Thursday, November 03, 2011

Spotlight - Skyrim Soundtrack (Updated with Gamespot Feature)


(Update! Looks like Gamespot posted a featurette about the music, sound, and voice acting today too. What are the odds?! Check it out at the bottom!)

One thing I'm not going to fret about related to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is its soundtrack. Jeremy Soule has taken the helm as composer for the Elder Scrolls series once again, and from what limited previews we have seen - or heard, rather - of the music, he's done a stellar job. I adored his work on Morrowind, raved about the soundtrack for Oblivion, and now I'm eagerly anticipating the same for Skyrim.

An official soundtrack for Skyrim has been announced and will be shipped the week after the game is released on 11/11/11.

Unlike his previous soundtrack work for the Elder Scrolls series, Jeremy Soule has scored and compiled a whopping four-disc set for Skyrim! That's a lot of music! One of the criticisms leveled at Morrowind and Oblivion was that their soundtracks - while enchanting - quickly became very repetitive as they tended to loop ad-infinitum during the hundred of hours of questing players could get in the game. A four-cd soundtrack shoud alleviate that problem somewhat (just a tad).

The four-disc set is available at Directsong exclusively for $30.00. Pricey, but it just might be worth it. Check out Gamespot's featurette on Skyrim's soundtrack, sound effects, and voice acting below, and head on over to Directsong to preorder.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Review - Dragon Age: Mark of the Assassin



Dragon Age 2's second story-based DLC outing is "Mark of the Assassin," an adventure that - apart from sporting around 5-6 hours of additional questing time - also features the remarkable voice talent of Felicia Day as the titular assassin, Tallis. Fans of the actress will find a pleasant treat in this DLC; Day brings Tallis to life in an engrossing way, and while the character herself may not be the most interesting of Bioware's creations, she still houses a personality and backstory that's worth a look.

The same can be said for the DLC itself; the premise, execution, and twists along the tale prove to be an entertaining diversion that will provide a solid chunk of additional gameplay. It's worth the pricetag - more so than Legacy. Everything good about Dragon Age is here: intricate lore woven into an interesting story, new creatures that provide varied and interesting battles, a puzzle or two to wrack your brain, challenging boss fights, and even a few surprising cameos from Dragon Age: Origins.

It's Felicia Day! In Dragon Age! As an elf!
The folks at Bioware have learned their lesson from Dragon Age 2. Mark of the Assassin once again sends you to a completely new location for you to explore. Gone are the recycled maps and endless waves of enemies (at least, for the duration of this DLC). Instead, you're sent on a mission to liberate a treasure from an Orlesian stronghold. Here, you'll take part in a wyvern hunt, chat up a few nobles in a party, and work your way through a fortress - by stealth or by force - to complete your mission. Though there have been complaints that the stealth portion of the game is buggy, I did not experience any of the bugs that have plagued other reviewers.

As to be expected from Bioware, the story twists and turns along the way (though I have to say, releasing the Dragon Age webseries along with the DLC might have given away a lot of one of the "surprise" moments). The highlight of the story and the DLC is definitely Tallis. With her snarky yet bright outlook, she is a welcome addition to your cast of companions. She's played wonderfully by Felicia Day, and it's a shame that the character is limited to the DLC; she will not join you on your main quest (though it seems possible she'll show up in another Dragon Age iteration).



Your choices in the DLC also have consequence; unlike Dragon Age 2's main game, where your choices often have little effect on the narrative, Mark of the Assassin will play out differently based on a few key choices you make. Anything that gives your actions more weight is a plus in my book.

If you're itching for more Dragon Age 2 that's not set in Kirkwall, Mark of the Assassin is worth a look. The DLC is available now on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. 


Recommended For:
+ Dragon Age 2 fans
+ Felicia Day fans - don't worry, she differentiates Tallis from Codex quite well.

Not Recommended For:
- Dragon Age 2 haters
- People expecting Mark of the Assassin to solve all the problems of Dragon Age 2

For those looking for more history on Tallis, check out Dragon Age: Redemption.

Spotlight - Pre Skyrim Jitters


If you're fans of the Elder Scrolls series, then you indubitably know that Skyrim, the fifth installment of Bethesda's epic open-world RPG, is about to be released on 11/11/11 - less than 15 days away. Now there's been an impressive amount of hype for the game, considering it has been over 5 years since the studio released the previous game, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Yes, in addition to taking frivolous legal action against indie developers, Bethesda also still makes games! Imagine that.

Oblivion was hailed as one of the best RPGs of 2006, featuring stunning graphics (for the time), a massive world to explore, almost countless quests to complete, and its signature RPG leveling system; unlike most other models of the roleplaying videogame, the Elderscrolls uses a system where your abilities improve based only on use. That is, swing a sword enough times and you'll become a master swordsman. Blast enough enemies with fiery death, and you'll become a master mage. Spin enough diplomatic circles around your enemies with your silver tongue and you'll become a master ... debater.
Heh. Had to.

Skyrim allows you to kill bears like never before. As long as they aren't pandas, I say.
Still, for all its innovation and technical marvel, there was one area where I felt Oblivion fell short compared to its peers: narrative. Plot. Story. Now, I realize that these factors aren't really selling points of the Elder Scrolls series. Still, in a world where fans often feel justified in demanding improvements to game sequels (often to suit their own esoteric tastes), I feel okay jumping on the bandwagon here. After all, what gamer hasn't dreamed of ways to make the games they play better?

It has been my contention that there are two kinds of successful fantasy stories in RPGs: one based on setting, and one based on characters. Either your setting must be absolutely original and immersive, or your characters have to be compelling. Preferably, you would have both an original and interesting world to explore coupled with characters that you care about. In the absence of both, you must at least have one for a good story to be told.

Pretty? Yes. Interesting? That's debatable.
Case(s) in point. While Dragon Age's setting may not be the most original in all of fiction, the series still told an absolutely captivating narrative through your many party members. One of the best parts of the story in the first Dragon Age was trying to penetrate the witch Morrigan's caustic exterior. Or getting to know the man behind the string of sarcastic jokes that was Alistair. Or trying to decipher exactly what the mysterious shapeshifter Flemeth was planning.

Morrowind, the third installment of the Elder Scrolls series, took the opposite approach. The game managed to make up for its lack of memorable non-player characters using a fascinating and stunningly-well crafted setting based on a truly unique culture and intricate weave of lore. The sheer drama of this politically and religiously charged world more than made up for the lack of NPCs. You didn't just get to know a character in Morrowind. You got to know a whole nation.

Morrowind's capital city of Vivec, a thousand times more interesting than Oblivion's generic fantasy.
Unfortunately, Oblivion's setting seemed in comparison to be utterly generic fantasy with an unremarkable plot and dull, forgettable characters. Oblivion's narrative had neither the expansive and intricate backstory of Morrowind, nor the well-developed and layered characters of Dragon Age. The result was an utterly uninspired story. You got to know a world in Oblivion, yes. But it was like getting to know your husband/wife of forty years. Been there, done that. Seen it all before.

Note, that I don't think Oblivion itself was bad - just this one aspect. In terms of technology, gameplay, and sheer expansiveness of its world, Oblivion should still be considered the top of the top in its sub-genre of RPG.

Standing stones in Skyrim will impart special benefits to various skills.
With that tedious and overlong introduction done, I finally come to the point of this post. What will Skyrim do to address these concerns? Most other gaming sites seem to have conceded that the story aspect of the Elder Scrolls series is unworthy of note; the emphasis in most previews I have read has been decidedly focused on gameplay. That's fine; Elder Scrolls' massive worlds and unique gameplay are after all the major selling points of the series. Still, for a gamer who enjoys games primarily for their story content, what is there to expect?

Well, Skyrim is set in a brand new location, the home of the Nords. In terms of real world correlations, Nords are essentially fantasy Vikings. They make their homes in snow-covered plains that are broken apart by frost-covered crags and frozen tundra. This is a welcome change from the generic forests and medieval cities of Oblivion. As for the actual lore and backstory, we'll have to see when the game releases, but what's been shown so far seems to hit closer to Oblivion than it does Morrowind.

We can visit everything you see here, from Skyrim. Maybe not the clouds I'm guessing. Or can we?
As for plot, very little has been revealed. Apart from the fact that for some reason, dragons are trying to destroy the world, and your character is the fated hero chosen by destiny to defeat them and save the realm. Generic? Yes. Can it be done well? Again, guess we'll have to see.

Finally, Bethesda has not made a big deal out of its NPC characters. This isn't surprising, considering Skyrim's predecessors. There's supposed to be a new NPC AI system which is supposedly pretty revolutionary in terms of giving all the thousands of NPCs their own schedules. Gameplay wise, this sounds great. Story-wise, not so much. Quantity can't make up for lack of quality in terms of developing memorable characters to interact with. If every non-player character in the game has their own schedule, but none of them has any personality, that's big minus points in my book.

Dragons are an integral part of Skyrim's lore. Also, expect to kill a lot of them.
So, in short. Looks like Skyrim's not going to satisfy any narrative cravings. I look forward to being proven wrong, but I won't go so far as to hope for it.

That said, I still plan on fully enjoying this game. Despite Oblivion's lackluster storyline, I still found its massively open world absorbing and engrossing. Fans of the Elder Scrolls series often claim to forgo the main plotline entirely, choosing to carve out their own story and make their own mark in the Elder Scrolls universe. From what we've seen of Bethesda's latest RPG so far, there's no reason to think we can't do the same in Skyrim.

It's not an Elder Scrolls game if there's not a weird zombie skeleton all up in your grill.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim releases on November 11, 2011 on PC (via Steam), Xbox 360 and PS3.

Check out my review of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion here (please note that this was done on my old 5-point review system, which has since been discarded) and then catch some of the latest footage of the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, plus the live-action trailer below!


Latest Gameplay Footage, via G4TV


Live Action Trailer!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spotlight - Movie Love

Something short and sweet for a monday morning. Maybe not that short. Sometimes not that sweet. Probably not sfw (there is some cussing. Though I suppose it's naive to say that would really bother any of you that much).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Spotlight - Dragon Age: Redemption

Felicia Day's newest web-series set in the Dragon Age universe is out! Check out Redemption, which stars Day as the elven assassin Tallis.


I was a little worried that Day wouldn't be able to break out of her "Codex" role from her other series, The Guild, but she does an admirable job here in the first episode, setting Tallis apart (as a confident and somewhat snarky elf) from her other roles.

The way the Qunari are depicted does bug me a little though. I'm not sure if it's the costume or the acting, but they don't give off the same presence as they have in the game - there's not that sense of intimidation in their first appearance. We'll see if the series can overcome this.

Dragon Age's newest story-based DLC is also out today, which conveniently enough features Tallis as a playable character. Mark of the Assassin  can be picked up for $10.00 or its equivalent Bioware/Microsoft Points value on PC, Xbox360, and the PS3.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Are You Kidding Me? - 9/27/2011

Seriously, you're kidding me. Bethesda, powerhouse developer of "The Elder Scrolls" series, and Mojang AB, developer of the indie mega-hit "Minecraft" have been unable to come to an amiable agreement over Mojang's new game "Scrolls." Bethesda's legal team is apparently insisting that because the developer trademarked "The Elder Scrolls," ... they also have a trademark on the word "Scrolls," and is taking legal action against Mojang.

... seriously?!

The fact that this has not gone away yet is ridiculous on its face. Bethesda is not making a good name for itself with this lawsuit. By their logic, because they have a trademark on "The Elder Scrolls," no other game developer should be able to use "The" in their game titles either.

Seriously.

See Gamespot's news story for more details.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Spotlight - The Benefits of Gaming

Via my friend, Gamers have apparently helped scientists to achieve a significant research breakthrough in the struggle to cure AIDS. Read the full article for all the details, but apparently a group of gamers playing Foldit was able to decrypt the structure of an AIDS-like virus' enzyme in three weeks, something that has held scientists back for nearly a decade.

It's always exciting to hear stuff like this, because it validates one of my favorite hobbies. Kids, next time your mom tells you to put away the video games, just tell her that you're working on a cure for all the world's diseases. ;)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Spotlight - Five Things 'Heroes' Did Wrong

Remember that show called Heroes? It ran from 2006 - 2010 on NBC, and was sort of a X-men for the modern age and on television? It was widely acclaimed during most of its first season, but started to go downhill in quality from the first season finale? Critical ratings - and soon after, viewership - tapered off into a spiraling disaster that resulted in the show's cancellation after four seasons?

It's a little bit late (all right, a lot late), but here's an analysis of what went wrong in the series.

1. Characters meant to last only one season were dragged on for three more.

Did you know that Tim Kring, the creator and executive producer of the show, had originally intended for the bulk of the first season's main cast to be replaced by the end of the first season? His original vision was actually to have the show feature a rotating cast each season. This became painfully obvious as early as the second season. Character development for characters that were only intended for one season's worth of stories either became ground to a halt, or involved 180 degree flips in personality.

Case in point #1: how many times did we as viewers have to see Claire and her dad work out the same tired old issues?

Case in point #2: Could Sylar have gone from bad to good to bad to good any more times?

2. The Powers. Oh Lord, the powers.

From the very beginning I was hesitant about the inconsistent and seemingly random assortment of powers possessed by the protagonists. Fortunately, for one season I was pleasantly surprised at how well the writers were able to weave these over-the-top abilities into compelling storylines. That one season was about as much as we could hope for. From Time Travel to Freezing Time to Power Mimicry to Power Stealing ... the sheer strength of these powers forced the show's writers into tight corners from which they could only struggle to dig themselves out of.

I was especially peeved with time travel/freezing time being one of the most-commonly used powers. Time travel itself is already a difficult subject matter to write convincingly, which is why I'm guessing shows often do it only as standalone "what if?" episodes. The Fact that one of Heroes' main characters had the ability to time travel only ended up forcing the writers to either explain why he couldn't use the ability as a Deux Ex Machina to resolve any and all conflict on the show, OR (and sadly this was the direction they chose) to send him on ridiculously convoluted plots to get him out of the way.


3. Plots were abandoned with ... reckless abandon.

So ... remember in the second season, how Peter hooked up with that Irish chick? Remember how Peter accidentally time-traveled (UGH!) them both to the future. And then remember how he LEFT HER THERE WITH NO WAY OF GETTING BACK?

Yeah, how did that get resolved again? Oh. Right. It didn't. Ever.

And did Peter feel bad about leaving his romance in scary future time? Not according to the following seasons. He seemed to have conveniently forgotten that she even existed.


4. Heroes was a comic-book trying to be a television show. But some things that might fly in comic-book storytelling just don't work on TV.

I'll say this once: when you have to turn to a magical potion and Eclipses to explain how people acquire powers ... something is seriously wrong in your story. Seriously, I wouldn't buy this even in a comic book.


5. Broken Promises

The worst thing about Heroes was that it actually managed to be good for a whole season. Compelling plots, excellent pacing, and strong character development marked the first twenty-two episodes, and convinced me that maybe this show was worth watching. Three seasons later, I feel like I've been misled. Deceived. Like I went to a Chinese supermarket to buy quality Asian ramen, only to find that the inside of the box was filled with Maruchan brand cup noodle.

After the first season, the show became quickly known for its utter lack of focus. Characters were constantly forced into out of character situations. Plots were lackluster, either petering out before any resolution, or just unsatisfying in general. While Heroes was sparkling with promise in its first season, unfortunately, the show just never lived up to that promise.

Here's to hoping Tim Kring's next venture Touch, about a father whose autistic child can predict the future, does better. Even starring Kiefer Sutherland, however, this new show seems to not have much promise at all.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hi Seeshu!

One of my closest friends, seeshu, has agreed to contribute to this blog! As a gamer and a girl (yes, they exist), seeshu will occasionally provide her unique and thoughtful perspective on current media. Say hi, everybody!

The Attractiveness of Video Game Geeks

Friends who want to set me up always ask me what I look for in a guy. Usually, my first response is simple: I want to date somebody who plays video games.

In fact, my dating track record is relatively one-note. I tend to gel better with dudes that are both extremely geeky, tech-oriented, and know what "Chrono Trigger" is. To be honest, I'm a little hard pressed to come up with an eloquent explanation of why I love dorky boys. And, especially why I have an affinity for boys that can play games well. There's your average gaming geek, then there's the gaming geek that you are simply in awe of when they fly into action on their Xbox 360 consoles.

I may possess a passion for games, but I am nowhere near even the lowest-level of competency when it comes to shooting games. I attribute my own lack of skills with the reason why I find my boyfriend's "Call of Duty" skills so, well, adorable.

He can do things with a tomahawk that I can only dream of doing. Sometimes when I watch him play I realize I am poised in slack-jawed awe of him back-stabbing his enemies, shooting someone from afar, or using a bow-and-arrow to completely humiliate his opponent.

Some may find this a bit perverse or strange. But, to me, I find it inexplicably attractive. Maybe it's true that women love the macho man, and since I'm into gaming my version of "macho man" has translated itself into "man who plays Call of Duty well."

But, as to why I find gaming attractive in the first place? It probably has to do with my own personal view of the business of video games in the first place. As someone who has been forced to "grow up" relatively early on, holding onto video games reminds me of a lot of things. In particular, it reminds me of nostalgic memories of my childhood. Back then, the perfect afternoon was a lazy lunch of macaroni and cheese, followed by a few hours on the SNES with my older brother.

When I recall my best childhood memories, many of them revolve around games. I nearly cried when playing Final Fantasy 7. I learned how to code in HTML so that I could create my own Final Fantasy III walkthrough. My brother and I played Street Fighter 2 and countless other games together.

To me, someone who plays video games tugs at my heartstrings in the most fundamental way possible. It makes me think that this person is not only someone I can relate to, but is someone that is just like me: they're retaining part of their innocence, and their child-like imagination. After all, that's what video games essentially are. You suspend your belief for a brief few hours so you can be transported to a different world. A world where you're a hero and a world where your actions can impact the world.

What girl doesn't want to be with a hero?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bastion Official Soundtrack Now Available!


Bastion, which I have lauded multiple times in the past few weeks, has officially been released on the PC. This version features mappable key-bindings, gamepad support, and a higher resolution than its Xbox Live Arcade counterpart. The core game remains the same though, so for those of you who don't have an Xbox360, I highly recommend you download this great game for your computer. Download via Steam (you'll need to sign up for a free account if you haven't done so already).

In addition to the PC release, Supergiant Games has also released the official soundtrack for Bastion (which was definitely part of the reason the game was so great). Composed by Darren Korb, the full soundtrack features 22 songs, 2 of which have not been heard before. Get it here for $10 digital download or $15 for a compact CD.

As an added bonus, for a limited time, Supergiant Games is offering a bundle deal to get both the digital game and the digital soundtrack at a 20% discount.

Check out my full review of the XBLA version here.


Monday, August 08, 2011

Spotlight - The Dark Knight Rises Trailer

It's a little bit late, but check out the teaser for Chris Nolan's conclusion to his Batman reboot.

And then, for your amusement:

Friday, August 05, 2011

Are You Kidding Me? - 8/5/2011

Bethesda is apparently aiming to be known as the game developer company where you can be involved in lawsuits. Via gamebanshee, Minecraft Creator Mojang AB has received a 15-page letter from the Fallout and Elder Scrolls developer, which alleges that Mojang AB's new game "Scrolls" infringes the copyright of the "Elder Scrolls" property.

Mm. Frivolous much? Somehow I'm getting the impression that the lawyers over at Bethesda are underworked and overpaid.

Bethesda has also been engaged in a legal tug-of-war with Interplay over the development of a potential Fallout MMO.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Preview - Futurama "Mobius Dick" 8/4/2011

Apologies for last week's preview video of Futurama; I don't think it had anything at all to do with the episode! I'm pretty sure this one is the right one for this week, though: Leela becomes obsessed with tracking down an albino space whale. Check out the teaser below and then tune in tonight!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Review - Dragon Age: Legacy

Let's cut to the chase. If you played Dragon Age 2 then you either hated its guts or liked it - with the exception of a few specific problems. There's no denying that the game had its missteps, the most egregious of them being the atrocious amount of map-recycling and the tedious "wave" combat mechanic that turned every battle into one of attrition rather than tactics. I lay out most of the flaws (while not forgetting that the game had its highlights as well) in my review from a few months back, but this post isn't meant to rehash these old criticisms of Dragon Age 2. This is a review of its first story-based downloadable add-on, entitled Legacy.



So I'm happy to report that Legacy has - thankfully - avoided these two monumental design errors of its parent game. The DLC features a brand new area to explore outside of Kirkwall. Your adventure brings you to a Grey Warden prison in the Vimmark mountains, an area which turns out to be darkspawn-infested fortress. The dungeons - while not mindblowing - are a refreshing change of pace from exploring the carbon copy cutouts that were Dragon Age 2's map designs. The atmosphere is suitably sinister, and the DLC brings a healthy dose of interesting story content to boot. An ancient darkspawn is breaking free of its chains, and as you delve deeper into the depths of the prison, you uncover startling secrets concerning the nature of this threat. The story is engaging, and some endgame revelations are quite satisfying.

While you're spelunking through foreboding caverns and ancient halls, you'll encounter both old and new enemies. As usual, it's up to you and your gang of ragtag misfits to put these beasts down. Enemies no longer assault in monotonous waves, and tactics do play a more crucial role in the game, especially on the harder difficulties. Still, while the "Wave" mechanic is gone, the DLC doesn't quite perfect the combat formula. On normal difficulty, the enemies seem too easy to overcome, while on the hard difficulty, they seem just a bit too hard. It was particularly annoying to find that the game had spawned multiple encounters that featured a dozen archer mobs, all of them shooting painfully accurate arrows into your pincushiony body. The final bossfight - while epic in theme - is at times grating as well, requiring you to perform several monotonous tasks over and over in order to advance the battle.



Thankfully, combat isn't all that there is to do within the add-on. Some puzzle minigames and some new loot round off the DLC and provide a fun diversion from the inconsistent combat. Of particular note is the additional armor set you'll unlock only through Legacy, and the new weapon you obtain through the course of your adventure is upgradable with some new effects that I haven't seen on any other weapon.

All of this amounts to about 3-4 hours of additional playtime. The pricetag for such an adventure seems a bit high at $10.00, but if you have the cash and enjoy the world, I would still recommend checking it out. Bring your in-game sibling along if you can, and while you can technically do the quest at any point in the game, I would recommend waiting until at least Act 3; the epilogue will really jerk at those heartstrings then.

Dragon Age: Legacy is available on Xbox Live Marketplace, PSN, and PC.


Recommended For:
+ Dragon Age 2 Fans
+ Fans of Dragon Age Lore
+ RPG enthusiasts itching for a quick fix


Not Recommended For:
- Dragon Age 2 Haters
- People expecting Legacy to solve all the problems of Dragon Age 2

Monday, August 01, 2011

Last Month's Wallpaper

Another great work from www.dizorb.com. Check out a HD version below.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Review - Bastion


Overview

I've blogged a bit about Supergiant Games' Bastion previously, and discussed most of its most prominent features; for those who still don't know much about this Xbox Live Arcade downloadable, well, let's just say it's an action RPG infused with style, atmosphere, and just enough poignancy to make the trip feel worth both your time and your hard-earned dollar. If there is only one XBLA downloadable game you get this year, you can bet Bastion should be one of your top choices.

Story

The game is set in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world, brought to its knees by what's referred to as "the Calamity." Your character, "the Kid" must navigate through a world filled with crumbling infrastructure and hostile humans and monsters alike. Along the way, you pick up remnants of the old world and unlock levels that provide you with a backstory to the Calamity's survivors. Between each level, you return to your home base, called the Bastion, a sanctuary of sorts that houses its own unique mystery.

Hope the kid doesn't roll around while he sleeps...
The story isn't told through cutscenes or cinematic movies; rather, your tale is told through the haunting baritone of a mysterious narrator that you meet within the game. It's a unique concept, and while there was a potential for this gimmick to become annoying rather than enlightening, Supergiant Games has done a truly stellar job in its implementation of the narration. The narrator will comment on almost everything you do, much of it to sarcastic and witty effect. Falling off ledges, slaughtering enemies, just pounding the destructible environment, and main plot events are all told to you with dramatic bravado. Even better, the story is integrated almost seamlessly into the gameplay; you'll never be forced to slog through long-winded paragraphs of tiny text.

Gameplay

Bastion is an action-RPG, a rarity on the XBLA market. You control the "Kid" throughout the entire game, stabbing, shooting, flame-throwering, or blasting the multitude of enemies that appear to impede your path. You're also equipped with a shield that -if timed correctly- allows you to counter attacks. When you're surrounded, the Kid can perform a handy somersault to leap out of harm's way, or use a special skill activated by the right trigger that generally does damage in a wide radius. The controls are smooth for the most part (though some of the ranged attacks are hard to target and the auto-lock on feature leaves a little to be desired). Along the way, you'll gain experience and collect spirits with which you can upgrade your arsenal of weapons. Level ups provide passive bonuses that afford you such improvements as additional potion slots, or increase your critical chance or damage.

Dogs may be man's best friend, but this shield is definitely the Kid's.
Your weapon selection is one of the best parts of Bastion. The game features around a dozen unique weapons - each that plays distinctly from the others. Unfortunately, you can only hold two weapons at a time, and when you discover a new weapon, one of your selections is automatically overridden with the new item. Still, this is a minor annoyance at worst. It's fun to experiment with all the different types of weapons. On top of that, as you progress through the game, unlockable challenges for each weapon also become available, rewarding you with different bonuses depending on your performance with said weapon.

I found the game to host just the right amount of challenge - not so hard that you feel frustrated for dying, but not so easy that your accomplishments don't feel satisfying either. When you successfully clear a mission or attain the high score on one of the weapon challenge levels, you'll know that it was your skill and perseverance that paid off, rather than simple button mashing. If this level of challenge is still too easy for your liking, however, you'll find that the game integrates additional difficulties smoothly into the actual game. During the story mode you'll eventually gain access to a Shrine within the Bastion, and by invoking the collectible totems of different deities, you can ease or ramp up the difficulty to your liking. Different totems have different effects (such as increased health for enemies, enemies that do more damage, or causing enemies to explode upon death). With each invocation, you also increase your XP rewards; just be careful you don't kill yourself. I learned it the hard way not to invoke too many totems at the same time.

Slash people to ribbons with the Kid's machete ...

There's also a treat for players who beat the game; completing the final mission gives you access to the coveted "New Game+" mode, allowing you to carryover experience, weapon upgrades, and unlocked items, easily making the game quite replayable.

Graphics & Sound

Despite its cartoonish theme, Bastion features some of the most gorgeously drawn sprites and backdrops I've seen. Style permeates the entire game, and the environments feel organic thanks to some nice particle effects and just a generally high level of detail and polish. The animations are not always the most sophisticated, but that doesn't prevent the gameplay from being fun, and in no way detracts from the astounding level of atmosphere.

... or blast them to smithereens with his shotgun!

Working in tandem with the art style, the sound quality is undeniably impressive. The narrator was well cast, his voice work some of the best I have heard in any game, let alone on XBLA. Ambient sound and music all serve to further draw you into the game's post-apocalyptic realm, simultaneously bringing you a sense of wonder and danger. The soundtrack is phenomenal. If Supergiant Games releases it, I would not hesitate to pick it up. The three tracks with vocals are particularly poignant.

Final Thoughts

Bastion is Supergiant Games' first release ever, but if its any indication of this fledgling developer's work quality, we can expect some great things in the future. Bastion is an action-RPG that does not disappoint in any sense, and the 10+ hours you can spend on the game is well worth its pricetag of 1200 Microsoft Points. Get it! Play it! Love it!

Recommended For:
+ Action RPG fans
+ Fans of games with style
+ Fans of immersive, story-based games
+ Anybody with an Xbox360


Not Recommended For:
- People with no souls.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Preview - Futurama "All The Presidents' Heads" 7-28-2011

Good news everyone! Futurama has been renewed by Comedy Central for an additional 2 seasons. That means we'll be seeing Fry, Leela, Bender and the rest of the gang through at least 2013. As the Professor would say, "huzzah!"

Check out what I can only assume is a preview of tonight's episode, which apparently sends our characters back to the American Revolutionary War. Should we expect some ribbing at Sarah Palin's notorious statements concerning Paul Revere? Tune in tonight and find out!

FuturamaThursdays 10/9c
Sneak Peek - Inside-Out Bender
www.comedycentral.com
Comedy CentralFunny TV ShowsRoast of Charlie Sheen

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Spotlight - From Dust


Found this interesting XBLA downloadable game recently, and I think it deserves a look. In the vein of Black & White and Populous, From Dust puts the player in the role of a terraforming deity. The world is still primitive and relatively untouched by civilization. Your worshipers are beset by natural disasters: floods, volcanos and rampant wildfires threaten their very existence. It's up to you - using your ability to mold the world around you - to lead them to safety.

For being a downloadable arcade game, From Dust displays some impressive technical muscles; I've never seen an arcade game with such fluid 3D animations and physics engine. As a deity, your main tasks will be absorbing elements of the earth around you (water, dirt, and lava are among your basic options), and then combine them with the natural world to allow your worshipers safe passage. For example, if your tribal devotees are blocked by a river, you can drop a mass of dirt onto the water, making a natural bridge for your people to cross. Pour lava onto a mountain and you can watch it roll down in terrifying waves, even as it hardens to form solid rock. Creating floods and even parting the seas a la Moses are evidently all possible through the game as well.



From Dust is available today, July 27, 2011 on the Xbox360. A PC version is in the works for later this year. Early reviews have praised the game's graphics and concept, while criticizing somewhat clunky controls and the AI pathfinding. Still, it seems like the game continues a streak of impressive Live Arcade additions to the 360 repertoire.

Check out the trailer, after the jump.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Review - Captain America: The First Avenger (Warning: Spoilers)

Beware: the following review contains spoilers.

Captain America: The First Avenger succeeds more as a two-hour prequel for things to come than it does as a standalone film. It features an abundance of over-the-top action sequences, a series of convoluted plans that test the limits of your disbelief suspension, and a tacked-on romance that very much feels like it was added just so the producers of the film could claim to potential female movie-goers "hey, we have smoochies along with the punches!"

Monday, July 25, 2011

WTWOF - The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra

Legend of Korra, the spinoff to the 2005 nickelodeon hit Avatar: the Last Airbender has arrived at Comic-Con with a brand new trailer. So far, this new show seems to capture the essence of its predecessor tv-show, something M. Night Shyamalan's movie adaptation unfortunately failed to do. It looks like we can expect all the fluidly animated combat, flashy elemental "bending" and that special touch of quirky humor fans of the original show have come to expect.

Check out the trailer below! Legend of Korra is due out in 2012, so there's still a ways to go before we can immerse ourselves in this wonderful world.


Avatar: The Last Airbender
Get More: Avatar Episodes,Avatar,Avatar Games

Friday, July 22, 2011

What To Watch Out For - Ringer

So, remember Sarah Michelle Gellar? She was Buffy the Vampire Slayer until she went on to star in a bunch of generally ill-received horror movies and indie films that no one knew about? Well, she's making a return to TV this fall on the CW's Ringer.

Ringer tells the story of ... well, the tComic-Con trailer can probably summarize the plot better than I can. Check it out below!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Preview - Futurama "Yo Leela Leela" 7/21/2011

Tonight's Futurama: Leela becomes a Hollywood bigshot after creating a successful new TV series. Check out the preview below!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

First Impressions - Bastion

I've played through the first few minutes of Bastion and the game - so far - does not disappoint. This XBLA downloadable plays smoothly, offers a fair amount of customization, and has been decently challenging. Beyond those gameplay elements, the game boasts a mesmerizing atmosphere that is rooted upon a beautiful aesthetic style, and the mysterious narrator who comments on almost everything you do - at least when you do it the first time. The first time I fell over the side, he jibed, "and then, he fell to his death. Just kidding." Thankfully, he doesn't say it every time I fall to a gravity-based death, or I might find his presence grating rather than atmospheric.


I am impressed. Expect a full review once I have completed the game. See the launch trailer released a few days ago, and check out a nice wallpaper provided by Supergiant Games on their website, after the jump.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Review - A Dance with Dragons (No Spoilers)

It's been six long years since George R.R. Martin's last entry in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. Since that time, he has been the subject of much speculation, both positive and negative. The HBO adaptation of A Game of Thrones certainly helped to thrust the author into the limelight and most certainly helped to broaden his already large readership. It's probably no coincidence that his publisher chose to release the novel soon after the conclusion of the first season of the show. However, through all of this success there have been whispers of uncertainty; people began to suspect that Martin was losing steam, growing tired of writing the series. Doubt was forming - doubt that Martin would be able to wrap up his truly tangled web of intricate storylines.

A Dance with Dragons will not alleviate any of that doubt.

What the fifth novel in the series will do, however, is to continue Martin's tradition of rich prose and stylized writing. Martin weaves a truly breath-taking and vivid world, complete with social, political, economic, and religious undertones that has carried over from his first four books. Westeros and its world are a truly captivating canvas, and Martin paints details to life with the artistry of a master. Fan-favorite characters have returned after an extended wait: we see Tyrion, Danaerys, Jon Snow, and Bran all pick up their stories where we last them, almost 10 years ago. It's good to see these characters back in the novel, especially after A Feast for Crows introduced a slew of new ones that were difficult to relate to.

In terms of pacing, however, A Dance with Dragons seems to fumble in comparison to its predecessors. A lot of time is spent traveling by many different characters, all of them trying to reach places that they inevitably fail to reach. As I read chapter after chapter, I began to wonder - as I did in A Feast for Crows - if perhaps all of these chapters were really necessary. It seemed at times that page after page would pass by without either progression of the plot, or any significant character revelations. Instead, characters would march towards Mereen, or sail towards Mereen. And yet barely anybody actually reaches Mereen. In between all the marching, characters spend a lot of time composing inner monologues commenting on how they're reminded of other places, and new places, or old tales that seem like they ultimately have no bearing on the actual story; while some of these are interesting, they do seem to fluff out a book that seems too long to begin with.

Dance - similar to Feast - is also overly burdened with too many POV characters. For those of you familiar with Martin's series, POV is Point of View. Basically, each chapter is written from one out of as many as 16 perspectives. It's a necessary evil, I suppose, that Martin has been continuously adding perspectives; it's necessary because major POV characters are killed off in almost every novel. However, in A Dance with Dragons, it has become increasingly difficult to care about these new characters' perspectives, and I wonder - again - if they are truly necessary. 

Most stories do encounter a lull at some point, where progression and pacing seem to taper off for a bit. Perhaps A Dance with Dragons is just that - a necessary tedium that sets up the final two novels in the series. Ironically, Dance left me both wanting more and wishing Martin's editors had done a more generous job with their edits. The novel is not as strong as the first three novels, but for any fans of Martin's previous works, it is still a must-read.

Recommended For:
- George R.R. Martin Fans
- Readers invested into the Song of Ice and Fire series
- Historical Fantasy Fans
- Fans of San Guo (Romance of the Three Kingdoms - you know who you are)

Not Recommended For:
- Readers who have given up on the series - Dance will not change your mind.
- Impatient readers - you will most likely not be able to speed read through this novel
- People who think George R.R. Martin is going to die before he can finish the series.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Spotlight - The part you all missed after Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Ever wondered what happened in those 19 years between Harry defeating Voldemort and him sending his kids off to Hogwarts?

Take a look. It's disturbingly hilarious.


Follow that up with this behind the scenes look at the dangers of casting spells!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Review - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Ostensibly, a movie review is supposed to provide some input to its readers about whether or not to go see a particular movie. Considering Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the finale to a ten-year film franchise, I think I can safely say that most everybody has already decided whether they're going to watch this film or not. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say it's doubtful that any review would be able to persuade you to or dissuade you from seeing this film at this point.

Happy Friday Everybody!

Seeing Harry Potter in 2 hours. Expect a review this afternoon. Hope you guys have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Preview: Futurama "Silence of the Clamps" 7/14/2011

Catch a preview of tonight's Futurama when Bender is forced to go into a witness relocation program after testifying against the Robot Mafia.

Also, can I just say last week's episode "Law & Oracle" was definitely the season's best yet? The episode spoofed a whole bunch of movies and shows: Law & Order, Minority Report, Tron. Plus, I'm just a sucker for twist endings.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

First Impressions - A Dance With Dragons

While several sources have already released reviews for the fifth book of A Song of Ice and Fire, I'm still slowly chugging away at the monster. This is a busy week for me, so I probably won't get a chance to even finish the book this week, much less review it, but I am slowly tackling it. I can offer a brief first impression of what I've read so far, however. Beware: there are some very light spoilers in terms of the novel's structure below, but I won't reveal any plot points yet.

As most fans of the series probably know already, A Dance with Dragons is kind of an interesting book. Rather than being a direct sequel to the fourth novel A Feast with Crows, the timeline actually runs concurrent to the events in Feast, at least for a major portion of Dance. The decision to set up these two books this way came about when George R R Martin was working on a Feast with Crows and discovered it was rapidly becoming much too large and unwieldy than he intended. He did not wish to simply cut his product in half, however, feeling that would have been a tacky and pandering resolution to his problem.

Thus, he reached a decision to split the book by location - A Feast with Crows would contain mainly the stories of the characters located in the South. The characters in the North and across the sea would have to wait with A Dance with Dragons.This decision was a controversial one, and has resulted in Feast being the lowest rated of all of the books on amazon.com - undoubtedly due to the fact that Feast with Crows contained mostly the perspectives of new, unfamiliar characters, or characters that simply did not resonate as well as previous ones did.

Well, all the characters that we missed from Feast are back in full force, and they're just where we left them (almost 10 years ago now). Martin's style remains strong; while the novel is not Harry Potter in that you can not read everything at breakneck speed, if you take the time to sit down and absorb the details and appreciate just how much care Martin has put into his words, you'll get that much more out of the experience.

One thing to note: it looks like that the timelines eventually do catch up in the middle of A Dance with Dragons, not at the end. There are certain characters' chapters that appear towards the end of the novel, who also appeared in Feast. I will say that this particular point irks me a little. Why bother separating the books the way he did, if Feast characters are going to appear in Dance? A bit arbitrary, methinks.

I am enjoying the novel so far. Expect a full review towards the end of next week.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What to Watch Out For: Damages, Season 4 Premiere July 13, 2011


Missed this in last friday's spotlight, but after a long hiatus, the critically acclaimed legal thriller "Damages" starring Glenn Close and Rose Byrne returns to television this week. The first season of this show was one of the best things to happen to TV, showcasing the darkest depths of the lawyer's profession, and weaving a convincing plot about what one is willing to do to achieve one's goals. The later seasons waned in quality, in part because of an over-reliance on a now-cumbersome "flashback" gimmick, and ratings slipped so much that this original TNT drama was facing cancellation in 2010. DirecTV came in with a last-minute save though.


Damages tells the story of recent law-graduate Ellen Parsons (played by Rose Byrnes - she seems to be in everything nowadays) and her ruthless, cut-throat mentor Patty Hewes (Glenn Close), an attorney infamous for getting her way no matter the cost. The first season succeeded in part because it was a fascinating to watch Ellen follow in Patty's footsteps, transforming from a idealistic law student into a frightening "whatever-it-takes" kind of attorney herself. Seasons 2 and 3 retain the strong character portrayals and development, but unfortunately weren't able to capture the same feel of a tightly-knit plot.

Season Four will feature a reduced episode count (10, compared to the 13 episodes from the first three seasons). Hopefully this will help keep the writers on a tight budget, and reduce the amount of filler scenes. The central plot involves private military contractors in Afghanistan. Check out a trailer below, and tune in to DirecTV on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 for the season premiere.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Friday, July 08, 2011

Spotlight: Coming Soon to a Media Outlet Near You - July 2011

We're already halfway through 2011 folks ( can you believe it? ) but there doesn't seem to be any shortage of cool new media to entertain yourselves with - at least not in July. We list a few reasons to be look forward to enjoying life this month, after the jump.

On a side note, did you like the blog's background image for June? If so, I've included a 1920 x 1080 wallpaper below - just click on the image and you should get a full-resolution version. I really liked this background because it suggested a lot of action, but still had enough open space so that it wasn't distracting. Find more wallpapers like this one at www.dizorb.com.



Thursday, July 07, 2011

WTWOF: Dragon Age 2 - Legacy DLC (Updated with Trailer)

Bioware has unveiled the first of its story-based DLC, titled "Legacy." The developer has stated that they hope to address at least some of Dragon Age 2's many criticisms with this $10 downloadable content. Given that the engine is probably not going to change for a single DLC, I'm guessing that the camera is not one of the issues that will be addressed. The horribly open-ended way the main game ended will also probably not be resolved, as the DLC can be played through at almost any time during the main storyline.

Possible Characters this could be:
- Bregan from Dragon Age: The Calling
- Papa Hawke (Grandpapa Hawke?)
- A new breed of Darkspawn engineered by the Architect
- Random NPC monster for you to kill

What can be fixed, however, is the annoying "wave" system of enemies and the use of recycled maps. These are the two biggest problems that faced Dragon Age 2, and we'll see if Bioware has been listening to the essentially unanimous condemnation of these two points. It is fitting then, that the Legacy DLC will be the test to see if Bioware can salvage the legacy of the Dragon Age franchise.

Hawke fights an armored Rhino-thingie.
Dragon Age 2: Legacy  features a whole new plotline involving a Grey Warden prison, and a new darkspawn threat. Uncover the secret behind the Hawke legacy along the way. The DLC is due out July 26, 2011 for $10 (and the equivalent amount of Bioware, Microsoft points) on the PC, XBOX360 and PS3. Expect a review shortly after, and see the reveal trailer below.

WTWOF: Digital Ads being Added to ... Reruns?!

You've got to see it to believe it, but apparently networks have stooped to inserting ads into reruns of shows. Check out this link to see for yourself - apparently an advertisement for the Zookeeper was stuck into this rerun of the CBS sitcom "How I Met Your Mother."

Some of us may know that Ted is a horribly unreliable narrator, but would he really lie about the contents of his friend's bookstand?

Preview: Futurama "Law & Oracle" 7/7/2011

In tonight's episode, Futurama spoofs TRON.

Last week's "Ghost in the Machines" was definitely a step back towards the Futurama we all know and remember. Let's hope today's episode will continue that!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Spotlight - XBOX 360's Best RPGs, Part 2

It's interesting how the consoles have treated RPGs. Back in the old days, Playstation and Playstation 2 were definite RPG titans, boasting a seemingly limitless number of titles in the genre. Then, an interesting thing happened around 2007 - 2009. The Xbox 360 - which, if you may remember, the original Xbox was more of an action-oriented console - somehow took over the reigns of the RPG kingdom. With most of the big-name spring and summer RPGs on the Xbox 360 already released, I countdown my top ten favorite role-playing games on the system. See my top five below!


5. Final Fantasy XIII

There's no question FFXIII had many faults: the extreme linearity of both the story and the character progression were in stark contrast to almost all of its recent predecessors. The Crystogen leveling system really gave you no room to differentiate your characters beyond their set path, and it wasn't until near the end of the game where you had any area that you could "explore." Still, despite this, FFXIII still was an enjoyable experience, whose strengths ultimately outweighed its weaknesses. Fluid combat, an innovative battle system, stunning graphics and a great soundtrack kept this RPG from completely abandoning its Finally Fantastic legacy.


4. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

It's a testament to the quality of this game that even after five years, the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion still ranks in the top five. Despite a rather unremarkable main plot, stunning graphics, a truly wide open world to explore, endless number of quests to complete, and a multitude of interesting factions to join make this Elder Scrolls one of the best in the series and one of the best RPGs on the Xbox 360.

3. Tales of Vesperia

Some might say the JRPG genre has grown stale and repetitive, and honestly, Tales of Vesperia doesn't really do much to disprove that. The battle system isn't revolutionized from it's predecessor series, and the story is at times just as nonsensical as most JRPG plots tend to become when translated to english. Still, there's a reason i sank 80+ hours into this game in one playthrough - it is fun. The combat is fluid, and there's no denying the gaming high you get when you succesfully pull off that chain of dozens upon dozens of combos. Stylistic visuals and a charming soundtrack top off an otherwise superior game.


2. Mass Effect

The first Mass Effect was truly revolutionary, and thrust Bioware into the forefront of cinematic storytelling. An epic space opera boasting countless worlds to explore, quests where you determine the outcome, and an array of interesting and deep companion characters made this shooter-RPG the most fun I've ever had on the system. Sure, it had its problems too, most notably the horrifying amount of level recycling used in sidequests and the sheer awfulness of its planet-exploring vehicle, but these are nitpicks at worst. This is a game you simply must play if you have not.


1. Mass Effect 2

A lot of people have argued that Mass Effect strayed too far from its RPG roots in its second iteration. Everything from the leveling system to your equipment and even inventory management had been stripped down significantly. Why then, is it at the top of my Best RPGs on the Xbox 360? Simply put, the game sacrifices these elements to make the entire experience that much better. The combat is fluid, visceral, and you still have a wide and varied amount of classes and abilities to choose from. The storytelling is refined, and the effort that went into it is clearly visible, with the ability to import the decisions you made from the first game. The addition of "conversation interrupts" gave you the sense that Shephard is definitely not someone to mess around with. Gone was the horrible planet exploration and recycled areas (though replaced by a similarly annoying planet-scanning minigame). On top of that, Mass Effect 2 came with the bonus of some of the best DLC out there (Lair of the Shadow Broker anyone?). Some truly poignant moments are waiting for you if you haven't yet had a chance to play this game.

What do you think? What are your favorite 360 RPGs?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Spotlight - XBOX 360's Best RPGs, Part 1

It's interesting how the consoles have treated RPGs. Back in the old days, Playstation and Playstation 2 were definite RPG titans, boasting a seemingly limitless number of titles in the genre. Then, an interesting thing happened around 2007 - 2009. The Xbox 360 - which, if you may remember, the original Xbox was more of an action-oriented console - somehow took over the reigns of the RPG kingdom. With most of the big-name spring and summer RPGs on the Xbox 360 already released, I countdown my top ten favorite role-playing games on the system. See the first five below:

10. Fable 3


The original Fable was one of my favorite games on the original Xbox, a game that managed to fit smooth action-combat with an interesting story, adaptive character development, and that wonderfully quirky sense of humor the series has boasted since its inception. While the combat seems to have become overly simplified and the stories seem to have weakened progressively in each game, Fable 3 at least fixed the multiplayer issues from its predecessor.

9. The Last Remnant


Featuring a unique take on tactical combat in RPGs, the Last Remnant was not well-received by most professional critics during its original release. A slew of graphical and technical problems marred an otherwise interesting story and innovative fight system. Some of the graphical problems were solved by installing the game to your 360 harddrive, but texture pop-in and framerate slowdowns were still commonplace. Add to this, the fact that the game actually punishes you when you "level up" made this game a difficult one to enjoy. And yet, somehow I'm still playing through it now.

8. Eternal Sonata


A stereotypical action-RPG, except the story incorporated the life and music of Frederic Chopin. Eternal Sonata also boasted some of the best cel-shaded graphics and art design on the system at the time of its release. The game captured a sort of musical charm that fans of classical music no doubt enjoyed; all the characters besides chopin were named after some aspect of music, including such oddities as "Allegretto" and "Polka."

7. Star Ocean: The Last Hope


Another JRPG, The Last Hope featured an intense, action-packed and fun-driven real-time combat system which was both fluid and addicting. The only things that dragged the game down was the obtuse storyline and the painful character designs. Seriously, your characters looked like a moving collection of porcelain dolls, which I'm sorry, but no. Just no. No.

6. Marvel Ultimate Alliance


Marvel Ultimate Alliance was a great culmination of the technology and engine that drove the first two X-Men Legend Action-RPG games. MUA featured a large cast of playable and recognizable characters from the Marvel Universe, all of whom had their classic powers and costumes available for use. The story was competent, and the graphics and sound were just fine. Plus points for being able to telekinetically throw your enemies off ledges. Too bad the sequel to this great game oversimplified the character development options.


Check back tomorrow for my top-five Xbox 360 RPGs!

Monday, July 04, 2011

1000 Hits!

Happy Independence Day, and thanks for visiting the site, loyal readers and occasional perusers!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Preview: Tonight's Futurama

It looks like tonight's Futurama will feature Bender "dying" ... and no doubt the wacky hijinks that will ensue in order to return him to robot life.

I have to say I wasn't exactly impressed with the first two episodes of the series last week. Hermes and LaBarbara are fine characters, but to have the season premiere focus be on these two (not that there was much focus at all), is still a little questionable.

There is also a decidedly tangible feeling that the show is trying too hard to be Family Guy - plots are not as tightly written as they were in the series' first run, and depend on too much randomness to move along. This was something that the first half of Season 6 suffered from as well though, at least in the first few episode.s Here's to hoping that the season will pick up!

Check out a preview below. I am debating about whether or not to review individual episodes, or to review entire seasons as I did with Game of Thrones. Whatever I decide ... I'm sure you'll figure out when I post the review. Heh.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Spotlight - Yun and Yang from Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition

Via IGN, comes this interesting character overview of two of the new characters from SSF4: Arcade Edition. Personally I've so far been a big fan of Yun, who's attacks mix strength and speed pretty well. Not that I'm any good at the game mind you.


More Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition Videos

Flip throw for the win, anybody?

What to Watch Out For: Bastion

Today's WTWOF spotlights Bastion, an upcoming XBLA (Xbox360 Live Arcade) action RPG from Supergiant Games. For those of you who were readers of Gamespot before 2006-2007 or so, you might recognize one of the developers on the project: Greg Kasavin. Before he left for Supergiant Games, Greg Kasavin was Gamespot's resident RPG expert, with most of the big-name RPGs going his way for reviews. For the most part, I tended to agree with most everything he said; that hopefully means Bastion will not disappoint.

It's Hammer Time.
 
Bastion stars "The Kid," - and that's pretty much all I know about the main character. The game is set in a gorgeously drawn world ... and that's about as much as I know about the world too. As you can see, a lot of the details for this upcoming downloadable arcade game are still vague, but what we do know is quite intriguing. Among the features the game is touting is a level design that sort of coalesces into place as you progress. Further, every action you take as "The Kid" is narrated in real time by a somewhat snarky narrator, giving your adventure a very humorous storybook feel.

The backdrops are really quite gorgeous.
This seems like a very promising gem for fans of quirky, stylish, action RPGs. Bastion is slated for release July 20, 2011 for XBLA (1200 Microsoft Points) and later on the PC. Check out the Reveal Trailer below!