The Infinite Zenith

When life demands your A game, bring your A+ game

The Infinite Mirai’s Mail Sack: August 23, 2014

Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to this week’s Mail Sack segment. Before I open the inbox and begin answering questions, I will take a few moments to recall that this was another busy Saturday. This does seem to be a trend now, and today’s excursion was to the city’s fourth Japanese Omatsuri, which was conveniently in my AO. I arrived just before the opening ceremony started and was able to catch that, plus a Taiko performance. After the performances ended, I floated around the food stalls, which allowed me to enjoy Yakitori, Okonomiyaki, Gyōza and beef Donburi. In particular, I had been looking to try Okonomiyaki ever since I watched Tamayura ~Hitotose~ back in 2011, and the Okonomiyaki served at this Omatsuri was quite savoury. I’m always a fan of grilled meat, so the Yakitori also stands out, but everything was delicious in general. Once lunch concluded, I browsed around some of the stands before taking a hike along the river and then checking out the new train station in town, which leads me to where I am at present. Today’s question is from Vimitsu, and in answering the question, sends me on a short trip down memory lane.

What aspects of anime were initially attractive to you when you first became interested? In other words, what about anime made you start watching anime? —Vimitsu

There are several things that compelled me to begin watching anime and compel me to continue watching anime. The first element requires that we go way back to a time when internet speeds were measured in Kbps and the iPod Nano was just becoming the hottest new music player on the market. Back during this time, the local TV stations were playing anime, and I found a strange pull about them. I felt that anime featured vividly detailed characters compared to their Western counterparts, and these details, especially regarding facial features, meant that anime could be more expressive, whether it be subtle or dramatic. These elements made anime characters more aesthetically pleasing, and also allowed some anime to convey the emotion in a moment more exquisitely than most Western animations. The end result is a product that does not depend upon over-the-top, excessive reactions to convey a mood; one can immediately deduce how a character is feeling just by looking at them. The emphasis on facial features, especially the eyes, in anime also plays with the human predisposition towards cute things, so this also has an impact on my preference for anime characters over characters from Western animation.

  • For those who have no inclination to read the thousand-word-or-so-long answer, the answer is as follows: I was pulled to anime by the details in characters and environments. I presently continue to watch anime because of its diversity, which allows me to watch anime that can pick at the brain or offer relaxation, depending on the day.

Besides the aesthetic considerations, anime also features rich artwork that is unparalleled; at the one end of the spectrum, anime art is simple and uncluttered, drawing focus to the characters’ actions. Such anime may feature minimal or washed out backgrounds. On the other end of things, anime landscapes may be so detailed and well-drawn that it appears photorealistic, giving the sense that the anime is depicting something quite real. Most anime fall in-between these two extremes, having gorgeous landscapes that really give a sense of the setting. Compared to Western animation, anime places more emphasis on stills of the landscape, and these moments (even in older anime) are remarkably detailed. It gives the sense that the user is there with the characters. Taken together, these two elements were what eventually pulled me into anime after I watched the Ah! My Goddess The Movie some eight years ago. This movie features a large number of anime tropes, and ultimately, piqued my interest in anime. Shortly after, I would pick up Gundam 00 and Azumanga Daioh, and the rest is history.

  • There’s only one more week of Mail Sack left in August. I’ll be shifting to a new schedule for the Mail Sack in September, but that will be for next time. In the meantime, there’s still two weeks of break left to enjoy before classes start.

The story doesn’t end here, though; there is one more aspect about anime that has led me to continue watching it. Back during my first two undergraduate years, anime fell from my radar, as coursework and research was demanding most of my time. However, by my second year, this was catching up to me, and my performance was declining. When I picked up K-On!, the cheerful, light-hearted and fluffy mood in the series was sufficiently uplifting such that I managed to make a bit of time every week to watch it, and the healing factor K-On! conferred eventually allowed me to rescue my GPA. K-On! indicated to me the diversity of anime, and indeed, after my second year ended, I spent the summer watching anime of genres I had never seen before while breaking from research work. That summer turned out to be magical, and reignited my interests in anime, which I still maintain today. There is so much anime out there, each geared towards a different audience, that there is something for everyone. This incredible diversity also means that if one were to get bored of one genre or series, there are other genres and series to follow. At present, I can always find at least a handful of titles that catch my eye, and that is a testament to just how diverse anime is: it seems like there will never be a shortage of shows to enjoy.

Closing Remarks

Another week has elapsed, and another excellent question was presented. Next week is the last Saturday in August, and with it, the last of the weekly Mail Sack programme: I will announce then what the Mail Sack’s future is. It’s actually quite surprising to see time fly by so quickly, and in less than two weeks, the academic term will begin again. Things look to be quite busy in the future as I become accustomed to being a graduate student, so blog posts will probably slow down once term is underway. For the time being, though, I will aim to have talks about the remainder of Battlefield 4 out before the second week of September, then final impressions for every one-cour anime I’ve followed during the Summer 2014 season before Canadian Thanksgiving (which is when the Fall 2014 season starts). As well, Origin put Titanfall onto its Game Time program, offering 48 hours of game time. It’s going to be a 50 GB download and only two-sevenths of the time I had for Battlefield 4, so I’ll have to save Titanfall for a time period where I know I have two full days to myself. Of course, with TheRadBrad’s play-through clocking in at an hour and forty-seven minutes for one side, and most sources saying that each side takes two hours (for a total of four hours), I think two days would be sufficient for me to beat Titanfall, and for the present, the main question is…when do I start?

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Final Reflection

“These past few months, I was challenged many times, but more often than not, didn’t I try to keep morality in mind, knowing that my actions didn’t have to harm others? Time and time again, didn’t I resist the urge to abuse power and resources simply to achieve my goals more swiftly? In the past we’ve had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few. But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again? What if the path Sarif wants us to take enables us to hold on to higher values with more stability?” —Adam Jensen

Previously, I left off in Montreal, having defeated Yelena Federova and was set to return to Detroit, where a riot was awaiting, plus the revelation that the Illuminati were behind a conspiracy to damage augmentations, citing it as a danger to humanity. As I continued digging to the bottom of this case and made my way to Panchaea, a massive artificial island in the Arctic that was designed to combat global warming. Through it all, Deus Ex: Human Revolution never loses any of its immersion; now that I’m fully aware of my preferred play style, a unique hybrid between making use of non-lethal take downs, silenced armour-piercing pistol shots and hacking, I’ve selected all of my augmentations to accommodate this particular approach. The remainder of the game was spent finishing any side quests, speaking with people and otherwise doing my best to get places without lighting anyone up. Once I reached Panchaea and listened to Darrow, Taggart and Sarif’s viewpoints, I was ready to make my final decision regarding which broadcast to make.

  • Upon returning to Detroit, I immediately went about selling my heavy rifle, sniper rifle and shotgun, which had hitherto been wasting previous inventory space and got a few credits out of it. By this point in time, I had the armour piercing upgrade for my pistol, and the explosive ammunition for the revolver. Besides the main quest, I also completed all of the side quests that were available (having missed Prichard’s), and on my return to Jensen’s penthouse, was surprised to find the machine pistol and stun gun still there from last time.

  • Having the CASIE augmentation makes conversations almost a little too easy, but also allows me to make choices about conversations without worrying that I’ll say the wrong thing. Such an augmentation would probably cause a lot of mistrust in real life, since it would enable the user to manipulate or exploit personality traits to their advantage, and although I did not use the CASIE mod on Malik back during my first trip to Hengsha, it turns out trying to use it is pretty amusing.

  • During my return to Hengsha, I found that a minimal arsenal (consisting of a pistol, revolver and combat rifle) was more than sufficient for most encounters. The pistol, now equipped with the armour piercing rounds, downed the Belltower guards in a single shot to the head, and even after they deployed a 80-X Boxguard, I merely switched to my revolver, and blew it away in six shots. These weapons, though basic, proved immensely effective, and I was able to save Malik without any difficulty at all.

  • After the events in Hengsha ended, Jensen finds himself at a facility in Singapore. This is where the Sarif Industries scientists are held, and by this point in the game, I’m forgoing stealth for combat efficiency. The armour-piercing and explosive rounds for the pistol and revolver really make a difference. There are some enemies that require two headshots to down even with the AP-rounds, but the pistol is sufficient for the job. In fact, I might forgo a combat rifle on my next play-through and only make use of the pistols.

  • By maxing out my hacking capture and stealth capabilities, every terminal in the game becomes child’s play to hack, and tougher terminals can be handled by making use of the stop worm or nuke virus, which stops the trace for a few moments or captures a node instantly, respectively. These items are remarkably easy to obtain, and even though there are a fewer number of them lying around in-game later on, they can still be acquired by capturing data stores while hacking.

  • Ultimately, I found that equipping every weapon I had with a laser sight, and then firing from cover, was the absolute best way to play Deus Ex: Human Revolution as a shooter: shotoing from the first person just wasn’t effective at all, while the precision afforded by making use of cover meant that even distant enemies could be downed quickly.

  • Against Jaron Namir, I made use of the laser rifle and the see-though-walls augmentation to wear down his health, before finishing him off using the Typhoon Explosive system. This is the fight that I had been preparing my loadout and augmentations for; it is imperative that players do not accept the biochip upgrade, otherwise, Zhao will be able to cripple Jensen by disabling it, making this fight significantly more difficult. Even though Namir is the individual who annihilates Jensen to begin with, defeating him does not feel particularly satisfying.

  • While players can opt to leave Malik after being shot down in Hengsha, I chose to save her because it’s what needs to be done, and also, because it offers a fine opportunity to test out my new weapon modifications. Malik’s death will not cause a game-over, but instead, an alternative pilot will later be dispatched to pick up the scientists. Having Malik pick them up is quite rewarding, though, showing that saving her is the only thing to do.

  • I’ve finally arrived in Panchaea, a vast installation that was designed to reverse the effects of global warming by means of regulating the ocean temperatures. It is named after a Greek Island of the same name, which was described to be a Utopia on the Indian Ocean. Despite set during the daytime, even Panchaea has a yellow tinge to things: the lighting is supposed to be evocative of old manuscripts from the Renaissance.

  • The EMP shielding augmentation is a necessity, alongside maxed-out hacking capture, strength augmentations and the Icarus landing system. I still recall playing Deus Ex: Human Revolutions for the first time, and encountered an electrified hallway in Detroit. The only way to traverse the room was to find a pair of crates and walk across on top of them to reach the other side. There’s a switch to turn the electricity off, although on my second trip to Detroit, I had the EMP shielding augmentation and decided to, for old times’ sake, turn the electricity back on and walk across the electrified floor with no consequence.

Of the four possible endings, I ultimately chose the Sarif ending: in this ending, Jensen places the blame on Humanity Front, a pro-human organisation led by Taggart, subsequently allowing human augmentation to go on unrestricted by regulation. This choice has several implications; the first is whether or not telling a lie at someone’s expense is justified if it can be shown that the lie is beneficial to society. Here, Taggart takes the fall, and as a result, humanity is able to make use of augmentation technology to push itself further than it did before, providing accessible augmentations for all people, regardless of social standing and economic background. This segues nicely into the next implication surrounding accessibility of new technologies: this is a major issue in real-world topics, such as personalised medicine or genetic modification. For instance, personalised genome sequencing for disease genotypes is still somewhat expensive, meaning that only the more affluent members of society would have access to them. If we extrapolate this, and suppose that personalised medicine based on genetic information is going to be an expensive procedure, then only wealthier people would be able to access these methods to improve their health, creating a gap in healthcare access. Similarly, if genetic enhancement is a costly process, only the wealthy would be able to improve their genes for desirable characteristics, resulting in a positive feedback loop as the unmodified humans find themselves increasingly disadvantaged. This disparity could eventually lead to discontent and even conflict: such a point was the driving force behind the war in Gundam SEED, and as such, by choosing Sarif’s ending, at the minimum, Jensen would avoid creating such a divide in human society for the future. Under the Sarif ending, augmentations are accessible, and people would retain the choice of whether or not they wish to make use of it. By giving the option to the people, the Sarif ending is by far the optimal choice. The next best option, though seen as cowardly in some circles, is to destroy the facility and prevent the truth from getting out, thereby allowing humanity to decide for itself whether or not augmentation is something they wish to pursue. I believe that people should be free to make its own choices, and in fact, become irritated by the fact that people are so easily swayed by those in influential positions (especially the media), accepting things without giving it further thought. My own desire is for people to think critically and determine what’s best for them, but on the flip side, sometimes, people might make decisions based on short-term gains, rather than the long term, and may require a guiding force to push them in a direction that encourages long-term benefits. This ending gives people so many options that they might not be able to choose a decision that’s best for them. Taggart’s ending pinpoints the problem as a result of faulty Neuropozyne and provide a partial truth. Prima facie, this would be a decision I might have gone with; whenever challenging issues arise, I feel that society, though deserving to know the truth, may not be ready to accept the whole truth. The best solution here would be to present the truth, but only disclose what people are ready to hear. The Taggart ending puts augmentation research under government regulation, but this regulation is stated to eventually create a gap in society: knowing that the “morally correct” action ultimately causes suffering, I would not choose this ending: the Taggart ending represents a choice that is moral in the short term, but ultimately causes more disparity. The Darrow ending is something that stifles progress, and as such, I would not pick this one out of principle. However, for the achievement’s sake, I’ll pick all four endings.

  • I was actually looking to get this review out sooner, but on Wednesday, I was quite busy: one of my friends was leaving town to complete his graduate studies elsewhere, and a bunch of us threw a surprise party for him at a pub. It was wings night (a pound of wings for $3.50), and after ordering the honey garlic wings, I also decide to have a Smoke House Burger (a behemoth of a charbroiled burger with maple smoked white cheddar, fried onion and fried egg, with a side of fries), which was substantial and impacted my decision not to order more wings. I generally prefer pubs to bars, as they serve a wider range of menu items.

  • Darrow was the one person who I was not able to persuade using the CASIE augmentation: from what I’ve heard, those who successfully persuade him will be granted the access codes to shut down the Hyron project. However, the lockdown is disengaged, and after speaking with him, I sought out Taggart and Sarif to further talk to them.

  • Here is a moment with me using the combat rifle’s target seeking mechanic. By this point in the game, Jensen’s actions are set in stone, and taking down the now-zombiefied staff at Panchaea via lethal or non-lethal means will not yield any experience. While their condition is pitiable, there’s no way to save them, and they will quickly make short work of Jensen with their numbers, so it’s wise to take them out from a long distance. EMP grenades will not work on them.

  • There is a LIMB clinic on Panchaea, allowing Jensen to purchase a handful of Praxis kits. Because I more or less had all of the augmentations that fit my play-style, I decided to spend the rest of my Praxis points on extra batteries and aim stabilisation. I’ve also downed all the alcoholic beverages and special health items to boost myself to maximum health.

  • Between Sarif, Darrow and Taggart, or blowing up the station, I wonder what other gamers have chosen; different individuals choose different endings for different reasons, and although I wound up watching all four of them, I personally picked the Sarif ending, as it best fit my world-views. Of course, there is no “best” ending, or “correct” ending, for that matter.

  • The Hi-NRG plasma rifle is a directed-energy weapon that fires plasma rounds. The weapon fires slowly and has a short range but does massive damage, although its usefulness is quite limited owing to the fact that it appears so late in the game. It is first picked up from Namir, although ammunition for it isn’t found in great abundance until Panchaea is reached. Because the plasma rifle has a limited amount of splash damage, it is quite useful against the crowds of zombies later on.

  • I come to it at last: the fight with the Hyron project. Equipped with dermal armour, a maxed-out Typhoon system and an inventory filled with ammunition, this fight was a joke: I alternated between using the laser rifle to blast the turrets, the Typhoon system for the robots and the plasma rifle for anything that moves. With the right augmentations, this fight isn’t even a challenge.

  • In a manner reminiscent of older games, where one has to open something and then blast it; the plasma rifle is quite effective for this sort of thing. If I were to go back and play Deus Ex: Human Revolution again, I would probably do so with a much greater eye for exploration. I was seeking to finish the campaign by July’s end so I could get a start on Borderlands 2, but instead, I got to the Hyron project and stopped playing for a few weeks owing to various circumstances.

  • There isn’t another way, and even though it is immoral to do so, one needs to wipe floor with Zhao in order to finish the game. Those seeking to play for efficiency can supposedly finish the fight by using the laser rifle and fire through the glass protecting Zhao, by passing all of the other sections. Deus Ex: Human Revolutions was said to have a 25-hour campaign, and I finished it, plus most of the side-quests, within 27 hours over the space of a month-and-a-half. I thoroughly enjoyed all 27 hours of it.

  • For posterity’s sake, I’ve taken a screenshot of me about to select the Sarif ending. I realise that this post is one long spoiler, but given that it’s been almost three years since Deus Ex: Human Revolution was released, all the discussions would have calmed by this point in time; I might be late to the party, but the experience remains as exhilarating. If I were to summarise this lengthy read into a single sentence, I would say that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is probably one of most enjoyable games I have experienced, and that it is definitely worth trying out.

With the Sarif ending selected, it turns out that my own actions in Deus Ex: Human Revolution produced the good ending variations, regardless of ending I chose. Contrasting Metro: Last Light, it seems that the choices I made were the ones that lead to a good ending. Such an ending suggests that Adam Jensen, though resentful of his resurrection, can nonetheless make the most of things and turn his newfound powers towards helping people. Of course, other players may opt to shoot through the campaign or else brutalise anything that moves. The single most solid element in Deus Ex: Human Revolution lies not with the gameplay or graphics, but rather, just how significant choice is relative to the story; decisions that players make can have far reaching consequences later on, affecting the story. However, there is no such thing as a “bad” choice (in the sense that picking it ends the game); things simply progress differently, as they do in real life. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is, once everything is said and done, perhaps one of, if not the best games I’ve ever completed: the only complaint I can think of, besides the boss fights, is the fact that shooting in the first person is unintuitive, and aiming down the sights doesn’t improve accuracy. Having died frequently early in the game, when I was playing through it like a traditional shooter, I eventually decided to shoot from cover only and wound up with perfect accuracy. A game that only has two downsides is a game worth playing; Deus Ex: Human Revolution comes close to being a perfect game. Featuring a story that immerses players through a combination of decision-making, dialogue, various news articles and eBooks scattered throughout the settings, a combat system that emphasises choice (players can even opt to use stealth throughout the entire game and not kill anyone save bosses), level designs that feel futuristic, yet familiar and a brooding soundtrack, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a game that does so many things correctly, making it a meaningful experience for anyone who considers themselves to be a gamer.

Glasslip- Halfway Point Impressions

“Enough from the clown!” —Gambol, The Dark Knight

At the series’ halfway point, Glasslip appears to be focussed on closing up all of the secondary character’s game, which in turn leads me to wonder if the second half will be dedicated towards answering questions surrounding how the Newtype phenomenon would be explored. While the secondary characters have been somewhat fleshed out, the matter of Kakeru and Tōko still remain an enigma. P.A. Works anime typically are driven by the characters, and in order for the character’s actions and interactions to be meaningful, we must first know a little bit about them earlier on such that it is possible to empathise with them. In Tari Tari, after hearing about Wakana, Konatsu and Sawa’s intentions, the characters took on a more fluid, multidimensional role that allowed viewers to cheer for them as they struggled with their own goals and futures. Here in Glasslip, while viewers have a more solid idea on what’s going on with Yanagi, Yukinari, Sachi and Hiro, this still has yet to be done for Kakeru and Tōko. Kakeru is still as mysterious as he was in episode one, and his Newtype powers still have not had the exploration they require to convey why it’s important to the story. As such, he remains remarkably difficult to sympathise with. The significance of this ability to “see into the future” is very limited, being more of a curiosity than a pivotal element, and so far, has not really impacted the main story to any real extent: for instance, Tōko sees Yanagi in tears early on, but aside from providing the viewers with a guess on what’s happening, is presently inconsequential. In an anime where this “power” is supposed to be pivotal, Glasslip has, thus far, chosen to leave it a mystery. With this said, the secondary character’s backgrounds are given more exploration, so it’s not difficult to believe that the second half will allow this aspect to be explored in greater detail.

  • The third episode is centred around a hiking trip that Kakeru skips. Through its course, the third episode does a satisfactory job of illustrating the dynamics between Tōko, Yanagi, Yukinari, Sachi and Hiro. This is a friendship that was very stable prior to Kakeru’s arrival.

  • In reality, people are far more cautious and would unlikely find themselves in such a situation. The classic line from Futurama, “We didn’t see anything…ever” would probably be the most appropriate response to something like this, although since Yukinari does not take a hint, Yanagi chucks the water container at him.

  • As per my literature course from several years ago, a story happens precisely because an existing equilibrium was disturbed, and the sequence of events that the characters find themselves entangled in as they react or respond to this disturbance forms the basis for the plot. In this case, Kakeru is the source of this disturbance: notice how happy everyone is at their camping trip in Kakeru’s absence.

  • While Glasslip might be prima facie going all over the place, it’s setting up the kind of chaos that one might reasonably expect in real life, with various random events occurring as people struggle to come to terms with their feelings. With high school students at the forefront of Glasslip, the impulsive, ill-thought out actions the characters undertake are consistent with what might be expected from high school students. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating that most anime fans appear to be adults, and as such, interpreting decisions made by high school students is not dissimilar to frustrated parents wondering why their high-school aged progeny are acting in the way that they are.

  • The Newtype phenomenon has had a limited role in Glasslip so far, and any details about glass-blowing have been quite sparse. However, it’s still too early to really do a proper assessment of the series: the consistency of each individual episode varies more greatly than most series I’ve seen, and my past experience has included both anime with inconsistent progression that came out okay (Coppelion), or else put on powerhouse performances right up until the end (OreImo).

  • Sachi and Hiro appear to be quite separate from the love hypercube (forget the triangles and polygons that others are mentioning) that is forming. Hiro is seen altering his interests to get closer to Sachi, but from the dialogues I’ve had with people, a relationship is only sustainable if both parties are honest with one another.

  • Owing to a minor mishap during the image capture phase, I wound up with no screenshots for episode seven, and instead, have twenty images from episodes three to six. I’ve been meaning to go back through some of the older episodes to acquire some screenshots of the beautiful landscapes around Hinodehama, which, like most towns from P.A. Works, is modelled after a real-world location.

  • I’ve seen a lot of unnatural pacing with relationships, but the developing ties between Tōko and Kakeru takes the cake. Even though it feels off, I’m more tolerant of things this time around because it’s mentioned early on that Tōko and Kakeru seem to share their abilities. Gundam Unicorn‘s Banagher Links and Mineva Zabi share a similar bond because of their Newtype powers, and as such, the two get along quite well later on in the series after Banagher’s persistence in trying to help her after feeling a special connection to her after their first meeting.

  • Yukinari feels like a difficult character to sympathise with, appearing colder, distant and unwilling to open up ever since Tōko did not reciprocate his feelings. As a member of the track team, he sustained an injury prior to the series’ beginning and is currently in rehabilitation.

  • I’ve been around anime long enough to foresee that certain setups will lead to misunderstandings: after Yanagi trips here and stumbles into Kakeru’s arms, Tōko’s happenstance arrival was almost a certainty.

Insofar, Yanagi, Yukinari, Sachi and Hiro have received more exposition than do the main characters. It turns out that Yanagi is struggling to come to terms with her own feelings for Yukinari, who in turn likes Tōko but finds his feelings rejected after Kakeru arrives. Meanwhile, Hiro and Sachi slowly spend more time with each other; while Hiro initially feels like he needs to fit with Sachi, but eventually, the two become closer together. By the halfway point, Sachi’s admission to Hiro that she hates Kakeru for introducing a rift in everyone’s friendship shocks the latter, who leaves hastily. Meanwhile, Yanagi and Yukinari’s respective frustrations that their feelings are not being reciprocated lead them to vent their frustrations. Over the course of an episode, Yukinari beats down Kakeru, and after proposing a phoney race for Tōko’s heart, is slapped by Yanagi. These actions bring to bear just how much of a negative impact Kakeru has left on a group of friends that has been drifting further and further apart ever since his arrival. One can immediately sympathise with the sort of frustration that accompanies being unable to ask out someone and how one individual has, in a relatively short period of time, fractured what was previously a closely-knit group of friends. As such, both Yanagi and Yukinari’s actions come across as being quite natural; they are letting out their heart’s honest feelings about everything that has gone wrong since Kakeru arrived.

  • Quite personally, I’m not too sure what’s stopping P.A. Works from animating these scenes normally; chibi characters overlaid on top of a still seems like a cost-cutting measure rather than a feature that adds to Glasslip‘s atmospherics, and try as I might, I cannot think of any reason to do this, especially since P.A. Works is a studio known for their stunning animation and artwork quality. Moreover, Glasslip is painting itself to be a drama, not light-hearted comedy, so the chibi characters seem out of place.

  • While I’ll probably do a post on all of the beautiful landscapes around Hinodehama, I’d thought I’d include a few images of the artwork here, which is up to the standard I’ve come to expect from P.A. Works. However, graphics don’t make things right: rather like how games can look amazing and play poorly, anime can have the best animation and artwork, but still come short in entertaining the viewer.

  • Kakeru and Tōko share a moment at the former’s secret spot in the forest, a quiet place to relax under the sunbeams. To the best of my recollections, the kind of ethereal beauty associated with sunbeams streaming through a forest canopy is absent in Tari Tari, and so, that leads me to draw a most unusual comparison: if Tari Tari might be likened to Battlefield 3‘s multiplayer for setting a new standard in their respective fields, then Glasslip is roughly equivalent to Battlefield 4.

  • Under this evening shot of Hinodehama, I’ll rationalise my comparison. When Battlefield 3 came out, the multiplayer quickly garnered praise for its depth and rewarding team players, offering to players a “world-class multiplayer suite” that is the “most expansive, refined” iteration in the series. Battlefield 4, on the other hand, was less well-received, being said to have few surprises for players and plagued with bugs. For P.A. Works, Tari Tari did almost everything right, having few limitations, and like Battlefield 3, was an immensely rewarding experience. Glasslip, though having better lighting effects and animations, feels less well-polished overall, compared to Tari Tari (rather like Battlefield 4).

  • One bullet point is not sufficient to do a proper comparison, but I’m going to leave it at that and consider Yanagi’s love confession to Yukinari, which took much courage and honesty; she already knows of his feelings for Tōko but decides to go ahead anyways, noting that they can still regard each other as friends even if Yukinari does not reciprocate her feelings.

  • Hina is Tōko’s younger sister and appears to have something of a crush, along with everyone else on her swim team, on Yukinari. While I lack the screenshots here, episode seven has her pursue Yukinari on bike, proclaiming that he should stay cool.

  • Check out that soft body-based deformation: it clearly raises the bar for physics engines everywhere and puts things like the Cry Engine and Frostbite 3 to shame. Jokes aside, contrary to popular opinion about the beatdowns Kakeru receive, I find that rather than being “well-deserved”, the kind of things Kakeru are experiencing stem from his clearly unwanted intrusion into a group of friends, and his lack of tact with respect to handling them.

  • I do not think I’ve mentioned that Yanagi is an aspiring model up until this point, but now I have. I’ve also noticed that discussions (blog posts, comments about said posts and forums) about this series have been largely unfruitful, with participants being focused on minor details and losing sight of the bigger picture. While the decisions and actions that individual characters take do play a part in the series, it’s meaningless to analyse every bit of detail and declare it to be significant.

  • On my end, I’ll do as I’ve always done and do a proper assessment on how all of the pieces fit together once Glasslip is over. With due respect, the minor things that happen between the characters are only significant if they have an impact in the long run, and because Glasslip is still running, some actions will have more impact than others. I would prefer waiting until all of the pieces are on the board before deciding which decisions in Glasslip are significant, and ultimately, which ones are inconsequential.

  • For now, though, this midseason post is coming to an end, and with it, is my last mid-seasons post. My next talk on Glasslip will be a final impressions post (for better or for worse), but before I sign off, I’ll explain the page quote: this is a summary of the reactions I’ve seen to Kakeru’s doubles, as well as for some reactions that arose whenever people were watching Kakeru’s lack of tact in his conversations with Yanagi and Yukinari. With the finale set to roll in six more episodes (five, if we count tomorrow’s episode), I have no idea what will happen next, but I will note that the page quote I choose for the final reflections post will practically give away my thoughts on how Glasslip turned out as a whole.

It’s still too early to say for sure whether or not Glasslip will manage to tie things up appropriately with the time that is left in this season. If things are done properly, and Kakeru’s Newtype powers, plus his ties to Tōko are given the appropriate exposition, then viewers would be able to appreciate everything that has happened so far. Perhaps the moral might be honesty, and once Kakeru gets his intentions out into the clear, the others might begin trusting him more. Maybe the group will overcome this trial and become even closer to each other as a result. Conversely, Kakeru’s intentions might never revealed even to the viewers. His goals might simply be as superficial as capturing Tōko’s heart, regardless of how much emotional fallout occur for the others. Only time will tell, and while Glasslip has been a mixed bag insofar, things aren’t all negative. The secondary characters feel human, relatable. The music (especially the opening song, which I’ve fallen in love with) is quite good, and the artwork is astounding. I’m hoping that the second half will satisfactorily answer the questions pertaining to Kakeru and Tōko’s relationship, as well as the nature of what this Newtype phenomenon is about, and ultimately, whether or not Tōko’s friends can remain friends with one another even through this trial.

Battlefield 4- South China Sea

“Irish is a great guy, but he always gets us into these situations. I dunno…maybe I should say something. It’s tough. A unit member should never overstep what the leader decides. That’s just bad for unit cohesion. But then again, you gotta leave from for conscience, right?” — Clayton “Pac” Pakowski

Recker awakens from a nightmare and makes his way throughout the Valkyrie in search of Pac and Irish. When Recker finally finds Pac, the latter is telling Hannah the directions to the medical bay. Two Marines briefly stop Hannah at the door, but Pac quickly commands them to let her through. Hannah than tries to inspect her husband, but the doctor already with him also stops her. Hannah convinces her to assist, saying she has a medical degree. Recker and Pac continue to find Irish along the way to Garrison. They find Irish giving Chen’s daughter an apple. The trio continue, while Irish and Pac have a conversation regarding Irish’s actions in Shanghai. During their dialogue, an alarm suddenly goes off, and Tombstone rush topside, where they discover the Titan recently attacked and smoking. Captain Garrison summon Tombstone and briefs them of the situation. They are ordered them to investigate the Titan, with Kovic as the squad commander. The objective is the Titan’s voyage recorder, which survived the EMP blast and holds vital intel. Entering through a hole from a Chinese anti-ship missile, Tombstone swims through a flooded area and reach some survivors stuck under the floor in dangerously rising water. Kovic and Irish argue as to leaving or rescuing the sailors, and they reluctantly leave the sailors behind to drown. The team finally reaches the DCC and Recker retrieves voyage recorder. Chinese soldiers enter the DCC, but they are quickly dispatched. The Titan begins breaking up, and in the chaos, Tombstone manages to  commandeer a DV-15 Interceptor and ride back to the Valkyrie, fighting off enemy boats and helicopters along the way. Upon reaching the Valkyrie, they find more Chinese soldiers and repel them to reach Garrison.

  • Tombstone is sent to investigate the USS Titan after it is found damaged by Chinese anti-ship missiles. In the real world, the Chinese DF-21D (CSS-5 Mod-4) anti-ship ballistic missile is the first such missile to have reached initial operating capability as of 2010, although the Chinese report that the missile is not yet operational. Such missiles are said to represent a threat to American carrier forces: even if the missiles do not destroy a carrier, they could potentially inflict mission kills and render the carrier unable to carry out operations. Compared to maintaining a carrier task force for projecting power, the Chinese missiles are comparatively more cost-efficient and intended for self-defense, although other nations claim that the missiles could be used offensively.

  • The Chinese anti-ship missiles reach operational capacity by the time Battlefield 4 takes place in 2020. Kovic will lead this mission, and conflict most with Irish; the latter has a firm belief in never leaving anyone behind and is the most emotionally driven of the group. Here, Recker is swimming through a submerged section of the Titan to reach the Titan’s voyage recorder, and the Frostbite 3 engine shines here, giving the sense of damage the Titan has sustained.

  • The Angry Seas trailer begins here: after Recker gives the voyage recorder to Kovic, Chinese forces under Chang’s command storm the vessel and begin engaging Tombstone under the blue and red lighting. This mission features the P90, U-100 MKS and SPAS-12 as collectibles, although given that I was playing Battlefield 4 under a time limit, I did not make an attempt to find any of the extra weapons.

  • The MP412 REX is the only sidearm I had in the campaign, and typically, I choose to exchange it for a different secondary weapon. As Tombstone continues to engage the Chinese forces, the Titan suddenly begins to split in two. This moment was quite terrifying, and even though I knew that things were scripted, the sheer scale at which destruction was occurring was quite unlike anything I had seen in previous games.

  • I’ve finally got my own screenshots of the scenes from earlier trailers, bringing some sharp 1080p images to this website some eleven months after originally posting about the Angry Seas trailer and Battlefield 4‘s requirements. It is total chaos on the flight deck, and even though I’ve got the capacity to now direct Tombstone towards certain targets, the amount of hot lead filling the air is nothing to sneeze at. The SCAR-H’s smaller ammunition capacity was a liability, even though each bullet hits harder, and soon, I found myself scrounging around for a Chinese rifle.

  • I was hoping to play around with an MGL in Baku, but apparently, that was only in the trailer. However, one of the gadget crates do have them, and after I found the MGL, clearing out the deck suddenly became that much easier. Again, I found myself in awe at just how vivid everything in Battlefield 4 looks, even compared to Battlefield 3. The lighting seems to have seen the most improvement, and things just have a sharper relief.

  • I decided to give the JS-2 personal defense weapon a shot. With a high rate of fire and lower recoil, it’s an effective weapon at closer ranges, and the campaign variant is equipped with a Coyote RDS and flash suppressor. The Coyote seems to be a happy balance between the American Reflex sight and Russian Kobra sight in Battlefield 3, offering the precision afforded by the former, and the minimal obstruction of the peripheries from the latter.

  • The boat trip back to the Valkyrie was several moments of pure enjoyment: the churning seas was a curse and blessing, obstructing other boats but also providing me with cover. The 25mm cannon was more than enough to disable and sink pursuers, but a missile launcher was also included. As I neared the Valkyrie, a gunship shows up, and it took me a few attempts to blow it out of the sky.

  • There’s a crate with various anti-armour and anti-air missiles at around this point, although during the chaos of one moment, I managed to shoot down a chopper with the MGL. I subsequently got a Stinger missile and disabled the other choppers before switching to anti-armour rockets. I wish I had one of those for the Shanghai mission: it certainly would have made it a lot quicker to bring down those tanks.

  • The last section of the mission is set on the Valkyrie as Chinese boarders attempt to overrun the vessel. I alternated between issuing engagement orders and firing on targets for myself. Several helicopters arrive here, and as they remain stationary, making use of an anti-tank rocket is sufficient to bring them down without too much difficulty. This was perhaps one of the missions I enjoyed the most in the campaign, being an excellent combination of foot and vehicle combat. It helps that the graphics are as spectacular as the trailers had shown.

Known as “Angry Seas” in one of the earlier trailers, the South China Sea mission is a pleasantly long ride that takes Recker and Tombstone into a sinking aircraft carrier to retrieve some vital information, then returning to the USS Valkyrie by a heavily armed patrol boat, lighting up everything along the way, and ultimately, driving the Chinese forces off the USS Valkyrie. This mission was remarkably fun; with a fine blend of close-quarters firefights, vehicle combat and anti-air engagements, there are several moments that allow the Frostbite 3 engine to shine. The USS Titan splits in half in a moment of pure chaos, and as I fight my way across the flight deck, debris from wrecked fighter jets and boats are flying around, forming makeshift cover. The boat chase was this mission’s best moment: the seas churn unsteadily, and I have to constantly readjust my aim to sink the pursuers, even as I continue steering the boat back to the Valkyrie. Besides Baku, the South China Sea mission is probably one of my favourites, striking a fine balance between gunfights and vehicle combat. This is where Battlefield 4 shines the brightest, acting as one of the game’s most memorable missions.

Battlefield 4- Shanghai

“If your operation blows up, Chang will have all the excuse he needs to give all that anger, all that hatred, a real target. It’ll be war.” —Captain Garrison

The mission starts with Recker, Irish, and Pac driving to the Zhi Yu Towers in downtown Shanghai. They make a quick turn just before a military checkpoint and wind up driving straight through a riot. One rioter throws a rock at their vehicle, breaking the windshield and forcing the squad to proceed on foot to the tower. Once they reach the building, Pac unloads his backpack and gives both Irish and Recker UMP-45s. After reaching the sky bar, Tombstone engages in a firefight with the guards and encounter a locked door that Pac opens. Upon reaching the VIP room, Tombstone and Kovic orient each other, as well as Pac interacting with one of the VIPs. Kovic devises a plan to seize the helicopter on the tower roof. They all move out of the room, making their way further up the building. When they reach the roof, Kovic and the VIPs stay back whilst Tombstone engages the soldiers. Once all the enemy soldiers are eliminated, Recker secures the helicopter on the helipad. As Kovic gets into the pilot seat, Pac helps the VIPs in. However, one of them is shot whilst getting in. Recker joins Irish in fending off the attackers. Kovic flies off to the Valkyrie without Tombstone while they are fending off a PLA assault. After the attacking PLA are dealt with, Tombstone makes their way back down the building to the river. Along the way, the encounter Chinese armour and destroy it using mines. After hailing a boat, Chen and other civilians board alongside Tombstone. While the boat leaves the harbor, an electromagnetic pulse goes off over the Pudong. Tombstone witness a helicopter go down, and the surrounding boats come to a complete halt. Irish begins yelling at them to follow his boat to the Valkyrie.

  • Remember Battlefield 3‘s Comrades mission? The opening drive here is reminiscent of that level, except this time, it’s Shanghai, rather than Paris. One of the more noticeable bugs in this segment is how a civilian phases through the vehicle, although it seems like only I’ve seen it so far. There’s a dinosaur charm hanging off the rear-view mirror, a callback to Battlefield 3, where Captain Miller was holding a toy dinosaur. DICE included the dinosaur toy because a toy would act as a reminder that Miller also has a family.

  • This is the one point where my framerates did drop, when Admiral Chang is giving a speech on state television about the circumstances surrounding Jin Jié’s “assassination”. With the effects from the rain, water fountains below, reflections off the hotel’s facade and ground and lighting in the background, the moment is absolutely beautiful. From here on out, it’ll be fights against Chinese special forces loyal to Chang, although the run from this balcony to the hotel doesn’t seem to draw anyone’s attention

  • Irish comments that the UMPs they get are “cocktail guns”, and although it would be most faithful if I stuck to the default weapons, I promptly took advantage of the weapons crate to pick up an AK-12, since I prefer assault rifles to personal defense weapons for campaign missions, where weapons versatility is fulfilled by an assault rifle, which performs superbly from medium to long ranges. Depending on the map, a shotgun or sniper rifle then takes care of everything else.

  • Remember back in my first Deer Hunter 2014 post, I mentioned that Deer Hunter was the best way to experience the UTS-15? Now that I’ve finally tried Battlefield 4 for myself, I have some thoughts about this shotgun: despite its large magazine size, it takes longer to reload per shell than any other shotgun. It has good hip firing performance compared to the other shotguns, but otherwise, doesn’t stand out too much. In Battlefield 3, my preferred shotgun is the SPAS-12 for the multiplayer, and for the campaign, because there aren’t any weapon crates, my preferences matter less: I just use what’s available.

  • I’ve now reached the rooftops, where I fight a wave of Chinese forces before securing the helicopter. After securing the helicopter, I spent a better ten minutes looking for one remaining soldier who was still standing and thus, prevented the level from advancing.

  • For diversity’s sake, I’ve opted to use a bolt-action sniper rifle here. Now that Battlefield 4 has brought back weapon creates, I’ll always equip an assault rifle of some kind, in addition to another secondary weapon I feel best fits the mission. There are collectibles and weapons hidden throughout the campaign, like in Battlefield: Bad Company 2, but because I was on a week-long trial of the game, I only had time to go through the campaign once.

  • After things go south, Tombstone is forced back onto ground level and need to make their way to the harbour for an extraction. In the distance, the Oriental Pearl Tower can be seen. While the Pudong district is replicated with reasonable accuracy, The Bund is less accurately represented, being designed to suit the game’s mission. I was in Shanghai for the 2010 Expo four years ago; that proved to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and although I did not visit the Chinese or Japanese Pavilion, I was able to enter the Canadian Pavilion.

  • That vacation was magical, and I recall the evening our tour group reached Hangzhou. The skies were ominous as our bus drove down the Chinese freeways, past the agricultural regions into the city’s edge, where the Holiday Inn Hangzhou Xiaoshan was. Our hotel’s restaurant opened into an adjacent open-air multi-story mall; as we sat down for dinner, a massive thunderstorm rolled in, dumping torrential rain that continued throughout the entire meal and continuing even after we returned to our rooms. A Chinese Type 98 tank shows up and forces Tombstone to take cover. Lacking any ranged anti-tank weapons, the only option is to make use of the M15 AT mine.

  • I have no kills to my name as far as AT mines go in Battlefield 3, but since the tanks in this mission follow scripted paths, they’ll do just fine. To ensure that the tanks are wrecked for certain, I’ll place two mines close to one another to maximise damage. Recker can hold onto five mines at once, so there’s plenty without needing to go back and get additional explosives.

  • The QBZ-95 and other Chinese weapons perform just fine, contrary to what people were hoping to see with the Chinese weapons (i.e. jam, break down or overheat). With the mission ending, Recker is treated to a glorious view of Pudong. In my aforementioned trip, a night boat ride was a part of the tour package, and so, I had the chance to take in this sight for myself. Back then, the Shanghai Central Tower had not been built, and the Shanghai World Financial Centre was the tallest building in the city. Things change very quickly in four years, illustrating the Chinese spirit and determination for progress and prosperity.

Shanghai is the second mission in Battlefield 4, and as per its namesake, is set in Shanghai’s The Bund. The mission is a return to the old days of Battlefield 3, beginning with a conversation and car ride. However, unlike Battlefield 3‘s ride, this one is cut shorter and ends with rioters wrecking the vehicle. The mission, occuring on a rainy evening, has a very chilly, blustery feel to it, and the atmospherics reflect that, with blue hues dominating the environments. This level represents the first time I’ve played through a game set in China, and although the gameplay is nothing new, it was quite fun to roll through Shanghai to extract several VIPs central to the storyline. By this point in the game, I had several weapons unlocked; the returning weapon crates means I’m quite free to mix and match weapons. Since I was playing through the Game Time program, the amount of time I had to actually play the game was limited, and this time around, with no quick-time events causing me grief, completing the campaign was more straightforward than Battlefield 3‘s campaign. The engage option also gives a greater sense of being in a squad: by issuing a command, I can direct the squadmates to fire upon other enemies on the map, either providing me with enough covering fire to take them down myself, or else outright finishing them. There’s also the bonus of having them marked on my HUD. As the mission’s end nears, there is a segment that involves taking out Chinese armour with explosives. This segment is said to be tough, especially if one is using anti-tank mines, as the tanks follow preset paths and cannot be lured into a trap. However, it winds up being more disappointing; the preset paths and firing delay between the tanks mean placing two mines in the armour’s path is sufficient to destroy the vehicle. I would have preferred having anti-tank rockets, which would’ve made things more fun. Other than that, Battlefield 4‘s second mission was quite thrilling to play, being the only mission in the campaign to cause a minor stutter in my rig with its fancy graphics.