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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Review: The Last Exorcism

The Last Exorcism (2010)
Genre: Horror
Format: Theatrical Release
Director: Daniel Stamm

When it comes to movies involving exorcism, nothing can ever top William Friedkin's The Exorcist. Daniel Stamm knows this very well so we are presented with an exorcist film with a twist in both the way it handles the notion of exorcism and the way that the entire movie is presented. It's basically another one of The Blair Witch Project's bastard children, and like so many that were born from that masterpiece, it bears some resemblance in its technical aspects - like the shaky camera that actually gave me motion sickness while watching TLE - while trying to give us more shock value than it really needed to give us.

TLE is quite gimmick heavy so it would be a sin to give away the details of the storyline. Basically, it's about a priest who is performing an exorcism on a teenage girl in a secluded family farm while having the whole thing video taped by a couple of documentary filmmakers. What makes this movie stands out is its realism. You don't get to see projectile vomiting or a 360 degree head twist. Because of that reason alone, the movie immediately becomes more disturbing because we know that what we are seeing in front of us is in the realm of possibility in real life. The acting is quite authentic, especially the charismatic and likable (even to this atheist) priest played to perfection by Patrick Fabian. The supposedly possessed girl also did a great job with her sweet to creepy transition. The movie is so much fun to watch until it decides to abandon its realistic approach in favor of contrived film-making like the ridiculous use of the camera in one sequence and also the implementation of moody soundtracks to accompany the horrific moments.

In the end, what you get here is half of a good movie and half of a rotten one. I really did not like where this movie ended up going but at least I was entertainment halfway through it. There was definitely a missed potential here. If the film were to stick to its original tone of realism and subtlety, it could have easily been one of the best horror movies to ever be conceived. Apparently, the movie didn't learn the one extremely important lesson from The Blair Witch Project: it's not what you see that can make such an impact, it's what you don't see that will makes things so very terrifying.

RATING: 3 out of 5

Monday, August 30, 2010

Games Played 08/23/2010 - 08/29/2010

- 08/23/2010 -
Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia - PlayStation 2
League of Legends - PC

- 08/24/2010 -
Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia - PlayStation 2
Ar Tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica - PlayStation 2
League of Legends - PC
Ghostbusters: The Video Game - X-Box 360
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner- RaidouKuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army - PlayStation 2

- 08/25/2010 -
League of Legends - PC
Panzer Dragoon II Zwei - SegaSaturn
Radiant Silvergun - SegaSaturn

- 08/26/2010 -
Ar Tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica - PlayStation 2
League of Legends - PC
Panzer Dragoon II Zwei - SegaSaturn
Thunder Force V - SegaSatum

- 08/27/2010 -
Ar Tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica - PlayStation 2
Contra: Shattered Soldier - PlayStation 2
League of Legends - PC
Metal Slug Anthology - PlayStation 2
Radiant Silvergun - SegaSaturn

- 08/28/2010 -
Ar Tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica - PlayStation 2
Kirby Super Star Ultra - NDS
League of Legends - PC

- 08/29/2010 -
League of Legends - PC
Sin & Punishment: Star Successor - Wii
Ys Seven - PSP

Fun with PS3 Autopsy

I have decided that my next working PlayStation 3 will be the new "slim" model and I have made that determination from several important factors. First of all, because of the model number of the dead PS3 itself. I own a launch 20GB that I upgraded with a 120GB HDD. This means that this unit doesn't have wi-fi. Not that wi-fi matters to me much because I could easily hook up any wired Ethernet connection in my Game Room. The only downfall to not having wi-fi on the PS3 is the inability to use the console as a server to host Ad Hoc multi-player games for the PlayStation Portable since it requires both wired and wi-fi to be utilized at the same time. Secondly, though I am going to lose the PlayStation 2 backwards compatibility with the new model, I still have my old PS2 console and quite frankly, it handles PS2 games better than the PS3. I have always been disappointed with the way the PS3 upscales old games to high definition and with the games that support progressive scan, they look better in 480p than the PS3's 1080p upscale. I do think Sony should have kept the backwards compatibility alive in the newer models but it doesn't seem like it is that big of a loss when you do own a PS2. The only thing missing of course would be the convenience of having one console out instead of two. Lastly, the newer model is more reliable in its overall technical design, including its lower power consumption. Sure, it is ugly but I suppose beauty is only skin deep.

Since I won't be sending my broken PS3 to Sony to be fixed (who knows, I may actually do exactly that in the future), I decided to do an autopsy to take my Ar Tonelico: melody of Elemia disc out of the system. Disassembling the PS3 is not as hard as I thought it would be. The only struggle I had was with finding the right type of screwdriver for the job. I was happy to see that everything looked really clean inside my console. There was hardly any dust inside for I took great care of the system. The operation was successful and the disc was able to be saved without any damage inflicted upon it. The only bad thing here is that is when I am in the mood to play the game again, I have to start over from the very beginning... for the third time! I know I will not be doing that anytime soon. As for the new PS3, I don't know when I will pick it up but of course it will receive its grand welcome here on this website once that happens.

No PS3 was hurt during the making of this article... Because it was already dead.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Yes, I Miss You

So how is life without the PlayStation 3? As much as I am trying to be brave and calm in regards to the situation, I do miss that darn console. I have placed my old PlayStation 2 where the PS3 used to be, which is the right hand side of my LCD, and every time I look at it, I am reminded of my current predicament. Earlier today, I was thinking about renting a movie from Redbox - I stopped using Netflix because I found that I don't watch the movies that come to me fast enough, thanks to my video gaming habit - and while browsing through the available titles, I realized that I can't watch Blu-ray movies anymore. That really killed my mood immediately because I have been spoiled by high definition pictures these days and the last thing I want to do is rent a DVD. I will have to rectify the situation very soon.

It's just not the same... I am missing my PS3.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

League of Legends: Level 30 Get!

Finally! It's time to check out the ranked matches (if I can find enough friendly people).

Earlier this evening, I finally made it to summoner level 30 in League of Legends on the Personal Computer. What this means is that I now gain access to the all 30 talent points and all the rune slots to fully customize my champion builds and realize the extents of the champions' potentials. Other than the $10+ spent on getting the "Collector's Pack", I have not paid a single dime throughout the entire leveling up process and I can choose to continue doing that as long as the game is up and running. Still, I do plan to purchase crazy alternate looks for my favorite champions when they become available: Riot Games, please, please, please make a nasty looking Teemo complete with a nastier looking mushroom! While getting to level 30, I was able to unlock 14 additional champions and purchased a decent amount of quality runes using the Influence Points accumulated from merely playing the game. I have a total of 34 champions but I only focus my attention on 3-4 of them. I will spend more time playing at level 30 before I write my final impression about the game. If you still have not signed up to play LoL, you are missing out on one of the most fun games ever. Click here to create your summoner profile and join in on the fun! It's 100% free!

I still have more champions to unlock: A great reason to keep playing the game!

Friday, August 27, 2010

New Games Alert: DS = 2, PS3 = 0 Edition!

I was at the electronics store tonight and I was so close to getting a new PlayStation 3. What I ended up with when I stepped out of the place were two Nintendo DS games instead. I don't want to make a rushed decision when it comes to the PS3: As a matter of fact, perhaps I will just wait to get the PS3 and PlayStation Move bundle. Who knows, at the end of the day I would just send the console back to Sony for them to fix it. I don't know. It's just a bit expensive when I could spend my cash on games for my other systems. There's always time to get the PS3 and I didn't subscribe to the lame PlayStation Plus so I am not losing any subscription time.

This could have been a picture of a 250GB Slim PS3.

The two NDS games that are inducted into my Game Library tonight are Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen and Kirby Super Star Ultra. I am a big fan of the Dragon Quest series so getting this DS remake is a given. I am enjoying Sentinels of the Starry Skies and I am sure that I will jump on this soon after I completed that game. As someone who never had the Super Nintendo Entertainment System during its time, I always wanted the play the Kirby games, especially Kirby Super Star. This is a remake of that game and I am happy to finally get this. With Ultra in my possession, I don't have to pick up the original that was released via the Virtual Console on the Nintendo Wii.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

So... Explosive?!

When you think about the Metroid series, you would associate them with mystery, epic science-fiction, and  a classy (as well as classic) execution. With the latest entry to the series coming out to the Nintendo Wii at the end of this month in the form of Metroid: Other M, the word that I am looking for the describe the game based on what I have seen - the heavy drama of a Samus as an angry youth - is... camp! Nintendo's latest ad that I received in my email seems to be pointing towards that direction as well.

An explosive situation? Really?

Don't get me wrong - I am looking forward to the game's release. After all, it is a Metroid game and I doubt that Nintendo would let us down. Team Ninja, who is involved in the making of this game, has apparently injected a heavy dose of progesterone into the product. We will see if the result will be as artificial as the women in the Dead or Alive games or something truly remarkable.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

PS3 Death: The Color Game

The PlayStation 3 actually has a lot in common with the X-Box 360 when it comes to the way it communicates epic failure. I have found out that the blinking lights actually convey a deeper meaning than just "you're completely screwed" and they could provide you details about the problem that you are facing on with your broken console. Apparently, there are ambiguous internal issues affecting mine as shown in the guide found on the official PlayStation support page that comes complete with animating lights (take that Microsoft!):

The origin of the console language.

I was seriously considering getting one of those newer slim models, even though they look mighty nasty. But the problem here is that my current console can't even be turned on so I can't do the data transfer between the two consoles. Sending it back to Sony will cost me a $149.00 repair fee, which translates into a 50% discount compared to just getting a PS3 in my Game Room immediately.  I think I'm just going to sleep on it for a while. There are other platforms that I can focus on at the moment. Besides, I haven't been on the PS3 that much other than my recent attempt to complete Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia on Justin.tv, a game that is now held hostage on the disc drive inside the console.

PS3 Death?

I have been streaming Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia for the PlayStation 2 using my PlayStation 3 on Justin.tv since sometime last week. I never finished the game the last time I played it so I thought I would use streaming as a vehicle to keep me going until I reach the end since I have to start playing the game from the beginning. Well, I am now 18 hours in and it's been pretty fun. I started the stream again not too long ago and soon after I began, everything went black and the power light on my PS3 started flashing red. This never happened to me before and it was rather shocking. So I turned it off, unplugged everything, then hooked everything back up and as soon as I turned the machine on, it would just die immediately with the same flashing red light. It am afraid that my PS3 is dead. I know it would cost me a chunk of cash to return the console to Sony for them to attempt to fix the problem so I am going to weigh my options and decide what I need to do to be able to game on the PS3 again. I am rather disappointed since none of my previous Sony consoles have ever endured such a horrible fate in the past... If you are the morbid type who would like to watch the last 5+ minutes of my PS3's life, click here.

Death looming over my PS3... Is this truly goodbye?

Strange Gaming Phenomenon: 4:3 in 16:9

I like checking out gameplay videos on YouTube, as well as Justin.tv recently, and one thing that always baffles me is seeing people playing non-widescreen games in widescreen format. I myself play on a widescreen display but if a game is natively 4:3, I would always correct my LCD to the appropriate aspect ratio. The opposite to this - people setting games to 16:9 when they only have 4:3 display - is less offensive to me because that problem usually just involves a bit of ignorance on the victim's part. I had a conversation with this guy on X-Box Live several years ago and we were playing some role playing game, I forgot which one, and we ended up talking about the types of televisions we were gaming on. He explained to me that he did not have a widescreen TV but then he informed me that he set his TV type as widescreen on the console, that it still worked on his TV, and everything looked "cooler" and clearer. I explained to him that though he was able to get a bit more graphics squeezed into the display, the image would be distorted and crushed together. He thought I was crazy.

Just because you can, it doesn't mean that you should.

Despite that revelatory event, I really want to discuss more about the 4:3 in 16:9 situation because to me, it just seems ridiculous. Do people really enjoy seeing seriously stretched image on the screen? All of a sudden, all the characters gain several pounds and the developer's original vision gets flatten by the gamer's inability to use some common sense. My significant other used to do the same thing when watching 4:3 movies or television shows on our widescreen living room display and oh how quickly I turned that situation around. Just know that changing the aspect ratio of your widescreen display (if you have the option to that is) to the proper 4:3 appropriation of what is being displayed will not result in ghosting these days. If you own a modern set, burn in is something of a fairy tale now. I have to admit that I was a late adopter of the high definition fixed pixel displays myself - I was big on DLPs before my latest gaming display because I did fear the burn in. Ironically, my significant other was the one who convinced me to go bold with my choice and after using my current display over the past year and seven months - including many hours of having black borders on both sides of the screen playing 4:3 games, none of the pixels are stuck at black yet and I don't worry about it anymore.

Sonic's pot bellied classic look doesn't require additional tweaking.

So fellow gamers, please respect your older video games and visually play them on your capable displays as they are meant to be played. Don't be shocked when you see that Kirby was never that much fatter in his old gaming days and the body proportions of the characters in those PlayStation 2 Japanese role playing games were not that off (well, maybe just slightly).

If you play this game in 16:9, you are more of a devil summoner than Raidou will ever be.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Games Played 08/16/2010 - 08/22/2010

- 08/16/2010 -
Global Agenda Trial - PC
League of Legends - PC

- 08/17/2010 -
League of Legends - PC
Puzzle Quest 2 - PC

- 08/18/2010 -
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies - NDS
League of Legends - PC
Runes of Magic - PC
Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut un Böse - PlayStation 2

- 08/19/2010 -
League of Legends - PC

- 08/20/2010 -
Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia - PlayStation 2
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies - NDS
League of Legends - PC

- 08/21/2010 -
Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia - PlayStation 2
League of Legends - PC

- 08/22/2010 -
Ar Tonelico: Melody of Elemia - PlayStation 2
League of Legends - PC
Red Steel 2 - Wii
Wii Sports Resort - Wii

Red Steel 2 Heartbreak

I mentioned on Saturday that my significant other was excited about trying out Red Steel 2 for the Nintendo Wii. Well, several hours ago, the possibility of me having an offline video gaming partner was put to the test. After merely several minutes of the beginning tutorial that involved moving the camera and shooting the gun, my significant other handed me back the nunchuk and the WiiMote. It's not the game's fault for sure - the controls for Red Steel 2 is incredibly accurate and it really showcases what the MotionPlus is capable of. It's just that my significant other is really not used to holding any gaming controller comfortably. I explained that it all takes practice, just like everything else in life. I only had a 20+ years head start when it comes to my familiarity with video games but it didn't take a long time for me to get really good at with controlling something on the screen using a handheld device when I first started gaming. I was hopeful that this game - as unlikely a candidate as it may be - to be the turning point in the video gaming portion my romantic relationship. We can't force everyone to love the same things we enjoy. That's just life.

If you are not a gamer, you are not a gamer.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New Games Alert: Ain't Afraid to Buy Games Edition!

3 new titles are inducted into my Game Library today. The first is the Ghostbusters: The Video Game for the X-Box 360. The the Personal Computer version was missing the game's multi-player elements and the PlayStation 3 version has inferior graphics, thus the choice of console. I am not a huge franchise fanatic - though I did absolutely enjoy The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series from the late 1980s - but I really like the thought behind the game since it is was made with major involvement from Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis as well as the cast of the films . Egon Spengler has always been my favorite member of the Ghostbusters team: The brainy, smart main characters always interest me.

The next game is Ys Seven for the PlayStation Portable. It is an action role playing game of the legendary Nihon Falcom series. For the longest time, this game has been under my radar because I thought it was a PSP remake of the The Ark of Napishtim specifically for the PSP - actually, that was already released several years ago. When I learned that it was actually the latest entry for the series, I couldn't resist picking it up. As a matter of fact, it was the real reason why I even went out today. The other two games are just happen to be accidental casualties...

Last but not least, Red Steel 2 for the Nintendo Wii. I avoided the first game like the plague because it made a mockery of the WiiMote with its false promise of 1:1 motion control. This sequel has supposedly accomplish what the first game failed to attain and of course the futuristic-western setting is very inviting. The game is played in first person and your cool looking cowboy assassin uses both a sword and a gun. On my way back home, my significant other was looking through the games that I got and was excited to try out this game (woah... heaven). The attraction had something to do with the following statement from the back of the box: "Strike with deadly precision using a sword and a gun-". I guess that description is capable of telling people that the game is very easy to play or something. Notice that I got the copy bundled with the optional Wii "Condom" and the Wii MotionPlus. I already own one MotionPlus from Wii Sports Resort but as you know, for some reason I just had to have at least an extra one just in case my significant other eventually turn into an avid game... Yeah right. Then again, you just never know.

Who you gonna call? Your favorite local gaming store to see if they have a game in stock.

Friday, August 20, 2010

New Games Alert: That's a Lot of Stalking Edition!

There's a great deal happening at the Steam store for the Personal Computer store: two S.T.A.L.K.E.R. games, Shadow of Chernobyl and Call of Pripyat. I have been mighty curious about these first person shooter titles for a while now because of their open world design and creepy atmosphere. You could probably tell by the titles that these games are based on the Chernobyl nuclear disaster where you get to explore the areas surrounding the nuclear reactor, fighting off nightmarish mutants and the likes. In terms of its real-world based setting, you can think of the game as the Ukraine version of the Fallout series. From the footage that I have seen, these games can definitely be pretty darn scary and that normally translates into good times.

That's cheaper than the price of a ticket to watch Piranha 3D... Which I am eager to see.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

LOL in LoL: Extreme Edition

The "creative" names that I stumble upon while playing League of Legends on the Personal Computer are getting rowdier and rowdier it seems. Are they insulting? Immature? Entertaining? Arousing? You decide!

That is why you get to find so many of them in the game.

Combined with Evelynn's high heels, that's going to hurt a lot!

That's not Veigar... That's vulgar!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Loco Kind of DotA

It's free to play but there are things that needed to be unlocked in the game.
I haven't figured out if you need real money to access them all.

I found another Defense of the Ancients clone for the Personal Computer today called Land of Chaos Online from Alaplaya that is currently in its open beta stage . The object of the game is to destroy your team's base and to accomplish that, you have to battle creep waves and the other team's heroes as well as defensive structures and neutral monsters along the way. You get to level up as the game proceeds, buy items, and upgrade skills to make your character more powerful. You can also customize your character outside of the battle to give him or her a permanent statistic boost.

Only a llimited amount of characters are available.
There are supposed to be more as you continue playing the game.

What is unique about this game compared to other DotA clones is that it is played via a third person perspective with the camera situated right behind your character compared to the overhead top down view you usually get with the genre. This makes the game more similar to World of Warcraft's battlegrounds. As exciting as that may sound, it is however pretty rough around the edges when it comes to its gameplay. The game controls like a first person shooter with the left mouse button used to trigger regular attacks. This makes accessing your 5 character skills located on the number keys very difficult because you control the movement of your character using the WASD configuration. What's worse is that as you play the game, your additional shortcut slots will be filled with items and accessing them via the function keys (from F1 all the way to F10 oh my galaxy) on top of everything else becomes a total nightmare. Oh, let's not forget the other keys you need to press to access the shop as well as other important functions in the heat of battle. The game could have easily benefited from an action bar click control scheme like what is normally used in massively multiplayer online games. There is just simply no balance between the amount of things you need to access and how convenient it is to do so. I plan to play the game a little more to see if I could manage to get over the terrible user interface and if not, I will have to abandon it completely.

This game is specifically made for Dr. Octopus.

FIRST IMPRESSION: 2 out of 5

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Scott Pilgrim Frustration

A game like this doesn't come to us very often.

I just finished playing the demo of Ubisoft's new Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game on the PlayStation 3 and I am mighty impressed. The game is a love letter to the 2D beat-'em-ups of old and it offers up to 4 player co-op play. I am really loving the purposely pixelated but beautiful 2D graphics - this is how you make a proper visual reference to the classic games from our past (I am looking at you Mega Man 9 & Mega Man 10). Here's the dilemma though - you can't play the game with other players online. The guys at Ubisoft must be completely insane... Well, we figured that when they released Assassin's Creed II for the Personal Computer with that nonsensical digital rights management tool. But this is just totally ridiculous. I may be alone on this one though because I still don't have people to play games with locally. The game is meant to be played with others and it looks like I will miss out on that when I finally unlock the full game. Before playing this game, I wasn't even remotely interested in watching the film even though it looked rather offbeat thus interesting. The game actually made me want to go watch the movie! I really hope that Ubisoft will come to their senses and release a patch that allows the game to be played online in the future.

Agenda Hidden

The log in screen is definitely striking.

After playing my trial account of Global Agenda for the Personal Computer, I have decided not to commit to it at this time. Based on what I have seen, I can understand why developer Hi-Rez Studios has stopped charging people monthly fees to access some of the contents of the game. GA is a massively multiplayer online shooter with some role playing elements added to it. But mostly, it's just a shooter than anything else. It controls like one, plays like one, and you don't get massive amount of abilities to carry around with you. The thing is, I have played a better shooter/RPG hybrid before and that game is Borderlands. Sure you don't get the third person view that GA offers without messing around with the files, but Borderlands is far more rewarding than this game because of its addictive loot heavy philosophy.

You still get to do a lot of shooting no matter which class you choose.

When it comes to the actual online experience, GA is designed just like Phantasy Star Online or Guild Wars where you can meet other players in a hub area and then access instances to carry out missions. It's a tried and true formula but certainly, this game is made less of a true MMO because of it. I don't mind such a design decision but I really do mind that the game offers poor visual customization when it comes to what your character wears. You get to upgrade your armor statistics frequently by attaching modifiers into slots specific to the many locations on your body but doing so does not change the look of your character. There is a separate section of your character customization screen that addresses actual visual alteration to your character. This means that you don't get to see your character change visually as you move up in levels and though I have seen some wicked looking armor on other players, there is not enough here to really keep me engaged.

Welcome to dull, I mean Dome City!

The game's limited amount of classes - 4 to be exact - doesn't bother me so much, especially with the introduction of skill trees in the game that allows you to customize the classes to your liking. These classes really depend on each other so if you think of doing a lot of soloing, which is possible by the way with the low level quests, this is not the game for you. GA thrives on team synergy and you can think of the game as Team Fortress 2 only with much larger health bar so that you could really enjoy the player versus player section of the game a lot more. Graphically, this game is certainly one of the best looking MMO available in the market today, well if we can really call it a MMO that is.

A small town full of quests? Oh yeah!

I was really excited when I jumped on GA for the first time and it is with a heavy heart that I must say that the experience has been rather forgettable. The game is certainly not bad by any means but it is too simple to be engaging. Perhaps it needs another year of polishing and there may be some untapped potentials waiting to be implemented on top of the game's tunnel vision shooter design.

The game works well with the X-Box 360 controller. Strangely however,
you can't use the controller to navigate around quest and character windows.

FIRST IMPRESSION: 3 out of 5

Monday, August 16, 2010

Games Played 08/09/2010 - 08/15/2010

- 08/09/2010 -
Allods Online - PC
Battle of the Titans - PC
Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited - PC
League of Legends - PC
Runes of Magic - PC

- 08/10/2010 -
Allods Online - PC
League of Legends - PC
Plants vs. Zombies - PC

- 08/11/2010 -
League of Legends - PC
Plants vs. Zombies - PC
Runes of Magic - PC

- 08/12/2010 -
Plants vs. Zombies - PC
Puzzle Quest 2 - PC

- 08/13/2010 -
League of Legends - PC
Plants vs. Zombies - PC
Puzzle Quest 2 - PC

- 08/14/2010 -
League of Legends - PC
Puzzle Quest 2 - PC
Runes of Magic - PC

- 08/15/2010 -
Global Agenda Trial - PC
League of Legends - PC

*Oh my galaxy. A whole week playing games exclusively on the Personal Computer!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Review: Reincarnation

Reincarnation (2005)
Genre: Mystery/Horror
Format: FEARnet HD Stream
Director: Takashi Shimizu

Reincarnation is a very interesting take on the Japanese horror genre that will surprise anyone who expects it to be just another Ringu rinse and repeat, especially since it involves Director Takashi Shimzu of The Grudge fame (or shame depending on who you talked to and the version of the film you watched). The creepy child apparition is still a part of this film but at least its usage is really more creepy than annoyingly cheap.

The movie tackles the subject of reincarnation through a terrific movie inside a movie milieu. The story focuses on a young actress who just landed gig for a starring role in a horror movie based on a true story where a demented father murdered his own two kids and a slew of guests and employees in a countryside hotel. Yeah, there's a bit of that The Shining vibe borrowed by this movie but that is pretty much where the comparison ends. You would think that the actress would be happy about the opportunity but weird things start to happen and she keeps seeing a little girl's ghost as well as flashes of memories of the actual murders that took place before she was even born. There are several other characters who are experiencing this as well but they are not even a part of the actual production crew. The connection between these characters and the mystery behind the entire haunting are clearly revealed by the film's excellent climax and exceptional ending.

The film within a film setup is quite entertaining to watch and its significance to the entire movie is quite clever and a bit disturbing. The majority of the movie time is spent on watching the film crew as they work on the pre-production aspects of the filming. The most fun part is when the director decides to take his team of actors to visit the actual location of the now deserted hotel where the murders took place. The multi-layered storytelling is further strengthened by the side tale of another girl who is also drawn to the hotel. Then there is also the actual footage of the murders that is shown on top of everything else. The constant switching between what's real and what's not, who's doing this and who's doing that may seem a bit off-putting at first, but be patient and stay with it for you will be properly rewarded for it eventually.

If you have watched the original Japanese production of Pulse, The Ring, and The Grudge, it would be easy to say that you have watched all of the J-horror films because these movies set such a high standard for the genre that they are often replicated but without much success. It is refreshing to watch a movie like Reincarnation because it honors the tradition of what one would normally expect from these kind of films but then it turned everything upside down to introduce its own unique twist. If not for its more grotesque subject matter, which of course includes the very violent murder of two children (a big taboo here), this movie would have gotten a Hollywood remake.

RATING: 4 out of 5

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Not Just Your Agenda Anymore

One game that has recently caught my interest - thanks to my recent foray into massively multi-player online gaming - is Global Agenda by Hi-Rez Studios. This shooter/role playing MMO was released with a monthly subscription fee requirement when it was first released early this year but the game is now free to play after the initial payment for the software. The game is going for the Guild Wars route and the great thing here is that the developer is not going to turn this into a micro-transaction fest. The developer plans to release one or two expansions yearly and players can choose to buy them to expand their gameplay experience but the full offering of the current contents can be played via a one time fee. You can read more about the game's free online gameplay here.  I am certainly intrigued by this game because of its futuristic feel and its slick graphics. I am downloading the free trial version tonight and if I like it, I will certainly get the game. It is being offered at a discounted price of $29.99 at the moment - not bad at all for what you get from it.

Flaming hot third person team-based shooter action.

The Ragers' Nest in LoL

I have played League of Legends on the Personal Computer for quite some time now and compared to games like Demigod and Heroes of Newerth, the game's community is for the most part, welcoming. I have written about it many times in the past but there is just something about these online battle arena games that make people go completely bonkers. Things have taken a turn for the worse in LoL. I am sad to say, as I am moving closer and closer towards the level cap of 30, the occurrence of encountering a verbal abuser is getting more and more frequent. I think over the last couple of days, I got "yelled at", ridiculed, and treated like I wasn't even human at least once every 2-3 games. The thing is, I really could care less about these jerks but of course, being treated like you are a bane to the existence of the game by your own team member while you are trying to accomplish a team goal is disheartening to say the least. I am pretty diligent in reporting these individuals though and I would always take the time after these affected each game to narrate the specifics of the incidents to Riot Games using the LoL client's convenient report function. There is no shame in doing so: I know I am helping out the community, one jerk at a time.

You win some, you lose some, but you should never leave them.

If you do play the game and you are tired of teaming up with these kind of people, feel free to send me an email at loner.gamer@yahoo.com. I would like to get a friendly team together for a LoL session. I must warn you though that:

1) I don't curse and I don't get upset when I die in the game nor would I do so when I lose a match. This doesn't mean that I don't care about staying alive or working hard to win that match.

2) I am willing to take constructive criticism and when I talk to you about strategies and champion builds, I will only do so politely.

3) I am not a perfect player and I would like to continue getting better and better at this game. I view both my successes and my failures as learning opportunities.

4) I don't expect you to be a perfect player. I hope to learn from both your successes and your failures.

5) I think that the Summoner's Code is totally rad!

If you don't play LoL but all of these talks about getting verbally abused by arrogant players excite you - or perhaps it was the flowery parts that got you going - make sure to sign up for your account and start playing the game! It's completely free!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Game Alert: Puzzle Solved Edition!

The Personal Computer version of Infinite Interactive's Puzzle Quest 2 finally arrived today. The game is a couple of dollars more expensive than the X-Box 360 edition (still way cheaper than the Nintendo DS version) but the mouse control is a definite plus. Unlike Gyromancer, moving the gems around the puzzle board feels a lot more intuitive and natural with the mouse and it's very easy to move about the game inside and outside the actual puzzle battles. I must say that my extra-heavy PC gaming of late has really caused some problems for my wrist so half of the time, I did play the game using the 360 controller, which is of course a really ironic thing. Now that I have played the game a bit more extensively, I can definitely see its improvement over the original. The one thing that helps this game the most is its large characters and that you are moving your character through beautiful locations versus a zoomed out overhead map from the original. This PC version is published by Namco - weird - and it does feature online multi-player. Unfortunately, the "Tournament Mode", where you create a team of monsters to fight against another team, is left offline here unlike the 360 version - definitely something to consider if you are trying to decide which one to get between the two releases. The Steam release comes with a hefty amount of achievements for those who care about them.

Red Death wants your soul, Goblin and this game wants the soul of its players!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Some More LOL in LoL

More of the "creative" names that I stumbled upon while playing League of Legends on the Personal Computer. It's hard to come across these names lately, probably because of the proactive measures taken by the community and Riot Games to eliminate  problem players - it's easy to spot the rotten people by their mostly arrogant names.

As they say, Rogues Do It From Behind...

Because the chicken wanted to be Donald Trump.

Announcing it in that fashion almost made it sound like you are compensating.
The fact that you are playing Fiddlesticks made things even worse.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Allods Online: Triple Vision

I created an Imperial faction character when I first started playing Allods Online on the Personal Computer yesterday so today, I thought I would check out the opposing League faction. One of the races, the Gibberling, is very unique in which the character is represented by three linked avatars. You can customize the basic looks of each of the triplets during the creation process but you really just control one while the others follow. When you equip a new piece of equipment, it visually alters all of the characters simultaneously. It's really not my style though because they are just too synchronized and thus seem "unnatural". This whole thing is just too trippy and weird but it also very different so I really commend the game for offering something that is truly unique.

Want to control more than one character at once without dual-boxing? Pick the Gibberlings!

Plants vs. Zombies... Updated!

With the eventual release of Plants vs. Zombies for the X-Box 360 next month which will include extra contents, it would be grossly unfair if these additions were not provided in some manner to those who already purchased and played it on the Personal Computer (and now Mac). After all, it was the PC community that gave the game its remarkable success. Now that I have just updated the game with the recently released and free "Game of the Year Edition" patch, I am disappointed to report that the X-Box 360 version will still gain the edge when it comes to the actual content because this patch doesn't include any of the online modes made for the console release.

PvZ already has its own in-game achievement system.
Those who purchased the game on Steam will now get additional achievements to obsess over.

So yeah, the "Zombatar", where you can customize your zombies is cool but it's not as cool as playing with others online. What's worse is the fact that the Michael Jackson zombie is now replaced with a generic boogie woogie zombie due to the pressure from the Jackson estate whose interest is probably dominated by greed than anything else. There is no way that the controls would be as precise using the game controller than the mouse setup or even the touch screen of the iPad version so I surely hope that PopCap Games will release an update again that will feature the online co-op mode for the PC version with the game's arrival on the X-Box 360. To create such a marginal distinction between the two versions brings nothing but total disgrace to this brilliant game so PopCap should think about what they are doing more seriously if they don't want to lose a chunk of their business in the future. They probably want those who have access to the console to buy the game again but they should know that there is nothing worse than a double dipping developer: it's disgusting and it's just plain wrong.

It's just not the same but what can you do.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Danger of Free to Play MMOs

It hasn't even been a full 24 hours since I started playing Runes of Magic and I have already started looking at other free to play massively multiplayer online role playing games because I have tasted the distinct, delicious iron in the blood and now I want more! I am certainly not going to overdo this for there are many titles that interest me so: several at a time in itself is a slight overkill because MMO desires your free time like a gamer desires his or her next gameplay session. While I was downloading the files for the selected games, I was reminded of a brief conversation I had with someone in the past. I was trying to encourage this guy to test out World of Warcraft because he was seemingly curious about the game. The reason why he didn't want to play the game was that he was afraid that it would take over his life completely. Though I can understand that MMO can be such a leech on the player's life energy, I think that to completely starve oneself from even trying out the experience is an unfortunate thing, especially with all the different "free to play" options available right now. We all live once in our life, why not take the chance and enjoy things while we still can? There is such a thing as self control and if one doesn't have that in the first place, well it's a different kind of problem outside of the video game related symptoms that needs to be addressed.

League of Legends has completely changed my perception of the "free to play" concept because it is indeed that and a treasure chest full of gold coins. But bear in mind that LoL is a multi-player online battle arena and it is not a MMO. Two separate genres. This is why I am still rather apprehensive about the "free to play" heading attached to a lot of these popular "FTP" MMOs. Runes of Magic really shook things up for me though because it is such a blast to play even though I am still very early in the game: so the micro-transaction surprises may still be lurking somewhere in the future. Still, it somehow convinced me that perhaps there is hope here, and that this genre will not disappoint me in the end. Since the game is free, why not enjoy the actual free content wherever that may take me? That sounds reasonable enough for me.

It's almost a crime to not play Allods Online because the developer spent millions making it.

So, who are the lucky candidates that have been selected to further occupy my FTP MMO time? The first is Allods Online - not to be confused with an Altoids on your tongue - by Astrum Nival which is another close WoW clone but with a strange industrial setting more reminiscent of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. The game looks absolutely gorgous, far better than Runes of Magic and way ahead of almost all of the subscription-based MMO I have played. There are a lot of races/classes and what makes the selections even more special is that all the classes are race specific even if they share similar functionalities. Oh I can tell this one is just going to eat up a lot of my time... providing that it's not micro-transaction dependent. The second additional game I am going to squeeze into my packed gameplay schedule is Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited by Turbine. I actually bought the original release when it first came out. I didn't stay on the game too long though because it lacked content then. The game looks great after all these years but unfortunately, there are locked features from the get go on this one where you have to pay real money to get them. Still, the core gameplay experience is here - who needs more than 2 character slots anyway when you are playing multiple MMOs? Not me at least.

One of the more unique features of DDO:EU is the atmospheric Dungeon Master voice-overs.

I was also going to start playing Battle of the Immortals by Perfect World, a sick looking Diablo+MMO clone but after trying it out for merely 10 minutes, I was through and I deleted the game immediately. The game is just too simplified where quests can be completed without much thought and there are just too many things happening on the screen. Worse is the game's small user interface that can't be customized to your own liking.  The character customization system is also rather limited: though you fill up many slots on your body, only the main costume shows up on your character. The costumes do look really good based on the gameplay trailer but I have a feeling that equipping a new look is probably a few and far between event - unless you are willing to pay for the upgrade. Oh well, this may turn out to be a good thing because on top of my abandoned console games, I really do have enough on my plate at the moment.

This could have been such a Diablo III killer.


- ALLODS ONLINE -
FIRST IMPRESSION: 5 out of 5

- DUNGEONS & DRAGONS ONLINE: EBERRON UNLIMITED -
FIRST IMPRESSION: 3 out of 5

- BATTLE OF THE IMMORTALS -
FIRST IMPRESSION: 1 out of 5

Games Played 08/02/2010 - 08/08/2010

- 08/02/2010 -
League of Legends - PC
Spellforce Universe - PC
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty - PC

- 08/03/2010 -
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies - NDS
Spellforce Universe - PC
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty - PC

- 08/04/2010 -
Dragon Quest XI: Sentinels of the Starry Skies - NDS
Homeworld 2 - PC
Kohan II: Kings of War - PC
Shadow Hearts: From the New World - PlayStation 2
Spellforce Universe - PC

- 08/05/2010 -
Devil Kings - PlayStation 2
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies - NDS
Plants vs. Zombies - PC
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty - PC
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - PC

- 08/06/2010 -
League of Legends - PC
Star Wars: knights of the Old Republic - PC

- 08/07/2010 -
League of Legends - PC
Plants vs. Zombies - PC

- 08/08/2010 -
Darksiders - PlayStation 3
League of Legends - PC
Runes of Magic - PC