February 27, 2009

Movietime with "Something I Finally Got Around to Watching"

Thank you, Netflix. It's allowed me to slowly get around to watching plenty of films I've wanted to see for awhile. This time it's The Departed, Domino, and Casino Royale (Daniel Craig edition). Also included will be the recently released The International and other rental Babylon A.D.

The Departed is one of those films everyone must see, from what I've heard. It won a bunch of awards and the hype was very high. Surprise, surprise: it was really good. The acting was superb and the story didn't drag on as much as I thought a Scorsese film would (see Gangs of New York). So it was definitely worth the watch even though cop dramas aren't high on my re-watch list.

Domino is the crazy Keira Knightley that came out in 2005 seeming to rid her of any innocence she may have portrayed until then. She's a bounty hunter with Mickey Rourke, and the film's got a lot of edge to it. The editing must've been hell for this one too, as it was really jumpy and kinda trippy too. I really enjoyed it despite Netflix not thinking I would and would enjoy rewatching it. Oh, it makes fun of 90210 a lot!

I enjoyed the new Casino Royale a lot more than I thought I would. I've never been huge into the James Bond stuff, but it was as fun as friends have suggested. And Daniel Craig's got the Peyton Manning-robot thing going on but with a much dreamier smile. I'm not gonna buy it, but I'll definitely add Quantum of Solace to my queue.

Ahhh, Clive Owen. How much fun it is to watch him portray the quirky action guy with loads of charisma. The International lended more of a story than most of his other films, and it delivered with great pacing and cinematography as well. Worthy of a rewatch for sure.

And finally, Babylon A.D. I'm a Vin Diesel fan; I admit it. I feel he's a good actor and an amazing action star. This is another sci-fi movie with a touch more confusion complexity. It kinda felt like The Fifth Element or Clive's Children of Men but with a mood in between the two. I hate to say it, but I could add this to my collection and be happy. It's not really Oscar-worthy, but fun movies rarely are.

-- "I don't even own a gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate a gun rack. What am I gonna do with a gun rack?"

February 25, 2009

Another Old Class Gets New Life

The Team Fortress 2 Scout update is now live! I didn't want to re-post this picture, so I went with something different.

The Scout is the latest class to receive an update after the Heavy, Medic, and Pyro so far. It brings much needed new weapons earned through much needed new achievements (at least I love 'em). I've only earned the new Force-A-Nature sawed-off so far, but it adds a ton more fun already. I can't wait to earn the Sandman and the Energy Drink, properly titled "Bonk!"

Also in-tow comes a few maps too! Watchtower is an arena map that is very wide open and contains many thin planks to run along. It seems like a great addition to lumberyard for the arena and a fun map for snipers once all the scouts fade away. I haven't played Junction much yet, but I can already see the intended close-quarters and explosive nature of the map.

The one I've played most so far is my favorite: Egypt. The Dustbowl feel to this one means it'll be a new staple to many dedicated servers, and it deserves it from what I've witnessed.

Plus TF2 is $10 for a limited time...not that Steam doesn't offer many sales.

-- "When my brothers and I played cowboys and indians, I was always the Chinese railroad worker."

February 24, 2009

Something Short, New, and Different in Casting Pods

On the behest of a dear friend (gametime?), I added another podcast to my growing iTunes pile of shame. It's called Arrive Having Eaten and is about...well, I'm not quite sure.

The subject matter seems to be as random in topics as what you could certainly guess. The improvisational nature of the show is refreshing amongst the mix of gamecasts to which I currently subscribe. The relationship between the two hosts works surprisingly well seeing as they have never met in RL (that's webspeak for "Real Life"). Ben has a analrapist wit causing me many bouts of laughter. And Erica's "straight-man" (for the most part) successfully grounds the conversations to make this show a worthy listen.

Overall, I'd give the two of them a basket of fried pickles and some french toast casserole...figuratively of course. I'm too lazy to cook, much less for other people. Geez, who do I think I am? A chef? Get off my back about signing up for culinary school. I'm done studying.

-- "I'm sorry, what was the question? I was distracted by the half-masticated cow rolling around in your wide-open trap."

February 23, 2009

Post-Apocalyptic Lovecraft

I just got done traversing once again into the world of Fallout 3. 60 hours in, max level 20 for awhile, and still have yet to be halfway (what I think is halfway, don't really know for sure) through the main story. But just now I've experienced my favorite part of the game: an homage to H.P. Lovecraft, father of horror fiction.

Upon asking some people north of a fixture on the wastes known as "The Dunwich Building" (The Dunwich Horror being one of H.P.'s best short stories), a person tells me of the evil that resides there and warns me against the terror. Since it's a video game medium, the warning only stirs my curiosity the more. It's an old drill-bit sales company that apparently tested their product too far down in the earth beneath them. It's full of feral ghouls and tells its tale through a series of journal entries and audio recordings akin to Lovecraft's troubled narrators.

A son returned years later after the fallout to find remnants of his father who was looking for a book of some sort (perhaps the fabled Necronomicon), but finds only ghouls not to keen on feasting on his flesh. He is turning into one of them and losing his mind in the process. As time draws on, he calls out to some unknown elder being.

On approach of a cavernous chamber beneath the building, a scene of evil worship is laid open. The son, now completely ghoulified, and many other ghouls surround a stone obelisk inlaid with a tortured woman, skulls, and wrapped in thick vines.

Unlike a true Lovecraft story, your character doesn't go mad and join them or get devoured over a milennia at this point. Instead, you kill all of the ghouls, gain some karma, and find one more of the 20 bobbleheads. Must...have...more...

-- "There's children throwing snowballs instead of throwing heads. They're busy building toys, and absolutely no one's dead."

February 19, 2009

Incredibad is Incredibly Good*

*If you like the idea of Hip Hop plus Tenacious D.

The Lonely Island, consisting of some SNL cast members including Andy Samberg, has released an album called Incredibad. As noted in the excerpt, this album is very explicit in its language, yet satirical and comedic enough to keep me laughing throughout.

To get an idea if you'd like it, you can check out videos of some of the tracks beforehand like I did. With such classics like D*** in a Box, I'm on a Boat, and Natalie's Rap, it's hard to resist not purchasing the whole thing. Here's some others:

J*** in My Pants

We Like Sportz

Now I'm gonna go eat a bagel...like a boss.

-- "A fake ID works better than a Guy Fawkes mask."

February 18, 2009

Lost & Damned Male Nudity

If I were to say the creators of Grand Theft Auto loved controversy, you'd probably agree. Their new downloadable content for GTA IV is The Lost & Damned out now, and it's sparking some new scintillating discussion.

It's been revealed the new story contains a cut-scene featuring full frontal, male nudity. For video coverage, Gamevideos has obliged (NSFW and slow loading). It's not really distasteful, but it definitely fits Rockstar's style. The GTA series was designed to be satirical and play on stereotypes. This latest foray into controversy is a play not only on the fear of nudity in America, but the even more evil and hypocritical view on male nudity.

If this was just some female nudity (a la The Witcher) it might be glossed over a bit more than this. Also note the lack of sexual connotation and how much emphasis is automatically associated between it and nudity.

You'll make your own opinions, but there seems to be too much anger toward the beauty of the naked form because people can't dissociate it from sex.

-- "George, why don't you and Burt take the lead on this? Why don't you put together kind of an Un-Pleasant Activities Committee?"

February 16, 2009

Xbox Live Community Games

Not that many of you will care (due to lack of interest or lack of Xbox), but some community games have been released to the general public on Xbox Live. The community games are made by anyone who wants to make some neat, little games...and has purchased the $99 development kit. The best of those games (rated by others who have made the purchase) get released to the whole Xbox community.

I tried a couple of these trials and want to put down my thoughts. Artoon is a interesting platformer pitting an inkblob in different artistic worlds where he must pounce on platforms to paint them and unlock the the exit. The constant jumping and neat, stylized worlds made this one an okay, but not generally standout performance.

Colosseum consists of a player's choice of gladiator and fighting style in a ring with another fighter...like in ancient colosseums. Applicable name and good graphics, but the controls didn't seem to agree with me.

Weapon of Choice is a contra-esque, superfluous shooter that takes itself the opposite of seriously. The trial was really short, but if you liked Contra back in the day, you'd probably enjoy this. The next was Biology Battle, but it doesn't deserve its own paragraph because I'm not a fan of twin-stick shooters (see Geometry Wars).

The last one I tried is a game made by some fellow JPAGers. It deserves mention for that and being the most solid of the games played. The multiplayer looked like it could be interesting. I can't explain the mechanics, but it was like nothing I've ever played before. And it was also the best trial I played of the five (good length, good estimate of final product). You can check out their site here. I'm not a huge fan of puzzle games unfortunately.

-- "Silly caucasian girl likes to play with samurai swords."

February 15, 2009

Is Dollhouse Structurally Sound?

The TV show Dollhouse premiered this past week with many a wary eye paying attention. After seeing a trailer some time ago, I wasn't that enthused. It seemed to be just another throwaway show I'd never make time to watch. But when a new series comes out from the creator of Firefly, my favorite series of all time, you need to pay attention.

Joss Whedon creates 'verses all his own (see Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly). The greatness in his works is the scope and detail that goes into his characters. So I'm giving Dollhouse the benefit of a doubt.

The first episode was intriguing, but not totally amazing. It's misogynistic to an extent, but leans on satire. The main character is Echo, played by Eliza Dushku. She's the biggest hurdle in letting me like the show more. She's not completely talentless, but there's some distraction keeping me from becoming engulfed in the ever-changing character.

But as I mentioned, it's intriguing. I'll watch it a few more times hoping for the wow-factor of Whedon to come forth.

-- "I'm sexy...I'm a scholar...people like me."

February 14, 2009

Fried Dill Chips

So awhile ago, I had a hankering for fried sliced pickles (like the one's you can get at Scotty's Brewhouse). After looking up some recipes, I found one worth trying and made them yesterday.

They were easy enough to make once I got the oil cooking at a high temperature without boiling. And then after the first few, I got into the hang of letting them fry enough to be a dark brown instead of the early light browns.

I only got some hot spatter-batter on my fingers a few times, but it was tasty. The final product was even tastier, though a little unlike the restaurant. The pickles were still rather crisp, but the batter was not as much.

And the house still smells a bit like vegetable oil, but that will dissipate eventually, right?

-- "Buddy the Elf, what's your favorite color?"

February 11, 2009

Squad Castle Dos

What would happen if we had a fast internet service back in the time of Atari 2600s? Could you imagine some of the online gaming possibilities? Maybe an online versus mode of Spy Hunter, playing Pong with someone from another country, or an MMO the likes of Elder Scrolls: Arena would've been made. Well how does an 8-bit Team Fortress 2 sound?

Introducing Gang Garrison 2. It's an awesome 2-D adaptation of a pinnacle for team-based multiplayer. The movement may not be too exact and jumping can be hard, but the nine classes still feel unique (the Spy, er Infiltrator, is even more fun to play). The other classes have been justly remade in the Runner, the Rocketman, the Firebug, the Detonator, the Overweight, the Constructor, the Rifleman, and also the Healer.

The homages are all over the small game, down to the loading screen using the "Faucet's" "Smoke" service. It's nice and kitchy to see games like this get some steam in their sails.

-- "You lost your money. You keep this up, you'll lose something else."

February 09, 2009

New Riddick Gameplay Footage!

I can always look to Gametrailers for some inspiration, and today made me giddy with anticipation.

Starbreeze Studios has been hard at work with a followup to Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay and making Assault on Dark Athena. It includes the original Xbox Butcher Bay updated for the 360 and adds more story and gameplay to the mix with Dark Athena.

Five new videos were released today and look great. The best of which is the melee gameplay vid. I played the first game a long while back and can attest to its surprising splendor. Starbreeze has quite a reputation to live up to now, and I really want to see them do well. Doing your best in some pretty tight situations doesn't bode well for many people, and they seem to have weathered some of them already.

-- "There's a new daddy in town. A discipline daddy."

February 05, 2009

Mod Rock...Band

So awhile back, my Rock Band 2 drum kit start having some issues. It didn't prevent me playing because of cross-talk between the yellow & blue pad or the drum pedal not working. The red and green (and eventually yellow too) pads started forming rising bubbles in the middle. Maybe I should've followed the advice linked from the picture, but ended using some other methods.

To fix the bubbles, I eventually found a forum post (sorry, can't find the link to where) about taking the heads apart to reapply adhesive. So I got some adhesive caulk (heard super glue wasn't nearly good enough, though could've also tried epoxy) and pulled the plastic underpart from the rubber and the velcro-like surface between the two. Seeing the results a couple weeks after applying this method to the red pad, I adjusted the application when doing the green pad. Instead of not ripping the velcro-like surface all the way from the rubber, I only made an incision to the center and applied the adhesive mainly there. It didn't turn out nearly as well as I hoped. So with the green pad, I applied a very generous amount to the whole of the rubber underside before reapplying the velcro and then to the plastic head.

Now all that's great, but the bubble really returned to the red pad and just now appearing on the green pad after only a week. And with the yellow pad, I didn't want to rip anymore apart since it didn't ever really work on the red. So now I've resolved to just apply electrical tape to the surface of each head to flatten out bubbles. It works well enough and takes practically no time.

Also while opening up each one, I applied this coin mod (the video is lengthy, much like this post) to put nickels beneath and increase responsiveness. It's worked really well so far on the green & red pads, but the yellow (and presumably blue) didn't work out at all.

This is convoluted enough now.

-- "Lata, sweetheart."

February 02, 2009

Wishful Thinking

I bet there are plenty of PS3 owners without 360's wanting some Xbox Live Arcade games available to them. Well soon there'll be some great games all exclusive to a Playstation Network I don't have.

Noby Noby Boy - I have as little clue as you do what's really going on in the attached video, but that's to be expected from the creators of Katamari Damacy. They definitely have a way of creating unique gaming experiences with a signature style. From previews I've heard, I bet I'd like it like I do Peggle.

Flower - How much do you expect from a game of this title? It looks like a fascinating, gorgeous game where your mind can just unwind. It's a successor to Flow from That Game Company including even more visual stimulation and looks to even have less game-ish qualities. No death. No time limit. Just relaxing in the breeze to its soothing sounds.

Fat Princess - The name of this game makes me think it's some crappy Nintendo trashware never worth playing, but it looks like a ton of fun. Think Team Fortress 2 capture the flag from a different perspective. The classes are a nice mix but not too much, although the inclusion of a resource-collecting class seems odd. I wonder if they thought of making them AI teammates at some point, but reconsidered. Anyway, follow the link to some recent walkthroughs of the gameplay. It looks like a lot of fun and generally full of win.

-- "Brothers don't shake hands. Brothers gotta hug!"

February 01, 2009

UFC 94

So I've been into MMA (mixed martial arts) sports for over a year now and recently watched UFC 94 live on pay-per-view. Apart from the bar atmosphere complete with tons of smoke, it was a great night of fights. Only 5 of the 10 fights were televised, as all but the last two went to decisions and took up a lot of time. But the excitement was intense as usual when two warriors battle it out without surrendering/tapping out.

Starting the night out was Clay "The Carpenter" Guida vs. Nate Diaz. Guida is a fan favorite with his long hair, menacing scowl, and lively attitude. Because of his inconsistency at winning, he's considered a hurdle or litmus test for the 155-pound Lightweight Division. Nate Diaz tends to be a cocky showboat, so I'm not a huge fan of him though I recognize his very good skills, especially for being only 23 years old. But thankfully Clay edged out a split decision (two of the three referees scored him higher than the other contender).

Karo Parisyan, an Armenian Judo specialist, squeaked out an even closer split decision against a newcomer to the UFC in Dong Hyun Kim, a Korean Judo champion. My scorecard would've given it to Dong. The fight after with Stephan Bonnar, a season one veteran of the Ultimate Fighter series, and newcomer Jon Jones wasn't nearly as close with Jones winning impressively with a unanimous decision.

The next to last fight had me dancing in my seat as two undefeated Light Heavyweight contenders (205-pound division) fought for, presumably, a title shot against the recently crowned champion of "Sugar" Rashad Evans (king of the cocky showboats mentioned previously who unfortunately has backed it up). But this fight saw 13-0 Thiago Silva up against 13-0 and one of my new favorite fighters Lyoto Machida. Machida's superior striking eventually overwhelmed and knocked out Silva with one second remaining in the second round! Hopefully we'll see him repeat this performance against Rashad.

And the main event for the evening pit the Lightweight champion BJ Penn putting on some extra weight to fight the Welterweight (170-pound) champion Georges St. Pierre. BJ's astounding flexibility and Brazilian Jiujitsu mastery only served to delay the onslaught of GSP's takedowns and superior wrestling until the end of the fourth round when Penn's corner threw in the towel. Capping off the victory, Georges exited the ring with his signature backflip.

So it was a great night of fights, even promising better ones to come throughout the year with my personal favorite fighter Anderson Silva defending his Middleweight (185-pound) belt in the coming months.

-- "That guy's being awfully forward with that donkey."