Sunday, December 30, 2012

Shatterblog!: Django Unchained Review

Hey guys. I delayed this review a day or two in the hopes that one of my compatriots would write something to prevent the blog homepage from being taken over by me. But they missed that chance so I'm just gonna write my damn review.

My family went to see Tarantino's new Django Unchained shortly after Christmas, all being big fans of the writer/director's previous work. Let me start off by saying, this movie was amazing. I currently cannot decide  whether Django or Inglorious Basterds is my second favorite, following of course Pulp Fiction (I hear Resevoir Dogs is as good, I have not seen it though).

Django Unchained tells the story of a slave, Django (Jamie Foxx) who is brought into the bounty hunting business by Doctor King Shultz (Christoph Waltz, who was the Jew Hunter in Basterds). It is quickly revealed that Django wants to find and free his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from notorious slave owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). What ensues is a beautiful Western with great dialogue, excellent action, a few solid laughs, and that Tarantino flair.

The acting and casting were phenomenal. Foxx and Waltz both delivered Tarantino's famously good dialogue extremely well in every scene. They complement each other well in all their scenes together, and have a very convincing on screen relationship. DiCaprio delivers a detestable bad guy, and is completely engrossing to watch. Spoiler free, I will say there is a scene where DiCaprio's hand is bleeding. According to my brother who I saw it with, it was reported that he actually injured his hand quite badly but didn't break character and delivered the best take there. At some point I am sure they tended to it and replaced it with fake blood for the camera, but it was a great scene. There were a lot of really great small parts as well. Samuel L. Jackson has a hysterical but also quite malevolent character throughout the end of the movie. Jonah Hill makes a fantastic appearance as a nameless character in one of the funnier scenes. As always, Tarantino made an appearance in a pretty great scene of his own.
The obviously serious tone of the movie was not marred by several laugh-out-loud funny scenes. They are well timed and organic, not feeling dropped in to add a laugh. The fact that some funny things happen does not detract from the drama of the story. Fair warning, there is a bit of ridiculous gore, and a few really disturbing images and scenes involving the treatment of slaves, which is of course horrendous. Also, if you're offended by foul language you will have some issues with this movie, although you should know what you're getting into with a Tarantino film. The action scenes are a tad over the top, but are interesting and fun, a few with real emotional impact. The story is fantastic, the characters are extremely well written, and the camera work is often noticeably fantastic. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough, especially to Tarantino fans. This is a fantastic film, well worth seeing on the big screen. 9.75/10.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Shatterblog!: Happy Holidays from PBD

Happy Holidays everyone! The blog team (sans JD) will probably be hanging out today and as such will do a team post wishing you all happy holidays with a cheesy group photo. However for now enjoy this picture of me in a Deadpool hoodie and an elf hat.

Hope everyone had an excellent holiday! Please feel free to comment about your holiday experiences, whether they are this year's, just your favorite, a funny story, whatever you like! Once we have enough comments to talk about we hope to get a comment video up. 

Sidenote, today I will be picking up the cables I need to connect my Xbox to the video capture card I received for Christmas. I'd love to get home from work to some comments about whether you guys want achievement guides, Let's Plays, level walkthroughs, or something else entirely. It would also be cool if you specified games or parts of games you would like to see us cover, and we will make an effort to make that happen. I can currently record Xbox 360, PS2, and PS3, and of course PC. Comment away loyal fans! Your voice will be heard!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Shatterblog!: Shit PBD Members Do

So since Eric and I were in the same room today, we decided to all chat on Google Hangouts, thinking we could mute each other. That wasn't the case, but we stayed on it anyway. Peter started playing The Walking Dead and stopped paying attention to us. We made a game out of trying to capture his attention. It resulted in this:
Yes, Peter has a Google Effects beard on his face

We all screen shared, and paused a video with the Troll King from the 1977 animated version of The Hobbit. Peter failed to notice and we gave up, but not before I took this classy ass screencap. We really are quality humans.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Slightly Redder Red: COD:BLOPS Declassified

I feel like I don't need to play this game for more than a half hour to review it.

I received a PS Vita as a Christmas gift from my uncle, and with it came the Call of Duty: Black Ops spin-off, Declassified. It's essentially a bunch of spec-ops missions strung together to form a campaign told entirely through the cut-scenes at the beginning of the level (cut-scenes in COD games are just cleverly disguised loading screens). Don't expect any story through the game, I never got any AI companions in the time I played it to give me any sort of narrative during gameplay, it's all just running and gunning down hordes of Spetsnaz and Vietcong.

The running and gunning isn't even that good. I garuntee that at mid-long range combat, it will be impossible for anyone to hit any of the enemies without aim assist. I have to thank the developers for giving the player very easy-mode aim assist to compensate for the lack of control with the dual analog on the Vita (think Borderlands level of aim assist), but they could have at least given the AI some semblance of intelligence. I haven't fought enemies this dumb since I played Skyrim, there were instances in-game where enemies would not fire their guns even if I was standing right in front of them. They would even fire their guns while they were still behind cover, shooting at the concrete in front of their faces, resulting in some very annoying segments where I would waste a grenade killing an enemy on a balcony who wouldn't stand up from behind the concrete barrier yet kept firing his rifle.

A very annoying trend in games that has cropped up rather recently is door breaches. The new Medal of Honor had different animations for door breaches you could unlock to spice up the gameplay. Developers: door breaches are fucking stupid. They break up the pacing of the game, slow-mo segments of shooting fish in a barrel are not as tacticool as you think, and they're a really lazy way to make a game easier when putting your player up against entering a room full of enemies. There have been so many games where shooting up a room was fun, yet hard, and devoid of slow motion. Throughout the five or so levels of the spec-ops missions I played, I must have done nine or so door breaches, one level at three in a row. STOP WITH THE DOOR BREACHING, I JUST WANT TO SHOOT THINGS.

I played the horde mode, but it's just as bad as the campaign. AI is dumber than all hell and you usually end up dying due to the controls. Also, the enemies all usually have the same gun, so it's really monotonous. 

The saving grace of this game, which isn't at all shocking, is the multiplayer, and the only reason it's the saving grace is because I didn't expect a full fledged COD multiplayer system on the Vita. Aim assist is gone, so there's some skill required, and the progression is familiar. The huge problem is the fact that not only is it almost impossible to connect to a server, but they're emptier than MAG, I played on 4 different servers (as in I joined a party and quit it soon afterwards) and saw the same 10 people over and over.

After everything's said and done... 3/10. 2 points for the multiplayer being sort of fun and one point for the visuals and animations being okay.

Slightly Redder Red: Wallpapers are No Longer Eric's Thing

I made a wallpaper with Inkscape, it looks bretty cool

Friday, December 21, 2012

Slightly Redder Red: Time's End Review

Oh hey, a music review! Far out!

A few days ago, was put up, and was a countdown timer to the end of the world (supposed end of the world, mind you). It bore the image of the Skull Kid from Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, and was a crack at the iconic countdown until the moon crashed into Clock Town in the original N64 game. I waited and waited for it to wind down, and although I wasn't looking at the site at the time of it officially finishing the timer (fucking west coast), when I went onto it this morning I was pleasantly surprised at what I found.

It was music!

A composer named Theophany is putting up a two part CD of the Majora's Mask soundtrack, recorded with actual instruments in an orchestral fashion. It's really atmospheric, and although I was never a huge fan of the game itself it really puts me in a mood to play some Zelda, or any game with dungeons for that matter. The tracks are beautiful and sweeping, a lot of work and heart went into this remix. If you're tired of shitty dubstep remixes of Legend of Zelda songs, this is truly the album for you.

It's up for free download on his bandcamp page, but if you like supporting independent musicians than you can buy the album for fifty cents or more (as a musician preparing to record his own album in the coming months, I felt the need to take the moral high road and give the guy some money). You won't regret purchasing the CD if you decide to. (Original Website) (Theophany's bandcamp)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Shatterblog!: Special Wallpaper Edition

Hey folks. I know wallpapers are usually Eric's thing, but you all seem to love his posts and I have some to share with you today. YOu must all know by now that Dark Souls II has been announced. While the trailer was far from spectacular, it was good enough that I decided to generate some wallpapers out of it. I hope you enjoy them.

Feel free to use these for whatever you like. As always please comment, tell us what you like/dislike about these, your reaction to the announcement, your hopes/fears for Dark Souls II, whatever you'd like to share. If you say something awesome, expect to see it highlighted in one of our comment videos!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

PBDTube: The Hobbit Review

After our long video hiatus we review The Hobbit which hit theaters December 14th. Please enjoy our Peter Jackson length video which is very appropriate for The Hobbit.

Let us know what you think about the movie in the comments below!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Red Viking: Wallpaper Update December 2012

Hello and welcome back to another wallpaper update. This time I will be doing some more wallpapers I have made (and one alternative one for the hipsters).

Lets kick this off with one from Young Justice because there really are not enough of them.
This one features Fate taking over Kid Flash I believe.

The next one I have in store is one of "Nobody", from New 52 Batman and Robin, who has a great character design I must say. He may even hold #1 in my character design list, for DC at-least.

Now I have a comic cover that was mentioned in one of our videos with Red Hood dead in Batman's arms that could spark some controversy.

I think it is about time for some "just for fun" wallpapers. Up first is a picture that has been fixed by taking out the score board that pops up and making it look natural but it is still hilarious.

(victory sit)

Last but not least is the one for the hipsters that follow us and don't want the normal background but want it a little touched up and made artsy so here it is.

Thanks for viewing and check out the rest of the blog for more updates on things you should care about!

For those who were wondering where all the live streaming has been so far, I apologize because I do not own a video capture card and the only games I have been playing lately are on the Xbox 360. Do not fret though! One of our members is hopefully getting one and we will live stream much more and will do some co-op with some of the other members of the blog. so tell your friends and everyone because its about to get real in here.... I don't think I should say that ever again.....

      The Red Viking.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Steamworks: Zombies, Run! Review

Hey Gang,

So in the past week I downloaded some new apps for my iPhone. Today particularly, I'll be talking about Zombies, Run! which is a game that game out over the past year or so

Zombies, Run! was released in the past year and is not the typical zombie game, let alone a typical mobile game. The app, oddly enough, is a fitness game, where you're motivated to run because you're being chased by the dead. When you first open the game, the basic directions pop up like most other games; a story unfolds around your running sessions using prerecorded radio messages to immerse you into this apocalyptic universe. While not listening to the messages, the app will allow you to listen to the music on your music player. The game uses GPS tracking on your device to detect zombie hordes and to pick up virtual items that you can use after your run to fortify your base (the app can also be run inside on a treadmill if you prefer the indoors to the outdoors). So the game starts out with you functioning as a government assistant traveling in a heli to a survivor sector called Abel Township. However, before you are able to land the copter, an anonymous enemy fires a rocket at your ride, and you are the only one left alive. You're left with a broken radio that only receives signal, and you receive instructions on how to make it to Abel Township. Eventually you are named Runner 5, and the world of Abel Township unfolds around you.

One thing I must say about this game is that it's really good at immersing you into the game's world, which it does in several ways. Almost always in missions there will be a sort of key item that you are expected to retrieve and bring back to Abel, and when you hear "Zombies Detected" in mid mission, you bolt for your sorry ass life (if you're caught by the zombs, they take all the sweet loot you've collected throughout your session). The voice acting is also just spectacular (and British); I remember many times during my runs where I saw a neighbor and was ready to beat the shit out of them or sprint away because I forgot I wasn't really in a zombie apocalypse  The game does a pretty good job at motivating you to try harder and rewarding your effort with praise.

There are only a few issues I have with this game; I don't think directions are very clear when it comes to upgrading your base. Maybe I'm just an idiot, but it took me a while to figure out that you had to press, hold, and drag items you've obtained in your rounds to different regions of your base to upgrade them. Also, I feel like it could do a better job with motivating you to jog a lot of the time; on pretty much every single run I've had, my basic session cycle is: jogging for a lap, sprinting from living dead, being so tired I can barely move, walking most of the time, and lastly sprinting from zombs whenever I need to. I feel like the GPS tracker could do a bit more with the crowd of zombies behind and have them never truly be gone, and whenever you slow down, they start to catch up. Also I found many times when the radio message told me I needed to get the fuck out of an area because a zombie hoard was approaching, no zombies would ever be detected, and I'd wind up walking for the duration of the time between tracks. I also feel like the super monotone computer voice that announces when zombies are detected and when you pick up items is really annoying, and I feel like they could have assigned a regular voice actor for the part, even if it was a character from the game, it would have been better than Mr. Monotone. The last problem with this game is the price; I know this game started on Kickstarter. I know a lot went into making this game, and I know a lot of voice actors participated in making all of this a reality. But there is no reason this game should be priced at $7.99. I could understand $3.99, or even maybe $5.50, but once you hit that $6.00 mark, that's just too expensive. The only possible good side I can come up with for this is that I'm more motivated to use the app and get some exercise because I paid a shit ton of money on it. 

All in all, the game is really good. While it may be overpriced and have some minor hiccups and a tiny list of improvements that should be made, it offers extremely immersible gameplay that makes exercising (somewhat) fun. 


Peter, The Steamworks  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Slightly Redder Red: Game of the Year 2014(?) Announced

So I was playing Dark Souls earlier, doing PvP in Another Londo.  Had a really great winning streak going. Then someone using Pursuers made me get off the game because of how angry I was at him being a giant bitch ( I'd like to take this time to mention that my Nexus7's voice typing sensors swear words). I get off Dark Souls and I log on my computer, open up /v/ to complain about Pursuers being overpowered when I see a sticky thread at the top of the page. Apparently, the Spike VGAs picked this year to not be shitty and announced a game that made me... Actually tear up a little. For those of you who know me realize that I discovered Dark Souls around the time it was released on PC, and it took over my life is a video gamer.  It replaced Skyrim as my game of the year, even though I hadn't started playing it until the time it was ported to PC. Prepare to Die is probably my favorite DLC released ( next to Shivering Isles of course),  and the PvP and PvE keep me coming back everyday. I realize now I haven't mentioned what the game was, although you can probably guess by now.
Tonight, Dark Souls II was the first sequel announced at the Spike VGAs. 4chan's video games board is in a complete frenzy, my brother is telling me that it's probably going to suck, and I'm sitting in my chair hoping for the best. There are screenshots, and the trailer which I cannot find on youtube, but I can't post them  since this post was written through the speak function on my android tablet. Go out and see for yourself. It looks like the painted world is making a return, masked figures suggest the occult uprising in Anor Londo's past, and Dragons are back to stay. My speculations? I think Dark Souls II is going to take place around the fall of Anor Londo. We will see Lord Gwyn descend into madness before guarding the first flame, we will see the last few dragons being hunted down before all that remains is the everlasting dragon who runs the dragon covenant, and we will see the splitting of the 4 Knights of Gwyn. I am heavily invested in the lore of Dark Souls, so a trip into Lordran's past will make me fangasm to no end.
On a technical aspect, the game promises to shine. The IP is still in From Software's hands, so to me nothing can possibly go wrong (fingers crossed). And server based multiplayer is arriving in the Souls game , bringing about a welcome change to the awful net code Dark Souls uses on the PC. The game will be released on PC, Xbox'and ps3. No WiiU. I almost feel sorry for Nintendo's lack of new third party content.
Here's to venturing into Lordran once again as an undead on a  faithful mission.
Praise the Sun!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Shatterblog!: Ni No Kuni Wrath of the White Witch Demo Impressions

Hey everyone, as some of you PlayStation faithful may know, one of the big PS3 exclusives for 2013 is Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, a JRPG which is fully animated by Studio Ghibli, famous for animating such movies as Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro, and Princess Mononoke, as well as many others. As a huge fan of many of these, and a fan of RPGs and PS3 exclusives, I have been fairly excited since its announcement. On December 4th, the demo launched on PlayStation Network Store, and I rushed to play it. I decided to share my first impressions with you fine folks.
There are two different level scenarios available in the demo. The first is a forest segment, around level 5. The second is on a volcano, around level 17.
Battle with the Guardian of the Woods boss
The first section of the demo gives you a brief "story thus far", revealing why Oliver and his living plushie Drippy are in the forest to begin with. After that you walk a bit, and are immediately treated to a boss fight. Now, I am a fan of JRPG's but I have not played many recent ones. Therefore, the idea of controlling movement around the battlefield in what is essentially turn-based combat is sort of wacky for me. There are almost no instructions at all, and I failed once because I didn't realize the Familiar I was controlling shared health with Oliver. Therefore when my Familiar died, Ollie died, and I had no more party members. After a bit of trial and error I got the hang of it. The movement adds a fun element as health/mana orbs and power ups appear around the map, and it makes dodging some environmental effects fun (see second encounter for more info). You can switch between Ollie and the familiar at any time, and Ollie is more magic focused. In this part of the demo he has Fireball and a heal. After defeating the boss you speak to a tree who grants you the materials to help a broken-hearted guard who apparently blocks you from entering a major town. After a quick run on the gorgeous overworld map and a few random encounters, you learn to use the Take Heart spell to borrow "Enthusiasm" from one guard, and grant it to the other using Give Heart. This will certainly be a major gameplay mechanic, and it will most likely be pretty fun, although I see potential for it to get overly fetch-questy.
Battle with Moltaan on top of the volcano
In the second scenario you are given 3 minutes to get to the top of a volcano. This involves some sliding past erupting steam holes at the right time, a lot of running, and several random encounters. At this point you not only have Ollie, but another human named Maru. Both she and Oliver now have 3 different Familiars to summon, bringing out another gameplay element. Each Familiar has a limited amount of Stamina. Everything you do gradually degrades this, and when it runs out the Familiar slows to a crawl and is generally worthless for a while. This can be avoided if when the Stamina indicator is blinking, you swap out another Familiar. You can freely swap between Oliver and Maru, and between all of their familiars. Eventually you make it to another boss battle, and this one is much longer. This is where movement becomes a huge factor, as the fire-breathing volcano beast leaves patches of flames on the ground which you must avoid. Certain Familiars that are weak against fire are no good in this encounter, so I found myself relying more heavily on Oliver and his newly learned Frostbite spell. I didn't play much as Maru, but I did note that she has a harp and one of her menu options is "Songs", and that she can play a healing song and a buff song. I did not try either so I am unsure of those exact mechanics, but I assume they work similarly to spells.
While a bit more tutorial really would have been nice, once I got into it the combat is fluid and fun, something I didn't necessarily expect from a turn based game. While I understand that adjusting the turn-based formula has been done at least by games like FF XIII, Xenoblade Chronicles, and The Last Story, it was new and fun for me, having played none of these. As expected, everything looks absolutely breathtaking. Many of the cutscenes look like they could literally be a Studio Ghibli movie, and the art style translates well to 3D for the gameplay aspect. Also worth pointing out is the fantastic voice acting. Most characters have accents from the British Isles, and while I cannot necessarily place each one (especially Drippy), they are pleasant and fun to listen to. Even the brief dialogue between two guards was really enjoyable listening to the accents.
If you have a PS3, I recommend at the very least giving the demo a go. It doesn't cost anything, and it's a good time. The full game launches January 22, 2013 in America, and as I understand it the more people who preorder the better the bonuses become. If you are interested in the game, put down the $5! Expect a review some time after the game comes out (it's a JRPG so it's probly a trillion hours. Don't expect it fast). Til then, sound off in the comments about what you liked/disliked about the demo, expectations, speculation, whatever! By the way guys, yesterday was JD of Slightly Redder Red's birthday! While he hasn't posted in a while, I'm sure he would love some birthday wishes on either this post or one of his previous ones.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Shatterblog!: Triumphant Return, plus Minimum Carnage Review!

Hey folks, I'm back! After about two months of no written content from me, I am back in the game. Sorry for the long hiatus, I have been having a lot of trouble writing anything recently for some reason. However, I can't disappoint you fine people, plus it annoys me how many views the other blogs are getting in my absence. For my first post back, I am going to review Marvel's October/November cross-over even Minimum Carnage. 

This event takes place over two One-Shot issues, the first being Minimum Carnage: Alpha and the last being Minimum Carnage: Omega. Between those, in order, are Scarlet Spider #10, Venom #26, Scarlet Spider #11, and Venom #27. This event, clearly playing on the famous Maximum Carnage storyline, tells the story of Carnage escaping from prison and entering "the Microverse", an entire, life-filled universe occupying the space between the atoms of our world. It's a pretty out there concept, but if you get on board with it you're in for a pretty fun read. Anyone who has been reading Scarlet Spider and Venom's current runs (let me be clear, I have not) will know that they are not quite typical heroes. Venom is struggling with control of his symbiote, trying to do good and help the Avengers. Scarlet Spider is a murderer turned hero, trying to help people and deal with his violent tendencies. I wouldn't go so far as to call them anti-heroes, but both had runs as villains of the real Spider-Man, so things are pretty intense.
Here is an example of over-drawn Carnage
The art style varies from book to book, with the regular artists working on Venom and Scarlet Spider, and another artist working on the Minimum Carnage One-Shots. Despite being inconsistent across the books, the art remains good looking throughout. I personally don't prefer the more simplistic are in Scarlet Spider, but I would not call it bad, just slightly less great than the others. On the other hand, there are panels where I feel Carnage himself is over-drawn in Venom and he looks a bit absurd. The Minimum Carnage books are somewhere in between, leaning a little more toward Scarlet Spider. Overall I definitely prefer the work on Venom, but all three are good-looking comics.
Excellent selection of art styles. Left to right: Minimum Carnage: Alpha, Scarlet Spider #10, Venom #26.
The writing is excellent, with all the major characters being fully realized. Having had no previous knowledge of the current Venom or Scarlet Spider books, I quickly caught up with how both characters think and act. I think the collaboration between writers of the regular series on the crossover issues played a big part in that. Some minor characters, especially a reporter who appears throughout, could have been a little better developed. Her motivations for getting involved especially didn't get explained as much as I would've liked. However there aren't any major story holes, and I was easily able to understand what was going on even without having read any of the preceding books. The story was entertaining for sure, with a lot of really solid action scenes. As with any story involving Carnage, I would advise children and anyone bothered by senseless blood and violence to stay away. However, for anyone who enjoys Venom, Scarlet Spider, or who loved the Maximum Carnage story this is a great read. While Maximum Carnage remains one of my favorite comic stories and cannot be toppled by a 6-part crossover, it is an excellent story. I will not go into specifics about the ending at all, but I would love to see a the consequences of this series. Overall, 8.5/10.