Column

Science-Fiction Weekly – Anthem, Star Wars: Obi-Wan, Crackdown 3, Metro Exodus

by Andrew Reiner on Feb 20, 2019 at 03:19 PM

The Star Wars rumor mill has been working extra hard to make fans believe bad things are happening in their favorite science-fiction universe. The scuttlebutt began last week with news that Rian Johnson's upcoming Star Wars trilogy had been canceled. This report originated at SuperBroMovies, but quickly spread across social media and various news sites. Johnson wasted no time in squashing the rumor with a tweet that read "No it isn’t true, I’m still working on the trilogy. With all due respect to the movie bros, who I’m sure are lovely kind bros with good fraternal intentions."

A few days later, a new rumor stated that Johnson's trilogy was in fact in the works, but was going to be G-rated. Johnson, who was clearly fed up by the stories, simply responded with this tweet:

The newest rumor you should take with a grain of salt doesn't involve Johnson, at least that we know of. Star Wars News Net reports an Obi-Wan Kenobi television series is in the works for the upcoming Disney+ streaming service, and could consist of six episodes. Again, I'm not going to put too much stock in this rumor until Lucasfilm and Disney come forward and say it's real or fake, but I have liked the idea of Ewan McGregor reprising his role as Obi-Wan. Whether it's a film or a show, McGregor makes a fantastic Obi-Wan, and I think we'd all like to see what happened after he went into hiding following Order 66. Sure, he may just be a cranky hermit that does next to nothing, but, yes, I would watch that for two to six hours. This is one rumor I hope is true, but know probably isn't. On the plus side, we should get an accurate lay of the Star Wars land in a few months when Star Wars Celebration descends upon Chicago in April. Odds are we'll get our first look at Star Wars: Episode IX there.

If you are looking for a new science-fiction game to sink time into, you have two decent (and wildly different) options readily available. First up is Crackdown 3. Game Informer's Jeff Cork wasn't hot on it, giving it a 6 out of 10 rating, and writing "Sumo and Elbow Rocket’s insistence on treating a game from 2007 like a sacred text is strange. The original Crackdown was fresh and exhilarating, and bounding across the city as a superhuman agent was a thrilling sensation. Since then, a lot has happened in the genre. Developers have found ways to incorporate destruction into the action as they weave interesting choices and competent world-building into their narratives. Crackdown 3 aims far lower, and manages to hit that disappointing target."

A small group within Game Informer that consists of Leo Vader, Kyle Hilliard, and yours truly is having a blast with Crackdown 3. We agree with the points Jeff makes – the game certainly is retro in design and sometimes to a fault – but there's still a lot to love about it. Exploring the oddly designed city is exhilarating, and the pursuit of power (which consists of hunting down and grabbing hundreds of orbs) is good fun. Most of my play sessions start with me heading to an activity, but quickly get derailed as I bounce from rooftop to rooftop to gather more orbs. Playing with a friend is also rewarding, as experience for certain feats is shared. If you're firing a rocket at enemies, yet your co-op buddy is driving, you'll gain driving experience, and your friend will gain explosive experience. Don't sleep on this one, especially if you already have Xbox Game Pass. Give it a try, you may like it as much as we do. Just don't expect anything from the story. Crackdown 3 is mostly a sandbox experience.

I also have a differing opinion to Game Informer's review for Metro Exodus. Matt Bertz gave it an 8.75 out of 10 rating, and said " The freeform sandboxes give players more agency to play how they want to play, and the smart level design and well-tuned pacing keep the experience feeling fresh throughout the campaign."

I find Metro's world interesting, and want to see where the fight for survival goes next, but the gameplay just isn't clicking for me. Perhaps this is a case of me needing to spend more time with it. I'm roughly an hour in, and the sections of gunplay and stealth haven't produced much excitement. I've always enjoyed the Metro series, and appreciate the attention to detail it brings to creating a believable post-apocalyptic setting, but the gameplay has always felt a little off. That feeling continues in Metro Exodus. I plan on sticking with it, and hope it turns around.

That brings us to the game of the week. Anthem. Oh my sweet Anthem. After vesting 25 hours in this wild sci-fi world, I could talk your ear off with my thoughts on the gameplay, story, missions, and co-op experience, but I'm going to hold off until the patch hits on Friday. BioWare released a document that details exactly what is changing for Anthem's official street date, and the tweaks are significant. I will never play another game that releases early through EA Access. I got snakebit when I played Star Wars Battlefront II early, and it happened again with Anthem. To deliver a true opinion of what the game is, I feel like I need to start over, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. Come Friday, I'll begin anew to see how progression is handled in the patched-up version of the game.

One of my biggest gripes with what I played was a mission that pushed me to complete a number of feats to open up four different tombs. Most of the feats were reasonable in what they asked to be accomplished; they just took time a bit of time. And then there's the feat that asks the player to open 15 chests. It may not sound like much, but specific design decisions make this task a pain in the butt. For instance, if you are in a party with other players, only the person who clicks the button to open the chest gets credit for it. When I reached the tomb door, it said I only opened three chests, but I know the party I played with opened well over a dozen of them. I then ventured into the open world to find hidden chests to complete the mission. I ran into another strange design decision: If another player in your session already opened the chest of note, you can't do it yourself. I had to exit quick play and re-enter another session to see if the chest I wanted was claimed or not. I probably don't need to say this, but the chests drove me mad.

The upcoming patch promises to give everyone in the party credit when a chest is opened. That's a huge change, and might squash the need to spend hours hunting for unopened chests. The tomb doors that a lot of players are complaining about may be a non-issue come Friday.

Patches are expected these days, and BioWare said one was on the way, but I foolishly jumped in anyway. Never again unless I have an idea of what is changing. The people who wait just one week to play Anthem will likely experience a much better version of the game. Welcome to modern gaming, folks. It's insane.