Review – Strike Vector EX (PC)

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Strike Vector EX is about one thing and one thing only: high-speed dog fights. Flashy, bright, colorful, dizzying dog fights. EX offers a basic, but addictive package with a decent single-player campaign and addictive online modes. Technically while EX is a re-release, with the original version released in 2014 to mixed reviews, I’m reviewing it on its own merit. EX feels like an amalgamation of Ace Combat and Star Fox Zero, which is a compliment.

Piloting your vector (those fancy jets) involves two modes: stationary and fast. This probably sounds obvious and stupid, but the ability to stop on a dime and make impossibly fast turns is a huge element to this game. You can also zoom in when stopped at snipe at enemies, but obviously in a game like this staying still for too long is you begging to be shot down.

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There’s a pretty reasonable amount of content here, from a cheesy, but fairly meaty single-player that’ll help you hone your skills, to the real jewel: the multiplayer. You can include bots if you’d like (they’ll join your matches by default if not enough humans are around which will happen unfortunately more often than I’d like), but the real joy is being locked in a tense fight with other human pilots thirsting for your blood.

The customization options available are relatively shallow. You have your choice from a small number of weapons ranging from the conventional gatling gun to the more irritating homing cluster missiles. You can also separate yourself from others by coloring individual elements your ship (head/body/wings) with a wide array of colors, most needing to be unlocked through play.

The modes are pretty standard: death match, team death match, capture the flag, demolition (two teams must destroy each other’s bases target by target),  bounty hunter (accrue more points than other plays by collecting coins or killing players), and king of the hill where two teams compete for the designated territory. While not genre defining, they’re good modes for a game built on a pick-up-and-play premise.

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The thing about Strike Vector EX is that as it is, there’s a lot of good in it that justifies its very soft price tag ($11.99 USD). While there aren’t a whole lot of flashy modes and baubles to distract, it’s core gameplay is more than solid and can get addictive. It’s fast, easy to grasp, and more importantly makes me feel like I’m really involved in a high-speed mecha dog fight. At the time of writing the online community is quite shallow, but the game is also young. I’m optimistic more will see the light of this very shooter.

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UFC 214: The Fallout

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Taken as a whole, I want to say, “Holy shit what a fantastic card!” but that wouldn’t be entirely true. To be sure, there were some low moments, perhaps none more lower than Tyron Woodley’s title defense, but we’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s take this a step at a time. I’m just going to cover the main card.

Match #1 Jimi Manuwa vs. Volkan Oedemir(w) LHW

Jimi Manuwa has made a name for himself knocking people out. Until he started getting knocked out. Newcomer Volkan Oedemir straight knocked Manuwa out within 42 seconds of the first round. Oedemir has now entered the UFC’s radar. Manuwa might be on an undercard next year or something.

Match #2 Donald Cerrone vs Robbie Lawler(w) WELT

Immediately began with Lawler charging at Cerrone and delivering an onslaught of punches, where the only reasonable response was a flurry of his own. The first round was a tug of war over momentum, with both men absolutely laying into each other. Lawler wanting to take Cerrone off his game and just overwhelm him from the onset.

The second round was much slower, though no less vicious. Cerrone attempted to keep Lawler at bay with leg strikes, though Lawler began pressing the fight harder. Cerrone, for his part, kept Lawler at bay by throwing fast combos in response. The third round saw Lawler seemingly waking up and going on the offensive against Cerrone, kicking him in the stomach. This seemed to stunt Cerrone, who afterward became much more cautious. Cerrone kept counter attacking, but ultimately the judges viewed Lawler as the unanimous victor.

This fight easily needed two more rounds, it had all the makings of a title fight, though it very likely carries with it potential title implications in the future. Though probably not the immediate future UFC brass hoping Georges St. Pierre agrees to fight Woodley (very likely with title implications).

Match #3 Cris Cyborg(w) vs Tonya Evinger Featherweight Title

Truth be told, people outside Evinger’s training camp probably didn’t think much was going to be made of this fight. After all, Evinger took the fight on short notice and went up a weight class to fight Cyborg at her best form.

Evinger did an excellent job of evading Cyborg’s power strikes while eating some lesser, though still stinging shots. The game plan seemed to be something out of Rocky, where she would hope to simply tire out the champion then make her moves. After all, she was most certainly not going to out speed or out strike Cyborg in a straight boxing fight. It would’ve been suicide.

This all lasted until the second round where Cyborg managed to wrestle Evinger into the cage then delivered a devastating knee strike right to her face. This sealed her fate and the fight, as she crumpled and Cyborg did what she has mostly done: deal punishing strikes. Fight was ruled a KO. Cyborg becomes arguably the women’s featherweight division’s first legitimate champion.

Throughout the fight I wanted to root for Evinger, who was doing her damndest to evade Cyborg’s very nasty punches. Cyborg clearly saw her as the lesser opponent though, many of her punches carried with it very bad intentions.

Match #4 Tyron Woodley(w) vs. Demian Maia (Welterweight Title)

The stinker of the night, unfortunately. Maia pressed the fight for much of it, while Woodley largely countered sparingly, but accurately. And the punches that were accurate gave Maia a very battered face, as he was visibly damaged by the fight’s conclusion. It was 25 minutes of frustration, knowing that it should be a tactical battle but instead was the type of fight no one’s going to want to re-watch.

Match #5 Jon Jones(w) vs. Daniel Cormier (Light Heavyweight title)

An intense match from start to finish, it absolutely did not disappoint. The fight lasted into the third round at the 1:57 mark. It began with Cormier relentlessly pursuing Jones, though Jones was able to use his length to force Cormier to miss most of his strikes. He was able to make some significant strikes to Jones, forcing him to play a bit conservatively. Very early on Cormier managed to punch Jones’ mouth piece out. Later in the round, Cormier and Jones butt heads causing Cormier to get a cut on his head. The referee ruled the incident an accident.

The second round saw Cormier become more confident, with Jones throwing strikes to Cormier’s head, but Cormier evading the punches, saying “Nope,” and shaking his head. Jones looked to be struggling at times, though he always managed to stay fast and elusive.

However in the third round, Jones began launching strong leg strikes that saw Cormier quickly lose his balance. Jones continued delivering fast strikes, not allowing Cormier a second to orient himself. This caused Cormier to fall to the mat near the cage, where Jones immediately descended and relentlessly beat Cormier into submission. The ref pulled Jones away and Cormier stumbled to his feet, clearly not all there.

The post fight was a surprisingly emotional scene for all parties involved. Cormier initially stormed out of the octagon, seen mumbling and teary eyed (given he was beaten pretty brutally that was understandable). Jones, who has been shit talking Cormier for a LONG time, instead was humble in victory and shout out Cormier for being his greatest rival.

Cormier, now outright crying, is attempting to compose himself while Jones took a second to challenge Brock Lesnar. Once Jones left, Joe Rogan very uncomfortably interviews a very visibly broken Cormier. Where Cormier goes from here is anyone’s guess, but Jones’ future is certain. The former champion has reclaimed the throne and everyone in the light heavyweight division has a VERY tall order ahead of them.

The UFC 214 Hype Station

Fight fans have fair reason to be excited for UFC 214. It’s a fairly stacked card featuring a rematch that’s starting to age like a fine wine. Cormier vs Jones is a year overdue, and only time will tell if Cormier can avenge his brutal loss to Jones. Before that we have two additional title defenses , the welterweight belt title bout between champion Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia; and Cris Cyborg and Tonya Evinger fighting for the vacant featherweight belt. Barring any injuries (jinx?) between now and the moment they’re supposed to get into the cage, 214 should be pretty lit.

Main Cards 10PM/7PM ETPT

1.) Jimi Manuwa vs Volkon Oezdemir (Light Heavyweight)

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Source: Getty Images/Zuffa LLC/Josh Hedges

A showcase of LHW talent, Manuwa is currently riding a two-fight win streak. Oezdemir is a relative UFC newcomer with two UFC bouts under his belt (both wins, the last a KO). Manuwa looks fairly good however his two UFC losses were to true top tier talents, Anthony Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson. Both knocked him out and earned performance of the night from him which is a dubious distinction to have. A fight that really can go either way. It will either add another notch to Manuwa’s belt or this will serve as a showcase of Oezdemir’s porfolio.

2.) Robbie Lawler vs Donald Cerone (Welterweight)

Source: Getty Images/UFC

Another showcase but of the welterweight division. Both veteran fighters (Lawler being former welt. champion), this promises to be a damn solid fight. Cerrone is looking to rebound from his KO loss to Jorge Masvidal and Lawler is looking to rebound from losing the Welterweight belt to Tyron Woodly at UFC 201.

3.) Cris Cyborg vs Tonya Evinger (Featherweight Title)

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Source: Getty Images/Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Germaine de Randamie vacated the title refusing to defend the belt to Cristiane “Cris Cyborg” Justino, one of the most feared women’s fighters through the years and synonymous with allegation after allegation of steroid use throughout her career. She’s ended careers (Gina Carano anyone?), owned Strikeforce gold, and now is looking to own UFC gold for the first time in her career. Standing in her way is relative UFC newcomer Tonya Evinger, who does have Invicta gold to her name. In theory, this should be Cyborg’s moment. Again, in theory.

4.) Tyron Woodley vs. Demian Maia (Welterweight Title)

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The co-main event sees Woodley defending the title to established veteran Demain Maia. Maia is a dangerous man in his own right as a very skilled BJJ world champion. He’s gone against the best throughout his long career and this may finally be his time to claim the belt for the first time. Woodley, however, is no slouch and is well known for his tremendous speed, power and explosiveness. It’s also hard to ignore the age difference between the two men. Maia may rely on his cunning and experience, but Woodley may prove too powerful for him.

5.) Daniel Cormier vs. Jon Jones (Light Heavyweight Title)

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Source: Getty Images/Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

The long awaited rematch to what was a fairly one-sided fight which saw Jones’ hand raised in victory. The result did little to cool the beef between them. That was to be settled at UFC 197, though Cormier pulled from the fight due to injury. The fight was then rescheduled for UFC 200, though that too was cancelled because Jones lost his fucking mind. Promptly after the famous incident where he struck a pregnant woman’s car while in possession of cocaine, Jones was suspended. Free to fight again, many fans are hoping Jones can pick up where he left off: terrorizing the light heavyweight division again.

Barring God knows what, the fight is finally going to go down.

Prelims

FXX 8PM/5PM ETPT

  • Ricardo Lamas vs Jason Knight (145 lb)
  • Aljamin Sterling vs Renan Barao (140 lb)
  • Renato Moicano vs Brian Ortega (145 lb)
  • Andre Fill vs Calvin Kattar (145 lb)

UFC Fight Pass 6:30PM/3:30PM ETPT

  • Kailin Curron vs Alexandra Albu (115 lb)
  • Eric Shelton vs Jarred Brooks (125 lb)
  • Joshua Burkman vs Drew Dober (155 lb)

 

It’s all going down Saturday July 29th at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA.

Microsoft was to ditch Paint, changes mind

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Pictures like the image above wouldn’t be possible without MS Paint. Ok, that’s not true, but I love using it and I needed an excuse to post pictures I doodle occasionally. However there was brief panic among MS Paint lovers when word spread Microsoft was going to drop support of MS Paint once the fall Creators Update released. However, social media, as it is wont to do, cried out to save the beloved program you typically ignore once you install Photoshop or Gimp or something.

Microsoft went on record to clarify they aren’t killing Paint, and that it’ll still be available for download through the Windows Store. Though they would prefer you went with its successor, Paint3D, which you can download now. It has a different feel than the comfortably spartan MS Paint but in Paint3D’s defense it is a bit fun, if clunky.

Sources: Microsoft, CNBC, The Guardian

Starfire revealed for Injustice 2

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we’re fans of Netherrealm Studio’s Injustice 2 (yes, I speak for the ladies too with this one). While we’re still messing around with Sub-Zero, Netherrealm’s head, Ed Boon, dropped some delicious reveals on Twitter for the next DLC character: Starfire. And she’s hot (get it! GET WHAT I DID)!

 

Starfire wasn’t exactly a question of if so much as when. We’ve long known she would be part of the roster at some point. Welp, there she is and she’s ready to smack your bitch ass up. Her release date isn’t known yet, but so far each release has been a month apart so it’s not out the realm of possibility she’ll drop the second week of August.

Game of Thrones Station Episode 2, Stormborn

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Man there’s a lot to unpack here from last night’s episode, so let’s take this bit by bit.

The episode opens on a stormy night on Dragonstone Isle with Daenerys and crew. Tyrion begins a plot to invade Westeros, though Daenerys isn’t totally comfortable with everyone in her council. She questions Varys and his loyalties, and understandably so given his position, though he makes his intentions clear when he says he serves the people and not the various royalties he has had to serve, a similar speech he once had with Tyrion some seasons back. Daenerys proves to her council she’s watching her ass.

They are unexpectedly met by the red priestess Melisandre, who brings a similar pitch she’s attempted in the past: that the Lord of Light has prophesied someone will save them from the Long Night. However she is met with suspicion and mistrust from both Varys and Daenerys. This time she comes with a suggestion: to contact Jon Snow, newly minted King of the North.

Melisandre and Tyrion both suggest Jon’s knowledge of the White Walkers and his position against Cersei make him a valuable ally. Daenerys agrees but under the condition Jon Snow would bend the knee to her upon their meeting. Tyrion is visible concerned but knows this is the only way.

We immediately follow up to Jon receiving Tyrion’s message. Jon and Sansa discuss the validity of the message, and though they both testify to Tyrion’s character, they are concerned yet another throne chaser may be leading them into serious trouble. Davos agrees with their concerns but reminds them dragons make very powerful allies, especially against the White Walkers.

Cersei prepares her own defense against Daenerys’ incoming invasion and Olenna Tyrell’s rebellion against the crown. Cersei finds herself in a precarious situation as fewer houses support her than her father, since so many of them are dead at this point. Jaime attempts to shore up trusted allies to assemble an army for Cersei, but finds few willing to betray allegiances for Cersei, not to mention many of the lords fearful of the dragons. Cersei’s right hand, ever the schemer, quietly has been developing massive ballistas to shoot down the dragons.

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We rejoin Samwell who, with assistance, is attempting to treat Jorah Mormont and his greyscale affliction. The disease has spread quickly throughout his entire body and the senior maester is content to leave Jorah for dead, offering Jorah the option of killing himself or being shipped out to a diseased colony. Samwell, ever the optimist, believes he may have found a solution in his studies. As per the usual, no one listens to him so he takes it upon himself to treat Jorah personally, risking his life in the process. The procedure proves less than pleasant for Jorah.

 

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We return to Daenerys and Tyrion who are with the full council at Dragonstone. There is infighting as Ellaria Sand still harbors a grudge against Tyrion for Oberyn’s death back in 2014. Tyrion wishes to use the Dornish and Tyrell houses to build a rebellion against King’s Landing while Daenerys enters amidst the fighting. Olenna also attempts to privately counsel Daenerys to follow her own instinct and openly attack King’s Landing, not blindly follow Tyrion’s suggestions to attack subtly.

We run into the ever precocious Arya who has met again with Hot Pie at his inn. He notes how much she’s changed, then she realizes how much she’s changed and it bums her out. Hot Pie reveals Jon Snow is king, which causes Arya to leave in a rush to rejoin him. En route, she is trapped by a pack of dire wolves, whose alpha just so happens to be the baby dire wolf Arya was forced to abandon some years back. They recognize each other, but being the alpha he isn’t interested in joining Arya. We are all left sad.

We rejoin Jon Snow again who is discussing his plans for meeting with Daenerys, which is met with mixed reaction. He reminds them all of their dire need for dragonglass, of which he learned thanks to Samwell is sitting right under Dragonstone Isle. Sansa is not pleased Jon is going to meet her, surprises her by charging her as regent until his return. Baelish attempts to counsel with Jon, who them promptly attempts to choke him for saying he loves Sansa. Jon threatens to outright kill him if he discovers him attempting to touch her. Baelish is finding himself with fewer and fewer allies, though his presence still needed thanks to the forces he has at his disposal.

The episode concludes in a huge way, as we join the Greyjoys as they ferry Ellaria to Dorne to prepare for their attack. However they are met with terrible misfortune as Euron intercepts her ships at night and forces her into a dire sea battle. In the midst of the battle, Obara and Nymeria Sand are killed, while Ellaria and Tyene Sand are taken prisoner by Euron’s troops. Yara is captured by Euron and Theon flees like a pussy once confronted by Euron with a knife to Yara’s throat. Her fate now is in Euron’s fucked up hands.

Also things that happened:

  • Grey Worm and Missandei get it on. Yes, you read that right. It was pretty hot.

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At the Movies: Dunkirk

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Christopher Nolan’s latest film Dunkirk recounts the invasion of Dunkirk, France between May 26 to June 4th 1940 during the Second World War. It was the evacuation of Allied forces from France when the German war machine was ravaging Europe. Dunkirk captures the frantic, near hopeless struggle of the British troops and civilians scrambling to rally a defense and evacuation plan from a crushing Luftwaffe bombing raid.

First off, the best way to see the film is in 70mm if possible. Why 70mm and what even is 70mm? Without the elaborate cinephile explanation, it’s the version Nolan would want you to see. Which makes sense since so much of the film are sweeping shots of massive landscapes, intense aerial battles then sudden shifts to claustrophobic environments made tighter thanks to the format.

Dunkirk isn’t a summer blockbuster like so many of this year’s films. It does give the appearance of one with it’s beautifully shot scenes and tense action moments. However it doesn’t linger on the violence long. Violence happens quickly and suddenly then the audience is pushed onto the next situation without too much reflection on it. Masterful sound editing really drove home the terror of the bombing raids, and the helplessness the infantry felt against bombs being dropped.

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It’s important to remember Dunkirk was not a terribly heroic moment for the Allied army and the movie conveys that clearly. There were themes of heroism and sacrifice to be sure, but they are subdued. Dunkirk is more concerned with showing the wide-scale destruction and cost of battle than the usual war-film tropes of ham-handedly preaching duty, heroism, or attempting to shift the narrative from a historical piece then to a set of improbable action set-piece moments.

There really isn’t a single story to track but instead a collection of smaller stories interwoven into the battle: a father and his two sons answering the call to aid in the evacuation attempt; two ace pilots attempting to stave off the Luftwaffe air units; a deployment of young soldiers attempting to survive mentally as well as physically against not just the enemy but against panic-induced soldiers within their own ranks.

All these stories intertwine together and are even called back later in the film subtly thanks to wonderful sound and visual editing that Nolan’s production company, Syncopy, has become well known for. But you won’t find yourself getting too attached to any of the characters, as Dunkirk doesn’t spend too much time concerning itself with singular characters but instead the bigger picture at play.

At times it may be hard to feel involved with the movie as it dwells perhaps a bit too much on the larger picture. A great deal happens within the movie’s hour and 46 minutes run time, from start to finish. Some audiences may be turned off to the fact that a lot will happen and at times it can be hard to make sense of it all without much tying you emotionally, but the film resonates in a much stronger way through its masterful use of sound and perspective. Nolan found a way to deftly tell a story of bravery without lecturing on it.

Pic Source: http://www.dunkirkmovie.com/