PolyNerdic Review Lightning Round Edition

I am way, way, wwwaaaayyyy behind on reviews so in order to get caught up I’m going to fire off a series of short and sweet reviews.

I personally prefer the longer format for reviews but trying to write them all out in the limited amount of time I’ve had to put proverbial pen to paper has put me farther behind.

So without further delay here are the reviews of various comics and video games that I’ve been struggling to get out to you, my dear reader.

South Park: Stick of Truth

Stick of Truth is an absolutely fantastic, offensive and hilarious journey into the South Park universe.  I haven’t watched the show in damn near a decade so I may have lost some of the references from later seasons but I still really, really enjoyed my time with the game.  The graphics perfectly emulate the world of the show and the humor, while often times blowing right past the boundaries of good taste, rarely missed the mark (excessive fart jokes aside).  My only real complaints are in the repetitive turn based combat and having the party limited to two characters with the option of switching out the 2nd character on the fly/mid-combat.

Final Verdict: 8 out 10 if you can stomach some wildly inappropriate and offensive situations…if not stay way away from this game.

Civil War 2: Issues 0-3

Marvel recently launched a sequel to the big, world altering event of ten years ago and I’ve tried to stay current with the main line of the story.  This time the conflict is not over super hero registration but rather over the use of a new Inhuman’s abilities to see the future to prevent crime.  Captain Marvel wants to use this young man’s abilities to prevent crime/disaster from happening while Iron Man urges caution as it is uncertain if the new Inhuman is seeing what will pass or what could be.  Stark feels that rushing off based solely on what the Inhuman sees could lead to disaster.  The 0 issue serves as a prologue introducing the central characters and their motivations while issue #1 wastes no time in proving Stark right as the well-intentioned Captain Marvel leads a team into battle based on one of the Inhuman’s visions and several heroes are injured after ambushing Thanos.  The results of this push Stark over the edge and immediately sparks a division among the various Marvel teams, namely the Ultimates and Avengers.  So far the story has taken some crazy turns, some major characters have met their end and I am definitely on the edge of my seat awaiting more issues.

Final Verdict (So Far): 9 out of 10.  As this is an ongoing series the score is merely provisional until the full series is complete.

Sunset Overdrive

Sunset Overdrive was an early release on the Xbox One, coming long before I found myself with a console but a couple of months ago it was a freebie via the Xbox Games with Gold.  I decided  recently to take the game for a spin off-stream and ended up spending a couple of nights burning through the whole game.  At first I was a little put off by the game’s system of traversal and combat but the more I played it the more it felt natural if not enjoyable.  The weapons are crazy, the story absurd and silly and overall the game was quite good.  I may still play it again on some streams in the near future which says volumes about its quality since I don’t often feel the need to immediately replay a game like this.

Final Verdict: 8 out of 10.  A solid game with a few flaws (such as the irritating “horde” missions that aren’t optional) that only slightly hurt the overall experience.

Batman Volume 7: Endgame

Following the good but not great volumes 4-6 of Scott Snyder’s run with Batman, Endgame was absolutely mind-blowing….or would have been if I hadn’t already read later Batman stories (such as the opening issues of the Rebirth arcs).  The story here is that in the aftermath of the Death of the Family arc, wherein Joker arguably partially succeeded against the “Bat-Family” by driving a wedge of contention between Batman and his closest allies, Joker returns to turn the Justice League and later Gotham against Batman.  Using a new form of his toxin, one Batman doesn’t have the cure for, Joker gets the League to come for Batman’s head in a series of attacks he barely escapes.  Shortly thereafter the city itself comes for Batman, doing everything they can to kill the man they once revered as their Dark Knight.  Batman eventually reconciles with the Bat-Family and together with a select few of Batman’s villains who also face destruction at Joker’s hands they fight back.  The finale of the book has pairs off Batman and Joker in one of the most brutal one on one fights I’ve ever read and ends in a way that at the time of its initial release would have been one of the most shocking things to occur in decades within the Batman books.

Final Verdict: 10 out of 10.  I very rarely give out perfect 10s but this book was one for me.  Everything about it was amazing and the ending alone is still resonating with me all these weeks later for the utter game-changer it was at the time it was published.

Until Dawn

Until Dawn was one of those PS4 games that I’ve had my eyes one ever since it launched but had to wait for the moment to come for me to get my hands on it.  It plays similar to the Telltale games in that you guide a character around the environment looking for clues and interactive objects and from time to time you are given a choice to make that will effect the game.  Unlike the Telltale games the choices, in my opinion, are much better at being difficult to predict the outcome of.  At the time you make them many choices feel innocent enough right up until the moment you watch your character meet a horrific demise.  Until Dawn is a multi-genre horror game, going from standard teen slasher to Saw-esque torture porn to supernatural thriller and it works really well at all genres it brushes against.  One of the best part of the game for me was that while the choices were hard to predict they felt like they had real consequence, effecting relationships between characters and determining if they would live and die.  Best of all is the fact that you could potentially save or lose all 8 characters (I lost half…including Hayden Panettiere’s character in the closing minutes of the game), which makes the game fairly replayable as you try to guide the eight characters to safety (or death if you’re a sadist).

Final Verdict: 9 out of 10.  Easily one of my favorite gaming experiences of the year.

Fables Vol 1: Legends in Exile

A few months back I played through the excellent Wolf Among Us and fell in love with the world of Bill Williamson’s Fable series.  I couldn’t wait to jump into the books and was not disappointed with the first volume.  Telling the story of Bigby Wolf as he investigates the apparent murder of Rose Red (Snow White’s sister).  The story had this excellent noir feel to it, much like the Raymand Chandler books I love, but with the obvious twist of the characters all being age old fairy tale characters thrown into the real world.

Final Verdict: 8 out of 10.  Fables: Legends in Exile is a solid read with quality art and tells a very well told murder mystery, definitely worth your time if you are into such things.

Batman Detective Comics Issue #934

Rebirth put several decades old DC comics back into their original numbering, Detective Comics being one of them.  I really enjoyed this book quite a bit as it told the story of Batman trying to assemble a new team and train them to prepare for a showdown with a mysterious enemy that is watching all of Gotham’s vigilantes.  Batman starts with his cousin, Batwoman, selecting her personally to help him train the new recruits and serves as a sort of co-leader to the group.  Also selected are The Spoiler (Stephanie Brown), Red Robin (Tim Drake), Orphan (Cassandra Cain) and most shocking of all, Clayface.  This book servers entirely as an introduction to the new team and only barely touches on what/who they will be facing.  I look forward to reading the next couple of issues (already in my possession) to see where this story goes.

Final Verdict: 8 out of 10.

Green Lanterns Issue #1

I developed a love for the Green Lanterns during Geoff Johns’ run with the titles before and during the New 52.  I picked this book up in the hopes that it would continue that sort of greatness.  So far I am not immediately impressed but I am also not completely disinterested by the story that has started here.  The focus of this series is the partnership of Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz.  Cruz is a completely new character to me and I possess a bare bones relationship with Baz, mostly from the Trinity War and Forever Evil books.  The apparent villains of the piece, the Red Lanterns, are what really draws me to the story as the Red Lantern Corps may well be my favorite, especially Atrocitious and Bleez who show up near the end of the book discussing the coming Red Dawn (an event that seemingly deals with the spreading Rage that Cruz and Baz are fighting on Earth).  I’m intrigued but admittedly didn’t love this book.

Final Verdict: 7 out of 10.

Batman #1 (Rebirth)

And lastly, the first of the new Batman line now ran by Tom King.  This is issue feels really short and sweet (no shorter than any other single issue but due to quick pacing of the story it feels over quicker than most) as it deals with Batman trying to prevent a crashing airliner from coming down in a busy section of Gotham.  The way in which Batman handles the crash is comical and feels very, very “comic book” in nature as does his focus on whether the certain death he is facing by saving the airliner would be considered a “good death” by his parents.  These things are ultimately forgivable but during my first reading of the book felt a little “on the nose” and such were a bit too cheesy for my tastes.  Maybe Scott Snyder spoiled me with his largely amazing run with the series but with this single issue Mr. King’s writing didn’t do it for me (but I’m doing my damnedest to give the guy a fighting chance with my favorite hero’s main book).  The end of the book does introduce two new cape clad crusaders to Gotham and I am very interested in seeing how that part of the story pans out.

Final Verdict: 7 out of 10.  King didn’t come out of the gate nearly as strong as Snyder did before him but he has my interest with the new super-duo and how they will interact with Batman in future issues is something I’ll be keeping my eye on.

Damn that was a lot of things to cover but that does catch me up just in time to read some more books on my to read stack.  Hopefully I’ll do better about reviewing them as I finish them so you and I don’t have to go through this again.

-Shad (@PolyNerdic)

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