Tag Archives: First Impressions

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Mass Effect Andromeda First Impressions – Comparative Opinions Episode 40

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! This week, hosts David and Holly talk through their first impressions now that they’re a little ways into Mass Effect Andromeda! The game is a great jumping-in point for the world of Mass Effect, so it’s a good one for fans and newcomers alike. They try not to give too many spoilers, as well.

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday!

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Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros

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Initial Reaction to American Housewife

So in watching some of my other ABC shows I kept seeing ads for the new show American Housewife and it looked funny. The premise seems to be a stay at home mom dealing with all of the ups and downs of being a stay at home mom with three kids. The ads looked mildly interesting and a good half hour comedy can be nice to have in the back pocket for a quick show to watch.

Thus I decided to give the show a shot and after the first episode something just rubbed me the wrong way. At the same time I know that pilots can sometimes be a bit different so I decided to watch a second episode, and while there were still funny moments the show still just rubbed me the wrong way. I think I pinned it down a bit and it just seems a little overly negative for my taste. Now maybe over time it will get better, but after two episodes I don’t know if I want to give it more shots.

Us versus Them

One of the first things that I realized is that throughout the episodes there just ends up being this us versus them attitude. Now some of the moms are skinny and dress alike and are kind of cookie cutters of each other. They will make somewhat underhanded compliments sometimes, but it almost comes across as the main character thinks that people are talking about it without proof that they are. Instead she often sneers at seeing these moms and ignores people who are just trying to do their job and seems to constantly act put upon. It just ends up feeling a little bit like playing the victim because she lives in a town that she doesn’t quite fit in. Instead of owning that she doesn’t fit in and not caring, there is just a lot of repetitive negativity, which is just not what I want in a show.

Feeding Into and Breaking Stereotypes

Throughout the show there has been an interesting concept of simultaneously trying to break and feed into a variety of stereotypes. It is great to see a family that is normal and that breaks some of the typical stereotypes. There is still a little bit of the doofus husband, but it definitely feels more of an equal partnership. He even encourages her to go back to work if she wants, since she had graduated with a marketing degree and her old job offered her her job back. She decides that she prefers to be a stay at home mom, but I feel like it does not explore why you might go to work. Instead saying that her raising her kids is more important than her job, which implies that if she worked that she would not be raising her kids somehow. There are other examples of this where it is like two steps forward two steps back on some things.

Compared to Speechless

I think the other problem that I am having is the fact that Speechless is so good and so much more positive. In at lot of ways the family on Speechless is so dysfunctional, but they know who they are and accept that. They do not care what other people think of them or their family and the conflict is the mother who is overprotective of her children. There is never a feeling of an us versus them mentality, but just the journey of being who you are and working in the world. American Housewife on the other hand seems to be a lot about each of the kids are doing something wrong and the other moms are terrible people, etc. There are funny moments, but the other moments just bring the whole mood of the show down.

Conclusion

There are better 30 minute sitcoms out there that this just does not seem worth the time for me. Now maybe I am looking too much into this and if I was in the same situation as the mom I would find it more humorous. I don’t want to diminish the fact that it is okay for a stay at home mom to question what she is doing and to have insecurities, but it is a little difficult to watch a show that seems to focus on that. I just feel like there would be a better way to show an all American family.

Lego: Dimensions First Impressions and Hilarity

Captain America and I are overwhelmingly, completely done with politics and this election season. I mentioned needing a break in last week’s post and this week has been no different. Of course, that’s hard to tell from my Twitter (shameless plug) and Facebook feeds, but I find I’m too opinionated to keep quiet on certain issues, et alors c’est la vie. But on debate night, we found ourselves in dire need of something more fun to do. Whereas the first debate we played a drinking game in which we had to take a sip every time we talked back to the TV (it did not go well…) we decided that was too dangerous for a Wednesday and the last debate, and wanted to avoid it entirely.

His birthday was recently, and a friend gave us Lego Dimensions and an additional game pack (Doctor Who for the win!) as a present. If you’re not familiar with the idea of Lego Dimensions, let me tell you, we weren’t either when we received it. After a lot of “oh I guess you do this and…oh you build the Legos and then play hooked up to them?” discussions that made us sound really old and confused, we decided building the main portal piece, the characters that come with the main game (Batman, Wyldstyle, and Gandalf), and then playing some video games sounded like a perfect way to pass the evening instead of torturing ourselves with the debate.

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Oh so shiny (and Capt. America’s hand in the way, gah!)

So we sat over dinner, building Legos together because WE’RE TOTALLY ADULTS and how hard could it be after building an entire (not an exaggeration) house full of IKEA furniture together? If our marriage can survive IKEA instructions over the course of two whole weeks, it’s essentially immune to everything else life throws our way. So we spent dinner cracking jokes about building things together and drinking wine, and after dinner we were ready to hook up the cool portal pad to our PS3 and start playing. We were super excited to see how this thing works, and what the levels would be like. That’s when we discovered that apparently the game has been out long enough that there’s already a patch that took 45+ minutes to download and install before we could play it.

And that’s the story of how I ended up watching the debate anyway.

 

via GIPHY

Since then, I think it’s safe to say that we have maybe played 15-30 minutes of the game itself. After the debate we began to, but Dimensions involves building other pieces as you go. For example, the starter box comes with the pieces for the Batmobile piece, but not the printed instructions. You get those at a certain point after playing the game, and it’s a literal part of the story/game to build it before continuing. After starting up the game finally once the download of the patch completed, we dove into the game only to almost immediately come upon the need to build the Batmobile. Captain America was already falling asleep and needed to get up early, so we had to take a break. We tried playing again last night, and almost immediately after building the Batmobile the game froze and we had to restart our PS3. We booted it back up and started playing, and then Captain America started yawning and we called it a night after maybe only twenty minutes. I’m looking forward to trying again this weekend, because it’s definitely a cool concept and I think it will be an incredibly fun game. So far my takeaways are this:

-Download the game/patch while building the portal! You can wait until you start up the game to build the portal, but it comes with printed instructions and we preferred building it first. If only we’d known about the patch, we could have avoided the debate. Sigh…

-The portal and its pad are actually important as you play through the video game; so far we’ve already come across a boss fight that included having to move character pieces upon the portal pad as a component of the fight to avoid bad stuff thrown by the boss. Sit near the pad while playing so you’re not going “oh crap!” like we were.

-The ability to add on different universes, excuse me, dimensions, is actually really fun because it allows customization and also a possibly never-ending game. Think of the expansions! Also, interestingly enough, if a character in a game add-on you do not have is needed for special abilities, say destroying silver Lego pieces to get at special items, the game gives you the option of “renting a hero” for 30 seconds, and it only costs in-game money. A fantastic solution to a game that involves adding on levels and characters through real world money so that those who cannot do so can work to solve problems in game instead. Brilliant!

Assassin’s Creed: Liberation First Impressions

Normally Captain America and I play Assassin’s Creed games together. He plays them, I watch. I wrote a review of one of the newer ones before, and realized that in the scheme of things we’d skipped over one of them from a few years ago. Assassin’s Creed: Liberation is the first Assassin’s Creed game to feature a female assassin as the lead, and so this time, we decided to shake things up and I played while he watched. Unfortunately, that led to me having a few observations I maybe would have glanced over if I’d only been watching him play instead of being the one in control.

Ubisoft has come under fire in the past for its lack of female characters in their multi-player co-op, and honestly even just from watching my husband play the games I’ve noticed the lack of female playable characters. (It is worth noting that the criticism Ubisoft faced was for Unity and Syndicate, which interestingly enough were released after Liberation; the criticism was in response to a lack of female avatars for multi-player co-op, and their response was that it would have “doubled production time.”) It’s always struck me as odd that they continually showcase how multicultural and diverse their development team is, and yet the games focus mainly on male leads. In a lot of ways, it makes sense considering the time periods the games take place in, when things were far more patriarchal and women had little to do outside of the home. Or at least, you think that until you see the other assassins you associate with in the games very obviously include women among the ranks of men. So when I saw that Liberation was a female protagonist, I got excited. Finally, I thought.

And maybe I’m just jaded, but I touched on this same issue in last week’s post regarding Final Fantasy X-2, that hooray, there’s a female protagonist, so how do they make things interesting, different, and/or appeal to female gamers? By basing the major game mechanics on, that’s right, changing her clothes.

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Now, similar to FFX-2, there’s a fascinating element to this mechanic that makes a lot of sense. As I said last week, a part of me loved the fact that in FFX-2 changing clothes meant changing jobs and skills, and unlocking awesome powers, and they did it in a very interesting, effective way. In Liberation, changing clothes means changing identity and social rank. Aveline de Granpré is of African and French descent, the child of a slave master and his slave, who he loved so much he married her after the birth of their daughter. It gives her an interesting ability to fit into two social classes easily; she can be the elegant, proper, respectable lady, or she can dress as a slave and blend into the lower classes to spy on her targets. The different “personas” come with different level of skills, notoriety (a big deal in the Assassin’s Creed games), and reactions from people and guards around you. That aspect certainly intrigued me, this chameleon-like shifting of her social status to better carry out Assassin missions. However, and I say this as a woman who loves fashion and clothes, can we please stop trying to garner female gamers’ attention by focusing on clothes? It feels like a very lazy attempt to capture a demographic and comes off as a shallow ploy. Plenty of women are playing games that do not feature clothes changing and we enjoy them just as much. I frequently feel like what we want from games is to relate to the characters more and feel more represented, not be able to pick out our clothes (although that can be fun, too; I’m not criticizing the ability to do so as much as I’m criticizing the way this is used as a focal point when we feature female protagonists).

As far as the story goes, we got a few missions in and were thoroughly confused. Part of the idea behind the game is that it was released by Abstergo Industries, the big bad Templar organization of the modern era, and is heavily edited by them to conceal the truth from the public. As you play through you are contacted by someone who has hacked the network and is showing you the unedited version of events (after you see the Abstergo verson) to show you what they’re hiding. The idea was incredibly appealing, and we were excited to see it play out. The way it comes off, unfortunately, is like an excuse for lazy writing. There are a lot of jumps in time, brief explanations of what happened during the time skipped, and generally not a lot of info about what exactly Aveline is trying to accomplish in the Bayou. The story felt muddled and rushed, and we found ourselves so confused that we haven’t been compelled to pick the game back up in a while. We may eventually, because we constantly find ourselves short of games we’d like to play together, but for now we’re unfortunately not in a rush to finish this one.

First Impressions: Legends of Tomorrow

David and I got to watch the much anticipated Legends of Tomorrow. Now the series is actually beginning with a two part premiere over two different weeks. This makes sense when you realize what these first episodes need to do. Not only are you trying to get people who watch both Flash and Arrow, but there might be some who watch one or the other and then there are those rare few who may not watch either. So how do you introduce this large group of characters to such a wide audience. Some have seen them before while others need to get to know them. Then there is Rip Hunter who would be new to anyone. Now I come from the perspective that I have seen both Flash and Arrow so I am very familiar with all the characters that they presented, but I was not aware how they would bring them together, which is about all they have shown so far. Continue reading