13 August 2012


"Fangirl, why are you reviewing pop music when you despise it with all your being?"

That statement is untrue. Pop music was all I knew for a decent chunk of my childhood. It was easy to find and nearly everyone knew the songs I was talking about. Then I hit a phase when I spent my days bashing everything pop music offered. Now, I'm slowly leaning back towards the genre to the point I can tolerate some songs or artists without feeling too guilty. Maroon 5 is one of them.

My dad and I adore Songs About Jane. Sure, "This Love", "She Will Be Loved", and "Sunday Morning" were played to death back in 2002, but these were strong, versatile tracks full of energy. This was pop music in which I could actually hear guitars, drums, even pianos playing. If I can hear any of these things over the highly produced and polished electronic whines and obvious autotune, I tend to be a happy camper. Songs About Jane felt so organic that it's one of my favorite albums of all time. It easily sits with Smash Mouth's Astro Lounge as awesome albums to blast and sing to on a long road trip.

Then came It Won't Be Soon Before Long. And Hands All Over. Maroon 5 took a completely radical 180 turn that rubbed me the wrong way. Every now and then I get hints of the band trying to be, well, a band again ("Misery" in particular), but they continue to sound like overproduced, processed sludge. At one point they may have been considered funk rock, but by this point, they are exclusively pop. There is hardly any "rock" left in them. And "Payphone" is only solidifying this fact.

The song on its own is decent, but I don't see how it's hit-worthy. The melody is nicer and catchier than most of Maroon 5's recent works, yet it's very... weak. Other than being childishly simple, the lyrics are nothing to write home about either ("One more f***ing love song, I'll be sick" and "I gave you my love to borrow"... really?) Without Adam Levine's higher-than-normal vocals, I could see this being anyone else's song. It's so bland that it sounds like Fall Out Boy's "Me and You" sped up and chipmunk-ed. Or maybe this was a rejected Linkin Park song during the Minutes to Midnight era. Even HIM could make this if Ville was drunk-stupid and suicidal. Besides, Maroon 5 was once so easy to spot in the sea of samey-sounding music. Now they dropped whatever potential for unique flavor they had just to sell out.

"Selling out" is an overused phrase thrown by angry fans once their favorite acts go corporate and fit in with the latest music trend. Arguably, Linkin Park seems to be testing their luck with this to not much success. But with the nonsensical "Moves Like Jagger", Adam Levine in The Voice, and a guest rapper in this mediocre song, I think "selling out" describes Maroon 5 well.

Speaking of the guest rapper, the verse is pointless and forgetable. It needs to fall in a pit and die because it has nothing to do with the rest of the lyrics in the song. Wiz Khalifa, thank you for making Adam's parts sound godlike while thrusting the quality of the song as a whole into a pile of garbage. One minute, it's "I have nothing left now that this is over", then it's "eff u, biatch! I gotz all did $$ w/out u!!!" Way to make "Payphone" a schizophrenic mess.

This is far from Maroon 5's worst, but this continues to solidify my doubts that this band can be interesting again. They don't have to try to be edgy, but they could at least sound like they're trying to have fun. Where's the energy, the passion of the music? Where are the instruments? Clearly they were left to die trapped in a locked box, or executives successfully drowned them in varnish. This sterile piece of "meh" is okay, but from what these guys showed before, this is yet another big disappointment.

Really, I cannot say anything more.

With Rap: 1.3 out of 5
W/out Rap: 2 out of 5

04 August 2012

Mini Shots: 'Mass Effect'

After spending all of July glued to the coach and oblivious to my blog's existence, I have returned and am as (in)sane as usual. By now I think I have nearly maxed out my fun with my presents so I can move on to college life and not cry myself to sleep. I simply enjoyed not having a life while it lasted.

But now I present some kind of material for the first time in a billion years!

It seems like it was only yesterday when gamers went insane for Mass Effect 3, only for all hopes and dreams to be crushed by the almighty power of EA. How could I have avoided any comments about this series? March was swamped by the fury of raging, homicidal fans crying "BETRAYAL!!!" This circus was too entertaining to avoid!

Alas, I'm a suicidal masochist.

After so many warnings, clearly I am an idiot.

*sigh* Here I am starting yet another collection of pointless merchandise for the sake of indulging my selfish desires. All I'm missing are T-shirts with quotes or running gags. The world warned me that I was putting myself in the same position as every other fan who got punk'd. Suddenly, money vanished from my pockets and all this crap landed on my doorstep.

All joking aside, there are a few things I want to address since anyone who sees the words "mass effect" will probe me with the same old questions. There is a crapload of stuff I could say about the franchise, so I have to severely restrict myself. This is NOT a review; that may not happen until everything sinks in for several months.

Mass Effect 1

This? A space opera? I have dismissed that claim!
Because Microsoft has always made devices that want to plant seeds of hatred in my disposition, I have never played the first game. However, I have been planning to set up my laptop so it can run like a PC so I might have a chance of playing it. It will take a while for me to get this set up, but I do plan to play it somewhere down the line.

Long before I bought ME2, I watched various people play this so I can better understand the plot, characters, politics, terminology, and all that other detailed stuff. Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that most Youtubers who uploaded their sessions have no damn clue how to edit out the dumbest mistakes they make. All these awkward let's plays and walkthroughs were long and torturous. Somehow I made it through... and vowed that I will play it so only I can see my first-time-player stupidity.

Obviously, I enjoyed it enough that I made it to this point, so the pain was worth it. It's only a shame the sequels released on the PS3 force me to miss out on some of the overly-long gags from the first game's side missions.

Mass Effect 2

I love these misfits... well, all but three.
The game that picked up so many perfect scores that Fangirl should be furious at such insanity! Well, yes, it is outrageous that Mass Effect 2 received as much ass-kissing as it got. To be honest, it has some technical issues that rub me the wrong way. (i.e. Sonic 06 has shorter and far less annoying loading times. Let that sink in for a moment.) It didn't change the fact that the game is ridiculously fun. It may be like a "filler episode", but I came to like nearly all of the 12 squadmates I recruited. Since this game gave me the time to get to really know the characters, this narrative was extremely satisfying in the long term.

Getting used to the controls, however, was not fun. Fangirl has now caught up with the times and has learned how to play a shooter. Yay. =_=

Mass Effect 3

The giant space cthulhus have arrived!!
Better controls, better conversations, better graphics, better load times, and a great experience... until the last twenty minutes of the game.

This is far more polished than its brother, while getting back on the same track in terms of tone and narrative as the first game. Everything was so well done that I cried just as hard as when I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. I was a sobbing baby for 34 hours and I regret none of it. After all of this, I can happily say that the Mass Effect trilogy finally got me to appreciate role-playing games. The only problem is to find another RPG to care about... with an ending that doesn't cause an internet wildfire.

The Ending(s) [or lack thereof... kind of]

No, you little punk. It was your fault Marauder Shields died!

This may get complicated....
**Spoiler Warning**

Heads up, everyone. Everything about the endings has some trace of BULLSHIT in it.

That one Destroy ending in which Commander Shepard takes half a breath before the screen turns black? Bullshit. Either commit to the character being dead or returning to the Normandy and high-fiving every one of those loyal misfits who stood by Shepard through hell and back. And just because it's the one ending where Shepard lives, that does not automatically mean it's the best ending.

None of the endings reflect upon the ideas discussed throughout the course of the trilogy? Bullshit. Destroy the Reapers? That was the reason why Shepard had to unite the galaxy. Control the Reapers? Cerberus and the Illusive Man obsessed about it. Synthesis of organic and synthetic life? Didn't Saren mention something about that in the first game? I would not argue that the ideas are ass pulls, but that the writing team poorly explained these ideas to create a cohesive and acceptable conclusion. (i.e. What is this "new genetic makeup" of all life in the Synthesis ending? Why do all artificial and virtual intelligences die with the Reapers in Destroy?)

Forcing a condition on someone against his or her will is what makes Synthesis and Control the worst choices. Uh, what? No matter which option you pick you either A) exterminate an entire race of beings, regardless of their morality, and/or B) force an entire new way of life on the galaxy. No matter the option, you are playing god, forcing your will upon every living thing in the galaxy. Free will is completely ignored. This argument is absurd.

The creators cannot coexist peacefully with the created? Well, if you, like some players, busted your butt to end the quarian-geth subplot without one group or the other facing extinction head-first... uh, bullshit. Even with the Extended Cut, it would have been so nice if Shepard would point out that he/she did manage to resolve that conflict. Instead, the game treats it as if that whole incident never happened. Nice.

The Indoctrination Theory is the only reasonable explanation for the plotholes. Bullshit. After all the horrible crap he/she goes through, I have no problem believing that Shepard may have had hallucinations. But when people take this "it was all a dream" theory as the best possible explanation for everything that happened in the ending, this spells laziness. I would rather take the contrived, forced writing behind the Catalyst's epic logic fail than to say, "The Reapers were screwing with you in this messed up dream!"

Before I get a ton of hate messages, I'll stop. As for the Refusal... you were given the chance to beat the Reapers and you blew it. Enough said.

On the bright side though, the Extended Cut brings the emotional closure that many fans have been crying over the most. I installed it right before I started playing Mass Effect 3 and I am a happy camper. Despite the endings being confusing and frustrating if you think too much, I can happily say this did not desecrate my overall love of this series. Maybe it's because I already knew how the endings went so  the punch to the gut was nowhere as intense as I originally feared.


Critical research fail.
I have been reading Revelation, Ascension, and Retribution. Since the author was one of the major writers for the first two games, I figured I would enjoy the supplementary material. And I am very muchly. So much so that I shall avoid Deception because that new author fails at RESEARCH.

Comics are not really my cup of tea, so I have not checked out the other spin-off stuff.

I look forward to the Paragon Lost anime coming out later this year. As for the live-action film that's in the early stages... this better not suck. The fanbase is pretty rabid, and video game adaptations tend to be badly received. This better not be a disaster or else the Mass Effect fans will be no better than the Silent Hill fans in my eyes. There are enough nitpicky purists out there. 


It will be a long time until I review any of these. Who knows? Maybe Mass Effect will be a flash-in-the-pan obsession of mine and I won't give a crap in three months.

At the very least I'll say one last thing. Mass Effect 2 is better than 3 in terms of story, and 3 is better than 2 in terms of gameplay.


Oh... and FemShep for the win. ^_^
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