Monday, November 3

Fallout 3 - to kill or not to kill

i know, i know. i've been talking a lot about TV lately. where's the movie reviews? where's the funny websites? where's the food reviews? well tonight i hope to get back on track with stuff that's not just TV. and i'm kicking things off with video games.

i started playing this post-apocalyptic first-person shooter / role-playing game (whew, what a mouthful) called Fallout 3, and within the first two hours of playing i came upon a decision wholly unlike any other i've ever had in a video game before.

to kill, or not to kill.

now, almost all video games present the player with the option to kill a major character, but they do so with blaring trumpets - they present it on a platter. press this button and the guy lives. press this button and the guy dies. and more often than not it's a matter of self defense.

nothing like this happened in Fallout 3. the guy was just standing in front of me and it was up to me to kill him or to let him live.

ok, let me back up. you play as someone trying to escape this "prison." you're trying to escape because your father (an important doctor in this prison) is missing and security thinks you know where he went.

in trying to find out where he went, security interrogates and kills one of his good friends. this good friend just happened to be a sort of uncle to you. now, you don't SEE the murder, but you hear about it and later see his dead body.

the man ultimately responsible for all this is the "warden" of this prison, the Overseer. to complicate matters, the Overseer has a daughter. she is your best friend. she aids you in your escape.

as you near the home stretch, you come upon a scene. the Overseer is interrogating his daughter with the help of a security guard. they want to know where you are. things are getting physical.

ok, first thing is first. the game actually allows you to just sneak past this scene and continue on with your escape (an amazing choice in its own right). of course, i was too emotionally invested in these characters to just sneak on past so i broke up the interrogation. i killed the guard (self defense) and my friend ran for it.

i was left face to face with the Overseer.

the option came up to talk to him, so i did. the only thing he was somewhat remorseful about was the death of my uncle. i questioned him about the interrogation of his own daughter. he basically said the needs of the many outweigh the few - even if the few are family. then he said i had to turn myself in. there was no way i was going to do that, so he started calling for the guards.

conversation over.

now i was left standing in front of him, unable to start another dialogue. i ran around checking for the guards he was calling for, but none appeared. then i checked on my best friend. she was ok but physically and emotionally shaken by the actions of her own father. i exhausted the dialogue tree and moved on, getting closer and closer to the exit.

then it hit me.

what happens to my best friend when i leave the prison? what is the Overseer - her own father - going to do to her if he was already interrogating her as he had been?

i had to go see what i could do.

i went back to the Overseer, but i still couldn't start another dialogue with him. he just kept yelling for the guards. then i pulled out my gun and aimed at him.

the game wasn't stopping me from killing him.

i put the gun down and went back to my best friend to see if she had anything else to say. unfortunately, she didn't. these were my choices:

1) kill the Overseer
+ prevent him from hurting his daughter/my best friend
+ small amount of revenge for killing my uncle
- best friend might hate me in the long run (she still loves her dad after all)

2) let the Overseer live
+ best friend won't hate me for killing him (though she could hate me for NOT killing him if he ends up ruining her life later)
- leaves my best friend in danger
- no revenge for the death of my uncle

i went back to the Overseer one more time just to make sure that the game really was letting me kill the guy if i wanted to. it was. unbelievable.

i thought the decision might be too big to make on my own. i mean what if this one action defines the rest of the game, or the end of the game when i eventually come back home? so i went online to see what other people did and do you know what i found out?

not only is the decision seemingly a minor one, no one else on the forums was talking about it like it was a major decision to be made! i was having my own crisis of conscience on a minor event in the game.

and that's what's so amazing.

there i was, not 2 hours into this 60+ hour game, and i am SO drawn into the world, so emotionally invested - by the dialogue, by the story, by the way the game presents itself - that i'm questioning whether or not to kill someone that ultimately may have no bearing on the game (or very little bearing).

i've never experienced anything else like it in a video game.

so many video games nowadays try and have choices that the player can make - Mass Effect, Fable II, KOTOR - but they usually end up boiling down to very black-and-white, scripted events. not Fallout 3.

and to think. if an event like this happened in the first 2 hours of the game, how many more events will there be like this in the next 58 hours?

if you couldn't tell by now, i am absolutely enthralled by this game.


Friday, October 24

TV power rankings - going into the week of 10/27/08

on this list: some shows rise causing others to fall. others fall because, well, they haven't been up to snuff these past few weeks. and we've got 3 newcomers: South Park, the Life on Mars remake, and Crusoe. how did they fair? well, you won't be seeing one of them on the next list.

without further ado, the TV power rankings going into the week of 10/27/08.

1) The Shield
last ranked: 2

the last 2 weeks have set the stage for the final 5 episodes - and possibly set the stage for the best ending to a TV series ever. seriously, things happened that you would NEVER see in another show - things that just raised the quality of season 7 to almost season 6 quality. it's that good.

2) House
last ranked: 4

just like The Shield, the last 2 episodes have vaulted House to the top of the list, and it's mostly due to the House/Wilson dynamic - one of the most interesting friendships in all of television.

3) Sons of Anarchy
last ranked: 5

with each week this show creeps up the list a little more. with last week's episode, it almost deserves to be #2 below The Shield. it's really, really good.

4) Life
last ranked: 1

only reason this fell is because the shows now above it have stepped up their game in the past few weeks. Life hasn't gotten any worse; those shows just got a lot better. the one MINOR gripe i have with Life is that it seems to think that every week they need to focus on a relationship or two. Charlie and his ex wife. Charlie's roommate and Olivia. Charlie's partner and the new head of the department. it's too relationship-y. they especially took it too far with his partner and the head of the department. no way would that have happened.

5) Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
last ranked: 3

this fell for pretty much the same reason Life did. only small problem i have this year: everyone is really, really moody. i like that the once-inseparable mother-son combo of John and Sarah Connor has some tension now, but damn do those two know how to scowl and be moody.

6) Chuck
last ranked: 7

you know what? i've always looked at this show as just a fun distraction until two weeks ago. it was then that i realized it actually had pretty good writing. last year it was about Chuck pining over the unattainable Sarah. this year she's pining for him but they both know they can't take their relationship any further while he remains her mission. it's pretty cool stuff. it's got better writing than, say, Heroes. WAY better.

7) 90210
last ranked: 8

do you know what else has better writing than Heroes this year? this show. no, it's still not that good of a show. yes, it's still totally a guilty pleasure. but you know what? the last episode i watched had genuinely funny moments in its writing and acting. oh, and apparently it's not going to be canceled this year. the network has ordered a full season's worth of episodes. i guess it's doing well. wow. who woulda thunk it.

8) South Park
last ranked: new

started with a bang 3 weeks ago with the Indy rape episode. then it aired two episodes that were just par for the course - the latest being part 1 of at least a two-parter (and i'm not usually a fan of multi-part South Park episodes, as they tend to be too drawn out). with the ups and downs so far, i'm still interested to see where this season goes - just not maybe as excited as i was after the first episode this season.

9) Fringe
last ranked: 6

this was higher on the list until two weeks ago when they aired an episode that was all about "the pattern" or whatever the hell they call it. i like this show when it's about the wacky cases and the quirky father/son duo. when it devotes an entire episode to furthering the ridiculous overarching story of "the pattern" - that's when i'm not a fan. the show is too serious for its own good. i enjoy it when it's fun, not when it's bogged down in laughable conspiracy theories. oh, and for those that think the main chick is interesting? come on. she's either a horrible actress or they're giving her horrible material. scowl a little more will ya? scowl must = serious. she'd fit right in on Terminator.

10) Life on Mars
last ranked: new

it's taken me 3 weeks, but i'm finally starting to take this show on its own merits and trying to forget the near-perfect British show that it's based off of. i like the main character and the supporting women characters. i hate - HATE - Harvey Keitel (sp?) as the captain. he just plays his normal self. he's no Gene Hunt. but he never will be. like i said, i'm trying to forget the original and enjoy this new version - because i'm pretty sure it won't be around for long. as it is though, it doesn't hold a candle to the original.

11) It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
last ranked: 9

each episode is getting more and more absurd. as i said before, absurdity for absurdity's sake isn't always funny. however, the only reason it slipped down the list is because of the new shows above it.

12) Law & Order: SVU
last ranked: 10

had to make room for the new shows, so this slipped too. i still love you SVU, but why do you feel the need to constantly focus on the main characters' lives instead of just focusing on the cases? that show 2 weeks ago that focused on Elliot's family was cringe-worthy.

13) Heroes
last ranked: 11

i just don't know what to write about this show anymore. after this week i think i'm starting to take season 3 on its own merits, but there's still way too much going on that's just rehashing of season 1 and season 2. Peter losing his powers? check. Claire hating her dad? check. Parkman being totally useless when he could be written so much better? check. the writers not remembering which heroes have what powers and writing scenes that make absolutely no sense given the powers of those involved in the scenes? check. i'm still watching, but it's more out of a morbid curiosity now than anything. that, and like i said - season 3 is sort of coming into its own, which is good... i just don't like what it's becoming.

14) Crusoe
last ranked: new

yes, there is currently something worse than Heroes. tried watching this show on a whim. it's just NBC trying to cash in on the Pirates of the Caribbean fad. it's a weird mix of humor and drama that just doesn't mesh well together. will not watch again.

what are you all watching? what should i be watching that i'm not? where did i go wrong on my list?


Thursday, October 2

TV Power Rankings - going into the week of 10/6/08

for some reason i'm a big fan of power rankings. i have no idea why. maybe i just like ranked lists. anyway, i thought i'd rank the TV shows i'm currently watching. i might not do this every week, but we'll see.

rankings are not necessarily based on how i feel about a show on the whole, but how i feel the show is currently doing - how i liked the previous episode, how it's been doing overall for the season, and how much i'm looking forward to the next episode. for example, Heroes is a pretty good show (and i will always think it's a good show overall) that has had a horrible start (in my opinion) this season. that's why it's at the bottom of this week's list.

without further ado, the TV power rankings going into the week of 10/6/08.

1) Life

this show started its second season out with 2 of the most original episodes in the police drama setting that i've ever seen. the writing is just so... fresh. Life has yet to disappoint. my only worry is that with NBC pumping out 4 episodes in 2 weeks and then pushing it to Friday nights, Life doesn't have much longer to live.

2) The Shield

halfway through the final season and i am not disappointed in the least. is it as good as the start of the sixth season? of course not - nothing ever will be. but it's on the right track to ending with a bang (in more than one sense).

3) Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

a second season gives the show a chance to flesh out backstories. that's exactly what Chronicles is doing. and it's pretty entertaining to say the least.

4) House

a show that never plays it safe. last year he lost his team, this year he loses his only friend. say what you want about the weekly cases, it's the drama between House and the rest of his team is what is so compelling. my only worry for this year: the new private eye House is paying for is a being written a little too quirky, too cute. oh, and a relationship with Cuddy is completely unnecessary.

5) Sons of Anarchy

good start to this fledgling series. i could see this going a few seasons if the writing is able to stay fresh. i'm a fan.

6) Fringe

this was higher on the list until this past week, when they aired an episode that was all about "the pattern" or whatever the hell they call it. i like this show when it's about the wacky cases and the quirky father/son duo. when it devotes an entire episode to furthering the ridiculous overarching story of "the pattern" - that's when i'm not a fan. show is too serious for its own good. i enjoy it when it's fun, not when it's bogged down in laughable conspiracy theories.

7) Chuck

a good, fun show. while i can see myself getting tired of the formula in another year or two, it's a good distraction for now.

8) 90210

a guilty pleasure. started watching it because of the ties it had to the old 90210, but now i'm a full-fledged fan. is it a good show? no, not really. but it's fun. and it's neat seeing some of the old gang around - even though it seems like they might be getting phased out. i'll continue to watch it until it inevitably gets canceled later this year.

9) It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

still continues to be funny despite its downward spiral from its golden first season. i'm a fan of the absurd, what can i say?

10) Law & Order: SVU

it's Law & Order. how can i not watch it? is the show good anymore? that's tough to say. i still have a good time watching, but i'll be the first to admit it's a mere shadow of what it used to be 4-5 seasons ago.

11) Heroes

once one of my favorite shows, Heroes has taken a mighty fall. all they're doing this year is rehashing stories from previous seasons (mostly season 1) and coming up with ridiculous and ludicrous team-ups. and i'm not a fan. there are still a few original, interesting things happening, so i'm going to stick around a few more weeks to see how those develop, but if they wither and die instead of blossoming, i'm done. oh how the mighty have fallen.

yet to be ranked: Life on Mars, South Park (both coming next week), and Crusoe (2 weeks).


Monday, September 22

TV - Fall 2008

so i didn't think there was going to be a lot to watch this year, what with NBC canceling excellent shows like Journeyman and putting in its place Knight Rider 2008 and My Own Worst Enemy. then i sat down and figured out what i want to watch and you know what? there's enough.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Fox; second season already in progress

2 weeks in and this show is already kicking ass like it did when it premiered last year. sleeper hit of the year last year (maybe because of the writer's strike) has now become one of my favorite shows.

NBC; second season premieres September 29

funny show. first season ended abruptly and with no real wrap-up because of the writer's strike, so i'm interested to see where it goes from there.

NBC; third season premieres September 22
60-minute clip show precedes episode;
show moves to 8:00 on September 29

they really, REALLY lost me with how crappy season 2 turned out to be. if they don't hook me again in the first few episodes of season 3, i'm out.

NBC; second season premieres September 29
Special preview; show moves to Fridays on October 10

EXCELLENT show. fills my "wacky detective" television show quota for the fall. however, it's main night is going to be Fridays, so i don't expect it to be around long (thanks a lot NBC).

The CW; first season already in progress

i was a fan of the original (god knows why) so i have to check out the remake. it can't be that bad, can it?

Fox; fifth season already in progress

the end of the first episode of this season was AMAZING. this is a show that's not afraid to take risks with it's main cast members. and i like that.

Fox; first season already in progress

it's X-Files for the new generation. if i were to watch this show seriously i would laugh at the absurdities (in the cases and, moreover, in the writing) - so it's nowhere near as good as X-Files - BUT for some reason it's fun to watch. it's just cheesy goodness. oh and the main actress is hot.

The Shield
FX; seventh season already in progress

not as good as the start of last season (some of the best television i've ever seen EVER was the start of the sixth season) but still great. only 7 more episodes left until it's all over. :(

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
NBC; 10th season premieres September 23

i'm a fan, come hell or high water. what can i say? it'll be interesting this year because at least 2 of the main characters left. see who they got to replace them.

Sons of Anarchy
FX; first season already in progress

after 3 episodes, this is turning out to be a pretty good show about a biker gang that is in it's final days (sort of like The Shield is all about the final days of the Strike Team). sure you could put the plot onto any "gang" situation - mafia, yakuza, Bloods/Crypts - but it's still an interesting show. oh and the mom from Married with Children is a BADASS and Ron Pearlman is awesome like usual.

My Name is Earl
NBC; fourth season premieres September 25
Special one-hour episode

if i happen to be home with nothing to watch.

Kath & Kim
NBC; premieres October 9

if i happen to be home with nothing to watch.

The Office
NBC; fifth season premieres September 25
Special one-hour episode

if i happen to be home with nothing to watch.

30 Rock
NBC; third season premieres October 30

if i happen to be home with nothing to watch.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
FX; fourth season already in progress

i still think their first season was comedic gold and everything after that has been good but not great (absurdity for absurdity's sake isn't always funny) - however, it's still an wholly original comedy that's just my sense of humor.

Life on Mars
ABC; premieres October 9

a remake of one of my favorite shows of all time? oh you know i've got to check it out. i'm worried, however, that it won't translate well, that putting it on Thursdays at 9PM is a death sentence (that the show will never have a chance), and that if they HAPPEN to make it past the first half-season, the premise is going to get old. the original only had 16 episodes TOTAL. oh, and the ending? there's NO WAY they could pull that off on American television. no. way.

NBC; premieres October 17
Special two-hour episode

mildly interested. seems like something fresh and different, so i'll check it out.

NBC; moves to Fridays on October 10

damn you NBC for renewing Life only to put it in one of the worst time slots EVER. this - along with your canceling of Journeyman, your Knight Rider remake, and your My Own Worst Enemy show - makes me think you lost your mind around the time of the writer's strike. if Heroes ends up sucking, i may just be done with you.


Wednesday, September 3

Vegas 2008 - or how i spent my Labor Day weekend saying goodbye to The Experience

as many of you probably know, i am a Star Trek fan. i'm a fan of the movies, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. the only reason i'm not a fan of the original series and Enterprise is because i haven't had the time to sit down and watch them yet (i'm sure i'd like them if i watched them).

as many of you probably know, i am also a Las Vegas fan. for the past several years it's been my mission to (boldly?) go to Vegas at least once a year. after last year's Thanksgiving Vegas trip, i thought we might be taking a year off this year. and we did - well, 2/3 of the usual crew did. but once i heard that Star Trek: The Experience in the Las Vegas Hilton was closing its doors after almost 11 years of operation, i had to say goodbye (see the first paragraph).

so i wrangled up my good buddy (and inside guy to The Experience) Todd and the two of us headed out to Vegas this Labor Day Weekend, 2008.

highlights of the trip:

- meeting up with so many of Todd's Trek friends, many of whom i had met before but am by no means friends with myself (though i'd like to hope we're all acquaintances now at least). they went out of their way to make me feel welcome, like part of the crew. it was great hanging out with Paul, Barry, Todd (the other Todd), Bev, and Mary (to name a few). not only were they a fun bunch, they all had worked (or still did work) at Star Trek: The Experience and offered up lots of great stories. it was great getting the inside scoop, experiencing the closing of The Experience from other points of view.

- getting to visit the gift shop in its final days and see what kinds of things even fans of Star Trek won't buy. among my favorites were a beardless William Riker figure sitting in what was described as the "commander's chair" even though it obviously was the captain's chair, and a disembodied Diana Troy holographic head postcard of which they still had hundreds of.

- getting to meet/be reintroduced to so many of the fine actors and actresses that played the parts of the aliens that made The Experience come alive. it was one thing to have them come up to us in character and chat with us like that, but it was something else entirely to see them out of makeup being toasted by their peers during one of the many after parties. the passion many of these actors/actresses put into years of work was evident. one summed it up saying "Star Trek is my life."

- being present at Quark's to hear the "official" story as to what was happening with the time station (The Experience) from the mouth of one of the Andorians (as he stood atop the bar). the temporal rift that formed, allowing the station to come to our present, was closing, but at the same time it was returning in a way back to when it started (1998) so that we all could relive the past 10 years - relive the happy times - over and over again. i can't do the speech justice, but out of all the stories and speeches that nearly brought me to tears, this was the best.

- getting to see, meet, and hear the stories about all the "superfans." these were the fans that would visit The Experience month after month, the fans that were vying for who rode the ride the most, the fans for whom it made everything worthwhile. the great thing was, the majority of them weren't crazy or out of their gourds or anything - they just loved Star Trek. and really, what's wrong with that.

- being there for the decommissioning ceremony. as with every ship or station, there is a commissioning ceremony upon its completion, and a decommissioning ceremony upon its destruction. this decommissioning ceremony was held right outside the entrance to The Experience and had about 200-300 fans in attendance. the names of all the employees currently working there were read, they all came down and received recognition, speeches were given, and finally a chord was released and a huge gold curtain that hung from the ceiling came down and covered the entrance. Star Trek: The Experience was no more.

- getting to hit the strip at least once. unlike many of my visits to Vegas, this one we stayed pretty much off the strip (and in The Experience). however, Todd and i did take the monorail one afternoon from the Hilton to the strip and walked down a little ways to Casino Royale, my now-favorite casino on the strip. why? because beer there is $1-2 a bottle when everywhere else it's at least $4-6. yay cheap beer! so we got to see the strip and good news, it's still alive and kicking.

- getting to do off-strip stuff. last November was the first time i was introduced to off-strip Vegas goodness - of which there is a lot of. the German beer hall, the plethora of awesome local bars, the local comic book shop, the great local place to eat breakfast... this time we were lucky enough to have Mary drive our dumb asses around one afternoon and hit up the breakfast spot, an antique store, the comic shop, and two other magnificent places. first was a pinball arcade. yes, nestled in an unassuming strip mall was a pinball machine arcade. it was almost like a museum (for us video game fans) because they had machines ranging from the late 1950s all the way to the 1990s. i played Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles, Super Mario World, and Nugent. yes, there was a Ted Nugent pinball machine from the late 70s. it was amazing. second, we visited the Liberace museum. it too was in a strip mall and oh man it was unbelievable. i had no idea who Liberace was before going into the museum (i was just along for the ride at this point), but man it was still fun going around in there and just being like "am i really in a museum dedicated to this flamboyantly gay musician in a Las Vegas strip mall?" yes, yes i was.

so that was pretty much Vegas 2008. it was a much different Vegas trip than what i've grown accustomed to the past few years, but it was a much more personal one - yes somewhat for me (like i said, i did tear up a few times), but more for those that had worked there, that still worked there until the very end. it was amazing seeing the end through their eyes. The Experience really meant a lot to a lot of different people. other than the Star Trek convention, it was one of the last mainstream things keeping the Star Trek Universe alive (until the movie and the online game come out sometime next year). and now it's gone.

thank you to all of the actors and workers that made it all happen. 10 years isn't a bad run, especially in today's Vegas. you should all be proud of yourselves. you brought a lot of smiles to fans and superfans alike. as the Andorian said, we'll be seeing each other again, for the first time, on and on, forever and ever. Star Trek will never truly die.


Tuesday, August 5

the dark knight review

it may have taken me almost a week to see what was THE most anticipated movie of my entire life - i was getting psyched for this thing the minute Batman Begins ended and every single bit of publicity and rumor i heard and saw about it over the course of the next few years did nothing but psyche me up even further - but i saw it. The Dark Knight.

and it was good.

the thing about hyped movies for me is that the more hyped they are, the more excited i get. the more excited i get, the more chance there is that i'm going to be let down. that's why i try to not let myself get too psyched up for a flick - i know that i'll most likely be let down. so i was SO psyched going in to The Dark Knight that i was SCARED. thankfully, it was good.

every bit as good as 2+ years of hype had led me to believe. and that's unbelievable.

this year has sure had some pure crap movies, and i maintain that 90% of what hollywood is shoveling out these days is crap, but The Dark Knight... wow. pure genius. the fact that it's making bank and breaking records - that America sees it for what it is: a GREAT FREAKING MOVIE - almost makes up for the fact that Meet the Spartans was the #1 movie the week it came out. ALMOST.

in this "review" i won't be spoiling too much (i'll be talking about wider strokes, not really too many specifics), but still, if you want to go in not knowing specifics, skip the next few paragraphs.

most of the following are excerpts from an email i sent to a friend a week after seeing the film:


first minor complaint: there were so many characters to focus on, i think Bruce Wayne didn't get enough face time. i mean his story was that he might finally get to give up being Batman if Harvey Dent could become the white knight everyone wanted... but it just seemed a little thin. there could have been another scene or two just focusing on him.

second minor complaint: after the opening bank robbery scene (one of the best i've ever seen), the movie took a little bit for me to get into it. the "recap" (where they let us know what's been going on since we last saw these characters) was just a little too quick and neat for me. it was almost too tightly written, too sparse on details. however, it didn't last long and then soon i was dragged right into the world. i understand that the recap couldn't drag on too long because there was just so much more movie to come AFTER it, but it could have lingered a little longer.

...and that's pretty much it.

from the excellent portrayal of the Joker (maybe even the best, with Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns portrayal coming in second) to the story of Batman (the dark knight) and Harvey Dent/Two Face (the white knight) and the ending setting up the next movie - it just solidified what a good Batman story can be. and if they're out there, i want to read them now.


honestly, this was one of the most well written, acted, and directed movies i've ever seen. each scene topped the next one! i read in an interview that Nolan had SUCH a vision for the film that they only edited out like 10 minutes of footage. they didn't waste a drop! he knew what he wanted and he went for it. and it was near-perfect. maybe even perfect.

it's definitely my favorite superhero movie now (passing up Spider-Man 2 and Batman Begins) and yeah, i'm a little scared at how freaking good it was. i mean how can you pass it up - be it with Batman 3 or even any OTHER superhero movie to come? i guess you just try and realize that nothing will be as good as it and just go with it. some might think Spider-Man's morality stories are "silly" in comparison now, but Spider-Man 2 is still my second-favorite superhero movie - they're just different movies, by different crews. i guess that's how i have to approach superhero movies from now on. "to each their own."

speaking to this point, i watched the trailer from comic con for the new X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie and of COURSE it's going to be silly compared to The Dark Knight - however, it looked REALLY good (and i'm not a fan of Wolverine when he's on his own). so i guess i'm not too worried about comic book movies to come. i can take them on their own merits.

Batman 3 however has something to live up to. :)

i knew just how good DK was when i was sitting there watching the thing and said to myself "now i want to read the comics." seriously, this was the perfect Batman story.

the acting was SO good all around - Oldman, Caine, Ledger, Eckhart - that i think Bale got outshined, which was fine. and Heath Ledger. wow, what an actor. he truly embodied what the Joker really should be all about - chaos. and his X-rated portrayal in a PG-13 movie was unbelievable. he WAS the Joker. and it's just so sad we'll never get to see him again, in this or any other movie.

there's so much more i could say about the movie, but i think that's enough for now.

side note: why do you think the movie is making so much? i mean Batman Begins barely broke $150 mil at the box office. was it word of mouth after seeing Batman Begins? after seeing The Dark Knight? was it the advertising? did most people only see Begins on DVD? i think that could account for some of the popularity, but honestly it's got to be the fact that this is Heath Ledger's last performance. i swear, if it wasn't, the movie would probably be sitting at $50-100 mil less right now. i want to believe it's a testament to his great skills as an actor and not some morbid curiosity the public has to see his last performance. oh well. rant over.

The Dark Knight
4 stars out of 4

- best movie of 2008
- my favorite superhero movie so far
- one of my favorite movies of all time, period

it truly is a work of art.


Thursday, July 31

San Diego Comic Con - the reality

here we are, a week removed from the start of the 2008 San Diego Comic Con and it's time to put down in words what i experienced. to sum it up in two words, the San Diego Comic Con was crazy fun. crazy because of all the people and the countless things to do in a span of just 3 days. fun because it's nerd heaven and i got to hang out with some of my bestest of friends.

let's break down what has easily become one of my favorite extended weekends of my entire life.

Wednesday, 9:45pm

i depart for San Diego via Salt Lake City. why in the world Delta has me flying all the way to Salt Lake City first and THEN returning to San Diego i'll never know. all i know is that it was the cheapest flight i could get.

Thursday, 10:45am

i arrive in San Diego and meet up with Bill (my good friend from Phoenix) and Dave (one of my good friends i met in Vancouver). i quickly learn that Todd (another good friend from Vancouver) has not arrived yet (he should have arrived first). we end up waiting for him for over an hour. at the point when his plane finally lands we are hungry and hearing the call of nerd prom (the con).


we arrive at the hotel, drop our shit off, and head out to find some sustenance. as luck would have it, there is an excellent, EXCELLENT Mexican restaurant across the street. we eat up and head off for the trolly. see, since we booked our hotel sort of late in the game, we couldn't stay near the convention center, so we had to settle for a hotel a few miles away but right near the trolly that would take us to the con.


we finally arrive at the con. it is wonderous. there are people everywhere and it is only Thursday. the most packed days are to come. we hit the main exhibition hall floor and just walk around in a stupor. Bill and i manage to buy some toy exclusives (available only at this year's con), but otherwise we just sort of wander around.


Diego (the third and final friend from Vancouver) calls us and lets us know that he's arrived. we meet up with him and Outsourced Games (+ Bill) is reunited for the first time in a year and a half. it's great seeing everyone. if i were a girl i would have cried.


we all wander around the main floor - sometimes together, sometimes by ourselves - and just get lost in the nerdiness. no panels were attended. oh, and Dave showed off Saints Row 2 (there were surprisingly a lot of video game publishers showing off their wares at the con - probably because E3 was the week previous and was just up in LA).

the main floor is divided into several areas. first are the big companies giving away free stuff and showing off their wares. next are the artists and creators that aren't necessarily affiliated with any big company showing off their wares. and finally there's the retailers selling a bunch of shit. at the Chicago Comic Con (the only other one i've been to) the space was pretty evenly divided. this time around it seemed like more room was given to the big companies, followed by the small companies, and then the retailers. i was actually expecting a few more retailers. oh well.


we all 5 leave the con and grab a bite to eat in San Diego's Gaslamp District (right across the street from the convention center). the place reminded me of Vancouver sort of, but with even more bars and a little more upscale. we find a hole in the wall bar and get some bar food.


at this point Dave, Bill and i are pretty much done. our legs are tired from all the walking and we just want to head back to the room. Todd and Diego however want to head back to the con for some nighttime entertainment - there were a few panels they wanted to see. so we go our separate ways. Dave, Bill and i catch a cab back (too tired to walk the 10+ blocks back to the trolly station), grab a case of beer from a nearby liquor store, and drink, talk, and watch TV.


Todd and Diego return. we call it a night. Day 1 is a wrap.

Friday, 8:30am

we all get up and get ready for the day.


we head across the street for some Mexican breakfast. and a beef taco. oh man is it good.


we arrive at the con. we walk around for a while, trying to decide what to do. we finally split up, with Dave and i checking out the line for the Spaced panel. surprise surprise, the line is long.

now it's time to take a time out and explain something about the panels at SDCC that i didn't know going in. ok, so at SDCC you can attend one panel early in the day and then squat in the room until the panel you want to see comes up. you never have to leave the room! it's unbelievable. on top of that, they scheduled some of the MAJOR panels in the smallest of rooms! i wasn't able to see Spaced, MST3K, or JMS because of this screw up! so next year i'll know NOT to plan to see any big panels in small rooms and learn to squat in a room earlier in the day if there's an awesome panel i want to see later.


ok, so we got screwed out of seeing Spaced. that's fine, because there's ALWAYS another panel to see. so Dave, Bill (he met up with us) and i went to see the Spectacular Spider-Man panel (even though they'd never really seen the show). it was great. a lot of the voice actors were there and the creators were there too. it was a great panel with a good balance of questions from the moderator and from the audience. got to see a bit from season 2 and learned it won't be on until next year! oh well. i still love you Spectacular Spider-Man.


Dave, Bill and i hit the main floor and again got pretty lost in it all. to be honest, i can't exactly remember what happened. we probably hung out for a while, then split up, then got back together again. i know we took a look at some of the retailer booths. got another exclusive toy. Bill went off to meet up with some other friends for the rest of the day.


i split off on my own to check out the 24 panel. it started at 5:30, so i knew to arrive early and stand in line. i got up there (2nd floor, almost all the panels were on the 2nd floor) and there was already a pretty long line. no big deal i thought, the room was plenty big.

well, i barely got in. i'd say that at least HALF the people in this huge room (the third largest at the con) didn't leave from the panel before. damn squatters. anyway, maybe 50 people after me were let in and that was it. there was AT LEAST 300 more people after that that didn't make it in. that's nuts.

anyway, i got in and it was a great panel. Kiefer was there - along with the guy that plays Tony Almada and a bunch of the writers and producers - and they showed off clips from the season 7 prequel movie (airing in November) and talked about the upcoming season. basically they got me all excited for 24 again. i really think the year off did them some good. at least it sounds like it. oh and man was Kiefer awesome. he said it was his first time at the con. glad i got to see it.


met up with Dave, Diego, and Todd. we decide to take off and get some supper. after a lot of walking around and not finding what we wanted, we decide to grab a pair of bike taxis to take us to a fish market that's a little ways away. now, these are guys that have a cart for 2-3 people that they pull behind them on a bike. it's sort of like a modern-day rickshaw. so we get a price estimate on it and we all hear the guy say "two ninety-five." everyone but me thinks we're only paying $2.95 a person, but i'm worried that's WAY not enough and that he's going to charge us $295 for the 4 of us. so the entire ride there i'm completely nervous. we get there and he wants $25 per cab (so $50 total). we argue but i guess when we all heard "two ninety-five" what it really was was "twenty five." haha. whatever. at least it wasn't $295.


we eat at this really great fish market place right on the water. i've never been a seafood guy, but ever since Vancouver i've been a lot more willing to try foods, and being back with my Vancouver crew i felt it only appropriate to try something new - so i ordered the swordfish. freshly caught by the restaurant that morning. $30. oh my GOD was it good. also tried for the first time clam chowder (holy shit was it creamy) and boiled peel-and-eat shrimp. not a big fan of the shrimp. but the rest was excellent. even the creme brulee.


Todd was going to leave us to hang out with some Vegas friends in town for the con, so Diego, Dave and i had to decide what we wanted to do with the rest of the night. well, none of us had seen The Dark Knight yet, so we decided that's what we'd do.

oh what an adventure it was.

we all 4 grab a cab back to the Gas Light District. we tell the cabby to take us to the movie theater in the Gas Light District. he drops us off pointing a block away saying that the theater is there. ok, so Dave, Diego and i split off from Todd and go check it out. nope, no theater there. we walk around a bit more and finally ask someone. they tell us the theater is 5 blocks up, not even close to where the cabby told us it would be. ok, so we begrudgingly walk the 5 blocks and come to a theater. in the ticket window is a sign that says:

sorry, we're not showing The Dark Knight. try the so-and-so theater a few blocks up.

we ask the guy at the ticket counter where the theater is and he says it's only 2 blocks up, 1 block over. so off we go. in retrospect, we should have asked WHY they weren't showing the #1 movie in the country, but oh well. we get to the theater, get our tickets for the 10:20 showing (next showing was an hour later - at least we lucked out at something that night) and got ready for The Dark Knight. FINALLY!


Dave, Diego and i watch what is:

- the best movie of this year
- my favorite comic book movie of all time
- one of my favorite movies all around

The Dark Knight does not disappoint. but that's for another post altogether.

we grab a cab back to the hotel (the trolly shut down at midnight, and besides, it was at least 20 blocks away from where we were at that point) and are greeted by Todd and Bill when we get back. we all talk a bit and then turn in for the night. end Day 2.

Saturday, 9-11am

we get ready for the day and head down for a free breakfast at the hotel. then we hit the trolly and head to the con.


we arrive at the con and all head into the Dean Koontz panel. Dean Koontz used to be my favorite writer in high school, so to hear him speak in person was really awesome. half the panel was a prepared speech which consisted of personal stories that were rather humorous and the other half was questions from the audience that were pretty good. overall it was a blast. i really should start reading his stuff again.

then Todd, Dave and i became the very thing we hated: squatters. see, the Battlestar Galactica panel was in the very same room only an hour away, and if we were to leave, we'd have to get in a no-doubt HUGE line to get back in, so we stayed. we saw the Dollhouse panel with Joss Whedon, Eliza Dushku, and Hilo from Battlestar. the Dollhouse is a show coming out on FOX this January and, well, the panel made me a believer. i'll check it out.

FINALLY the Battlestar panel started and wow, a ton of the stars/creators were there:

- Ronald D. Moore, the creator/writer
- the main producer
- Tricia Helfer/Six
- Gaius Baltar
- Starbuck
- Starbuck's husband
- Lee Adama (wasn't scheduled to be there)
- Hilo (wasn't scheduled to be there)

oh, and it was moderated by Kevin Smith.

anyway, it was really great seeing all of them and hearing them talk about Battlestar - especially since it just wrapped up shooting a few weeks ago. unfortunately there were too many stars on the panel and not enough time. i think the moderator should have kicked it to the audience sooner because there was hardly any Q&A with the audience. panel should have been 2 hours instead of 1. oh well. got to see a longer teaser for season 4.5 (not coming out until 2009) and a trailer for Caprica, the prequel series. looking good! and Eric Stoltz to boot!


well, it was time to hit the main floor finally for the first time that day and pick up some more toy exclusives. Dave and Todd were with me, and we eventually met up with Bill. now, Bill was leaving us at 6pm to head back to Phoenix so i decided to grab a bite to eat with him, Todd and Dave before he left. i missed the JMS panel for this, but it's no big deal. JMS was in one of the small rooms. i'm sure i wouldn't have gotten in.


Todd, Dave, Bill and i grab a bite to eat at a Mexi-American bar a few blocks from the convention center. food was ok, beer was good. we had a good last meal with Bill. we said our goodbyes and Todd, Dave and i were off to the con for my last hour there.


i hit the floor one last time by myself and look around for any last minute purchases. i find one last exclusive toy that had alluded me up until then. finally, it's time to say goodbye to the con.


Todd, Dave and i head off in search of a bar to hang out for the rest of the night in. we happen upon Jolt N Joes (or something like that) and it's just perfect. we spend a good chunk of the night at the bar, then Diego joins us, and so do a few of Todd's Vegas friends, and we head upstairs to hang out. we have some more drinks and i do some drunk texting to Bill. ah, good times. it's a great blowout to end San Diego 2008.


we're back at our hotel. i promptly pass out.

Sunday, 8:30-9:30am

i somehow get up and ready for my flight at 11:30. i say my goodbyes to Dave, Diego, and Todd, have the hotel call me a cab and i'm off.

goodbye San Diego.


we've been talking since we've been back and everyone wants to make this a yearly thing. so watch out San Diego! come next year, we'll be back with a vengeance! and maybe we'll know what we're doing this time. like maybe we'll grab a hotel that's right there next to the convention center. oh! and we'll know all about squatting.



ps - those that know me, watch out for pics. and i might do a post on the toys i got... though i don't want to seem too nerdy.


Tuesday, July 22

San Diego Comic Con - the panels wish list

the San Diego Comic Con is but a few days away. it's my first year attending. i don't think i've been this excited for an event in a long time. here are the panels that, if i had all the time in the world, i would like to see while there:

- spotlight on Steve Purcell, creator of Sam & Max, now part of the creative braintrust at Pixar.

- a few panels on science fiction writing (if you've been reading the blog, i've been on a sci fi kick the past several months).

- Halo Wars and the Halo Universe. what can i say, i'm a Halo fanboy. also, with the ball being dropped by Microsoft last week at E3, maybe something will slip out this week about the new Halo game Bungie's working on.

- Entertainment Weekly is sponsoring a few panels that feature "creative visionaries" in fields such as comics and movies. the comics one is going to have Mignola, Kirkman, and Morrison. the movies one is going to have Kevin Smith, Apatow, Frank Miller, and Zack Snyder.

- bunch of Star Trek panels.

- Episodic Games: Rewriting the Adventure Game. a panel about a rather new trend in video games. i'm interested because of the talent at the panel.

- a bunch of Marvel Comics panels, though not as many as i would have been interested in attending in the past. i'm just not reading that many mainstream comics nowadays.

- a bunch of television show panels that will feature some/all of the cast and creators/producers. shows include: The Big Bang Theory, 24 (with Kiefer!), Heroes, Sarah Connor Chronicles, The Office, Battlestar Galactica, and Chuck.

- spotlight on Max Brooks, author of World War Z (perhaps my favorite work of zombie fiction).

- one on one with Terry Moore, author of Strangers in Paradise, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, Echo, and Runaways. SiP has been over for a year now, but maybe he'll talk about it a little... however, i'm really going just to get some news on Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane.

- Watchmen (the movie) with the director and a bunch of the movie's stars. i'm psyched for this movie, since the director did 300 before this.

- a Spaced reunion, with the creators/cast. Spaced is one of my favorite shows of all time. from the guys that made Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. as good as those movies are, Spaced is 10 times better.

- a Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon panel with a lot of the voice actors and a few producers of the show. this is at the same time as the Spaced panel, so we'll have to see which one has the shorter line to get in. i want season 2 details!!!

- Ghostbusters: The Video Game panel, with Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson. if by some stroke of god Ramis and Murray show up, i will die a happy man (IF i'm there to see it).

- The Spirit panel, with director Frank Miller and cast members SAMUEL L. JACKSON and Eva Mendes. movie looks like the spiritual successor to Sin City. looks good.

- a Family Guy panel. even though i don't really like Family Guy anymore (the formula wore thin on me after the third season), i have to admit, it'd be pretty cool to hear Seth MacFarlane and Seth Green talk about the show.

- an Image and Vertigo panel. more comic panels. mainly interested in them because each panel has a few of my favorite writers/creators on them (Kirkman, Larsen, Buckingham, Morrison, Wood).

- a Venture Bros. panel with the creator and some of the cast. great, underrated cartoon airing on adult swim.

- a Robot Chicken panel with the creators and a few of the cast members. another adult swim program. would mainly go to see Seth Green talk.

- a Futurama panel with a bunch of the cast and crew. always been a casual fan of the show, would be neat to see the cast.

- Sam & Max, Strong Bad, and the Secrets Behind Turning Comics into Games. interesting because, well, i'm in the games business.

- spotlight on Dean Koontz! those that know me well know that i grew up on Koontz novels, reading them all through high school. his latest novels haven't interested me much - maybe my tastes just evolved - but he is still the writer of one of my favorite books of all time, Lightning. even though he'll be talking about his new books and new comic deal with Marvel (i.e. stuff i won't care about) it'll still be cool to see one of my former idols.

- Xbox Creators' Showcase: Gears of War 2 and Fable 2. 2 great games coming out this fall, both being shown off by their semi-famous creators. would be neat to see. hey, maybe i'll have my own panel at SDCC 10 years from now! ah, but as a game designer, or as a writer? hmm...

- spotlight on J. Michael Straczynski. one of my current writing idols. still can't believe that he was at a Chicago comic con back 10 years ago when B5 was in its hayday and i didn't see him (hell, i didn't even know who he was, or what B5 was). this time, i won't miss him. this is the panel i'm probably most excited to see.

- a panel on the creation of the upcoming survival horror game, Dead Space.


- a panel on the creation of the upcoming Bionic Commando and Bionic Commando Rearmed.

nighttime programming:

- Comedy Central's TV Funhouse with Robert Smigel. some of you may have heard of Smigel - he does Triumph the Insult Comic Dog on Conan and Saturday TV Funhouse on SNL - but i know him best for this short-lived, wonder of a show called TV Funhouse. it's a reunion of sorts. should be a blast (whether or not i choose to go).

- Mystery Science Theater 3000 20th Anniversary Reunion. with the creator, producer, and i believe the entire f'in cast/crew! and Patton Oswalt is the host!! ENOUGH SAID!!!

- Spaced screening. the cast is back to screen their favorite episodes. if i don't make it to the earlier panel, i'm definitely hitting this one up.

...and that's it! whew! now, that's all the panels that i WANT to see. i would be surprised if i actually make it to 1/4 of those.

i mean, first off, this is my first year at SDCC, so i'm sure a lot of time will be just figuring the whole thing out. i also need at least a day to just walk the floor and buy stuff/get a bunch of free shit. next, the lines for some of these panels i'm sure will be INSANE. some i'll be willing to wait for, most i won't. oh, and a lot of the above panels are happening at the same time - like i think the worst is there are 4 panels i want to see that overlap in a 2-hour period. so i can only go to 1 of those 4 panels, if that. and finally, i'm going to be meeting up with a bunch of friends i haven't seen in a while, so i'm sure i won't want to spend the majority of my time in panels (or in line for panels).

however, there are those that i'll do everything in my power to make. i need to see JMS, Dean Koontz, MST3K, Spaced, Terry Moore, Max Brooks, and maybe Spectacular Spider-Man. oh, and it'd be great to attend a few of those TV show panels - specifically 24, Battlestar, and Heros - but i imagine the line for those will be crazy long. crazy crazy long.

i'll let you know how it all went on the flip side. wish me luck!


Thursday, July 17

E3 2008

E3 has become a shadow of its former self the past couple of years, but with all the great games coming out, it was pretty hard to tell this year. here's some of my thoughts on E3 2008.

- Microsoft shocked everyone when they announced Final Fantasy XIII was headed to their platform as well as PS3. this is the second major game Sony lost exclusivity on from last gen to this gen (the other being Grand Theft Auto) and i've gotta admit, i feel bad for Sony. i'm not mad at Square for pimping out their product (this generation, it's hard to stay exclusive to a console with the high costs of production), i'm just sort of upset at Sony for letting Final Fantasy slip through their fingers. oh well. good game Microsoft.

- Bungie (makers of Halo, one of my favorite franchises) had been set to announce something at E3 for MONTHS. then, at the last minute, Microsoft decided to pull the plug saying that they had already shown off enough and they wanted to save the Bungie announcement. supposedly it's another game taking place in the Halo universe, but whatever it is, Microsoft totally dropped the ball. Bungie had been planning this, the fans (who are pretty rabid when it comes to Bungie) had been gearing up for it, and then POOF - nothing. stupid Microsoft. we're still with you Bungie!

- the Xbox 360 updated dashboard is looking pretty sweet. sort of a mix of CD cover shuffle on the ipod, Microsoft Vista windows, and the old dashboard.

- NOT liking how Microsoft is copying Nintendo with their avatars (blatant ripoffs of Miis) and worried that they're trying to reach out to everyone at once and will end up not reaching anyone.

- Microsoft and Netflix partner up to offer movies on your 360 for free (if you have a Netflix account). might be time to get a Netflix account. something about having a queue of movies that i don't have to wait for to come in the mail intrigues me.

- Nintendo starts to disappoint even their most hardcore fans! FINALLY! first they announce the Wii MotionPlus add-on for the Wii Remote (at a $30 value) that basically makes the Wiimote do WHAT IT WAS ORIGINALLY ADVERTISED TO DO! wow. then, at their press conference, they completely snubbed their core fans in favor of their new casual fans. WiiMusic? are you serious? that's not a game, that's play - further proving my point that the Nintendo Wii is nothing more than a toy. hey, if a toy is what you want, that's fine. to each his own. me, i'm just glad i jumped off Nintendo's bandwagon a few years back, otherwise this E3 would have KILLED me.

- Sony had a pretty good showing this year (i'm very excited to see where their first-party titles and PlayStation Network titles are going), but most the third party titles showing up on 360 and PS3 decided to show their wares at Microsoft's press conference instead of Sony's. that, and the fact that Sony lost exclusivity on FFXIII, made their showing a little sad. they keep asking us to wait just a little longer for the games to come out. well, i'm waiting.

- never played the originals, but Fallout 3 looks AMAZING.

- Mirror's Edge looks like it might give me motion sickness, but i think it'll be worth it for the amazing, original experience it seems like it's going to offer.

- might get Ghostbusters: The Video Game simply for the fact that Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis wrote the script (from what was to be the third, never-made movie) and that all 4 Ghostbuters are back lending their voices to the game.

- both a James Bond movie AND video game look great? what is this, 1996? i'm pretty psyched to see the new Bond movie Quantum of Solace (after the last one kicked so much ass), but even moreso looking forward to the game that will have the first and second movie all wrapped up into one - using the Call of Duty 4 game engine. seriously, a Bond game hasn't looked this good since Goldeneye.

- other amazing single-player games: inFamous, flower, PixelJunk Eden, Dragon Age: Origins, Naruto 2, Killzone 2.

- games that just look like pure fun: This is Vegas, Wheelman, Mega Man 9, Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero: On Tour, Lips.

- role-playing games i must have: The Last Remnant, Infinite Undiscovery, Star Ocean: The Last Hope, Final Fantasy XIII.

- psyched that co-op is making such a comeback! Fable 2, Gears of War 2, Resident Evil 5, Left 4 Dead, and Borderlands are all must-haves for me. now, if i can only get another friend or two to pick them up...

- excited to see more of: I Am Alive, Darksiders: Wrath of War, Velvet Assassin, Bionic Commando, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2: Fusion, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, Hydrophobia, The Agency, Damnation.

- looking forward to these games on the go for the PSP: Loco Roco 2, Patapon 2, Super Stardust Portable, Star Ocean: First Departure, Star Ocean: Second Evolution.

- Yakuza 2! early September! finally!!!

- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic MMO is finally confirmed. while i would have rather liked an announcement for III, i have to admit that an MMO set in the KOTOR universe may be enough to get me to play an MMO.

- the new Prince of Persia is beautiful - not only in its art direction, but also in its gameplay. this is my most anticipated game of Fall/Winter 2008.

- and finally, this is BY FAR the best trailer to come out of E3 2008. may i present to you, the trailer for Duke Nukem Trilogy. at 4 minutes in length, it's like someone just discovered After Effects on their computer and just couldn't stop himself. 4 MINUTES!!!

so there you have it. most shocking was that FFXIII is headed to 360. most laughable was Nintendo's press conference and continued snubbing of their core fans. most stupid was Microsoft denying Bungie their announcement. and most impressive was:

Prince of Persia

runners up: Fallout 3, Mirror's Edge, Gears of War 2, Resident Evil 5, Left 4 Dead, Quantum of Solace, and Borderlands.

seriously, this Fall/Winter (when most of these games are slated to be released) looks to be as good - if not better than - last year. and last year was UNBELIEVABLE.

video games. gotta love 'em.


ps - i could go on in great length about almost all the video games mentioned above, but i just don't have the time to go into them all right now. if you want to know how i feel about a specific video game above, you'll have to hit me up in the comments.

Thursday, July 10

a tv-less summer

those of you that know me know that i fill my nights with two things: television and video games. what happens when one of the worst seasons of television (summer or otherwise) comes upon us, bringing with it retreads of reality shows copied from other stations or stolen from other countries? no, i don't play more video games (though i really should, my pile of games is becoming increasingly unmanageable) - i download and watch my own television series.

so here's what i've been watching this summer. the stuff on tv, and the stuff off my computer.

- Battlestar Galactica finished out its first half of its final (fourth) season, and it ended with a bang. seriously, the final episode was SO good (minus the out-of-place fast pacing - seriously, they took material that would normally have been maybe 3 episodes and packed it into 1) i can almost forgive the show for the rest of the season. almost. however, season 4 so far for me has had many more lows than highs. here's hoping the last half of the season (not on until next year sometime) is better. much better.

- Spectacular Spider-Man finished its first 13-episode season and it was, well, spectacular. it was a great blend of stuff for the kids and stuff for the adults. the stories were mostly based on classic Spidey, but with their own modern-day twist. there was one twist on a super villain that i liked, and i love classic Mary Jane (the one that's a free spirit, doesn't want to be tied down to anybody). and the action scenes - oh man. best action scenes in a cartoon, hands down. this is by far the best Spider-Man cartoon that has ever been - possibly even the best superhero cartoon that has ever been. well, besides The Tick. its reported that it will have a second season, but when is anybody's guess.

- stopped watching The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles - or maybe i'm just taking a break from it, i don't know. all i know is that i couldn't take "cute" Indiana anymore. if i were to start watching the series again, maybe i'd just skip ahead to when he's a bit older. as it is, i made it through only 4 of the 22 "chapters" (each 1 1/2 hours, with 2 stories a piece).

- started watching the X-Men cartoon series from the 90s. i'm about halfway through season 2 of 5. each season has around 15 episodes, with a grand total of something like 75 episodes. what's amazing is how much i remember of the show (i watched it when i was little). i'm not sure how much of it is nostalgia and how much of it is it being a good show, but i like it quite a bit. sure it's got its problems, but what 90s cartoon doesn't? the stories are condensed versions of comic stories, so that's cool. oh, and surprisingly it has an overarching story that takes you through an entire season - something i wouldn't have thought a 90s kids cartoon would have had (well planned-out plot points). probably the funniest thing is that Wolverine, arguably the strongest mutant on the team, continuously gets his ass kicked the second he joins a fight. he's damn near useless. oh, and Jean Grey is pretty useless too - though maybe this is before she's really learned what her powers can do. anyway, it's good fun.

- Hell's Kitchen Season 4 is over and all i have to say is this: Petrozza should have won. i don't know if FOX told Ramsay that this year a cute girl had to win, or if he had a sweet spot (i.e. the hots) for her, but Petrozza. should. have. won.

- been watching this new show on NBC called Fear Itself. each week is a new mini horror movie. the first episode was a sort of "cabin in the woods" tale, while the next week was about a haunting. as long as you go into it knowing what to expect - a pretty cheesy B-horror movie that is guaranteed to have a twist - it's sort of fun. actually, the last 2 weeks were pretty good because i didn't see the endings coming. next week is zombies. yay zombies!

- ok, so this past weekend i downloaded and watched the RoboCop movie trilogy. first movie, a masterpiece. second movie, a mess. third movie, a piece of... well, the furthest thing from a masterpiece (i actually almost stopped watching it after the first half hour). however, i love the world and character(s) SO much that i decided to download and watch the television series. yes, for those of you that don't remember, RoboCop had a tv series in the early 90s. it lasted only one season, so i don't blame you if you don't remember. so i've watched the first 4 episodes and you know what? it's still far from the masterpiece the first movie is, but it's WAY better than the movie sequels - if only because the writing is at least cohesive. it may not always be good, but it's cohesive. and it introduces ideas such as religion and cyborgs, cyborgs and humanity, etc. it may not always follow THROUGH on those ideas, but it at least brings them up and explores them a little. oh, and just like Wolverine in the X-Men cartoon, RoboCop gets his ass handed to him the minute he enters a fight (well that sort of happened in the movies too). and it's always in the stupidest ways too. learn how to fight Robo! then maybe you can be of some use for the majority of the episode instead of just sitting there being fixed/waiting to be fixed. still, i'm a fan.

- and finally, what prompted me to write this blog - Burn Notice Season 2 is upon us. how was the first episode? spot-on. it was everything i expected it to be. i was a little sad that things are basically back to the way they were at the start of last season (after some characters had grown over the course of last season) but it was expected. you can't really have your characters grow in a comedy/drama. so Michael is back in Miami, doing the same types of jobs he did last year (except with a steady stream of them this time supplied by a new boss), still trying to learn who burned him and - more importantly this season - why. and i'm fine with it. it's a great ride.

what's next? after RoboCop and X-Men i think i'll tackle either Time Trax (another 90s sci fi show most people don't remember) or maybe Deadwood. however, lately i've been on a huge sci fi kick, so it'll probably be Time Trax. and the fall season isn't that far away. FOX starts airing new episodes around Labor Day, with NBC following later in September. can't wait for Sarah Connor, House, and yes, even Heroes - though if they start doing stupid stuff, i'm done. DONE. oh, and later in the year - 24: the tv movie. hell. yes.

- k

Tuesday, June 24

quick tidbit

i'm currently trying to get back into blogging and commenting, but i find the longer i let it go, the more there is to blog about and comment on. it's for people like me that the following website was created:

here i'll post brief thoughts and links to cool stuff IN REAL TIME (hopefully). this is sort of combining the small stuff that's too small to blog about and my "around the web" feature i gave up on all in one. it's pretty neat because it forces you to be short and concise in your posts by only allowing 140 characters per post. now, i've been known to ramble, so this is pretty cool.


Tuesday, June 10

what i've been up to - may edition

i'm in the process of updating my blog. tonight i posted on what television i watched in the month of May, what interesting things i read in the month of May, and what movies i saw in the month of May. stay tuned for what video games i played in the month of May, as well as an Arizona wrap up, and what's coming up this month.


what i've been up to - may movie edition

so wow. may's over. what movies did i see?

way more movies than usual, that's for sure. saw the bulk of them while on vacation in Arizona.


i watched the original Indiana Jones trilogy in preparation for the new movie. what's funny is that i don't think i've ever sat down and watched the trilogy in a row like this. whenever i've watched it in the past, it's been one at a time, and sometimes not even all the way through (catching it in the middle of a showing on TV). sitting down and watching them all back-to-back, i have a few comments.

- Temple, which used to be my favorite as a kid (for some reason - maybe because of the beating heart scene, or the mine cart ride), is now my least favorite of the three. i don't hate it (like a lot of Indy purists do) - hell, i LOVE Short Round, while lots of people hate him - but it's clearly the odd man out, and the weakest of the three. it is an interesting ride though. and DARK. man is it dark.

- Raiders and Crusade have almost the exact same plot outline, right down to both having to do with the search for a religious relic. i think that Crusade was modeled so closely after Raiders because of the backlash the dark Temple caused. maybe. i don't know. anyway, it's not a bad thing. it's hard to pick a favorite of the two (since they're so similar) but i think Crusade was the one that was fleshed out the best and had the best pacing. and it's got Sean Connery. come on!

Raiders of the Lost Ark
4 stars out of 4

Temple of Doom
3 1/2 stars out of 4

The Last Crusade
4 stars out of 4


well, looking back, i'm surprised i liked it as much as i did. i got an email from a friend in which he expressed his utter hatred for the movie (i guess he was done with it in the first 5 minutes) and i could see where he was coming from with almost all of his points - in fact, the cynic in me (which usually comes out when watching a movie) almost totally agrees with a lot of his points - but in spite of myself, i actually liked the film. maybe it's because i didn't have really high expectations.

problem points for me (minor/vague spoilers ahead):

- Indy never really seemed in trouble. any trouble spots he (or any of the other characters) got himself into just felt, i don't know, safe, like no harm could ever come to him.

- Harrison Ford is old, and it showed. not all the time, but sometimes. some of the lines he delivered... man, he just sounded tired.

- there were a few scenes that were a little far-fetched, even for an adventure movie like Indiana Jones. however, somehow i managed to look past them. barely.

- i have NO idea what the hell was with the CGI animals, ESPECIALLY the monkeys (if you've seen it, you know what i'm taking about - if not, i didn't ruin anything don't worry). in fact, the scene where a certain someone was playing Tarzan with the monkeys was, by far, the worst of the movie. i blame Lucas. damn you Lucas.

- any archaeological puzzles Indy came across were solved waaay too easily. i mean i know he's good (see the library scene in The Last Crusade), but that good? and there were like, hardly any booby traps.

- the prevailing theme that ran throughout the movie really bothered me in that it was way too literal. i would have liked it if we never saw any physical manifestations of the theme. i would have liked it more if the movie left it open to interpretation, let the viewer decide "well, was it real or not." but no, Lucas HAD to screw it up (i blame everything bad in this movie on Lucas).

- the epilogue bothered me a little in that none of the other movies HAD an epilogue to that degree (Raiders was the closest thing i guess). i know that this is probably the end of Harrison Ford as Indy so that's why they did it, but i would have liked it more if they rode off into the sunset like at the end of Last Crusade. left it a little more open. oh well.

wow, reading all that it sounds like i hated the movie. but i didn't i swear! there were a lot of things - both big and small - that i liked about it. there was a lot of clever dialogue, a lot of neat nods to characters (his dad, Marcus), it was a great ride from start to finish...

3 stars out of 4


perhaps the movie was built up by my friends too much (some said it was up there with Batman Begins and Spider-Man 2). perhaps i placed my own high expectations on it (kick-ass previews had been all over the internet for 9 months). perhaps i just don't care that much about a reformed billionaire and his rogue gallery (never been a big Iron Man fan). at any rate, the movie was a bit of a letdown, but i didn't dislike it by any means. my two main problems: i'm just not a huge Iron Man fan, and the plot was damn predictable - though you can't really fault the movie for that, since they were just following the comics. i loved, LOVED Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. i loved Iron Man in action. Iron Man sneaks into my top 5 comic book movie adaptations - but it's by no means a Batman Begins or a Spider-Man 2.

oh, and i fully expect it to get bumped down to #6 after i see The Dark Knight later this summer. ;)

3 1/2 stars out of 4


a bit of background: i hated the first movie when i first saw it. i'm not sure why. maybe i couldn't see Matt Damon as the next action star. maybe it was the material. maybe it was the director. at any rate, i saw the second movie in the theaters and was BLOWN AWAY by it. maybe i was in a different mindset. i'd like to think it was the change in directors. so i became a Bourne fan. i was eagerly anticipating the third chapter. did it let me down? ...a little. but only because there was no breathing room, no time for character development, and the quest he's on, well, he doesn't really complete it. he was supposed to find out who he was. he finds out his name, and how he signed up for the program... but he doesn't track down his old life or anything. i was expecting a bit more. oh, and the plot outline - higher ups want to shut down Bourne for some reason or another, which reveals yet another top Treadstone guy, blah blah blah... yeah it's getting a little old at this point. that said, it was an AWESOME ride. Damon and the director have said they're doing a fourth, so here's to another great ride. just try and change the outline just a bit. maybe our government doesn't have to be after him for once.

3 1/2 stars out of 4

- JUNO -

going into this one was weird. i wanted to see Juno when it first came out, and of course i didn't, and then the internet latched onto the pretentious dialogue and indie music in the film and started making fun of it, and i wasn't sure if i wanted to see it or not anymore. well, i watched it, and boy am i glad i did. if you can look past the pretentious dialogue (which is at its worst in the first 10 minutes) and indie music, it's actually a pretty great story. only complaint (other than the pretentious dialogue/music) is that they should have focused a bit more on the boy/girl relationship in the fall/winter months, since it became so important later. it's a real treat. acting is pretty good all around too.

3 stars out of 4


i love comedians in dramatic roles. Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Will Ferrell in Stranger than Fiction. Robin Williams in his countless dramatic roles. so suffice to say, i was excited to see Steve Carell out of his element (or maybe in it?). well... the movie was a bit of a letdown, but only because of the predictable plot. if the film would have taken a few more chances, it could have been a lot better. that said, Carell was pretty good, and a lot of his supporting cast played their part. it was a very familiar movie (both in terms of family get-togethers - a good thing - and in terms of the plot - a bad thing). it was a good film, not a great film.

2 1/2 stars out of 4


an animated, straight-to-DVD, feature-length film based on a comic book series of the same name. i'm not a huge fan of the Justice League (DC Comics collection of its power hitters, like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman), so the film had to do a lot to win me over. while it never really won me over completely, i did like it. the main problems: the movie was rushed and the plot was all over the place, not giving all the players enough face time. however, it gets points for the setting - post-WWII, at the start of the Cold War. THAT was really intriguing. i'm a sucker for putting superheroes in different settings, especially historical settings. if anything, the movie made me want to go out and read the comics.

2 stars out of 4


any movie that's a fantasy nowadays suffers from "post-Lord of the Rings" syndrome in my mind. the movie may be good in its own right, but i'm going to dock it points right off the bat for being a fantasy that's post-Rings. so you've got a lot of ground to make up if you're a fantasy movie nowadays. sadly, Stardust never made up an inch. it's an utterly predictable story that's mired by pretty bad acting and characters that i never really cared about. that said, i can find beauty in almost anything, so what's good about the film? some of the fantastical elements were pretty cool, and the love story was a little different from your average film. that said, i have no desire to ever see this again. however, it was based on a graphic novel of the same name, so i may check that out one day.

1 1/2 stars out of 4


last movie i saw on my trip. in preparation for The Dark Knight next month. what a great film. i'm going to have to watch Spider-Man 2 again to make sure that it's #1 and not Batman Begins, because Batman sure puts up a good fight for the top spot. it's just... it's just a damn-near perfect superhero origin movie. and it's BATMAN - a flawed billionaire with no real super powers. a character i can get behind. a MUCH more interesting billionaire than Tony Stark.

4 stars out of 4

that's it for the May movie wrap up. what's on for June? well i've already watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (again), Vanilla Sky (again), and Solaris... who knows what's next? and will i get out to a theater to see one of my most anticipated movies of the summer, Wall-E? stay tuned.


what i've been up to - may reading edition

so wow. may's over. what did i read?



huh. i should really read something in June other than blogs and gamer mags. something of substance maybe.


what i've been up to - may television edition

so wow. may's over. what did i watch?

- House, Law & Order: SVU, and Law & Order were back for several episodes, and now they're gone again. each show was pretty good in its own right - especially House - even SVU, which has been pretty lackluster the past few seasons.

- now we've entered a pretty bleak summer in terms of television. i'm currently watching mostly reality stuff - Hell's Kitchen, Last Comic Standing... even So You Think You Can Dance during commercials - and of course i'm still watching Battlestar season 4 and the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon. the reality stuff is just filler stuff to watch, but Battlestar and Spider-Man are my bread and butter. but Battlestar... oh man it's letting me down this season. but not Spidey! Spider-Man continues to be GREAT. i urge everyone to track it down. the sad news? Battlestar and Spider-Man are on hiatus starting next week! and after that, Hell's Kitchen will be over at the end of the month! not really much to look forward to either except for Burn Notice and Mad Men, which both return July/August sometime. oh well. no television means i can focus on catching up on series of the past and/or video games.

- finished watching Freaks and Geeks at the start of May. had they been able to have a four-year production plan in place and been able to pace things out better, the show could have been one of the best. ever. as it was, the show was a little rushed and muddled, yet somehow it started to get repetitive in the final few episodes (of only 18). it sort of had an ending, so at least there's that. it's a great show that could have been even greater.

- watched the first season of the BBC show Ashes to Ashes. it's a spin-off of one of my favorite shows of all time, Life on Mars (which, funny enough, is itself being adapted for American television this fall on ABC - might be worth checking out). Ashes didn't hold a candle to Life at the start of the series, but by the end of the eighth and final episode of the season, it certainly came into its own. it had 2-3 plot twists in the final episode that i did NOT see coming - in a good way. great writing. now if only the rest of the season had been as good. oh well. the best part is just seeing the gang back in action, even if it's in the 80s instead of the 70s. supposedly there's 2 more seasons planned, so here's hoping for some more Ashes goodness next year.

- well, in my last post i said i was going to move on to Deadwood after Ashes. well, i didn't. what happened? Indiana Jones fever struck. with the movie coming out, i devoted a weekend to watching the original trilogy. then i saw the new movie. and it wasn't enough. then i remembered that there was a television show that revolved around Indy as a young lad. The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. so i downloaded it and i've been slowly making my way through it. why slowly you ask? ...well, it's not very good. ok, the series might pick up when Indy is older, but right now i'm watching the episodes where he's a little kid (like 10-12) and he's sort of annoying! that, and the thin plots are stretched to their breaking point at 45 minutes length. that said, the show does have a certain innocent charm to it, and it's neat seeing all of Europe and Africa (each episode it seems they're filming in a new exotic location - how many shows have the budget for that?) - oh, and it's cool how he meets all these famous people along the way, like Picasso, Tolstoy, Freud, Teddy Roosevelt, etc. so i'm making my way through the show, but it's taking longer than i'd like.

and that's what i've been watching. i suspect June will see me abandoning broadcast television altogether (until Burn Notice and Mad Men start up) and maybe, just maybe i'll make my way through The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.


Tuesday, April 29

what i've been up to - april edition

so wow. april's over. what happened?

i'll tell you what happened:

- finished off the seventh and final season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. i watched the entire series in just 3 months. wow. and i was giving myself until summer! it's a great show that really hits its stride in the third season and never slows down after that (well, it does a little in the sixth season). i could go on forever about it - and maybe i will later - but just know that it's a great show that any self-respecting sci-fi geek has to watch.

- immediately after finishing Star Trek i hopped on Battlestar Galactica and got caught up on the entire series - 60+ episodes (including the movies) - in under 2 weeks. there were nights after work when i was watching 6-7 episodes before succumbing to exhaustion. needless to say, it's a great, GREAT show (or else i wouldn't have been so obsessed as to watch 7 episodes a night). it's not without its faults - in fact, the current season (starting with the season 3 ender) is probably the weakest stuff in my opinion - but it's a very dark, very religious (i was surprised just how religious) sci-fi that stands up there with Star Trek: TNG and Babylon 5.

- all my March/April shows are over. New Amsterdam pretty much sucked but i watched it anyway (hey, nothing else was on). if it comes back for another season (doubtful) i probably won't watch. Bizarre Foods was good, but it always is. and South Park - oh South Park. great, great stuff. a few of the episodes felt a little "been there, done that," but not so much as to bog them down. 12 1/2 seasons and they're still going strong.

- now i'm watching House (back for 4 episodes starting tonight), Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order, and Hell's Kitchen. these should take me to the end of the month, at which point i'm not sure WHAT i'll be watching. i'm not even sure if any of my summer shows are returning this year or not - what with the writer's strike and all. might be able to catch up on all those OTHER shows i've always been meaning to watch (like Star Trek and Battlestar) this summer.

- in fact, after finishing Battlestar i moved on to Freaks and Geeks. started it this past weekend and i'll be finishing up the series tomorrow probably (there's only 18 episodes). it's a great high school comedy/drama with just the right jokes. it's some of Judd Apatow's first work (guy that did 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, along with another favorite of mine, Undeclared) and his influence definitely shines through.

- i'm reading my first manga series (that's a japanese graphic novel, for those not in the know). it's called Yotsuba&! and it's a really light, funny series about how happiness can be found all around us. i bought and read the first 5 volumes and am patiently awaiting more (volume 6 is out but that's it right now).

- also read the latest Ultimate Spider-Man trade paperback. it was... ok. it seemed rushed, like it should have been at least another issue or two to deal with all the problems that were brought up. but no, it ended rather abruptly and sloppily. whenever Bendis isn't on his game with Ult. Spidey i just chalk it up to him being too focused on his other work (he's got like 10 projects going at once). i just hope it doesn't continue.

- finishing up reading my Spider-Girl trades. i learned about halfway through that they don't collect the whole series - in fact, they only collect half of it. so if i want to continue the Spider-Girl story i'll have to either wait or go out and buy the single issues. i think i'm going to wait. it's a good, fun series that hearkens back to comics of old, but it's by no means groundbreaking or anything like that.

- Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon continues to ROCK. seriously, they're hitting all the right notes. my only complaint would be that the stories tend to be rushed as they try and pack too much in. oh, and they introduced Mary Jane earlier than i thought they would... and their interpretation of her seems to be based off the one in the original comics - where she's this party girl, a real flirt. maybe it won't turn out that way, but if they do go that route, good on them for staying true to the roots. every other portrayal of MJ nowadays is that of a good girl.

- saw 2 movies in april: 300 and I Am Legend. 300 is a masterpiece. i'm calling it best movie of 2007 without having seen ANY of the Oscar contenders. it was just... brilliant. it was the beauty of Sin City combined with a story that actually had a message. awesome stuff. I Am Legend on the other hand... it was just ok. everything is cool until the monsters attack and you realize that they move EXACTLY like the robots in I Robot (another Will Smith movie). it was more action movie than horror movie. oh, and it didn't know how to end. i saw 2 endings and neither one was very good. now, could i have done any better? i don't know. all i know is that both of those endings sucked. got me interested in checking out the book though, maybe even the other 2 movies that were made about it before I Am Legend. someday.

- after playing Star Wars: KOTOR i decided to take a step back from role-playing games and just knock off as many action games as i could before Grand Theft Auto IV came out (which is tomorrow, by the way). well, it was a good plan, but Battlestar screwed with it. i was able to beat Heavenly Sword, play a little of Folklore before giving up on it, and beat the career mode in DiRT. this was all while playing more Halo than i had been the previous month - new downloadable content came out that my friends and i just had to have, so we've been playing Halo on and off again. oh, and Call of Duty 4. i hope to get a review up of Heavenly Sword one of these days. if not, i'll just say this: it's a beautiful looking, beautifully acted, beautifully crafted story that's way, WAY too short (we're talking 4-5 hours if you're taking your time).

and that's about it. what will May bring?

- i'm going to start watching Ashes to Ashes (the sequel to one of my favorite sci-fi shows of late, Life on Mars) after Freaks and Geeks. then it's on to Deadwood.

- i'm going to be playing Grand Theft Auto IV every night starting Wednesday. it's going to be good. damn well better be - i've been waiting years for it.

- i'll be watching my TV shows until the new episodes run dry.

- i'll still play Halo here and there.

- i'll be on vacation for a week and a half May 16th - 26th down in good-ol' Phoenix, AZ.

- i'll keep on keeping on.

you stay classy.

Tuesday, April 1

i beat it! - Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Star Wars: KOTOR. it was one of the few games that almost swayed me to buy an original Xbox back in the day, but alas, it wasn't enough. i had tried a friend's copy of the game and found the battle system too hands-off and out of my control for my taste. so i never continued playing it.

when i purchased my Xbox 360 over a year ago, KOTOR was still a must-buy for me because it had many critics and fans raving... that, and since it'd been out for a number of years, i could pick it up for under $10 (and i do love my cheap games). well, next-gen games got in the way and i thought i wouldn't get around to playing KOTOR for a long time.

then i played Mass Effect and everything changed.

see, Mass Effect was created by the same developers that did KOTOR over 5 years ago. since i really liked Mass Effect - and since i'm on a huge sci-fi kick right now with Mass Effect, Star Trek: TNG, Babylon 5, etc. - i thought now would be the time to try KOTOR once again.

dear god why did i wait so long?

now, i've got quite a few "favorite games." if you scroll down a ways and look at my side bar, you'll see that there's over a dozen of 'em. however, among those games, very few of them are what i'd consider "near-perfect" - it's just that they are my favorites.

KOTOR is a near-perfect game - from its dialogue to its quest system to combat and story, it is just a damn well-designed game. perhaps the last time i felt this way about a game was after playing God of War, or maybe Ico.

the whole experience was just seamless. a marvel of game design. it allowed the player to make meaningful choices that affected how the game played out. these choices were not always black and white like in Mass Effect - i sometimes found myself using dark-side tactics to get what i wanted because i saw no other way.

what compounded these light/dark decisions was the wonder of a story. it's difficult to talk about it because talking about it would give away too much, but let's just say that many of the characters have things happen to them that bring into question both the goodness of the light and the badness of the dark. i played through the game as a Jedi, but after going through much of the game i started questioning whether or not i made the right decision - or rather, who would it hurt if i just played it a little more dangerous, a little more dark.

it was unbelievable. never has a video game affected me in such a way. BioWare found a way to set up a dialogue system, quest system, and overall story that made me question the light side.

oh, and the twist! now, since the game is 5 years old i had heard people talk, and i knew there was going to be a twist. i also knew in what vein the twist was going to be. however, when it happened, it caught even me off guard. what great storytelling. this twist was part of the reason i started to question the light side. amazing.

something i haven't even touched on yet is the combat and leveling up systems! when i first played the game a few years ago, i felt that it was too hands-off and out of my control. however, i think playing FFXII actually got me used to what type of combat system KOTOR has to offer. your characters basically go through the motions of what you tell them to do, but it happens rather rapidly. you can pause the action to take stock of what's going on and issue new commands, but really its meant to just be pretty much hands-off. what its doing is computing all these numbers and factors that are ripped straight out of Dungeons and Dragons and playing it out before your eyes. see, the combat and leveling up systems work so well because they borrow HEAVILY from D&D - a tried and true game.

playing KOTOR i could see how heavily they borrowed from it to form the basis of Mass Effect. however, i think in the process of trying to evolve with Mass Effect, they actually took a couple of steps back. it was too easy to identify the good and bad ways of doing things in Mass Effect, the D&D in action combat system was abandoned for a third-person shooter to no doubt appeal to a wider audience (but to its determent), and the story wasn't nearly as thought-provoking and twist-filled as KOTOR. however, i still like Mass Effect - it's just that i love KOTOR.

this is as close to a perfectly-designed game (specifically, a western-style role playing game) that i've ever had the honor of playing. it is perhaps the best game of the last 5 years.


9.95 out of 10