The best way I can think to describe this game with shorthand, which is a practice I actually hate doing but recognize the benefit of, is God of War meets Assassin's Creed by way of Jak and Daxter. If that sounds like a mish-mash, that's because it kind of is. The combat is the usual character-action game fare, weak hit, strong hit, combine them to combo, etc, etc, but the traversal is very Assassin's Creed-like in that you jump from handhold to handhold and even have context-sensitive jumping. There were a couple of times I found myself rolling up to a ledge instead of jumping over it, but the game doesn't seem to allow you to roll off the ledge, which is nice of them. The Jak and Daxter part comes from some gameplay I saw in the post-demo trailer that looked like it'd have you riding a disc at incredible speeds down a river, using your staff as a projectile weapon (firing blasts from it, not throwing it) and generally seemed to have the same varied, platforming-based gameplay that made Jak and Daxter famous. Overall I have to say, this demo REALLY impressed me. Coupled with the Quick Look, I might actually pick this up. The graphics are easily the weakest link the chain, but I've never played games solely cause they look pretty, and I'm not gonna start now. The animations are really fluid so far and there are some cool cinematic touches, like when you take down the final enemy, it does a quick zoom-in on the killing blow. I also REALLY like the character design I've seen so far, the fellow is burly and intimidating, but still lean enough that his ridiculous acrobatic feats aren't ENTIRELY unbelievable and the lady is, gasp, not just eye candy, but that's a whole other rant. Well done, demo. You've won at least a rental.
I was recently terminated wrongfully. I won't get into details cause I'm not sure of the legality of going into detail, but the City agrees with me so I got on unemployment. I'm making about half what I was, but it's more than enough for rent, real food and the occasional vidja game or movie. While I seek out a new job, I thought I'd start a new blog series where I review food and drinks. Usually it's gonna be cheap stuff, (hence the name) but I'll go into some higher end products as well. Why choose a videogame/movie site for this? Well, that's an interesting question...here's my first review. I'm going to do a drink and a food, though that won't always be the format.
7-11 BBQ Pork Sandwich
The first step to enjoying this food is to take a step back and ask yourself, "How did I get here?" Are you like me and you lost your job and have to tighten the belt loops? Or rather expand them if you're thinking of eating this with any regularity. Is it 1AM, the party's kinda winding down, but you're not going to sleep anytime soon? 7-11s are useful in this regard because most of them are open all night and they've got food on the cheap. This is actually my favorite of all their health-free sandwiches. The sandwich itself is a pair of buttery buns between which sits the equivalent of a McRib sandwich. For those who've never had one, it's essentially cheap, fatty pork meat covered in Bar-B-Que sauce and shaped like a tiny rack of ribs. It is also delicious. The meat is chewy and tender, also ridiculously fatty, and the BBQ sauce is the sweet, rather than the smoky, variety. Here's a little trick for stretching out the fillingness as well as the nutritional value: most 7-11s come equipped with a hot dog bar with things like pickles, cheese, onions, nacho cheese, jalapeños etc, but the staff doesn't really care what you use them for as long as you've paid for it. Throw it in the microwave and add whatever toppings you like. Toss in a bag of chips and you've got something a lot closer to a meal than it has any right to be. It's tasty, it's filling, and the extra toppings don't cost anything. The whole thing shouldn't set you back more than $5. But what to wash it down with?
Mike's Harder Lemonade (21+ only! 18+ if you're in Europe)
Mike's Hard Lemonade is exactly what it sounds like: lemonade with about as much alcohol as beer. It's an attempt to be a less girly Smirnoff Ice and it really doesn't succeed, but hey, once again, if you're at a party and there's nothing left, you can do a lot worse. For instance: Mike's Harder Lemonade. Harder is to Hard as malt liquor is to beer with everything that entails. It has almost twice as much alcohol in it (~8%). This stuff WORKS, but my God I can't recommend it. They've had to add massive amounts of sugar to mask the flavor of cheap alcohol and it's sickeningly sweet. It IS effective if you want to get drunk quickly, but it also results in some of the worst hangover you're likely to experience, even IF you drink a lot of water. At the end of the day, if you absolutely must get drunk, or continue to be drunk, you can do worse, but not without the words "Steel" and "Reserve" in the name.
I've never really been much for online gaming for a number of reasons. Prohibitive use of time being chief among them (I like to diversify my game playing, I don't really have time to play one enough to get a good at it let alone multiple ones), but the fact that online users seem to be slavering lunatics devoid of social graces or even souls is a close second. However when Street Fighter 4 (and subsequently Super Street Fighter 4) swept through my group of friends and I was languishing at the bottom of our hierarchy, I knew that would have to change. Long story short (too late!): I bought it on PS3 (and later on the 360, long story) and started playing it, got pretty decent, yadda yadda, now HERE'S where our little tale takes off. I played a few matches, mostly against Shoto-by-numbers characters, so the first time someone beat me handily with someone OTHER than one of those three (I think it was Dudley, a character I was looking into using) I decided to send him a congratulatory message. To my shock, he replied with a positive. "Interesting," thought I, "but probably more of an exception proving the rule scenario." I tried it again under similar circumstances and HOLY SHIT! Same damn thing happened. Again and again I sent people who I had what I felt were great matches, and again and again I got either positive responses or no response. I've never been insulted, even by people I completely wail on, nor have I ever had a negative response. Hell my Gamertag is Lex Jewthor, I thought that alone would inundate my inbox with hatemail! I am shocked, SHOCKED! Is my experience a crazy outlier, or have any of ya'll had experiences vastly better (or worse) than you expected?
After seeing the very well produced trailer of The Force Unleashed 2, I was left with one very strong impression: "Nice...too bad the gameplay will likely be nothing like that and will just be clubbing storm troopers futilely with your light saber." My first impression after seeing the first half of the Metal Gear Solid: Rising trailer was: "Incredible...psh, too bad it'll probably turn out like Force Unleashed and be about as effective at cutting as a baseball bat-OH HOLY SHIT! He just cut that guy into THIRDS!" How has Kojima Productions made a more effective Jedi game than Lucasarts ever did?? Why do movies get to dismember but videogames don't? Will there be a way to EAT the delicious water melon you've just cut in half? I need ANSWERS, people!
Well Zach, it seems like we've come to the end of our little adventure. Greenvale was certainly an experience, wasn't it? I think there's only one man who had a worse time passing through a small town. We first saw his adventure in 1982, though if you're much of a reader you could've experienced it much earlier. Heh, a movie based on a book, that hardly narrows it down, does it? Zach, I'm talking about First Blood, the first movie where you and I met the character John Rambo. He was played by Sylvester Stallone in what turned out to be a fairly brilliant turn. Brian Dennehy played a small-town sheriff who was...well, rather antagonistic to our hero. Hm, maybe George took some lessons from him on antagonizing out of towners. You know, Zach, a lot of people remember that movie as being very violent, but it's not really that bad. Sure, a few of the characters get pretty roughed up, especially the one who gets those wooden spikes in his legs, but no one dies. What's that, Zach? You're right, one of the deputies dies, but it's really his own fault. Rambo himself doesn't even kill anyone in the first movie. How strange is that? In the later movies he racks up a body count that would rival some small towns, but in the first, he was more of a persecuted character. Isn't that interesting? All he wanted was to be left alone, but when a local sheriff can't help but bother him, all Hell breaks loose... Sorry, Zach. I must have drifted off thinking about those old eighties action movies. First Arnold and now Sylvester. I guess George is having more of an impact on us than I originally thought. I remember seeing First Blood and being shocked at the dignity and even humanity of the main character. Even at the speech he gives at the end of the movie, it's really quite moving...well the parts you can understand. Too bad ol' Sly Stallone can be a little tough to understand at times. Zach, were there any action movies that caught you off guard with their depth the first time you watched them? Related to: Deadly Premonition
I live in San Francisco and I was getting a burger with a buddy and I SWEAR J Allard walked in and sat down. There was no hoodie blazer, but it was the SPITTING IMAGE. Can anyone confirm? Does he live in San Francisco?
Zach, it seems we're in quite the predicament. We try to do the right thing, but there are always people who want to stop us, or even punish us. Being punished for doing the right thing...it's frustrating, isn't it Zach? It does put me in mind of a certain movie, though. It came out in 1987 and was a bombastic action movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Do you remember the first movie you saw him in, Zach? Mine was Conan the Barbarian and he was a sight to behold. All muscles and few words. Of course now I know it was because he couldn't speak fluent English yet, but at the time he seemed like the perfect action star. It's ironic he was so silent in that role since he became much more famous for his one-liners. Always a one-liner for every occasion in everything from Commando to Terminator. Remember that one, Zach? One of the few times he played the villain. I always liked the first one better, even as a guilty pleasure. The effects haven't aged well, but seeing Arnold as the villain never quite gets old. It makes the twist in the second movie all the more interesting! They make you think that Arnold is a badguy until the last second, when he tells John Connor to 'get down!' I remember my jaw hitting the floor in the theater, Zach, when it turned out he was the good guy. Did you have a movie where your expectations were completely turned around? A movie has to try really hard to achieve that perfectly and Terminator 2 does just that. Still, the first one was so very 80s. Linda Hamilton had such crazy hair and it seemed weird that Michael Biehn, soldier from the future, had perfectly feathered hair. Zach, do you have a favorite dated movie that you just can't seem to let go of?
Well Zach, I'm sorry to say but I may have finally snapped. Let me explain and maybe you can talk me down from this metaphorical ledge. All this weirdness that's going on hasn't really filled me with a sense of dread as much as...nostalgia. Yep, Zach, I'm feeling a little nostalgic for a movie that came out in 1985. I'd tell you the director, but you'd know the movie right away, so I'll just tell you it doesn't star any big names, and I'm not sure they went on to do anything else. The movie is heavy on gore, though, and by the end the cast is literally wading through it. It was a sequel to a movie that did very well, but it didn't do as well. Think about it for awhile Zach, we'll talk again soon....... Well, Zach? Were my hints to generic or could you get it? 1985, well-known director but less famous cast, full of blood and guts and a less successful sequel? Zach, I'm talking about Day of the Dead. Sequel to Dawn of the Dead, and of course Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead was actually my favorite one of the trilogy. George Romero and I apparently have that much in common. The actors did well, but the fact that they weren't well known made it so much easier to sink into the post-zombie world. Something else that added to that was how great the setting was. It was filmed in a mine, if you can you believe it. They didn't use a set or a soundstage, they actually went underground to film! It must've gotten claustrophobic with all the equipment around. Did you know that the blood and entrails at the end are real? Calm down, Zach, I don't mean it was actually a person's entrails, they killed a pig to get them. Sorry if I scared you. Apparently there was at least one animal harmed in the making of that film. The climactic scene at the end was mostly volunteers who got a hat, a copy of the fake newspaper proclaiming the dead walk, and one dollar. The dollar's not so great, but wouldn't it be amazing to own one of those pieces of memorabilia? Imagine how much you could get for them on one of those online auction sites. I don't think I could bring myself to do it, though. What about you, Zach? Could you bring yourself to sell something so cool and memorable?
How do you feel about board games, Zach? I'll bet they're really getting their clocks cleaned by videogames these days, but back in the day, you couldn't find a more fun way to pass the time. I grew up on the classics. Monopoly, Stratego, Risk, Sorry. Ever heard about movies based on boardgames? I'm not surprised if you haven't, I can only think of one so far. There are a few coming out, sure, but I don't think they can top this one. That alone should be a hint, but I'll help you a little further. It came out in 1984, and starred, believe it or not, an all-star cast. It was written by the legendary John Landis. Everything that was a hallmark of a fantastic movie, yet it was all based on a boardgame. It's pretty obvious, Zach, but even if you don't know, take a stab in the dark. Maybe you'll get lucky......... Zach, I can't give you much more time on this one. 1984, all-star cast, John Landis attached? I thought I'd have given it away by telling you to take a "stab." Zach, the answer's Clue. That's right, if you can believe it, a movie based on a boardgame. Even more unbelievable, the movie's great. And not in that way we've been talking about, so bad it's good, the movie is amazing. It stars Tim Curry as the butler of a house where a veritable who's who of comedy come to find they've all been blackmailed by the same man. Madeline Kahn plays Ms. White and she's spectacular. You can see why she's in so many Mel Brooks movies, her comedic timing is impeccable. Martin Mull, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKeann, Zach the list goes on and on. A comedy about a murder. You'd think there wouldn't be a lot of laughs to be had with such a premise, but the movie manages to find plenty. It's not just gallow's humor either, a lot of it comes from the very quick, witty dialog. I guess it just goes to show you can't judge a movie by it's source material. Zach, was there ever a movie you were sure would be terrible but turned out to be great? Those are my favorite kinds of movies.
Zach, do you remember what we were talking about before? B-movies. Movies that are just so bad you can't help but fall in love with them. Don't you find horror movies the most frequent B-movies? Why do you suppose that is? Well let's break the mold a little with this next one. It was an action movie that came out near the end of the eighties. It was one of the first modern buddy cop movie and you couldn't help but think of everything eighties when you watched it. I'm not sure I can admit it yet, Zach. I'll give you a chance to guess it and save myself a little dignity....... What'd you come up with, Zach? Buddy cop movie near the end of the eighties that perfectly typified that decade? Zach, don't tell me you thought it was Lethal Weapon! I could never call that a B-movie. Mel Gibson's charisma practically leapt off the screen and Danny Glover was great as his grizzled partner. And let's not forget Gary Busey. Nobody does crazy villains quite like him. No, the movie I'm thinking of is Tango and Cash. It stars Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russel as a pair of hot-shot LA cops. The dialog is perfectly witty and over-the-top, but the whole movie is incredibly cheesy. Jack Palance plays the villain. If we're going to call Corman the king of the B-movie, surely Palance is the crown-prince. He was in so many over the decades, always perfectly grandiose. Not a lot of people liked Tango and Cash, but I think if it had beat Lethal Weapon to theaters, we'd have seen it turned into a franchise. Your turn, Zach. What's the movie you're ashamed to admit you love?