Tag Archives: jockey

Pickles and Jam

3 May

Sometimes, we just have to sit for a bit, y'know?

Okay, guys. I know I joke around a lot on here, and I know you like that (yeah, I actually read the messages and emails and all that jazz), but I’m listening to Stairway to Heaven right now and, to be honest, it’s making me look back at everything I’ve accomplished. I’m smiling, the reason being that I’ve actually created quite the impact on a few people throughout the past few years that I’ve been doing this. It makes me proud to know I’ve helped a few people, even inspired some. You know, I might go so far as to say that you guys are—naw, I’ll save that one. That one’s important.

But, I do enjoy you all, and I know y’all enjoy me and my work and shtuff. So, the first thing I’m going to do is paste the fully edited version of the first chapter of Ledge on here for you. Now, you may think I’m being lazy, but the point isn’t the chapter, it’s the second thing I’m doing, which comes after the chapter.

So, here it goes. This is for you guys, really:

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CHAPTER ONE: CLINGING

There’s darkness, and then the curtains are drawn back. Time starts. His thumb moves. Click. That’s the sound of the gun’s hammer getting pulled back.

“Still won’t talk, Mr. Adams?”

That’s Greg. He isn’t holding the gun. Mac’s holding the gun. Mac’s seven feet tall, or something.

“Hit him again, Mac.”

Whack! That’s me getting punched in the face by a left hook. The gun’s in his right hand, not aimed at anything in particular yet.

“Come on, Adams. We don’t got all day. Just tell us where your friend is and we’ll let you go.”

My friend is Michael. I won’t tell Greg anything. I think my jaw’s broken anyway. It hurts like hell.

“Adams…”

We’re in a hotel room. It’s got a nice view overlooking Lake Oslana. That wasn’t the lake’s first name, but the owner of the hotel line decided it’d be a nice one to buy. I wonder what it was called originally.

“You know how easy this is. And it’s not like we’re gonna backstab you or anything. Just let us at him!”

I wish Greg would get it over with and have my ass capped already. My favorite suit’s already ruined, and there’s no way I’m exposing Michael—no way. I really hope he doesn’t come in and try to save me or anything.

AGH! GOOD GOD!

“That’s strike one. Next we put a bullet in your other thigh. Might be hard to walk around. Start talking.”

Jesus Christ, it hurts so much! Keep it together, Eddie! Be cool! You’ll make it out of this. Just need a plan.

Greg’s looking over at the other two men in the room, Mac not being one of them. He says something to them, but I can’t hear it very well. It HURTS!

“…and if we’re not quick enough, the Doctor might wonder what’s taking so long!”

The Doctor: a psychotic crime lord, currently working with the government (strange irony there). Whack! Another punch. The Doctor REALLY wants Michael dead, huh?

“We may have to waterboard it out of this guy,” says one of the other men. I don’t know his name, just some random goon with a gun. I hope Greg doesn’t agree.

“Get the rags,” he says. Now I’m done for. I won’t be able to hold out through that stuff. I hope Michael left the country. It’s not safe here in State 9 anymore, not with all that’s been happening lately.

A lot of time passes once the third man exits to get the rags. I give Greg an indifferent look. He shoots a glare. I give Mac the same look and he just snorts and walks off, dropping the gun on a sofa chair. He talks quietly with the last man in the room (just another goon).

“Why do you care so much?” Greg asks me. I become introspective and really analyze this before I answer, and then I shrug seeing as nothing I say will prove satisfactory. If I told him how Michael saved me, how he was different from the other you-know-whats, he wouldn’t understand. He’d just say I was a nutcase who needed his head examined.

After the course of two or three minutes (it felt like a lot more to me), the rags arrive with the third man. He tosses them to Mac, who catches them with ease.

“Did you bring the bottles too?” Greg asks.

“They’re just outside sir,” the man responds. “I’ll go get ‘em.”

The chair I’m strapped to is made of wood. It is laid across the floor, me now facing the ceiling. This is going to suck.

“You could always talk now,” Greg offers. I remain silent, like a good friend should, and the rags are placed over my face. I toss my head to the left, throwing the rags off. When a hard punch hits me in the—Lord, that hurts!—face I stopped turning. The rags go over me again. I think my nose is bleeding.

One of the water bottles is opening, I can hear it. Here it comes. Mac’s tilting it right now. Get out now, Michael. Get out before they find y—CRASH!

“What the—?!”

The sound of men being tossed about the room echoes through my ears. Bullets fly from Mac’s gun, but it explodes in his hand, causing him to shout in pain. The other two goons fire but are launched into the ceiling, their necks snapping. I can hear Greg being pinned against the wall. Mac is groaning and weeping on the floor as the rags are lifted off my face.

Michael.

“Get out of here!” I tell him. He unties the ropes that bind me and helps me into a sofa chair. There’s Greg, being held against the wall by Michael’s power.

“I couldn’t just leave you,” he tells me, before looking to Greg with an expressionless face. One of the guns of the dead goons soars toward his hand. He aims it at the leader of the group, now begging for mercy.

“To harm an ally of mine is to hang oneself,” the angel says. Then a red mark appears between the eyes of Greg and blood trickles down from it until it reaches his lips. The body falls to the floor, lifeless. Michael looks back at me.

“Are you all right, Edward?”

“Yeah,” I lie, “I’m dandy. You showed up just in time. Although I still think you need to get the hell out of Dodge.”

He puts his hand on my shoulder and says, “We are getting out, not I.”

“I have to see Sally first.”

Sally’s my girlfriend. She’s—she’s beautiful. It’s a long story. I haven’t quite decided whether I’ll marry her yet. We’ve been with each other quite a while now.

“No time,” Michael tells me, causing me further worry. “Those were easy hunters. If they send Lucifer—.”

“I can’t just leave her. They’ll kill her!”

I’m standing now, but my leg hurts too much. I’m trembling as I fall back into the chair. Michael holds a hand to where the bullet is and slowly—YAGH—levitates it out of me. I’m not bleeding too badly. Okay, maybe I AM bleeding too badly. But he’s already ripping a bed sheet apart and wrapping a piece of it around the wound.

“That should stop the bleeding. Raphael will be able to heal you later.”

“Michael, I can’t leave her.”

His face, though without expression, holds weight behind it like you couldn’t imagine. His eyes waver and glow. And then, he understands.

“I will get you to safety first. The others are downstairs with a car. I’ll let them get you out of here, then I’ll get the girl.”

I’m thinking of disagreeing, thinking of telling him I have to be there when it happens. But that’d be foolish right now. I need healing, and Raphael’s always been the quickest at that.

“All right, fine. Let’s go.”

He nods. We depart. Mac looked dead last I checked.

This world has changed since the war. I can only hope that doing what I’m doing will help save it from its own self-destruction. Although, to be honest, when I look outside at the covert dystopia that has come, I can’t help but lose hope entirely.

We’re hanging on a ledge right now. I really hope Man’s fingers don’t get any more tired than they already are.

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Before I go, I want to tell you a true story about the power of art. There was once this girl sitting in a car on a city bridge. It was night, and not very many cars were passing by at the time. She was crying, weeping actually, because right then, right there, in that moment, she intended, completely and utterly, to drive over the edge of the bridge into the water below. Sweat trickled down her neck and shivers traveled up her spine. Now, this sort of thing happens all the time, and so, naturally, she could’ve just pressed down on the gas and gotten it over with. In most cases, this would’ve been so.

So then there was this nightclub. A DJ (I won’t say who, but suffice to say he’s a pretty big deal in the clubbing world—and a family friend) was playing some killer tracks, and everyone was going wild. The room was electric, truly. You could feel the life pulsating through it, like a heartbeat. Then, after the DJ’s work was done and he was turning in for the night, someone tried to reach him backstage. At first, security tried to shove the person away, but the DJ approved their passage, for they did not seem to be some crazy, drunk fan out seeking autographs or something “intimate.” His guess was right, for it was then that the person told him of the miracle that had been bestowed upon them.

They had just recently gone through some of the toughest trials life had ever thrown their way. In fact, these trials were so punishing and cruel, that the person had been driven to the point where death seemed like the only option. And then, literally seconds before the gas pedal was pressed down and a body was made soulless, a song came on the radio, a song called It’s Gonna Be Okay. It was one of the DJ’s best songs.

Art saved her life that night.

To all my fans who are artists: any time you think maybe your life would be more useful somewhere else, doing what society has told you is “productive,” remember that you’re doing something that actually saves lives. If that ain’t productive—ah, screw that, it’s productive, know it like you know your name. We need more of you out there, because even if you’re never thanked for it, know that you’re doing something badass just by being an artist.

So yeah, that’s why I put random pictures at the top of all my articles. Now, finish the night with this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwAYpLVyeFU

Love,

D.

Laugh.

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

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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

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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!