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.

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