AWD Commentary: Defiance, SF Channel's New Original Show & Game (I'm shocked as well :-))

After taking a much needed break from the stress of the book publishing world and a barrage of wedding planning, I'm excited to be back to losing myself in a new game. I had been waffling over getting the new Defiance MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) Game. Looking at the costs, the risks of the play factor (I'm not a huge shooter game fan but I love SF RPG games as there aren't enough of them) and whether the world building would be as fun as it looked, I'm happy to say that I am having fun again! It's not as immersive as Mass Effect 2 (my all time fave) or Dragon Age: Origins but the potential is there for this to be a nice tie-in to the upcoming SF Channel show.

A bit of background, I remember when the SF channel was coming and various staple actors in the genre urged viewers to order it from our cable station. It boasted awesome classic shows from Lost in Space, The Twilight Zone, Time Tunnel, VR-5, Land of the Lost, Dark Shadows, The Bionic Man and Star Trek just to name a few. It also had original non-fic programming from the awesome Bob's Basement of treasured and rare props from fave sci-fi movies, Sci-Fi Buzz, an entertainment magazine show which kept viewers up on conventions and the goings on in the world of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror, Inside Space which shared news and updates on anything space related. Later the show was joined by originals such as Lexx (Love this show!), The Invisible Man, Farscape and First Wave (yay Cade Foster!). The channel also featured Exposure, a showcase of short films from amateur filmmakers and veteran ones such as Alex Proyas, Tim Burton, George Lucas, Eric Kripke, David Koepp and others. I LOVED the Sci-Fi Channel and it would always be on in our house because there was always something we would want to see.

As the station dwindled over the years, it became depressing to turn into and soon I forgot it existed except around New Years Eve to turn into my annual Twilight Zone Marathon (weee!).

Now we have a reason to tune in again it is *gasp* original programming! Not another reality show nor a remake, not even a show that premieres on another network first that SFC is trying to covet and call their own original programming. No, sir.

Bring on Defiance!

I'm jazzed word is getting around for the show and game. Charlee over at Smart Girls Love Sci-Fi (awesome blog btw, subscribe to them!) recently posted about her thoughts on the show.

Defiance, the show, is basically a futuristic dystopian focusing on a small group of characters living on an Earth that has been meshed with various aliens, collectively called Votans. The game opens with this description:

"The Votans' arrival was more immigration than invasion.
Peaceful attempts to integrate collapsed into decades of war and chaos.

The Earth was transformed. Extinction seemed inevitable, until...
The Battle of Defiance.

Human and Votan soldiers defied orders and united to save innocent lives.
This valiant act inspired the belief that we must brave this new frontier together."

Part space western and part dystopia, on the surface, Defiance seems like ground that has been tread before in SF. There's a little bit of Firefly, a little bit of Mad Max, a dash of Starship Troopers and a pinch of
nuBSG with a wink of steampunk aesthetics. It seems a little out of place for the more schlocky material the SF channel is more known for now, but I have hopes it will stake its claim in SF history. We will have to see based on the quality of the storytelling and its weekly arcs.

For now, the game seems to set the scene up quite nicely.

Spoily spoiler alert ahead for folk who haven't played the game or want to go into the show completely unspoiled!

We are introduced to two storylines running alongside each other. In the main one, the player's character is an Ark Hunter working for the brainy Dr. Von Bach of Von Bach Industries. As we open on the Earth Republic Stratocarrier,  we are ordered by a Captain Grant to take our seats as the carrier preps for a landing. The ship seems to carry a mixture of military (here called Earth Military Republic (aka E-Rep)) and some civilian passengers. As story lore goes, most ships don't exactly land moreso than crash into the ground. These are generally called ArkFalls. Once an Arkfall lands, they are open to scavengers to scrap for resources.

Anyway, Von Bach is uptight about his "arktech", technology located in the Bay Area that can bring Earth back to the way it was. The head military man in charge isn't quite interested and goes back to ordering everyone to their seats. Here our player is created and customized before strapping in and meeting two familiar passengers: the main characters of the show Josh Nolan (Grant Bowler) and his adoptive daughter Irisa Nolan (Stephanie Leonidas). A shaky landing turns into a crash and there we are in the bay area, but not as we know it.

Once we hit the ground, the story turns to the player where we discover the post apoc world of the Bay Area, Defiance style. This is basically a prologue of the show where we encounter Nolan and Irisa again, Captain Grant and feisty Irithrian named Cass. The characters are colorful with a main storyline running alongside an episode mission that beings the Defiance story before the characters jump off the game screen and onto our television screens.

Things I like: The amount of stuff to do in this world! There is a lot of baddies running around to defend oneself from and a lot of quests to finish. You also get a main storyline quest and a episode storyline quest which ties into the show featuring Nolan and Irisa. It's pretty fun how you get to venture alongside them and be a bit of an independent rogue in your own right. The storyline is interesting so far and as I finish the episode mission in time for next week's premiere, I discovered a twist that took my interest in the two main characters down a peg. It's not exactly how they are written; they do something that doesn't quite endear me to them, but I'm still interested in seeing how the story begins as it continues from the game into the show.

I'm still playing as we speak and discovering it alongside my husband-to-be as we have time to play together in between work and basic life stuff, but it's been fun stretching it out in little morsels. Not to mention getting some snuggle time in game (squee).

Character customization was fun! It took me a while to get the hang of it as some features I didn't realize were there. And although it isn't as extensive as say, Mass Effect 2 (ME2), it still gets the job done and I finally settled on a look that envisioned for my character.

I love that I'm able to ride around in some awesome vehicles. My fave is the ATV wheeler which is nice and maneuverable and especially handy in running down the bad mutant monsters (vroom vroom)! The graphics are pretty gorgeous. There are nice sunsets and changes in whether which makes the game engine pretty impressive.

Best aspect of the game. ;-)

Things I don't like so much: The world isn't as immersive as I like. I would love to be able to interact with things more. Like for instance, scrounge for food and supplies in abandoned bunkers and camps. In previews of the show, we see a full fledged city with all the goodies it involves. I would love to have a marketplace/gathering center where goods can be traded and sold, also offering housing if people want to rent, contract jobs they can do as a Ark Hunters are already mercenaries in a way. I hear there is a big patch coming next week in time for the show and also the city of San Francisco will open up for play, so I'm hoping it offers more

Being a huge fan of RPGs (roleplaying games), I would love a chance to be able to roleplay my character with other folks. Some games feature separate servers for this and I wouldn't mind having a special RP Defiance server. Even so, this world is so rich and offers a potential for it that I wouldn't be surpised to see RP spring from here onto other sites.

Nevertheless, I'm excited to see what's in store with the game when the show starts. Creators have said that both will mesh together and things that happen in the show will affect the game and vice versa. San Francisco, the location in the game, will open up and the developers are always adding updates and fixes. A lot is riding on this for the channel. It's a risky endeavour not only for the meshing of two mediums to tell one story but real juicy sci-fi shows hasn't been on the channel since the Stargates and nuBSGs were canceled. As a big SF fan and gamer. This has my high interest!

Advisory: The tv show is listed as TV-14 most likely for language and adult themes but the show is a heavy Mature due to language, violence and adult themes of the HBO variety.