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The Internet: Judge and Jury of Entertainment

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With the recent release of EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront II trailer, the internet has found its new favorite meme about Darth Maul and some scared Clone Troopers. Because of that meme, many are becoming much more open to this new entry in the Battlefront franchise. This demonstrates the internet’s power to dominate the entertainment industry. The last Battlefront was panned for its huge DLC price tag and now, with a simple meme, the internet has completely turned around the potential for success in this franchise.

The internet holds the greatest amount of power in the industry when it comes to how a product does. Whether it be a game, movie, TV show, you name it, the internet controls its level of success. If it loves something, even for a really specific reason like with Battlefront II, that product is here to stay. However, the opposite is also true.

As I mentioned previously, the 2015 Battlefront did very poorly, at least where EA was concerned. The internet similarly banded together on this one but achieved the opposite effect. There were various rallying cries against the previous entry such as the huge price tag, the lack of content, etc. As a result, it didn’t do very well. EA even referenced all its Twitter feedback on the last Battlefront during their E3 presentation of the new game.

Another example includes the Mass Effect series. Once one of the most respected series in gaming history, the internet annihilated it over the past 5 years or so. Starting with the poorly received ending, Mass Effect 3 received unheard of amounts of critical backlash. It was so bad that BioWare even thought it was necessary to edit their own ending, which they were initially very steadfast about, as damage control. Then Mass Effect: Andromeda came out with subpar facial animations and the internet had a field day.

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The harsh backlash Andromeda got from the various memes about it led to very poor sales and a hiatus of the series as no one wanted to get a game that had become the laughingstock of the internet. Another example of this is the recent Berserk anime. Fans of the manga were incredibly excited until they saw the poor CGI used in the show. From there, a similar but less noteworthy series of events occurred. By that I mean, at the very least I still hear people talk about Mass Effect but I haven’t heard one word about Berserk since the new anime started and it’s still ongoing.

As mentioned with Battlefront II, the internet has the power to save a franchise as well. The DC Extended Universe of films was saved by internet backlash against Rotten Tomatoes. The first three films got poor reviews while Marvel movies were getting great reviews, leading to a very vocal outcry against film critics. Now, Wonder Woman has reviews that are (in my opinion) higher than they should be. Despite it’s obvious quality as a film, it came across as more damage control to satiate the internet and managed to breathe new life and potential into the DCEU.

The internet is a very powerful beast that has largely taken over the entertainment industry in the modern day. It’s honestly scary how much of an influence it has over how well certain products do, let alone ending up with an opinion it disagrees with.

I spend most of my days working towards my Writing and Rhetoric degree at the University of Central Florida, but I spend a lot of my down time keeping up to date on the best TV, movies, and video games the industry has to offer. Here I put all of that extended time to use discussing each of them in-depth.

Gaming

Ten million people play The First Descendant in its first week

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The free-to-play shooter The First Descendant has gotten a lot of attention in its first week. The game’s publisher, Nexon, says that 10 million people have already tried it out.

Insider Gaming pointed out that since there is no cost up front, it’s still too early to tell how many of those players will stick around, but it’s still a big number for a new IP. On Steam alone, it peaked at 264,860 concurrents right after launch and has still managed to break 200,000 in the last 24 hours, so it looks like a lot of people are still really into the game.

It was a “mindless and repetitive grind,” and we gave The First Descendant a 3/10 in our review. Of course, that’s just one opinion; other experts have had different ones. Most people, though, say that the game’s annoying free-to-play model is the worst thing about it.

Are you one of the millions of people who played The First Descendant last week? Are you going to come back for more? Leave a comment below and let us know.

 

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Geek Culture

The trailer for Gladiator II looks great, but is any of it true? What Did The Experts Say?

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The trailer for Gladiator II by Ridley Scott is now out, and it looks like it will be the best movie ever. If you liked the first movie, you’ll probably love the new one, which has a lot of big names in it and shows epic duels, scary Colosseum battles, and hints of political intrigue. But, as with all Hollywood historical epics, you might wonder how much of what is shown is based on real events and how much is just made up for fun.

When we had questions, we asked the Bad Ancient team what they thought about the fun, the fantasy, and the facts.

What’s the movie about?
The new Gladiator movie picks up 25 years after the first one. Paul Mescal plays Lucius Verus II, the boy from the original story and Lucilla’s son. The trailer starts with him talking about the deadly duel between Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) and Maximus Decimus Meridius, a gladiator and fallen general.

It looks like Lucius is living in exile in Numidia, which is in northwest Africa. A few years after this incident, the Roman army captures him and forces him to compete as a gladiator. Lucius wants to overthrow the Roman government and end all forms of slavery, of course.

Later, Lucius fights the made-up General Marcus Acacius (Pedro Pascal), who also seems to have doubts about the Roman Empire’s needless killing. In the trailer, we learn more about characters like Macrinus (Denzel Washington), a power broker who likes gladiators, and Geta and Caracalla, two brother emperors who look cruel and spoiled and are played by Joseph Quinn and Fred Hechinger, respectively.

There are hints of exciting scenes in the trailer, like a gladiator riding a rhino and a fake naval battle in a flooded Colosseum with boats and sharks that eat people. There are also hints of politics and mystery.

A lot of it. It’s fun, but is it really true?

First, what did you think of the trailer?
Dr. Jo Ball (JB), an archaeologist who studies Roman war and conflict: I was really looking forward to seeing the trailer for the new Gladiator II movie, and it did not let me down. It looked like it would be a great visual feast, with hopefully some good history thrown in. I’m especially interested in seeing how Pedro Pascal’s character, Marcus Acacius, fits into the story. From the trailer, he seems to be coming to protest the endless conquests of Rome and the lives it took, and he seems to be getting in trouble for his views. I think this could be an interesting way to connect this to the main gladiator theme.

 

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Alex Sills (AS), a graduate student at the University of Leicester: The sheer spectacle of it looks like it will be even better than the first movie. I can’t wait to see what 24 years of CGI progress can do for a Roman arena. Also, I’m interested to see how the movie handles the fact that the Republic hasn’t been brought back. Maximus gave up his life for that reason in the first movie. Will Lucius finish the job? We know that emperors ruled for hundreds of years, so it’s not likely. However, it will be interesting to see if the political aspect is kept up or dropped in favor of a story about revenge between two people.

This is Dr. Owen Rees (OR), founder and chief editor of Bad Ancient: I love the first Gladiator movie so much that my first thought was, “Why?!?” Why is there a second part? But when I saw the cityscape of Rome on the screen, that reaction went away, and I became interested in what I was seeing. The glory of Rome, the desire for a quiet life away from the center of power, and the idea of “the Republic” are all themes that were introduced in the first movie. I can’t wait to see how they connect these to the second one.

Did anything stand out right away as being right or wrong or not making sense?
JB: Paul Mescal’s Lucius seems to have become a gladiator after being captured during a violent conquest of Numidia in northwest Africa. However, this area had been a part of the Roman world for hundreds of years by the time the movie takes place, and it’s hard to imagine scenes like the ones in the trailer happening during the time of the movie’s setting, when Severus reorganized the region’s government.

Some parts of the dress don’t seem right, like the wristbands that everyone with a sword seems to have to wear! The accents are an interesting mix, but I actually quite like this, as it is a useful reminder that the “Romans” were not a homogenous population but came from an empire that stretched from Britain across Europe, the Near East, and northern Africa—why people would be expected to have the same accents is beyond me (and even if they did, a modern American accent is no less accurate a representation than a classic British one!).

AS: No one is without a top! They didn’t wear anything to protect their torsos because that would have been too easy of a fight. Also, Pedro and Paul should have shields with them, since that’s what gladiators did instead of chest armor. It’s cool that the shield could be used offensively, almost like a second weapon. Having both arms in the fight makes it more interesting. Of course, movie stars shouldn’t have to wear helmets that cover their faces, but these guys should be able to show a lot of chest. I’m sure a lot of people in the theater would also not mind…

Is there something wrong with how the two emperors are portrayed?
Basically, Caracalla and Geta are portrayed in a rather odd way. They seem to fit the stereotypes of Nero and Caligula more than they do the real Severans. Also, they stand out because they are so pale. Both brothers were born in Syria and Libya.

In Roman times, there were a lot of people of color. It’s not fair to make emperors with darker skin look lighter. I’m happy to see Denzel Washington in the cast, though, because his character sounds really interesting.

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OR: They look like a cliché of many “bad emperors” rolled into one. It’s interesting that they chose to cast actors who are so pale these days. But we’ll see how their characters are developed when the movie comes out. You can’t judge it based on a few seconds in an ad!

When it was full of water, did the Colosseum ever host battles on the water?
JB: Yes, naumachiae were popular and spectacular shows put on to entertain the people of Rome on special occasions. They were very expensive and hard to set up. Early Roman emperors put on Naumachiae, but until Nero’s time, they didn’t happen in amphitheaters. Instead, they happened on lakes or in specially built basins. The Colosseum was a special place for naumachiae, and one was even held at its opening in 80 AD, during the reign of Titus the Great. But we don’t know how they filled the arena with water for the battle; it was probably done to the lowest level possible so the ships could float!

But Paul Mescal’s character wouldn’t have fought in Naumachiae. The Romans didn’t use trained (read: expensive) gladiators. Instead, they used prisoners of war and criminals who had been sentenced to death. This suggests that very few, if any, were expected to survive. It’s also important to note that the naumachia of Claudius on the Fucine Lake was the only time that people were heard saying, “We who are about to die salute you.” The gladiators didn’t need to say this.

What if gladiators had fought rhinos or sharks instead?
JB: Roman audiences liked new things in their beast shows, and there weren’t many animals that they wouldn’t put in the arena. In fact, it was a big business to get animals for these kinds of shows, and the more exotic the animals, the better. The animals didn’t even have to be very dangerous; as long as they were different, they were included. Giraffes were shown with “classic” wild animals like lions and bears.

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: Gladiators always fought other gladiators. On the other hand, there were people in the arena who fought animals or hunted them. These people were called devas and bestiarii.

Rhinos were shown off in Rome—that much we know. I think Pompey Magnus was the first person to bring one in. One was brought in so that the emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix in the first movie) could kill it himself in the Colosseum. He did this by shooting it with arrows from a platform, so he was never in any danger.

When it comes to sharks, we’re getting into fantasy land. The Romans got very good at catching and moving all kinds of wild animals, especially from Africa. But they couldn’t catch sharks, bring them to Rome, or put them somewhere safe before the Games. But if they had been able to, they would have thought it would have been awesome, so maybe this is dead guys’ movie wish fulfillment.

OR: There were animals in the arena, but the gladiators who fought were not the same ones. We use the word “gladiator” to describe too few of the people the Romans had in the arena.

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Gaming

Raiden, the famous shmup series, will come back as a twin-stick shooter on PS5, PS4, and PC

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Raiden has a long and interesting history as a vertical shooter in arcades. However, the series is going to get a Super Stardust HD makeover, which means it will switch to a twin-stick format. It comes out in Japan on October 31. There’s no word yet on when it will come out in the West, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it did.

A Gematsu translation of the game’s website says that the full version will have an arcade mode with up to six stages. There will also be an “Unlimited” option for people who want to be at the top of the rankings. It sounds like a pretty straightforward package in terms of what’s inside, but we think the action will be what makes it worth it.

There’s a trailer up top that should help you figure out what to expect. There are, however, different versions of Raiden 3, Raiden 4, and Raiden 5 that you can play right now on the PS5 and PS4, if you can’t wait for this game to come out in the West.

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