Red Dead Redemption 2’s tutorial: a fistful of hours

Jake Elmslie – Sports Editor

In a game where you can spend a majority of your time ether murdering or robbing people, the most criminal thing in “Red Dead Redemption 2” may be the way the tutorial is handled.

“Red Dead Redemption 2,” the sequel to the highly acclaimed “Red Dead Redemption,” promises the player an open-world wild west adventure. One where you are free to roam and explore any cowboy fantasies you may have, be they riding your horse at breakneck speeds to elude bounty hunters, stealing and driving a turn of the century steam engine or dominating a fist fight in the local saloon. Yet, the path Rockstar Games forces you to take to get to this level of freedom is bizarre.

“Red Dead Redemption 2” insists on forcing the player through an arduous three to four hour tutorial, ripe with slow moving dull missions and admittedly beautiful but overly long cinematics that cumulatively make the player feel like they are doing little more than watching a barely interactive movie.

The intentions of this section of the game is to both familiarize the player with “Red Dead Redemption 2”’s controls and mechanics as well as to begin to invest the player in the story of the game’s protagonist Arthur Morgan and the various members of his gang. In execution, however, the tutorial holds the players hand in an iron death grip while repeatedly forcing story beats down the players throat in a fashion that starts to make one envy the members of the gang that were lost and left behind.

All of this may be forgivable if the whole enterprise was at least entertaining, but alas, slowly following a non-playable character around a mountain side and, in a moment that feels like an actual joke, driving a horse drawn cart down an uneventful road are disappointing to the player that came in expecting an exhilarating sandbox from the get go.

In the grand scheme, the issues with this tutorial are two-fold. First, the controls for these sorts of open world games have become fairly ubiquitous in recent times. The modern gamer will usually assume the bumpers are used to shoot in much the same way a platformer player understands that the A button is used to jump without being told so. Secondly, other open world games such as Bethesda’s “Fallout 4” or more recently, Nintendo’s “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” pull off what “Red Dead Redemption 2” attempted to do in its tutorial far better.

“Fallout 4”  introduces the player to the basic controls of the game in a brief opening mission. After this is completed, the player is essentially given free reign to explore the game’s world with other mechanics being explained when they become important. “Breath of the Wild” meanwhile throws the player right into things from the get go with anything that resembles a tutorial coming naturally in the game’s opening missions in a way that feels seamless in its integration. Additionally, the player is given the option to learn more about the game’s world and story through various side quests in a fashion that makes finding out this information feel like a goal as opposed to required reading.

It is important to note that after one completes the tutorial, “Red Dead Redemption 2” is the exciting, open-ended, detailed 19th century jaunt fans were expecting. However, while being forced to slog through a bloated tutorial, it’s easy to question if Rockstar Games should get off so easily for an opening act that would have made me walk out on a game I had lower expectations for.

RI Comic Con returns for its seventh year

Enrique Castaneda-Pineda – Assistant Graphics Editor

The epitome of geek and media fandom returned to Providence for its seventh year with a bang. Starring headliners like Zachary Levi, David Harbour and Tom Felton, the convention was nothing less than extraordinary.

In the past, the convention has faced problems due to the masses of people attending, but this year was different. Along with using the Dunkin Donut Center and the Convention Center, the panels were moved to the Omni Hotel. This allowed there to be more panels, which helped cover everything that attendees wanted. Despite some issues directing people to the panels, it was the best move to help ease the amount of people on the show floor.

There wasn’t a time during the three days of the event that found people with nothing to do. Guests were the main feature, as you could take a picture, get autographs or just say hi to some of your favorite TV/movie stars. Along with “Stranger Things” stars, an abundance of “The Walking Dead” characters were there, including Steven Ogg, Laurie Holden and Cooper Andrews.

This has been the best run RI Comic Con so far, and hopefully it will keep this up in the years to come. My hope is that they include bigger stars from more current media, because a decent chunk of the stars that attend are from TV and movies from long ago.

From “Francis of the Filth” to “Joji” with the jams

Enrique Castaneda-Pineda – Assistant Graphics Editor

George Miller, aka Joji, aka Filthy Frank, has had an evolution unlike any artist out there. From starting his own YouTube channel in 2008, making outlandish public pranks faking seizures, creating his own universe and cast of characters, and cooking rap videos, he has constantly evolved. Despite being king of the internet memeverse, it was time to move from the YouTube realm and do what he truly loved, which was music making.

Hinting that he wanted to do more music, he created comedic music videos that garnered a lot of love. Before his departure, he created “Pink Season” under the alias Pink Guy/Omega, an album with several satirical songs and meme-worthy music. After starting to release videos more sparingly, he announced his departure from the character and world of Filthy Frank to focus on his music.

Signing with 88 Rising, the first Asian-American record label to gain high praise, he finally created his debut EP as “Joji.” Joji is also a nickname that George has had throughout the years, once having a vlog channel with the same name. In the past, he had made sad sounding, R&B/lofi hip-hop music under this name, including songs like “You Suck Charlie” and “Thom” before officially focusing on music.

Since then, Joji has released an EP and an album, titled “In Tongues” and “Ballads 1,” respectively. After releasing “In Tongues” in 2017, the short 16 minute EP left most fans wanting more, while gathering new ones. With the release of “Ballads 1,” Joji reached a new high at the top spot in the R&B Billboard chart.

Most of his music is smooth and quiet, though his new album takes risks in attempting to break out of the same cycle. Despite its attempts, a couple songs can be repetitive, but the variation overall of the album keeps the listener engaged and enthralled with where he’ll take a song next. From bass-boosting a song, to focusing on its quiet piano, or relying on guitar licks, the tracks always try to bring something new to the table.

As he evolves, his music will continually evolve, as well as his risks. “Slow Dancing in the Dark” has Joji out of his vocal comfort zone, providing strong lyrics and an even stronger vocal performance of belted out intense, long notes. It is arguably one of the strongest songs on the record because of his ability to take his voice to a new place. Meanwhile, switching his pitches in “Can’t Get Over You” with its catchy beat leaves me always putting the song on repeat. Finally, “XNXX” has a beat that is similar, grabbing you and pulling you in, but it is so short that it forces you to play it again.

Once Joji is fully comfortable with his voice, and takes more musical risks, there is no doubt that his music will only continue to get better.

Artist Spotlight: Antonio Rondinaro

Samantha Malley – Art Director

Having received his undergraduate degree in history just last spring, and continued his studies as a graduate history student, one might ask Antonio Rondinaro why he takes photography classes. “I think it’s a little bit more than a hobby to me, I’ve always wanted to be an artist. However, I could never draw, ceramics required too much patience and space, so photography was my next best bet,” says Antonio.

He started off with a disposable camera from CVS, moved on to a point-and-shoot camera and eventually to a bulky DSLR camera. Once he learned about film and darkroom photography, Antonio says “it snowballed from there.”

 When asked about the inspiration behind his work, Antonio said “Well, it’s a pretty big world out there and there’s just a lot to see. I try to photograph that world through my vision and share it with other people.” Exploring different kinds of photography such as long exposures or street photography has peaked Antonio’s interest throughout the years.

In his Photo one class, he dealt with motion photography by photographing someone riding their motorcycle. In Photo two, he wondered about applying street photography to individuals in libraries. Pictured are Antonio’s favorite images from both classes.

Currently in his Photo three class, Antonio is working on a project of people in space. “Not astronauts or anything like that,” he laughs by correcting himself. His core idea behind the photographs is showcasing his non-verbal disability which affects his spatial reasoning.

He wants to be able to explore new concepts, photograph what he sees and then share it with his audience. Antonio hopes his final collection comes together in a collage full of different landscapes and portraits captivating his vision.

The Cantina: Be careful not to choke on your aspirations

Jonathan Weaver – Asst. A&E Editor

Good news for fans of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story!” Diego Luna will be reprising his role as Cassian in an upcoming live action series on Disney’s new streaming service. This comes following a wave of announcements pertaining to Star Wars projects on the service like “The Mandalorian,” “The Resistance,” and “The Clone Wars.”

Rogue One bridges the gap between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy by telling the story about how the rebel spies retrieved the plans to the empire’s superweapon, the Death Star. Considered by many to be one of Disney’s best contributions to the canon, “Rogue One” is beloved by many and features many memorable characters, like Diego Luna’s Cassian Andor.

That being said, Disney’s more recent ventures into the canon have seen less success and have felt too deconstructive (The Last Jedi) or derivative (Solo). Is expanding on a very self contained and well-told story, a good idea? We still don’t have any other concrete information on the series, but it is safe to assume that it was born from positive fan reactions to “Rogue One.”

Many people consider “The Empire Strikes Back” to be their personal favorite movie in the series. However, “The Last Jedi” is believed to have relied too heavily on recapturing that same movie magic and that is why it floundered. Could an attempt to recapture the spirit of “Rogue One” cause this series to feel uninspired? It is possible that after all the negative feedback received from the last two installments has resulted in Disney relying on what has worked already to rebuild good faith in the brand and expand for future storytelling.

Personally, I look forward to this series as I thoroughly enjoyed “Rogue One.” And I hope they can tell another new story in the canon while retaining that child-like magic I got to experience when I was a fresh fan of the series. I also hope for more incredible Darth Vader scenes, because trust me when I say, having a director known for monster movies like Godzilla direct Vader the same way he directs a terrible mythical monster is pure childish delight, it really is.

Regardless of the form this new series takes, it is reassuring that Disney seems to be receptive and responding to what fans have resonated with within their contributions to the canon since their acquisition, and makes me excited for the future.

Cute but deadly: the African black-footed cat

Britt Donahue – Photo Editor

All throughout history, humans have been fascinated by cats. References to large, predatory felines such as the lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar and many more can be found in myths, legends and art from all over the ancient world. These animals are adaptable and capable hunters, who have found ways to thrive everywhere from the cloud forests of South America, to the Indian Mangrove swamp, and everywhere in between.

Cats, by their very nature are notoriously elusive and difficult to study, but recent improvements in camera and tracking technologies have allowed researches unprecedented access to information about species rarely seen by human eyes, and the BBC Nature miniseries, “Super Cats” brings this new information straight to your living room.

Episode two of the series, “Cats in Every Corner,” is particularly interesting; it highlights a black-footed cat called Gyra. Gyra weighs only two pounds, but each night she can travel up to 20 miles searching for food. This is more than any of the other so called “small cats”- a category which includes species such as the Canadian lynx, the caracal, or the Chinese desert cat. The black-footed cat is an amazing hunter who successfully catches their prey 60 percent of the time! For comparison, a lion hunting alone will be successful about 17-19 percent of the time, or 30 percent if they hunt in pairs.

Black-footed cats are the smallest cats on the continent of Africa where they make their home in the arid deserts of Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. Some scientists speculate that they may be the smallest of all feline species, but are reluctant to say for sure while so many of the small cats remain poorly studied. Perfectly adapted for life in the desert, they have earned a reputation as a “vampire cat” because they do not to seek out sources of water. Instead, they are able to obtain all their liquid requirements via the bodily fluids of their prey.

Photo courtesy of BBC Nature

If you are interested in learning more about the 36 species of wild cats, tune into “Super Cats,” available for streaming on PBS.com.

“Rocky Horror Picture Show:” cult classic makes its way to RIC

Enrique Castaneda-Pineda – Assistant Graphics

There have been hands-on classes all across Rhode Island College’s campus, but none like this one. In this class, students were tasked with setting up a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” featuring the RKO Army that regularly attends and performs shadowcasts for events showcasing the film.

A shadowcast is the on-stage performance of a film by actors while the film is simultaneously screened. Similarly, the audience interacts with the film. This style has helped this film and others, like “The Room” remain in theaters years after their release.

Photos courtesy of Twentieth-Century Fox

After celebrating its 43rd anniversary, the 1975 cult hit remains one of the most popular films to play periodically across the country, comparable to “The Room.” Despite the passage of time, actors in the film remain most well known for their roles in it, including Tim Curry playing Dr. Frank-N-Furter and Susan Sarandon playing Janet.

The film has become iconic over the years, as it introduced new ideas to a conservative mid-1970’s generation about homosexuality. As a result, it has become important to the gay/lesbian/transgender community as the cross-dressing Tim Curry was jarring for some at the time.

As the students of RIC’s film program finalize their progress for the event, there will be much anticipation for the show on Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. in Gaige 100.

RIC’S Halloween tradition

Thomas Yakey Jr – Anchor Staff

Every fall around Halloween, the Rhode Island College Music, Theatre, and Dance Departments put on one of their best concerts of the year called the Halloween Collage Concert.  Like every year, this concert was sponsored by the RIC’s own chapter of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME).

This organization works nationally for both future and current music educators to network and expand knowledge in their field.  The concert is a fun event and has a mix of various small ensembles, some of which are choral and some instrumental acts. One of the most interesting aspects of this concert is that not all of the acts are part of a school sponsored group, which allows music students to perform a wide variety of repertoire they might not normally be able to perform on a stage like our own Roberts Hall.  

Professor Patricia Kammerer, the professor who oversaw the event said, “The program this year was especially varied, from the Spooky Women’s Chorale singing “She Weeps Over Rahoon” by the contemporary composer Eric Whitacre, to the oboe ensemble playing an arrangement of “The Funeral March of a Marionette” by Charles Gounod (aka the TV theme song for “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”), to a selection from the musical, “Dear Evan Hansen.”  

Performers and attendees alike made it a fun night by dressing up in various costumes ranging from a hot dog to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  Admission was even free for RIC Students or Faculty who decided to show their fun-side by dressing up in costume.

Alumni were also encouraged to play in the “Alumni Chicken Jazz Band.” As an added bonus, proceeds from ticket sales were donated to the Unity Center and Pride Alliance to “stamp out hate” — a sentiment in the wake of hateful messages being spread around campus.  This was a continued tradition from last year where the proceeds of the concerts were donated to victims devastated by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

“Thank you to Antoinette Gomes from the Unity Center and Jess Fleming from the Pride Alliance for coming to the concert and speaking about the important work they both do on the RIC campus,” commented Professor Kammerer when asked about the concert. “I really enjoy getting the chance to work with students outside of the classroom setting and seeing and hearing them as performers.”

If you are interested in being part of this incredibly fun and impactful event, it will be around again next year before Halloween. Just keep your eye out.

Mid90s: the must watch film of 2018

Sophia Guerrier – Anchor Staff

This year has brought the same box office hits that audiences will never get tired of.

Consisting of several Marvel films, the usual James Bond film and a Pixar sequel, the high grossing films of the year have remained predictable … and worth the watch. Aside from these action-packed hollywood thrillers, are the indie films that go overlooked but preserve high quality entertainment for the movie goers looking for something more than CGI and New York City going to shambles.

“Mid90s” has strong potential to be that film this year and is a must watch for anyone.

Photo courtesy of indiewire.com

Making his directorial debut, Jonah Hill presents a coming of age film deriving from his love for hip hop and skateboarding. The film is set in 1990s Los Angeles, California and follows a 13 year old boy named Stevie (played by Sunny Suljiic) and his new found friendship with a group of young, local skaters. Coming from a troubled home, Stevie’s friendship with these kids brings elements of family that is absent in his upbringing and the mischievous fun that comes with being an adolescent.

Hill’s emphasis on the film’s soundtrack pays tribute to the era as the heavily hip hop infused songs ranging from Wu-tang to The Pharcyde carries us into the exclusive world of a 1990s skateboarder.  

In his recent interview with The Breakfast Club, Hill is quoted saying, “Making this film Mid90s, I made a film that means something to me.” He goes on to speak about the importance of the multicultural representation in the movie that mirrors the actual demographics of the skateboarding community.

Most of the cast in the film are also revealed to be skateboarders from the Los Angeles area, many of whom have not actually starred in any films. There is a clear priority for authenticity and a realistic portrayal of characters and setting which makes this film momentous. Telling by the trailer and Hill’s own description, the heavy use of derogatory terms and swears in the film only displays the rawness that comes with the culture of skateboarding. Hill’s decision to include this language, especially in the age of being politically correct, again represents, ironically, the purity of how the film was produced.

This is not a cliché teen comedy or drama film where skateboarding is involved. There are genuine lessons throughout the film exposed through Stevie’s experience and dialogue from the youthful characters.

Hill combines the 90s’ two rebel cultures of hip hop and skateboarding to demonstrate the true togetherness and meaning it brings to the life of an adolescent. It is an interesting, sincere storyline that is relatable and timeless about a kid trying to fit in and find themselves.

Now playing in theaters, “Mid90s” is a recommended watch.

This week in history…

Jake DeBlois – Anchor Staff

November 5 (Mo):

1605: Guy Fawkes arrested attempting to blow up the British Parliament in the “Gunpowder Plot.”

November 6 (Tu):

1860: Abraham Lincoln elected President.

1861: Jefferson Davis elected President of the Confederacy.

November 7 (We):

1917: Led by Lenin, the Bolsheviks take power in Russia.

November 8 (Th):

1942: The United States and Great Britain invade Axis-occupied North Africa.

November 9 (Fr):

1989: After 28 years, the Berlin Wall is opened.

November 10 (Sa):

1775: US. Marine Corps founded.

1969: PBS debuts Sesame Street.

November 11 (Su):

1918: Germans sign armistice ending the Great War.

1921: The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is dedicated at Arlington.