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July 2022 Retrospective

The Good

Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak

Monster Hunter Rise was my favourite game of 2021 so I don't think anyone is going to be surprised to hear that the Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak expansion is amazing.

There is nothing I can write to make someone who owns Monster Hunter Rise buy the Sunbreak expansion because the have already bought it. But if you've ever been interested in trying Monster Hunter there has never been a better time. With every one of these releases Capcom just keeps tightening up the Monster Hunter formula, making it better and better. Really the only thing that I want to ask Capcom for at this point is for the next Monster Hunter game to get a worldwide release on all platforms (PlayStation, Xbox, PC, Switch) with cross-platform play.

Hitman 2 (2018)

Just like I wrote last month, I am technically playing Hitman 3 but I purchased the Hitman 1 and 2 DLCs so I can play through the entire trilogy inside the Hitman 3 engine. In July I played the next eight levels which comprise the entire Hitman 2 (2018) game.

Hitman 2 is a massive improvement on the first game. Like head and shoulders above it. You can tell that the developers really learned a lot about what makes a good Hitman level and put all of that knowledge to work in Hitman 2.

In the first game only the Paris and Hokkaido levels really made me feel like a hitman, and the way I could tell this was that immediately after I completed a level I wanted to try it again because I saw opportunities I missed. Essentially every level in Hitman 2 made me feel like this. Some were so engaging that I played them several times. I think the Miami level alone I spent over 12 hours in. There were just so many areas of the map that I would catch a glimpse of but couldn't immediately explore so I just had to come back and try the level again.

According to Steam I've played 46 hours of Hitman 3 and I technically still haven't yet played a single level of it. I've heard that the final game in the trilogy continues and sometimes exceeds the bar that Hitman 2 set so I am super excited to beat it in August.

CarbotAnimations on YouTube

I discovered CarbotAnimations when their Elden Ring videos were recommended to me but their other cartoons are fantastic as well. I highly recommend you check them out.

The Bad

Season 4 of Stranger Things

Season 4 of Stranger Things was absolute shit. If you don't want anything to be spoiled turn back now because I am going to ruin everything.

Coincidentally (or maybe not) season 4 of Stranger Things features four separate plotlines.

The first, and only good one, deals with Dustin, Max, Lucas, Steve, Nancy, Robin, and Eddie Munson fighting the forces of the Upside Down in Hawkins. It is the plot that all the others converge with eventually and it culminates in the greatest scene of the entire season.

If season 4 only consisted of this plotline and the others were briefly mentioned in some exposition dump when those characters showed up I honestly don't think I would have cared.

The second plotline forks in two. Mike (who has become absolutely useless at this point) visits Eleven on the West coast and pointless shenanigans ensue. Literally the first three episodes don't matter at all because Eleven is eventually arrested and then kidnapped by the "government" people who had her imprisoned in season 1. So we've literally gone full circle and plot 2A now centres around Eleven undergoing sensory depravation treatment that somehow recharges her batteries and allows her to hold her hand up harder than ever before! In plot 2B, Mike, Will, and Jonathan drive aimlessly around the Nevada desert until they stumble upon Eleven and finally decide that perhaps they should check in on Hawkins.

The fourth plotline involves Joyce and Murray learning that Hopper is alive somehow and imprisoned in Russia. So what do they do? Why fly to Russia of course and then break in and out of a prison multiple times because once was just too easy. If Hopper had just not "died" at the end of season 3 but instead was living with Joyce on the West Coast with Eleven, Will, and Jonathan this season would have been much better.

So what is the final big battle? Well the kids from Hawkins travel to the Upside Down to fight the Big Bad while Eleven on the West coast submerses herself in salt so she can project her mind into the Upside Down. Obviously there must be Upside Down creatures in the Russian prison so killing them will of course help the kids in Hawkins somehow right? Fights ensue, someone dies but Eleven brings them back because she is now the most powerful Jedi in history and has gained Force Heal. But uh oh that person dying even for a second opened up a massive chasm in Hawkins that caused unimaginable damage and basically made the town uninhabitable. But whatever, cut to two days later and everyone is somehow OK. The people from the West coast and Russia pull up and everyone hugs each other and season 4 seems to be over. But wait! That massive chasm starts spitting ash into the air which causes any plants it touches to die! How are our heroes going to stop this? We'll figure that out in 3-4 years when season 5 is released.

OK, after reading this section back to myself I sound completely unhinged. How about you just watch this Pitch Meeting video which basically gets across my points but in a much funnier manner.

For All Mankind

Last month I wrote about how the first half of For All Mankind's third season was good but unfortunately the writers appear to have run out of ideas and turned to our old friend melodrama. Who cares about the serious technological challenges of travelling to and landing on Mars when crew members are sleeping with each other and also cheating on their spouses. Gone is the "realism" of the first season and now the characters do whatever dumb actions they need to in order to create plot out of thin air.

The Terminal List

I really had bad luck with TV shows this month eh?

The Terminal List is adapted from the book of the same name and it is essentially a Navy SEAL's revenge tale. To say any more would spoil the first episode of the series which was actually quite good. The first three episodes were very enjoyable because the revenge plot lived within the realm of possibility. Sure you had to suspend a little bit of disbelief but it wasn't that hard given the writing and the acting. But the next three episodes were where everything went off the rails and reality took a back seat to "check out these sick gunfights and explosions". The last half of the season could have been written by Alex Jones or some Trump fanatic and I wouldn't have doubted it for a second. The conspiracy theories get cranked up to eleven and don't hold back until the very last scene.

Personally I wouldn't recommend The Terminal List to anyone but if you're a fan of the military and believe that "mainstream media" is suppressing the truth I suspect you're going to enjoy it.

Honourable Mentions

Read The Quantum Thief

I finally found a book that I absolutely adored but cannot in good conscious recommend to most people. The Quantum Thief is a delightful heist tale up there with films like Ocean's Eleven or Snatch or The Usual Suspects. It features an engaging ensemble cast whose motivations pull you through the story.

The problem is that the backdrop of this tale is the most hardcore science-fiction world I have ever seen. It was so dense and went into such detail with things like cryptography, MMO raiding guilds, quantum entanglement, general artificial intelligence, etc. As someone who grew up during the advent of the Internet and went to school for computer-science, I still found myself being completely overwhelmed and having to re-read sections to fully understand what was being described.

But if this sort of world interests you then I highly recommend you give The Quantum Thief a read.

Review July Goals

August Goals