Tag Archives: 2

Adventure on the Path

8 Dec

Anywhere

 

Not every story is a slow, character development piece. Sometimes the pace quickens. When that happens, don’t be alarmed. The other path will return, but there will always be valleys to get through. With that said, CLICK HERE to read the next episode of Path to Nowhere. It’s all for you guys. It’s all building up to something…

…or nothing, as it were.

~D.

My Top 12 Favorite “Game of Thrones” Moments

20 Jun

Forever, my father.

We all love it. We all hate it. We all want more. We all wish it would just end. We all got our friends to watch it, then reconsidered our decision to do so after the Red Wedding. We love it because it’s intelligent, because it’s real, but mostly because, unlike most stories told these days, it’s a game.

There are many players in the Game of Thrones. Once they enter the Game they have two options, as disclosed by Cersei Lannister early on: win or die. Opting out has been tried, but proven unsuccessful thus far. My advice? Don’t join unless you plan on being the victor.

Game of Thrones has been an exciting, powerful series thus far, filled with highs and lows, twists and turns, incredible battles and unforgettable characters. Today I’m going to talk to you about my favorite moments in the show hitherto. Note that I’m writing this prior to the release of Season 4. I may update it, I may not. For all we know the fourth chapter in the series could suck thanks to rising egos in the cast and crew (I’m not saying it will happen, I’m saying it could).

In case you’re in the middle of watching the show and are worried about spoilers, I’ve labeled each moment with their respective season and episode. That being said, let’s dive right in with…

Don't worry, you'll be possessing fucking wolves soon.

12. The Fall of Bran (Season One, Episode One)

If one could pinpoint the exact moment when Game of Thrones announced itself as “the show where anything can happen,” it would have to be Bran’s fall at the end of the first episode. I remember seeing him break his promise to Catelyn and thinking, “Good boy,” not at all aware of the potential negative ramifications of him doing so. Suddenly, as he drew closer to the tower I thought, “Wait, the music changed. Something important’s about to happen.” And then there they were: Jamie and Cersei  Lannister getting busy. I wasn’t all that shocked that there was incest going on, nor that it was incest between those two. However, I was shocked when Jamie grabbed Bran by the collar and uttered, “The things I do for love,” before tossing him the ground far below.

In most stories, especially in the case of TV shows, children are left undamaged. It’s sort of an unspoken rule regarding television, cinema, etc. Game of Thrones doesn’t play by conventional rules, it has its own.

"What is dead may never die."

11. The Dreadfort Assembly (Season Three, Episode Ten)

Let’s face it, as pissed as we all were at Theon for betraying Robb, cutting off his “favorite toy” was a bit much. I was among his many sympathizers during his time with Ramsay Snow, and even now I hope he’ll be okay in the end. My hope was strengthened after the most recent episode in the series, wherein his prized possession was sent to Balon Greyjoy, his father, as a threat.

Balon was asked to give up the lands he’d invaded recently in exchange for his son’s safety. He refused, calling the boy a disobedient “fool” who should’ve followed orders. Theon’s sister, Yara (called Asha in the books), doesn’t give a damn whether Theon made a mistake or not.

“I’m going to pick the fastest ship in our fleet,” she began. “I’m going to choose the fifty best killers on the Iron Islands. I’m going to sail up the Narrow Sea all the way to the Weeping Water. I’m going to march on the Dreadfort. I’m going to find my little brother…

…and I’m going to bring him home.”

"That was all I wanted."

10. A Golden Crown (Season One, Episode Six)

To me, this is the moment where Daenerys became a badass. Throughout the entire first season, up until this point at least, Viserys had been a real dick to his sister, and I mean a REAL dick. He’d beaten her, threatened to have the entire Dothraki Horde and their horses have sex with her, by force if necessary, and done all sorts of things that just left me thinking, “When does he die?” Seeing sweet justice exacted was more than appreciated, especially in such a gruesome form.

But the pouring of gold wasn’t what made this moment terrific. It was Daenerys saying, “He was no dragon. Fire cannot kill a dragon.” And then I understood how important she actually was, for she was the dragon Viserys claimed to be.

I miss him.

9. The King in the North (Season One, Episode Ten)

After a very significant event occurred (further on down the list), the Northerners were left without a Warden. And so, because of this, a new nation was formed, with a new king chosen by its people: Robb Stark. Robb is probably one of the top five best characters in the entire series, and his “badassery” skyrocketed after his new title was granted.

"Valar morghulis."

8. Everything with Jaqen H’ghar (Seasons One and Two)

I know this is kind of cheating, but, pardon my French, I really just don’t give a fuck. Jaqen H’ghar is a baller the like of which has not been equaled in the series thus far (I’m sorry, I think he’s cooler than Daenerys). His stealth and precision are unrivaled and his ability to change faces the way he does is literally perfect. I hope Arya trains under him next season. And by the way, nobody send me anything about it, but I think Jaqen and Syrio Forel are the same person, for various reasons which I’ll talk about another time.

Valar morghulis.

Spiders and Ladders

7. Everything with Varys and Baelish (Seasons One, Two and Three)

Okay, okay, this is the last time I’m cheating. But honestly, it’s so hard to choose the best of these back-and-forths between the two. The Spider and Little Finger always have the best discussions regarding the condition of Westeros. If I had to choose one that stood out, I might pick the “Chaos is a Ladder” speech that Baelish gives Varys. In every other discussion, they are equal to one another. In that one in particular, Baelish actually outwits Varys, a character I personally believed to be invulnerable.

All in all, these two always steal whatever scene they’re in, unless Tyrion’s in it. Speaking of which…

What is dead may never die.

6. Ned (Season One, Episode Nine)

I don’t think I have to say much. To some, he was a fool. To others, he was the last honorable man in Westeros. To me, he was both. He didn’t play the Game properly, but he was a good man nonetheless, a strong man, a courageous man. Too trusting though. He didn’t walk softly enough. He didn’t control his pieces the way Daenerys and Tywin did. He played it the way a soldier would, and, unfortunately, soldiers don’t win the Game.

Long live Ned Stark, the true King in the North.

"Halfman!"

5. Halfman (Season Two, Episode Nine)

Although he isn’t my favorite character (and I know he’s everyone else’s), Tyrion has had some of the most epic moments in the series, the Battle of Blackwater being full of them. One of his best scenes involves a speech wherein he tells his soldiers very simply and bluntly, “Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let’s go kill them.” Soon after, chants of his alias, “Halfman,” resound through King’s Landing, immortalizing Tyrion as a legend of Westeros.

500,000

4. Jamie’s Redemption (Season Three, Episode Five)

Okay, now I know most people still hate Jamie, but there are those out there who, like me, have forgiven him for his acts of evil in the past. After hearing what he did for the people of King’s Landing, how he saved five hundred thousand people from being burned alive, I was absolutely blown away, realizing that everything Jamie ever does, no matter how ruthless it may seem, is done because he truly believes it’s for the best.

It’s not just the story itself that makes this moment so incredible. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau should win an Emmy just for this scene on its own. He tells Jamie’s tale so beautifully and brings it to life in such a powerful way that I, a former die-hard Jamie HATER, was able to sympathize for the man I believed to be one of the main villains of the piece. Congratulations, sir.

Sorry Bran, but I have to give credit where credit is due. The Kingslayer is now a hero in my book.

Fucking dragons.

3. Birth of the Dragons (Season One, Episode Ten)

After Ned’s death I was certain there was nothing bigger they could throw at me this season. And then I remembered those eggs, and how our girl here can’t be burned, and although it didn’t surprise me all that much, the birth of the dragons was one of the most impressive bits in the series. It’s the first real appearance of magic in Game of Thrones, and it gave me hope that things would get better from here on out, that the bad guys were toast and that, soon enough, all would be well in George R.R. Martin’s world.

And then, of course, Robb Stark had to go and break his oath…

Fuck the Freys

2. The Red Wedding (You Know the One)

Okay, if you seriously don’t know what this is, stop reading, because you’re about to read what I think may be the biggest plot twist in a television series, EVER. On the night of a beautiful wedding merging the Tully and Frey houses, Lord Walder Frey executes what might be the most sickening, dastardly, gruesome, villainous betrayal ever put on a screen. I know that sounds like an overstatement, but if you’ve seen it, and you watched every episode prior and grew attached to—nay, to love the characters involved, then you probably agree. The Red Wedding is messed up beyond belief, with the loss of Robb, his wife, their unborn child, and Catelyn all in less than ten minutes.

But, as horrible as it was, you have to admit…

I BET she's going to die.

1. The Unsullied Liberation and Mhysa (Season Three, Episodes Four and Ten)

Yeah, remember what I said before? Well, I never said “I promise,” so I’m not worried about my choice here. I simply couldn’t decide between these two because, in a sea of depressing moments, these two are some of the more inspiring scenes in Game of Thrones.

The first is the liberation of the Unsullied, which me and my brother TOTALLY CALLED the week before (I take credit for calling it first). Daenerys makes what appears to be a stupid trade in order to acquire an army for the taking of Westeros. What ends up happening is a badass coup wherein all of Astapor’s slave master’s are killed and the army of Unsullied soldiers is liberated. When given the option to live as they choose, they all decide to serve the Stormborn Queen, and a great bit of symbolism occurs when she drops the whip that once controlled them and they march over it, their chains shattered.

The second is the ending of the recent season finale, which I honestly think is a beautiful thing. Hope is what I wanted out of the last episode, and hope is what I got. Even though I personally think Daenerys is going to die this coming season, she still makes me think that, even now, this story might have a happy ending.

One of the other great things about the Mhysa scene is how perfectly it symbolizes everything about the show. We have a hero who, because of the potential dangers of the world, is forced to surround herself with shields and pikes. Even when the friendly slaves arrive, there’s this tension about whether they can be trusted, whether anyone can be trusted. The look on Jorah’s face is what I’m talking about. He knows that even the kindest of fellows might stab someone like Daenerys right in the back. But Daenerys isn’t willing to let that sort of thought process go on. She knows that in order the end the clash between fear and love, she must take a leap of faith. And so, when she walks into the crowd, knowing fully well she might be beaten to death right then and there, she is testing whether all men are evil, whether all men must die. And, in the end, she proves that all men aren’t evil, and that there is still good to be found in the world.

That’s why I love Game of Thrones. That’s why you love Game of Thrones. That’s why we love Game of Thrones. Because it isn’t just about betrayal and blood and horror and death and hopelessness. It’s also about righteousness, truth, heroism, love, and freedom. And it will have a happy ending, one way or another.

"Build it and they will come."

And to those still mourning the Starks, just remember…

…what is dead may never die.

~D.

My Thoughts On Journey

14 Jan

Will Wright should've taken a better look at this game.

Indie game developer thatgamecompany (yes, it’s a lowercase t, and yes, it’s all bunched up that way) has been known throughout their short lifespan to develop simple games with deep emotional themes. Their first was the oceanic adventure flOw, where players took control of a tiny organism that evolved through the consumption of others like it. As it did this, it would descend to the darkest depths of the ocean, only to find itself facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles and enemies. The result was, and still is, a fun, beautifully designed piece of art that anyone, be they a hardcore Counter-Strike player, or a scrub who’s just getting into gaming, can enjoy. It appeared first on the PC, and then on PlayStation Network utilizing the PS3’s SIXAXIS controls. This was the beginning of TGC’s relationship with Sony, which would lead to the production of their next game: Flower.

Isn't it pretty? Yeah, dark, but pretty. :)

Flower was TGC’s first attempt at crafting a story along with their game. It begins with you in your dilapidated bedroom. A potted flower is resting on the windowsill (I’m pretty sure that’s where it is. It’s been a while since I’ve played). It hasn’t bloomed yet. As you focus on it, you go to sleep (this is implied, but it’s plainly obvious). When you arrive in your little dream world, you become the petal of the flower you saw in reality, breaking away from the flower and allowing it to bloom. You then proceed to pass over other flowers, using the SIXAXIS controls as in flOw, helping them bloom and gathering a single petal from each along the way.

The night missions are awesome, really.

The journey you go on from this point really shouldn’t be spoiled for those who haven’t played. For those who have, no recap is necessary. You meet adversity, just as you did in flOw, although the dangers you face are very different from the creatures in TGC’s first game, less alive and more stagnant, they still prove to be just as threatening. It’s an art game, it’s true, but it’s not like art films where you look at it and you go, “Yeah, the critics are gonna jerk off all over this one.” You really feel the love and care that was put into the universe of Flower, as well as its subtle, but effective, story. Flower showed the world that TGC could make not just a great game, but tell a great story as well. Now it was time for them to pull out the big guns. And so, here it is, their 2012 masterpiece, Journey.

Guys, this one's a classic, no lie.

Now, this may sound crazy, and I played a lot of games last year that were really good. I haven’t finished The Walking Dead, so I may take it back after the last episode, we’ll see. However, as of right now, I can firmly state that Journey was my favorite game of 2012. Seriously guys, this game totally caught me off guard. I mean, Flower was awesome, really awesome. It was a solid game. But Journey adds a level of aesthetics to gaming that barely any games have ever brought to the table. Heavy Rain did a great job, but Journey is just–it’s friggin’ JOURNEY! The game stars an unnamed protagonist, who seeks to reach the top of a great mountain. They comes across an intriguing set of companions who communicate through song with the game’s hero, aiding them in their quest to reach the peak. As the player progresses through the game, they will uncover the history of the Journey universe, learning what’s so special about this mountain, why it needs to be reached, where the main character’s origins lie, and, above all else, their applicability to the real world.

Awmahgosh, this part was AMAZING!

In just a few short hours (and this game is short, definitely), you’ll have developed not only an intimate relation to your character, but the world around you and its inhabitants. The ending (don’t worry, I’m not saying anything) is–oh, just buy the damn game and stop listening to me. Seriously, if you don’t don’t have a PS3, buy one, then get a PSN account (it’s free, unlike XBOX Live) and, from there, go to the PSN Store and buy and download Journey.

They're like magic carpet people.

I’m not trying to be like IGN, okay. You know what I mean, right? Like how IGN did a Mass Effect 3 review that was absolutely perfect and barely mentioned the #*<&!%@ $#**$#!^ <^%* @$$ $#!^ ending we got that #*<&!%@ sucked? No, I’m being legitimate here: this game is that good. The Walking Dead is a close runner-up, as is Planetside 2.  I’m still not taking anything back until after I finish The Walking Dead. If the last episode destroys my face with awesome, then perhaps I’ll eat my words and have to tell you all, “I was wrong.” Until then, go buy Journey.

Just do it.

~D.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

27 Dec

Hey everybody! I know it’s been an enormously long time since I’ve posted (mostly because I’ve been busy writing), but I’m back for a while with great news: CHRISTMAS WAS AWESOME!

Okay, so first there’s the gifts my siblings got: my little brother got a brand new Toshiba gaming laptop with a slick screen and top of the line graphics card, Fable III Collector’s Edition, some other really cool video games, an ultralight, extremely durable remote controlled helicopter (from yours truly), and a lot of candy!

My younger sister got an incredible amount of toys, an amount way too high to count. I mean, it’s unbelievable how many toys she got, it’s ridiculous. You know that awesome toy you saw the last time you were at Toys ‘R’ Us, that one? Yeah, she has it. Oh, and she also got her first bike!

Then there’s my parents, who got some cool sci-fi books, some cookies, hugs, tools (from sis’, for Dad), cooking supplies (from me, for Mom), and some video games (Mom got Mass Effect 2).

My grandmother received some nice presents as well, one of the key ones (also from me (sorry)) being her Steamboat Willy snow globe, as well as Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (incredible book).

Lastly, there’s me. I got a new Toshiba gaming laptop (awesome), tools (awesome), a new basketball (awesome), Shutter Island and Inception (I’ve reviewed both on the blog, go look for those write-ups), Fallout: New Vegas (decent, so far), an Epic Mickey t-shirt (but not the game), Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Collector’s Edition (haven’t played yet) and some other stuff that I for some reason can’t remember off the top of my head. Ah well, it doesn’t matter. I’ll have reviews of Killing Floor and New TF2 up soon. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

My Thoughts On Mass Effect (1 & 2)

12 Jul

Gaming is an art form. It is, like films and books, a way to tell stories that people love, or hate even. The greatest thing about gaming however is that the viewer participates in the story and doesn’t just sit and watch as things happen. And the greatest thing about gaming these days is that many times the participant is able to choose his/her path in the story. Prime examples of this are Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Heavy Rain (which I review recently). Both of these games have you make decisions that have a crucial impact on your story, including how it plays out and how it ends. These go from choices such as what to say to somebody, to which direction you’ll go in some area, to whether or not somebody will live or die, to even (in Heavy Rain’s case) whether your own characters will live or die. It truly is wonderful. And when you start playing a game like Mass Effect, and its sequel as well, you realize how incredible it really is.

In the Mass Effect games you play as Commander Shepard (whom you can customize in many ways: male or female, skin tone, etc.). You can choose his/her origin story, his/her profession, and many other things that actually have an effect on the story of the game and where it goes. Commander Shepard could be a ruthless, cold, calculating leader who does what he/she needs to in order to get the job done, or he/she could be a valiant hero willing to give his/her life for his/her team and willing to do anything to save the galaxy. It’s your choice, and that’s what makes it great.

The games both have their own stories that are somewhat separate yet somewhat linked. The big difference between the two is that the first one focuses on the big epic storyline and the sequel focuses more on you and your crew’s relationships with one another. An interesting feature that Mass Effect 2 has is the ability to import your character from the first game into the next game, so the choices you made and side-quests you completed will come back to either please you or haunt you. It’s really cool when stuff like this is featured in a game, and should be used more often (maybe in a Heavy Rain 2?).

The big epic story of the first one is that a deadly A.I. civilization known as the Reapers has returned from hiding after about 50,000 years. Just before their first disappearance they wiped out an organic civilization called the Protheans and were never seen or heard from again. It is now Shepard’s duty in this game to stop the Reapers from doing the same thing to the rest of the galaxy, which faces extinction. It really is quite a wild ride, especially because of how many people you meet along the way, what they have to offer to your tale, and the twists and turns that can be caused by your actions.

The sequel, which honestly is the better of the two, involves you continuing your fight with the Reapers. This time they’re using another race known as the Collectors to do their evil bidding. This game gets a bit more intense since the only way to reach the Collectors’ base of operations is through what is known as the Omega 4 Relay, a massive teleportation hub that warps ships to an unknown part of the galaxy. No ship had ever returned from going through the Omega. You plan to be the first. Here’s the catch however: the decisions you make throughout the game can determine whether you, or any of your crew, make it back alive. That’s right, you can die in this friggin’ game and not be able to load your Mass Effect 2 character into Mass Effect 3. Talk about a lot of pressure. And any characters that die in the “suicide mission” are dead because of your choices. It really makes the game much more intense than any movie you’ll ever see for quite some time.

One might wonder how you can save yoursef from certain doom. Well, the trick is to gain the loyalty of all of your crew members. If their resolve isn’t strong enough, they will fall. Trust me on that. Also, upgrading your ship would be wise, since it has an effect on who lives and dies as well. I’ve cmpleted both games and after beating the second one I’ve lost only one crew member, and it was the one I liked the least so it’s all good.

Essentially what I’m trying to ge across here is not what I thought of the nitty-gritty parts of the game, such as mechanics and what not, just how I felt about the tale the game told. And let me tell you, I thought it was told beautifully. I could not have asked for a better role-playing game to hold me over until The Old Republic (another BioWare game) comes out. I recommend that anybody who loves story in games, and loves a good action packed sci-fi adventure go pick up the games right now. And play the first one first because the character import sytem makes it so much better, honestly.

Well guys and gals, thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful day. I’ll be posting much more frequently from now on, so stay tuned!

VERSUS: Borderlands v.s. Left 4 Dead 2

8 Dec

Hello friendly viewers (and to those who aren’t so friendly, get out). I realize I haven’t posted much in a while, so I’ve decided to come back with a bang. Two great games have been released. Though one isn’t quite as recent as the other, they both feature something that I love: four player co-op.

I’m going to be breaking this duel between the games into several parts. If you’re only interested in one section, just look for it, read it, and be on your way. But if you want a full blow review of the two, and want to know which is really better (in my opinion of course), then sit back, relax, and enjoy the first episode of VERSUS.

BORDERLANDS V.S. LEFT 4 DEAD 2

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The first thing one notices about L4D 2 that instantly makes it better than Left 4 Dead (1), is the drawn out, kickass, rompin’ stompin’ opening cinematic. The characters look better, their voice actors are perfect n ever way, it’s cooler, it’s longer and the excitement one feels while watching it is much higher than that of the first. It also spans across all of the campaigns, not just one, and makes one want to play through the whole game to see how this, that, and the other might have played out. It really is incredible.

Now with Borderlands the story is a tad different. The opening cinematic is awesome, don’t get me wrong. It’s just a different kind of awesome, and unfortunately this different kind isn’t quite as good as L4D 2’s first impression. The opening scene introduces you quickly to the planet of Pandora, and the classes you can pick from. Now I must admit that There Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked is the absolute perfect choice of song for this scene, and the timing is perfect as well, with each characters being introduced in rhythm in a grindhouse manner. Although it’s fun to watch. I’d rather look at the cinematic the L4D 2 has than the one Borderlands plays. Sorry Pandora, but this round goes to the zombie apocalypse.

WINNER: L4D 2

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

STORY

L4D (1) is known for having little to no story. It’s just four (well, now five with Crash Course) movie campaigns that aren’t very connected at all. L4D 2, however, manages to handle this problem nicely by having the first campaign be the very first meeting between the survivors. The introduce themselves to each other in an elevator, and set out to see what’s out there in Postapocalyptia (note the Fallout reference I just made there :]).

L4D 2’s campaigns are also tied together. For instance, the characters might talk about something that happened earlier in another campaign that’s related to the one you’re one. And whatever vehicle you left the last campaign in is in the start of the next one, providing some link between each campaign. It’s not a huge story arc, but it’s something. And L4D 2 comes complete with a company called CEDA (Valve is known for having companies in their games, i.e. Black Mesa and Aperture Science), which was supposed to be protecting people from the infection, but failed miserably. Their jets and helicopters are still flying around, but all of their “infantry” on the ground are now infected. It’s a real hellhole.

Borderlands’ story is…um…yeah. Listen, I hate to disappoint any readers hoping Borderlands would have a nice story, especially with such potential (four unique mercenaries on an alien planet being ordered to do things by a mysterious guardian angel who might have something up her sleeve that will shock gamers everywhere). Unfortunately however, the story is, for lack of a better term, utter crap. I mean, I haven’t beaten the complete story yet, but I’ve gotten far enough to know that this game is not about the story, it’s about the gameplay. The guardian angel isn’t mysterious, just annoying. She feels like she was thrown in at the last minute so people would feel like there might be some inner workings to the story. The opening events of the game are boring (in terms of story, not action) and made me want to shut it off (though the gameplay really saved it big time). Honestly, I pity the writers who worked on it and had to play it afterwards because I have a feeling they know they failed. And so the winner is once again the apocalypse.

WINNER: L4D 2

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

GAMEPLAY

L4D (1) had plenty of great things, but also plenty of flaws. For one thing, there were only five primary weapons, two grenade types, and only one secondary weapon (although dual wield was enabled), along with a few other items not used for combat. In L4D 2 there’s ten primary weapons, twelve secondary weapons (if you include dual wielded pistols and melee weapons), and even a new grenade, an adrenaline shot, and a defibrillator. That’s a large improvement from the last game and gives players much more flexibility with what they use in the game, and greatly influenced my take on the game. Another improvement is the difficulty level. L4D 2 is much more challenging than its predecessor, causing survivors to really have to work together even more. Teamwork is key to completing the campaigns in L4D 2, and I mean key, especially with the new special infected running around. The spitter shoots acid spit at survivors and creates pools of this dangerous fluid when she dies. The charger rams through everything in its path and when it tires out grabs the nearest survivor and begins pummeling him into the ground. And then there’s of course the jockey, who jumps on the backs of survivors and leads them into the hordes of zombies, fires, off cliffs, into the witch, etc. Speaking of witches, in all daytime campaigns the witch will now wander around. She could pop up around any corner, and you wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.

It isn’t just the regular game that’s improved. There’s also new game modes as well. Scavenger takes survivors to sections of campaigns and has then bring objects around the map (usually fuel tanks) back to the “home base” area to collect points. And then there’s of course the game mode that was revealed in the demo (but not playable): Realism. Realism at first seemed to me like basically the regular game. But that was before I got separated from my team. Realism takes away the blue silhouettes that helped you out so much in the regular game and makes you realize how important they actually were. You can get lost very easily in Realism and not only that, but items are much harder to find in Realism because of the silhouette removal. The tank does more damage than before as well and the witch can kill players in one hit. And I don’t mean knock down, I mean literally kill you in one hit. And remember those closets that helped so much in getting teammates back? Not there. They’re gone in Realism. Hope you packed a defibrillator or two. Now imagine that game mode on expert, and you’ve got a real challenge on your hands.

Now Borderlands has a very different play-style. Borderlands is, for one thing, and RPG at its core. It’s a shooter, don’t get me wrong. But all attacks and stats and such are altered by RPG style perks and statistics. There’s no moral decisions or anything, but the game doesn’t work like that. It work more like this other one game I hate. What was it called again? World of Whorecraft? Something like that. Anyhow, the game flows like that certain other MMORPG, but it’s ten times better. For one thing, the action isn’t slow and boring, but exciting and fun. And not only that but there’s tons of guns. I mean, there may actually be 87 bazillion, just like in the ads. Because there’s plenty of guns. Rocket launching shotguns, flaming snipers, explosive revolvers, to name a few. And I mean a few, because there’s so many guns. It’s crazy how many there are.

Character progression is quite fun as well. Character customization is purely asthetic, but that’s okay for a game like this. It’s more about your abilities than your armor and such. Each class has its own special ability. The hunter has a deadly pet bird named Bloodwing. The soldier has a turret he can drop down equipped with a shield for protection. The siren can turn invisible and move super fast before deploying an energy blast that covers a large space. And then there’s the brick (or berserker) who drops his guns and take out enemies with his fists. All of these abilities are upgradable, and so are a whole bunch of other things like reload speed, what kind of item drops you’ll get, etc.

Exploration is quite fun, and since there’s so many new areas to explore around every corner and so many quests to uphold, you’ll almost always have something to do. And with co-op, question becomes more challenging, but at the same time, more fun. Having buddies around always makes Borderlands a lot more enjoyable. In multiplayer you can duel (like in Whorecraft), and even have 2v2 battles in arena. So if you ever get bored of NPC enemies getting slaughtered at you feet, you can always try and see if you can beat your buddies into the dirt, too.

It was a tough decision, but I think because of the RPG aspect, this round is going to have to go to Pandora.

WINNER: BORDERLANDS

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PRESENTATION

The new menu for L4D 2 is sleek and smooth and it’s very easy to find the thing you want to do. It’s also easy to find games and start playing them without fuss. The new musical style is cool too, providing a cool set of tunes to go with your getting into the game, and improving the in-game experience itself. Along with that the daytime campaigns and the new lighting for nighttime campaigns create a much more brilliant atmosphere in the world of L4D 2. Lastly there is of course new wall messages and new side characters to spice up the L4D world, including L4D 2’s version of the companion cube, a cute little garden gnome named Chompski.

Borderlands’ menu isn’t quite as interesting and feels sort of like the menu for a PS2 game (be advised I have Borderlands on the PS3). The in-game menus are cool though and provide easy viewing of items and stats and such. And there’s also that great art style that makes the world more vibrant and colorful. However, bland characters who don’t have that much personality (not that every character in Borderlands is like this) caused me to not be able to appreciate the way it was presented as much. And that’s why Valve has once again triumphed.

WINNER: L4D 2

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FINAL SCOREBOARD:

L4D 2: 3

BORDERLANDS: 1

WINNER OF VERSUS: L4D 2

Hope you enjoyed the first episode of VERSUS.

Happy Holidays!

Last Heroes Standing reaches 50 members!

2 Oct

I’m excited to announce that my Steam community Last Heroes Standing has reached 50 members. Hooray!

My Top Five: Favorite Star Wars Villains

1 Oct
Number Five: Darth Nihilus- Those first moments when I heard Nihilus’ voice sent chills down my spine. This truly is a Sith. Nihilus’ motives are very unclear. No matter how many times I thought I knew after speaking with Visas Marr, it just didn’t seem to add up. And that’s why I liked him so much. As much as I’d like to add Darth Sion to the list as well, he just told too much about himself by the end and just basically gave himelf away. With Nihilus, I kind of knew what was going on, but not fully. I always felt that something was missing. And that is why Nihilus takes the Number Five spot on my list.

                                                                          Darth_Nihilus_Saber.jpg Darth Nihilus image by erbalt42

Number Four: Darth Sidious- I’ve always wanted to see how such a seemingly kind and noble man like Palpetine could turn into such a ruthless killing machine and sinister Dark Lord like the Emperor. Darth Sidious, his Sith alias, showed me this very thing. And boy did he scare the crap out of me. Every word that emitted from his lips was like a drop of poison. He truly is the evil I thought he was. The only thing that takes him down really is that for me, by Episode III, he seemed way too obvious. Why on Earth would he make his identity so easy to see? I mean, I get that the Force was clouded by the Dark Side, but really, you don’t need to be a genius to know that he’s evil. I mean, listen to his voice.

                                                                   

Number Three: Darth Maul- When I first went to see Episode I in theaters, I saw Maul fight Qui-Gon with a single blade. Great, seen it before. But when he came out with that double-bladed saber, I almost cried. It really was one of the coolest duels ever, that one. And not to mention the look of Maul. His face could give kids nightmares for weeks. Really. His eyes too, they’re just so scary. And finally, to think this guy had only like two or three lines (maybe four), and yet he still remains a very important Sith in the Star Wars lore now. He truly is a villain. Truly.
                                                  
Number Two: Darth Vader- Yeah, another Darth. But really, how can I not have Darth Vader on the list too? He is just one of the most iconic, if not the most iconic villain in cinema history. His voice is memorable by more than half Earth’s population (probably), nearly everybody in America knows who he is. He even had the entire Prequel Trilogy devoted to his origin. His armor, or “iron lung,” is one of the most popular looks for a villain, ever, and one of the most recognizable. He is also quite a great character. The idea of somebody commiting such a genecide of essentially an entire (hokey) religion out of pure love for one person is just villainous. And that’s why he steals the Number Two spot on my list.
                                                            

Now I know what you’re thinking, why isn’t Darth Vader Number One? I mean, who’s greater than Vader (hey, that kind of rhymes)? Well I’m glad you asked (if you did) because my Number One spot goes to somebody who at first you’ll think, “WHAT?!” but will soon understand.

NUMBER ONE: General Grievous (Micro Series)- In 2004 a micro series known as Star Wars: The Clone Wars (no, not the CG film) came out and it told the story between Episodes II and III in five minute episodes that had real impact on my view of Star Wars. They were bold, daring, and had great additional characters, and they also gave us another reason to love Mace Windu even more when he was alive (didn’t we have enough already?). Well, the last episode of the season was announced, and it was going to be ten minutes long! Ten minutes? What could be so great about this episode? Well, I’ll tell you what was so great: a miysterious droid/alien creature that KICKED MORE JEDI BUTT THAN CHUCK NORRIS ON STEROIDS!!!

In the episode, the wreckage of a Republic flagship is lying is the dust of a planet (can’t remember the name). A massive army of super battle droids are surruonding it, for there are eight Jedi still inside. Three of them are the very well known Ki Adi-Mundi, Aayla Secura, and Shaak Ti. The other four are Jedi Knights and one is a padawan. The padawan is scared poopless. Litterally he is yelling, “We are all going to die!” He’s nuts, the Knights (Aayla included) are trying to calm him down, while Shaak Ti and Ki notice a shadow pass the outside of the ship. When they tell the others of it, the padawan has a panic attack and runs out of the ship. Now, this is where I almost fell off the couch. As soon as the padawan set foot in the sunlight, a massive machine like creature landed on him and flattened him into the ground. Do you see? He didn’t jump down and charge at him, jump in front of him and stab him with his lightsabers. He SMASHED HIM INTO THE GROUND WITH HIS BARE FEET.

Afterward he jumped upward again, and the Jedi activated their sabers. They were spread out so they wouldn’t be killed all at once. Or so they thought. Grievous blasted through the rafters (top) of the ship and began hacking and slashing at the Jedi. He was fighting the last seven, all at the same time (and this was before he had four arms)! He knocked back a few of them and managed to corner one at one point, slaying him with ease. Six to go. He then took on two more of the Jedi, and this was where I learned of his great ego. He went to such braggish limits that he even held the sabers WITH HIS FEET and fought them like that. When he returned to his normal fighting stance he used his feet to pick up the two Knights, one being Aayla, and crushed one of their heads with his foot (not Aayla). HE CRUSHED HIS HEAD, IN A KIDS SHOW. He then threw both of them into the rafters. Four to go. Grievous then charged into the last four, sliced two of them up easily, and then took on the two masters.

Grievous then acomplished something defining. He kicked Shaak Ti so hard that when she slammed into the wall of the ship IT CAME DOWN ON TOP OF HER (still don’t know how she survived). After that he picked up her saber, with his foot, and had in his physical grasp three lightsabers! And as he leaped at Ki Adi-Mundi, the show cut to Yoda, he said something (can’t remember, something to do with the war not being over), and it ended. And after that I had tears of joy/awesomeness streaming down my eyes. Favorite fight scene in Star Wars.

Now, compare the Grievous I just described to the one in the film. THEY ARE EXACTLY OPPOSITE. I had no problem with Obi-Wan killing him in the movie, believe me I saw it coming. But the fact that he died easily, EASILY, is what ticks me off. And this time he had FOUR ARMS. It should have taken Obi-Wan crushing him into a ball with the Force and then slicing him to pieces, not three blaster bolts! He is also MUCH less intimidating in the movie, in every way. Voice, look, etc. Lastly, they told us about him. They did it! They made that one mistake that they could’ve solved by pulling a Darth Maul, but instead they pulled a Darth Sion and told us his whole story.

Well, I will always remeber the cartoon Grievous as the true Grievous. And that is my list of my favorite Star Wars villains. I hope you can find at least one choice to agree with.

                                                    

Modster Madness !Double Feature! (Sep. 26, ’09)

26 Sep

Hey guys! Welcome to the second episode of Modster Madness. If you’ve seen the Zombie Master review, you know the drill: I tell you about a mod of a game, and if you should get it or not. Simple enough right? Well, today it’s a double feature, so let’s get going quick. It’s time to review:

                                                       

MINERVA is a single player Half-Life 2 mod that takes mod storytelling to the next level, engaging you in most of the stuff that is happening. Maybe not so much as Half-Life 2 itself did, but it dilivers more than you’d expect from a mod. The game begins on an island invaded by the Combine. You’re dropped there by a group that is attempting to investigate the island and find out what’s there. You’re directed by a tezt scroll in the upper left corner of the screen (at least I think it’s the upper left, I haven’t played MINERVA in awhile). It tells you to go to certain places on the island and complete certain tasks. The tasks were a bit hard to follow because it was only text and it went by a little too fast, causing me to have to reload earlier save files to learn what my next ojective was.

                                        

In the beginning, it feels like just anyother mod, walking across the surface of the island shooting Combine soldiers, then going inderground to fight zombies, then going up again to fight more Combine. But then, after some time the observer starts to talk a bit about your past. Basically you learn that you betrayed the humans and they’re using you to do their bidding in payment for his sins. Rough. Anyways, the plot definitely thickens as you learn more and more what your group really needs you for (or whether they need you at all). I startedtp actually feel for the character I was playing as, merely because the writing was so good, and towards the end the player will be fully immersed in the story. It’s gripping, it’s suspenseful, it’s really fun.

                                                  

MINERVA is not flawless though. As I said before, I had to reload save files to read text. I think I had to do it eight or more times. Nonetheless, this is a great mod and you’d be wise to play it ASAP. MINERVA: Metastasis, remember the name, because this mod has an awesome story, and really sinks in at the end (which is nowhere near anti-climactic).

And now, onto our second mod:

                                                    

Another single player mod, Riot Act takes place in a Combine prison that’s being attacked by an antlion horde. Your character, named Jamil, had his cell door left open. You escape, find a crowbar (of course) and an SMG/ammo supplying ally in the beginning. As you progress you will find more allies who you able to recruit as you start your riot. In the process you defeat an antlion guardian and gain control of the antlions, as you did in Half-Life 2.

                                      

According to your supplier, Alyx Vance and Gordan Freeman are the cause of the antlion attack. Don’t know how, but they are. That is not to say that it is a canon mod (though I like to think that it is). It’s merely a neat plot point they put in the story. Even though Riot Act is primarily an action packed adventure mod, it does have a plot twist in it that I won’t spoil for you. It isn’t major, but let’s just say I grew attached to my little party after awhile.

Riot Act is about as short as Portal, but definitely long for a mod. There were moments when I thought it was over when it had merely begun. It provides loads of action sequences that make you feel like a super hero. Oh, and the last battle (which I will also not spoil for you) is a really intense and surprising moment. Overall, you should play Riot Act. You can get it from Steam any time you want for free. It’s fun, it’s exhilarating, hell, it’s a friggin’ riot act!

                                          ra_c1l20004.jpg image by snackeater9007

And that concludes the double feature for this evening. This is Liak Lienad, signing off.

WARNING: You must own Half-Life 2 to get these mods.

PWNT, In The Face: The Last Wave

26 Sep

Welcome to the first addition of PWNT, In The Face. In this I’ll give you a short description about how I recently PWNT somebody, in the face.

Okay, so I was playing TF2, and I’m on a server running the Orange X3-B4 map (TF2 guys know that the rule is only two people can play as sniper at a time on this map) and there’s these snipers getting headshot after headshot on my team. So a sniper spot gets open, and I jump into the class, right. I kill both enemy snipers within five seconds of eachother. They come back, kill ’em both in five seconds. They come back, I kill ’em both in five seconds, rinse and repeat a few more times, then one of them gets me. After killing me he does the wave taunt that you normally do as a sniper after beating the hell out of somebody. So, I decided I’d do the same, since I was already beating the hell out of them anyway.

So the guy comes out, he has a clear shot at me, but of course, being who I am, I pick him off and wave. Then you’ll never believe what happened, one of them left the game! I still can’t believe that I beat somebody so hard they ragequit. PWNT, in the face. I waited an hour and a half to see if he’d return, but he didn’t. He had been beaten down to a pulp. Poor guy, but he was still PWNT, in the face.

I am Liak. See me wave.

I am Liak. See me wave.