So, my book is up on Inkshares! This is for assistance in crowdfunding the book. Feel free to pre-order the book and it will not be charged UNTIL I PUBLISH IT! If I get into the top 5 in Fantasy, not only will my book be published, but it will be put into bookstores and everything under the Sword & Laser imprint. Help me live out my dream!
(Please note: I will try to remain as spoiler free as possible during this, but please note there may be minor spoilers during the review.)
This summer has been full of blockbusters; Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Godzilla, and more. The latest one to throw it’s giant, hyper-sharpened knife into the arena is Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, and we got to see a preview of the movie this last weekend.
Let us first take a look at the cast:
Chris Pratt (Parks and Rec, The Lego Movie) takes up the Quad-Blaster and awesome helmet of the snarky, somewhat womanizing, dance master Peter Jason Quill, otherwise known as Star-Lord (“Who?”). He pulls off the character with a wit, grace, and intensity that is hard to really realize could be done by any one human being. Star-Lord is not a fully likeable character, much akin to one Tony Stark from Iron Man, and much like Mr. Stark, he has a heart of a hero, which can really only shine when tested by the heat of battle.
Gamora, played by the amazingly talented Zoe Saldana (Star Trek, Avatar) really pulled off the bad-ass anti-heroine in spades. She has the build of a trained assassin, and they do not have her ever in the position of a damsel in any way shape or form, which would have made many a fan angry if they had. The only complaint I had of any of the characters did, however come from her - she is a little more “feminine” than the comic version, but when you have someone as gorgeous and talented as Zoe Saldana, you kind of need her to be.
Drax the Destroyer, played by WWE superstar Dave Bautista, was the biggest surprise of the entire film. I was honestly not expecting him to be as emotional, relatable, and funny as he was. Some of the best one-liners of the movie came from him, and I honestly am not sure he meant to be that kind of character. Obviously he is a huge human being and very intimidating and just pure Drax, but he has a comedic timing that I never expected.
Now, the biggest star of this movie in my opinion, Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper (The Hangover, Silver Linings Playbook). This squirrelly little guy brings all the funny, while also edging the movie closer and closer to that R rating. The level of emotion brought out in this CG powerhouse is really intense though; this guy is not a one trick pony. He’s a great character, and Cooper really makes everything believeable. I do love the elephant in the room that never addresses the Rocket / Groot thing. Just like in the comics.
Speaking of, Vin Diesel (XXX, The Fast and the Furious) plays the giant sentient tree Groot, and they impart his eyes and some of his facial features into him, and even though he only says “I am GROOT!” he always seems to bring an intensity that you never thought it could. He really personifies Groot, it is plainly obvious through the motion captured features that he genuinely was enjoying every second he was “on screen”.
Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies, The Hobbit) plays the big bad Ronan the Accuser, and he really pulls off the level of power that someone of this caliber really requires, even if Ronan himself tends to look a little like Marilyn Manson every once in a while.
Let us not forget Josh Brolin’s Thanos, Karen Gillan’s Nebula, and Michael Rooker’s Yondu, all of which really are on the point, and pretty much anyone else who has a speaking part is really amazing. Marvel went above and beyond on the casting, writing, and direction of this film.
The pacing of the film was fantastic, never too fast nor too slow. The trademark cinematic genius that has become synonymous with Marvel-Disney films is true as well, but sometimes it felt like there was too much going on at once.
The writing style is so uniquely GotG that if you think too hard about how this will mesh with the rest of the MCU it is almost off putting, aside of course from the talking Raccoon. An excellently crafted script that fills witty banter with seamless exposition, propelling the action at a breakneck speed. But while the action scenes constantly ramp up the ante in both technical badassery and epic scale, the pacing is skilfully kept in check by those personal moments which not only show the humanity in this alien group, but also let the characters (and audience) catch their breath. The plot will take you to places that you did not think you would be able to go. It is deeply touching, horrifyingly disturbing, funny, suspenseful, and so much more without ever being afraid to be completely in your face. You will be lifted to the highest highs and dropped to the lowest lows. There are literally parts of the film where you will be in tears one second and genuinely laughing the next. They truly pull no punches at all in this film, but in the best way possible.
All in all, this movie is officially my favorite Marvel movie of all time, and is up there on my favorite MOVIES of all time. This movie brings the fun, sex appeal, action, intensity, and emotion in more ways than you could actually think of. This is by far one of the greatest cinema experiences I have ever had in my entire life. I will be definitely be seeing this again, maybe twice, before owning it on Blu-Ray and watching it many many many more times to come.
Easily 10/10 TITOs. More than 12% of a movie!
Product: IK Multimedia’s iRig Mix
Product(s) tested on (if applicable): Nexus 4, Nexus 7 PC, iPod Touch
This review will be a little bit of a double-review, the iRig Mix and the DJ Rig iOS application.
First, the quick review of the DJ Rig application, which I tested on my Apple iPod Touch. I am not a fan of how it scaled down for a iPod Touch 4th Generation, which is not a problem with the application, per se, but the laggy processor and a less-than-stellar resolution and display. The application is very robust, and going through it with some of my DJ friends, it met all of their needs and more. When I played around with it, it was really cool to mess with, and did what I did with it very well: switching smoothly between the two tracks, effects, and switching songs was flawless.
Now, I put my iPod Touch (and DJ Rig app) into one input into the rig and my phone with another DJ application into the second input in the iRig Mix, it made everything amazing, it was very easy to adjust volume, gain, treble, bass, and so much more.
When I podcast with the Mix, it’s like turning a light on that I never knew I needed. It makes everything seamless to stream things to the podcast, everything that I wanted and more is there, and it may be just a simple thing, but I never realized what was missing. In all reality, I would be willing to spend more on it!
The size of it is also a huge selling point, being so compact it easily fits into a laptop bag to bring this beauty anywhere that I want to podcast. The only issue is the input from the mixer to the laptop feels a little loose, and if you move it the wrong way, it can produce a really loud noise, but I think that’s a problem with my setup and not the device.
Summary: Simply amazing portable device, that can easily do everything you’re wanting to do, if it’s DJing or Podcasting, or anything else.
Product: OrigAudio’s JellyBox
Product(s) tested on (if applicable): Nexus 4, PC
Another nifty gadget from OrigAudio is the JellyBox Bluetooth speaker, and it’s a glorious accompaniment to a nice Peanut Butter Nexus 4. Now, this is the first time I have paired any BT device to my phone, so it took some time, but when it connected, it was glorious. The sound was REALLY good no matter where in my house I played it. even over the “standard” short range that BT is supposed to get. I ran it outside, and with only very little signal loss.
I then tested the speaker with my laptop. I made sure it was properly paired. It took some time for it to unpair from my phone and pair with my PC - but no more than expected, I think I was just excited and wanted it to work RIGHT THEN. When it did pair properly, it was amazing. I again ran the gambit, I ran through the house (from front to back and separated the speaker from my computer by FOUR DOORS!) and it did suffer a little more signal loss from the PC than the phone, which was a little odd, but not a real point loss. When it connected directly the the PC, the sound was AMAZING, crystal clear and just … wow….
The internal mic actually sounds REALLY good too, I did some recordings with it to test them out, and it was as clear as any phone microphone I could have thought of, and clearer than that still!
For $35 it’s a GREAT deal and well worth every penny.
Summary: Little more signal loss than I would like from the PC, but amazing everywhere else.
Product: OrigAudio’s Juicebox External Battery Pack
Product tested on (if applicable): Nexus 4
This little devil packs a punch! In box it comes with the device (of course) a micro-USB cable and a “side of squid” which is Orig’s multi-connector adapter which gives an adapter for the iPhone 4s (and below) iPhone 5, macro-USB and micro-USB adapter for all of your device charging goodness.
Now, I have reviewed other battery packs in the past, and this one is really a strong contender. It charges quickly when connected to a USB-2 or an AC adapter, taking less than 3 hours to go from almost dead to fully charged. The charging of my phone takes a little longer than what i expected from the mAH on the device, but it certainly gets the job done with more to spare (around 1-2 lights of power remaining charging from dead phone to 100%). The only downside I can find in this little juicy toy is the adapter end tends to run a bit hotter than I would like.
That being said, for the cost of $24.99, it is hard to beat it, plus the fact that it comes with an “omni adapter” with everything you could possibly want is a DEFINITE upside.
Also, do yourselves a favor and look at the way the site is set up, it’s all menu-y and awesome looking. Also, the box is REALLY awesome, and had the kid's the questioning why I was opening a juice box that they wanted to drink from.
By: CJ Boat
Last year on the “Best of 2013” episode of The Geek I/O Podcast, I put one of my best games of 2013 as Shadowrun: Returns, and again I addressed it on Episode 45 that this is one of my favorite games out there now.
And then I heard of the expansion pack, and my heart skipped a beat.
Then it launched.
Then I was happy!
The setting in this scenario is in Berlin, Germany (of course in the Shadowrun world). I am a little lost on the whole scenario, not sure exactly if it settles into the current state of Germany, just “Shadowrun’d”, or if it’s completely different. Also, the language is lost to me, as my amount of German extends to food, guten tag, and schadenfreude, but of course the main bits of dialogue is in English, just the titles of things, and sometimes I’m lost on the title of companies and gangs.
I’m not going to get too far into the plot here, but it is another fast (for a SRPG) paced, exciting, intriguing, and sometimes even fun. If you have played the newest Deus Ex games, it kind of feels like that (which of course Deus Ex lends itself to Shadowrun) in its execution, and that’s a good feeling. Of course you’re looking at post-apocalyptic future with high fantasy pieces likes elves, magic, and the like.
Now for the gameplay! It’s pretty much the same thing as before, the Shadowrun pen-and-paper game put into a three-quarter view SRPG. In the base game I played a Street Samurai (fighter who can use guns - no magic) and this time around, I chose a Shaman (spirit magic) and it’s a complete and total game-changer. The game really punishes players who misstep (though I played on the hardest difficulty - strategy is key) and rewards those who think several steps ahead of their opponents, it’s a big thing for those who think like me, and has a great risk-reward AI.
I have not done anything with it yet, but there are lots of new skins for User-Generated Campaigns (UGC) and I’ve heard lots of great things about some of the campaigns that users have created, and will do some follow-ups when I get the chance to play them - more of this game the better!
Because I like to score things:
+ Graphics: 8/10
+ Music: 7/10
+ Gameplay: 9/10
+ Writing: 6/10
+ Average: 8/10 - the music really does this game an injustice.
by: CJ Boat
Release Date: August 6, 2013
I am a huge fan of JRPGs, and don't make any attempt to hide it. They are my favorite type of game altogether, but of course I am not a complete apologist, if a game is bad, it's bad.
That being said...
This game is really good. Put out by Bandai-Namco here in the US, it is a continuation of the "Tales of..." series, which, like many other JRPG sequels, has hardly anything to do with any of the other games of their series' name (Tales of Symphonia, Tales of Graces, etc.) except for maybe a couple of things. What this game adopts from the others is mainly the item names: gels are healing items, money is Gal, etc. also the battle system is an evolved version of the other games, which is a good thing.
The graphics in this are the odd 3D-but-painted graphic style, and goes very well with the area that this takes place in. The world is your pretty standard high-fantasy crossed with steampunk accents. Where the magic is in the main front, there are guns, ammunition, and some other gear-grinding items. The art flows very well, and does not really splinter into pixels that are unrecognizable, like some other games even in the current (previous now, I guess) generation.
The music is a kind of middle point, it's very Japanese which may sometimes detract from the storyline; every once in a while you'll get a odd note or even entire song, and maybe off-setting. Though, for the most part, the music you hear the most (Battle & World map) are good though, and fit in. The boss fight music could use some tuning, however.
The battle system, like I said, is an adaptation of other Tales / Star Ocean series games, where it is a random encounter system, where you control one character (or two if you have them turned on semi-manual) in a almost action-RPG where you issue a command to either attack, use an "arte" (Special attack) or blast a fireball at the monster's monstery face, and your guy (or lady, or guys, or ladies, or whatever your flavor is) kills a guy in the face. You can move in 3D, and sometimes you have to to avoid an attack, so that adds a little to the keg.
Final point I want to touch on is the writing and voice acting. They went above and beyond on the VA, where they translated not only the main characters but quite a few NPCs that may give you quests, or even just talk to you. As per the writing, the context works, and does not seem too far into the "Japanese" style writing (not that I have an issue with that, I LOVE that, but can see where people can't). It is also easy to keep up with, and is not too confusing, even though I have not finished the game yet.
NOW ONTO MY SCORING!
Average: 7/10 - the music really does this game an injustice.
So, it's pretty common knowledge that up until now I have not watched Firefly or Serenity. This was recently remedied! I finally just bit the bullet and sat down with Netflix and cuddled up with Nathan Fillion and crew.
So, the downside to the series in my opinion was the pilot. It was super-tropey (which yes, I know most of today's tropes came from this, but retrospect, etc.) the acting wasn't great, the editing was shoddy and jumpy, and pretty much hit every pet peeve button that I have, and for two hours it was a groaner.
That being said, even episode two was amazing. It was almost like the cast and producers all got together and ramped up everything. The camerawork, editing, acting, scripting, and everything just clicked. The show itself's premise is still flaky, but a space western in space, with no aliens (in fact it's a plot point there is no aliens later) was kind of daunting to me (not a fan of westerns) but I seem to like the way that they handled it. I enjoyed the points in each episode, which successfully handled a plot-of-the-week crossed with the underlying constant plot.
I was constantly laughing during watching the episodes, up until the last one which felt like a giant middle finger to Fox, who cancelled the show in the middle of a season. It felt like it was a 21-22 episode season, but only had 14 episodes and a movie (two years later), and several graphic novels after the movie ended (which ended with a "WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A SEQUEL" moment) and a large amount of other media that is unofficial (don't stop the Serenity fandom signal).
Then came the movie, Serenity, which picked up directly after the last episode ended. The first thing I noticed was the very obvious camerawork upgrade. Not saying the show was bad looking, but two years of tech did a great deal to this series. The movie went WAY dark, while trying to shove the two major plot holes into the movie it attempted to keep the humour of the show. It almost held up the humor, but the drama slipped deep into a very ...unique... place in this, which almost felt like it counteracted the signature humor of the series. Before you get started YES I KNOW it was meant to be darker, because the River story needed to be dark, it needed to be brutal, but it took it to the top notch. Without going into the plot too much, because I am trying to remain as spoiler-free as possible (mainly because I think I am going to do a recording of that) I LOVED the villain of this movie, mainly because he was the kind of villain that you love to hate. Unwavering, unquestioning, daunting, vicious, and mostly without the tropes that hit most of the villains of the sci-fi theme.
That being said, I LOVED Firefly, and like Serenity a lot, and am currently making my way through the Joss "Whedonverse", starting with Dollhouse and working up to the 76 seasons of Buffy.
Because I like rating things: 8/10 for Firefly, 7.5/10 for Serenity
Don't stop the signal, browncoats; we aim to misbehave.
SPOILERS! ALL OF THE SPOILERS!
For almost 4 years, I have heard nothing but "You HAVE to watch Breaking Bad" and everything like that. "It's one of the best shows EVER!" "Forget Game of Thrones, this can do it WITHOUT boobs!" Honestly, the hype engine kind of turned me off, but that's kind of my thing. If you over-hype something, it's a huge turnoff, mainly because of expectations. Expectations have been infamous in ruining good things for me.
That was when the show was on, and now it's not, and ALL available to stream. I had time, so why the heck not? I decided to dig in, no matter what. Can I say? I am SO glad that I was able to binge-watch this, because honestly I think I would have cut it at the end of season 2, just like I did with Walking Dead (which is another show I will probably watch as a whole once it is complete) mainly because there was nothing going at the end of season 2. This was kind of helped because everyone was all about season 3+, and they were right, but MAN was that a slow cook.
They did a few WAY stereotypical things during season 1 and 2, the introduction of Jesse, Saul, and the like were really all "TV" which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on if you like that. Season 1 was REALLY a drag, and did not do a good job at keeping me hooked at all, season 2 jumped up, especially with Jesse's development as a drug dealer. This was particularly drawn out with the ATM Machine episode, and kind of showed you the kind of person (or coward) that Jesse really is.
That kind of leads me to the characters. Let me say this, from season 1, I FUCKING HATE WALT. I do believe that is kind of the point, but from the start, I was pretty much in the party of "Just go die, Walt." I cannot stand people based solely on pride and ego. There are no "good guys" in the first tier of characters: Walt is a dick, Jesse's a bitch, and then you get the tier 1.5 people, Hank is not a bad guy, Skylar can die too, yada yada, you get my drift. Then you get to the villains, and from the beginning you realize how weak willed Walt really is with Crazy 8, and this NEVER ends, he falls right into Gus' hands, and not to mention Lydia and the Neo-Nazis. Also, KEEP YOUR GOD DAMNED PANTS ON, CRANSTON! NO ONE WANTS TO SEE THAT!
I cannot get over JUST how bad Walt is, not in a "OMG he's such a bad guy" kind of way, even though that exists ("I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS!") but just how bad of a character he really is, and I KNOW he is supposed to be written like that, you are supposed to feel for the others (Jesse, Skylar, Hank, Flynn, etc.), and in that fashion, Vince Gilligan is a GENIUS. If you can write a character SO off that it's interesting to watch him fall apart, then that's something special.
Another thing a lot of people kept saying was "poor Jesse". That being said, I did not feel a THING for his whining little self until season 5, and even in that until the end. The hug between Walt and Jesse INSTANTLY turned me to #TeamJesse, and from that point EVERYTHING that happened to that kid made me feel a little hollower inside. Honestly I would have been destroyed if he died in the finale. He is the one I am most interested in, even if it was just a "he got to Brock, and adopted him" or something like that, just to get that poor kid a little point of light in the darkness.
Now, onto the villains: Crazy 8, Tucco, the Cousins, Gus, Hank, Lydia/Nazis (no I don't consider Mike a villain). These characters for the most part were the most interesting point in this, mainly because they did a GREAT job at pushing a plot that could slow to a snail’s pace sometimes. Crazy 8 got to set the stage, and really just show FOREVER what Walt was like. Tucco was the first person to push Walt almost to breaking, and was fantastic. He was such an evil bastard he beat his own cousin to death with his HANDS. He was the villain to show the kind of person Jesse really is: a follower, and when put in charge, can't finish the job, and weak, so weak. The Cousins served ONLY as a bridge to Gus, but really just showed you the point where the show would go, that there were no punches to be pulled, "no half measures". They were a sub-subplot at best, but got to show you the true dark side of this show, for all of the characters. Now onto Gus... the mastermind, the thinker, the boss. Gus was an amazing bad guy, hiding in plain sight, a hidden sociopath, and a fantastic manipulative character. I love bad guys who can think on their own, and really can pull the story, when you are SO driven to hate them that you want them to be on screen so you can hate them more. As a subpoint - Mike is my FAVORITE character on the series, no ifs ands or buts. I would talk about Lydia and the Nazis, but fuck them. FUCK THEM! Though, Todd was another one of those villains, what can I say? I have a soft spot in my villain-hating-but-loving heart for a GOOD sociopath. They got what the deserved.
That being said, I was ENTHRALLED with this show, and even though I have my nitpicks, I will watch this show again in a minute, and intend to. This is probably one of the best shows I have ever watched, and I am SO glad I was able to binge, or I would have given up on this fantastic show. Well done Vince Gilligan, you magnificent bastard.
That's right folks, Sam Fisher and Echelon 4 are back for more terrorist busting action! This time, they are up against a a terrorist group calling itself "The Engineers" assumes responsibility for the attack and announce that it was the first of a deadly countdown of escalating attacks (called "The Blacklist") on United States assets, declaring that they will halt the attacks only after the U.S. government accomplish the demand of calling back all American troops deployed abroad.
Now, this is very similar to the previous 5 games' plot of "There are the bad guys Sam, stop them by any means necessary!" This game is very much so formulaic of the rest of the Splinter Cell games, but that is definitely not saying that is a bad thing! Sam gets some cool gadgets, and you are free to go completely crazy and murder every bad guy in the face, or you can knock them out, or you can even avoid them completely.
There are 3 types of "experience" in this game that reward each of those: Ghost, which rewards pacifism, and non-lethal methods. Panther, which rewards players for stealthy kills and hiding bodies, and finally Assault, which is exactly what it sounds like; killing things dead, no one has time to be skulking around. Personally, I am a panther player, because I am a sniper rifle player, and frankly, they don't have any tranq rifles that I have come across yet.
They did introduce a new gameplay mechanic called Killing in Motion, allowing the player to highlight targets and take them out in quick succession while on the run. This is very helpful, even as a sniper player, you can highlight up to three enemies and take them out without aiming at all (it even counts as a "from the hip" shot, which really allows you to rake up the cash) this can be pretty easily abused, but it never makes the game "too easy" as you have to either KO or kill a certain number of baddies before it refreshes.
They also brought back Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow's "Spies vs. Mercs" multiplayer, which makes me VERY HAPPY! I loved being a spy in SCPT and still do!
Now, playing the game on the PC with a PS3 controller mapped as a Xbox 360 controller really gives you everything you need in this, the fine control of a controller while having the ability to play with AMAZING details of my PC. That being said, I did run into an issue where DirectX11 crashed, and I had to bring it down all the way to DX9 in order for it to work at all, which makes me very sad.
Other than that, I am not having any arguments, and this game, outside of having a new VO for Sam (poor old Ironsides, I miss the grizzled old man, though the new guy isn't bad) this is carrying on with a great tradition set up from Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (my first full playthrough of any SC game took place here), and I LOVE it. I'm really liking the fluid motion, gameplay, music, and even the kind of odd and holey plot. Easily a 8/10, mainly because the DX11 issue and the holey plot.
This weekend, I went to the Magic Celebration, which celebrated 20 years of playing the world's #1 trading card game, and as I was playing (and losing) I really started to think about my experience in the game.
I started playing in 1996, so 3 years after the came premiered in 1993, and started playing in September when I started school, so 17 years to the month I have been playing this amazing game, with breaks here and there.
My nostalgia was triggered when playing with a couple of new friends of mine, who were like me, who played old school MtG, and stopped playing in Mirrodin, back in 2003. I have played here and there online since then, but nothing major.
In this even, you got to choose a pre-built deck and got a M'14 booster pack of 15 cards. As a person who likes control, and because I have historically played blue, that's what I chose.
You were allowed to put what you got in your booster pack into your deck, and add another color into the deck, I added 5 green cards in, because they were way tasty. It created a control / stomp kind of deck that made up for the weakness in the deck, which was defending from attacks. That being said, it was one of the weaker decks that was available. The red and black decks stomped, but while a blue deck won, it's because he drafted (pulled from the pack) Jace, Memory Adept, which unbalanced his deck completely.
As you can tell, that's what kind of brings up this retrospective, cards like that. There is such a thing called "Power Creep" that exists in all games, what that means is that powers on newer items will be MUCH stronger than older items. While there are some really awesome older cards, like Dark Ritual
Which are easy, and powerful, but then you have items like Jace which completely overpower and dominate. Considering there are an average of 60 cards per deck in this, removing TEN of them every turn is insane. Not to mention events like this where the average deck is 35-45 cards, it's complete face smashing.
All that aside, there is a release coming up this month, for a new set called Theros, which is an entire block based on Greek-type gods and mythos. I think I'm sold on getting back into the game with both feet. After 17 years, I'm still fully vested in this game...