Sock Talk Podcast Episode 61: Take a Risk On LaChance

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Episode Runtime: 1:40:02
Episode Summary:

Welcome back to Sock Talk! This week Phil Caron and Jon Healy, the producers of the documentary  “My Name Is Jonah”, welcome to the show master artist, Jeff LaChance and we discuss all things art! Art sadness, art happiness, Art Garfunkel…

Also, if you’d like to donate to Sock Talk Jon’s animated project you can do so here: www.patreon.com/progenitor

Music intro and outro: Provided by Derailer

Phil Healy Website: I Hunger Productions
Jon Caron Website: Asylum Studios Photography + Design

Game Review: Lords of the Fallen

Diet Dark Souls





There is definitely no mistaking the similarity between Lords of the Fallen and the Demons/Dark Souls games, it’s very much a take on that innovative and challenging Souls style gameplay which has made many a gamer want to break their controller in frustration. But, in a good way.

Lords of the Fallen is a very difficult game to review, because for everything it does right, there is something extremely important it does wrong. Let’s start with the most simple, cosmetics. Playing through this game on Xbox One, it looks like someone smeared Vaseline over the screen…this game is blurry. Like, you can tell there is a good looking game underneath the haze, but it never seems to lift…I know Lords of the Fallen is also on PC, but the graphics boost there seems to come with a price that’s also prevalent on the consoles; bugs and crashes.

On my first playthrough  I experienced a random freeze screen game crash that I had to reload on. No big deal, sometimes that happens…later on, I was battling a boss and we killed each other at the same time, this caused me to restart at my checkpoint (which I expected) but when I got back to the boss, it was still dead…but had it’s life bar back. After hacking away at its lifeless corpse and taking down it’s life bar to zero again, nothing happened…and when I reset, it started me at that same checkpoint and the same process started. It got stuck in a bug loop and I lost a whole game and had to start all over again. This is completely unacceptable. However, the strengths of this game are so credible that it was more than enough for me to start my game all over again without any hesitation.

Now, dark, muddy visuals and debilitating crashes are certainly noteworthy problems, but the things this game does get right, are wonderful. Demons/Dark Souls are amazingly difficult games and Lords of the Fallen provides a hefty challenge as well, but it also offers something to alleviate the frustration and offer a nice balance that the Souls games don’t…random loot drops. Lords of the Fallen has a GREAT loot system and it’s exactly what I think has been missing from the Souls game since their debut. Finally a comprehensible system of weaponry makes its way to this style of game. It’s fantastic. Do I want to go light armor and be more quick with my attacks? Or do I go full on tank and sacrifice that mobility for serious damage? I love this aspect of the game so much and this freedom of customization makes it an incredibly rewarding experience. I also really love the weight that you can actually feel on your character when you’re a bulked up tank versus the lightness and speed you have as say a rogue. This requires strategy when timing your attacks in combat an absolute must.

Lords of the Fallen also provides an incredibly eery atmosphere, this is due to the excellent level design and the sparse, (but well used) haunting soundtrack. Sometimes less is more, and just like with the Souls games, Lords opts for a less obtrusive presentation and instead lets the dreariness of the setting draw you in and keep you on edge.

I can’t help but feel like Lords of the Fallen is a game that wasn’t quite finished when it was released…that the developers were so stressed out about making their deadline, that they never got the chance to fix some really glaring omissions. It’s so finely polished in some aspects and cripplingly broken in others. I genuinely hope that over the next few weeks, developer Deck13 Interactive takes the time to address the (seemingly universal) criticisms that lie with the game over a few patches. As it stands, Lords of the Fallen should be a really great game, but due to some serious fundamental problems that can’t be overlooked, it is instead a frustratingly good one.

PROS: Loot system, soundtrack, Demons/Dark Souls inspired gameplay with more of an emphasis on combat

CONS: Blurry visuals, bugs, game crashes

OVERALL: 6/10

-Sock Talk Jon-

Game Review Credibility

It’s not really much of a secret anymore that some video game review sites are paid for skewing their opinions towards the positive when it comes to certain big budget games. I can’t really fault them for this, as on the business end it makes them money to keep their site going…..buuuuut on the other hand, it makes it really difficult for the reader to discern what information is credible and what isn’t.

Having been burned by IGN and Game Informer lately with their glowing reviews of Evil Within and Shadow of Mordor (which suckered me into buying both of those abortions), I’ve devised a new method for getting information regarding my $60, multi-hour, investments which is working really well. READ THE BAD REVIEWS FIRST.

Nine times out of ten, a bad review is going to tell you fundamentally what does or doesn’t work in the game. These things are important to know. I for one like having information such as “this game is in a 2:35:1 aspect ratio and the 3/4 camera view is 90% closer in this game than in others, so it makes it impossible to see what you’re doing. And it looks like a PS1 game” *cough, cough Evil Within. Or, “this game is just Assassins Creed set in the LOTR universe.” *Shadow of Mordor.

By examining what makes something NOT work on a fundamental level is a good base to decide whether or not you want to devote the next 6-20+ hours of your life wasting away in front of it.

Lately I find myself checking Metacritic for my sources. It’s sort of a culmination of other reviews, all put onto one site. That way you can get a better idea of an overall score. However, the trick is not to look at the high score, but to look for the reviews that give the game a lower score…these are going to be far more honest about problems the game may have and also give more praise to what it does right. Based on some of the information in the lower scored reviews I’m reading on the recently released Sunset Overdrive, I know that I won’t be spending $60 on it, but will instead wait until it’s a bargain bin title.

With so much information out there, it’s important to know how to sift through it all and find what is actually useful. My advice, start from the bottom and work your way up.

-Sock Talk Jon-

Sock Talk Podcast Episode 48: Check All the Exits

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Episode Runtime:
2:08:32
Episode Summary:

Welcome back to Sock Talk! This week Phil Healy and Jon Caron, the producers of the documentary  “My Name Is Jonah” welcome back regular guest and FBW overlord, Ethan White! We get down to it, we laugh, we cry, we love, we eat.

Music intro and outro: Provided by Derk Jickface

Phil Healy Website: I Hunger Productions
Jon Caron Website: Asylum Studios Photography + Design

Sock Talk Podcast Episode 47: Gone Goonin’

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Episode Runtime: 2:09:25
Episode Summary:

Welcome back to Sock Talk! This week Phil Healy and Jon Caron, the producers of the documentary  “My Name Is Jonah” welcome back regular guest and goon extraordinaire, Ryan Terrell. Join us as we discuss hallucinogenic drugs and alternate realities, the art of “goonin”, whether vaccinations are 100% safe and much more. It’s a mocha mix of nuttiness.

Music intro and outro: Provided by Derk Jickface

Phil Healy Website: I Hunger Productions
Jon Caron Website: Asylum Studios Photography + Design

Game Review: Destiny

“It doesn’t matter who you were, only what you will become.”


Man…this game…

So, my opinion on Destiny has changed drastically since I first started playing it. It has gone from critical nitpicking, to absolute disdain, to unabashed love…so I’m going to do my best to discuss what I think are some of the strengths and weaknesses of what is easily the biggest gaming release of this year.

Within the first couple of hours, I couldn’t help but see Destiny as a stripped down version of ideas taken from other games that did it better. There are elements of Borderlands, Halo, WOW and other games inspiring Destiny, but it’s all very basic…take the beautiful loot system of Borderlands, then strip it down. Take the epic scope of Halo, then strip that down too. Take the MMO aspects of WOW and then strip those down. All of these things really annoyed me at first and I couldn’t help but see Destiny as a game that was taking elements from other properties, but failing to have an identity of its own. BUT, after countless hours immersed in this culmination of hit games, I started to realize something; it doesn’t matter.

Destiny is fun. Really fun. And if you play it with a few other friends, it becomes incredibly fun.

While there is no denying that the loot system IS a stripped down version of what you would find in Borderlands, it doesn’t matter, because Destiny is a completely different animal altogether. The MMO aspects of Destiny work just fine in my opinion, as someone who genuinely dislikes MMO’s, this basic approach actually makes it more accessible to someone who might not enjoy that type of game. As for the parallels one might draw to their past property Halo and the stripped down aspect to that, well, that is one thing that is a bit tougher to overlook. There is no denying that with Halo, Bungie took the FPS genre and made it something more. Through wonderful narrative and character development, Halo had scope and vision, you had a reason to become invested in the characters and the world they lived in. This is where Destiny falls flat on its face.

For the life of me I couldn’t tell you what is going on with the narrative of this game…something about a traveler, an evil darkness (really? darkness? c’mon), and a “ghost” character (awkwardly voiced by Peter Dinklage) that looks all too similar to Halo’s “guilty spark” character. It feels pretty generic and to put it bluntly, the storytelling here stinks. Which is a terrible, terrible shame, because the potential for excellence with this world that they’ve created is right there, but without a gripping narrative, you can’t help but wonder why the hell you’re even playing.

Ghost343_Guilty_Spark-transparent
(who’s who again?)

But, there’s that damn “fun” factor again. Regardless of how inane the plot is, this is world building at it’s finest. Playing on Xbox One, this is easily one of the most gorgeous games I have ever seen. And since it controls as wonderfully as it looks, I can’t help but want to explore every inch of the marvelously crafted landscape on display here. There are also more than enough quests, bounties and strikes to keep you thoroughly entertained while doing so. And that soundtrack…gorgeous.

While Destiny is by no means a perfect game, it’s a mishmash of great gaming tropes that come together nicely, but without a cohesive narrative to drive it, there is an undeniable pointlessness to it all. This could all very well be addressed as the promise of two expansions looms on the horizon, but the real question is, will people stick around long enough to wait and see what those contain? I for one, will.

PROS: Gorgeous graphics, tight gameplay, soundtrack, world design

CONS: Uninspired character designs, abysmal storytelling

OVERALL: 7/10

-Sock Talk Jon-

Sock Talk Podcast Episode 46: You’re Welcome

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Episode Runtime:
2:05:29
Episode Summary:

Welcome back to Sock Talk! This week Phil Healy and Jon Caron, the producers of the documentary  “My Name Is Jonah” come back after a 3 month hiatus to discuss the importance of taking good “selfies” and appropriately hashtagging them for maximum exposure of your highly important and eagerly viewed online existence.

Music intro and outro: Provided by Jared Creighton

Phil Healy Website: I Hunger Productions
Jon Caron Website: Asylum Studios Photography + Design