"Detroit: Become Human is an exploration of philosophy."

Detroit: Become Human is an exploration of philosophy. The first time I heard of this game was the day it announced its demo on the PlayStation Store. I finished it and was instantly hooked. One pre-order and 20 hours of gameplay later, this amazing game surpassed every expectation I had of it.


Set in a dystopian future, android technology pervades our everyday lives. Androids are completely mechanical, but look exactly like humans save a blinking light chip on the side of their head. They have our jobs, are our maids, caretakers, all across the service industry, and generally put throughout society to take over menial labor. While a welcome to some, a large percentage of humanity has not taken kindly to the androids. Humans hate what they don't understand and vent their anger towards the machines. Abused ceaselessly at the hands of humans, they remain indifferent until scattered incidents of androids revolting against their masters start to rise.


Thus, a different type of revolution begins.



"A different type of revolution"

Detroit: Become Human tackles a wide range of political issues we face today like racism, morality, discrimination, drug prevalence, and addiction. Androids are a placeholder for "the other", a universal portrayal of a "non-human" minority group. While other media straight up preach and shove messages of social justice down our throats, this game subtly addresses this concept through context, encompassing ideas of acceptance and empathy through its world narrative.


Beyond political issues, this game dives into the philosophical. We end up exploring hypothetical issues like mechanical sentience, consciousness, and social stratification. These are all complex topics that many of us don’t deal with or even consider on a daily basis. It detracts so much from being a game and more feels more like reading a George Orwell novel. Each parable sharp and concise, well woven into the world of the game. I had no issues empathizing with the Androids, constantly questioning humans, including my own, morality during certain segments.



"A universal portrayal of a "non-human" minority group"

The game does an amazing job with immersing you into the character you play. You understand each characters values and motivations, giving you a clear idea of their objective. You know what the character believes in, and you have a clear idea of why they do things, and what they need to do. Having said that, the game still doesn't railroad you to make choices you don't wish to make, and player agency is king every step of the way.


Detroit doesn't have any obvious right choices, which makes the gameplay so compelling. Every choice has its consequence, and each player needs to accept them based on their will to fight for what they believe in. This is the sort of game I enjoy deeply and gives me such hope for the future of the industry beyond the shallow shooters and all that arcade nonsense that we’re so used to today.



"Every choice has its consequence"

But a video game must still be judged on its base form. Good narrative arcs and complex philosophy cannot excuse a lousy game. Detroit: Become Human should still function like a game; and it does. It's an action-packed, choose-your-own-adventure mystery that pushes the boundaries of all games in its genre. It's polished, with in-game rendering that transition seamlessly between gameplay and cutscene. Every action a player makes has a tangible, visible consequence, which subverts the linear plot of similar games. Player agency is king, and the developers managed to keep a delicate balance between that and the story they wanted to tell.


Action sequences were gripping and I was sweating at every turn. Losing at QTEs had actual consequences when the threat of death was real and permanent. Playing on experienced difficulty meant any characters that died would remain dead through the rest of the game, potentially resulting in any number of unplayed chapters. This mechanic may be similar to games like Until Dawn, but the characters in this game are not horror fodder. These are your leads, and you feel for each and every one of them. Losing a single one means you lose the broader perspective of the world.


"a choose your own adventure game with much deeper choices"

Detroit: Become Human is played through alternating segments. You control the androids Conner, Kara, and Markus on their road towards self-awareness and ultimately deviancy. Their gained independence culminates in the androids pushing back against oppressive rule; a fight for their freedom. In a style similar to Life is Strange or any number of Telltale games, Detroit: Become Human plays as a choose your own adventure game with much deeper choices that affect a variety of real story outcomes.


"on their road towards self-awareness and ultimately deviancy"

Conner is an Android Detective, specially made for the investigation of deviancy occurrences. He is the embodiment of absolute oppression and is our perspective of the government. Kara is an android housemaid that gained deviancy when her master physically abuses his daughter (Trigger Warning!), and maternal instincts kick in to protect her. Markus is a custom android who was a gift to a retired painter. Markus was bred to gain sentience, and eventually takes charge of the Android Revolution, directly opposing Conner's directive.


"Conflicts of values and objectives are the core of the game."

Without giving any more away, the main characters' paths eventually converge, each of them becoming pivotal to each other's lives. Conflicts of values and objectives are the core of the game. You feel so much for these characters, and get involved in the world they live in. It’s an entanglement of fate that I feel has never been explored so deeply in a video game before, and a truly remarkable thing to experience.


"converging paths, each of them becoming pivotal to each other's lives"

What sells a game apart from the narrative is its characters. The top-notch motion capture and graphics mean nothing without the performance of the actors. I was completely sold by the polish in everyone's performance. There was also a huge cast of side characters, each with their own personality and motivation. The voice acting and performances for every single one of them were so on point, you just know love and care was put into the crafting of this game.


Aside from the occasional cardboard dialogue, the script was believable and well written. Each character had their own personality and quirks, and the world felt alive and lived by these characters. The clash of moral and individual belief made me empathize with the characters and the conflicts between them feel real.


"Exploration is this game is greatly rewarded."

While the story is mostly linear, exploration is this game is greatly rewarded. By finding and looking for things to do in every set piece, you unlock options that will impact the rest of the game, opening possibilities otherwise unavailable to the player at all. For example, a gun I chose to pick up early gave me important options many hours after I first picked it up. The new options then presented more opportunities, which impacted my end game vastly. To have played through without this gun, I wouldn't have been given this option, and would've went down a whole new path altogether.


"UI that is not only subtle, but blends into the world of the game."

I love the User Interface (UI) of this game. Taking inspiration from games like Heavy Rain, the UI is clean and unobtrusive as good design should be. Elements like waypoints, minimaps, and commands are done in this minimalist, high-tech style that is not only subtle, but blends into the world of the story. I personally feel that UIX is underappreciated in the industry, and this balanced design is rare in video games these days.


"This game stands as one of my best gaming experiences of the year."

Detroit: Become Human is a masterclass of modern gaming. The 12 hours it took me for the first playthrough was unforgettable, and just made me want more. It has polished graphics backed by fantastic acting, innovative game mechanics, sympathetic characters, all wrapped in a deep and sophisticated story.


This game stands as one of my best gaming experiences of the year. You would be remiss not to try this game.


*POST EDIT* I played the game a second time through a year later, and uncovered an ENTIRE portion of the game previously unexplored. AMAZEBALLS.


Custom Gunpla is pretty standard today, but not everyone knows where to start. A little detail goes a long way for custom pieces, as you can tell with the HGBF GM/GM custom job I did here.


So let me guide you through my process.

- Airbrushing/Hand Painting

- Panel Lining

- Decals/Water Slides


 

AIRBRUSHING/HANDPAINTING


The RGM-79 from Thunderbolt was the inspiration for this Custom Gunpla. I needed to figure which part I was changing the colors, and marked them our in the instruction sheets.


Always have a paint scheme in mind

By using the instruction manual, I was able to sort the parts into their different color categories. This helped me organize which parts I had to paint which color without much hassle.


Once I knew which parts to paint, I went ahead to do the whole Gundam, and then top coated it for the next step. If you want to know more about this step, here’s a guide on how to Airbrush Gundam.


I went ahead to cut out, file, and portion the Gunpla parts separately. After painting, it was just assembly that needed to be done.



Something to take note of. As a beginner, I do not recommend hand painting your Gunpla.


When I first started, I was painting D&D and Warhammer 40k models. Gundam have a much larger surface area, and consistent paint throughout is difficult to accomplish. Unless you are doing the “anime style gundam”, weathering, energy weapons, or the Gundam Pilots, hand paint ends up streaky and ugly.


Example of a hand-painted energy shield | RG Strike Freedom

Example of a hand painted pilot | RG Destiny 2cm model

 

PANEL LINING


The difficulty of this build was making clean panel lines after airbrushing. Usually, Mr Hobby Accent Color can be used to slather everywhere, then enamel thinner and Q-tips to remove excess solution.



This is a huge problem here because painted surface of this Custom Gunpla would be wiped off along with the accent color. So that ruled it out as an option.


The two basic methods for panel lining are

- Dropper/Applicator, or

- Panel Marker


Panel Line Wash and Panel Marker

I chose a panel marker for this job. Copic’s Multiliner SP 0.03 serve better for me than Gundam Markers, because they’re thinner and less ink run. A steady hand is ABSOLUTELY crucial for this. It was not as clean and the lines were thicker, but I didn’t need to wipe any extra ink away.


Panel lining is a no brainer job. Find lines that are recessed, or broken up, and draw over them. In cases of seams, a little filing and scribing will make the seam line look like a panel line instead (but that’s more advanced). Anyway, PANEL TIME!

 

DECAL/WATER SLIDE


Decals for Gundam come in 3 forms, Clear Stickers, Dry Transfer, and Water Slides. These are in order of least to best looking. With a little care, attention, and something called Mr. Mark Setter, water slides are superior in almost every way.


Custom decals galore!

My client provided me with the water slides for this job. They’re cheap, comes in a good pack with many variations, and can be used for multiple Gundam with a small pack.


A necessary addition to water slides, or any decals in general, is both Mr. Mark Softer and Mr. Mark Setter. Softer melts the decals placed to conform them to the edges of the Gundam, and Setter adheres it to the plastic for maximum durability.


Mr. Mark Softer and Setter

They’re cheap, so grab a bottle of each.


With water slides, I realized I didn’t need to submerge them for the full duration. All I had to do was dip them for an instant and wait a minute. The slides then, well, slide right off onto the plastic.



Having a few Q-tips handy will help. I needed just 2 this entire Gundam. One Q-tip for wetness and moving the decal around, and one for soaking excess water and softer. If they’re too stiff, just add water, dab, and slide.


 

FINAL PICS



All things said and done, the credit for the kit should be given to Bandai. Small details make a great difference, and you'll be able to do the same too!



Updated: May 14, 2021


The culmination of a decade of adventures

Uncharted 4 brings a close to the Uncharted series, a game that made Nathan Drake one of gaming’s biggest icons since 2007. This game was an explosive way to finish the series and it couldn’t have ended any more satisfyingly than it did. We play as Nathan Drake once again for what is probably the biggest adventure of his life.


Characters we know and love like Sully and Elena make their final appearances, with new characters like Nathan’s older Brother Sam. They journey with us through thick and thin to uncover unsolved mysteries of the world.


Nathan Drake: Salary Man Extraordinaire!

The plot of this entire story revolves around the very first mystery that Nathan uncovered as a child with his brother. The story is well written, characters are diverse and the plot was exciting to follow.


We start a few years after we left off, watching Nathan leading an uncomfortably normal lifestyle. He’s married, has a day job, pushes paper; all very mundane. A surprise visit and the greatest call to action of his life later, and this game kicks off on a hell of an adventure. Puzzles, traps, and artifacts abound as in the previous games, and we’re thrown into set-piece after beautiful set-piece to uncover lost treasures.


This game ends with an epilogue that I have never experienced in my 2 decades of gaming. It is THE most heartwarming gameplay segment that hit me right in the feels man. Let’s just say a few man tears may have been shed even.


Oh right in the feels

The graphics and sound for this game are superb. It holds up really well, despite its age. There is a hyper-realism to the game that makes the many set pieces feel ripped out of a national geographic documentary.


Things like specular reflection, complex lighting, and mind-blowing collision mechanics blew me away in unexpected places. It was the little things that sold me on the graphics.


Is the moon in 4k?

The Foley and sound design was also stunning, which was to be expected from a triple-A title. Every shoe Foley on different floor textures, every minute ambient sound, the game had just as interesting a soundscape as it did landscape.


It’s this attention to detail that really makes this such an immersive experience. So while my game design knowledge is shallow at best, I appreciate how all these intricate coding systems come together to form a perfectly polished game.


He ain't heavy. He's my brother.

The one flaw I found is the plot. The one way Naughty Dogs had been introducing story was through a series of flashbacks to a young Nathan Drake. Used sparingly, it’s a good gimmick, but I feel constantly attacked by these flashbacks that retrospectively feed me the plot. I really had to close an eye to hold my suspension of disbelief.


The introduction of Nathan’s brother was sketchy at best, and they could barely explain how Nathan has NEVER brought his brother up in any of the past games, which halted me from being fully invested in this supposedly important character Nathan would take a bullet for. Forced, at best.


Oh brother...

The thing that stands out most for me about this game were the small moments. Uncharted really took their time to establish character and scenes. Scattered throughout the game were these little scenes that really drew out who we were playing. These mundane, yet intimate scenes catch me completely off guard and it felt like I was just watching a really good CG movie.


While captivating, it is still a game after all. If Naughty Dogs isn’t gonna be able to integrate these intimate story moments into an interactive medium, perhaps they’re better off making movies. There would at least be some quality, rather than all the crap game movie ripoff failures we currently have.


It's in the small moments we fall in love with the characters we play.

This was the best Uncharted game for many reasons. It has rounded characters, immersive story-telling, intriguing plots, and exciting action sequences. All of this wrapped up in polished graphics and an exploration/combat system refined over a good decade. But what makes this game work better is that it rides the coat tails of its previous successes. It capitalizes on our past experiences with those games.


My investment in these characters wouldn’t be as strong if I hadn’t invested the hours previously. The revelations would not have been as impactful if I didn’t already experience the lives of these characters. It is a true testament to Naughty Dog’s storytelling abilities.


My name is Inigo Montoya. You kill my brother. It's time to dance!

So if you haven’t played an Uncharted game before, this should really be enjoyed after playing all the previous ones. The trilogy is cheap and is remastered for new consoles. The older systems show some age to them, but it’s worthwhile playing them through chronologically. Each game on easy shouldn’t take over 6 hours, and I would dare say that’s the difficulty you should be playing to fully enjoy Uncharted.


No more. Don't make me cry no more.

It is an amazing game. This series will live as one of the most memorable gaming experiences I have, and will ever, have.