Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fallout New Vegas - the pre-seventh inning stretch review (80-90 hours)

Yeah you read that right, I'm coming up on the 90 hour mark.  I know I still have a long way to go (and one or two more reviews to wring out of the game) but here are my impressions at this point in the game.

  1. The story and the "mature" themes (not naughty or sexy though there are some) such as massacres by government forces, intrigue, double dealing, heavy alcoholism and drug dependence and some really depressing story arcs. 
  2. Right now I have the choice between selling out one of my companions to a pretty nasty bunch of folks (for a high profit and the opportunity to turn around and murder all of them) or not selling her out and putting both me and her at risk of life and limb.  Or we can walk into the bastards' HQ guns ablazing.  Or I can stealth into the HQ alone and try to dig up incriminating evidence.  Or I could turn down the job.  Hmmm..."what would Joe do?  Shoot everybody, say something cool, and smoke some cigarettes..."
  3. The characters and companions.  Two of my two new favorite game characters are in Vegas; Raul and Grandma Lily.  I am really enjoying the story arcs for Boone and Rose as well.
  4. Crafting ammo.
  5. Dealing with factions.
  6. Planning my new character to RP - a drug addicted chemist/snake oil peddler with a mean streak and a proclivity for explosives.  Basically my evil character out to manipulate and murder his way across the Mojave.
  1. The glitches and bugs are pretty bad at times.  There will be long stretches where everything is hunky dory and then the engine hiccoughs and stutters.  Unfortunately I just don't think the game should have been published in this condition.  Reviews and gameplay would have benefitted immensely.
  2. The load times can be a little frustrating at times, especially during step'n'fetch quests that require you to enter and exit several different areas.  That being said there's no rhyme or reason to the length of a load screen.
  3. I wish you could choose between being a ghoul and a human.  This isn't really a con but I really would love to RP a ghoul.
So you take the good, you take the bad.  Fortunately I can and am ignoring the exterior on this rough gem because it's what's on the inside that counts.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fallout: New Vegas (hours 6-11)

You're just gonna bear with me folks while I jabber on about Fallout: New Vegas  for the next few weeks (though I do have some reviews and recipes on the way I promise).

So here's some of the fun and the tips I've been picking up:
  • Using Iron Sights is a great way to pick off targets at long distance that you would have no hope of hitting with VATS.
    • Trick: click on VATS to get the location of the target, turn VATS off, you're very closely sighted on your target.  If you're hidden you get an auto critical hit.
  • The next character is going to put some extra points into explosives.  I forgot how much I like blowing stuff up.
  • When you are starting to explore and at a lower level - stay near the main roads.  Listen to people when they tell you, "Yeah, you might not want to go over there, the nutcases and monsters over there will make you have a no-good bad terrible day."
    • Example: I was warned by some NPCs not to venture into an area.  Pfft stupid NPCs, what do they know?  I have guns, grenades, dynamite, and a motherfucking shovel.  Bring it!  Unfortunately it was broughten by three giant radscorpions and as I was fleeing a pack of feral reaver ghouls joined the chase.  I died within sight of the town.  Lesson learned.  Bring bigger guns and a shovel covered in chainsaws that drip acid.
  • Obey the maxim "Stay alert, stay alive."  It might be the difficulty level I am playing on or it might be the fact that, unlike the DC wastelands, the Mojave desert didn't suffer the worst of the nuclear holocaust but whatever the case is - there are always things that want to cancel your living status.
  • I love the bizarre humor of New Vegas.  It's kind of a subtle, "wait, what?"  kind of humor - the bizarre absurdity hits you after the moment has passed.
  • Don't forget!  You can use VATS to detonate explosives in your foe's hand or mid-air if you are quick.  Nothing like the satisfaction of turning a ganger into scrapple with his own grenade.  Mmm...scrapple.
  • Get yourself a scope or a pair of binoculars ASAP.
That's it for now Wastelanders. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fallout: New Vegas - very first impressions.

I resisted the influx of teasers, trailers, and press regarding Fallout: New Vegas. I skimmed the reviews collected on metacritic and was surprised that the game was not knocking reviewers on their asses.  Reviewers were bitching about two main issues, bugs and the "same old, same old" syndrome.  I respond, I played for five straight hours and didn't encounter any game crashes or bizarre glitches and it's not the same old, same old - it's not leftovers from Fallout 3 casseroled. 

So far I'm pretty pleased with the game.  Everything I liked about Fallout 3 is present and there are several tweaks I really dig.
  1. Hardcore mode.  This mode not only more difficult but you have to monitor your sleep level, food level, and hydration - the same as you have to monitor your rads.  Ammunition now has weight so you can't run around with ten thousand rounds of every kind of ammo. 
  2. Crafting is actually worth a shit now.  You can break down unused ammo into supplies and then use those supplies to craft better ammo (armor piercing, etc, etc).  You can combine ingredients at campfires for impromtu food, healing items.  It certainly makes for a more tailored style of game play.  I'm doing exceptionally well with a silenced .22 with HP rounds (one shot one kill if in stealth).
      1. A trick for hardcore mode - while ammo has weight, the components do not.  What I did was break down all the ammunition I didn't have weapons for into components.  Plus I was able to craft some better ammo for the weapons I do use.  Better ammo is also better for maintaining your weapons.
  3. I haven't gotten that far into the perks and upgrades so there will more info to come as I unlock those.
  4. Iron sights!  Since my V.A.T.S is still low level I've been using the iron sights a lot.  This is great, since I got tired of using V.A.T.S as a crutch in Fallout 3.  Plus it helps for one shot, one kill, sneaky tactics.
There's a lot more depth to Fallout: New Vegas and it feels it's going to be a deeper role-playing experience than Fallout 3 or Dragon Age.  Some people might be put off by thought, strategy, skill, and some inventory management juggling.  To those people I say, "Go play fucking Halo."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Spicy chicken, stuffing, and beans: an experiment

Joshua was hungry.  Joshua had limited ingredients.  Joshua didn't order Chinese food because that would involve putting on pants. *cue Twilight Zone theme*

Amusing and true.  I made a dish that was absurdly simple:

  • 3 frozen chicken breasts - the flash frozen kind that come in a giant ass bag
  • 1 box stuffing
  • 1 can ranch styled beans
  • 1/4 cup Abuelita Joshua's spice mix (Casting Out Demons hot)
  • 2 or 3 cups water
Start water boiling in pot on stove and add 1/4 cup Abuelita Joshua's spice mix.  Nuke chicken about two minutes, chop up chicken, throw chicken in water.  Cook chicken until done.  Add the beans.  Add the stuffing - if it all looks a little dry add a little more water.  Stir.  Cover and remove from (as per directions on box of stuffing).  Wait five minutes.  Eat.

I think it's some kind of casserole and if I make this again I'll add cheese.  I also think I learned this from Amanda - who uses cornbread mix instead of stuffing.  

It's pretty darn tasty and doesn't stick to you ribs, it covers your chest in concrete and then has an elephant take a nap on you.  ooo...nap.

Isolation (2005) Dir. Billy O'Brien

Isolation was one of those random horror picks made while hanging out with people.  The description is not particularly gripping:
On a desolate farm in the Irish countryside, destitute Dan Reilly (John Lynch) -- in return for cold cash -- allows his heifers to be part of a genetic study intended to boost bovine fertility and beef output ... until the experiment goes awry. When one of his cows spawns lethal mutants, Dan and a few other unlucky folks suffer the repercussions of meddling with nature in this unsettling chiller also starring Essie Davis and Marcel Iures.
That being said, I am big fan of the horror movies coming out of the British Isles over the last decade or so.  For me they remind me of the creature features I grew up with on Saturday afternoons - movies I love and have stuck in my memory even to this day.  Isolation fits the classic "Don't mess with Mother Nature...or else." mold and it does it well.  This is a really fucking good horror movie, in fact I put it in the category of "was that so fucking hard to do"?  Really, it's hits the marks: gore, tension, the monster barely makes an appearance until the end of the movie, the acting is solid, the action is solid, it doesn't look like it was made by a bunch of hacks, and it doesn't try to Shamalayan the fuck out of a good taut story.  Additionally it's not some campy hyuk-fest filled with teenagers who deserve what they get.

Definitely worth checking out.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Addendum: Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" campaign

I have been a fan of Dan Savage for years and years but this new campaign "It Gets Better" is fucking bad ass.  My only addendum is "It Gets Better" is for all of you kids, teenagers, and grown-ups.  I know some days you want the Earth to open up and swallow you whole.  I know some days, sometimes weeks, sometimes months I've barely been able to keep moving forward but it really does get better.  Terry's fucking right though, "Living well is the best revenge."

p.s. If you really feel like shit watch this:

Hooligan Youth United: A fairly serious post, at least as serious as I get.

Grace: Oh, he's very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads - they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude.

It's not just Punk rockers, rude boys and girls, skins and skin byrds, SHARPs, and assorted weirdos we support here at HYR.  GLBT, Martians, paste-eaters, Drag-Queens, Drag-Kings, bantha fodder, perverts, Mods, greasers, and so on and so forth.  You get the idea.

Hooligan Youth United is a concept I came up with years ago while I was involved with the DC Ska scene in the late 90s.  I knew and met a lot of people from different backgrounds and different ways of dealing with the world but we were tied together by our love of music.  There wasn't a need for fussing and fighting, ultimately we were all on the same side, there for the music, the beer, and the camaraderie.  As the years have progressed I've realized that a lot of people I know and have known fall into the Hooligan Youth category (either were or still are Hooligans).  Some how regardless of race, creed, color, sexual predilections, socio-economic backgrounds we've had some kind of common ground.

Now don't get me wrong, I haven't gone all touchy feel-y on you folks.  I still abhor ignorance (willful and otherwise), racists, religious loonies of any stripe, people who do ill to others (physically, mentally, or spiritually), and I believe that the ice caps melting isn't such a bad thing.  I guess in the light of all the press and word of mouth and social networking sites recently lit up with pro and anti-LGBT rhetoric I've rethinking my ideas and beliefs.  I've been hardcore pro-LGBT for a longtime but I never sat down and thought about why. The only answer to "Why?" that I can come up with is, "Why the fuck would I think any different?"  Over the last few years I've come to realize that, basically, who the fuck am I to judge people?  Sure I can safely say that rape squads are a bad thing, throwing a bag of kittens off a highway over-pass is a bad thing, people who  think Glenn Beck is an intellectual beacon are a bad thing, people who tell me I'm going to suffer eternal damnation for not believing what they believe are a bad thing, kiddie rapers are a bad thing, etc., etc.

Like I've been saying recently, "There's not a lot of good and happiness in the world so who the fuck thinks they have the moral/ethical/fuckwit right to deny someone, anyone, their happiness?  That's pretty sickening."

So, well, what's the point of all this?  Hooligan Youth Reviews firmly believes that if someone ever tells you that you are worthless or going to go the "Hell" or treats you like shit or your life just fucking sucks or any combination of the unnecessary bullshit the world and it's fucking inhabitants dish're always welcome at Hooligan Youth Reviews.  The drinks are cold, the music is good, and there's a hot meal on the table.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I worry this next food experiment might cause...

a trans-dimensional portal to open and the result will be either, "It's full of stars!" or "We'll tear your soul apart!"

"Oh God, what is he going to make now?" I hear you sigh.

Spicy, tangy, delicious chicken prepared in a Hunan or Sichuan style.  Served with diced green onions.  On tortilla chips.  Chex-Mex (Chinese Tex-Mex) at it's finest.  Madness!  I think not!  While I was making lunch today I was just going to make my standard spicy chicken nachos but then I got to I really want nachos?  I don't really want to turn the oven on.  Nachos sound like a lot of work.  Rice?  Meh, I'm sick of rice and chicken.  Noodles?  Meh.  Why don't you just eat the chopped up spicy chicken with the chips?  Meh...wait what?  Yes (said in the tone of Brain)!  Mwahahahahaha!  Cue Night on Bald Mountain.

Boy howdy, I tell you what, that was a fine ass lunch.  Pretty damned spicy (on the par with the special batch of slow-cooked pork I make for two old friends when we hang out) and since I'm out of paper towels and all my hankies are in the wash I had to use coffee filters to blow my nose.

I'm gonna fine tune the recipe and once I do I'll post it here.  Hope you guys are having a good weekend.  Don't eat anything I wouldn't.

New in Nacogdoches! Tabu Coffee!

All Week: 6am-Midnight

There's a new coffee shop in Nac.  That might not mean much to you non-Nacogdoches dwellers but here that's kind of a big deal because besides Java Jack's Coffee House, a couple of sports bars, and a bowling alley there ain't much to do on...well...any night of the week.  Hell, people go to the bar at Fuddrucker's and hang out.  Not Just Games closed down about two weeks ago (and I only was able to eat there once).

Now Tabu Coffee is on the scene and I have to say that I am pretty impressed.  Good layout, lots of tables, small stage for live music, hip but not hipster pretentious, friendly staff, a nice mix of clientele, and they make a damn fine cup of coffee (I think even Agent Cooper would approve).  I'm looking forward to trying the food - especially the breakfast.  I'll give the 411 after I try it.

I strongly recommend going here, there really isn't any reason not to since they are open until Midnight, a stone's throw from campus, and Tabu is not a many tentacled, soulless, corporate chain.  A local business like this needs all the word of mouth it can get and all the support it can get.  They've got mine (and normally I hate coffee shops).

Saturday, October 09, 2010

A much better write up than mine...

for Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light score by

Crawlspace (1986) Dir. David Schmoeller

Crawlspace (1986)Well, huh, what can I say about Crawlspace?  I watched it last night as part of my bored out of my skull, tired of doing homework Netflix trawling the horror section downloads routine.

Was it bad?  Yes, but it was better than some of the pieces of shit that came out in the last three decades(especially lately).  Was it creepy?  Yes.  Was it bizarrely wrong in many ways?  Yes.  Why was Klaus Kinski one the spookiest actors to ever live - spookier than Udo Kier?  Because he's fucking goddamned Klaus Kinski!  He is quoted as saying, "I'd have been better than Adolf Hitler. I could've delivered his speeches a lot better. That's for certain."

Kinski sells this movie and turns the crazy meter up to 11.  I would have turned it off but Kinski was so psychotically compelling that I had to keep watching.  You almost expect him to start gibbering and speaking in tongues and summoning the Old Ones and undulating his limbs in an unnatural fashion.  In a way that would be better because Kinski manages to look like a great white shark with some serious mental problems.

Since it's October and everyone is looking for good or at least better than slop movies I whole-heartedly recommend Crawlspace.

Observations and comments (and a few gripes) about upcoming games:

It's been a while since I've posted anything about games.  Perhaps that's because nothing has really caught my attention outside of a few XBOX Arcade titles (i.e. DeathSpank, The Misadventures Of P.B. Winterbottom - see video below).  I've had a good time playing Star Wars: Force Unleashed but then again it's always fun to light sabre things to death.  DarkStar One: Broken Alliance sounds like it could be a good time but I don't know if it's worth forty bucks.

Dragon Age Origins: Ultimate Collection comes out next week and it has a shit-ton of stuff, Awakenings, DLC, etc and all for $60.  Don't ask me how much I spent on individual DLCs.  This has left a bad taste in my mouth.

Why?  Because now I'm not that thrilled about Fallout: New Vegas coming out on the 19th.  I'm still excited but...I suddenly don't feel the need to run out and buy it right away.  In fact I feel like I would be a patsy if I ran out and spent the money on it on launch day.  If I wait until all the DLC and GOTY edition come out then I conceivably save a good amount of money.  It's not just the saving the money it's the factor of I want the whole game experience at once, not handed out piece-meal like a miserly grandmother.  "Epic" games are barely 40 hour experiences with a little bit added here and there a few months later.  Nostalgia moment: Dragon Warrior VII -PSOne (2001) I played for 300+ hours on one play-through, not the same game played six times through.  That being said I have played through Fallout 3 more than once and Dragon Age several times with different character builds but there's nothing fresh to it.  Then when DLC comes out, the additional content -especially equipment - are a potential game breaker.  What I mean by "game breaker" is the new equipment is so powerful that it makes any challenge in the game null and void. 

Grumble grumble...maybe I'll just pick up a copy of Civilization V.    

Friday, October 08, 2010

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928): Dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer

I had never seen Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc but was fortunate enough to see it in class on Thursday.  It was...I'm not sure how to describe it and I'm not sure if I like it but it was an overwhelming piece of cinema.  If you're serious about cinema and haven't seen it then you must ASAP.

However, and as I listen to it now, Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light score for the film is now in my top ten favorite scores.  It is made up of choir, cello, and a few instruments I can't easily identify.  There are more than a few of you fine folks who I know who would appreciate this score.  Anything I could say would not do it justice.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The General (1926) Dir. Buster Keaton

Although I've been a fan of Buster Keaton since I was introduced to silent films when I was a kid I had never seen The General.  Today I had the opportunity to view it and while it is not my favorite Keaton (I think Seven Chances (1925) or his later bit roles take that slot) it has not only some brilliant physical comedy pieces but I gained an insight into one of favorite sight gags (Woody Allen's sword and scabbard mishaps during Love and Death) and am trying, with some difficulty to think of a comedy film that has really solid physical comedy (and not just dick and shit jokes).

The General is a fairly straight forward film: protagonist loves girl, girl gets kidnapped, protagonist chases after girl, rescues girl,  girl and protagonist have to escape the clutches of the pursuing enemies, protagonist saves the day, and gets the girl.  What makes the film is Keaton's sense of comedic timing, athleticism, and his dead pan expression.  The chase scenes (after the girl and then away from the pursuers) are all set on steam engine locomotives - Keaton is the engineer of the locomotive named "General" - so much so that the trains become characters in the film as well as set pieces for action/comedy.  Factor in Keaton performing his own stunts and you have some pretty thrilling cinema.  In case you haven't seen a Keaton film, imagine a comedic actor with total control over his body and the physical prowess of a top notch traceur (a practitioner of parkour - i.e. the bad ass bomb-maker in the beginning of Casino Royale (2006) ).  He doesn't use a stunt man - further drawing the viewer into the scene.  The style of comedy he has, well I can only describe it as dead pan "Are you fucking kidding me?" - the quintessential reaction to Murphy's Law.  However while watching The General you forget that these sequences are plotted and practiced and rehearsed - it's so well done it seems all accidental and that Keaton is simply reacting to events.  That's what good movies are supposed to do.  Often when I watch a movie, especially a FX heavy movie, I don't wonder how the filmmakers did it, I know how (recent exceptions being Casino Royale and the action sequences in Inception) and that lack of wonder jolts me out of the experience.  So, in a way, it's kind of surprising that an action/comedy silent film nearly a century old can draw me in.  There were several moments where in my head I said, "Holy Shit!  How'd he do that?  That's fucking nuts!" - if I had been watching it at home I would have rewound the scene.

If you have the opportunity to watch The General I whole-heartedly recommend  it.  Yes, it's black and white.  Yes, it's a silent movie.  And, what? - it's certainly better than some Will Farrell drek or a wanna be John Hughes teen sex romp.

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