Character Spotlight – Kotal Kahn

Just the facts –

Kotal Kahn
Silver Tier
Faction: Outworld
Passive: Bloodthirsty – +15% attack boost for outworld teammates
Attacks:
1 – Blood Offering
2 – Sunstone
3 – God Ray

470 Attack
460 Health
410 Toughness
400 Recovery
100% Power Gen

Cost: 50,000 Koins
Found In: Kard Pack

IMG_0207What’s it all mean?
Kotal Kahn’s passive essentially gives a 15% attack boost to his Outworld teammates..

His first special is a damage buff that also does light damage when activated.

Kotal Kahn’s second special is actually a decent attack that can stun. His third special, if you can get it charged, is a powerful and impressive to watch ray of energy called from the sky that will weaken the opponent if they survive.

What’s good about him?
Kotal Kahn has decent attacks and is a solid middle tier silver card. Sunstone can stun which is always useful and is also a powerful attack.

What’s the downside?
Where to begin? Kotal Kahn is slow. Possibly the slowest character of the game. Blood Offerring is even less useful at the silver tier than it is at the gold. It dissipates quickly and does very little damage directly. While God Ray is an impressive attack it takes too long to charge up.

Overall?
Kotal Kahn may be useful for building an Outworld team, especially if you have other silver characters. His passive is decent for his tier and his stats aren’t bad. However, he lacks an effective special attack 1 and his low speed can leave him vulnerable.

Site update in the works

So I did get the Character Spotlights page updated and in the beginnings of a reformat. Over the next few weeks I will be swapping out the character images. I realized that trying to get the base card image for everyone is going to be next to impossible. So the page might look a little “off” but it will be up-to-date.

Also, I am listing upcoming characters on that page and the order they will be tackled in.

I hope everyone enjoyed the Saturday and Sunday posts. More of those to come.

Sunday Gun Day! The M1 Carbine

Note: Due to how long ago I fired this weapon, the below picture is merely an example and not the actual firearm used.

m1carbineOne of my biggest firearm regrets is passing up the opportunity to buy one of these nifty little rifles in college. Back then you could easily find used models in good repair for $200 to $300. Now you’re lucky to find anything around $700.

I first shot one of these way back when I was in middle school. A buddy of mine had a father, Mike, who served as a Green Beret in Vietnam. That guy had an entire collection of various surplus weapons from battle rifles dating back to World War I to what appeared to be an authentic Chinese Type 56, their version of the AK rifle. He took us to the range one weekend and this was one of the weapons he took with us.

Prior to that day my only firearms experience had been with .22 rifles. The rifle range had targets set up for 200, 500, and 1000 yards. The M1 Carbine originally had a reputation for inaccuracy, but mostly that was compared to the longer-ranged M1 Garand. On it’s own, the M1 Carbine’s .30 caliber round actually does just fine at 200 and 500 yards, speaking as someone who was a relative newbie to firing centerfire rifles at the time. Mike Jr. and I got competitive, trying to hit targets at 1000 yards towards the end. I managed to get one hit, he had several. It’s not a long range rifle and not designed to be one, but it does seem plenty accurate to me.

Having never owned one I won’t go into a full blown review and I’m mostly using my 30 year old recollection of shooting this firearm. It left quite an impression on me. Recoil, to a 13 year old, didn’t seem that bad. It’s stout but I’ve fired many rifles with a harder kick than this. The M1 Carbine was designed to be light and handy for its era, and I think it still is today.

This is still one of my favorite weapons and some day when I have the means I intend to buy one for myself. God Bless Mike for taking myself and Mike Jr. to the range that day. Sadly, Mike has since passed from this world but he was a heckuva guy and a legitimate badass.

I Rank Everything – The Fast and the Furious film franchise

I’m going to start out this series with a film series I just recently completed. I’m ignoring the web spin-offs for now and just focusing on the feature films.

In general I find these films to be great “popcorn flicks”. They don’t require a lot mentally and usually bring some decent entertainment value depending on which film in the series.

#7 – 2 Fast 2 Furious
Overall Assessment – Barely Watchable
I talk about turning off suspension of disbelief but really all I can do is crank it down. I have setting I call “Comic Book Physics”. That’s a pretty low standard. 2 Fast 2 Furious required a greater suspension of disbelief than comic book physics. I’d say it insulted my intelligence if I wasn’t already voluntarily watching a movie called “2 Fast 2 Furious”. These are not movies you watch for the acting, but I do enjoy cars. Except the two “Hero Cars” are just downright gaudy, as if the paint scheme and decals in the original movie were just too subtle. This is such an obvious desperate cash-in from the original that I’m surprised it didn’t kill the franchise. The lack of Vin Diesel’s presence is just glaringly obvious. Trying to have Paul Walker carry this movie is a huge mistake.

From a car guy perspective there are just too many things wrong with the movie. The best car in the movie is shown at the beginning and then gone. What the protagonists use for the remainder are not even close to as powerful or capable. The car races make even less sense than the original movie as well. There is a race against a pair of muscle cars that should have been an easy win for the protagonists. The movie does a very convincing job of making you believe the heroes are not that capable as drivers considering what they find difficult.

Interestingly, you could pretty much skip this movie and it wouldn’t have much impact on the rest of the films. Sure, they introduce a couple of characters who appear in later films, but they cover everything you need to know about them in those films. As though the filmmakers have realized what a mess of a film they had on their hands and decided to basically reintroduce those characters.

Favorite Moment: The opening introduction with the Nissan Skyline was awesome
Worst Moment: The muscle car race.

#6 – Fast and Furious
Overall Assessment – Passable
I vacillate whether this should be “Passable” or “Barely Watchable”. The idea is nice, bringing back the original cast of the first movie. In some ways it is a reboot, giving characters some new traits they didn’t have before to better define them. However, I would not say new car preferences is characterization. One in particular is now Dom appears to prefer American Muscle even though when we were first introduced he was driving a Mazda RX-7 and we last saw him driving off in a Toyota Supra. The plot really goes nowhere, it is a series of set pieces. The races rely way too much on CGI as well, which really detracts from the movie.

For a movie about cars, it really goes nowhere, and then it is over. I’m surprised this attempt to refresh the series didn’t end it. Then again, if you can continue to make films after 2 Fast 2 Furious then it probably takes more than this lukewarm mash-up of a film to sink a series.

Favorite Moment: The first face off race between Vin Diesal and Paul Walker.
Worst Moment: The tunnel sequence was some horrid CGI.

#5 – Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Overall Assessment – Passable
That’s right, I am claiming that the film most people consider the most pointless in the franchise is not actually the worst film. Honestly, if you ignore the film series this is a halfway decent “fish out of water” story that also happens to involve fast cars. We get into the usual problems though. Lack of logic, plotholes, and situations that flat out do not make any sense.

The two most glaring examples, which are problematic because the entire movie is based on these situations, is that the main protagonist is working for someone else after trashing one of his cars and then there is the classic desireable female who is dating the biggest jerk on the planet. For the first, what doesn’t make any sense is how the protagonist is even paying back the guy whose car he utterly trashed. He seems to be doing more damage and costing more money than he could possibly be earning for his new “employer”. For the second, I realize the hot babe/love interest initially being paired off with a jerk is a standard trope. However, in this case the jerk/antagonist has absolutely no redeeming qualities. The love interest is not Japanese and is as much a fish out of water as the protagonist, she’s just been there longer. I guess the antagonist/jerk is rich? That seems to be all he has going for him, except the love interest doesn’t seem to care about that. Why is she with him again? How is this a conflict? It just doesn’t work.

There are also tons of plot contrivances that seem to be explained away as “Because it’s in the script!” moments, including the entire final race and what is at stake. This is a movie watched with a heavy suspension of disbelief and an appreciation for Japanese automobiles. I found myself liking the protagonist in spite of myself. However, because he was not in any of the other movies I think it turned audiences against him.

Favorite Moment: Honestly, the opening race is a pretty good scene and funny.
Worst Moment: The bastard child of a classic Mustang and a Skyline. Why? Just why?

#4 – The Fast and the Furious 6
Overall Assessment – Entertaining
I think a lot more thought went into this movie and as an action thriller it does ok. It gives away its plot twist earlier than I think the filmmakers realize so when it happens I wasn’t surprised. In fact, I wondered why it didn’t happen sooner and almost thought it was TOO obvious and I was reading too much into the movie. Nope. Spot on. Fast Five was a tough act to follow so it’s not surprising that this film falls short, but it’s needlessly silly and aggressively stupid. There are physics on display in this movie that make 2 Fast 2 Furious seem realistic by comparison.

You’ve seen the previews so I’m not giving anything away but the tank chase is sillier than it is suspenseful. You just know the heroes are going to stop it somehow, so there isn’t much at stake. The movie also relies on a lot of internal silliness. They are stopped by electronic gizmos so they switch to older cars that the gizmos can’t affect, except we never see the gizmos again. Not even a throwaway line by the bad guys about how the cars they’ve switched to don’t have electronics. The good guys specialized knowledge of cars makes them more effective than an elite international law enforcement team, just because they understand cars? I about choked on my popcorn that these former petty criminals were able to out-investigate the pros. Really? In the age of the Internet? Then, even though I understand the movie contrivance that says the good guy drivers need to square off against the bad guy drivers, but then the good guys show up woefully unprepared. Why were they all not carrying at least one law enforcement type with them. I know, I know. “It’s in the script!”

The entire movie is like this. Much like 2 Fast 2 Furious, the plot is merely a vehicle to get to the action sequences and car chases. All of which are well done, but there is way too much goofiness going on and it’s distracting. What sets this apart is that the filmmakers at least take the entertainment value seriously and so it’s a good popcorn flick while 2 Fast 2 Furious was just a blatant cash-in.

Favorite Moment: The airplane brawl was actually pretty cool.
Worst Moment: The aerial rescue of Letty was just too dumb for words. Physics were offended and physics don’t even have feelings!

#3 – Furious 7
Overall Assessment – Entertaining
At this point the film series has effectively established a formula. While Fast Five changed the tone, both 6 and 7 seem to be almost action movies with 7 being more of a revenge thriller where 6 was more of a straight-up action movie. Still, what has made the movies interesting since Fast Five is seeing iconic actors squaring off against each other. Who wasn’t excited at seeing Jason Statham as the primary villian? The fight between him and The Rock was simply awesome.

While there is plenty of illogical moments in the script I will give it props for dialing down the aggresive stupidity somewhat. Sure, there is a multi-building car jumping scene that may well take the cake for “least realistic moment in the series” but other than that they put a little more thought into this movie. Plus the send-off for Paul Walker’s character and the tribute to him as an actor in the series was touching and surprisingly tasteful.

Favorite Moment: The send off to Paul Walker
Worst Moment: The aforementioned jump between skyscrapers.

#2 – The Fast and the Furious
Overall Assessment – Guilty Pleasure
There are not many film series or franchises where the first film doesn’t hold the top spot. After all, you need the first film to establish the foundation for everything else. That said, I just can’t do it. The original movie was a straight up guilty pleasure that shone the spotlight on street racing culture of the time and combining it with a crime thriller to fill out the movie. A formula that was revisited for the second and fourth films as well.

The Fast and the Furious set up the ongoing reliance on “Because it’s in the script!” moments that had no basis in reality. We still had plenty of races and chases to keep us occupied, with the occasional gunplay thrown in for good measure. Vin Diesel really is the star of the show, alongside the many cars he appears with or in, but when he disappears from the franchise for two films it really hurts.

Favorite Moment: The final drag race and watching a Dodge Charger pop a wheelie.
Worst Moment: A drag race between a S2000 and a Jetta. Did they really think that was going to go any other way?

#1 – Fast Five
Overall Assessment – Guilty Pleasure
I almost hate to put this first but this really is a moment in the film series where someone got smart and said “Let’s keep the core concept but make everything else different!” Unlike some of the past films where criminal enterprise was something to keep our interest alongside the street racing, Fast Five is a straight-up heist movie. This is also a movie that bends the laws of physics in new and creative ways. Car guys, forget everything you know about traction, horsepower, and handling. This is not a car movie per se, it is just a movie where cars are the tool of choice.

Big props to tying in characters from all of the previous films and setting them up to stand on their own without having to know much about previous films. That is the reason this film works so well and surpasses the original. No prior knowledge is needed. Also, Vin Diesel is such a big intimidating actor that it was brilliant casting having him go toe-to-toe, or knuckle-to-knuckle, with Dwayne Johnson. An inspired piece of casting seeing these two physical behemoths throw down. They held nothing back in their big fight and it was a great moment for any action movie fan.

Don’t get me wrong, this is an awful movie just very entertaining. Of all the movies it is just downright disrespectful to women. There’s always been a split dynamic for women in this movie. The capable ones and the eye candy. In Fast Five one of the female leads is employed as both and it’s not a great moment at all. That and the final chase scene will challenge your suspension of disbelief, though it doesn’t work overtime to completely crush it like some of the other films in the series.

Favorite Moment: Vin Diesel versus The Rock!
Worst Moment: Getting the fingerprints. If you’ve seen the movie you’ll know what I mean. Horribly demeaning moment even for this series.

Definitions –
Guilty Pleasure
I define a guilty pleasure as a movie that I acknowledge is not a good movie but I enjoyed it anyway. These are some of my favorite movies though they will never top films that are both well done and entertaining.

Entertaining
Not a great film and probably what most people define as a “popcorn flick”. I might enjoy it enough to watch it more than once but it is not going to be considered great cinema by anyone.

Passable
Probably entertaining but not something I’ll watch again. Usually a movie I watched to say that I have seen it or part of a film series that I want to complete.

Barely Watchable
I didn’t fall asleep but probably left disappointed. The film had some entertainment value but was either forgettable or had some many inconsistencies that I find myself questioning its internal logic for days after seeing it.

A free game for Friday

Like I warned, Fridays are going to be about whatever I feel like.

I have been toying with the idea of getting Rebuild 3, a neat little Civ-like Zombie survival game that looked very promising. Well, after reading some comments on it I realized that the previous game was free.

Here’s the link –

Rebuild 2

It looks like 3 will be a little deeper, I finished Rebuild 2 in about 2 hours, tops. Might have been half that time, it wasn’t in one sitting. I had it on easy and used a typical sized city, still didn’t take long.

I liked it, it’s a fun little distraction and for people who enjoy Civilization style games it’s a nice entry. However, I haven’t returned because it’s clear that I hit pretty much every note the game had in one playthrough. Still, it’s a good advertisement for the follow-up.

So check it out. It’s truly free with just some banner ads on the site. It does require Flash to play and it saves your progress despite being entirely browser based.

Character Spotlight – Blood God Kotal Kahn

char_kkbg01Just the facts –

Kotal Kahn – Blood God
Gold Tier
Faction: Outworld
Passive: Totem – Summon a random totem that generates extra damage, healing, or power
Attacks:
1 – Blood Offering
2 – Totem
X – Sun Burn

810 Attack
820 Health
790 Toughness
780 Recovery
100% Power Gen

Cost: 250 Souls
Found In: Kombat Pack

IMG_0206What’s it all mean?
Blood God Kotal Kahn summons a totem on his 2nd special attack which does some damage but provides a boost to his damage, heals him, or generates power. His passive is essentially his 2nd special.

His first special is a damage buff that also does light damage when activated.

If you can get his X-Ray charged up and your opponent somehow survives it, they will be weakened afterwards and hit for less damage for a short period of time.

What’s good about him?
Blood God Kotal Kahn has decent stats making him fairly strong. He hits for decent damage without his buffs and his totem can come in handy if he is low on health. On basic attacks he is fairly strong.

What’s the downside?
Where to begin? Kotal Kahn is slow. Possibly the slowest character of the game. Both of his special attacks do very light damage because they are intended to be buffs. The damage increase on his 1st special is good but dissipates quickly. The random nature of the totem means it may not give you an effect you actually need. For example, what good is generating more power if you use all your power on the totem? It might help your teammates, but it means depleting Kahn’s power to do so.

Also, he has no real passive to speak of. That means he has no damaging special attacks, no actual passive, and a random effect that may do little to help you in a fight.

Overall?
In Battle Mode even Blood God Kotal Kahn can be useful for clearing towers, but his special attacks make him a poor attacker. Since his buffs are applicable only to him, except maybe power (which I have not been able to fully test), he’s not even a good support player. I really started this spotlight to defend how he might be good, but there are so many downsides that I wonder if he isn’t the worst gold card in the game.

Character Showdown – Sub-Zero

The time has come! Let’s answer the question of what the difference is between the Sub-Zeros and who is the best? To save myself some typing please note the abbreviations below and the links to the original Character Spotlights

Lin Kuei – LK

Sub-Zero – SZ

Cryomancer Sub-Zero – CSZ

Grandmaster Sub-Zero – GSZ

We’re including LK in this because he is basically just the cannon fodder version of Sub-Zero.

How are they the same?

All Sub-Zeros have a similar move set though the combo finisher often varies.

All Sub-Zeros are part of the Martial Artist team.

With the exception of LK, all Sub-Zeros have Ice Ball as their 1st special attack. Even LK has a weaker, non-freezing, version of Ice Ball.

LK, SZ, and CSZ all have team health boosts for Martial Artists.

CSZ and GSZ share the same X-Ray Attack.

Round 1 – Stats

GSZ wins handily with the highest overall stats. Then the order is CSZ, SZ, and LK. No surprises here, Gold will always be stronger than Bronze. However, compared to CSZ, GSZ has the overall higher power stats (Health and Attack) while also having overall higher average stats (Health, Attack, Toughness, and Recovery). It’s no contest.

Round 2 – Tier Standing

So what about how they fare in individual tiers (Gold, Silver, Bronze). For Sub-Zero it’s almost the same order. LK has a four way tie with the lowest stats in the Bronze Tier. SZ ties with Jacqui Briggs for power stats and is the third lowest overall average. CSZ is about the middle of the Gold characters while GSZ is near the top. That makes GSZ the winner of this round, followed by CSZ, SZ, and LK.

Round 3 – Special Attacks

Again, GSZ wins this round. Klone Toss does massive damage and is essentially unblockable. If it doesn’t outright obliterate its target then at the very least they will be left severely weakened and if GSZ gets his X-Ray attack off he’ll have a defense bonus afterwards.

CSZ is a close second. Cold-Blooded is a grapple attack, which makes it unblockable, and it’s very stylish as well. CSZ shares the same X-Ray attack and defense bonus.

SZ comes in third but only because of his third special attack, something the bronze tier doesn’t have. Otherwise his special attacks are nothing great and he shares Ice Ball with everyone else.

LK loses here because of lacking a third special, but for his tier his second special attack is actually decent.

Round 4 – Passives

I’m giving this one to CSZ. While everyone except GSZ gives health bonus, CSZ gives the most and it’s a hefty 30% increase to health for Martial Artist teammates. That’s a good boost.

SZ comes next with a 15% health boost. Why SZ before GSZ? I’ll explain in a moment.

GSZ can essentially resurrect with his “Ice Decoy” but it’s a passive I care for the least. It’s good for maybe recovering from a mistake but it’s an extremely defensive passive that I find less than useful for most modes. It’s best use is maybe on a defensive team in Faction Wars, otherwise it’s something I’d rather not rely on. However, he doesn’t come in last because of LK.

LK actually comes in last because a 5% health increase is next to worthless. It’s maybe one extra hit and even at the bronze tier it’s not useful because health stats are so low to begin with.

Round 5 – Value

CSZ wins this round handily. His base cost is 275 souls and he does pop up in the Kombat Pack, which means he can be had for 150 souls or less if the Kombat Pack remains on sale. However, he also shows up in the Kard Pack, though he’s rare. That means he can be had for as low as 30,000 Koins! Considering he is a decent gold pull, that’s an extreme value.

Next up is actually LK. He’s as cheap as bronze cards get and he has the appropriate stats to show for it. However, he does pop up in Alliance Packs from time-to-time meaning he can be found for 500 Alliance Points. In my mind, Alliance Points are the cheapest of the 3 currencies, making LK one of the best values for your virtual buck.

Coming in next is GSZ, who is a whopping 330 souls if you buy him outright. He’s top tier so he might be worth it, however he also shows up in the Kombat Pack, which would still cost less than half his base total regardless of whether or not the Kombat Pack is on sale.

Last is SZ, whose base cost is only 35,000 Koins but he’s bottom tier and it shows. Plus if you pull him in a Kard Pack you are only saving 5,000 Koins.

Overall –

Let’s tally the scores

Cryomancer Sub-Zero (CSZ) – Winner in Round 4 and 5 with 4 points for each round. 2nd place for Rounds 1, 2, and 3 with 3 points for each.

CSZ Total – 17 points

Grandmaster Sub-Zero (GSZ) – Winner in Round 1, 2, and 3 with 4 points per round. 3rd place in Round 4 and 5 with 2 points per round.

GSZ Total – 16 points

Sub-Zero (SZ) –  2nd place in Round 4 with 3 points for that round. 3rd Place in Rounds 1, 2, and 3 with 2 points each. Last place in Round 5 with only 1 point to show for it.

SZ Total – 10 points.

Lin Kuei (LK) – 2nd place in Round 5 with 3 points for that round. Last place in Rounds 1, 2, 3, and 4 with 1 point each.

LK Total – 7 points.

CSZ wins overall by providing a better value and a better team boost. He’s a strong all-round character who comes in solidly middle tier for a gold character. He’ll be quicker to fuse than GSZ, which means you’re more likely to have a stronger CSZ in the short-term than GSZ.

GSZ simply has the best stats, best standing, and best moves. He’s the only non-team booster but his passive is specialized and less useful which prevents him from sweeping all categories. GSZ is a good defender in Faction Wars and a decent attacker but is more specialized than CSZ. Even unfused, once he’s levelled up he can solo most towers in Battle Mode.

SZ is just a weaker Silver tier character who doesn’t even provide a very good value. He provides a decent boost to a Martial Artist team but that’s about it.

LK doesn’t quite sweep the bottom for all rounds but comes close. He’s one of the weaker bronze characters without much to show for it but does provide a decent value.