Mini Reviews: Trenched, Bond, True Blood, Umbrella Academy

It’s been a while since I threw down with some mini reviews. I’ve been so busy with work, the new house and getting ready for the baby that I’m consuming media in bits and pieces—I figured a round of mini reviews would be fitting.

Trenched

Do you have friends? Do you like giant robots? If so, go buy Trenched. The latest downloadable game from Double Fine is their best yet. You control a Trench, which is kind of like a World War One era mech. Your goal is to protect a base from invading forces using the guns you brought to battle, and a variety of attack and support turrets that can be placed almost anywhere. I played it with my brother over the 4th of July weekend and had a blast. It’s the most fun I’ve had with a Double Fine game since Psychonauts. Trenched is a perfect blend of strategy, tower defense, and blowing stuff up. Plus there’s loot and all kinds of unlockable goodies. Would have loved if it was twice as long, but at $15 it’s still a great value. Go buy it so they’ll make more!

The best part: The satisfying feeling you get when you and your turrets have the map covered.
The worst part:
It’s too good to be over so soon. The customization menus can be a bit cumbersome.
Overall: 9/10

James Bond: Blood Stone

There’s really nothing remarkable about this game. The digital actors look kind of lifeless, the plot isn’t great (it feels more like a Pierce Brosnan Bond than a Daniel Craig Bond), and the driving segments can be frustrating. And yet I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this game. The third person shooting is solid, and the insta-death system cribbed from Splinter Cell Conviction is fun, despite being totally “video gamey”. There are also some impressive set pieces, like a gunfight on a thundering hover boat, and a madcap escape from a giant drill. It’s clearly influenced by games like Uncharted, Splinter Cell and Gears of War, so if you like those, I’d give it a shot. It’s a great summer rental.

The best part: The graphically impressive hover boat level. Also Bond’s forceful take downs never stop looking awesome.
The worst part:
They look fantastic, but the tightly scripted vehicle sections are less about driving skill and more about repetition and memorization.
Overall: 7/10


True Blood: Season 4

The opening of the first episode of the season was, as my friend put it, like an episode out of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. They ended last season with a bang and then started the new one in desert fairy land where people eat glowing fruit and throw fireballs? Yikes. I told my wife that she can never make fun of the wackiness on Doctor Who again. Despite the wobbly start, the first two episodes were good overall. I’m not crazy about the jump forward in time as a plot device, but since it was only a year, it doesn’t seem like too much has changed. True Blood is still a bowl full of crazy, but I’ll take these vampires over the ones that sparkle. 

The best part: Laffayette bringing that bird to life was hilarious.
The worst part:
The bad CG fantasy world opening
Overall: 7/10

The Umbrella Academy

I wrote a book about superheroes, but I haven’t been a regular comic book reader for years. The guy that sits next to me at work is though, and he’s always sending cool books my way (thanks Paul!). This odd bird was written by the front man for My Chemical Romance, and illustrated by a Brazilian artist with a unique style. The story was off the wall and a bit disjointed, but I like the world and blunt characters. Also, I absolutely love the art style. I wish I could draw exactly like this. Each page is full of character, force and motion. The unique art fits the crazy world like a glove. 

The best part: The fact that the character The Kraken looks exactly like Josh Holloway from Lost
The worst part:
The quirky world the story creates is better than the actual story
Overall: 8/10