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A Level A Day – “Red Faction: Guerrilla,” Level 1

A Level A Day – “Red Faction: Guerrilla,” Level 1 (photo)

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Truth in title, dear readers: A Level A Day will be my attempt to give my thumbs more exercise every 24 hours. ALAD will be part diary, part analysis and a smidgen of random observation on games that either slipped through the cracks or might deserve reconsideration. I won’t promise to finish every game but I’ll try to track what I think of as honestly as I can, so you’ll at least know why I’m stopping a particular game.

Tuesday, December 5, 2010: “Red Faction: Guerrilla,” Level 1

At the end of the tutorial level, Dan–the brother of lead character Alec Mason–dies and I get arrested by the Mars Gestapo. The cutscene that opens the level shows Dan’s house seized and a confrontation with the EDF. The thugs have Alec’s mining license revoked, which leads to a physical altercation. Alec gets knocked onto the ground and it looks like he’s going to get shot in cold blood. Suddenly, shots ring out and EDF soldiers start dropping. The girl, whose name is Samanya, and older man who visited Dan come out of cover and bring Dan to the Red Faction safehouse. Once there, the following exchange happens:

Alec: “But, I’m not Red Faction.”
Samanya: “Like it or not, Mason, you are now.”

Going through the Guerrilla Handbook I get handed by Samanya, it’s pretty clear that “RFG” is a proletariat simulator. It’s early yet, so I don’t know whether the game’s trope appropriation is inspired or appalling. This is where the game starts in earnest.

This is where you get your gun.

The upgrade systems, world navigation and mission organization all get explained at the safehouse. “Red Faction: Guerrilla” follows the same open-world template as games like “Grand Theft Auto,” meaning that I can wander around and pick which missions I want to do on my own. The ambient chatter from all the characters voices either ferocity or despair about the current situation with the EDF occupying Mars. Once I’ve soaked up enough ambiance, I decide to pick a mission and go destroy some buildings.

“Better Red than Dead”
The mission starts with a briefing from a commander tasking Mason to destroy the Red Faction’s old base so the EF can’t pick up any info to use against them. As I start to drive the location, he tells the grim tale of slaughter and exploitation that happen in the EDF’s land grabs. Of course, the EDF show up once I’m at the base and a shootout ensues. I don’t love the aiming and shooting at this point and the controls really feel like Voliton was trying to accommodate two different kinds of gameplay ideas: shooting and demolition.

I die a bunch trying to figure out a rhythm of engagement. Each action game has its own different style and getting acclimated to their mechanics is like learning to speak a new language. There’s no cover system in “Red Faction: Guerrilla” which means gunplay will involve lots of bobbing and weaving. I finally take out the squad sent to kill me and complete the destruction of the former RF base.

“Red Faction: Guerrilla” reminds me of “Angry Birds.” It’s a weird comparison, I know, with mega-lucrative casual game and modestly successful hardcore title at either end. And I’m playing them in reverse chronological order. But, both titles ask you to apply force to structures to topple them. The best part of each is when the toppling continues after you expect it to stop and debris continues to rain down. And each game tells you that you’re breaking stuff for the right reasons, to take down paramilitary oppression and/or rampant greed. “Better Red than Dead” ends with some banter and it already feels like the righteous impetus of Dan’s death is fading. It also feels like the game’s going to be huge at this stretch and I’ll have to try to gobble up missions as quickly as I can.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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