The Legacy of The Legacy of Kain, Part 1: Greetings and Mission

Hello, all you Giant and not-so-Giant Bombers out there (don't be ashamed, you're among friends)! 
 
So, if you know me, then you may know that I've had some gripes with this generation of game consoles. The HD systems' games are too expensive and half the time aren't too engaging, while the Wii, fresh as it is in design, doesn't really have a steady stream of content to play. Now, I'm a college student. If there's two things I don't have, it's time or money. However, it's now summer, which means I have all the time in the world. Not all the money in the world, but still. I felt that this was a good time to visit games that I had missed over the past two generations. 
 
And, of course, sink more time into Morrowind. But anyways, Legacy of Kain. 
 
Legacy of Kain was a series of games that always intrigued me. I only ever played two games in the series (Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance), and I felt so lost in the story that I didn't at all have the drive to keep playing. However, I always loved the character of Raziel, in design and concept, but I couldn't follow the story, which meant I couldn't follow the gameplay. So, I didn't. Until now. After moving to Chicago, I found an old game store entitled People Play Games. I went there with some of my friends to look around and, sure enough, sitting on the shelf is Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, both for the PSX, each for 8 bucks. I bought them in a heartbeat, and so my quest began. Seeing as how I already owned Defiance (stole it from a friend who I'm now actually living with), I only needed Soul Reaver 2 and Blood Omen 2. It tool a few days and 12 dollars more, and I had at my fingertips the entire Legacy of Kain. 
  
This was my quest. To complete the Legacy of Kain, and to document my findings: explain where the series has been, and where it could go, since the story certainly isn't over. Upon this time I have beaten Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, and am close to finishing Soul Reaver. How I divide these blogs is something I'm still planning, but I guarantee it to yield an interesting read, especially if you, like me, have ever wondered about this prestigious franchise, but never got to play it for yourself. 
 
Anyways, that's all I got for now. Stay tuned for part 2, where I may hit both PSX games. I already have a lot of things to talk about!

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Dude, so like, I made this album. (a.k.a. This is my career)

Well, not only me. My cousin and I. Over our winter break this last year, we recorded a set of 12 songs and compiled them into this album. As an act of totally shameless self promotion, I want to share it with the lot of you, maybe get so fans or some criticism, either one appreciated. Here's the link to it. By the way, if you're wondering, I'm the one with the longass hair. If you like rock music, I'd at least give it a go. It's free to listen, after all. Thanks. 
 
Also, if this is considered spam, I won't argue it being locked, not that it would matter if I would. Just saying, it's been a while since I've been on the site, so my understanding of the rules is a little shady.

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A Madman's Mind: Music Review #1 - Black Gives Way To Blue

Hello, fellow Bombermen. I'm gonna try something new today. In case you didn't know, I love music (as most of us say we do). I love music so much that I'm paying 20,000 dollars a year to go to college to study it. It's my thing. Seeing as it's my thing, I like to try and listen to as much of it as I can.  Therefore, I figure doing reviews of new CDs I buy could be fun, and could even give me a better understanding of why I like what I like.
  
With that said, here's my first. Alice in Chains.

Alice in Chains - Black Gives Way to Blue 
Alice in Chains hasn't released a new album for over a decade. In fact, one of the two founding members of the band, Layne Staley, died in 2002 from a drug overdose, after a decade of drug abuse. While the other members have played shows featuring guest singers since his death, such as Maynard James Keenan from Tool, and even Ann Wilson from Heart. However, they eventually picked up Robert Duvall as a permanent replacement. Then, after not releasing anything since the 90's, they come out with this new CD, Black Gives Way to Blue.  
 
Just to start, Alice in Chains is a very prestigious name in the realm of 90's rock and Grunge. While bands such as Pearl Jam took a much cleaner approach to the genre, Alice in Chains was the polar opposite. The dirtiest of Grunge, their lyrics were dismal, their riffs were sludgy and doom-ridden, and their vocal delivery was haunting. Layne Staley's harmonization with guitarist/singer Jerry Cantrell is unmatched, and Staley's voice, best described as Ozzy for a new generation, was chilling. With this lineup, they made four great studio albums, including the seminal album Dirt, which is a highlight of 90's music in general. Considering this, the new album had quite a bit to live up to, bearing the Alice in Chains name and all. So, how do I feel it stacks up? 
 
Well, I'm not going to go through each individual song and give a complete, play-by-play breakdown. I'll just speak more generally. The big question that a lot of people wondered was whether or not the band could survive without Staley at the front, and whether or not Duvall would perform amicably. To be honest, I think Alice in Chains sounds almost just as good vocally as it did when the legendary Staley took the helm. Duvall's voice is very similar to Staleys in many ways, but closer matches the more mellow approach found on the album Jar of Flies than something more like found on Dirt or Facelift, their debut. This is completely fine, though Staley's howls are surely missed. Many people accuse Alice in Chains of resurrecting the band wrongfully without the dead singer, which I will call out as what it is: stupid bullshit. The vocal performance is great on the album. 
 
The band, however, I have other things to say about. Don't get me wrong, guitarist Cantrell is performing admirably, as is drummer Sean Kinney. They sound about as good as they did back in the 90s. However, Cantrell seems a little more reliant on rhythm guitar under his leads than he did back then. This is fine and all, as it's a new approach, and it's not like he didn't layer tracks together back in the day. Also, wah is absent. This does upset me to a degree, since I say that no one does wah better than Cantrell. Also, he never really lets go and just shreds the fuck out of his guitar, which he can definitely do. But even so, that's not really a big problem. What I really call into question more so than any member of the band is the mix itself. While older albums featured great work from every member of the band, I can barely hear bassist Mike Inez. I know he's there, but he's totally swallowed by the rhythm guitar. This is a disappointment to me probably more so than most, considering I'm a bassist by trade, but Inez's bass lines really drive the band in ways Cantrell didn't. I cite song such as Rain When I Die, off of Dirt, and No Excuses, off of Jar of Flies, to iterate my point. Inez's basswork as a prominent element in the mix is more of a glaring difference to me than Staley's absence, to be honest.  
 
Regarding the vocals, the mix also makes distinguishing the lyrics more difficult than necessary. Though, if what I have managed to distinguish is any cue, we're not missing much. For example, the chorus on Check My Brain, the most successful single from the album. "California, I'm fine. Somebody check my brain. California's all right. Somebody check my brain." What? What the fuck does that mean? I mean, Alice in Chains has never really been poetic, but the content of the lyrics has always been good due to their darker tone. That's just fucking stupid. It's almost a plug to try and make a more successful single by saying California. But, whatever. 
 
Also, I can't help but feel that Cantrell is just trying too hard with some of his riffs. All of his excellent riffs have been simple in nature, but some of the riffs on Black Gives Way to Blue are just overly complex, which is a pitfall plaguing many bands nowadays. That's not to say that the album doesn't have its good and even great songs, though. A Looking In View, the albums first singe (and the albums longest song, clocking in at just over 7 minutes) is one of the albums highlights, and probably comes out as the album's best song. The opening track, All Secrets Known, is also very good. Then, there's the acoustic-driven songs Your Decision and When the Sun Rose Again, and the piano-driven title track (piano attributed to Elton John, by the way). These both help provide a break from the sludge, giving the sludgier songs more impact. I'd say the album comes closest to a bad song with the song Acid Bubble, which is too long and isn't all that memorable. 
 
Overall, I think the album is a good new beginning for the band. It  has a lot of what made them great in the first place, as well as taking things in newer directions. My biggest complaint is with the mix done by Randy Staub, who won an award for mixing Nickelback. Sure, that's fine, but stay the fuck out of my Alice in Chains. Robert Duvall is a welcome addition, and the band sounds as good as they ever did. I really look forward to what they might do for their next release, since Alice in Chains is a band that loves to take things in new directions. I say to pick it up if you're a fan. I've been satisfied with it, but not really blown away like I have been with their other works. Here's to hoping they find their groove ultimately once more and come out with something mind-blowing for their next release.
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Why the hell do I have 51 followers!?!

Hey, people. It's me. I've been gone a while. Shit happened, more so than usual over the past six months. I haven't really had time to stop worrying and love the bomb, per se. My visits have been very sporadic, and I never stay long. College is time consuming, let me tell ya . . . 
 
Which brings me to my next point. Why the FUCK do I have followers?! Last time I was here, there wasn't even a follower system. I've done nothing to warrant followers, but here they are. Bunch of fuckin' stalkers n' shit, watching me through the window of their computer screen, judging me. It's creepy, god damnit. Stop. Gawld. 
 
Eh, I guess I should make this game-related somehow. I finally warmed up to Halo 3 after it being out for two years. It's got some solidly fun multiplayer. I've also been playing Bad Company with my friends quite a bit. Good shizzle. That's about it. 
 
But yeah, stop stalking me. I fuckin' mean it. Oh, and congrats to all those that finally took my name off the Top Posters wall.

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Dreams, hopes, and keeping them alive.

Hello, Giant Bomb. How is everyone tonight, on this Good Friday?


We all had dreams as kids. How often have you heard that before? Enough, I'd say, but hear me out. We all had dreams as kids. I've known people that wanted to be astronauts, dancers, and more. I also know that none of these people are going on to become this. Instead, they're off to college to learn more marketable professions. They've been told that they have to think realistically, and that their chances of achieving something like being a famous dancer ala Fred Astaire is nilch. They've given up, in fear of not being able to support themselves financially. Eventually, after Spaceman earns his Bachelor in engineering and ballerina becomes a data analyst, they seem to forget they ever had desires in life beyond what they are living.

It's a deformed world we live in. Do you realize that the United States imprisons people for graffiti, gang-related or not? Vandalism, they call it . . . even though some graffiti is worthy of being framed and sold for thousands of dollars due to its beauty. "We'd like to give the artist credit, but he's currently getting raped in prison for vandalizing a wall." Oh, what a world. It's a world where dreams die.

I've been thinking about this a lot recently. On March 20th, the first day of Spring, I was accepted into Columbia College of Chicago, which is a world-recognized school of the arts, and is also the largest in the US. I will be going there for music. Yeah, I'm naive. At least, that's what I've been told by people my age. I've been told I should treat music as a hobby, and that it wouldn't be able to sustain me financially. It's always puzzled me, why people have bugged me about it. I doubt it's out of sincere concern for my well-being. Then I start to wonder if it's because they didn't have to balls to go for what they really wanted to go for. 

There are plenty of people that end up going to school for what they want to. But for all those people, there's so many that end up hating what they do. That hate becomes their environment. Their hate transforms the world into a lifeless place where people stare ahead and loathe change. It's these people that force street performers to have permits. It's these people that lock up great artists because their canvas was the city itself. It's depressing to me, that this happens, but it does, and it wouldn't happen if people went for it more often.

Anyways . . . I'll be going to college next year, and I plan on making myself a professional musician in four years time. Will it be difficult? You fuckin believe it. Would I have it any other way? Absolutely not.

That's all I have to say. Thanks for reading.
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A DELICIOUS issue of Nintendo Power this month . . .

. . . and I'm here to deliver the goods.


- Excitebots: Trick Racing is divulged upon as a new Excite! game where you play as what are esentially Beast Wars characters, but using smaller animals than found in that. Grasshoppers, frogs, etc. It looks to be pretty awesome.

- A Boy and His Blob is getting a remake on Wii a la Klonoa, but to much greater extent. All the visuals are 2D, almost like a simpler, more cartoony Muramasa. The game is, needless to say, very pretty. It's being developed by WayForward, who just put out LIT on WiiWare.

- jakob, are you there? Dead Space: Extraction is touched upon briefly, basically talking about how awesome they are for thinking up Dead Space and all its mythos, and how there will be many Dead Space games. The one thing of interest I read was in concerns to the strategic dismemberment. Apparently, while using the rivet gun, you need to hold the Wiimote to make the rivet blade that is fired perpendicular to the limb you are looking to dismember. That's actually really cool, and could add some depth. Congratulations, EA . . . you won me over.

- Grand Slam Tennis! has a big article, but I don't want to read it.

- MadWorld got a 9.

That's pretty much the extent of the Wii. Discuss.

*Just looked in the back, and there's a teaser for an upcoming Wii game to be discussed in the next issue. Direct quote: "Don't be left out in the cold. WeA chilling tale is coming exclusively to Wii, and Nintendo Power will bring you the scoop."

Winter? Did it get a publisher? HELLO?
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Oh man, I feel great right now.

Hey peoples of the world. I'm here to talk about myself, because it's the cool thing to do.


So check this out. I am officially going to be performing at Disney World the week of Spring Break with my school. It cost a lot of money (865 bucks, hefty fee), but I'm excited to be able to go. I'm actually in a group that won national champions a while back. Gonna be fun. Also, another group at my school may be performing there with music I wrote. Well, it's actually "Get Ready" by the Temptations/Rare Earth, but I wrote all the backup stuff for it. I feel accomplished. Also, funny story . . . my choir teacher wrote the story for an issue of Iron Man at some point in his life. He's done everything, including being shot and stabbed with screwdrivers. Also, my AP theory teacher's favorite band is Tool. Bizarre stuff.

I just finished Tenchu: Shadow Assassins for Wii, and I mean just finished it. Literally half an hour ago. I absolutely loved it. Anyone who loves good stealth gameplay or a good story shoulod give this a look. The game ends with a spectacular bang. Just don't watch after the credits. Damn cliffhangers. I hope they make a sequel, though, because the game was awesome.

Well, that's all for now. Tired. See ya.
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Tenchu: Shadow Assassins Wii Impressions

    You know, 2009 is going to be a great, great year for the Wii. I'm sure the other consoles will follow suit, but to me, the Wii's library is looking specifically enticing. The debut of the array of big-name titles started on February 3rd, with a game called Tenchu: Shadow Assassins. Here are my thoughts.

    
    To start, I have never played either Tenchu for the PSX, but I played Wrath of Heaven, and enjoyed it despite its flaws. I never played Tenchu Z because I heard it was horrible, so this is my first Tenchu game . . . actually, my first stealth game . . . in a while. Having said that, I'll just jump right in.
    
    Put simply, it's probably among the best Wii games available, and is easily a contender for best 3rd party title on the system, along with the likes of Boom Blox, No More Heroes, and only a few others.
    
    The main focus of the game is stealth, and the gameplay here is fairly methodical. Between blowing out candles, putting out larger fires with water to conceal yourself, grabbing items with fishing line from afar, and rolling between bushes, there are many ways to progress through the level. It's enjoyable, and while it's pretty methodical, it also doesn't seem completely played out. Some of the bushes are placed in oh-too-convenient spots from time to time, but overall, these environments are believable.
    
    Dispatching enemies is also great fun. Stealth kills are similar to the other games, though they're executed with gestures. Simple gestures. Don't think you have to actually go through the exact motions or anything. These work pretty well, though some are slightly unresponsive. You can also use rocks and shuriken to take people out with the help of the environment. You can knock them into wells and pits, off of buildings and towers, and knock them into torches to set them on fire. This is huge, because it actually makes the shuriken useful. In Wrath of Heaven, they were terrible.
    
    If you're seen, though, you are introduced to the final nail in Red Steel's coffin: functional swordplay. Alright, sure, it isn't perfectly responsive, but it has a great design and the overall execution is awesome. Basically, you go into a defense mode where you have to parallel your blade to theirs, while your "Tenchu" meter fills up. Once full, you go on the offensive, and slice him up. This combat is really hard, especially against the tougher enemies, but it's also really rewarding and incredibly fun. I've actually found this to be among the best things in the game, which is funny, because it's basically a last resort. Oh well, it's fun. In fact, it proves that swordfighting, when done right, is best on Wii. If only a game could be made to focus on it . . .
    
    Other than that, the general presentation is absolutely phenomenal. The graphics are detailed, and while they only run at 480i, which is very noticeable on my TV, they outclass many other Wii game graphics. The voice acting, despite some, uh, odd parts, is really good, and all the major characters have great fits. Rikimaru's voice is perfect for him. The story is also greatly improved, and it does so by keeping itself grounded in reality. The ninja may be somewhat mystical in abilities, but the story is one of feuds between kingdoms and betrayal. It elevates the quality of the ninja rather than simplifying it to just some dude who can hide. 
    
    Other than that . . . they have done a remarkable job with recreating Rikimaru, the protagonist. While in Wrath of Heaven, he had a magic sword, he now has to salvage weaponry from the field. Whereas before he refused to kill innocents, he now can for the sake of the mission. While he used to hide his face throughout the entire game, he now has no ninja mask in his portrait. After every kill, he does a short exhale of breath. All of this builds him into a fairly human character rather than some badass with a magic sword.
    
    One last thing . . . there's multiple difficulty modes in this game. The most difficult, called "Shadow Mode", features an incredible amount of enemies to deal with within the normal game. This mode, while defeating me now, is a wonderful addition, as it pits you in situations of intense challenge. Finally, a game that isn't insanely easy.
    
    Tenchu: Shadow Assassins should be in your library if you have a Wii. End of story. If you don't buy it, at least give it a rent. It features some great design that should be respected. 've heard that Acquire is interested in doing multiple Tenchu games for Wii, and, needless to say, they have room to improve. Co-op, stage creators . . . all this would make the package unstoppable. Also, with future titles comes Motion+, which would throw any "unresponsive" claims out the window, and would make the swordplay all the better. The developers are really onto something. If they do well, maybe they could bring their other series to Wii. The one I was hoping for when I bought the system.
    
    Well, thanks for reading, and remember . . .


Support this game, and you could see this with MotionPlus in the future.


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Watch your asses, guys . . . I'm in a musical.

    After two days of trying out, I'm officially in my high school's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Yeah. Told you to watch your asses. I've been cast as Joseph's dad, Jacob, which I was legitimately surprised by, since . . . I've never done a play or a musical before. Whaddaya know? Also, if you're not familiar with the play, Joseph has 11 brothers. I am easily the biggest gigolo in the history of musical theater. Score.
    I'm a little disappointed in the pick of show, though, but I was bound to be no matter what it was. Last year we did the Steven Sondheim epic Sweeney Todd, and the year before we did the other Steven Sondheim epic Into the Woods. I love Sondheim, and wasn't involved in either of those. Still, I'm really looking forward for it to start, especially since all the clean-cut white kids in the play are prohibited from getting their hair cut until the end of May. As you can see, I'm way ahead of them.
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Stop these filmmakers from ruining our games, PLEASE.

God damn, I can't stand it any more. Every time I turn around, all I hear is GAME TO MOVIE, GAME TO MOVIE, GAME TO MOVIE. I'm tired of it. Let me try to explain to you why you don't waht games to be made into movies.

A Halo movie - MOVIES WITH SILENT PROTAGONISTS FTW!

    
    I don't care who the hell makes the movie! A movie with a silent protagonist can't work. The fact is that very often in the Halo world, you are all alone in some Covenant corridor getting faceraped by some little Flood thing. How would this be interesting? The point of a silent protagonist in a game, especially when it's first person, is to make you feel like the character. So, they're gonna make it first person? What's the point? Taking away the isolated levels would take away some of the Halo-ness. Also, do you all understand how many special effects it would take to recreate the Halo universe on screen? Pelicans, Enemy spaceships, THE COVENANT, THE MAIN ENEMY IN THE FRIGGIN UNIVERSE!?! Peter Jackson doesn't have the balls to give them costumes. Also, the actors in those costumes wouldn't have the balls to walk how the Elites do. Wouldn't work. Sorry. I know that Peter Jackson is just looking for another license to exploit because he has no creativity, but it won't work.

A Gears of War Movie - No one should have to wear those suits.


    Friends, I show you exhibit A:

  


    That thing is 1. totally freaking badass, and 2. made of 5 foam mattresses, 50 sticks of hot glue and 100 hours collectively between all the people that made it. It is the best representation that we have of what the stars of a Gears of War movie would have to wear in order to simulate the characters from the game. How do you act in that thing!?! I know that the Gears characters aren't that deep, despite what the ads tell you, but being able to move and deliver lines without panting is a must. Of course, the could always make the characters digital, and make it a 3D movie, get Pixar on board, get the voice actors from the game . . . BUT WHAT'S THE POINT!?! Make another game, god damnit. The only way I could see it working in any way is if they did it somewhat how they did 300. But still, I don't think it would come through in the end. No one is as big as Cole.

A Bioshock Movie - A movie based on a game based on a book based on a philosophy . . . not agaaaaain!


    I refuse to dig too deep into this topic because of the fact that a lot of the stuff from Halo can be applied to Bioshock, but to a greater degree. You are all alone the entire game. How do you have any character development without people to play off of? The only way it would function is if they gave you a wisecracking partner or some shit, and you're the quiet reserved one. But, it would then be Bioshock in name only. Also, seriously. This is the longest chain of things based off things ever. I can say that Atlas Shrugged being based off Objectivism was good because it gave the book ground. Basing a game off the book loosely . . . okay, I'll bite. Basing a movie off that? COME ON!! To add to that, there's a movie scheduled that's based directly off of Atlas Shrugged anyways. If only someone made a documentary on Objectivism, then you could box them together and call it "One Concept for the price of Two!" Also, Bioshock is mature, gritty, and violent. What was the last thing Gore Verbinski made? The Pirates of the Caribbean movies. How did those turn out? Progressively more childish. I need not comment further.

There's other ones, like Mass Effect and Lost Planet that I can't really comment on because I either haven't played enough of them (latter) or thinking about them brings my pss to a boil (former), so lemme just sum this up. Guys . . . there has never been a good video game movie. Never. Sure, there's always a first, but . . . do any of you really expect that to happen now? The great thing about Halo and Bioshock is that it's possible in game form, and not movie form. The isolation is more reminiscent of a book than a movie, and that makes them all the more unique. Do you want some douche like Peter Jackson to make Master Chief a wisecracking, one line-spewing dick? I think not.

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