Movies, music, games, books, television, and more.

My opinions, jaded completely by my feelings, experiences, beliefs, and how I'm feeling at the time.

*SPOILERS* I will usually include a section at the end that may contain spoilers. If you don't want to know, don't read that part.

My opinion is not yours, nor should yours be mine. If you want to know for yourself, do for yourself. If you disagree, that's fine - you can make one of these for yourself for free.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spots in the Ink - XBL Summer of Arcade '11

So that time of year has come and gone again, the time when XBox Live strips away our free time with weekly releases of their biggest titles. As with last year's event, there were some games before and after the main push that are worth mentioning, plus the official "S-o-A" titles. I'm going to give a quick rundown of all of them, then talk about what I played.

Outland - Purchased, 75% Done

Trenched - Purchased, Beaten

Ms. Splosion Man - Purchased, 5% Done

*Bastion - Purchased, 75% done

*From Dust - Purchased, Beaten

*Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet - Purchased by Bama, No Personal Progress

*Fruit Ninja Kinect - Not Purchased

*Toy Soldiers: Cold War - Purchased, 50% Done

Crimson Alliance - Not Released, Purchase Status: Unlikely

Renegade Ops - Not Released, Purchase Status: Certain

The ones with a * are the official titles, and if you bought all of them, you get Crimson Alliance for free. It's not a bad deal, since Fruit Ninja was only 800 and CA will be 1200. But I much preferred last year's method: the more of them you bought, the more points you got as a reward after it was over. I didn't enjoy feeling like I was being railroaded into buying a game for an accessory I don't own yet. Anyways, let's talk about the games!

Outland - From the ever-inspiring minds at Ubisoft, Outland is like a mix of Metroid and Ikaruga. You travel a huge map, gaining new abilities to access new areas, and there is a light/dark mechanic used for combat and puzzles. The controls are solid, the gameplay is easy to get into, and the art style is stylistically pitch-perfect.

Trenched - Those boys over at Double-Fine have done it again, men! Trenched is a mech-builder / tower defense game with some of the best theming I have ever encountered. The four-player co-op is a must, and there's enough unlocks that my regiment played all the way through it at least four times. DLC better be coming down the pipes!

Ms. Splosion Man - Twisted Pixel really delivered on this one. What could have been a palette-swap rehash turned out to be a genuine sequel: the puzzles are more complex, there are genuine new mechanics, and the game has a difficulty curve that almost demands having played the first one. If you need any more incentive, just try to skip a checkpoint and endure "The Curse."

Bastion - The nostalgia factor pulled me into this one before I even stood a chance. Rendered in beautiful 2D and with a camera angle reminiscent of FF: Tactics, if the music and art don't get you, the narrator will. On top of all that production value, the game plays solidly, and there are way more side-quests, collectibles, and other replay-value factors than I expected.

From Dust - Ubisoft may have signed some kind of questionable soul pact to put out this many good things. This was by far my favorite single-player arcade experience this summer. A "god game," the mechanic of moving elements to reshape the world has amazing results. Plus, beating the game unlocks a free-play map where you literally shape the very world before you.

I.T.S.P. - Metroid meets Limbo meets Asteroids, this one I didn't pick up, but watched Bama play, and played some of the co-op with her. The game looks like immense fun, if you like the whole "huge map where new abilities = new areas unlocked" formula. The co-op has up to four of you running from a giant beast, and the rounds we played were the perfect mix of intense fun.

Fruit Ninja Kinect - This gets old on my phone, and I don't see how waving my arms around would change that. I had a Wii, and the sword parts of Wii Sports Resort were all I'll ever need of this kind of gameplay. Like having to pay for Angry Birds on Windows Phone 7, this one just confuses me.

Toy Soldiers: Cold War - I love Toy Soldiers. I bought every DLC if for no other reason than to give Signal Studios more money. And it payed off. A tower-defense formula at heart, the new game requires you to get adept at using the turrets, but the payoff is much bigger: plastic-melting, package-ripping, point-of-articulation snapping barrages. The co-op is a great addition, and the new challenges, commendations, and mini games are icing on the cake. I wanted a war, I got a war!

Crimson Alliance - A four-player co-op dungeon crawler, I'd have been more interested in this if Dungeon Siege III hadn't come out earlier this summer. I'm sure I'll play the demo, but this is low on my list.

Renegade Ops - Pulling on the nostalgia heartstrings once again, this is an aerial-perspective vehicular shoot-'em-up straight out of my childhood memories. If the upgrades, explosions, attack choppers, and four-player co-op weren't enough, the trailer shows your team speeding along a giant bridge that is collapsing behind you.

So there you have it, my take on the past few months of XBLA. I know I missed a few, the biggest being W.H.40K: Kill Team and D&D: Daggerdale. But I hope this list helps the next time you got some spare points burning a hole in your virtual wallet.

The Devil's Due - Into the Kitchen

I love Daredevil. As of tonight, I own and have read everything from the beginning of "Vol. 2" - when Marvel reset the numbering to #1, put it under the "Marvel Knights" brand, and let Kevin Smith take the reigns - up to Andy Diggle's #507 - which is actually #127 under the new numbering, but Marvel saw it fit to override that with the old system in order to commemorate reaching 500 total issues. Doing this was no easy feat, as many of these issues are collected in now out-of-print trades, or not collected in trades at all. I also own the three trades that follow the point I'm at, trades that revolve around Matt Murdock's final fall from grace and subsequent "rebirth." But I'm getting way ahead of myself there, storyline-wise. My point is, I love Daredevil.

And it's all been done since March / April of last year. I wish I knew the exact date, but I can't seem to track it down. Again, though, I'm getting ahead of myself.

My first genuine encounter with "horn head" was, in retrospect, regrettable: February 14, 2003. Ben Affleck and all. I went with a friend's girlfriend, who wanted to see it more than he did, which seemed to me like a great opportunity. In hindsight, I really wish it had been my date Colin Ferrell sent a sai sailing into, but I digress. Point is, at the time, my dad was the only really solid DD source I had, and he hadn’t picked up an issue in decades. Still, he knew enough to shoot the bull with me after the family had seen it, and helped impress a few things into me: Kingpin was too big to ever be played in real life by anyone, Matt Murdock would never have been seen fighting anyone in broad daylight, in street clothes, on a playground, etc. But my pop watches movies to be entertained, and it had done the trick, so we arrived at a "fair" rating on the whole thing.

The only other outcome was that I started looking around our local Books-a-Million for any DD trades - my standard response to all super-hero films at that point in my life. I tried reading both Frank Miller's Man Without Fear and Smith's Guardian Devil; I knew both of those names, and so was interested, but as with many comics I tried to read back then, the art wasn't glitz-gloss or manga-esq enough for me. So the film remained my only real look into Hell's Kitchen, which was ok with me back then. So I'll leave the movie alone. For now.

I would be remiss if I didn't put at least some attention into the development of my comics interest during between the two dates I've given you so far. I mean, it's only seven years or so. The short version is this: I liked manga throughout college ('03-'06) and still do, though to a lesser extent; the only American comics I tended to read then were those with Star Wars at the top, or the aforementioned movie-inspired forays into Marvel / DC. The three big catalysts to the huge "funny book" fan I am now all came after I moved to Annapolis for grad school in fall of '07.

1. I read the first few trades of DMZ at the Borders near the theater I worked at, and so began to look more into the indie comics published by Vertigo.
2. One of my managers saw me reading there, and so shared his Punisher MAX trades with me, which started a chain reaction of comics reading at the theater.
3. In May of '08, Third Eye Comics opened less than a mile from the theater, and I met the owner Steve, whose ability to gauge what people will like is mind-blowing.

Even with all these influences, though, it was a long time before I owned anything within a mainstream "cape" continuity. Sure, I had the occasional self-contained trade, but I think even all of those were Batman. I like Batman, always have. No, it wasn't until I had known Steve for a while that he got me to finally read an ongoing superhero series: Ed Brubaker's Captain America. I loved it, immensely, and added Brubaker to my list of authors to keep an eye on. The only other Marvel stuff that really piqued my interest were in the alternate "Noir" universe. I picked up the Punisher, Wolverine, and Daredevil arcs under that brand, and enjoyed them all. If you want to talk Noir, though, our man J.S. Wolfwood is the resident expert. But the DD run gave me my first taste of Hell's Kitchen in years. And I liked it.

The big payoff came in March / April of 2010, my girlfriend (Bama from Blue-Eyed Curiosity) and I were in Third Eye buying her some comics so she could see if she liked them, and she said "I liked the movie Daredevil. We should look for that." I looked at the DD trades, and low-and-behold was a "Volume 1" with Brubaker's name on it. Sold.

Turns out that particular trade started with issue #82 and went to #87, and as such not really what we had been looking for; I still need to buy her Man Without Fear so she can have a good origin story on her shelf. I decided to give it a shot, and was completely blown away. Sure, I had obviously missed a few things: Matt Murdock was in jail, Elektra wasn’t dead anymore, etc. But the writing was good enough to get me hooked, and it avoided many of the problems I have with cape stories. There was no multi-dimensional war being fought, or ten thousand different characters I needed to keep track of, or a plot that I needed to buy four different trades just to make sense of. It was a story about people, and one that made me care.

I had also picked up the fantastic Daredevil: Yellow by the dynamic duo of Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale of Long Halloween fame. Like their two other Marvel one-shots, Yellow focuses on love and loss due to Matt's alter-ego. While not connected directly to the main run, it only served to heighten my interest in these characters.

So in July of 2010, I acquired the rest of Brubaker's run (#88-120), an oversized trade that contained Smith's #1-8 and David Mack's #9-15, and the first of three massive trades that collect all of Brian Michael Bendis's run, starting with #16-19/26-40. Yes, I know there are gaps in that, gaps that I had to address later. But at that point, I was set. On a trip to Cedar Point that year, I used airport and car time to read through the Smith / Mack trade and everything Brubaker had done. I skipped the Bendis stuff because I couldn't afford the second two trades that completed his run, and I had already read beyond them. I enjoyed every panel of it, and figured I'd pick up what remained later that summer.

Then life happened, as it tends to. I changed jobs several times, managed a massive relocation that I had been planning for a while, and so on. Somewhere in the shuffle, that first Bendis trade got left on a shelf several hundred miles away. Christmas came and went, along with a visit home; still it sat there, waiting for the pieces to fall into place. I knew that some amazing stuff was going on in the current run of DD, being written by Andy Diggle, the mind behind Losers. Finally, in July of this year, I grabbed it off my shelf. We were planning on getting to a certain teenage-wizard-movie midnight show way too damn early, and I knew I'd need reading material to kill some time.

That trade took me at least three hours to get through. I honestly kind of lost track while I was reading. It was unique, even amongst the oft-unusual and genuinely fascinating things that preceded and succeeded it. The first arc in it, "Wake Up", is possibly the best thing I have ever read in a mainstream cape series, and Daredevil is barely in it. I didn’t really think about the rest, after that. I had known for a while that it might be possible for me to actual get my hands on this entire run, and so I took the necessary steps to do so. Since July, I have acquired everything remaining, which required me to go so far as tracking down singles from 2001, because a certain arc was never collected in a trade. But I managed it, and here it is:

• Daredevil Volume 1 (Trade); Smith / Mack; #1-15
• Daredevil Ultimate Collection Book 1 (Trade); Bendis; #16-19/26-40
• Daredevil "Playing the Camera" (Singles); Gale; #20-25
• Daredevil Ultimate Collection Book 2 (Trade); Bendis; #41-50/56-65
• Daredevil / Echo "Vision Quest" (Trade); Mack; #51-55
• Daredevil Ultimate Collection Book 3 (Trade); Bendis; #66-81
• Daredevil "The Devil, Inside and Out Vol. 1" (Trade); Brubaker; #82-87
• Daredevil "The Devil, Inside and Out Vol. 2" (Trade); Brubaker; #88-93
• Daredevil "Hell to Pay Vol. 1" (Trade); Brubaker; #94-99
• Daredevil "Hell to Pay Vol. 2" (Trade); Brubaker; #100-105
• Daredevil "Cruel and Unusual" (Trade); Brubaker; #106-110
• Daredevil "Lady Bullseye" (Trade); Brubaker; #111-115
• Daredevil "Return of the King" (Trade); Brubaker; #116-119/#500
• Daredevil "The Devil's Hand" (Trade); Diggle; #501-507
• Daredevil "Shadowland" (Trade); Diggle; #508-512
• Shadowland (Trade); Diggle; #1-5
• Daredevil: Reborn (Singles); Diggle; #1-4

I still have to read the last three on that list, but I may take my time with those; I'm in no rush to leave the Kitchen behind for good. Hence the words you see before you. Most of these are still fresh on my mind, and the ones that aren't can be easily accessed. I'm going to ask you to come even deeper into these alleys, and higher onto these rooftops, and to trust me along the way. To hope that it's not just the blind leading the blind, so to speak. I'll do my best to show you the way, and do it as Matt would.

Without fear.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spots in the Ink - 3/16/11

*Spoiler Warning*

I'm a big stickler on spoilers, and generally try to avoid them. But the nature of a few of my reviews this time may lead me to reveal certain, non-story related tidbits.

1) Bulletstorm - So this one has been out for a while, but I did want to let everyone know how I felt about the full release. While some of my worries did come to pass - the ocaissional lack of skillshots to be found, or areas where you are forced to repeat the same ones over-and-over - the game itself was a blast.

Essentially, you reach a point where you have access to enough weapons, their unique charge shots, and environmental factors that each encounter is like a puzzle. A puzzle in which the solution might be using a guided, explosive sniper round to castrate a genetic freak and redirect his corpse into a group of his friends. The set pieces are also a triumph; trains being chased by a giant mining wheel, escaping a giant dam as it collapses around you, a helicopter battle against Godzilla's big sister.

The only negative points that really caught my attention were the lackluster story - complete with a "buy the sequel" ending - and the rather erratic nature of the achievements. I'm usually not highly concerned with gamerscore, but a full run-through of the game plus several of the secret / bonus achievements brought me in at under 400.

2) Homefront - Let me get this out of the way: this game is short. I beat it in under 5 hours.

And that was with breaks.

The single player campaign is, in a word, incomplete. There are phenomenal ideas here, and a few moments that genuinely would set a more finished product apart from the now-almost-self-depricating CoDs. Unfortunately, those moments are strung together by a lackluster, by-the-numbers shooter. The theming and character development that were so heavily discussed in the trailers are present, but only in small snippets between the run-and-gun parts. There are achievements to intice multiple playthroughs: beating each mission on hard, beating each without dying, a special objective in each mission, etc.

I decided to play some of the multiplayer - alone, because none of my squadmates were online - just to see how well that part of the investment would pan out. I lost about two hours. While the experience wasn't complete, the 'battle points' system is awesome. Essentially, doing things in-game awards you XP; it also awards you battle points, which can be used to activate things like vehicles, extra ammo, support abilities, etc. Expect a more detailed review once I've spent some more tim with it.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Dragon Age: Origins - This one is way behind schedule, but I have been putting a lot of energy into this to gear up for the sequel. It's fantastic, but I'm guessing most people already knew that.
  • FLCL Blu-Ray - I've always loved this show, and the chance to finally own it all (and with hi-def video and audio, no less!) was something I couldn't pass up. The show holds up, but the extras are pathetic.
  • Alan Wake DLCs - "The Signal" is a great lead in to "The Writer" which is itself a great lead-in to a possible sequel. There are some great new game mechanics in play, and a few setpieces - especially one toward the end of "Writer" - really up the ante for what a new game might bring.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nerf- Not just For Kids- Update

I know its been awhile since I promised you more to come, but I've been busy building my arsenal. I have come across a wonderful discovery. In our home town we have a couple of stores not unlike a thrift store that has highly reduce prices. These stores will remain unnamed, we will refer to them as Clean Sweeps; mainly because that is what i do when i go there for Nerf weaponry i clean them out. I doesn't matter if i already have it the prices are to go to pass up. I can get a Vulcan or Stampede, retail price- $40-$50, for $12-$15. So here is an update of my collection.

N-Strike Weaponry


1- Secret Strike- This is a tiny pump up dart blaster that hangs on your key ring that fires 1 dart and comes with 1 reload. Loaded with orange black tipped whistle darts.

1- Dart Tag Blaster- This is a small single shot with front to back over-the-top cocking mechanism and 5 reloads. Loaded with orange velcro tipped darts.

2- Nite Finders- These are a medium single shot with a fingertip pull back spring system cocking mechanism, an under slung bulls eye red dot and 2 reloads. Loaded with orange black tipped whistle darts.

4- Mavericks- These are a large 6 shot revolver with front to back over-the-top cocking mechanism. Loaded with 6 orange purple tipped suction darts.


1- Rapid Fire Raider- This is a front to back pump action shotgun with a removable and collapsible stock and a 35 round drum. Loaded with 35 regular orange Nerf darts. The cool thing about this gun is its alternate fire, if you hold the trigger it will fire darts as you pump.

Assault Rifles-

4- Recons- These are short action assault rifles with an over-the-top cocking mechanism, removable barrels, stocks, iron sights, under slung red dots/flashlights, and a 6-round magazine. Loaded with 6 regular orange Nerf darts.

2- Alpha Troopers- These are long action assault rifles with a forward under slung cocking mechanism and an 18 round drum. Loaded with 18 regular orange Nerf darts.

Sniper Rifles-

3- Long Strikes- These are bolt action rifles with removable barrels and iron sights and 3- 6 round magazines. Loaded with 18 regular orange Nerf darts. A cool ability of these are 2 slots in the stock to hold extra mags.

1- Long Shot- This is 2 guns in 1. The first is a bolt action rifle with a deployable bi-pod, removable scope, and 2- 6 round magazines. Loaded with 12 regular orange Nerf darts The second acts as a detachable barrel that has an under slung pump action and is single fire. Also as with the Long Strike the Long Shot has a slot in the stock to hold 1 extra mag.

Heavy Machine guns-

2- Stampedes- These are fully automatic machine guns capable of firing 4-5 darts a second. They come standard with 3-18 round magazines and 1-6 round mag. Loaded with 60 regular orange Nerf darts. Now to why I said comes standard is that we've come to believe it works best with the 35 round drum from the raider.

5- Vulcans- YES, I said 5. These are fully automatic chain guns with an alternate bolt action single fire feature. These come with 25 round chain belts. Loaded with 25 black tipped whistle darts. However, we have successfully connected 3 of Mr. Wolfwoods together to form a 70 round chain. (We lost a few links in the process)

Well I am thoroughly pleased with my progress, and we are currently in the planning stages of a Nerf War. Ill keep you posted on the progress of my collection and will soon bring you details of our collective force.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl XLV

Let me be blunt, this years commercials Sucked.

Now for some positive things.

The trailers for "Thor", "Captain America", "Super 8", and "Kung Fu Panda 2 :The Kaboom Of Doom" ruled,

and if I didn't know better I would be excited about "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon" (who the Frakking Hell got to name that movie).

But the snickers commercial wasn't funny. Lets face it people Rosanne Barr hasn't been funny in years and compared to last years "You're playing like Betty White" add this one was stupid.

Now lets talk about "Social Living" what am I supposed to take away from this that if I go to this site I will become a cross dresser Wtf (Why The Face).

Or would you rather discuss the Eminem Brisk Ice Tea fiasco. this is a talented artist with a decent product. really we are going to waste him on Claymation.

Now due to some excellent bean dip I missed the Best Buy add starring The Prince of Darkness Himself Ozzy Ozbourne and that Canadian Douche Justin Bieber so there is nothing to say there.

to rap this up why didn't AMC have an ass kicking Mad Men Season 5 commercial, or a new Old Spice Add, or what about a commercial announcing the cover of Madden 2012. The Add Men of 2012 had better kick it up a notch or else.

P.S. I like Old music so maybe this is just me, but really The Black Eyed Peas was what we went with. Now yes The Who weren't any better last year, but to sing a cover of a Guns & Roses song that's just to far Will i Am.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Epic Goes Below-the-Belt on High-Brow Ads

Epic Games (Gears of War, Unreal, Shadow Complex) has really stepped their game up (!*&@ puns) in their ad campaign for the upcoming Bulletstorm. Follow the links for more:

Grayson Believes

Duty Calls

Now that you've seen for yourself - and if you're on of those people who reads on without looking at the links, shame-shame - let me establish some points of reference:

Halo 3: Believe

Call of Duty

This shameless mockery is also a great experiment in irony, since Epic themselves are know for the uber-pretentious "no sound effects with a sad song or some poetry in the background" Gears of War ads. Still, if this spot-on sense of satire carries over as well within the full game, it might be worth the money for comic value alone.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What's Next?

For everyone that has ever followed the genealogy of gaming, I believe we're all asking the same question. What is next? I think the majority of us can agree that the XBOX 360 is leading the new revolution of gaming with the new XBOX Slim and the Kinect. However, these are not perfect, but very close. With the every now and then server issue and needed update. You can pretty much guarantee a smooth and enjoying environment. (except for the random 10 year old who needs a good slap)

XBOX Live has united the gaming community in a way that was only imagined by older systems. You can instantly connect and play with people on the other side of the world. It has been a savior for some soldiers away from home. Gaming use to be lonely entertainment, unless you had a few friends or a siblings, shout out to big bro Xann Black. Now as long as you don't act like an idiot you could make hundreds of friends. What I am looking forward to next is an increase in the friends list. Currently you are only allowed 99 friends on your friends list. I would not mind seeing it increased to 200.

As far as gaming I would like to see a step forward in virtual reality. A head set that you actually wear so that you actually have to look around for enemies and objectives. The only problem i see with this would be the dangers of eye damage from prolonged exposure.

I agree with Xann Black, that Microsoft will most likely be the first to make the next move in which ever direction they choose. Here's to the future.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Insert Theme from 2001 Here

Long story short, we're seeing the peak of the current console generation. The franchises that have been the staple of the two heavy-hitters (360 & PS3) are either on their third installments, or will be within the next two years. Nintendo, meanwhile, finds its support in franchises that aren't tied to stories that need an ending, and can be adapted to new hardware easily. While it's true that this current run has a longer lifespan than previous generations - something that has only been extended by the recent additions of the Kinect and the Move - I think it's time to start thinking about what kind of announcements we can be expecting 3-5 years down the road. I've decided to do a series of posts that examine what the Blackout team has in mind, with support posts from my compatriots.

1. The Idea
2. The Hardware
3. The Software
4. The Subscription Service
5. The Beta
6. The Final Launch
7. The Big Picture

The Idea

I'll get straight to the point on this part:

• I think the first genuine next generation console will be completely download based.
• I don't believe it will have any sort of disc-reader, nor will there be any way to purchase a hard copy of the games.
• Current subscribers to the older generation service will be able to move their profile over, along with any supported content.
• The initial games will also have versions available on the older console, and there will be support for cross-generation interaction.
• At launch, backwards compatibility will be limited to a few downloadable "classics."

Just let that sink in.

Before you go into knee-jerk reaction mode, take a look at the current industry. Steam, or other services like it, have more or less eliminated the hard-copy side of PC gaming, something which was met with severe resistance at first. While it's true that the same drawbacks still exist - no physical copy of the game to call your own, no nice paper manuals or art books, etc - that has not kept these services from exploding over the past five years.

Current console-based online services already offer services that could be used as the groundwork for such a system: games on demand, downloadable expansions, older-generation classics with updated gameplay.

Players have already been acclimated to the concept of an online profile that contains large amounts of their data, both on the front-end (XBL, PSN) and within the games themselves (all of a player's advancement in any Call of Duty is stored on the servers).

There's one more thing I'd like to get out of the way now: we've already hammered out one very specific point, which is that this would more than likely be a Microsoft console. The concept, as we see it at least, would need the specialization of a software company, and one that already had a solid foundation in online console services. To be blunt, none of us think that PSN is worth the price - and it's free. I would not trust Sony to produce this sort of device and support it efficiently. Anyone who disagrees is more than welcome to Google "PSP Go" and then get back to me.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Walking Dead: AMC Original Series

This past Fall AMC released a new original series titled "The Walking Dead". The series is based on the hit graphic novel, you guessed it, The Walking Dead. Basic story line is, the main character, Rick Grimes, awakes in an abandoned hospital, to find his word turned upside down in a post zombie apocalyptic world. His family is missing and he has no idea what is going on.

The series has very similar features to the novel, but with any movie or TV series there is extra story added to extend the run time. However, I approve of everything they have added so far. If your one of those people that hates seeing stories changed from original lines of text I suggest watching as much of the series as possible at first, and then collecting the 13 current issues of novel.

I have read every issue cover to cover twice now and love the story as is. I cant wait to see any new additions coming in the next season of AMC's original series. At the time no date has been released for when the next season will air, but I'm sure it will be a wild ride.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Batman casting news

So I have been hearing a lot of whining from people about Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle in Chris Nolan's 3rd batman film, and I am annoyed to no end by this.

I was working at a movie theatre when "Batman Begins" opened,\; I had no idea who Christopher Nolan or Christian Bale were, and my last memory of a Batman film was "Batman and Robin" (shivers). Eventually I was convinced to see it, and I was amazed. This was Batman like never before; yes the basic canon was the same, but who he was how he got there was new, fresh, and real. Christian Bale took the part and made it his own.

Next up from Chris was "The Prestige," starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. Haven't seen it? No problem, no one did, but it is an amazing movie with all kinds of messed up moral and psychological ramifications.

Then came "The Dark Knight," and rumors flooded the Internet like scum through the streets of Gotham.

BaTmAnFaN82: Talia will be in the film played by Rachel Weisz
XXjokerXX: it will be the joker
Whatthehail: your all stupid

And on it went until Heath Ledger was cast, then there was more whining.

BaTmAnFaN82: Not the gay cowboy
XXjokerXX: Not the dude from "A knights tale"
Whatthehail: your all stupid

Even I was worried, but the the film came out and everyone was overjoyed. The Joker was portrayed like never before; yes his basic canon was again the same, but now Heath owned the role.

Soon after Dark Knight, the Internet was abuzz again.

BaTmAnFaN82: Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play the joker
XXjokerXX: no it will be
Mark Hamill
Whatthehail: says your all stupid

But a Batman film was not Nolan's next project; instead we got "Inception," a masterpiece that, mark my words, will go almost completely awards-less this Oscar season. And so the rumors started again.

BaTmAnFaN82: Tom Hardy will play Hugo Strange
XXjokerXX: they should make up a villain
Whatthehail: Your all stupid

Now back to the point at hand: Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle. I will not lie, my first thought at this news was "Yes! I get to see Anne Hathaway in the Catwoman costume." My second thought was "If Chris thinks this will work, then I cannot wait to see this on the big screen." I am sure that she will be Catwoman in the most important ways, but for the larger part she will be her own character: fresh, and new, and real.

So to close this post, what I am saying is that Chris Nolan has not given us any reason not to trust him, so let's just see what happens.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fallout: New Vegas- "Dead Money"

The first DLC pack is out for New Vegas. It is tittled "Dead Money", and justly done. After downloading the DLC you start your game and receive a message stating that you are receiving a radio signal from out in the wastes. If you have the "Explorer" perk it is the Brotherhood of Steel hidden bunker. The radio signal states that there is the grand opening of a new casino; named the Sierra Madre. Upon entering the bunker you are drawn to a radio down a long hallway. If you can resist the temptation to go running for it there will be a doorway on your left that you might want to explore first.

Now you head for the radio and there is a sudden release of gas and you are knocked unconscious. You awake to find yourself stripped of everything except for a jumpsuit and bomb collar. Yes, i said BOMB!!! You are greeted by a hologram of Father Elijah. (Important) He has a mission he needs you to complete, and yes he is controlling your collar. It is a great story line and full of new enemies and dangers.

The biggest pain is that there are very few projectile weapons and even less ammo for them. A cool edition however are vending machines in which you trade chips, found through out the area, for supplies such as ammo and stimpaks.

The new enemy models are the Ghost people they're extremely tough and hard to kill at first. There also other dangers such as the fact that about half the area is covered in this poisonous mist, combined with the fact that your BOMB collar is an old form of technology that reacts to radio signals. There are speakers throughout the maps some can be destroyed, represented with a blue light, others cannot, represented with a red light.

The DLC also brings a higher level cap with it raising the cap from level 30 to level 35.

Be careful there are many riches lien in wait in the Sierra Madre but also many dangers. Check your corners and try not to be to greedy, and you might just get out of this with your head.

Spots in the Ink - 1/25/11

1) Dead Space 2 - Launched today. Picked mine up as soon as /unnamed electronics retailer/ opened. Installed the discs (yes, it has two!) to my harddrive and scanned through the DLC packs that have already gone up for it (extra weapons and suits). I haven't started just yet; to be honest, playing it in broad daylight seems like cheating.

*For those of you who are big into EA games, the first-shipment copies include a promo code for use in game, and a code for an engineer-suit-inspired armor set for DragonAge 2. The current challenge over at the EA Gun Club is also for logging in while playing Dead Space 2.

2) Bulletstorm Demo - New one from the guys over at Epic; full game launches end of February, demo went up today on XBL. Essentially, it's a shooter with Borderlands-esq over-the-top action, where the main focus is gaining extra points for killing enemies in special ways. Like knocking them up into the air. With a grenade tied to them. Then kicking them when they land. Into a cactus.

3) Red on Blu-Ray - If you missed this one in theaters, you should at least give it a rental. Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren star as retired C.I.A. agents who get pulled into a political conspiracy. With jokes. And explosions. And the coolest car-exiting stunt ever.


  • Crysis 2 Multiplayer Beta - Downloadable on XBL. Hell-to-the-yes. If they can deliver a working game based on what I've seen in the two-or-so-hours I've played, this could be as big as CoD 4. The game looks amazing, the controls are tight, the weapons are well-balanced, and the nanosuit powers - superjumps, stealth, extra armor, etc - make each loadout feel genuinely unique. There's just one map, set atop a skyscraper, and it highlights everything except for long-range, open-air sniping. The games modes so far are team deathmatch and a very cool objective-based capture mode. It's essentially team king-of-the-hill, but the "hills" are drop pods that only last a set amount of time before blowing up. There's a lot of strategy in watching the incoming dropship to try and determine where the next pod will fall.
  • Dead Space 2 - On Chapter 6, though without context of how many chapters there are, I don't know what that means. I'm about 3 1/2 hours in, still on the first disc. It's every bit as good as the first one, with some major overhauls in some respects that keep it from feeling stale. The presence of other people, for one, though these encounters are usually brief, and involve you watching them all get necro-ed. There are also dozens more enemies on average, which is to be expected, since the Sprawl is much bigger and heavily populated than the Ishimura. I took a break to play some other stuff and eat, but it wasn't for lack of enjoyment. I suspect that most free time between work will be offered up to the Marker.
  • Bulletstorm Demo - Played it through three times. It's essentially a demo of the game's "arcade" mode, where you play through story levels just looking for high scores. The controls are above-average, the guns inflict gore-spewing wounds, and some of the special kills are really cool. For example, you can find a bottle of liquor, get wasted for about thirty seconds (complete with blurry vision) and score extra points for all enemies killed in this state. That being said, the standard kills get very repetitive, and you find yourself desperate for something new and high-score worthy. The level shown is also completely linear, with no emphasis on lollygagging around, though this is undoubtedly the intention. The controls are very Gears-esq, with a "climb over" mechanic taking the place of a real "jump" button. Each gun has a primary and a secondary fire, and some of the latter can produce outlandish results on multiple targets. To be honest, I might rate my excitement for the final release as slightly less than before I played this. We'll see if the developers can pull a full game out without it seeming tedious.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Nerf: Not Just for Kids

So I turned 22 on Thursday; not that big of a deal, just another year down. However, I did receive 50 dollars, among other things. It began burning a hole in my pocket as soon as I got it. For awhile my brother, aka Xann Black, and his friend Wolfwood have been collecting Nerf weaponry; well I have been feeling a little left out so I decided to get me a couple. If you have never purchased one, Nerf guns are not exactly cheap, nor is the ammo for them. So Thursday night Wolfwood, my friend RygarClone, and I went to our resident toy surplus store looking to acquire some orange dart projectile weaponry. We were very successful in our endeavor, and I purchased a Stampede and a Long Strike along with 45 extra darts.

The Stampede is a fully automatic heavy machine gun that comes with a detachable riot shield, 3 18-round magazines, and 60 darts. It also takes 6- D cell batteries.

The Long Strike is a bolt-action sniper rifle that comes with a detachable long barrel; removing the barrel transforms it into the equivalent of a snub-nose grenade launcher. Ammo is 2 6-round clips. Another cool feature is that the stock has slots in the butt of the rifle for holding 2 spare 6-round mags.

However, that was just the beginning. Over the next two days I also acquired two more guns, a Recon and an Alpha Trooper. Along with 70 more darts, of course.

The Recon is a single shot magazine-fed assault rifle with an over-the-top-hand-cocked action. It comes with a detachable stock, front barrel, range sight, and red dot/flashlight. When the stock and barrel are removed, it turns into an easily concealed handgun. It comes with a 6-round mag, with a slot in the stock to hold a spare mag.

The Alpha Trooper is by far the most accurate; it is a pump action single shot assault rifle that comes with a 6 round mag. It is compatible with the stock from the Recon, which adds stability.
That is the greatest part about Nerf N-Strike: most of the accessories and mags are compatible with other weaponry.

I will gather my brothers and converse on the subject, and we will bring you the specs on what we believe are the best setups.

BTW- 50 dollars did NOT get me all this. Estimated sum is between 150-200 dollars.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fallout: New Vegas

New Vegas is the newest edition to the Fallout franchise. It brings a whole new story line beyond that of Fallout 3, but with some familiar faces: The Enclave, The Brotherhood of Steel, Rad-scorpions, Death Claws, etc... The game is based in the post nuclear war wasteland of the Mojave Dessert. You are a courier that has been given a delivery to make, but have your journey cut short by a greedy casino owner, who shoots you in the head and steals the package: the Platinum Casino Chip. You must remember who you are and find the platinum chip, and along your journey you will encounter both resistance and support in the form of new allies and enemies, or vice-versa depending on your actions. The desert wasteland plays home to many new creatures and characters:

The NCR - The major military presence (You want to be their friends, maybe?)
The Legion- The major resistance presence (Bad Guys)
The Fiends- Name says it all (Sex, drugs, violence; it's what they live for!)
The Great Khans- Fairly intelligent (Mainly misunderstood.)
The Powder Gangers- Group of idiots with explosives (No real threat.)
Many others.

Be careful when picking the path you want to follow: your actions affect everything in the game, whether you want them or not. You can quickly find yourself failing quest you didn't even know existed if you tick off the wrong people. A fun fact of the game: while there are probably 40 or so main quests, there are probably 100 to 150 side quests.

Along with the new characters, there are also many new creatures:

Ants- while introduced in Fallout 3, they are much more common in the Mojave.
Geckos- there are three kinds: regular, fire, and golden, each increasing in strength and damage.
Bloat Flies- yeah they're still here, but not a threat.
Cazadors (!!!)- the bloat flies' big brother, these things are a pain; they're hard to kill, very fast, and very poisonous (stock up on anti-venoms.)
Mantis- not a threat.
Bighorns- partially a domesticated animal, but there are some wild in the mountains and they will knock you around.
Death Claws (!!!!)- still the deadliest creature around, and now there are higher-level ones, such as a Mother, Alpha-Male, and others.
Don't worry, there are still Ghouls around and yes, they're still a pain.

All this doesn't even begin to scratch the surface.

In my book the best game of 2010, and yes, even better than COD: Black Ops.

But don't just take my word for it: get your own copy! They have already annouced plans for 5 DLC packs so definitely more to come...

The Walking Dead

In this graphic novel by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore, you follow a group of individuals who have been forced to survive in a post-zombie-apocalypse Georgia. It currently consists of 13 trade paperbacks, ranging in price from $9.99 to $19.99. Each trade has been more bone chilling than the last.

The main character Rick Grimes was left in a hospital, thought to be in a coma. He awakes to an unknown world and a missing family. You follow his story as he meets new people - some friendly and some NOT - and does what he must to protect his family and friends.

This is not for the faint hearted. The combination of gore and violence makes for a captivating read, but I feel the background stories are the true soul of the novel. You will bond with characters and cringe as they are forced to do terrible things for the sake of the group. I believe The Walking Dead should be added to any avid zombie survivalists' reading list, along with other works such as The Zombie Survival Guide.

The End is coming, don't be caught with your guard down.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Spots in the Ink - 1/12/11

1) Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood - This entire series is groundbreaking, and the new one is no different. I've only played a small fraction of both the campaign and multiplayer, but I've been impressed.

2) Cruz Reader - Got one of these for Christmas. It doesn't have the full range of the tablet version, but it does run an Android OS. I've been using it for comics, and it is perfect in that regard.

3) Nerf Weapons - These have always been cool, but they just keep coming. The N-Strike models have largely interchangeable parts, and the new melee weapons kick ass. Long swords, axes, maces, shields, throwing tomahawks.

4) Sellswords Trilogy Omnibus - R.A. Salvatore has always written good fantasy, but in these you get to see a perspective outside that of the ever-chivalrous Drizzt (or someone equally righteous). Good for remembering that some characters do bad things for good reasons, and some just do bad things.

Honorable Mentions:
  • Borderlands + DLC Packs
  • Super Meat Boy
  • RiffTrax
  • Befudiom