So At Least The Graphics Were Nice

Last year at E3 I said that the theme of the show seemed to be showing the same thing as the year before only with better graphics, save for Nintendo actually innovating. This year we haven't hit Nintendo yet but the first part seems pretty much spot on a year later. Halo 4 looked like all the other Halo games, but with better graphics. Tomb Raider went the Uncharted route and let's face it compare those graphics to Underworld and you honestly wouldn't believe we were talking about the same console generation. Assassin's Creed looked like Assassin's Creed with better graphics. The same is true of Far Cry 3, Crysis 3, Dead Space 3, Medal of Honor Warfighter, and God of War: Ascension. Yea all of these games were in a way different and hopefully superior to their previous entries but they were still very much entries in franchises that had been going on for quite a long time. Microsoft mentioned a couple new IPs partway through their conference, but that was pretty much it. We got short 30 second trailers for them but none showed any gameplay. In fact there was only one game shown so far that genuinely made me say, "Huh, haven't seen that before," and that game was Watch Dogs. The game came completely out of the blue, a new IP with absolutely no fanfare and it actually looked pretty cool. I'm not even remotely sure what the hell the game is about, but I can safely say that it is a genuinely interesting idea. Did the end hint at a MP game? Or do you play as a bunch of different characters? I don't know but regardless the idea seemed cool, and yes, it had great graphics.

Easily the graphics champ of the day though wasn't in any press conference. Star Wars 1313 premiered on Spike after Sony's show and let's just say that those are some ridiculously good graphics. The guy being interviewed said he didn't want people to know what was a cutscene and what was being played if they watched someone play the game. I can safely say that they succeeded at least in the parts shown off today. The game easily looked as good as the CG in most other games and put the other great looking games at the show to shame. I'm interested if they were running the demo off of a PC or a console, cause nothing else shown today looked even remotely that good. Plus a Star Wars game that shows a darker, grittier side of the traditionally PG-13 rated series is welcome in my book. I'm honestly surprised neither Sony or Microsoft opted to show the game at their press conferences because the demo shown was easily superior to the Wonderbook or whatever it was called. And I could easily have skipped the lengthy multimedia demonstrations at Microsoft's show.

In the end, first off I am simply amazed at the graphics being shown this year. I'm curious if some of the best looking demos were running on a PC or on a console, but at the very least some of the amazing looking PS3 exclusives must have been running on a PS3. Halo 4 looked beautiful but I felt it was upstaged later in the show. Tomb Raider did look quite good, but the animation was a major sore spot for me. It was okay but not nearly as good as the procedural animation Naughty Dog and Sony Santa Monica are doing on the PS3. Oh and Beyond definitely has my interest. No idea how it actually plays, but it did have the best facial animation of the show and the premise was interesting for a story. Quantic Dream's games are always more enjoyable to watch than to play, but maybe they can prove me wrong and make something that I enjoy playing as much as I enjoy hearing the story.

And that pretty much sums Day One up for me. Amazing graphics, probably mostly running on PC, and a few interesting unique ideas here and there (Beyond, The Last of Us, and Watch Dogs stood out to me) and that Star Wars game is just fucking beautiful.

And final note, was it just me or did Leon really move and shoot at the same time in the RE6 demo? Cause I'm pretty sure he did. Seems like Capcom is truly entering a new generation. Took them long enough.


Kicking It Oldschool With Kingdom Hearts

So sad story. I'm broke. I actually spent time today scouring my apartment for loose change so I could buy a soda. Yea it's that bad. What that means is that I won't be able to buy any new games for a while. That doesn't bum me out too much as there aren't really any games coming out soon that I am all that interested in. So what to play? Well I have quite the backlog and now seems like the perfect time to start working through it. So I dusted off the old PS2 and took a look through my collection. I had played the original Kingdom Hearts maybe 5 years ago or so. I had RE: Chain of Memories and 2 sitting on my shelf untouched. So I decided that now was as good a time as any to continue playing this interesting series. So I popped in Kingdom Hearts 2 and my God the intro was one of the weirdest I have ever seen. 2 and a half hours of playing as a character never mentioned in the first game. Talk about late title screens. Anyways after the weird intro where you play as a Nobody named Roxas, you return to playing Sora and exploring Disney worlds. I'm 8 hours in right now and I still have no idea what that intro was about. So being confused I consulted a friend who is a huge Kingdom Hearts fan. Seems I need to play Chain of Memories to understand what is going on in 2. So after writing this I am going to pop in Chain of Memories and see if it is good enough to warrant a playthrough.

Other than the nonsensical story I like the improvements they made to Kingdom Hearts 2. Putting the camera controls on the right thumb stick freed up the L1 button to be used as a modifier so you can use abilities and spells without going through a menu. It makes the game about 10x better. I still don't use magic very much and the gumni ship levels are still pretty pointless and out of place, but overall I think this game holds up decently well and I'm enjoying it more than anything Square Enix has done this generation. One day when I'm not broke I may buy the DS and PSP games in the series. Until then I'll enjoy these old PS2 games during our latest summer gaming drought.


Finally Level 10

Well I finally am level 10 on PSN. It took over 100 trophies to do it. What finally put me over the edge was getting all the pieces of subject 16's video in Assassin's Creed 2. I was honestly thinking it was going to be something better than that. The ending of the game pretty much said the same thing. But, combined, that is a good twist to be sure. I'm interested in how the series progresses from here. Will Desmond take front and center in the third entry? Will a new twist be revealed that will blow all our minds? I'm interested in seeing how things progress. I guess it is a testament to the quality of the story that I am so eagerly anticipating the next chapter. 

I may or may not have time to do a review of the game, but I think it's about an 8.5. The controls could still be improved, the framerate has a tendency to take a dive when things get hectic, and some parts of the game are more boring than others, but the good far outweighs the bad. Most of the time the game controls well, is difficult but not frustrating, looks good, and has a deep and twisting story. I really liked upgrading my armor and weapons. I didn't like doing the assassin tombs. I felt that the controls and camera just couldn't keep up with what the game was asking me to do. It did force you to get better at the game, though. Still, I prefer the platforming in other games better. I think it would help if the game had a sticky system similar to Sucker Punch's games like Infamous. Basically when you jump your character locks onto the object that the game thinks you are jumping to. It is a little overdone in Infamous, but far too many times in Assassin's Creed 2I found myself trying to jump towards an object and ended up jumping off the side of a massive building. I understand that the game wants to give you a great degree of freedom, but if I am jumping along and directly in front of me is a ledge and slightly to the side of me is a gaping cliff the game should be smart enough to realize that I want to jump to the ledge and not over a cliff. It's difficult to quickly aim the stick in the exact direction I want to jump, especially when the camera is not directly behind me. Most of the time it isn't an issue, or at least a big one, but when you are trying to beat a timer, or have spent 10 minutes climbing up a huge tower, falling all the way back down just because you jumped at a 30 degree angle instead of a 40 degree one can be really frustrating. But again, most the time it isn't a problem. 

The combat also is good but could use work. Enemies take too long to kill. I don't think I died in combat a single time, but it often took me ten or fifteen minutes to clear out a room of guards. If I can take down a whole army without dying then the game is too easy. I often felt that the game would tell me I would get slaughtered if I tried assaulting somewhere, but it just happened that I had cleared that entire fortress of guards five minutes ago. There is a definite disconnect between how powerful the game says you are and how powerful you really are. A couple times the game had me trailing a target but didn't let me kill them. I would get within three feet of them but was told I had to wait until the right time. Of course the right time was when they are in a secluded fortress surrounded by dozens of guards. That just doesn't make sense. If I am within five feet of a target I should take him out. In fact several times throughout the game I was within five feet of the final boss and had to only leap forward to end the whole plot once and for all, but the game told me to stay back and just watch. This disconnect really frustrated me. Again, it isn't a huge problem most of the time, but when it does happen it can be very upsetting. 

So overall I liked the game but there is still a lot of improvements the third entry can make to allow this series to reach its full potential. Whether that entry takes place in the past or present, though, is anyone's guess. But I don't think you'll survive jumping off the Empire State Building into a bale of hay.    


Miracle Tea


So yesterday in Speech class a girl gets up and does a speech on a special tea called Kombucha. It is made using something that people refer to as a mushroom but is really a mix of fungi and bacteria. This culture is fermented with sugar and the result is an acidic, carbonated beverage that tastes like a very sour citrus soda. According to the girl giving the speech, she suffered from major stomach problems for her entire life, and several months ago a friend convinced her to try this tea. Within seconds of drinking it her stomach felt better than it had since she was a little kid. She has been drinking it for 3 months since and has not had a single stomach problem. As someone who suffers from major stomach problems myself, I decided to buy some Kombucha and see how it worked. The results were staggering. Within seconds of drinking the tea my stomach felt better than it had in years.

I looked up the tea on several sites and the basic consensus is that there are no proven benefits of the tea, but also no proven side effects. Doctors recommend drinking about 3-6 oz a day for several months, then take a week or two off and then start again for another three months. I plan on continuing the drink Kombucha and seeing what the long term effects are. I know there are several of you on here who have stomach problems so I'd highly recommend trying this tea. There are other unproven benefits of the tea but those are probably vastly exaggerated. I would simply recommend Kombucha for fixing stomach or digestive problems. You can buy Kombucha pre-bottled at stores, or you can culture your own. Buying a culture is cheap and you need only sugar and water in addition to that to make as much as you want.

Anyone here know anything about Kombucha? Anyone make it at home?

Later kiddos.


A New Blog

So I know that it's been over a year since my last blog, but for those of you who still check my profile, thanks for that. I decided the other day to sign into Giantbomb for the firs time in a long time, and I'm glad to see how much the community features have improved since the site started. I'm going to keep this short and sweet, but expect longer and more detailed blogs in the future.

The Cinema Episode One: Anime

Most of you probably don't know this, but I studied film for a while in college and have been a cinephile since I was a kid. I find it saddening how little people know about cinema's history, about the various movements in film and so forth. It especially discourages me when people refuse to watch foreign films, either because of a sense of patriotism, or more commonly because they are just too lazy to read subtitles. I was hoping that I could pique the interest of some of Giantbomb's user base. So I decided to write some things about different cinema movements, nationalities, genres, figures, and so forth. I racked my brain over a topic that would be of interest to users here and decided that Japanese cinema would be a good place to start. Specifically I thought I would focus this blog on the history of anime. If people enjoy the blog I would be happy to write about other film topics per people's request. Just to make clear, this is a blog about anime cinema, so no TV shows or OVA's will be mentions unless they relate to a movie. And no I don't count Naruto The Movie as an actual important anime release.

 So, you may sometimes wonder to yourself, how did anime get its start. The answer lies actually in the works of early American animation. After WWII American soldiers occupied Japan and brought with them many American products. The Japanese game industry actually started this way, when soldiers brought over Atari arcade machines to play in the 70's. Japanese animation has a similar start. Soldiers often watched cartoons as both a form of entertainment and as a form of training. Disney for example made many interesting shorts on basic daily duties of a soldier. The soldiers liked the Disney films and brought over many of Disney's feature length works to pass the time. Soon the Japanese were watching cartoons as well. One of the key inspirations to the Japanese art style was Max Fleischer, an early innovator in animation whose works include Betty Boop and Popeye the Sailor. Betty Boop's massive eyes for example were used by Osamu Tezuka in what many consider the first anime of all time, Astro Boy. Not that this is surprising as Fleischer was in charge of designing army training cartoons. After seeing his work on the job, soldiers wanted more entertaining fare and turned to his TV shows from the 20's and 30's. They brought these shows, including Boop with them to Japan, where they were seen by Tezuka. In 1963 the first episode of Astro Boy was released in Japan. Since then the show has gone on to inspire a film movement that has spanned dozens of genres and tens of thousands of films, shows, and video releases.

However, anime was largely restricted to Japan until the mid 90's. In Japan though the movement pushed forward, and revolutionized animation in a very important way. That is, it made it so that cartoons could be for adults as well as kids. In fact, many anime, including the pornographic Hentai are exclusively made with adults in mind. 

Like American TV cartoons, anime released on TV in Japan is poorly animated, using such patented Hannah Barbara techniques as reusing frames, having dialogue over still shots, panning over a long still frame to give the illusion of movement, and animating only a single aspect of a picture (A hand for example). Like American animation as well, feature films are given a much better treatment. Probably the first international hit to come out of Japan theatrically was from a small animation studio named Studio Ghibli. Jointly run by directors Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, and producer Toshio Suzuki, the studio is the most successful non-American animation studio in the world. Ghibli's first film, released in 1984, was Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. It was one of the first anime films to receive a (terribly butchered) VHS release in the US. Ghibli followed this film with Castle in the Sky in 1986.

1988 was a seminal year for Japanese animation. Three films were released which forever changed the face of animation worldwide. The first was Studio Ghibli's third film Grave of the Fireflies. Crowned by Roger Ebert as one of the greatest films ever made, and acclaimed worldwide, it tells the story of two children orphaned in Japan during WWII. It's content was deemed so devastating that Disney, which distributes all of Ghibli's films in the US, actually passed on it. With the help of Roger Ebert the film was eventually released in the US. Maybe even more important that year was the release of Akira, written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. Considered one of the greatest anime ever made, Akira is a post apocalyptic, cyberpunk action film. It is often considered one of the main factors leading to anime's resurgence in America's youth. Finally, Studio Ghibli released My Neighbor Totoro. While not as acclaimed as Grave or Akira, Totoro became a prominent figure in Anime culture, and has even spawned his own environmentalist group. 

The early 1990's were largely uneventful on the film front of anime. While many TV shows crossed over to American audiences, and many studios improved their animation techniques the next major film to be released from the anime movement didn't hit theaters until 1995. But what a film it was. Ghost in the Shell hit like a bombshell. It catapulted director/writer, Mamoru Oshii to the forefront of the anime scene and became what many people consider the greatest non-Ghibli anime of all time. Often defying description, Ghost can barely be summarized.

It stars a cyborg, Major Motoko Kusanagi. She is the head of Japan's section 6, a post apocalyptic Japanese anti-terrorism unit which fights cyber crimes. The film deals with such issues as identity, religion, humanity, the nature of life, the mind/body relationship, the ghost in the shell theory and many more major philosophical issues. It is considered by non-artistes as too brainy to be fun, but those with a tolerance for violence and a desire to see films which deal with real world issues, call Ghost the epitome of the adult cartoon. It is often said to be deeper than many Oscar winners, but many say that it lacks any real entertainment value. Regardless Ghost in the Shell caused a stir in the anime industry and the film industry worldwide. 

Anime finally reached mass market awareness in 1997. The maker was Studio Ghibli, the film was Princess Mononoke. The film stars a boy who must find a way to reverse a curse which has been cast on him. He travels to a forest where he meets a forest princess, the titular character. The film deals with classic Ghibli issues such as environmentalism, social responsibility, growing up, and accountability. The film was seen by Miramax heads Bob and Harvey Weinstein. The two, along with Pixar head John Lasseter, convinced Disney to buy the rights to release Mononoke worldwide. Soon after Disney signed an exclusive global distribution deal with Studio Ghibli. With Disney marketing them, Ghibli films reached the eyes of viewers around the globe. Anime had finally entered the vocabulary of the mainstream.

In 2001 Studio Ghibli received it's greatest award yet. Spirited Away may not have been the greatest anime film, but with Disney's help it sure as hell found the widest audience of any. Released in theaters in the US Spirited Away was ripe to win an award never before possible for an anime: an Oscar. And sure enough it did, becoming the only non-american film to ever win the animated feature film category and giving it recognition to millions of viewers previously unaware of anime's existence. Meanwhile Satoshi Kon released his second film, Millennium Actress, and a new director Makoto Shinkai released what many people consider the greatest anime love story of all time, Voices of a Distant Star. Finally the animated version of Metropolis, written by Otomo, was completed.

Since 2001 many great anime films have been released, including the second Ghost in the Shell, Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle, Satoshi Kon's Tokyo Godfather and Paprika, Makoto Shinkai's The Place Promised in our Early Days and 5 Centimeters Per Second, and Katsuhiro Otomo's Steamboy. And many films are still to come. The anime industry is in great shape today. All of the directors and writers mentioned here are still active and making films. Although anime is now more popular than ever, there is still a ways to go. Hopefully one day the movement will be as watched as Disney. 


Obviously this history is very abridged. There are many more great anime films that have been released over the years, but I thought it important to focus on the most seminal.


I wrote about anime first because many of Giantbomb’s users are interested in it but I hope to make this an ongoing project for me. I would also like to write about French cinema, Japanese live action cinema, Italian cinema, German expressionism, and certain directors and writers from those nations, among others. I would be happy to hear feedback about this piece, and I would be interested in knowing what genre or nationality 

Quake Con, Square Enix Party, Comic Con: Impressions

So I've been trying to keep up with the three above events even though I'm burned out after e3.
 So here are my thoughts:

Comic Con

Spielberg + Ghost in the Shell + Live Action? This could be either really good or really really bad.

Gaimen + Batman? Well after Moore and Miller this is probably the next best thing

Harry Potter 6? Where was it? I wanted more!

Zelda + God of War + Fable? It's Darksiders Wraith of War and it looks awesome. I am totally stoked about it.

Overall those were the things that most interested me.

Quake Con

Not much news out of this event. Wolfenstein looks ok but not great. Quake Live could be fun for a while. I would rather have seen a level demoed for Rage. And Doom 4 was officially announced a while back guys. I think id is a little confused.

Square Enix Party

How has this company not abandoned PSP development yet? Nearly half the games at the show were for PSP including cell phone ports. Not that I mind. My PSP is just gaining dust right now. A new title would be welcome.

Three Kingdom Hearts games at the show and still no videos for the public? I mean they are already playable and some only months from release. When is the hype going to start pouring on here?

FF13. Ok it was here in the form of the three announced games but according to IGN the trailers had mostly the same footage the company has been showing for years now. And really the lack of a public unveil for some of these titles is just upsetting.

Sigma Harmonics. I'm not really digging this game. It seems primed to a Japan only release.

DQ? Hello? What exactly happened to this series? Level 5's DQ9 hasn't been shown for over 2 years. And surely they have some more spinoffs planned?

Last Remnant... Was not present. Wait isn't this game supposed to be out this year? Like in a couple of months? Why wasn't it shown. Not that I'm complaining about info on FF13, KH, and so forth but there were some really glaring holes in the lineup here.

Speaking of holes, where was tri ace? Infinite Undiscovery is almost upon us and the game wasn't even on display. I realize Japan is not big on the 360, which may also be the reason LR wasn't present, but I would have loved some new info on VP: DS.

So overall I was very pleased with what was shown, even though I couldn't see it. I would really like some footage for the three KH games and it would be great to see anything on DQ, VP, or SO but I guess those were not to be. I'm kind of shocked that Last Remnant wasn't shown though. I mean it is a 360 title, but it's also on PS3 so it would make sense that the Japanese would want to see it. And since it is a lot closer to release than any of the games shown...

On the GB front, I've slowed down on my updates. I have a bunch of points now but I don't really feel the need to rush to 1000. If I go on a gamepage and see that stuff is missing or incorrect I will fix it. But for now I think I'll sit it out for a bit. It seems like half my updates get rejected anyways as other people have submitted them already. Once things quiet down we will see how things go. Anyways, you can read this blog here or on GS, as this is one of the blogs I am posting on both sites. Until next time folks. 


New List

I have created a list containing mostly Xbox and PS2 games that performed poorly commercially but where critically successful. The list is entitled, Games You May Not Have Played...But Should. As a requirement I must have played the game for an extended period of time, have enjoyed it thoroughly and been impressed enough to recommend it to anyone that reads the list. 

I created a new blog on GS earlier which I declined to bring over to GB. If you would like to read it, head on over there. This blog, of course, will remain exclusive to GB. In other news, I've noticed the site has sped up a great deal since launch. The turnaround time for submissions is now just around 24 hours, and new editorial content is starting to pile in. All in all, the site is slowly improving every day, and I hope that within the next couple of months this site will evolve into a true must visit venture. 

Also, does Activision's decision not to publish Ghostbusters and Brutal Legend upset anyone else? Later folks!

Giant Bomb: Not Perfect Yet of Course

Ok I have to say this because everyone else seems to have forgotten. I notice a lot of people saying this or that doesn't work right on the site right now. And they are all shocked that the site isn't perfect yet. Well wake up call, this site is still in beta. If you were expecting perfection you obviously have never been a beta tester before, and you shouldn't have joined a site before the final product was ready. Of course things aren't running uber fast yet. Half of a website beta's purpose is to optimize and find the right amount of servers needed. I don't see how people were expecting this site to be flawless before it even was a final product. A lot of people are like, "GS has better of whatever." Well GS has been around for over a dozen years so yea I'm pretty sure they are more fleshed out than a site that has been around for three days. People just kind of went crazy when this site was launched and they didn't realize, like those of us who got a beta invite, that the final site wouldn't be ready for a bit. Things are going to change a bunch over the next couple of months as people offer feedback. I'm sure the forums will be just fine once the team has worked on them a bit longer. Last night on the bombcast they admitted the forums were a mess and that they were working on it. Give them time folks, there's only a few of them and over 10,000 of us. Things will get better as time goes on. Just wait.



If the title didn't turn you away and you haven't seen The Dark Knight, stop right now! I'm about to talk about a major plot point that will ruin the movie for anyone who hasn't seen it yet.



Ok I can't warn people any more than that so into what I am going to talk about. There is a scene in The Dark Knight that has confused a lot of people, and I wanted to clear it up as best I can for the people on GB. In the scene where Batman must choose to save Harvey or Rachel, he says he is going to save Rachel but ends up saving Harvey. Why? Well most people think he had a change of heart and realized how much more important Harvey was than Rachel and was doing the right thing. This isn't the case actually.

In fact Joker mixed up the addresses when he told Batman where Rachel and Harvey were. He told Batman that Harvey was at a numbered address (something like 5 52 Street. I don't remember exactly) but that was where Rachel was. How do I know this? Later when Harvey gets Gordon's family to go to where Rachel died he has Ramirez tell them to go to that numbered street. Later when Gordon asks Harvey where he is, he says, "Where my family died." If you didn't get that the first time around, don't worry, neither did anyone I know, including me. I probably would have missed it the second time around too had my brother not realized after seeing it several times. I know a lot of people were confused about this so I just wanted to share with people the actual reason.

Told you I was going to ruin it if you hadn't seen it yet didn't I?