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Five Things You Need to Know About “Halo: Reach”

Five Things You Need to Know About “Halo: Reach” (photo)

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Today’s the day millions of hardcore gaming fans have been waiting for. “Halo: Reach”–the newest installment of the Xbox 360’s multi-billion dollar sci-fi franchise–hits store shelves today. Except for the strategy spin-off “Halo Wars,” the “Halo” games have been exclusively produced by development studio Bungie. Not only does Reach end a three-year wait since Halo 3–the last tentpole Halo game–came out, it also marks the end of Bungie’s relationship with the series they created. Microsoft’s holding onto the rights for the franchise and recently created 343 Industries, a new division of Microsoft Game Studios, to handle any and all things related to “Halo” moving forward. Meanwhile, Bungie will be will be working on an all-new property in partnership with Activision which will appear on multiple platforms, and not just the Xbox 360.

If you’re feeling under-prepared for the latest wave of Halo-mania, here’s what you basically need to know:

Master Chief Isn’t In This One
The emerald-armored and gold-visored hero of Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 and Halo 3 doesn’t show up to say good-bye. Even though he’s essentially become the mascot of all of the Xbox consoles since Microsoft started making them, Bungie opted to bow out with a prequel that takes place on Reach, the planet where the series’ Spartan super soldiers got their start.

This Means War
Each “Halo” title has pitted players against the marauding alien collective known as the Covenant. But, more than any other game in the series, “Reach” feels like you’ve been embedded in a massive conflict. Even after the cutscenes showing the sprawling battles stop rolling, the amount of sheer on-screen chaos during gameplay sequences is enough to make you shellshocked.

“Reach” Offers More Than Just Run-and-Gun Action
Previous “Halo” experiences didn’t do much more than cycle a bunch of awesome weapons through your hands and point you towards an objective. There was some strategy but mostly it involved peeking out from cover and learning enemy engagement patterns. “Reach,” however, features all-new skills called Armor Abilities, which let you turn invisible, drop a holographic decoy or soar through the sky with a jetpack. Combined with levels that sport an openness new to the series, the changes make players feel powerful like never before.

Still, You’re Going to Lose
The Fall of Reach is a monumental but never-before-seen event in the series’ lore. Hardcore fans know that the outcome of the game’s conflict against the Covenant won’t turn out in humanity’s favor. The tone of finality that marches through the game makes the action all the more effective and resonant.

Yet, It’s the Best “Halo” So Far
You play as part of the Noble Team squad in “Reach” and their camaraderie makes the game’s narrative more affecting than the lonely solo journeys of games past. The story-telling’s more assured, the gameplay more varied and the multiplayer more chaotic than anything else Bungie’s ever produced. It’s quicker, leaner and boasts a great ending, too.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.