State of the Fantasy…..0011

As promised, let’s wrap up this season and look forward to next year.

To all of you who won championships, congratulations. For the rest of us, better luck next year. I ended up losing my championship match by over fifty points. My last-ditch efforts did little if nothing to help me but keeping my old line up would not have fared much better. I can say I made it to the championship and did the best I could. Ultimately, I will take it that I am one of many whom lost to a team that was headed by Peyton Manning.

Never will I call the season a loss. The biggest thing I will take from it is that I need to put forth more effort in several key areas. Mostly, I need to research and evaluate talent better along with monitoring my roster versus any talent available via trades or waivers. My own complacency cost me at times. Along with that I was too risk averse, always choosing the safe route and looking away from players with big upsides.

Not only is there room for improvement in my fantasy play, there is also room for improvement in my fantasy posts. The effort I put into researching the players better will help but I also need to allot more time to do the column itself. I have to apologize for the quality of the last two post in particular. I may tweak the format a bit as I look things over but I don’t want to get into ranking positions every week. Looking deeper into teams and their weekly matchup is something that I am considering. I felt like my postings were very superficial and that was an effect of the limited amount of time I was putting into them.

There is the potential that I will begin posting before the next fantasy season starts. Mostly some pre-season rankings by position or I may stick with looking at fantasy potential per team but I think that may not be useful when considering draft choices. Those post most likely won’t start until the NFL pre-season is under way.

As we end the year, we can all look back and what we did in fantasy and in real life. We can all improve on both. Happy New Year to you all.

It Really Is A Disaster

It's A DisasterToo bad the title describes the movie so well.

Tracy and Glen are on their way to meet her friends for a couples brunch. They will be meeting with three other couples to share in food and conversation. Glen is introduced to the crossed up group of friends as he and Tracy pass through the host’s house. As the group mergers and splits in to smaller conversations the nuances of the group are slowly revealed. There are some underlying instabilities and secrets in the group. The brunch is bothered by small interruptions as the utilities begin to fail with everything from cell phones not working to the power going out. The group gets a further scared and confused when a neighbor tells that several dirty bombs have been detonated. While they try to confirm the neighbor’s story, the binding of the group and its members become undone.

Hollywood dumps out yet another end-of-the-world black comedy. This one starts out with a decent premise but never fulfills its own potential. The reveal of the potential attacks is strung out too long. By the time the attacks are confirmed a lot of interest has been lost. The interpersonal relationships of the group just as quickly becomes uninteresting. The conditions of the group are more telegraphed than foreshadowed. The biggest disappointment comes at the end when no resolution for the group is presented. The film makers cop-out by simply ending the movie mid-scene. I even watched through the credits to make sure it was included there – it’s not. Even if you are looking for the comedy part of the black comedy you’ll be let down. It just doesn’t put forth enough funny moments to earn the comedy part. I kept waiting for David Cross to break into his Tobias character and it never happened. The movie may have been more interesting if it had concentrated on the dynamics of the group and left out the supposed terrorist attacks.

Netflix has this if you want to watch it but I would have to recommend you save the ninety minutes. It would be a true disaster if you bought It’s A Disaster from Amazon for the near $20 asking price.

State of the Fantasy…..0010

This is it. The last week of the season and fantasy. With the possibility of coaches sitting players for the playoff, this week is pretty muddy. Let’s look at what we have to work with this week.

Sunday – 12/29/2013

  • 1:00pm – Carolina at Atlanta – Carolina is looking to win this game to secure the division and Atlanta is playing for pride. Since Atlanta has been somewhat competitive in the last few games, look for Cam Newton to play most of the game.
  • 1:00pm – Baltimore at Cincinnati – This game is for the division, therefore both teams will be going full-bore. I still would stay away from any body on Baltimore though. I don’t trust Andy Dalton but I would take A.J. Green.
  • 1:00pm – Houston at Tennessee – Chris Johnson, if you don’t have anything better.
  • 1:00pm – Jacksonville at Indianapolis – This game means nothing to Indianapolis and they will probably pull their starters early – I would not play any of them. I don’t think you want anyone from Jacksonville.
  • 1:00pm – NY Jets at Miami – Miami is clinging to playoff hopes so Ryan Tannehill, Mike Wallace, and Brian Hartline are all good plays.
  • 1:00pm – Cleveland at Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh is also clinging to hope but I don’t know who you can trust here. Maybe Ben Roethlisberger.
  • 4:25pm – Denver at Oakland – Rashad Jennings and Rod Streater are good plays. I know you want to use your Denver players but look for them to be out in the second half.
  • 4:25pm – Green Bay at Chicago – The usual suspects of Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, and Matt Forte will start. I also have to think that Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers should be started. Both teams are fighting for the playoffs and will be out there to perform.
  • 4:25pm – Buffalo at New England – Nobody. New England can get the number one playoff seat without even winning.
  • 4:25pm – Tampa Bay at New Orleans – Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham need to do well to make sure New Orleans makes the playoffs.
  • 4:25pm – San Francisco at Arizona – I would not want to play any San Francisco players if I didn’t have to.  Arizona is going to come out swinging in this home game that has the faintest hope of a playoff berth. I don’t particularly like anybody on Arizona either.
  • 4:25pm – Kansas City at San Diego – Remember be saying that Denver will be sitting people? Kansas City is more likely to do so.
  • 4:25pm – St. Louis at Seattle – Seattle is playing to get their home mojo re-established. However, Russell Wilson has been mediocre of late and St. Louis is pretty good on defense. I would take the St. Louis defense.
  • 8:30pm – Philadelphia at Dallas – Here is where I contradict myself. I will be starting Nick Foles over Aaron Rodgers. It is only because of the match up. I usually don’t go into match up plays but in a game where the division is on the line I have to stick with the man who got me through the last half of the season. The unknown of Rodgers scares me to a point. Start DeMarco Murray because will probably get the ball a lot to keep the load off of Kyle Orton.

As far as my championship hopes, I am still in one game but I am down thirty-five points in a two-week playoff. I made some pretty big changes to try to make up the differential. It may come down to how early Payton Manning sits down since that is my opponents quarterback.

Good luck this week. I’m planning a wrap up post next week.

Call of Duty: Ghosts Bustin’

Call of Duty: GhostsI ain’t afraid of no Call of Duty.

Logan Walker and his brother David ‘Hesh’ Walker have no idea that their father, Elias, was a member of a rumored squad called ‘Ghosts’. They find this out after a massive attack sets the world into chaos and this squad is sent into action to stop their enemies from taking over. Working with their father, these young men must grow up quickly and earn their keep in the Ghosts squad.

On a technical level, this game played just like previous Call of Duty games. Graphics were crisp and deep on my Xbox One. Not sure how the game looks on other consoles. Even with the newest console sometimes the game play can be ‘clunky’ or haphazard. I like the Infinity Ward games better than the Treyarch contributions but it feels like both studios just keep doing the same thing over and over.

Typical of the Call of Duty series is a bland and mundane campaign. Not much to say here other than the obvious. Even with that said, I did enjoy playing through the campaign. There were lots of moments when I rolled my eyes and out loud said “Are you kidding me?”. The writers took a lot of short cuts to try to conjure connections between the characters. Rather than developing a bond between Elias as a commander and his soldiers, they just made his soldiers his sons for the instant bond. The more ridiculous scenario was including the son’s dog. It seemed unnecessary to say the least.

Obviously the most popular part of Call of Duty is the multiplayer. It is also the feature that I care for the least. On my first game of team deathmatch I was reminded of what I did not like – young kids and jerks screaming in my ear and people running around with knives and shotguns. Even in a new game the old tactics are tired and annoying but that is just something you have to accept. The maps feel like recreations of old maps and don’t cover any new ground. I didn’t play any of the Squads mode so I can’t say anything for or against it. I did, however, play a lot of the Extinction mode. This is the mode with alien enemies that four players must work their way through an area completing objectives. If you get matched with players that know what they are doing and work as a team the experience is great and highly enjoyable. On the flip side, if you are matched with players who don’t understand or know the scenario or run off and do their own thing you will probably walk away frustrated and disappointed.

In the end, it all comes down to whether you like Call of Duty or not. I bought this game for the Xbox One because there was no other game available at its release that interested me. Had it not been for that, I may have rented this title at some point just to play it. Overall, I will say that this game is as good as any other Call of Duty entry. Not being big on multiplayer action sort of lowers its value for me.

This game is still going for the full retail price of $60 at both Amazon and GameStop if you happen to be interested in it. Maybe I should have bought Battlefield 4 like I said I would but it is having problems of its own.

Dah Wolverine

The WolverineI don’t know how they’ll ever do Wolverine without Hugh Jackman.

Logan is in the midst of what could be considered a near mental collapse when he is approached by an unknown Japanese woman. She has been sent by a man who Logan befriended years ago to bring Logan back to see him on his deathbed. When they meet, the man offers the immortal Logan a share in his fate, death. But Logan finds that appearances are not what they seem. He is quickly drawn into political and personal agendas. Through it all he must fight with his own past and future.

The Wolverine is a continuation of the X-men movies that Jackman has been a star in. It is much bloodier than those movies but it also presents a much deeper story. Maybe the film maker is trying to show how close to the edge Logan is now or how brutal his nature can be but at times everybody on camera dies by his hand. Beyond that I found myself in suspense throughout the entire movie not realizing its ultimate conclusion until the very end. There were subtle twists and turns that kept me from completely surmising the entire course of the movie.  I will admit that there are times that this movie slips into a more typical action film role. Some of the fight scenes seem a little ludicrous but keep in mind that this is all based on a comic book. Of course there is the irreverent gritty, angry, go $%# yourself Wolverine humor that Jackman delivers flawlessly.

Jackman gives us the Wolverine that we have come to know and love yet again. I know there is talk about him not doing any further Wolverine roles and this would be sad but I understand that perhaps he feels he has gone as far as he can with the role or even that the film company may want a younger actor to re-energize and lengthen the role. If Jackman does leave the role, the next actor to take the role will be gauged against him whether fairly or not. Much like everyone will always compare every James Bond actor to Sean Connery.

If this truly is Jackman’s last run as Wolverine then I think he leaves on a high note. Fans of the X-men and Wolverine should take the time to watch this movie. Available for rental or purchase(Amazon has it for about $20) but your streaming services will have to wait to see if they ever get it.

The Game of 2013

Here we are at the end of another year in gaming and all the major outlets are picking their game of the year. So I’m going to pick one as well. However, I want to do mine slightly different. Rather than pick only from games released during the calendar year, I’m going to make my pick based on games that I spent significant time playing during the year regardless of their actual release date.

Let’s take a look at the candidates:

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified(Vita) – It sucked. I don’t want to be this harsh but it had the chance to be THE first person for the Vita and completely failed.
  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss(Vita) – Still the best Vita game I’ve played. Getting past some of the awkwardness of the Vita controls was the only problem with this game. Very solid and highly recommendable.
  • Gravity Rush(Vita) – A fun game to play around with but one that I ultimately just lost interest in. Goofy controls and goofier story didn’t work for me.
  • The Last of Us(PS3) – Another strong game with story and technical brilliance. This game fell short of my expectations. I know a lot of people swoon for this game but I just don’t feel the same.
  • Halo 4(Xbox 360) – The more I played this game the less I cared for it. Cookie cuter multi-player gets old quick. A definite downgrade from Bungie to 343. Let’s hope Halo 5 fares better.
  • Dead Space(iOS) – This was my gaming introduction to the Dead Space universe and has gotten me very interested in the franchise. One of the few shooter games I did not give up on on iOS.
  • Jetpack Joyride(PS3, Vita, iOS) – A fun little game that is good for killing time.
  • Killzone: Shadow Fall(PS4) – Good enough isn’t what I really look for in a game and that was what this delivered. I would have liked it better if it played more like the previous Killzone games.
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts(Xbox One) – It’s a Call of Duty game. Not too impressive.
  • Resogun(PS4) – I thank Sony for this fun freebie that kept me busy for hours.
  • Warframe(PS4) – Although I’ve played several hours of this game it still leaves me unsatisfied. It feels like something is missing or I just don’t get it.
  • Borderlands 2(PS3) – I played this game trying so hard to convince myself that I liked it better than I do.
  • Batman: Arkham Origins(PS3) – The low watermark of the franchise. So much promise and so little delivery.
  • Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate(Vita) – Being call slightly worse than its console counterpart is probably not a review the publisher was hoping to have written.
  • Mass Effect(PS3) – 6 years after its original release this game still holds up.
  • Tomb Raider(PS3) – I am not a fan of rebooting franchises but this one worked quite well. Not a great story but very good and the same can be said for the gameplay.
  • Beyond: Two Souls(PS3) – The ambition put into this game could not overshadow its flaws. Too much fragmentation in the story and a bizarre control system took away from the game a lot of enjoyment.
  • Darksiders(PS3) – A game on rails with a decent story where you just run through shooting and slashing.
  • Darksiders 2(PS3) – A game that came off the rails too early and never got on track.
  • Journey(PS4) – Perhaps one of the most beautiful and simplistic games I ever played. However, I can see where a lot of people would not take to it.
  • Saints Row IV(PS3) – When you break the fourth wall sometimes it falls on you. Fun to play if it is your thing.
  • Killzone 2(PS3) – A cheap pickup with great pay off. It got me to play the next in the series.
  • Killzone 3(PS3) – A cheap pickup with great pay off. It got me to play the next in the series.
  • Sleeping Dogs(PS3) – I had great reservations about this game and probably would not have played it had it not been for PS+ giving it away. I found myself completing it and loving it.
  • Drive & Jump(iOS) – Such a simple game can be great for killing time. Great 8-bit throw back.
  • Galaga Legions DX(PS3) – It was nice to revisit an old memory.
  • Force Pinball 2(PS3) – Free pinball? Ok.
  • Madden 25(PS3) – I apparently only like to watch football. Playing it in any fashion is not something I want in on.
  • Battlefield 3(PS3) – Underrated campaign and interesting multi-player. I see why people enjoy this.
  • Saints Row The Third(PS3) – Crazy gets weird real quick. Fun times but tiring.
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed(PS3) – I liked this game the first two times I played it and I liked it the third time. I know it wasn’t perfect or what Star Wars fans wanted but I enjoyed it.
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II(PS3) – A weak follow-up to say the least. Trying to force a sequel just isn’t worth it. They could have used the same universe with different characters.
  • Dead Island(PS3) – I got this game cheap and felt ripped off. It was fun for twenty minutes and then got super boring. Apparently there was a sequel.
  • Bulletstorm(PS3) – For $5 it was fun.
  • Transformers: War for Cybertron(PS3) – So good. I wish I had played it sooner.
  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron(PS3) – So good. I wish I had played it sooner.
  • Transformers: The Game(PS3) – So bad it made me laugh. Literally, I laughed. This game over took my ranking of worst game played from Halo Wars. Yep, that bad.
  • Far Cry 3(PS3) – Fun but I just didn’t get why people thought it was a big deal. Another Alice in Wonderland rip off?
  • The Cave(PS3) – A very unique game but has an almost complete lack of replay value even though there are other character story lines to pursue.
  • Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One(PS3) – A fun cartoonish game.

The Game of 2013 as awarded by Reviewer Discretion goes to – Tomb Raider! Congratulations.

Why Tom Raider? It stands out most to me as the game that kept me interested throughout the entire play through and I still wish that I had taken the time to go back through it again. I still want to go back into the game to find all the tombs and other hidden items. Just thinking about it makes me kind of disappointed that I never got around to doing it. Looking at the other games on the above list did not bring back any feelings like this.

Feel free to let me know if there is something on this list that you considered better. If you have a game that it not on this list, let me know that too and maybe I can consider it for next year.