The Art of the Pull

This past weekend I spent my time in Free Realms grinding out some Brawler levels.  I was only level 4 and had that stupid “Get level 5!” as my only brawl quest.  Well, I had other quests for the brawler, but they all required that I fight things recommended for level 5 and over.  So I went and found a few random encounters and got level 5, then set about questing again.

Back in the days of EverQuest, I played a monk.  The reason I chose a monk was because the guy who introduced me to the game said it was hard to play and was the class least reliant on equipment.  And it was true, in the beginning.  My monk was about 80% effective when “naked”.  Of course, as the game expanded, monks became just as reliant on gear as every other class.  But the point is, I played a monk.  One thing monks did in EQ was called “pulling”.  If you aren’t familiar with the term, it means that my group would pick a safe spot to sit and I would run out and find monsters for us to fight, dragging them back to the group for the kill.  The reason monks did this was because they got a skill called Feign Death which allowed them to escaped monsters if they happened to get too many chasing them.  Play dead, monsters go away.  As all monks did, I learned the observable mechanics of the game, how monsters would walk back to spawn points at different times, how some would “reset” their “hate list” upon reaching their spawn, and lots of other little things.  Over time, as I observed more and became a better puller, I used Feign Death less and less.  I learned how to pluck a single monster from a group just by standing in a particular place a particular distance away at a particular angle.  Honestly, being a puller in EQ was probably what kept me playing for so long.  One of the main reasons I quit was at the high end game during raiding your team only needed one or two monks for pulling, and any extra monks were just a part of the killing team.  Auto-attack is boring, especially after a life roaming zones in search of danger.

The point of that little trip down memory lane is to preface the following: Monster pathing and aggro hasn’t changed much over at SOE.

I find myself going under equipped and lower level than I should into brawler fights and using my monk skills to splits monsters and fight them one at a time when they are clearly intended to be fought in pairs or threes.  You can even run from most groups of monsters and watch your “radar” to see when most of them turn around and go home, leaving just one tenacious follower to combat.  I’ve even gone so far as to defeat “events” that clearly shouldn’t be something I do alone.  In one quest instance, you get to a certain point and it triggers waves of monsters to attack.  If you stand and fight, you have to take them on 3 or 4 at a time, but instead you can run off to the side and hide, wait for all the waves to show up, and then use aggro and positioning to pluck them one at a time out of the mess.  Sure, it takes longer, but seeing as how actually finding people to group is one of the most difficult things to do in Free Realms, taking the time and doing it on my own is preferable.

Anyway, I managed to get myself 4 levels doing Brawler quests, and then I headed back to Sanctuary to see if I could exhaust it like I did Seaside.  I haven’t yet, but I’m getting close.


12 out of 13 nots
for Survival Panic, and Crazy Shaky Camera Goodness

Let me begin by just saying, if you go see Cloverfield expecting the traditional Us versus Them monster movie, you will be disappointed. The only real battles between humans and monsters are seen in the background, passing by or as “we” run through it. That said, if you go in looking for a heart pounding survival run through New York as it collapses around you, this film totally rock.

More after the break…

Read more

I Am Legend

12 out of 13 nots
for Depiction of Isolation, and One Awesome Dog

For the short version of this review, let me just say that if you are a superfan of Richard Matheson’s book of the same name, and you’ve been itching to see it faithfully recreated on the screen… keep waiting. This movie is not the book. In some ways I was disappointed at that, but overall it didn’t matter. I absolutely loved this movie. The only reason I can’t in good conscience give it a 13 out of 13 is that I think they went a tad overboard with the monsters in this one, they are just on the bad side of unrealistic when it comes to CGI. When the monsters are on the screen, my brain screams “CGI!”. They just don’t blend in. Outside of that though, its a great film. Go see it.

More (and spoilers) after the break.

Read more

The Village

M. Night Shyamalan makes slow movies. This should be a self evident fact if you have seen The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs. He likes telling stories, even the "boring" parts.

The Village is about a bunch of people who live in a village, where they are all vegitarians and keep sheep for making wool clothing. Oh, and they have a perimeter of torches to keep the monsters in the woods out. The monsters are attracted to red, so the color isn’t used anywhere.

That, to me, ends up being one of the beautiful points of the film. The absense of red from almost every scene really causes your eyes to draw to it when it does show up.

Anyway, the main thrust of the story is that a very young child has died of illness. One the young men of the village, Lucius, who was very close to the boy decides that if he were allowed to travel through the woods to the other towns and get new medicines that must be available, tragedies like this could be avoided. But, these people left the towns because of bad elements there, and of course there are monsters in the woods who have killed the fathers, mothers, brothers or sisters of the village elders before the truce was made. And then, they find a skinned animal, a sign of intrusion by the monsters. Then another… and one night they enter the town and mark the doors of all the houses. Things are unravelling in their peace…

M. Night has succeeded again in setting a mood, creating characters and laying out the foundation for his story. His story, however, is admittedly light. Many people, having been tricked before, will be looking for the twist, and when they are looking so hard, its almost impossible to hide it. These people won’t be surprised and will likely be angry. The story is interesting, but admittedly, even though I liked the film, it could have been told quicker. But as I said before, he makes slow films, so he takes over an hour and forty-five minutes to tell it. And with his trademark lack of explosions, car chases, extravagent fight scenes, etc, its a quiet, almost silent, story telling.

The Village is a good movie, though I feel many people won’t agree,