Buffy Fans - Anyone like Adam?

So my wife and I finished off Season 4 of Buffy The Vampire Slayer for the second or third time, last night, and it got me wondering; does ANYONE like Adam? I hate every single thing about this character. His design is absolutely god awful (in what world does half a face make any sense?) and everything he says is the most pretentious bullshit I think I've ever heard from a Whedonverse character. Seriously, I hate him. He completely ruins season 4 and the fact that he killed an actual good villain (Maggie, unlike Adam, was complex and interesting) to take the lead as Big Bad just makes me hate him even more. Even Jasmine from Angel, Season 4 was less annoying than this douche bag.

Join in for what I hope will be an epic discussion of this very topic at the Palavr forums.


So Does This Mean There's Been A Tali-Ban?

Kotaku posted This Story in the ongoing sea of drama that is the Taliban multiplayer fiasco with the new Medal of Honor. One of the comments solicited a response from me that I felt was worth sharing hear, so that people actually read it.

I get where the military (and others opposed to the multiplayer Taliban thing) are coming from and I think EA knew it was a controversial, borderline disrespectful thing to do when they did it. It got the game a lot more attention than it probably would have, otherwise. Beyond the moral question of whether it's right or wrong to allow players to "role play" as an enemy that is actively killing our family and friends on a regular basis, this was stupid from a purely commercial stand point.

What's that, little Jimmy, you don't want to play a game as the people that killed your father. Yea, I don't blame you. The fact is there are people that find this objectionable and EA is making a mass market, commercial game that they want to sell a lot of copies of. If little Jimmy doesn't want it, he won't talk little Billy and little Tommy into buying it, either. My brother severed in Afghanistan and made it home, ok. My cousin is over there, right now and one of my co-workers lost his son there. I can tell you right now that I would never want to play this game for those reasons.

Again, I am not saying oh they shouldn't do this. They absolutely have the right to do whatever they want. I am saying that I know more than a few people that would never want to play this because of that. There's a reason Modern Warfare chose to go with a "near future" setting, beyond the extended gameplay possibilities. You want your game to appeal to as many people as possible. This Medal of Honor game has made a few decisions that will make people not want to play it, at all.


Thoughts On RealID Changes

I posted this over at the Blizzard Forums in regards to the recent unveiling that just prior to the release of the next expansion, you will be posting as your real name anytime you post on the official Blizzard forums. No option to use any form of alias will be provided. If you want to talk on the forums, you better be willing for any of the innumerable nut jobs that troll the internet to see it.

Most of the people that follow this blog are probably my friends on Facebook, at this point. You're folks I have met through podcast communities and other such internet pastimes. However, you will notice that I do not post a link to this blog on my Facebook and I do not share my Facebook on this blog. I maintain a choice to have a certain amount of disconnect from my real life and my internet bullshit. That is a choice that I feel is mine to make. Anyway, just wanted to post my thoughts on the subject here for posterity. If this is the future of gaming, I don't like it. Not one bit.

I understand the idea behind us having one unified ID to post on the forums under. However, I think Blizzard, as a company, greatly underestimate the level of crazy present in a portion of it's playerbase. I appreciate you notifying us of this change, as it means that once it goes live, I will never post anything on these forums, short of maybe in the customer service forum when I have an issue with my account. I will certainly not be "hanging out" in the forums, discussing the game with my fellow wow heads. Perhaps that is what Blizzard wants. If so, bravo.

As for why I will never post here, the reason is simple; my name is unique. Seriously, there is not another person in the United States with my family name that I am not directly related to and in regular contact with. If, for whatever reason, a person that plays WoW decides that I have wronged them, finding me is as simple as a White Pages search and a trip to google maps. Paranoid? Maybe so, but I am not the only person that plays this game with this same issue. You are opening up your playerbase to stalkers in an environment that is already prone to such activities. Sexual predators are rampant on the internet (and gaming is an obvious target for them) and I refuse to open my family to any kind of risk just so Blizzard can keep me from potentially trolling on an alt.

What I don't understand is your reasoning. To prevent trolling, all we need is a universal account ID. Instead of my real name, let me post as Leeroy Jenkins or some other unique handle tagged directly to my account. No offense, but I have been playing WoW for 5 years and there aren't many people that play this game that I want knowing my real name. I don't care that they know what my characters names are. That information can not get them to my front door while I am at work and my wife is home alone. You are also complete fools if you think parental controls will keep minors off these boards in this age of absentee parenting. In short, someone is going to get hurt when this goes live. That's not a probability, it's an inevitability.

Like I said, though, thank you for the notice. I don't post here often, anymore, as it is, but knowing this change is coming, I will discontinue posting on these forums, completely. I am not angry, per se, and this is not intended as flame bait or a plee to not do this. I am simply a Blizzard customer explaining to you why I will not be making use of this. Ever.


Finish This!

So everyone is talking about the "new Mortal Kombat trailer". There is just one problem. This is not official. It was done as a proof of concept to sell Warner Bros on them making it into a movie.

I am of mixed opinions on it. I like the idea of a "realistic" mortal kombat, which basically means a tournament where people fight to the death, I guess. It's been done to death in b grade action flicks, but wouldn't turn my nose up at one featuring down-to-earth renditions of the MK characters.

Reptile looks retarded and so does Baraka. If you want it to be realistic, keep it realistic. If you want it to be fantasy, go balls out in that direction. This middle of the road shit isn't going to cut it, for me. There are enough reality based characters in the MK universe to pull in a dozen or so with cool looks that would fit what they are going for here. Kinda curious what they have in mind for Sub Zero though. Does he hurl Nitrogen at folks?

All in all, if they moved forward with this, I'd check it out. I like the ideas presented here and I will watch anything with Micheal Jai White in it (if you haven't seen Black Dynamite, get off your ass and do so, right now). I just think they need to sit and think about what it is they want to portray.


Why Do They Always Pick On My Hat?

There was a time in the early 2000s when everyone knew who Chuck Norris was, but did not necessarily care. His films came and went and Walker, Texas Ranger was ignored by anyone younger than 50. Then some douche bag on the internet went and fucked it all up, as internet douche bags are prone to do. I admit, I thought the Chuck Norris jokes were humorous enough, at first, before it got totally out of control. Now I would give anything to go back in time and smash in the face of the guy that started this garbage. It breaks my heart to know that one of the best tough guy actors of the 80s will probably be better known for the various internet memes that have spawned in his name than for the great movies he gave us.

Which brings us to today’s selection; 1982’s Forced Vengeance. Chuck plays Josh Randall, a Vietnam Veteran living in Hong Kong, working at a casino as a Floor Boss. When Josh’s mentor/father figure is murdered and Josh is implicated, he becomes a one man army on a mission of revenge. Yes, the movie is every bit as clich├ęd and by-the-numbers as that description makes it sound.

I have seen some complaints, here and there, that this is a poor martial arts film. Upon recent viewing, I won’t say that I agree, but I will say that the complaint has merit. There is actually very little in the way of punchy kicky goodness in Forced Vengeance. In fact, I would say the movie is more akin to a noirish thriller with moments of martial arts flair than a typical martial arts action flick. From the voice-overs to the snappy tough guy dialogue to the back-stabbing mobsters, it just has that vibe that I associate with the films Sin City so lovingly paid homage to. Perhaps, that is part of the reason one of the thugs orders a J&B at the bar? Mind you, the few fight sequences we get are pretty well done; including a great slobber knocker between Chuck and Seiji Sakaguchi and the dare I say iconic fight in front of the red neon sign. Overall, the emphasis here seems to be on the mystery and intrigue of just what is going on.

A movie like this sinks and swims with its bad guys and this one has two doozies. Michael Cavanaugh is magnetic as Stan Raimondi and the aforementioned Seiji Sakaguchi gave me nightmares as a child with his portrayal of brutal, rape-happy Cam. Casting Sakaguchi and surrounding by far more normal statured asian gentlemen resulted in an already ginormous man looking like an absolute freak of nature. By that same token, Cavanaugh’s intensity was amplified by how mostly laid back the rest of the cast was. While not a technically impressive showing, the ferocity of the showdown between Randall and Raimondi is still one of my favorite moments in martial arts cinema.

The star of this movie for me is Hong Kong and how the characters interact with it. One of my biggest complaints about films set in foreign cities with American casts is that, more often than not, the non-natives stick out like a sore thumb. From the moment Randall gets off the plane in Hong Kong, you feel like he belongs there. He speaks a bit of the language, he works the merchants and he doesn’t look like he is lost in the woods. The city is a living, breathing thing, complete with its own parasites that will eat you alive. I’ve always had a soft spot for corrupted cities and the Hong Kong in Forced Vengeance is one of my favorites.

Forced Vengeance is not a great film. It’s not going to be heralded through the ages as a landmark picture that set the stage for those that followed. It’s fun, sometimes cheeky, occasionally dark action thriller with a few fantastic set pieces. On a personal level, it’s also the movie that introduced me to Mr. Norris. It’s the movie that lead me to Lone Wolf McQuade, Silent Rage and the Missing In Action flicks when I was a small one. For that reason alone, it will always have a special place in my pantheon of action flicks. Besides, if I didn’t say it was awesome, Chuck would apparently come to my home and punch me to the moon or kill me with his death stare.


Dog's Life, Indeed

Saw a video on Ihasahotdog.com that really amazed me. Upon looking up the original youtube video, I was even more impressed. A lady with the youtube handle petitemarion60 has some pretty stellar dog trick videos over there. The one that got me interested is to your right there in my youtube spotlight. Not much else to say on that. Go check it out.

Darksiders Demo Thoughts

First - Easily the longest demo I have ever seen. I give them some props for that, I guess, though it would have been nice if they would have let you save and pick up where the demo ends if you buy the retail.

Second - Fuck this game. Now, maybe I am missing something, but the enemies go from annoying but easy to still annoying and overly hard on a regular basis.

The demo had two varieties. Either they were trash that you wailed on for a while and didn't even care if they hit you or mini-boss caliber fuckers that killed you in 2 or 3 hits. The second variety sucked, because you basically play the "run away and wait for the game to show you your obvious opening to attack" game.

Like I said, though, maybe I am missing something. The one guy that spews poison, I stayed at range and hit him constantly with my boome...sorry, throwing star. After I'd done that for awhile, I ran up and hit him with my Master Sw........sorry, sword. Then you had the big armored fuck and his henchman. Run around, dash, wait for him to do his big attack and then zap in and pop him a couple times. It was boring as shit.

So, anyone play the full retail? Is there something I am missing, because I dug the puzzles and the Zelda with gore gameplay for the most part. I just found the mini-boss enemies to be tedious and frustrating.

Open Letter To Nintendo

This was written in response to this article over on Kotaku.

Attn: Nintendo

When I go to Gamestop, I can't find quality games for the glut of Petz and Babies games. After awhile, I gave up looking and awhile after that, I just sold my DS, outright. I simply do not care about you or your consoles, because you do not seem to, either. You have let third parties choke both your systems with shovelware and I haven't the time to bother digging through it to find the good stuff. Enjoy your expanded market, though. I can see that it's working out quite well for you.

On top of that, your online setup is crap and, well, I have an Ipod. Ipod has proven to be a much better platform for fun, quirky puzzle games than the DS has, due to pricing of the games and all around easier access to them. Why should someone pay 20 bucks for Peggle on the DS, when it can be had for 5 on the Ipod? Yes, you have Mario and I applaud that. Except I 100% completed NSMB 3 years ago. Since then? Nothing. If you'd put forth some effort, I'd even be interested in an actual new Pokemon game. One that isn't the same engine you used for the GBA games that actually looks halfway decent.

In short, I am sure piracy is a part of the problem, but much like the movie and music industry, blaming piracy is a "head in the sand" tactic that allows you to ignore your actual issues. Times have changed and you are not evolving. Piracy was just as rampant when DS was topping the charts, so perhaps you should look at the big picture and stop pretending your consoles don't have some serious shortcomings.


You're Better Off Empty and Blank

Laid to Rest has proven to be a reasonably divisive film over the last year or so since it hit DVD. It's got a lot for gore hounds to sink their teeth into, but gore has really lost it's punch over the last few years, thanks to Saw and it's ilk. Gore is no longer an unusual part of films, especially horror films, these days. I have noticed a trend of more and more die hard horror junkies wanting better writing and acting out of their horror films, before they will get behind them. I get that, I really do. If any asshole with a digital camera can slap together a gore fest, we need some other less common factor to help separate the wheat from the chaff.

One thing I loved about Laid to Rest is the fact that the Final Girl is an asshole. Unlike every other slasher ever, you didn't sympathize with her, you didn't want her to survive and you hated that she was getting all these characters that were much more sympathetic killed. Honestly, I think this was a deliberate choice on the director's part. You get to the big reveal where you would normally find out some shocking and endearing factoid about our amnesiac final girl, only to find out she's an even bigger asshole than you already thought she was. I just loved that.

That said, the final girl's acting is atrocious. Not in spots or now and then, but the entire movie. The girl was in fact cast for her rack (which I am ok with), but then we get no nudity, which I found kind of odd. Some of the other actors manage to pull it out in spots, but they are working with dialogue that's almost as bad as The Girl's acting. Thomas Dekker shows up in a hilarious bit part as some douche on his way to a rave, which is sort of redundant to say. If you are going to a rave, isn't a given that you're a douche? I am just saying.

That actually brings up something else I really enjoyed about Laid to Rest; the score. I thought the score was pretty cool, overall. Sure it was all goofy metal and techno/industrial, but I sorta liked that it was all original goofy metal and techno/industrial. He could have easily licensed some shitty bands and shoe-horned them into the scenes to sell a soundtrack. Instead, some effort was made to create a score that fit the mood he wanted. I want the soundtrack just to be able to listen to “Sexy bitches are my favorite kinda bitches” at my leisure.

While I admit that the movie is terrible, I own it and love it. We actually pop it in on a regular basis because it's kind of hilarious in spots. "I don't have a traditional land line, per se" and the ensuing internet police call had me rolling, as did the aforementioned "Sexy bitches are my favorite kinda bitches". The gore is quite astounding at times, with some excellent and rather messy kills. This is a movie that I think gore hounds will love and everyone else will probably hate, but I see it as something that could be a lot of fun with a group of friends and some booze.


Wake Me Up Before You PSPgo go

A recent article on Kotaku that reported on some statements from statements from Gavin Cheshire, VP of Codemasters, sparked some interesting debate in the comments section regarding the current state of the PSP. Being an owner of all three of the current handheld gaming platforms, I felt compelled to join in the discussion.

View the original article here. The discussion I took part in can be found here. Kotaku probably has the best comments section of any online blog I have ever seen.

The PSPgo does less than a PSP 3000, but costs substantially more. There is no logical reason to buy a go over a 3000, because you can do everything you can on the go with the cheaper system. That is the ultimate failure of the go.

My main problem with the PSP is that it is essentially a PS2 with one less analog stick. Since I care less about portability and more about unique gaming experiences, there is no compelling reason to play games on the PSP versus just playing them on the PS2. Chains of Olympus felt like the GoW games on PS2, only with slightly gimped controls. I also love how people always mention how good the PSP is for homebrew and emulation (the only homebrew I've ever known anyone to partake in) and then the masses wonder why publishers to embrace the system. Piracy is one of it's selling points for a lot of folks. I have a friend whose only purpose for still owning a PSP is as a NES emulator.

On the other hand, the truly great games on the DS (notable exception taken for New Super Mario Bros.) offer up an experience that really can't be had on any other gaming platform. When implemented intelligently, the dual screens offer up a completely new and unique play experience. On top of that, the DS Lite was cheaper, lighter and, imo, more portable than the PSP ever was and the games usually trended about 10 dollars cheaper than those on the PSP. In short, it was a portable system that understood that most people didn't want a full blown console experience in their hands.

I am not a fanboy, by any stretch. At this point, my portable gaming platform of choice is an Ipod. Being a fan of puzzle games, first and foremost, there is no simply no better handheld platform out there for me. Apple absolutely nailed their online store and pricing. Sooner or later, maybe Sony and Nintendo will figure it out, since the online stores for both those companies is a joke. Hey, Sony, release IQ somewhere that isn't Japan and I'll buy a PSPgo to play it. I swear.