A Look Back at Ravage 2099 #1

It’s funny how time moves. The year we live in now is twenty-nineteen (2019). That means eighty years from now, the year will be twenty ninety-nine (2099). As a long time geek, the year 2099 reminds me a lot about the short-lived lineup of superhero comics published by Marvel Comics popularly referred to as Marvel 2099 which had a far future, sci-fi setting.

Back in 1992, the comic book industry was riding high on the spending of collectors who seek profit through the trading of comic books. During those days, Marvel released several comic books with special covers (foil, hologram, etc.) which looked so pretty, a lot of people bought those (normally double the prices of regular comic books) believing it would make a collector’s item (instead of reading and enjoying the comic book).

Marvel added more to the comic book speculation frenzy by launching their 2099 series starting with Spider-Man 2099 #1. Shortly after that, they launched the Ravage 2099 monthly series highlighting a protagonist that was original and co-created by the legendary Stan Lee with artist Paul Ryan. There was also hype accompanying Ravage 2099 #1 as it marked Stan Lee’s return as a regular writer. Here is my review of the comic book Ravage 2099 #1.

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Ravage 2099 #1 and a few other comic books beside my mug of coffee.

The story opens with a man chased by local authorities. Labeled a polluter, the armed personnel killed him instead of taking him in alive. This bothers Paul-Phillip Ravage who is the head of ECO Central (under mega corporation Alchemax). His assistant Tiana warned him that there is greater danger and Alchemax can bring down anyone. Of course, Ravage dismisses her concern as he believed in the system he is part of.

Ravage said to her, “If we can’t trust the system, if we can’t trust Alchemax, then we revert back to anarchy!”

Shortly after, Ravage encounters three young guys who approached him with weapons. After scaring away two of them, the last guy – a teenage boy – said words that made Ravage think. It turns out the young guy is the son of the man who got killed in the beginning.

Even though no compelling evidence was presented to him, Ravage had the teenager come with him to go high at Alchemax. There they meet with Anderthorp Henton, the director general of the corporation. After listening to their concerns, Henton reacts to investigate.

“That’s the most shocking thing I’ve heard! If there’s the slightest shred of truth to your accusation, I’ll move heaven and earth to punish the one’s responsible. You have my word on that, commander and you too, young man!”

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Ravage, the teenager and Henton.

After separating from the teenager, Ravage decides to go back to his office. Tiana warned him that Henton has targeted him for elimination. Suddenly a mutroid (creature brought in from a forbidden place) appears in front of them starting Alchemax’s move to frame and kill Ravage.

Ravage 2099 #1 was released on October 1992 (cover dated December 1992) for $1.75 with a gold-colored foil cover and it sold well for Marvel that month arguably due to the collector craze as well as die hard fans of Stan Lee. In terms of art, Paul Ryan did a good job visualizing the sci-fi, distant future of 2099 laced with futuristic technology (example: vehicles hovering above ground). He clearly made Ravage look mature while Tiana looked too erotic to be in the office. Ryan’s art on Henton, meanwhile, lacked subtlety and right from the start, he obviously looked evil. When it comes to action, Ryan did a decent job.

As for the writing, I can honestly say that Stan Lee’s style lacked precision and engagement. Clearly his style of writing ended up being outdated by the time this comic book got published. Had Ravage 2099 #1 been released in, let’s say in 1975, then the comic book would have felt more engaging and even futuristic. The dialogue is somewhat lousy as well.

I also noticed how Ravage and the villain Henton looked idiotic with their respective acts. While the culture of impunity in 2099 is undeniable, it still does not justify Henton’s knee-jerk decision to order the elimination of Ravage who in turn failed to notice anything suspicious as head of his department. Tiana ends up being the informer for him.

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Ravage starts fighting back at his company’s security personnel.

Another sign of Ravage being not too smart (or at least the lack of precision and intelligence on the script written by Stan Lee) is how unrealistically easy it was for the teenager to convince him that his father was killed WITHOUT PRESENTING ANY COMPELLING EVIDENCE of the incident at all! The teenager only had words…no video, no photos, nothing as evidence!

For a mature man, Ravage was pretty foolish. He never asked the teenager to present any evidence to prove his claims. Instead, he went ahead going to Henton at Alchemax even bringing the young guy with him.

More on Ravage, it was clear that he was doomed as a comic book character even though Stan Lee was involved in creating him. Considering the fact that there were many Hollywood action movies released throughout the 1980s often having a macho guy armed with guns (or capable of doing hard action) as the hero, Ravage ended up looking generic.

 

It is no surprise that even though Marvel Comics revived somewhat the 2099 universe with new comic books over the past few years, Ravage was not revived. There was simply nothing special with the character nor was his part of the 2099 universe deemed important.

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Ultimately, Ravage 2099 #1 is a comic book worth getting way below its cover price. In my view, it is worth fifty cents at best. Ravage is truly a failed hero of Stan Lee’s.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

 

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A Look Back at X-Men (2000)

The first time I saw the first live-action movie of the X-Men was on August 30, 2000, here in the Philippines. Back then my interest in comic books had waned but I was still an X-Men fan by heart. I enjoyed reading the comic books written by Chris Claremont, the early 1990s comic books drawn by Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio, and the X-Men animated series.

Prior to its Philippine opening, X-Men was released in the cinemas in the United States on July 14, 2000, and in the weeks leading to August 30, there were several pirated copies of the movie in video CD format made available here in the Philippines. I resisted the temptation of watching a pirated copy in favor of the cinema experience.

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Arguably the one superhero movie that sparked the 21st century wave of superhero movies which we moviegoers enjoy now.

Back on August 30, 2000, it was a rather intriguing experience for me to see the X-Men and the villains portrayed by actors on the big screen (and there were no IMAX cinemas back then). While I felt Hugh Jackman (then a newcomer) lacked impact on portraying Wolverine, Patrick Stewart captured the essence and look of Professor X/Charles Xavier. Halle Berry’s half-baked foreign accent ruined the cinematic Storm while James Marsden and Famke Jansen really had no chemistry as Cyclops and Jean Grey. Ian McKellen was passable as Magneto while I found Rebecca Romjin’s Mystique a distorted version of the character. On the side, the supporting role of Bruce Davison as Senator Kelly was very solid and it was too bad he did not have enough screen time.

More on the storytelling, I noticed back then that X-Men really felt more like a build-up laced with some spectacle rather than a complete standalone story. Of course, the filmmakers really had to do lots of build-up and they could not just expect moviegoers to be fully aware of the X-Men comics and mythos. At least the movie did a decent job of assembling the characters, emphasizing the theme of public fear of mutants as well as the struggle of mutants, and establishing the elements of good and evil.

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Magneto and Charles Xavier.

There is also symbolism with how the filmmakers translated Charles Xavier and Magneto from the comic books to film. Xavier strives for helping mutants use their powers for good purposes while trying to help them survive in human society that fears them….plus help humans understand mutants in order to accept them. Magneto, who as a boy lived through the Holocaust and witnessed how brutal humans are to his people, strives for the rise of the mutant race even if it means harming innocent humans.

Wolverine and Rogue, in their own ways, are the lost people who have yet to realize their true purpose. They symbolize the mutants struggling in society and in the case of Rogue, played by a very young Anna Paquin, she is the lost youth whose future is clouded with uncertainty since her mutant ability makes her a danger to others by simply touching them. Wolverine/Logan, for the newcomers reading this, has been lost for decades and what makes his plight painful is that he could not remember his past nor is he aware he is over a hundred years old living with claws and a healing factor that delays his aging.

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A young Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. He came into the film as a replacement for Dougray Scott, the guy originally hired to play the superhero icon. Fortunately for Jackman, he became a superstar and a movie icon.

When it comes to spectacle, X-Men is satisfactory. There is enough action to balance with the storytelling and character development but for the most part they lack impact even back in 2000. The standout action sequence is the fight between Wolverine and Mystique which is a mix of martial arts and stunts (aided by wires). The next best sequence is Wolverine’s fight with Sabretooth at the Statue of Liberty. The fight between Toad and the other X-Men meanwhile would have looked better had there been none of those silly moments pulled of by Ray Park (Toad). Special effects that emphasize Cyclop’s optic blast and the Liberty Island energy generation looked tame.

Flaws in the movie? Apart from the uneven quality of cinematic performances and use of cheesy dialogue, not to mention the half-baked use of a foreign accent for Storm, the presentation of Xavier’s estate as a school filled with multiple students remains alienating (note: the “school for gifted children” in the comics had only the X-Men members living and learning in comfortable privacy). Next, Magneto showed carelessness over the handling of his machine designed to mutate humans and his plan to use Rogue as a source and handler for the Liberty Island incident was illogical.

As there were so many characters in the story, the key element of Cyclops as a mature and calculating leader in the comics was absent in the film. James Marsden ended up playing a Cyclops who really did not have much to do other looking cool with his visor.

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Mystique in action.

And then there was the scene in which Magneto kidnapped rogue only to face several police officers outside. During that scene, Charles Xavier mentally controlled, temporarily, Toad and Sabretooth to push Magneto into submission (with Sabretooth’s large hand holding his neck). Magneto answered back by threatening to kill the police officers with their guns and bullets (controlled by Magneto) forcing Xavier to just give up. Knowing that Magneto’s helmet protects him from mental control by Xavier, I said to myself – why Xavier have Sabretooth or Toad remove the helmet so that he can control Magneto? That scene took me out of the film.

Overall, by today’s standards, X-Men of 2000 is a satisfactory superhero flick. Directed by Bryan Singer, it was fairly good in 2000 but did not age well. Really, the film was more of a build-up and set-up for expanding the X-Men Cinematic Universe. Fortunately for Singer and 20th Century Fox, this movie was successful and justified the plan to release sequels (best sequel: X-Men: Days of Future Past) and spin-offs (the best is Logan) which not made billions of dollars more in ticket sales for the studio but also helped make the superhero movie genre wildly popular today.

If you plan to watch this movie, don’t set your expectations too high. Try to enjoy X-Men for what it is and see if you can tolerate the flaws. Definitely this one is no classic.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

For more X-Men insight, check out my latest article about X-Men: Dark Phoenix and my review of Logan.

 

 

 

3 Reasons To Anticipate X-Men: Dark Phoenix In Cinemas

Previously I expressed concern as to why X-Men: Dark Phoenix (opening in the Philippines on June 5 and in the United States on June 7) could end up as a disappointment just as the Walt Disney Company finally took over 20th Century Fox (which led people into believing that integration of the X-Men Cinematic Universe into the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be done instantly).

For one thing, the new movie is the first film of Simon Kinberg as director and to date his credentials include screenwriting, producing and working as a 2nd unit director in the very poor 2015 Fantastic Four movie. Also this movie is the 2nd cinematic adaptation of the classic comic book storyline and the first one from 2006 was bad and there were a few visual elements that the two films shared.

Still there are good reasons to watch this movie whether you are an X-Men fan or not. By now, Avengers: Endgame has satisfied moviegoers which easily makes X-Men: Dark Phoenix the superhero film to anticipate.

Why should you care about this? Here are my reasons (and, yes, I will watch it).

1). This new adaptation is looking more faithful to the Dark Phoenix Saga storyline than how X-Men: The Last Stand ever did – While it is unwise to expect a 100% faithful adaptation of the literary classic, X-Men: Dark Phoenix’s trailer showed the mutants fly into space for a mission, Jean Grey did something desperate and then something happened that changes her. This scene is very similar to what was shown in the comic books decades ago and considering the fact that the cinematic Jean Grey (played by Sophie Turner) unleashed her phoenix power in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse, things are making sense. I also liked the shots in the trailers showing Cyclops getting very concerned with Jean Grey which parallels the comic book story.

If there are enough storytelling elements that link this new movie with the literary classic and they get executed nicely, it could make a satisfying experience to moviegoers who are familiar with the classic storyline as well as those who are unfamiliar.

2) Simon Kinberg just might have pulled-off a Dances With Wolves. What do I mean? I mean to say that Kinberg may have prepared himself a lot and somehow managed to not just direct the film efficiently (reminder: this is his directorial debut) but probably outdid himself on executing the scenes strongly, getting strong performances from his actors, carefully crafting the spectacle while maintaining focus on storytelling. As seen in Hollywood history, directorial debuts are often weak efforts of career movie directors so naturally the odds are against Kinberg. Still, Kinberg may have made a very solid directorial debut in comparison to Kevin Costner’s own first directorial effort with Dances With Wolves which grossed over $400 million worldwide and won several Academy Awards including Best Picture and, yes, Best Director! Of course, I’m not a filmmaker myself nor do I have access in Hollywood productions but I did my film research a lot and my Hollywood mentor Rusty Lemorande enlightened me on the history of directorial debuts. Very soon we will find out the true results of Kinberg’s directorial debut.

Surely enough, the executives of 20th Century Fox had their own reasons to hire Kinberg as director despite his lack of movie directing experience.

3) This could be the end of the X-Men Cinematic Universe as we know it. Believe it or not, this film franchise that 20th Century Fox launched is almost twenty years old! Never mind the fact that 20th Century Fox was acquired at last by the Walt Disney Company. I have this strong feeling that the filmmakers did their best to make X-Men: Dark Phoenix a solid film on its own and, possibly, worthy of being the final film of the current cinematic universe. If you love the X-Men cast of Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy, then you should watch them perform in this new movie because there is no guarantee that you will see them reprise their roles in future movies under the umbrella of the Walt Disney Company through Marvel Studios.

X-Men: Dark Phoenix is a few weeks away from opening in cinemas worldwide. Watch out for it as well as my review.

For your viewing enjoyment, here’s the movie poster.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Observations: Sigekiya Ramen’s Chicken Teriyakidon Set

A few months ago, I had lunch at Sigekiya Ramen inside Commercenter, Filinvest City, Alabang. Many times have I been consuming Tsukemen or ramen at that restaurant which has been operating since April 2016. The notable thing about Sigekiya Ramen is that they maintain a high level of quality on their food (which explains why they use many imported ingredients) which, in my opinion, justify the prices.

After some thinking during my visit, I decided to try, for the first time ever, one of their rice meals and I ordered their Chicken Teriyakidon Set.

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The Chicken Teriyakidon Set.

It did not take too long for them to serve me the meal which came with a bowl of rice topped with chicken laced with teriyaki sauce and some sesame seeds, a cup of miso soup and a small serving of salad.

Slowly I took a sip first of the miso soup which tasted good. Then I examined the chicken on the rice bowl which turned out to be boneless. In terms of serving, the amount of chicken was generous.

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A close look.

 

Using chopsticks, I went for a portion of both chicken and rice. The result? A delightful taste! I can say that the chicken and rice were both well cooked and the teriyaki sauce prepared was pretty flavorful. Slowly, I kept consuming more of the rice and chicken, alternating with the soup and the salad.

To put things in perspective, teriyaki refers to a Japanese dish consisting of fish or meat marinated in soy sauce and grilled.

Overall, Sigekiya Ramen’s Chicken Teriyakidon Set was a nice hit and I can say that I got my money’s worth.


Thank you for reading. If you find this lifestyle article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Look Back At Logan

What a journey it has been! When I first saw then newcomer Hugh Jackman play Wolverine in the first X-Men movie back in 2000, I was not that impressed. In X2: X-Men United, Jackman outdid himself and established Wolverine as a very defining action hero for 21st century Hollywood cinema that moviegoers can keep coming back for more.

Then Jackman played Wolverine (referred to as Logan) several more times in the X-Men movies plus the standalone Wolverine movies. His most defining performance as the cinematic icon happened in 2017 with the release of Logan directed by James Mangold.

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Hugh Jackman delivered his best superhero movie performance in Logan.

Set in what is the near future, Logan takes place in a time (note: the X-Men cinematic universe timeline was revised as a result of X-Men: Days of Future Past) when mutants are dying off as a human species. Wolverine/Logan works as a limousine driver and lives at a smelting plant in Mexico with Cabal and a very old Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) who has dementia and has been unstable with his telepathic powers which make him a danger.

The future is bleak for them. Logan is very old and his healing factor has weakened a whole lot and the adamantium coating of his skeleton has poisoned him. Xavier meanwhile needs be provided with medication to prevent him from having a seizure which, combined with his telepathic powers, affects all others around them negatively. It has also been confirmed that an incident was caused by Xavier’s seizure which killed off several X-Men members leaving them three. Logan has to work and earn as much money as he could to keep providing the medication.

One day, a lady approaches Logan to try to hire him to drive her and a young girl named Laura (X-23 in the comics, played by Dafne Keene) to a refuge in North Dakota to escape from danger. Logan accepts reluctantly but discovers that the lady got killed. He returned to the smelting plant and learned that Laura stowed away by discreetly riding his limo. Eventually mercenaries led by Donald Pierce (who met Logan early in the film) arrive at the smelting plant. From this point, Logan realizes why the lady and Laura are targets and then mayhem begins when the little girl fights the mercenaries.

When it comes to storytelling, Logan emphasizes the violent and bitter journey of Wolverine who, at a very late stage in his life, has to accept the reality that he has to make another hard adjustment as a key element from his past comes into his life which is Laura who is actually a clone of him produced from an extracted sample of his DNA. The movie has some parallels with the 1950s cowboy movie Shane (which has some scenes in the film) which added depth to the story.

Logan also emphasizes the element of aging which has not been fully explored in the superhero movie genre until now. Wolverine lived lonely, had no people to love and his personal journey has been marked with violence and death. He could only move forward with whatever opportunities he could find but no matter what he does, happiness will always be unreachable to him. For Charles Xavier, age really tore him down and being almost 100-years-old in the story, he really has nowhere else to go to but death. Not even his legacy of brilliance and teaching mutants to use their powers for good could make any profound changes.

The long journey of Logan, Xavier and Laura in the film is where the character developments really set in. Along the way, there is a scene in which Logan, holding X-Men comic books (made specifically for the story), expressed his displeasure about how people perceive the X-Men and that the pharmaceutical company fed their young cloned mutants with fantasy and lies. Also striking to me as a viewer and a geek were the scenes showing how unethical the company has been with developing the young mutants (X-23’s pals) who decide to fight to escape.

In terms of presentation, Logan was rated R and for good reasons. It was rated R not simply because of very brutal violence and swearing but because its concepts are clearly meant for adults to see. If you combine the concepts of unethical science experiments, mercenary brutality, human rights violations and unchecked destruction, clearly Logan is NOT the superhero movie made for parents and their little kids to watch together. When it comes to action and spectacle, this movie has more than enough stuff to keep viewers entertaining while at the same time it has this particular 1980s R-rated Hollywood action film feel to it.

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Dafne Keene as X-23/Laura. Her great act will be remembered for a very long time.

Performances of the actors were top-notch, specifically Jackman, Stewart and Dafne Keene. Hugh Jackman as a superhero cinematic artist truly evolved! If you disregard the timeline alteration of the X-Men films, you will realize how Jackman’s Wolverine gradually changed in terms of style and expression. In 2000’s X-Men, Wolverine was trying to figure out his place among the mutants as Charles Xavier helped him. In X2, he decided to be with the X-Men and help them out in their situation. In X-Men: The Last Stand, he has to deal with helping the X-Men tackle Magneto who has Dark Phoenix/Jean Grey (the lady Logan has feelings for). In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he struggles morally and dealt with his relationship with his “brother” Sabretooth. In The Wolverine, he moves away from the X-Men and got himself involved with a conflict (plus an old friend) in Japan. In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Wolverine of the dark future goes back through time to his younger self with the pressure to alter history.

Patrick Stewart’s dying Xavier in Logan shows a new dimension to the cinematic art of the actor. He really makes Xavier look hopeless and yet he successfully made viewers more sympathetic to his character than ever before. Last but not least, Dafne Keene as Laura/X-23 proved how talented she really is when it comes to dramatic scenes. Even though she got yelled at by Hugh Jackman, Keene still moved on with her strong performance. Definitely her performance is something to be remembered for a very long time in cinema.

Conclusion

I have seen a whole lot of superhero movies in my life. Just over a week ago I managed to watch Avengers: Endgame and it was a true epic like Infinity War. Even by today’s standards, Logan is a standout superhero movie that delivers spectacle, action, solid performances, some humor and the distinct vibe of 1980s R-rated Hollywood action cinema combined. In fact, I should say that Logan is a modern day classic among all superhero movies.

As such, Logan is highly recommended and I urge you readers to watch it on Blu-ray disc format to get the best visual and R-rated viewing experience.


Thank you for reading. If you find this game review engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

 

My Observations: Filipinos Urged To Participate In May 13 National & Local Elections

Here in the Philippines, the stage is set for the organizing of the 2019 National and Local Elections set for May 13 and already Malacañang urged Filipinos to participate in it.

What will happen is that voters will select up to twelve candidates for the Philippine Senate to serve for the next six years. With regards to their localities, voters will choose who will serve them at the House of Representatives for the next three years. For the provinces, voters will get to choose the governor, the vice governor and members of the provincial board.

Moving further local, voters will choose who will be the mayor, the vice mayor and councilors in their respective cities or municipalities. The elected officials will serve three years.

“We enjoin all Filipinos who are eligible to vote to participate in this healthy democratic exercise as we call on all candidates across the political spectrum to ask their supporters to observe an honest, orderly, peaceful and credible elections reflective of the people’s genuine will,” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a press statement.

While it makes sense to encourage eligible voters to take part in the democratic exercise, Philippine democracy has its flaws. Flaws not limited to the electoral system being imperfect nor limited to voters being divided between the educated, the less educated and the uneducated.

Regardless of education, there are voters here in the Philippines who easily fall for the charms of the candidates (especially the incumbent public officials) who in turn exploit them. When a voter gets charmed, he/she tends to forget about the social and political issues that matter and gets manipulated to vote for the candidate he/she finds charming.

How do city government-level candidates and/or incumbent public officials charm the voters? Pose in front of photographers pretending to be busy; give a beautiful smile; stand beside a beauty pageant winner; lead the oath-taking ceremony of new officials of a homeowners association (note: such a ceremony carries NO LEGAL WEIGHT whatsoever as the city government official has no right to step into the jurisdiction of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board which is the regulator for HOAs); deliver an inspirational speech filled with lies or exaggerations; pretend to be smart and all-knowing in front of people; etc.

Sad to say, there is an element of acting in public service. As if that was not bad enough, there is also the illegal activity of vote-buying. If voters were more educated and/or had a stronger common sense as well as a strong mental defense, then it could change the trends of election campaigning which, for the most part, strongly relies on charming voters, exploiting the ignorant and tempting people with money.

I chose not to be ignorant which is why I do private research on the candidates in each election and pray to the Lord directly.

In addition, I can clearly say that I don’t get charmed and I don’t get fooled by candidates. I don’t allow the charmed ones to influence me as well.

Charm is pretty but it is a risk factor for Philippine democracy. There should be more focus on integrity, credibility and capabilities on the parts of the candidates and incumbent officials.

If you intend to vote at all, I would suggest preparing yourself to not only be wiser (and be resistant to charm gimmicks by the candidates) but be edified spiritually. How? By praying to Lord Jesus for guidance, enlightenment and peace to name a few. I would also suggest to pray for whichever candidates win because any new or re-elected public official should be aware that high above him/her is the Lord. Definitely no public official can ever match the authority of God!

Pray also for your local community, your town or city and the nation as well. If you feel uncertain about whom to vote for, ask the Lord! Remember that whoever gets elected, the future and the welfare of the people get affected. Public service comes with lots of temptations and power can be abused.

Before voting on Monday, be sure to worship the Lord on Sunday at church. Pray to Him even further in the privacy of your room. Be inside your room, shut the door, read the Holy Bible and pray in tongues to the Lord.

Take note that a nation without God’s guidance is a nation without order. Never mind the rants of the secularists because the truth is written in the Holy Bible, specifically Proverbs 29: 18-27 (NKJV).

Next is this holy scripture from Psalm 33: 12 (NKJV). It’s a very powerful scripture.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,

The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.

Don’t let the pretentious, the ignorant and the devil manipulate you. Always be connected with the Lord and be faithful to Him. Democracy means nothing without the Lord. Remember that.


Thank you for reading. If you find this game review engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

 

Carlo Carrasco’s Game Review: Gears of War 4 (Xbox One, Single Player Campaign)

Believe it or not, I completely missed out on Gears of War 4 on Xbox One back in 2016. I simply had other priorities and I was unable to raise the money needed to buy the game. A year after that, I downloaded the demo of the game and managed to play

Finally, thanks to a recent sale online at Xbox LIVE, I purchased the game at last and recently managed to finish it. Gears of War 4 proved to be a lot of fun and even until now it still is a gem of game design and visual art.

To put things in perspective, I played the first three main Gears of War games from 2006 to 2011 and those games were mainly designed by the talented Cliff Bleszinski who had NO INVOLVEMENT with the latest game. Gears of War 4, by the way, is the first-ever internally developed game of Microsoft through its studio The Coalition.

The good news is that Gears of War 4 is not only a fun and engaging game. It is also a continued evolution of the game franchise’s design and it is easily the best cover shooter game design to date.

On face value, it looks like the creative team led by Rod Fergusson (The Coalition studio leader) and director Chuck Osieja decided to play safe on game design by retaining the gameplay functions from the past. Quite easily, I managed to reclaim that old Gears of War feel in terms of control, shooting, moving and aiming. Like past GOW games, you must take cover for protection from the bullets fired by the enemies then peak, aim and shoot. Then when possible move forward to take cover at the next protective object and make your way to beat the other side. Then there is the classic reload function which, when well timed, can grant you temporary strong firepower.

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Melee attacks in Gears of War 4 have improved and are more satisfying.

But as the game progressed, the new gameplay features emerged. For the first time, I can finally grab an enemy (who is crouched taking cover) from the other side of a protective object or barrier, pull the enemy and get to do a melee attack (or shoot with the gun). There is also the feature of the knocking the enemy off balance (by means of jumping over cover to kick the enemy on the other side) as well as performing the shoulder charge. Take note however that these new gameplay features – which add a lot of depth on the classic GOW gameplay – can be used by the enemies against you.

And then there are the new weapons like the Buzzkill (watch those flying sawblades ricochet!) and the Dropshot (challenging to use but very satisfying when the target gets hit!) that add new dimension to the gameplay.

More on gameplay, if you are expecting enemy artificial intelligence (AI) to be the same as before (remember all the Locusts?), you will realize that’s not the case at all. The new enemies behave differently in combat and you will be compelled to change your strategies. Expect to see the enemies (which include robots) be more tactical with their movements and attacks, and you will also realize you will need to move out of cover more and search for a new place to take cover at.

That’s not all. The weather effects impact the gameplay a lot this time. There are these windflares that not only blow strongly (watch the environment move) but also generate electricity that you must avoid touching. When the weather changes, you will not only have to take cover but be more strategic moving around as well as adjusting your aim when firing at the enemy (example: strong wind can alter the direction of the Buzzkill sawblade you fire). Lastly, there is a motorcycle chase scene that is quite action packed!

Visuals? This game really looks very great! The art is top-notch. The animation, the textures, the special effects and lighting effects really make a great showcase of the Xbox One, especially the Xbox One X (4K resolution with high-dynamic range). The character faces are very detailed and very photo-realistic! Facial expressions really will convince you into thinking you’re watching real people instead of computer-generated ones.

When it comes to storytelling, Gears of War 4 takes place 25 years after the previous game. You play as JD Fenix (son of hero Marcus Fenix and Anya Stroud) who is accompanied by Del and Kait. In terms of personality, JD is witty, striving to figure out things and he does not carry the cynical mindset of his father. Del and Kait are likeable characters for different reasons. Del is also witty while Kait has the strong, fighting lady personality. The good news here is that their respective voice actors performed nicely.

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Father and Son.

Back to the plot, the Coalition of Ordered Governments (COG) has been reformed but something is not right and right from the start JD and Del deserted the coalition to join the group called the Outsiders. Government leadership is felt in the story and having the COG as the anti-hero element really makes Gears of War 4’s world really look and feel new. Forget about the memories of fighting for the COG in the old GOW games, Gears of War 4 is a whole new world to figure out what’s been happening while fighting to survive. If you are the kind of gamer who has the anti-authoritarian mindset, then this game is for you.

Strangely enough, this game’s story has some notable similarities with the 2015 blockbuster film Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Without spoiling the story, I should say that Gears of War icons like Marcus Fenix (the central figure of the franchise) return in supporting roles. Instead of being the hero, he is the mentor to his son JD and even to you the gamer.

While the gameplay is excellent and deeper than ever before, the storytelling this time lacks the depth of Gears of War 3 but in fairness, this new game’s story had to show how much had changed in the world and society in general. Gears of War 3, by comparison, is a war story and the resulting build-up from the first two games led to it having a very engaging conclusion.

Back to Gears of War 4, the ending lacked punch and yet it has a lot of intrigue or even shock, especially if you paid very close attention to the small but key details in the previous games. The ending feels underwhelming as it happened following the high-octane, final battle sequence of the game. Although the conclusion lacked punch, I still felt satisfied. By the way, there is a post-credits ending scene to watch out for.

Overall Gears of War 4 is easily the best 3rd person-view cover shooter and is a true evolution of the Gears of War game design. Now that the game costs much less, it is a great bargain! At the same time, it makes sense now to play GOW4 as Gears 5 (Gears of War 5) is expected to be released this year.

Gears of War 4 is highly recommended!


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