Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Review Garden: “I feel FANTASTIC and I’m Still Alive”

Whew. Miss me? I “triumphantly” return and take a look at what happened last month. Movies, Games, Comics, TV and an stupid election that no one wanted.

And since sticking ratings on each article has become redundant, if something is r rated of NSFW, then I’ll mark it. But other then that, lets just say this site is not for kids.

Okay, I know i said i would be updates during April. Instead I spent the first half of April slaving over my portfolio, and the rest of april slaving over my last two assignments and doing important last minute errands (By the way, the portfolio show was awesome. Thanks to everyone that came. I got a lot of great feedback on my portfolio) But May? I was... doing stuff...

Alright, lets just chalk it up to part “catching up on a years worth of sleep”, part “feeling sick” and part “personal problems”. Because, y’know, I can’t seem to go a whole month without one of those ;). I’m like Tony Stark! Without the booze! Or women. Or money...

... the point is, any writing mainly consisted of my forehead hitting the keyboard with a painful thud. Ahem.

Anyway, since the next few weeks will be busy what with me moving and all, I figured, why not just quickly review a bunch of things from the past month or so? If you see a topic you don’t care about, just scroll down to a different one

Game News:

Don't ask. This will make more sense later. I think.
Lets start this off with the meaty bits: Games have won a grand battle in the past month. The National Endowment for the Arts has now added video games to their list of grant divisions. That means that Video games are OFFICIALLY considered an ART FORM! WOO WOO!

Unfortunately, there’s still the debate going on in Washington as to whether or not video games deserve first amendment rights (stupid Schwarzenegger). Yes, you herd me. The Ex. Govenator and his merry band of anti gamers have tried for YEARS to convince Washington that video-games are evil, impure things that should not be put in the hands of our children or anyone else. Bah.

Good news: their reason (this time) is that video games are not worth anything and are not an art form. So our chances just got waaay better. Check out the full article here.

Now to say I’ve been a little obsessive lately with video games would be an understatement. Quite odd considering I DON’T PLAY VIDEO GAMES.

I’ll save the “why” during my upcoming “Non-Gamer Reviews”. Bottom line-- I usually just watch let’s plays of video games. I prefer it that way. Yes, I know that to get the full experience of a game, I need to play it, but, that’s just how I am. And with games like Portal, I'm still solving the puzzles in my head as I watch a lets play.  (so, no “your opinion doesn’t matter” comments, alright?)

However over the last few months, I’ve been obsessing over several games that I’m not just willing to try playing, but may actually fork over the cash for. So I'm going to try my best not to go “fangirl” on you guys and go through them.

First up we have Portal 2, which just came out in April.

And it is FREAKING AMAZING!!!! (so much for not going “fangirl”)

I. LOVE. PORTAL. There are many games that have caught my attention but none in the way that Portal has. With puzzles. Fun, subversive, interactive, trippy physics puzzles, with a funny dry wit and just so happens to have the my favourite colors as it’s color scheme. Not to mention the main theme song “Still Alive,” can cheer me up on any occasion.

I mention the song because that’s one of the things I love about Portal: All the little extras, hard work, and love that has been put into this game. If you know Portal’s history, you already understand what I mean. And all the promotion for Portal 2 is just further proof.

Back in April, Steam released something called the Potato Sack, which was a discounted package of games they sell. You can check out all the information here, but long story short, what started as an april fools joke became a code breaking, Portal 2 related conspiracy that led to a large assortment of Portal 2 promotional material, including free Portal inspired DLC for some of the games in the potato sack, a huge load of Portal 2 concept art, and a way to potentially get Portal 2 released early. And probably a bunch of other stuff that i don't know about. And I have to mention the large amount of trailers that came out before and after that. Most of them are Aperture commercial spoofs for the Turrets, the Long Fall Boots, teamwork, the panels etc., all narrated by “CEO Cave Johnson”, voiced by J.K. Simmons (J Jonah Jameson of Spiderman), and a well written, beautifully drawn 2-part comic connecting the two games. And Valve put a lot of work into making the cameras as user friendly as possible to keep players from getting motion sick. And i haven't even mentioned the extras and DLC that are ON the game.

So what of the game? Well, I’m trying to keep these short (stop laughing), and my review of portal 2... isn’t. Like, at all. There's just too much stuff to talk about. So I’ll save that for a little later.

Here's the short version without the in depth analysis: It’s fun, funny, not everyone will like it more then Portal 1 but that’s not a bad thing. Fun to play with friends or alone and the story and puzzles are great in both. Though I prefer the single mode story because of the quirky characters, twists, and a very satisfying ending to the series. And I cannot wait to play it come summer.

Next is Amnesia the Dark Decent, an indy horror game noted for it’s atmosphere and unique story. And another one of my favourite horror games. Last month, Amnesia got a new chapter, as part of the DLC package of the Potato Sack I mentioned above!

It’s titled, Amnesia: Justine.

Though the story is separate from the story of Amnesia the Dark descent, it has the same dark creepy atmosphere and psychological head games. Probably more head games actually. And the story is very Portal inspired. You wake up inside of a cell, have no idea who you are, and discover a phonograph, voiced by a very strange woman directing you where to go and that you must solve all the puzzles. The whole thing is very reminiscent of how Portal 1’s protagonist, Chell, is introduced to GLaDOS. Only this time, you’re in the 1800s and instead of solving the puzzles so you can eat cake, your solving puzzles so you can save the lives of three other prisoners and so a creepy monster doesn’t get to eat you. Despite being even shorter then the first Portal, the writing is still tight. The monologues sometimes feel drawn out, but I found that I like these characters a little more then the ones from the original Amnesia game. I think it must be the villainess', uh, “Exuberance”.

And I’m a total gore hound who loves psychological horror stories. Meh.

I’m slowly working my way through the demo of the original game. I’m thinking of buying Amnesia but now I'm definetely going to wait until I can get Justine as well without the whole Potato Sack.

Next is Minecraft which somehow became even more awesome then it was before by coming out with a 90 minute demo you can download from the official site, so if your still on the fence about the game, here’s your chance to make a final decision.

For those that don’t know what Minecraft is, head over to Youtube and look it up. No, really. This thing is amazing. I’ve found several fan trailers on youtube but few of them really capture how broad a game this is. Mostly because everyoen plays it for different reasons. Well, these two videos come close: Mining All Day Long, and Form This Way (Minecraft Parody of Lady's Gaga's Born This Way)

Let me give this a shot:

Imagine landing on a randomly generated world made of blocks. There are forests filled with different trees, farm animals and wolves, underground mines with gold and coal and lapis and dungeons filled with treasure. You can chop down and mine material with your bare hands and build ANYTHING. I mean ANYTHING. Farms, Airplanes, the Star Ship Enterprise and working CPUs. You can play by yourself, with friends, build your own stuff or download fan made adventure maps. You can change the skins so the game has textures based in realism, steam-punk or even “girly”. And to add extra “oomph”, you also must deal with Spiders, Zombies and Skeletons that want to EAT YOUR FACE. And Creepers, strange green creatures, who love to blow up and destroy all your stuff. The music and sound effects are beautiful. New things are still being added to it. And HOLY CRUD IS IT ADDICTING.

Basically, it’s a building game where you can do whatever you want, but you have to EARN it. You need to search for the materials you want and then you have to defend them and yourself. (Unless you decide to cheat and just type in the codes to get things)

I played the classic version on the official site and all I did was dig and build and fall into lava and THAT alone was addicting. I. LOVE. THIS. GAME. I’m buying it. It’s going to be my grad gift. To myself. Yeah.

The new Silent Hill,Game, Silent Hill: Downpour has me worried, because it has been announced that you can only hold one weapon at a time and weapons can break *faceplate* Which means there going for a more “realistic” tone. Which I have never seen done well in a silent hill game before. It’s even more stupid when you realize that this is silent hill, where nothing is suppose to make sense unless there is a deeper psychological meaning to it (hmm...). Not to mention IT’S SILENT HILL. If I was stuck in Silent hill, I would duck-tape as many shotguns and swords to my back as possible or at least look for a backpack or something!

I'm hoping that at least the story is good, since that was the main problem with SH:Origins and SH: Homecoming. The series has had issues with combat since Silent Hill: 4. But the people behind it seem to at least "get" Silent Hill, so here's hoping.

And lastly were have Duke Nukem. Which isn’t out yet. But I’m considering it news because my wish to play it is making me question weather or not I’m ACTUALLY a feminist. 

In Movie news:

I saw Thor this weekend. And everyone is right, it is amazing! Beautifully designed, written well, well acted though there are hiccups, defiantly. The twists and teasers for future movies were not as strong as other marvel movies and parts of the movie, mostly the first bit, felt rushed. But I like how they didn’t go super dark and angsty like so many other movies have. And the whole thing was just so much fun!

I also saw the movie Limitless not to long ago. And it’s so good, I've got a separate review for that lined up. That should be up in the next couple of days. But I’ll say this: If you like smart, intellectual and funny thrillers with a bit of shock value added in spots, or you’re going to film school, see this movie while you can. It’s great and I think It’s still in theatres.

Also, People need to calm down about the Green Lantern movie. Yes, costume and the CG doesn’t look great. But I’ve seen it it before. That strange perspective. That “unreal” look to images. I'd wager it’s the look of a 3d movie put into 2d. Badly. And it may look bad now, but I think it will look much better in theatres. In 3D. In 2d? Yeah, we’re doomed.

And NO, I'm not going to talk about the upcoming Silent Hill movie. I'm trying to forget that stupid thing exists.

Oh and Other then Hanna and Kungful Panda 2, I haven’t been excited about any movies lately that aren’t... comic book related.


And speaking of comics and things I'm not interested in...

I have not cared at ALL about the main story lines coming out of Marvel and DC. Note that I only buy about 4-6 comics a MONTH. I’ve been borrowing the main series from my friend and it really hasn’t been interesting me. I guess after 5 years of NON-STOP event comics, I need a break. Instead, I’ve been randomly picking from the different non-main event comics. There's a couple one shots and short stories that I’ll take a closer look at in the future, but here are the comics I finally went with:

Green Wake: The latest book from writer Kurtis J. Wiebe and artist Riley Rossomo. A horror/mystery that takes place in Green Wake. A mysterious supernatural place where people are suddenly “taken” to. With no way out. And about the mysterious murders that have suddenly started there. Feels a bit lovecraftian, I'd say but with frogs. And I'm always up for a horror story. Official site is here.

Wonder Woman: The Oddessy: Yep, still reading this one. And yes, it’s still great. I know I promised a review of the series, but it’s going to end in a few months. SO instead, I’m going to do a review of the comic after the series is done. But before that I’m going to take a look into the concept, the ideas, the costume and the unnecessary backlash this comic has gotten from fans (despite none of them having read it). This way, I can get all those annoying politics of the out of the way and focus on just reviewing the comic when it comes out.

X-23: This girl is one of my favourite marvel characters, who actually got me back into buying current american comics on a regular basis (not to mention adding to my love of stories that include bad-asses and clones). And now she’s been given a new miniseries. First couple issues have some problems, but I’d say that that has more to do with the first three issues being tie-ins to the “Wolverine goes to hell” series. But they accomplished what they needed to: Get X-23 away from the X-men and Wolverine. Because they’re all being smothering idiots right now.

Journey into Mystery, starting from issue 622: At the moment, tied into Fear Itself, the current Marvel event comic. Back-story: In the last event comic, Loki, Thor’s brother, basically caused the destruction of their home asgaurd but then died a hero. In this comic Loki has now been reborn as a young boy. But he doesn’t remember his deeds as Loki, so must still contend with others judging him for what the last Loki did. He also has a slight change in personality compared to his predecessor, but is still “Loki” at heart: A trickster. The first issue had a lot of amusing dialogue, especially in conversations between Loki and Thor. The art is very beautiful. But the story and the writing is what really caught me, with throw backs to classic Fantasy/Adventures (both games and movies)

In TV news:


Yesterday, I had this whole thing planned out. I was going to talk about the Wonder Woman pilot. I was going to talk about the costume changes. And then I was going to talk about how annoying the hardcore WW fans are (because they are). I was even going to say how I like the new costume and the changes.

But none of that matters. Because it’s been cancelled. Crap.

I will admit that, given what i just heard about the final script, this was probably a good thing. But...I... am far to depressed to talk about this right now. But don’t worry. I’ll be sure to show my “feelings” (by feelings, I mean, “dig my fingernails into the eyes of some certain people”) on this matter later.

Okay, time to cheer myself up. Sort of.

Bones. Was... AMAZING. And heart breaking. Completely makes up for last weeks episode, “The signs in the silence”, in which someone did something face-palm worthy every. Five. Minutes. But the latest episode, "The Hole In his Heart", was breathtaking. I actually cried. I love fiction, but...You have... NO idea how hard it is for a work of fiction to make me cry. And no, I won’t tell you what happened. You can watch it for free at Glovaltv. Now lets move on before I need more tissues.

I’m finally getting excited about a Live action show that isn’t Bones or Doctor Who. It’s The Finder, a... spin off of Bones... Shush. They put a pilot in one episode of bones and it looked... intriguing. Admittedly, the whole thing seemed like it was squishing in as much about the new show as possible. And it would have been nice if there was a bit more screen time with the main cast of Bones interacting with the cast of The Finder.

But it looks witty and fun and I’m looking forward to it.

Oh, and for those that haven’t heard yet: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Is. Awesome.

In Canadian News:

We just had an election up here in Canada. Um... yay?

Yeeaaah. I can honestly say that the majority of Canada didn’t want an election in the first place. It was the Liberals, NDP and the Bloc Quebecois that wanted the Conservatives out of power and basically used a weak excuse to get an election. For those not from Canada, most of the election was as follows:

Yep. And despite all that, I still ended up voting conservative. Harper doesn’t seem very financially responsible, but he seems a lot more capable then the other guys. Certainly more then Liberal Leader Inganif--Ignaitiff--- Ignaniff--- Oh for the love of---

---The Liberal Party Leader---

---who hasn’t actually DONE anything for Canada and who couldn’t seem anymore untrustworthy or fake unless he was a cardboard cut-out.

And even if I did decide to vote for my second choice, NDP leader, Jake Layton (Why does no one like the Green Party?) I knew that it wouldn’t matter. And, yeah, Conservatives won, Harper is still in power and nothing actually came out of the election.

For the first time in Canadian History, the NDP is the official opposition party of canada, which means they are the second most powerful party. Ignatieff’s (HA! Got it this time!) lost power is has now stepped down as party leader, and the Bloc Quebecois lost official party status. Which... is kinda awesome.

Little Canadian history for you non-northerners. The Bloc wants to make the province of Quebec it’s own country... yes, that right. And based on the votes, I don’t even thing Quebecers want to become it’s own country. They’ve actually tried that once. Didn’t end well.

So that was the election. Ya.

Oh, and I just found out that CANADA of all countries, is one of the ONE OF THE HIGHEST RESOURCE WASTERS IN THE WORLD. Good Luck, Harper, I think you'll need it.

(Okay, I'm just quickly adding this because I just learned about this. Slave Lake, a city in Alberta, was hit by a fire. They're saying that about one third of the town has burned down now. The whole article is here: Wildfires wreak havoc...


So. That was April. And a little May. Next post will be up in the next couple days. And soon, something much less light hearted, and much more... controversial. Until then I have some other work to do:

It’s swiffer time!

-Tegan Dumpleton aka SlugLady28


  1. Wow, it got cancelled? Why? I mean, this is starting to remind me of the cancellation of other shows, like the Buffy animated series and Aquaman.

    And yes, Thor was pretty awesome, there were some great comedy moments here and there and Norse prounociations! Though it worries me that some people would be like "It's Yoltenheim? I thought it began with a J?"

    Oh and people will always complain about stuff. I mean, people are already complaining about new higher rate of frames in the Avatar sequal and NO ONE HAS SEEN ANYTHING OF THE SECOND MOVIE. Geez, do something different and people complain for hours on it, though given some changes, I wouldn't be surprised.

  2. "Wow, it got cancelled? Why? I mean, this is starting to remind me of the cancellation of other shows, like the Buffy animated series and Aquaman."

    The show got mixed reviews. That's usually the case with pilots like Buffy and Aquaman. Then there was the costume backlash, which was continued even after the color changes. And honestly, the final script was WAAAY over complicated. I think Wondy ended up having about 2 or 3 secret identities by the time it ended.

    "Oh and people will always complain about stuff. I mean, people are already complaining about new higher rate of frames in the Avatar sequal and NO ONE HAS SEEN ANYTHING OF THE SECOND MOVIE. Geez, do something different and people complain for hours on it, though given some changes, I wouldn't be surprised."

    Speculation and over reaction will always happen too. Unfortunately. But I don't really see why someone would complain about the frame rate. Sounds more like innovation.