Thursday, January 31, 2013

Shatterblog!: Quick Update, and Things to Come

Hey everyone, just wnated to check in and give you some information about what's going on. First, I'd like to apologize that my DmC videos have not started rolling out. I completed the game then recorded video of the first level on Son of Sparda difficulty. However it was embarrassing  I need to hone my skills on Nephilim first, so that will be the video series you get. However, my laptop that I need to capture video on is currently at my mom's home, whereas my Xbox and capture box are here at my dad's. That will be remedied in the near future, so please hold out just a little longer while I get that sorted.

Next, I want to start doing Let's Play videos for one of the many amazing indie games I keep meaning to play. If you could drop comments on things you'd like to see, I'll keep them in mind. Anything you ask for, if I either have it or am on the fence about wanting it, will almost definitely happen. Don't be shy.

Furthermore, we are planning to have Gabby play something horrific soon. It would be pretty sweet of you folks to give us your scariest recommendations so we can all watch Gabby lose her shit and laugh at her. You guys have been historically unwilling to comment, but I'm hoping with the average of 100 views a day that one or two of you will give us real suggestions. If you suggest something good, there's always a chance you'll get one of the prizes we keep wanting to give away but then nobody participates in our contests so we get discouraged and stop trying. There are free games to be had here guys, take advantage of that!

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Steamworks: Backbone Review

Hey Gang,

So over the weekend, the blog (minus J.D.) was fortunate enough to attended a Winter Jame Festival in Philadelphia, PA (it was REALLY cold!). The Festival featured five different groups/bands: June Divided, Twenty One Pilots, Walk the Moon,  Matt and Kim, and Tegan and Sara. I'd only ever heard Matt and Kim along with a few songs by Walk the Moon, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to pick up some new bands and some new albums. The first to play was June Divided, and I just need to say I really liked their performance; in my opinion, they had the best music at the show. They had a tent set up where you could do  a meet & greet with them and pick up some of their tunes, but the place was so packed that I couldn't make it past the crowd to get over there and check them out. So the night after I purchased their album Backbone. So now that I've listened to the album a few times over, I decided I needed to write a review for these guys. Everyone should know this band exists, even if it's not their type of music; the population should know that they have the option to listen to this band of extremely high quality.

Now, a note about the band before I begin; here's a picture of the band:


Is it just me, or do all of these guys look like celebrities  Lenny (far left) looks like Russel Brand, Chris (at least at the concert) resembled Matt Smith, Melissa looks so much like Billie Piper, and (again more-so at the actual concert) Keith resembled David Tenant. Anyway at least that's just my opinion. What I'm getting at is they have the rock look and I love it! Anyway let's look to the review:

I really don't know where to begin. That's how good this album is. From song one (Waves), it brings you on a wild, emotional flow of songs.The flow of the album alone is simply phenomenal; no song feels out of place or placed at the wrong time. I simply can't get over the lyrics, and I've already quoted them in a few conversations. I like every song in this album (which I'd like to point out, is very rare), however to name a few of my absolute favorites, I really loved Yellow House, Backbone, Skin and Bones, and Waves. From a technical perspective, the sound quality was fantastic. Another thing that I think is interesting about most, if not all of June Divided's songs, is that they all have the same type of flow, which, as I pointed out above, isn't a bad thing. Many of their songs have a balance of fast paced and slow paced music; this definitely kept me interested in wanting to hear more. Each band member definitely has talent, and they all play their parts extremely well. The singing is just outstanding, the drums are fantastic, and the guitarists sound awesome as well.

The only one way I think June Divided could improve is more of a criticism on their live concert versus on their future albums. When I saw them play live, I actually loved their live performance more than their recorded version, which in my opinion is a good thing. However, I felt that they their stage presence could improve, although given the circumstances, it wasn't bad. Considering all the factors that they had to perform with, it wasn't a bad presence at all. However when bands like Twenty One Pilots and Walk the Moon came on, I felt that they had slightly more presence than June Divided did.

Final Verdict: Speaking strictly about the album, this piece is almost flawless. At some points the music got a tiny bit too slow for my personal taste, but the lyrics and instrumental is still phenomenal. One of the best pros of this album is that every song is a "good song", meaning they don't have many (if any) songs on the album that you'll want to skip over. I'm looking forward to seeing more from June Divided!

9.5/10

Peter, The Steamworks

P.S: I'd just like to take a minute and point out that you can buy the album on iTunes for $10, AND you can listen to full demos of all of their songs on their website. This was very useful in getting a taste for their music, and let me assure you, this is definitely an album worth owning.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Shatterblog!: DmC Review

As promised, I will finally be reviewing Ninja Theory's reboot of the Devil May Cry franchise. This met with mixed reactions, which I will not get into here to avoid raging. I will simply present my opinions of DmC: Devil May Cry as I do with all games reviewed here on PBD.

So punchable...
As any fans of the franchise know, the game centers around Dante, a half-demon son of Sparda, and his battles with demonkind. This one in particular is fairly early in Dante's life, beginning before he truly knows about himself. While it is a full reboot and not meant to tie in with the previous Devil May Cry games, it would be the earliest in the timeline. Dante is young and cocky and foolhardy, and in my opinion that's a lot of fun. He's an asshole, fairly unlikeable, and as Gabby will attest he has an EXTREMELY punchable face. However, you can't help but like him as snide remarks and foul language compose most of the dialogue. It can come off as childish, but it shows a lot about Dante's personality as the game goes on. The most obvious change between the story of DmC and the original franchise, and one that has a direct impact on gameplay (as you will see) is Dante is now half-Angel half-Demon, a Nephilim, rather than the human-Demon hybrid he has traditionally been. The character design was changed in a major way, but my personal opinion is that the new one is much cooler (although I generally find white hair to be pretty badass on a murder machine).

The gameplay is a lot of fun, with Dante having three "modes" of combat with some variations on that. Dante's standard mode uses his signature sword Rebellion primarily for attacks. On the Xbox gamepad, (Y) gives you standard attacks, (B) gives you aerial launches, and (X) fires your gun or guns, starting out with the signature pistols Ebony and Ivory. Naturally there are many combos in this mode employing short pauses between button presses, button holding, and movement on the analog stick to create an arsenal of fluid moves. By holding the Xbox's left trigger, you enter "Angelic mode" inherited from Dante's mother Eva. This mode starts out with the scythe Osiris. Angelic attacks are characterized by a larger area of effect but less damage, ideal for a lot of weak enemies rather than one strong enemy. Furthermore, by pressing (X) you use Angel Pull, pulling yourself to the targeted enemy. Once again there are several combos that can be unlocked (this will be discussed later) to allow more more fluidity. Holding the left trigger calls on Dante's father Sparda's powers for "Demon mode". This starts out with the large axe Arbiter. This mode focuses on slow attacks with high damage for breaking shields and hurting stronger enemies. It gives access to Demon Pull on the (X) button, which pulls the enemy to you. The simple holding of a trigger changes your whole ability set, and the three are very easy to swap between mid combat. You can create hundreds of unique combos just with the starting weapons, and you unlock more weapons as the game progresses. There is also Devil Trigger, which launches enemies into the air and increases damage and stuff. I never really got into using it. The fights ended too fast that way. With all the weapons, combat is a blast. It turns into a fun and smooth experience, and I regularly found myself wishing for fights to last longer as I drew ever closer to the SSS combo rank.

Which brings me to the next point. Being a spectacle fighter, style is everything. Using the same attacks repeatedly fills your style rank more and more slowly, so it is encouraged to mix up attacks and weapons. The combo progresses from "D" for "Dirty" all the way up to "SSS" for "Spectacular!". The more stylish your combos, the more points you get, which are tallied up at the end of each level for an overall rank and an allottment of upgrade points. You unlock damage boosts and new attacks for all the weapons in the game using these upgrade points. Unlike other spectacle fighters, each attack as you use it tells you the point value, letting you see what causes your ranking to rise. Getting hit knocks several full letter ranks off your current combo, so dodging is very important. It keeps the combat from feeling mashy, forcing you to switch up your attacks and dodge regularly. Enemy behavior is varied but predictable without being too easy. Enemies telegraph attacks somewhat, and if an enemy is off camera its aggressiveness is lowered to keep your "SS Sadistic" combos from getting ruined by a little cherub with a gun who's way off screen. I played primarily on the standard difficulty, Demon Hunter. Initially you can play Human, Demon Hunter, or Nephilim. You then unlock progressively harder modes, Dante Must Die, Heaven or Hell, and finally Hell or Hell. While the game is short and clocks in around 10 hours, the replayability for both score, challenge completion, and increasing difficulty means if you enjoy the game you can play it for dozens of hours. There were times that I felt certain attacks were too obvious and others a little too difficult to see coming, but it never really ruins the experience. It's also a bit more accessible, at least in my experience. It may just be my maturation as a gamer, but playing Bayonetta my combos were clunky and my rankings in each level low. With DmC I never got below an A rank on a level, and my combos tended to reach at least an A or S. I'm sure with a bit more practice I could start scoring SSS all over the place.

Don't like the nightclub level design? You're wrong/
One of the game's biggest strengths is the level design. Most of the action takes place in Limbo, and Limbo is beautiful. The regular world becomes warped and evil, with demonic words popping up on walls and a sinister voice belting out "Kill Dante" or "Dante must die!" on occasion. The nightclub level is particularly praised for gorgeous design, and I certainly can't fault that. Every environment is fun and gorgeous in its own mostly sort of horrifying way. Enemy designs are equally fun, although there is a little too much rehashing of the same enemy types for my taste. I would prefer to see more unique enemies than just have a million flavors of Stygian, but the groups are varied enough that encounters are in no way repetitive.

The story is fun and engaging, with little Easter eggs for long time fans as well as a great story for someone who tried to muddle his way through the original Devil May Cry in preperation for this one. Cutscenes are well rendered, and I regularly found myself impressed by the varying expressions on Dante's stupid punchable face. He emoted very impressively and appropriately in most scenes, and the voice acting captured the spirit of the dialogue, even if some of the dialogue was a bit uninspired (Dante and the Succubus shouting FUCK YOU at each other was pretty funny, but impressive writing that is not). I found myself actually caring for all the characters, something I very much didn't expect. In fact, spoiler free, the ending shocked me and actually gave me a big bag of feels to deal with. I expect that from things like Mass Effect or any show/movie/comic Whedon puts his wonderful heartbreaking hands in, but DmC I expected some brief justification for the following murder party, not sadness and excitement for the sequel (Which definitely needs to happen).

In case you missed my seperate review, the soundtrack to DmC may be my favorite non-Halo video game soundtrack (it seems Ni No Kuni will make an attempt to take that away).

The bonus missions are kind of a pain to get to but are fun nonetheless. There are various colors of keys and doors hidden throughout the game. Opening the door leads to some kind of challenge which nets you a health or Devil Trigger upgrade shard. There are also Lost Souls hidden in levels to kill for a bonus to your completion score.

Minor complaints involve a later level feeling artificially lengthened by periods of standing, waiting to be able to jump without being on fire. There is also a mildly annoying puzzle toward the end. The last mission is truly amazing though so you end the game on a good note. I loved Ninja Theory's other games and I am a huge fan of this one. I sincerely hope the sequel happens, and brings even more fun, flair, and "fuck you"'s to this fantastic franchise reboot. 9.25/10. Expect videos showing gameplay to go up in the future, I plan to begin my Son of Sparda playthrough fairly soon.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Slightly Redder Red: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I decided to theme this post on cowboy movies, because...


The Good: Westerado

Fucking WOW. [adult swim] never ceases to amaze with the quality of the free games they put out to the masses via the internet, and with Robot Unicorn Attack hitting the mainstream and the really shitty state of the industry where mobile/flash games are all rehashes of themselves, I didn't expect them to publish something as good as Westerado. You play as a cowboy whose family is murdered by a ruthless bandit, and you and your six shooter are out to get revenge. Literally anyone in the game can be the killer, across the large map, and there are dozens of quests you can do to unravel the mystery of who killed your family. Think Carmen Sandiego but with cowboys and a permadeath system. That's right, you get one life to make things right in the old west, better be quick or be dead. 


The Bad: THQ Asset Liquidation

So THQ, one of the last good publishers left, has filed for bankruptcy and has sold their properties to multiple other publishers. I'm sad. THQ published Darksiders, Metro, and the new South Park game I was interested in, and I'm sad to see them go, and even sadder to see where some of them are headed to; South Park is headed to Ubisoft, and Metro is headed to Koch. Ubisoft makes really good products, I won't lie, but their flat out annoying (but not intrusive a la Origin) DRM uPlay, which even appears on console versions of their games, just doesn't sit right. Metro, which is one of my favorite shooters of all time, and who's second installment is hitting stores this year, is in awful hands. Koch is the publisher of the acclaimed Dead Island games, which I enjoy, but at the same time are buggy messes which are dirtier than New Vegas on release day. They also publish several licensed games for TV series like Prison Break, which just lowers my confidence further, I have less respect for cash grab license games then I do for people that partake in Gangnam Style flash-mobs. Oh, and Crytek bought Homefront but who honestly gave a hoot about Red Dawn: The Game. The Darksiders property was mysteriously missing from the list, so I truly wonder where the series is headed. I wish good fortune upon those who lost their jobs due to the liquidation, and wish them a bright future.

The Ugly: Nostalgia Critic's Return to Reviewing

Internet reviewers, I have a love hate relationship with them. James Rolfe is off in the desert spending his fans' money on blow and Rolling Rock, Spoony is spiraling into depression because some white knights kicked him off of Thatguywiththeglasses for making a (funny, yet awkward) rape joke, and Thebestgamers went on hiatus again. So Doug Walker, the Nostalgia Critic, after realizing his cameo in the sonic fanfilm wasn't going to get him any street cred (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtCtQpclpY8), has decided to make more videos as of yesterday. I just can't see any good coming out of this. It's a dark time for internet reviewers while juvenile Let's Players like Tobuscus and PleaseDiePie dominate the market (even Smosh is doing video games now), so I hope he's doing it for the love of the craft. I can't expect anything good as of now, and I figure he'll either 
A) Pander to the lowest common denominator and make poop jokes, or 
B) Have a shaky, yet okay return to reviewing. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Shatterblog!: DmC Soundtrack Review

Hey all, I'm about halfway through DmC Devil May Cry, and I figured since my review won't be up for a few more days, and the Let's Plays won't be up for a while after that, I should toss up a review purely for the soundtrack.

The whole purchasable soundtrack is done by NOISIA, and they were a fantastic choice. I am traditionally not into dubstep/techno, but where that shows up in this largely metal soundtrack it fits in superbly. Each track is enjoyable on its own of course, but listening to the CD or SoundCloud files can naturally never compare to hearing the music in the intended context. At any given moment while playing the music feels right for the scene, and is genuinely enjoyable to listen to. The sounds of combat don't even take away from the music, instead adding unorthodox but frequently awesome punctuation to the killer sounds. The music is worth listening to regardless of whether or not you play the game, though it may not be your speed if you don't like a mix of metal, techno, and dubstep.

I should also note that half of the game's soundtrack is done by Combichrist. Their DmC Soundtrack, No Redemption, does not go on sale for until January 28th, but having listened to samples and of course the actual in game music, it is definitely as good as, if not better than NOISIA's half. Maybe it's just that I like the heavy metal/screamo a bit more, especially in intense fights when it really gets the blood pumping. Both halves of the soundtrack are highly recommended, and if you like them you should of course consider checking out other albums from the bands. As standalone music I give them 8/10, but as an in game experience I have to give 9.5/10. DmC Devil May Cry has easily one of my favorite soundtracks in all of gaming.
As always sound off in the comments, and expect a full review of Ninja Theory's reboot DmC Devil May Cry as soon as I complete it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Resident Troll: Gabby's Best of 2012

Hey guys! As you might've noticed already, the PBD crew is each doing a Best of 2012. I clearly haven't posted in a while (sorry) but hopefully that'll change after the next two weeks. For me, 2012 has been a decent year, certainly better than most. I discovered my love for NYC when I took classes there in July, discovered my current obsession with capes and comics, and spent a lot of time on Tumblr. Anyway, here's my best of 2012.

Best Movie: The Hunger Games
I'm going to admit it right away: I'm biased. I love the series. Part of me wishes I read the books as they came out, rather than in an all-consuming line that left no anticipation for the next release. This sounds like a good thing, yeah, but part of me wishes I could've immersed myself in the fandom more. Either way, the film adaptation of The Hunger Games was ridiculously good. Jennifer Lawrence was great as Katniss, and while I didn't agree with a majority of the rest of the casting, each actor played their part well enough. The one thing that stood out to me, though, was that the film adaptation is ultimately a companion to the book. If you haven't read the books (do it now) you're not going to get a lot of what's going on. Along with that small issue, and the fact that it wasn't quite as true to the book as I wanted it to be, it was a great film. Honorable mentions include The Avengers and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Best Live-Action Television Show: Game of Thrones
Chazz included this in his Best Of, but can you blame us? Game of Thrones is one of the best shows out there. With it's great blends of fantasy and reality, staggering twists and turns, and constant paranoia concerning who will die next, you can't help but look forward to each weeks new episode. Waiting for season three to come back is awful, and sad, and I just want all of the Game of Thrones right this moment, but I'll be content to wait. My favorite part of the series is it's characters, because they are alive. They're with you here and now, and then so easily torn away. It's kind of like asking for the pain of losing your favorite characters, but you have to keep watching. Honorable mentions include The Walking Dead, and I have to admit that Revenge is my guilty pleasure.

Best Animated Television Show: Young Justice
Speaking of anxiety inducing hiatuses, Young Justice is a thing. If you're not watching this, yet are a fan of DC and animated shows, I have some questions for you. Young Justice was what got me through my animated withdrawal after the end of Korra season one. (We won't talk about the finale, shh.) Young Justice is just good. Sure, if you're like me, generally new to the DCU and continuity, it probably won't strike any issues with you. If you're more familiar, though, you're going to have to suspend some reality to properly get into the show. Once the first few episodes are over, it gets really good. So far, season two has been as good as it can be. Hiatuses aside, you need to be watching this. There's also the comic out to get your thought hiatuses. Honorable mentions have to go out to  The Legend of Korra. It wasn't the best, but it was good.

Best Ongoing Comic: Ultimate Comics: X-Men
If you know one thing about me, it's that I love Kitty Pryde. I also love Ultimate Nick Fury. The Ultimate universe isn't for everyone, and for the X-Men, it's certainly darker than most places in comics. As a mutant... yeah, you're fucked. Kitty Pryde raises a resistance and is eventually given a place to raise the future of mutantkind. The plot is good, the art is good, everything is great. In my anticipation for issue #21 to come out, I've had to have read #20 at least five times, and flipped through it at least a dozen more. I'm not one for re-reads, but it's just so good. If you get anything from this list, it's that you should be reading this. Sure, it's not Batman or All New X-Men, but it has a special spot in my heart.

Best Limited Comic: The Ray
There's really not much to say about The Ray. I'm not even sure if a lot of people know about it. I'm personally not one for reading limited series, because I like the idea of more potential, but I thought to give The Ray a try. It's just so fun and campy, something that's great if you're bored and need to kill some time. It also gets bonus points for an attempt at racial diversity, and dirty hippie parents. If you want something more relevant to continuity, try AvX. It's not great, but it's important if you want to know what's going on with Marvel.

Best Comic Story Arc: Death of the Family
So really, DotF isn't complete yet, and I could end up hating it. However, Scott Snyder is one of the best writers out there, and I trust him quite a bit. Along with many other Batman fans, I've been anticipating DotF for months, and now that it's slowly streaming through, I've yet to be disappointed  Perhaps a bit suspicious, but not disappointed  Some of the tie-ins are good (Batgirl, Batman and Robin) and some are meh (RHatO), but it's Batman. And Scott Snyder. I have faith.

Best Video Game: Halo 4
Preface: I'm not a good gamer.
Other preface: I don't game as much as I should.
After much insisting and bothering, the boys convinced me to pick up Halo 4. I'm weird and cheap, so I thought maybe it wasn't worth it to buy the game only a little while after it came out. Guys. It totally fucking was. I love multiplayer on Halo 4. It's so great, and I die way too often, but I come back because it's just so much fun. The campaign is gorgeous, littered with cut scenes that appear filmed, which is just a testament to the amazing graphics.

Best Book: The Fault in Our Stars
I did a review on TFiOS back in June, and basically told everyone to go read it. I'm going to still tell you  to go read it, because John Green is right next to Joss Whedon on my list of People Who Make My Heart Sing And Shatter Simultaneously. The Fault in Our Stars is definitely something you should pick up if you're okay with ruining the last fifty pages of your copy. It's gonna make you tearbend.

So that's it! Let me know what you guys think in the comments below. What are your best items of 2012?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Slightly Redder Red: 2012

Since I objectively have the best opinions on PBD I decided to weigh in ten days late. In the format of Peter:

Best Video Game (w/ honorable mentions)
I gotta say Far Cry 3 for this one. The environments were beautiful, the gunplay was satisfying and deadly (if you went for full immersion mode and turned off hit detector, crosshair, and grenade indicator), and the enemy encounters were amazingly fun. I know I might get flak for not saying Walking Dead (an honorable mention), but gameplay and environment trump story for me in what makes a video game great. Other honorable mentions include Darksiders 2, Gravity Rush, and Max Payne 3.


Best Movie (w/ honorable mentions)
It was a great year for film, but the one movie to stand out among everything else was DJANGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Unchained. I love anything Tarantino does, and this movie has definitely risen up to be my favorite work of his. Everything about it was perfect, from the acting to the bloody Private Ryan-tier level of violence. Especially the soundtrack, I want that stuff in my music library. Honorable mentions include Avengers, Dark Knight Rises, Cabin in the Woods, and Cloud Atlas


Best Book/Comic
Punisher: MAX finished up earlier this year, and I couldn't have asked for a more amazing conclusion, with the Kingpin/Bullseye/Elektra/Nick Fury crossover stealing the show as the best story arc I've seen in the comic. Punisher MAX has probably been my favorite comic of all time, so technically this could be my favorite comic conclusion of all time, unless Amazing Spider Man finally ends instead of killing off the man under the mask again. Not any honorable mentions because I haven't read a whole lot of new comics or books lately. Best book I read this year was Cuckoo's Nest if that counts for anything.

Best TV Show
 Chazz and I have the same opinion on this, Game of Thrones made off like a bandit with this award. With the battle at Kings Landing, the trouble behind the lines on both sides of the warring houses, and DRAGONS, the show has gotten better and better, and I only expect the best when season 3 comes out in a few months. Honorable mentions include nothing because this is literally the only TV show I follow nowadays.


One Shots
The following things were the best of a certain category, but didn't warrant more than a sentence to describe how great they were/were important enough to write a paragraph about.
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio (Calvin Candie, Django Unchained)
Best Actress: Maisie Williams (Arya Stark, Game of Thrones)
Best Voice Actor: Dave Fennoy (Lee Everett, The Walking Dead)
Best Voice Actress: Melissa Hutchinson (Clementine, The Walking Dead) Severe lack of noticeable voice talent in the female department this year. Runner up is Hynden Walch for consistently good work as Princess Bubblegum on Adventure Time.
Best Anime: Berserk: Golden Age Arc I: Egg of the High King
Best Album: Enigmatic Box of Sound: The Katawa-Shoujo OST, by various composers. Isn't it sad when the album of the year for me was the soundtrack to a free visual novel? I heard Nas had a pretty good album but I wasn't interested. 
Best Webcomic: Whomp!, by Ronnie Filyaw
Best DLC: Artorias of the Abyss Content (Dark Souls)
Best Youtuber: OnlyAfro

That's it. Here's hoping 2013 will harbor better times. My predictions? Game of Thrones wins best television, Dragon Age: Inquisition restores my faith in Bioware, and I give music an entire paragraph when Portugal the Man releases their new album.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Steamworks: Life Update 01/07/2013

Hey Gang,

So as one might expect, I recently received a lot of video games for Christmas and I've really been wanting to talk about them. If I had gotten a lot of these games a year earlier and had done a Best of 2011 post, pretty much all of these games would have been featured in my list. Anyway, here are a few games I've been playing recently:

Assassin's Creed 3: So with a bunch of the Christmas money I was given during the holidays, I purchased the Assassin's Creed PlayStation 3 Bundle (included PlayStation 3 ultra slim edition, Assassin's Creed 3, and a one month membership to PlayStation Plus). I've been pretty excited to get into the world of AC3 because of all the high acclaimed maps, story arcs, and characters coming into play (I'd actually preordered the game but decided to cancel it due to budget restraints and just because I knew I wouldn't really play it for a while). I can honestly say the first 5-8 hours of AC3 are complete rubbish, which is a big chunk of gaming time (not for the series of course, but generally talking about time itself). For about 8-10% of the game, you play as a British sir called Haytham who is just generally the worst, especially in the Frontier. While I generally enjoy playing Connor and his better ability to traverse obstacles over Haytham  I'm still waiting to be "fully trained" and get into my assassin's garb. Even though there are some huge improvements over the past AC games, I think there is a lot of improvement to be made still (at least to the point I have played until). From what I'm told, the story is supposed to pick up and get more interesting, but right now I find it generally boring, which is interesting because I thought I might find the story to be more intriguing to me because it's more relevant to the present. Final First Impression: The graphics are astounding, but the story is moving pretty slowly and the first 8 hours of the game were mind-numbingly boring.


- Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Uncharted 3: Drake Deception: I had played the first installment of the series on Chazz's PS3 and immediately loved it. If you own a PlayStation but not this game series, you're doing it wrong. In fact, I got my hands on a collectors edition of U3 6 months prior to owning an actual PS3 (I probably would have bought U1 upon my purchase of the PS3 just to have it, but sadly I did not have enough of the cash). One of the big things I love about this game series is that each installment improves upon the last one (which is what games are supposed to do but this doesn't always happen). As you move through each game, the gameplay gets not only more complex, but also more user-friendly. The other feature of this series that brings me the feels are the characters and the stories. Nate Drake is unrealistically relatable (irony AND a paradox!) which makes the experience a lot more immersible. This game series is my essence, and if I had to recommend any set of games to anyone, it'd be the Uncharted series. I was going to review this game, but I figured I was a little too late. If you guys want me to review Uncharted 3: Drake Deception, let me know in the comments below.


- Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition: So for those of you who have been following my content for at least a year, you'd know that Dark Souls was on my list of games to get last Christmas. Well it wasn't until this holiday when it was 50% off on Steam that I was able to purchase it, and let me just say: What ... the ... crap. This game is just ... I can only play it when I feel shitty about myself. It's just so disheartening and challenging that I use it to restore my faith in the world and humanity. However I must add that when you do complete a task that you set for yourself, you feel goddamn good about yourself. I still haven't decided if I like or dislike the fact that, while there is an overall goal set by the game, there really isn't a "straight-forward" path. This is due to the fact that "the game would be 'too easy' if it 'walked you through the entire game'", meaning finding your own way through is supposed to make the game more challenging. It's a great game, don't take my words the wrong way, and everything in the game is accomplish-able, it just can be very unenjoyable sometimes, which isn't what I would want to hear from one of my future buyers when I release a game.


- The Walking Dead: So I recently played all five episodes of the new The Walking Dead game by Telltale, and I think I might shock you guys with what I'm about to say: the game was meh. I will say the art of the game was simply astounding. The game was based off the comic book series (not the TV series), and the art for the game almost looks like it's directly from the comic (especially for the zombs).The voice acting was great, and the story was fantastic. Clementine, as everyone says, was an amazing and dynamic character and I loved her. But I think what ruined it for me were the graphics (ironically enough) and the simple lack of action. It was more of an interactive story than a video game, and I guessed that wasn't what I was expecting. I didn't think it was as great as everyone said it was, which is why it didn't take my GOTY 2012. Final Opinion: While there were some great features of this game, it wasn't THAT great and I wouldn't buy it full price.


So that's what I've been doing for the past month or so as far as gaming goes. Have any games you wanna talk about? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading and happy Monday!

Peter, The Steamworks

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Red Viking: First 2013 Wall paper update! (halo 4 spoiler)

I humbly welcome you to 2013 with new wallpapers! I have decided that I will only post wallpapers that I make. If anyone else finds a good wallpaper to put up they will so keep en eye out for that. Anyway lets get this started.

First off I will tell you some things about my life that will explain why I am getting all of these game wallpapers.

For the holidays I received many gifts and along with those is some money. With that money I bought a game capture card and am able to record and live-stream Xbox games. What I have done for a few of these is record some cut scenes and took pictures of them and I might touch them up a little. so without anymore delay I will get started with the wallpapers for this month!














We have a picture of a forerunner from halo 4 when he is first introduced.













Here we have another forerunner but this time chief is in the picture hiding behind a disintegrating wall.













I believe that 343 did a great job with the design of this character and I wish he showed up more often, but it was still amazing to watch when he did come up.















Here is a glimpse of what is under chief's helmet if you complete the campaign on legendary.














As you have seen by the video most of us if not all have seen the astonishing movie The Hobbit and I decided to download the iTunes CD which came with a little picture book. so I used that to make this background.














I also made this background of a watchmen cover to appear as if it were a picture on someones desk and use another picture from inside of a different watchmen comic for the second picture in the background.


That is all for this month. Make sure to follow us on twitch.tv for our live-streaming adventures!
http://www.justin.tv/projectbetterdolphin

I hope to see you on the live streams. Also feel free to ask us about our opinions or anything really.

Have a great day!
-The Red Viking

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Best of 2012: The Steamworks!

Hey Gang,

I hope everyone's having a great holiday season out there! Here at Project Better Dolphin, we've been heavily discussing "Best of"s in the year 2012; basically our favorite movies, games, TV shows, and entertainment of this nature. We all agreed to post our own "Best of Lists", and today I'll share mine with you. I feel like a lot of mine are really obvious (if you read my material), but I hope you find the list entertaining! GET READY FOR THE STEAM AWARDS!!!!!

Category: Best Movie: The Grey- Sure there were movies that made more money. Sure, there were movies with better plot lines and more dynamic characters. Sure, there were movies that got a better praise than The Grey. But for some reason, this movie stuck with me throughout the whole year, and that's saying something considering it came out in the first month. For starters the graphics and CG effects were outstanding. I was completely immersed in the environment the entire time I was watching it. I also just really love the idea of the story and the direction it takes. And Liam Neeson's performance is utterly fantastic. All in all, I really enjoyed this movie, and while I'm sure many would disagree with me, it takes the 2012 Movie Steam Award. Runners up would include Chronical and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.


Category: Best Video Game: Journey- Again maybe another surprise for my readers, Journey without a doubt wins my Best Video Game Steam Award of 2012. As a young individual aspiring to make an impact on the video game industry, no other game sent me a message of hope and inspiration as this game instilled into me. Sure there were games like Halo 4, Dishonored, and The Walking Dead (all of which I dearly love), but nothing struck home more than Journey. This game showed us how much power a game could have using digital art instead of dynamic gameplay and action. It told an interactive story using artistic methods of which the gaming world has never seen before (along with Flower). Another cool feature of this game was, while the story was universal and linear, it wasn't exactly clear, and everyone seemed to get something different from it (very much like Dear Esther). The game was phenomenal  and what I got from the story is priceless. Journey takes this year's Steam Award by a long shot. Runners up would include Flower and The Walking Dead.


Category: Best Song: Gangnam Style- Ok, lets face it, it's obviously not the best song out there, but I just gotta give my vote to Gangnam Style. It's a silly, fun beat that anyone (even gamers) can jam out to. I remember walking throughout the Dealer Hall at New York Comic Con and hearing this music blast for Just Dance. I remember dancing around the dealer hall to Gangnam Style in my Doctor cosplay and making people laugh about it, and it was a really good time. The memory stuck with me and I grew some nostalgia for the song. Judge all you want, but in the end Gangnam Style wins my Steam Award for 2012. Runners up would include Die Young and One More Night.


Category: Best Television Show: The Walking Dead- None of you who read my material should be surprised by this at all. Everyone knows I love everything about The Walking Dead, whether I'm talking about the show, the game, or the comics. I get as much of this shit as I can get my hands on. I think what makes this franchise so powerful are its dynamic characters. The characters provide a great look into the ways of the human mind and how we all think. At the same time, it provides a bit of horror and a decent amount of action. And as many others have said, it's simply a zombie story that never ends. What gets better than that? Runners up would include Doctor Who and American Horror Story.


Category: Best Actor: Alex R. Russell- The main reason why Russell made it onto my list is due to his performance in Chronical. While all the actors in the movie did a fantastic job with the production, Russell really made his character stand out and made him a generally more dynamic character that was relatable and likable  He's expected to be seen in many further movies that are coming up over the next few years and I'm excited to see his upcoming work. Runners up would include Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus.


Category: Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence- Lawrence has definitely made her existence know to the media within the past two years. With movies like X-Men: First Class, The Hunger Games, and House at the End of the Street, Lawrence became extremely well known to pretty much everyone. Lawrence is known to be a very down to earth person (which definitely adds a bonus), and her acting in all of the films listed is almost completely flawless. I proudly present Jennifer with this 2012 Steam Award. Runners up would include Danai Gurira and Lauren Cohan.


Category: Best Voice Actor: Nolan North- Definitely one of my favorite voice actors of our time. Whether this amazing man is voicing Deadpool (Various Deadpool Materials), Nathan Drake (Uncharted), or AI Cores (Portal 2) (among many MANY other roles), he always brings his A game to the party. North is the Samuel L. Jackson of the voice acting universe. In 2012 we've seen him in Uncharted: Golden Abyss (Nathan Drake), Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (Brawl & additional voices), Guild Wars 2 (Male Human Playable Character), and many others. He's a very talented actor who I will most certainly beg to voice in my future games. Congrats on your Steam Award, Mr. North! Couldn't really think of any deserving runner ups for this category (ok, ,maybe Steve Downes)


Category: Best Voice Actress: Melissa Hutchinson- When I say in my mind there weren't many nominees for this category, don't get the wrong idea. There are plenty of talented female voice actresses out there. But there weren't many voices (in gaming, animation, or otherwise) that quite stuck with me like the voice of Clementine from The Walking Dead game series by Telltale. I had to give this award to her. In fact, my only other nominee was Cortana from Halo 4. Getting back to Hutchinson, the voice acting for Clementine was simply astounding. I very much enjoyed what she contributed to Clementine's character, and she definitively deserves this Steam Award. Runner up goes to Jen Taylor.


Well guys, that' all I got for this year's Best of List. I really enjoyed making this post and it was fun to get reflect back on 2012 and the awesomeness that came from it. Just because there were people who weren't in my awards ceremony does not mean, however, that they didn't deserve it too. Almost every category had at least five or six strong competitors. 2012 was a good year for media in general and we got to see some great productions. Here's to 2013 in hoping that it will bring even better surprises!

Peter, The Steamworks

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Shatterblog!: My Bests of 2012

Hey guys, I figured it'd be fun to hop on the bandwagon and go ahead with a Best of's list for all the greatest stuff ever. These are my personal opinions, which means you are free to disagree with them (but if you do you are wrong).

Best Comic Arc:
This is my first year being big into reading the weekly books. Sure, I've always loved reading trades of the classics like Maximum Carnage and The Killing Joke, but having a large pull-box at the local comic place is new to me in 2012. Having read a number of both Marvel and DC stories, I give my Best of 2012 Comic Book Story Arc Award to The Court of Owls from the New 52's Batman by Scott Snyder! It included lots of good twists and turns, a fantastic Batfamily crossover, stunning art, and a fun story. Runners up include Batwoman's Hydrology arc, the launch of Marvel NOW's Deadpool, and all of Red Hood and the Outlaws.

Best Television Show:
This was a big year for a lot of shows. I watch several every week, or when they go up on On Demand/Hulu shortly after. I've enjoyed Arrow, Parks and Rec, Doctor Who, The League, Family Guy, Bob's Burgers, and many others. However, for Season 2 I must give the Best of 2012 Television Show to Game of Thrones. Season 2 had some spectacular plot and character development, an amazing battle, and continued to display incredible acting and phenomenal special effects. Runners up include Parks and Recreation and Doctor Who.

Best Album:
There are plenty of bands I like and plenty of spectacular CD's out every year. I was fortunate enough to attend this year's Firefly Music Festival and become acquainted with a lot of new bands and albums. I also listened to a bit more radio. All in all it was a tough decision, and after thinking it over for a while I have to call it a tie. My two choices for Best of 2012 Album are Shrines by Purity Ring and Walk the Moon's self-titled album. Both are excellent, with good flow from song to song and nothing I felt like skipping over. Runners up include My Head is an Animal by Of Monsters and Men.

Best Book:
I don't know how many Best of lists will include a book, or how many of them will choose 50 Shades of NOPE but I have decided that it's worth doing a book award. Though we tend not to really cover books, I read constantly, so I feel it is appropriate I share my favorite. The winner of my Best of 2012 Book is The Thursday War by Karen Traviss. It is part of a trilogy of books connected to the Halo video game universe, the first being Glasslands and the third not yet announced. Thursday War specifically ties in with Halo 4's story and gives a lot of fun information to fans of the extended universe. Runners up include another Halo tie in, Primordium and the definitive edition re-release of A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. 






Best Movie:
There were a lot of fantastic movies this year, making this by far the most difficult to narrow down. There were not many movies I saw I really disliked. In comic movies especially we saw some truly incredible releases. Despite trying my hardest to pick a front runner, I must declare a three way tie in this category. My choices for Best of 2012 Movie are The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, and Django Unchained. All three had their own merits, but shared excellent story telling, fantastic acting, good camera work, and spectacular special effects. Runners up include Moonrise Kingdom, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hunger Games,The Man with the Iron Fists and The Secret World of Arietty. 






Best Video Game:
It is both a good and a bad thing that it took me little time to choose my favorite game of the year. On one hand, having a game so excellent it left no doubt in my mind as to its superiority is naturally a very good thing. On the other, there are a lot of really incredible games that run a close second, and I feel deserve more recognition than just runners up. However it will surprise nobody that my pick for Best of 2012 Video Game is Halo 4. It is my favorite franchise, a massive improvement over previous entries in the series, and a great start to the next trilogy. It has my favorite multiplayer of any game ever. Runners up include Dishonored, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, Assassins Creed 3, Torchlight II, Journey, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and Borderlands 2.
What are your picks for these categories? What categories do you think I left out? Sound off in the comments below and look out to see if any other blog members decide to post their takes on this year.