Friday, December 21, 2007

Grahgh! Finally a word from Hooligan Youth!

December buybacks have come to an end. That was exhausting. Those of you fine folks who are getting presents in the mail will be getting them when I have the chance to - no worries.

I will try to get a post up about the movies and games and assorted goodness during the break. I hope that all of you are well and have/are having a good holiday. Don't panic.

Much love and assorted warm fuzzy feelings.


Hooligan Youth a.k.a. Joshua

Monday, December 10, 2007

Finally the real thing!

Thats right kids the First official poster for the new Indiana Jones film.
I'm sorta worried about this movie, but after seeing that they went with the original style poster art I am sorta warmed in the cockles by it...but maybe that just the wool pants I have on.
But hey, its our old pal indy!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Mass Effect (2007)

I polished off Mass Effect on Sunday after forty something hours of gameplay. I'm pretty sure that I did everything in the game - I managed to get the Completionist achievement - but it didn't seem like there was that much to do. Maybe I'm just used to other RPGs that are pretty much time sinks *cough* Oblivion *cough*. I guess I was expecting something more...well more...

Mass Effect is an impressive game from character creation all the way to the cliffhanger ending. I enjoyed the hours of dialogue and depths of the Codex. I enjoyed driving the Mako across planetscapes and using it the run over Geth. There were a few moments where I worried about the characters and the events unfolding around them. Hard decisions were made and consequences were felt. The Universe was saved but was the cost worth it? The storyline is pretty straight forward if you're familiar with the Space Opera genre: bad guys are up to good, grim hero and companions are out to right wrongs and kick ass, experimental space ship with smart ass pilot - very ably voiced by Seth Green, pissed off alien allies, a seriously daunting foe, and a touch of romance.

I don't really have any problems with Mass Effect. I would recommend it to a friend or neighbour. A lot of the problems reviews had - slow elevators, load times, cumbersome inventory screens, driving the Mako, etc., etc. - didn't really bother me all that much. Personally I liked the elevators - they were an opportunity to have a stretch or go get a drink - plus there was dialogue between characters and on the Citadel there were news casts. So where is my vague sense of dissatisfaction coming from? The voice work of Jennifer Hale as the main character Commander Shepard was top notch, the story satisfying, the graphics great to look at, gameplay was perfectly reasonable, and yet I feel like I didn't get my fill. You ever been to a top notch restaurant and been blown away by the food but afterwards you realize that you're still hungry? That's the way I feel about Mass Effect.

Quite possibly the fact that I played Mass Effect very soon after I was playing KOTOR led to some disappointment. Where KOTOR allows for much more character control and influencing other characters and events Mass Effect just allows you to go in one direction or another. I also noticed that the other characters weren't terribly bothered by your actions. Where in KOTOR characters would make you guilty for being bad in Mass Effect they don't really care too much.

Sad to say the more I think about the game and what I liked and what I didn't like I and what I'm on the fence about the more I think, "Meh." If you're in the market for a RPG then I certainly recommend it - just don't expect the epic scope that some RPGs have - but if you're not an RPG fan I wouldn't bother.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Mist (2007) dir. Frank Darabont

The Mist has been one of my favorite Stephen King novellas for years though I can never remember if it's in Skeleton Crew or Night Shift...I think it's in Skeleton Crew. In any case I wasn't particularly thrilled about a movie adaptation until I found out that Frank "Shawshank" Darabont was directing. He has a good handle on the whole King vibe and in any case it's a horror movie and I have a bad habit of seeing whatever horror movie is in the theater unless it's Saw XXIII.

Long and short The Mist is a good solid monster movie that for me took a nose dive into melodrama in the last minute - literally the last minute of the movie. I would have enjoyed the movie more if there weren't a couple of jerk offs talking through the movie and some old guy whose snoring was primordial. Seriously this guy sounded like a sound effect from the movie.

If you're going to see The Mist then I do recommend seeing it in the theater. Personally I would like to see it at a Drive In but that's just me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Because I love you all so very much...

Hitman (2007) dir. Xavier Gens

I'm gonna get this out of the way right at the start here and say, "Hey reviewers who panned this movie - go fuck yourselves. Go watch another fucking Wes Anderson movie."

With that out of the way Hitman is not a great movie but what the hell are you expecting Chekov? It's not only an action movie but an action movie based on a video game. Hitman is better than The Transporter series, better than The Marine, and better than most of Van Damage's movies period.

This is the kind of movie you go see with your buddies - or kick ass girlfriend - and have a good time. You cheer when Agent 47 kicks the hell out of dudes, wolf whistle when the hot Russian chick wanders around half naked, laugh at a particularly gruesome kill and just enjoy yourselves on a Saturday afternoon.

What really sets Hitman apart is how high quality the movie is - a fact the reviews don't mention. Cinematographer Laurent Bares makes every shot look professionally slick and cool in a European way - not in the cheap made on HD way a lot of action movies have now. The music was perfectly reasonable for not being a Jesper Kyd score. It was mainly some kind of Euro electronic action-y score. Nothing really special but at least it wasn't some bullshit hip-hop score.

Hitman delivered for me. Hell if you don't believe me then see what Ebert had to say.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving, Signature Pork, Mass Effect, and an upcoming Hitman review.

Like my grandpa used to say, "There's another Thanksgiving shot in the ass." but in a good way. It used to piss me off when he would say that but now I'm beginning to appreciate the sentiment. There's lots of work and build up and what not and then it's over. "Is that all there is to Thanksgiving?"

Actually Thanksgiving was a good time. Thanks to Bart & Sarah for cooking and letting me use the grill - I made beef ribs. They were pretty good. Friday went off without a hitch - this year I realized that prep work makes cooking much easier. I might put up a post on the food site.

Better than feeding and fellowship and hugging fun I got to spend some serious time playing Mass Effect.

How good is Mass Effect? Well...if you like sci-fi space opera RPG talkies with some action, a lot of sci-fi codex mumbo jumbo, and a game that will suck up all your free time to the point you don't want to eat - Ctrl+Alt+Del has a good comic about this - then you might want to pick up this game.

The appeal of Mass Effect really comes down to the story and the ability to shape and direct conversations with NPCs. If you've played KOTOR then you'll know what you're in for. I am pretty interested in my responses to situations and other characters. I've noticed that I don't respond well to aggression or authority or both and have a tendency to help aliens. I miss the bounty hunter and double crosses of KOTOR but in Mass Effect I have plenty of opportunities for graft and corruption. Oddly enough this means my character is pretty much in the middle neither good nor bad - Paragon and Renegade in Mass Effect.

I want to put together a big review of the game once I finish it which at this rate should be soon.

We also went to go see Hitman. I liked it, I liked it a lot actually. It was exactly what I was expecting. A lengthier review is pending.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Preemptive Thanksgiving Airstrike!

Going to have a good block of time off for the Thanksgiving so I won't be posting for a bit. Figured I'd throw together a post to tide you over.
I was weak and broke down and picked up Mass Effect. Just to let you know I don't have a sack full of money with which to buy games - I've been basically rotating credit. On the upside I don't think that there are any more games I want to pick up before the new GTA comes out.
Looks like I'm gonna be putting ribs on the grill this Thanksgiving. I know, I know, "It's not turkey?!?" but since turkey has become a non-holiday food I'm just not very impressed. I don't know if I'm gonna be doing pork or beef. Chances are I'll be doing beef since I plan on making my slow roasted pork on Friday for the Misfit Toys Thanksgiving.
If you feel so inclined gimme a call or drop me a line or send hate mail. Hope you guys have a good holiday. Don't kill your loved ones no matter how much they ask for it.
All of us at Hooligan Youth Reviews...except me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Assassin's Creed, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, and Fresca.

After a good chunk of game time with Assassin's Creed and an another block of time with Kane & Lynch: Dead Men this weekend. When all is said and done I should have picked up Kane & Lynch.

Assassin's Creed is a great looking game that is fun and exciting to play but there's not really anything to do after a couple of hours. The story is the only thing keeping me playing truth be told. The problem I have is that there's really not much substance to Assassin's Creed gameplay wise. You enter a new part of the city, scout out the View Points, rescue citizens, beat information out of a few folks, run a few timed missions, pickpocket, eavesdrop, head to the Bureau, get the assassination mission, go kill the target, escape the guards, get back to the Bureau. You do that for each hit - 9 hits total. The first couple of times it's fun but after awhile - to paraphrase - "I think to myself is that all there is to Assassin's Creed?" I'm gonna give it another shot at least to finish out the story but my heart's not really in it.

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men is quite possibly one of the meanest games I have ever played. Parts are profanity-inducing difficult but that's not what I mean by "mean". Kane & Lynch plays like one of my favorite violent crime movies. The characters are just straight up bastards, psychos, sociopaths, and degenerates with no redeeming qualities. Add in a pervasive sense of depressing, violent stoicism and you've got a happy Josh.

Some of the reviews I read knocked the game because of the controls but they work for me. The reason they work for me is because they are Io Interactive controls. The game plays very similarly to Freedom Fighters with a radial inventory, the same squad command icons and controls, and desperate run & gun combat. Personally I think the combat kind of kicks ass and if you can use your squad effectively then it makes survival much easier but not by much. Expect to die...a lot. The amount of firepower that sometimes is directed towards you is daunting at times. While trying to escape a Japanese high rise through the front door gave me pause. I sent my squad out first and hung back lobbing smoke and frag grenades and picking off any SWAT who stuck their heads out. I still got picked off and had to restart the scene several times. Another level is based in a nightclub and makes for some awesome gunbattle action what with strobes, smoke, pumping techno, gunfire, and hordes of fleeing patrons screaming in Japanese. This is the kind of game where you can clear a path in the crowd by mowing them down to get a clear shot on your opponent. I noticed too Lynch executes the wounded - cops, gangsters, and civilians alike - if he gets near them. It's actually kind of disturbing but another detail that makes the game so effective.

Of course I have to mention the Jesper Kyd score - yes, yes we all know I heart Jesper Kyd. It's a really bad ass score - even for him. While Hitman had a slick ambient assassin score and Freedom Fighters had an epic "Let's kick Commie ass." score Kane & Lynch has an "I am a bad man doing bad things." score. Don't know what I mean? Imagine that you and your crew are rappeling down the side of skyscraper after getting into a gunfight on the roof. You set explosives to blow out the glass and proceed to machine gun everyone in the room. Got it? Okay now what music is in your head? Probably something pretty similar to Kyd's score for Kane & Lynch.

Kane & Lynch is one hell of a game but in all honesty it's not a blockbuster, there's not a lot of gloss and glitz to the game. I give it a bit more slack because I view it as a training wheels game for Io on the 360. Sure they made a version of Hitman: Blood Money for the 360 but it was just a glossier version of the PS2 version - actually the 360 version looks so much better I was surprised at how rough the PS2 version looks in comparison. It's not a sophisticated example of tactical squad combat at its best. If you're into hardboiled crime/action movies where everyone is pretty much violent, cruel, bitter, and emotionally scarred then you'll enjoy Kane & Lynch.

Oh yeah and Fresca is pretty good even if people think it's an old person drink.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Something totally inappropriate that amuses me.

"I have seen shit that would turn you white."

I could dork out but you gotta see this:

"Time to get your crayons and your pencils!"

Got a run down of stuff this fine Friday:

  • Ctl+Alt+Del has a pretty funny comic about the state of affairs this game season. There are just too many games being released at once.
  • Assassin's Creed won the "I only have enough money for one game" battle versus Kane & Lynch. I am - so far - totally in love with the game. I could get all gushy and doe-eyed but you really need to play this for yourself. My current fantasy is renting a theater for a day and playing it on a massive screen - there are moments of this game that are so big that they practically demand a large screen tv. I am also going to load my scores for The Mummy, The 13th Warrior, and Lawrence of Arabia because I am a geek. And?
  • Have you noticed that this Thanksgiving is one of the more serious and violent as far as movie releases go? Don't get me wrong I love it but y'have to admit that it's a bit strange. Where's my Ice Cube family comedy? Shouldn't Robin Williams be wrapping my heart in his big furry monkey arms? Don't you want Robin Williams to warm your heart? Yes. Yes. You do.

There was more but I got hungry then ate a snadwich and forgot what I was going on about. Have a good weekend. Don't bother calling - I'll be playing Assassin's Creed.

30 Days of Night (2007)

I have to admit that I wasn't expecting much from 30 Days of Night. I read Steve Niles' first graphic novel with that title - I think there a slew of them out now. It was a solid vampire tale with a great story and amazing art work. Maybe saying that I wasn't expecting much from the screen adaptation is incorrect - I was expecting it to mirror the graphic novel. It did.

It's been a couple of years since I read 30 Days of Night and didn't remember much so the movie wasn't completely spoiled - well we saw it at the Alamo Drafthouse but more on that later. The acting was fine, there were a couple of tense scares, the vampires were pretty scary looking actually and not mince mince sissy vampires, there was minimal use of humor, there was some satisfying gore, and all in all it worked. It was kind of nice to see a vampire movie that didn't try to reinvent the genre or sex it up or make it all "cool" like Blade or Underworld.

Pretty much if you're going to see 30 Days of Night you've either already seen it or are waiting for it to come out on DVD. I enjoyed it but would have rather seen American Gangster.


The Alamo Drafthouse is not the place to see a horror movie if you actually want to watch and enjoy it. It may be all well and good to see The Monster Squad or whatever dreck Tarantino is passing off as art and have some drinks and dinner and have a good time but God forbid you actually want to watch a movie in peace and quiet. This is why I go to matinees.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hedgehogs make me happy.

If I could I would own a hedgehog. They seem like they have personality.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"At the sound of the whip, turn the page."

BC3 sent me some awesome news today: there's gonna be a LEGO Indiana Jones game. Based on the strength of the LEGO Stars Wars series. To think that the other day I was complaining about the lack of a good Indiana Jones game.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Macbeth (2006) and Knights of the Old Republic (2004)

I picked up Bioware's Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on Friday and didn't get much sleep over the weekend. I'm not sure why I waited so long to play it but it's really quite enjoyable so far. I might slap together a review once I get deeper into the game. If Bioware's next epic sci-fi RPG Mass Effect (11/20) is as good as KotOR then Bioware's gonna sell a million bajillion copies - including one to me.

In between non-stop Jedi RPGing we ate a home made chicken pot pie and watched a new "sexy and high octane" adaptation of Macbeth. It was pretty damn cool actually. Put together with a bunch of grizzled Australians it's a modern update of the "Scottish play" guns, drugs, techno, and naked chicks. We were actually surprised at how good it was though Amanda was disappointed that the porter was cut out - no need for comedy in this movie. Macbeth moves along very quickly and many of the Shakespearean references are very cleverly done. Burnham Wood has been turned into a Burnham Timber logging truck. Very well done, very enjoyable. If you have the chance rent it and it also available for download on the XBOX360.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Marky Mark = Max Payne?!?

Rockstar's Max Payne is an experience - talk about a mean, gritty, and just plain old twisted series. The fact that Marky Mark is taking on the titular role is just plain awesome. What? I love Marky Mark - I ain't shamed. Filming starts next year. Cross our fingers and hope for and R rating.

COD4: Modern Warfare review continued...sort of...

Gabe over at Penny Arcade had this to say and I completely agree with him:

  • "It's funny, in the end it turns out I'm not a big fan of COD 4. I tossed it in last night and played through the first handful of levels. It certainly looks great but I think Rainbow 6: Vegas has really spoiled me. The lack of a cover system in COD is really frustrating to me. It looks and feels like a tactical squad shooter. Only I don't have any ability to play tactically or control my squad. The enemies can blind fire from behind cover but apparently I can't? My teammates can shoot the hinges off a door and then kick it in but I can't so much as jiggle a doorknob? After R6 I never thought I'd have to toss a flash bang into a room by standing in the middle of the doorway again. Visually it's a real stunner but game play wise it feels dated to me."

He's right - all the problems I have with this game are because of the controls. In fact one of the most annoying aspects of gameplay is the fact that enemies will continue to spawn in checkpoint areas until you charge in and hopefully clear the building. This makes for some exciting and harrowing gun battles it doesn't make for tactically challenging combat. Plus the levels are short. Okay, the over all level isn't short but it's made up of short scenes that chop it up. Medal of Honor Airborne had some sprawling levels - the Factory level comes to mind - that COD4 could have really benefitted from.

What really is awesome about COD4 is that when it's on - it's on. Since this isn't a tactical shooter the combat is close and fast and furious. There are points in the game when the amount of supressive fire the enemy cranks out is pretty frickin daunting. The levels that break the mold - one of my favorite levels of the game is providing fire support from a C130 gunship.

COD4 truly shines in the realistic world it's created. This game has my new favorite opening credits - the cinema is from the POV of a newly deposed president beaten and thrown in the back of a car. As the vehicle crosses the city you can control the camera and watch the insanity. In all honesty I was kind of shaken - a strange sensation to get from a video game. The graphics are so high quality that it could have been the beginning of a movie. A minor complaint about the game is that I can't watch the cinematics without playing through the level. The story of COD4 is pretty straight forward: evil foreigner says fuck you to democracy and all that. Democracy says fuck you and kicks evil foreigner ass. It's the delivery of the story that makes it though. I look forward to seeing it through to the end.

I'll wrap it up this evening or this weekend and let you fine folks know my final thoughts. I did pick up Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic though and that might get some play tonight. We'll see.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

COD4: Modern Warfare, assorted news, and another Chinese poison toy plot?

A bunch of news, trailers, and assorted goodness today:

1) This looks particularly awesome:

2) I picked up Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare yesterday. It is very, very well done - any of the problems I have with the game are nitpicky issues. I'm going to put in some time playing online this weekend. Hopefully I won't get fragged to hell and back by a bunch of kids. Once I finish the campaign I'll write a proper review. To tide you over - here's some gameplay footage.

3) Once again the Chinese are gonna have to execute another executive - a policy I love and support - for putting a chemical that turns into GHB in kids toys. Tsk tsk tsk.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

More remake silliness!

Looks like Keanu and Jennifer Connelly are going to be in 20th Century Fox remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. I'm not opposed to the idea for once. It could be a pretty interesting version - especially in this technological day and age. The downside is that Fox will problably want to action it up which will be a shame.

Sly Stallone wants to remake Death Wish. Considering that Stallone's new Rambo movie is going to be a return to hardcore gore and action he could do a new Death Wish justice. The original wasn't the world's greatest movie to start with - certainly has its moments though.

"There was a fish in the perk-a-lator!"

Finally the fully remastered and complete Twin Peaks has been released in one set - including the pilot. Digitally remastered and full 5.1 sound! Hell yeah! It has a list price of $100 but on amazon it's $70. I do have the entire collection on VHS so it's not a priority but'd be a nice thing to have.

Prey (XBOX360)

While I am patiently waiting for Kane & Lynch: Dead Men to come out next week I decided to take a break from Manhunt 2 and check out some of the demos I have missed on the X360. I've had the demo for Prey sitting around for a couple of days now but just haven't played it. I played through it last night and I have to say that I might have to rent it or pick it up used. Sure it's another FPS blasting the shit out of stuff but for some reason I was actually having a good time playing it.

First off the protagonist - Tommy - is a disaffected Cherokee guy with a chip on his shoulder who just wants to get off the reservation. I don't really want to give away anything about the game because the story is pretty damn cool and there were several times I said, "Well, that was unexpected."

Check out the demo - it's pretty neat.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Yo Jo...oh I don't care anymore.

The casting has begun for the G.I. Joe movie. Here's an article from Hasbro.

I don't care that "they" are making about a movie about toys I played with as a kid I think I'm bothered more by the fact that it's so fucking dumb. A G.I. Joe movie? With real people in it? Sure I would have loved to see this movie when I was ten but c'mon...who greenlighted this?

Then is helmed by Stephen Sommers...and it would be kind of awesome if the Weather Dominator was in it...

Damn it. I still think this is a bad idea.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Manhunt 2 - Initial Impressions.

There's been plenty of talk about how horrifying and disturbing Manhunt 2 is. Penny Arcade's comic today made me laugh. Local news casters have been talking about how terrible the game is because it's a "murder simulator". I bought it because I'm a Rockstar fanboy and enjoyed Manhunt quite possibly more than I should have.

Manhunt 2 is okay. If you haven't played Manhunt then I recommend playing that instead. Maybe I am desensitized to over the top violence after decades of horror movies, video games, pornography, and local news but Manhunt 2 is seriously lacking in the creepy factor. Sure there are dismembered bodies and beatings and all sorts of unpleasantness but there's a cheap funhouse quality to the fear this time around. To be fair I am only a few hours in and there may be a couple of set pieces coming up that can take the Pepsi Challenge with Manhunt.

Here are the problems I currently have with the game:
  • I don't know if I'm sold on the story. You play Danny Lamb and start the game in a mental institution. There's a power outage and the inmates go beserk - of course. You and a buddy take advantage of the ensuing chaos and escape. The storyline so far is that a secret government project has been kidnapping people, pumping them full of secret government drugs, and brain washing them into being psychos. It's up to Danny to find out what's happened to him and get revenge. It's not particularly fresh but will be okay/bearable for the rest of the game.
  • The controls are weird and it's not because I haven't picked up a PS2 controller in awhile. Movement is controller with the left analog but the right analog doesn't really control the camera. Move the right analog left/right the camera leans - great for sneaking along walls and peeking around corners but little else. I often have to click R3 for first person camera control to look around the enivronment then click out and move. The L2 & R2 buttons are for strafing but I've found that I have to use a combination of left analog, strafing, and first person just to move around properly. Combat - fortunately - is pretty simple. L1 to lock, and R1 or square to strike. The rest of the controls are pretty solid though.
  • Manhunt 2 is an ugly game. Granted it's a stealth killer game that takes place in asylums, slums, and generally ugly depressing places but Manhunt 2 just looks shabby. It doesn't make me want to stop playing the game - there are times though I am pulled out of game just because it's s'darn ugly.

On the upside:

  • If you want a good creepy stealth slasher game for a reasonable price tag - $30.00 - then I whole heartedly recommend Manhunt 2.
  • If you were a fan of Manhunt and want more then pick this up.
  • The kills - while filtered - are still pretty horrific and satisfying in their own way. I'm a big fan of the ball point pen and can't wait to start collecting heads again - a favorite pasttime in Manhunt.
  • With the Manhunt series Rockstar has managed to create some really repulsive enemies. From bondage lunatics to overly abusive orderlies these are some foes you really enjoying snuffing.
  • Environmental kills - a new addition. I've only come across one so far - a toilet - and it was pretty cool. I hope there's a car crusher.
  • Danny Lamb looks like me in that, "Hey a white guy with close cropped hair and black framed glasses." kind of way. Now I have a Halloween costume for next year with minimal effort. Rock.

All in all I'll keep playing Manhunt 2 and see it through but it's seriously missing the Rockstar spark. Rockstar games have a certain panache that's been on the decline - a lot of the humor of GTA:SA was forced and in LCS & VCS was borderline painful. Most games also had additions to the Rockstar gameplay machine - i.e. the targeting system from Manhunt was used in GTA:SA - Manhunt 2 doesn't have anything special to it. Then again Manhunt 2 is probably going to be one of the last outings for Rockstar and the PS2.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Condemned (11/15/05)

Condemned is not a bad game buuuut it's not all that great either. It's not so much that I have a problem with the game - I have a problem with the genre it belongs to and the way that genre is used in games. Condemned is a supernatural serial killer game that has loads of atmosphere, some decent scares, and lots and lots of dark, narrow passageways.

Ever since Se7en serial killer movies & games have been dark, stylish, and grimy in that particular Se7en way. While this works - up to a point - it's also been done to death (along with blue rinsed run down hospital wards). Early in the game a character comments on the fact that serial killers are constantly lurking in the darkest, dankest places. Apparently all of these dark, dank places are linked together by dark, dank corridors filled with homeless people waiting to attack you. Oh yeah and there's some kind of cock-a-mamie plot pulled from a Dean Koontz-esque beach read thriller. Something about dead birds and crazy people.

The combat in the game hinges on melee attacks - you can pull boards off of walls, wield rebar, and swing axes, shovels, crowbars, and other assorted implements of destruction. So can your opponents - which makes for some pretty tense action. I personally don't handle melee attacks very well. I'd rather just sit back and destroy opposition with ranged attacks. This made Condemned a little more than frustrating for me - especially one point where I had to take a guy down who had a pistol. I had a shovel.

A major problem I had with the game was the fact I couldn't return to previous areas - I don't mean earlier levels - I mean earlier parts of the same level. This was a problem because I couldn't double back for health, items, or exploration. Some doors can only be opened with certain tools but tough cookies if you had to ditch your axe or crowbar or firearm earlier.

Another problem: you can only carry one item. Sure you have a taser and your detection tools but you can only bring one other item. I understand that you can't a fireaxe, a shotgun, a sledgehammer, a shovel, a pistol, all at once but Jesus as an FBI Investigator you have a holster and a big ass shoulder bag. At one point I had a pistol with some ammo in it. I found another pistol with some ammo in it. I couldn't combine the ammo. A minor gripe but when ammo is so scarce and you can't go back to get it it's kind of an issue.

Last problem - I am tired of running through dark hallways, dark corridors, dark tunnels, dark condemned buildings, and dark subways. Again, a minor gripe but one that made me put down the game.

All in all pick it up if you're in the mood for a serial killer/FBI Agent/supernatural/running around in the dark game.

A new X-Files movie and Scarlett Johansson.

I was getting a little over saturated with Scarlett Johansson but y'know what she's still hot.
There is going to be a new X-Files movies coming out next July. Mulder and Scully X-Files not the other guy X-Files. Pretty neat though it does seem a little past its prime. We shall see. You may now continue to ogle Scarlett.
Oh yeah, she also has a Tom Waits cover album coming out called Scarlett Sings Tom Waits.

Joss Whedon prepares for heart string tuggin' & more.

Yay! Nerd news!

  • Apparently Mr. Whedon is planning another show for the TV. This time it will star Eliza Dushku and be called Dollhouse. The premise of the show is people who have their memories wiped after secret government missions. The secret government lab where the memory wiping is performed is known as "The Dollhouse". I'm sure it will be cooler than I am describing it.

  • Kane & Lynch is being released a week early - November 14th. Oh Hells yeah. I know what I'm gonna do on my Thanksgiving vacation.

  • Uh. Some Canadians want to make a Hell's Kitchen game. Well...huh...I guess there might be a market for that...maybe I guess...

  • I had forgotten that William Dietz wrote a Hitman novel and yes I want to read it but not badly enough to spend $7 on it. I miss the days where I could just strip the covers off mass markets.

And that's currently it for now.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Colorado off to a Rocky start, almost time for some hockey, and hey, it's Friday!

T.G.I.F. dudes! Hope you have some wicked awesome parties this weekend! Halloween! Woo! Yeah! Here's the rundown:

  • Game 2 went better for the shaken Rockies but still ended in defeat. We'll have to see how the Red Sox fare in Colorado without the Green Nation backing them in Fenway. Will the Rockies crumble? Will the Sox stumble? We shall see.
  • Gonna pick up NHL 2K7 next payday to see how fun hockey is. The nice thing about sports games is once the new game comes out the value of the old game plummets. NHL 2K7 is running about $20.
  • Yes I broke down and ordered Manhunt 2. It's only going for $30 and I have to admit that I want to get a copy before they all disappear or are destroyed or whatever nonsense I trick myself into believing.

That's it for now. Carry on about your Friday.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Russian serial killers, a pretty cool mystery game, & more!

Today is the first day I was able to wear a sweater vest this Fall and I am happy. Fall in Texas consists of 90+ heat until the middle of October when a cold rain blows through and drops the temperature 40 degrees almost instantly. Then it's very nice for a week or two until it rains until Thanksgiving. Gotta make the most of it while we can.

  • Looks like the Russkies have themselves another kick ass serial killer - Alexander Pichushkin "The Chessboard Killer". He managed to kill more people than Andrei Chikatilo - 61 vs 53 respectively. Granted Pichushkin tagged mainly drunk old guys and Chikatilo killed and ate women and children. Apparently the Russians did away with capitol punishment and are giving Pichushkin life in prison, huh, learn something new everyday.
  • Clive Barker's Jericho has garnered okay reviews - it sounds like a rental or pick it up if you see it used.
  • Game One of the World Series is on tonight - Red Sox vs Rockies. Personally I don't know if I'm pulling for either team but I just want to watch some kick ass baseball. With any luck it'll be a real battle instead of a rout.
  • Might give in to the temptation to purchase Manhunt 2. I was a fan of the first game and am looking forward to this new one and Hell it's Halloween season.
  • I checked out the webgame Sleuth yesterday and am pretty addicted to it. Basically you create a detective and solve text based mysteries. Doesn't sound that gripping but it's a lot of fun and is more fulfilling than Bejeweled or some of the free puzzlers out there.

In fact it's time to get some lunch and play some Sleuth. Woo! Livin' on the edge!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

David Arquette makes a movie and I win WWII all by myself...again.

Not much in the way of news or reviews lately folks. Sumimasen. Here's what I scraped up this morning

  • Just in time for Halloween David Arquette's The Tripper was released on DVD. Apparently an axe murderer dresses up as Ronald Reagan and chops up hippies gathered at a music festival in the woods headlined by Fishbone. "Party at Ground Zero" indeed.
  • I polished off the Nazi Menace - a.k.a. Medal of Honor: Airborne - this weekend. Little did I know that there is an unlockable bayonet so I'm gonna play through a couple more times until I unlock it. All in all it was a pretty good game. The last two levels really tore me a new one until I was able to really buckle down and focus...or get a wheelbarrow full of explosives with which to smite the Hun. This game's Operation Market Garden was a great deal of fun but the house to house combat could have been a little more intense though I did nearly crap my pants when I realized I had to face tanks as well.

That's the long and the short of it today folks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Jesper Kyd scores Assassin's Creed.

The title of the post says it all.

Jesper Kyd is one of my favorite composers. Ubisoft is one of my favorite game companies.

News like this totally makes my day.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

Do you like puzzle games like Bejeweled? Do you like old school styled RPGs? If you answered yes to either of these questions then you should download Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords. It's definitely worth the 1200 points.

The basic premise of the game is land of blah, blah, blah is being invaded after years and years of peace by the living dead and orcs and assorted baddies. It's up to you to go from town to town rallying forces and teaming up with other characters and fighting the good fight. Build your levels to gain skills and buy better gear and all that good stuff.

The puzzle aspect comes into play during combat and in various mini-games. Variations on the "match 3" game makes for a pretty intense and difficult game. Trying to stay ahead of opponents and utilizing skills to the best of you ability is really challenging. There have been several - a bajillion - games I have lost simply because I made one mistake and the computer crushed me.

Puzzle Quest is a genuinely enjoyable game - being crushed by the computer aside - and as far as I can tell a really lengthy game. It also has online puzzle battle capability if that's your thing.

Medal Of Honor: Airborne - First Mission Impressions.

The Medal of Honor series is a pretty safe bet as far as a solid gaming experience goes - except for Rising Sun. Medal of Honor: Airborne is a solid addition to the series. If you need for WWII FPS action then pick it up. If you are pretty much sick and tired of the WWII FPS genre then don't bother.

The good:

  1. The action kicks ass. The AI will flank, pursue, and generally kick your ass if given a chance. Everything is pretty much as it should be in a franchise like Medal of Honor. Graphics, music, voice acting, and gameplay are all solid.
  2. The Airborne part of the game is an interesting addition though controlling the parachute and landing is giving me a fair amount of trouble. One time I had a bad landing next to the enemy and he beat me to death with his rifle butt.
  3. Enemies speak Italian if they are Italian and German if they are German. Trust me - it makes a difference.
  4. Yeah, it's a Medal of Honor game.

The bad:

  1. Where is my bayonet? I am tired of playing WWII games without a freaking bayonet. If I'm gonna get stuck in melee combat I need something more than a rifle butt. Just saying.
  2. Apparently the Germans who fought in Italy were robotic warmachines with iron heads and heavy body armor. The hit location is pretty wretched - if I put an M1 Garand round in top of some Hun's head I expect him to die not charge me like some Wolfenstein uber-mensch.
  3. It's a Medal of Honor game. Nothing to really write home about.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Las Vegas.

You can be pretty confident that when you see Tom Clancy in conjunction with Ubisoft you're gonna be getting a good game. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six is no exception. Solid gameplay, excellent AI - both friendly and enemy, excellent graphics, great sound design, and smooth control. Really no complaints.

What did strike me as odd was in-game advertising. I don't mind advertising at all in my games - it adds a level of realism I can appreciate. What's peculiar is the fact that are ads for the DVD of 28 Weeks Later which just came out. The game was released last November. I'm not particularly sure how this happened. There was a download update when I first put in the game in. Quite perplexing.

Now I'm interested in how long it will take for in-game advertising to tailor itself to my gaming preferences.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Elder Scrolls: Oblivion free download.

Boo-yah. Looks like Elder Scrolls: Oblivion has a new - and final? - download. That's pretty cool but what's cooler is it's gonna be a free download for a week starting Monday 10/15.

Fun with Classic RPG nonsense!

I was posting on a forum about what I liked and didn't like in RPGs and started going off. It made me laugh so I'm reposting here.

What I don't like in RPGs:

1) Japanese psuedo Miyazaki mumbo jumbo eco-story lines - i.e. A band of misfits must restore the balance and heal the spirit of the life blood of the planet who has been turned into a monster/demon spirit by the evil corporate military-industrial complex that has angered the earth spirit/demon/life force by tapping into the life force/spirit energy and is causing a rift and our band of misfits must heal the wound in the spirit/life force in order to stop the angered demon spirit from destroying everyone and everything and sending all that we hold dear into a spiralling spiral of forgetful sadness. Oh yeah and one or more of the characters are plucky, sassy, and/or are some kind of anthropomorphic girl.

2) Fantasy RPGs are boring. I've been playing them for over twenty years and eventually I get bored. In the last quarter of the game I just get bored to the point that I go read a book or go outside or - god forbid - see what's on TV.

3) Grinding for EXP. I liked the fact that I could train in "Elder Scrolls: Oblivion". Mindless, repetitive combat is not my idea of a good time.

4) Idiotic dialogue. You all know what I mean.

5) Dungeon crawling. I've crawled through miles and miles and miles and miles of dungeons, caverns, swamps, forests, ruins, temples, and sewers. Enough. Finis. Unless you are willing to spice it up with intelligent puzzles, challenging traps, and monsters - thank you "Overlord" xoxo - don't bother.

6) Step and fetch quests. How many of you remember something like this?:
  • You need a key to enter the Dungeon of Stone. Speak to the gatekeeper in his hut outside the Dungeon of Stone. He is bored and needs something to read, perhaps a book. Where do I get a book? He doesn't know but perhaps the Gatekeeper at the City of Air can tell you. Where is the City of Air? The Gatekeeper of Stone used to know but it has been so long that he has forgotten. Perhaps the Witch in the Forest of Gloom south of the Dungeon of Stone knows how to get to the City of Air. After wandering through the Forest of Gloom you find the Witch's House. Where's the Witch? Why is she not home? WTF! Break and steal everything not nailed down inside and outside the Witch's home. Decide to spend the night in her house. During the night you are awakened by the Witch's pet Ghost. The Ghost says that the Witch was kidnapped by the Shades of the Swamp of Mist. You can follow the Ghost through the Forest of Gloom to the edge of Swamp of Mist but can't show you through the Swamp of Mist because *cue flashback* the Ghost is tied to the Forest of Gloom. The Ghost warns that it is easy to get lost in the Swamp of Mist and mentions that if you had a light you could find you way much easier. Perhaps that Ruby from the Palace of Flame could be useful - it worked in Labyrinth of the Abyss. Equip. Press A to equip. Are you sure? Press A. To use press A. Are you sure? Press A. The Ruby has no energy. Walk back through the Forest of Gloom, past the Witch's house, past the Gatekeeper of Stone, across the Frosted Ice Plain, across the Mountain Peaks of Treachery, into the Halls of Ash, and speak to the Gatekeeper of Flame, enter the Castle of Flame, rest at the Inn, reequip - press A - and get into the Castle of Flame and then speak to His Majesty the Keeper of Flame. He says he'll power up the Ruby just this once. If you need to power it up again he will need a favor done for him. Like you didn't save his Kingdom of Flame from the Iron Beasts and their Digging Machines. Before you leave he mentions that if you him a favor then he will give you a gift. Do you accept? Press A for Yes or Press B for No. Jesus, since I'm here Yes. Are you sure? Press A. Apparently His Majesty the Keeper of the Flame has been having problems with his daughter the Princess of Flame, Ember. She has run off into the Molten Chasm and His Majesty is concerned for her safety. Will you find her and bring her back? Fortunately there is an entrance to the Molten Chasm in the dungeon and here is the key. Dungeon crawl the Molten Chasm. Princess Ember is fighting a Crimson Burrower and is doing well but falls down and you run to her aid. Defeat the Crimson Burrower thanks to Princess Ember's fire magic. Back to the throne room of the Palace of Flame, dysfunctional family dialogue, Ember joins you on your Quest, His Majesty allows you to loot the treasure rooms and gives Princess Ember her mother's weapons and armour. Apparently the Queen kicked ass and died. Reequip, visit the Inn, save. Now what the Hell were you supposed to do?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New downloads for Carcassonne! Woo!

Though we don't play as much Carcassonne as we used to thanks to cable and other distractions we still play it here and there. With the new download I'm sure I'll get a couple of hours of play out of it.

A little love for the PS3.

I miss Playstation sometimes. My PS2 rarely (never) gets any love though I still have a short stack of games I want to play on the console. There are plenty of rumors of price drops and bundles for the PS3. One rumor I came across is that the new 40GB model is not going to be backwards compatible. Wha'?

Then there's the issue of well...the exclusive games just aren't there for the PS3 yet. GTAIV is going to have exclusive content for the 360. I read somewhere that Rockstar's La Noire is going to be PS3 exclusive - if it actually comes out. The game that is exclusive and looks completely awesome is Naughty Dog's Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. Really solid, top notch classic adventure games are pretty few and far between for some bizarre reason. Indiana Jones games are pretty much total disappointments. Uncharted has been getting some solid press and Naughty Dog knows what they are doing as far as making fun adventure games what with their Jak & Daxter series. Here's one of the trailers...and yes that's Nathan "Captain Tight Pants" Fillion:

Start saving your pennies kids...

Someone is selling a Titan 1 Missle Base sans Titan Missles for 1.5 million dollars. How could I not want to buy a Missle Base? If I had the money to spend on a mansion of the same cost then why would I buy a mansion? Now I am going to spend the rest of the day thinking about how completely awesome it would be to live in an abandoned Missle Base. Sigh.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Smell the Glove.

What's wrong with being sexy?

Ubisoft is throwin' rocks!

This game looks pretty damn cool:

Conan. The Demo.

I was excited about the Conan game yesterday. Today I am not. It's not that the demo was bad it was just kind of underwhelming. I'm not the world's greatest button combo *cough button masher* gamer when it comes down to it so I couldn't do any particularly fancy moves though I did manage to hack off some one's arms.

The game looks good when in play and kind of weird during the cinemas. It's like they made the game look very similar to the Frazetta palette but then the cut scenes looked...weird, like ugly action figures. The game play was pretty straight forward. If you've played God of War then you'll have no problem with the controls. I like RB being the action button - I'm not sure why but I like it. What I don't like is jump.

Mini rant:
Jumping has it's place - in cartoony platformers and ninja games and fancy lad Prince of Perisa games . Otherwise it's really fucking stupid. Who the hell jumps? Sure the occasional leap of faith but wedge that into one of those interactive cinemas that are so popular. If the character needs to get onto a ledge then hit the action button and they climb up or interact with the environment to find another way. If I have to play another action game where I have to bunny hop over walls I'm gonna crap out my eyes.

I guess the rest of the demo is okay. This is one of those games that I'll eventually rent but with the rest of this winter releases Conan definitely gets put on a backburner.


Conan is voiced by Ron Perlman (Hellboy) but you wouldn't know it. This sounds phoned in on one of the Professor's coconut phones.

Bladestorm! Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of Koei!

If you're not familiar with the game company Koei then I recommend dropping what you're doing and go buy a copy of Dynasty Warriors 2 or 3 and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening button mashing hordes of enemies.

Koei has produced a great number of strategy/historical combat games - Romance of the Three Kingdoms I-??? and the Dynasty Warriors series being the most popular. They are usually pretty good games but after playing their games for over a decade, well, they're pretty much the same. I wasn't really all that thrilled to play Bladestorm - the newest Koei release set during the Hundred Years War - but fired up the demo because I needed something to play. I was not only surprised not only how good Bladestorm is but how much fun I was having. Add to that I can't wait to get home and play the demo some more and I think Bladestorm might be a winner.

The long and short of the game is you play a mercenary lending aid to either the English or the French or possibly both. As you battle across France you gain fame and fortune and troops and skills and loot'n'booty and other kick ass stuff. I think I enjoy the fact unlike Dynasty Warriors where you play a super warrior whomping on everyone in Bladestorm you have to command and rely on the troops you are with. Troop commands are straight forward - RB to attack and Y, X, B for special attacks - and once I got the rhythm down I was doing some serious damage to the enemy.

This wouldn't be a Koei game without mountains of micromanagement. Each troop type can be trained and equipped with various skills and all sorts of mumbo-jumbo. I'm sure there's more but hey it's only the demo.

I look forward to picking this one up.

Did someone finally create a multiplayer I'd play?

Over on there's a drool inducing preview of the multiplayer of Kane & Lynch. From what they are talking about it sounds like the guys at Io have put together another awesome game. The multiplayer is going to be various criminal endeavours - i.e. heists - and all the goodness that goes along with that. It sounds like it's going to be a total blast and the first serious caper game. This is the first game I am actually excited to play multiplayer, hell yeah.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Just another kind of sort of slightly almost manic Monday.

Several updates in my inbox today that I feel need passing along. If you don't appreciate the awesomeness then the hell with ya.

  • In case you needed another reason to pine for a 360: the Conan demo is available today. Conan: The Videogame should be pretty hack'n'hewtastic but I think I read somewhere that he has some kind of magic and I don't know how I feel about that. I'm gonna be playing the demo this evening so I'll be letting you know about it in a day or two.
  • In case you haven't had your fill of suckheads with Moonlight then rejoice because Rise: Blood Hunter is coming out on DVD tomorrow. Personally I'm not gonna go out of my way to rent it but what the hell - it's almost Halloween.
  • The Diamondbacks poisoned the Cubs, the Phillies felt the wrath of the Rockies, the Red Sox ripped the wings off the Angels - will the Indians scalp the Yankees? Game one was great fun with the Indians winning 13-3. Game two was an 11 inning battle that was marked by swarms of Canadian Soliders - basically ants with wings - and was a blast to watch. I didn't watch game three - I was busy playing video games. Apparently Steinbrenner was threatening to fire Torre if the Yankees didn't win the Series. The Yankees won Game 3 and tonight is Game 4 - hot damn. I don't want to get my hopes up but like we say around here, "Fuck the Yankees."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Rundown:

Blah, blah, blah...let's get down to brass tacks.

  • While I like the fact that acts like Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse are gaining popularity and creating a main stream interest in Soul I do have to admit that I'd still rather just listen to the originals. The yesterday I heard a band on WNYC that made me drop what I was doing and turn up the radio - Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. Their third release 100 Days, 100 Nights is at the top of my must buy ASAP albums. These guys are great, top notch classic Rhythm & Blues Soul. Sharon Jones has a blow the doors off the hinges burn down the house sound. The Dap Kings are just stellar. I seriously can't wait to buy their albums and based on the strength of their work I'm gonna take a good look at the rest of bands on the Daptone Records label. Of course they were here in Austin last SXSW. Damn it, but that means with any luck they'll be coming through town again.
  • Black Sheep is being released on DVD next Tuesday. If you're not familiar it's a Kiwi movie about genetically altered sheep that go bonkers and attack people. Supposed to be gory as hell, I guess that makes up for the idiocy of sheep attacking people. I want to see it but damn I'm tired of humor in my horror. Fido - the Billy Connolly zombie movie comes out on October 23rd as well.
  • The Darjeeling Limited has opened to mixed reviews. Premiere and Rolling Stone and Ebert all have high praise and everyone else makes it sound like it's a Wes Anderson movie...oh is a Wes Anderson movie. Now that I have cable I can rest easy knowing that one day I will see it on cable or netflix if cable doesn't work out.
  • A Minnesota woman - Jammie Thomas - has to pay the Recording Industry Association of America $220, 000 for downloading and sharing music. 220, 000 dollars. I'm curious as to what she downloaded and shared - The Rolling Stones? The Secret Hymns of the Illuminati? Seriously. What the fuck - how is anyone supposed to pay that off?

And that's pretty much it for now. If someone has a copy of Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty - I would like to borrow it so I can listen to it and then go out and buy a copy of my own - please let me know. I've had that song stuck in my head for days now and I can't just download it like a normal person.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Del Toro, Lovecraft, finally...

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back on January 12 I found a post about the script for Del Toro's adaptation of Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness. Well today I found another post stating that this will be the movie Del Toro works on after Hellboy 2: The Golden Army - an awesome name for the movie.

Personally I think Del Toro should put out At the Mountains of Madness sooner but that's just me.

The best review of Halo 3.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Upcoming releases for 360 & PS2

October and November are going to be busy - and expensive:

" Who Tommy? Ze Germans?"

Apparently the Germans - like the Australians - ban and restrict video games for being too awesome. After reading a few articles last week about Germany's clampdown on Clive Barker's Jericho I was jumped on playing the demo on XBOX Live. The demo is also available for download for the PC. I suggest that after you read this you go download the demo.

As far as first impressions go Jericho looks too good to be true. I had pretty much written Clive Barker off - his novels haven't been too impressive, his game forays have been lacklustre, and his movie/tv ventures have been piss poor. Jericho has an old school Barker styled story - before Adam & Eve there was the Undying. The discarded and unloved Undying went bad, blah, blah, blah cut to modern times an elite squad of supernatural ass-kickers are investigating a swirling vortex of evil in the middle of nowhere desert of the Middle East. Then it all goes bad.

For a squad based FPS the squad control is simple and smooth and being able to switch between characters with D-pad is nice. The squad in the demo is made up of your standard big guy with a gatling gun and pyromancy, hot chick with telekinesis and sniper rifle, and stealthy hot chick with katana and creepy "blood magic". I have had a bit of trouble using big guy's pyromancy - I think that I'm hitting the wrong button - but his gatling gun shreds enemies. The sniper is my personal favorite and I dig the fact they gave her a grenade launcher. Stealthy girl is fun to play with and not quite as squishy as she could potentially be. What I like is the fact that when not being directly controlled the characters do what they should be doing - taking cover, taking point, and generally kicking ass. I look forward to seeing what the rest of team can do.

Jericho is going to be scary. If I can get the heebie jeebies and jump at shadows just because of a demo either I have turned into a bigger pussweed or this game is effective. The undead/demon/creepy whatever the hell they are awesome looking. The whole demo is awesome looking. Codemasters really nailed it with this game - Jericho looks great. Halo 3 doesn't look this good. Bioshock does though Bioshock also has a unique style to set it apart from everything. It remains to be seen wether or not Jericho has any truly new and refreshing elements. After all I've seen castles and catacombs and sewers and rivers of blood and skinless corpses and demon knights and the Apocalypse before. I do have high hopes for this game though.

It has a release date of 10-23-07 so expect a review soon after that.

Friday, September 28, 2007


I am currently trying to find an interesting photo to photoshop and put at the top of the page. It really surprised me how much difference a picture makes then again I feel like an idiot for being that surprised.

Example: The photograph is from the Battle of Verdun - one the worst battles of World War I. It makes this look like a Death Metal fan site.

I think I'll keep looking.

I was looking around for the Stubborn All Stars website and stumbled across a link for Now if you know me you'll know that I spent a good three years ('96-'99) hitting an absurd number of ska shows in the DC area. What really kicks ass - besides the fact that there are still plenty of shows ranging up and down the East Coast - is the collection of old flyers. I knew I kept all those random flyers and boxes of crap for a reason.

Austin doesn't have a ska scene at all so it makes me really happy to see things are still happening.

Django (1966) dir. Sergio Corbucci

Years and years ago when I first moved to Texas I spent a lot of time digging through the weird, the kind of obscure, the completely sideways, and stuff no one had seen in years. I came across a bootleg of a bootleg of a VHS of a Spaghetti Western that had a familiar sounding title Django. The Stubborn All Stars' Open Season - one of my all time favorite albums - was fronted by one King Django. Hmmm...of course I snatched it up and threw it on my stack of rentals.

I threw it in and recognized a couple of samples on Open Season and got about half way through. I don't remember watching all of it or why I stopped watching it but something tells me it had something to do with beer.

After Amanda's interest in Westerns became more serious we saw a documentary about Spaghetti Westerns. One of the movies that was talked about was Django. After an attempt to netflix it - it was unavailable on DVD for quite some time - it was put on the backburner. Well, Django finally was released on DVD and arrived in the mail and we watched it last night.

If you haven't seen it and have some interest in Spaghetti Westerns or old school movies that influenced the directors of today then you should probably make an effort to see Django. The DVD looks pretty good - not perfect but much better than the bootleg I tried to watch nearly a decade ago. The sound is only 2 channel stereo and a bit muddy but it's not a big deal if you watch it in Italian with subtitles. The best bit of the DVD is how vibrant and surreal the colors are. Most of the movie is dirt and mud and grey but what color there is is disturbingly rich. The score is still awesome - somehow I ended up owning most of the score over several different compilations of Spaghetti Western music. Franco Nero - Django - is a great bastard anti-hero with these spooky frosted blue eyes that remind me of Henry Fonda's in Once Upon a Time in the West.

It was difficult to take Django seriously in the least. It's not a bad movie - it's just a mid 60s Spaghetti Western and not everyone could be Sergio Leone. What sets Django apart are the ideas - i.e. Django dragging a coffin behind him through most of the movie - and the level of violence. People who are jumping up and down about violence in entertainment in today's society should take a look at Django: a body count of 182, castigation, cold blooded murder, hot blooded murder, and not only an ear cut off but then fed to the victim. Granted the effects are garish red paint crude and people just fall down and twitch when shot but still - it's the thought that counts.

I'm glad I finally got to see Django complete and on DVD but I don't really need to see it again or spend a bundle to see it at the Alamo.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Halo 3. Insert clever quip here.

" "I don't know how I'm going to feed myself."R. J. BOLLARD, a freshman at the University of Washington, who said he had 73 cents left after buying the video game Halo 3."
-NY Times 09-26-07
- thanks to Amanda for this.
I never played Halo before yesterday. Once upon a time I looked down my nose at anything XBOX related - I was a PS2 man. Months ago - when the Halo hype machine started up I wasn't particularly interested. About a month ago I saw the ads I pasted earlier - scroll down. It is quite possible that they are the best ads I have ever seen or more accurately I don't know if I've ever been swayed so heavily by advertising before. Sure I want a Cracked Pepper Ranch Grilled Chicken Sandwich after seeing the commercial for it, a Guiness would taste good after I see the truck, but these are just feelings of "Gee, wouldn't that be tasty." These Halo ads instilled in me the feeling that something bad was going to happen if I didn't buy it. So completely by accident I found myself purchasing it in the store. After playing about four hours of it I have to say that it's a decent game. It's a good game but I'm not 100% sold on it.
The good:
  • The game is intense and satisfyingly difficult after a string of not so difficult games. I like the fact that I am constantly burning through ammo and actually fighting for an advantage instead of just mowing things down.
  • The enemy AI is profanity inducing mean.
  • The music is better than your average combat game - it doesn't overwhelm the sound effects nor does it drone until it's unnoticeable. It's an excellent score and I haven't heard any repetition yet. It's a bit more bass/drum heavy than brassy action. If I see a copy of it somewhere I'll pick it up.
  • I look forward to playing this game when I get home. Some games I want to play simply because well, it's something to play but Halo 3 I'm excited to play. I want to see what happens.
The not so good:
  • The graphics look great though at times the glare is a bit much. During the first mission set in the jungle the glare and mist and foliage made it kind of difficult to see much of anything - granted I hate jungle/swamp missions in any game.
  • There are certain times when the graphics look plastic. This wouldn't be noticeable if the rest of the game didn't look so good.
  • Coming off of GRAW2 the controls are a bit...rubbery. I don't know if they are supposed to be that way - if it's in character with heavy action and jumping around and fast and furious style. There's no real way to take cover without hiding completely and there have been several times I was gunned down because I was stuck on something while trying to retreat. I think that's just a problem I have with FPS.
  • The voices of the alien Grunts are fuckin' stupid. Seriously, they sound like fourteen year old mouthbreathers. The big scary aliens sound bad ass - as they should - but the Grunts sound terrible.
  • I hope there are some big ass battles coming up. I was led to believe that there were gonna be big ass battles.

When it comes down to it Halo 3 is an enjoyable experience and I am kind of looking forward to playing online...kind of.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2

Dear Ubisoft,

I love the games you make. They are the bestest in the whole wide world next to Eidos and Rockstar.


Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 is a pretty awesome squad/high-tech combat game set in a near future where the uber-ass kicking Ghost Squad have to stop terrorists in Mexico from fuckin' shit up with nukes. Of course all knowledge of the operation will be denied.

I played a Ghost Recon or two (?) for the PS2 and they were pretty good shooters but I wasn't hooked. Back in March a bunch of us went down to the convention center and checked out the gaming offshoot of SXSW. I saw GRAW2 being played by the Frag Dolls on a big ol' fancy TV. Needless to say it looked awesome.

I've been trying to rent a copy for quite some time and was lucky enough to snag a copy a few days ago. I'm having a good time though the difficulty does seem easy on normal or at least was pretty easy until I got to this level last night and got hosed.

I like how easy it is to control the other squad members or various support vehicles. Toggle between them using left and right on the D-Pad and then up or down to issue orders. Even better, the squad doesn't need constant handholding - they take cover when they need to, hit what they shoot at, and pretty much act like AI should. I haven't had anyone get stuck on a wall - cough like in SOCOM cough - or had to run back in order to keep someone from running around in circles. The only mistakes that have happened have been mine - i.e. tossing a grenade and bouncing it off a telephone pole back into the area the squad is taking cover. Whoops!

The graphics have spooked me out a few times with their realism. You have the option of playing GRAW2 as an FPS but the 3rd Person is an over the shoulder "you are there" cameraman angle. I really like the 3rd Person but at times when the lighting, angle, and action are just right it looks like something off the news. Combined with great sound effects, responsive and simple controls, intelligent AI, GRAW2 is one hell of a combat game.

On the downside it's short and the music gets a little "dun dun dun" now and then but that's not a big deal with the "Turn Action Music Off" option. Not quite Stranglehold short and I'm not finished yet but I get the impression that there's not much left to the game - another mission or two. While there is one long mission of urban combat I look forward to playing again I don't know if the game has that much replay value. We shall see.

I suggest picking up GRAW2 if you're looking for some intense squad action. Final review pending.

Friday, September 21, 2007

"I don't care where I die just as long as it ain't here."

Friday once again folks and it seems like the outside is nicer than being inside at work. Granted it's in the mid 90s what with it being only September here in Austin. Fall doesn't usually kick until November around here. Sure it sounds nice but it'd be nicer if I didn't sweat my ass off year round.

Some week in review notes/reviews/assorted goodness:

  • Watched A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints (2006) Dir. Dito Montiel last night. It had been one of those movies that had been shuffled up and down the netflix queue for quite sometime. I rented it because I couldn't think of anything I wanted to watch at the video store. It's an autobiographical movie about Dito - a kid living in Queens in the mid-80s. His life goes to shit and he leaves for California. Twenty years later his father is dying and he goes home to take him to the hospital. Robert Downey Jr. plays the adult Dito and does a hell of a job. The rest of cast is solid solid solid: Dianne Wiest, Chazz Palmenteri, Rosario Dawson, and a bunch of top notch young actors. The movie is really well edited - cutting smoothly between the past and the present. For what could have been an over blown melodramatic tear jerker I think this movie avoided that with the strength of its cast. Worth picking up if you don't feel like sitting and watching something insipid.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Letter to Axl Rose from his editor

Notes on "Sweet Child O' Mine,"
as Delivered to Axl Rose by His Editor.

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Hi, Axl,

Just got your manuscript and demo for the song "Sweet Child O' (sic) Mine." I think we need to talk. As your editor, I am responsible for making your songs as cogent as possible, for helping them reach the high editorial standards your public has come to expect. With this one, I am certainly earning my keep. After several attempts to reach you by phone, I am sending along my notes. Please make appropriate fixes as soon as possible, at which point I can send them to copyediting and proofreading in time for your upcoming studio session.

She's got a smile that, it seems to me—Why equivocate? You weaken your point by framing this as a mere personal observation instead of a fact.

Reminds me of childhood memories—Redundant. You either have a memory or you're reminded of something. You're not reminded of a memory. Heavy-metal fans won't stand for such writing, my friend.

Where everything was as fresh as a bright blue sky—I asked around the office and no one is sure a blue sky is "fresh." You could have a blue sky at the end of a long, sweaty day and there would be nothing fresh about it. And she reminds you of a time when things were fresh? Fond reminiscences of freshness are no foundation for love. Fix.

Now and then when I see her face it takes me away to that special place—Again, you're weakening your own argument. Why does the sight of her face transport you only periodically? And is it just her smile or her entire face that does this to you? Because you've already said both. Consistency, Axl!

And if I stared too long, I'd probably break down and cry—Why would you do that? Because you miss the freshness you described earlier? I think the whole "fresh" thing is really tripping you up. Also, crying? Wimpy.

OK, on to the second verse.

She's got eyes of the bluest skies—See, this is just getting worse. Now her eyes are made of sky? Nice imagery, but you just got done saying her smile reminded you of memories of sky. Is this verse actually supposed to be a second draft of the first verse? Am I just confused on formatting? Help!

As if they thought of rain—Axl, eyes can't think of rain. And even if they could, which they can't, why would bluest skies think of rain? Perhaps less imagery of thinking eyes made of sky and more direct exploration of your feelings?

I hate to look into those eyes and see an ounce of pain—Well, hell. I guess in your special Axl World anything is possible. Eyes can be made of sky, ponder the weather, and exhibit pain in amounts that can be weighed.

Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place where as a child I'd hide—Delete. Fix. Do something. You'd hide in a place that reminded you of hair? Never show me such phrases again.

And pray for the thunder and the rain to quietly pass me by—Whew. OK, listen to me now: Thunder can't quietly do anything. It's thunder. And, more importantly, do you really want to come across as a wuss who's constantly on the verge of weeping and skittering into hair caves to escape from rain? Is this a song about love or climatic anxiety? You need to work these things out.

Finally, Axl, I think we might have had a misunderstanding regarding my previous notes. When I wrote in colored pencil "Where do we go now?" I wasn't offering that as a lyric. I was simply observing that, in narrative terms, the song needed to progress in some way. You love the girl, she's helping you work through some issues, whatever. So where do we go now? But instead of providing a satisfactory conclusion, you simply took my note and repeated it over and over again before ultimately just stating the title of the song. This is unacceptable. Don't ask us, the listeners, where we go. That's up to you as the writer! Tell us where we go now!

Again, let's try to fix these things soon and get "Sweet Child of Mine" ("My Sweet Child"?) into your fans' hands as quickly as possible. Because, frankly, if it should ever hit the street in its current form, the song would be a colossal failure.

Talk soon!

Your Editor

- - - -

I just couldn't resist!
Love, demimonde

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