STARHAWK!

So I have not been writing much. To be honest there has not been a large amount of awesome from the video game realm in the past few months. Sure there have been some gems, but nothing to make me drool. Well…that changed today.

‘Nuff said.

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25 Years of Zelda!

Happy 25th Anniversary Hyrule! This iconic and legendary game has influenced 100’s of games, inspired millions of kids, and has made people understand the true power of the Tri-force.

On my phone I have a ringtone that is the sound when you find a hidden entrance. Everyday there is someone that perks up and tries to find where the sound came from. I was in Books-A-Million one day, my friend Burney texted me and the sound chimed. I heard this woman swoon “Zelda?” You could hear her love for the game.

Burned into our brains and eardrums forever. Thank you Zelda!

I finally beat Final Fantasy 13…

…and I still do not fully understand the story but I am so hyped about the sequel! An AWESOME game hands down! www.finalfantasy13-2game.com

The Damned Things : Just go buy the damn thing!

The release of Ironiclast, from The Damned Things, has had me excited for many months. I had been reading that members of Every Time I Die, Fallout Boy, and Anthrax were recording something since early 2010. I have always been  fan of Anthrax and their newest lead guitarist, Rob Caggiano is a very under rated player. So to see that Rob and Scott Ian stretch out into a new project got my blood going. The other members include Keith Buckley and Josh Newton from Every Time I Die and Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley from Fallout Boy.

 

Keith Buckley has always intrigued me as a vocalist. I wondered if he  do the ETID screaming or if he would approach The Damned Things differently. Needless to say, I am happy that he took a new approach. He swoons and holds such  catchy melodies with ease.

From the very first song Handbook For The Recently Deceased you realize that this is different for every member. There is a poppy, singable, can’t get it out of my head songwriting, that is refreshing and needed. Let’s face it, 2010 has not been kind to the rock music genre.

My personal favorites out of the 10 tracks released are; The Blues Havin’ Blues, Friday Night, Graverobber, and the title track Ironiclast. It is nice to hear that members from thrash/metal, rock, and punk groups can get together and make something new.

I hope that this is not a one-shot for this group. With luke warm or non-existent new releases from the members other groups, I would hope that they continue a winning combination with The Damned Things.

My beef with FPS.

I love a good war game. From Call of Duty to Killzone to Battlefield; I love running and gunning! BUT my love only goes so far.

This week I played the single player of Call of Duty : Black Ops. Needless to say it pissed me off. Many of you may be shocked to know that I do not believe that Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops should be the standard with FPS’s. I bored quickly with them. But this is not a rant about that. It is something that every FPS has in it.

Why do you have to follow someone throughout the single player modes in many of these games? In many cases these characters or NPC’s get in the way, do not help draw fire, or help with the “enemy” situation. They yell at you, slow down the gameplay, and in general get you shot.

So, please, please game companies making the next and newest FPS, knock it off. I don’t want to follow Sgt. Blah. Give me the mission and let me make my own path. In many cases, the easier, stealthier path.

Also, stop with the dramatic knife in the back scenes. We get it, you can kill with the knife. Do not make it seem as though you have taught us how to use a lightsaber. Unless of course it is a lightsaber.

Alright, that is all…for now.

Et tu, Ailuropoda Melanoleuca? www.riptapparel.com

So…I got a new shirt design up at www.riptapparel.com. Please check it out and grab one in the next 24 hours. If you wait until Tuesday, it will be too late!

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light : Go get it!

Tomb Raider is a beloved series in my family. Since the first polygon of the British archaeologist landed on the PS1, I was hooked. Every game kept me up for hours, days, and multiple playthroughs. My wife and I have shared stories of our adventures in the games over dinner. We wait for every installment. So Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light has been the most anticipated game in our house this year.

For anyone familiar with Lara Croft and her games, you expect certain things. But Crystal Dynamics departed from the typical 3rd person over the shoulder look, for a isometric viewpoint, fixed camera. This is also the first game that introduces a co-op play. Your partner is a Mayan warrior named Totec who can speak perfect english. Amazing for a Mayan who had never heard spoken english prior to what Lara says to him. But let me tell you the story of the game first …

“Two-thousand years ago in ancient Central America, a battle began between Totec, the Guardian of the Light, and Xototl, the keeper of darkness. Totec’s army was defeated when Xolotl used the mirror of smoke to unleash hordes of ghastly creatures. Totec survived said battle, and found a way to defeat Xolotl, imprisoning him in the mirror of smoke and watching over the mirror as an immortal stone statue. In present day, Lara Croft reads of the legend and attempts to find the mirror. After a long and dangerous hike she is successful. She stops to observe the mirror, only to find that a band of mercenaries led by the local warlord followed her into the temple and took the mirror from her. Unknowing, or unbelieving of the curse upon the mirror, the leader of the mercenaries handles the mirror and recklessly releases Xolotl. The stone statue of Totec comes to life and warns Lara that Xolotl must be stopped before the light of dawn. Depending on whether playing single player or not, Lara and Totec either join forces or go separate ways to try and stop Xolotl.”

This game is a lot of fun! Gameplay is fast paced, controls are tight, and it offers a lot of replay value. There are some downfalls but nothing too serious. The controls take a little bit of time to get used to. Once learned though, actions will become second nature.

During the Co-op play, if your partner is slower than you, it will cause problems. There is not a split screen option and it forces you to truly work with the other gamer. Which is always  good thing. Why play co-op if you are not going to “play nice”?

The graphics are fresh and stay constant. You never feel as though something doesn’t belong. In typical Tomb Raider fashion you will be asking, “Why did this ancient culture build this?” And of course as the game progresses enemies become larger and more hellish. Nothing becomes too frustrating. Some areas might make your blood boil, but that is just because the game knows how to challenge the player.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is at the perfect price point of $15 or 1500 MS Points. Two thumbs WAY up on this game!

 

Zombies talk about brains too much. www.riptapparel.com

Hey guys, I am excited about this! When I am not playing video games and complaining about them, I am designing for rock bands and such. Well my friends at RIPT Apparel wanted to use a shirt design that I had made. So on Halloween (12am – 11:59pm) this shirt will be on for sale. It will only print for that 24 hour period. Do not miss out! On November 1st, you will be crying in your Froot Loops for not buying this shirt! Don’t be that guy/gal!

So I am sure you are saying, “What will I do with a zombie shirt after Halloween!??!!!?” Little unknown facts – Pilgrims  were zombies. So this is totally appropriate for Thanksgiving.  During Christmas if you put some raw meat and a picture of you wearing this shirt in a sock the Santa Zombie will reward you with all your dreams. PLUS BONUS HOLIDAY FEATURE – It has green on it. No pinching on St. Patrick’s day for you, informed and smart shopper!

Go here on Halloween! –> RIPT Apparel RIPT Apparel RIPT Apparel <– Go here on Halloween!

Shank : Bloody retribution in waves of bloody repetition

This little summer bloodfest made a small blip on the radar and then disappeared. Other sites gave it decent reviews so where did this fantastically stylized side scroller go wrong? Let’s look at it, shall we.

Shank is a hell bent dude, avenging the murder of his girlfriend, well you assume a murder. Along the way you meet the Kill Bill rejects in typical boss fashion, all the way up to the final boss. You have the muscle testosterone guys, the chick with a sword, wanna be crime lords, etc., none of them stand out as a true nemesis. Each boss has a pattern. Once learned it is fairly easy to beat. Hit detection gets a little woppy but doesn’t deter from the gameplay.

The entire time I played, I thought that there were chunks of the story missing. Little flashbacks for cut scenes made me think that there was a deeper history between the characters. None of it is really developed. But you really are not playing this game for the story line anyway. You are playing because it looks cool. REALLY COOL!

The animation is fresh and up to speed with all movements, weapons, and kills. So smooth it feels like silk. The controls, on the other hand, are more like flannel. You will experience “I was aiming that way!” moments and frustration will build. Frustration in ways that will have you remembering classic Double Dragon or Bad Dudes games. You will play through the frustration, just like you did with those games. It turns into a “I have beaten this before and it will never get the best of me” attitude.

The great thing is that you can play with a frustrated friend in Shank’s co-op. Same idea of the game, just a little off story.

Keep in mind that the level design and basic gameplay screams NES/SNES. Move a little bit, fight a swarm of people, move a little bit more, more waves of baddies, now enter bigger dudes with battering rams, move a little bit, more waves of the same characters, cutscene, and boss fight. It is this repetition that killed the game for me. I got bored way too fast for such a visually awesome game. I guess that is why I wasn’t upset when I realized that 4 hours later it was over.

I chalked it up to eating an awesome $14 burger with a beer. The first initial bite is wonderful, but by the last bite you are so full of that burger you just want it to be over.

Lego my rehashed 3D adventure

Summer is ending. I am emerging from my fan filled rooms and opening up the windows, letting the autumn air in, and removing the odor of the games I have played. This time around, I am reviewing for two : Indiana Jones 2 – The Adventure Continues and 3D Dot Game Heroes.

Let’s get Indiana out of the way .

Lucasarts owns a whip that beats dead horses. Whips them hard. This Lego adventure was not needed. When Lego games first started, I thought they were cute and fun. Now . . . it is just sad. The controls and camera were both frustrating and sloppy. The majority of the time there was so much happening on the screen that you could not see where you were going. You know the story lines if you know the movies. Bottom line, don’t bother. If you want to have fun in Legoland, stick with the first two Lego Star Wars games and enjoy.

I do believe that the Lego games can stop now. I understand that they have a couple more in the works. Ugggh. Not everything has to become part of the beloved block toy line.

————– Now to another beloved block icon —————–

The year 1986 was a great time for the adventure in all gamers. Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda, a pinnacle of adventure games. You loved the gold cartridge, you hummed the songs all day, and you dreamed of killing octorocks. Life was good.

Over the past 20 years, especially since Sony and Microsoft have entered the picture, gamers have wanted Nintendo to cross platform. The idea of downloading Zelda through PSN makes drool.

Atlas games jumped into the pool and said, “Screw you Nintendo, we will make a game that pays homage and shows off some innovative gaming ideas.”  There was one problem with that.

In 1986 gamers did not need as much game interaction, explosions, and constant on the edge gameplay, as they do now. 86’ers had no problem of running back and forth looking for this and that. I couldn’t help but feel like I had already played the game and got bored quickly. There was not much that made me want to continue toward the end. There are plenty of jokes and plugs referring back to Zelda games. Nothing stands out though. The maps and enemies resemble the original NES Zelda. The environments and weapons resemble SNES Link to the Past.

Overall the game is fun but for a short time. Rent it to play for a few hours. It will at least bring back memories.