Mar 31, 2009

Video Game Reviews @ The Temple

Oops, I played most of these a while ago, just found the saved post, oh well, here goes posterity:

Soul Calibur 4 - So here's the thing with me and fighting games.  We agreed to disagree roundabout the end of the 90s.  The last fighting game I played more than a couple rounds of was Tekken.  Tekken one.  on playstation one.  its not that I hated them, it's that I sucked and in order to be good you needed a lot more time than I was willing to put in.  The last game I was good at was SF2, like the first one.  I never even played MK much.  Cut to 10 years later and this is my first soul calibur game, and its pretty cool.  These games sure have come a long way, huh?  I mean, I'm not good enough to play it right, but it seems like there's depth here that we only wished for once upon a time!  All the different attacks and types of attack and frame (which is kind of a split second advantage in timing) and counters and etc.  I guess it's cool.  It's way too mcuh for me, no way I'm going to learn to play this, let alone in the 2 days I have before my gamefly subscription ends.  It's not exactly super fun to play as an idle game, either.  The story mode isn't really much of a mode.  It's obviously all about playing against others, and that's just not something I'm doing to end up doing.  Oh wells, I'm sure its great, if you are into this kinda thing.  I know these things aren't the point, but real quick: the story is absent, the endings are almost all dumb, the announcers voice is ridiculous, and seriously with the gigantic tits on the chicks?  seriously?!

GTA4 - Uh, what am I going to say here?  The game is ollllld news by now.  Mr. Thesis delayed me from getting to it when everyone else did, but I'm finally done with it.  What's to say? it's great, fantastic, amazing, fun, interesting, funny, who the hell hasn't played this?  my opinion doesn't add anything at this point.

Penny Arcade: OTRSPOD - So the Penny Arcade game finally came to the PSN!  Took long enough!  It's pretty fun, though I'm actually kinda disappointed.  First of all its amazingly short.  I'm sure glad they dropped it to $15 for the PSN, cuz yikes, what was that, 6 hours?  The gameplay is straightforward, serves its purpose.  That purpose being telling the silly story, showing the nice art, and being funny.  And it is funny, in that penny arcade kind of way, especially the dynamic between gabe and tycho, I did laugh out loud.  It's not hilarious, though, I wasn't rolling.  I'm sure I'll get the 2nd episode when it comes to PSN, if nothing else than to give money to PA who have entertained me for years, but my excitement is certainly dampened.

Fallout 3 - Gah gah gah.  It's Oblivion, which I played the shit out of, except with frickin' lasers on its head.  How can it possibly be bad?  The answer = it isn't, it's fantastic.  The world isn't quite as full as oblivion, but that's because it's post apocalyptic, it's not full, because it's empty.  This also leads to a certain lack of scenary, but it didn't bother me.  Character evolution is purposefully smoothed out, makes it kind of easier, but that's ok, I didn't play it to break my head on it.  The voice and dialogue work is better, though the emptiness helps with that again.  It sounds like I'm caveat'ing everything, but I'm not, just placing it in context.  It's been my pasttime pretty much any time I'm home alone for the past few weeks, it's great.

Bioshock - Finally got around to finishing this.  I had played when it came out, but it kept crashing.  It's a very good game.  I'm not quite sold its the best game ever.  The story is good, but not all that captivating, I don't know why everyone peed their pants.  The mechanic is cool, but it really is just System Shock except easier, so it's cool and fun, but it doesn't blow my mind.  And hey, I'm not sure why I think vita-chamber regens are bullshit, but I will shoot one guy, save, shoot one guy, save, get shot, reload, shoot one guy, save, and that's not bullshit.  wait, I am sure - cuz I'm dumb, but that's ok.

Movie Reviews @ The Temple

The Bucket List - Believe it or not, this movie has some redeeming value!  I don't know why I rented it, I groaned out loud when I saw the email, and I watched it as soon as I got it because I felt like I wanted to get it out of my house and get a good movie in (I really need to sort my queue).  But as it turns out there's some decent things in here, mostly the beginning and end.  The middle is all rich prancing around the world.  Even if I was old and facing my own mortality and looking for someone to embody what it's like to look back on so much and forward to so little and finding a measure of worth in that summation, I wouldn't want to watch a rich twat dash around the world doing all the things I never got to do.  Maybe it's escapist "oh I wish I could do that", but it just seems mean to me.  On the otherhand, I found the relationship between the two guys to be remarkably genuine.  There was some hamfisted character set up and development, but I half believed them at the end of the movie that these two characters meant a lot to each other, it was impressive (not good, just up from low expecations).  Plus Morgan Freeman can narrate anything and make it watchable.

Pineapple Express - Y'know how fucking annoying potheads can be?  Yeah, now multiply that by 2 hours.

Spiderwick Chornicles - I'm going to say that this is a good story, but a not very good movie.  I really like the aesthetic of the fantasy.  Not that I'm any kind of expert on young adult fiction, but I don't see a lot of this kind of fantasy.  I mostly see the lord of the rings kind of fantasy, a little darker, not what you would call a fairy tale.  This is much more the latter, with pretty fairies with petals for wings and goblins that are more like toads than monsters (oh, I just thought of one, Pan's Labyrinth, though very dark, it's this kind of fantasy).  It reminds me of that game Folklore.  I really loved the aesthetic of the game, it was so cool to see and it just made me happy.  Unfortunately, that game was not very well executed and its aesthetic could not save its gameplay (which had good points too, just ultimately failed).  This movie fails too, it's not particularly well written, acted, animated, or directed.  It's not horrible, it's just not interesting.  Since the fantasy is cool, the books might be, depends on how they are written, hard to say.

Foot Fist Way - Uhhhhh.... ok.  This movie is kind of like if Michael Scott was a macho tae kwan do instructor, complete with bad relationship, insecurities, bravado, awkward moments and under the breath comments.  Trouble is i can only take so much michael scott any more, let alone this guy.  Plus I really can't stand this Danny McBride guy, he just rubs me the wrong way.  He has that show on HBO, Eastbound and Down, and it just looks soooo awful.  I've heard from one place that it was actually good, but I just can't imagine how his asshole hick character can be funny.  So this movie didn't hold much for me.  There were a couple funny moments, but that's it.  It wasn't offensively bad, it was just completely empty for me.

Snow Angels - Kinda boring.  This is a drama about some people in a small town with messed up lives, then tragedy happens, and their lives are messed up some more.  It's actually descently acted, Kate Beckinsale is ever so slightly more than a pair of tits.  The kid and the husband do alright.  The movie is overall just completely forgetable, though.  I watched it two days ago and I honestly just asked myself if I liked it or not.  It's not bad, it's sad, it's just... that's all.  I did like the look of it, dreary, dirty snow, dirty town.  I'm pretty torn, I find myself rating this 3 ("I liked it") stars because I can't give it 2 ("didn't like it"), yet I'm giving 3 to the next movie too, which I defintely liked more.  I really need half stars.

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist - This movie is mostly a love story.  It's not an original or interesting love story, but some how this indie bullshit is still working and it's cute.  Just like Juno was a very good movie, even though it was actually a horrible movie.  This has the same stuff going on, cursive credits and all.  I suppose the love story is saved by the main girl who does a very good job.  Michael Sera is just his same ole stumbly now boring self.  The friends are wacky and mostly tolerable.  The ex gf, I'm not sure if she's supposed to  be pretty and I have no idea why they think that, or if she's supposed to not be pretty so we don't like her too much?  But the love story is the framework, the decoration is all the indie band stuff.  It's decorated with an indie kids wet dream line up, though I can't imagine that indie kid being happy that now literally thousands of people know about his band.  The horror!  It strides a funny line in being about indie kids and for indie kids, but kind of making fun of indie kids.  The whole name of the band thing, especially the ridiculous search for this stupid band that's too cool for a schedule.  I hope to god that was mockery, if it was supposed to be cool this movie goes straight to the garbage.  It's also a romance with New York, hopping among performance spaces and showing off the look and feel of it, which was nice enough as an outsider, though I could have done w/o the drunk chick saying it out loud and kind of ruining the appreciation.  Not sure how it plays for a new yorker.  Overall it's likable, but I'm not sure why people liked it so much.

In other news, my new rules for indie bands to not be lame:

1) you cannot wear a horizontally stripped polo shirt

2) you cannot wear a quirky old timey hat

3) your band name cannot have punctuation

4) your band logo cannot have more than two fonts

5) your lead singer's singing voice must be distinguishable from a whining 5 year old

6) you cannot think facebook is any different than myspace

Wait, that last one didn't have anything to do with indie bands, I just dislike facebook, sorry.

Comic Reviews @ The Temple

Marvels by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross - This is the same guy who did Superman; Secret Identity, and wow this one is good too.  It retells the early history of the marvel universe, hitting on a lot of the big points (though not necessarily the points I would have chosen).  It's cool because, as Busiek points out for himself in a commentary, I didn't read these original stories when they came out, many of them I never read at all.  I know them as Marvel lore, but I don't know them in context.  I didn't have a timeline in my head of the early marvel universe, so that was cool.  Secondly cool, its all from the persepctive of this photographer for a paper.  It's a very human and outside perspective.  All these stories we read from over the hero's shoulder, kind of omniscient, and at hte very least, with a point of view far above all the people watching from below.  In Marvels we watch from below with this guy, you miss most of the action, most of the super-plot, most of the details, but you see how people left behind react, it was really cool.  It's like what Frontlines in the current marvel universe should be, but isn't.  Lastly, the art is pretty good.  It's not precisely my style, it's very realistic with this old-timey sheen to it.  But for the story it's perfect, since it seems like a documentary in comicbook form.  It's a really good book.

Mouse Guard 1592 - Oh wowwwww!  This book was wonderful!  I've been putting it off since christmas, I have no idea why, it's the best one I got for christmas!  Last night I decided to rearrange the comic book shelf in order of superiority, and this one is 4th or 5th I think.  It's a simple story, and it's very short.  It's just this little anthropomorphized mouse civilization, protected by the Guard mice against wolves and weasels and such.  It didn't seem like it should be that good, I only got it on recommendation.  But there is something so simple and amazing about the story, I read it straight through.  I don't know how to describe the art style, it's almost folky, kind of inexact, but it fits the feeling so well and it just looks so good.  It is short, and it's expensive for it's shortness, it's hard to justify it for an hour of reading.  But it is so unique and interesting and pretty, it's totally worth it.  I can't wait for the second volume to come out.

Astro City by Kurt Busiek - Same guy as did Marvels and that superman book, and wadaya know, he's still a really good writer.  The first 6 issues of this book are just fantastic.  He has a way, in both those others I mentioned and in this, of giving completely new spins to the same old stories.  He's developed a whole world here, a fleshed out city with a cavalcade of super heroes and villains and citizens, many of whom we meet extensively, but few of which are given any explanation, context, or origin.  We are just thrown into this city like we've always lived here.  Granted, he relies on a lot of archetypes, fantastic four, dr. strange, superman, wonder woman, batman, etc, so we recognize these characters even if they have different names and costumes.  Nonetheless, he tells the story from the perspective of the person living through the battle, or the super villain who gets out of jail and tries to make good, or the super hero who tries to date.  Completely unique and captivating stories in a completely standard and normal superhero city, it's really great.  After the first 6 the series isn't as solid.  There are issues or runs of issues that are as amazing as the first 6, then there are a few that just don't quite do it for me.  The last volume had a wonderful perspective, of two brothers on opposite sides of the non-powered law; yet somehow it didn't come together and catch me like other ones did.  Nonetheless its a fantastic series and totally worth reading.  Just read those first 6 and you'll be hooked.

Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean - Yikes, what a crazy book.  This book is a psychological nightmare.  The premise is Batman's journey into Arkham, it having been taken over by the patients.  It's one of the scariest books I've ever read in a mental sense.  The Joker is the most frightening I've ever seen him.  The books is very primal and instinctual.  Reading Morrison's notes afterward it's clear there's a lot more going on than I'm going to pick up.  Like Watchman it's kind of literary with symbolism and repeating themes and all that stuff I generally don't see.  But that's not to say it's not good, it's great, it's just deeper than I am.  The art is this crazy ass mix of photo reference (and sometimes photos), manic design, violent scattered painting, 30 days of night like blurring and shadows, and more.  It's a weird book to read, messes with your head a little bit if you are into it.

Local by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly - This is a short series, basically about home towns.  The main girl strays away from hers and is constantly running out on whatever new situation she's in.  The writer and artist both have a love for these small stories, and for these small towns.  Maybe I didn't grow up in a small enough town or identify it well enough as home, maybe (definitely) I haven't wandered enough to understand wanderlust, but this book didn't really connect with me.  It seemed important, it seemed touching, the pictures he put in the back from readers of their hometowns were really cool.  But I didn't read the caption on a single one, and I didn't identify with the main character, and I skimmed through the summation at the end because it seemed boring to me.  I don't know, seemed like it would really work for lots of people, just not me.

Mar 30, 2009


I'm pretty sure I'm mega late to mega64, so you might know about them.  Most of them aren't really that funny, but I kinda lost my shit during Tetris and PaperboyThis one too.