Welcome to FictionTalk’s Month in Review, the roundup where we take a look at the stories that stood out the most to us during the past month. In order to keep things fresh and interesting, each story will be covered by a different writer. Different perspectives make for a better roundup as far as we’re concerned. August has been quite an eventful month so let’s not waste any more time and jump straight into it.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout
Ever since the likes of ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ and ‘Fortnite’ solidified the concept of the “Battle Royale” genre, I’ve yet to find a “Last Team Standing” type game that resonated with me. The closest experience I can think of that scratched that itch was perhaps ‘Bomberman’, and even then – I’m too inept to be any good at it.
Lucky then, I happened to stumble upon a Battle Royale that I not only enjoy playing, but also enjoy watching. Inspired by those foam-laden wacky game shows popularised by the likes of ‘Takeshi’s Castle’, ‘Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout’ delivers the same level of hysterical daftness that exudes from such programmes.
There’s a lot that ticks my boxes: The hilarity of your bean-shaped being, flung a thousand miles in any given direction, the schadenfreude derived from watching karmic justice take hold of those who screwed you over, and the general inconsequential irreverence of being the last Fall Guy standing. Although I may be a competitive player at heart, I primarily play videogames for the fun of it. And to find that space online, let alone in the ultra competitive warzone that makes Battle Royales what they are – is something quite unique.
I hope developer Mediatonic can expand the inflatable world of ‘Fall Guys’ further. As of now, I would love to see some lore woven into the chaotic action, more options for customisation, and crossplay between PlayStation and Steam platforms!
Nas’ Latest Album: King’s Disease
We had a real one leave last month, and this month we saw a real one reinstated. Nas marks his authority over old-school emcees and contemporaries all the same…again! After decades of being in the game, King’s Disease is Nas on that final boss shit, and rightly so. If bars go over your head, no problem; Executive producer, Hit-Boy, has made sure you’ll loop each track dozens of times anyway.
The production floats in the back, smooth as butter, then comes the deep sting of lyricism. They are like a quick jab, making you wonder, “where that came from!?” Even then, songs like Car #85 and Full Circle are one of the finest stories you’ll hear. The album bleeds out with perspectives on social issues with tracks like Till the War Is Won. He talks poverty, he talks racism, he talks single mothers, but there are also remnants of love, success, and nostalgia to make King’s Disease for everyone.
With around 40 mins of run-time, Nas delivers a phenomenal knock-out album you’d be making a mistake if you miss.
Lazlow Leaves Rockstar Games
Despite supposedly leaving Rockstar Games back in April, the word only really got around the community in August, that Lazlow Jones of Grand Theft Auto fame has departed Rockstar.
You may know Lazlow Jones as the character Lazlow from the GTA series. He made his debut in 2001’s GTA3 on the radio station Chatterbox, where he hosted a satire talk show. Along with performing on the radio, he also co-wrote it too.
Having continued to work on the GTA series writing and hosting various radio stations throughout the franchise. It wasn’t until the behemoth that was GTA5 where he made a full appearance as a character.
Lazlow is also credited in games such as Red Dead Redemption and its sequel, as well as Max Payne 3.
This news comes as Lazlow discussed family illnesses and becoming a caregiver on a post to Instagram.
During March, news broke that Co-founder of Rockstar Games Dan Houser had left the company. Making Lazlow not the only high profile name to exit Rockstar this year.
I’m sure I speak for a lot of people when I say thank you to Lazlow for everything you’ve done for the games we love. I also wish Lazlow and his family all the best in the future.
If you appreciate the radio as much as I do in GTA, then you may find “The Magic of Grand Theft Auto’s Radio” right up your alley.
Tenet opened in UK cinemas last Wednesday to mostly positive reviews. I was in the fortunate position to see it opening night and echo a lot of other outlets in saying that Tenet is a hard movie to review.
Tenet is big and often overwhelming. Three buildings will have simultaneously imploded and exploded on screen before you’ve managed to work out a plot point from half an hour ago. It is a movie you can’t and won’t want to look away from. The complex nature of Tenet means that multiple viewings are almost a requirement in order to fully comprehend it all. Whilst I loved this, I can understand that this will be a pretty big turn off for a large number of people out there.
If you are willing to assume the position of an overly-memed John Tavolta or commit to at least 2 viewings of Tenet, then there is a lot of fun to be had. It is the result of Nolan’s 30+ years of experience, combining some of his most successful ideas into his most ambitious film to date. And for the most part it works. The film features electric action, great acting (for the most part), excellent direction, and an intriguing story that keeps you guessing up until the end.
I gave Tenet 4 stars in my full review, which you can find here.
The Epic Games vs Apple Saga
On August 13th of 2020, Epic Games put into motion a chain of events that would end up shaking the gaming community to its very core, and lead a veritable army of consumers to rebel against the tyrannical monopoly of Apple. Or at least that seems to have been Epic’s goal. What the company’s little publicity stunt actually amounted to are various lawsuits between major corporations and a bunch of people being upset because they can’t play Fortnite on their phones anymore.
The Epic Games vs Apple soap opera began in June when Epic CEO Tim Sweeney started complaining in a series of interviews about the App Store’s “absolute monopoly” and Apple’s predatory business practices. Now, considering Apple charges $700 for a set of Mac Pro wheels and $1,000 for a display stand, I think we can all agree that the tech giant isn’t shy about ripping people off every chance it gets. In fact, it would probably be fair to say that Apple is one of the most anti-consumer companies out there.
And if Tim Sweeney had stopped at simply pointing that out, maybe people would have overlooked his own company’s questionable business decisions and would have given him some credit for his remarks. But, as I’m sure you already know, he didn’t stop there. The real highlight of this whole saga is, of course, the 1984-inspired video that Epic released on August 13th. The video is which “Epic Games has defied the App Store Monopoly” was supposed to be a rallying call for millions of gamers to stand against Apple’s oppression, #freefortnite” and “stop 2020 from becoming 1984.”
I’m not really sure that was the best slogan to go with given that 2020 is one of the worst years in recent memory by any number of different metrics. Then again, it might be hard to notice something like that when you’re a delusional corporate executive who’s completely detached from reality and the day-to-day struggles of the common folk.
Epic’s dumb little video is a spit in the face of its own users in more ways than one. First off, the company intentionally broke Apple’s terms of services and put together a marketing stunt in preparation for Apple’s inevitable retaliation. Then, it had the audacity to act like the little guy fighting against the oppressive regime in a dystopian Sci-fi novel while trying to rally millions of users to its ridiculous cause.
Luckily, anyone who is above the age of 9 – which, admittedly, constitutes only a small portion of Fortnite’s player base – was able to see past this charade and the whole thing pretty much blew up in Epic’s face. What was supposed to be an epic battle between David and Goliath ultimately turned into a court battle between two greedy corporations, each fighting to get the biggest piece of the (Apple) pie.
At the time of writing, Epic is continuing its court case against both Apple and Google – who also pulled Fortnite from its store for the same reason – and things aren’t looking pretty for the game publisher. For now, Fortnite is still playable on Apple devices (provided you already had it before the debacle started), but it will no longer receive new updates, preventing cross-play with PC and consoles. Not exactly the result Epic was looking for, but at least the company can continue to profit from iOS games powered by the Unreal Engine. I guess that could be considered a win. Sort of.
Editor’s Note: This article was written before news broke out that Chadwick Boseman passed away on August 28th. The star of Black Panther and countless other hit movies and TV shows was a fantastic actor and many of us here are FictionTalk are big fans of his work, so I couldn’t put myself to end the article without mentioning the tragic and unexpected news.
The actor has been battling colon cancer for the past four years but very few people knew about it save for his close friends and family, which is a testament to the man’s fighting spirit and professionalism. A true force of nature both on screen and in real life, Chadwick Boseman was an inspirational figure whose legacy will undoubtedly live on for many decades to come.
E Pluribus Unum