Monday, November 28, 2011

The SteamWorks: Breaking Dawn Part One Review (Rated PG-13)

Hey Gang,

So I had a pretty nice holiday weekend overall, and I really hope you did as well. I went Black Friday shopping at the local mall, and it honestly wasn't that bad (however I did hear about that $2 Walmart Riot down South ... nasty...). I went to my Great Grandmother's 94th Birthday Party (yeah ... she's old), and at 11:00 P.M. my mom and my sister took me against my will to see Breaking Dawn Part One. So I thought it might be a good topic to add to my  small but growing review collection. So here ... we ... go:

****WARNING! FOR THOSE OF YOU THAT WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE MOVIE, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!!****

From minute one (when Jacob takes off his shirt for the first time), I was already bitter about the movie. It seemed like they were baiting women to come see this movie with trim teens taking their clothes off ( women of all ages, mind you ... an average 50 year old woman cannot resist Jacob's abs, as we've all learned from these movies). Now before I move on from here, I'd like to point out that I've read the books, and when it was "cool" to like Twilight (that lasted for about two years). Heck, I even had my own Cullen wrist band like the ones the characters had. I'm getting off point, but I will address some of that later in the post...

So the beginning (the beginning being after the wedding) was basically a porno. 'Nuff said. It was a bunch of different romantic scences from the honeymoon and them having sex every two seconds (meanwhile, both of them are still being as creepy and awkward as ever). It's not until Bella throws up and finds out she's pregnant that things get a bit more interesting. This is when it becomes a REAL movie.

From this point on, the movie improved by at least ten fold. The plot got a bit more interesting, emotions were constantly flowing, and it left the viewers wanting more. Of course, there were some scences that were key points in the movie that were completely screwed up (for instance, when Jacob leaves his pack to protect Bella... it just wasn't done well at all. I felt like I was watching the freaking Lion King). But it seriously started to become better at this point, we weren't focused on how many abs Jacob had, we weren't focused on how beautiful Edward's face was, but we were actually focused on PLOT (Gasp!). In fact, if memory serves, I don't believe anyone appeared shirtless for the rest of the film (if they did, it wasn't for long at all).

The end of the movie is when it changed it's progression yet again (this seems to be my favortie part in the film because it made me want to vomit so much; Saw fans, this will be the highlight of the movie for you). It's not accurarte to say that the movie necessarily turns bad here, but it certainly gets extremely disgusting. In fact, I'd like to warn you: If you're squeamish and don't like seeing surgeries, blood, insides, corpses, or anything of the sort, you might want to think twice about seeing this movie, or at least sticking around until the end.

The whole thing's kicked off by Bella dropping her Styrofoam cup of blood (ok, so you might need some backstory to understand that, but I'll let you figure that out on your own if you're reading this review without having AT LEAST read the book). She bends over to pick it up, and she breaks her hip. Now, not only is this true to the books, but it makes sense; she's carrying this huge baby who constantly abuses her body and made her basically anerexic. But what makes me angry is, the vampires don't freak out over the blood. They haven't had blood in DAYS. They should be freaking thirsty. She also looks a bit awkward in this particular shot, which, on top of Bella's regular awkward, breaks the Awkward-Meter.

Immeadiately, they start operating on Bella to get the baby out. Now, in the book, they explain why the baby needs to be removed. But in the movie it's like they just decided the baby needed to go. Of course, the most experienced of the Cullen Clan in the medical field cannot be there at the moment, so they're forced to star on another episode of Home Surgery. Rosalie starts hacking Bella's stomach open like it's a freaking snow-cone, when suddenly, she decides the blade looks tasty. She attempts to lick it, but Alice decides no blood for Rosalie.

So ... someone ... please explain to me why Rosalie doesn't freak out over the cup of spilt blood that was in the other room less than five minutes ago? She was perfectly fine then. Why, all of the sudden, does she get the rumblies for blood?

...

So now we're left with Edward and Jacob (and obviously Bella) in the operating room, and instead of using the knife that Rosalie was using, Edward decides it would be more efficiant to chomp down with his freaking Vampire teeth....

....

Am I the only one that finds that ... I don't know ... DISTURBING?!

So he continues to chow down into Bella's uterus (you can actually see her intestines spilling out of her body at this point), when suddenly Edward pulls out the crying baby. He romantically says how it's Renesme (or however the strange name is spelled), and that it's not in fact a boy like they thought for the past few months (that's another thing I was angry about; they didn't really show how Bella imagined bearing a baby Edward, which got me a bit pissed, quite frankly,because it was a highlight of what exactly kept her going). Bella snuggles her baby for a bit, like every good mom does, when suddenly she just dies. Poof. Gone.

And WHAT is Edward doing?

He's just starring ... at her dead body. Just staring for about a minute...

So finally when he realizes that Bella's dead, he takes this giant-ass needle out of a cabinet and STABS her heart with it. Note I did not say he injects her with its contents. HE FREAKING STABS HER! All the while, Jacob's telling Edward how he's freaking dumb and how his life is going to suck now because he killed his wife (turns out that tends to make people sad ... who knew?). Edward continues to resuscitate Bella's dead body in hopes of spreading the Vampire Venom while her dead body flops on the hospital cot like a fish out of water...

I'd also like to point out that I had to walk out of the movie theater for a minute in the midst of all this because I was completely disgusted and felt the need to vomit on all the people below me...

After a battle with the hunky werewolves, the gorgeous vampires suddenly decide to leave Bella's mutating body on a bed in the middle of this randomly empty room. The movie ends with Edward waiting by the bed, and Bella's newly red eyes shooting open.

In all honesty ... the movie is a great improvement to the series of movies that were its predessecor. We saw less gun shows and more story telling, which was a great change coming from a guy's perspective of Twilight.

I'd also like to discuss why it has become "uncool" to enjoy Twilight and why I honestly think all the reasons are completely ridiculous, the main one being that it's "gay". So you're telling me that it's gay to enjoy a troubled romance, however it's not gay to watch two men duke it out in spandex tights rolling around on the floor in wrestling? Could someone provide me with that explanation? Just because some middle-aged moms come out solely for that, it doesn't mean everyone's there for that (I think Chazz from Shatterblog! might have talked about that in his Invader Zim post). Some people are simply there to enjoy the story.

I mean, think about it; how cool would it be to be a Twilight vampire? Ok, so maybe sparkling isn't so cool; but I'd take a ripped body, super speed, and super powers over a being a normal person any day. And I get to drink people's blood. How much more awesome could there be? Every day life is so boring. Wouldn't it be great to just escape from it? No? I must be gay or dumb then...

The only explanation I can see to someone's argument to not like Twilight is not liking a Romance Novel. In case anyone hasn't told you yet, Twilight is a Romance. Although it tries to mix in some action here and there, it simply is, at its core, a romance between a vampire and a human. Saying the book is poorly written isn't an excuse because, in all honesty, they aren't. Sure, they may not be the best books, and sure, they may be written on an elementary or high-school level, but it's purpose is to reach people of that age. This book is intended for teens, not people looking for some highly philosophical meaning (Doesn't this sound familiar). Just because it isn't the best writing doesn't mean the story is bad, and in the case that you don't like the writing, contact Meyer's editor please.

And don't even try to tell me that Twilight is too mainstream. If you're one of those "hipsters" that enjoys disliking everything that's popular, do yourself a favor and get over yourself (By the way, for the hipsters out there, liking Twilight is hipster now). So don't even bother talking if that's why you dislike the story, because that's not even a real reason.

Although I'm not the biggest fan of Twilight anymore, there's still a tiny part of me that enjoys the movies and the books. It helped me a lot when transitioning from my childhood to my teen years, and it will hold a special place it in my heart.

Final thoughts: While Breaking Dawn, Part One wasn't necessarily the best movie I've ever seen, it certainly wasn't the worst. The filmmakers realized that it's not all about hunky werewolves and sexy vampires; rather, its about the story that this poor human Bella Swan tends to get wrapped into. It's taken a pretty big step from its counter-parts, all its gore aside. I give it a 8/10.

Peter, The SteamWorks

Shatterblog!: Star Wars The Old Republic Impressions


I got invited to play the SWTOR beta over the weekend, and I figured I'd write up some impressions of that. Before I get into the details, I'll say that I primarily played Saturday to Sunday. I played a female Twi'lek Jedi Consular, advanced class Sage, specialized in the healing arts of the force. I grouped up from the start with my brother and his friend, a tanking specced female Miralukan Shadow Consular, and a DPS specced male human Jedi Knight Guardian, respectively. The fact that I had a group obviously affected my experience. We completed the home planet, Tython, all of Curuscant, and progressed to Nar Shadaa. Our levels were 21 for myself and my brother, 23 for his friend. I also played 5 levels of Bounty Hunter, and 10 of Sith Warrior and Sith Inquisitor. I'll touch on those, but not much. I also did a bit of combat as a Smuggler, but not much. I basically got a taste of the cover system and moved on with my life.

This isn't like my screenshot. I found it on the interwebs.
Alright, so into the details. First, to all the people who say it is WoW with a Star Wars skin, shut up. You're dumb, a troll, or both. It plays very differently. Some of the classes are similar, my healing Consular played quite a bit like a Priest, with a lesser heal, a bigger heal on a longer cast, and a force shield to absorb some damage. However, it is a very different game. One major innovation is the lack of an auto attack. Your right click activates an ability that costs no resources (Rage, Force, Ammo, Heat etc) and triggers the global cooldown. You constantly have to decide whether to build up a bit more energy with that attack, or go for the big damage by triggering a skill. It's a lot more interactive, and a lot more fun. I never just auto attacked an enemy while I stared blankly, waiting for something interesting. It's engaging and fun. Next, the energy system. Each class has its own energy type. Warriors have Rage, which is built up in combat by certain strikes, and rather than a bar like WoW, you get bricks of rage. A skill will use 2 bricks, rather than 20 Rage. It's not a big change, but I like it. The Bounty Hunter had my favorite energy type, Heat. Your goal is to be at 0 Heat. Abilities cause your weapons to heat up, filling the bar. It drains slowly on its own, or can be vented some with the basic attack. You also get a cooldown to dump all your heat once every two minutes, and I don't necessarily feel that to be balanced. As a Consular, I was constantly out of Force (my brother tanked without a shield for a while. It was tough) and had no quick way to replenish it for a while, until I got an ability to exchange 15% HP for 8% Force. Force works like Mana, but it regens in combat, and from what I've seen is not affected by gear. I had 100 force from level 1-10, chose the Sage spec, and got bumped up to 500. Gear changes didn't seem to affect that. One complaint I had is that the manual basic attack is your primary mode of damage without the expenditure of energy. When a Jedi Knight runs out of Rage, he swings til he gets more. When my Consular ran out of Force, and I was 50 feet away to cast, there is no ranged basic attack, only skills. It was frustrating, and maybe it changes at higher levels. This is based on my experience only. The crafting system is odd. You get 3 skills, a crafting, a gathering, and a mission based. I'll only talk about what I experienced. I chose Artifice, the manufacture of saber modifications such as hilts, mods, and color crystals. First disappointment- color crytals have stats. You may have to use a color you don't necessarily like for better stats. The stats are small though, and I could craft a +4 endurance crystal in a few colors, so it isn't a big deal. I gathered using Archaeology. The way gathering works is as follows: you will find some resources in the world, and these are gathered through a right click and a short wait. Standard. You can also pay a few credits to have your companion go on a gathering mission. This is your primary mode of gathering materials and skill-ups. It adds up cost wise. I went from 7k to flat broke in less than 75/400 of my crafting. I wasn't selling any of my crafted materials, I made them, and then reverse engineered them. This gives you about half the materials back. You also have a chance to learn a better version of the recipe. If you reverse engineer a green rarity color crystal, you have a chance to get a blue rarity recipe of it, which is obviously slightly better. I didn't do any of the mission profession. I chose treasure hunting, but didn't do it at all. I was able to make some pretty cool stuff, even though it drained my pockets pretty hard. I enjoyed it. I still have flashbacks to the day I decided to level from 1-400 mining as fast as possible on my Paladin. Just thinking about that makes me shudder. Making my companion do all the work was spectacular. This might be a little bit of a spoiler, but at the end of your starter planet, around level 10, you get a lightsaber if you are a Jedi or Sith. This was one of the greatest feelings in any game. Sure, getting your first talent point at 10 in WoW feels nice, but for the Consular quest chain, you forge your own lightsaber in a truly incredible cutscene. I've never felt more like I EARNED my weapon. As an MMO fan and a Star Wars nerd, it was a big moment. The next big moment comes when you finish Coruscant or Dromund Kaas, the capitals of the Republic or Empire.You are granted a space ship of your very own. It's MASSIVE. You get a personal servant droid, who is annoying. Think C-3PO, but with more ass kissing. There's a map of the galaxy, used to choose where to fly, access to your bank, your companions hang around to chat, and you can accept missions for space combat. I only did one space combat mission. I sucked at it, but it's entertaining. You fly on a track, moving around to dodge but not really navigating. I wish you could have full control, but whatever. It's challenging, and a fun diversion, but not the main selling point. We did 2 Flashpoints, with 3 people and a companion rather than a full group. Certain bosses were really tough to heal through, but it was fun learning what to do and what not to do, when to move and when to stand still. I did zero PvP, so I have nothing to say on the subject. The Smuggler (and Imperial Agent I guess?) has a great system going. The cover is pretty cool. I feel like it could go on to be good or bad, but the bit I played was like Mass Effect. But Star Wars. But my Smuggler looked like (and was named) Mal Reynolds. So it was amazing. But then I switched to Consular. In terms of class enjoyment, I'll say that not playing a class with a lightsaber makes me feel a lot less awesome. Yeah, I do damage and stuff. But any idiot can hide behind a wall and take pot shots and toss grenades at elites. It takes a special idiot to go leaping into a group of elites, saber blazing to life, slamming into the ground with a huge explosion of force or lightning. Being a Sith Warrior Marauder (2 Sabers! Fuck yeah) made me feel the most like a badass. Inquisitor/Consular are the most accurate Jedi experience. You have some saber stuff going on. You can do some lightning, or throw some objects. The mix is cool, but I love melee. I love smashing people with my saber. Two sabers looks the coolest ever of all time, but I took a ton of damage. I found myself unable to solo elites of my level on my Sith Marauder, but earlier in the game I could. I'm convinced it's because it's balanced, and you have to pick the Tank spec to wear heavy armor and not get crushed like a bug. I made my best effort not to spoil the story for myself, but I will say that what I gleaned is WAY above any other MMO. I loved WoW. I loved the lore. I read the books. The story was good. SWTOR is just better. The Fast Travel is another thing I'd like to touch on. It's like a Hearthstone, but you can teleport to any place on the planet where you clicked a Bind Point. I love it. The whole game looks brilliant, at least on my somewhat pimp gaming rig. Pete from SteamWorks couldn't run it, so low end system users beware. Anyway, SWTOR is in all ways better than WoW.  I'd recommend it highly. This isn't a full review, and don't expect one, so I won't attempt to rate it. Just believe that it is incredibly good. Now I'll include a huge brick of screenshots I actually took. Before you ask, all the names are generated by SWTOR, and theoretically are accurate to the race I chose. Malreynolds I chose. If you get the reference, you win the internet.
My Jedi Consular Sage Twi'lek, Hal'siaqqua
Casting a Heal
Using Fast Travel
AoE Animation
My bangin' Sith Pureblood Warrior Marauder, Vancolt
Vancolt AoE
Qursarril the Zabrak Sith Inquisitor Assassin
Qursarril AoE
Largely unloved Bounty Hunter, Zan'Tades 
Significantly more loved Smuggler, Malreynolds

Friday, November 25, 2011

Slightly Redder Red: Weekend Update 2

Just wanna start with a happy Thanksgiving and a Happy Turkey Genocide Day! Which is more important?

1) Not to knock Ubisoft Montreal and their humor that makes you say "WHY WOULD THEY EVER WANT TO MAKE ME LAUGH IN THIS GAME," but 4 hours into Assassin's Creed: Revelations and not only has Ezio called someone a gentleman and a scholar, but he has referred to himself as the most interesting man in the world. And he really looks a lot like the most interesting man in the world. Come onnnn, man (at least it's better than Mario Auditore's infamous entrance into the franchise).

2) Skyrim is getting majorly put aside for now. I need to stop playing it. I finally am committing to stop playing it by playing Assassin's Creed and starting up either Knights of the Old Republic or my cross-game Mass Effect playthrough.

3) I dislike the fact the day I got invited to the Old Republic beta, my dad is dragging me to Long Island to see some people I apparently have to meet, where I'll probably be bored out of my mind. #whitepeopleproblems

4) I found my PC copy of Halo after it's been lost for months! Time to get on top of that!

5) What I can't find is all my World of Warcraft discs. I got started up on private servers in preparation for SWTOR, but I have to use the free trial version of WoW from the Blizzard website. Not that I would like 40 gigs of WoW disc data on my computer if I'm only playing until SWTOR drops, but I would still like to know where my discs are for future posterity and culture conservation in the impending zombie apocalypse.

6) I've been watching a lot of Twilight Zone recently, and I regret nothing. My name is Tiny Tina, and I'm going to kill you. Yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Thanks for listening, chilllllldren!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Slightly Redder Red: Old Republic Lawsuit

So when I opened up my email and found that I was invited to the SWTOR beta, the first thing my brother said to me was "you should take pictures for your blog!"

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo fucking way, man.

Instead, have a picture of Kirk.

No, not the enemy from Dark Souls, the captain.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shatterblog! Stupid "Trends" (Moar Rant!) (Rated R?)

This one is a little shorter. So, I'm angry again. I hate when things are "hip" or "hipster". Namely, Invader Zim. I fucking love Invader Zim. I love J.V.'s more disturbing work too. I have a GIR hoodie, but I never wear it because Hot Topic sells Invader Zim shit (I don't mind Hot Topic, I like their shirts) and therefore every time some whiny 10 year old decides he's goth now, he gets a fucking GIR hoodie. Instead of lumping him in with the real fans (cause we don't want him, he's a douchebag) all the real fans get lumped in with THOSE people. Jesus. Why can't people just be honest in their appearance? Why would people pretend to like something they don't to get attention? Fuckin' kids these days.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Slightly Redder Red: Weekend Update 1

Because WHY NOT do a weekend update thing? With lists! Yay!

1) I've had Skyrim for 8 days, and Steam has tracked my time in-game as 68 hours. I need to get outside or something. Or not. I'm thankful they're releasing an update for the game after Thanksgiving, I've already run into more than a few bugs. The College of Winterhold quest is bugged with a dead Arch-Mage, and for some reason my Steam overlay and screenshots aren't working. Oh well, hoping this will be fixed.

2) That Rainn Wilson movie Super is just over the top and crazy. Of course, Wlison is basically playing Dwight, but a really violent and criminally insane Dwight who hits people with pipe wrenches. And of course there's Nathan Fillion's Christ Crusader to give some hilarious TV segments, and Ellen Paige as Bolty to keep things delightfully weird. But really, two thumbs up, specially when Wilson sends the line jumpers at the movies to the ICU.

3) I need to start playing Dark Souls instead of Skyrim, keep thing fresh. Oh well, I'll do it eventually. But on Skyrim, for anyone who's found the underground land of Blackreach, how fucking dope is that??????


4) I have a good report card! Yay!

5) Minecraft has a really hard endgame, and I really have no idea how I'm supposed to get there. I now have actual motivation to do things other than stare at pigs all day until I starve to death. Also, might pick up and do a review of the pocket edition, although I've heard it's mediocre and not worth picking up anyway. Oh well, more time to just keep playing Skyrim.

6) DC Universe would be so much more fun if I had people to play with. Chazz and Peter are far from max level, and MMOs are only fun socially. And everyone else who plays the game is a fucking idiot, really. Although there are a lot of fun conversations in Metropolis about how Marvel is superior to DC, but us Dark Horse junkies just sit back and troll the line.

Thanks for listenin', chiiiiiiiiildren!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Slightly Redder Red: Skyrim Thieves Guild

Let me start by saying what a fucking improvement.

The Thieves Guild in Oblivion was literally 3 hours of fetch quests, finally culminating into the big heist in the White Gold Tower where the Grey Fox passes his mantle onto you in a heartwarming conclusion. The Thieves Guild in Skyim is about 4 hours of anything but that.

The quest chain starts off rather unassumingly, when a character named Brynjolf asks you to try to frame a local Dark Elf on stealing a ring from an Argonian's jewelry shop. I thought this was just going to be another mundane quest for a local, like sabotaging the light house in Solitude for that one Argonian, so imagine my surprise when I realized this was what was left of the Thieves Guild.

The Thieves Guild was never much. In Oblivion it was run out of people posted around Cyrodil, and in Morrowind it was run out of some bars around the provinces. I was in heaven when I realized the Thieves Guild finally had some sort of a guild hall, and I was totally prepared to make it my own. After beating it, I learned that eventually I can restore it to the former glory it once had, eventually acquiring a blacksmith or an alchemist (I'll make sure to report back when I get all those things). Way to keep the game going long after the story is over, Bethesda.

The entire structure of the Thieves Guild quests are completely different from the last ones. Instead of sneaking into houses to steal some guy's journal or change the tax ledger in a guard tower, the missions are long and arduous stealth sections that seem to have come out of Splinter Cell. The mission where you sneak around the East Empire Trading Company's warehouse is by far the coolest stealth sequence I have ever done, and it's in an RPG. That's a job well done.

I've been having a major problem with Skyrim in that there just hasn't been much epic loot from quest chains to keep me saying "wow!", and fuckkkkkk did that change with the end of the Thieves Guild. The Nightingale Armor is one of the coolest pieces of armor designed by Bethesda, totally playing on a look for an agent of shadow.

In closing, Skyrim once again fails to disappoint me when it comes to improvements over its predecessors. GOTYAY. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Shatterblog!: On The So Called "Justice" System (Rated R)

I'll start by saying that this is a rant, and that I have a bit of a thing regarding laws and justice. Think about that word. Justice. The ultimate force of good in the universe. There is no possible negative connotation. Justice is undoubtedly good at its core. The good prosper. The evil suffer. Right?
Our justice system has a lot of problems. Not America's as much as humanity's. I'll be mostly talking about America though.
I'll be painting a lot of picture's here. Bear with me for a few scenarios.
You're young, you're in love, and nothing can stop you. After a whirlwind romance, you get married. Life's good. You have 2 kids, a house in Suburbia, you and your spouse both have steady jobs. After a few months, things go sour. Your significant other isn't who you thought they were. They drink. They do drugs. Then, heavily under the influence, they beat you. The next day, they apologize. Life goes back to normal for as week or two. They beat you again. And again. They threaten your kids. You're scared. You try to leave, but they drag you back, threaten to kill you, kill your family, your kids.You believe them. Scared, alone, you don't know where to turn. Desperate, you snap. You kill them, you take your kids, you run. Now, you're arrested. You go to jail for murder. Your children grow up without either parent. Is this justice? People are put in jail for the safety of others. So they don't kill someone else. For the good of society. Will this battered human being, seeking only escape, kill again? Yes, there are laws that you can get a reduced sentence, get out of jail time, if you suffered abuse. As someone who is interested in crime documentaries, books, etc, I can say that the jury doesn't always see it that way. Next scenario.
Your marriage isn't great, but you cope. You love your spouse, but they seem to be pulling away from you. They spend a lot of your money, putting a real strain on you. You let it go, writing heartfelt journal entries about how much you just want things to work. You aren't ready for divorce. You know with just a little love and effort, you can preserve your marriage. You keep trying, but things get very bad very fast. You want so much to keep the marriage together, but the stress, the pain, the depression, they're building up. You sleep in separate rooms. You can barely have a civil conversation. Life is only getting worse. One night, there's an accident. It could be anything. A gas leak. A drug overdose. A robbery gone wrong. Your spouse is killed. Because you were in a different room, the gas didn't poison you, the panicked robber didn't shoot you. You survive, heartbroken. Sure, your marriage had problems. But you still loved them. You tried. You called 9-1-1. You performed whatever CPR you could. Now the police get involved. They don't believe your story. They think you used car exhaust to poison them. You overdosed them with prescription medication. You hired a hitman. They point to your obviously unhappy state of mind. How much better your life would seem to be with your spouse gone. The jury sees it their way. Again, your kids are alone. What did this accomplish? What justice was served by this? One parent dead to a tragic accident, and justice seeks to put the other away for life? Yes, murder is wrong. But is jail time or the death penalty the right answer? How much weight do people really put behind the phrase "reasonable doubt"? There are definite flaws that need to be dealt with. Justice should be good. If someone is in the court, crying as a loved one is sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, it's probable something is very, VERY fucking wrong. Yes, serial murderers' mommies love them too. But children shouldn't be left parentless like that. Justice isn't eye-for-an-eye anymore. It's for the greater good. Not personal gain. Not to get another win as a bigshot lawyer. Not for fucking payback. To better the town, the country, the world. Guess what? The world isn't black and white. Shit happens. Hundreds of genuinely good people die every week for no fucking reason. It sucks, but it is. Blame doesn't always have to be assigned. Cops arrest people just to get the public off their backs. The public clamors for a murder suspect because according to television, every death happens for a reason, and it's probably a murder. When shit happens, people want to make sense of it. It hurts to lose a loved one. It helps a lot if you can put the one responsible behind bars. But your petty fucking vengeance is not worth degrading justice. Someone isn't always responsible. Someone doesn't always need to be behind bars. People need to realize that justice is ultimate. So much more important than anything else. Petty fucking people are destroying what should be the most important and true and GOOD thing in the universe.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The SteamWorks: Hype; Life or Death?

Hey Gang,

So do you remember my review on Zafaria? If not, you can check it out here.

So one of my friends was later dicussing my review with me, and asked why I was asking for hype. So, I'd like to discuss with you my opinion of hype, and what I think about it:


Hype ... it gets to the best of us...
So what exactly is "hype"? Dictionary.com defines 'hype" as the following: To create intrest in by flamboyant or dramatic methods; promote or publicize showily. So, in summary, it means to build tension. It makes people WANT to see what you're selling, showing, etc.

Because of the "OH MY GOSH I WANNA GET IN THERE AND MESS THINGS UP" (that's what she said) effect it tends to have on gamers (and any fans in general), many generally don't like it ... especially when  the featured product turns out to be worse than it was hyped up to be. However, when used correctly, hype can be a great tool to companies releasing a popular product. The excitement generated by the huge fans of the game, movie, etc. yield popularity among the public. This excites more people, and eventually the creators of this hugely popular product have millions if not sometimes billions of people that are curious about the product and wish to experience it.

So HOW exactly does a company effectively use hype? In other words, how does one combine the release of small strips of content with time to create the perfect hype recipe?

This is a very controversial subject, and there are MANY different "formulas" for the perfect use of hype, each appealing to a huge varitey of people. I personally believe in a some-what long term period of hype lead by small tastes of new content that's released at LEAST once a month.

My "Goldy Locks" zone for hype length is somewhere between four and seven months. I like time to theorycraft, but at the same time, I don't want to be dying of anxiety. For me, the small teasers released by a company (such as a pictures or small tidbits of information) are enough to feed my excitement for around a half year.

But again, everyone's taste is different. Some people think that's way too long and don't want to know about an expansion because they will either die from excitement or consider it over-hyping a product. Others think this period is extremely too short, and like more time to theorycraft on what exactly will happen. Many people like to marinate themselves in this excitement, as it feeds their hunger for the product.

Hope this clears some things up and enlightens you,

Peter, The SteamWorks

The SteamWorks: SWOTR Opens Beta To All Registered Players Before 11/11/11!

Hey Gang,


So anyone who signed up for the Closed Star Wars: The Old Republic Beta BEFORE 11/11/11 recieved an email last Friday which included the following:

"Greetings __________,

Your account has been selected to participate in an upcoming Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ Beta Weekend Test. If you have previously tested or are currently participating in an ongoing test, you will be invited again. Additional details for this upcoming test will be announced soon.

As part of this test, we will be partnering with games industry sites to distribute additional beta codes as necessary. This will help ensure we meet our population goals, so we can effectively stress test our servers in preparation for launch. Please do not acquire and redeem one of these codes as it could jeopardize your ability to participate in this test.

As a reminder, should you choose to participate, everything associated with this test (game information, process, forums communication, etc.) is confidential and may not be discussed outside of the Game Testing forum. Additionally, your participation in the Game Testing Program is subject to the
Game Testing Agreement.

May the Force be with you,
The Star Wars: The Old Republic Team"


Again, ONLY those of us who have registered for Beta Testing BEFORE 11/11/11 (That's November 11th, 2011) should have recived this email. For players who were not registered for Beta before 11/11/11, BioWare has generously gifted Beta codes to sites such as IGN, Massively, and other gaming news sites. IF you have recived this email, BioWare is asking that you DO NOT apply for or recieve these extra Beta codes, for it could screw up your chances of participating in the Beta weekend.

Now, I don't know about all of you readers, but I'm super pumped for the Beta weekend. However, this will probably result very badly for myself, as I only have my crappy laptop and cannot run AAA games, especially when they are highly populated (AAA games, for those of you that don't know, are amazingly good games which usually include serious graphics and dynamic gameplay and often cast a high budget).

Hope everyone has fun playing,

Peter, The SteamWorks 

Shatterblog!: Fillerbunny Series Review

Yes, that is an aborted fetus...
As promised, here is a review of all the Fillerbunny comics. Guess what he does! Anyway, Fillerbunny fills unneeded space in comics with horrible things. He is created by science to bring you joy through his suffering. He regularly converses with some unseens force that does terrible things to him. If you have a REALLY sick sense of humor, youll probably love it. Fillerbunny undergoes various tortures, and every time he grows to love anything, it is immediately shot in the face. He dances, he cries, he bleeds, he gets his leg replaced with a zombie bee. There isn't really plot, just a series of barely connected horrible travesties spanning 3 books. There are randomly interjected "autobiographical" bits, where J.V. draws himself drawing these comics and arguing with the chief. It's all good fun. It is definitely offensive, between Aborto (pictured) and Rape-bo, a rapacious hobo. Language isn't really bad, but there are a ton of jokes that could be considered in bad taste. Violence is rampant, as well as horrible suffering and misery. It's funny only to people with a unique and probably horrible sense of humor.The art kinda sucks, but it's intentional, so right on. I definitely suggest you read it. 8/10

Monday, November 14, 2011

Slightly Redder Red: The Thing: The Northman Nightmare

I really like John Carpenter's The Thing, and I feel like The Thing can have a really great expanded universe beyond the movie. It's a monster that can be feared by people of any time, from the 1980s to the 1680s, and can strike fear into the hearts of moviegoers of all ages (or comic readers, in this case).

A comic adaption of The Thing, actually featured as a companion to the recent film prequel to the 1982 classic, got released by Dark Horse a little while ago. The comic is set in 1121 AD, around the times when Vikings settled in Newfoundland, and a lore surrounding a monster like the alien Thing beautifully slips into the time period. I had originally gone into this expecting to write another bad comic review like Star Wars: Legacy, considering that franchises of the 1980s have had a terrible tradition of going back in time (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles being one glaring beacon of time travel failure), but leave it to Dark Horse Comics to deliver some excellent expanded universe.

The comic is great from first panel to last. The vikings are beautifully illustrated, and so is the bleak and snowy landscape of Newfoundland. The bleak and snowy landscape, albeit pretty, can be harsh, and right off the bat we have vikings dying, and vikings getting killed is always cool no matter what medium. The Thing itself is also wonderfully imagined by the illustrator, and looks amazing when it finally reveals itself as the monster it is. The suspense leading up to those final moments of the comic are really well done, and the violence is tastefully brutal.

Since this is one comic, unlike the beginning of a series like Legacy was, I won't go into the plot since it's kind of dependent on people not spoiling it. But it's free, so you should totally pick it up and read it, you won't be disappointed. It's a great addition to the Dark Horse library. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shatterblog!: Johnny the Homicidal Maniac Review

Look at me, jumping on the image bandwagon...
I was sitting here thinking about what to write, and decided I'd try my hand at a comic review. My next thought was that I ought to review the greatest comic I have ever been privy to.
Which is of course the masterpiece JtHM. It's written by Jhonen Vasquez, whom you may know as the man behind Invader Zim. Johnny the Homicidal Maniac was earlier, and there are a lot of similarities in art. Happy Noodle Boy has all of GIR's random hilarity with more profanity. Win! The art is dark and beautiful, much better than Invader Zim, despite the similarities. J.V. often does borders around images with creepy faces or awesome quoteables (That's a word. Fact.) They're a really nice little bonus. The main story is pretty solid, although it is most certainly not for kids. It's really violent, with a lot of graphic scenes (heads off, eyes rolling around, blood spatter, dismemberment, etc.) and the language can be a little spotty, such as a Pillbury Doughboy with the word FUCK inscribed across his chest. Johnny (Nny) is a pretty whiny emo kid, but I found his insanity to make him genuinely likable. His constant depression can get slightly grating, so if that gets to you you may want to give it a pass. There's a lot of filler content, at least in the Director's Cut, which is spectacular. Nny, the main character, draws a comic, Happy Noodle Boy (mentioned above) which is extremely funny and different. A few other characters show up in filler stuff, and if you enjoy any of that, you might also enjoy Squee's Wonderful Big Giant Book of Unspeakable Horrors, which is almost all filler comics. Those familiar with any of J.V.'s work know he can be extremely funny, which JtHM often isn't. Overall I really love the comic, and would highly recommend it to appropriate audiences. 10/10.

UPDATE: I have copies of J.V.'s other work (Squee!, I Feel Sick, Jellyfist, Bad Art Collection, Filler Bunny) Expect reviews soon

The SteamWorks: Trolls Gonna Troll... (PG-13)


Hey Gang,


There are a TON of people that "profile" a game based off its ESRB rating. It really makes me angry sometimes, being a gamer who plays a lot of rated 'E' or 'E+10' games. So let me say this:


For the trolls out there who think 'E' games are extremely "homosexual" and dumb, but haven't even given many of them a chance (games like Wizard101, Free Realms (ok, so I'm not a big fan of this game, but it counts), and the LEGO games are all great examples), you need to shut your god-damned mouths. Sure, these games are aimed towards children; that is fact and there's no denying that. But at the same time, they're an E (10+) game. For those of you who don't know what 'E' means in the ESRB rating system, let me define it for you:



  EVERYONE 10+
Titles rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) have content that may be suitable for ages 10 and older. Titles in this category may contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.



That's directly from the ESRB Rating System Page, by the way...


As you can see, it has content for people of the age of 10 and older. So some of you might be saying, "Well, rated 'M' games are exclusively for players 17 and older, since children below that age cannot purchase the game. So you're not going to find any children playing the game anyway."



MATURE
Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.



Again, directly pulled off the ESRB Rating System Page...


As you can see, it has content that "may be suitable" for an audience of age 17 or up. This means, with the permission of an adult, a child may buy this game and play the hell out of it. So rated 'M' games still contain a content of children. The rating that "Mature Trolls" (Ha, that's kind of a paradox, isn't it?) really want is this:



ADULTS ONLY
Titles rated AO (Adults Only) have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older. Titles in this category may include prolonged scenes of intense violence and/or graphic sexual content and nudity.



Sounds like an interactive porn to me (ok, so there are some legit AO games out there, don't shoot me; just pointing something out... ever hear of the Rape Game that was only released in Japan?). And do you know what the funny part is? A parent could still purchase this game and give it to their child if they so desired. So there really is no escaping children when it comes to gaming. You have to make the best of what you have and suck it up. It's your choice if you don't want to play a certain game, and don't make fun of the people who actually enjoy it.

Peter, The SteamWorks

P.S: A word on the (possibly upcoming contest)...


The Project: Better Dolphin Team is still debating on whether or not we want to hold the contest I was discussing in one of my earlier posts. There should be more word on this soon. If there is a contest, it probably won't be too challenging, so ... yeah ... thanks!

The SteamWorks: Was Zafaria What We've Been Waiting For?


Hey Gang,


In case you didn't know, I'm a BIG fan of Wizard101. Sure, I get some flack for loving a game that's aimed at children, but the game also appeals to adults, and I really enjoy it. I even have my own blog for it here.


KingsIsle recently launched a new world in the Test Realm called Zafaria. Now, if you'd like to hear all the new features and see some of the new regions, you can go to this post on The Pyromancer's Digest. Instead, here I will discuss the mechanics of Zafaria, and if it lived up to the expectations of the players and more-so my own.


The world itself was REALLY cool. I really enjoyed the whole African idea. The players have been asking for a world like this for a long time, and it just shows that KingsIsle listens to its player and, more importantly, does something about it. I thought it was impressive on how they also expanded the idea of a jungle; we also saw a Savannah, and "Stone Town", and even Tree of Life type area, where all the races of Zafaria mix. I enjoyed all the races as well, however I really want to see more giraffes other than the librarian. What's their back story? How do they tie into Zafaria? What do they have to contribute to my experience? Do all the answers to these questions lead to the reason why they weren't employed much?


The graphics here were very impressive and improved as well. Some might complain about the game because the graphics aren't necessarily "high-end". However, this is done so the game is more accessible to players who don't have great computers. In fact, if the game was graphic-heavy, I probably wouldn't be able to play because it wouldn't be able to run on my laptop (I can barely run DC Universe, so that should give you a good idea about how much my laptop can handle...). However, KingsIsle pushed the envelop with the graphics of this world without bursting it open. What I mean by that is: the graphics improved greatly from what we've seen in the past, however they didn't break the "accessible to all" philosophy. However, the only complaint I had were the trees in the Drum Jungle; they "recycled" the look of the tree bark from Celestia. That was a bit lazy, and I think they should have taken the time to make a new skin for it.


The story was really interesting as well. We were plunged into a world of political dispute, and, like every video game in history, the people were too lazy to fix their own problem. So, of course, we step in with our fancy and powerful magics to save the day and reunite the people of Zafaria. As always, KingsIsle cleverly employs references to real-life songs, places, and people that appeal to all ages; I even laughed a few times. I also enjoyed hearing more about Morganthe and seeing her multiple times throughout the world. Overall, I really had no problem with the story; it was knitted beautifully into an amazing shroud of storyline that resulted in many players theory crafting for months.


However, if I had one major complaint, it'd be the preparation for the new expansion. The distance between Celestia's release and it's announcement was more than six months. Sure, it killed us players because we were dying to get in and see it for ourselves. However, it was that much more rewarding to finally get in and explore. It was a lot more exciting for us players, and I think we appreciated Celestia a lot more because of that. The combination of waiting with a few spoiler pictures here and there yielded a perfect recipe for player-hype. The amount of time wasn't TOO much nor TOO short; it was exactly right.


This was the biggest mistake KingsIsle made with Zafaria. I don't think the players appreciated this world as much because we only got a month of hype (in fact, I think it might have even been less than that ... it might have only been about three weeks). A few teaser pictures and even a video were thrown at us, and we had no time to do some serious theory crafting (by the way, I wasn't a fan of the video; again, I think KingsIsle should have waited until the players themselves had uncovered the spells).  The world needs time to marinate in the spicy juices that are the players' imaginations, and Zafaria pretty much skipped that step, resorting in a half-dry piece of steak (or in my case, a half-dry pile of potatoes).


If I had ANY advice to give, it'd be to release word of the expansion about a half-year before its release, and drag it along with some teaser pictures here and there (but not too much at one time; maybe every three or four weeks). This article was the perfect announcement, and it was released at the perfect time. I was bursting with excitement when I saw this two years ago. THIS is what gets players excited. The key is to tease your players. Give them a sample, but not the whole thing. If KingsIsle employs this, their player-base will be bursting with excitement.


Overall, I give it an 8.5 out of 10. Good job KingsIsle!


Peter, The SteamWorks


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Slightly Redder Red: Skyrim

Skyrim is being Skyrim, and I literally have nothing to say about this game. I already have 26 hours logged onto it, and I just... can't say anything about it. Saying things about it would do it no justice. The game is worth a million words, non of which I can vocalize. 

So yeah, get Skyrim if you haven't already. Don't pirate it.


Yeah, that's me impaling a dragon's skull with my sword. Nothing special.

Did I mention you should get this game?

The SteamWorks: Making Your Christmas List...

Hey Gang,

So the best holiday of the year is approaching us... Christmas! Why is it the best holiday of the year, you ask? Well, it's simple: It's an excuse for free games! It's never too early to start making your Christmas list, and I'm here to help you do just that (Turns out I already started making mine too!).

Here a little view at my Christmas list so far:

Christmas List 2011:

1. Skyrim (PC) ($59.99)

2. Skyrim Strategy Guide ($39.99)

3. Halo Anniversary (Xbox360) ($39.99)

4. LoZ: Skyward Sword (Wii) ($49.99)

5. Dark Souls (Xbox360) ($59.99)

You can believe that list is building at an astonishing rate. I also have a Custom PC Tower on there that worth at least $1,600 (and possibly more).

You can also count on me doing a review on every one of those games listed at some point in the near future ...

So what do you put on your Christmas List? What games do you decide are good enough for you to play? I figured I would give you my opinions on games that are a must-have (or must get) for the holiday season.

***Note: I'd like to mention that I myself do not own a PS3. Therefore, I (obviously) am not asking for any PS3 games for Christmas. So I will not be covering any PS3 versions of games nor PS3 Exclusives.***

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC; Damn, there goes my new and upcoming game The Old Parchment: CloudEdge): This game originally wasn't on my list. In fact, I was complaining about it on Thursday to Chazz, saying that critics are way to easy with games now (Skyrim received a 9.0 I believe, following Batman: Arkham City which got a 9.5, Gears of War 3 which got a 9.0, and Uncharted 3 which got another 9.5 ... all IGN scores by the way ... but that's a tangent for another day). But when I was watching JD play eight straight hours of Skyrim, the game fascinated me. The graphics and "mini games" run much better than they did in Oblivion (ok, so Oblivion is a bit outdated, but it was a gem in its age). The characters look a lot less awkward and detailed. I'm really looking forward to it.

2. Halo Anniversary (Xbox360): There's been a ton of excitement for Halo Anniversary amongst the Halo fans (especially so amongst the Team here at Project: Better Dolphin). 343 has developed some interesting alternatives for people that think getting the whole disc is a waste of money. They're offering low priced Matchmaking Only copies as well as Map Packs of the remastered originals. Good move, 343! I can't wait to expand my experience of this game beyond a 10 minute matchmaking game at NYCC.

3. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii): There are a few gamers out there sighing at Skyward Sword because it's a Wii exclusive game. I tell you, however, it's worth it. As shocking as that sounds, it's critically acclaimed by some to be one of the best Zelda Legends of all time, and it might even be the best so far. Shocking, right? How could any game beat Ocarina of Time (or at least as far as Zelda goes)? I know Gabby and Chazz got to test it out at NYCC, and they really liked it (I only got to watch ... poor ol' me!). Definitely something to check out!

4. Dark Souls (Xbox360): Ok, don't get mad at me; I know this "should" be played on the Play Station 3. I (sadly), however, do not own one, but I want to experience the maddening world that is Dark Souls. So I must get it on the Xbox. I've enjoyed many an hour watching Chazz freak out at Dark Souls and it's extreme difficulty, and I think it'd be funny to see how far Dark Souls pushes me over the edge. Spoiler Alert: This game is challenging!

So that's my Christmas List run-through! I hope I inspired all of you to run out to your nearest GameStops and loot their shelves! I'll be back with my Zafaria review by late Monday!

Peter, The SteamWorks

P.S: We might have an awesome contest coming up for some exclusive gaming experiences, so stay tuned!




Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Slightly Redder Red: Skyrim is Preloaded on My Computer

I'm sure many people know that Skyrim is now available to preload, but I just want to share my joy over the fact that The Elder Scrolls V: Slyrim is on my computer. I'm bursting with anticipation.

Other things I feel like mentioning:

1) Zombieville 2 released an update literally fixing everything I ever had a complaint about (maybe they read my review?), making it a 10/10 in my books. They also added a new skin, a rich looking, proper British guy named the Tycoon, which I'm pretty sure is an Occupy Wall Street joke.

2) The Binding of Isaac is just trippy. Like, babies killing demons based off the seven deadly sins? Is this a DC comic game? I was not surprised when I saw the game was associated with Newgrounds, I literally could have typed newgrounds.com into my address bar and pulled up several things along the lines of Binding of Isaac.

3) I started playing Dark Souls recently, and my god is it annoying. I've maybe made a new game about 4 times looking for a class that suited me (finally settled on a Knight), and it did get to the point where I could run through the tutorial level in about two minutes, but everything past that is damn hard. I keep trying to go into those crypts to the left and below of the graveyard, but keep getting fucked in the ass by skeletons that chased me from said graveyard into the crypts. Democratic Republic of WHY. But it's too good to stop playing, so I took a break from it for a while.

4) I'll give some coverage on DC Universe: Online endgame content, since that's what makes or breaks an MMO, although from what I can tell it'll be pretty cool. The game is holding my MMO fix over until SWTOR rather nicely, and I'll probably keep going back to it after SWTOR drops.

5) My shift key sucks. Like sucks hard. It never shifts when I need it to, and if I'm trying to capitalize a title of a game, I'll have to go back and try to type it at least six times. I really need to buy a new keyboard. It's like, fine for gaming and stuff, but typing is a serious bitch.

Happy four day weekend!

The SteamWorks: Introducing Vince the Sketchy Dolphin!

Hey Gang,

I just wanted to bring to you attention that earlier this week, Gabby from The Resident Troll updated the format of our blog! There are (hopefully) going to be some changes in color and font size, but other than that this will pretty much be our new format! One of the features that came along with this amazing update was our very special friend (no, not Sharon ... although she is VERY cool):

...

Vince the Skethcy Dolphin!

He's Director of our Sketchy Quality Controls Center. Whenever we talk about all the sketchy darkness that lingers around our once sketch-less planet, we'll have Vince fire up our sketch-o-meter and rate its skecth level:

That's pretty much all I have to say today. Be sure to look out for my review of Wizard101's new expansion Zafaria (which is currently under public testing).

Peter, The SteamWorks

P.S: My Left 4 Dead Review is finished. Sorry for that long delay!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Slightly Redder Red: Uncharted 3

Remember when Uncharted: Drakes Fortune made us PS3 players really, really proud of the system that we were playing on? Xbox players were getting really braggy about Halo 3, since it had just been released, but then Uncharted was all like "You guys really proud of your exclusive? Fuck you, here's a better exclusive!" The creators of Jak and Daxter had released something really special, and would live on to grow into something even special-er.

And then remember when Uncharted 2: Among Thieves completely raised the bar, far past its predecessor? Just how epic it was? It took epic storytelling to a whole new level, from the helicopter fight in Borneo to the epic finale in Shambala, and damn if it wasn't an amazing eight hours. But the gameplay was only matched by the amazing story that went along with it, from underground temples and Russian mercenaries to yetis and ice cold nazis (literally ice cold). It may sound hackneyed and loony, but it all really fit into the big picture that the game was painting, and it was worth over a thousand words.

But, holy shit, remember when Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception shot the bar straight through the goddamn roof? I sure as hell do, I just experienced it. Having tired of my day getting blueballed by cheerleaders, I just sat down and started to play. And play. And play a lot more. I'm 95% done with the game, clocking at seven and a half hours, and I can say that the game exceeded everything the second game ever accomplished.


For starters, the set pieces have been cranked up to eleven, I would try to describe them but it would do no justice. Sure, there was the plane in the commercial, but that's just scraping the top of the iceberg that is this game, and there's a helluva lot more iceberg buried beneath the water. Chasing British agents through Yemen? Escaping a capsized ship, while it's capsizing? I said "holy shit" more times than I could care to remember. It's almost effortless. I dare anybody to show me the "totally epic and awesome moments" from Modern Warfare 3 (everyone on my Facebook wall is talking about them), just so I can show them the even more awesome moments from Uncharted. Little girl getting blown up by a carbomb, meet escaping a burning down French chateau crawling with 007s.

This game was also a lot more touching then the last, as well. I always pictured the Uncharted series as Indiana Jones, and Uncharted 3 really reminded me of Last Crusade. Not because of it's desert setting, but the really heartwarming and sentimental relationship between Drake and Sully. It really meant a lot to see their origin story in Colombia, and it meant even more seeing Drake cross the Rub'al Khali desert to save him. Hell, even Elena was prepared to go after him alone before Drake showed up at her doorstep. Seeing everyone ready and willing to save a man like a father to them is truly touching, and I have to give credit to Naughty Dog for making me shed multiple manly tears.

I want to separate myself from the story as to avoid shedding even more manly tears and talk about the improvements on the gameplay itself, and damn if there aren't many. For one thing, you can now toss back grenades at enemies, which sounds really gamebreakingly easy like it is for Call of Duty, but each toss is a minigame on its own, and adds a real challenge to gunfights and keeps you on your toes constantly. And the melee combat has been completely redesigned, less beating on one guy while getting shot and more Arkham-esque combat where every guy within five feet of you can and will be wrecked by Drake's fists. And the impact from the environment on melee combat is amazing; whether it's grabbing a beer bottle off a bar and hitting it over some guy's head (totally unscripted), bashing an enemy's head into a metal railing, or running down a staircase at some guy and suddenly leaping up and landing a kick to his head. It feels really natural, and is really well done.

But there is a huuuuuge difficulty curve from the other Uncharted games. The armored shotgun units are back in even larger numbers, there's a new Brawler unit that knocks your weapons out of your hands, and the snipers are even more abundant then ever. Not to mention the part where enemies have two lives, or the stealth section at the airport where it punishes you for breaking your cover by sending the entire armed forces stationed at the base after you (which caused me to rage extremely hard). Not to mention the multiple segments where vision is limited due to smoke or some other factor, which is challenging but really well done, only made harder by the shotgun units that you can't see until they're four feet in front of you (I hear that's the catch in the next Dead Space game).

I won't say anything about the multiplayer, because just having multiplayer sells games (cough cough Call of Duty [I'm taking a lot of stabs at CoD in this article]), but it's really good. Like, really good.

So, in closing, perfect score. 100/100. 10/10. Five stars. A++. Games like this one make me proud to be a gamer.

Shatterblog!: Voxatron Review

As promised, I will review Voxatron now. The first thing I'd like to point out is that a voxel is like a pixel, but more 3D. So the whole game looks kinda made out of Legos, which I find endearing. Anyway, onto the review!
I love the game. I didn't play a whole lot of Adventure, mostly just Arcade. I haven't used the Editor at all. Adventure is the most fun, but the most frustrating. I'm a bit of a completionist sometimes, and it is HARD to get stuff sometimes. It often involves the Build gun, which has very limited ammo. It plays like a top down shooter (i maed a gam3 w1th z0mb1es!!!1) where you have a gun, and enemies spawn, and you shoot them. You can get power-ups (Triple Shot, Blaster, Build, even a sword!) and score pickups and multipliers. It's standard, not venturing too far into the unknown combat wise, but that's not always a bad thing. The platforming segments are also fun, and the couple times I've seen in videos the use of a snail enemy's trail to build up to secrets got me a bit excited. Arcade is what you'd expect, waves of enemies pouring out from the sides at your little voxelated hero. Awesomeness ensues. I'd like to draw attention to one thing that I loved, the explosion power up. Guess what it does! Anyway, I find the animation of the explosion hilarious. You can see it if you want.

This whole preview is worth watching, but at around 1:10 the player either gets an explosion pickup or dies (same animation) and hilarity happens. You'll know it when you see it.
The highly manipulable and destructible environments are a lot of fun. I find that playing Arcade, by the time I die the level is so destroyed that restarting I'm actually surprised by how it looked before. The enemy variants are REALLY cool. You'll see the big guys made up of smaller guys and a dragon in that trailer. There are also the little purple rolling guys, and the big guys with the lasers (that last one isn't in the trailer). I know my descriptions are astonishingly well thought out. The point is this game shines in a lot of ways. The visual style is unique, the only game I know of using it besides Voxatron is 3D Dot Game Heroes. Level designs are cool, until you shoot them up a bit, then they're awesome. I cut down a tree with a gun. How weird is that? Overall, the game is pretty creative, really addicting, and not too frustrating. It's still in alpha, so the only way to get it is through the Humble Voxatron Debut! Obviously expect changes, since it's in alpha. 9/10

Monday, November 7, 2011

Resident Troll: High School of the Dead

Well, first, there's obviously a new layout up. I like it. I was also told it inspires fear, but that is a casualty of war. I'm not sure how often I'll change it up--maybe every few months. Or never again.

Onto the review.


After watching The Walking Dead, I've gained an affinity for zombies. Thus, when I first heard of High School of the Dead, I was interested. When I finally sat down to watch it... well... it wasn't what I was expecting.

The anime centers around group of high school students and their childish school nurse. Thankfully, after a few episodes, they do leave the high school and venture out into the real world, taking one zombie down at a time. (This is not exactly true, as the group acquires a Humvee and uses it to plow through the undead.) The group travels across town, eventually adding a little girl and dog to their entourage. 

I liked it once I got over the gratuitous amount of fan service. Still, it was hard to ignore. There was a bath scene I couldn't have fast-fowarded through any quicker, and there were far too many convenient breezes that led to panty shots. You cannot avoid the boobage. Hell, you probably can't even take it. After a while, all the double-d's flying around were just comical. Oh physics, how the jug-jiggling in this anime avoids thee. Out of the five female characters, I really only liked three of them, and one was seven. There really isn't anything original about High School of the Dead. It pretty much follows the same plot as any zombie show does: something happens, ohnozombiesattack.  It definitely won't be praised for it's amazing character development--as there's simply an absence of it. The most that changes with the characters is that they become okay with killing the once-living. 

The action and main character generally redeem the series. I did genuinely like Takeshi, as he was probably the most fleshed out character of them all. Along with Hirano and Saeko, he leads most of the battles. The zombie encounters range from interesting to fearful, with Hirano shooting from a safe point, Saeko waving around a (for most of the series) wooden sword and Takashi swinging around a blunt object or taking instruction on how to use certain firearms from Hirano. The final fight is one you'd expect: with the group cornered as hungry zombies and fire attempting to eat them. 

Would I watch it again? No. Would I watch a second season? Probably. Am I going to read the manga to find out what actually happens? Not really, but I have it saved somewhere. If you're bored and have an extra five hours, go ahead and tune in. It's fun enough to keep you entertained, but with a re-watch you'd probably just get annoyed. I give it a 6/10.

Slightly Redder Red: DC Universe Online

Why aren't you playing this?


It's free on Steam. Suuuure, there are limitations to playing free, and I've heard a lot of people say they aren't going to play it just because of the limitations, but to anyone reading this, the limitations aren't exactly limiting.


1) A money cap. Yeah, there's a $1500 dollar money cap, which may seem staggeringly unfair, but after about 18 hours with the game, I can say it's not that big a deal. Money is really only used to repair your gear and to purchase end-game raid items, and even those end-game items are only about $400 dollars plus emblems and such. Luckily, any money you make that goes over the cap is stored in an escrow account, which you can withdraw for about a dollar for every withdrawal.


2) Two character limit (not like a Twitter message, I mean in game characters).  You can purchase an additional character slot for five dollars (IRL money, I should clear that up), but I don't expect you to need it. You have enough room for one hero and one villain, which I think is plenty. I normally don't play more than one or two characters anyway when it comes to MMOs, but then again, that's just me. The only real reason I would ever purchase an extra character slot is if I bought the recently added Green Lantern DLC, but other than that I don't see much of a use for them. World of Warcraft had ten character slots to accommodate the original ten classes, so I think the two character slots for a hero and a villain is fitting.


3) The login queue. Yeahhhh, this one is kinda disappointing, and a major setback for Free to Play players, but come on, you should at least stick this out. Rub one out while you wait or something, I don't care. Not much to say about this actually, aside from that sometimes the wait can get a tad long. I've waited up to a half hour to get in, but I guess playing for about 5 hours evens it out.


4) Честно говоря, я даже не собираюсь типа, что связано с игрой в настоящем пункте, я только собираюсь написать статью, которая обслуживает наших русских зрителей. В конце концов, в Советской России, игра вас! я чертовски любят Google Translator. Чазз имеет маленький пенис! Петр осужденный растлитель! Видео игры! КОМИКС! Ебать полицию!

The SteamWorks: In Soviet Russia ...

Hey Gang,

So Chazz from Shatterblog! and I were trolling around the interwebs when we found this in our "Customer Relations Department" (yeah, it's really called "Stats Overview", but Customer Relations Department sounds fancy ... maybe we'll name blogger ... I propose the name "Sharon"):

Fantastic Diagram, courtesy of the Head of our Community Relations Department, Sharon.
Our initail reaction to this was, "..." followed by a crap load of extremly insulting Russian and Brazilian fake accents (of course, they included the words "comrade" and "Vodka" ... there might have also be mentioning of counting trees in Siberia...). All of the joking aside, this is ... strange. We also looked at the main sources from which our readers mainly flow from. This is one: http://yandex.ru/yandsearch?text=the+past+game+doesn&lr=84

...

Yeah, that's not speaking the English.

Thanks to everyone that reads the blog though! I appriciate the Brazilians taking the time out of cutting bananas and harvesting the delicious coffee and coaco beans to read our blog! *Hugs*.

Peter V, The SteamWorks

P.S: I'll be finishing my Left 4 Dead review/article soon, and I'll also be trying to post a review of Zafaria, a new world in testing that belongs to Wizard101, a child-friendly MMO.