Star Wars Trailers! Star Wars Trailers! Star Wars Trailers!

The problem I have with Star Wars movies is basically the exact opposite of the problem I have with upcoming DC films: I tend to get so excited for them I have to actively fight off impossibly high expectations. And with Star Wars Celebration in full swing (Why am I not there?! Agghhhh!), the hype machine is in overdrive and so is my fanboyism. There’s all sorts of Star Wars news breaking at the moment, but below I’ve outlined my big three takeaways from Celebration so far. Let’s get cracking:

My enthusiasm for gaming tends to go through extremely dramatic and unpredictable ebbs and flows so I have no idea how interested I’m still going to be by the time Star Wars Battlefront II (curiously, it’s the second such game to be called that) is available to play on Nov. 17. But for the time being, this looks cool as hell. It’s supposed to be the first Star Wars game in the new continuity to explore a post Return of the Jedi setting and it appears to also set up the rise of the First Order. I’m a bit iffy on video game stories being made into franchise canon (good riddance, Force Unleashed), but Battlefront II gets the benefit of the doubt for now.

I was totally wrong about Star Wars Rebels concluding with its third season despite appearances to the contrary, but I wasn’t off by much. It’s been officially announced that it will end with the upcoming season four. Truthfully, I didn’t expect this show to last; in addition to the fact that cartoons for kids don’t usually have deep runs, the five years before A New Hope time frame didn’t give its storytellers tons of wiggle room. Nonetheless, the pieces of an emotionally satisfying conclusion are in place, especially since Hera’s somber narration doesn’t imply a happy ending. We know from that Easter Egg in Rogue One that she’ll probably be okay. My credits are on Kanan buying the moisture farm, since I don’t think Disney is about to kill off any 15-year-olds. I’m pretty sure Thrawn will go down too, which would take him “off the board” during the events of the OT. At any rate, I’m glad Rebels will get to end on its own terms, rather than get abruptly yanked off the air like Clone Wars did.

And that wolf! I don’t know what it is, but I love it already!

I’ve saved the best for last: the first trailer (it’s April; there’s going to be several more) for The Last Jedi. I’m super bummed that the elderly versions of Luke, Han and Leia won’t get to share the screen but it’s nice to have Luke back even though the last 10 or so years haven’t been kind to him. Luke took on a mentor role in some of the later post Saga books in the now defunct EU and getting to see that version of him onscreen is going to be treat, especially since Mark Hamill is really selling it with that magnificent beard. The only major plot point we can cull from this is that a despondent Luke, haunted by his failure with Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, will be ending the Jedi Order. Everyone – me included – thinks this means Star Wars is trying to move past the Light side/Dark side dichotomy (Luke’s “It’s so much bigger” line is lending that theory major credence). The idea that the Force has more than just two paths was touched upon in the previous season of Rebels via the Bendu character and hopefully it will get explored further in TLJ. I stand by what I said about Star Wars needing to take creative risks and this feels like a step in the right direction.

The Last Jedi comes out on Dec. 15.

‘Halo’ Has Come Back to Ruin My Life…

I resent the power that the Halo series has over me. Not the games themselves, mind you; just the way they can get me to drop everything I’m doing and to go check them out whenever a new one comes around. At this moment in 2015, I’m living happily free of the current console generation, choosing instead to dust off my DS and slave away at a series of long forgotten JRPGs in which you can summon a goddess from the heavens and have her throw enemies into the sun on your behalf.

It’s bizarrely fulfilling.

But alas, here is the latest cinematic from the forthcoming Halo 5: Guardians. For the second time in my life, I will probably go out and buy an Xbox just to pick this up. Seriously, I’m not sure why this series hasn’t been re-christened The Only Reason to Buy an Xbox: The Game. I guess it doesn’t roll off the tongue as gracefully.

In this shiny, pretty looking cinematic, an admirably diverse squad of Spartan Whatevers (one of whom is Nathan Fillion, reprising both the voice and mocapped face of Halo 3: ODST’s Gunnery Sgt. Ed Buck) receive a mission briefing (“Covenant bad; go kill”) and then make an airborne drop sans parachutes into a massive battle, bobbing and weaving between exploding ships before landing on a snow capped peak. They proceed to rocket down the mountain, blowing up many Covenant aliens and few of those cool Forerunner baddies from the last game and also causing an avalanche in the process. It’s a blast of a trailer, boldly declaring “We’re back! Prepare to lose hours of sleep and flunk your Spanish final!”

Or maybe that’s just what I hear; Spring Semester 2009 was a dark time.

We’ve seen a new Halo every year from 2007 (Halo 3) to 2012 (Halo 4), so I think I’ve had a long enough break from the franchise to renew my interest. I was pleasantly satisfied with 4, so this will probably be fun. On a minor note: I would once again like to point out that the Elites appear to be villains. I thought they became allies of humanity in 3, but I guess that isn’t the case anymore. Looking over 4‘s IMDB page, Keith David is reprising his voice over role as the Arbiter, so maybe there are still some friendly Elites out there. A fan can hope.

Halo 5: Guardians will be out on Oct 27 exclusively for (What else?) the Xbone Xbox One.

Things I Want (That I Definitely Won’t Get) From ‘Mass Effect: Andromeda’

To borrow some choice words from Warren Ellis: “People call me a cynic; but I think it might be truer to think of myself as just a constantly disappointed optimist.” This has been on my mind since the inevitable reveal of “Mass Effect: Andromeda” this week at E3, an event that I pay only the slightest amount of attention to. What I’ve observed: that multiplayer footage from “Star Wars: Battlefront 3” was drool inducing, everyone in the world who wasn’t me had their dream of a “Final Fantasy VII” remake come true and BioWare/Electronic Arts are giving us another chance to slap the old N7 patch on.

Now this by itself isn’t anything surprising. Of course there was going to be another “Mass Effect.” Nothing that popular was going to go away forever, and the powers that be have decided that three years was proper time/distance we needed from that divisive previous installment to swiftly hit the reset button. My play through of the saga is firmly in the books and I haven’t revisited “ME” since 2012, so I’ve gained some considerable distance from it all. They’re good games; check that, they’re great games, but in retrospect the fan worship and awe factor is kinda embarrassing. For instance, I used to think this was cute; now I watch it if I need a healthy laugh.

While I acknowledge its flaws, I wasn’t a member of the seemingly massive “ME3” hate mob, which got unspeakably boring long before it reached its peak. Nonetheless, the missteps of that installment – along with many of the other not so flattering moments EA has had since – makes me cautiously optimistic (see the other quote). In no particular order, here is what I’d like out of “Mas Effect: Andromeda.”

  1. For it to NOT be a prequel/interquel/side story: I don’t need to tell any of you this, but it bears repeating: prequels/interquels/and side stories suck. They are cowardly cop outs designed to prevent writers/artists/actors etc. from taking real risks (creatively speaking) so your audience can keep playing with the same old comfortable, familiar toys. There’s certainly many moments in “ME’s” back story that would lend themselves to these sorts of games. Thankfully, the “Discover a new galaxy” tagline in the trailer implies that this won’t be the case.
  2. For it to actually build off the events from “Mass Effect 3:” This one is going to be a tall order. The broad, open-ended, choose-your-own-adventure style of the series would probably require BioWare to build a completely different game for each variation of the “happy” ending attainable in “ME3.” If this is after the trilogy, then how is humanity (and everyone else, for that matter) exploring the stars without the Mass Relays? Did some other form of super fast space travel get invented since then? How did we reach this new galaxy? This is by far my most unreasonable desire, but a fan can dream.
  3. To be able to play as other races: “ME3’s” multiplayer did this; why not have this option in the campaign? The “Humanity is special” trope is wearing pretty thin at this point.
  4. Leave Commander Shepard in the past: The revered status Shepard attains in “ME3’s” postcredits scene was the dumbest, sappiest thing I’ve ever seen in a game. Let’s not turn this guy/gal into a god/goddess please. Don’t have his/her grandkids running around Andromeda. And for Christ’s sake, don’t make the playable human a Shepard descendant. Shepard’s time is over; let’s move the series past him/her.
  5. Bring Back Garrus: I don’t care how it happens as long as it happens. The future has many more guns that need calibrating.
  6. For someone to make a “Guardians of the Galaxy” mode of any “Mass Effect” game: Alright, so this is kinda silly, and it wouldn’t fall on the developers to make it happen. But seriously…do it. You know you want it.