Spellbreak – Great Art, Concept and Gameplay Just Needs a Campaign or Enemy A.I. Leveling Option

“Spellbreak” is a game with a beautiful art style, fun gameplay and compelling concept and world where you are criminal mage put against your own as you reclaim your power. Sadly right now all there really is is the base as this is a multiplayer pvp game and that is what keeps the game from being good. I’ll get into detail more below but for now I do recommend this series if you are into fun elemental combat and multiplayer and the game is also free-to-play on Steam.

The game was developed and published by Proleteriat.

You are a mage vowbreaker, a criminal mage held captive by the vowkeepers in the Hollow Lands. You must reclaim your power.

The Pros:

The Concept and World – The idea of a bunch of trapped and exiled mages facing off against one another while investigating ancient sites guarded by robots is a lot of fun. The base for this world is cool and the art style that expresses it is distinct. This is a beautiful looking game and the stakes in the base of the game really should be expanded more in the game.

The Classes and Combat – The classes and combat are so much fun. You have elemental abilities with the classes being Pyromancer (fire), Stoneshaper (Earth), Conduit (Electricity), Toxicologist (Poison), Frostborn (Ice) and Tempest. Your character whose appearance you can customize by either buying or choosing the free available or random options have a primary gauntlet for elemental powers and a secondary one. These can be combined into special attacks as well leading into some devastating attacks. The training is even enjoyable because the combat is so fun. My favorites were Pyromancer, Toxicologist and Frostborn as primary classes.

The Gameplay – For gameplay there is the Battle Royal option where is last team or person standing and Dominion which is capture the flag where the team that wins by killing the most players while holding all the points. Both are a lot of fun, especially Dominion. The one disadvantage in these that I’ll get into below are the wait times since this is a multiplayer game. On the maps there are potions for healing, shields and items that can level up your character in the match so they can survive and recover longer. It is a lot of fun and keeps the flow of the game going as you face enemy robots and mages along with enemy teams and players, depending on the type of game you’ve chosen.

The Cons:

No Campaign or Leveling Against A.I. Options – One issue that would solve the biggest con of this game (the wait times) would be providing a campaign to playthrough. You face enemy mages and robots on maps so just create a few scenarios that individuals and players can go through. The assets are all there with the maps and they don’t have to be complicated. Just give another option besides multiplayer and flesh out the compelling world more.

The Wait Times – The wait times are the worst part of the game. Wait times can easily be 3-5 minutes for matches and more sometimes as well. This ruins the flow of gameplay as getting trapped in the queue kills interest in the game as there aren’t alternatives to waiting for enough players to start a match since it is entirely dependent on multiplayer if you don’t want to do practice, which doesn’t level your character profile or character classes.

“Spellbreak” is a fun game that I hope is given a story campaign at some point or at least story scenario. The base of the vowkeepers versus vowbreakers is a compelling plot and I want to see it expanded more. This art and combat flow together beautifully and each of the classes have distinct styles of combat that blend together well depending on the gauntlets you choose to combine. I hope future chapters will expand upon the base that is there as this could someday be a good or great game.

Final Score: 7.5 / 10 Enjoyable Just Needs a Bit More to be Good.

Top 5 Ways I’d Fix “Game of Thrones”

“Game of Thrones” did not end well. It wasn’t something that I hated but it was a show that had good to great writing and action for the first 6 seasons and in the last 2 completely forgot about consequences and any sort of logic, character development or scale. So going into that I got thinking about what I’d fix and how it could be applied to upcoming epic fantasy shows like “The Wheel of Time” or Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” show and even “The Witcher.” These 5 fixes will have the general idea behind them to apply on a broad scale and other shows as I hope those shows don’t make the same mistakes “Game of Thrones” made. There will be SPOILERS as this does cover the last 2 seasons primarily of “Game of Thrones” and major plot points.

1)  Take the Two More Seasons That Were Offered

The biggest issue that can be said in how the storylines were handled was in how the story was rushed. Benioff and Weiss had been offered two additional seasons and if they’d taken it I think a lot of the problems that the story ran into with rushed plots and action would have been minimized or prevented completely. This is the first fix and it is super easy. The show was already getting away from the books so more time will show us the consequences of what characters have done such as the Burning of Sept or the Night’s King crossing the Wall. These are huge events that needed more development rather than the rush to action or status quo that we got. What comes next? What do other Houses think? These are all things that more seasons could explore which in turn can tie into the overarching narrative being told. Other shows should take the chance to explore their story unless they already know what they are doing. Benioff and Weiss were working from an outline in the end so flesh out that outline and make it real. That is what more seasons will let you do.

2)  Winterfell Must Fall

      We need to have the White Walkers have a win to establish their threat and Winterfell falling fits this perfectly. It also gives us a reason to return to the Vale and make use of the Alliances that the surviving Starks have made. There is no reason for Winterfell not to fall. This firmly establishes the apocalyptic threat and end of the world of the White Walkers and the need for Azor Ahai which can still remain ambiguous at this point and bring more characters from around the map into the picture and would involve the other Houses. The Fall of Winterfell returns us to the scale of the conflict which the writers seemed focused on shrinking during the last 2 seasons. This for other shows means tell a story with consequence. If you set up a Chekov’s gun like the threat of the White Walkers, pull that trigger and make their existence count and matter. This is a global conflict which ties into my next feedback, never forget the scale of the story being told and all the parties involved. The fight against the White Walkers and the Night’s King should be bigger and more than a single standoff. A threat that great needs to be paid off in scale and in Houses involved in the fight against it.

3)  Involve the Other Houses

     Part of what is missing from the show in the final seasons are allies and scale. We never get House Reed, we never get the politics of more of the North against the Boltons and the Northern Conspiracy and we never see how Cersei is holding all the powers together or the fallout of the Burning of the Sept. Wouldn’t some Houses be religious and end up joining Daenerys or Jon in protest? What is the state of Dorne and their houses? What of the other bannermen of Highgarden? Bringing more of these Houses and characters in shows us the politics of how to keep and negotiate power which was always one of the strongest parts of the show but was removed in the final 2 seasons of the show. “The Game” in “Game of Thrones” was forgotten for easy victories to drive the plot.  Scale is important and the showrunners forgot it as we only had the Wall, Winterfell and King’s Landing in the end. Westeros is full of so many houses each playing the game of thrones. The early seasons remembered this and I hope the other shows do too. Make the world lived in and matter and never forget the scale of the conflict and all the parties involved.

4)  Use Bran’s Powers and Define What He Is

    Bran and what he became as the Three-Eyed Raven is never defined. He is a being that is made of the the minds of the Children of the Forest and Bloodraven. He even says he is no longer human and has warging powers. Not much needs to be done to show he’s manipulating but make it a reveal. He doesn’t have human desires or wants anymore so what is his endgame? If it is to become King and sit on the Iron Throne show that and explain the why, either in dream sequences or dialogue. This isn’t difficult. Show and tell would have easily solved the major Bran issue the show created by just having him sit around and become King at the end. He should be the one who is key to defeating the Night’s King but also the one who starts the war between Daenerys and Jon so that he can rise to power at the end of it all. Again, that plot point can still work but it needs more setup and if you introduce a character who has magic and other minds within them, do something within that. What does Bran want and what does it mean to be the Three-Eyed Raven where your desires are no longer linear and you aren’t even entirely human? Other shows with magical characters, please don’t waste them. Bran was one of the weakest parts of the show and the potential was there for so much more.

5)  Give us a “Dance of the Dragons”

We could have got a final season of Jon and Daenerys at war in a version of the Dance of the Dragons of old of Targaryen against Targaryen. Martin loves calling back to the past so this should have happened rather than Jon just being an assassin. This could have been the battle before the White Walkers or after and what leads to Bran’s rise to the throne. There was no reason not to do this, instead we just got “My Queen” and jealous Daenerys for 2 seasons straight as both characters got ruined in how they were written. This ties into consequences and conflict and one of the themes Martin loves in his stories is history repeating in different ways. Give us that conflict and make it believable as both Jon and Daenerys would have different desires on the Westeros they want to exist and that should be fleshed out well and informed by their pasts and histories. Don’t forget who the characters are or forget what the world you’ve made is built upon.

These are the five ways I’d fix “Game of Thrones.” It has been a long time since the show ended and it was fun exploring the missed potential as all the threads were there to create a complete and at the very least good ending that fit the tone of the shows and books. I wish the best for other ongoing and upcoming fantasy shows and hope they can accomplish what “Game of Thrones” could not in the end.

What If…? – Season 1, Episode 6 – “What if Killmonger Saved Tony Stark?” – The Machinations for His Revolution

“What if Killmonger saved Tony Stark?” is an interesting premise that I wish we’d seen more of the global scale of the fallout of what happens. The core story and driver of Killmonger (One of the MCU’s best villains) voiced by Michael B. Jordan is great but the episode size keeps it from being greater as it could have developed more of the plot. Still, this is another strong entry in the “What If…” series and is worth checking out.

The episode was directed by Bryan Andrews and written by Bryan Chauncey.

What if Killmonger saved Tony Stark?

SPOILERS ahead

Obadiah Stane Revealed – One of the early reveals is that Stane is an agent of the Ten Rings, which Killmonger reveals after he saves Tony in Afghanistan. This in turn leads to him becoming Tony’s number 1 and co-owner of Stark Industries.

The Death of T’Challa and Rhodey – The next major reveal is Killmonger is following his plan of liberation and revenge from “Black Panther” as he kills T’Challa and Rhodey and frames Wakanda for Rhodey’s death. He calls out Rhodey for being in the U.S. military too as he sees him as tool of the system. T’Challa’s spirit later confronts Killmonger, once again voiced by the amazing Chadwick Boseman. R.I.P.

Tony Stark vs. Killmonger – Tony figures out the betrayal and sets of the one the drones Killmonger was building with Tony on him. Killmonger wins and kills Tony. It is a great fight and you see how different their perspectives were. Tony saw orphans in the two of them while Killmonger saw the oppressive system Tony held up and supported.

Leading Wakanda to War – The final manipulation is him becoming Black Panther as Thunderbolt Ross puts Killmonger in charge of invading Wakanda with the drones which leads to Killmonger killing Klaue getting in good with the Wakandan royal family and leading them to war. It is a great arc of Killmonger’s rise to power.

Pepper Pots and Shuri Team-up – Pepper Pots always doubted Killmonger and Shuri figures out Tony and T’Challa were killed by Killmonger leading to them teaming up as Wakanda and the United States go to war.

The Cons:

Echoes of Similarity to the Film – Death of Klaeu, defeat of T’Challa and manipulating the Wakandan royal family were just like in the film so thatis the one thing bringing it down. I’d hope we would at least see more differences in the plan of Killmonger, his rise in both “Black Panther” and this “What If…?” are still both great though. The similarities wre still a little annoying.

Cliffhanger Ending – We have a war about to start and Killmonger known by Pots and T’Challa. The fading away left the story feeling unfinished which keeps me from rating it higher.

Killmonger is one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best villains and seeing his rise to power along a different path was compelling, even with the similarities to the film. I also wanted to see what the end game was. Killmonger believes in liberation so are he and Wakanda fighting the war alone? Still an amazing episode and a favorite.

Final Score: 9.4 / 10 A favorite “What If…?” episode.

Kate (2021): Solid Action But Needed to Develop the Themes and Characters Further

“Kate” is a 2021 action-thriller from Netflix that is enjoyable and flawed. It has amazing visuals, cinematography and soundtrack (given the director’s background in visual effects this makes sense) but the story and themes needed more work in order for the film to be good. Still I do recommend this as a rental.

The film was directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan and written by Umair Aleem.

The story follows Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) when after killing a Yakuza boss which is promised to be her last job from her handler Varrick (Woody Harrelson), finds she has is poisoned and has 24 hours to find the one responsible.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise – The premise is neat as Kate has 24 hours to live and is up against the Yakuza so is playing against the odds. She also killed a boss who had a child named Ani who she ends up caring for giving the film elements of “Logan” and “Gunpowder Milkshake.”

The Action – The action is great. There are very few jump cuts and great use of vibrant colors to bring out the action sequences. There is also a good array of combat with guns, knives, swords and whatever weapons are around. It brings scenes to life quickly. The cinematography and action play into each other and keep the film from ever feeling slow.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack has some great Japanese rock, incorporates synth and electronic and gives the film a dreamlike feel at times. It fits the tone of the fim well and captures the ticking clock feel of the premise. Nathan Barr did a fantastic job.

The Cinematography – Lyle Vincent’s cinematography is beautiful. Vibrant lights meet dark and illuminates the action and characters in compelling ways. It gives a surrealist feel to the characters and action which strengthens the film.

The Main Characters – I wish the main characters and their relationships are built around family and toxic dynamics versus and abuse versus being present and guiding your children. We see this in Ani and Kijima and Varrick and Kate which I’ll explore more below.

Ani and Kijima – Ani’s father is killed by Kate via Varrick who did it on orders from Kijima’s advisor Renji. Kijima speaks to Ani about Varrick’s using her and his own ego blinding him to ambition within the Yakuza. He helps Kate get revenge after and take out Renji to protect Ani. Ani rightfully feels abandoned by her family until Kijima who is her uncle and Kate, at this point all the family has left rescue her, reaffirming how they mean to her. Both Miku Martineau and Jun Kunimura do a good job as Ani and Kijima. I especially liked Kijima’s redemption and respect he forms for Kate.

Varrick and Kate – Harrleson’s Varrick is a creep who killed Kate’s parents it is implied and only cares about her as a weapon. He is why she was poisoned and she finds family in Kijima and Ani who she avenges when she finally kills Varrick when his gaslighting doesn’t work anymore. Mary Elizabeth Winstead again shows why she is an amazing action star and I’d love a Huntress show or movie since that is who she was in “Birds of Prey.”

The Cons:

Renji and Most of the Yakuza – The fight sequences with the Yakuza are fun but the majority of the people fought have nothing distinct about them. This film needed more mini-bosses for Kate to fight on her revenge quest. The “John Wick” films are one of the few action films that understand this.

Connection of the Plot Threads – We needed more setup for Renji and Varrick’s double cross. It isn’t set up at all and we are just told it. This was weak and hurt the film from being good.

Failure to Develop Themes – Colonialism is touched on as a theme by Kijima on what motivates Varrick but never developed. It is lip services and could have been more if we had got more interactions of Varrick’s plans and past. Abuse is touched upon too as Kate is a victim of Varrick and his organization but it is never directly called out or explored like the colonialist themes.

Critics hated this film but it worked enough for me to be fun and flawed. The characters work and the action, cinematography and soundtrack hold it all together. Again, this isn’t a good film but it is well worth watching on Netflix or renting if you like action films.

Final Score: 7 / 10 Flawed but enjoyable action film.

What If…? – Season 1, Episode 5 – “What if Zombies?!” – Survival and Hope

“What if Zombies?!” is one of my favorite episodes of the “What If…?” series so far. This episode has a great threat in infected heroes and villains and a compelling narrative in what drives our survivors forward. This is a good example of how to do the zombie cliches right and I want to read the comic this is based on now. I highly recommend this episode.

The episode was directed by Bryan Andrews and written by Matthew Chauncey.

What if the Marvel Cinematic Universe was infected with a zombie outbreak?

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Action – The action is great as you get slowed down infected Avengers as well as zombie hordes. The undead heroes can remember their abilities so t makes the action high at all times and leaves our survivors racing against time.

The Beginning – Hope wanted to find her mom and Hank wanted to find his wife but she was infected. We get this story laid out to us when Banner returns as this is the beginning of “Infinity War.” The Obsidian Order folks quickly fall to the infected avengers who Hope (Wasp) saves Banner. Hulk is still refusing to come out too.

The Survivors – We have Hope, Kurt, Happy, Spiderman, Okoye, Cloke, Bucky, Sharon Carter and Banner and after Spiderman gives them fun intros on their zombie apocalypse specialties we have them traveling to a Secret Lab where there might be a cure. On the way there we lose Sharon to Zombie Cap, Happy to Zombie Hawkeye Hope who carries the remaining survivors to the base after she’s infected by Sharon. Every action scene has loss and the heroes have great chemistry with each other and once we reach the base we lose more while gaining new survivors in Scott Lang and T’Challa.

Wanda and Vision – Wanda is infected and Vision is feeding her survivors as he wasn’t able to cure her with the mindstone as he could Scott. When the survivors figure it out they are able to convince him to help though and he sacrifices himself, giving them the mindstone to find a cure. Wanda is easily the most deadly of all the infected and even Banner going Hulk is fighting an uphill battle in his sacrifice.

The Sacrifices – All but T’Challa, Spiderman and Scott are dead or implied to be dead but it is from those who protected them. It is powerful and each survivor has a moment to shine before facing the horde or dying. They are powerfully done.

The Haunting End – We got infected Thanos outside Wakanda (where the cure is to be made) and he has 4 stones. There is hope but Thanos and his army being cured with most Avengers dead is an out of the frying pan into the fire situation.

The Cons:

Scott Lang – He makes nothing but quips and bad jokes about being a head. I wish another character had been saved. He’s really annoying.

Cliffhanger Ending – Thanos waiting in the wings and the 3 survivors with Cloak arrive in Wakanda. The story feels incomplete with that level of a clifffhanger so I hope we get follow-up.

If you like zombie films and shows and the MCU films you will probably enjoy this episode as much as I did. It is well worth checking out and is one of the best of the “What If…?” episodes so far. This was a favorite for me and I’m curious if the story will be completed in the show. I can’t wait to read Marvel Zombies as this episode sold me on the concept.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Zone 414 (2021): Bad Cinematography and Direction Make a Film Unable to Rise Beyond Cliches

“Zone 414” is one of the worst films I have seen this year. This film has ugly cinematography and direction and the writing never gets beyond the cyberpunk cliches with any of the characters. It is really only the performances from the leads that keep me from rating it lower as they are clearly doing their best.

The film was directed by Andrew Baird and written by Bryan Edward Will.

The story follows P.I. David Carmichael (Guy Pearce) as he investigates the dissaperance of Marlon Veidt’s (Travis Fimmel) daughter into Zone 414, the city of robots.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Idea of Zone 414 – The idea of a city of robots that the rich buy into so it exists as a fantasy realm is compelling. Especially as we see the A.I. have feelings and sentience but it is never recognized or viewed as a threat if it is. We should have got the story from the A.I. perspective and a rebellion in Zone 414.

David and Jane – Guy Pearce as David and Matlida Lutz as Jane (the first A.I. in Zone 414) provide another interesting idea as Jane feels and wants to be human while David denies his own humanity until he faces it when Jane helps him face his past and guilt. This core arc and drama worked but everything with the Veidts did not.

The Cons:

The Cinematography – The cinematography is ugly. The film is dark and grey so it is hard to see scenes and it jumps between security footage that looks grainy and terrible. I get it was going for Zone 414 is a prison for the robots by doing this but there is no vision. It is just drab and ugly presentation. This is the worst looking film I have seen in a long time.

The Veidt Brothers – You have Marlon the CEO of Veidt who is a creep surrounded by robots and his brother and his brother Joseph who only has one character trait in that he hates his brother so does it by killing robots, Marlon’s daughter and harassing Jane. These one-dimensional baddies are so poorly written that they bring down the story given how core they are to the plot.

Sentience Unexplored – The idea of sentience is talked about but never explored. This film wants to be “Blade Runner” but never gets beyond lip service to the ideas. There are no layers to any of the characters and everything is told and surface.

This is a film I don’t recommend seeing. I am a cyberpunk fan but it is surprisingly difficult to tell good stories in that film genre for whatever reason. This story had potential and if the A.I. of Zone 414 had truly been explored and been front and center to the plot it could have been more than the poorly executed cliches of this film.

Final Score: 4 / 10

Captain Benjamin Sisko – An Exploration of Why He is My Favorite Captain in “Star Trek”

Captain Sisko is my favorite captain in all of “Star Trek.” This is a character who has an amazing character arc, is a father, mentor, friend, Emissary and starfleet Captain navigating a pre-war Starfleet and Starfleet at War against both the Klingons and later the Dominion. All these aspects and more defined him as he was one of the Captains honest about humanity’s history of oppression (specifically the United States’s history where his family is from) and it informed his decisions and how he always tried to act with justice in every situation and grew over the course of the show. I’ll explore these aspects more below and am so grateful to Avery Brooks for bringing this amazing character to screen.

Also this will contain SPOILERS for the entire run of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”

Father and Mentor – One of the defining aspects of Benjamin Sisko from the very first episode of “Deep Space Nine” is his role as a father and mentor. We see him raising Jake as single father and how he supports Jake as he eventually becomes a Federation journalist. He is also mentor to countless members of the crew with the standout being example Jake’s Ferengi friend Nog. He is the one who helps guide Nog to the reasons he wants to join Starfleet and after supports him as he continues to rise in the ranks after the Academy (and he is the one to write Nog’s recommendation to the Academy). This role he plays as father and mentor is demonstrated in the time he makes for people to get to know them or simply to be with them, like with his son and the many adventures they have over the course of the show. He is truly a great example of both roles in fiction as a whole.

Captain – Benjamin Sisko begins as a Commander of Deep Space Nine but is eventually made Captain over the course of the show and given a ship with a cloak known as the Defiant. It is fascinating to see how he gets there as he has to navigate the politics around Bajor, Cardassia and those like the Dominion in the Delta Quadrant. Major Kira his second-in-command and representative for Bajor wants him gone initially but comes to respect him for the choices he makes as a leader. It is his leadership as Captain that really stands out as he guides his crew through both the Klingon and Dominion Wars and navigates Starfleets relationship to the many groups in the region. His perspective evolves over time too as he is at first hostile to the Maquis but especially due to a personal betrayal when his security officer Eddington joins them but comes to see their perspective both through his later wife Cassidy Yates and in Eddington’s last stand to save his people from the Jem’Hadar and Dominion who have come to wipe them out. He also becomes more ruthless in many ways too as he lives with a lie and actions he helped create to pull the Romulans into the war and break their neutrality because he was tired from all the friends and people who had been lost. He also didn’t give the cure to the Founders for their illness, agreeing with Starfleet to withhold it while the conflict was still in full swing. While at the same time he was a big part of keeping the peace between the Romulans and Klingons who hated one another and prior to the Dominion War preventing some Starfleet Admirals from overthrowing the Federation government. He was a Captain who made a lot of difficult decisions but made the time to get to know his crew and his friendship with those like Jazdia were some of the deepest on the show. It was Benjamin’s being there for his crew and accepting the weight of his decisions while before war always attempting to keep the peace which is a big reason I respected his time as one. He also had to navigate his role as a Starfleet captain while being a representative to the prophets/wormhole aliens and what that meant to Bajor and his role as Emissary.

Emissary – The role of the Emissary added a level of complication to the life of Benjamin Sisko that he never asked for. He was considering resigning from Starfleet until the Wormhole Aliens/Prophets force him to confront his trauma from the death of his wife at the Battle of Wolf 359 from the Borg. This healing begins here though and through this role as Emissary we see him navigate Bajor’s politics and religion. This leads to him coming in conflict with Kai Winn at times who was only after power and saw him and the Federation as a threat against her’s being checked but also it lead to him going against the Federation as he keeps them from joining on the Prophet’s prompting when they predict it will only lead to more sorrow for Bajor if the Dominion sees them as a threat. He learns his mother was one of the Prophets which also changes his relationship to them and his role and relationship to Bajor, a planet he comes to know as home. Eventually his role comes to a head when his enemy and former occupier of Bajor Dukat becomes the Emissary for the Pah-Wraiths (The aliens who were trapped by the Prophets and seek only destruction) as after the Dominion War he stops them from destroying the galaxy, and is taken by the Prophets in the process. Seeing him navigate this role and teach as well as learn from the Prophets was a compelling aspect of his character and a fitting end too given his conversation with them in the pilot of the show.

Confronting History – One of the great things we see Benjamin Sisko do through the show is confront humanity and specifically the United States’s racist and classist history. We see this in “Past Tense” when he takes on the role of Gabriel Bell leading to the Bell riots and class and homelessness reform and later as Benny Russell a 1950’s sci. fi. write who is writing “Deep Space Nine” and the story of Captain Sisko. The racism and oppression of then is confronted showing it still living in the structural racism and racism against African-Americans and people of color in the present and Sisko calls that to account with Vic Fontaine’s holo-program’s era and setting and from that the racism that must always be confronted and faced to be changed. Sisko’s fight against racism, injustice, class and discrimination is just as relevant as it was when it first aired. It matters.

Loss and Sacrifice – The final aspects that I’ll be exploring that make Benjamin Sisko so dynamic are his sacrifice and the losses he experiences. We see how the loss of his wife in Wolf 359 defined him and eventually shaped his choosing to become commander on the station. We see the loss of Jazdia reaffirm his role as Emissary and reconnect with his family and their history. We also see how the loss of people hardened him too given his not letting Odo heal the Founders until the Dominion War is over and his lies and actions to bring the Romulans into the war against the Dominion. Loss hardened him but did not remove his love and empathy as he marries Cassidy Yates and even has a son with her though even that he loses in the end as when the Prophets saved him after he stopped Dukat and the Pah-Wraiths I don’t think he was corporeal anymore as the Prophets aren’t and they saved him. He was like them so the Benjamin Sisko who was died to save the galaxy. It is a powerful and fitting story for the greatest of captains.

All these aspects lead to the dynamic character that is Captain Benjamin Sisko. Out of all the Captains in Starfleet how much I like them compared to Captain Sisko isn’t even close and I think his final sacrifice fits the character and the story with Dukat and the Prophets that began in the pilot. Benjamin Sisko is such a dynamic character and even this can’t give the character justice but it is my small way of exploring, explaining and honoring why he is my favorite captain in “Star Trek.”

Top 5 Favorite Factions in “Star Trek”

We continue “Star Trek Week” with my Top 5 Favorite Factions in “Star Trek.” In this case I’m taking factions beyond just government though government is listed and not just specific species either as some of these factions contain multiple species within them. I’m also counting factions that allied with others seperatley like The Cardassian Union and Breen Confederacy in regards to the Dominion as they were allies but still function as their own government and group within the Dominion.

First honorable mentions to The Federation, Cardassian Union, Tholian Assembly, Vidiians, and Hirogen all of whom are interesting and have compelling members within them but weren’t enough to make the list as far are my interest goes.

Also talking about these factions will contain SPOILERS related to said factions.

So without further ado here they are:

5) The Klingon Empire

I was torn between whether the Klingons and the Klingon Empire should be 4th or 5th on the list. Their honor driven culture and politics are fascinating but they also lack the dynamism and mystery of the others on the list. The Klingon Empire seems to always be at war as it is in battle honor is won and this has made peace treaties difficult or not long lasting as the Klingons went to war against the Federation for helping the Cardassian leaders escape during the Klingon-Cardassian War. This makes them complicated allies as the easiest path to honor in Klingon culture is war, which Gowron knew all to well and used to keep power as Chancellor through both “The Next Generation” and “Deep Space Nine.” This war does have a cost though and so far the series hasn’t shown us an alternate path beyond war for this warrior people. Worf as diplomat might help but it is no garauntee as his adopted father Chancellor Martok is very much defined by war as his rise came as a General and at the end of the Dominion War failed to see the tragedy in all the dead on Cardassia. I’m curious to see where their story goes next with Martok and Worf shaping their people moving forward and if a post-war Klingon Empire will be found.

4) The Borg Collective

I’m not a fan of the Borg Queen as the Borg were always most interesting as a Collective will assimilating and adapting because of the multiple minds as one not driven by a single ego. I do think she can still work though and she was shown to be good in “First Contact” and “Dark Frontier Parts 1 and 2.” The big question is where are the Borg now? Are they defeated or have they adapted and chosen a new Queen to lead after the failures of the ones in “Unimatrix Zero Part 1 and 2” and “Endgame” on “Voyager.” I think they can as the limits of beings and technology is vast as is the Borg power in the Delta Quadrant. They are constantly consuming, adapting and assimilating and it makes them a terror even with a flawed ego at the helm of the Collective. We see how much they’ve incorporated into them as they continue to assimilate across the universe and I’m intrigued to see what plan they will have next and what their next form in adaptation will be. They are one of the most alien factions and it makes them fascinating and I’m curious to see what stories come next.

3) The Breen Confederacy

The Breen are one of the factions who are filled with the most mystery while remaining active on the galactic stage. We don’t know why they wear their suits as Weyoun says their worlds are habitable and Confederacy implies an alliance among them in a way which is interesting as after they join the Dominion 2 different leaders are leading one after the other. Was the past one killed or defeated in some way? We see how ruthless they are with their dissipator technology and attack on San Francisco and in each appearance they are shown to be one of the more physically powerful of the aliens in “Star Trek.” I’m curious to see what we learn next. I love their ship designs and how independent they functioned within the Dominion, even going over Weyoun’s head to ask worlds of the Founders. They don’t care and everyone fears them. Can’t wait to see where their story goes.

2) The Dominion

The Dominion are interesting as they are founded by changelings who fear solids after how they were hunted who are spoken for by the Female Changeling. This lead them to shape the members who they could control making loyal soldiers in the Jem’Hadar addicted to Ketracel-white and the Vorta their kind face to put to the worlds they conquer and to govern over their domains with the most iconic being those of the Weyouns. Their military machine is unstoppable and their infiltration of governments weakens the Alpha Quadrant powers before the armies even arrive from the Gamma Quadrant. The stories around the Dominion and how they relate to the Alpha Quadrant powers eventually leads to the best story arc in “Star Trek” in the Dominion War arc. Now with the war over I’m hoping we get more stories as I’m curious how Odo rejoining the Founders may have changed their perspective or how they might have changed him. I can’t wait to see what stories come next from this fascinating faction.

1)The Romulan Star Empire

The Romulans have been the most interesting faction since their first appearance in “Balance of Terror” in “The Original Series.” This is a people who have clashes between the civilian government of the senate, the military and the Tal Shiar who also aren’t a unified force. All groups are united though in believing they fight for the Romulan people. This has lead to some great espionage plots over the course of the show and the Romulans being an offshoot of Vulcans adds even more depth as their passion contrasts with the dispassionate Vulcans. The Romulans are usually potrayed as powerful without being stupid. They are also cautious too which is one reason they’ve probably held onto their territory for so long. They never had the most iconic of individual villains but as a faction I’ve always loved seeing their stories play out and the power plays they make in different regions. I can’t wait to see more as well and where the Romulan story is taken fully after the Romulan Supernova and all we learned in “Picard.” I want more Romulan characters and more of their independent desires and plans as they are and continue to be my favorite faction in “Star Trek” as a whole.

Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force – Good Base Campaign But No Elevated Story Elements

“Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force” is a good first-person shooter and a great bit of expanded lore for “Star Trek: Voyager.” If you like either of these things I would recommend the game as I am a “Voyager” and really enjoy sci. fi. FPS games and this is a solid example of a game in the genre.

The game was developed by Raven Software, Aspyr Media and Pipe Dream Interactive and published by Activision and Majesco Entertainment.

The story follows the Hazard Team who investigate the Starship graveyard that Voyager was pulled into as they make repairs while facing other hostile trapped factions.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise – Like the episode of “Voyager” called “The Void” this follows a similar premise as Voyager is trapped and must investigate how to get out while making repairs and facing threats. Voyager in these situations in the show were when the story shined and that is on display here but with the Hazard Team giving us a new and unique perspective to solving the problem.

The Gameplay – The gameplay is fun as there are a good range of weapons and enemies that have certain vulnerabilities or who can adapt to everything you have like the Borg do. It keeps the 30 levels interesting and the multiplayer is fun too where you can choose classic aliens like Klingons, Romulans and Borg to play as but also ones from “Voyager” like the Hirogen.

The Borg – The Borg are the best enemy in this as we face them in the holodeck training program and later they assimilate a member of your team when you are competing with them for the limited resources in the Starship Graveyard. There is no Queen and they remain in collective mode too as Seven of Nine is your main crewmember who joins you to fight them. All the Borg levels were great.

The Main Crew – We see Captain Janeway, Tuvok, Torres and Seven of Nine with their chances to shine in combat and negotiation. They are a constant presence and part of fixing the problems. They also have their original actors voicing them which adds so much to the game.

The Hazard Team – The Hazard Team is a fun group who you sadly end up losing members of the team as the game progresses. It is through the Hazard Team’s eyes so you experience the loss first hand as they are your team. This was a smart story move.

The Cons:

The Etherian Levels – These levels were annoying as they are a constant threat and when you can finally talk it was all a misunderstanding, but given how much damage you cause the peace didn’t feel believable. I liked the idea of this species but the execution of getting to peace and them becoming allies after all the Hazard Team did didn’t make sense.

The Vohrsoth – The Vohrsoth are taking DNA through the universe to make an army to conquer. The genestealer idea is neat but they end up being just big dumb monsters. Like the Etherians, a great idea extremely poorly executed. It did feel rewarding defeating their leader in the Forge though. It is a fun fight.

“Star Trek: Voyager” was such a good show. Even if it isn’t my favorite “Star Trek” it is still one of the shows I always return to. This game captures some of the best aspects of the show and it was a game I beat multiple times growing up. It is a good game that I recommend and I hope it gets released on Steam and Gog.com.

8.3 / 10

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Season 6, Episode 26 – “Tears of the Prophets” – Bittersweet Victories and Tackling Purpose

“Star Trek Week” continues with “Tears of the Prophets.” “Tears of the Prophets” is a great episode but not a favorite. This is a story with some great ideas and consequences but doesn’t fully explore what those exactly are. This is in Season 6 so the Dominion War is in full swing so we see what cost the war is having on our characters. Both the heroes and villains have moments to shine and the action is fantastic and an episode I recommend.

The episode was directed by Allan Kroeker and written by Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler.

The Federation has an opportunity to turn the tide in the Dominion War but the choice to do so may lead to unintended consequences in the War.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Premise – The idea of a chance for a great victory for the Federation but at a cost both known and unknown is compelling. We are deep in the war and the episode doesn’t shy away from that.

The Action – The action in Chin’toka against the Dominion fleet and Cardassian orbital weapons platforms are great. We see so many ships destroyed and victory is won through intelligence and outsmarting the weapon platforms. The united fleet is shown to be needed too as Klingons, Romulans and Federation all lose ships in the battle to win.

The Defiant Crew – We got Garak onboard who expresses that not everyday one can liberate one’s own homeland. He also finds the vulnerability to the platforms as Nog is at the helm and O’Brien is the ones ro come up with the plan to trick the weapons platforms to destroy their own power source as Major Kira leads after Captain Sisko needs to leave the battle. The crew are all fantastic and Captain Sisko is great at leading the initial battle.

Weyoun and Damar – Combs’s Weyoun and Biggs’s Damar continue to be two of my favorite characters on the show and it was fun to see them in action this episode. We see Weyoun doubts about the Cardassians as allies (they were losing to the Klingons and had lost to the Federation in an earlier war so that should have always been there to some degree I’m guessing). I loved Damar doubting the Founders and continuing to try and show-up Weyoun who was consistently trying to find reasons to put him down. They really have a great dynamic and I love where their story ends up.

The Federation Alliance – We have Senator Letant and the Romulan Star Empire as the cautious party that is needed to win, General Martok who is reckless and Admiral Ross and Captain Sisko as the middle perspective of the need to win against the Dominion to stop their production of ships and soldiers. The Alliance politics are handled well and I like how Letant and Martok both get the chance to throw in some good barbs against each other as the Klingons and Romulans really do hate each other.

Gul Dukat – Alaimo continues to be amazing as Dukat as after “Waltz” he has become a Pah-Wraith cultist seeing them as his way to destroy Bajor and Captain Sisko. He clearly wielded influence still too as Weyoun and Damar both agreed to help him get the artifact and Damar still believes in him to some degree as you see Dukat as his mentor still meant something. He is very much a villain but it was the Pah-Wraith who wanted Jazdia dead not Dukat, which was an interesting touch and showed Dukat still was complex.

Jazdia Dax – This is Jazdia’s last episode and in this she has so much hope before here death as she learns her and Worf can have kids together. It is so sad that she dies and Terry Farrell owned this character so well. She captured her brains, caring, passion and drive so well and I like that Jazdia got moments with her friends through the episode before a Pah-Wraith possessed Dukat killed her. Dax does still live on though as Dr. Bashir does save the symbiont.

Captain Sisko – Avery Brooks plays a Captain conflicted so well as in this the Prophets warn him not to lead the mission to take Chin’toka. In the end he does after Admiral Ross forces him to choose though as we learn he’d been covering for Sisko being both Emissary and Starfleet Captain. Jazdia’s death breaks him though as he takes his baseball and leaves to his father’s restaurant on Earth as the Prophets have gone silent and he sees himself as the reason why.

The Cons:

Lovesick Quark and Dr. Bashir – I thought they were over this and good with being her friend. This is a writing cliche I hate and I didn’t like seeing Quark and Dr. Bashir being so immature. The hologram lounge singer Vic Fontaine was right to call them out for being clueless in the episode.

The Powerplay of the Pah-Wraiths – So Jazdia died and the Orbs stopped communicating with the Bajorans. I get this should feel bigger but it doesn’t given we just saw the Federation Alliance get deep into Cardassian and Dominion Space from the victory Captain Sisko was around for. For this reason they needed more of a win as they’ve done a lot less than the Prophets.

This is a great and flawed episode and one I highly recommend. This is the final of Season 6 and it has to accomplish a lot, most of what it does. It is really only the lovesickness plot and the Pah-Wraith consequence needing to be more that hold it back from being a favorite episode. “Deep Space Nine” is one of my favorite shows and the ideas and conflicts in this episode are a big reason why that is.

Final Score: 9 / 10 If Dr. Bashir and Quark had not been annoyingly lovesick and the Pah-Wraiths victory had done more this could have been a favorite episode. Still a great episode though.