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Admiral Haigely stared at the holotank, completely unaware that a group of her opposites were staring at nearly the same image in a flickering holotank. The Orion-Cygnus Gaclatic Arm Stub glowed brightly, the stars different colors. There were different colored areas, slightly glowing, as if the stars were in diffuse clouds.
Blue for the Terran Confederacy, with color hatching for non-Terran allied races. Yellow for the Unified Council territories. Green for the Neo-Sapient Systems, AKA Disputed Territory, with markers for who was in control of the area. Red for the Precursors, with diagonal hatching for the type. Purple for the Idiots. Gray fog for the Long Dark AKA Precursor Autonomous War Machine Spawning Zone. Red and amber for the area where the Mar-gite had first appeared, which was missing on the Unified Council maps. Amber with red markings for the Talmonus Harmony Cluster.
The Admiral reached out and touched the amber marker over TerraSol.
NO CONTACT - CASE OMAHA PROTOCOLS
She sighed. Almost four months since the Case Omaha had been announced. A month since the other systems had left the gravitational protective system, and TerraSol was still locked down.
She hoped her wife and children in MechaKrautland were not too worried about her.
Haigely pushed down her concern and looked back at the holotank.
The Confederacy, before TerraSol had been locked down, had managed to largely take the outer regions of the Unified Council Territories and start to squeeze. As a student of military history, she knew that this was where a conventional force would start to slow down even further as troops and equipment would have to be diverted for occupations.
The would lower the amount of troops and war material available for the fronts, take up trained troops, and require a massive amount of dedicated logistics to keep it all running.
For nearly eight thousand years that had been beaten by the Terrans, no matter what government they had lived under.
Cloning banks and the Born Whole system ensured instant reinforcements. Nanoforges and Creation Engines and Von Nuemann Logistics Systems had ensured that the Terrans supply lines were only as far as the nearest gas giant, nebula, Oort Cloud, or ocean. Robotic and clone manned ship refit bases could be manufactured quickly and easily, allowing ships to be refit even while the Terran military machine dug into a system.
Grand Great Most High of Military Most Highs Su'uprmo'o stared at the holotank in front of him, the flickering hologram annoying him.
"Right here," he said, pointing at the holotank. "This thing has worse resolution than Neo-Sapient Gal-Net videos filmed on a pair of cam-shades in a bathroom stall."
"It is a standard holotank, Most High," the Most High of Executor Most Highs Spy'inmo'o said, his tendrils curled nervously and his crests inflating. "It has always been good enough."
Su'uprmo'o turned and curled his lips, inflating his jowls. "We fight for our lives against a crazed enraged lemur species who might as well be doing magic and their half-mad allies, and you start bleating about 'good enough' like the Most High of Corporate Most High Low'ngre'ed." he sneered. "If you have nothing good to add, please launch yourself into the nearest stellar mass so you do some good."
Spy'inmo'o swallowed nervously and backed away.
"For millions of years our species has trumpeted out 'good enough' from our buttocks and then we are shocked, shocked and dismayed I say, by the fact that some jacked up primate lemurs jumped out of the tree and began gnawing into our skulls," Su'uprmo'o sneered. He turned and brought up images in two other holotanks.
They flickered, shot through with static, the hologram slowly wavering.
"AAARRRGGG!" Su'uprmo'o let out a scream of frustration. "How am I to use this worthless dross?" he screamed. "I would be better off with two dimensional pictures that this terrible device."
He whirled in place, kicking the holotank. Sparks shot out of it and it went out with a squeal of feedback. "I would be better served by hiring a black market pornographer to attune these devices! Why is it that some clever neo-sapient with a dataslate camera and a hand held flashlight can get the resolution fine enough you can count every pubic hair upon a trollop's genitals but the Unified War Room has such poor resolution in their holotanks I can't tell if I'm looking at lemur armor or a grocer's mannequin trying to sell me substandard nutri-cud?"
The gathered Most Highs of Most Highs all looked away from one another, trying to avoid answering any questions.
Admiral Haigely walked around her holotank, which was displaying crisp clear graphics. She rewound the display to show the early meetings between the Unified Council and Terran exploration teams. Then through the initial attempts at assistance and repelling the PAWMs. Then the Lanaktallan attack upon Talmonus Harmony and other systems. Then at the Terran counter-attack, using rapid ready forces and irregulars.
Now the full weight of Space Force was coming down on them, having retooled and trained for this war, not the last war.
For every combat ship there were ten logistics and infrastructure units moving forward.
Combat Arms troops only faced low level threats and rapid redeployment. The Logistics and Rear Echelon troops were looking at a decade posting per world.
She growled slightly to herself as she changed several icons.
Fifty-eight EPOW worlds. Eighty-two point one billion EPOWs, 80% of which were just unlucky neo-sapients that had apparently just been walking down the street when the press gang had arrived. Six of the races were currently so far from being able to withstand the rigors of the modern battlefield that the Terran Confederacy was spending more time and materials on emotional and mental care then they were on feeding those EPOWs.
She brought up combat effectiveness stats on the neo-sapient conscripts under Lanaktallan control. Less than 0.138. She brought up the rating for combat effectiveness of First Telkan Marines and Third Leebawan Aquatic Commandos. The Telkans rated a 14, the Leebawans rated a 9. Anything over 6.25 was considered combat effective for their assigned roles.
The Telkans first space craft were coming into play. Same with the Aktltak Aerospace Warfare Division. They'd bought and refurbished the old Pubvian Carrier design and built exactly three, but she knew her military history and knew that wars had been decided by a single carrier in the right place.
Admiral Haigely stomped around the holotank again, looking it over. She could feel the eyes of the Terran Confederate Military Planning Board staring at her, letting her look it over. All of them were experts in their own areas of expertise, and all were waiting for Admiral Haigely to decide what, if any, changes needed to be made to the Confederate war plans.
Not the battle plans. Those were up to local commanders and theater commanders.
Admiral Haigely's job was to lead the planning section for the war in its entirety.
She stopped and brought up a small system, toward the base of the stub, at the edge of Lanaktallan Space and the Long Dark and the Unexplored Coreward Territories.
The name burned above it: Belvak-8/Hesstla
A list of "Killed in Action - Temporal Warfare" scrolled by. Ships popped up, the design before deployment to what was supposed to be a training and integration exercise and the design it had finished with.
ANTAEUS FLEET ADDITION appeared.
Haigely nodded to herself as she wiped it all away with a single swipe of her hand.
Admiral Thennis had died 'in the cradle', meaning she'd been killed while in command during combat. Technically it was old age, but it was old age brought about by Temporal Warfare. At least, that was what was assumed. The Admiral of the Black Fleet had take Thennis's body.
A Captain's Soul is the Price whispered through Haigely's mind.
She moved over and checked the status of the "Irregulars" AKA "The Idiots" and their deployment.
Belvak-8 for the Imperium of Wrath. The Neko-Marines had apparently vanished with the Case Omaha from Terra, the same with the Legion of the Damned and the Black Fleet. The Imperium of Wrath was still in place, however. An Elven Court was being established for Belvak-8, as the world of Hesstla had taken/would be taking an atomic pounding.
That made her circle the tank again, reaching out toward another holotank and giving a wave of her hand.
A tall purple skinned creature appeared. Tentacles over a lamprey mouth, conical head, white eyes, long fingered hands, no apparent sex organs or secondary sex characteristics. One heart, one lung, short and obviously tailored digestive system. Approximately eight times the nerve bundles as a Terran of approximately the same size.
ATREKNA - HOSTILE PSYCHIC SPECIES
Potential and observed capabilities scrolled up.
Direct Kinetic Combat Effectiveness: 2.1
Psychic Combat Effectiveness (Terran): 1.1
Psychic Combat Effectiveness (Mantid): 1.3
Psychic Combat Effectiveness (Other): 19
Other data streamed by. Land speed, primary mode of travel, how many in combat group, observed weapons, and more.
She made another tossing motion, although she could have just brought it up with her datalink. But Haigely had come up on the direct action branches of Space Force, had served decades with each branch, before settling on Navy, in the time honored tradition of those climbing the rank ladder.
Ships, ground vehicles, aerospace vehicles appeared in that tank. She made another motion, bringing up Dwellerspawn from the Second Telkan War. Another flick of her wrist showed military intelligence's estimation of emulation between the mechanical versions and the biological version.
Nearly two hundred matches. Either the Dwellerspawn, as the Neko-Marines called them, were based off of the machinery when they were designed or the autonomous war machines were based off of the biological warfare biomachines or both.
She wiped it away, tossing Belvak-8 into its own holotank and leaving the icon burning with the icons of the units currently deployed on the planet slowly orbiting the system.
Admiral Haigely brought up another tank, moving to it, slowly moving around it. She kept stretching out her hand to run with through the hologram, which she had set to have the consistency of warm porridge. It helped her think.
Reports of psychic disturbances heading for Confederate Space. Cupping that report in her hand and tossing it to another screen brought up a classified file.
A massive cyborg, reduced to brain and some extraneous tissue, standing next to an early model FIDO with the words "MAJOR FREEBORN, DAXIN - DECOMMISSIONED" next to the massive borg. Memories downloads from the massive borg showed definitive proof of an active Omniqueen on an ancient planet in an almost depleted system.
Closer to Lanaktallan Space than Confederate Space, but Haigely had studied the Mantid War, knew how Omniqueens operated. They threw out 'spokes', creating new hubs, which would throw out spokes, making even more hubs.
Military Intelligence estimated that if she was willing to strip the system, including processing the mantel and any metallic cores, she would be able to send out at least two dozen Overqueens.
Which meant she, or her children, were coming.
She brought up the encrypted transmission from the Dark Crusade of Light, the Imperium of Wrath's current military operation that seemed to consist of the majority of the more heavily armed and chaotic Idiots.
It showed a female Terran, identified and verified as Bellona, Mistress of the Black Fleet, dancing as she intoned words of prophecy before the gathered leaders of the Dark Crusade.
Haigely shook her head. She hated prophecies.
Another tank she brought up the classified signal from the Terran diplomatic team led by Dreams of Something More, specifically the seer trance words of the team seer.
Admiral Haigely moved to the middle of the tank and closed her eyes, listening to both seers at the same time, in their original languages.
Once the recording was finished, she moved on to the tank showing the estimated status of the Unified Council Territories. She brought up the Confederate Gestalt estimations of public opinion of the Unified Council and the Lanaktallan themselves.
Before the Core Worlds Assault, the majority of the Terran Confederacy had considered the 1% Line to be justified against the Lanaktallan species.
Then finding out what had been done to the Lanaktallan themselves, the testimony of the refugees rescued from Tnvaru Prime, and the popularity of the brutally honest Vu'uklu'u, co-host of "Face Smashing Opinions" Net-Show had changed public opinion. The Confederacy's citizenry considered the average Lanaktallan to be just as much of a victim of the Unified Council System as the neo-sapients.
Combined with the "We Need Assistance" broadcast from several entities tenatively considered a leadership sub-species, and the majority of the Confederacy wanted the Lanaktallan people spared as much as possible.
But Admiral Haigely knew that occupation to change a culture was fraught with risk, one of the main Hamburger Kingdom Conundrums. With the long life span of the Lanaktallan combined with the inertia of a hundred million year old political, social, and cultural machine, the threat wouldn't be over just because every Lanaktallan world was occupied or burnt to a cinder.
There was always a chance of a Lanaktallan Black Box program managing to create an effective bioweapon to 'gentle' Terran Descent Humanity and their allies in a slow, invisible progression, resulting in a return to the Unified Council system within a few generations.
Militarily, the Lanaktallan were no threat. But neither was a ten ton boulder unless it was dropped on you.
She sighed, staring at all of the icons. Every strategy conceived so far was fraught with risks. Not just the fighting itself, but afterwards. The motto "You can win every battle and still lose the war" was inscribed on the side of every holotank.
Su'uprmo'o stared at the holotank as the neo-sapient turned it on. The hologram no longer flickered, was no longer mostly transparent, no longer had wavy lines and lines of static through it, no longer waved and pulsed. It was stable, high fidelity, crisp, and clear.
The neo-sapient collected his tools and left the room as Su'uprmo'o moved around the tanks, looking at their contents.
In the two months it had taken him to find the neo-sapient, have him released from prison, and convince him to perform illegal and unauthorized modifications to the software and hardware of the holotanks, the Terrans had made gains.
Great Most High (recently promoted) Sma'akamo'o had arrived, bringing word of a new Terran attack strategy that had caused most of the intelligence services to label the Lanaktallan Planetary Defense expert as insane.
Still, Su'uprmo'o had watched the footage. It was undeniable.
A single ship could quickly take over a world within days. The system within a week or two. From one ship to a massive military presence.
The Terrans had deployed the system on dozens of worlds. Sma'akamo'o had defended two worlds successfully, using atomics on the craft as soon as it landed. Within a week the Terrans had responded with a full blown invasion.
His peers believed it meant that the Terran war machine was over-stretched, that their logistics, manpower, and control chains were too long and becoming tenuous.
Su'uprmo'o saw it for what he felt it was.
Consolidation.
Every intelligence and strategy expert at Su'uprmo'o's disposal believed that the Terrans would soon have no choice but to make a direct strike toward the Unified Council seat. A thrust the take over or eliminate the fifty worlds between the nearest Terran controlled system and the Unified Council world. That the prime chance to hand the lemurs a defeat was to wait until they had begun their spear thrust, wait for it to gain momentum, and cut the Terran supply chains by counter-attacking and taking back over the systems as the 'base' of the strike.
"Foolishness and ignorance," Sma'akamo'o had harumphed. "the Terran war machine's supply lines are the nearest gas giant."
"Then what do you suggest?" Spy'inmo'o sneered. "Just roll onto our backs and hope for the best?"
Sma'akamo'o shook his head, looking at the star map.
He pointed out a single system. "Here. The Terrans will hit here. Not with their single ship infrastructure system, but in force."
The Executor sneered again, opening a window to show the system.
It was a mess. A trinary star system. A red giant with a yellow star and a white dwarf orbiting it. Sixteen gas giants, a third of them super-massive. Five winding asteroid belts. A Kupier Belt and Oort Cloud so thick with debris it was measurable and prevented outside observation.
"There is nothing here," the Executor sneered. "No solid planets. Even the moons around those super-massive gas giants are gas giants. The closest thing to a solid body are the comets."
Su'uprmo'o stared at the system displayed. Deep in the Unified Council territory, there were nearly a hundred Council Worlds within a hundred light years of the system. The only thing present were scanning beacon to keep a watch for pirates, a communications link, and a Gal-Net repeater node.
For any other species that the Great Herd had faced, it was a worthless system, militarily. Yes, the gas giants could be mined, but that was a time, labor, and material intensive process.
For any species but the Terrans.
"Sma'akamo'o is right," Su'uprmo'o said. "Gather all available military fleet elements that are not tied down guarding systems."
He reached out and touched the system's icon. "They will be attacking there."
The system icon burned brightly.
Admiral Haisely stared at the icon. It was perfect.
That was the problem. It was too perfect.
Still, it would provide an advanced logistics node, take the pressure off of supported units when they made their initial attacks. It would work as a massive refit and rearming base once it was controlled for a month or two.
It was obviously a trap.
But sometimes traps needed to be sprung if one wished to catch the trapper.
She reached out and touched the icon. "Sent Twenty-Ninth Fleet in."
In the Long Dark ships oriented, linking their navigation computers into one vast network.
Space bulged, twisted, and finally, tore.
The armada jumped into Hellspace.
All heading for the same target.
There was only enough for one.
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2020.11.20 23:10 MarkdownShadowBot Spy tumblr video cam

Hi TheRavenSayeth, you're not shadowbanned, but 22 of your most recent 124 comments/submissions were removed (either automatically or by human moderators).
Comments: gcw31s5 in AskReddit on 20 Nov 20 (1pts):

The man defies logic
gcw2a8b in AskReddit on 20 Nov 20 (1pts):
I'm still waiting on Nintendo to release that Waluigi pirate sim. Yeah I know about Sea of Greed but it's not the same as an actual full fledged Nintendo project...
gcv7pe4 in funny on 19 Nov 20 (1pts):
I've listened to a couple of interviews about Steve Jobs and his general philosophy towards tech. I think the easiest way to think of it is:
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gcv5x2w in nba on 19 Nov 20 (1pts):
I'm always concerned whenever I see an athlete get an achille's tear. Kobe recovered and played well enough to retired about 3 years later, but for some players it can be a near career ender.
gcslqqd in MMA on 19 Nov 20 (1pts):
CMV: Jon Jones has been caught cheating so many times that we don’t know what wins are legitimate from his career. I used to be a fan, but right now I’d be fine with reverting all his “wins” and his...
gcrvne1 in AskReddit on 18 Nov 20 (1pts):
I love The Beatles, but Stevie Wonder’s version of We Can Work It Out is so good I’m pretty sure most people don’t realize it’s a cover.
gcrv7na in AskReddit on 18 Nov 20 (1pts):
I use a wahl trimmer with the attachments which has been fine for my beard length but the foil attachment doesn’t get close at all. I recently watched a YouTube video...
gcrpsc7 in politics on 18 Nov 20 (1pts):
Yet still Trump refuses to concede.
Let’s pull out the election timeline again.
gcrp0yq in politics on 18 Nov 20 (1pts):
Yet still Trump refuses to concede. Let’s pull out the election timeline again.
gcroqm6 in politics on 18 Nov 20 (1pts):
Yet still Trump refuses to concede. Let’s pull out the election timeline again.
gcq48uf in politics on 18 Nov 20 (1pts):
Yes thank you. I want my student debt cancelled as much as the next guy, but there's a cyclical problem causing this that needs to be addressed.
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Another thing to add to the 2020 Election Disaster Timeline
gcohtlq in news on 18 Nov 20 (1pts):
Another thing to add to the 2020 Election Disaster Timeline
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This really is a good video. It's a little flat since he's clearly reading off of a prompter, but the content is great.
Submissions: jxe3ul in iphone on 19 Nov 20 (1pts):
I'm looking for an app that will take photos but not save them to my camera roll or any other photo syncing apps I have. Any suggestions?
jwq66m in AskMen on 18 Nov 20 (1pts):
Guys that keep a trim beard, what electric shaver do you use?
jwlvz8 in EufyCam on 18 Nov 20 (0pts):
I'm concerned about Eufy being a Chinese company given issues related to government spying. Has the company or its security devices ever been audited by an independent third party?
jwk3si in YouShouldKnow on 18 Nov 20 (1pts):
YSK that while Whatsapp does claim end to end encryption, this does not apply to backups. Google incentivizes this by not counting Whatsapp backups in your google drive account against your storage...
jwk228 in YouShouldKnow on 18 Nov 20 (1pts):
YSK that while Whatsapp does claim end to end encryption, this does not apply to backups. Google incentivizes this by not counting Whatsapp backups in your google drive account against your storage...
jwhwik in techsupport on 18 Nov 20 (1pts):
How much of a security concern is it to use a clipboard manager? What about if I also use a password manager?
jw1hdc in privacytoolsIO on 17 Nov 20 (1pts):
I'm trying to signup for Imgur without using my actual number. Any free ways I can get an SMS short code that will work with Imgur?
jvkmbc in NoStupidQuestions on 17 Nov 20 (1pts):
People that found out they're really into sniffing women's underwear, when did you stumble upon that and how has it affected your life?
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2020.11.20 19:51 sharingmyxp Spy cam video tumblr

I've played a lot of Watch Dogs: Legion the past few weeks (my final playtime clocked in at around 63 hours), and I'd like to share some of my final thoughts on the game while the thoughts are still fresh. Would love to hear yours as well.
If you prefer watching to reading, this video dives into the game in closer detail with gameplay footage examples.
Here are some of my thoughts (Spoiler Warning):
• The tutorial does a great job walking you through a lot of the core gameplay mechanics and gives you a nice opportunity to mess around with your controls and graphic settings. It's a really well-designed tutorial. Not to mention the phenomenal benchmark on the menu screen which I hope becomes a common practice in all triple-A games moving forward (recently bought AC Valhalla and it's in there, too, so it looks like Ubisoft is all-in with that feature, which is terrific).
I read in an interview with one of the lead developers where he said that they had specific intent to give the players a slew of non-lethal options, and I really do appreciate that. Because in a game where the idea is to essentially fight for the people, it would feel really weird to be gunning around the streets of London with an AK and a grenade launcher (though you can totally do that if that's how you want to play). I mean, I understand the lines are a little blurred when you have your spiderbot climbing up someone's leg, up their torso, then swaddling their face with all 8 of its metal legs and shocking every nerve in their body, but hey, the game says its non-lethal so at least I can sustain my disbelief for that reason. The only issue is that the non-lethal guns in the tech tree all feel WAY too weak. In fact, I was worried whenever I was about to do a main-story mission that the game was going to throw too many enemies at me to be able to handle effectively with the electric weapons, so I steered toward using characters with real guns only so I had some sort of self-defense, which I think hinders the game's design because that cuts out a large chunk of potential characters.
• The fact you cannot walk and listen to audio logs or podcasts is not only terrible for the player but a terrible disservice to the creative team who put a lot of work and effort into that material. I wanted to listen to them but could not justify sitting on the menu screen for minutes upon minutes on end -- even in real life I'm doing something while I listen to podcasts. The material I did listen to, though, was pretty well done. It's a real shame there wasn't better implementation for audio logs.
• I strongly believe how much you liked the people on your team heavily influenced how much you like the game overall. I made it a point to not recruit anybody I did not like and to even remove people who I didn't want on my team anymore, which included Mark, the guy I started with. The cast of characters I put together were people I cared about. People I would hate to see die. Playing on iron man mode, there was no more emotional moment in the game for me, including at the end of the game with Bagley, than when my recruit, Edmond, died in a super unexpected, unanticipated fashion. I played almost exclusively as Edmund the first 10 hours of the game since I got bonus ETO for every person he recruited, and I went HARD with recruiting at the start. So when he died in that super anti-cinematic, super unexpected, super sudden way… and I realized he was just gone -- the guy who I pretty much considered to be the main protagonist of my game… I don't know there's something about the fact that nobody knew the connection I had to that character more than me. Not the game, not the developers, not anyone. He was just some random NPC I grew to feel connected with and like that he was gone. That's a type of moment is unique to Watch Dogs: Legion and the way it's designed (though I have heard strategy games, like XCOM, have a lot of similarities in this regard).
• One big knock against the "play-as-anyone-you-meet" system in Watch Dogs Legion is that as your team grows, you realize that all the ops are pretty interchangeable. There are the few ops that standout like the spy, the drone expert, the beekeeper, the protest rallier… but they're too few and still too homogenous for my liking. In the midst of all of that you're going to have ops that feel pretty samey. Maybe one has shorter hack cooldowns. Maybe one has a car. Maybe one has a g36 or a really good shock rifle like the MPX. But there's still not enough differentiation at that point, especially considering how much voice acting gets reused in the game. The background bios are cool but almost assuredly procedurally generated, so there's no personal touch to those either. I just wish they had more distinct ops like the beekeeper or the anarchist. More distinct ops with standout unique abilities would've given each op on your team a more dissimilar, specific personality, even with everything else staying the way it is. Also would've added more gameplay variety, though I am pretty happy with the gameplay in its current state.
• The fact you can recruit anyone and everyone in the world is a neat thing to say in a marketing ad, but when you actually play the game and realize at what cost that scale comes with -- that being the loss of sense of touch to the characters you play as apart from your own "head cannon" you create for the character, like I had with Edmond, and not to mention the procedurally generated missions the game decides to put you through because the game wants you to do some sort of work to earn the reward of getting that member to join your team… then that's when you might start to skip the conversations, fast travel to the other side of the map where the character's recruitment mission is, and not feel any sense of impact or meaning behind the actions you're performing to help the potential recruit out. And that sucks. But the first 10 to 15 hours where each of those recruitment missions feel unique and tailored before you really realize what's going on under the hood -- those 10 to 15 hours are incredible. And to be fair, this game doesn't serve itself to be played for 60-plus hours. You can, and I did, but the best experience for this game to me without a doubt is a 15 to 35-hour experience. In that time span you get out just when you start to see the make-up fade but while the make-ups on, I think Watch Dogs: Legion is a great experience.
• Watch Dogs: Legion is one of the best looking games I have ever played. Is this in large part because of its technical capabilities compared to other games and because it's the first game I've played since I upgraded my PC? Yes. But nevertheless, playing this game with raytracing on is just eye candy. I'm not an expert on all the GPU technicalities, but if Watch Dogs: Legion is any indication of the next generation of gaming, I think this next generation of games are going to be a significant step visually. I never knew how much reflections mattered until I played this game. Thankfully, it's pretty rainy in London so the puddles were plenty, and boy did those puddles do a good job showing off just how much the new GPUs are capable of. I know better-looking puddles is a meme, and I was in the same camp… until I actually played a game with great looking puddles lol. I also remember flying a cargo drone around one of the big towers in the game, just completely in awe. If you get a new card or one of the new consoles and you want to see what your hardware is capable of -- Watch Dogs: Legion will not disappoint you. I used to think high framerate trumped all, and I still think that's the case in competitive multiplayer games, but for immersive single-player experiences, I'm not so sure anymore. Was it unpleasant to have the frames drop when turning on a busy street intersection? Yes, it was. But holy sh*t those reflections though.
• Aside from the graphics, the art and style of how Ubisoft designed near-future London is very impressive. My jaw dropped the first time I walked through Piccadilly Circus. And I was in awe when I came upon Chinatown and saw that AR dragon. The ferris wheel… Big Ben, the bridges, the river views. I loved flying above the city on top of a cargo drone, gawking at how beautiful nighttime London was. I loved walking down random London streets watching the cars zip to and from, and watching the parcel drones above my head fly towards their destinations to deliver the packages they were holding. Playing with a soccer ball at the local park while the radio played next to me -- all while I enjoyed the beautiful outdoors of the city. Of course, not everything is bright in jovial since London is in a surveillance state, so you see the protest rallies and the overly aggressive officers and the homeless people. It's an interesting clash of tones. But rarely is real-life either always happy or always depressing -- though I guess that depends on your own personal views of life. To me, both exist in the real world, and both can exist in the game -- so from that aspect I'm not shooting down the clashing tones the game has incorporated in it. Apparently, people from London have said that the game does a great job representing London and its boroughs, and that doesn't surprise me. Say what you will about Ubisoft, but they do a phenomenal job recreating real-life places with their own fictitious twists for you to immerse yourself in. I loved setting my car to auto-drive and watching the city breathe.
• Let's talk about the gameplay. So let me start off by saying that I think Ubisoft gets some unfair slack. Generally, I think the minute-to-minute action in Ubisoft games is at the very least enjoyable. The issue is that the mission design and other design elements take that enjoyable gameplay loop and copy-paste it over and over with little divergent characteristics from one gameplay sequence to another. I had an absolute blast with the main gameplay loop in Watch Dogs: Legion. It may not come off in its presentation but, depending on how you play the game, Watch Dogs: Legion's gameplay is an outstanding stealth game. It really rewards your creativity and intelligence as a player. Before infiltrating an area, you're often given an objective and it's up to you to piece together how you're going to accomplish it. This isn't anything new in Ubisoft games. In Assassin's Creed, it's the objective of assassinating a target. In Far Cry, it's killing all the enemies in an outpost. And in Watch Dogs: Legion, it's hacking some piece of software, destroying a vehicle, downloading some secure data, etc. But playing Watch Dogs: Legion made me realize why I enjoy Ubisoft games so much, despite the obvious repetition. It's because it rewards you for your ingenuity. It gives you an objective and constraints and says "figure it out." Watch Dogs: Legion in particular, however, fosters emergent gameplay better than the other two, where each element of the gameplay is relatively simple on its own, but can come together in really cool, complex ways that you yourself are head engineering as the hacker. I don't want to oversell it -- you do press Q and the enemy immediately looks at their phone for 10 seconds, but let me walk you through some of what I'm talking about.
The way you are hopping through the different cameras to survey the area… then hacking a shock drone to get within download range of the key you might need later. Then using that shock drone to zap one of the red control panels to unlock a door. Then using the AR cloak to get by a really busy part of the restricted area. Setting traps and blowing gas tanks to not only take out an enemy, but draw attention away from where you're heading. Coming up behind an enemy and choking them to sleep, drop-kicking them and even Stone Cold Stunning them. Or even just going the traditional route of putting a silencer on your pistol and taking enemies out silentily, one by one, then cloaking their body afterwards. Each time there's a mission to accomplish and you have to piece together a permutation of events using the weapons and electronics at your disposable to get the job done (and in a non-lethal way, if you're playing like that). I'll say it again because it's probably the main reason I enjoyed Watch Dogs: Legion as much as I did: I love how much Watch Dogs: Legion rewards you as the player for your creativity and your intelligence. Is the open mission design structure present in Watch Dogs: Legion anything new or anything we haven't seen before in other games? Absolutely not. In fact, it's probably a core design philosophy in Ubisoft games. But I don't think it works as good in those Ubisoft games as it works here in Watch Dogs: Legion. The way its executed in this near future setting where intelligence and information are crucial in your attack as you hop onto the cams and hack into the drones to scout ahead, planning your next move in real time. It's pretty tactical and can get very tense and exciting, especially if you're playing as a character you like and permadeath is on. One slip up and it's over. In a lot of ways and particularly in that respect, Watch Dogs: Legion reminds me most of Ubisoft's multiplayer shooter, Rainbow: Six Siege -- which is kind of weird to say.
The issue is that the gameplay doesn't hold up that ingenuity once you hit around the 20 hour mark. You start going to the same areas and seeing the same paths to completion. The challenge is lost and the novelty is worn. And that sucks. That's why when I recommend this game to other people I'm going to tell them -- hey, Watch Dogs: Legion is a really fun game but don't overstay your welcome with it. Because the game gets less and less pretty the longer you play it… but boy are those first 15 hours beautiful.
• The borough missions are a nice change of pace. It's a pretty gamey system -- accomplish three tasks in a borough and then you unlock a final mission that, once you beat, liberates that mission's respective sector of the map -- but the fact it's a gamey system is okay with me. I like the variety that the different borough missions bring. From scaling Big Ben with a spiderbot, to racing through the streets with a car in Tower Hamlets and with a high-speed modified drone in Islington & Hackney, to navigating a parcel drone through a 3D maze in Southwark. But fuck that mission where you have to defend the Millennium Wheel with that CT drone, oh my gosh.
• Melee combat was simple-but-crisp. The punching sound effect had a nice pop, and the slow-motion dodges added a cool cinematic effect. It's not Batman, but that's okay. Melee combat is the core of that game and it's a complementary gameplay system here. The fighting arena missions where the hand-to-hand combat is the central focus are a bit too long and not all that fun… but damn did they do a good job with the presentation in those missions. The gunplay isn't DOOM or Battlefield, but Watch Dogs: Legion also isn't a first-person shooter and I think gunplay is a lot harder to accomplish in a third-person shooter. So for a third-person shooter, I found the gunplay serviceable, except for the horrendous bullet damage dropoff on some guns and the bit-too-weak electric guns. I found all six of the gadgets to be very enjoyable to use. The electro-fist is frickin sick, the missile drone is badass, especially if you're playing as a drone expert and time the cooldowns in tandem with your drone dive bomb. And the electro-shock trap is a good general grenade option. You get to choose what I consider one of the two strongest gadgets from the outset in either the spiderbot or the AR cloak.
• With everything else there is to unlock in the tech store I'm sure a lot of players were content with using only the spiderbot or the AR cloak and ignoring the rest of the gadgets, which is another game design flaw. I didn't have too much of a problem with the weapons, the upgrades, and the hack unlocks in the tech store, but I also wasn't particularly excited to go out and grind for tech points. If I really enjoy the core gameplay in a game -- and I really enjoyed the core gameplay in Watch Dogs: Legion -- then usually I'll enjoy putting the time in to grind for unlockables. I spent an hour here or there riding a cargo drone around town and picking up tech points just to take a break from the action, but I truly had no desire to grind for any of those tech abilities. Sure the tech abilities helped but it's not like I needed any of them to progress through the game or had a burning desire to unlock any of them. They made the game easier, in some cases a lot easier -- which is arguably a good thing to a lot of players -- but for a system that's supposed to be the main source of the player's grind, I did not find the system captivating and I would have been all for grinding for those tech points if I found the unlocks to be more exciting. In Far Cry 2, a game designed by the same exact lead game designer as Watch Dogs: Legion, Clint Hocking, I grinded for those gems because I wanted the badass one-hit-kill sniper or the silenced MP5 or the stealth suit. Here, the grind is running around the city spamming your hack button to profile each individual and see if they have any abilities worth recruiting over. And that's not fun at all.
• Not only does the story have serious flaws, but so does the storytelling. Pressing Q and watching an AR reconstruction as Bagley and my character babble on for two minutes does not connect with me in any way. It's boring. It's void of life. The DedSec agent you track down, Angel -- you never see him apart from the AR reconstruction where he might as well be a Superhot NPC at that point. The only time you see him is when he's dead. Sure it sucks this former DedSec op is dead, but I don't know him and I don't have any connection to him, so that's going to limit how much I care. Why not have done something with Dalton -- a character you play as at the very start and have some connection with instead of killing him off and focusing on some random DedSec op named Angel? What a lost opportunity.
• I have to mention the final borough mission for Nine Elms where you go explore a dark, underground Power Plant. Personally, I loved how dark and atmospheric that mission was, and I will not forget that sick feeling I had when I walked into the hidden prison and found humans being caged in pitch black by Albion. It was easily one of the most stunning moments in all of the game and definitely a very emotional one. Fantastic stuff. But you can't interact with them. You can't talk to them. They might as well be chickens in a chicken coop. All you can do is kill the Albion security guard watching over them and then hack into his computer. Then fireworks start flying above the city and people are jumping and celebrating? Then you magically spawn outside again. What the fuck? Where are the people I just saved? Let me talk with one of them. Let them tell me "Thank you for saving my life" and let me say to them "Don't worry about it DedSec's job. Helping the people of London." But no. Instead, I teleport to the quest giver, and we both trade smiles and laughs. If that doesn't highlight the tonality issue in this game, then I don't know what will.
• From the get-go, Skye Larsen fascinated me. A being only present through a hologram, creator of my friend AI in the game, Bagley, and CEO of a neural mapping tech company with the potential to change the world -- seemingly for the better.
You hack into her house and meet her house AI, then power on the elevator that takes you to the basement which for some reason turns out to be The Hunter's Dream from Bloodborne but many, many years later? I just went with it. Proceeded into the house. And the events in the house were pretty much the only times I was fully engaged with the AR reconstruction and highly anticipating what was going to happen next in the mission. Both Skye and Sinead, her mother, were voiced incredibly well and the fact you're in their house, or what appears to be their house, standing between the same four walls those two were standing in… watching the AR reconstruction play out what had happened on her mother's deathbed as the sheets of blood still lay there wrinkled on the floor and while Skye's workbenches are still there set up adjacent to the bedstead. Realizing that spiderbots and descendants of Skye's dog… Then you enter her secret lab in the basement where you find that amazing table with the holographic map of London on it. Next to that, you see chambers holding people in them and you're left to guess what sick, twisted acts she's been up to. Then finally, you end Sinead's misery. It's a very well done segment of the game and I felt a tremendous amount of emotion playing through it. Some of Ubisoft's best storytelling to date.
Unfortunately, a lot of this quest is ruined for me because of its ending. Whether you kill Skye or not, the same thing happens. Nowt shows up at the safe house and proceeds to give you access to 404 side missions, even if you don't side with her. And either way Skye eventually dies, either by you killing her or Broca Tech shutting down her AI. So why is this decision in the game!? To make it feel like we, the player's, action's matter -- even though in reality they don't? I'm tempted to call it deceptive. Are you guys cool with this? This is something I'm really curious about your guys' take on.
I also think there's too little gray area in that decision to make it a tough choice. Which is fine -- there doesn't need to be gray area. It could be a Mass Effect thing where you're playing as a good guy or bad guy… except for the fact that no matter how you want to play, DedSec will always be referred to as the good guys in the game and so playing as the bad guy creates narrative dissonance. Does anyone really think siding with Skye is a reasonably humane choice? Sure, the technology could be used for the good of humanity, but with Skye as the CEO, it's obvious from going through her house that that's not the case and humanity is almost assuredly better off without Project Daybreak if Skye's history is any indication of the future. The decision to kill or side with Skye is just a weird inclusion by Ubisoft, to me.
• Let's discuss the epilogue with Bagley and Bradley. It was so messed up to see what Skye did to her own brother. It obviously made me hate Skye Larsen even more. It was awful what she did to her mom and her dog, but I knew who the third person was. He wasn't just another house member of Skye used to push the narrative forward. He was a friend I made over the course of the last 60-plus hours.
It did feel a bit rushed. It was a quick 3 or 4 minutes in and out of the hospital, and then things go back to normal. But it was the epilogue so I can't fault it for that too much. The photograph mission leading up to it wasn't bad, per se, but I think it should've given more of a hint for each picture. Part of me respects Ubisoft for not putting in objective markers and forcing you to really know the landscape of the world for the bonus material, but not all of the pictures were pictures of noticeable landmarks like the ferris wheel, and that made it really difficult.
So yes, the epilogue was good. And yes, it made me hate Skye Larsen even more. But let me propose something to you. Imagine if the Bagley epilogue quest, or some similar variation of it, was placed after you went through Skye Larsen's house but before you go off to kill her. Imagine how much more connected you would have felt with Bagley through the rest of that game. Imagine how much more you would have despised Skye Larsen and how much more satisfying it would have been to kill her. Your emotional amplitude would have been even higher than it already was from seeing her mom and dog turn into AI. Killing Skye is already a great moment, but if you had seen what she did to your AI friend before you went off to kill her, then killing Skye would have been incredibly emotional, incredibly affecting, and incredibly climactic. And instead of feeling much closer to Bagley right before you're about to say goodbye to the game, you feel closer to him all throughout the rest of the game and right up until the end. Which brings me to the ending. Now continuing on with that hypothetical scenario I've laid out (first Skye's house, then epilogue mission (or a variation), then kill Skye), imagine if when you pull the plug on Bagley at the end… he actually stayed dead and didn't come back to life 30 seconds later. How much better would the story have become just from those changes? Killing Bagley at the end of the game was heartbreaking. Like I said earlier, he was my favorite NPC in the game. If I would have played the epilogue prior to killing him, I'm guessing I would have borderline cried. That would have made the scene even more impactful than it already was. But the reason I really, really dislike the ending of the game is not because of anything it does in the ending -- it's because of what it does after what it does in the ending. Any emotion of sadness and loss I felt when I pressed E and finally said goodbye to Bagley completely disappeared when he popped back up on the safehouse screen moments later. It felt cheap. Extremely cheap. Let the character die. Let the game end. Put that epilogue earlier in the story. But no. This is purely reckless speculation and I hope… dear God I hope I'm being overly cynical here, but I feel like that's not possible because Ubisoft wants you to still be in the world after you finish the game to do the missions you missed so you can still have the opportunity to put money into the game's store, because your chances of putting money into the game's store if the game were to end after you pulled the plug on Bagley and returned to the title screen are close to zero. Is that why Bagley had to stay alive? I don't know. Either way, to me the ending of the game is tragic, but not in the way it was supposed to be tragic. It sucks. I feel robbed of my emotion.
• Nigel Cass falls into the issue I see way too often with antagonists in works of fiction, and something we see earlier with Mary Kelley -- he's too evil. To the point of absurdity. And he didn't have to be portrayed that way. His backstory is that his father was killed by gang members which put him on the path of revenge by taking the law into his own hands. An interesting backstory that unfortunately does not get developed at all and it could've really helped his characterization if it was delved into more. As it stands, he just comes off as another one-dimensional Saturday morning cartoon villain, which is a shame because, again, he had the potential to be a really interesting antagonist like Skye. At least his boss fight was somewhat enjoyable. Though, the game does rely on the network bypass puzzles a few times too many for my liking, along with the AR reconstructions and area defense missions. Also, I was hoping Nigel was a bit more of a juggernaut. You take him down in one clip.
• And finally, let's talk about Zero Day and Sabine Brandt. So Zero Day starts off the game with a big bang. Literally. But then pretty much goes without mention until the end of the game. They're brought up in the game every now and again, but I think I forgot about them for most of the playthrough until the very end when the big reveal happens. It's a reveal that I probably should have seen coming but didn't. You never see Sabine in person until after the reveal. She was the only one who stayed alive after the Zero Day attack. There are hints here and there in the main story. And she doesn't even show up at the team party… that's when it was clear.
Sabine's premise for why she's doing what she's doing does, at the very least, stop and make you think for a moment. Society is completely messed up right now because of harsh surveillance by Albion through the government, homelessness is widespread, and technology has become tyrannical. She wants to restart society from the ground up. Yes, she has to commit mass murder but to her the ends justify the means. And who are you to judge her for killing when you yourself have killed plenty in your playthrough? I really liked Sabine's ending. I just wish they had more Zero Day appearances throughout the game. Let me hear more of Zero Day talking about their philosophy of rebuilding London from the ground up and less of them talking with Mary Kelley about purchasing explosives just to move the story forward. Keep me interested in Zero Day instead of having me forget about them until the end. Keep me curious.
So those are my thoughts! Overall, I had a good time with the game. However, it definitely had some issues that I felt needed airing. And just to be clear, I did not try to slight the game just for the sake of criticizing it. These are my honest thoughts after reflecting on the time I spent with the game. Please do share your own thoughts!
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2020.11.20 19:23 sharingmyxp Spy cam video tumblr

I've played a lot of Watch Dogs: Legion the past few weeks (my final playtime clocked in at around 63 hours), and I'd like to share some of my final thoughts on the game while the thoughts are still fresh. Would love to hear yours as well.
If you prefer watching to reading, this video dives into the game in closer detail with gameplay footage examples.
Here are some of my thoughts (Spoiler Warning):
• The tutorial does a great job walking you through a lot of the core gameplay mechanics and gives you a nice opportunity to mess around with your controls and graphic settings. It's a really well-designed tutorial. Not to mention the phenomenal benchmark on the menu screen which I hope becomes a common practice in all triple-A games moving forward (recently bought AC Valhalla and it's in there, too, so it looks like Ubisoft is all-in with that feature, which is terrific).
I read in an interview with one of the lead developers where he said that they had specific intent to give the players a slew of non-lethal options, and I really do appreciate that. Because in a game where the idea is to essentially fight for the people, it would feel really weird to be gunning around the streets of London with an AK and a grenade launcher (though you can totally do that if that's how you want to play). I mean, I understand the lines are a little blurred when you have your spiderbot climbing up someone's leg, up their torso, then swaddling their face with all 8 of its metal legs and shocking every nerve in their body, but hey, the game says its non-lethal so at least I can sustain my disbelief for that reason. The only issue is that the non-lethal guns in the tech tree all feel WAY too weak. In fact, I was worried whenever I was about to do a main-story mission that the game was going to throw too many enemies at me to be able to handle effectively with the electric weapons, so I steered toward using characters with real guns only so I had some sort of self-defense, which I think hinders the game's design because that cuts out a large chunk of potential characters.
• The fact you cannot walk and listen to audio logs or podcasts is not only terrible for the player but a terrible disservice to the creative team who put a lot of work and effort into that material. I wanted to listen to them but could not justify sitting on the menu screen for minutes upon minutes on end -- even in real life I'm doing something while I listen to podcasts. The material I did listen to, though, was pretty well done. It's a real shame there wasn't better implementation for audio logs.
• I strongly believe how much you liked the people on your team heavily influenced how much you like the game overall. I made it a point to not recruit anybody I did not like and to even remove people who I didn't want on my team anymore, which included Mark, the guy I started with. The cast of characters I put together were people I cared about. People I would hate to see die. Playing on iron man mode, there was no more emotional moment in the game for me, including at the end of the game with Bagley, than when my recruit, Edmond, died in a super unexpected, unanticipated fashion. I played almost exclusively as Edmund the first 10 hours of the game since I got bonus ETO for every person he recruited, and I went HARD with recruiting at the start. So when he died in that super anti-cinematic, super unexpected, super sudden way… and I realized he was just gone -- the guy who I pretty much considered to be the main protagonist of my game… I don't know there's something about the fact that nobody knew the connection I had to that character more than me. Not the game, not the developers, not anyone. He was just some random NPC I grew to feel connected with and like that he was gone. That's a type of moment is unique to Watch Dogs: Legion and the way it's designed (though I have heard strategy games, like XCOM, have a lot of similarities in this regard).
• One big knock against the "play-as-anyone-you-meet" system in Watch Dogs Legion is that as your team grows, you realize that all the ops are pretty interchangeable. There are the few ops that standout like the spy, the drone expert, the beekeeper, the protest rallier… but they're too few and still too homogenous for my liking. In the midst of all of that you're going to have ops that feel pretty samey. Maybe one has shorter hack cooldowns. Maybe one has a car. Maybe one has a g36 or a really good shock rifle like the MPX. But there's still not enough differentiation at that point, especially considering how much voice acting gets reused in the game. The background bios are cool but almost assuredly procedurally generated, so there's no personal touch to those either. I just wish they had more distinct ops like the beekeeper or the anarchist. More distinct ops with standout unique abilities would've given each op on your team a more dissimilar, specific personality, even with everything else staying the way it is. Also would've added more gameplay variety, though I am pretty happy with the gameplay in its current state.
• The fact you can recruit anyone and everyone in the world is a neat thing to say in a marketing ad, but when you actually play the game and realize at what cost that scale comes with -- that being the loss of sense of touch to the characters you play as apart from your own "head cannon" you create for the character, like I had with Edmond, and not to mention the procedurally generated missions the game decides to put you through because the game wants you to do some sort of work to earn the reward of getting that member to join your team… then that's when you might start to skip the conversations, fast travel to the other side of the map where the character's recruitment mission is, and not feel any sense of impact or meaning behind the actions you're performing to help the potential recruit out. And that sucks. But the first 10 to 15 hours where each of those recruitment missions feel unique and tailored before you really realize what's going on under the hood -- those 10 to 15 hours are incredible. And to be fair, this game doesn't serve itself to be played for 60-plus hours. You can, and I did, but the best experience for this game to me without a doubt is a 15 to 35-hour experience. In that time span you get out just when you start to see the make-up fade but while the make-ups on, I think Watch Dogs: Legion is a great experience.
• Watch Dogs: Legion is one of the best looking games I have ever played. Is this in large part because of its technical capabilities compared to other games and because it's the first game I've played since I upgraded my PC? Yes. But nevertheless, playing this game with raytracing on is just eye candy. I'm not an expert on all the GPU technicalities, but if Watch Dogs: Legion is any indication of the next generation of gaming, I think this next generation of games are going to be a significant step visually. I never knew how much reflections mattered until I played this game. Thankfully, it's pretty rainy in London so the puddles were plenty, and boy did those puddles do a good job showing off just how much the new GPUs are capable of. I know better-looking puddles is a meme, and I was in the same camp… until I actually played a game with great looking puddles lol. I also remember flying a cargo drone around one of the big towers in the game, just completely in awe. If you get a new card or one of the new consoles and you want to see what your hardware is capable of -- Watch Dogs: Legion will not disappoint you. I used to think high framerate trumped all, and I still think that's the case in competitive multiplayer games, but for immersive single-player experiences, I'm not so sure anymore. Was it unpleasant to have the frames drop when turning on a busy street intersection? Yes, it was. But holy sh*t those reflections though.
• Aside from the graphics, the art and style of how Ubisoft designed near-future London is very impressive. My jaw dropped the first time I walked through Piccadilly Circus. And I was in awe when I came upon Chinatown and saw that AR dragon. The ferris wheel… Big Ben, the bridges, the river views. I loved flying above the city on top of a cargo drone, gawking at how beautiful nighttime London was. I loved walking down random London streets watching the cars zip to and from, and watching the parcel drones above my head fly towards their destinations to deliver the packages they were holding. Playing with a soccer ball at the local park while the radio played next to me -- all while I enjoyed the beautiful outdoors of the city. Of course, not everything is bright in jovial since London is in a surveillance state, so you see the protest rallies and the overly aggressive officers and the homeless people. It's an interesting clash of tones. But rarely is real-life either always happy or always depressing -- though I guess that depends on your own personal views of life. To me, both exist in the real world, and both can exist in the game -- so from that aspect I'm not shooting down the clashing tones the game has incorporated in it. Apparently, people from London have said that the game does a great job representing London and its boroughs, and that doesn't surprise me. Say what you will about Ubisoft, but they do a phenomenal job recreating real-life places with their own fictitious twists for you to immerse yourself in. I loved setting my car to auto-drive and watching the city breathe.
• Let's talk about the gameplay. So let me start off by saying that I think Ubisoft gets some unfair slack. Generally, I think the minute-to-minute action in Ubisoft games is at the very least enjoyable. The issue is that the mission design and other design elements take that enjoyable gameplay loop and copy-paste it over and over with little divergent characteristics from one gameplay sequence to another. I had an absolute blast with the main gameplay loop in Watch Dogs: Legion. It may not come off in its presentation but, depending on how you play the game, Watch Dogs: Legion's gameplay is an outstanding stealth game. It really rewards your creativity and intelligence as a player. Before infiltrating an area, you're often given an objective and it's up to you to piece together how you're going to accomplish it. This isn't anything new in Ubisoft games. In Assassin's Creed, it's the objective of assassinating a target. In Far Cry, it's killing all the enemies in an outpost. And in Watch Dogs: Legion, it's hacking some piece of software, destroying a vehicle, downloading some secure data, etc. But playing Watch Dogs: Legion made me realize why I enjoy Ubisoft games so much, despite the obvious repetition. It's because it rewards you for your ingenuity. It gives you an objective and constraints and says "figure it out." Watch Dogs: Legion in particular, however, fosters emergent gameplay better than the other two, where each element of the gameplay is relatively simple on its own, but can come together in really cool, complex ways that you yourself are head engineering as the hacker. I don't want to oversell it -- you do press Q and the enemy immediately looks at their phone for 10 seconds, but let me walk you through some of what I'm talking about.
The way you are hopping through the different cameras to survey the area… then hacking a shock drone to get within download range of the key you might need later. Then using that shock drone to zap one of the red control panels to unlock a door. Then using the AR cloak to get by a really busy part of the restricted area. Setting traps and blowing gas tanks to not only take out an enemy, but draw attention away from where you're heading. Coming up behind an enemy and choking them to sleep, drop-kicking them and even Stone Cold Stunning them. Or even just going the traditional route of putting a silencer on your pistol and taking enemies out silentily, one by one, then cloaking their body afterwards. Each time there's a mission to accomplish and you have to piece together a permutation of events using the weapons and electronics at your disposable to get the job done (and in a non-lethal way, if you're playing like that). I'll say it again because it's probably the main reason I enjoyed Watch Dogs: Legion as much as I did: I love how much Watch Dogs: Legion rewards you as the player for your creativity and your intelligence. Is the open mission design structure present in Watch Dogs: Legion anything new or anything we haven't seen before in other games? Absolutely not. In fact, it's probably a core design philosophy in Ubisoft games. But I don't think it works as good in those Ubisoft games as it works here in Watch Dogs: Legion. The way its executed in this near future setting where intelligence and information are crucial in your attack as you hop onto the cams and hack into the drones to scout ahead, planning your next move in real time. It's pretty tactical and can get very tense and exciting, especially if you're playing as a character you like and permadeath is on. One slip up and it's over. In a lot of ways and particularly in that respect, Watch Dogs: Legion reminds me most of Ubisoft's multiplayer shooter, Rainbow: Six Siege -- which is kind of weird to say.
The issue is that the gameplay doesn't hold up that ingenuity once you hit around the 20 hour mark. You start going to the same areas and seeing the same paths to completion. The challenge is lost and the novelty is worn. And that sucks. That's why when I recommend this game to other people I'm going to tell them -- hey, Watch Dogs: Legion is a really fun game but don't overstay your welcome with it. Because the game gets less and less pretty the longer you play it… but boy are those first 15 hours beautiful.
• The borough missions are a nice change of pace. It's a pretty gamey system -- accomplish three tasks in a borough and then you unlock a final mission that, once you beat, liberates that mission's respective sector of the map -- but the fact it's a gamey system is okay with me. I like the variety that the different borough missions bring. From scaling Big Ben with a spiderbot, to racing through the streets with a car in Tower Hamlets and with a high-speed modified drone in Islington & Hackney, to navigating a parcel drone through a 3D maze in Southwark. But fuck that mission where you have to defend the Millennium Wheel with that CT drone, oh my gosh.
• Melee combat was simple-but-crisp. The punching sound effect had a nice pop, and the slow-motion dodges added a cool cinematic effect. It's not Batman, but that's okay. Melee combat is the core of that game and it's a complementary gameplay system here. The fighting arena missions where the hand-to-hand combat is the central focus are a bit too long and not all that fun… but damn did they do a good job with the presentation in those missions. The gunplay isn't DOOM or Battlefield, but Watch Dogs: Legion also isn't a first-person shooter and I think gunplay is a lot harder to accomplish in a third-person shooter. So for a third-person shooter, I found the gunplay serviceable, except for the horrendous bullet damage dropoff on some guns and the bit-too-weak electric guns. I found all six of the gadgets to be very enjoyable to use. The electro-fist is frickin sick, the missile drone is badass, especially if you're playing as a drone expert and time the cooldowns in tandem with your drone dive bomb. And the electro-shock trap is a good general grenade option. You get to choose what I consider one of the two strongest gadgets from the outset in either the spiderbot or the AR cloak.
• With everything else there is to unlock in the tech store I'm sure a lot of players were content with using only the spiderbot or the AR cloak and ignoring the rest of the gadgets, which is another game design flaw. I didn't have too much of a problem with the weapons, the upgrades, and the hack unlocks in the tech store, but I also wasn't particularly excited to go out and grind for tech points. If I really enjoy the core gameplay in a game -- and I really enjoyed the core gameplay in Watch Dogs: Legion -- then usually I'll enjoy putting the time in to grind for unlockables. I spent an hour here or there riding a cargo drone around town and picking up tech points just to take a break from the action, but I truly had no desire to grind for any of those tech abilities. Sure the tech abilities helped but it's not like I needed any of them to progress through the game or had a burning desire to unlock any of them. They made the game easier, in some cases a lot easier -- which is arguably a good thing to a lot of players -- but for a system that's supposed to be the main source of the player's grind, I did not find the system captivating and I would have been all for grinding for those tech points if I found the unlocks to be more exciting. In Far Cry 2, a game designed by the same exact lead game designer as Watch Dogs: Legion, Clint Hocking, I grinded for those gems because I wanted the badass one-hit-kill sniper or the silenced MP5 or the stealth suit. Here, the grind is running around the city spamming your hack button to profile each individual and see if they have any abilities worth recruiting over. And that's not fun at all.
• Not only does the story have serious flaws, but so does the storytelling. Pressing Q and watching an AR reconstruction as Bagley and my character babble on for two minutes does not connect with me in any way. It's boring. It's void of life. The DedSec agent you track down, Angel -- you never see him apart from the AR reconstruction where he might as well be a Superhot NPC at that point. The only time you see him is when he's dead. Sure it sucks this former DedSec op is dead, but I don't know him and I don't have any connection to him, so that's going to limit how much I care. Why not have done something with Dalton -- a character you play as at the very start and have some connection with instead of killing him off and focusing on some random DedSec op named Angel? What a lost opportunity.
• I have to mention the final borough mission for Nine Elms where you go explore a dark, underground Power Plant. Personally, I loved how dark and atmospheric that mission was, and I will not forget that sick feeling I had when I walked into the hidden prison and found humans being caged in pitch black by Albion. It was easily one of the most stunning moments in all of the game and definitely a very emotional one. Fantastic stuff. But you can't interact with them. You can't talk to them. They might as well be chickens in a chicken coop. All you can do is kill the Albion security guard watching over them and then hack into his computer. Then fireworks start flying above the city and people are jumping and celebrating? Then you magically spawn outside again. What the fuck? Where are the people I just saved? Let me talk with one of them. Let them tell me "Thank you for saving my life" and let me say to them "Don't worry about it DedSec's job. Helping the people of London." But no. Instead, I teleport to the quest giver, and we both trade smiles and laughs. If that doesn't highlight the tonality issue in this game, then I don't know what will.
• From the get-go, Skye Larsen fascinated me. A being only present through a hologram, creator of my friend AI in the game, Bagley, and CEO of a neural mapping tech company with the potential to change the world -- seemingly for the better.
You hack into her house and meet her house AI, then power on the elevator that takes you to the basement which for some reason turns out to be The Hunter's Dream from Bloodborne but many, many years later? I just went with it. Proceeded into the house. And the events in the house were pretty much the only times I was fully engaged with the AR reconstruction and highly anticipating what was going to happen next in the mission. Both Skye and Sinead, her mother, were voiced incredibly well and the fact you're in their house, or what appears to be their house, standing between the same four walls those two were standing in… watching the AR reconstruction play out what had happened on her mother's deathbed as the sheets of blood still lay there wrinkled on the floor and while Skye's workbenches are still there set up adjacent to the bedstead. Realizing that spiderbots and descendants of Skye's dog… Then you enter her secret lab in the basement where you find that amazing table with the holographic map of London on it. Next to that, you see chambers holding people in them and you're left to guess what sick, twisted acts she's been up to. Then finally, you end Sinead's misery. It's a very well done segment of the game and I felt a tremendous amount of emotion playing through it. Some of Ubisoft's best storytelling to date.
Unfortunately, a lot of this quest is ruined for me because of its ending. Whether you kill Skye or not, the same thing happens. Nowt shows up at the safe house and proceeds to give you access to 404 side missions, even if you don't side with her. And either way Skye eventually dies, either by you killing her or Broca Tech shutting down her AI. So why is this decision in the game!? To make it feel like we, the player's, action's matter -- even though in reality they don't? I'm tempted to call it deceptive. Are you guys cool with this? This is something I'm really curious about your guys' take on.
I also think there's too little gray area in that decision to make it a tough choice. Which is fine -- there doesn't need to be gray area. It could be a Mass Effect thing where you're playing as a good guy or bad guy… except for the fact that no matter how you want to play, DedSec will always be referred to as the good guys in the game and so playing as the bad guy creates narrative dissonance. Does anyone really think siding with Skye is a reasonably humane choice? Sure, the technology could be used for the good of humanity, but with Skye as the CEO, it's obvious from going through her house that that's not the case and humanity is almost assuredly better off without Project Daybreak if Skye's history is any indication of the future. The decision to kill or side with Skye is just a weird inclusion by Ubisoft, to me.
• Let's discuss the epilogue with Bagley and Bradley. It was so messed up to see what Skye did to her own brother. It obviously made me hate Skye Larsen even more. It was awful what she did to her mom and her dog, but I knew who the third person was. He wasn't just another house member of Skye used to push the narrative forward. He was a friend I made over the course of the last 60-plus hours.
It did feel a bit rushed. It was a quick 3 or 4 minutes in and out of the hospital, and then things go back to normal. But it was the epilogue so I can't fault it for that too much. The photograph mission leading up to it wasn't bad, per se, but I think it should've given more of a hint for each picture. Part of me respects Ubisoft for not putting in objective markers and forcing you to really know the landscape of the world for the bonus material, but not all of the pictures were pictures of noticeable landmarks like the ferris wheel, and that made it really difficult.
So yes, the epilogue was good. And yes, it made me hate Skye Larsen even more. But let me propose something to you. Imagine if the Bagley epilogue quest, or some similar variation of it, was placed after you went through Skye Larsen's house but before you go off to kill her. Imagine how much more connected you would have felt with Bagley through the rest of that game. Imagine how much more you would have despised Skye Larsen and how much more satisfying it would have been to kill her. Your emotional amplitude would have been even higher than it already was from seeing her mom and dog turn into AI. Killing Skye is already a great moment, but if you had seen what she did to your AI friend before you went off to kill her, then killing Skye would have been incredibly emotional, incredibly affecting, and incredibly climactic. And instead of feeling much closer to Bagley right before you're about to say goodbye to the game, you feel closer to him all throughout the rest of the game and right up until the end. Which brings me to the ending. Now continuing on with that hypothetical scenario I've laid out (first Skye's house, then epilogue mission (or a variation), then kill Skye), imagine if when you pull the plug on Bagley at the end… he actually stayed dead and didn't come back to life 30 seconds later. How much better would the story have become just from those changes? Killing Bagley at the end of the game was heartbreaking. Like I said earlier, he was my favorite NPC in the game. If I would have played the epilogue prior to killing him, I'm guessing I would have borderline cried. That would have made the scene even more impactful than it already was. But the reason I really, really dislike the ending of the game is not because of anything it does in the ending -- it's because of what it does after what it does in the ending. Any emotion of sadness and loss I felt when I pressed E and finally said goodbye to Bagley completely disappeared when he popped back up on the safehouse screen moments later. It felt cheap. Extremely cheap. Let the character die. Let the game end. Put that epilogue earlier in the story. But no. This is purely reckless speculation and I hope… dear God I hope I'm being overly cynical here, but I feel like that's not possible because Ubisoft wants you to still be in the world after you finish the game to do the missions you missed so you can still have the opportunity to put money into the game's store, because your chances of putting money into the game's store if the game were to end after you pulled the plug on Bagley and returned to the title screen are close to zero. Is that why Bagley had to stay alive? I don't know. Either way, to me the ending of the game is tragic, but not in the way it was supposed to be tragic. It sucks. I feel robbed of my emotion.
• Nigel Cass falls into the issue I see way too often with antagonists in works of fiction, and something we see earlier with Mary Kelley -- he's too evil. To the point of absurdity. And he didn't have to be portrayed that way. His backstory is that his father was killed by gang members which put him on the path of revenge by taking the law into his own hands. An interesting backstory that unfortunately does not get developed at all and it could've really helped his characterization if it was delved into more. As it stands, he just comes off as another one-dimensional Saturday morning cartoon villain, which is a shame because, again, he had the potential to be a really interesting antagonist like Skye. At least his boss fight was somewhat enjoyable. Though, the game does rely on the network bypass puzzles a few times too many for my liking, along with the AR reconstructions and area defense missions. Also, I was hoping Nigel was a bit more of a juggernaut. You take him down in one clip.
• And finally, let's talk about Zero Day and Sabine Brandt. So Zero Day starts off the game with a big bang. Literally. But then pretty much goes without mention until the end of the game. They're brought up in the game every now and again, but I think I forgot about them for most of the playthrough until the very end when the big reveal happens. It's a reveal that I probably should have seen coming but didn't. You never see Sabine in person until after the reveal. She was the only one who stayed alive after the Zero Day attack. There are hints here and there in the main story. And she doesn't even show up at the team party… that's when it was clear.
Sabine's premise for why she's doing what she's doing does, at the very least, stop and make you think for a moment. Society is completely messed up right now because of harsh surveillance by Albion through the government, homelessness is widespread, and technology has become tyrannical. She wants to restart society from the ground up. Yes, she has to commit mass murder but to her the ends justify the means. And who are you to judge her for killing when you yourself have killed plenty in your playthrough? I really liked Sabine's ending. I just wish they had more Zero Day appearances throughout the game. Let me hear more of Zero Day talking about their philosophy of rebuilding London from the ground up and less of them talking with Mary Kelley about purchasing explosives just to move the story forward. Keep me interested in Zero Day instead of having me forget about them until the end. Keep me curious.
So those are my thoughts! Overall, I had a good time with the game. However, it definitely had some issues that I felt needed airing. And just to be clear, I did not try to slight the game just for the sake of criticizing it. These are my honest thoughts after reflecting on the time I spent with the game. Please do share your own thoughts!
Edit: grammar & typos
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2020.11.20 19:05 sharingmyxp Final thoughts on Watch Dogs: Legion (SPOILERS)

Like many of you, I've spent the past few weeks playing a ton of Watch Dogs: Legion (my final playtime clocked in at around 63 hours), and also like many of you, I have a lot of thoughts about the game. Going to share mine here, but would love to hear yours as well.
If you prefer watching to reading, this video dives into the game in closer detail with gameplay footage examples.
Here are some of my thoughts (Spoiler Warning):
• The tutorial does a great job walking you through a lot of the core gameplay mechanics and gives you a nice opportunity to mess around with your controls and graphic settings. It's a really well-designed tutorial. Not to mention the phenomenal benchmark on the menu screen which I hope becomes a common practice in all triple-A games moving forward (recently bought AC Valhalla and it's in there, too, so it looks like Ubisoft is all-in with that feature, which is terrific).
I read in an interview with one of the lead developers where he said that they had specific intent to give the players a slew of non-lethal options, and I really do appreciate that. Because in a game where the idea is to essentially fight for the people, it would feel really weird to be gunning around the streets of London with an AK and a grenade launcher (though you can totally do that if that's how you want to play). I mean, I understand the lines are a little blurred when you have your spiderbot climbing up someone's leg, up their torso, then swaddling their face with all 8 of its metal legs and shocking every nerve in their body, but hey, the game says its non-lethal so at least I can sustain my disbelief for that reason. The only issue is that the non-lethal guns in the tech tree all feel WAY too weak. In fact, I was worried whenever I was about to do a main-story mission that the game was going to throw too many enemies at me to be able to handle effectively with the electric weapons, so I steered toward using characters with real guns only so I had some sort of self-defense, which I think hinders the game's design because that cuts out a large chunk of potential characters.
• The fact you cannot walk and listen to audio logs or podcasts is not only terrible for the player but a terrible disservice to the creative team who put a lot of work and effort into that material. I wanted to listen to them but could not justify sitting on the menu screen for minutes upon minutes on end -- even in real life I'm doing something while I listen to podcasts. The material I did listen to, though, was pretty well done. It's a real shame there wasn't better implementation for audio logs.
• I strongly believe how much you liked the people on your team heavily influenced how much you like the game overall. I made it a point to not recruit anybody I did not like and to even remove people who I didn't want on my team anymore, which included Mark, the guy I started with. The cast of characters I put together were people I cared about. People I would hate to see die. Playing on iron man mode, there was no more emotional moment in the game for me, including at the end of the game with Bagley, than when my recruit, Edmond, died in a super unexpected, unanticipated fashion. I played almost exclusively as Edmund the first 10 hours of the game since I got bonus ETO for every person he recruited, and I went HARD with recruiting at the start. So when he died in that super anti-cinematic, super unexpected, super sudden way… and I realized he was just gone -- the guy who I pretty much considered to be the main protagonist of my game… I don't know there's something about the fact that nobody knew the connection I had to that character more than me. Not the game, not the developers, not anyone. He was just some random NPC I grew to feel connected with and like that he was gone. That's a type of moment is unique to Watch Dogs: Legion and the way it's designed (though I have heard strategy games, like XCOM, have a lot of similarities in this regard).
• One big knock against the "play-as-anyone-you-meet" system in Watch Dogs Legion is that as your team grows, you realize that all the ops are pretty interchangeable. There are the few ops that standout like the spy, the drone expert, the beekeeper, the protest rallier… but they're too few and still too homogenous for my liking. In the midst of all of that you're going to have ops that feel pretty samey. Maybe one has shorter hack cooldowns. Maybe one has a car. Maybe one has a g36 or a really good shock rifle like the MPX. But there's still not enough differentiation at that point, especially considering how much voice acting gets reused in the game. The background bios are cool but almost assuredly procedurally generated, so there's no personal touch to those either. I just wish they had more distinct ops like the beekeeper or the anarchist. More distinct ops with standout unique abilities would've given each op on your team a more dissimilar, specific personality, even with everything else staying the way it is. Also would've added more gameplay variety, though I am pretty happy with the gameplay in its current state.
• The fact you can recruit anyone and everyone in the world is a neat thing to say in a marketing ad, but when you actually play the game and realize at what cost that scale comes with -- that being the loss of sense of touch to the characters you play as apart from your own "head cannon" you create for the character, like I had with Edmond, and not to mention the procedurally generated missions the game decides to put you through because the game wants you to do some sort of work to earn the reward of getting that member to join your team… then that's when you might start to skip the conversations, fast travel to the other side of the map where the character's recruitment mission is, and not feel any sense of impact or meaning behind the actions you're performing to help the potential recruit out. And that sucks. But the first 10 to 15 hours where each of those recruitment missions feel unique and tailored before you really realize what's going on under the hood -- those 10 to 15 hours are incredible. And to be fair, this game doesn't serve itself to be played for 60-plus hours. You can, and I did, but the best experience for this game to me without a doubt is a 15 to 35-hour experience. In that time span you get out just when you start to see the make-up fade but while the make-ups on, I think Watch Dogs: Legion is a great experience.
• Watch Dogs: Legion is one of the best looking games I have ever played. Is this in large part because of its technical capabilities compared to other games and because it's the first game I've played since I upgraded my PC? Yes. But nevertheless, playing this game with raytracing on is just eye candy. I'm not an expert on all the GPU technicalities, but if Watch Dogs: Legion is any indication of the next generation of gaming, I think this next generation of games are going to be a significant step visually. I never knew how much reflections mattered until I played this game. Thankfully, it's pretty rainy in London so the puddles were plenty, and boy did those puddles do a good job showing off just how much the new GPUs are capable of. I know better-looking puddles is a meme, and I was in the same camp… until I actually played a game with great looking puddles lol. I also remember flying a cargo drone around one of the big towers in the game, just completely in awe. If you get a new card or one of the new consoles and you want to see what your hardware is capable of -- Watch Dogs: Legion will not disappoint you. I used to think high framerate trumped all, and I still think that's the case in competitive multiplayer games, but for immersive single-player experiences, I'm not so sure anymore. Was it unpleasant to have the frames drop when turning on a busy street intersection? Yes, it was. But holy sh*t those reflections though.
• Aside from the graphics, the art and style of how Ubisoft designed near-future London is very impressive. My jaw dropped the first time I walked through Piccadilly Circus. And I was in awe when I came upon Chinatown and saw that AR dragon. The ferris wheel… Big Ben, the bridges, the river views. I loved flying above the city on top of a cargo drone, gawking at how beautiful nighttime London was. I loved walking down random London streets watching the cars zip to and from, and watching the parcel drones above my head fly towards their destinations to deliver the packages they were holding. Playing with a soccer ball at the local park while the radio played next to me -- all while I enjoyed the beautiful outdoors of the city. Of course, not everything is bright in jovial since London is in a surveillance state, so you see the protest rallies and the overly aggressive officers and the homeless people. It's an interesting clash of tones. But rarely is real-life either always happy or always depressing -- though I guess that depends on your own personal views of life. To me, both exist in the real world, and both can exist in the game -- so from that aspect I'm not shooting down the clashing tones the game has incorporated in it. Apparently, people from London have said that the game does a great job representing London and its boroughs, and that doesn't surprise me. Say what you will about Ubisoft, but they do a phenomenal job recreating real-life places with their own fictitious twists for you to immerse yourself in. I loved setting my car to auto-drive and watching the city breathe.
• Let's talk about the gameplay. So let me start off by saying that I think Ubisoft gets some unfair slack. Generally, I think the minute-to-minute action in Ubisoft games is at the very least enjoyable. The issue is that the mission design and other design elements take that enjoyable gameplay loop and copy-paste it over and over with little divergent characteristics from one gameplay sequence to another. I had an absolute blast with the main gameplay loop in Watch Dogs: Legion. It may not come off in its presentation but, depending on how you play the game, Watch Dogs: Legion's gameplay is an outstanding stealth game. It really rewards your creativity and intelligence as a player. Before infiltrating an area, you're often given an objective and it's up to you to piece together how you're going to accomplish it. This isn't anything new in Ubisoft games. In Assassin's Creed, it's the objective of assassinating a target. In Far Cry, it's killing all the enemies in an outpost. And in Watch Dogs: Legion, it's hacking some piece of software, destroying a vehicle, downloading some secure data, etc. But playing Watch Dogs: Legion made me realize why I enjoy Ubisoft games so much, despite the obvious repetition. It's because it rewards you for your ingenuity. It gives you an objective and constraints and says "figure it out." Watch Dogs: Legion in particular, however, fosters emergent gameplay better than the other two, where each element of the gameplay is relatively simple on its own, but can come together in really cool, complex ways that you yourself are head engineering as the hacker. I don't want to oversell it -- you do press Q and the enemy immediately looks at their phone for 10 seconds, but let me walk you through some of what I'm talking about.
The way you are hopping through the different cameras to survey the area… then hacking a shock drone to get within download range of the key you might need later. Then using that shock drone to zap one of the red control panels to unlock a door. Then using the AR cloak to get by a really busy part of the restricted area. Setting traps and blowing gas tanks to not only take out an enemy, but draw attention away from where you're heading. Coming up behind an enemy and choking them to sleep, drop-kicking them and even Stone Cold Stunning them. Or even just going the traditional route of putting a silencer on your pistol and taking enemies out silentily, one by one, then cloaking their body afterwards. Each time there's a mission to accomplish and you have to piece together a permutation of events using the weapons and electronics at your disposable to get the job done (and in a non-lethal way, if you're playing like that). I'll say it again because it's probably the main reason I enjoyed Watch Dogs: Legion as much as I did: I love how much Watch Dogs: Legion rewards you as the player for your creativity and your intelligence. Is the open mission design structure present in Watch Dogs: Legion anything new or anything we haven't seen before in other games? Absolutely not. In fact, it's probably a core design philosophy in Ubisoft games. But I don't think it works as good in those Ubisoft games as it works here in Watch Dogs: Legion. The way its executed in this near future setting where intelligence and information are crucial in your attack as you hop onto the cams and hack into the drones to scout ahead, planning your next move in real time. It's pretty tactical and can get very tense and exciting, especially if you're playing as a character you like and permadeath is on. One slip up and it's over. In a lot of ways and particularly in that respect, Watch Dogs: Legion reminds me most of Ubisoft's multiplayer shooter, Rainbow: Six Siege -- which is kind of weird to say.
The issue is that the gameplay doesn't hold up that ingenuity once you hit around the 20 hour mark. You start going to the same areas and seeing the same paths to completion. The challenge is lost and the novelty is worn. And that sucks. That's why when I recommend this game to other people I'm going to tell them -- hey, Watch Dogs: Legion is a really fun game but don't overstay your welcome with it. Because the game gets less and less pretty the longer you play it… but boy are those first 15 hours beautiful.
• The borough missions are a nice change of pace. It's a pretty gamey system -- accomplish three tasks in a borough and then you unlock a final mission that, once you beat, liberates that mission's respective sector of the map -- but the fact it's a gamey system is okay with me. I like the variety that the different borough missions bring. From scaling Big Ben with a spiderbot, to racing through the streets with a car in Tower Hamlets and with a high-speed modified drone in Islington & Hackney, to navigating a parcel drone through a 3D maze in Southwark. But fuck that mission where you have to defend the Millennium Wheel with that CT drone, oh my gosh.
• Melee combat was simple-but-crisp. The punching sound effect had a nice pop, and the slow-motion dodges added a cool cinematic effect. It's not Batman, but that's okay. Melee combat is the core of that game and it's a complementary gameplay system here. The fighting arena missions where the hand-to-hand combat is the central focus are a bit too long and not all that fun… but damn did they do a good job with the presentation in those missions. The gunplay isn't DOOM or Battlefield, but Watch Dogs: Legion also isn't a first-person shooter and I think gunplay is a lot harder to accomplish in a third-person shooter. So for a third-person shooter, I found the gunplay serviceable, except for the horrendous bullet damage dropoff on some guns and the bit-too-weak electric guns. I found all six of the gadgets to be very enjoyable to use. The electro-fist is frickin sick, the missile drone is badass, especially if you're playing as a drone expert and time the cooldowns in tandem with your drone dive bomb. And the electro-shock trap is a good general grenade option. You get to choose what I consider one of the two strongest gadgets from the outset in either the spiderbot or the AR cloak.
• With everything else there is to unlock in the tech store I'm sure a lot of players were content with using only the spiderbot or the AR cloak and ignoring the rest of the gadgets, which is another game design flaw. I didn't have too much of a problem with the weapons, the upgrades, and the hack unlocks in the tech store, but I also wasn't particularly excited to go out and grind for tech points. If I really enjoy the core gameplay in a game -- and I really enjoyed the core gameplay in Watch Dogs: Legion -- then usually I'll enjoy putting the time in to grind for unlockables. I spent an hour here or there riding a cargo drone around town and picking up tech points just to take a break from the action, but I truly had no desire to grind for any of those tech abilities. Sure the tech abilities helped but it's not like I needed any of them to progress through the game or had a burning desire to unlock any of them. They made the game easier, in some cases a lot easier -- which is arguably a good thing to a lot of players -- but for a system that's supposed to be the main source of the player's grind, I did not find the system captivating and I would have been all for grinding for those tech points if I found the unlocks to be more exciting. In Far Cry 2, a game designed by the same exact lead game designer as Watch Dogs: Legion, Clint Hocking, I grinded for those gems because I wanted the badass one-hit-kill sniper or the silenced MP5 or the stealth suit. Here, the grind is running around the city spamming your hack button to profile each individual and see if they have any abilities worth recruiting over. And that's not fun at all.
• Not only does the story have serious flaws, but so does the storytelling. Pressing Q and watching an AR reconstruction as Bagley and my character babble on for two minutes does not connect with me in any way. It's boring. It's void of life. The DedSec agent you track down, Angel -- you never see him apart from the AR reconstruction where he might as well be a Superhot NPC at that point. The only time you see him is when he's dead. Sure it sucks this former DedSec op is dead, but I don't know him and I don't have any connection to him, so that's going to limit how much I care. Why not have done something with Dalton -- a character you play as at the very start and have some connection with instead of killing him off and focusing on some random DedSec op named Angel? What a lost opportunity.
• I have to mention the final borough mission for Nine Elms where you go explore a dark, underground Power Plant. Personally, I loved how dark and atmospheric that mission was, and I will not forget that sick feeling I had when I walked into the hidden prison and found humans being caged in pitch black by Albion. It was easily one of the most stunning moments in all of the game and definitely a very emotional one. Fantastic stuff. But you can't interact with them. You can't talk to them. They might as well be chickens in a chicken coop. All you can do is kill the Albion security guard watching over them and then hack into his computer. Then fireworks start flying above the city and people are jumping and celebrating? Then you magically spawn outside again. What the fuck? Where are the people I just saved? Let me talk with one of them. Let them tell me "Thank you for saving my life" and let me say to them "Don't worry about it DedSec's job. Helping the people of London." But no. Instead, I teleport to the quest giver, and we both trade smiles and laughs. If that doesn't highlight the tonality issue in this game, then I don't know what will.
• From the get-go, Skye Larsen fascinated me. A being only present through a hologram, creator of my friend AI in the game, Bagley, and CEO of a neural mapping tech company with the potential to change the world -- seemingly for the better.
You hack into her house and meet her house AI, then power on the elevator that takes you to the basement which for some reason turns out to be The Hunter's Dream from Bloodborne but many, many years later? I just went with it. Proceeded into the house. And the events in the house were pretty much the only times I was fully engaged with the AR reconstruction and highly anticipating what was going to happen next in the mission. Both Skye and Sinead, her mother, were voiced incredibly well and the fact you're in their house, or what appears to be their house, standing between the same four walls those two were standing in… watching the AR reconstruction play out what had happened on her mother's deathbed as the sheets of blood still lay there wrinkled on the floor and while Skye's workbenches are still there set up adjacent to the bedstead. Realizing that spiderbots and descendants of Skye's dog… Then you enter her secret lab in the basement where you find that amazing table with the holographic map of London on it. Next to that, you see chambers holding people in them and you're left to guess what sick, twisted acts she's been up to. Then finally, you end Sinead's misery. It's a very well done segment of the game and I felt a tremendous amount of emotion playing through it. Some of Ubisoft's best storytelling to date.
Unfortunately, a lot of this quest is ruined for me because of its ending. Whether you kill Skye or not, the same thing happens. Nowt shows up at the safe house and proceeds to give you access to 404 side missions, even if you don't side with her. And either way Skye eventually dies, either by you killing her or Broca Tech shutting down her AI. So why is this decision in the game!? To make it feel like we, the player's, action's matter -- even though in reality they don't? I'm tempted to call it deceptive. Are you guys cool with this? This is something I'm really curious about your guys' take on.
I also think there's too little gray area in that decision to make it a tough choice. Which is fine -- there doesn't need to be gray area. It could be a Mass Effect thing where you're playing as a good guy or bad guy… except for the fact that no matter how you want to play, DedSec will always be referred to as the good guys in the game and so playing as the bad guy creates narrative dissonance. Does anyone really think siding with Skye is a reasonably humane choice? Sure, the technology could be used for the good of humanity, but with Skye as the CEO, it's obvious from going through her house that that's not the case and humanity is almost assuredly better off without Project Daybreak if Skye's history is any indication of the future. The decision to kill or side with Skye is just a weird inclusion by Ubisoft, to me.
• Let's discuss the epilogue with Bagley and Bradley. It was so messed up to see what Skye did to her own brother. It obviously made me hate Skye Larsen even more. It was awful what she did to her mom and her dog, but I knew who the third person was. He wasn't just another house member of Skye used to push the narrative forward. He was a friend I made over the course of the last 60-plus hours.
It did feel a bit rushed. It was a quick 3 or 4 minutes in and out of the hospital, and then things go back to normal. But it was the epilogue so I can't fault it for that too much. The photograph mission leading up to it wasn't bad, per se, but I think it should've given more of a hint for each picture. Part of me respects Ubisoft for not putting in objective markers and forcing you to really know the landscape of the world for the bonus material, but not all of the pictures were pictures of noticeable landmarks like the ferris wheel, and that made it really difficult.
So yes, the epilogue was good. And yes, it made me hate Skye Larsen even more. But let me propose something to you. Imagine if the Bagley epilogue quest, or some similar variation of it, was placed after you went through Skye Larsen's house but before you go off to kill her. Imagine how much more connected you would have felt with Bagley through the rest of that game. Imagine how much more you would have despised Skye Larsen and how much more satisfying it would have been to kill her. Your emotional amplitude would have been even higher than it already was from seeing her mom and dog turn into AI. Killing Skye is already a great moment, but if you had seen what she did to your AI friend before you went off to kill her, then killing Skye would have been incredibly emotional, incredibly affecting, and incredibly climactic. And instead of feeling much closer to Bagley right before you're about to say goodbye to the game, you feel closer to him all throughout the rest of the game and right up until the end. Which brings me to the ending. Now continuing on with that hypothetical scenario I've laid out (first Skye's house, then epilogue mission (or a variation), then kill Skye), imagine if when you pull the plug on Bagley at the end… he actually stayed dead and didn't come back to life 30 seconds later. How much better would the story have become just from those changes? Killing Bagley at the end of the game was heartbreaking. Like I said earlier, he was my favorite NPC in the game. If I would have played the epilogue prior to killing him, I'm guessing I would have borderline cried. That would have made the scene even more impactful than it already was. But the reason I really, really dislike the ending of the game is not because of anything it does in the ending -- it's because of what it does after what it does in the ending. Any emotion of sadness and loss I felt when I pressed E and finally said goodbye to Bagley completely disappeared when he popped back up on the safehouse screen moments later. It felt cheap. Extremely cheap. Let the character die. Let the game end. Put that epilogue earlier in the story. But no. This is purely reckless speculation and I hope… dear God I hope I'm being overly cynical here, but I feel like that's not possible because Ubisoft wants you to still be in the world after you finish the game to do the missions you missed so you can still have the opportunity to put money into the game's store, because your chances of putting money into the game's store if the game were to end after you pulled the plug on Bagley and returned to the title screen are close to zero. Is that why Bagley had to stay alive? I don't know. Either way, to me the ending of the game is tragic, but not in the way it was supposed to be tragic. It sucks. I feel robbed of my emotion.
• Nigel Cass falls into the issue I see way too often with antagonists in works of fiction, and something we see earlier with Mary Kelley -- he's too evil. To the point of absurdity. And he didn't have to be portrayed that way. His backstory is that his father was killed by gang members which put him on the path of revenge by taking the law into his own hands. An interesting backstory that unfortunately does not get developed at all and it could've really helped his characterization if it was delved into more. As it stands, he just comes off as another one-dimensional Saturday morning cartoon villain, which is a shame because, again, he had the potential to be a really interesting antagonist like Skye. At least his boss fight was somewhat enjoyable. Though, the game does rely on the network bypass puzzles a few times too many for my liking, along with the AR reconstructions and area defense missions. Also, I was hoping Nigel was a bit more of a juggernaut. You take him down in one clip.
• And finally, let's talk about Zero Day and Sabine Brandt. So Zero Day starts off the game with a big bang. Literally. But then pretty much goes without mention until the end of the game. They're brought up in the game every now and again, but I think I forgot about them for most of the playthrough until the very end when the big reveal happens. It's a reveal that I probably should have seen coming but didn't. You never see Sabine in person until after the reveal. She was the only one who stayed alive after the Zero Day attack. There are hints here and there in the main story. And she doesn't even show up at the team party… that's when it was clear.
Sabine's premise for why she's doing what she's doing does, at the very least, stop and make you think for a moment. Society is completely messed up right now because of harsh surveillance by Albion through the government, homelessness is widespread, and technology has become tyrannical. She wants to restart society from the ground up. Yes, she has to commit mass murder but to her the ends justify the means. And who are you to judge her for killing when you yourself have killed plenty in your playthrough? I really liked Sabine's ending. I just wish they had more Zero Day appearances throughout the game. Let me hear more of Zero Day talking about their philosophy of rebuilding London from the ground up and less of them talking with Mary Kelley about purchasing explosives just to move the story forward. Keep me interested in Zero Day instead of having me forget about them until the end. Keep me curious.
So those are my thoughts! Overall, I had a good time with the game. However, it definitely had some issues that I felt needed airing. And just to be clear, I did not try to slight the game just for the sake of criticizing it. These are my honest thoughts after reflecting on the time I spent with the game. Please do share your own thoughts!
Edit: grammar & typos
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2020.11.20 14:04 hallach_halil Spy cam video tumblr


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Scoring in the NFL is at an all-time high. There are so many young, exciting quarterbacks and we see passing records being broken every single week, especially with Tom Brady and Drew Brees going back and forth for the title as the all-time touchdown leader. However, the best teams in this league still play great defense. Some of them may have the individual talent while others do a better job of game-planning and putting their players in position to succeed, but when we talk about the really special units, that’s where both those things come together.
I want to look at the top ten defenses in the NFL as of right now, which of course is largely based on what they have done through ten weeks, but I try to put things into context in terms of who they have played and how some of the statistics or point totals came to be. And funnily enough, only the very last one on the list is below-.500, while eight of these teams have won at least six games.
Make sure to also check out my detailed recap of week ten!


1. Pittsburgh Steelers What really sets this group apart from the rest of the league to some degree is the combination of their defensive line and outside linebackers, because they have four legitimate All-Pro level players among it. T.J. Watt leads this group with the second-most sacks in the league (nine) and tackles for loss (14), while having ten more total pressures than any other player out there (38), but he also has a teammate in the top eight in all three of those categories.
They don’t let people move the ball on them, surrendering a league-low 163 first downs on the season, to go along with allowing just 19 points per game (third-lowest in the league), and they take the ball away, being tied for the league-lead with 17 takeaways. And when you look at where they give up their points, they don’t let opponents get started early and clamp down when they need to, as they are second in first quarter (3.0) and fourth quarter points (4.1) respectively.
The loss of second-year linebacker Devin Bush looked like it could be a major factor, but his fill-in Robert Spillane has been better than anybody could have imagined, whether it is smacking Derrick Henry short of the goal-line or opening the Ravens game with a pick-six. Plus Vince Williams alongside him is one the most physical downhill backers in the league. That combined with Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt dominating on the interior has led to an NFL-high 65 tackles for loss.
The Steelers have really gotten back to their “Blitzburg” days, using their inside backers and nickel Mike Hilton in pressure packages. At times I even want them to do it less, because their front-four when they are in nickel is so awesome, that you want to flood zones and just force opposing quarterbacks to hold the ball for an extra beat (tied for third with blitzes on 41.7% of snaps). Defensive coordinator Keith Butler has adapted that aggressiveness from his time serving under Dick LeBeau as their linebacker coach. Pittsburgh leads the league with 36 sacks and a stupendous rate of putting pressure on the quarterback on 35 percent of drop-backs – Tampa Bay is the next-closest at 27.4%.
To go along with that, they are very diverse on the back-end with their zone coverages, with Minkah Fitzpatrick as their joker, who is an elite roaming free safety,that can make plays on anything in-between the numbers in single-high duty, but also shows great awareness as a robber and can be deployed on man-coverage in the slot, which he did a ton of at Alabama and as a rookie in Miami. Outside of him they might not impress you with the names in the secondary, but I believe since Teryl Austin came over last year as an assistant, they have been much more sound in their coverages and everybody gets their hands on the ball. They are confident in what they see in front of them and they look to punch at the ball out when they get there, whether it’s to break up passes or create fumbles.
The only real issues to me are their outside corners, since they can’t really play man-to-man for large stretches of games when they face elite receiving corps, but as long as they don’t ask them to do that and force you to chip away with underneath completions, they’ll come up with a play to change the momentum at some point of the game. And even when they faced what to me already is one of the most efficient short-area passers in Bengals rookie Joe Burrow, they showed that they won’t let that area of their game be taken advantage of.
2. Chicago Bears I know that there are defenses that rank higher statistically in some categories, but I look at this from the standpoint of how much one unit has to carry the other and the Bears offense has been absolutely dreadful, as only the Jets have put up less yards (28.4) points per drive (1.59). I mean just look at this past game against the Vikings – the return game and the defense were the only things that kept them in that contest, since the offense put up a miniscule 32 yards in the second half despite an opening kick return touchdown putting them in great position and over half that yardage came on a dump-off to the running back at the very end, which Minnesota gave up willingly.
Despite being on the field for more defensive drives than any other team in the league (115) because of how bad their offense is, only six teams have allowed less points on the season (209 through ten games). They have forced three-and-outs on 24.3 percent of offensive drives and they have allowed opponents to convert just a third of their third down attempts (lowest mark in the league). Plus, what really sets them apart is how often they hold opponents to field-goals when they get into scoring range, as they are easily at the top of the list in touchdown percentage in the red-zone (44.1%) and TD-to-FG ratio overall (0.69). Plus, they are the only team that hasn’t given up 30+ points all season (actually no more than 26).
This really is one of the most complete defenses in the league and they function so well as a group. While their nose tackle Eddie Goldman opted out before the season, when Akiem Hicks has been in the lineup, opposing teams have had a tough time running the ball, with him and Brent Urban plugging the middle, while nobody wants to set the point of attack where Khalil Mack is lined up and then they have tremendous speed at the second level to scrape over the top of blocks or fill from the back-side. And and all of their guys in the secondary are tough tacklers. Here are the rushing totals of the All-Pro level backs they have faced in the last three weeks: Alvin Kamara – 12 carries for 67 yards, Derrick Henry – 21 for 68, and Dalvin Cook – 30 for 96 (and his only two runs of 10+ yards came with Hicks on the sideline late).
In the pass game, they can let Mack and Robert Quinn shoot off the edges with two pocket-pushers in the middle in nickel packages and Roquan Smith has turned himself into one of the premiere tight-end and running back erasers. Their sack numbers may not blow you away, but they never let opposing quarterbacks get comfortable in the pocket and Mack can deliver game-changing strip-sacks at any moment.
On the back-end, they can play basically any coverage, with Eddie Jackson being a true free safety at heart, but he is also highly instinctive when you put him closer to the line of scrimmage and they excel at passing on assignments in quarters coverage. Kyle Fuller is one of the elite off-man corners, who has also become one of the best at his position at separating opposing players from the ball, while they have found an excellent running mate for him in rookie Jaylon Johnson, who can crowd receivers with his length. The one real weak spot for this time right now is nickelback, where Buster Skrine has been getting worked on by some of the better slot receivers.
Chuck Pagano deserves a lot of credit for having this group continue to play at very close to the level they were at under Vic Fangio, the year they won the NFC North. Only the offense is so bad that nobody really pays attention. The two issues I have with them is that they at plays play too soft in their two-high shells, which was really the only way the Vikings moved the ball this past Monday Night (to go along with that long post route from Justin Jefferson), and the fact they have surrendered 30 first downs via penalty (only one behind the Saints, who lead the league in that category) and they are only 7 yards away from leading the league in penalty yardage.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers This might seem a little high for a team that got blown out two weeks ago on Sunday Night and I know that is still heavily on the mind of people, but f you were looking for the team that closest resembles what Pittsburgh has up front defensively, I would point at Tampa. While losing Vita Vea for the season right in the middle of that unit following week five has certainly hurt, they brought in Steve McLendon to at least resemble that ability to eat up double-teams in the run game and keep their linebackers clean, while Rakeem Nunez-Roches has been played almost 50 percent of the snaps in space-eating role as well.
That allows the Bucs linebackers to run around freely and to me this is the most dynamic duo on the second-level in football, with Lavonte David and Devin White. In the run game, those two guys can string run plays out to the sideline and take away angles, they are like a blur when they come on blitzes and boy, they light people up. league-low Tampa is tied for allowing a league-low 3.3 yards per rush. David has been one of the most underappreciated players of the last decade and he made that transition from an outside role in a 4-3 to that hybrid 3-4 under Todd Bowles look seamless. And White is right up there with the very best in terms of talent, which I have to give their linebacker coaches Mike Caldwell and Larry Foote a lot of credit for, to let it flourish, since he certainly had issues ID-ing run fits coming out of LSU two years ago.
The two guys off the edge are special in their own right, as Jason Pierre-Paul is first on the team with 7.5 sacks and while Shaq Barrett isn’t leading the league in that category like he did last season (19.5), he isn’t far off his pace when it comes to QB pressures, with 28 through the first ten games, plus William Gholston has quietly been putting heat on the opposing passer, with a team-leading 14 hits on the QB. We saw JPP get a pick off Teddy Bridgewater last week on a delayed hook-up drop and Barrett has the athleticism to some spot-dropping as well, while both are physical edge-setters.
Carlton Davis has developed himself into a true number one corner, who they don’t shy away from manning against elite receivers, which gives them flexibility with how they deploy the rest of that group in coverage, Sean Murphy-Bunting can play inside and out for them and their two safeties Jordan Whitehead and rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. are completely interchangeable. I love seeing those two guys drive on routes in quarters coverage and no other team blitzes their safeties more than the Bucs.
Todd Bowles is one of the most aggressive defensive play-callers with his blitz packages, as he will attack on all three downs and really only stepped off the gas when playing New Orleans – and we saw how that worked out for them. Only Baltimore has blitzed on a higher percentage of snaps (42.3%). The Bucs are second in the league to the Steelers with 32 sacks and a pressure percentage of 27.6%, while also being tied with Pittsburgh for the league-lead with 17 takeaways. Per Football Outsiders, the Bucs have the best DVOA defensively (-22.0%) of any team in the league, and they are third in yards per play (4.9).
The issue for them and why they haven’t been even better is that they have been undisciplined at times. They are tied for second in the league with 604 yards off penalties and they have had three games of over 30 points allowed, to go with the six in which they gave up 20 or less. The one guy that has been targeted frequently with success in coverage is Jamel Dean, who has been highly susceptible to double moves.

4. Baltimore Ravens Coming off an NFL-best 14-2 season last year, all the Ravens did is bolster their defensive roster and while their offense has been sputtering in some spots, their season really only had one bad game versus Kansas City – which happens to many teams out there. Baltimore is now back to leading the league by allowing just 18.3 points per game and pretty much exactly half of their total have come in their three losses, while usually not letting opponents get started early, with a league-low 2.9 points in first quarters.
Unlike three teams I have ahead of them, for me the Ravens defense starts with the secondary. They two All-Pro level corners in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, while they found a way to bring back Jimmy Smith, who is still a high-quality starter and has been used more as a matchup piece and even at safety this season. Other than Jalen Ramsey, I don’t think I’d pick anybody other than Humphrey to build my defense around as far as the cornerback position is concerned. He has great length and speed to match physical X receivers, but works in the slot a whole lot against 11 personnel, he is big hitter and has become of the true specialists at knocking the ball loose, being tied for the league lead with four fumbles forced. While Peters has great anticipation but also studies route patterns and offensive tendencies at an extremely high level, which has made him the greatest ball-hawk since coming into the league five years ago.
And Baltimore might have the most underrated safety tandem out there, with last year’s breakout player on that unit in Chuck Clark, who can play deep but also match tight-ends and line up as a dime backer, and then Deshon Elliott, who is replacing Earl Thomas this season, and I have always liked since studying him at Texas. Every time I saw him in preseason he jumped off the screen and I thought he could turn into a quality starter, but missed most of his first two years in the league. Both of those guys are highly involved in the Ravens blitz packages and they have a lot of different responsibilities in coverage.
Because with Wink Martindale calling the shots, the Ravens have the most diverse pressure packages in the league and they have the highest blitz-rate of all 32 teams at 44.0 percent. This trend of putting seven people at the line of scrimmage, while I now of course the double A-gap pressure looks was already a common element of several teams, former DC Dean Pees and now Martindale have really taken this to a new level, and because the Ravens have guys that can hold up in man-coverage to go with great execution when they do bail out of those looks, they create a lot of problems for opposing teams. Only the Bears have allowed a lower percentage of third downs to be converted against them (33.6%) and the Ravens have also given away the least free yardage through penalties (298).
Up front, Brandon Williams is a rock for them in the middle of it all, while Derek Wolf can play anywhere from a 1- to a 5-technique and Calais Campbell can create issues along the front as well, with incredible length and power to never allow more than stalemates in the run game to go along with being an all-timer in the pass-rush department. Matt Judon may not be an elite-level pass-rusher, but he is a very complete outside backer, while Pernell McPhee is a man at the point of attack with experience of moving along the front and now with the trade for Yannick Ngakoue, they have a true speed ball off the edge, which none of those other guys are.
The inside linebackers are in a very favorable system in Baltimore, because they are usually kept clean by those big guys up front and get free on plenty of their cross-blitzes and loops. Rookie Patrick Queen has had some issues recognizing plays and been the subject of falling for eye-candy, but his closing burst has made him a frequent visitor in the backfield and he has been a magnet for the ball, with a couple of fumbles forced and recovered, including a long scoop-and-score. The Ravens just allowed 173 yards on the ground to the Patriots, but that had a lot to do with missing Campbell and L.J. Fort, as well as losing their big nose-tackle mid-game.

5. Indianapolis Colts The Colts defense had one elite players these two years prior with linebacker Darius Leonard, who has such easy athleticism and flies around the like the “Maniac” he is nicknamed as. I could talk forever about his ability to beat blockers to the spot, how much ground he can cover in the pass game and the fact he is the first guy I have seen have no issues spying on Lamar Jackson a couple of weeks ago. However, this offseason Indianapolis traded for another All-Pro level guy in defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who might not have been looked at as one of the premiere players at his position in recent years, because he doesn’t put the kind of numbers that scream out to the casual fan, but I thought he was the best player on that dominant 49ers defense last season and could have been named Super Bowl MVP, if San Francisco had found a way to finish that game. DeFo is one of the most disruptive players in the game, whether it is blowing up run plays on early downs or overwhelming guards in passing situations.
While most people are familiar with names of veterans like Justin Houston and Xavier Rhoades, I want them to watch Grover Stewart and Denico Autry up front as well, who have been penetrators along that D-line all season long. And most importantly, I want to point out that rookie free safety Julian Blackmon has looked amazing so far. He has incredible range and I have always loved his football IQ, transitioning from corner for his senior year at Utah, but I didn’t expect his speed to be where it is now on a field with other pros. He is everything the Colts hoped Malik Hooker would be.
Let’s talk more about the scheme that they run, which is your classic 4-3 Over front in base with a 31 alignment by the defensive tackle, meaning the strongside D-tackle (mostly Buckner) lines up over the outside shoulder of the guard – determined by the tight-end – and they have a shade-nose on the opposite side of the center. That 3-technique is allowed to just fly upfield and wreak havoc, while the bigger D-tackle has to deal with more double-teams in the run game and is often taken off the field when they switch to nickel, to bring on fresh bodies. And then have of speed on the second level to shoot gaps and spill from the back-side. Right now the Colts are third in total rushing yards(826) and yards per attempt allowed (3.5), despite having already faced four of the six rushing offenses (Ravens, Browns, Vikings & Titans).
In terms of the pass game, they played a lot of soft cover-two zone, where they excelled at rallying to the ball, which still reflects in the numbers, as they missed by far the fewest tackles of any team in the league (35) and only the Steelers have allowed less yards after the catch (866). However, with the emergence of Rock Ya-Sin as a number one corner in the making and Xavier Rhoades having a resurgent season, to go with Blackmon giving them the ability to run single-high looks, they have transitioned to more of a cover-three match defense, where nickel Kenny Moore is asked to match a lot of routes from the slot and they can be more aggressive with press-bail technique on the outside. They still don’t blitz a lot, as only the Chargers and Raiders have done at a lower percentage of plays (19.4%), but because they can be more aggressive with forcing quarterbacks to make throws into tighter windows, they have been responsible for an NFL-low passer rating by opposing quarterbacks (78.9).
Give a lot of credit to defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, who came over in 2018 from Dallas to take over the 30th-ranked defense in yards and points allowed respectively, Since then the Colts have finished 10th, 18th and 4th in points allowed, while in 2019 not having Darius Leonard for multiple games among others and the final five games, where they were knocked out of the playoffs, pretty much after losing that first one, heavily influenced the final results. This season only three times have given up less points per game (19.7) and the Colts are tied for a league-low 4.8 yards allowed per play. However, playing against the two worst offenses in the NFL in the Jets and Bears, who combined for 18 points against Indy, certainly helps.

6. Miami Dolphins No defense has been more impressive since the end of the first quarter of the season than this group in South Beach. The Dolphins have allowed just 17.2 points over these last five games, while having faced the three NFC West teams not named Seattle and red-hot rookie quarterback Herbert, to go with a shutout of the lowly Jets. More importantly, they have forced ten turnovers over that stretch and scored two touchdowns themselves, to go along with directly setting up a couple of one-yard touchdowns for their offense, if you count in Andrew Van Ginkel’s blocked punt to start the game last week.
If you want to know how the Dolphins prioritize different positions, just look at where they allocate their ressources, as their two highest-paid players on their team are their starting outside corners Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, while they also spent a first-round pick on Noah Igbinoghene this past draft, who struggled when thrown in the fire as a boundary corner, as Jones missed some time early, but has shown some signs of growth, when they have deployed him more in the slot since then. Howard might be the best off-man corner in the whole league, while Jones is more of a size-speed specialist, who can match big X receivers. Eric Rowe is another extremely smart player, who is listed as their starting strong safety, but has no issues moving to the outside with tight-ends and keep his eyes on the quarterback even when he is matched up one-on-one, because he understands tendencies in combination with the blitzes they and when he can jump routes. He got a pick off Jared Goff in their dominant performance over the Rams and should have actually had another one just like it.
And very much like Flores is used to from his New England days, they have a lot of versatility up position, with old faces like Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts to go along with Jerome Baker on the second level, where those guys look to smack running backs in the face when they are sent on blitzes. On the D-line, Miami really wants to put big bodies out there that don’t allow guys to climb up to the linebackers, with Raekwon Davis being a truly immovable object, while 2019 first-roudn pick Christian Wilkins provides more juice in a slanting front and Zach Sieler was quietly played over half the snaps as well. While on the edges, Emmanuel Ogbah is quietly near the top of the league with eight sacks (only three players have more) and is tied with Shaq Lawson for the team-lead with 14 quarterback hits.
I have said that the Ravens use the most diverse blitz packages in the league, but I don’t think any team has confused their opponents as much with their pressure looks as Brian Flores & his troops. They constantly create issues for protections schemes and force quarterbacks into turnovers or to pull the ball down, as they drop something underneath the hot read or get somebody to come off the edge unblocked. What they did to the Rams in their week eight matchup was absolutely criminal, getting two easy picks and a couple of strip-sacks off Jared Goff, who seemed completely oblivious to what was happening at times. I even did a video on it on my Instagram if you want to check it out, because I’m still astounded that a team won a game scoring 28 points, despite putting together less than 150 total yards of offense.
Brian Flores in combination with his defensive coordinator Josh Boyer and the rest of the staff have been absolutely killing it with their game-specific plans and how much they have mixed up the looks they show to keep offenses off balance. Despite their 1-3 start, they only half a percentage-point away from allowing the league’s lowest third-down success rate (33.9%) and even in matchups against Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert these last two weeks, they have found ways to create big plays with their defense. Tua and the offense have done a good job sustaining drives and not turning the ball over themselves, but this defense is the biggest reason they have now won five straight.

7. Los Angeles Rams That 23-16 win over the Seahawks this past Sunday I feel like really put the Rams on the map, as they got three turnovers off what was the early-season MVP Russell Wilson. However, they have been excellent pretty much all season long and that reflects itself in the numbers. L.A. is second behind only Baltimore with 18.7 points allowed per game and when you look it drive-wise, the Rams have allowed the fewest yards (27.32) and points (1.52) per offensive possession, while forcing three-and-outs on an NFL-high 26.8 percent of those possessions and being tied for first with Indianapolis for the lowest mark in yards per attempt (4.8). And they have surrendered the fewest touchdowns all season (15), while having taken the ball away just two times less (13).
When you look at the roster on paper, it looks like a lot of stars and scrubs, but they have performed really well as a group, executing at a higher level and hitting harder than they did a year ago I feel like. Of course it all starts with having best interior defensive lineman and cornerback in the game respectively. Aaron Donald is so damn good that we don’t even really talk about him anymore. He is only half a sack behind the league’s leader Myles Garrett in that category (9.0), while only Garrett and the Ravens’ Marlon Humphrey have forced more fumbles this season (three) and he Is top three in total pressures once again (26), whilst freeing up his teammates a lot. While Jalen Ramsey just put up a clinic against Seahawks superstar receiver D.K. Metcalf, who he travelled with for most of the game and really challenged, holding him to just two catches for 28 yards. When you look at his length, speed and the fact he won’t back down from anybody, he is one of maybe three true shutdown corners in the league. And he allows the Rams to put him in that one-on-one matchup for pretty much the entire day and run a lot of different coverages away from him.
However, there are plenty of unsung heroes, like Michael Brockers, who can dominate at the point of attack and has been a big reason they are a top-five run defense this season, while giving them flexibility along the front. Then there’s Leonard Floyd, who was labelled as a first-round bust his first four years with the Bears, but just received NFC Defensive Player of the Week, thanks to his three-sack performance against Seattle. He is top eight in sacks and total pressures this season, while not allowing runs to bounce out wide his way and also dropping out into some shallow areas. And how about cornerback Darious Williams, who just picked off Russ twice this past Sunday, once in the end-zone and another one on a beautiful job of undercutting an out-route by tight-end Greg Olsen? He already had two INTs before that.
Defensive coordinator Brandon Staley has been one of the more pleasant surprises of the season, as the Rams moved on from the legendary Wade Phillips for him and he has that unit playing at a higher level on a week-to-week basis, while Staley has a very energetic young staff around him. They are tied for third in the NFL with 31 sacks on the year and fifth in third-down percentage at 35.40%. Most impressive to me however, every other team in the league has pretty much given up twice as many points in second halves than the Rams, who has given given up a miniscule four points on average. As much as Sean McVay deserves credit for scheming receivers open with the play-action, how he has adapted his run schemes and the way he has kept defenses guessing all season, the Rams defense has clearly been the most consistent unit. The only thing I have to say is that they have already faced all four NFC East, in which games they gave up just 13.8 points on average. So that will definitely prop up your numbers.

8. Kansas City Chiefs When we think of the Chiefs, we think about Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and that high-flying offensive attack. Mahomes right now is in the best position to win another league MVP trophy, nobody is scoring on a higher percentage of their offensive drives and they are second in the league in both yards and points amassed. However, the reason I have had them as clear Super Bowl favorite since they demolished the Ravens in Baltimore on that week three Monday Night is that they are a really complete team and since they lost their last game of 2019, when the Titans beat them on a game-winning touchdown drive late, their defense has played as well as any unit not named Pittsburgh you could argue.
After the Chiefs D held opponents to an average of just 11.5 points over their last six games of last year’s regular season and then making timely plays in their Super Bowl run, they have only given up more than 20 points twice this season. There are just five teams in the league have allowed less points this season (20.3 a game) and that is despite being ahead in many contests and just protecting the lead on several occasions. And like I already kind of mentioned, those numbers are heavily influenced by their 40-32 loss to the Raiders, when Derek Carr played the game of his life and a late touchdown was set up by Mahomes’ only interception of the season, all the way to their own 2-yard line, and then their last game against the Panthers, who tried to play keep-away early on, before that Chiefs offense forced them to step on the gas, and they also stole a possession on a big punt fake.
Early on last year, Kansas City was highly susceptible to the run game and that’s the formular people tried to use in order to keep that explosive offense on the sidelines and control games, but down the stretch they really improved in that area with Derrick Nnadi controlling the point of attack, and while they are closer to the bottom of the list in most of those categories, they faced three of the top seven rushing offenses early on and are starting to hit their stride again, with just 114.5 yards on the ground allowed on average since their lone loss of the season, at the hands of Las Vegas.
However, it’s when they get you into a game where you have to throw the ball that they can really frustrate you. When they have a healthy Bashaud Breeland, Chavarius Ward and Rashad Fenton in the lineup, they are not scared to be aggressive with their man-coverage and force you to beat them outside the numbers. Rookie L’Jarius Sneed actually played exceptionally well at the start of the year and should probably at least return for a playoff run, which only gives them more depth. Second-year safety Juan Thornhill gives them a rangy player on the back-end to allow Tyrann Mathieu to roam around freely on certain snaps and does everything at such a high level – cover tight-ends or slot receivers in man, blitz or at times technically being a robber, but just moving around all over the place depending on he sees. And the Chiefs use as many three-safety sets as any team in the league, with Daniel Sorensen playing 80 percent of the defensive snaps and having made some tremendous plays because of the smarts he possesses.
Only the Steelers, Bucs and Rams haven given up a lower passer rating on the season (81.4), even though Kansas City started the year versus Deshaun Watson, Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson, plus they also went against Josh Allen later on – all top ten quarterbacks this season. And while Herbert had a tremendous debut that caught everybody off guard, including the defense that didn’t even know he would start until he ran out there, this is how things went for the other three guys – Deshaun and the Texans scored just seven points through more than three quarters, Lamar didn’t even throw for 100 yards despite being in catch-up mode for most of the game and the Josh Allen-led Bills were held to just over 200 yards of total offense.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is one of the better game-planners when it comes to the defensive side of the ball. He is not afraid to sell out and stop what the opposing team does best, he is aggressive with his blitz packages in obvious passing situations to force quick decisions and he gives opposing quarterbacks a ton of different looks on the back-end. They can lock down receiving corps in man, but also play a lot of hybrid zone patterns, plus they have an elite pass-rush in Chris Jones with the third-most total pressures league-wide (27) and Frank Clark, who has created a lot of issues off the edge himself (13 combined hits and sacks). That combined with some free rushers Spags schemes up has the Chiefs fourth with a pressure percentage of 26.4 percent.
Kansas City’s one big issue has tackling, where they have missed 77 attempts on the season, which is sixth-most among all NFL teams. I don’t love their linebackers, even though they have shown up in some big games, but overall this unit is not quite as consistent as the ones of other teams in front of them I feel like, and that’s why they come in at number eight.

9. New Orleans Saints This is a group that I was kind of concerned early on in the season. After giving 71 combined points to the Raiders and Packers in consecutive losses to set them off to a 1-2 start, I had serious questions about the age and overall play in their secondary, while their pass-rush wasn’t really coming along yet either. And they allowed 29 and 27 points respectively to the Lions and Chargers the two following weeks. However, since coming off their week six bye, they have given up just 15.8 points a game, including a 38-3 blowout of their division rival Bucs, who only tagged on that late field-goal so they wouldn’t be completely shut out.
I feel like they have played a so much more physical brand of football these last few weeks and for them it really starts up front. While people have been able to throw on them at the start of the year, nobody has run on the Saints with major in the last two years pretty much. They are tied with their divisional rival Tampa Bay at an NFL-low 3.3 yards per rush allowed and they have also given less yards (691) and first downs on the ground than any other team in the league (38). And a big reason for that has been All-Pro linebacker Demario Davis coming downhill and blowing up ball-carriers for minimal yardage, and they are tied for fourth in the league with 50 tackles for loss on the season. David Onyemata at that shade nose position has been doing a lot of the dirty work as well.
New Orleans might have the best trio of defensive ends in the league, with Cam Jordan obviously leading the way, but Trey Hendrickson has been a monster with his team-leading 7.5 sacks and even now that former first-round pick Marcus Davenport is back from injury, who Hendrickson filled in for originally, they can just overwhelm blockers. When they get into nickel sets they put all three of those guys on the field together, because they all have inside-out flexibility and can bully offensive linemen in the run and pass game. Just go back and watch what they did to those two Bucs tackles a couple of weeks ago. When you combine that with isolating Demario Davis against running backs as a blitzer, who he absolutely blows up at times, they can wreak havoc on passing downs.
Really the secondary was the problem child through the early stages of the season, but they have picked things up big-time. And it’s really nothing that they have changed – their guys have played better. They still play a ton of man-coverage and even when they show split-safety looks, they bring one of those guys down as a robber or have him check the back coming out. I actually think when they run two-high shells is when they have issues, because their safeties tend to be too aggressive with jumping routes. I can just think to a 74-yard touchdown for D.J. Moore, who was wide open on a post route off a scissors concept, because Marcus Williams went with the slot receiver on a deep out. Marshon Lattimore has done a complete 180, highlighted by holding Mike Evans catch-less in this second matchup, and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is really coming into his as one of the top slot defenders in the league. Opposing tight-ends had a lot of success early on against New Orleans, when the Saints matched Malcolm Jenkins up against them, but he has now held Jimmy Graham to two catches for 13 yards and Rob Gronkowski to one catch for two yards. Overall he has been responsible for 22.8 yards per game as the primary defender in coverage in his last five outings.
Dennis Allen returned to New Orleans in 2015, where he had already spent five years as an assistant, and coordinated a defense that finished last and second-to-last in points allowed during those high-flying years with Drew Brees, but as this team has transitioned to more of a run-game oriented approach with complementary play from the other side of the ball, the Saints D has been above-average in yards and points allowed each of the last four seasons. And a lot of that has to do with the staff Allen has put together around him, which includes some of the most highly respected assistants in their field. And we have seen them improve heavily in situational football, as they have allowed just 32.5 of third downs to be converted against them and opposing teams have scored just two touchdowns on six red-zone trips these last three weeks combined.
Thanks to the defense and return game, the Saints have the best starting position for their offensive drives in the league, just beyond their 33-yard line. Their one big issues more them – and it has improved recently as well – is penalties. When you look at yardage, it may not stand out as much, but they have given up a league-high 31 first downs through flags. That is unacceptable.


Number 10 is in the comments!

If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/11/19/top-10-defenses-in-the-nfl-after-ten-weeks/
Also make sure you check out my detailed recap of the NFL's week ten on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TslbqpYyJ94
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2020.11.09 17:34 CCDestroyer Question about audio and video recording of landlords' employees/contracted tradespeople.

I'm building an RTB claim against my landlords. The relationship was never great because they've never been honest actors (they're property developers, as I've found out after 7 years here, and I and other low-income tenants live in a poorly-managed, silverfish-infested dump that definitely has that "pre-development" vibe to it). They have a pattern of negligence, verbal abuse, willful ignorance/disregard for the RTA, and self-serving behaviour. They avoid learning or even respecting tenants' rights and their obligations that are too expensive/complicated/inconvenient for them to bother with. They gave me the runaround and avoided following through on evicting my upstairs neighbour after a year of her stomping harassment in retaliation to my lawful kitchen exhaust fan use (for cooking, and little breaks in between for vaping Rx cannabis for a chronic pain condition) and four separate complaints about said harassment, but they easily know how to use lease forms, notices of rent increase (every year like clockwork), and notices of eviction for nonpayment of rent, because they have no problem following through on the things that get them paid and protect their bottom line. I'm sure I'll be making more posts as I continue to assemble this complex claim against them.
I know that I have a right to record my own private conversations with others, without their consent or knowledge, and I've been doing so. I also have a spy cam. More specifically, I need to know if it's legal for me to record one or more of the landlords' employees/contractors in my apartment if I'm not there at the time. It's my private space that I rent, and they'd be there in a working capacity, so would they have any right to converse privately while they are working in my apartment while I'm absent? Can I secretly record audio and video of them?
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2020.11.09 00:23 papasito87 Tumblr cam spy video

I used to occasionally visit cam site's, not all the time but randomly i'f i were bored. I was doing around 2 month's ago, start of September, and I visited one girl, and went to C2C (cam to cam) in private, usually I would C2C and that's it, she messaged me after though, and we were talking, it felt like we had a connection straight away, just from the c2c (This is something that has never happened to me, and i have been doing this stuff on and off for around 5 years, even when i've been in a relationship i have visited these site's)
Anyway she gave me her real instagram, and name and detail's, this is something Cam Girl's are told not to do as a rule, and I'm aware that she has a fake IG for user's.
We got talking load's every day (outside of the cam site) I actually didn't speak to her on her pages for a while because we were talking outside of that, I started to spy on her a little on her page to see how she interacted with other user's and i'f I were different, and she always gave a fake name and fake IG etc. (This is not a story of getting played by a cam girl like most of the cam related story's, she actually did like and i fucked it, but we will get to that)
Anyway to cut a long story short i fell in love with her, and basically became obsessed, she never asked me for money or anything like that, she didn't even want me to do private's with her, we would face time each other every day, and do sexual stuff outside of her work, sexting etc pics video call, she gave me her number, what's app, facebook everything, then she began to text a little less quicker and more blunt and I found out she had got back with a cheating ex boy friend that she had previously told me about, and that they were now in an ''open relationship'' that's when thing's started to go bad. He found out about us, and went mad at her saying the rules of the open relationship were supposed to be just sex and nothing romantic.
I became very toxic and possessive after this and drove her to eventually hate me, like she would be all nice and happy and then her personality will change i'f i ask questions about who she talks to and thing's like that.
She live's in Colombia and we had constantly made plans for me to come and visit her, it all messed up when I became jealous of her speaking to another user on a different page, to which i registered with that page and out of pure jealousy i threatened to give her real name, and then she blocked me on everything. This was an indication to me that she actually liked me, because she went crazy about revealing her info and that she had trusted me, and had never given any real info out before, she also tried to break it off a few time's because her boy friend was constantly arguing with her about me, (One time he actually came in during a video call and they had a massive argument about me which i witnessed on the phone, he even used my name, for me the fact she never asked for anything and had actually tried to stop what were doing gave me the indication that she really did like me, but I would not let go, i managed to come around this and still have her IG and facebook, and what's app, but talking is not as often, it's still every day but no where near as quick reply's and long chat's, I have drove her away from my own obsession and insecurity's.
I can't get over the fact someone like her actually did like me and how i fucked it all up purely on my own possessiveness and insecurity. Anyway I now find myself in an obsessed heartbroken rut, that I can not get out of because it's not like I can move on like normal heartbreak, she is online everyday I can see her, and I can't stop going on her page to watch. How do i get out of it.
It's very easy to say just delete and move on and stop visiting but I just can't at the moment. And I am seriously thinking about see'ing a hypnotherapist.
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2020.11.04 04:01 j7c5 Video cam spy tumblr

No Police Body Cams Without Strict Safeguards EFF opposes police Body Worn Cameras (BWCs), unless they come with strict safeguards to ensure they actually promote officer accountability without surveilling the public. Police already have too many surveillance technologies, and deploy them all too frequently against people of color and protesters. We have taken this approach since 2015, when we opposed a federal grant to the LAPD for purchase of BWCs, because the LAPD failed to adopt necessary safeguards about camera activation, public access to footage, officer misuse of footage, and face recognition. Also, communities must be empowered to decide for themselves whether police may deploy BWCs on their streets. Prompted by Black-led protests against police violence and racism, lawmakers across the country are exploring new ways to promote police accountability. Such laws are long overdue. A leading example is the federal Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 7120 and S. 3912). Unfortunately, this bill (among others) would expand BWCs absent necessary safeguards. We respectfully recommend amendments. Necessary BWC safeguards Police BWCs are a threat to privacy, protest, and racial justice. If worn by hundreds of thousands of police officers, BWCs would massively expand the power of government to record video and audio of what we are doing as we go about our lives in public places, and in many private places, too. The footage might be kept forever, routinely subjected to face surveillance, and used in combination with other surveillance technologies like stationary pole cameras. Police use of BWCs at protests could discourage people from making their voices heard. Given the many ongoing inequities in our criminal justice system, BWCs will be aimed most often at people of color, immigrants, and other vulnerable groups. All of this might discourage people from seeking out officers for assistance. In short, BWCs might undermine community trust in law enforcement. So EFF opposes BWCs, absent the following safeguards, among others. Mandated activation of BWCs. Officers must be required to activate their cameras at the start of all investigative encounters with civilians, and leave them on until the encounter ends. Otherwise, officers could subvert any accountability benefits of BWCs by simply turning them off when misconduct is imminent, or not turning them on. In narrow circumstances where civilians have heightened privacy interests (like crime victims and during warrantless home searches), officers should give civilians the option to deactivate BWCs. No political spying with BWCs. Police must not use BWCs to gather information about how people are exercising their First Amendment rights to speak, associate, or practice their religion. Government surveillance chills and deters such protected activity. Retention of BWC footage. All BWC footage should be held for a few months, to allow injured civilians sufficient time to come forward and seek evidence. Then footage should be promptly destroyed, to reduce the risks of data breach, employee misuse, and long-term surveillance of the public. However, if footage depicts an officer’s use of force or an episode subject to a civilian’s complaint, then the footage must be retained for a lengthier period. Stored footage must be secured from access or alteration by data thieves and agency employees. No face surveillance with BWCs. Government must not use face surveillance, period. This includes equipping BWCs with facial recognition technology, or applying such technology to footage from BWCs. Last year EFF supported a California law (A.B. 1215) that placed a three-year moratorium on use of face surveillance with BWCs. Likewise, EFF in 2019 and 2020 joined scores of privacy and civil rights groups in opposing any federal use of face surveillance, and also any federal funding of state and local face surveillance. Officer review of footage. If footage depicts use of force or an episode subject to a civilian complaint, then an officer must not be allowed to review the footage, or any department reports based on the footage, until after they make an initial statement about the event. Given the malleability of human memory, a video can alter or even overwrite a recollection. And some officers might use footage to better “testily.” Public access to footage. If footage depicts a particular person, then that person must have access to it. If footage depicts police use of force, then all members of the general public must have access to it. If a person seeks footage that does not depict them or use of force, then whether they may have access must depend on a weighing by a court of (a) the benefits of disclosure to police accountability, and (b) the costs of disclosure to the privacy of a depicted member of the public. If the footage does not depict police misconduct, then disclosure will rarely have a police accountability benefit. In many cases, blurring of civilian faces might diminish privacy concerns. In no case should footage be withheld on the grounds it is a police investigatory record. Enforcement of these rules. If footage is recorded or retained in violation of these rules, then it must not be admissible in court. If footage is not recorded or retained in violation of these rules, then a civil rights plaintiff or criminal defendant must receive an evidentiary presumption that the missing footage would have helped them. Members of a community should have a private right of action to enforce BWC rules when a police department or its officers violate them. And departments must discipline officers who break these rules. Community control over BWCs. Local police and sheriffs must not acquire or use BWCs, or any other surveillance technology, absent permission from their city council or county board, after ample opportunity for residents to make their voices heard. This is commonly called community control over police surveillance (CCOPS). Likewise, federal and state law enforcement must not deploy BWCs absent notice to the public and an opportunity for opponents to object. Many groups have published model BWC rules, including the ACLU, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Constitution Project, and the Police Executive Research Forum. The safeguards discussed above are among the rules in some of these models. Amending the Justice in Policing Act We appreciate that the Justice in Policing Act’s section on federal BWCs (Sec. 372) contains safeguards discussed above. We respectfully request three amendments to the bill’s provisions on BWCs. Federal grants for state and local BWCs. The bill provides federal grants to state and local police to purchase BWCs. See Sec. 382. But the bill’s rules on these BWCs are far weaker than the bill’s rules on federal BWCs, and lack safeguards discussed above. State and local BWCs are no less threatening to privacy, speech, and racial justice than federal BWCs. For too long, BWCs have flooded into our communities, often with federal funding, in the absence of adequate safeguards. Thus, please amend the bill to apply all of its rules for federal BWCs to any grants for state and local BWCs. Also, please amend the bill to prohibit state and local agencies from obtaining federal grants for BWCs unless they first use a CCOPS process to obtain permission from their public and elected officials. If the residents of a community do not want their police to deploy BWCs, then the federal government must not fund BWCs in that community. For federally funded BWCs used by state and local police, these federal rules should be a floor and not a ceiling. Thus, the bill must expressly not preempt state and local rules that ensure even more police accountability and civilian privacy then does the federal bill. Face surveillance with BWCs. The bill allows the application of face recognition technology to footage from BWCs, provided there is judicial authorization. See Sec. 372(q)(2) & 382(c)(1)(E). But EFF opposes any government use of face surveillance, even with this limit. We especially oppose face surveillance in connection with police BWCs. Thus, please amend the
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2020.11.01 08:17 BruteSentiment It's been 1 year since Apple TV+ began, and I have watched every one of their shows (except the kids stuff)! Here's my ranking...[No Spoilers]

In one year, Apple TV+ has released a pretty solid slate of original material. Not including children-oriented content, Apple TV+ has released 20 series, 3 miniseries, 9 movies, and 2 talk shows. From the start, Apple has said that the goal of the content is on quality, not quantity. But…has it lived up to that?
34 - Greatness Code - Documentary
Summary: Each episode features a different athlete talking about a key moment in their careers. The show features athletes from many different sports, including basketball’s LeBron James, soccer’s Alex Morgan (sorry…footballer Alex Morgan), snowboarder Shaun White, sprinter Usain Bolt, swimmer Katie Ledecky, surfer Kelly Slater, and (American) footballer Tom Brady (who is a co-producer).
My Take: This is the easy winner for the worst thing on Apple TV+. The only good thing about this “show” is that the episodes are usually no more than 10 minutes long. The monologues by the athletes are…fine. There’s nothing you haven’t really heard before here. The problem is that the special effects take away from actually seeing the athlete in action. Almost every bit of action has some animation or filter or something over it, so we almost never actually see the events being discussed. It’s pretty ridiculous. After watching this, I genuinely wondered if this series was intended to be part of Apple TV+’s children’s offerings, because that is the only level where it could at all seem “great”.
33 - Oprah Talks Covid-19 - News (Miniseries)
Summary: Not long after the COVID-19 pandemic started major lockdowns across the United States, Oprah quickly began to do online interviews with people who she hoped would bring perspective and uplifting messages, from celebrities to pastors to nurses to people who had experienced isolation in prison and the holocaust. This series ran for nearly a month from mid-March to mid-April in 2020.
My Take: One of Oprah’s three series, this one is the lowest ranked just because much of the information within it is out of date, and is aimed at people at a certain time, which was months ago. But in a way, it’s a bit of a time capsule of the early parts of the pandemic in the public eye, which is interesting. It’s almost as interesting to see the production value (or lack there of), as the majority of the episodes are screen recordings of online interviews. It’s perhaps only worth watching now for being a curiosity, but Apple and Oprah did good getting something up in a timely fashion.
32 - Amazing Stories - Adventure
Summary: An anthology series executive produced by Steven Spielberg, the show brings back the “Amazing Stories” brand with five independent stories about incredible adventures that play with sci-fi and fantasy about regular people put in amazing situations.
My Take: Amazing Stories was to be one of Apple TV’s tentpoles for the summer. Unfortunately, the series landed flat, and is by far the biggest disappointment. It’s yet another TV series that original co-Producer Bryan Fuller left. The show was originally to have ten episodes, it ended up with just five. The stories were not very groundbreaking, though they were beautifully shot. It might be worth checking out for Robert Forster’s last project before he died (Dynoman and the Volt), and for the touching “The Heat” about high school runners from Oakland.
31 - Home - Documentary
Summary: As you might imagine, this documentary series is not just about the architecture of a house, but about the people behind building and designing them. Each episode features a different house and story, with houses chosen from around the world, from urban environments like Chicago and Hong Kong to remote locations in Maine and Bali.
My Take: Although cable and streaming is littered with television programs about houses and architecture, this show passes on the drama, which helps Home become a documentary, and not a reality show. The cinematography is predictably beautiful, but the pacing is slow, and it’s very hard to really get into. It doesn’t help that a couple of the home builders behind the stories are honestly not very likable. The final episode of the first season is really good, but ultimately, this show is a bit of a snooze beyond the real enthusiasts.
30 - Dads - Documentary (Movie)
Summary: Directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, this movie looks at fathers across the many levels of fatherhood, anchored by Howard’s own relationship with her father, actodirector Ron Howard, and her grandfather Archie, as well as Bryce’s non-celebrity brother who is an expecting father. The movie shifts to stories about fathers from around the world, and back to the Howards, to celebrate the ever-shifting role of fatherhood in modern society.
My Take: This documentary is a sweet, if simple, tribute to modern fatherhood. There’s nothing special here, it does exactly what you would expect it to. It has cameo interviews from comedian fathers, interspersed with random recordings of fathers from home movies and social media, and stories of fathers in different situations. There’s nothing bad about it, but it’s pretty dry overall. It’s not a waste, but it’ll probably end up being the thing you see in the list and say “Oh, I’ll watch that another time…”, which might as well be next Father’s Day with your dad.
29 - Dear… - Documentary
Summary: A documentary series that details the history and life of various individual celebrities, and uses letters written by people they have affected to frame those celebrities’ impact on people and society.
My Take: Apple has used the advertising method of using letters written to Apple or Tim Cook about how things have changed their lives (particularly the Apple Watch), and in that context this series feels like, well, advertising. Not to take anything away from the celebrities involved, but the marketing push feels very heavy here. And, of course, one of the celebrities featured is Oprah, who is a big presence in ATV+. It also gets absurd with one episode around Big Bird (in character); of course, the Muppets have a spin-off in the kids section of ATV+ called Helpsters. It’s best with the smaller names, where even I learned a little bit. It’s a decent feel-good if that’s what you’re looking for.
28 - Long Way Up - Documentary (Miniseries)
Summary: The third docu-series by Ewan McGregor and his best friend Charley Boorman as they take a long road trip by motorcycle. This trip, they are traveling from the southern tip of South America up to Los Angeles, and are doing it (almost) entirely on electric vehicles. The series highlights both the places they visit along the way, and the travails (and successes) of using these new, custom-made electric motorcycles. (The other two series Long Way Round and Long Way Down have also been added to ATV+, though they are not ‘Apple Originals’.)
My Take: I’ve got to be honest, it’s hard to get into watching others take a road trip. It’s nice enough. The footage is beautiful, as they use everything from GoPro helmet cams to drones to capture the scenery. But the major source of tension here is Range Anxiety, and the biggest drama is in whether or not they can do it all on electric bikes. Still, it’s interesting to see parts of South America many aren’t familiar with, including deserts and the vast Patagonia. And Ewan does seem like someone that would be a great bloke to be mates with. Some people will really enjoy this, I’m just not one of them.
27 - The Elephant Queen - Documentary (Movie)
Summary: Narrated by the soft-spoken Chiwetel Ejiofor, an elephant herd must navigate the climate of the savannah to survive. Led by the matriarch, they must migrate before the dry season hits to stay around water, and then return to their normal grazing land. Along the way, we meet the many other creatures of the savannah and face the changing climates and droughts that get in the way of these pachyderms.
My Take: A documentary much in the style of the old Disney documentaries, the Elephant Queen does a lot of anthropomorphizing its subjects, who range from elephants to dung beetles, and follows them through a difficult season. It is borderline kids-oriented, but adults might enjoy this as well. It’s not afraid to delve into some sad situations, and there is an overriding theme of what happens in droughts that can not be ignored. A sweet film, perhaps a bit saccharine.
26 - Hala - Drama (Movie)
Summary: Hala is a Pakistani-American teenage girl and her trying to balance her family and cultural pressures with being a teen in America. She longs to be out of the pressures of her family’s culture as she interacts with friends and teachers outside of the home. When she does try to act out, she begins to discover more about her family, both discovering secrets and sides she never knew about, as she discovers more about herself.
My Take: Apple TV+’s first fictional feature film release, this coming of age film is never really surprising, but it is a well made film that hits all the right nuances in trying to share Hala’s experience. It’s not a perfect film, as there are some shifts in tone and character that are rather sudden and jarring for the viewer, though all things considered, that’s probably what writedirector Minhal Baig was trying for. The emotions shift quickly and non-family characters disappear quickly, as it’s clear that this is Hala’s story, and not anyone else’s. It’s a solid watch.
25 - Trying - Comedy
Summary: A British couple, Nikki and Jason, have decided to adopt when they have trouble conceiving. They struggle with the truly difficult process of adopting, as well as insecurities about whether or not the two (who could be called slackers) are truly ready to be, or even worthy of being, parents.
My Take: This is a British comedy co-produced by BBC that is about an intensely serious subject. If you know British humor, you know that it will be very intentionally awkward, and this series can definitely hit that mark. While the show is certainly has about its two main characters (Rafe Spall and Esther Smith as the couple), it has a surprisingly large cast of supporting characters, but with only one star most Americans would know (Imelda Staunton as the most unintimidating social worker ever). It’s an interesting concept, and it finds some sweet moments, but not as many funny ones. It’s not bad, but is just okay.
24 - Oprah’s Book Club - Talk Show
Summary: This was the first Oprah show to appear on Apple TV+, serving as a cross-section of Apple services (which advertises Books and Podcasts), and the only one that got to meet the pre-pandemic style of Oprah’s shows. The idea was that Oprah would interview authors and let an audience ask questions. But the series also shows the effects of the pandemic. Once the pandemic hits, the audience is gone, and it becomes direct virtual interviews for a couple of episodes before Apple and Oprah find a way to have a virtual audience.
My Take: I admit, I didn’t read any of the books selected for this list. I still got something out of these shows, but more of an analysis of Oprah than the books. It did show off one of her worst traits, which is how she answers for an interviewee when they were slow to find a point, and she talked over a lot of people. But you could also see her energy change when she had a live audience versus online interviews, and even different with a virtual audience. You could also see her energy change about what books she is passionate about versus those less so. So this wasn’t a waste, but I wasn’t enthusiastic.
23 - Truth Be Told - Drama
Summary: Poppy Parnell (Octavia Spencer) is a true crime podcaster after a successful career as an investigative reporter, but she comes to dwell on the first case that made her famous, where a teenager was put away for murdering his neighbor. Now an adult (played by Aaron Paul), Poppy begins talking with him to see if she made a mistake. Meanwhile, the victim’s family is forced to revisit the crime, including twin daughters (both played by Lizzy Caplan), and Poppy’s family confronts her for supporting Cave, who has joined a white supremacist gang in prison.
My Take: This show has an incredible cast, with Michael Beach, Mekhi Phifer, and Ron Cephas Jones in big supporting roles. Race is an unavoidable part of this story, but so is culture, as Poppy is split between her family’s blue-collar roots in Oakland, and the Silicon Valley lifestyle she now lives with her husband across the bay. The Bay Area setting of this series is a big part of the symbolism. The problem is that the mystery viewers came for was never really important. This would’ve been a good third season of a show, once a status quo for these characters had been found, rather than a confusing first season with lots of subplots.
22 - Central Park - Animation
Summary: Animated by the people behind Bob’s Burgers and created in part by Josh Gad, Central Park is an animated musical. The show revolves around the family of the manager of Central Park (Leslie Odom Jr.), and the villainous hotel owner (Stanley Tucci) who wants to undermine the park to buy it and develop it. Gad plays the busker at the park who serves as the audience’s narrator, and it plays like musical theater, with songs written by a range of artists, including Fiona Apple, Sara Bareilles, Cyndi Lauper, Aimee Mann, Alan Menken and Glenn Slater, and Meghan Trainor, among many others.
My Take: The show is silly, but not always in a funny way. The music is reminiscent of the irreverent nature of Avenue Q, and has some star power behind it, though a lot of the music is just meh. I’m not surprised my favorite song, “Spoiler Alert”, was cowritten by Alan Menken of 90’s Disney musical fame. The story, however, very often deviates from the main thrust of the plot and doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere at times, as it’s more bothered with the humor in ridiculous situations, like the park manager’s son being obsessed with the villain’s dog Champagne. Ultimately, though, the show is just meh. The humor is fine, the story is barely relevant, and the majority of the music will not be found on many people’s playlists going forward, although of course you can find it all on Apple Music.
This show has been one of Apple TV’s only controversies, however. The cast is made from many of Gad’s friends. That led to some controversy, as Gad chose stars before choosing parts. Kristen Bell was put into the role of a bi-racial character, and the two villainous women in the series were played by men (Stanley Tucci and Daveed Diggs, though it’s hard to fault either performance). The controversy was first brought up over the winter. After the summer’s social upheaval, Bell stepped down from the role and her former character will be played in season 2 by Emmy Raver-Lampman. Bell will return as a new character in season 2.
21 - On The Rocks - Comedy (Movie)
Summary: Laura (Rashida Jones) is worried that her husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) may have gotten bored in their marriage and having an affair with a coworker. Laura’s father (Bill Murrary), a charming and unabashed ladies man, tries to help her figure out her suspicions as they follow Dean around.
My Take: Well, Apple TV+ paid for a Sofia Coppola film, and boy, did they get one. What this means is that this is a movie where the plot is less important than the conversation, and in particular, this might as well be a 2-person play between Jones and Murray. Murray is charming as basically a more chauvinistic version of himself, and Jones deadpan is the perfect counter. Ultimately the conversations are predictable, and the very obvious plot takes away any suspense. This lets the movie’s most emotionally revelatory scene go almost completely under the radar. Ultimately, it and any lessons from this film get lost in conversation. Luckily, though, Murray and Jones are enough to carry the film and stop it from becoming just plain lost.
20 - See - Drama
Summary: In the future, the world was hit with a virus that made all humans blind, and predictably led to a societal downfall. The remains of civilization live either in a world wildness has mostly reclaimed, or the ruins of what once was. The story centers on a family where two children have been born with sight, and their adoptive father (Jason Momoa) and their mother (Hera Hilmar), with friends, try to find others with sight, while being chased by a religious monarch and her soldiers, trying to rid the world of the sin of sight.
My Take: One of Apple TV+’s first showcase shows, with a bankable action star in Jason Momoa and a huge budget, See ended up as one of the platform’s disappointments. The show suffers because it’s trying to world build throughout its first season, but is constantly changing the status quo of the world through its first season. Time flies for the characters, as the kids born in the first episode are teens in 3 episodes. Supporting characters are set up and then lost in the shuffle. The show does a fantastic job putting together a realistic world of how the sightless would build a civilization, but it’s not enough to make up for a plot that barely sets a status quo before blowing it up for a new quo.
19 - Bruce Springsteen’s Letter To You - Documentary (Movie)
Summary: A documentary recorded while Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band recorded their first studio album since 2012, Letter To You was inspired as Springsteen lost a former bandmate from The Castiles, his band in the 1960’s. The documentary goes between the band playing the songs, and talking about themselves and their history.
My Take: This is a solid musical documentary, but there’s nothing groundbreaking here. It was filmed in 2019, when Springsteen was 70, and there’s no avoiding that this is and old white rocker feeling nostalgic and sharing wisdom and concerns of a life having survived rock and roll. Filmed in black and white, the documentary is comfortable and the music is nice, but it kind of fades into the background even while people are talking. Bruce and 80’s rock fans will love this. Others might turn it on and forget it’s playing.
18 - Little America - Comedy
Summary: A serial about the immigrant experience, Little America tells different stories about the immigrant life in America, from different time periods and different original countries. Whether it be a child prodigy who is left behind when his parents are deported, an African immigrant interested in becoming a cowboy, or a silent retreat where language is not a barrier, this serial tries to tell stories from every background
My Take: With Executive Producers Kumail Nanjiani and Emiliy V. Gordon as the true star power, this anthology series looks at eight different stories about immigrants living in America, all inspired by real life stories. Quality varies per episode, and sometimes it gets a little predictable and repetitive. Still, it has enough high points to work overall. My personal favorites were “The Manager” and “The Grand Prize Expo Winner”, the latter doing an amazing job of humanizing an often-mocked stereotype in media.
17 - The Oprah Conversation - Talk Show
Summary: Oprah’s intended talk show to bring in celebrities and experts and talk to them, but because of the pandemic, it is without a live audience. However, Oprah brings guests in remotely with huge and small screens that feels futuristic, not limiting in the way many pandemic shows have been. Oprah and the guest are in separate spaces but both are professionally filmed, and the limited audience members are present like portraits on the wall in a gallery.
My Take: Of the three Oprah shows, this feels most like “Oprah”. Due to the timing of the show after social upheaval, many episodes take on the subject of race and race relations. But others are oddly promotional, like Mariah Carey (who coincidentally has a holiday special coming with Apple TV) and Matthew McConaughey (and his new book). The episodes about race are particularly worth watching (as a white man, who is often uncomfortable talking about race). This is definitely peak Oprah.
16 - Little Voice - Drama
Summary: Sara Bareilles, Jordy Nelson, and. J.J. Abrams are the powerhouses behind this series, a sweet but not exactly groundbreaking story about a singer-songwriter trying to make it in New York. Bess (Brittany O’Grady) is a songwriter with anxiety about performing, despite a father in the business. As Bess tries to overcome her anxiety, she has to deal with her autistic brother (Kevin Valdez, an actor who is actually on the spectrum), her roommate/best friend, a coworker at the bar who wants to be her manager, a new musician partner, a potential love interest or two, and her alcoholic father and absent mother. That’s all.
My Take: It works on the back of star Brittany O’Grady, and a compelling cast of people around her life, especially Valdez’s performance, which is one of the most realistic portrayals of autism you’ll find. Bareilles wrote the music, which is beautiful as usual. Where the show falters is that it seems like it’s trying to do every single possible story at once, and every episode feels manic. It almost seems to exhaust every possible plot point and stumbling block in one season. But O’Grady and the music help you keep watching.
15 - The Banker - Drama (Movie)
Summary: Inspired by a true story, this movie follows Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie), an African-American prodigy, as he makes himself a success in Los Angeles real estate in the 1950’s and 60’s, and tries to move into banking in his home state of Texas. He and his wife (Nia Long) partners with businessman Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson) and white front-man Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult) to try and succeed in two racist industries.
My Take: One of Apple TV’s first movies, The Banker has big name stars in Avengers stars Mackie and Jackson and a big-time story. The movie is fast paced and at times feels like skimming a book. It doesn’t skimp on laughs in the first half (with Jackson providing his own laugh track), but it does get much more serious in the second half as it and the characters directly address the racism around them. This is the first Apple TV+ movie that feels distinctly “Hollywood”, both in style in structure. That helps raise ATV+’s profile, but it puts limits this film as well. It’s a good story and worth watching, but is not ground-breaking, and clearly is not an in-depth or entirely accurate look at the story.
It was also a source of a major controversy, as the movie’s release was delayed by allegations of childhood sexual abuse were levied against Bernard Garrett Jr., the son of the main character and a producer on the film, by his half sisters and their mother.
14 - Tehran - Thriller
Summary: An “Apple Original” in title only, this show was made in Israel for their public channel Kan 11, and Apple purchased the international rights. It follows Tamar Rabinyan (Niv Sultan), a young Jewish spy who was born in Iran, as she is inserted into Tehran to try and neutralize Iran’s air defenses so Israel can bomb their nuclear plant. The plot is foiled in the first episode, and Tamar is sent on the run in an enemy city, pursued by the head investigator of the Revolutionary Guard Faraz Kamali (Shaun Toub).
My Take: In many ways, this is a fairly standard spy thriller. There’s a mission, it goes wrong, and everyone is sent scrambling. Tehran gets points, from this American viewer, for exploring the largely unexplored environment of urban Iran (albeit filmed in Athens). The characters switch between Hebrew, Farsi, and English very quickly, which is challenging to hearead. But ultimately, this is a personal spy story of pawns in a bigger war, as the scope grows with each episode. There’s plenty of grey in every side of this conflict. Even with the scope, Tehran gets bogged down and the middle episodes feel filled with filler. Ultimately, it’s solid, and does feel different than most spy shows. And though we get a satisfying resolution, the door is left open for season 2, which is as yet officially unannounced (but reported that they are signed on for two more seasons).
13 - Boys State - Documentary (Movie)
Summary: Every year, young men are brought together in the Texas State Capitol for what is basically a political science camp, where they are broken into their own political parties, and must come up with a platform and compete in an election for roles inspired by state government. During it, these 16-18-year old boys must work together while competing against each other, and learning what politics are.
My Take: A documentary about young men’s mock political competition in Texas, you’ve probably just envisioned something about what this looks like, and no doubt, you’ll probably see exactly that in this documentary. But this Sundance Documentary-winning film doesn’t quite go the way you think, but also close enough that it might not matter. These teens have more nuance than I would’ve expected, and I wish adults had in politics. But it has too much nuance to be received well, I think. Still, if you want a reason to watch this, I’d put money that at least one of the featured boys in this becomes a politician of note in the near future. Also, I am interested in seeing a documentary about the same event for girls, Girls State.
12 - Tiny World - Documentary
Summary: Narrated by Ant-Man’s Paul Rudd, Tiny World takes a look at the world of small animals living in diverse natural habitats around the world. Ranging from the African savannah to the Australian outback to the north American backyard, the show features animals from monkeys that can fit in the palm of your hand, down to the ants that are ever-present.
My Take: Nature documentaries are everywhere, but the cinematography on this is mind-blowing to the point you truly wonder how some of this was shot. Clearly, a large amount of it was manipulated, with rare parts where the CGI shows through, but it doesn’t take away from just how beautiful the shots are. With Rudd’s occasionally wry narration, it makes this a nature documentary that competes with the best stuff on Netflix. The nature never gets too gory, but it does deal with the life and death (sometimes brutal) of tiny nature. And it’s even a great follow-up to the movie “The Elephant Queen” because the first episode features what could be the same dung beetle that featured in that movie! (The movie and this series were not done by the same company, though, so it might just be a look-alike dung beetle they hired.)
11 - Beastie Boys Story - Documentary
Summary: A telling of the Beastie Boys career, by the surviving members Mike “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz themselves. Directed by Spike Jonze, this documentary is shot as the two tell their story to a live audience in a theater, alternating between them on stage laughing and joking around, and video sequences they narrate about their career, and their friends, especially the late Adam “MCA” Yauch.
My Take: This is such an unusual format for a documentary, and it works so well. It allows for some of the goofing off that one might expect from the stars, but it’s still coherent and interesting, especially for me as a casual fan of the band growing up. On a service with a lot of traditionally-made documentaries, this stands out because of both its style and its quality, and if you like pop music at all, you should enjoy this.
10 - For All Mankind - Drama
Summary: An alternate history series based off a simple question: What if the Soviet Union beat America to the moon? From Battlestar Galactica’s Ronald D. Moore, the answer is that the Americans, more competitive than ever, try to push for more ambitious goals than just landing on the moon and leaving.
My Take: One of the first Apple TV shows, it is a sometimes nerdy but very interesting look at the space race. It balances fictional characters with real life figures (sometimes making interesting decisions when changing their fate), and really tries to focus on the science side of science fiction. The show jumps across years of development, so it’s not as tedious and slow as it could be. It hasn’t captured fans’ imaginations as much as it obviously has its creators’ imaginations, but it’s a quality drama that could get better in future seasons, although it is clearly now swerving to the fiction side of science fiction.
9 - Home Before Dark - Drama
Summary: Hilde Lisko (Brooklynn Prince) is a 9-year old daughter of a journalist who wants to do what he does. When her family moves from New York to her father’s small hometown in Washington, she stumbles onto a mysterious death and does what any reporter would do: writes about it in her blog. But as the mystery expands to her father’s past, she challenges an entire city’s reluctance to face up to a tragedy from decades ago, in the name of journalism.
My Take: A dark horse series that did not get much press, Home Before Dark seems like a show for kids, but is a show is made for adults, with a mystery of twists and turns more like Gone Girl than any children’s show. Prince is the star of this show and keeps viewers attached, even as the mystery’s twists get harder to follow. The show is vaguely inspired by a real life young journalist, but realistically is not at all the same story. It doesn’t matter, as this is as much about family and youthful stubbornness as anything else.
8 - Dickinson - Comedy
Summary: A historical comedy-drama about the life of poet Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld), this show follows her as a modern-thinking woman in a restrictive 19th century setting, growing up as a teenager. It shows both what’s going on around her, and into her imaginative flights of fancy as she deals with romantic trysts, less-than-friendly friends, and restrictive parents (notably Jane Krakowski as her mother Emily).
My Take: One of the first series from Apple TV+, Dickinson is an ambitious series, but shifts between being a period piece with setting-appropriate acting, and characters acting like modern people but set in the past. As great as parts are, it does struggle with focus and tone, particularly John Mulaney’s guest role as Henry David Thoreau, which feels better suited for a Will Ferrell absurdist comedy than what this show is trying to be. Steinfeld shines in the lead role, but Ella Hunt as Dickinson’s best friend Sue and Jane Krakowski as her mother both are fantastic. The relationship between Dickinson and her best friend Sue, and hints about Dickinson’s deteriorating mental health, are both handled very well. This is a show that has a chance to really find its footing in future seasons.
7 - Greyhound - Action (Movie)
Summary: Captain Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks) has been given command of a destroyer, and a convoy of supply ships to cross the U-Boat infested Atlantic early in World War II. Without air cover, he spends days awake, attempting to outmaneuver an enemy he can not see, or even count. As ships in his convoy are attacked one by one, he must save as many as he can before getting back under the protective air cover from Great Britain.
My Take: A movie that really was meant for the big screen, Greyhound is not interested in your character development or subplots or mandatory romances (mostly). After an initial scene introducing Krause in the lone bit of character development, this movie is about the tense travel of the Atlantic with submarines hunting you. It never shows the human villains, only the occasional peak at the metal beasts when they surface. It also doesn’t jump between ships on this convoy. Strictly a single viewpoint, which makes for a fascinatingly and a little fatiguingly tense film that is shorter than it feels (only 91 minutes!) because of the thrills. This movie is a fantastically different take on the war films we know, and especially for those with military experience, a strong film.
6 - Servant - Drama
Summary: Without significant spoilers, the show focuses on a couple who recently suffered the loss of a child, and have undertaken a real doll therapy, where they take care of a doll to help the psychological effects of losing a child, and go so far as to bring in a mysterious young girl to be the doll’s nanny. Over the span of the series, secrets about the nanny, and the troubles of the couple themselves, slowly leak out.
My Take: M. Night Shymalan’s first television show is a return to the Shymalan of his early years. With the space of a series instead of a movie, Shymalan has the room to explore each character: the almost-grieving mother (Lauren Ambrose), the disaffected and disbelieving husband (Toby Kebbell), the mysterious nanny (Nell Tiger Free), and the doubtful brother of the wife (Rupert Grint, Ron from Harry Potter), who acts as an outside world anchor. By the end, it feels a bit as if the original mystery has become a subplot, but it’s left on a cliffhanger the will leap the plot forward. And throughout the series, Shymalan allows food to be a visual cue and cinematographic toy, setting the mood. This ranks as one of Shymalan’s better stories from his long career.
5 - Visible: Out on Television - Documentary (Miniseries)
Episodes: 5; Stauts: Completed
Summary: A documentary series about how all facets of LGBTQ people have been represented on television, from the 1950’s through today. As a series, the documentary takes time with many the facets of every letter in LGBTQ, and all the letters hidden within it, talking about struggles of people of color. With interviews and clips, it takes it’s time with different eras and weaves it all together. And it’s all done with an undertone of how storytelling works, and the tool that television is, both for misinformation but also for connection.
My Take: Making this a series really allows the time to give this topic the time to really explore it. It’s an engaging documentary, especially for anyone who’s spent any time watching television. There’s nuggets of memory for all of us, where we can connect to the shows we used to watch, both their flaws and triumphs. Certain critics might point to this as Apple trying to force representation down our throats, but this documentary is excellent at telling a compelling story with both history and context.
4 - The Morning Show - Drama
Summary: Apple TV+’s centerpiece, with superstar stars Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carrell, and yet a scene-stealing supporting cast of Gugu Mbahta-Raw, Billy Crudup (who won an Emmy for his role), Mark Duplass, and Jack Davenport (who is never not good), the show is about a, believe it or not, morning show whose male lead is fired in a sexual misconduct scandal and the after-effects. Witherspoon’s character is unexpectedly brought in to replace him, as power battles go on behind the scenes with everyone from the network head down to the assistant producers, as the secrets spill out about the truth.
My Take: What could be a preachy show about the MeToo movement never gets that way, and attempts a nuanced discussion about the less clear-cut issues. It’s not done perfectly, as some conflicts from the episodic storyline seem to disappear in the next episode, and Mitch is frustratingly (and probably intentionally) likable even as he is hate-able, with Carell showing his range. One flaw of this show is that the extremely likable supporting cast pulls attention away from Aniston and Witherspoon, the former being appropriately lauded with praise but not getting enough to win awards, and the latter getting a little stuck in her character spot. The season finale flurry hits hard, even if it doesn’t feel completely earned, but this show has definitely become the first bankable piece ATV+ has.
3 - Defending Jacob - Drama (Miniseries)
Summary: A boy is murdered, and after an investigation, suspicion falls on one of his classmates, Jacob, who is the son of Andy Barber, one of the assistant district attorneys (Chris Evans). Andy and his wife Laurie (Michelle Dockery) must do their best to defend their son, investigating other leads, but also facing the possibility that their son is guilty, and hiding family secrets.
My Take: Starring Captain America’s Chris Evans, Defending Jacob became the summer hit for Apple TV+, drawing viewers in. The tension between Andy and his wife Laurie, and their slightly creepy son Jacob (Jaeden Martell) as the teen is accused of murder, is filled with tension and, unlike many of the series on Apple TV, comes to a full conclusion in one season. Fans of mysteries like Gone Girl will appreciate this series. Although it can feel slightly stretched, this series hits hard and makes the most of its star power.
2 - Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet - Comedy
Summary: Mythic Quest is an online game akin to World of Warcraft, and it’s launching a new expansion to keep its fans engaged. The studio is led by a charmingly sycophantic designer Ian (pronounced EYE-an, played by Rob Mcelhenney), and lead engineer Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao). With a staff of obsessive assistants, disinterested programmers, earnest game testers, snippy game streamers, and an elderly lead writer lost in technology, the show hops along the daily struggles of keeping a game going and its fans happy.
My Take: An absolute home run of a show, as one would expect from the team behind It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Mythic Quest is absurdist comedy at its best, with McElhenney and a breakout performance from Nicdao. However, it’s also an ensemble cast with no weak spots, and a wonderfully obvious premise that is contemporary. It is at its best in two standalone episodes. The first comes out of nowhere, not featuring the main cast but instead acts as a “How the Game Industry Got Here” prequel in heartbreakingly personal fashion. The second is a special Quarantine episode that was perhaps the best quarantine-focused special episode done anywhere.
1 - Ted Lasso - Comedy
Summary: An American Football coach is inexplicably hired as a Soccer…er, real Football coach in the Premiere League in London. The titular Lasso is genuine and earnest, openly saying he doesn’t think winning has to do with the score, and he faces a soccer world where the opposite is true. He faces disbelieving players, abusive fans, unsure team staff, and a devious owner, but he barely blinks in the face of it all, and tries to keep his team from relegation…once he learns what that means.
My Take: An absolute surprise of a show, based on NBC Sports comedy promos, that has no right to be so great. Ted Lasso is on its face a fish-out-of-water sports show about an American football coach going to Europe to coach football/soccer. But it’s really a movie about a polite man in an impolite world, and bending rather than breaking, and sticking to your principles. It’s not laugh out loud funny, but it is surprisingly emotional. It’s also a show that champions maturity in a way that hits harder in a 2020 world, and so it’s also very well-timed. The only problem with Ted Lasso the show is that even though it gives Apple TV+ a recognizable character to market, it’s not a must-subscribe show. But it’s unquestionably one of Apple TV+’s best.
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