Back when I was in school, I studied GCSE sociology, and when I went to college I studied it for A Level too. The study of society seemed like an interesting topic, moreso than the other options I had back then (so interesting were these other options, I don’t even remember them). Of course, there is a bit of a stigma with studying something like sociology, namely the “you didn’t want to study anything USEFUL?” one, which actually led to one of the biggest regrets of my life, when I chose to study accounting and economics at university (“they’ll be more useful in the future!”) rather than sociology, which I actually ENJOYED.
Anyway, this wasn’t to bitch about poor life choices, I have a story for you all. Gather round, children, and let me regale you with the tale of the fire-breathing horse of capitalism!
One of the topics we studied was the Marxist perspective of various aspects of society, and we were split into groups and tasked with making a poster about what the Marxist perspective of the education system was. Naturally, the other groups basically made a wall of text split into bullet points about various aspects of the Marxist ideology. My group?
We went high concept. We went ARTY.
We drew a building representing a school but resembling a factory, with humans going in one side and emerging as robots, who then filed into other factories to be put to work, representing the proletariat. We had this idea that schools taught them WHAT to think rather than HOW, reprogramming the proletariat into mindless drones (there are other methods Marxists identify that exert ideological control, usually involving the media or religion). This “product line” was overseen by an evil businessman with a briefcase and a large whip, representing the bourgeois. Any person that deviated from the lines filing into or out of the factories were set upon by a fearsome winged horse that breathed fire for some reason, the FIRE-BREATHING HORSE OF CAPITALISM. I guess it represents the police? Or some other force the bourgeois use to crush any sort of rebellious uprising.
Had we had more time, we’d probably have created a group underground of escapees, representing some burgeoning revolution, but sadly we only had half an hour and we spent a lot of that making the horse look fucking amazing.
Now, I know it all sounds OTT, but truth was, we just wanted to draw a winged fiery horse, and had to come up with a hasty justification for it. I think we were pretty successful.
Legion is in full swing, 7.1 is out ALREADY, there’s a new raid coming next week, and all is looking rosy.
But there are other games in the world, other things to play and other worlds to experience, so let’s have a look at those!
Street Fighter V
I’m not playing online much with this game yet, instead I’m primarily playing against the boyfriend and his plethora of favourites. He favours Laura, Karin and Nash, relatively fragile but speedy and strong characters, whereas I am currently favouring Rainbow Mika, Urien and Cammy. Mika is all about getting you in the corner and making you guess her next move. Guess wrong and she’s gonna murder you. Urien’s all about those heavy hits and Aegis Reflector setups, as well as being fabulous in a thong. Cammy is more like the bf’s characters in that she’s fast and packs a hefty punch, but can’t take too many hits due to her low health.
99% of the reason I play as Urien is because if you hold 3 specific buttons as the fight loads, he starts the match by BURNING ALL HIS CLOTHES OFF. Why would you NOT play as him?!
King of Fighters XIV
Another fighting game, this time by SNK, KoF14 features considerably more playable characters than SFV and thus it was initially difficult to choose a favourite.
But then I played as Hein.
The fabulous German butler of Geese Howard (yes, he’s alive again somehow) who seemingly has the power to create hugely powerful gravitational fields, and is prone to a bit of posing, and we all know Panda Steve loves posing.
The combo system is a lot more complex in KoF14 (though simpler than previous games in the series) and a lot of characters have rather daunting commands (I struggle particularly with double half-circles so much), but at least they removed Geese Howard’s infamous “pretzel” command for his Raging Storm.
He’s also delightfully Engrishy and loves to counterattack every damn move you ever do, same as he’s always been. PREDICTABO!
In the two weeks it has been out, I’ve sunk 32 hours into this game, and do bear in mind I’ve not only raided Emerald Nightmare a few times, but I was on holiday in Newquay for about a week, so that cut my potential playtime down a bit.
Put short, this game is FANTASTIC. I’ve not worked out all the little quirks yet with districts and whatnot but I’m slowly getting used to them, and the wanton aggressiveness and flip-floppy nature of the AI is still entertaining to me (though to be fair it always has been, it makes shit INTERESTING!). You’ll be pleased to know Gandhi is still an absolute wanknoodle who shouldn’t be trusted as far as you can SPIT him, let alone throw him.
I’ve enjoyed playing as Japan and China. I’ve always tended to gravitate towards the Asian civs in these games (Korea, Arabia and China in V for instance) for some reason, but we can probably add Rome to the “Steve Likes Playing As” table too, if only because it means I’m not up against him.
Rome is terrifying.
But you know who isn’t?
I am progressing slowly but surely in Pokemon Y. I’ve just got my 4th badge, I’ve got a Lucario that I threw in the PC as soon as I could, and I have not got enough fabulous clothes for my character to wear. Important things, yes?
Sitting pretty at level 34, Lapras pretty much single-handedly demolished the 4th gym thanks to her Ice Beam move. Apparently of a Docile nature, though she seemed anything BUT docile when she cut an icy swathe through whatever is in front of her.
Doublade is level 39, and his obscenely high attack stat and good movepool so far means he’s probably got something that can knock you down, even if he’s not getting STAB.
Speaking of STAB, despite him being a boy I called him Stabitha.
Deino is level 42. I got him from a Wonder Trade for a Wurmple to my great (lack of) shame. He was a little level 1 powerhouse with Earth Power and Dragon Pulse! Goddamn this line of dragons evolves late.
There are a criminal lack of Golett gifs. Anyway, Tetsujin here is level 30 and a recent addition to the team.
TETSUJIN! TETSUJIN! WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
FLYING WITH A WHOOSH IT’S TETSUJIN 28-GOU
Pangoro is a pokemon that will be in every team I make, because to exclude him would be to invite terrible misfortune upon myself. I mean damn, look how he just throws Meowth like he’s NOTHING.
Penelope the Pangoro is level 37 and likes punching.
At the moment I don’t have a 6th. Ideally I want a Fairy type, and it’s a toss-up between these two, though it looks like Clefairy is winning.
… Damn they’re fighting like Peggy and Pat in Eastenders.
“YOU BITCH!” *slap*
“YOU COW!” *slap*
I’ve put a level 1 Spiritomb up on the GTS for a level 1-10 Clefairy. You know you wanna.
A running joke the boyfriend has with me is that he seems to think that I have some sort of… “fetish” (not necessarily sexual though!) for people with eyepatches. Like, yesterday I went on a website that had concept art for one of my favourite Street Fighter 4 characters, Juri. It features her new look for Street Fighter V and OH MY:
IS THAT AN EYEPATCH?! Well hot damn I’m totally playing as HER when she’s made available!
It’s not just her. Sagat from the same series has long been cyclopean, having lost his eye to Dan’s father, Go Hibiki, back before Street Fighter 1 even happened:
He’s also an impossibly badass Muay Thai fighter, and I love to play as him!
Carrying on with the fighting game theme, from Samurai Shodown (and also from historical feudal Japan) comes Yagyu Jubei:
Two swords, eyepatch, a handsome older gentleman… and capable of killing you DEAD in the blink of an eye.
Just the one, mind.
Hailing from the same period of time but a different game (Samurai Warriors by Koei, and Sengoku Basara by Capcom) comes Date Masamune, the one-eyed dragon!
I’M SORRY IS THIS BADASS HOLDING SIX SWORDS SIMULTANEOUSLY? Why yes he is, because he’s yet another eyepatch-toting badass no matter WHAT game he appears in!
I can’t mention Koei without hovering over to Dynasty Warriors, where we have Xiahou Dun:
He, much like Jubei and Masamune above, also is based on a real eyepatched badass from the Three Kingdoms era of ancient China. He was shot in the eye by Cao Xing, and rather than lay down and gently die as most of us would, he ripped out the arrow with the eye attached, ATE it, hunted down Cao Xing and killed him. He didn’t retire from battle after that either.
And there’s more! So many more characters with eyepatches that I end up loving:
BIG. FUCKING. BOSS.
I mean dammit, a number of my WoW characters have eyepatches or blindfolds too:
It’s just a crazy coincidence, honest.
Today, I am going to play some Darkest Dungeon, and I think I may share my experience with you, at least for one dungeon. Why? Well, it’s partly an opportunity to show off a really cool game, and partly because I may do Let’s Plays of games in the future, and why not start now?
Say hello to our adventuring party:
Reynauld is a Crusader. He’s one of the characters you start the game with, and mine for some annoying reason is a Kleptomaniac, which means he just can’t resist auto-opening boxes of loot and keeping it all for himself.
Such actions end up hurting him more often than not, given that a lot of the locks he tries to bust are booby-trapped. Silly Reynauld.
Mont-Canisi is our Plague Doctor, and plague he certainly specialises in, as I give him abilities to poison and stun his opponents, forgoing any party support abilities altogether. He refuses to visit anywhere in town but the brothel to relieve his stress, and he has a hatred of the eldritch.
Everything here is eldritch, in some form or another.
Ah, Peche. As our resident Bounty Hunter, I’ve given him the abilities that allow him to mark a target for massive damage, as well as end up inflicting that massive damage. He also shows a fondness for bleeding his enemies out, and stunning them.
He hates unholy enemies. This means zombies. We’re going into a dungeon full of them. Poor Peche.
Quincey is our healer, a Vestal. She’s prone to bleeding, but with the meat shields in front of her, she should be fine, right?
We’re heading into the ruins to kill a Necromancer Apprentice, and I’ve decided to play it very safe with supplies, by bringing a lot of food and torches. I’ve brought a couple of keys and holy waters too, because they can always come in handy when faced with locked boxes and unholy shrines.
A devil walks these halls. Only the mad or the desperate go in search of him.
Our journey starts with a bang. Quincey manages to dodge a trap that none of us saw coming, and reading from a book has a profound effect on her…
It instills in her a hatred of mankind, which hopefully only extends to her enemies, as it increases her damage to humans by 15%!
Battle #1, a couple of Bone Rabbles, and a Bone Arbalist. The latter is capable of most damage, so we’d do well to stop him in his tracks.
Mont-Canisi’s Blinding Gas stuns the Arbalist, which is fortunate as he would have taken a turn straight after. Instead, he is forced to skip! But we can’t keep him stunned forever, we need to bring him into the forefront…
Peche Marks him, which makes him take more damage from certain attacks:
We need to go on the offensive, and Reynauld delivers!
His Zealous Accusation destroys the enemy’s front line, and Peche finishes off the Arbalist in a single blow. 875 gold is our easily-earned reward. Where do the skeletons keep it?
Quincey throws some holy water on an urn, dissolving the ashes within and revealing treasure! 2 lumps of jade, a ruby, and citrine! Spoils!
Darkest Dungeon has a lighting system. The darker you allow it to become, the more stress your party members take, the more damage your enemies will do, but the more rewards you receive, and the more likely you are to inflict a critical hit.
Stress accumulates passively as you go through a dungeon, because walking these dank, ruined halls and encountering fearsome monsters strains the mind as much as it may strain the body. Getting hit with criticals also raises it, as do certain enemy attacks. Stress is mainly recovered via facilities in town, or via camping, but some characters can reduce their (or their friend’s!) stress through abilities in battle, and by scoring critical hits.
When your stress reaches max, your resolve gets tested and you either come out with powerful buffs, or severe debuffs, as well as increasing the stress of your other members. Once things start to go wrong, they tend to spiral.
Speaking of enemies increasing stress, the Bone Courtiers in this battle (the 2 bringing up the rear of this enemy party) are possibly the most effective at raising it. Their Tempting Goblet attack raises your stress by a large amount, and thus letting them live too long is something you do not want happening. They can only use this attack from the rear ranks, however, so by killing what’s in front of them or yanking them forward will stop them throwing drink on you. I opt for the former method, and finishing them off proves easy.
May as well keep our health topped off while we’re here!
Remind yourself that overconfidence is a slow and insidious killer
Battle 3 sees us against another Courtier and Arbalist, as well as a Defender and a Soldier. The two front-ranked enemies both have a stat called “Prot” which reduces the damage you deal to them by that percentage. The Defender’s Prot is 25%, and the Soldier behind him 15%. Blights and Bleeds are the way to go with these two, except skeletons don’t bleed…
Vestals are great healers, but they also have attacking utility. Her Dazzling Light ability here not only inflicts a bit of damage, but also stuns AND increases the level of light! A most useful attack, and a very worthy action if healing is not necessary this turn.
Mont-Canisi’s bread and butter is Blight attacks. They deal low initial damage, but inflict a powerful poison on the target too, which often proves to be the killing blow of an enemy.
The Necromancer Apprentice here is a different kettle of fish. Whenever he attacks, he also summons a skeletal minion in front of him, and the further back he goes, the less likely you are to be able to hit him.
We’re not gonna let that happen.
Stunning him looks unlikely, but those are some rather low bleed and blight resistances… Mont-Canisi and Peche can certainly take advantage of those! We also see that he’s Unholy, and Reynauld’s Smite ability deals extra damage to Unholy types…
The Necromancer’s first turn is an ability called The Flesh is Willing, which hit the front 2 characters for respectable damage and summoned a Bone Soldier to the field. Mont-Canisi casts a Noxious Blast at the Necromancer to blight him, and Peche scores a critical hit!
Damaging debuffs are stackable in Darkest Dungeon, so Mont-Canisi casts another Noxious Blast, and when it’s the Necromancer’s turn, he takes 8 damage instead of 4! If he was in a position where Peche could Bleed him, he’d be taking serious damage every turn!
The Necromancer’s pumping out some respectable damage, though, and we need to keep an eye on our health. Hits like that, the Vestal can’t recover in 1 go.
On top of that, he has his Six Feet Under spell which does no health damage, but hits your stress levels like a truck!
Even reanimated bones can fall. Even the dead can die again.
Stacking those DoTs and fierce attacking won the day here, however. Quincey and Mont-Canisi’s stress levels, while not maxed, are rather high, so they may have to sit out the next dungeon.
When you complete a quest, you get gold, trinkets and heirlooms to upgrade your base with (my Occultist will LOVE this trinket, I think):
Your victorious heroes don’t come out unchanged either. They have a chance to develop traits thanks to their time in these dank, unforgiving halls. They may pick up undesirable habits, diseases, or even come out as better men and women for their experience!
Reynauld now recovers stress easier, but contracted a disease that makes him slower. Mont-Canisi picked up a trait that gives him 10% damage reduction!
A successful venture, but now it’s time for our heroes to rest.
I’m writing this while waiting for things to spawn in World of Warcraft (both rares AND news, ho ho ho), but if you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed me being obsessed with Zangief from Street Fighter the past few days. Well, Zangief, and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, which I’ve been watching recently. I figured I’d do a post dedicated to his glory!
Zangief first appeared in Street Fighter 2, and of course represents Russia, or the Soviet Union as it was back then. His primary aim is to fight for the glory of Mother Russia! He’s fearless, he’s proud of his magnificent muscles, he’s tactically astute in a fight (contrary to his appearance as a muscle-bound brute), but also contrary to his appearance (I mean, look at that picture above!) he’s good-humoured and rather gentle in nature. His story in Street Fighter 4 was all about him trying to win the admiration of his young fans who were starting to think he (and wrestling itself!) couldn’t stand up against other forms of martial arts!
His initial concept wasn’t too far from what he ended up becoming, though he had a different name (Vodka Gobalsky), a tattoo, and black vest-top. He kept the scars, the muscles, the facial hair and the mohawk, and his name was changed to be a reference to Victor Zangiev, a Russian wrestler who primarily wrestled in Japan.
It was rumoured that Zangief was gay, as his Street Fighter II profile claimed he dislikes “beautiful young women,” and in IV he refers to Akuma as “kinda cute,” (like a pug apparently) but nothing has ever been officially stated on this. It could just be that he prefers older women, and perhaps “cute” was a mistranslation of some sort.
Either way, whether he is or he isn’t, he’s rather popular with a section of gay fans due to his appearance as a “bear,” i.e. masculine, hairy and large (either muscular or fat!). Personally, I kinda think it’d be cool if he was as here we have a powerful, confident, utterly MANLY character that would help to dispel the stereotype of gay people being feminine and passive. Even if he’s NOT, it won’t stop me liking him. He fits firmly into the sphere of “men I think are fuckin’ HOT” after all, but it’s not just aesthetics that makes him appeal to me. It’s how he plays too.
Everything is better with spinning.
Zangief is the archetypal “grappler” character. His effective range is “in your damn face” and if he’s outside that range, he will be doing his damnedest to get in it. He hits like a truck, but he takes effort to be able to do so and “zoning” characters (those that use projectiles and long-ranged normal/special attacks to keep opponents at a distance they are not effective at) have the easiest time against him.
That being said, he does have tools to deal with them. His Spinning Lariat moves let projectiles pass through him, his Banishing Flat when timed right can absorb projectiles, and his EX Flying Power Bomb can absorb a single hit. He’s all about timing your advance then destroying your opponents when you get close. His command throws have no startup, meaning if you’re in range and grounded/not otherwise throw invincible when he performs them, you’re gonna be eating a LOT of damage, and as you see in the video above, you’re not even safe in the air.
So there we go. He’s strong, he’s hot, he’s damn bloody effective, he’s patriotic and he cares for his fans, and I am extremely excited that I get to carry on playing as him when Street Fighter V comes out next year.