Quickie Reviews #8

Nathan Drake Collection
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When I first put together my list of the top 100 PS3 games, all three Uncharted games made that list. At the time, I ranked them Among Thieves, Drake’s Deception, and Drake’s Fortune far behind. After playing through all three games again back to back, I’m even more confident in that ranking. As could be expected, Drake’s Fortune held up the worst, being the first game in the series. Among Thieves definitely stands up as one of the best games from the PS3 era, but Drake’s Deception surprisingly wasn’t as special as it seemed the first time around. The extended flashback and desert sequences felt slow, and didn’t break up the action is a satisfying way. Among Thieves remains the best in the series, from a combat, puzzle solving, and storytelling perspective. All three games aren’t without their frustrations, but for fans of the series or those that never had a chance to experience them the first time around, this is a collection well worth your time.

I do want to get in the nitty-gritty of this as a collection, however. Basically, it kind of sucks. As I’ve stated, all three games are great games, and are worth experiencing for the first or second time on PS4. But as an HD remaster, the Nathan Drake Collection leaves a lot to be desired. The only meaningful additions are some added trophies, a photo mode, and a new time trial speed run mode. You do have access to some fun costumes and weapons, but most are only available after you’ve beaten each game once. The biggest disappointment for me was the lack of Golden Abyss, the well received PS Vita Uncharted game. I never bought a Vita, and it would have been nice to play through that as well. So, if you’re looking for significant additions in this collection, you’ll probably be left wanting.

8.7/10

Vikings – Season Two
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Vikings season two kicks off right where season one ends, and without spoiling anything, shit is hitting the fan. Characters have been betrayed and there’s a war going on. But, as with other storylines on the show, the course of the war takes an unexpected turn and then is ended in too quick a fashion. New alliances and old friendships are tested and broken, smaller characters are killed off while new villains are introduced. There’s nothing particularly new or fresh on this show, but everything is done well and the action is still exciting.

My biggest complaint about Vikings moving through plotlines too quickly remains, but the show does take a jump forward in time that I really enjoyed. It allowed the show to pursue new ideas, and aged Ragnar’s son Bjorn several years, allowing him to become a larger character on the show. Season two ends in an exciting fashion, and I’m definitely interested in where it’s going from here. There are still stories to tell, but I remain afraid that the show will run out of room by the fourth or fifth season. We’re only two seasons in and most of the recurring villains are dead. Also, bonus points for casting Donal Logue, that dude is a fantastic actor and improves every show he’s on.
8.3/10

Trainwreck
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When I first heard people talking about Trainwreck, it was pitched as being a rom-com different than the typical rom-com. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t the experience that I had. The movie feels cut from the same cloth as every romantic comedy that’s come before it, the only difference being that it’s the woman that needs to change instead of the man. The ending is so cheesy that I was waiting for it to be undercut, which didn’t happen.

Admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of Amy Schumer. It’s not that I think she’s unfunny, I just think she tends to try too hard, and in a movie that she’s not only starring in, but wrote as well, it’s not surprising that she falls into that trap. Judd Apatow is an accomplished comedic director, but he’s had problems in the past with editing. It’s impossible to know who’s making the final calls when it comes to editing, but that person failed this movie completely. Scenes go on too long, jokes go on too long, improvs go on too long, pauses go on too long, everything goes on too long. Amy Schumer looks vaguely uncomfortable in front of the camera, which certainly doesn’t help matters. Bill Hader at least is surprisingly charming, and the stunt casting of Lebron James worked out better than I could have expected. He’s no Michael Jordan in Space Jam, but he does well. John Cena, on the other hand, might as well have been reading from a teleprompter in his thankfully few scenes. There were definitely some funny moments in Trainwreck, but they’re overshadowed by typical lame rom-com conventions.
6.3/10

 

Game of Thrones – Season Two

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While not quite reaching the heights of season one, season two of Game of Thrones was still pretty damn amazing. The benefit of a second season is typically not having to worry about introducing a bunch of new characters or settings, but that’s definitely not the case with a show like Game of Thrones. A lot of props should be given to the writers and showrunners for managing to juggle so many different storylines, but things did seem a little more scattered than they did in season one.

We got our first taste of large scale battle on the show, Robb came into his own as a character, we learned more about the White Walkers and the Night’s Watch, and Tyrion continued to be the best character ever. Season two wasn’t short on character death, either, with several huge turns that changed the scope and trajectory of the show. The season’s biggest flaw was not having a central story to focus the show around, the way season one had Ned’s struggle as the new Hand of the King. The penultimate episode was yet again a major highlight, and while the second season wasn’t able to hit the high note of introducing us to this amazing world, it continued the trend of Game of Thrones being a superlative show in nearly every way.
9.6/10
 

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