Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

The Avengers Trailer Looks Like They Need To Fix It In Post.

It’s funny, as the release date for The Avengers slowly draws nearer, I’m starting to realize more and more the fact that there’s very little chance of it being shitty.

I have a great deal of love for Marvel comics, so just getting a chance to see the characters of that universe being brought to life in 200 million dollar budgeted films is enough to make me happy.

It doesn’t matter so much if the acting is great, or the plot deeply layered, as long I get to see the spirit and energy of the characters brought to life, there’s very little chance I’ll walk away from an Avengers movie wanting my money back.

Then again, I would’ve said the same about Transformers, that is, until Michael Bay dumped ass all over my childhood and raped my wallet…

TWICE.

"I swear I will not kill anyone... But I WILL shit on all of your childhood heroes."

That being said, while it’s a bit difficult to determine exactly what the plot of the movie is based on the trailer, (as should be the case, given that it’s only the first theatrical trailer) in many ways I applaud the marketing folks over at Marvel/Disney for cramming in screen time for virtually all of the heavy hitters that have been confirmed to be appearing in the film.

Tom Hiddleston’s Loki appears to be the central villain of the film, though based on the uncertain events at the conclusion of Captain America, in my mind it’s entirely possible that Red Skull could have a hand in things as well.

My bet is, he does.

Given the Hulk’s unstable nature, as well as the plot of the first Avengers comic, I’m guessing he’s going to end up being manipulated by Loki at some point; resulting in a heel/face turn at some point in the film.

I don't think I'm alone in saying I'd like to see a bit of THIS somewhere in there though.

Speaking of the Hulk, his reveal at the end of the trailer was well utilized, as he’s the one confirmed Avenger we really haven’t seen up to this point.

Despite no shortage of explosions and FX shots though, I can’t help but feel that this first trailer was cut from footage of a yet unfinished product.

At least I hope that’s the case.

There are numerous shots that feel very “static,” lacking in energy and purpose to a degree that they feel almost amateurish.

Seriously man, count how many shots there are of single characters, standing in boring and vacant locations.

"DURRR!!! I'M THE BLACK WIDOW AND I JUST FARTED A BUS EXPLOSION! DURRR!!!"

Chances are you’ll run out of fingers and toes on that one.

At the same time, many of the FX shots, particularly some of the exploding cars, look to me as if they are meant to be templates for CGI compositing.

It’s rare to see explosions in Hollywood films these days where the detonation source and materials seem plainly visible, and as such; I wouldn’t be surprised if the aforementioned exploding car shots are awaiting some sort of energy beam effects to cover all that up.

It’s funny, as I write this nitpicky article, I can’t help but be reminded of the early trailers for Iron Man.

I remember seeing the early TV spots for Iron Man, and being largely unimpressed.

I don’t know if you recall, but the pacing of these commercials was very weak, and some of the effects shots were not quite finished, resulting in advertisements that didn’t at all reflect the awesomeness of the final product.

Compare this early TV spot:

To the later released full trailer here:

Not only is the composition better, the special effects, particularly in the “tank shot” sequence, are rendered with more detail and smoother animation.

When you’re dealing with effects heavy films like this, it’s entirely possible that the computer effects crew will end up working on the project up until the release date.

While I could be wrong, I’m really hoping this is the case with The Avengers, as while it looks totally acceptable at this point, it doesn’t look at all exceptional.

What else can I say about this?:

Captain America’s costume looks a little bit too stretchy and “pajama-y” for me to give it a thumbs up.

Am I wrong in thinking it looks kind of like the live-action Kick-Ass costume?

Hank Pym should get a nod or a cameo, as I’d love to see The Vision or Ultron show up in a movie someday.

Kudos to the marketing department for excluding any and all shots of the Avengers working together or “assembling,” as that’s one of those oh-so-important fanboy moments that’s probably best left for the theaters.

Here’s hoping Agent Coulson gets an action beat somewhere in there, ’cause he’s been consistently fun over the years.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that the always solid Jeremy Renner won’t suck as Hawkeye… ‘Cause let’s face it: he’s Hawkeye.

"Who? Me?"

For once I’m actually hoping Joss Whedon decides to “George Lucas” his movie with distracting lights and colors in every shot.

Seriously man, this is the fuckin’ Avengers movie.

It’s only gonna’ premiere once, and you’ve been hyping it for like 4-5 years now.

Go balls out, or don’t waste my motherfuckin’ time.

No Avengers film, or any film for that matter, should have boring-ass shots of The Black Widow standing ever so casually in front of pitiful exploding buses, or for that matter; Nick Fury firing rocket launchers while standing in front of my dad’s garage.

BOH-RRRRRIIIIING.

Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got to say on this one, hopefully it turns out fun for everyone, ’cause at this point if any one film this coming year could hope make good on that promise, it’d have to be The Avengers.

If it does in fact start to suck when I’m in the theater though, I know exactly the phrase that’s going to come to mind:

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Finally Reached The Thanos Imperative


You see that picture of the amazingly badass, The Right Stuff-esque lineup of cosmic Marvel heroes?

That picture, or rather, splash page; was all it took for me to tell myself:

“I don’t know what it’s about, or even if it’s gonna’ be any good, but I need to read The Thanos Imperative.”

That was roughly one year ago.

Since then, I’ve spent a great deal of time (and money) playing catch-up, reading the vast majority of the story arcs and trades that preceded The Thanos Imperative.

I started with the 2006 incarnation of Marvel’s Annihilation event, wherein the bug-minded Annihilus of the Negative Zone waged war on the cosmic Marvel universe due to his belief that the Positive Universe was encroaching on his territory.

Yeah, Gabrielle Del Otto's kind of a good artist...

Having entered into Annihilation pretty much a virgin of the cosmic sector of the Marvel Universe, I was thoroughly impressed by the accessibility and cohesiveness of the arc.

Any apprehension I may have felt in pursuing the expensive cause of catching up to The Thanos Imperative were instantly dispelled by the sheer quality and entertainment value of Annihilation.

In short, I was hooked.

That being said, just days after working my way through the massive 3 book epic of Annihilation, I started reading the equally entertaining, though not quite as self-contained follow-up series, Annihilation: Conquest.

Conquest instilled in me a great love for Star-Lord and his Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as put a smile on my face with it’s use of Ultron, one of my favorite Marvel villains, as the main antagonist.

Easily the best visualization of Ultron I've ever seen.

After reading Conquest, I don’t see myself going very long without picking up and reading the Guardians of the Galaxy trades at some point.

Oddly enough, while Conquest brought an end to the Annihilation Saga proper, it’s spiritual successor, the Inhuman and Shi’ar conflict dubbed the War of Kings; was a trade I actually read several years ago on a whim.

Despite having read it before, I decided it read through it again, as well as a few of it’s supplementary trades just to refresh my memory.

Honestly, it may have just been because of my increased familiarity with the characters and landscape, but I think War of Kings was actually better the second time around.

Pictured: The splash page that single-handedly made a Black Bolt fan out of me.

Finally, in my last step before reading The Thanos Imperative, I decided to pick up a copy of Realm of Kings, the massive bridge that wrapped up the events of War of Kings, and bridged the gap between it and The Thanos Imperative.

Truth be told, of all the various books I read this past year, Realm of Kings was the only one that I recall getting some bad press.

Reviewers accused it of being padded and extraneous, but I for one found it to be very much worthwhile.

The art was above average to great throughout, and both the Inhuman and Shi’ar story arcs concerned characters and events that I was honestly happy to learn more about.

The one ratty part of the trade, and likely the reason it reviewed poorly, was the Son of the Hulk story arc.

I don't know what his deal is, but he looks like Kratos mixed with that kid from The Last Airbender.

I consider myself extremely well-versed in the lore of the Marvel Universe, but for the life of me I had no fucking clue what was going on over the course of these 5 issues.

I’ve read Planet Hulk and World War Hulk, and I know a great deal about Hulk’s son Skaar, but I’ve never fucking heard of Hiro-Kala or the fucking Micronauts.

Despite this, I was thoroughly intrigued by the concept (and look) of the Cancerverse explored throughout Realm of Kings.

I’m giddy as a schoolgirl to see how the Cancerverse figures into The Thanos Imperative.

That's the Cancerverse rendition of the Hulk. Yeah, I'm serious.

In all, the stuff about Hiro-Kala and his bullshit was a terrible way to end an otherwise wondrous reading experience, but oh well.

That being said, as of yesterday, I now have my copy of The Thanos Imperative, and am positively shivering with excitement over cracking it open and finally reading what I worked all year to catch up to.

Here’s hoping it’s half as good as I’ve built it up to be!

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Early Avengers Poster Makes Me Feel All Warm And Fuzzy Inside

Photo courtesy of Toplessrobot.com. Hope they don't mind...

It’s funny, even though this is nothing but a (official) photoshopped mock-up of what a real poster for The Avengers might look like; it actually looks kind of good to me.

These days I find myself actually consciously trying harder to be excited/positive about things; and it’s quality products like this one that make said task just a little bit easier to manage.

Probably the coolest part about the poster, at least to me; is that it serves as my first real look at what all the live-action versions of the Avengers look like next to one another.

While I have no idea whether the art design for all the Avengers tie-in films has been directed by the same crew/individual, I must say; the character designs gel together quite nicely.

With the exception of maybe Thor, the costumes all bear a weighty, leathery, almost utilitarian feel to them that gives them that always appealing combo of being “ornate, yet plausible.”

Much unlike anything seen in Final Fantasy, which tends to throw "plausible" out the window.

Hell even Hulk, with his more streamlined Incredible Hulk look; seems to fit in quite well.

Hawkeye’s digs seem perhaps a little too subdued for my tastes, however I can definitely understand why Marvel would want to turn down the guy’s purple quotient; as much like Jem, in the comics it is truly outrageous.

Truly, Truly, Truly Outrageous!

On a side note, Iron Man’s design appears to have been altered since Iron Man 2, as evidenced by the gray patches on his collar.

Though it may just be an artist’s flub, the shape of the glow on his chest emblem looks more round than triangular to me; leading me to assume that either:

A): Tony Stark decided to reshape his new element core into a circle for aesthetic purposes.

B):  Severely inebriated and desperate for a way show the world how fat his cock is, Tony Stark decided to outfit his newest armor with one of his old and HIGHLY TOXIC palladium cores.

C):  I’m wrong, and his chest emblem is in fact triangular.

or D):  The poster artist isn’t as OCD as the average comic fan and/or hasn’t seen Iron Man 2.

My vote would go to option A, though if you’re going by some of the comics, option B is equally plausible.

Option C is of course a statistical impossibility, and was only suggested in jest.

"I am so smart! S-M-R-T!"

Anyway, I know it’s cheesy, I know it’s childish; but for whatever reason, this poster pleases me.

It’s exceedingly well designed, the colors have been tweaked to vivid perfection, and seeing all of the characters posing together makes me believe the movie could work.

Now let’s just hope Captain America doesn’t drop the fuckin’ ball next month and kill my buzz…

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The Best Track In The Game #14: Knights of the Round

Yes, I did in fact buy this just the other day...

Knights of the Round was, and forever will be; one of my favorite beat ’em ups of all time.

Truth be told, I didn’t actually play it in it’s original arcade form all that much, I played through the Super NES version an ungodly number of times.

While the graphics and animations of Knights of the Round may not be up to standard with many of it’s contemporaries, both in the arcade and on home consoles; it’s relatively unique gameplay, setting, and terrific soundtrack continue to sustain it even to this day.

Well, in my eyes anyway.

You see, Knights of the Round was one of those rare games that really made me feel “heroic” when I was playing it.

Sure, all you ever do in the game is walk from left to right and bash people’s brains in with swords and axes, but because of the character designs and music; it felt like so much more to me as a kid.

Seriously man, you try taking down a giant fuck named BALBARS and tell me you didn’t feel awesome for doin’ it.

THAT'S a BIG hammer...

Anyway, the original 1991 arcade release of Knights of the Round was a 3-player arcade game that was, of course; based on Arthurian lore.

As mentioned earlier, I didn’t really play the arcade version all that much; so for the purposes of this article, I’ll largely be referencing the Super NES version from this point onward.

Like many beat ’em ups of the time, there were multiple characters to choose from in Knights of the Round; each with their own individual strengths and weaknesses in the areas of attack power and speed.

"Choose Your Destiny..."

Arthur, whose sprite is curiously puny; is the Leonardo of the group, boasting the most balanced stats of the group.

Lancelot, who looks absolutely nothing like Richard Gere with his shimmering golden hair; is the fastest in both movement and attack speed, however his power is somewhat lacking; making battles risky by forcing one to engage their opponents more frequently to finish them off.

 

Somebodies lying to me...

Finally, Percival is the green pants-ed Incredible Hulk of the group who wields an axe, and can indeed mess people up most mightily; at the cost of being slow as molasses, as well as having the most pathetic of all jumping attacks in beat ’em up history.

The character roster of Knights of the Round was always a huge selling point for me as a kid.

Thanks to movies like Jason and the Argonauts, as well as TV shows like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and King Arthur and the Knights of Justice; I got really into mythology at a young age.

Here’s why:

Greek and Japanese stuff was always my favorite, but thanks to that AMAZINGLY FUCKIN’ AWESOME cartoon; Arthurian stuff always had a place in my periphery.

In that sense, even though Knights of the Round has absolutely nothing to do with the mythology of King Arthur; just having a trio of recognizable characters from the myths present in the game did a lot to draw me into the experience.

Anyway, I think it goes without saying that, whenever I played this game with my friends; there was always a scuffle over who’d get to play as Arthur.

Seriously man, the word “King” is part of his name, he’s arguably the best character in the game, and by the end of the game he gets to wield Ex-FUCKING-Calibur, how could any kid not want to play as Arthur.

In all, I think that’s only bad memory of Knights of the Round.

That, and playing as Percival.

 

Really? You're wearing THAT into battle?

It didn’t happen that often, by I can recall being tricked into playing as Percival once or twice by some of my weaslier friends.

As indicated by the relatively balanced characteristics of all the playable characters, Percival isn’t intended to be a shitty character; but the sad truth of the matter, is that he is.

Too fuckin’ slow, zero fuckin’ jumping attack, and the proud owner of a He-Man esque bowl-cut; Percival is the fuckin’ Aquaman of Knights of the Round.

Nobody likes him, and if anyone should ever make a claim to the contrary; it’s ’cause they’re trying to be ironic, and thusly must be killed with hipster flames of violence.

 

This guy likes Percival... I just know it.

Anyway, I should probably get on track, right?

The gameplay of Knights of the Round was much like most Capcom beat ’em ups of the day.

That is to say, there’s 2 buttons, 1 for killing with auto combos, and 1 for jumping like a damn foo’.

If both are pressed at once, the player can sacrifice a bit of health to blow everyone around them ass over teakettle and to the floor.

Like I said, standard stuff.

In addition to this however, were the addition of horse riding, a few special attacks that could be executed with simple directional inputs, (no Hadoukens here) and an incredibly awesome experience and leveling system.

Virtually identical to the Bizarrians of Golden Axe, mounted combat in Knights of the Round was a bit of let down.

Lacking the flash of the elemental powers of the mounts from Golden Axe, horse riding felt slow and somewhat counter-intuitive.

While riding a horse, one’s attack power was boosted, and one could perform a leaping stomp attack by double-tapping forward on the d-pad; however the downside in all this was the fact the horse was actually kind of slow, and required pressing of the jump button in order to turn around.

Really, there was no reason not to hop on a horse whenever the opportunity presented itself, particularly when enemies that could ride horses were around; however I always felt a little more vulnerable on a horse, and would usually defer the luxury to whoever was playing alongside me.

 

"Yay, I'm on a horse! Now what...?"

The special attacks in Knights of the Round consisted of a damaging stun attack that, while somewhat slow in execution; would knock enemies on their ass, and cause them to stand up in a defenseless “dizzy” state.

Curiously enough, the execution of this attack was done in exactly the same fashion as a horizontal Smash Attack in Super Smash Bros.

 

If you can do this, you can knock a foo' silly in Knights of the Round.

Another special attack, was a strange launching attack that I never really found a practical use for.

Basically, you do an “Up Smash” motion; and the character will perform an upward stroke, followed by a leaping chop attack.

I think the intent is supposed to that of a “knock ’em up, smack ’em down” kind of thing, however the follow-up attack always ended up causing me to advance to far and get smacked upside my head.

Oh well, it looks cool; but I never use it.

While not an attack, it needs to be mentioned that Knights of the Round actually had a blocking system.

 

No, not that kind of "block."

Blocking is not exactly a common feature in most beat ’em ups.

Despite it’s unique medieval setting, being able to block was a feature that served to set Knights of the Round apart from many of it’s contemporaries.

There were 2 ways to block in the game.

The most common method of blocking, was by pressing and holding the attack button, while holding the directional button away from the incoming attack.

While this was the most common method by most standards, the other method; and indeed the one that I used most often as a reckless youth, was one that was triggered automatically by pressing back on the directional pad the moment an attack was landed on your character.

In other words, if one’s timing was good enough; (mine never was) the game would give you the benefit of the doubt and allow you to block attacks simply by attempting to run away from them.

Thankfully, the timing required was quite precise; making this a gameplay mechanic that not at all feasible to exploit.

Unlike this shit:

Anyway, despite all the coolness of the swords and medieval skull-bashing; the real reason Knights of the Round was awesome, was the leveling system.

At the time, I can think of no other beat ’em up that, while linear as fuck; had any sort of cumulative upgrade system for it’s characters.

Throughout the game, one’s character gains experience by defeating enemies, collecting gold and jewels, eating food (health power-ups) on a full stomach, and of course; breaking shit.

Upon reaching a predetermined level of experience, one’s character levels up, bringing forth some pretty awesome cosmetic upgrades.

 

... I want that cape.

Sadly, as far as I can tell; the benefits of a level up are purely cosmetic, with no changes to the gameplay occurring whatsoever.

Despite this, when I was a kid, seeing Arthur go from leather armored pussy to red-caped, golden armored KNIGHT OF JUSTICE, was one of those accomplishments that made me feel really awesome.

Sure, the game was structured to have you max out your levels no matter what.

Sure, the game made no attempt to make you feel like you were getting any stronger.

Even so, none of that bothers me; ’cause the game is awesome regardless.

More importantly though, it’s an awesome game that I have some truly awesome memories of.

I remember playing with my one friend that we’d always call the “Bad King.”

 

Pictured: The "Bad King."

Basically, this friend of mine would always manage to be quickest on the draw in selecting Arthur.

That alone made him kind of a punk in the eyes of my friends and I.

In addition to that though, said friend would go out of his way to hang back and stay out of harms way, effectively forcing his partner to do all the fighting; yet at the same time he would horde all the gold and food, essentially stealing all of the experience and health.

We always called him the “Bad King,” and indeed; he never made any attempt to play the game more altruistically, but goddamnit; he owned the game so we’d always end up playing with him anyway.

 

Ping Pong tables and videogames make us a lot of dumb friends when we're kids...

Another thing that I don’t think any article on Knights of the Round can gloss over, is the fact that there’s a fuckin’ GHOST SAMURAI in Knights of the Round.

Similar to Capcom’s own Bishamon from Darkstalkers/Vampire Savior, there was a boss character in Knights of the Round named Muramasa that was essentially an animated suit of samurai armor.

 

Uh... I wouldn't turn my back on that guy.

In medieval England.

To this day, I don’t take offense to this; however I wish they hadn’t made the fucker so goddamn cheap.

I can’t tell you how many times I got a game over during the fight with Muramasa.

Goddamn fire magic bullshit…

Oh well, payback’s a bitch:

Speaking of goofy bosses, another one worth mentioning from Knights of the Round, was a skinny fuck in black pajamas named Phantom.

Early in the game, you fight Phantom; and he’s really no big deal.

Sure, he can run real fast, throw cleavers at you and fire magic at you, and even make duplicates of himself; but for the most part he’s too weak to be a legitimate threat.

Now, while he really isn’t any harder the second time around, it’s worth noting that this time around he sees fit to bust out his pulley and chain operated GIANT FUCKING ROBOT.

I did mention this game needed to be a movie, right?

Seriously man, no joke; a giant fuckin’ robot!

In medieval England.

As I mentioned earlier, the fight isn’t really all that hard, or even thrilling; but the novelty of fighting a pre-steam age robot was always something that tickled me just right.

Anyway, this post was, as indicated by it’s title; supposed to be about music, so let’s get down to that, shall we?

The Best Track in the Game for Knights of the Round is…

Village on Fire

Why?:

You know how I said Knights of the Round made me feel “heroic” when I was a kid?

Well, this track was largely responsible for that.

I love how it has that medieval minstrel sound to it, while at once being upbeat and action-oriented in nature.

When you think about it, that’s kind of a difficult combo to pull off.

Anyway, I don’t know what else to say; other than that this is brilliant track to begin a game with.

It gets your blood pumping, makes you feel badass, and more importantly; makes you feel like you’re fighting for something.

Runner-Up:

The Knight’s Tournament

Why?:

Well, you did listen to it, right?

Seriously, this is just a really good piece of music.

It sounds like medieval dance club music!

I remember this track only playing for about a minute or so in-game, but even so; it always struck me as, at the very least; the second best piece of music in the game.

‘Nuff said.

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Fallout 3 Didn’t Do It For Me…

Fallout 2 is one of my favorite games of all time.

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve stepped into the boots of the savior of Vault 13, but I’d figure the number would have to be close to triple digits.

For the most part I skipped Fallout 1, largely due to the absurd degree of enjoyment I experienced from my time with the sequel.

That being said, Fallout 2 had a charm to it that few other games, in my eyes; have managed to live up to.

See? CHARMING.

There’s just something about the inherent minimalism of the first 2 Fallout games, and indeed most text heavy adventure games; that lends so much to the experience.

Reading a graphic description of how I just blew some poor shmuck’s eyeball out his ear, while watching the same shit different day stock death animation play out; was a primitive gameplay element that really worked for me.

Which brings me to my feelings on Fallout 3.

In short, I really didn’t care much for Fallout 3.

Being as it’s a Bethesda product, I came into the game fully expecting the game to play like “Oblivion With Guns,” (and equally shitty animations) and to be honest; I don’t think anyone could dispute the fact that it does.

You got your Oblivion in my Fallout! No wait... THIS SUCKS!!!

There was a time in my life when I played a lot of Oblivion.

I missed out on Morrowind, but regardless; Oblivion was a neat game with a colorful world and an impressive breadth of content to uncover.

Sure, there were a shit ton of problems and issues that cropped up while you played it, but for the most part; my time with Oblivion was a positive experience.

Fallout 3 however, despite borrowing several ideas and gameplay systems from Oblivion; just didn’t do it for me.

Kind of like Puke Face Zellwegger.

The first major problem that I’d like to address in Fallout 3, was the fact that the dialogue system feels weak compared to Oblivion, or even previous Fallout games.

That’s right, I said “first.”

As stupid/pointless as the speechcraft system in Oblivion was, I kind of liked the idea of playing a brief mini-game to stand-in for the very real process of developing a rapport with someone.

In short, Oblivion gave one the option to improve their standing with a person through idle chit-chat, thusly expanding the number of subjects they could converse with them about; and the depths of which they could probe into said topics.

Fallout 3 ties it’s dialogue options directly to your character’s skill ratings, with speech skill centric options being listed with a percentage of success statistic.

In other words, if you have a high enough rating in appropriate areas; then a special speech option becomes available.

What I discovered, early on; was the fact that all of these special speech options, were the “right” thing to say.

"Success!" Get used to seeing this a lot...

In Fallout 2, the “right” thing to say wasn’t necessarily the appropriate thing to say.

I can recall an instance or 2, particularly in New Reno; wherein I said something that seemed lucid, that seemed like what needed to be said; only to have the character I was speaking to take offense to my logic and blow me off.

This wasn’t because I didn’t have a high enough speech rating, but rather because I failed to read the character of their personality properly, and simply said the “wrong” thing.

By my reckoning, there wasn’t a single person I wasn’t able to talk down in Fallout 3.

With all of the “right” dialogue choices clearly outlined for me, all of the guess work and intricacies of conversations faded away the moment my skill ratings got high enough.

Honestly, the “right” comments were so boldly outlined; that  I’m pretty sure I managed to get through more than a few conversations without even reading what people were saying.

That’s enough about that, let’s move on; shall we?

I think a huge part of the problem for me, was the scrounger/pack rat mentality the game instills in you through scattering usable/pick-up-able items fuckin’ EVERYWHERE.

I understand that about 80% of what you find in the game is in fact junk, and not really all that useful; but the fact of the matter is, there’s simply too much shit to pick up/look at/jam up your ass.

Do I really need to be able to pick up a garden gnome? Or worse yet, do I really need the option to turn on a useless ham radio?

Seriously, I don’t even want to think about how many minutes or hours of my life I spent dumping shit out of my inventory, picking up a busted-ass rifle, using said rifle to repair my slightly less busted-to-shit rifle, and re-picking up my previously dumped shit.

I hardly got anywhere in the main story of Fallout 3, quitting around the time I first got power armor; but rest assured, I did every fuckin’ fetch quest and sidequest up to that point.

I’m a completist, I do shit like that.

That’s why sandbox/open world games never work out for me, ’cause in trying to do everything, I end up accomplishing nothing.

Pictured: Agent 47 demonstrating the Azn Badger's typical reaction to sandbox gameplay.

*Ahem!* Let’s get back on topic, shall we?

Another gripe I had with Fallout 3 that was somewhat similar to the hoarding bid’ness of the gameplay, was the fact that items and equipment felt somewhat “cheaper.”

I use the word “cheaper” in the sense that, with so many items strewn about the environments; the frequency of quality items, or failing that; shitty items that can be pawned for profit, made most every item I ran across seem far less important or special.

In Fallout 2, good armor and guns were really fucking hard to get your hands on unless you were a really skilled thief, had a shit ton of money, or managed to kill someone equipped with said items.

All of the above methods required either high skill ratings, a little energon, or a lot of luck to enact.

"More than you imagine, Optimus Prime..."

Not only that, even if one were to have all of the above going for them; the number of items in any given environment was significantly lower than in Fallout 3, resulting in items being scarcer, and thusly more vital.

In Fallout 3, I can’t think of a single moment wherein I couldn’t afford to buy whatever the fuck I wanted, nor can I think of a time in which my inventory wasn’t full of decent shit that I was never going to use due to the extraordinary wealth of better shit I’d run across on a regular basis.

I think the worst example of this that I can think of, was at the very beginning of the game.

I just came out of the Vault, and the game told me to go to Megaton.

Given that I’m me, and I’m not one to go anywhere without looking for hidden goodies first; the first thing I did, was run up onto a collapsed highway.

To my surprise, I happened across a hoard of bandits that wanted my nuts.

Despite my being armed with little more than a baseball bat, using the power of circle strafing and bunny hopping; I beat the ever-loving shit out of about 20 bandits and took all of their shit.

Yeah, I was basically doing this to people with a bat...

That’s right, I fought 20 bandits, with a bat; and took all their good shit, thusly putting me ahead of the curve in terms of equipment and weaponry for, I don’t know; THE WHOLE FUCKING GAME.

Speaking of killing 20 bandits with a bat, that brings me to another gripe I had about Fallout 3: the “cheapness” of life within the game.

Killing someone, anyone; especially in the early portions of Fallout 2, was a fuckin’ EVENT.

Given the turn-based, purely statistic based structure of Fallout 2’s gameplay, it was very much appropriate that difficult battles; wherein your character or his party were severely outclassed or outnumbered, were really fuckin’ hard to win.

That's right, get used to listening to Ron Perlman tell you that you just died like a little bitch.

I’d never say Fallout 2’s combat was realistic, but it’s inherent difficulty made it seem appropriate given the nature of the game’s environment.

Fallout 2 was a mean game that often took it upon itself to dick-slap you across the face and remind you that, as cool as your character was; he was still just a man.

As opposed to a Batman, who is of course a symbol; and thusly cannot be killed or corrupted.

Fallout 3 seems to have tossed this concept out the motherfuckin’ window and into a 4-lane highway.

As mentioned above, I took out 20 bandits, with a bat; all within the first 5 minutes of the game.

Admittedly, that was kind of cool at the time, as I can recall humming the Conan theme at some point during all the mayhem and carnage; however after it started happening every 5 minutes, it started to bother me.

During my time with Fallout 3, I killed hundreds upon hundreds of raiders, robots and crab monsters.

I'LL KILL ALL OF YOU!!!!!

I did that in Fallout 2 as well, (with the exception of the crab monsters, of course) but the only difference is; it took me the whole fucking game to achieve said kill stats, not the first half of the game.

You what’s really fucked up though?

Of all the things I killed, I’m pretty sure I ended up taking out Super Mutants more than anything else.

SUPER MUTANTS.

The LOU FUCKING FERRIGNO’S of the Fallout universe.

Holy shit, way to rock the Ultimate Warrior hair Hulk.

In Fallout 2, Super Mutants would utterly wreck your shit.

You could be decked out in power armor, and rockin’ a motherfuckin’ Bozar; but Super Mutants could still tear your ass up unless you came in with a plan.

In Fallout 3, I found myself killing Super Mutants with alarming regularity.

Not only that, I did so with leather armor and a fuckin’ hunting rifle.

To be fair, I could do that in Fallout 2 as well, but only because that game afforded you the option of scoring pinpoint shots to people’s eyes and radioactive packages; making it easier to disable or severely cripple your enemies.

*Sigh* Believe it or not, I’ve got more; so I’m just gonna’ dump these last few gripes in bullet point fashion.

Money is far too easy to acquire, given that anyone will buy anything from you for a decent price, even if you never put a single skill point into barter like I did.

Dungeon textures and layouts are cookie cutter at best.  There wasn’t a Vault or cave I walked into that felt at all different or unique.

Karma is too easy to acquire, (through giving water to the unfortunate) nor is it seemingly all that important.

Perks are too frequent, and too powerful.  Seriously, since when does Bloody Mess give you a damage bonus?

Weapons and enemies aren’t varied enough.  Like the dungeon textures, everything kind of felt same shit different day.

Anyway, there’s probably other shit I can say about Fallout 3; but in all honesty, I think I’m running out of steam.

I bought Fallout 3 for $10 retail, knowing full well that I probably wasn’t going to like it.

From what I read and saw before picking it up, it seemed to me like a pretty good game; but in my heart, I knew from the get go that in my eyes; it just wasn’t Fallout.

In all, it’s still a neat game world; with some neat characters and places, but for me it all just seems like too much.

I think the first-person perspective and 3D engine hurt the game in the sense that it forced the game world to contain all the things that a real world would.

In the real world, cans probably would be fuckin’ everywhere following a nuclear holocaust.

SHIT. EVERYWHERE.

In the world of Fallout 2, said cans indeed were apparent; however they served as static scenery and couldn’t be interacted with.

In Fallout 3, pointless interactive shit like this is fuckin’ EVERYWHERE, simply because; in order to maintain the illusion of a livable 3D world, it must.

Anyway, I ended up selling my copy of Fallout 3 to my brother; so for me, the nightmare is over.

Hopefully this marks the end of my days raging on Fallout 3.

Come to think of it, here’s hoping my brother doesn’t suffer the same fate…

 

 

 

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Work Makes Me Hate The World

This week was my first 60 hour work week at Amazon.

By the end, I was finding aches in parts of my body that no 23 year old man should have aches in.

Young men such as myself should never have to worry about pain in their knees and lower back, but as I sit typing this post; I hurt pretty much all over.

Not only that, I’m finding that working for so many days consecutively leaves me feeling bitter to the point in which I think it would be best if I just stayed away from people for the next 24 hours.

We’ll call it a “cooling off” period.

Speaking of “cool,” I was in the freezer, that is; the massive, -2o degree industrial freezer, every day this week, so rest assured I’m very much full of Hulk rage at the moment.

And I don’t mean gray Hulk rage either, I’m talkin’ full on, green and mean Hulk rage…

 

Haha, Hulk speak is funny...

That being said, I’ll sum up by saying I hope no of you had to work like I did these past 6 days, and if you did; you have my deepest sympathies.

Here’s to the next 3 days of freedom.

By the way, if you happen to bump into me on the street tomorrow, don’t say “hi,” otherwise I’ll probably let out a Howard Dean-esque battle cry and tear your scalp off and feed it to you.

Seriously:  Don’t poke the badger when he’s in “hate the world” mode…

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Let’s Look at Comics: Avengers West Coast #99 – Time To Kill

It's never a good sign when one of the characters on the cover is colored incorrectly... The guy on the left is supposed to be green.

Hello all, and welcome to another exciting installment of Let’s Look at Comics!

Today we’ll be looking at Marvel’s, “Avengers West Coast #99 – Time to Kill.”

For those who are unaware, The Avengers are essentially Marvel’s answer to DC’s Justice League; a team of heroes comprised of their respective universes most powerful and highest profile characters.

If you don’t know what the Justice League is, then you can consider yourself a waste of flesh, and a waste of my motherfucking time.

Seriously, get the fuck out.

Anyway, The Avengers have always been a fucking deal over at Marvel due to the fact that it’s roster has often included “The Big Three,” AKA Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man.

The basic concept behind the formation of The Avengers was, and always will be: to give the writers an excuse to play Ocean’s 11 with the Marvel universe.

Don't be surprised if you see this in the theaters 2 years from now.

Nah, just kidding, The Avengers exist to combat threats that no single hero could combat on their own.

Truth be told, I’ve never really been an Avengers fan, largely due to the fact that  the opposition they are required to face in order for the battle to seem at all competitive, are the kind of villains that are outrageously overpowered to the point in which deus ex machina is often required to defeat them.

In all, I’m not really a “team” fan.

The Justice League is dull for the same reasons The Avengers are.

The X-Men are cool, but have the most impenetrable continuity in all of continuities.

The Fantastic 4, well… unless Sue Storm’s wearing her 90’s uniform, I really don’t care.

Oh, 90's character designs, how I miss thee.

Seriously though, I get more satisfaction out of taking a shit than I do reading their stuff.

Getting back on track, at some point during the 80’s Marvel had the bright idea to try their hand at expanding their readership by creating a spin-off series based on The Avengers called The Avengers West Coast.

As is always the case, breaking up the band proved to be a bad idea.

Despite this, DC was kind enough to follow-suit and rip them off a few years later with the launch of their own Justice League spin-off, Justice League International.

Besides Batman, Blue Beetle, and Fate, everybody pictured here can suck a dick. Yeah that's right, fuck you Captain Marvel.

Oh yeah, did I mention that it sucked too?

The problem with Avengers West Coast, and most spin-offs in general, was the fact that the entire premise was based around constructing stories and conflicts using the spare parts of a stronger, pre-established property.

In example, let’s take a look at some members of the West Coast roster:

Hawkeye is alright, seeing as he was a former Avenger and he founded the West Coast team.

Basically, he has no super powers, but he’s a good archer, and oh yeah, he’s a dick, so he gets Ice Man points.

Mockingbird is Hawkeyes’ equally powerless woman.

They fucked, she died, end of story.

War Machine = Iron Man if he shopped at Ross.  Nuff’ said.

U.S. Agent = Captain America if he was in the UFC.

And Spider-Woman, well she’s definitely no Spider-Man, and more importantly, she’s not the sexy Spider-Woman.

Azn Badger likes him some Sexy Spider-Woman…

No caption needed.

With all of that out of the way, I think you can understand when I say that Avengers West Coast was a mediocre team that was involved in mediocre storylines, fighting mediocre villains I.E. The Grim Reaper.

And guess what?

Today we’re gonna’ be taking a look at an issue from one of those crappy stories, so fasten your seat belts boys and girls, it’s gonna’ be a hot time in the old town tonight!

The issue opens with a full page spread of U.S. Agent walking in on a Renaissance fair as he looks for the nearest Honey Bucket.

"Excuse me folks, I was just lookin' fer' the crapper HOLY SHIT!"

Turns out, these Ren fair patrons are in fact the real deal, and as it so happens one of them is choking on some poisoned wine, like you do; served to him by the deadly and beautiful…

… Okay, thanks comic, now I feel kind of dumb for not knowing who that is.

According to my 30 seconds of Google research,

was the daughter of a Valencian noble, who would often marry her off to men, only to have those men meet grisly ends.

That’s the historical version, in this comic she’s just a bitch with a funny hat.

Anyway, after witnessing the wine poisoning, U.S. Agent storms in, bein’ all like, “The white woman done it!  I seen it!”

This of course, leads to Agent having to put the hurt on some Carnies.

Punching people and getting stabbed, that's U.S. Agent in a nutshell.

Or at least trying to.

After a few more panels of Agent beat-down,

saunters up and force feeds him some of her patented poison wine.

NOOOOOOO!!!! DON'T FALL OFF THE WAGON!!!

Cue full-page acid trip:

America: On the dope since.... well, forever.

After that artistically confusing unpleasantness, U.S. Agent awakens in a hospital, delusional and in a state of shock.

I’m sure waking up to this had nothing to do with that:

GOOD GOD RHODEY! Way to give somebody a heart attack!

As is typical of her, un-sexy Spider-Woman has some incredibly deep and thoughtful insights to provide

Yeah, yah' think? Jesus Christ you are un-sexy...

As U.S. Agent gets his bearings, the rest of the Avengers West Coast proceed to spew exposition back and forth amongst one another.

From these exchanges we learn that U.S. Agent got his ass pwned in the previous issue by a nefarious team of villains called the “Lethal Legion.”

Of course, U.S. Agent, being the meathead that he is, decides to throw a hissy fit and begins to argue with Hawkeye.

It's terrible when they fight. Really, they should think of the children.

The Hangman that Agent mentioned above is the ringleader of the Lethal Legion, a third-rate villain that serves as a virtually unbeatable antagonist to our team of super goobers.

After a solid 2 pages of bitching and moaning, and a Cap’n Crunch ad, our story finally picks up again.

But not before serving us with another ad:

I always thought this looked like shit. Anybody seen it?

Following this, our heroes decide to split-up in their search for the Hangman.

Un-sexy Spider-Woman and War Machine set out to investigate a Stella Houston’s beach house, presumably so un-sexy Spider-Woman can find a way to sexify herself.

Upon entering the residence of the Hangman’s former flame, our heroes are greeted by this crazy bitch:

Lose the axe and we'll talk.

Axe of Violence.

Seriously, that’s her name.

Anyway, uh, Ms. Violence tears into our heroes like they were, well, like they were a bunch of mediocre superheroes.

"It'll be okay kids! Just let me stick my finger in there and ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!"

As it turns out, Axe of Violence’s axe is laced with magic which, based on War Machine’s cry of “ARRRRRRRRRR”, seems to be bad news for the Avengers West Coast.

With War Machine proving to be less than helpful, and Axe of Violence proving to be an expert in pun crafting and axe fighting, un-sexy Spider-Woman decides join in the fight by literally hurling herself into the fray.

Un-sexy Spider-Woman used Un-sexy pounce!...

...It's not very effective...

During the confusion that follows, Ms. Violence makes mention of someone named Satannish, a demon who is apparently the true force behind the Hangman and the Lethal Legion.

As War Machine and un-sexy Spider-Woman back Axe of Violence into a corner, she suddenly turns tail and runs off, leaving them a parting gift in the process:

...and shooting NEXT TO HER is supposed to stop her how?

Thankfully, our exceedingly powerful and skillful Avengers West Coast manage to…

Oh, come on!

Jesus fuck, The Avengers West Coast suck-ass…

You see, that’s the fuckin’ problem with these guys!

Someone throws A FUCKING AXE and you don’t even so much as TRY to get out of the way!?

ARRRRRRGH!!! They should call these pansies the fuckin’ Avengers Triple-A…

Why thank you Patrick Stewart, for so perfectly articulating my feelings.

ANYWAY, mental giant that she is, un-sexy Spider-Woman proceeds to diagnose her MAGICAL AXE WOUND as being “not deep” and therefore, not a cause for concern.

With Axe of Violence gone, War Machine and un-sexy Spider-Woman proceed to discuss the Lizzie Borden nursery rhyme and it’s connection to their recently departed opponent.

You know, superhero stuff.

With that, we head on over to the Hangman’s former residence, where Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch are poking around for clues.

Unfortunately, that crazy bitch,

decides to show up and make things difficult for our heroes.

Although I must say, she must’ve spent the past couple of days gettin’ Smurf STDs, ’cause she’s lookin’ a little, well, blue.

Goddamn Smurfette, why you gotta' be all violent n'shit?

Fortunately, she made the mistake of trying to ambush the Scarlet Witch AKA THE MOST BROKEN-ASS CHARACTER IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE.

You see, the Scarlet Witch’s powers involve probability manipulation, which in comic book terms, translates to BEING ABLE TO DO ANY FUCKING THING SHE WANTS.

In this case however, the writer was kind enough to tone down her powers so as to make her opponent seem to be a credible threat.

Smurfs fear but two things in this world: Doors, and Capitalism.

Trust me, you don’t wanna’ see what kind of stupid shit happens when the writers go nuts with the Scarlet Witch’s powers *cough!* House of M *cough!*

With Hawkeye’s help, (Haha! Yeah, sure…) the Scarlet Witch manages to subdue the Smurfette, however, before they can question her, the Hangman decides to crash the party by snagging Hawkeye with his noose.

Thank God somebody shut him up.

Not only that, but he takes the time to show the Scarlet Witch who wears the motherfuckin’ daddy pants.

Replace that "witch" with something a little more colorful, and we'll be in business.

With that, Hangman makes his way out the nearby window, an action that Hawkeye’s neck definitely would not appreciate.

*Ahem!* Cue Scarlet Witch and her broken-ass powers, as well as an insane amount of thought bubble text:

Come on lady, you can restructure reality itself, I think you can snap a fucking rope.

Scarlet Witch does indeed manage to literally save Hawkeye’s neck just before it’s snapped in half, whereupon our heroes proceed to ponder over

and her connection to the crazy Smurfette.

I wonder, do these guys ever get tired of being boring and inept?

We then find ourselves back at the hospital, where Hawkeye’s wife, Mockingbird, is checking in on U.S. Agent.

She tries to tell Agent that she’s going to quit the Avengers West Coast in favor of starting a family.

Unfortunately he’s busy downing a protein shake, getting an outlandish tattoo, and hating his father, so her words fail to reach his ‘roided out ears.

Oh yeah, that and some robot fucker named Coldsteel decides to show up.

List Prime Directives: 1. Kick Ass. 2. Chew Bubblegum. 3. Run Out Of Bubblegum.

Well, U.S. Agent and Coldsteel proceed to throw down while Mockingbird hangs back and pretends to be useful.

Yeah, she’s just as worthless as her husband.

During the battle, U.S. Agent comes to the conclusion that Coldsteel and the Lethal Legion are hunting the Avengers West Coast as some sort of competition.

As if to put an exclamation point on his theory, another member of the the Lethal Legion, Zyklon, shows up and proceeds to interfere with Coldsteel’s assault.

Alright, who would you rather fight? The giant-fucking robot, or the flatulent wonder?

During the ensuing chaos, Mockingbird has hallucinations similar to the ones U.S. Agent had earlier, more specifically the ones dealing with Nazi gas victims.

Likewise, Agent appears to have drunk the bong water, again, ’cause he’s seeing things again as well:

Okay........ Josef Stalin everyone!

So, if we are to believe U.S. Agent’s cracked out visions, Coldsteel is Josef Stalin.

Right, then naturally, that would mean that Zyklon is:

Gasp! Heinrich Himmler!

That’s right folks, Mockingbird has a vision of Zyklon actually being Heinrich Himmler.

Before things can get awkward though, Zyklon/Himmler takes Mockingbird hostage, apparently just to piss off Coldsteel/Stalin.

Fortunately, Coldsteel still has U.S. Agent to beat on, so he does just that.

Before things can get out of hand though, War Machine decides to show up and… well, you’ll see.

Damn, and here I thought War Machine was starting to seem kind of worthless...

...Oh wait, he is.

After the dust has settled, the rest of the Avengers West Coast meet up at the hospital.

A shit ton of bitching and arguing follows soon after, with Hawkeye being all pissy on account of his wife getting snatched, and U.S. Agent being all down on himself ’cause he’s finally coming down from his caffeine high.

Eventually, the team get their shit together, and the Scarlet Witch offers to use a tome of deus ex machina to open up a portal to Satannish’s realm.

The fact that the double-size, issue #100 was just on the horizon as this comic was being written, seems to serve as the only explanation as to why the deus ex machina book didn’t come into play earlier in the story.

Anyway, the Scarlet With reads from the book, and un-sexy Spider-Woman once again has some brilliant commentary to offer:

She deserves an award for how dumb and un-sexy she is.

Despite un-sexy Spider-Woman’s doubts as to the deus ex machina book’s capabilities, Satannish is kind enough to promptly show himself, thusly rendering her objections pointless, and yes, un-sexy.

Satannish: As ugly as he is uninspired.

Satannish proceeds to gloat from his twin mouths, calling the Avengers West Coast mean things like “weak”, “dumb”, and “un-sexy.”

When confronted on his motives for kidnapping Mockingbird, Satannish responds with something the lines of :

“‘Cause I’m all ’bout dah’ bitches!”

Anyway, the issue draws to an end as our heroes stand around with their thumbs up their butts, only to have the great lord of the underworld himself, Mephisto, show up and offer his aid in battling Satannish.

Mephisto: Lord of Darkness, and stealer of marriages.

Well, that was Avengers West Coast #99.

Now you finally understand why I don’t read team books. (well, outside of Secret Six and The Thunderbolts, they’re fuckin’ awesome)

They’re muddled, confusing, and more often than not their plots center around watching the heroes get their asses kicked until God himself descends from the heavens and grants them a sudden, and often, unwarranted, victory.

Goodnight ladies and gentleman, I am officially off writing until…. sometime tomorrow morning.

Let’s have one more picture of Sexy Spider-Woman before we say goodnight, shall we?

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