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Call of Duty: WWII Nazi Boogaloo

Call of Duty WWII Artwork

by David Stonecipher
When a game series has annual releases for 18 years running, it might be hard to come up with new ideas to keep each new entry fresh. Moving away from the futuristic setting of recent Call of Duty titles, like last year’s Infinite War, Sledgehammer Games is hoping that fans will simply forgotten that CoD actually began as a World War II franchise. Granted, it has been nearly a decade since a Call of Duty game was set in the classic war, but the developer is now pretending that the series’ return to this historical era with Call of Duty: WWII is somehow innovative.

By taking the franchise full circle, Call of Duty: WWII is the first time the series has revisited the titular war since 2008’s World at War. By moving away from fictitious conflicts and back to historical events, the latest CoD tries to be more realistic than the franchise’s more recent installments. However, by recreating actual battles already presented in previous CoD titles, much of Call of Duty: WWII feels overly familiar. Even the game itself treats the stages as old news.

I guess Sledgehammer Games felt that players have played through the Normandy Invasion so many times in older titles that there wasn’t much more that they could add to the conflict. Instead of depicting the retaking of the famous beachhead during a serious mission, Call of Duty: WWII uses Normandy as a simple tutorial stage where players are busy learning how to crouch and move during one of history’s bloodiest battles. You’d think these are things that would have been covered in basic training before soldiers were thrust into the massive amphibious invasion.

Call of Duty WWII Flamethrower

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Call of Duty: WWII doesn’t feel familiar just because of its similarity to older titles, though. The story campaign also seemingly pulls inspiration from nearly every war movie ever made. However, while short, the story mode is a well-executed improvement for the series. If you’ve seen a WWII film before then the game’s cast will be instantly recognizable including the wise-cracking recruits to the stern sergeant. The locker room banter from your unit sometimes feels a little bit more like a road trip through Europe than Saving Private Ryan. In the end, the title’s straightforward, scripted events make it feel so much like you’re watching a movie rather than playing a game that Activision itself is even treating it more like a film.

Following the launch of the game, it was revealed that Call of Duty: WWII earned over $500 million in the first three days after release. It’s not often that publishers of video games announce opening weekend numbers since that type of promotions is generally reserved for movies, but I suppose you can market your product however you want if you own a multi-billion dollar franchise.

Call of Duty WWII Beach Landing

Kandy Sez
In the end, however, people probably aren’t buying Call of Duty: WWII for its brief story campaign. Multiplayer has always been the series’ biggest draw. Once again the game’s setting also defines its multiplayer. As can be expected from the historical background, the jetpacks and wall-running are gone in this entry. Call of Duty: WWII focuses entirely on period weaponry mechanics without the additional gimmicks. Sledgehammer leans more towards player choice and inclusion over historical accuracy when it comes to creating your multiplayer character. This allows users to pick their ethnicity and gender. Unfortunately, this is a game about the European Front in World War II so somebody is going to have to pick the short straw during matchmaking and play as a Nazi. Prepare to hear lots of bad German accents in voice chat from overly enthusiastic fans.

Surprising absolutely no one, Call of Duty: WWII delivers an enjoyable outlet to battle friends or progress through another short campaign. There’s even something to look forward to for those who aren’t excited about the World War II setting this time around. Call of Duty will certainly return again with an all-new game next year.

Ultimately, 8 out of every 10 privates will enjoy and enlist in this Nazi-stomping romp.

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Star Wars Battlefront II Review

Star Wars Battlefront II: EA Strikes Back
By David Stonecipher
I don’t know if anyone has ever actually wondered who would win in a fight between Lando Calrissian and Darth Maul, but if The Simpsons character you most identify with is “Comic Book Guy” then you can finally put this geek debate to rest. Thanks to Star Wars Battlefront II, fans can now step into the boots of more iconic Star Wars characters than ever before giving users the ability to witness all kinds of battles that never actually played out in the movies. For most game modes, however, don’t expect to be living out your childhood fantasy of becoming Han Solo or Darth Vader until you’ve paid your dues as an expendable rebel trooper or stormtrooper. You’ll have to play a bit to earn the right to be one of the famous heroes or villains.

In an apparent effort to confuse people as much as possible, this is actually the second time a game titled Star Wars Battlefront II has been released. The newest entry in the franchise is a direct follow-up to DICE’s 2015 title, which in turn was a reboot of the similarly named series that ended in 2005 with, you guessed it, the first release of Star Wars: Battlefront 2.

Naming originality aside, Battlefront II serves as Electronic Arts’ newest attempt to deliver the typical Star Wars fan’s wet dream. Overall, the game manages to do a decent job of fulfilling that promise as the sights and sounds are all incredibly authentic to the source material. Like all Battlefront games that came before it, the latest installment once again focuses on recreating large-scale battles set within the Star Wars universe via individual match-based sessions.

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Expanding on their first Battlefront game, the developer has tweaked the formula a bit to make way for some general improvements. Basic stormtroopers and soldier units now all have classes that serve specific roles such as front-line combatant or support specialist. Responding to feedback from the first game, DICE also included a single-player campaign with Star Wars Battlefront II.

The intent of the story mode was to give users the option to play the game however they like but, in reality, Battlefront II is still ultimately a PvP-focused title. The campaign is nice but it won’t keep fans coming back to play and, while the game also includes various co-op modes, they are treated as secondary training sessions with limited daily rewards. Apparently, the answer to the question, “War. What is it good for?” is selling video games since EA clearly believes that competitive conflict is more lucrative than modes that encourage players to work together.

Kandy Sez
After everything is said and done, perhaps the single most notable takeaway from Star Wars Battlefront II is how amazing it looks. The visuals really help the game stand out from the crowd. The animations and shooting mechanics are also top-notch when playing with either the first or third person camera.
However, there is still a constant reminder that the original Battlefront games managed to do many things better than the current reboot. It gave fans the option to play any map with full bots rather than only allowing users to experience a few select modes if they want to fight against the AI. While technological improvements keep pushing the franchise forward, Battlefront II is still far far away from giving players the sense of choice that was already established within the same series a long time ago.

In the end, the Star Wars brand is pretty much guaranteed to make money and EA knows this. It really doesn’t matter what is in the game, but thankfully it’s clear that DICE actually put some care into Battlefront II as the game has plenty of good points and is sure to show fans a decent time. That’s good, because they could have just phoned it in and let the Star Wars license do all the work and then we’d all be stuck playing “Jawa Kart Racing” or something.

7 out of 10 Wookies celebrated this game by ripping the arms off droids.


NFL Personal Conduct Policy Contradiction

I just finished viewing a clip of Colin Cowherd commenting on the NFL Personal Conduct Policy and the power the NFLPA ceded to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell when they negotiated the current CBA, Collective Bargaining Agreement. In his recital, Cowherd points out a statement in the NFL that EVERYONE associated with the NFL must refrain from conduct that is detrimental to the integrity of the league. The policy specifically says, “Conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL personnel.”

So, here is my question. How does Commissioner Goodell not see that the National Anthem protests being conducted by his players are UNDERMINING and PUTTING AT RISK the integrity of the NFL and NFL clubs? Why is Commissioner Goodell turning his back to the number one detrimental conduct of his players to the integrity of his league? This is not an opinion. This is a fact. This is not subjective, as Colin Cowherd argued regarding other applications of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.

The people in power, and I am talking NFL and NFLPA executives and network television executives, have chosen to spin the reasons for ratings decline in 2016. There was evidence that there were too many commercials. I won’t disagree with that and reducing the number of commercial interruptions is a positive move but that won’t bring back viewers. The sportsmanship rules put into place turned the league into the No Fun League. Again, I won’t argue with that. The penalties for celebrating a touchdown were out of touch with the combative spirit of the game and it was good to see preseason players once again choreographing touchdown celebrations. What will be this year’s spin if ratings continue decline? The investigation into President Trump’s Russian connections is distracting viewers. Hurricane Harvey awoke people to other priorities in life. College football is drawing fans away.

The product the NFL puts out on the field every Fall weekend is phenomenal. The players are world-class athletes and mysteriously superhuman. The talk on Monday mornings over a cup of coffee should be “did you see the throw Carson Palmer made this weekend”, not that half of the Browns insulted the American flag.

The next NFL player who is suspended due to the violation of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy should put the NFL in his cross-hairs and argue that the policy is arbitrarily enforced and cite the damage to the league’s integrity from the national anthem protests. This will force the NFL to redefine conduct that undermines the integrity of the league and clubs. The NFL has shown it will not discipline players for protesting the American flag; Colin Kaepernick is purely a business decision based on the fact he will not lead a team to a championship and the community discourse he will create is not worth winning a couple additional games.

Colin’s final point was that the policy also states that conduct by anyone that is irresponsible damages the reputation of the league and that too is completely subjective. And, again, how Colin chose to apply it that is true.  My point, how can the league not say that the action of players that alienates half of their fan base is not irresponsible? In any other business, if an employee’s behavior offends half of the customers that employee would be immediately terminated. Period. End of story. You’re fired, as President Trump would say. Whether or not you believe the National Anthem protests undermine the integrity of or damages the reputation of the league is not up for debate. The fact is that half of the American population disagrees with your point of view and that alone is evidence that the integrity of the sport has been damaged. 

Only The Brave
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Only The Brave Preview

Only the Brave, based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, is the story of one unit of local firefighter become one of the most elite firefighting teams in the nation.

Only The Brave

“Supe” Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin) leads the Granite Mountain Hotshots up the trail at Yarnell Hills in Columbia Pictures’ ONLY THE BRAVE, THE TRUE STORY OF THE GRANITE MOUNTAIN HOTSHOTS.

Last Flag Flying
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Last Flag Flying

In 2003, 30 years after they served together in the Vietnam War, former Navy Corps medic Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell) re-unites with ex-Marine Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) and Reverend Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne) on a different type of mission: to bury Doc’s son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War.

Last Flag Flying

From L to R: Bryan Cranston as “Sal,” Steve Carrell as “Doc,” and Laurence Fishburne as “Mueller” in LAST FLAG FLYING. Photo by Wilson Webb.
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Rememory – Alisons Dead

Rememory, starring Peter Dinklage, explores the unexplained death of Gordon Dunn, a visionary scientific pioneer whose body is found shortly after the unveiling of his newest work: a device able to extract, record and play a person’s memories.

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Stephen King’s IT will scare you #$@*!

Pennywise Stephen King IT

Photo Credit Brooke Palmer

Bill Skarsgård stars as Pennywise in Stephen King’s IT, a story about a clown who terrifies a small-town every 27 years. The trailer is terrifying, the book scared the crap out of us as kids. The mini-series had us looking under our bed. We can only imagine what the big version is going to do to our psyche.

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IT Trailer

The book IT scared the crap out of us as kids. We can only imagine what seeing this on the big screen will do to us as adults. A group of young kids are faced with their biggest fears when they square off against an evil clown named Pennywise, whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries.

The Hitmans Bodyguard
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The HITMAN’S Bodyguard

The Hitmans Bodyguard

Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) and Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) in THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD. Image Courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment.

In The Hitman’s Bodyguard the world’s top protection agent [Ryan Reynolds] is called upon to guard the life of his mortal enemy, the world’s most notorious hitmen [Samuel L. Jackson]. They encounter high-speed car chases, outlandish boat escapades and a merciless Eastern European dictator [Gary Oldman]. Salma Hayek joins the mayhem as Jackson’s notorious wife. 

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Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars


In Starship Troopers Traitor of Mars Johnny Rico has just been demoted and sent to a small satellite station on Mars whilst the Federation attacks the bugs’ home planet. While trying to train his new recruits on this remote quiet station, the bugs show up in a surprise attack but the Federation’s Fleet is too far away to help. It’s up to Rico and his Troopers to save the planet and uncover how the bugs made it so close to home


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