Comics, Video Games and Death Metal.....

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Big 3 at E3

    Now that E3 is some weeks past, and we’ve gotten a few more details on all of the cool things showcased there, let’s take a look at what the big three have planned for the gaming community in the coming year. (In order of their E3 conference schedules)


   Firstly, I am still baffled as to why Microsoft felt they needed to have a Circ de Sole inspired “pre-show”. Was this to get folks excited about Kinect? Because from all that I’ve read and seen all it did was confuse everyone. Most folks had the same reaction I did; ‘Was this really necessary?’
    At any rate the actual press conference for Microsoft started strong and ended with an out of breath wheeze. I think that mostly had to do with the ridiculous amount of exercise games that took up the last portion of the conference. (Gamers, Microsoft is implying that you are too fat and have no other way to get offa’ that couch!) As far as Kinect goes, there was not a single thing that made me jump up and say ‘Hey, that’s a slice of alright!’ Actually, I was less impressed with Natal / Kinect after their demonstration than I was before. The fact that the first “game” that they showed for their new peripheral was Kinectamals, made lots of folks question what market Microsoft was aiming at. Kinectamals was very underwhelming, and the Kinect did not seem to accurately track the little girl’s hands. Kinect Sports was up next showing a hurdle running event; again the Kinect did not seem to accurately track the movement of the two people playing. The same seemed true for Joy Ride and Kinect Adventures. Watching these demos did not really sell me on the Kinect. Most of these “live demos” felt pre-rendered. Then we were all treated(?) to about 15 minutes of Yoga and Dancing; because that’s why you all bought an expensive gaming system, right? Thankfully after all this we finally got to see a glimpse of a game that could be for the hardcore gamer market in the form of a new Star Wars game from Lucas Arts. Unfortunately it was only a video that we were told was actually game play; only time will tell. The guys from Forza Motorsports then came out to showcase what they were doing with Kinect. The graphics look great, and the Kinect controls seemed to be the most responsive of the group of games shown thus far.
    Aside from the underlying commentary on how lazy they think gamers are with their Kinect pitch Microsoft did have a few games that show promise.

Games to Watch:

  • Gears of War 3: Cliff Blezinski was on hand to lead the charge in a four person co-op live demo. The game seems to play smoothly and showcased some of the new features like weapon swapping, monstrous creatures, and female gears. (360 Exclusive)
  • Fable 3: Peter Moleyneux and Lion Head Studios never cease to impress with the Fable series. The video showed was full of all the swordplay and magic that everyone has come to expect from the series. It will be released on October 26th. (360 Exclusive) 
  • Halo Reach: The visuals were nice but there wasn’t much we hadn’t seen before, especially if you were among those that got to play the multi-player beta. However the addition of space battles should make for some interesting play mechanics. (360 Exclusive)  
  • MGS Rising: Shigenobu Matsuyama (producer MGS: Rising) introduced a slick trailer showing just how deadly Raiden can be with his sword. The ‘cut everything’ game-play mechanic seems to work well, but kicking enemies into the air and cutting them in to pieces is nothing new to those that have played Afro Samurai. Also this game will NOT be exclusive to 360 as MS reported at E3 2009. (Multi-Platform) 
  • Call of Duty Black Ops: The graphics look good and the gunplay seems tight; just what you would expect from the talented folks at Treyarch. DLC and Add-ons for this series will come to 360 first for the next 3 years, as announced by Don Mattrick. (Multi-Platform)
  • Crackdown 2: The only game besides Gears 3 that I really wanted to see and they didn’t even show one video of it; not even a single clip. (360 Exclusive)
  • Codename Kingdoms: From the live action video shown it seems like it will be a ‘Gladiator’ type game, but no way of knowing anything yet except that it’s being developed by Crytek. (360 Exclusive)


    The beginning of the conference started strong with great game videos and demos, but as the conference marched forward the confidence in the products being shown seemed to wane. The games that use a real controller were the best of the bunch, while all of the Kinect demos felt hackneyed and stilted. They all seemed to lack the tightness of control that would endear this new peripheral to the hardcore gamer market (Which let’s face it, is the market that is going to keep the system afloat). I hesitate to use the word shovel-ware, but if the shoe fits….
Also, Kinect seems like a ‘very sophisticated’ way just to chat online, listen to music, and watch movies. Sorry, I don’t need to pay $150 (rumored) just to do all that. I’m perfectly comfortable with my controller thank you. Overall I would say that the MS conference was a little too much tell and not enough show. I kept waiting for something that made me go “wow” and it just didn’t happen.


    Nintendo has the longest history of any console developer in the industry. So they had lots of nostalgia to draw upon for new games. For those that have a history with Nintendo, such as my-self, this press conference was like talking my memories of old video games and having them gussied up with a smoothing HD paintbrush. It was simultaneously cool and sad. Cool because we are finally getting new games based upon beloved franchises that haven’t been seen in a long while and sad because there was not one single thing about any NEW IP’s (intellectual properties). Nothing! Feelings of nostalgia are great and all, but it will only carry sales so far. This new generation doesn’t know squat about all the games from systems past, unless their parents are old school gamers and even then it’s more than likely they have not played these titles.
    The last twenty minutes of their press conference focused on the 3DS, which will allow the player to play 3D games on the go and without the need of stereoscopic 3D glasses. This new handheld console will even allow the consumer to watch big budget 3D Hollywood films on its upper 3.5” widescreen. There is even a slider to adjust the 3D to the level that suits the player best, ensuring that those with motion sickness can still enjoy the system and its games. Couple this with improved graphic capabilities, an analogue “slide pad”, a gyroscope sensor, motion sensor, Wi-Fi connect-ability, and two camera lenses on the outside (for taking 3D pictures) and you’ve got a very advanced gaming device that could very well disrupt the handheld market.

Games to Watch:

  • Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword: From slicing things with Link’s sword, deflecting enemy projectiles with a shield bash, to a very easy to access inventory system the controls look very fluid and the new techniques utilize the Wii motion plus to full advantage. Also Myamoto gets the award for best entrance of E3. (Wii Exclusive)
  • Mario Sports Mix: Continuing the long line of Sports themed Mario games. Looks fun, but a little expected. (Wii Exclusive)
  • Just Dance 2: Not my cup of bland tea, but I’m sure those that loved the first one will be enamored by this game too. (Wii Exclusive)
  • Wii Party: The game is what you would expect with a title like that, lots of mini-games focused on the casual family game night. It seems just like the rest of the games Nintendo has put out that utilize the Mii’s. (Wii Exclusive)
  • Golden Sun Dark Dawn: Announced last year, this is a title that many folks have been waiting for and the DS seems poised to deliver this holiday season. (DS Exclusive)
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns: Looks just as fun as we all remember the DK country games being, but with updated graphics and greater co-op play. (Wii Exclusive)
  • Golden Eye: For those that were around for the original this was a shock, as it seemed to be the only game anyone talked about for FPS’s (first person shooters) in the N64 era. Updated Graphics, Daniel Craig’s face, and a new single player campaign should make this a fun bullet riddled romp down memory lane. (Wii Exclusive)
  • Disney’s Epic Mickey: Warren Spector came on stage to tell us and show exactly what Mickey’s newest adventure is all about. The game looks very fun. The paint to create and thinner to remove game play mechanics seems very easy to use. (Wii Exclusive)
  • Metroid Other M: Samus is back in a new game from Team Ninja. It seems to add quite a few game play mechanics that should spice things up for her new adventure. Coming at the end of August this year. (Wii Exclusive)
  • Kirby’s Epic Yarn: This is the first new Kirby game in a long while and it has an interesting art style very reminiscent of Little Big Planet’s real world textures. Those textures seem to also be a big part of the game play as well. (Wii Exclusive)
  • Kid Icarus Uprising: Formerly known as Project Sora, is the first game to be built from the ground up for the 3DS. (3DS Exclusive)


    An enjoyable press conference with the amount of flair and creativity that you would expect from such an industry giant. They showed lots of new games for classic characters that certainly have this old-school gamer excited particularly for Zelda, Metroid, Golden Eye, and Donkey Kong Country. However there wasn’t anything really new in the way of IP’s and there is only so much you can do to make old characters fresh again. The 3DS is a very neat new tech toy, but it doesn’t excite me because I’m not a handheld gamer. Although it does beg the question of whether or not the technology in the upper screen of the 3DS can be replicated at a larger scale for a home TV, and if it can how long will it take before it catches on?


    Sony’s press conference was full of information and eye candy; specifically 3D eye candy. Early in their press conference Sony showcased a video with the numerous titles that will be fully playable in 3D. Granted you still have to have a 3D capable TV with which you also have to wear 3D glasses, but the simple fact that ALL PS3’s have the ability to output in 3D is impressive. Also factor into that the slew of games that will be available and the reality of stereoscopic 3D gaming is knocking on your door.
    The other tent-pole of Sony’s press conference was of course the Move. Sony’s new motion control peripheral has taken a lot of flack since it’s unveiling at E3 2009. It’s been called a Wii-clone and been accused of being ‘un-original’, along with a bevy of other slurs. However the demos shown during their press conference, particularly the live demo of “Sorcery”, show that Move has a few more tricks up its motion controlled sleeve than the derogatory monikers would have you believe. During the course of the conference the release date and pricing details were revealed. Also the Move’s lineup will have 15 - 20 titles at launch and over 40 by the holiday season.
    Kevin Butler (Sony’s face man) gets the second best entrance award of E3 2010, however he gets the Gold in the epic speech category as he riled the crowd unlike anybody else could with his speech about how we all love gaming no matter the console we own.
    Sony showed that they are putting a major marketing push behind their 6 year old PSP console with the “Step Up Your Game” campaign. While I find ‘Marcus’ a tad annoying, it is good to see that Sony is showing that they still have faith in their much beleaguered handheld gaming machine. (Note: Many were speculating that the rumored PSP2 would make its debut this year; maybe next year folks)

Games to Watch:

  • Killzone 3: Hermen Hulst of Guerilla Games introduced a jaw dropping LIVE 3D demo of the third installment in this series. If you don’t have a flat panel HDTV yet, this game may make you want to get a set that’s 3D capable. Also it will be FULLY COMPATABLE with the Playstation Move out of the box, when it is released in February 2011. (PS3 Exclusive)
  • Sorcery: The Move game about a Sorcerer’s apprentice that must venture into the fairy kingdoms to rescue his master. Built from the ground up for the Move, Sorcery looks to be the first motion controlled game for the ‘core’ gamer. (PS3 Exclusive)
  • Metal Gear Peace Walker: The PSP exclusive that is an actual sequel to the Metal Gear Solid series, falling into continuity after the events of MGS3: Snake Eater and MGS: Portable Ops. (PSP Exclusive)
  • God of War Ghost of Sparta: A sequel to Chains of Olympus from the same studio (Ready At Dawn) with a completely new story about Kratos. (PSP Exclusive)
  • Little Big Planet 2: Billed as not just a platforming game, but also a PLATFORM for games. The first LBP introduced the PLAY. CREATE. SHARE mechanic and LBP2 looks to expand upon that idea exponentially. (PS3 Exclusive)
  • Medal of Honor: Moving out of the WWII era and into a modern setting of Afghanistan. The developers worked closely with the U.S. military to craft a realistic experience. The special edition will come with a re-mastered HD version of 2002’s Frontline. To be released October 12. (Multi-Platform)
  • Dead Space 2: Steve Papoutsis took the stage to show a live demo of the much anticipate sequel the deep space survival horror game. There will be a limited edition pack for the PS3 that comes with Dead Space Extraction featuring full Move support. (Multi-Platform)
  • Portal 2: Easily the biggest surprise of E3, considering Gabe Newell has been extremely vocal on his immense distaste for the PS3 since it hit the market. Now he tells us that the version of Portal 2 on PS3 will be “…the best version on any console.” Yeah, you read that right. That what Gabe said. Oh Gabe, you monster. (Multi-Platform)
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Square’s new MMO that will be coming to PC and PS3. As you would expect from Square, the visuals are breathtaking. (Multi-Platform)
  • Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood: The PS3 version will have access to exclusive missions and map packs, with a multiplayer Beta available only on the PS3. (Multi-Platform)
  • Gran Turismo 5: The long awaited return of, arguably, the best racing simulator ever to grace home screens. First revealed at E3 2006, Polyphony Digital’s labor of love will be released on November 2nd of this year. The cars look amazing, will have full Move support, and be playable in 3D. (PS3 Exclusive)
  • Infamous 2: Sucker Punch’s sequel to their 2009 hit game. Upped visuals (said to be on par with Uncharted 2), a new city, and new powers should bring the faithful back along with new converts. (PS3 Exclusive)
  • Twisted Metal: A HUGE surprise, as Dave Jaffe expressly said that he would not be in attendance and that his studio (Eat, Sleep, Play) was not working on a new TM game. ‘Sweet Tooth’ came out on to the stage in a full sized ice cream truck, along with Dave Jaffe and Scott Campbell to show new game play modes and vehicles that will reinvigorate this beloved franchise. (PS3 Exclusive)
  • Thoughts:

        Sony stepped up their E3 game this year. Showing a TON of new material and proving that they are not going to just sit on their haunches in the coming year. With more exclusives than either Microsoft or Nintendo, it’s definitely going to be a good year to own a PS3. The addition of the Playstation Plus service, 3D capability, and the Playstation Move will ensure that there will be lots of engrossing experiences for PS3 owners worldwide. I personally think that if E3 was a contest (and it really IS a contest) Sony won hands down. I was looking for a WOW factor and Sony delivered in a big way.

    Bottom Line:

        No matter what system you pledge fealty to there is a lot to be excited about from the ‘Big Three’, and that is a good thing because in the end more variety equals more happy consumers, which in turn means that the entire gaming nation wins. We all have our preferred systems and we all know that we will defend those systems to our dying breath. All fan-boy bullshit aside this next year in gaming is going to be EXTREMELY entertaining and engrossing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Farewell to the King of Metal

Yesterday was a weird day. I woke up late and stumbled out to the coffeemaker and set it to start making some wake-up juice. I'm pretty grouchy before I get at least one cuppa, so that's usually where I go first. While I waited for my coffee to finish brewing I went into the office and turned on my electronic appendage. I then slumped in my chair and waited for my computer to boot up, as the enticing smell of a light roast from some country I'll never visit wafted into the room grabbing me by the nose and leading me back to the kitchen. When I got back to my computer, tweet deck was up and as I sipped my coffee I began to crawl through my time line.
Then I saw it; Ronnie James Dio, the man responsible for pushing the Heavy Metal genre to fantastically epic heights, (and of course lets not forget the 'devil horns' that Dio gave to ALL metal heads everywhere) was dead! I couldn't, nor would I believe it. I knew that he had been having health problems of late, but c'mon, he's fucking DIO! He can't die; I could'a sworn he made a deal with the Grim Reaper or something. So in my denial (the 1st stage of the grieving process mind you) I began searching for some kind of confirmation.
To my extreme delight I began to find pages telling me that the reports of Dio's death were greatly exaggerated. An undeniable wave of relief washed over me, and as I finished my first cup of coffee I thought to my self "Good! It's to bloody early to deal with a death of that magnitude, well at least too early in my day."
Well by the time I got back to my computer with my second cup, my time-line on tweetdeck had progressed and EVERYONE was saying that 'Yes Dio had died.' Again denial jumped to the forefront of my mind and took control of my internet searches. Again all of the postings from official sources were saying that I shouldn't listen to the rumors. "Ok, Twitter," I thought "this is getting a little ridiculous!"
Unfortunately about five minutes later I got all kinds of official confirmation on the demise of this pioneering Heavy Metal Legend. There is no way to describe the torrent of profanity that came from within me, but my cats who up until this point had been napping lazily in the office, gave me an irritated look and ran off for quieter spots of rest.
Needless to say, I am still upset about the passing of this god of metal, and this is just days after the passing of legendary artist Frank Frazetta (, a favorite cover artist of Heavy Metal bands world wide, and some one who had helped to shape the comics industry of which I am so very fond of. Sorry getting off track....
Now I want to make something clear, I am not a hardcore Dio fan, and I hadn't followed his career religiously. I am very familiar with him and his music, as any metal head worth his salt should be, but I was not what you'd call a constant listener. My tastes just tend toward the newer, heavier, double-kick-ier technical death metal.
Where am I going with this? In your face actually. What irritates me is the fact that when somebody of note dies, like Dio or Frazetta, people come out of the woodwork claiming that they have always been fans, or that "they were my favorite". Look, you know deep down in the pit of your empty little soul that you are FULL OF SHIT! There I said it. You can get upset or up in arms about it, but the truth will always remain no matter what you claim or do to try and hide it.
Now if you didn't get offended by what I just said you are one of those wonderful people that is honest and sincere with your love of said legends. You are of the number who actually followed, enjoyed, helped spread the legend of, these people that you now miss like a part of your own soul. My grieving heart goes out to all of you. You know who you are, and what Dio and his music meant to you.
This is, however, not to say that people cannot be sincere about their "love", it just seems awfully convenient. I can also guarantee that a Dio Discography was on lots of download lists yesterday, and will more than likely be there for a while. Which ties into what I am saying.
It is terribly unfortunate that people popularize someone after their death. Why can't they be popular and talked about when they are alive? Why do we suddenly latch on to a famous someone when they die? Maybe I'm still too upset to think straight, but from now on when I get an opportunity to tell someone (that I respect for their work), that I am a fan and that they rock, I'm going to (one of the reasons I love twitter). Because they may not be there tomorrow, hell you might not be here tomorrow.
So today I am listening to ALL of Dio's albums. Some of which I haven't heard since I was a kid, and I will reflect of all of the things he gave to my most favorite of Music genres.
A six hundred and sixty-six HORN SALUTE to the man, the myth, the Metal god Ronnie James Dio!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I have decided to start a blog because twitter doesn't have enough space for me to fully articulate, elaborate and .... (looking for another '-ate' sound) percolate my ideas fully.
This first post will be a short one, because I have way too much school work to do, to be blogging of all things.
I am a LIFELONG comic fan that has been reading them since before I could actually read the words within. As a matter of fact it was my comics that helped me learn to read. After that I had an insatiable appetite for a good story, whether it be from a comic, a novel, a movie, or a video game.
I have been playing video games for almost as long as I've been reading comics. Comics is ahead by about 2 years give or take.
I am currently going to school through the Art Institute of Pittsburgh Online for Video Game Art Design, and having a blast.
So you can follow me on twitter, but chances are that if you are here you came from my twitter page. At any rate my twtitter page is
And if you a have a taste for DEATH METAL you can check out my page at
That's all I have time for now.