Tagged: Joey Walsh

Heroes of the Storm 01Heroes of the Storm is Blizzard’s answer to League of Legends and DOTA – however ironic that may be. The game is currently in alpha testing and yours truly was invited to play. After playing for hours on end and hitting level 10, I decided to jot down my initial impressions for various aspects of the game.

Gameplay: The pacing feels entirely different when compared to other MOBAs. There are fewer interruptions, like not having to go back to the fountain to shop, and with healing wells planted along the lanes, less of a reason to go back and heal. Also, when trying to meet at an objective to capture or to help an ally, mounts get you there in no time. Factoring that in, and the fact that games do not last nearly as long as something like League or DotA 2, it feels much faster than other games.

Because there are no items – that means no gold, there is absolutely no reason to last hit creeps. In fact, since the entire team shares experience and levels as a unit, mowing through creeps as quickly as possible is beneficial. The only issue I have with this mechanic is that if your team falls too far behind, it almost seems impossible to catch up as the other team is just running wild with experience and levels.

Laning in general feels inconsequential to the overall outcome of the game. Unlike in League where occasionally a single player can carry an entire game, without significant teamwork, winning is impossible. Another way to ensure defeat is to ignore objectives and especially mercenary camps. Those are the most important aspects in the entire game.

One of my favorite things about the game, though, has to be how you choose your hero before queuing up, so you are guaranteed the champion you want to play. Such a simple thing yet it manages to completely blow me away.

Heroes of the Storm 02Maps: There are four maps so far and each handles differently enough to feel unique from one another. Mechanics, layout, lanes, everything varies from map-to-map. And thankfully there are not any I do not enjoy playing. Sure, I prefer some over others, but they are all nice. Whether or not that changes as I continue playing, only time will tell.

Haunted Mines – In this map, after so long, a golem appears for both teams and does as much damage to the other team as possible before being defeated. In order to make your golem stronger, your team needs to collect skulls. To collect skulls, you must kill creeps that spawn in the mines, which can be entered through two different entrances – one on the top of the map and one on the bottom.

After they have all been defeated, the golem’s spawn and do their thing. Much like with the other maps, the mine spawns typically force team fights as every player frantically rushes the mine to do their best to collect as many skulls as they can manage. Overall one of the more straightforward maps, but proves to be fun all the same.

The Cursed Hollow – This map has players battling over tributes that spawn throughout the map every so often. They are basically totems that need to be picked up by a player. After collecting three of them, the enemy team becomes cursed. What this means is that for a short amount of time, their creeps have 1 HP, structures have reduced HP and towers will not attack.

Dragon Shire – The mechanics on this map have players trying to capture and hold two obelisks on opposite ends of the map. Once they have control of both – they must keep it, it activates an altar in the center which must be channels to summon a dragon knight to fight for your team similar to the way the golem does on the Haunted Mines map, but exclusive to the team that captures everything required.

Heroes of the Storm 03Blackheart Bay – My favorite map. The most frantic and constant when taking the mechanics into consideration. Teams must gather as many doubloons as they can get their little hands on in order to pay Black Beard to bombard the enemy team’s base. After every payment, the next payment increases in price.

The kicker, though, is that if you gather coins and simply hold onto them, if you die, you drop them and give the enemy team a chance to pick them up. To keep this from happening, give them to Black Beard – located in the center of the map, whenever you feel comfortable.

Treasure chests spawn throughout the game and can be busted open for coinage or you can kill certain creep camps that are holding onto them.

Champs: From the few that I have used so far, I can safely say that they are unique enough and fitting enough that there will be something for everyone. Of course, the same could have been said for League during the first couple of years. I am in a wait and see mode as of now.

Champions also have unique (and hilarious) interactions with one another throughout the game as well as individual sound bites that are just good fun.

Champs range from 2,000 gold to 10,000. You get 500+ gold upon leveling up – and you can earn gold by completing daily quests (such as using a support hero in two games), so getting those higher tiered champs might take a little while. If you are as impatient as I am, though, you can always buy them with real money. They range from $7.50 to $10.00 USD from what I have seen.

The best part is probably the fact that Blizzard allows you to play a single player match with a hero you want to buy before actually buying it. Brilliant stuff.

Final thoughts: I am enjoying my time with Heroes of the Storm immensely, but there are obvious flaws. Mostly balancing issues, and because it is still in its alpha stage, I am willing to forgive them. Even still, the game feels more like a custom Warcraft map than any MOBA you will find. This is a good thing however as it breathes new life into the genre and stands on its own rather than trying to copy what makes League of Legends so successful.

Godzilla PosterOf all the summer blockbusters being released this year, Godzilla had perhaps the most hype fueling it. Maybe that is why it just did not live up to my expectations. You could say that, because of said pre-release hype, for me personally, it was dead on arrival. There were a few notably fantastic scenes to enjoy, though few and far between, they simply could not outweigh the overwhelming sense that something was missing.

Aside from a couple of names giving what seemed like intentionally hammy performances, which I am absolutely thankful for, the main human cast felt bland and dry. While following Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Lieutenant Ford Brody, never did you feel as though he understood quite how dire the entire situation was. It was as if he were going through the motions throughout the entirety of the film. He existed to progress the plot, and that was more or less the character’s purpose.

As for the female lead, Elizabeth Olsen’s Elle Brody, wife of Ford Brody, she was horribly inconsequential and disgustingly misused. I am convinced that she had less screen time than any other character in the film and was only ever seen on screen with any of the main cast twice from what I remember; both instances being Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

GodzillaIn fact, the female presence in this film itself was nonexistent. As seen in the trailer, Bryan Cranston’s wife, portrayed by Juliette Binoche, dies very early in the film – and with Elizabeth Olsen’s little screen time and even less interaction with the cast, we are left with Sally Hawkins’ Dr. Vivienne Graham to fill the void. And while she does a commendable job, I still cannot help be feel that the female cast could have been handled better.

As an audience member, there were a multitude of things that made me just want to scream at the characters. “What the heck are you doing?!” Even when taking suspension of disbelief into consideration, it was difficult to not question character decisions and motives and actions and reactions and whatever else. A lot of the time I found myself thinking, “Is this really happening? Did you just do that?’ It was all for the sake of plot progression, I know, but there had to be a better way of going about it. But, to avoid spoilers, I will not get into any specifics.

Now for the big man himself, it was as though director Gareth Edwards decided to go with a Jaws approach in that the film constantly alludes to the title monster, but does its best to hide it from the audience for as long as possible. Personally, I was not a huge fan of this approach, but I can appreciate the intent behind it. And for what it is worth, it did work out very well. While there were few scenes with Godzilla in all of his glory, it made me revel in the ones where he bared it all because he was just handled so very well.

The ending fight sequences that pitted Godzilla against the Mutos were amazingly choreographed, suspenseful, and wholly satisfying. The questions of how and why fleeted my mind while I watched the enormous monsters do battle in the middle of San Francisco. If it had lasted two hours longer than it had with just Godzilla doing his thing, I would have sat in my seat and enjoyed every second of it.

Thankfully Godzilla himself was not the only positive about the film, however. The soundtrack was superb. Infinitely matching every single scene perfectly, it helped set the mood and helped me to anticipate things to come. And the camera work and effects were spot-on throughout the movie. Sure, there were things that could have been done differently, but after seeing the finished product, changing anything would have robbed the audience of the director’s vision.

All-in-all, in no way I am saying Godzilla was a terrible film. Mediocre maybe. Average. Certainly not terrible, however. Something was missing. Not something I can pinpoint. Just something. For what it is worth, I am glad to have sat through it and can say that, after realizing that this is a Godzilla film and nothing more, I was able to enjoy the experience for the most part. However it is not something I can say I will sit through again with any confidence.

But I am looking forward to the sequel. This was a nice entry film. Give us some fan favorites, though, Toho!

The Verdict

6Fair

The Good: Any scene with Godzilla | Bryan Cranston and Ken Watanabe’s hysterically hammy performances | Wicked battle sequences

The Bad: Too much focus on the human characters | Not enough Godzilla | Perhaps took itself too seriously

Assassins CreedThe age of comic films is upon us and has been going strong for the past few years. Geek is chic. Nerd culture is in. What was ‘uncool,’ just a decade ago, is now all the rage. While I do not see the genre disappearing anytime soon, it is difficult to imagine it will not take a hit in popularity and fade a tad in the coming summers. Partly due to oversaturation of the market and partly because of, depending on the success of a certain film, a new subgenre of geekery will be ushered in. That film is the Justin Kurzel-directed Assassin’s Creed – set to be released in 2015 with star Michael Fassbender headlining.

If Sony’s Assassin’s Creed manages what very few, if any, video game adaptations of years past have by being a commercial and critical hit, expect other studios quickly to jump on board. Think about it for a moment. Warner Bros has a firm grip on all things DC comics while the majority of Marvel properties reside with Marvel Studios – with the remaining spread across Sony and Fox. Arguably the most popular and well-known comic franchises already have a home in the movie industry. That leaves other studios frantically to snap up the rights to titles that will, unfortunately, go unrecognized as being comic films by those who do not follow that world. Even then, most of those are better suited for television anyhow.

I imagine most studios want a bigger piece of that popularity (and money) pie. How? Video game adaptations! The market is left virtually untapped and could be just as big as the comic genre if left in the right hands. The early years are absolutely essential for success. The first couple of films would make or break its chances. Imagine if the original X-Men and Spider-Man movies had not been so lucrative. What do you think the likelihood is that the comic scene would be as big as it is now? It is extremely doubtful that the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe would exist at all.

Of course as a medium, video games are still in their infancy when compared to comics, but there are still countless quality stories spanning the decades that would work wonders on the big screen. With video games becoming more and more of a visual art form, the next logical step would be to put them in theaters.

So, let us hope they know what they are doing over there at Sony because thinking of seeing some of my favorite games adapted makes me all giddy.

All-New Ghost Rider is perhaps the most oddly satisfying book currently being published by the big two. Despite the subject matter of gang violence, drugs and abusive bullying, and the in-panel happenings of such things, writer Felipe Smith and artist Tradd Moore are somehow able to maintain the goofy quirkiness and fun that has been presented issue after issue. One might expect it to be a dark and gritty take on a new Ghost Rider, but luckily that is not the case. There is nothing like it.

Published: May 14, 2014
Writer: Felipe Smith
Artist: Tradd Thomas Moore

This week’s issue picks up immediately where the last left off – with Robbie Reyes confronting the reflection of the Ghost Rider spirit, Eli, possessing him. The exchange between the two is more or less how such a conversation would typically play out, with Eli telling Reyes that he could give him the power to overcome all the hardship he’s faced and obtain revenge against those who may have wronged him.

Robbie’s morals kick in and he simply leaves the scene only to find something terrible has happened to his boss – possibly the only person other than his brother who gives a damn. The gloves come off at this point, and Robbie accepts the spirit’s offer of power. The first real threat of the series is revealed after whooping on a few of the thugs involved. That threat is a gang leader that has downed a handful of drugs that caused him to basically Hulk-out.

All-in-all another fabulous issue. Nothing less is to expected at this point. Marvel is absolutely killing it right now. Most of their ongoing series are absolutely brilliant and All-New Ghost Rider is no exception. Writer Felipe Smith’s characters are interesting and involved while artist Tradd Moore’s work is so unique that it would be impossible to find a similar style elsewhere. Absolutely worth the cover price.

The Verdict

8Great

The Good: Robbie’s motivation | The glorious art.

Xbox One

Xbox One

Yes, it is Call of Duty with mechs. No, that is not a bad thing.

Of course there are noticeable differences, but when you get right down to it, my previous statement is what the game amounts to. Those differences, however, are drastic enough for Titanfall to be a fresh, worthy entry in the Call of Duty franchise as a pseudo-spiritual successor.

There is enough diverse content in the base game to keep players coming back and leveling up for months. Sure, the game lacks any form of offline game modes (including any sort of LAN multiplayer and a true-to-form campaign), but honestly, not too many people play these games for the deep storylines, so nothing of value was lost.

Now when I say the game lacks a true-to-form campaign, what I mean is that there is an ersatz online campaign to play through. It is still an online game, but with story elements thrown in. More specifically, you are placed on either the ISA or Militia, then made to play through a variety of maps and game modes, as you would in your standard multiplayer, but with NPCs and such giving exposition, explaining the situation, why you are doing what you are doing – that sort of thing. After finishing the campaign on one team, if you were to begin again, you would be placed on the opposite for the next play through to hear the story through their ears.

It was a nifty way to incorporate a campaign without actually doing so and the plot actually was not half bad if you pay attention throughout. Nothing spectacular, but enough to keep your attention. Still, it is difficult to convince yourself that you are not just playing a standard match.

As for the actual multiplayer, there are a few things that differentiate it from what you may or may not be used to. The elephant in the room of course being the mechs, or Titans as they are called. Every player has their own Titan that they can customize the same way they do their pilot – class, weapon load out, secondaries, etc. – that they call down throughout the match. These Titans can either be piloted by the player or set to auto where they follow the pilot or guard a specific area depending on the function set by the player.

Battles spanning multiple Titans tend to be long lasting and quite epic in my experience, while a Titan on pilot battle ends up being more of a game of cat and mouse; the pilot chips away at the Titan’s health from wherever deemed safe while the Titan tries to blow them straight to hell with their massive arsenal. Overall, it is a pretty exciting practice.

Another interesting mechanic is the inclusion of bots. Throughout the map, you will come across enemy and allied bots, spectres and grunts, that act as fodder you can kill in order to gain points and reduce the timer on your Titan spawn, as well as unlock various add-ons for your weapons. A lot of the time they end of being a hindrance, but in a good way, as killing them typically reveals your position on the map, making the gameplay a bit more believable and dynamic in a way.

The earlier complaints about too few human players allotted in a single match and having space filled by bots is a moot topic. Rarely do you ever feel lost or alone as you trek the adequately sized maps. The action is constant and the suspense is real. A viable alternative to massive amounts of players.

Out with the old, in with the new. Perks of the old Call of Duty days are relics of the past and we should be happier for it. Burn Cards are what replaced the older mechanic and for good reason; they are much better suited for this genre. Burn Cards are very similar to Perks, but are temporary. Before you spawn, you can choose to activate one and the granted upgrade lasts only as long as you live – and sometimes not even that. There is a nice variety to choose from as you continue to unlock them, such as upgraded weapons, infinite frag grenades, spawning with a chunk of time removed from the Titan counter, and a longer cloak. While it sounds like it could be taken advantage of, Respawn made sure to only allow you to be able to carry three cards during a match and disabling you to replenish them until you reach the lobby after said match has ended. Burn Cards are a much-welcomed feature.

For the game modes themselves, there are five to choose from excluding Variety Mode, which throws you into a lobby that randomly chooses a mode for you to play after each map. Hardpoint, Attrition, Last Titan Standing, Capture the Flag, and Pilot Hunter make up the given play styles. Hardpoint is your basic capture and hold mode, forcing you to take control of three different areas on the map to score points. Attrition is their fancy-named deathmatch mode and Pilot Hunter is a variation of Attrition where only pilot kills are tracked – meaning bots do not count towards the overall score.

Last Titan Standing is the only unique-to-Titanfall game mode as far as I am concerned. It also seems to be the least popular. Every player begins the game in their own Titan with the intention of destroying the other teams’. There are no respawns and the first team to win four rounds is the winner. If your Titan is destroyed during the game, however, you spend the rest of the match as a pilot, so you still have the chance to do some damage and contribute.

Last Titan Standing was interesting the first few times, but quickly fell into the gimmicky category. You would think that there would be constant action because of the mass number of Titans, but because of the single life granted to each player, the opposite becomes true; a long distance camp-fest ensues.

The visuals are what you would expect from a now-Respawn Entertainment game. Do not expect to be blown away – PC or otherwise. That is not to say the graphics are ugly in any sense, just that they are nothing we have not already seen at some point or another. As one of the first powerhouses of the next generation, heed your expectations.

Overall, I have enjoyed my time with Titanfall. There is a nice variety of pilot and Titan options to keep you busy, the maps are laid out well and are expansive enough without being too overwhelming or empty, and Titans add a beautiful layer of depth to what would otherwise be an old trick from an old dog.

The Verdict

7Good

The Good: Titan smashing, frag throwing, roundhouse kicking, neck snapping goodness!

The Bad: Difficult to justify paying $60 for what breaks down to being an online multiplayer mode. If you are dead tired of the Call of Duty style of play, then you will be disappointed here.

Loki vs. Lorelei!It’s the battle of the Asgardian younger siblings – from the casinos of Monte Carlo to a speed date in New York! Loki goes speed dating. We should have mentioned that earlier, really.

Published: March 05, 2014
Rating: Rated T+
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Lee Garbett

As with the last issue, we have the pleasure of following Loki’s missions for the All-Mother as he attempts to rewrite the evil from his own history. This time he has been tasked with bringing Lorelei back to Asgard. The most interesting thing about this comic, though, is how the story is told – such a fresh take.

It opens with a disastrous night of speed dating through the eyes of a mystery woman who has the power to know exactly when somebody is lying – the perfect foil for Loki, no? Eventually however, she is approached by Loki and, using her power, sees through his disguise. Realizing her gift, Loki tells his story which is the main story focus of the issue.

We are then given fragments of what happened between Loki and Lorelei as the story quickly becomes an Ocean’s Eleven-esque bank heist with Lorelei playing the robber and Loki attempting to thwart her

In only 21 pages, writer Al Ewing somehow managed to fit enough plot to fill multiple issues, but kept it from feeling claustrophobic. In fact, I found it to be paced perfectly with a fabulous mixture of action and development.

Lee Garbett’s art, as always, is almost worth the title price itself. With the varied expressions and intricate tattoo design throughout, it is difficult trying to pull yourself away from the gorgeous work long enough to actually read the comic. Superb from beginning to end.

Admittedly I thought this book was just an attempt to cash in on Loki’s cinematic popularity – especially with the character design they went with and the fact that they opened the first issue with random appearances from the Avengers, but my doubts were immediately put to rest. The writing has been clever and involving and the art quality besting most books on the shelves. Absolutely an issue to buy and a series to follow.

The Verdict

10Perfect

The Good: Enjoyable Loki antics. Interesting plot. Dazzling art.

The Bad: Quite literally nothing.

From the cold streets of old Russia, the Hand of God reaches out to crush Black Widow—and it is merciless.Outmatched by the brute force of a powerful new villain, Natasha finds a deadly plot unfolding that spans the entire globeJump on to the sensational new series as the most lethal The Avenger faces her deadliest test!

Published: March 12, 2014
Rating: Rated T+
Writer: Nathan Henry Edmondson
Artist: Phil Noto

Thus far, Natasha has not had much of an ongoing story, but rather relied on dealing with inner turmoil and morality issues to progress the narrative. Not that I found that to be a concern – actually it was quite endearing for her character, but it is nice to have a seemingly consistent adversary for Agent Romanoff to square off with as she learns to cope with the evils in her life.

As such, the issue opens with Black Widow in front of the embassy on a more mundane mission compared to her usual super spy operations, but the building is completely destroyed by an explosion – one she barely managed to escape. Having seen the culprit, Natasha begins to give chase. After catching up and hashing it out for a bit, Widow falls through the roof of a building and loses consciousness only to be collected by Maria Hill later.

Following a debriefing session and an arm cast, Widow is back on the case. She super spies herself some info on where the bombers next attack is and interrupts it in progress. It is the revealed that the hulking Russian terrorist, Molot, is a zealot believing that he is carrying out God’s will through the use of massive firearms.

Writer Nathan Edmondson does well to capture Black Widow’s nature and displays a healthy dose of personality despite the outer stoic portrayal. The situations he has dropped our favorite agent into have been interesting and provocative and intriguing – this issue especially.

I can see how some people might be a tad turned off by artist Phil Noto’s work, but the minimalist approach contributes brilliantly to the overall tone of the comic. It leaves little room for anything but the essentials which lends to the visually striking presentation. Gorgeous, gorgeous work.

The Verdict

9Amazing

The Good: The introduction of a dangerous villain. Beautiful simplistic art.

The Bad: Some folks are bound not to appreciate the art style.

I’m often left perplexed by the death of some franchises. Sure, some run their course or are determined to be critical or financial failures, but others disappear without so much as a blink. We are left with brilliant games that contain so much untapped potential that it is heart-wrenching when you realize they are not coming back. Still, sometimes it is fun to think about which games should make a franchises should make a comeback and that is exactly what I plan on doing here.

Crash BandicootCrash Bandicoot

Last entry – Crash: Mind over Mutant

Somewhere along the line (after Naughty Dog’s last iteration), Crash lost the charm that had made him so appealing to video game fanatics of days since past. Never again was it recaptured despite the many attempts and Crash quickly spun into irrelevance – something even Spyro managed to avoid after suffering the same unfortunate condition. Still, with current rumors floating around that Sony has acquired the rights after Activision failed to pay the IP bill back in 2012, there is hope yet that we’ll see Crash return to his former glory on the PS4.

FolkloreFolklore

Last entry – Folklore

I was disappointed to hear that Folklore had a planned sequel, but was not green-lit due to poor sales. A bit surprising as well as I found it to be one of the most refreshing and unique games throughout the entirety of the previous generation. Having been set in Ireland and focusing on the Celtic Otherworld, the setting and story were a delight and the gameplay seemed to have been inspired by Pokémon – just more demented. Such a fascinating game. Bring it back, Game Republic!

BattleTax

Last entry – BattleTanx: Global Assault

Another antique of the cheat code era, BattleTanx called for players to command one of a series of futuristic tanks in typical multiplayer game modes such as your death match. What made this game as fun as it was, though, were the tanks themselves and the arsenal present in the game. There was nothing more satisfying than dodging an advanced guided missile by rolling around in a cleverly named FLP-E tank. Unfortunately, though, like 3D Doritos, 3DO went the way of the dinosaurs before a sequel could be released. I am left wondering if the rights were sold off beforehand and if we will ever have the pleasure of seeing this treasure again.

Jet MotoJet Moto

Last entry – Jet Moto 3

It blows my mind that this has not come back already. Since Jet Moto 3 there have been two cancelled entries and it just does not make sense to me. I know I am not alone as someone who prefers the quirky racing titles such as Jet Moto and F-Zero to the hyper-realistic franchises such as Gran Turismo and Forza, so clearly there is a market for this thin genre. I am left wondering why Sony is not jumping at the chance to fill the void. And I will be damned if those Jet Moto commercials in the 90s were not some of the best video game commercials of all time.

Pokemon SnapPokémon Snap

Last entry – Pokémon Snap

Another bewilderment. Like Disney, though to a lesser extent, anything with the word “Pokémon” on it is bound to justify the development cost, so why has Nintendo neglected this cult classic? As one of the, if not the most, fan requested Nintendo games of all time, they would be smart to capitalize on the growing nostalgia and demand for the title. Pokémon Snap had such potential, too. They had barely even scratched the surface of possible features and with the Wii U controllers being what they are, a sequel is just begging to be announced.

Whether they realize it not, everybody has those games that helped define them as gamers or maybe even as people. They could have been their first games, their favorite games, the games they experienced the most fun while playing – whatever, but the molding process has affected us all. I am here to attempt to identify the games that have meant the most to me and, I am sure, many of those in my generation.

s Pro Skater 210. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 – Playstation

Before the age of online gaming, when it came to multiplayer, we had to stick with good old fashioned split-screen. Very few games at the time could measure to THPS2’s copious amounts of content and general entertainment. The soundtrack is perhaps the best of the 00s and possibly even today. And because it retained the perfect balance between competitiveness and not taking itself too seriously, I can’t imagine having spent more time with any other game during the Playstation’s heyday.

Clay Fighter9. ClayFighter – SNES

Although it may not have been the very first game I played or even close to the best, I’d have to say ClayFighter is the game that made me jump head first into the gaming world and never look back. With its silly concept and even sillier characters, I was getting trashed at the hands of goopy Elvis, but loving every minute of it. If that does not spell defining, I don’t know what does.

Kingdom_Hears_poster8. Kingdom Hearts – PS2

Such genius. Such absolute genius. By combining the biggest fandom to ever exist with one of the most lucrative video game series of all time, Square Enix accomplished something nobody thought possible. I mean, could you have ever imagined Disney characters sharing the same screen as Cloud or Squall before having first experienced Kingdom Hearts yourself? And doubly amazing, it managed to retain the Disney charm while still capturing what makes the Final Fantasy series so fascinating. Mind-blowing.

Phantasy Star7. Phantasy Star Episode I & II Plus – Gamecube

I consider this my first real online experience with console gaming. That’s right – I had the online adapter for the Gamecube solely for PSOI&II and it was glorious. Being a huge fan of dungeon crawlers and JRPGs, this game was near perfect for me. Epic boss battles, interesting customization, Mags in general – this game had it all. Although I can now admit to myself it likely would not have been half as fun if the servers hadn’t been hacked beyond recognition.

The Sims6. The Sims – PC

Why on Earth was playing a real life simulator just so darn addicting? I don’t know about you guys, but I mostly play video games to experience a life outside of the norm, but then, there I was, recreating my friends, family and favorite fictional characters as virtual people in my virtual neighborhood. Maybe it had to do with being able to control what would otherwise be uncontrollable here in the real world – maybe that had something to do with why I spent hundreds of hours masterfully crafting my Sims’ lives only to joyfully take it all away whenever I became bored of that avatar. And all it took was selling the pool ladder while they were swimming. Too much power for one man, I’ll tell you that right now.

Halo 25. Halo 2 – Xbox

If Halo 2 didn’t exist, this would read GoldenEye. But, alas, after an epic power struggle, the throne for the most enjoyable first person shooter was vacated in favor of the Bungie sequel. Now, what made this so fantastic had nothing to do with online – though, a point can be made that Halo 2 had one of the most stable early online experiences. Halo 2 LAN parties gave me some of my most memorable gaming moments. The outlandish physics combined with the sci-fi arsenal made for absolute hysterics that spanned days at a time. I can’t begin to count the cups of coffee consumed and breakfast burritos sacrificed in the name of Coagulation supremacy.

Diablo 24. Diablo 2 – PC

Diablo 2’s 14th anniversary is right around the corner. I’ve been playing Diablo 2 for nearly 14 years. There is virtually no other game – single game, not a total franchise – that has held my attention that long. It’s astounding. In my opinion, Blizzard will never be able to recapture what made Diablo 2 so positively phenomenal. Hell, very few developers have come close to the scale of the game. Sure, like every other dungeon crawler, there is a formula that needs to be followed: epic boss battles, generous customization, a respectable story, engaging enemies, enjoyable classes. These are not unique to Diablo 2. What is, however, is the way they handled loot and grinding. They kept it from being a chore. In fact, they made it down right fun to kill the same four or five bosses thousands of times for the sake of experience and better equipment. An unbelievable masterpiece.

Super Smash Brothers Melee3. Super Smash Bros Melee – Gamecube

I’m not even sure where to begin with SSBM. Fighting games and I have never gotten along very well. I am in no way coordinated enough to be able to string together those mighty button combos – especially not under duress. As you can guess, Street Fighter remains the bane of my existence to this very day. Super Smash Bros did something wonderful, though. They managed to cater to the hopeless masses while remaining competitive enough for the Ryu and Ken incarnates. With familiar faces in unfamiliar situations, Nintendo and HAL Laboratory ensured SSBM as a mainstay in my gaming group. It improves on the predecessor in virtually every way and remains superior to the sequel. Fortunately or unfortunately – however you want to look at it, that is a rarity in this day and age. I plan on cherishing this treasure as long as possible.

conkers-bad-fur-day-32. Conker’s Bad Fur Day – N64

If anybody wanted a deep look into my sense of humor, I’d recommend Conker’s Bad Fur Day. I don’t remember how old I was when I first played this, but I was definitely in elementary school. I could not believe a game such as this existed. Like, was this allowed? Could they get away with the dialogue they’re giving? That quickly became unimportant, though, as I trekked through the story and eventually made my way to multiplayer. Holy crap, it got worse! Multiplayer was outrageously addicting. What made the single player mode so fun was vastly improved upon for the various multiplayer game modes. Very little beats a nice chainsaw massacre or samurai sword beheading.

Pokemon Red1.  Pokemon Red/Blue – Game Boy

I feel as though this should be everybody’s number one. Or at least in my generation anyway. I’m selfish that way. Pokemon set the world on fire and never looked back. To this day it remains one of the most popular franchises of all time and for good reason. Reasons I can’t even begin to explain. For me, though, I think it has something to do with knowing you’ll never quite be able to reach that level of fantasy in your own life, thus you have to grasp at whatever fix you can get your hands on. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I was around the same age as Red/Blue upon release and so I was more able to better relate and integrate myself into the game. Or maybe it had to do with the game being a damn blast to play. Either or. You decide.

All-New-Invaders-2Eisner Award winner James Robinson (STARMAN, EARTH 2) returns to MARVEL, uniting with Steve Pugh (ANIMAL MAN, HOTWIRE, GEN-X”) to create a unique new take on the INVADERS the ORIGINAL HUMAN TORCH decides to rejoin the human race, he and his fellow INVADERS face the savage fury of Kree’s ultimate hunter, TANALTH THE PURSUER! How can they beat a threat that seems unbeatable?Learn the long-forgotten secret Invaders’ mission — involving dead heroes, Nazis and Norse Gods!And what is the desperate measure the Invaders decide to save their teammate NAMOR from the clutches of the SUPREME INTELLIGENCE?

Published: February 05, 2014
Rating: Rated T+
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Steve Pugh

All-New Invaders has been running with this shtick of trying to recreate the old comic vibe through art, tone and most unfortunately, the dialogue. I gave the first issue the benefit of the doubt, but after reading the second, I can safely say that the old timey gimmick is just that, a gimmick. Honestly, even the current storyline finds itself trying much too hard at attempting to recapture the stories of yore.

We open with Bucky being attacked by elite Kree soldiers after having been hit with the same memory as the original Human Torch was in the previous issue. After securing some intel, he contacts Captain America, who is not too happy considering Bucky had to break protocol – or reveal that he is actually alive, to do so.

With said information, they arrive to save Jim Hammond from the Kree he encountered in the previous issue. So now that everything is all caught up and the ole All American Boy Scout Squad is almost back together, the mysterious enemy leaves. With the conflict over, Cap decides he needs to be let in on whatever the hell just happened since he was clearly left out the loop – much to his disappointment.

After a few more cheesy exchanges, the issue ends with their proclamation of war on the Kree planet to save Namor and steal back this mysterious weapon the Kree were after.

Honestly, if you are into the whole old school feel, then rest assured, James Robinson’s writing actually places it quite well. However, nothing positive can be said about Steve Pugh’s lifeless art. Like always, his characters look plastic and unreal – unpleasant on the eyes.

I cannot see myself caring for this book for much longer.

The Verdict

4Poor

The Good: If you looking to recapture the feel of your old favorites, this is as close as you’ll come.

The Bad: The art. The uninspired storyline.