes over Asgaard in what feels like the first 5 minutes of the Film.
That is a lot of content of varying importance not getting it's due.

And secondly: The Warriors Three die and Lady Sif doesn't even show up.
Chances are that you don't even know who I am talking about: Well it's Thor's comrades and best friends since forever from the first two Movies.
But just because the Fans didn't seem to care about them doesn't mean the same should go for Thor himself.
I don't mind that they die (I mean I do but well...) but the fact that the main character of the Movie never even recognizes their deaths by asking Heimdall about them or seeing their corpses is just a really huge stain on the Movie  in my humble Opinion and the main reason I just didn't enjoy this entry as much as I probably would have otherwise.

5 - Spiderman Homecoming

Let's get that out of the way first: I still think the first two Raimi Spiderman Movies were better than Homecoming but we should consider that this Movie had not only the Job of being good (after those terrible "Amazing Spiderman" Movies) but it also had to be different enough for people to not get bored with it while also fitting into the MCU. And it worked in every way.
Additionally we got a really good Villain in Keaton as the Vulture and a really good bad father-figure in Robert Dawney Jr. as Iron Man.
The Humour was, obviously, on point, the teenage slice of life stuff was as compelling to wartch as the Super Hero stuff and... yeah. That's about all I feel the need to say.

4 - Lego Batman

As stated above I am not a huge Batman Fan in general for a number of reasons and when I say Batman I mean the brooding charismaless, Dark Knight kind of Batman that is so popular. But I'd never deny that there is some good to Wayne's corner of the DC Universe in fact it's probably the most exciting corner of said Universe. Just not thanks to Batman but rather because of the mans supportcast and Villains.
Now luckily Lego Batman addresses ALL OF IT.
The whole Movies is really about how stale and uninteresting everything Batman is weren't it for the colorful characters surrounding him. And to save the world this time he has to admit just that not only to those on his side but even his enemies including the Joker. You haven't seen a Batman with this much personality since Keaton played him. Do, check it out if you can stand Lego Humor.

3 - Logan

I already mentioned it when I posted last years list: Logan was a really cool Movie.
Set in... well actually no one really knows exactly in what X-Men Movie Timeline this one is set but since no one really cares anymore about these timelines why should I?

In any case: This Movie takes place in a near future where Mutants are all but extinct. The X-Men are gone, Charles Xavier is losing his mind and the former Wolverine James "Logan" Howlett is an alcoholic disillusioned Loser who only takes care of Charles and doesn't really do anything heroic anymore.
That is until he meets a little girl that is just like him whom he gets paid to get to safety.
Having fallen so far from Grace he actually doesn't want to do it at first and later is only in it for the money which is rather untypical for the selfless Man we used to know.
And the Movie takes its merry time to redeem him throughout a plot that is all in all secondary at best.
It's a really nice send off for two out of three characters/actors that actually remained memorable after a bunch of unmemorable films and yet Logans "daughter" X-23 aka Laura is the real Star of this Film. As a fan of her Comic Counter Part I am very much on board with her adaptation.

2 - Wonder Woman

THE Movie of 2017.
The first good DCEU Film,
the first good female fronted Superhero Film,
the icon for women and girls for generations to come.
The cultural impact of Wonder Woman is real and thats a good thing.
Fortunately the Movie itself was also a "good thing". Be it the Isle of the Amazonians themselves, Diana's interactions with people and objects from the "modern" world, the way War is portrayed or the way our Heroine inspires the people around her to be the best possible person they can be without any of it coming off as too cheesy.
It's a really good film with really good characters and a really good plot that makes it easy to ignore that the ending is... well. Not really good.
I for one can not wait for Wonder Woman 2, Gal Gadot has made the character her own in the same way Robert Dawney Jr and Chris Evans have made Iron Man and Captain America their own only that it kind off means more in her case for the reasons stated above.

1 - Guardians of the Galaxy 2

If you would have told me last year that a sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy would be my top pick of the year 2017 I would have laughed in your face.
Because out of all the MCU franchises the Guardians were easily the one I cared the least for and all that thanks to the fact that I didn't enjoy the first Movie much.

For me the characters all had potential to be interesting with their diverse backstories and different abilities but when it came to delivering on that everyone but Peter Quill fell flat.

And the way everyone of those supposed lone wolfs reminded me way too much of playing textbased Roleplay back when I was sixteen or so were everyone I played with laid out his or her past and ambitions out after five minutes of ingame talking.
Two weeks later they'd marry and get children and then there was nothing left to play out.
Granted I wasn't much better well...

Erm... Anyway Guardians 2 actually is the opposite of that with characters being actually hesitant to open up and many of them revealing layers to their personality that hadn't been known before.
Even though the Movie is set in space, with a living Planet as the bad guy and raccoons and cyborgs being part of the team it is probably the most human feeling Superhero Movie I have seen all year and easily the most emotional one. All that while still being mostly a comedy no less.
That is some damn good writing and to top tings off: The Soundtrack was also better than in the first one. Having "The Chain" playing during the final battle is more than alright with me.

So thats my list. You are free to agree or disagree as much as you want.
See ya' whenever I feel like writing about something again. ;)

Montag, 18. September 2017

How Marvel Should Have Concluded: SECRET EMPIRE

(Beware of Spoilers!)

How Marvel Should Have Concluded 

S E C R E T    E M P I R E

According to me, some random dude on the Internet

Alright, real Talk.
I loved the shit out of Nick Spencer's Steve Rogers book and the Storyline that saw said Hero to have his reality rewritten by Cosmic Cube trickery at the Hands of the Red Skull.
It was a clever and well written book which made even the lackluster Event Civil War II more interesting because every panel with "Stevil" in it was a possible case of him manipulating the Heroes to divide them further.

The whole storyline culminated  in the Event called Secret Empire. You might have heard about it. I mentioned it in the title. ;)

Now I won't recap what happened in the event, to anyone who isn't initially opposed to the idea of the ultimate good guy getting turned into the ultimate bad guy by whats basically magic and taking over the world, I say go on and read it yourself. It's a really good story for the most part, focusing more on character interactions and including more panels with massively emotional impact than most other Comic Events I've read.
Sadly the ending is ... actually kinda lame. 
After all the talk about the Heroes working together, finally doing what they are ment to do again and realizing that all this only happened because they had lost their ways it was a restored Version of Captain America that fought his evil self in the End. Meh...

And that's why this blog-entry exist, because I have a different ending in mind.

Let's get to it!

Now when I said I have a different "ending" in mind, I meant that. The Story in this scenario remains the same as in the actual Comic up until Issue 9.
I am truelly sorry, Nat. You remain dead.

The only changes in this issue are:

1) Hail Hydra!

Vision and Wanda aren't taken out of the Fight as early and additionally the Incredible Hulk will join Hydra.
I don't exactly know where he disappeared to after smashing the Resistance HQ a few issues earlier anyway.
The reason we wanna keep Hydras forces strong for the time being is simple:
We need the Heroe's Heavy Hitters to be occupied fighting them.
But don't worry we aren't gonna make things harder only for the good guys because...

2) You are no God!

Other than in the actual issue, Steve will get in his Iron Man rip-off armour much sooner but before he gets the Cosmic Cube installed inside said armour Black Panther intercepts him.
Time to fight!

3) All New All Different Issue #10

Issue 10 starts out with Black Panther and Steve fighting, given his new armour it is Steve who remains victorious, using a charged blast to send T'Challe flying high.
Wakanda's King crashlands to the feet of two of Secret Empire's mayor Players. Sam Wilson and Clint Barton.

Meanwhile, Cap gets a visit from Odinson who has switches sides at this point.
Coincidentally they are close to were Mjolnir happens to be.
After a short exchange of words were Cap tells Odinson that he is disappointed by his decision and that this is why he isn't worthy. They get in a fight (duh).
Now, Iron Man armour or not, this should be the point were Steve draws the short straw.
Or at least that would be the case if he didn't have control of the Hammer.
Using his own former weapon against him Cap smashes the Unworthy Thor to the ground and puts the Hammer on his chest so he can't get back up.

This is the point were we and Odinson find out that the Hammer has been changed by the cosmic cube as well and that it can only be picked up by someone who is strong/Hydra, not by someone who is worthy. An enraged God of Thunder shouts out in anger as Cap makes his way to the Cosmic Cube.

Again, he is intercepted. Incoming: Sam and Clint. Giving the Archer a ride the other Captain America flies low and fast while arrow after arrow explode in Steve's face.
Having taken on Odinson and T'Challa before, Stevil's green armour has cracks and missing pieces everywhere.
It looks like he is actually outmached this time.

Thats's when the Superior Octopus enters the Action smacking Sam out of the air.
He loses his grip on Clint who falls a few meter and hits the ground hard.
Before he can grab his bow, Steve kicks it out of the way and goes at Hawkeye with fierce punches and kicks. Barton is no stranger to fights between experts of hand to hand combat, being one of them as well thanks to training sessions with the very Guy who beats him up at this moment.
But after a fall like this, without his weapon and against an armored foe with superior skills, speed  and strength he doesn't stand a chance.
Before long Steve has him on the ropes grabbing him by the neck, ready to snap it.

Here Rogers recalls and mentions the time Tony Stark wanted to make Clint the new Captain America after the whole Civil War mess. He either assures him that he can see why Tony thought it's a good idea or mocks Iron Man for being a fool to think Clint would have what it takes.
Always the Joker Clint replies that Red, White and Blue aren't his colours, just lik Green doesn't fit Steve so well. He then adds that there is someone who rocks the patriotic look though.

In that moment a low flying Sam tackles Steve off of him, dragging Hydra's Supreme Leader away.
In the background we see Spider-Man fighting Superior Octopus while a beaten and bloody Hawkeye speaks to Bucky on his headset. Telling him that, if they want to go through with the plan they'll have to do that right now.

Steve and Sam fight it out. At this point Rogers shows signs of fatigue but he still manages to stay in control of the fight. He even manages to maneuver them into a hallway, more precisely, he maneuvers them into the Hallway he was aiming to reach the entire time.

Eventually Sam loses his wings and his Shield to Cap and falls to the Ground, barely able to move.
Both are in front of a huge metal door. Rogers puts his hand on the control panel and the door slides open slowly. Using the remaining time they have evil Cap tells good Cap that he is glad that he is here with him. He tells him of the World he wants to create with the help of the Cosmic Cube.
We get to see a few panels of his Vision and once again we see that this Version of Steve really thinks that he is doing all that for the good of the people.

Behind the now open door the incomplete Cosmic Cube rests on a podest of sorts.
As Steve wants to go and insert it into his armour he hears a familiar sound and dodges just in time before an Arrow hits him.
At the end of the hallway it's Hawkeye again, supported by T'Challa and accompanied by the Tony Stark A.I.
More and more Heroes join them, including the released Champions, Vision and the Scarlet Witch among others.
The Avengers have assembled.

Steve tells them that it is too late just before he turns around only to realize that the Arrow was never aimed at him. It sticks out of the podest directly under the position of the Cosmic Cube which is now in a completed state. At this point portals appear and out come Scott Lang, the Winter Soldier and Kobik.

We get a short flashback of Bucky meeting the real Steve and Kobik inside the Cube and maybe some nice dialogue if we still have enough pages for that (then again you could scrap most of Issue 8 so we'd still make it with 10 issues easy).

Back in the present, Kobik simply waves her hand and restores the real Steve Rogers inside the body of the man who had been Hydra's Supreme Leader for the last months.

Realizing what happened Steve breaks down and cries.

4) Secret Empire Omega

Cap is accompanied out of the building were a crowd of civilians is waiting. The moment they see him they want blood.
It is actually Sam Wilson who holds the Shield in front of Steve, who doesn't utter a word, clearly still in shock.
Sam explains to the people that it had not been Steve's fault. He tells them again about the Cosmic Cube. A few of the Heroes stand protective in front of both Captains but it is clear that not everyone can so easily forgive and forget. The civilians let the Heroes through and celebrate them but yet it's clear that among them too more than enough people can't forgive Captain America so easily.

It is clear that the road to redemption will not be an easy one for him.

Additionally the issue deals with the Vanishing Point and the Story of the Inhuman who got captured in the beginning of the event.


And that is how I would fix the ending of Secret Empire.
Now of course I can come up with whatever I want since there is no Editorial I have to get back to, there are no Fans sending me death threats and I don't have to be in contact with artists and send them doable instructions for Comic issues with a limited number of pages.
Not to mention that a lot of people seem to think we only ever got the actual Secret Empire Ending because Spencer and Marvel got cold feet. Given how the rest of the Story was just really good and the Ending was not, that is a fair assumption. Or we are all crazy and see conspiracies where there are none.

And maybe someone reads this and thinks: "That would be awful, thank god that guy doesn't work for Marvel." And that's fine.
It's impossible to please everyone but this ending would certainly please me better.

If you have a better idea and you aren't a dick about it, feel free to let me know how you would have done it! ;)

Sonntag, 16. April 2017

Mass Effect: Ranking the Squad Members

Artist: virak -


So over the last few weeks I played Mass Effect Andromeda. Like... lots of it.
55+ hours playtime and apparently 91% Completion according to the youngest save file with my first character should make it clear that I am having quite a good time with it.

Being a mix between Mass Effect 1 and Dragon Age Inquisition aka my two favourite Bioware Games it doesn't come as a surprise to me that that is the case and I have a hard time understanding why it is received so poorly by oh so many others.
However I am a reasonable guy, I can see and admit that it has some flaws: The character creation is a joke, jumping from planet to planet to solve almost every secondary quest  is exhausting and yes the fact that the actual Hero of the Story isn't you but rather the A.I. in your head is kinda strange.
Other things are down to preference: If you prefered Mass Effect as a Gears of War-ish Corridor-shooter with a more cinematic focus over exploration on vast maps than that is good for you but we won't agree on that matter anytime soon.
However there is one complaint I keep hearing and reading that is just some serious bullshit.
Said complaint is: "The new characters are all inferior to the old Crew."

Why is that bullshit you ask? Keep reading and you shall find out.
Originally I wanted to Review Mass Effect Andromeda and compare it to each of the older games but talking about the characters alone is quite enough work already. Yes I am lazy, deal with it. ;)

Before we start let's get to the Rules: I'll only talk about characters that were actually Squad Members at some point. Suvi, Joker, Dr. Chocolates (google it), etc. DO NOT COUNT.
I'll also exclude Kasumi, because I haven't bought her DLC thus she obviously never showed up in any of my playthroughs.

Sorry Kasumi but your Shepard is in another castle. Or somethin'.
Is that cool with everyone?
Alright since I don't hear any objections I'll just go ahead.


24 - Zaeed Massani

Zaeed is your typical battlehardened Veteran Soldier Guy. And that is pretty much it.
There really isn't much more to him and if there is I forgot it because it probably wasn't very interesting.

23 - Cora Harper

When I said that Andromeda's characters aren't generally "weaker" than the ones from the Milky Way Squad I was talking about the other five.
Cora sadly feels like a friendlier, less interesting clone of Ashley with none of that lovable bite. Her past as an Asari Huntress didn't do much for me either.
I really like her voice though and if more of her dialogues on the ship would be as cool as the ones she has on the Nomad she would definitly rank higher on the list.

22 - Javik

Being the last surviving Prothean aka the mysterious alien race everyone and their mother spoke in awe of during the first trilogy one would think having Javik around would be quite interesting. And one would be right for as long as he spouts exposition about his civilisation and it's eventual downfall.
The man himself sadly isn't really of much value as a character since his personally only consists of one trait: Arrogance.

21 - Jacob Taylor

He'd probably be a really nice guy to hang out with in real life but that is not what I am looking for in a Mass Effect Squadmember.
You could kinda compare him to Hawkeye in the first Avengers Movie as the guy who is kinda there but you don't really care.
And don't go on calling me a Hawkeye hater now, his Comic Counterpart is the realest of all the real MVP's but in the MCU he only works when written by the Russo Brothers so far.
Oh ahm yeah.. Jacob. He has a really cool loyalty Mission in Mass Effect 2. Otherwise he could easily find himself at the very bottom of the list.

20 - James Vega

At first glance Vega is your cliche Douchebag Gym Bro. More Muscles than needed, a bunch of tattoos and dogmarks around the neck.
At second glance he is your cliche Douchebag Gym Bro who is actually quite self aware, more open minded than you'd think and sometimes even funny.
Who would have guessed?

19 - Liara T'Soni

The one character I never had with me in Mass Effect 1.
While she never struck me as overly interesting she also never bored me completely either and if being the one who is actually responsible for retrieving Shepards body between Mass Effect 1 and 2 wasn't enough to give her a pass then know that she is also always a supportive friend to your character which I'll consider a plus in this instance.

18 - Miranda Lawson  

While my initial reaction to Space PinUp Miranda was to throw her and half of what Mass Effect 2 introduced to the Series, out of the airlock I got to admit that she grew on me over time.
As an integral part of Mass Effect 2's mainstory and from what I've seen actually an alright romance option she is by default better than everyone I mentioned so far. And she actually turns out to have a personality if you talk to her often enough.

17 - Peebee

For now she doesn't come off as an overly deep character but she sure is a delight. She will most certainly move from this position over the course of the next game/s but I can't possible say if she'll move up or down yet.
She could grow stale or she could develope and grow as a person. We shall see.

There really isn't more to say at the moment.

16 - Grunt

Other than both of the other Krogans, Grunt is a young one. A teenager so to speak. A teenager born from a testtube.
Though he proves again and again that he too is a "real Krogan" which is a really huge deal for his people.
Sadly Grunt drew a shorter straw in Mass Effect 3, preventing us from seeing him develope a bit more.

15 - Kaidan Alenko

The Guy was so boring in Mass Effect 1 he became a Meme. Well okay that isn't fair but there is a reason I almost never took him with me back then.
Fortunately it's like they switched him out for someone else in Mass Effect 3 as Kaidan is charming and even funny at times. And being one of the two members who doesn't just forget that Shepard worked for a terrorist organization for a while helps as well.

 14 - Liam Kosta

Liam is a (sometimes) likeable screw up who means well and does whatever a Spiderman can...uhm... well you get the idea.
He is the mastermind behind the Tempests Movie Night aka the best scene in Mass effect Andromeda and he also has the best loyalty Mission in my opinion.
We didn't get to see too many different layers of his personality yet but here is hoping that the next Game will deliver on that.

13 - Thane Krios

A really cool Assassine with a really cool Family story, and a really cool voice who is also slowly dying.

What's not to love?

12 - Vetra Nyx

Out of all the "strong female characters who looks out for their Sisters" of which there are three she is definitely the one thet benefits the most from it. It helps that her sister Sid is a really cool character by herself.
However Vetra is also very cool on her own.
She has great ingame conversations with almost everyone, especially Drack and her Introduction scene alone is pure gold.

11 - Samara

As if being somewhat of a warrior-monk wasn't cool enough already Samara also got two great personal storylines in both games she appears in.
Her credo she lives by and her calm personality add a very unique dynamic to the Team and having to kill her own daughter who is a murderer is just some really heartbreaking shit.

10 - Jack

If Punk Rock would be a character it would be her in Mass Effect 2. As fun as Punk Rock is though, it's not especially deep or complex and fails to capture my interest for longer periods.
Fortunately Jack grows as a person in Mass Effect 3 almost as much as her Hair grows.
Seriously that is some long hair for someone who was bald two years earlier.
Badass Teacher Jack is in any case awesome and vastly superior to Prison Break Jack.

9 - Edi

Edi is probably the character that goes through the most changes. Starting out as a rogue A.I. in Mass Effect 1 she is revamped in the follow up game as the Normandy SR2's "Soul" and in Mass Effect 3 she not only gets a body, which resulted in a disturbing amount of sexy fanart but also falls in love with a Human, namely Joker, the Ships Pilot.
The best part is: While an A.I. with your usual robotic A.I. tropes she is actually a layered and funny character that feels more human than some humans.

8 - Mordin Solus

The most badass Salarian to ever exist isn't only a fighter but also a genius doctor who... really likes to sing.
He also gets the best death scene in the entire series by a large margin and if you played the game "right" he even sings then.
I keep saying that Mass Effect 2 was the weakest game and I stand by it but Mordin is one of those reasons it's still a really good game.

7 - Nakmor Drack

Drack is one seriously old Geezer.
He lived through more Wars than anyone else and consists of quite a lot of prosthetics.
Of course being a Krogan he is still a force to be reckoned with. He loves the things Krogans love, namely fighting things, shooting things and killing things but at the same time he is a loving grandfather, a father figure for Ryder and he is also as clueless about the extranet as old people in our world are about the internet. Seriously read his e-mails. All of them.

6 - Tali'Zorah nar Rayya/ vas Neema/ vas Normandy

Tali is without a doubt the one Squadmember who benefits the most from being a mayor player in all the original three Games. While basically a likeable but unspectacular teenage girl character during the first game she develops a great personality and becomes a keyplayer in the faith of her entire race without any of it feeling rushed, stupid or out of place.

5 - Legion

After Mass Effect 1 we view the Geth as mindless Killer Robots as we have every reason too. And then this guy shows up out of nowhere, saves Shepards Life and shows the Player and the entire Galaxy what else Geth can be:
One of the most fascinating races in a Universe filled to the brim with fascinating races.
In a way that reminds me of the Arbiter in the Halo Series who turns from an enemy to one of the best Space Bro's in Videogame History.

4 - Jaal Ama Darav

The very best answer to everyone who says that Mass Effect Andromeda's characters are somewhat less deep or worse written than in the Original Trilogy.
Jaal is a complex, exotic, sympathetic Warrior with a smooth voice and a layered personality.
Out of all the Mass Effect characters he definitly had the best start as that guy is your Squads MVP from the moment he shows up and he also has chemistry with every other Companion in the game.

3 - Ashley Williams

Oh boy this will be a long one...
So, according to what seems like the Majority of Mass Effect Players Ashly is not only a racist and a bitch but also a traitor. An annoying military tomboy but also a brainless Jersey Shore bimbo.
An unnecessary... eh.. I think you get the idea by now.
All this tells me is that too many people have never taken the time to get to know her and that probably holds true for a lot of other characters.
Firstly in a Universe full of Krogans talking about eating Salarians, Turians thinking that everyone else is beneath them and so on and so forth I think it's kind of hypocritical to call Williams a racist because she voices concerns about having some rather randomly recruited Aliens serving under the first human Spectre in the most modern ship of the entire alliance fleet. But fair enough, she sure is a bit ignorant at the start of her journey. Growing up in a disgraced military family, having to work twice as hard as any other soldier in the alliance who not too long ago fought in a war against the Citadel races, losing everyone she knew on Eden Prime and then seeing first hand how the council on the citadel doesn't give much of a damn about it will do that to you.

However that is just were her journey starts and yet from the get go she has friendly dialogues and a  sisterly relationship with Tali (which leads to her sobbing in grief if the Quarian dies in ME3) and over time developes friendships with a lot of Aliens on both Normandies. Liara and Garrus at least even comment on it. Furthermore there would be her hatred for the Humanity-first-Terror-group Cerberus to the point were she doesn't join you during Mass Effect 2. While unfortunate, because I would have liked having her around as my Go to Romance option in that game, it fit her character quite well as she is no one who trusts people easily, especially not when you spend most of the first Games Exploration/Side quests fighting Cerberus.

Lastly when you actually take the time to to dig beaneath her hard shell, she is actually a deeply layered and nice girl who likes poetry, alcohol and cringeworthy pick up lines (though only when drunk enough). Ash is a flawed one which is something I happen to like in a character.
I've got a soft spot for her and she'll always be one of my favourites.

Since this has ended up being a long ass wall of text anyway I might as well add a random trivia:
In Mass Effect 1 Ashley was supposed to be bisexual, the scenes are even still in the game files.
While Kaidan was straight in the first game but became bisexual in Mass Effect 3 she stayed straight in order to balance the options for male and female Commanders shepards....I assume. A shame though as for a religious and by the books kind of character like her, having a bisexual orientation would have been another nice twist.

2 - Urdnot Wrex

Firs things first: If you played Mass Effect and Wrex died on Virmire you played the game wrong.
I don't even care if you played evil asshole shepard or goody-two-shoes Shepard as keeping this guy alive is the only acceptable outcome.
A bit like Tali, Wrex turns from a lone Wolf to a someone who has a keyrole in the faith of his entire race and like with Tali it doesn't feel forced. Unlike Tali however he already starts out as a complex character who can become on of shepards best friends even though he is only a fully fledged Squad Member during the first game.


G a r r u s   V a k a r i a n

I mean who else could it be?
Garrus turns from an idealistic Citadel Cop, to a crime fighting Avenger, to ultimate Space-Bro.
Vakarian is there in every game, has always been a fan favourite and goes through some great character development. No matter how you play the game, he is there by your side (unless he dies in which case you reload an older safe and make it better this time, damn it).
While naurally a good hearted character he remains loyal even when you are the kind of dirtbag who sacrifices the Krogans and shoots Mordin (you Monster!) as the ends justify the means for him.
Garrus is there by your side, be it as a your best Friend, or Lover and he has some of the greatest scenes in the entire Trilogy.