Friday, June 27, 2008


If you had asked me back in March what I believed my favorite movie from the first half of the summer would be, I would have said I hope Iron Man. Well, I was right. But I would have never thought that Kung Fu Panda would be taking up that second spot. Here are my brief opinions of the latest movies to hit the theaters.

Kung Fu Panda: I went into this one with looooow expectations. It took a big beautiful pair of brown eyes to convince me to see this movie, and boy am I glad that I did. Instead of going with stupid fart jokes and a bunch of childish name calling, Kung Fu Panda is an intelligently written and excellently performed little movie. This movie was written for Jack Black, and the animators captured him perfectly. Nearly everyone brought a great performance, from David Cross's Crane, to James Hong's Mr Ping. A fun movie that no one should overlook.

Get Smart: I had high hopes for Get Smart, between Steve Carrell and the sitcom-heavy writers, and for the most part, the movie delivered. Changing Maxwell Smart from a clumsy goof who accidentally saves the day into an intelligent and cunning agent, who just happens to be a bit accident prone was a smart move in my opinion. The loads of fan service (Bill Murray in a tree as Agent 13, and Bernie Kopell getting hit by a car) and fun action was just the right combination without being too corny. A good time for fans of the series, and a fun movie for anyone else.

The Incredible Hulk: I dunno... I have never been a fan of the Hulk in general, either in comics or TV or movies. I actually liked the first movie, minus the zombie dogs and cloud/lake battle. The best thing I can say about TIH is that I had no complaints. It was a good action movie, with or without the famous lead. The thing is that I STILL do not see Ed Norton as Bruce Banner... A descent movie for actions fans, a nice comic translation, but little to nothing more.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Inner Child Is Not So Inner...

My inner child is on the floor screaming and crying and begging for his parents to buy him something. What do I... I mean what does he want? Looky!

3,800 pieces, $400, and 284582 hours of awesomeness!

Check out more at Gizmodo by CLICKING HERE!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Point, Activision...

Activision just sold me on Guitar Hero: World Tour with a single word. That word? Everlong.

Everlong is quite possibly my favorite song of all time, and GHWT will feature said song. When it was announced that you could make your own tracks, the first song I thought of was Everlong. Oh, IGN revealed a butt load of other new features like character creations and the new touch sensitive guitar as well in their preview which you can, and should, read by CLICKING HERE!

Now the only question is where I will store 2 freakin drum kits....

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Video Games Live...

7pm on a Saturday here in Las Vegas. As I get out of the car, I check the temperature on the dashboard. 110 degrees. The sun is setting on the other end of the amphitheater making me squint, and the 5 lines are at least 50 people deep to get in the doors. I see Pac-Man t shirts, some dudes dressed up like Dr. Mario, lots of dudes in camo with toy guns, and more Mario and Zelda shirts, hats and costumes than at a Hot Topic stock room. Why have all us nerdy folk gathered in such blistering heat? To attend the Video Games Live concert of course!

Started in July 2005 by game composers Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall, the first concert had 11,000 people show up in Hollywood to watch the LA philharmonic perform live versions of popular game music. This year, there will be over 50 performances by local orchestras, headed by Tallarico (as MC and guitar player) and Wall (conductor and hype man). The show has turned into a celebration of the gaming world, and while the main focus of the show is the music, so much more takes place.

Before the show started, the audience judged a cosplay contest, while others competed for high scores in Space Ivaders and Guitar Hero 3 outside of the auditorium. During the show, a Frogger competition took place while the orchestra played live, changing the music depending on the gameplay. One lucky winner (see picture below) got to wear a Space Invaders tshirt, and run across the stage trying to clear the first level using his body. Voice actor extraordinaire Dee Baker not only proved to us he IS Olmec, but did a live recording as one of the berserkers from Gears of War. A meet and greet afterwards allowed us to meet many of the former Westwood Studios employees, most now with Petroglyph, along with almost everyone mentioned above, from Tallarico and Wall, to Dee Baker and the stunning and sweet as sugar Becky Young.

What about the music you ask? The show started with a bang with a medely of classic game music, including games like Tetris, Frogger, Ghosts n Goblins, Dragons Lair, Donkey Kong, Gauntlet and others. A video from Hideo Kojima introduced the music from Metal Gear Solid, Koji Kondo introduced music from the Mario and Zelda series, and David Jaffe brought us God of War. Moving pieces from Medal of Honor and Civilization put a hush over the crowd. Web famous Martin Leung performed a medly of Uematsu piano pieces from the Final Fantasy series, and even performed the original Mario theme blind folded. Frank Klepacki rocked out with his Command and Conquer theme. They even premiered a track from Starcraft 2, a game that is not out yet, so this is the first time this music has been heard. And, of course, to close the show, the big tracks from Halo, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy VII (ONE-WINGED ANGEL FTW!) and Castlevania brought the audience to their feet.

When you think of a show being performed by an orchestra, you don't really expect the crowd to be shouting, hollering and laughing during the performance. Video Games Live brought together a group of people in a unique environment that was easily one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life. If this show comes to your town, you need to go and witness it for yourself. Words cannot adequately describe the atmosphere and fun that this simple premise has produced. Whether it is Tommy Tallarico's LED Pong shirt, the crowd shouting out "KINGDOM HEARTS" after TT asked who liked Disney and Square (they played the orchestral Hikari theme of course, which, amazingly enough, you can see RIGHT HERE!) or the general social nature of the crowd, everyone who goes to see Video Games Live will leave with a sense of whimsy and delight, and rush home to pop in their favorite game, although maybe just to listen to it for a while.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thank Goodness There Is No Insurance Mini-Game...

It has happened. GTA4 (Grand Theft Auto 4, for those of you cave dwelling folk (which, if in a cave, how on earth do you have a computer and internet?)) has finally sunk it's teeth into me. I am about 15 hours into the game, and officially loving every minute of it. Want to get an idea of the fun I am having? Here is what I did just in the last hour of gameplay.

I drove an SUV from Bohan (Queens) into Algonquin (Manhattan) and bought some body armor and uzi ammo. I bumped into an old friend from the boat over to the US selling hand bags, and drove him over to get some money from a guy who owed him. The dude took off, and we hunted him down in a high speed chase, and got the money back. With some new cash, I bought a stylish new shirt, fancy jeans and brown loafers. I walked across the street into a car dealership, went upstairs, got into the seat of a Ferrari, drove it directly out of the 2nd story window and onto the streets. With my new speed machine, it took mere seconds to escape the pursuing cops. I drove into Times Square and jumped off of a conveniently placed dumpster over half of the plaza. With my car pretty much totaled now, I got off and walked down to the lower east side, and took a helicopter tour of the city. Once the tour was complete, I ripped the pilot out of his seat, and took my new toy for some joy riding under several of the cities bridges. After catching the attention of the cops and getting a full 6-star wanted level, I flew back Bohan, with police copters on my tail, and cop cars directly under me. I landed directly in front of my safe house, went inside, and took a well deserved nap. And yes, when I started the game back up again, my helicopter was still there in my parking space.

I am quite surprised at how much I am enjoying GTA4. I was ready to be disappointed and bored and underwhelmed while simultaneously being overwhelmed, but the game does an incredible job of slowly and methodically teaching you how the game works, and what is necessary to succeed. Gun battles are no problem any more, I can easily control almost any vehicle, and I no longer need the GPS or map to get thru all of Broker and Bohan, and half of Algonquin.

Yes, there are problems. Escaping the cops can either be the simplest 5 second escape, or an impossible onslaught that you will never escape. If you fail a mission 75% of the way through, you must completely start over from the very beginning, which is extremely taxing in the longer missions (I am looking at you Snow Storm!). The AI for the cars is the single most annoying aspect of the game. Other drivers tend to follow your lead, so they go the same speed as you, making it very hard to get around cars on highways or on bridges when going fast. Sometimes all of the cars on the road will suddenly, all at once, slam on their brakes, or all slam into the walls of the road for no reason. And do not get me started on waiting at the toll booth; it can take 30 seconds for a car to pay and pull forward.

But in the end, the fun you have far outweighs these complaints. The voice acting is very well done, with the only downright bad acting done for a character that you later find out is under cover, so the acting is probably done bad on purpose because the person is acting. The level of detail still astonishes me, with cab rides actually a bit fun when you can just watch the city go buy. I am only 28% of the way through according to the stats, so I have a ways to go, but I think I will enjoy the rest of the ride quite a bit.

Picture courtesy

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Special Deliveries...

This weekend has blessed me with two beautiful bundles of joy. Two gifts that are as special and wonderful as any gift imaginable. One came out of a large cardboard box, and the other from my sister's stomach. I will let you figure out which is which.

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First is my new HDTV. It is a Samsung LN-T4069F, 1080P 120hz 40" LCD. Yeah, a 40" at 1080p, I know, not usually necessary on a TV this size, but there is a noticeable difference on this set compared to others of its ilk. Also, 120hz, so yay! I got an incredible deal, 42% total off at Best Buy during their Memorial Day sales. A buddy let me borrow his 360 HD-DVD drive (I would buy one if I could find one cheap) and the picture quality is amazing. I will be getting a PS3 soon so I can take advantage of this baby and the Blu-Ray drive soon, but want to find a nice deal first. So far my only complaint is that standard def programming is quite blockier than my old HD set, and some small writing is very hard to see in 480i/p.

Click to embiggen

The other big happening was my sister had her first baby, my first nephew. His name is Adam, he is 5lb 13oz, very small even at full term, and was born Friday, May 30th at 7pm. There are plenty of more pictures up on my MySpace, and I will keep adding, so check them out there.