Monday, February 27, 2006

So, What Is The Next Big 360 Game?

So, I slammed Oblivion a bit and you may be asking what 360 games I am looking forward to. Interestingly enough the games come courtesy of UbiSoft. I am very interested in Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, but probably not as much as I could be. I think the console games have been good, but they never kept me too interested. I will rent this game and see how I like it before putting down $60 on it.

The one game I am looking forward to is coming out March 28th: Far Cry Instincts Predator. The game will include both an upgraded version of Far Cry Instincts and an Xbox 360 version of Far Cry Instincts Evolution, the all-new chapter coming out on Xbox the same day. I still think Far Cry is a superb game and after seeing the movies of this game my jaw drops with how good this game could be. You are basically getting two $30 games (I think the original Instincts sells for that on Xbox now) for the usual 360 price of games. I personally never picked up Instincts on Xbox, but I did rent it and thought it was awesome.

You may also ask if I think Burnout Revenge is a good pickup for the 360. I can only say if you don't own this game on Xbox or PS2 you should probably pick it up for your 360. I'd hesitate on buying the game if you own another version though. I mean, you probably spent $50 when the game came out and now you're going to put out $60 to get a visually upgraded version (with many some new things put in)? Not my cup of tea, I'd rather rent and then make the choice.

After that there's a quiet time in 360 land again. Then again, there's a quiet time across all platforms after that.

What's the Big Deal With Oblivion?

I'll admit, I've never been into what I call Computer RPGs. I grew up playing the RPGs on the console side (Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Phantasy Star, etc.) and played my share of Ultima games on the computer once I received my first home computer in 1989, so that would be around Ultima V's time which means I missed out on the beauty of Ultima IV although I later played it.

We are now on the cusp of the release of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion on Xbox 360 and PC. I know there are other people out there like myself who could care less about this game, but I also know there are many that salivate over this game. Part of the problem with reading the sites I do is that every site has a group that thrives on Oblivion info. Is it sad that the game I'm more excited about coming in March (Oblivion's supposed release month) is Kingdom Hearts II on the PS2? Maybe not, considering all logic would point toward the fact that KH2 will far outsell Oblivion.

Last week Bethesda held two events showing off Oblivion, one in Chicago and one in New York. Some sites had people at both events, some only had them at one. There is a variety of previews out there, but many previews tend to skew toward the positive by's the nature of the beast with online magazines. I found that I skimmed through most of the previews without really being awed more than I was before. I also found it quite amusing that Gamespot only used 2 pages on the preview while IGN spent 6 (IGN always seems to overwrite...I mean, look at the Black Review, 5 pages to explain about a game that is visually appealing but empty in the end? Why?).

I hope after all this hype that those people that are interested in Oblivion will be happy with the final product. The release for me will just come and go. I'll probably pick it up to rent on the 360. Maybe my thoughts about the game will change once I play it, but that's something. While many are enjoying Oblivion I will be enjoying Kingdom Hearts II a week later (KH2 comes out March 28th).

Feel free to E-mail me and tell me whether you feel the same as I do or you feel differently.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

One Year Later, 52 and Civil War (Comics)

So, DC has two big events (flowing out of the events of Infinite Crisis) and Marvel has one big event coming in the next few months (One Year Later starts in March, the others start in May).

One Year Later: Almost all of the DC comics are jumping forward one year starting in March. Many of February's comics have been jolted back into the IC fold in order to set up for OYL. One poor example (but nice setup) for OYL was in Nightwing #119. They decide to totally ignore the Deathstroke/Rose/Nightwing stuff that has been building and push Dick Grayson straight into the Bludhaven destruction that happened in IC #4 AND have him propose to Barbara Gordon (he suddenly gets a spine?) in order for set up with #120 and the OYL jump. Almost all of the OYL setups have the last page as the main character (or in the case of Superman; Lois Lane and Jimmy Olson) being shown in their different costumes through the years (both on the post-Crisis Earth and pre-Crisis costumes) and I guess to me that means they are showing the impact Alex Luthor's machine has on all the characters. I'll talk more about what I think will happen after I get through these.

52: This starts up right after Infinite Crisis ends and will show the missing 52 weeks between IC and the OYL books. The good news is that Booster Gold and the Question are important characters, but the (possible) bad news is that I forsee delays on this title. It is extremely difficult to get 52 straight weeks of one comic out. I would think by this time they have to have about 1/3 of the comics done in this series or deadlines will catch up to them. I think this is an interesting move by DC, but I also think there could be some problems in the publishing department.

Civil War: Not to be outdone (even though they had House of M, which was both good and bad), Marvel comes at us with Civil War. The word is that the government wants every superhero registered and I can only believe that also means they want their secret identities registered as well. Heroes will pick sides and Spider-Man will supposedly be one of the characters in the middle trying to choose. Marvel has quietly been pushing Spider-Man and Iron Man together (now SM will have a suit made by Tony Stark) and supposedly Iron Man will be on the opposite side of Captain America on this and Spidey has to choose a side, but is now really good buddies with Tony. There will be a lot of build up to Civil War, but I don't know how sold I am on this whole thing. I will read it, but I also think it is very much a reaction to Identity and Infinite Crisis over at DC. I truly believe DC has been planning those out for a long time while Marvel dreamed this up while going through House of M and seeing how popular the DC specials were.

End of Infinite Crisis: This is just me thinking aloud, but I think by the end of IC we are going to see the multiverse once again fuse into one, but this time each character will be fused together with their other Earth(s) counterparts. For example: Superman post-CoIE (our Superman), Earth-2 Superman, Earth-3 Ultraman (and other Supermen from other Earths) will fuse together into one being with the knowledge from all. Same goes for Batman (post-CoIE Batman, the dead Earth-2 Batman, Earth-3 Owlman, etc.), Lex Luthor (post-CoIE and Alexander), Superboy (post-Doomsday and Prime) and others. That's just a guess on my part though. It's just something I feel from the first 2 parts of "This is Your Life" in the Superman books. We still have 3 more IC issues to go though.

Catching Up On Comic Books

It's been a while since I talked about comic books. I'll try to catch up on all the major happenings in the DC and Marvel universes. I'm going to divide them into several categories since I have a lot to get into.

Must Reads

Infinite Crisis: So far the main book has not disappointed, although I am frightened for any reader who goes into this knowing nothing about DC's past and especially about the Crisis on Infinite Earths. There have been many "Holy shit!" moments in this series (Alexander Luthor from Earth-3 is a bad guy who is using the Anti-Monitor's shell and supposedly the energy still there to create the multiverse again?!?!?!?...Superboy Prime is one screwed up kid...Earth-2 Superman may or may not be in on the whole thing). We're only on book #4 (book #5 hits March 1st) and I await the next release. I'll talk more about upcoming DC events in another post since they are not out yet.

Batman: I'm talking about the main book and Gotham Knights (which I believe is ending soon). The main book has kept me glued to it with the story about Jason Todd as the Red Hood. I am really interested in seeing Batman #650 since that should bring the Jason/Joker thing to a head before One Year Later. Gotham Knights has kept me interested as well with the whole Hush thing going on. I'm still pretty sure Hush is Tommy as I would hope DC would not piss on Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale's masterpiece (in my mind at least).

X-Factor: Peter David has done it again with this title. I'm not a big fan of the X-Men titles (outside of Astonishing and when Morrison was doing New X-Men), but this is easily one of the best post-House of M titles. I loved the Madrox mini-series done last year and the whole feel of that has slipped nicely into this book.

Ultimate Fantastic Four: Ever since the "Crossover" arc (where they end up in Zombie land) this title has been hitting on all cylinders, even through the Namor arc. Now we are on the President Thor arc, but only 3 pages of the last book has anything to do with fact, Millar is building up to the Dr. Doom/Zombie Fantastic Four team-up arc coming up. And it looks like Millar is getting rid of Dr. Doom's horse legs (thank God!).

Daredevil: Bendis and Maleev finally ended their run with #81 and now Ed Brubaker (who is probably the hottest writer in comics currently) has taken up the reigns and blows up Matt Murdock's life even more with #82. If you think Bendis put Murdock through the ringer, you just wait!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier arc just ended. From my perspective I think Brubaker did an excellent job in bringing Bucky back (it's the new rave around comicdom: Bucky, Jason Todd and Donna Troy are just a few who have come back from the dead). In fact, it is probably the best back from the dead story yet (at least until the Batman annual comes out to actually explain how Jason Todd survived on March 1st). I also loved that the Red Skull is still around even though he was shot dead in #1. The Skull in Lukin's mind will be an awesome twist.

All-Star Superman: Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely have made a fantastic series set out of continuity. This is no surprise given how great We3 was from the same two people (if you haven't read that book, go out and get it!). It is kind of a bummer it comes out every two months, but it is well worth the wait.

Justice: I am a huge Alex Ross fan and think this series is just fantastic. This also comes out every other month, which is pretty good considering how much effort Ross has to put into his sketches. From my understanding each issue has been #1 for the week it came out, that's quite an accomplishment for a specialized series.

Marvel Zombies: There are only 2 issues left in the series, but it has been a hoot to read this. This series is based off of the Ultimate Fantastic Four arc I was talking about earlier. In #3 it was cool to see the zombies actually eat the Silver Surfer and it will be interesting to see what the heck happens to Galactus when he happens upon the Zombie Earth.

She-Hulk and The Thing: Dan Slott is a great writer and I hope he has long tenures on both of these titles.


The New Avengers: This book has great art, but it has the horrible pacing that Bendis is known for. He tends to string things out for longer than they should. He's also been jumping around a lot with this series and there really isn't any cohesiveness to the overall story from my perspective.

Green Lantern: Geoff Johns is writing or co-writing on a lot of books including this one and Infinite Crisis. He is probably the hardest working guy in the business. Outside of the last two issues revolving around Mongul, Jr. I've been overall unimpressed since the excellent Rebirth series. There have been some cool moments, but maybe the luster of Hal Jordan is starting to wear off again.


Spider-Man: The Other: This crossover was too long for its own good. I think it could have easily been halved and the same things could have been said. I like Straczynski as a writer, but I've always been really down on his Spider-Man stories. He likes to add new things like Ezekiel, Morlun, Gwen Stacy's children (by Norman Osborn even?!?!?!?!?), etc. instead of working new and interesting stories out of Spider-Man's usual rogues. In the end the transformation Peter goes through will mean nothing a year or so from now. He has some new powers and is getting a new costume, but even Joe Quesada has said he will be back to the old costume in time. So, what's the point?

All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder: OK, I need to admit that Frank Miller's day has come and gone. He did superb work with Sin City, Dark Knight Returns and Daredevil, but ever since the Dark Knight sequel started he seems to be in a rut. This series has basically turned into him trying to live through the characters. Vicki Vale looking dead sexy (he even noted to the artist that he wants to see lots of skin), Batman basically being crazy and Canary being a prostitute?! What the hell are you doing to this series Frank?

JLA: Why didn't they just stop this series with the "Crisis of Consciousness" arc? Why the hell did they go on with that crappy "World Without a Justice League" arc that went nowhere and just had to put the nail in the coffin and make sure there was no Justice League from this point on...oh wait, JLA is coming back in a 4th volume soon, silly me!

That's it for now, next we'll talk about Marvel and DC's plans for the future.

Welcome Back

The above title is both for the readers and myself. It's been over 3 months since I last wrote anything of value on the internet. Real-life work got busy, the Xbox 360 came out (yes, I got one on launch day, but it's a long story for another day) and the holidays came and went.

As the year 2006 rolled around I found myself continuing to not care much about gaming or having a presence on the web. Sure, I checked out gaming news and how the Gone Gold offshoots (Octopus Overlords, Bovine Conspiracy and GamingTrend) were doing. I never once logged into any of those sites (I don't even think I'm a member at BC as of yet), wishing to read as a guest and never write. There was only one site I was ever logged into and even then I was hidden from all but the admins at the site.

Many of you are probably asking, "why come back now?" Well, I've been thinking about restarting the blog for a couple months. I'm still not as into gaming as I once was (I don't play nearly as much as I used to), but I figured I could start this up again and talk about gaming, comics, TV shows, movies and other general things. Get back into the habit of writing (I enjoy doing it) and see where it goes from there. Who knows, gaming reviews from me may be coming back (on this blog), but one thing I know for sure...they're going to look and feel a lot different than they used to.

So, welcome back...let's enjoy this ride.