Oct 1 2016

GOW 4

Adel Gabot

9:45AM

In this current generation of console boxes, I’ve sided with the Playstation 4, and left Xbox One out in the cold. (Mostly because my TV can only accept 2 HDMI inputs, and I’ve already got the Apple TV plugged into the other—otherwise I think I would have gotten an Xbox One a long time ago—but hey.)

I sold off my old PS3 and my old Xbox 360, as well as their respective games, and put every centavo into my choice of new console. And so far, I’m at peace with it. I love my PS4, its games and simple interface, and while I’ve looked at the Xbox One with envy sometimes, particularly when they have some nice console-exclusive game, I’ve been kinda ok with my choice.

But lately, I’ve been thinking of diving into Microsoft‘s gaming world, mainly because of one game: Gears of War 4.

Not Forza. Not Quantum Break. Not Sunset Overdrive. Not even Halo. (Well, maybe Halo, come to think of it.)

But Gears of War!

I’ve played all of the previous iterations of GOW on the previous Xbox consoles and enjoyed the games greatly, but this is the first time a new version of GOW’s come out that I don’t have an Xbox handy.xbox-one-s-gow-ed-leak_07-13-16_001

I try to rationalize my desire on the fact that there’s actually a new Xbox model out now, the S version (not to mention the upcoming Scorpio), that Microsoft‘s finally dropped their ridiculous home entertainment center campaign, and that they’ve also dropped their insistence on always adding that horrid Kinect to the package, and now’s the time to buy in, but actually it’s just my love for Gears of War that’s fueling my desire for a new Xbox.

I bought into the first version when it first came out years ago, and haven’t looked back since. I love Gears of War. Marcus Fenix, Dom Santiago and the gang against all those horrible alien invaders. Those Gears with their chainsaw-equipped guns and cover-based game mechanic. True, it’s a Third-Person Shooter as opposed to being a First-Person One, my favorite genre, but I got used to it quickly.

Now there is a new GOW about to come out, and I’m SOL. I saw the 20-minute prologue released on YouTube yesterday, and got all excited again.

I’m now actually, seriously considering buying the Gears of War 4/Xbox One S game bundle. And while I’m at it, finally get to try out the new Halo, which I’ve missed playing, and the new Forzas. But that means I gotta figure out how to plug the Xbox One S into my system; probably have to buy myself a multi-HDMI adapter.

But it’s a big decision, something I shouldn’t take lightly. Ah well. Something to think about. Seriously think about.

Meantime, Rise of The Tomb Raider‘s finally coming out in under two weeks for the PS4, after a year-long exclusivity delay with the Xbox One. Tell you the truth, the excitement would have faded and I would have waited for a cheaper, used version later on, but the 20th Anniversary perks got me all worked up again.

But one at a time, Del. One at a time.

 


Sep 30 2016

Plexing around

Adel Gabot

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8:48AM

I don’t really know which app I use more these days than Plex.

I use it to watch my downloaded videos, which means movies, TV shows, short films, YouTube stuff, Vimeo stuff, music videos on the big-screen TV, which is what I do when I’m not working.

I mostly use Plex Media Server, which streams the media from my iMac’s library to my flatscreen via the PS4 or the Apple TV, and view them there via the Plex app on the whatever platform I prefer to use. There is a Plex Home Theater app on the Mac, but why watch on the puny 27″ monitor with the tinny built-in speakers when I can watch it on the big home theater?

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Plex is the best—well, maybe not the best, but certainly the most convenient—video player software around for us homebody videophiles, and they have apps specifically built for most of the usual platforms around: Mac, PC, iOS, Android and what have you. Best of all is, entry-level usage is free. To have other people access your library, or to use the server across the internet (and a few other perks), you have to pay a monthly fee, but for now I can live with the free version.

You just have to tell it where your media is on the home system, and it puts it all together on the main screen of the apps, subdivided into five basic categories: Movies, TV Shows, Music, Photos and Other Media. I’m afraid you can get any more specific than those five categories. You can’t separate old from new TV episodes, or classic films from documentaries or animation or short films. (Oh, well, you can’t have everything.)

Then Plex gets, or tries to get, the metadata related to your media from the internet and present them in an organized, orderly manner as much as it can—the poster, the cast, director, summary and other important stuff like that. You’ll have to tweak and modify it some, though, to get everything just right.

The look of Plex differs from platform to platform. This is how it looks on my 4th generation Apple TV:

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And this is how it looks on my PS4:

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I have to admit, it looks better on the PS4 (I like the general layout better; it’s more compact and streamlined), but it operates much better and faster on the Apple TV. To each its own. I imagine it looks different on other platforms, but it has the same general usability and functions as the other versions.

I’m tempted to go whole hog and pay for the entire package and turn my media library into a NAS of sorts, but it’s ok like this for now.

I just looove Plex.


Sep 26 2016

Do we really need an Exorcist TV series?

Adel Gabot

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11:04AM

Catching up on my TV backlog, I just watched the series premiere of The Exorcist.

Now, I’m the biggest fan of William Friedkin’s original 1973 movie. I was only 11 when it was first released, yet I insisted on watching it at the earliest possible opportunity, and I haven’t looked back since. It aged well and bears repeated viewings up to today, 43 years later, and still holds up and gives me the same horrified fascination it had when I first watched it all those years ago. The hype was well deserved.

Later, I caught The Exorcist II and was sorely disappointed by it, so much so I didn’t bother to watch The Exorcist III when it came out. But in a lazy moment one afternoon a couple of years later, I picked up the DVD of III on a whim, watched it and was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. Astounded, actually. Much much better than the second, it remains a favorite. Can’t say the same for the succeeding retreads though.

Which brings me to the 2016 TV series follow-up. Seriously, do we really need another rehash/retread/remake/do-over?

Well, apparently we do.

Like The Exorcist III, I was pleasantly surprised by the series, at least with the premiere. I was fully expecting to be disappointed and found that, despite my jaded self, I grudgingly… liked it. I hope it keeps it up.

I found it professionally done, with just the right gravitas and seriousness that an update like this deserves. And it has just the extra added grit and horror that makes this one to watch. The old saw about the young priest Father Tomas (Alfonso Herrera) feeling serious doubts about his calling and the older, rebellious old veteran Father Marcus (Ben Daniels) is there, but there is enough new stuff in it to make it worth your weekly hour.

Father Tomas’s help is sought by a successful mother-who-owns-her-own business (Geena Davis, who has aged rather gracefully) when she suspects something’s amiss with one of their two daughters (Brianne Howey). In turn, Father Tomas seeks the help of Father Marcus, whom he doesn’t know but he’s been having nightmares about, which makes a nice flashback device wherein we explore Marcus’s history as an exorcist.

Great cinematography, excellent acting, well paced, it’s The Exorcist for a more modern time. Not that the original movie really needed the update, mind you.

In a nice twist towards the end (which I should have seen coming but didn’t) it’s revealed that it’s actually the other daughter, the seemingly nice and normal one (Hannah Kasulka) who’s the actual possess-ee, and not the odd and sulky one, who’s apparently just naturally weird.

There is also one nice nod to the series lineage—Father Tomas is leafing through case files of previous exorcisms and comes across an article referring to the original Regan McNeil case in Georgetown. Brief, but it’s there.

Yes, this looks pretty promising. One to watch out for every week. Fingers crossed.

 

 

 


Sep 9 2016

Trekker

Adel Gabot

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1:32AM

It’s the 50th anniversary of Star Trek today. Well, technically yesterday in my country’s time zone, but realistically, since the very first show aired in the US, today. (That makes me just four and a half years older than the venerable show.)

I’m a fan—not a Trekkie fanatic like my brother, who cosplays and belongs to rabid fan communities and collects all the collectibles and books and has copies of every single ST show and movie, but more a serious, sedate, thoughtful Trekker who doesn’t go overboard on all the stuff.

I remember as a young child watching the show avidly week after week on my parents’ big b&w Radiowealth TV, and then watching the other spin-offs and movies later in life.

I saw every related show, with the exception of Deep Space Nine, which I missed entirely and completely, and puts my Trekker status in question; I guess it coincided with the I-Hate-TV phase of my life, which is unfortunate, but there you go. But I saw everything else: Next Gen, Voyager, Enterprise, all the dozen-plus movies, and I’m curious about the new Discovery series coming up. I actually just installed Star Trek Online, a MMORPG on my PS4 last Wednesday!

It’s been a consistent and constant part of my life.

Watching the original show again today, the sets, the gear, the costumes and the effects look old, cheap and dated, and in the light of what’s come up since then in the genre, some of the stories seem hokey and threadbare. Some (most) of the episodes seem excessively talky, a consequence of budget constraints which forced the makers to tell, not show some (all) of the exposition, with the occasional brief moments of action.

But the show broke a lot of ground, not only for the science fiction genre and its acceptance into popular culture, but for diversity in casting the crew, having courageous, intriguing and provocative stories, and presenting a bright-eyed optimism in looking ahead to the future. For a show in the 60s, it was a wonder it even got made.

I credit Star Trek for embedding the love for sci-fi in my DNA, and for generally making me into the nerd that I am today.

Happy 50th Anniversary, Star Trek!


Aug 11 2016

Erased

Adel Gabot

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3:06PM

I just binged-finished the 12 episodes of Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi (also known by its shorter translated title of Erased), a limited series anime.

This anime was helpfully recommended by my friend @jalbacite, and it’s a very interesting time-travel story of family realtionships, childhood friendship, child abuse, grade-school life and murder.

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It’s the story of a 29-year-old manga writer named Satoru Fujinuma, who has trouble opening up and expressing himself to people. He also has this curious, supernatural ability he calls Revival, where he goes back in time by a few minutes, usually before something bad happens, which he can try and prevent from occurring if he can. But it’s a seemingly random and unpredictable ability, and he has no control over it; it just happens.

One day, after his mother is mysteriously and brutally murdered and he’s accused of killing her, he’s suddenly taken back in time to when he was in fifth grade, and this time he stays there for weeks to help prevent and solve a series of child abductions and murders— as a 29-year-old in the body of a 10-year-old b0y.

Along the way, he relives his time with his friends and family. With an adult, mature, grown-up mind in a boy’s body, he tries to solve the mystery, save the victims and repair their familial relationships this time around (with the help of his friends, of course).

The storyline frequently goes back to the present time and is interconnected by many threads and plotlines that overlap and interweave that you sometimes have trouble keeping it all in your head. Well, that’s the gist anyway; the story is a bit more complicated, as anime usually is, but I won’t go into the specifics anymore.

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It has some soap-opera elements, but thankfully not too much of them. You get the grade-school dynamics of life in the schoolyard, and the complicated relationships between kids and their parents and teachers, coupled with a exciting detective story spread out over a dozen episodes.

Erased is an exciting, intriguing anime, and I’m looking forward to watching more.