Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

2011 In Review

This is me patting myself on the back:

Here’s an excerpt:

London Olympic Stadium holds 80,000 people. This blog was viewed about 380,000 times in 2011. If it were competing at London Olympic Stadium, it would take about 5 sold-out events for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Evaluating The Rock’s Return To The Ring

Pictured: The Rock is back, and he brought his new salt and pepper beard and gaudy-ass tattoos.

So, I watched Survivor Series this past Sunday.

I haven’t watched Raw or Smackdown in at least 5 years now, but like many seasoned wrestling fans; I’m always looking for an excuse to get back in the loop.

Unfortunately, given the general dearth of genuinely interesting or talented wrestlers in the organization these days, said reasons are scarce at best…

That being said, when it came to tuning in to Survivor Series this past weekend, much like Rikishi, I did it for The Rock:

If memory serves me, and I know it does, I believe it’s been about 7 years since The Rock last stepped into the squared circle for a legitimate wrestling match.

Sadly, despite sporting a spectacular physique, the years have not been kind to ‘ole Dwayne’s in-ring coordination.

That’s not to say his main event performance wasn’t all that bad, (it wasn’t) rather it was just a little bit disappointing to see one of my heroes slowly succumb to the horrors of bad knees and premature old fart-ism.

Despite lacking the same explosiveness and distinctive spasmatic body language, The Rock did about as well as one could expect following a 7 year layoff.

Upon entering the arena, I was kind of shocked with how little applause The Rock garnered from the live audience.

Maybe it was just my puny speakers, but it seemed to me like the crowd should’ve been louder given the gravity of the situation.

Then again, maybe my expectations for contemporary wrestling fans are a little too high given the current state of the WWF.

In any case, The Rock milked his entrance and got more applause than John Cena, so it’s all good in my book.

As one would expect in a tag match featuring a returning legend of the industry, The Rock entered the ring last, served as the initial tag partner of his team, and finished the match.

Facing off against The Miz and R-Truth, The Rock’s first moments in the match were, in my opinion; his best.

By the way, if you had asked me if the man formerly known as K-Kwik would ever headline a pay-per-view in the 21st century, I’d have told you “no fucking way.”

Funny how shit works out like that.

Anyway, in matches like this, where 2 mid-tier heels are pitted against a legend with an aura of invincibility, there’s really no logical way for the heels to build momentum against him without resorting to dirty tactics or shenanigans.

Pictured: "Shenanigans."

In going with this line of thinking, The Rock did well to cast an imposing shadow in the ring, bulling his neck and standing rigid and tall.

Basically, he straight up looked untouchable when standing next to the 3 other A-listers in the ring.

At the opening bell, The Rock cut loose with a series of rapid fire armdrags on both of his opponents.

I’ve always said there needed to be more armdrags in wrestling, so this brief sequence did well to satisfy the Rick Steamboat fan in me.

From there, The Rock basically cleaned house, knocking both men out of the ring at one time or another, and employing the first of his many signature move in the form of a somewhat flacid DDT.

It wasn’t so much the DDT itself was lacking, rather it was the gut kick preceding it that, quite literally; fell short.

Fell short as in straight-up missed the mark ala Randy Orton:


This failed gut kick would do well to sum up the whole of The Rock’s in-ring performance at Survivor Series.

To be blunt, he seemed tentative to me, like he held concern for potentially harming his fellow performers.

Strange, considering the amount of contact and brutality that was commonplace during The Rock’s heyday.

In any case, following the DDT, The Rock would later go on to execute a slow, but ably performed kip up, followed by a impressive, and very likely MMA inspired leg submission on R-Truth.

I’ll have to find out what that move was called, cause quite frankly, it was awesome.

Oh yeah, around this time the crowd started shouting, “You still got it!”

That was also awesome.

From there, the match turned into a snore fest for me, as once The Rock tagged in John Cena, the match degenerated into a one-sided beat down of the no-selling wonder.

Seriously man, I paid to see The Rock, and instead, I got stuck with 30 minutes of John Cena failing at getting his ass beat, bookended by 2 minutes of awesome Rock action.

That being said, I’m writing this article about The Rock, so I’ll be foregoing any detailed explanations of the non-Rock segments of the match.

All you really need to know is that it sucked.

Oddly enough, The Rock’s big finish at the end of the match was actually probably one of his weaker moments.

As tends to be the case with big-time wrestlers, The Rock has an ungodly number of signature moves and finishers.

During the climax of a match, many wrestlers like this *cough!* Hulk Hogan *cough!* tend to run through all their big moves like a series of bullet points.

Everybody knows it’s coming, but it’s a big part of what you pay to see when it comes to pro-wrestling.

In the case of The Rock, this involved his trademark slap punch combination, a DDT, a Rock Bottom, and a People’s Elbow to top it all off.

The weird part was, and this may have had something to do with a lack of energy in the room, but The Rock’s big finish seemed a little bit lackadaisical.

Once again, it may be a combination of bad knees and improper conditioning, but The Rock’s punches lacked the same jittery energy they used to.

As also mentioned before, his DDT fell short of the mark a second time, with the gut kick once again whiffing by a country mile.

His Rock Bottom felt wimpy.

And most electrifying move in sports entertainment or not, his People’s Elbow failed to get a rise out of me.

Despite performing well overall, The Rock seemed most uncomfortable doing the simplest and most familiar moves in his repertoire, the ones that made him famous.

In all, The Rock seemed at his best during the more heavily choreographed portions of the match at the beginning, which isn’t surprising given his recent time spent performing action scenes in Hollywood films.

He didn’t embarrass himself, and he certainly did well enough to make me glad to see him back in the saddle, but at the end of the day, it was strange to see a Rock faded to the point of being, almost human.

Filed under: Uncategorized, Wrestling, , , , , , , , , , ,

Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters Review

I never thought I’d say this about a Godzilla comic, but goddamn this comic was preachy.

Godzilla, and indeed many giant monsters over the years, have often carried with them an air of social/political commentary, be it cautioning the world against the use of nuclear arms, or the dangers of bureaucratic obfuscation I.E. The Host.

While these messages aren’t always at the forefront of things, the symbolism that crops up from committing a giant radioactive dinosaur from the South Pacific to film or print is undeniable.

While Godzilla is one of the more malleable pop-culture characters in all of history, serving as a symbol of everything from nuclear deterrence to a hero to all children; I never thought I’d see him used the way he was in IDW’s Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters.

I’ve been watching Godzilla films since the cradle, and naturally I grew up reading Dark Horse’s Godzilla comics during the early 90’s.

While no other Toho monsters or characters were featured in the Dark Horse comics, with the exception of a few less than stellar issues here and there, I found that these comics paid homage to the spirit of Godzilla about as well as anyone could ever hope.

Pictured: Godzilla preparing to surface amid the Spanish Armada. God I loved these comics...

Perhaps more so than anything else, I found myself blown away by the writers and artists of Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters’ complete lack of respect and understanding for the character.

Over the course of 4 issues, I found myself utterly flabbergasted at the writer’s inability to satisfy even the least of my expectations for a Godzilla comic book.

Despite the book’s claim to being the first American comic to license the rights to use monsters from Toho’s stable other than Godzilla, a claim I don’t dispute; the fact of the matter is, within this first collected edition the writer’s did little to flex their muscles in this regard.

That is to say, despite featuring 4 monsters within as many issues, with the exception of a few pages at the very end, there was no interaction between any of them.

You see this cover? IT'S FULL OF LIES.

I’m sorry, but as much fun as it can be to watch Godzilla step on buildings, or watch Anguirus bounce around in the desert; at the end of the day we all pay to see the monsters fight and/or team-up.

The fact of the matter is, right from the start Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters paints itself as a tongue-in-cheek comedy.

I don’t know if it’s a cultural difference in the form of the Western mind being unable to treat a larger than life character like Godzilla with any sort of seriousness, but personally I found this interpretation and use of the character to be horrible misguided.

The way Godzilla and the other monsters are used in this story, as mobile natural disasters and calamities that are talked about (endlessly) and cut away to rather than given any sort of spotlight; it’s as if you could have made the exact same comic without paying out the nose for the licensing fees.

Or without featuring any monsters whatsoever for that matter.

Sadly, the entire book seems to be more interested in playing itself off as a pop-culture satire rather than an homage or addition to the legacy of Godzilla.

Allusions are made to the Godzilla mythos, in the form of a pair of psychic French twins that are clearly supposed to be an “evil” version of the Shobi-jin, who are featured in exactly one panel, as well as the use of Anguirus’ “soccer ball” maneuver from Final Wars as an odd form of locomotion; but at the end of the day pop-culture asides make up the majority of the page count.

While the names are changed, Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, various news anchors, and the cast of The Jersey Shore are all satirized, and quite exhaustively at that.

Pictured: The Jersey Shore in comic form... I've never watched the show, but sadly, now I can say I've read a comic featuring them.

Why anyone would think a comic based on a pop-culture property would feel it wise to make said comic a send-up of other pop-culture properties is entirely beyond me.

Sadly, these caricatures serve as perhaps the closest thing the entire book has to actual characters, as outside of numerous joke characters, I couldn’t name a single character with any sort of depth or longevity; including the monsters.

If that weren’t bad enough, the story, or what little there is outside of talking heads mulling on and on about the monsters instead of us actually seeing them in action, is horrible disjointed and tonally unbalanced.

While most of the story is devoted to watching Obama be profane AKA “funny,” or watching short-lived joke characters/stereotypes get picked off by the monsters, there are in fact a few serious moments here and there that fail to illicit any sort of emotional response due to the goofy events that sandwich them.

For instance, there’s one scene where a Japanese fisherman becomes a suicide bomber in an attempt to kill Godzilla that could’ve meant something to me, had his character been featured in more than 5 panels, and had the story not been mired in referential pop-culture humor.

... And this added to the story, how?

Perhaps the weirdest instance of unwarranted seriousness though, is the addition of perhaps the only character in the entire 4 issues, a decorated U.S. soldier.

This character is supposed to be solemn and worldly, but really, I’d imagine he sounds like me or any other whiny, 20-something year old boy that tries to speak out about the “serious issues” in life.

Trust me, there’s a reason I don’t write about politics/world events on this blog…

That is to say, his character is used, for whatever reason, to condemn and damn the vapid consumerist youth culture propagated by spokespeople like the Jersey Shore folks.

While I see the validity of his and what I’d assume is the writer’s viewpoint, the fact of the matter is, I have no fucking clue what place this sort of preachy-ass bullshit has in a Godzilla comic.

Wrong fuckin’ time, absolutely wrong fuckin’ place my friend.

While I’m sure the team behind Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters was indeed hoping to build some sort of legitimate story with the license, in my eyes they absolutely failed in that task within what should’ve been a more than reasonable 4 issues.

Whatever success they go on to have with subsequent stories won’t change the fact that they seriously dropped the ball with their first book.

Despite all the flaws in the plot and characterization, I feel I should make mention of the less than stellar art.

While the covers are absolutely fantastic, (included in fold-out form in the collected edition) the interior art by Phil Hester is of a monochromatic and almost mosaic-like style that isn’t my favorite.

I suppose it doesn't help when rendering of Anguirus squishing hillbillies counts as the "best" scene in the issue.

The inking lacks character, and while many of the monsters are rendered well, much better than the humans anyway; there’s very little life to be found in their posturing and framing… Especially when the script doesn’t allow them to do anything outside of molest buildings.

Excuse me, “destroy” buildings.

In all, the intensely black shadows and monochromatic style of the art seems better suited for a noir story than a tongue-in-cheek monster story.

It’s sad really, as if you’ll recall, I was actually quite excited for Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters.

Oh well, at least now I know that if I ever want to read a Godzilla comic, my best bet is to save my money and dig up my old Dark Horse issues.

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Tokusatsu, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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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Really Digging Deus Ex

In light of the insane number of A-list games coming out this season, I had assumed, well in advance; that I was likely going to forgo purchasing Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

It’s not that I wasn’t interested in the game, it’s just that when you look at the upcoming releases over the next couple of months, well, Deus Ex just doesn’t seem like as big of a deal as it likely should.

That being said, thanks to a very generous (and random) sale on Amazon.com, I found myself saying “Fuck it, it’s too cheap not to buy,” and a few clicks of the mouse later I found myself with a brand new copy of a heavily discounted Deus Ex.

Well, I’ve been playing around with it for awhile now, and I can honestly say, I’m happy I made the investment.

Mind you, it’s not a perfect game by any means, but there’s just so many little things about it that mean a lot to me personally.

I’m not really an avid fan of the Deus Ex series, in fact I only played the original for a few hours before deciding I didn’t need to finish it, but I do have a lot of love and respect for what it represents.

I’ve always been into the whole cyberpunk design aesthetic, and character customization/modification means enough to me that I’ve bought countless wrestling videogames purely for the character creator function, so on paper; the Deus Ex games are very much up my alley.

The new Deus Ex includes both of these aspects of the original, while adding a new layer of polish and presentation that make it far more accessible than it’s predecessors.

For example, the core gameplay; the stealth and shooting, really feel on par with a straight action game.

Action RPGs that feel “floaty” or involve a lot of noticeable number crunching in their combat mechanics are kind of a pet peeve of mine.

I hate shooting at someone in a game, and then “feeling it” as the game computes my character’s attributes, applies them to the statistics of his gun, and then applies said data to the attributes of the enemy I’m shooting to determine the amount of damage I deal.

It’s hard to explain, but you know it when you feel it.

I don’t know about you, but in my world guns do gun-like damage regardless of what “level” my Marksman skill is at, or how hard I pull the trigger.

I don’t get this feeling when I’m playing Deus Ex.

On that note, I feel I should probably point out that, as of writing this, I haven’t killed anyone in Deus Ex!

Early on I found the Metal Gear/Rainbow Six: Vegas-esque stealth mechanics to be robust and rewarding to the point in which I never found a need to kill anyone.

Oddly enough, I’ve found it very rewarding playing through the game relying exclusively on taser-ings and choke holds.

It’s funny though, as good as the stealth mechanics are, in many ways they are somewhat primitive.

Sure, the guards are more responsive to sound than in most games, and their sight distance is atypically high, but at the end of the day; the AI is actually kind of dumb.

For instance, in Metal Gear Solid 2, guards make use of radios, and if they don’t check in frequently enough; reinforcements are deployed to assess the situation.

This always made maneuvering around guards an ideal course of action over fighting/neutralizing them, but it also made the game somewhat frustrating at times.

While the enemy AI and stealth mechanics of Deus Ex are technically less complex than this, I feel it’s a gameplay decision that lends itself well to making the game much more streamlined and fun.

In all, sneaking around in Deus Ex is one of the more enjoyable parts of the game, especially when you’re playing the way I am with a totally non-lethal character.

I’ve heard the AI is less than stellar in direct combat, but that’s something I likely won’t be encountering until I start a new playthrough.

Moving on, another aspect of Deus Ex that surprised me, was the hacking mini-game.

I can’t stand locked doors/sealed off areas in games, so I knew I was going to be doing a lot of hacking in Deus Ex; which had me a bit worried it was going to ruin the experience for me.

To be fair, it took me awhile to warm up to it, but now I think I really like hacking in Deus Ex.

The controls are a bit sloppy on the console, but it’s not overly complicated, and more importantly; it’s quick.

Few things are more annoying in games than mini-games that eat up too much time and take you out of the core experience.

To date, I have yet to encounter a door I couldn’t open with a little finessing, something I can honestly say was not the case in games like Oblivion.

Speaking of Oblivion, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the fact that Deus Ex is a fairly streamlined and distinctly un-sandbox-y experience.

I don’t know about you, but I find sandbox games to be massively intimidating.

I’m very much a completionist when it comes to most things in life, so the idea of being dropped into a massive world with free rein to do whatever the fuck I want, is not exactly ideal.

I need structure in my gaming, a clear purpose or direction to keep me on track.

Without it, I tend to freeze up, get lost, or worse yet, end up spending 40 hours in the first town of the game and never even start the main quest.

In this way, Deus Ex’s small-ish city setting and mission based narrative really “does it” for me.

I’ve never felt lost or daunted, and for once, I actually feel rewarded when I do most of the quests.

That being said, the conversation system of Deus Ex, while simple, is exceptional.

Most of it’s success can be attributed to good writing and line delivery, but I really enjoy conversing with characters and being forced to remain attentive in order to succeed.

On one occasion I found myself having to rely on information imparted to me from optional documents, items I could’ve easily picked up and not read.

You can tell a game’s writing is exceptional when you actually want to read the random notes and e-mails scattered throughout the environment.

The one downside to the dialogue of the game, and this is totally just me being weird, is the very obvious use of a largely Canadian voice cast.

I realize the game was developed by EA Montreal, so Canadian voice actors are to be expected, but I’m one of those jackasses that giggles whenever he hears an “uh-boot” or “bee-n” instead of “about” and “been.”

It’s a minor gripe, but it actually does make the drama a little harder to swallow for me, so I figured I’d mention it.

As of now, I’m currently in the second half of the Hengsha segment of the game, and I’m still enjoying every moment.

I’ve read that a lot of people are extremely disappointed in some of the game’s boss fights, however as of now I have no issue with them.

True, I’ve only fought 1 as of now, but to me, it didn’t seem that bad at all.

Maybe it’s just because I entered into the fight ill-equipped (non-lethal playthrough, remember?) and actually had to scramble for ammo and weapons before I could even begin to fight back, but I honestly had some fun fighting the first boss.

Hell, any occasion in which you have to take on a grenade and mini-gun toting hulk of a boss with nothing but fire extinguishers and a silenced pistol has got to have some redeemable qualities, right?

Anyway, there’s a whole lot more to be said, but for now that’s all I’ve got.

Don’t be afraid to check out Deus Ex, it’s a lot more fun than it lets on.

Filed under: Games, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts On The DC Universe Reboot

For those that care to know, DC Comics has recently gone on record stating plans for a massive reboot of all their major titles and characters this fall.

To non-comic fans, this means you can expect to see (or in the case of those that truly don’t give a fuck, not see) a bunch of comics and trades bearing the increasingly common designation of “Issue #1” in the coming months.

The reasoning behind this rather ballsy maneuver by one of comics’ biggest publishing houses, has largely been attributed as an effort to contemporize the characters and origins of the DC universe.

While part of me feels that this could in fact pay-off, and might even prove beneficial to the legacies of some of the more obscure characters of DC (Hawkman, Deadman, Red Tornado, etc.) by giving them extra face time and a new coat of paint; the comic-whore in me can’t help but feel a little thrown by the idea of a universe-wide reboot.

Pictured: When Superman met the 90's... Things could've gone better.

It’s not the fact that I’m a continuity whore or anything either.

I grew in an era when most people considered themselves either “DC Kids” or “Marvel Kids,” and with the exception of Batman and Superman; (mostly Batman…) I was very much a “Marvel Kid.”

What can I say, Marvel's always been good at aiming low...

In the past decade or so, my undying allegiance to The House of Ideas (AKA Marvel, dumbass…) has loosened up, or rather; my appreciation for DC has grown, but even so, I’ve never really found a good way to get my feet wet when it comes to the labyrinthian mess that is DC universe continuity.

I think it’s the Multiverse aspect of DC that has always scared me off when it comes to DC crossovers.

Though I have to admit, this is pretty fuckin' awesome.

Sure, you could argue that Marvel has a Multiverse as well, (one that I don’t really pay attention to aside from the MAX imprint) but the difference between the 2 is that DC merges their universes from time to time, while Marvel usually keeps theirs separate.

Keeping track of hundreds of characters in a single universe is one thing, but when you put together a host of stories I.E. the Crisis series; that draw into focus numerous iterations of said characters across multiple universes, I’m sorry, my feeble mind just can’t handle it.

For this reason, along with the occasional poor review or 2, I haven’t read any of the Crisis stories, nor do I think I’ll ever care enough to do so.

Case in point: Superboy Prime.

The point I’ve been trying to make with all of this bullshit, is the fact that when it comes to DC; I don’t really have that much of an investment in the history of it’s characters… Aside from Batman, Superman, and maybe Green Lantern.

Call me crazy, but I kind of liked it when Hal Jordan went nuts and killed off the Corps.

Could've done without the creepy pedo-face though...

Anyway, the first thing that came to mind when I heard DC was going to be dumping a fatty diarrhea of reboot juice into their books, was Marvel’s Ultimate series.

I haven’t read any of the Ultimate line, largely because, unlike in the case of DC, I’m very comfortable with Marvel’s continuity, past and present.

From what I’ve read, the basic mission statement for the Ultimate line was along the lines of:

“Purge all the non-essential/less popular characters, make the characters more contemporary, make use of big-name writers and artists, make it accessible for non-comic readers/people that like the Marvel movies.”

To reiterate: Marvel, not afraid to whore themselves out to the kids.

That’s basically what I’m thinking DC is trying to do with their reboot.

The really goofy thing about this whole reboot thing, is the timing of it.

Superman: Secret Origin wrapped not that long ago, the ink on Superman: Earth One (not be confused with “Earth-1“) has yet to dry, and Batman: Earth One is likely to follow in the coming months.

Even Wonder Woman was recently revamped from the ground up.

Oh God! It's the 90's all over again!!!

When I think about it, it seems like DC’s been teasing a reboot for awhile now, but it’s only just now they’ve built up the courage to go ahead and do it to their entire line, and not just their A-list characters.

Deep down, I know that DC has some serious housekeeping to do with their characters and storylines, as would any other book line published over 70+ years; but starting from scratch is not something I like to consider.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’m fine with comics simply ignoring or retconning the less important or relevant moments in their continuity.

As a fairly seasoned comic fan, I don’t think a reboot is all that necessary; but if it breathes new life in the industry, and grabs new fans that otherwise wouldn’t have given a shit, then more power to ’em.

In any case, here’s hoping DC’s gamble pays off.

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Donnie Yen Says Be A Dude And Help The Japanese

The picture above comes from LoveHKFilm.com, a wonderful Chinese film review site.

I wish I could take credit for it’s awesomeness, I really do; but no, I just found it and “borrowed” it for today’s post.

Anyway, this is me doing my duty as a (half) Japanese and saying “Do what Donnie Yen says, or he’ll find your ass and tear it up.”

I’ve personally taken it upon myself to donate a bit of money, as well as quite a lot of clothing and toys for the orphaned kids over there; so at the very least, even if you don’t have the guilt of the Japanese being “YOUR PEOPLE” hanging over you like I do, I encourage you to please give a little something if you’re at all able.

Anyway, it’s mom’s birthday today; so I’m gonna’ get back to bein’ a good boy.

Well, that and stuff my face full of mochi.

Don’t make Donnie Yen have to come find you…

DONATE HERE

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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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Thoughts On Marvel Vs. Capcom 3

It’s been 10 long years, but it’s finally happened:

Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 has finally become a reality.

While the overly dramatic statement above may speak to the contrary, let it be known; the Azn Badger has never felt any sort of excitement regarding the release of MVC3.

You see, I used to be a hardcore fighting game fan.

While I still bear a great deal of love for the characters of fighting games past, as I find them to be some of the most versatile and long-lived icons in all of gaming; when it comes to my actual skills as a player of fighting games, I’ve never been anything more than average.

That didn’t stop me from playing fighting games like a mad man… Up until the release of Marvel vs. Capcom 2.

You see, I have this friend; a Korean from Up The Street, (henceforth referred to as KUTS) who sort of ruined fighting games for me.

Like many Koreans tend to do, he became enamored with the mechanics of the game, to the point in which dedicated himself to becoming an utter beast at the game.

Seriously, the guy’s been competitive with Top 10 Evo players.

Fielding his Storm-Magneto-Sentinel team, KUTS would go on to repeatedly thrash me in MVC2, and virtually any other fighting game; in such emphatic fashion, as to utterly crush my desire to play fighting games with any degree of seriousness from that point forward.

That being said, KUTS has been consistently playing MVC2 for the past decade.

Or at least until today, when it’s long awaited (or in KUTS’ case, dreaded) sequel was finally released.

Friend that he is, KUTS was kind enough to invite me over to play a few rounds of MVC3 with him.

Introductory reminiscences aside, here are my thoughts, as well as some thoughts from my buddy KUTS, regarding our impression of MVC3 thus far:

Gameplay

MVC2 is regarded as one of the most hardcore of fighting games.

It’s gameplay is some of the fastest around, and the precision required in it’s button inputs are tuned to near perfection in the eyes of many gamers.

It’s this frenetic, yet exacting gameplay that makes MVC2 one of the least accessible, but most rewarding fighting games to date.

That being said, when you take the pinnacle of fighting game precision, and “dumb” it’s mechanics down in favor of creating a simpler, and more accessible game; the end result is a game that will appeal to fighting game novices, and likely infuriate experienced players weened on more nuanced games.

Needless to say, both KUTS and I were largely unhappy with the mechanics of MVC3.

While I’m certainly no expert player at any fighting game, I noted a great deal of frustration coming off of my buddy KUTS as we played; largely due to the slower gameplay and questionable control accuracy.

If I were to compare the experience of playing MVC3 to any other fighting game, it’d have to be the crap-fest known as Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, and the bore-fest that is Street Fighter IV.

Like both of the aforementioned games, MVC3’s control feel as if they “help” you a little too much.

What I mean to say is, in all 3 of these games; it often feels like the system gives you the benefit of the doubt for technically flawed or incomplete button inputs.

While Street Fighter IV requires a very precise sense of timing to execute effective combos, I can’t tell you how many times I found mysel pulling off special attacks, or complex chains in these games; seemingly by accident.

Make no mistake, even if I’m not an expert, I know how to play most fighting games; and few things frustrate me more than playing a fighting game seems to want to play itself.

Seriously, KUTS and I were joking that you could probably pull off a hadoken in these games simply by holding forward and mashing the punch button.

In addition to the stupid-ification of the gameplay mechanics, MVC3 also takes things a step farther by changing up the control scheme a little bit.

Assists are now assigned their own buttons, with the depressing of either of which for a second or so resulting in the tag command.

To my knowledge, there is only 1 kick button now, a button which I found myself rarely using for whatever reason.

Finally, launch attacks, formerly a command executed by pressing down-forward and fierce punch; have been given they’re own button as well.

While I found the launch and kick button situation to be odd, and difficult to wrap my head around, I’m guessing the changes were made to appeal to fighting game novices.

Of these changes, the one that I found to be somewhat intuitive was the merging of the tag and assist buttons.

Maybe it’s my tiny Japanese hands, but the simultaneous button presses required for the tag function in previous Vs. games was always something I had trouble with; making this simplification a welcome one in my opinion.

One last note:

The game seems slower, and super jumps are harder to direct in a Castlevania, momentum-based sort of way…

Roster

The roster of MVC3 is a decent mix of the classic and the eclectic.

Seriously, count me in as one of the people that thought we’d never see the likes of Dormannu in a videogame.

Oh yeah, and SUPER MAD PROPS to whoever got Capcom to put Taskmaster in the game.

There are around 20 fewer combatants this time around, with more variation between each entrants play styles serving to balance things out in some capacity.

While I can’t speak to the effectiveness of any of the characters as of yet, it’s worth noting that many of the character’s attributes seem a little unbalanced.

For instance, Phoenix is easily one of, if not the fastest character in the game; however she also happens to be fragile as tissue paper.

Seriously, one time I managed to take her down to half health with only 6 weak punches, using Viewtiful Joe no less.

Not only that, Magneto has been nerfed in every way imaginable, and Thor seems overpowered, despite his godly-status.

All that aside, I’m decently satisfied with the roster at this point.

Capcom did a good job of varying the play styles of the characters, and many are represented well via their movesets and animations.

I will say this though, Chris Redfield’s voice clips are hysterical.

Seriously, with phrases like “Eat it!”, “Taste it!”, and “Suck it!”; the man is a poster boy for the UFC generation.

Move over Brock, there’s a new meathead in town…

KUTS’ Team Thus Far:

Storm, Sentinel, and MODOK or Storm, Sentinel and She-Hulk.

Closing Thoughts

Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a game for fighting game/Marvel fans, not the hardcore.

While it has yet to be seen what strategies or nuances can be uncovered in the gameplay for MVC3, if you ask me; or my buddy KUTS, whatever’s there isn’t going to measure up to MVC2.

That’s not to say MVC3 isn’t a worthy effort, as it is; it’s just not the same Marvel.

I will give it this though, MVC3 does have it’s predecessor beat in the presentation department.

10 years makes a world of difference in the world of videogames, and while I was fully prepared to hate the aesthetic of MVC3 based on it’s preview footage, I found I warmed up to it after awhile.

The character models aren’t as detailed as most contemporary fighting games, but the menus are designed well, the voicework is largely acceptable, and the damage effects and splashiness of the special attacks are actually quite stunning at times.

Consider that the one compliment I pay to MVC3.

Anyway, these were just my thoughts, feel free to disagree, ’cause they’re my thoughts and frankly I don’t give a shit what you think.

Thanks for reading!

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“You Betrayed Shiva!”

I don’t know why, but for some reason I’ve been in a very Spielberg/Lucas-y mood for the past week or so.

For those that don’t get the quote/reference featured on the card, I direct you to this amusing waste of time.

I’m pretty sure it all started last weekend when my buddy Mencius was kind enough to show me the Red Letter Media critique/analysis of Star Wars Episode III.

For those that haven’t seen the video, it’s serves as both an insightful and hilarious look at Episode III, as well as the nature of the entire Star Wars film franchise.

Truth be told, the way the whole thing was structured, it actually kind of reminded me of the writing style I use for posts on this blog.

Y’know, tidbits of information/humor, separated by irreverent and/or stupid images and captions.

Kind of like this.

Anyway, that’s my explanation for all the Harrison Ford/Indiana Jones references as of late.

Seeing as Lucas-ian products serve as a near bottomless treasure trove for retarded (and amusing) quotes and references, I wouldn’t be surprised if this keeps up for some time.

Hey, it’s not my fault I’ve got nothing to write about, not a whole is happening in my particular corner of the woods of dorkiness.

And no, I don’t give a shit that Johnny Storm/The Human Torch of The Fantastic Four died last week.

Johnny Storm, showing us just why he had to die.

I’ve never been a fan of The Fantastic Four, and while I find it interesting that the one member of the team that I had any appreciation for is the one Marvel decided to kill off; I don’t see myself ever owning or reading a Fantastic Four book in a good long while.

Anyway, here’s hoping I find something to write about soon, otherwise I’m just gonna’ keep making Magic cards until I’ve got a whole fuckin’ deck of ’em…

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