View Full Version : Drunken Reviews

Drunken Savior
11-13-2005, 02:19 AM
Welcome to Drunken Reviews. Pull up a chair, sit down, have a drink, we serve everything but Zima here. If you want Zima, get out. I'll be reviewing all sorts of media ranging from video games, to films, to music, to graphic novels.

I'll be rating films on:
Acting - How well (or bad) the role of acting played a part in making this film.
Cinematography - What shots were used, how did the camera angles portray the action/emotion of the scene. Does it work to make the picture better?
Story - Is the story solid? Is it original?
Music - How well did the music highten the emotion/action?

I'll be ranting on video games based on...
Graphics - Both an analysis of the technical prowess of the game and the art direction.
Sound - How well does the music fit the game? Are the sounds solid? Do they help the game?
Story - ALL SPOILERS WILL BE NOTED IN RED TEXT! How is the story of the game? Is it well written, does it draw you in? The plot is the emphasis that should drive you towards the game's conclusion. I do notice that some games do not feature a plot, and will recieve a 'N/A.' Also, some games are not plot heavy, and like porn, the plot is more of an afterthought. Those games will be reviewed for their story as well.
Gameplay - Quite simply, does the technical side of the game help or hinder the game? Are there bugs present? Do the controls work for the game? Is there a reason to play the game more than once?

And finally, games will recieve a final 'OVERALL SCORE' where I compile a final grade. This is where I take into account if the story as an afterthought, were the times dictating the negative aspects of the games, and other externalities that can not be covered in the four categories. This is not an average of the above criteria.

A note on video game images:
Often times publishers will use CGI to portray the game in their press photos and other advertisements. However, CGI does not represent the true 'graphics' of the game. The true graphics are the graphics where you play. While CGI is a part of the game, it is not a valid base onto which my reviews will judge graphics. However, good CGI will be noted and rewarded as I see fit.

To ensure that my review portrays the games accurately to gamers, all images that show gameplay will be tagged with '(Gameplay Photo)' underneith the image. Gotta be honest...

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor (2011) (http://the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=583375&postcount=178)
Star Wars: The Old Republic "Revan" (2011) (http://the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=583375&postcount=178)
Star Wars: The Old Republic "Deceived" (2011) (http://the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=583375&postcount=178)

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=248737#post248737)
Batman: The Mystery of the Batwoman (2004) (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=247270#post247270)
Batman Begins (2005) (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=247470#post247470)
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000) (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=269447#post269447)
C'era Una Volta il West (1968) (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=248761#post248761)
Cool Hand Luke (1967) (http://the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=407875#post407875)
Strange Days (1995) (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=247250#post247250)

Video Games
Assassin's Creed (360, PS3, PC) (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=456350#post456350)
Batman: Arkham City (360, PS3, Windows, Wii U) (http://the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=569615#post569615)
Batman: Arkham Origins (PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U) (http://the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=612121&postcount=204)
Chrono Trigger (SNES, Playstation) (http://the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=372695#post372695)
Final Fantasy XII (Playsation 2) (http://the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=381704#post381704)
Silent Hill 2 (PS2, XBox, PC) (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=341960#post341960)

Gamer's State of the Union - 2007 (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showthread.php?p=411339#post411339)

Paper exe
11-13-2005, 02:29 AM

11-13-2005, 02:31 AM
So, when you do reviews, are you going to slur since this is "drunken" reviews?

Drunken Savior
11-13-2005, 02:43 AM
Released 1995
Staring: Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, and Tom Sizemore.
Written by: James Cameron and Jay Cooks
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow

Acting: A
Cinematography: A
Story: A
Sound: B+

Rarely do I see a film where I instantly want to watch the film again. But about once, maybe twice, a year I find such a film. Strange Days is such a film. I did some research on the film and a lot of people called it "the sucessor to Blade Runner." Now I don't know if I'd say that, but it comes closer than any other film I've seen.

The story revolves around an ex-cop (Fiennes) who now deals in 'memories.' Apparently in 1999, we developed the techonology to record people's emotions and their POV. Imagine a technology where instead of visiting your memories via a home movie, you relived them in a trancelike state. It's funny to look back at how optimistic we were regarding out tecnology at the end of the millenium, but it works wonderfully in the film. It is presented as the next level of entertainment. However, the really 'good' memories are only available on the black market: memories like falling to your death...aka snuff.

Fiennes is stuck in a rut. He still feels deeply for his ex-girlfriend (Juliette Lewis) and replays their memories nightly. It's almost as sad as watching a drug addict suffer all day for his next hit, and watching in agony as he gets that hit. His ex has moved on, dating her manager and is pursuing a career in music. Then the plot kicks in. Fiennes is sent a memory of a rapist who rapes and kills a hooker friend of Fiennes, while recording her emotions. Fiennes lives out the rape-kill through the eyes of the murderer and is soon on the trail of the serial killer.

This begins the detective story of Fiennes who uncovers a web of rape, betrayal, and corruption, all under the eve of the new millenium. It's got a fantastic setup, and the script holds up throughout the whole film. And it leaves plenty a good morales regarding the nature of human memories. What more can you expect from James Cameron who created and co-wrote the script?

The cast is superb. I've often said that Fiennes is so underrated it's amazing. He's constantly under the radar dispite amazine performances in not only this film, but a blockbuster like Schindler's List, where he played the sadistic Nazi Amon Goeth. Oh well, maybe his upcomming portray of the Harry Potter supervillian Lord Voldemort will get him the recognition he deserves. And Juliette Lewis....what more can I say? She's constantly sexy in that bad girl way. She sings in this film, and can carry a tune. You can't help but feel bad, let down, and happy for her character throughout the film.

Another amazing this is the 'memory' segments. You are living in the POV of a character. At the time, the technology had not been made and a whole new set of cameras had to be made that you could controll from a remote. It's amazing. Definately a highlight of the film and hightens the action.

So is this the sucessor of Blade Runner? I wouldn't go that far. But I'd definately say it's the Blade Runner of that generation. Both Harrison Ford and Ralph Finnes play similar characters, and the mystery in each are both good. But I feel that Blade Runner has much more depth than this film does.

Paper exe
11-13-2005, 02:47 AM
A movie? And I thought you were reviewing games. If you want my advice, stop watching these mean less stuff and start playing some more games. This year isn't a bad one. There are a lot of quality products; you just have to find them.

Drunken Savior
11-13-2005, 02:51 AM
If you want my advice

I don't. You don't like it, bugger off to your own review thread. :too mad:

[EDIT] I knew I shouldn't have created the tread without a review in it! (Slaps forhead) Oh well. And yes, I'll slowly be moving my reviews from 'The Batman Files' over to here.

Paper exe
11-13-2005, 03:09 AM
You didn?t have to be that mean to replay to me.
I didn't force my opinion or do anything stupid you just get pissed of, because I said what I think.
It is fin with me. Have it your way. I think, thinking that someone who made one post about his opinion in your thread is a crime and offensive is stupid.

11-13-2005, 03:14 AM
Oh man, I forgot all about Strange Days. I wanted to see that movie so bad back in the day, but it was one of those things that I wanted to do but just never found the time to do. Thanks for reminding me. :cool guy: Blade Runner is probably my favorite movie of all time. Anyways, I need to get off my arse and rent or buy Strange Days.

Drunken Savior
11-13-2005, 03:16 AM
you just get pissed of, because I said what I think.

(Looks at his tattoo thread and resits grabbing his banarang)

Joe Redifer
11-13-2005, 03:17 AM
All I remember about Strange Days, watching it from the projection booth with no sound, is that it had a lot of Sony MiniDiscs in it. Maybe they were the TDK MiniDics, I don't remember. But they were definitely MiniDiscs. I noticed that there were hardly ever any people in the auditorium watching the movie, and it went away real quick like. In short, it bombed. Interestingly The Matrix also had MiniDiscs in it.

Also, anyone who spells his name as "Ralph" but pronounces it as "Rayf" deserves a whole bunch o' AIDS.

Yet even also, Juliette Lewis is one of the ugliest females I have ever seen.

Drunken Savior
11-13-2005, 03:28 AM
Released 2004
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., David Ogden Stiers, Hector Elizondo, Kelly Ripa, Kimberly Brooks, Elisa Gabrielli, Kyra Sedgwick, and Eli Marienthal.
Written by: Alan Burnett and Michael Reeves
Directed by: Curt Geda and Tim Maltby

Acting: B+
Cinematography: B-
Story: C+
Music: C

The forth (fifth if you count the Batman/Superman Movie: World's Finest! (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005Y71G/qid%3D1068171063/sr%3D11-1/ref%3Dsr%5F11%5F1/102-8142215-6713746) movie) Batman animated film to be released using the Bruce Timm animation style has been released. When a new vigilante appears in Gotham, Batman must unmask the hero, who uses deadler means to fight crime than the dark knight. When the Penguin and Rupert Thorne (who finally gets more screen time) become the targets of the new Batwoman, they enlist Bane to put an end to the female caped crusader.

Gordon, Bullock, and Detective Sonia Alcana discuss the Batwoman with Batman.

Alan Burnett steps in to write the script, so the story's mystery is constructed quite well. In 75 minutes, you'll meet a bevy of new characters (at least four) as well as being reintroduced to old ones. They mystery has a satisfying conclusion, but upon reflecting, the ending wasn't as deep as many other of Batman's Adventures. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but something I thought should be mentioned nonetheless. The animation in the fleck is done using "The New Batman Adventures"(TNBA) art style. TNBA used a more sleeker character design, but still used the "dark deco" (paintings done against black canvases) design from "Batman:The Animated Series." (BTAS) The quality of the film is a step up above the animated show, but isn't up to the production quality of The Mask of Phantasm, the first animated Batman film.

Batwoman encouters the Penguin and Rupert Thorne. Must say it's good to see old mobsters back in the Gotham.

I found the film quite enjoyable. Definatey not as well done as Mask of the Phantasm or Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker, but Curt Geda's, the director's, is much different than Timm's. The pacing is faster, and the theme's aren't as well contructed, one instance of the film focus' on Bruce Wayne's inability to fully trust someone, but the theme falls apart, offering only a clumsy, cliched conclusion. Again, this could be because the store in while isn't as impacting upon the Batman world as the other films. One major complaint was the Batwoman theme, which I really displiked. A jazzy saxophone might have sounded good in the rundown detective story "A Bullet for Bullock" from the first animated series, it does not mesh well here. I was sick of it before the opening credits concluded.

The kid in me loves Rovin, the adult in me wishes he would just die...again.

Included on the DVD was one particular enjoyable feature, "Chase Me," a 6 minute MUSICAL short. The short is well done, much like the old Warner Brother's cartoon shorts. It was one of the most unique Batman creations I've ever seen.

Drunken Savior
11-13-2005, 03:35 AM
All I remember about Strange Days, watching it from the projection booth with no sound, is that it had a lot of Sony MiniDiscs in it. Maybe they were the TDK MiniDics, I don't remember. But they were definitely MiniDiscs. I noticed that there were hardly ever any people in the auditorium watching the movie, and it went away real quick like. In short, it bombed. Interestingly The Matrix also had MiniDiscs in it.

Yeah, they used Sony MiniDiscs.

And yeah, it bombed hard. I didn't even know it existed until one of my film maker friends gave it to me.

11-13-2005, 03:48 AM
Oh yes! A review thread by Drunken Savior! I've never seen Strange Days but now that I know about it I'll be on the lookout for it.

Hey Joe, why don't you also put your movie reviews inside of your Super-Awesome Reviews thread? That way everything is nice and compact.

Joe Redifer
11-13-2005, 05:45 AM
Probably because I only reviewed 2 or 3 movies and don't do that anymore because movies these days SUCK BALLS.

11-13-2005, 05:48 AM
I love my minidisc player.

11-13-2005, 06:10 AM
I thought DS was leaving and slowly phasing out of the forums, but now he makes a review thread? I guess that's why he suddenly went to invisible mode, so we couldn't see his still online ALL THE TIME.

You can't leave, it's just Alucard & Seska Part 2.

11-13-2005, 06:41 PM
Probably because I only reviewed 2 or 3 movies and don't do that anymore because movies these days SUCK BALLS.
Then review older movies, but yes, the new movies do suck.

Drunken Savior
11-13-2005, 06:43 PM
I never said I was leaving. I was cutting back to focus more on school and filmwork.

11-13-2005, 08:15 PM
Great stuffs, the more variety the better. I'd love to see your review on Batman Begins.

Drunken Savior
11-13-2005, 08:22 PM
Oh it'll be here soon enough....

Joe Redifer
11-13-2005, 08:44 PM
I want Admin's presence in my review thread, too!

Drunken Savior
11-13-2005, 10:07 PM
Released 2005
Starring: Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Tom Wilkinson, Morgan Freeman, Katie Holmes and Cillian Murphy.
Written by: David Goyer and Christopher Nolan
Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Acting: A
Cinematography: B+
Story: A-
Music: B

One of the first movies released where the producers actually listened to the fans, Batman Begins pulls the Dark Knight out of the bizarre ?Neo-Las Vegas? Gotham of Joel Schumacher and slaps him back in the crime ridden metropolis of Gotham City (actually filmed in Chicago). Batman Begins is also a film about the Dark Knight, putting the villains in the backseat. For once, us fans get a story about Batman, not just a vessel to display big name actors to play villains.

This is MY movie, BITCH!

Distraught by the death of his parents, Bruce Wayne(Bale) devotes his life to stopping injustice. Studying under his mentor, Ducard(Neeson), Bruce Wayne soon realizes that he must become a symbol to stop injustice. Bruce wants to strike fear into his opponents, and chooses the guise of the bat, an animal he has feared since a child, to seek his means. First things first, cripple the empire of mob boss Carmine Falcone (Wilkinson) who has crippled the city of Gotham. However one open door opens three more, and soon Batman is fighting the likes of the Scarecrow (Murphy) and ultimately a menace more powerful than the both of them.

Cillian Murphy is perfectly cast as the morally bankrupt Dr. Johnathan Craine, a.k.a. The Scarecrow.

Aiding Bruce's fight is his trust butler, Alfred(Caine), who provides quite a bit of comic relief. He doesn't drown the pic in comedy, but he lightly adds an upbeat mood whenever he is present. Lucious Fox (Freeman) acts as Bruce' right hand man inside Wayne Enterprises, aiding Bruce in acquiring the technology he needs. Rachael Dawes(Holmes) is Bruce' childhood friend turned Assistant D.A., and Captain James Gordon (Oldman) finally gets a worthy screen presence as Batman?s insider to the Gotham Police Force.

Wilkinson hams it up as Carmine Falcone, the mob boss behind Gotham's organized crime.

Christopher Nolan started the production of Batman Begns with a private viewing of Blade Runner. Upon the end, he said "This is how I want Gotham City to look like." And he did succeed, Gotham City is dirty up close and beautiful from afar. You see the filth line the edges of the streets, and you really get an impression that this city is rotting, in need of a hero to clean it up.

Now let's talk about the fight scenes. You have probably heard that the fight scenes are cut very fast, making it hard to follow. Some claim it necessary to capture the chaotic style of Batman fighting. But I say it makes for a bad film. There must be other ways to capture that chaos without giving the viewer a headache. The fight scenes are a small blemish on an otherwise great film. And to those who disagree, why was the first fight (Bruce Wayne fighting the jail inmates) chaotic? The fast cut action just makes for poor viewing. I hope Nolan goes back and cleans up his style for the next Batman film, due in 2008.

A sign you're about to be OWNED

The acting is top notch. When Christian Bale was cast as Bruce Wayne, I couldn't believe it. Bale was the internet favorite according to Batman-On-Film (http://www.batman-on-film.com/), the premiere source for Batman movie buzz online. If you ever saw American Psycho you could see that Bale could easily play the dark socialite. Then the rest of the cast was filled in. Many were upset that Michael Gough lost the role of Alfred to Oscar Winner Michael Caine, but fears were abated when Caine displayed an amazing understanding of the character. But the biggest triumph in casting has to be James Gordon, played by Gary Oldman. Until now, Gordon has been a joke. From Batman(1989) to Batman and Robin(1997) Gordon has been a bumbling fool, played by Pat Hingle. Oldman makes Gordon a realistic character, an honest cop in a dishonest police force. When Bruce proclaims '(Gotham has) good people here,' to the menace looking to destroy the city, Gordon is one of the people he is referring to. Liam Neeson is meant to play the mentor (Qui Gon Jinn from the Phantom Menace) and guides Bruce to gain the will and the technique to fight injustice...at all costs. Cillian Murphy is downright creepy as the morally bankrupt Dr. Johnathan Craine, head of Arkham Assylum's psychiatric ward, who looks at his subjects as guinea pigs for his experiments. (Sidenote: Cillian Murphy lost the role of Bruce Wayne to Christian Bale) Now Katie Holmes. Many hated her, but I honestly liked her character. She was spunky, businesslike, and wasn't just a damsel in distress (see Mary Jane Watson). Her deep connection to Bruce Wayne (see deep connection, not ROMANTIC connection) provides ample plotlines to explore. And it's good to see a superhero flic where romance isn't a main theme, huh? Tom Wilkinson is pretty hammy as Falcone, but I liked it. I felt it fit and he portrayed a man in power very convincingly. And lastly, has Morgan Freeman every done a bad job onscreen? He continues his amazing streak here.

A stellar cast led by a (relatively) unknown actor who was WAYYY past due for a solid Hollywood role

The music also takes a hit. While Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard made an awesome musical score (No lyrics in ANY of the film's soundtrack!), it lacks an obvious Batman theme. Maybe Vespertilio is the theme (the opening song) but it lacks an obviousness to it. However, the score is phenomenal, utilizing a lot of strings and horns to bring the world of Batman to life. But when you compare it to Danny Elfman's theme from the 1989 film, Elfman's has a better grasp on the concept of a theme. But, I must reiterate that Zimmer and Howard made an INCREDIBLE soundtrack that heightens the theme created by the actors, story, and atmosphere. It's amazing work...but it just needed a theme...

Tough as Nails, Liam Neeson.

Batman Begins was the film Batman fans have been longing for. Batman(1989) was good, but it failed to capture the whole world of Batman. It(1989) did hit a few cues right(Batman, Joker, Gotham), but it failed on many others (the story of Batman, the police force). Begins hits all points successfully, and re-launches the franchise in an era where the fans are in control. Flicks like X-Men and Spiderman have set the stage for the ultimate Batflick, and thanks to the success of those two films, us Batfans have finally gotten an official apology from Warner Bros for making us sit through Batman and Robin to get our Batfix.

Batman's P.O.V., on drugs


So where do we go from here? Well, obviously the next villain the Bat has to face his arch nemesis, the Joker. Who is going to play the Joker? Well it looks like it's a toss up between Aussie Lachy Hulme and Paul Bettany for the role of the Clown Prince of Crime, with Hulme in the lead. The story will also follow the rise and fall of new District Attorney Harvey Dent (rumored to be played by Liev Schribber) as he, the Batman, and newly crowned Lieutenant Gordon fight to bring down the Joker. Side stories include the possibility of the Penguin as a small times arms dealer in a cameo role, and another wealthy socialite who has turned corrupt. Also it is looking like the past of Thomas Wayne (Bruce's father) will be explored.

2008 is a long way off...

Will the Scarecrow return....Drunken thinks so!

Drunken Savior
11-13-2005, 10:20 PM
I want Admin's presence in my review thread, too!

Master likes me best.

11-14-2005, 01:40 AM
Wow I never knew there was a 'Mystery of the Batwoman'! i've gotta check it out, hey DS mind reviewing Mask of the Phantasm next? I loved that movie as a kid.........and DS, the reason why Paper must've mistook this as games review thread like the others is cuz the name of the forums is 'Game Reviews' thread...and Paper, there's NOTHING what so ever wrong with reviewing things other than games.

Drunken Savior
11-14-2005, 03:32 AM
Sure. I actually reviewed it earlier, but I didn't take screen captures. I'll be sure to do it this time.

Joe Redifer
11-14-2005, 04:39 AM
Mac OS X does not let you do screen captures from DVDs. So what 3rd party app are you using?

Drunken Savior
11-14-2005, 05:17 AM
Video Lan Client. I use it as my primary video player. Apple's DVD Player sucks.

11-14-2005, 05:24 AM
Try dling Media Player Classic it should allow you to........oh wait you're talking DVD right? Use MSI DVD, I use it and I can screen-capture stuff.

11-14-2005, 08:51 AM
It's funny, fast cutting in fight scenes usually bugs me. (IE - I find the first big battle in Gladiator unwatchable due to the camera/editing - the rest of it unwatchable cause it's crap)

For some reason, the editing in Batman didn't bother me at all. I was fine with it. I didn't think it hurt the film at all.

11-14-2005, 09:00 AM
I have to agree with DS when he said that the fight choreography takes a blow due to the fast cuts, but overall it was an enjoyable film, certainly better than any of the previous Bat flicks. I wonder what your next review will be?

Drunken Savior
11-14-2005, 09:31 AM
For some reason, the editing in Batman didn't bother me at all. I was fine with it. I didn't think it hurt the film at all.

It wasn't a huge problem, but it did bother me. You really didn't get to see Batman move that much in the film, which did bother me. All in all, I didn't feel that the ranking for Cinematography (which includes Camera work, art direction, shot direction, and editing) should get an A. There is definately a lot more room for imporvement in the sequel.

Next Reviews
I'm going to do (redo?) Mask of the Phantasm. If I can get a lens cleaner, I'll add some images from Strange Days. The DVD drive was acting up (it's kinda old, I'm looking to replace it) and I couldn't get screen captures. I'll also get some captures for the Batwoman too. I'm actually REALLY excited about getting captures from Phantasm....I got some in mind already..

My schedgle looks like this:
-Mask of the Phantasm
-Once Upon a Time in the West
-The Iron Giant
-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
-Swingers (One of my top three personal films)

After that I'll probably review some games....Chrono Trigger, Silent Hill 1-3, TMNT: Turtles in Time. But I'll have to come up with an adequate rating system for games first.

B.B. Gambini
11-14-2005, 01:44 PM
i dont smell enough alcohol in these DRUNKEN reviews!

11-15-2005, 08:21 AM
You need permission from me before you can review games from Konami.

Drunken Savior
11-15-2005, 02:41 PM
Can I please review Silent Hill games of master of Konami? They are soo good and deserve ample representation on the forums. Did I say ample? I meant overwhelming! I'm going to review them twice. The second with even better scores than the first!

11-16-2005, 12:23 PM
You have my permission. But I dont enjoy your review, you are CUT OFF!

11-16-2005, 12:27 PM
You mean his genitals?

Drunken Savior
11-16-2005, 10:42 PM
Released 1993
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner, Stacy Keach, Abe Vigoda, Dick Miller, John P. Ryan, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Bob Hastings, Robert Costanzo, and Mark Hamill
Written by: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Martin Pasko, Michael Reaves
Directed by: Eric Radomski and Bruce W. Timm

Acting: A-
Cinematography: B
Story: A-
Music: A+

1993 was a good year for Batman fans. Batman Returns(1992) erupted to much success, spawning the popular television show, Batman: The Animated Series, which many consider to be the best comic book cartoon ever made. The show was a sucess with both critics and fans. To many batfans, myself included, Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and Eric Radomski had created the perfect Batman character, blending many different variations of the character. The show spwaned 5 movies (Mask of the Phantasm, Sub Zero, Return of the Joker(from Batman Beyond), The Batman/Superman Movie(From the Superman: Animated Series and The New Adventures of Batman and Robin), and Mystery of the Batwoman. The first one, Mask of the Phantasm stands above them all. In fact, it stands as the best Batman film ever made.

There's a new face in Gotham....

The story is told through three storylines: Batman clearing his name with the Gotham Police Department and the flashback of Bruce Wayne(Conroy) becoming Batman as well as romancing the lovely Andrea Beaumont(Delany....Lois Lane from Superman The Animated Series), daughter of troubled importer Carl Beaumont(Keach). The story begins with Batman busting a group of mobsters planning on laundering counterfeit money through the citie's casinos. The leader, Charles Sol (Miller), escapes only to comfront the newest vigilante in Gotham City, the Phantasm. Sol is killed, and Batman takes the blame. Soon, more and more gangsters are being killed left and right, and the police soon turn up their hunt on the Dark Knight. To complicate things more, Andrea has returned to Gotham City.

Batman fighting the Gotham Police Force is always a fun encounter to watch...

Interweaving into the main plot is the story of a young Bruce Wayne, who meets the lovely Andrea Beaumont while mouring at his parent's grave. The two instantly form a rapport and begin a romance. However this romance begins to tear at the young billionare, who feels torn between keeping his vow to fight crime and his desire to be happy in life.

A young Bruce Wayne and Andrea Beaumont discover the Batcave.

However all is not well in Beaumontland. Apparently Andrea's father, Carl, owes money to the mob, headed by Sal Valestra (Vigoda), who keeps....familar company. Escaping a huge dept, the two flee, leaving Bruce distraught...more fuel for the Batman fodder.

Very familar comapny....

Batman begins to pursue the identity of the Phantasm, all the while keeping his distance from the police and trying to get closer to Andrea. But there is always a Joker hidden in the deck (no more cheesy cliche lines, I swear!)

Stalking is O.K. kids....Batman does it!

Mask of the Phantasm is part of the Warner Bros' Animation best! Another great is The Iron Giant(1999). These animated films were leap years before their time. Unfortudently in the case of Mask of the Phantasm, it shows. The film was made entirely(except for the intro) with hand drawn cells, so the film is littered with film grain, dust, and imperfections that come with the photography of the cells. This film is in dear needs of a digital restoration. However, it does add a little bit of charm. What does NOT add charm is the poor DVD transfer Warner Bros' gave this film. Part of the film do not fill the entire screen, and as a result some scenes have little extra black bars on them. I bet Joe would really disapprove.

See the bar on the right? Not cool...

The film uses the 'Dark Deco' technique created by Bruce Timm, which is done by painting backgrounds on black paper. This achieved Gotham's dark look, and made it easier for Batman to hide in the shadows. It works wonders, and creates an amazing atmosphere. The animation is top notch, characters enunciate their lines, there is more cells than a standard cartoon episode, and the action is grander than a regular television episode of the show. We get grand views of Gotham, amazing fight scenes betwen Batman and various fiends, and *gasp* blood in fights. In fact, there is a fair ammount of blood, enough to warrant a PG rating.

Is any Batman story complete without the Dark Knight's foil, the Joker?

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Kevin Conroy is Batman. He is the only actor who can pull off the dichotomy of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Bruce is chipper, Batman is dark. It sounds simple, but Conroy is the only actor who can pull it off effortlessly. And Mark Hamill...amazing. He is the voice of the Joker. Hamil goes dark and sadistic with his Joker, someone who would laugh at the slightest bit of irony at a tragic catastrophe. The rest of the cast is very well rounded. Dana Delany is pretty standard as Andrea, but she lacks the emotional range as Conroy and Hamil. Stacy Keach gives Carl Beaumont a mature fatherly tone and gives the Phantasm his meanacing tone. Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Bob Hastings, and Robert Costanzo flesh out Alfread, Police Commissioner Gordon, and Detectve Bullock quite well. And the mobsters are pretty standard. However they are all led by the brilliant Abe Vigoda, who gives Sal an amazing snakelike tone.

Salvatore 'The Weasel" Valestra

Prepare for a history lesson in Batman. While Danny Elfman wrote the brilliant Batman theme for Batman(1989), all the conducting work was done by Shirley Walker. In a brilliant turn, she was hired to do all the original music for every episode of Batman: The Animated Series as well as Mask of the Phantasm. Can you imagine that? Pennypinchers allowing for a huge part of the show's budget to go to original music? Amazing. But Walker is most deserving. She brings Batman to life with her triumphant horns, chrous booms, and and percussion. She is definately under the radar when it comes to the brilliance of the show/movie, but she is as desrving as, say, Bruce Timm. Her score for the film is one of the best. It enhances the atmosphere, but it doesn't create it. You are hardly aware of the music's effect on you, but it's there nonetheless. High marks.

The joker makes a deal....on his terms

Unfortudently the film is SUPER short, lasting only 76 minutes. However, I always felt that the film lasted around 90 minutes, and never really noticed how short it was until I looked at the official running time. The film interweaves many familar Batman stories:

Batman: Year One - Bruce Wayne's first attempts at fighting crime as a masked vigilante.
Batman: Year Two - Batman fights another vigilante, the Reaper, who is very similar to the Phantasm.

Ironically, one of the last scenes is played out at the 'Gotham' World's Fair, which is very similar to the 1939 New York World's Fair (http://www2.sjsu.edu/faculty/wooda/nywf.html), which inspired the look of Gotham City. Click on the link and check out the 'Postcards.'

'Now I'm about to be owned....' -The Batman

Drunken Savior
11-16-2005, 11:59 PM
Released 1968
Starring: Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards , Gabriele Ferzetti, Frank Wolff, and Charles Bronson.
Written by: Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci, Sergio Leone, and Sergio Donati. Mickey Knox is credited for the English version, however the film is originally in English.
Music by: Ennio Morricone
Directed by: Sergio Leone

Acting: A-
Cinematography: A+
Story: B
Music: A

C'era Una Volta il West (Once Upon a Time in the West) or Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly)? It's a question I ask many other filmmakers when it comes down to Leone's masterpiece? And while I'm a diehard Clint Eastwood fan, I feel West takes the cake. It may lack the social commentary of Good, but what it lacks, it makes up for in style. Maybe it's because it was Leone's first big production in the States, but this film took Leone's styles and elevated it into film making legend.

Extremely well positioned shots, amazing backgrounds, antiheros, and ruthless villians....Classic Leone.

C'era Una Volta il West is the story of Morton, a crippled railroad barron (Ferzetti), who seeks the land of an Irishman, McBain (Wolff) who claimed the land years ago, knowing full well that the railroad would eventually come his way. However, if the land isn't developed into a train station by the time the train reaches the land, McBain loses the rights. To achieve his means, the barron sends out Frank (Fonda) to eliminate McBain and claim the land for himself. All does not go as planned, as McBain's widow, Jill (Cardinale), plans to build the station under the guidance of the mysterious stranger known as Harmonica (Bronson). To add to Morton's worry, Cheyenne (Robards) is blamed for the crimes of Frank, and joins the cause of Harmonica and Jill against Morton and Frank.

Henry Fonda takes his first major villians role...and exceeds expectations as the ruthless killer Frank.

Until this film, Fonda has been known as a Hollywood goodguy. Typecasted, he wanted out and Leone offered him a path. Leone had always wanted to use big Hollywood names in his Westerns, but since he usually filed in Italy (The Man With No Name Trilogy was filmed entirely in Italy), he wouldn not have a chance until West. On the first day, Fonda showed up wearing brown contact lenses. Leone demanded that he take them out. He wanted Fonda's piercing blue eyes. And what a great decision. Fonda adds flair, style, and character to Frank and steals the show. At his side is Harmonica, the silent stranger played by Charles Bronson. Calm, cool, dark....Harmonica is a man out for revenge. A man who helps out when it betters his means. Jason Robards plays the dirty Cheyane, another gunman who always runs into bad luck. Claudia Cardinale is alright as the hooker turned widow, but I don't feel like she brought anythign special to the role. But a large ammount of praise goes to Gabriele Ferzetti, who plays Morton. Every time he is onscreen, he delivers lines that portray a character who has immense ammount of power, but can't even walk on his own two legs.

What is power? Morton and Frank discuss the nature of power.

Sergio Leone is one of my favorite directors of all time. His ability to craft an amazing story with antiheros (I love antiheros) is phenomonal. His locations....superb. Sergio Leone is known for being a landscape director. Not only does he capture the immense detail of the West, but the immense detail of a character faces. A tight close up revels the landscape of a character. Every mountain, plateau, eye wrinkle, and stray hair is shot in supring detail. His keen eye for framing a shot is unparalleled. He was a pioneer in his day.

Excellent framing to capture the essence of a showdown.

Bronson and Cardinale share a momment. Notice the framing again...

Again....AMAZING framing of a shot to capture a brutal and sadistic crime.

Now let's talk music. Ennio Morricone, another genius, has been around for ages and has brought us such amazing songs as the themes to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, The Untouchables, and Once Upon a Time in America as well as many other memerable Western themes. His theme for Harmonica is haunting, a song drenched in sorrow and vengence. His music always compliments Leone's work and they were a powerhouse duet that could put Burton/Elfman to shame, in my opinion...though many disagree with me.

Frank and Harmonica share a momment before all hell breaks lose in the West...

C'era Una Volta il West stands as my favorite Western of all time, a template for films I want to make. Leone's ability to capture scenery and create it into a character itself is amazing and is probably one of the biggest reasons I go out to the desert anually. If you got the time, check this film out. Look for the DVD with the cover above, as it was only recently (2003) that this film was released in it's original cut. It didn't do so well in the states, mainly because producers thought it was too long ( 165 minutes) and had Leone cut it down. HUGE MISTAKE. But it's good that us Western fans finally got the right cut of this masterpiece.

The City of Clearwater, owned by Jill McBain...for now

Joe Redifer
11-17-2005, 12:18 AM
Was Mask of the Phantasm a real movie (real movie = actually played in theaters)? I have a vague memory of showing this movie in the theaters. Batman returns was a turd in every respect except Michelle Phfeiffer or however you spell her ful<ed up last name.

Drunken Savior
11-17-2005, 12:23 AM
Yeah, Mask did have a brief theatre run. I saw it there, my folks really encouraged me to get into Batman for some strange reason. It only made $5,617,391 (Source (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=batmanmaskofthephantasm.htm)) and lasted a little over a month in the threatres, all between Christmas 1993 and Valentines Day 1994. So I bet it was heavily overshadowed by a lot of other films like the Pelican Brief, Beethoven's 2nd, Tombstone, Wayne's World 2, and Mrs. Doubtfire..

Drunken Savior
11-17-2005, 02:06 AM
Added pictures to The Mystery of the Batwoman review, trying to get images for Strange Days....

Sinful Sam
11-17-2005, 06:34 AM
I enjoyed Mask of the Phantasm. I feel like watching it again. I also enjoyed The Iron Giant.

11-17-2005, 07:42 AM
Mark Hamil is the ONLY person who should be allowed to do the joker. Even in movies. Get another actor if you want but DUB him with Marks voice!

11-17-2005, 11:58 AM
Much to my surprise, I didn't think much of Once Upon a Time in the West. I liked the acting and operatic cinematography (who wouldn't?) but much prefer the 'Man with No Name' epic trilogy or A Fistful of Dynamite which was almost an expos? on all the greed and political corruption during the Mexican Revolution. Very dynamic. And the soundtrack in the latter film was, in my opinion, Ennio Morricone's very best work.

11-20-2005, 12:05 AM
Nice reviews DS, loved the Phantasm one, in fact watching those images make me want to watch that movie again! It reminded me how great the art was.

Drunken Savior
01-22-2006, 06:24 AM
Released 2000
Rated: PG-13
Staring: Will Friedle, Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Angie Harmon, Dean Stockwell, and Arleen Sorkin.
Written by: Paul Dini, Glen Murakami, and Bruce W. Timm
Directed by: Curt Geda

Acting: A
Cinematography: B-
Story: A
Sound: C+

2000. A weird time for Batman fans. The animated shows were coming to an end, and soon Batman fans would have to turn to Justice League to get their Batman kicks. However the animated series gave us one last hurah in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. For the benefit of those who have not seen this film, I will be reviewing the UNCUT version of this film and this review will not feature spoilers. At the end of the review, there will be a brief bit on the differences between the CUT and the UNCUT versions, and it will feature spoilers to the plot.

An old face returns to Gotham...

In the future, young Terry McGinnis has assumed the mantle of the Bat and carries on the name of Batman, and all he stands for. Aside from Mr. Freeze, Terry has a whole new slew of villains to fight. An aging Bruce Wayne, too old and weak to physically handle the duties of Batman, sits in the cave and monitor's his young disciple?s progress. Bruce's villains have all but disappeared...but then one day, the clown prince of crime returns, as young and as spry as Bruce remembers him in his heyday. Is this new Joker an imposter? The real Joker must be as old as Bruce.

The crew. No that's not the Scarecrow....sadly.

This new Joker terrifies Bruce. Unlike the Batman of old, aging Bruce Wayne knows of the horrors the Joker can, and will, inflict to Gotham City. More importantly, this new Joker knows there is more to Bruce Wayne than an old coot in a big mansion. He knows that his arch-rival, the Batman, is old and now is the time to exact his revenge and take Gotham City from the good people.

We meet again, Batman. Time has not treated you well.

Return of the Joker is much darker and more violent than the other animated Batman films. There is a scene of torture, blood, stabbings, implied deaths, and a general dark tone that easily warrants a PG-13 rating. Will Friedle(Terry) does an impressive job as the new dark knight, though his tone is much more lighthearted than his mentor, Kevin Conroy(Bruce Wayne), who pulls an amazing old man performance that still shows that he understands the dichotomy between Bruce Wayne and Batman better than any actor out there). Mark Hammill(The Joker) pulls his best Joker performance ever, enhanced by the wonderful new Joker design. Angie Harmon(Commissioner Gordon) does a good job, but doesn't add too much to the old Barbara Gordon, now Commissioner. Dean Stockwell(older Tim Drake) has the right tone and character to his character and his performance will probably go unnoticed, but it's an amazing job. And lastly, Arleen Sorkin (Harley Quinn) is just as we remember her.

The best part of the film is the trip down memory lane....

Sadly, the direction is one of the film's weak points. I found that I was bored of most of the way the film was presented. The character's moved very well, the fight scenes were all done very well and feature a lot of complicated animations (especially the last due between the Joker and Terry). However, nothing really stood out. Often times, the backgrounds were so drab that I would find myself bored unless the animation was standing out. In general, that's my biggest beef with Batman Beyond too. The dark deco style didn't fit the Gotham of the future. It fit a more Dick Tracey, retro New York World's Fair look much better. But before I end this bit, I want to point out that I did give the Cinematography a B, a good mix between the drab backgrounds and the excellent character animation.

When talking about sound, simple music here. Kristopher Carter's original music doesn't hold a candle to Shirley Walker's orchestra from older Batman episodes or Mask of the Phantasm. Replacing a full orchestra with electric guitars fits the futuristic tone, but it's not good music for the dark knight.

Man, I love the new Joker redesign....

How does this film stand to other Batman films? Personally, it's my #3 behind Mask of the Phantasm and Batman Begins. The plot is simply superb and well written. The Joker is a psychopath and this film solidifies his new role in today's Batman universe. The film essentially ties up the older series (Batman: the Animated Series and The New Adventures of Batman) and also expands upon the Batman Beyond storyline.

Gotta love the Dark Knight Returns inspired Batmobile of Batman Beyond!


The Differences between the CUT and UNCUT
Arguments for Both

Warner Bros. has actually released two versions of this film. The first release was the cut version, which was softer and had "less" violence. The Uncut version features blood and more explicit violence. Both films have the same outcome, but both come to their conclusions under different terms. Each film has an argument for how the characters would have acted.

Some of the cuts are just to appease the MPAA. The Joker more so 'poisons' his victims rather than kills them. He says "yutz" over "putz"...tough I don't really see the difference. The blood is removed. However the biggest change comes in the flashback...

In the film, the Joker kidnaps young Robin, a.k.a. Tim Drake and tortures him. During his probe, he pries out the secret identity of Batman. To add insult to injury, the Joker transforms young Tim Drake into a bastardized version of himself, complete with a purple schoolboy suit. When Batman discovers this, he loses it. Batman has lost his family before, and considers all of the Robins as his sons. Now he's lost his son to the chaos he has sworn to fight. At the same time, he is responsible for putting his son in danger. A fight ensures and the Joker is killed. But the way he dies is told differently:

When Joker gets the upper hand on the emotional Batman, he plans for one last joke, to have his new son kill his former master. Holding the defeated Batman by the collar, the Joker hands Tim a gun and orders Tim to kill Batman. However Tim denies and pushes the Joker into the room where he was operated/tortured. The room is still wet and the Joker stumbles into wires. The Jokers slips and pulls a lever and is electrocuted.

An argument for the Joker accidentally being killed
Some fans argue that Batman would have trained Robin NOT to kill, no matter what. This fact is a cornerstone of the Batman lore. Batman brings order and leaves it to the courts to deliver justice. He is not the executioner. He will not kill, period. By having Tim push the Joker, it solidifies the idea that no mater what the Joker did, Tim is still Tim and represents the ideals and morals his father has installed ino him. The Joker failed at destroying Batman's son.

When Joker gets the upper hand on the emotional Batman, he plans for one last joke, to have his new son kill his former master. Holding the defeated Batman by the collar, the Joker hands Tim a gun and orders Tim to kill Batman. In a laughing fit, Tim takes aim, adjusts at the last second and fires a shot into the Joker's chest. "That's not funny. That's not....." the clown prince of crime says before he falls, face first, into the ground. There is no accident, Tim Drake has killed the Joker, something Batman could never pull himself to do. Something he would never do. So there is tragedy, Tm Drake has fallen. He is no longer the Robin Batman has trained. The Joker has won. He has stolen Batman's son and there is tragedy instead of triumph.

My argument for the UNCUT plot?
So which plotline works? Personally, I like the idea that Joker's last act would be to 'destroy' Robin. Simply killing him isn't enough, he has destroyed all that Robin stood for and truly taken away a son from Bruce. It's cruel, depressing, and fitting for an ending to the clown prince of crime. It also explains Bruce's downward spiral that is obviously displayed by the bitter old Bruce Wayne. It's tragic, but so is the story of Bruce Wayne. He set out to accomplish a goal he could never finish, and he pays lots of prices along the way. This is one of them...perhaps his biggest.

Sinful Sam
01-22-2006, 06:42 AM
I need to check this movie out. How would I know that the movie is uncut, Drunken? Does it say in the front of the DVD Uncut Edition or somthing?

Drunken Savior
01-22-2006, 07:01 AM
Yup. It says Uncut on it. I don't think Warner even sells the CUT version anymore....not too sure tho...

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00005Y71K.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00005Y71K/qid=1137927595/sr=1-1/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-6126372-5640016?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance&n=130)

[EDIT] Er...I guess this new package doesn't. I have the odler package that says "THE ORIGINAL, UNCUT VERSION" in big bold red letters ontop. Oh well, the link goes to the uncut DVD on Amazon.

Drunken Savior
09-09-2006, 03:53 AM
So, I got some free time comming up before I move into my new house. What should I review:

Silent Hill 2 (PS2/Xbox)
Swingers (by Jon Favreau)
Metal Gear Solid 3 (PS2, both versions with plot analysis)
V for Vendetta (Both the Graphic Novel and the film)

09-09-2006, 04:30 AM
Metal Gear Solid 3 (PS2, both versions with plot analysis)

not that.

09-09-2006, 09:49 AM
Wow, I'm not really a Batman fan. But after reading that old review I want to see this.

09-11-2006, 02:18 PM
Batman Begins is excellent. You placed it at number 2? I would say that's right on point. Mask of the Phantasm deserves all the support, impo it was/is the best animated batman movie.

As for the rest, cant comment because I never watched.

*think about reviewing Silent Hill2 perhaps? I've never played any game in the series as a matter of fact.

Drunken Savior
09-12-2006, 05:48 AM

Released 09/24/01 (NA), 09/27/01 (JP), 11/23/01 (EU)
*Restless Dreams released on the XBox on 12/20/01 (NA), 02/22/02 (JP), 10/04/02 (EU)*
(Made for the PS2 and then ported to the Xbox and PC)

Director: Masashi Tsuboyama
Producer: Akihiro Imamura
Music: Akira Yamaoka
Scenario Writer: Hiroyuki Owaku

Graphics: A-
Sound: A+
Story: A+
Gameplay: B-

Overall Score:

It is with great pride and admiration that I get to review the game that got me hooked into games, again. Metal Gear Solid on the Sony Playstation solidified the notion that videogames can tell a story that rivals the top scripts of their Hollywood counterparts for their respective genre. Silent Hill shows me that videogames can not only rival their counterparts, they can surpass it.

My favorite book of all time is Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_of_darkness), written in 1899. While very short (the book is usually under 100 pages), the pages are THICK. You'll find yourself reading only ten or so pages in a long period. The book is very thick, filled with symbolism about a man sent to investigate a man in the Congo. The story was the basis of F.F. Coppola's 'Apocalypse Now.'

So it finally happens. In my first video game review, it takes me 150 words to finally say the title of the game. Silent Hill 2 marks survival horror?s high point, effortlessly blending a solid atmospheric story with complimenting imagery and a masterful audio experience. This triple pronged attack is rarely seen in survival horror, totally immersing you and effecting your mind, eyes, and ears.

Is James going crazy, or are there really monsters after him?

Silent Hill stars the widowed James Sunderland, who recently laid his wife, Mary, to rest from a terminal disease. However, three years after, he recives a letter from his wife, beckoning him to the town of Silent Hill, their ?special place.? Desperately missing his wife, he returns to Silent Hill, only to find that their ?special place? is no longer bustling with activity, but thick with fog, and desolate. A ghost town. Even worse, strange monsters begin attack James, who begins to question his own sanity. As James wonders the town, following a trail of hints, he is stalked by a giant knife wielding butcher called Pyramid Head, a manboy Eddie Dombrowski, the suicidal Angea Orosco, the young Laura (who is oblivious to the monsters around her), and finally Maria, who bares a hypersexual resemblance to Mary, James? wife.

I could literally talk for hours about the story?s plot and how I look at it. In high school, my essay on ?The Heart of Darkness? was ?the best I have ever seen? according my honors AP English teach, senior year. I spent a lot of time pondering the plot of HoD, but Silent Hill 2 takes the cake. Feel free to IM me whenever to talk about SH2's storyline.


James finds a photograph of the killer that stalks him throughout the town...Pyramid Head.
(Gameplay Photo)

Silent Hills graphics were, at the time, above average. I felt that the graphics had a very plastic look, more so than most video games. However, the art direction is amazing. Silent Hill 2 is a dual world, one organic, the other artificial. In one world, you will see a building abandoned, boarded up with plywood. In another, the same building will feature a rusty building, with chain link fencing for windows, with the door wide open, beckoning you into the nightmare. While Silent Hill 2 is not a technically impressive game, the developers have used their polygons wisely. The art direction totally works, immersing the player in a dark atmosphere that keeps the fright factor way high. Even the monsters, predominantly women, all play a role in deciphering the game?s story.


James and Maria share a momment...

Akira Yamaoka. Remember his name. This guy is, in my opinion, Silent Hill. He knows when to include sound to increase the terror. He also knows when to take it away to create terror. While most of the game do not feature a musical track, the music is very atmospheric, dark, and puzzling (as in it accents the mystery of the game). His sound work is excellent. In one particular level, you enter a long hallway, and are treated to the sound of footsteps behind you. As you walk down the hallway, the footsteps get closer. You turn around, they stop?and you see nothing. You continue back down the hallway, the footsteps return. Top notch work, the official bar by which all survival horror games should aspire to.


Angela's story is probably the saddest of them all...

Silent Hill is plagued by the same clich? control scheme in survival horror games of its day: tank controls. Up moves your forward, left and right rotate your character on an axis. It drove me crazy running, turning, and running. As you get used to the controls, you?ll learn how to turn, but never feel like you have solid control, which hurts in a game where the control of your character can determine your fate.

However, with it?s multiple endings, you?ll probably play this game around 3 times after your initial purchase if you dig survival horror games.


Prepare to have you mind f***ed.
(Gameplay Photo)

Final Thoughts.... SPOILERS BELOW!!
The story of Silent Hill 2 is left open on purpose. Konami has said none of the endings are official cannon and it is up to the reader to decide how the story ends. Each of the serious endings each puts it?s own tint on the story. Here are some questions I propose to you upon completing the game. There is no single most right answer.

1)Is Silent Hill 2 a story about revenge, justice, or life?
2)Is the town of Silent Hill ?punishing? James or is Mary controlling Silent Hill to do her own punishing?
3)Is Mary actually Mary? That is, is James? wife controlling Silent Hill or is Silent Hill manipulating James with visions of his wife?
4)Who is guilty in Silent Hill or murder? Who is justified in murder?
5)What is the significance of a solitary punisher (Pyramid Head)?
6)What was Pyramid Head actually doing to that monster in the beginning of the game?
7)Why was Maria a sexual version of Mary?

You can write essays on the plot. It?s the best dramatic story in all of videogames.

Joe Redifer
09-12-2006, 05:53 AM
Silent Hill 2 fucking rocks. I played through the Xbox version which was in quadrophonic sound and that really helped the ambience. I guess it also had something extra, but hell if I know what it was. Awesome game. I was never "afraid", but I was always enthralled with the story. The ending was awesome, and the music is insanely good (and appropriate).

The movie can't compete with Silent Hill 2.

Drunken Savior
09-12-2006, 06:03 AM
By the way, I did not take those screen captures, so I can not tell which version of the game is in each photo. I based my review on the PS2 version. But I have the Xbox version too.

The game was made for the PS2 and ported from there. (Notes that in review)

[EDIT] I also tagged each photo with '(Gameplay Photo)' to distinguish between the game and CGI. This will be a feature, as I do not want people to be tricked into thinking CGI was the graphics you'll see the majority of the time when you are playing.

I also guarantee no one will see my next review comming. Just like you didn't see my first review comming...[/seriousness]

09-12-2006, 08:10 AM
I never finished that game. I got too creeped out.

Joe Redifer
09-12-2006, 09:21 AM
OK I actually decided to read your review word for word instead of just blindly posting my thoughts on the game (like anyone else's thoughts actually matter). The Xbox version does not have tank controls. Well it does, but they are optional. You can control the game normally and I think normal controls are the default. I played Silent Hill 2 before Silent Hill 1 and I struggled so hard with the controls in part 1 as a result.

09-12-2006, 10:18 AM
I tried Silent Hill for a little while but never got into it. Never had the urge to purchase it nor the sequel. But it was fun watching my brother play. Sort of. No, I'm not scared.

09-18-2006, 03:12 PM
Finally watched "Once Upon a Time in the West." Awesome movie just absolutely unbelievable. After seeing Henry Fonda in movies like "Grapes of Wrath" it was weird watching him as this evil SOB in this movie. I think this is probably one of the best westerns I have ever seen.

09-18-2006, 08:45 PM
I didnt understand Angela. Never felt anything for her since she is only in a couple scenes in the game. The reason was is that I didnt understand it. She was looking for her mother and she thought she was in Silent Hill. That's all I got out of it.

Out of the 7 questions you posted DS, I can explain a couple. The easiest one to explain is 7.

And if you say you were never scared, you either:

A) Didnt actually played it
B) Played it during the day with other people

09-18-2006, 09:40 PM
All you need is some pretend-/quasi-intellectual thinking, as Granfallon aptly puts it, and you get your Angela explanation, hehehe. :D Well, the context and clues are there if you're looking, it is up to you to make the connection.

Drunken Savior
09-21-2006, 04:34 PM
Out of the 7 questions you posted DS, I can explain a couple. The easiest one to explain is 7.

Well, they are easy to answer. But no single answer is absolute. That is what I was getting at. People can write scholarly essays on open-ended questions about a videogame plotline. That is what amazes me. (Comming from a kid who played Duck Hunt, Kung Fu, and Punchout!)

Drunken Savior
11-16-2006, 03:07 AM
Released 03/11/95 (JP), 09/27/95 (NA), 11/02/99 (JP Playstation, with new animations)
*Released as part of Final Fantasy Chronicles on the Playsation 06/29/01 (NA)*

Director: Akihiko Matsui, Yoshinori Kitase, and Takashi Tokita
Producer: Kazuhiko Aoki
Music: Nobuo Uematsu, Yasunori Mitsuda and Noriko Matsueda
Story Plan: Masato Kato

Graphics: A+
Sound: A+
Story: A+
Gameplay: A+

Overall Score:

To think....Final Fantasy VI (III in NA, EU) came out one year before. A joint effort between Enix and Squaresoft, Chrono Trigger was a game that was ahead of its time. Showcasing artwark by Akira Toriyama, the characters have passed the test of time to become a staple in how an RPG is made. Featuring 13 different endings, this game has a potential for over 100 hours of gameplay. But really, it'll take you roughly 20-25 hours to complete it.

The Opening Screen

The story of Chrono Trigger is actually quite simple. The time is 1000 A.D.. You are a simple boy named Crono (NOT Chrono), who is attending the Millenial Fair to see his best friend, Lucca's, new teleportation device. On the way you meet a girl, Marle, who tries it out. Something goes amiss, her pendant reacts to the deice and she vanishes. Crono takes the pendant and goes after her.

A beast named Lavos threatens to destroy your future and you destroy it before it does. Simple? Well it doesn't end there. There are many optional side quests to perform, like finding out the orgin of a robot, called Robo, who you meet in the future. You also meet a amazing sorceror with mysterious ties to the past. By the end, you'll see how all eras of time are interconnected together in one brilliant storyline. And then you'll notice that the world, past and present, is rooting for you to defeat Lavos.

Also, keep in mind that defeating Lavos at different points in the storyline will get you different endings. I.E., defeat Lavos without establishing human dominence in 65,000,000 B.C. will result in the ending being played out by reptiles, not humans.


Crono and Lucca meet the amazing swordsman, Frog in 600 A.D.

By today's standards, Chrono Trigger is quite archaic. But let's put it into perspective. Final Fantasy VI came out one year before, so this was an amazing leap in charaphics. Characters were taller, maps were more dynamic (using MODE 7 graphics or whatever Nintendo called them), and everything was crisp. The colors used fit well and lended themself to the storyline. I could have used more sprites (I can only see the TABAN sprite so many times before going nuts) but that was a downfall of the SNES RPG eras, multiple similiar NPCs. Chrono Trigger borrowed the graphical look of The Secret of Mana and added their own little flair to it with Toriyama's artwork for all characters.

But Toriyama really hit a stride with Chrono Trigger. You can see that his characters in the past (Goku and Vejeta) look very similar to those in Chrono Trigger (Crono and Magus). But that's just his style.


Magus speaks to Marle and Lucca in 1200 B.C.

An amazing score. Each character holds a memorable theme - especially Magus and Frog. But let's not forget the themes of Schala, a mysterious theme from 1200 B.C.. Chrono Trigger has, simply, one of the best soundtracks. No track is a miss to me. Everything fits for the era you are in.


The showdown between Chrono, Marle, and Frog against Sir Magus of 600 A.D.

To this day, I am amazed that more RPG do not follow Chrono Trigger's example. Where you are on the map is where you fight. There is no instantaneous WIPE to a battle screen. You either run into an enemy or you are attacked, the characters move into position on the screen, the menubar pops up, and the fight begins! It's more fast paced than the Final Fantasies of the time.

As a game, Chrono Trigger is pretty easy. If you just do every sidequest (they are all laid out for you) then you should have no problem defeating the game. But it doesn't end there. Let me talk about New Game +, where you begin a new game with your old stats, equipment, and items. This is the key, you can go through the game again and collect those super rare items to maximize your team and then chose when the game ends. New Game + allows you to unlock all 13 endings (11 different endings as 1 ending is the standard ending and 1 is the ending where you die and Lavos destroys the world).

The menus are easy to navigate(see below, they are usually grey but I choose a blue background) and you save on either the world map or on a save 'sprite' that became a RPG staple.

Spells are done in quite an interesting way. Each character learns a set of spells or abilities and then some spells can be used on conjunction of one another two make a more powerful spell (Double Tech) or three for a massively strong spell (Triple Tech).


The Menus
The Map

Final Thoughts....
Chrono Trigger is one of the few non-Final Fantasies that Square has made that were better than their flagship franchise when Square was at their PRIME (before the PS1 days).

Now I am critical of Chrono Trigger. It suffers some what happens when most games with multiple characters suffer from: a lack of NPC character development. You'll meet characters like Cyrus, Schala, or Melachor, who all should have their own games! Certainly their character's are rich enough to support a long story, however you only see them for under 50 lines in the game!

However, this has actually HELPED the game, as it allows for so much fucking fan fiction to be written about them, especially Schala.

I know, it's really not THAT critical, but aside from personal taste, it's hard to find faults in this game.

Can you muster enough strength to challenge the Black Omen? Are you man enough to defeat it 4 times? (Start in 2300 AD, then defeat the Black Omen there, then go to 1000 AD and do the same. Then do it for 600 A.D. and finally 1200 B.C.)

Joe Redifer
11-16-2006, 03:37 AM
I would be interested in this, but games with a buttload of endings really turns me off. I don't mind a good ending, a bad ending, and perhaps a best ending, but anything more is really unnecessary. I just feel as if I'll waste my life on the game and it will never end, so I don't feel any ambition to even start.

Paper exe
11-16-2006, 05:11 AM
That because you are playing for the wrong reasons!

11-16-2006, 05:23 AM
multiple endings suck. also, i'd rather kill myself than read chrono trigger fanfic.

Sinful Sam
11-16-2006, 05:51 AM
Chrono Trigger is very awesome.

The multiple endings are not bad. Only a few are available from the start. You just have to finish some side quest to get the best ending, and depending witch option you pick you get a different ending for Frog. There are a few joke endings but they are impossible to get if you not at a high lever from the start of the game.

Joe Redifer
11-16-2006, 12:22 PM
That because you are playing for the wrong reasons!
I don't recall asking for your opinion of my opinion. Please go away, you annoy me.

11-16-2006, 03:59 PM
Nice review. I argee for the most part except for when you said it has a brilliant storyline. Too bad RPGs went into a downhill slope soon thereafter. You would've expected that CT would've become a huge series by now but Square has paid more attention to series like Seiken Densetsu (Secret of Mana) and the SaGa series, oftentimes with disastrous results.

11-16-2006, 04:19 PM
I only saw a few of the endings. But all in all CT is a very well done RPG.

Joe Redifer
11-16-2006, 06:27 PM
But you haven't experienced the game until you've obtained every single ending. That's what drives me nuts.

11-16-2006, 07:49 PM
Those screenshots are from a SNES emulator on Super Eagle mode.

FAKE; the game looks much worse.

11-16-2006, 08:51 PM
Maybe in an emulator it looks worse, but a standard television gives you free pixel bluring, so they really did look as good as that.

Chrono Trigger is one of the greatest, if not best RPG's of all time.

Joe Redifer
11-16-2006, 09:09 PM
I would take the real game on a real SDTV anyday over an emulator in "Super Eagle" mode or any other mode for that matter. So to me the game looks better in real life vs emulator.

11-16-2006, 09:12 PM
I've only played the Playstation version, and it sure was a charming game, simple but irresistible. Chrono Trigger deserves whatever glowing praise is heaped upon it. And the music was really, really good.

It's a shame Square neglected the series in the current gen, as it rightfully deserves to be one of its pillar games.

11-16-2006, 09:18 PM
Maybe in an emulator it looks worse, but a standard television gives you free pixel bluring, so they really did look as good as that.

Chrono Trigger is one of the greatest, if not best RPG's of all time.
Super Eagle emulation looks far better than standard TV.

Joe Redifer
11-16-2006, 10:55 PM
Super Eagle looks Super Gay.

Drunken Savior
11-17-2006, 12:20 AM
Pft, if you can tell the difference you are a nerd!

Joe Redifer
11-17-2006, 12:24 AM
Or not blind.

11-17-2006, 12:26 AM
I would take the real game on a real SDTV anyday over an emulator in "Super Eagle" mode or any other mode for that matter. So to me the game looks better in real life vs emulator.

With the most current emulators everything looks just as good if not better than originally. Not only that but everything is fully customizable and you can save state anywhere in any game. You can even take screenshots and record gameplay in realtime. In my opinion, that's waaaay better than playing the original cart just for the sake of playing "the original" since they're one and the same thing only that the emulated version provides you with way more options and adjustables.

Joe Redifer
11-17-2006, 12:42 AM
You don't understand the collector mentality. And I for one don't understand the emulator mentality. Emulators are used to grab screen shots, not for serious playing. I can't play games while sitting at my computer. BORING! I'd rather sit in a nice chair, kick my feet up and relax. But I like people like you who take the original game back and sell it for pennies so I can buy it cheap! Also I've never seen 100% perfect emulation.

11-17-2006, 12:46 AM
I would say something but I'll just PM you instead.

Joe Redifer
11-17-2006, 12:46 AM
I would respond, but I'll just respond to your PM instead.

Drunken Savior
11-17-2006, 12:47 AM
Lolzer, computers have TV outs, grandpa!

I have CT, the cart, but I'd rather emulate it so I can save wherever I want. I sit on my couch, make myself a rum and coke, and hit my bo-tobacco water pipe and play. It's an RPG, not an action game. I need six buttons 90% of the time, and four of them are directional.

Welcome to the present, old man!

11-17-2006, 12:49 AM
Good points. I can understand his sentiment as I, too, am a collector, but only when it comes to the biggest, best games (or what I perceive as being such).

Joe Redifer
11-17-2006, 12:55 AM
Computer cards cannot do 240p. All games are upscaled. For a person who pays attention to detail such as myself, things like that matter. For people to whom details do not matter, then emulation is fine.

Ah well. I feel like I'm arguing with a few 6-year olds here. Fine by me. That means there is less competition to get the real games. Some people just are incapable of understanding, I assume.

PS - DS, give me your Chrono Trigger cart if you'd rather emulate it. You DON'T need the cart!

11-17-2006, 12:57 AM
By that logic (of computers not doing 240p), are you aware that you can shrink the image to fit within a 240p range if you should so desire? As well, you can adjust the monitor's screen resolution and colors.

Drunken Savior
11-17-2006, 01:02 AM
PS - DS, give me your Chrono Trigger cart if you'd rather emulate it. You DON'T need the cart!

Your proposal, while cromulent, lacks integrity.

Joe Redifer
11-17-2006, 01:13 AM
Dood emulation roxorz u dont need teh cart u have emulation. y have teh cart if emulation is so gud? send me the cart NOW!

11-17-2006, 01:16 AM
Someone is in a fighting mood.

I wouldn't sell my copy of CT (along with the OFFICIAL(!!!) Nintendo Player's Guide which is kept in mint condition) because I value quality software. (I know you're referring to DS. The portable.)

Joe Redifer
11-17-2006, 01:18 AM
dood i don't want the official playerz guide cuz there is gameFAQs. now gimme the cart! YOURS TOO! The rom is gud software now gimme! I just checked my mailbox and it wasn't there.

11-17-2006, 01:20 AM
Dud, check itr. your be gettin' a n all new mix cd in da mail reel soon ! Fo shizzle!

Drunken Savior
12-08-2006, 07:27 AM
*Cover above is for the Collector's Edition package*
Released 03/16/06 (JP), 10/31/06 (Regular and Collector's Edition - NA)

Director: Hiroshi Minagawa and Hiroyuki Ito
Producer: Akitoshi Kawazu and Youichi Wada
Music: Hitoshi Sakimoto, Nobuo Uematsu (Main theme and Composer of "Kiss Me Goodbye," the main song of FFXII)
Story and Concept: Yasumi Matsuno

Graphics: A-
Sound: A
Story: B
Gameplay: B

Overall Score:

The face of Final Fantasy sure did change after the release of the Playsation's Final Fantasy VII in 1997 (Yes, it's been neary a decade people). Final Fantasy games went from being a cult game to a serious platform seller, capable of destroying the competition (see N64). However, has the Final Fantasy series become a victim of its own success? I'd say yes. Since VII, each game has not really strayed from its 'roots.' And by 'roots' I don't mean the series 'roots,' but the 'roots' that made Squaresoft millions in revenue.

But FFXII does something that I, personally, did not see comming. FFXII strays from the mold. There is no singlemost main character, dispite the story being told mostly through Vann's perspective, there is no sappy love story, there is no emo main character, there is no loud obnxious anime girl, and lastly, there are no random battles.

Every game that takes a gamble deserves a solid look. And this is one game that does, indeed, take a huge risk in a series that has become complacent with its own success.

Besides, the Collector's Edition package is the nicest package to ever be bestowed upon a videogame.

A (poor) screenshot of the opening montage

It all starts with a marriage, an invasion, a betryal, and a suicide. Princess Ashe of Dalmasca marries Prince Rasler of Nabradia. Then the Archadian Empire invades Dalmasca. Then a prominent soldier, Basch, betrays Dalmasca by assassinating their King. During the invasion, Prince Rasler is killed and in responce, we learn that Princess Ashe has taken her own life. Now Dalmasca is under Archadian rule, a rule upheld by the Judges.

Confused yet? Well, you will find out that Ashe is not dead, Basch is not a traitor, and that Rasler, too, may still be alive... (I do not consider these spoilers since you learn of them in the first hour of gameplay. Don't worry, this review will be spoiler free.)

The main story arc is Vann, a street urchin, who runs into sky pirate, Balthier, and his 'accomplice'(take it as you will), Fran during a heist. The three run into a resistance led by someone who calls herself Amalia, but looks an awful lot like Princess Ashe. Hmm. You will soon find out that Ashe is, indeed, not dead, but alive, living underground to aid the resistance in hopes of a free, independant Dalmasca.

While Ashe's struggle to regain control of Dalmasca is the central story, the game really does not have any single most character. Sure, Ashe's plight directs the character's adgenda. But no single character has an overwhelming ammout of scenes or lines. Ergo, the 'main character' is the entire cast, whom you meet in the very beginning. Yup, your entire cast is formed within the first five hour of the game. But don't worry, you will have around 5 non-playable guests who join your team of three.

As the story continues, you'll find yourself a pawn in a chess game between two nations. And Ashe must make a very noble, perhaps humbling, decision.

The main themes of the story are: Revenge v Justice, Comming of Age (for Ashe and Vann), redemption (Basch), and ultimately the horrors of war and the lust for power.

Personally, I found the story to be refreshing. If you have ever played any of the Final Fantasy Tactics team's games, you know they heavily revolve around the idea of religion, the supernatural, and the relationship between the gods and the people. FFXII is no different. The storyline is very mature and works well with the art style (very mediterranian). The end of the game, I feel, is very weak. With a slow moving storyline, you begin to have lots of expectations, lots of build up. FFXII's storyline could have used a more elaborate ending, and perhaps even a longer ending to tie up the story and let us feel like we really did just complete a 50 hour epic. When I finished the game, there was literally a "oh ****, it's over?" feeling.


Balthier, the sky pirate. One of the best characters to ever grace a Final Fantasy game.

Final Fantasy games always look nice. From a technical standpoint, they are some of the best games. A literal benchmark for the graphical capabilities for any system. Be if in game or CG, Final Fantasy games are not shabby by any means. So to argue the graphics in Final Fantasy is to argue the art direction.

I mean, this is a Final Fantasy game, not a Knight of the Old Republic screwup. Square remembers to dot their 'i's and cross their 't's, unlike Bioware and Obsidian. (Sorry Bioware and Obsidian fans! Write to them and bitch, not to me. Nothing will get done bitching about this to me)

The art direction of Final Fantasy XII is very much in vein of a European look. Gone is the cyberpunk look that has dominated Final Fantasy ever since Tetsuya Nomura took the reigns of art direction away from Yoshitaka Amano in FFVII. While I liked Nomura's art, the decision to Akihiko Yoshida helped to shed the notion that FFXII is just another Final Fantasy game pretaining to the same formula that guarantees success but doesn't stray from the money-making 'roots.'

So why not an A+? Well, some of the levels are, frankly, uninsiping. Airships suffer from what I have heard as "Halo-itis," or just a cut and paste of the same looking hallways. You'd think we'd see more of a kickass airship than just the bloody common hallways?

Then there comes the enemies. I didn't dock Chrono Trigger any points because of the physical data limitation of a cartridge. But c'mon boys, this is over 10 years since we began just simply switching the colors of enemies to denote a newer, stronger, enemy. It's sad that we can't have whole new enemies. After playing (quite extensively I feel. I plugged over 70 hours into this game) Final Fantasy XII, I felt like every other enemy were those damn dogs with tentacles, or a wolf. Not to say that the original designs aren't cool, but I personally hate it when we get recycled character models (today we say models, back then we said sprites) near the end of the game. It's an RPG cliche that I want gone!


Final Fantasy XII's Licence Board
(Gameplay Photo)

Again, Square strays from the formula. Hitoshi Sakimoto relieves Final Fantasy legend, Composer Nobuo Uematsu as the main composer. Uematsu still has the main(opening) theme and game song, "Kiss Me Good-Bye" to his credit, but everything else is Sakimoto, baby! And what a change it is.

I remember reading the review for FFXII in the November issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly. In said issue, on page 126, it says "Odd Inspiration Source: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace." At the time, I had no fucking clue that they were eluding to. I really see WEAK parallels to the storyline of FFXII and Episode I. However, the music parallels are quite evidant. Sakimoto takes a clue from Mark Griskey (Knights of the Old Republic composer) and creates a very subtle score. Granted, this is not a game where you will hum the themes. The background score is in the background, it hardly overwhelms, and it fits the moods very well.

As for the voice acting. Very, very well done. If only another, certain, Nintendo epic could take a cue from this game. All the characters have their own solid 'voice,' their own opinion shaped by their words. Vann isn't whiney, he has a curious mature tone, kind of like Luke Skywalker. Balthier is suave and has a certain Clark Gable (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000022/) aspect to his voice. Kinda like Qui-Go, ok enough with the Star Wars references. Balthier is the leading man, as he claims to be. Ashe is substandard, but by all means, this is not a negative note. The drawback of not having a single main character is that you don't feel you get 'enough' from each character. Kinda like Princess...well, y'know.


No more random battles, pick a fight like the bully you always were!
(Gameplay Photo)

To this day, I am amazed that more RPG do not follow Chrono Trigger's example. Where you are on the map is where you fight. There is no instantaneous WIPE to a battle screen. You either run into an enemy or you are attacked, the characters move into position on the screen, the menubar pops up, and the fight begins! It's more fast paced than the Final Fantasies of the time.

Yes, I did write the review of Chrono Trigger days before I picked up FFXII. I did not know that FFXII features no random battles and has a battle system similar to CTs. As you can see in the image above, each character has a line (blue for your allies, red for your enemies. With exceptions for magic, techniks, et cetera. This helps you keep track of who is attacking whom. Since you are no longer lined up like the British fleet of the late 1700's, battles can become very chaotic. The battles are fast paced, with narry a time to break the action (You can set the game up to stop the action while you program commands or let the fight continue as you micromanage.

The designs did not intend for you to play each character independantly in battles, so they create a GAMBIT chain of commands:

The Gambit Screen
(Gameplay Photo)

Each character has their own Gambit screen. The above screen is Penelo's. Instead of trying to explain the entire system, just think of it as a chain of commands:

1. First, Penelo will use a Phoenix Down on anyone who is knocked out. A very wise choice for a first action. If no one is knocked out, Penelo will then...
2. Cast Poisona on anyone who is poisoned. If no one is poisoned, then Penelo will...
3. Cast Cure on any allies who have less than 70% of their total health. If everyone is above 70% health then...
4. Penelo will attack any flying creatures with Aero. And lastly,
5. If there are no flying creatures, Penelo will simply attack the nearest enemy.

The GAMBIT system is a double edged blade. Penny Arcade (http://www.penny-arcade.com/) equates the Gambit system as the videogame playing itself, or masterbating. I think this is a fair, and funny, conclusion to draw. I will admit that once I perfected the use of the Gambit system, I was able to let my characters just beat up on enemies as I guide them from enemy to enemy. For every status effect (Blind, Sap, Disease, Poison) I had a response. And my magic was so powerful by the end that I was reving my character to 100% life and curing them at 40% up to 100%! Hell, let me say something that will anger some people right now:

I did not push a single button during the last boss fight. I defeated the last boss only using my GAMBIT set up

Of course, you can turn the Gambits off. But I don't see the point, as you would just do what you should have programmed your Gambits to do in the first place.

So there you go, Gambits are a nice crutch, but by the end of the game, you can essentially let your game just play with itself.

The last bit of gameplay discussion comes in the form of XP (Experience Points) and LPs (Licence Points). I assume you know what XP is, but in case you are a new to RPGs, XP basicly determines your characters stats. Licence Points are new and exclusive to FFXII, though I bet the idea has been around in many other games. Look at the Licence Board image above. Each square represents either a set of weapons, a set of armors, a skill, a stat bonus, a set of spells, or either a Quickening (think a less powerful Limit Break) or Esper (Summon). As you 'spend' your points (you gain 1-3 per enemy battle), you open up more boxes ajacent (not diagonally) to the box you just 'purchased.' Use your entire roster to open up sectors you are not aware of and you can create some pretty fucking strong characters. Indeed, without a strong knowledge of the board, I was not able to construct a team that could defeat the last boss using only my Gambit commands.

One major gripe I have is that you most likely will use only 3-4 characters in your team. Why? Because you don't get any XP for characters you do not use. And each character stats out relitvely the same. So you will probably just pick three characters you like (I chose Vann, Balthier, and Ashe) and max them as fast as possible, leaving the remainders in the dark (My Fran was a level 9 when my team was hovering around 50s). BUT, the reserve do gain LPs. So use their LPs to experiment with the Licence Board!


It is indeed a time to celebrate

Final Thoughts....
If you think a 'B' is a subpar grade, think about this: FFVI and FFVII would probably get A's from me. VIII - X would get between D's and C+. I think a 'B' shows that this gamble from Squaresoft paid off. It broke away from many of the cliche's that made Final Fantasy a joke to those who, essentially, were there from the beginning.

Final Fantasy XII is a phenominal, solid, role playing game with a very deep, provoking story. What more could you ask for? Square did not have to take such a gamble. Final Fantasy sells on name brand alone. So I applaud Square for taking such a bold step and I feel my review is more than just a review of Final Fantasy XII, it is a review on the Final Fantasy series as a whole: Where it has been, where it is now, and where I hope it will go. Though I shouldn't get my hopes up, because the old team is back on board for Final Fantasy XIII. I will give them a solid look, but right now, I feel that the Final Fantasy series should be in the hands of the Final Fantasy XII team for at least a couple more games.

Yeah, you know I'd have to add this comic.
From Penny Arcade (http://www.penny-arcade.com/)

Drunken Savior
12-08-2006, 07:28 AM
Next Review:


I **** you not.

12-08-2006, 11:29 AM
Good review.

It makes me wanna try FF12, and thats saying something since the FF series hasnt interested me since 8.

12-08-2006, 01:58 PM
Speaking of reviews, I finally saw "Once upon a time in the West" because of your review. Freakin' unbelievable movie. One of the best. Also, while I am on it, have you seen "The Proposition" DS? It is a really good movie. If you liked "Once upon a time..." youll like that movie.

Lightning Flik
12-08-2006, 02:24 PM
Nice review of FF12.

It makes me want to go out and buy it myself, rather than wait for Xmas.

One thing I disagree with - I thought FFX took alot of chances and was fairly fresh, comparatively, compared to the PS1 games.

Personal thing though.

12-08-2006, 03:06 PM
The Sphere Grid was a huge chance, but general concensus says it failed becuase it was too easy to traverse leaving all your characters super powered. Infact the game was just too easy.

Ive heard this is fixed somewhat by the License board, but XII still ends up being a breeze. But then again Sqauresoft hasnt really made a hrad final fantasy ever.

Drunken Savior
12-08-2006, 06:02 PM
Speaking of reviews, I finally saw "Once upon a time in the West" because of your review. Freakin' unbelievable movie. One of the best. Also, while I am on it, have you seen "The Proposition" DS? It is a really good movie. If you liked "Once upon a time..." youll like that movie.

I have not. I will most definately have to check that out. Thanks!

12-11-2006, 02:03 AM
Yeah, I also think the FFXII team should stay on for a couple more games. FFXII was a refreshing change. I thought it had a classic/mature feel to it, and it had character.

Drunken Savior
03-06-2007, 12:15 AM
Sorry Sneak King fans....I'm a liar. :(

Released 1967
Staring: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, J.D. Cannon, Lou Antonio, and Morgan Woodward
Written by: Donn Pearce and Frank Pierson. Based off the novel by 'Donn Pearce'
Directed by: Stuart Rosenberg

Acting: A-
Cinematography: B
Story: B
Sound: C+

Cool Hand Luke. You probably know more about this film through parody than you know. Cool Hand Like is one of those classic films that any aspiring filmmaker should watch. If you are a fan of prison dramas, this one is right up your alley as well. If you liked 'The Shawshank Redemption,' you owe it to yourself to see the film that helped pave the path for such recognition of stories of redemption and fighting against the urge to comform to prision life.

Lucas Jackson, played by Paul Newman

One night in a small town, a drunk Lucas Jackson decides to cut off the tops of parking meters, municipal property. APPARENTLY such a crime warrants 2 years on the chain gang. However, neither prisor, nor the inmates, nor the guards can change Luke. He's a natural born earth-shaker.

Boss Godfrey, the man with no eyes. Played by Morgan Woodward

While in prison, life starts fair enough. You wake up at dawn, you are trucked out into the countryside, and you work. Hard. If you run, they catch you and put chains on your legs. If you run again, they put two sets on. You run a third time, and they kill yea. Learn the rules, follow them.

But not Luke. He sticks to his own path, even at the risk of angering not only the guards, but his fellow gangmembers too. Unlike the rest of the gang, Luke doesn't go crazy over the women washing a car in a thin, torn dress...even when she 'innocently' spills soap all over herself. Luke doesn't back down from a bet to eat 50 hardboiled eggs in an hour. And Luke runs.

Women do wash cars better than men do.
Click here to watch this scene (http://youtube.com/watch?v=BQyFVB8NHQs)

If you have seen, 'The Shawshank Redemption' you can easily relate to this story. Man is thrown in prison. He is a character. He is one of those prisoners whom the older inmates will tell younger inmates about for generations, all because he didn't let prison break his spirit.

Shawshank ripped this scene off.

The film has a very leisurly tempo. Don't expect anything too hardcore to happen here. In fact, if this was prison was like back in the early 60's, then what the hell happened between then and now?

The film offers some amazing camera angles, though most of which might go unappreciated by those who have seen many good recent films. But, they all owe something to Luke, the style of depicting a chain gang, the way prison guards are depicted, the way solidarity works amongst prisoners. All of this is well represented too.

Can Luke eat 50 eggs in one hour? (Newman actually did this)
Click here to watch this scene (http://youtube.com/watch?v=em78VB52vnQ)

The film offers a pretty good soundtrack. However, I feel that overtime it has lost much of its flair. The main theme is still a classic that I'm currently practicing on my guitar for those long, warm summer nights. But for the most part, the poor sound quality (Mono only!) tend to take away from the film.

Luke sends his boys a magazine from the outside.

03-06-2007, 07:41 AM
Always love a great big house story. Have you seen Island of Fire (Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Andy Lau, etc.)? It's basically the HK version of CHL. Not as good but still has its entertainment values, if a tad cheesy. BTW, Paul Newman didn't really eat 50 eggs -- if he did, he'd die. Also, worth note is Prison on Fire (Chow Yun-Fat, Tony Leung Ka-Fai), another great big house movie. Highly recommended.

Drunken Savior
03-20-2007, 09:42 AM
Gamer's State of the Union 2007

2006 saw the release of both the Wii and the Playstation 3, the next-generation offerings by Nintendo and Sony, respectively. The Wii and the Playstation 3 (PS3) will join Microsoft's Xbox 360 to complete the roster for the next-generation console wars, now a billion dollar industry.

Microsoft's Xbox 360

Many folks looked at this console negatively, most in part because they thought Microsoft was rushing the next generation. The Xbox 360 has seen a very solid 2006, reaching roughly 10 million consoles sold. Games such as Gears of War, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas helped ring in roughly 4.5 million new Xbox 360 owners.

As of now, it seems that people are looking toward the Xbox 360 as their choice for traditional game pad gaming, the style of gaming they all grew up with. And with Halo 3 and Grand Theft Auto 3 right around the corner, it looks like the Xbox360 is going to have another solid year. After all, Microsoft has a solid user base and they haven't unveiled their trump card, Halo 3, yet. Scary. It'll be an interesting 2007 for sure!

So was Microsoft and company right in launching the Xbox 360 in 2005? Well, why knows? It's a moot point. Was Microsoft smart in being first? Looks like it. It doesn't appear that Microsoft is in direct competition with their biggest (at this moment) competitor, Nintendo, as they both saw a healthy 2006 each with a large, yet separate, library of games that gamers can enjoy.

XBox 360's biggest card is their solid online capability. Microsoft was somewhat laughed at for having the Xbox Live set up last generation, but now both Sony and Nintendo are struggling to catch up to Microsoft's XBox Live, which has only gotten stronger. Gamers wanted to go online, and Microsoft is reaping the benefits.

Sony's Playstation 3

This war was Sony's to lose. The Playstation 2 saw dominance like none other. Anyone who thinks Sony didn't win the last war is in denial, pure and simple. They sold twice as many PS2s as Nintendo and Microsoft sold Gamecube's and Xboxes --combined. With a super solid library of exclusives (Devil May Cry, Final Fantasy Series, Kingdom Hearts, Metal Gear Solid, Grand Theft Auto....and that's just the tip of the iceberg!), the PS2 just blew away the competition.

Sony launched their new console with a myriad of problems. There were a few technical problems, but the majority of the problems rested with one issue: the price. $600 for the console. Many gamers to this day want a Playstation 3, but they simply can not justify the sheer amount of coin to spend on a console that really doesn't have a solid library yet. The Playstation 3 might host the best graphics, but that isn't enough. It's about the games and right now, Sony needs them bad. It is noteworthy that Sony has not yet played their trump card, the Final Fantasy Series, yet. I feel it is premature to judge them until that happens, as more people will be tempted to get a PS3 for Final Fantasy once they can either a) afford it or, b) see the PS3 hit a price drop once Sony finds out how to refine its hardware.

It is noteworthy to mention Blu-Ray. Sony is currently engaged in two wars: The Console Wars and the new Movie Media Wars between their media, Blu-Ray, and the rival media, HD-DVD. Blu-Ray truly is a double-edged sword for Sony. Since they are one of the biggest benefactors to Blu-Ray winning, they are hoping the PS3 will allow them to put Blu-Ray players in the hands of many people. As it stands, the PS3 is a super sweet deal...for a Blu-Ray player that also happens to play games. But that benefits tech heads, not us gamers. The technology is new, and therefore very expensive, as shown by the PS3's price. But if Blu-Ray is shown to be the winner of the winner, expect more Blu-Ray pressing factories to open up (since there is less risk once a winner is chosen) and the technology cost to drop dramatically. Expect a Playstation 3 price drop then. Hopefully it's not the first, as I don't see an end to the media wars until about 3rd quarter 2008-2nd quarter 2009. Let the folks see HD enough times to a) warrant purchasing a HD TV and; b) the price of HD TVs to drop (they are dropping pretty damn fast!).

Nintendo's Wii

Nintendo really was in a pickle. They went from the face of the industry to being not much more than a backup for gaming. They had to even compete against Microsoft, the rookie of the console wars. This is not how an industry leader is supposed to be. The Nintendo 64 was a failure in the sense that they essentially handed Sony the war. And the Gamecube failed to put Nintendo back on top, dispite having a solid outing (Super Smash Bros Melee, Metroid Prime, Resident Evil 4).

Nintendo launched their Wii by playing their trump card: A realistic version of The Legend of Zelda, called The Twilight Princess. Smart move. It gave gamers a reason to have a console at launch, something Nintendo can do that Microsoft and Sony can not, as they do not make games that sell consoles. And with Metroid Prime 3, Mario Galaxy, Super Smash Brawl, and Pokemon on the horizon. Gamers can expect a lot of good gaming on their Wii.

But will Nintendo's old ghosts haunt them? Their strongest card are all Nintendo games, and 3rd parties are reluctant to play on Nintendo's home turf last time, fearing that Nintendo games will drown out their games, leaving them to pick up the scraps. But that was when Nintendo didn't hold much of a user base in comparison to the PS2 and Xbox. But the Wii has roughly half the user base of the XBox 360, in a fraction of the time. If Nintendo keeps this pace up, there will be more than enough of our money for Nintendo and 3rd parties. It doesn't seem that the Wii's graphics (which are already looking really dated) are driving away people who are intrigued by this new way to play games.

It's just a shame that Bob Ross painting game never came to light...

03-20-2007, 09:47 AM
now a billion dollar industry? that makes it sound like it became one recently.

Drunken Savior
03-20-2007, 09:54 AM
I would also like to pay my respects to Stuart Rosenberg, the director of Cool Hand Luke. Mr. Rosenberg passed away from a heart attack. He was 79.

Stuart Rosenberg, 1927-2007

Paper exe
03-20-2007, 05:38 PM
Hey, why did you not mention Rare games.....I feel personally offended for some reason!

03-21-2007, 08:11 AM
It is noteworthy that Sony has not yet played their trump card, the Final Fantasy Series, yet. I feel it is premature to judge them until that happens, as more people will be tempted to get a PS3 for Final Fantasy once they can either a) afford it or, b) see the PS3 hit a price drop once Sony finds out how to refine its hardware.

Sure, it has the potential to sell a million or two systems (in Japan anyway; a bit less maddening here) but I don't think one game can fix all of their mistakes plus make third-parties suddenly optimistic for the PS3. It is a risk to develop exclusively for now and that won't change even by FFXIII's release.

Drunken Savior
12-30-2007, 01:34 PM
*Cover above is for the Regular Edition package*
Released 11/13/07 (NA), 11/16/07 (EU), 11/21/07 (AU), 01/31/08 (JP)
Available for XBox 360, PS3, and PC (Early 2008)

Developer: UbiSoft Montreal
Producer: UbiSoft

Graphics: A-
Sound: B+
Story: B-
Gameplay: C

Overall Score:

DS recommends you pay no more than $35 for this game

Assassin's Creed is just one of those games...

Apparently everyone had their hopes up for this one. The screenshots dazzled. The videos confirmed said dazzling. The plot was a mystery. And then it came out and everyone who had preconceived notions had their world turned upside down. So if you were one of those folks, I can see why you would be disappointed. But for those of you who heard little to nothing about this game, this is a game of high quality graphics, amazing animation, and a great story line. But it is not without its flaws.

Altaïr leaps and prepares his hidden blade in his left hand to end this poor fellows life.

On the surface, Assassin's Creed is a story about an assassin in the Holy Land during the Third Crusades, circa 1911 AD. However, underneath the surface, Assassin's Creed is the story of Desmond Miles, a bartender in 2012 AD. He is kidnapped by Abstergo Industries, who plan to use a machine called the Animus to search Desmond's memories. And by memories, I mean the memories of his ancestors that is stored within his DNA. During the Third Crusades, Desmond's ancestor was a man named Altaïr Ibn La-Ahad (Arabic for "The Flying One") who worked for the Hashshashin Sect of Assassins. Altaïr has been given the chore of dispatching 9 men who are perpetrating the Crusades for personal gain, according to the head of the assassin's bureau Al Mualim, who longs for peace in the Holy Land.

Armed with a variety of weapons (hidden blade, long sword, short sword, and throwing knifes), Altaïr travels to Jerusalem, Acre, Damascus, and Masyaf, conducting research and, ultimately assassinating key figures on both sides of the war. Ubisoft Montreal claims that the games locations are historically accurate. In addition, all of those assassinated by Altaïr in 1911 all died or disappeared in that same year in reality. However, their death/disappearance was probably not the cause of an assassination. While not wholly important to the story line, adding historical context to any game is always appreciated and shows a level of dedication to storytelling.

Intercutting the action in the past are scenes in the future, where Desmond tries to wrestle out information from his captors to their desire to search his ancestor's life. Apparently Altaïr has some info he took to the grave with him and Abstergo intends on discovering it.

The game deals with the themes of war, corruption, morality, religion, free will, and duality. While the story does offer buildup, I felt that players will feel a lack of resolution in Desmond's (and to a lesser extent Altaïr's) story line unsatisfying. Games should stand alone, even if they intend to be a trilogy. And as a single story line, Assassin's Creed does not stand alone.


Use the 'gentle push' button to gently move aside peasants while keeping yourself out of the public spotlight.

No doubt you have noticed that Assassin's Creed sports some of the nicest graphics to be seen on a home console to date. It also sports some of the most fluid animations ever seen on a video game, period. Altaïr runs, leaps, climbs, falls, and kills with such fluidity, you will find yourself just watching him run around and climbing just to see how UbiSoft Montreal did it. It's no mistake that this game spawns from the same development team that did the Prince of Persia trilogy. However the team upped their game.

Watching Altaïr climb is worth mentioning. When I first heard you could climb anything that looked climbable, I was suspicious. Usually when you hear that, "climbable" becomes a subjective term. While everything looks climbable, there are really only certain walls you can climb, right? Wrong. Everything is climbable. If it looks like Altaïr can grab ahold of a small ledge or a protruding cobblestone in a wall, he reaches up and grabs it. There is an animation loop running in there, but it's all done so well. When you play the game, you'll see, this motherfucker loves to climb. He climbs up towers, leaps and grabs onto ledges before swinging to the next, hangs on boats....

The cities themselves all look amazing too. Marketplaces are bustling with activity. Fat people crowd the rich districts of the city and skinny people crowd the poor. Guards stand post, sometimes blocking your entry (on foot that is!), and beggars and loonatics mingle on the street (though for some reason, they only seem to want to harass you and no one else). When you climb to the top of a tower (one of the many joys of the game) you can see every single little building in the city. You can even still see people walking below, though that only extend to a small radius around you. Soon the building obstruct your view of the city streets. Subtle graphical extras like a shifting brightness to reflect the clouds passing in front of the sun or a shadow on the ground from a bird above help create the atmosphere.

If Assassin's Creed's graphics have a fault, it's that they suffer from "cloned people" syndrome, if you will. All the beggars look literally alike, all the thugs look literally alike, all the guards look literally alike. And I don't just mean their uniforms or wardrobe, I mean all their faces are pretty much identical. If you see one thug, you've seen them all. If we had a 3-4 character variety, it would have REALLY fleshed out the city and given this game graphics that rose the bar to a level that might not be obtained for a few years. As is, Assassin's Creed just sports some of the nicest, most fluid lifelike graphics to be seen to date.


Hopping from post to post is as simple as holding up to two buttons and holding the joystick in the direction you want Altaïr to go.

You won't hear much of a score in Assassin's Creed. There is a slight soundtrack, but you mostly hear the bustling sound of a marketplace, the cry of a peasant, the screams of the guards, et cetera, et cetera. However once you are spotted by the guards, a high adrenaline background score takes over. So the game is not devoid of any non-diagetic music.

Assassin's Creed really shines on its sound effects. Altaïr's hidden blade extends and retracts in a way that reminds me of Wolverine from X-Men. *SNIKT* indeed. And the sound effect heard when he uses it to kill is truly addicting. The game features a variety of nice combat sound effects from swords clattering to swords piercing flesh to knives slicing the air (or necks of your enemies.)

The voice acting is cromulent, but not exactly outstanding. Not much separates the voice actors from any other decent game, to be frank. Altaïr speaks very calmly, even when embracing his victim during their last gasps of life.

Everything just sounds so crisp and clear, it's hard to find faults in the audio.


Combat is simple, yet complicated enough to warrant practicing.
(Gameplay Photo, the only one I could find to show the HUD.)

Assassin's Creed is a 3rd person stealth platformer, with a hint of sandbox gameplay.

Each Assassination is as follows:
You start in the Assassin's HQ in Masyaf. From there you travel to one of three cities: Jerusalem, Acre, or Damascus. The land between all four is called 'The Kingdom,' though after the third mission, you don't have to travel through it anymore, which is godsend. There you must sneak into the city by blending in with scholars who look like you, going "over the heads" of the guards if you will, or creating a distraction to get the guards to leave their posts. Once inside the city, you have to find the local Assassin's bureau and speak with the keeper. He instructs you to search the city for information regarding your target. To do this, you first climb to one of the high points of the city, which displays close investigations for you to do on the HUD and city map. Those investigations include:

Interrogate. You follow someone into an alleyway and beat them until you get the information you want, and then you kill them.
Informant. A fellow member of the Hashshashin who offers you information for a trade, usually within a time limit. You usually have to collect X flags or kill X targets within a few minutes and then return to the Informant.
Pickpocket. You spy on someone, then sneak up and steal something from them.
Eavesdropping. You, uhh, sit down on the bench and listen to someone. Pretty straight forward.

You do this a minimum of 3 times (out of 6 possible) before the showcase assassination is open. Then you return to the local bureau, who discusses your assassination. Then you go and do the deed.

You don't have a lifebar, per se, in Assassin's Creed. Altaïr's "life" is really Desmond's ability to sync to his ancestor's past while inside the Animus. Each bit of damage to Altaïr weakens the sync, which regains slowly. The sync is also lost for killing/assassinating citizens. There is no penalty for killing guards. You can increase the amount of sync Desmond has to Altaïr by saving citizens or completing missions. Your syncbar also contains your current presence in the area. Guards can be alerted to your presence, in which case you have to blend in with the crowd by impersonating scholars (done by holding a button). Commoners can also be alerted to your strange actions, such as climbing the buildings.

Altaïr has a variety of abilities in combat. You can, at any moment, use the D-Pad to select your firsts, short blade, long sword, or hidden blade in combat. Combat is done by pressing buttons in rhythm with the action. It's not wholly complicated, but it does require some skill. However, near the later stages of the game, you shouldn't find yourself dying often, even when surrounded by 10 guards all taking their turns swinging at you. After each mission, you gain abilities and traits, such as more throwing knives and a new ability (counter grab, counter attack, hard blow, et cetera) that makes combat much easier.

Climbing in Assassin's Creed is fairly simple. You hold down a button to run, then another to free run. Altaïr speeds up and leaps on a wall. Then you just hold one button and direct Altaïr in the direction you want him to climb. You can hold down another button (the free run button) and he'll start jumping from one building/ledge to another. Simple. You'll be doing acrobatics in no time.

The AI in Assassin's Creed really is borderline retarded. Evading guards is done first by breaking their line of sight (shown on your HUD with an audio cue), and then by finding a hiding place such as a rooftop garden, a bale of hay, a group of scholars, or (simply) a bench. It's kind of silly to think that guards, who are pursing you, are suddenly thrown off when you just sit down on a bench. It's a little more realistic to think they lost you in a bale of hay once you broke their line of sight. In addition, you can kill people and simply walk away, only to hear people start saying "Who could have done this!?" It's even more silly when you are in an alley with two other people, you kill one of them, and the other says "Who did this!?" Gee, let's see, there are now two of us here, and you know you didn't do it....could it be...SATAN? Another silly comment was when I got up on a stage with a town rabble-rouser, stabbed him in front of about twenty people who were intensely listening to him and heard "There must be a murderer about!" Maybe I am more so the hand of Darwin than of peace, constantly thinning out the gene pool. Will the retarded AI ruin the game? No. But it certainly does remove you from the immersion significantly enough to warrant mockery.

The AI is one of Assassin's Creed major flaws, not to say the game doesn't have its share of minor flaws as well. Sometimes you'll really roll your eyes at how stupid the AI can be. Though, to be fair, it would be really hard to evade these guards sometime, and I'll take a free pass often to get them off my ass. The other major flaw in Assassin's Creed is the repetitive gameplay. Some people hate repetitive gameplay, some don't. You will literally follow the mission template I provided above. After 5 assassinations, it really does become tedious to carry out these investigations. However the centerpiece assassination is very rewarding, probably because it's not repetitive and opens up more of the plot. Plus it's very rewarding to take down someone who gloats in public.


In Game Cut scenes allow you to move Altaïr and select 'alternative' camera views.

Final Thoughts....
Assassin's Creed certainly will divide gamers. It's certainly a beautiful game, but people will definitely cite the "graphics over gameplay" argument, as the gameplay isn't nearly as polished as the graphics and animation are. While the game is, undeniably, fun and intriguing, it's repetitiveness and retarded AI definitely remind you that you are playing a game that feels rushed, even if it was not (it was delayed almost a year). Assassin's Creed sets itself up to be a franchise, so one can only imagine what this game would be like with a polished gameplay. Perhaps the second or third game of this series is what the first should have been? Who can say? But the core of a great new franchise is present in Assassin's Creed.

But the bottom line is that I had a blast playing Assassin's Creed. I enjoyed messing around the town in a GTA style rampage, killing civilians at my whim, all the while avoiding the main plot of the story for hours at a time. I also enjoyed trying to continuously run from point A to point B on a map without stopping, testing my ability to leap from building to building without falling to the streets below. As I said, the gameplay is simplistic, but it's also very addictive. Having just completed the main game, there are many things left to do, but you aren't really rewarded in the game. There are flags to collect, people to save from guards, templars to kill, and high points to climb.

12-30-2007, 02:02 PM
I recommend you dont pay more then $1 for that game! All style, no substance.

12-30-2007, 03:20 PM
It will never get that low price here ($35 or $1), so it's certainly a no buy.

Drunken Savior
12-30-2007, 05:54 PM
I recommend you dont pay more then $1 for that game! All style, no substance.

Like I said, the PC version is out in early 2008.

12-30-2007, 06:36 PM
Which will be promptly ignored by myself. The actual game itself wont get a story or new plot or better missions so its a case of wait for the sequel and see if they actually bother to do something.

Sinful Sam
12-30-2007, 07:45 PM
Great review, DS.

12-30-2007, 10:51 PM
Too bad about this game. They should've used an engine like that for a Zelda-style game. That could've been bad ass! The monotonous gameplay sounds like it resembles GTA in its repetitive structure. As well, the stupid nature of the commoners sounds strangely familiar. How come Ultima games running on a C64/128 had smarter people and guards?

12-31-2007, 05:59 AM
Cause back then developers cared about the games they made. Now its just money.

12-31-2007, 11:54 AM
Im playing final fantasy XII right now!

O ooooo could you reveiw Pulp Fiction?

12-31-2007, 05:42 PM
Cause back then developers cared about the games they made. Now its just money.

Ya, Jade Raymond in no Sid Meier when it come to open-ended(sandbox=retarded neo-developer gamespeak) dynamic gameplay.

Pirates!>Assassin's Creed

Actually, I don't mind Assassin's Creed and think it's a fun title, but nothing great. Waste of what could have been an awesome game if done right.

Nice review, DS.

01-01-2008, 08:13 AM
Nice review, Drunken Savior.
But... cromulent? You're trying a little too hard with the thesaurus there. ;)

Drunken Savior
01-01-2008, 08:33 AM
'Cromulent' was a word made up by the Simpsons writers. :) I sneak in their vocabulary whenever I can. Lisa the Ironclast.

01-02-2008, 10:24 AM
Ohhhh! That's a good reference then. My bad.

02-09-2008, 11:26 AM
Pulp Fiction is one of the best movies I have ever watched. Alot of people say there is no point to it but you have to view it for what it was. Cinematic gold.

04-19-2009, 01:28 PM
Just wanted to surprise your ears and present you some mp3 of experimental ambient music (http://artistvault.net/experimental-ambient/) from my home archive. Enjoy! P.S. Wish you all happy easter! :)

Drunken Savior
10-22-2011, 04:51 AM

Released 10/17/11 (AUS, PS3 and 360), 10/18/11 (NA, PS3 and 360), 10/21/11 (EU, PS3 and 360), 11/23/11 (JP, PS3 and 360), 11/15/11 (NA, PC), 11/18/11 (EU, PC), WiiU 2012

Deverloper: Rocksteady Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Square Enix (Japan)
Writer: Paul Dini
Partial Cast: Kevin Conroy, Mark Hammill, Wally Wingert, Nolan North and Maurice LaMarche

Graphics: A
Sound: A
Story: A-
Gameplay: A+

Overall Score:

2009’s Arkham Asylum was one of the year’s most pleasant surprises in gaming. Arkham Asylum featured the dynamic ‘freeflow combat’ that was the way Batman would deal with thugs. It was easy to pick up and learn, and amazing to master. It’s when you are taking out a room of thugs, situation completely under your control, and you struggle over making the decision between a quick bone break or a massive pummeling and head-butt that you realize…you’re Batman. That alone was a great enough draw…but then the nerd pot boiled over. The game was written by Batman: the Animated Series star writer Paul Dini and would feature Batman: The Animated Series stars Kevin Conroy and Mark Hammill as Batman and the Joker, respectfully. The games story and acting proved to be the ‘icing on the cake. In the end, people got not only the best Batman game ever, but perhaps the best comic book game ever.

Batman’s latest adventure proves to be a memorable one.

A few months after the events of Arkham Asylum we find former Arkham Warden turned Mayor Quincy Sharp having created a new kind of prison. Walling over block after block of city streets, Arkham City is meant to keep the scum of both Blackgate Prison (where the criminals go) and Arkham Asylum (Where the criminally insane go) in one location. Run by Dr. Hugo Strange, Arkham City allows the inmates free reign to go about their business, so long as they don’t leave the perimeter. Gang warfare, most noticeably between Harvey ‘Two-Face’ Dent and the Joker, instantly breaks out. Speaking of which, the Clown Prince of Crime isn’t looking too well. He’s apparently dying from high toxicity levels in his blood from his exposure to the TITAN formula.

But Batman’s on the scene. The Dark Knight must fend off the criminal element of Arkham City long enough to put an end to Hugo Strange’s plans. The good doctor knows Bruce Wayne and Batman are one in the same and he’s more than happy to watch Batman within his city’s walls.

An early scene in the game that introduces you to both Harley Quinn and how to be a predator. (Minor plot spoilers)

The story in Arkham City is fantastic. Right from the getgo there is a sense of urgency that really drives you to keep playing the game. During your time in Arkham City, you’ll run across many of the Batman’s rogues. Calendar Man, The Mad Hatter, and Mr. Freeze are some of the knaves you’ll encounter. Each encounter with them might be brief, perhaps too brief, but memorable.

With such a large cast of characters, some heroes and
villains seem to get limited time and are underdeveloped.

Paul Dini’s return to write the sequel is worth mentioning. Paul Dini has been one of the best, if not the best, writers of Batman lore for the past couple decades. And somehow, he always seems to nail the characters better than anyone. In Arkham City, Dini weaves an engrossing story that, while convoluted at points, still amazed. I won’t mention any specifics, but when you complete this game, you’ll be amazed at how well of a story Dini has written. Arkham Asylum had a sense of urgency, but Arkham City has an sense of impending doom.

Batman begin his campaign on Arkham City from atop of
the ACE Chemical Plant, supposed birthplace of the Joker.

Using the Unreal Engine 3, Rocksteady has really impressed me with Arkham City. The improvement over Arkham Asylum is minimal in most places. It’s the scope that wows. From high above, Batman can spot rooftop guards blocks away, and many common locations in Gotham can be found within Arkham City. For example, the Monarch Theatre, the fated location where Thomas and Martha Wayne were murdered, should have a memorial for the couple. Afterall, Bruce visits the site both the death of his parents and the birth of Batman annually. And sure enough, it’s discoverable in Arkham City.

Touring Arkham City. Getting the grapple boost early in the game will make traveling fast a possibility. It's how you gain altitude.

Soaring through Arkham City yields a few framerate drops as the hardware struggles to produce a new environment rapidly. But this is nitpicking when it comes to the presentation of this game. Character models are very well done and the textures are good. Arkham City’s cutscenes are up there with the big boys.

In combat, Arkham City really shines. The action stays quick and sharp, never missing a beat. Batman has plenty of animations to keep you entertained while you try to press your limits with Rocksteady’s ‘Freeflow Combat’ scheme.

The graphics are really amazing.
Slightly better than Arkham Asylum, which were fantastic to begin with.

The voice cast is top notch, if not a fanboy’s wet dream. Kevin Conroy reprises his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Mark Hammill returns to voice the Joker. These two are probably, in the eyes of many Batman fans, the definitive Batman/Joker duo in all of Batman’s media. And like they did in Arkham Asylum, those two steal the show. Conroy has mastered the Batman voice, and his Dark Knight is gruff, serious, and brooding. Hammill plays the ailing Joker, whose hoarse laughs is testament to the actor’s abilities.

Many other characters are adeptly casted. Wally Wingert returns to voice the Riddler, whose role has increased tenfold in Arkham City. Nolan North gives the Penguin a cockney accent. Maurice LaMarche does a very good Victor Fries. Arleen Sorkin, is mysteriously missing from her Harley Quinn role, but Tara Strong provides a good backup. Her Harley is very similar to Sorkin, but diehard fans can spot a replacement a mile away.

The score is more grandiose than Arkham Asylum. A large epic theme will create a sense of urgency throughout most of the game, which makes Arkham City seem like a much larger scenario than the previous game’s.

The opening menu lets you recap the game to remind you of your current progress.

Rocksteady’s Batman games are, first and foremost, great games. Ignoring the dramatically aspects of the game, the gameplay is exciting, engaging, and so well done that it makes the most basic part of gameplay, fighting, the best part of the game. ‘Freeflow Combat’ is really brilliant. A beginner can pick it up and get the basics down within minutes. But to see someone who’s mastered ‘Freeflow Combat’ is a real treat. As Batman scores consecutive hits, it allows him to move faster and execute abilities. Mixing your abilities up garners you more XP points to spend later on more abilities and upgrades. You might begin by just hitting and countering very methodically…but within hours you’ll find yourself in the midst of a 20+ hit combo with a swarm of thugs, jumping over foes while knocking one out with a car door. The expansive nature of the basic combat system is the real star of the game.

Freeflow combat at its finest. Here I have New Game+, so I have all the gear/abilities/upgrades possible.
At this point in the game, you might not have all the same gear/abilities/upgrades.

Arkham City features gameplay elements similar to a Metroid game. You have access to the entire map from the start, and you’ll be spending your time in the main world map as you transverse between locations. You’ll find Riddler’s riddles around the world map and will return to them later when you have the appropriate tools.

As if to spit in the eyes of normal gaming convention, Batman is (for the most part) the same as he was at the end of Arkham Asylum. You begin the game with nearly Batman’s full arsenal and will continue to build up to an even higher level of technology. In doing this, Rocksteady has essentially refined and added to their prior efforts. Arkham City is one of the more complicated games out there. Players must rely heavily on hand-eye coordination and master a list of dozens of commands Batman can utilize during a fight.

Almost everything feels right in getting around Arkham City. Batman’s movements are a little too lose at times and turning around seems to be so slow that it’ll quickly become your only Achille’s heal as the Dark Knight. But soaring over Gotham is a breeze once you do the Augmented Reality missions (PROTIP: DO THEM ASAP TO GET THE GRAPPEL BOOST!) and the controls are very tight.
You always hear the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Rocksteady hit a home run with Arkham Asylum’s gameplay. With Arkham City, they could have just added story onto the gameplay of the first. Instead, they slightly refined the first and then double the scope of abilities. It all feels very natural and almost instinctual.

Batman triumphs once again!

Final Thoughts....
Arkham City is really one amazing game. Forgetting the source material, the gameplay elements alone are very dynamic and still feel fresh. When you include source material, you have this Batman fanatic apeshit. The graphics are fantastic, the voice work is perfect, the story is amazing, and the gameplay is addicting. Rocksteady has created yet again, another masterpiece.

Final Thoughts with SPOILERS
When I came to the end of Arkham City, I was kind of shocked. I thought the game ended quite abruptly. Here I was fighting Clayface in the Monarch theatre and next thing I know, I’m carrying Joker’s lifeless body out to the GCPD. It’s then that it hit me that a large number of prominent characters actually die in this game. Joker, Ras Al Ghul, Talia Al Ghul, Clayface. Now video game deaths are slightly more serious than comic book deaths, but the way it was written, with Joker's death being so grandiose and somber, that the man is very much dead. Very interesting ending. Makes me wonder if there is a secret ending for completing the game where the Joker lives or something.

And in the shock of it all, hearing the Joker serenade Batman with “Only You” on Batman’s answering machine was great and depressing. The clown prince might really be gone…

Dini’s work is really amazing. Right from the beginning, we are told how this story will end. The story of Cain and Abel is played out here in Arkham City between Batman and the Joker. The surprise that Joker and Clayface are working together was hinted at multiple times in the game: The two joker cards, The mirror, and the babble on the streets. Still, it was a pretty good twist.
I have some beef with some of the screen time some of the rogues got. Hush, for example, has one scene. His character model and voice were amazing and all he did was have a quick chat with Bruce. Now, one cool thing is that Dini also wrote the story of Hush wrecking chaos with Bruce Wayne’s face in Detective Comics, so it’s a nice piece of fanservice for diehard Batman fans.

Having the Mad Hatter and Ras Al Ghul replace the surreal scenes of Scarecrow was moreso miss than hit. It was too brief and while the graphics look amazing, it really pales in comparison to the Scarecrow’s tricks. They should have just brought back the Scarecrow.

And now, a link for those that have finished the campaign. Spoilers! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UfsIvwzMeY)

Screencaps and videos are from the XBox 360 version using the Hauppauge Colossus.

10-22-2011, 02:26 PM
nice review mate . i'm holding out for the pc version tho myself

10-22-2011, 02:50 PM
2 years later and he does a review on Batman. You're getting predictable son!

10-22-2011, 04:04 PM
Great review, really enjoyed the format. Only about halfway through myself and the only problem I had was Penguin's accent, just seems off to my ears.

10-22-2011, 04:20 PM
Nice one drunken. I still have to beat the first one, wich is one of the next few games i'll tackle, after wich i'll probably order this. :)

Joe Redifer
10-22-2011, 07:23 PM
I played the demo of the first game and wasn't tremendously impressed. I never really understood the MASSIVE hype. The "detective mode" kind of ruins it for me. I'll stick with Genesis Batman as the best Batman game ever made.

10-22-2011, 08:23 PM
the first game had me hooked from the intro...think in the end it was the combat system/mission mode that i spent most time on, but the story and even the easter egg collecting was great. i liked the detective system. it was basically carbon copy from condemned, and i really liked it in that game. it fit.

waiting for the pc version for this.

Drunken Savior
10-22-2011, 11:43 PM
I never really understood the MASSIVE hype.

I was under the impression that you don't understand the hype to 90% of modern games.

10-23-2011, 12:57 AM
Its because Joe has no ssooooooouuuuuuul

10-23-2011, 01:40 AM
I played the demo of the first game and wasn't tremendously impressed. I never really understood the MASSIVE hype. The "detective mode" kind of ruins it for me. I'll stick with Genesis Batman as the best Batman game ever made.

It's not like you have to use detective mode 90% of the time. And shame on your random pickiness - Arkham Asylum and City really are just like well-executed Metroid games.

Great review, DS!

Drunken Savior
10-23-2011, 01:51 AM
It's also one of the more complex games around. Old people don't like complex games...they can barely handle pong!

Joe Redifer
10-23-2011, 02:27 AM
You both are getting old, too. While you can handle more than Pong, your limit is around, say, Tekken 3.

Honestly, though, it DOES look like a good game, but I have nowhere near enough time to invest in something that looks like it has quite the learning curve. Games these days are made for people who have nothing else to do.

Drunken Savior
10-23-2011, 02:35 AM
Says the man who is involved in a weekly video podcast about gaming.

10-23-2011, 03:08 AM
You both are getting old, too. While you can handle more than Pong, your limit is around, say, Tekken 3.

Honestly, though, it DOES look like a good game, but I have nowhere near enough time to invest in something that looks like it has quite the learning curve. Games these days are made for people who have nothing else to do.

That's surprisingly non-dismissive of you. :D Focusing specifically on Arkham Asylum, like all good games it teaches you to use new abilities as they are acquired, spaced out over the course of the game rather than all at once. But it is easy to miss the little combat moves it teaches and there isn't a great reference list on the 360 version (unlike the PC one), so in that respect it could be easier to learn and remember.

People are calling Arkham City complex because it starts where the first game left off and builds on it, thus there would be a lot more stuff to take in for a newcomer.

You're right about me getting old though. My son turns 16 today, which means either I'm positively ancient or that I was crazy for having a kid at 16...

Joe Redifer
10-23-2011, 03:14 AM
Says the man who is involved in a weekly video podcast about gaming.

That's one of the reasons I be busy. But it's not a podcast.

Also, I hear the manual to this game is super-thick. Oh wait. The game doesn't force a tutorial on you, does it? That is one of my pet peeves. I would rather learn shit on my own than go through a boring, forced tutorial. Biggest pet peeve in gaming today for sure.

10-23-2011, 03:22 AM
Naw, it's all integrated into the gameplay. On-screen text or in-character voice-over from Bats.

Drunken Savior
10-23-2011, 03:27 AM
I guess the game 'forces' a tutorial on you. The video "Harley and Joker" was the only real time I remember the game explicitly told me what I should do. And I'd barely call it a tutorial. It just tells you how to use the detective mode and lasts for 2 minutes....

Joe Redifer
10-23-2011, 04:49 AM
OK that sounds tolerable. If it's quick and to the point it is more bearable.

10-23-2011, 05:13 AM
The games arent complex. You want complex, pick up a pc sim.

Joe Redifer
10-23-2011, 05:45 AM
Those are only complex because of the hoops you need to jump through for the DRM.

10-23-2011, 09:06 AM
Being connected to the net to authenticate the game isnt much of a hoop.

10-23-2011, 09:15 AM
You have to type in your CD key in sometimes too, though. That's like 12 letters!!!! It takes a good few seconds to do; seconds that could be spent playing the game! :(

10-23-2011, 01:15 PM
You type it in once only. And console games come with DLC codes too that you enter, in a much more painful way without a keyboard.

10-23-2011, 02:13 PM
Being connected to the net to authenticate the game isnt much of a hoop.

I'd be interested to know how many pc gamers are not web connected?

10-23-2011, 04:23 PM
You type it in once only. And console games come with DLC codes too that you enter, in a much more painful way without a keyboard.

You're forgetting mircosoft and Sony sell over priced and slightly uncomfortable chat pads with tiny buttons to make up part of that. Though as far as I know, there is still no copy and paste function.

I can't remember what my point was but it was probably ironic anyway so it doesn't matter.

Joe Redifer
10-23-2011, 05:22 PM
What about those PC games that scan your computer and then refuse to run if you have any CD burning software installed? That is invasive.

10-23-2011, 05:27 PM
I'd be interested to know how many pc gamers are not web connected?

Pretty sure the only ones who would be complaining about this are the ones who take their laptops to work to play games. If you actually manage to get yourself home, you should have time to authentic whatever game you bought. Takes like 3seconds. Its not even a factor these days except to strange people who probably still wear flares.

10-23-2011, 05:57 PM
Nothing wrong with flares

What about those PC games that scan your computer and then refuse to run if you have any CD burning software installed? That is invasive.

Well I'd like to know which ones those are as I've come across one yet.

10-23-2011, 06:09 PM
Theres one I half recall. But I think they stopped using that long ago.

10-23-2011, 06:20 PM
Probably because everyone just pirated it. PC Gamers take a lot less shit than console gamers.

I bought AC2, then played the DRM-free pirated version. gg Ubi

10-23-2011, 08:14 PM
Good too the point review; I finished the PS3 version. I'm thrilled a bit of Hush was in there, its one of my fav graphic novels (Where is he?). I just downloaded Catwoman. Which was a lot of fun. I hope they make another one, but this time in the city Gotham. I haven't seen all there is too see, I was at first thinking the Riddler trophies were going to be just 'catch and grab', giving AA a +1.

They also did the whole Winter in Gotham look with movie-type quality, which was awesome. I think if Mark Hamill isn't doing the Joker anymore that Hush would make a great exception.

Awesome news; but I dont know how reliable it is.


Judging from a list of domain names recently registered by Warner Bros it seems that a new game based on the popular “Batman: Hush” storyline by Jeph Loeb. It’s not clear at this point if it would be another sequel to the Arkham games or just an entirely new game on the license, but the story would translate into a pretty awesome game! I guess time will tell…

Registered domain names;
◦ BatmanHush.com

10-24-2011, 12:10 AM
You're forgetting mircosoft and Sony sell over priced and slightly uncomfortable chat pads with tiny buttons to make up part of that. Though as far as I know, there is still no copy and paste function.

Neither peripheral is particularly expensive, but there's also the option of using USB keyboards on not only the 360 and PS3, but even the Wii. So I don't feel sorry for anybody who doesn't have a keyboard and has to enter a code with a controller.

Joe Redifer
10-24-2011, 12:21 AM
The 360 lets you use a USB keyboard now? I did not know this. Didn't know about the Wii, either (and its USB ports are so easy and convenient to get to). I agree USB keyboards are the way to go.

10-24-2011, 12:58 AM
The 360 lets you use a USB keyboard now? I did not know this. Didn't know about the Wii, either (and its USB ports are so easy and convenient to get to). I agree USB keyboards are the way to go.

Yep, since day 1. I have a wireless USB keyboard that I use with all my consoles. Very convenient (except for swapping the dongle between systems, but oh well).

10-24-2011, 01:13 AM
The keyboard is beside the point. The original point brought up was pcs are annoying because you have to type codes in. Well it has to be done for the consoles too. Basically every reason to NOT play a pc version for all the added benefits that a console will not have, is a moot point. Like the original argument of pcs suck cause it only has fps games, followed by I'd need a $5000 pc to play a game that looks like halo 1 on it.

Joe Redifer
10-24-2011, 01:18 AM
You don't have to type in codes just to play a game. You also don't need to be constantly connected to the internet.

eastx, just get more dong holes. Err I mean more dongles.

10-24-2011, 03:14 AM
You dont have to do either of those for most games. For example on steam, its a once activation and then you dont need to be on the net ever again. At least I dont have to update windows every week to be able to play a game unlike my console.

10-24-2011, 03:26 AM
Windows updates all the time - much more frequently than consoles. It's just not tied to games running. But that doesn't mean you don't have to update videocard drivers, edit config files, and other things to run PC games on occasion.

Drunken Savior
10-24-2011, 03:28 AM
DRM is a bitch, but for the most part, it's fairly intrusive and most of the time it's a one time deal. Fair tradeoff for the benefits of gaming on a PC if you ask me. Windows Live (or whatever they call it) is the only real pain in the ass. Unfortunately, it's what the Batman games use. I consistently have had log-in problems and the updating can make you jump through hoops if you let too many updates slip (because, for example, you haven't been playing games that use Windows Live!)

As I stated in other threads, the only DRM that is currently employed that is just awful is the "always online" DRM. Expecting gamers to have an internet connection during install is one thing, expecting them to always have internet access to play single player games is just pushing the line, in my opinion.

10-24-2011, 03:30 AM
Windows updates all the time - much more frequently than consoles. It's just not tied to games running. But that doesn't mean you don't have to update videocard drivers, edit config files, and other things to run PC games on occasion.

On occassion yes. I've gone for a whole year without updating windows or video card drivers etc. Mind you windows updates arent tied to games in any way so it cant be mentioned. Otherwise you'll be adding in every update to every program on the pc. However I can put a game in and it'll work, where as my console will refuse to even load it unless I'm on the latest firmware because of its copy protection. This means log onto the net, wait an age for their shitty updating speed system. If I was to compare the amount of times I've changed video drivers to the amount of firmware updates I've done, it would be like 1 video update in the past year to however many dozens of firmware updates on my console.

Joe Redifer
10-24-2011, 05:30 PM
Windows updates like clockwork every Wednesday. You have to manually fetch 'em, I believe. Eventually they are all compiled into "Service Packs".

10-25-2011, 12:21 AM
If you leave windows on auto update it does it on its own. I put it to manual because I dont feel like having my pc downloading crap while I'm in the middle of something.

Joe Redifer
10-25-2011, 12:47 AM
Thumbs up for that. I don't want anything going on unless I say so.

10-29-2011, 12:52 PM
Windows is such a pain. I need to go to Run > services.msc > right-click Automatic Updates and click 'Stop.'

That was a very good, in-depth review for Arkham City. Do you get that mid-level burn-out after beating up the same foes, or do they throw a lot of variety at you?

Drunken Savior
10-29-2011, 02:16 PM
I was always experimenting new ways to fight. They give you new abilities/tools as you progress which allows you to try out new methods. One of the most surprising things is that they didn't reset Batman from the first game. For the most part he has all his tools. So the fighting in Arkham City is vastly more complex, if you want it to be, than Arkham Asylum.

11-02-2011, 06:26 PM
My bro got it along with Battlefield 3 and he says that there isn't even a question that Batman is a better game.

Joe Redifer
11-02-2011, 07:01 PM
Better play it before he sells it.

11-02-2011, 08:17 PM
He already beat the campaign mode in BF3, but I don't believe that he's about to get rid of it. He does enjoy it, just not as much as Batman. The most recent game I've played through is Gears of War 3, and I wasn't going to put aside the time necessary to complete Batman, but after hearing everybody lavish it with so much praise, I just might give in and borrow it to see what it's all about.

11-03-2011, 01:58 AM
You cant compare an awesome single player experience game to an awesome online experience game. Thats just being silly.

Joe Redifer
11-03-2011, 07:43 PM
Alucard, do you even play single player mode on FPS games?

11-04-2011, 03:12 AM
I actually prefer single player mode in every game. Very very very few games I bother with multiplayer.

Joe Redifer
11-04-2011, 05:37 AM
+1 +Rep *like* *thumbs up*

11-04-2011, 02:57 PM
I feel like I just had sex.

11-04-2011, 03:21 PM
with a guy!

11-04-2011, 04:21 PM
he's not that good looking .. just his fist

Drunken Savior
03-22-2012, 11:17 PM
I’ve been doing a lot of driving recently, which has given me time to listen to a lot of books on CD. All of them, but one, based off Bioware games! After buying them, and all their DLC, installing the new pages and the like, I can finally give you my opinion on some of them. So here are the first three, the other two will follow shortly.


Released October 2011
Author: Robert Kirkman (Author), Jay Bonansinga (Author)
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
320 Pages

Overall Score:

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor is the first novel based off the comic series of the same name. The first book focuses on the history of the comic’s most nefarious villain, The Governor and how he became the guy Rick and the survivors met at Woodbury.

Story Overview
The story begins with Philip Blake, his brother Brian Blake, his daughter Penny Blake, and his two best friends Bobby Marsh and Nick Parsons holding up in an upper-class house. The group had been on the run from their hometown of Waynesboro, Georgia once the zombie outbreak began. Philip is the de facto leader of the group, who sports a violent temper, but also sports the largest will to survive. His brother, Brian, is considered the runt. Sickly and overweight, Brian looks to his brother to help him through the chaos. Penny, Philip’s daughter, is considerably the drive that keeps Philip going. However with Philip attending to his leadership responsibilities, Brian spends most of his time looking after Penny at Philip’s request.

Throughout the story, the group travels through many places around the United States south. Beginning in an upper class suburb, the group soon moves to other sites including a small orchard, Atlanta, and of course, Woodsbury. As the story progresses, the characters actually do begin to change as events begin to shape them. This was actually one of the better parts of the story. Watching the events unfold actually changes the characters in the story and you see how certain aspects of the zombie apocalypse can change a man for better or for worse.

The book is not without it’s low points, however. Some of the dialogue is a little hokey and Penny isn’t really that interesting. However, since she’s mostly there to be a character development tool for both Philip and Brian, she gets a pass. The conclusion might leave you scratching your head a little bit and you might wonder if certain aspects of the ending are really necessary, or if they were just added to create shock value. It’s well done, but when you summarize the last part of the book, you’ll wonder why it all went down the way it did. In truth, I felt like the last few chapters kind of dragged on like an extended epilogue and that the conclusion was really occurred around ¾ of the way through the novel. In particular, there is one scene in the orchard that seemed to drag on and on and only seemed to exist to explain one part of Philip’s development.

In the end, this book is a good read for fans of the comic or those who enjoy the action included with the zombie apocalypse. The book deals with the darker side of humanity including torture, rape, suicide, and abandonment. Fans of the TV show won’t really understand the gravity of the Governor yet, so the book won’t have as much of an impact for them. If you like action, the book is for you. If you’re looking for a guidebook on surviving the zombie apocalypse, look elsewhere.

Released November 2011
Author: Drew Karpyshyn,
Publisher: Del Ray
298 Pages

Overall Score:

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan was released a month before Bioware’s MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic in an obvious effort to drum up hype for the game by putting Revan in the spotlight. Revan is the hero of the first Bioware Star Wars game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic however his story has been, for the most part, in stasis since the ending of the 2003 game, save for some comics. However, this is the first story to continue Revan’s story written by Drew Karpyshyn who wrote the story for the game.

Story Overview
One thing to point out from the start is that book is really three stories and how they intertwine with one another. The first story is about Revan, the second is about Darth Scourge, and the last is about the exile from Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords, who has been given the name Meetra Surik. Some people feel like this was a dirty, MGS2 like, switch. People bought the book for Revan but spent most of their time reading about the Lord Scourge, a sith juggernaut who is curious about the force and Meetra Surik’s search for Revan.

Revan’s story involves him and Canderous Ordo on the search for the mask of Mandalore, which Revan had actually hidden when he defeated the Mandalorian Army many years prior. This story is actually the highlight of the novel, as the banter between Revan and Canderous is written as two old war heroes. However, this feels more like Canderous’ story with Revan in tow. So why is Revan there? Well he’s trying to retrace his past to jog his memories. And as he does so, bits and pieces do come back to him.

Lord Scourge is sent to be the warrior for Darth Nyriss, a manipulative Sith Sorcerer who’s dabbled in the dark side so long that her lovely features have given away to hideous wrinkles. The story is a game of backstabbing between Nyriss, Scourge, and Nyriss’ advisor, Setchel. Both Scourge and Setchel are sith, however where Scourge is big and strong, Setchel is small and weak.

Lastly, Meetra Surik’s story is set a few years later, where she is out searching for Revan. She quickly becomes involved with Scourge’s story and soon the two of them quickly become involved in Revan’s story where the overall novel comes to a boil over with the Sith Emperor.

The ending is definitely one of those endings that people are split upon, but not in a good way. Upon reflecting, this is really not a story about Revan, but more so a story about Lord Scourge and his rise to power. While it is a well written book, if you’re looking to reading this because you’re a huge fan of Revan, you’ll leave feeling very, very disappointed. However if you are taking the events at face value and interested in all of the story arcs, they interweave pretty well. Revan is still a character with tremendous respect in the story, but the story doesn’t revolve around him. More so, it’s a story of how many other minor characters changed in Revan’s presence.

Released March 2011
Author: Paul S Kemp
Publisher: Lucasbooks
304 Pages

Overall Score:

Star Wars: The Old Republic: Decieved focuses on the story of Darth Malgus, a human who loves the thrill of the battle and despises politics. Maglus is the big Sith in the MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. In the story, you see how he came to rise to power amongst the events that led up to the Treaty of Coruscant.

Story Overview
From the get-go, Decieved does not let up on the action. The book begins with Malgus sacking the Jedi Temple on Coruscant (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjhJcm-lpjc). It’s written very well, even if it’s just the literary version of the trailer. However more of the players are explained in the book. You are introduced to Maglus’ slave and lover, a Twi’lek called Eleena. You are also introduced to Lord Adraas (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Adraas), who acts as Malgus’ main rival, who uses poltics as efficiently as Malgus’ wields his lightsaber. Lastly, we briefly meet Jedi Master Ven Zallow (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Ven_Zallow) who’s attempt to defend the temple sets forth the books plot.

Far away, a young Jedi Aryn Leneer is part of the Jedi who are meeting with the Sith to sign the treaty of Coruscant. However, with the sacking of the Jedi Temple, the Sith strong-arm the Jedi into signing the treaty that is overall in favor for the Sith. During the signing, Leneer feels a disturbance in the force and, worried for her master, Ven Zallow, goes rogue in an attempt to save him or, if necessary, avenge him. She enlists a smuggler, Zeerid Korr, to get her to Coruscant.

The story is the classic warrior vs politician story for the Sith, and the story of a Jedi out for revenge. Malgus is well written as the confused warrior who has to deal with Sith politicians. Malgus feels that the empire is moving away from the traditional warriors and that politics is a poison. Politics never want to really destroy their enemy, warriors do. Malgus wants blood, but he’s held at arm’s length by the empire. Aryn Leneer is a reckless Jedi who feels that the Jedi order is causing her to fail the ones she loves.

I really liked this book. Both stories are well written and both Leneer and Malgus are powerful characters who can really drive their respective stories. The book hits its peak when both stories begin to meet. Malgus, despite his complete lack of political understanding, is an intelligent character who is always thinking about the events around him. Leneer, on the other hand, is bash and compulsive. It was interesting to see a complete reversal in traits we usually associate with the Sith and Jedi.

03-23-2012, 03:32 AM
Super cool stuff. Its good to see some book reviews.

Drunken Savior
03-23-2012, 08:42 AM
Yeah, I figured you'd like them. I'm working on the Mass Effect books right now, got through the first two. About to start the third. The forth one has some issues with continuity, I hear....so I'm going to hold off. Bioware said they are redoing the book, I guess...

03-25-2012, 04:36 AM
I liked it all too. Very concise and informative. :)

03-25-2012, 06:51 PM
I’ve been doing a lot of driving recently, which has given me time to listen to a lot of books on CD. All of them, but one, based off Bioware games! After buying them, and all their DLC, installing the new pages and the like, I can finally give you my opinion on some of them.


Drunken Savior
03-30-2012, 12:00 AM
Released October 2007
Author: Drew Karpyshyn
Publisher: Del Ray Books
323 Pages

Overall Score:

Mass Effect: Revelation provides backstory to the first game. The story introduces characters Jon Grissom, scientist Kahlee Sanders, and expands upon turian Saren Arterius and a young David Anderson.

Story Overview
Recent Alliance graduate, Donald Anderson, is sent to investigate a raid on the Alliance base on Sidon. When things quickly turn sour, Anderson is launched into an investigation to uncover the truth behind the base’s purpose. Anderson soon meets up with Kahlee Sanders, a young scientist who used to work at Sidon and, much to his chagrin, the turian Specter Saren Arterius. All the while, a sadistic krogan, Skar, is sent to make sure that they won’t succeed.

If you’re a fan of the first game’s story, you’ll greatly enjoy this one. You’ll get to see how Saren operated as a Specter before he was indoctrinated by Soverign. Saren holds onto a hatred for humanity, whom he blames for the death of his brother. The turian also believes that, ultimately, the ends justify the means which goes directly against Anderson’s ‘by the book when possible’ mentality. Karpyshyn really understands these two characters and the book really hit its strides when these two characters are in the spotlight.

Kahlee Sanders is the main protagonist through most (if not all…donno since I’m still going through them) of the Mass Effect books. Her characterization is alright, but Karpyshyn doesn’t really find her voice until the second book, in my opinion. What Karpyshyn does well is mend in the many alien races together well. Karpyshyn does well in bringing all the history between the races together, letting the relationships between races tell a story all in its own. Some complain that Karpshyn writes all the aliens as if they were humans, but I don’t think this detracts much, if at all, from the overall experience. Yes, it’s a little odd that most of the aliens all speak English, but the overall history of the races makes up for this slight detraction.

All in all, this was a very entertaining book that compliments the first game’s story really well. Saren was one of my favorite characters in the entire Mass Effect series and it’s great to get some more backstory with the notorious turian. The book has some great peaks and excellent pacing, but really lacks in the ending. I felt that the book kind of jogged through the end, not really finishing as strongly as I’d like it. However, like I said earlier, the book is perfect for fans of the first game.

Joe Redifer
03-30-2012, 03:10 AM
A book cannot be a prequel to a videogame. It's simply "backstory".

Drunken Savior
03-30-2012, 04:20 AM
Derp! You're right. Fixing!

03-30-2012, 12:01 PM
Derp! You're right. Fixing!

Are you going to change the blurb on the cover too?

03-30-2012, 12:05 PM
Oh hey, Mass Effect books. Nice review DS, I might look into snapping some of those up. The Mass Effect storyline isn't so great but the world and characters is what makes it awesome so I'd love to read some books set in that Universe. I'd love to see some more Saren stuff, was a great character, I agree with that. Thankyor

03-30-2012, 12:30 PM

Salo presents possibly some of the most horrifying images ever displayed on a cinema screen. A film by infamous Italian auteur Pier Paolo Pasolini, easily describable as one of, if not the most, macabre films in cinematic history. 'Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom' is based on the morally repugnant novel 'The 120 Days of Sodom' by the notorious 18th-century French philosopher and writer Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade. It is perhaps no surprise then that a film adapted from one of the most scandalous writers in French history was banned for decades in many countries, including the UK. Salo remained banned in Australia until 2010.

Since the film's release in 1975 it attracted the scorn of not only censors and the general public, but also of the critics. In 1977, Vincent Canby of The New York Times attacked the very raison d'être of the film; he refused to accept the justifications for the movie's lurid scenes, harshly scolding Pasolini in an ad hominem attack:

"For all of Mr. Pasolini's desire to make "Salo" an abstract statement, one cannot look at images of people being scalped, whipped, gouged, slashed, covered with excrement and sometimes eating it and react abstractedly unless one shares the director's obsessions."

Even when Salo received a rerelease in Britain, in 2000, BBC Film critic Michael Thomson described the film and its director in an equally unflattering light:

"Clearly Pasolini (who could either be exceptionally inspired or - as here - absolutely dire) had hit the creative buffers, and so - in his tale of four power-mad, sexually-warped members of the ruling elite - seems to relish serving up endless examples of the most gruesome conduct, which include the forced consumption of food spiked with nails, nipples being branded, and - most ghastly of all - the consumption of excrement. Needless to say, the young men and women horrifically abused by the four condescending establishment tyrants are treated like so much available meat.

Grim and pointless in equal measure."

And it is true. Salo is a grim film, impossibly difficult to watch. Even writing about the film is enough to fill me with that same sense of disgust and dread that it provoked when I first viewed it- and let me say, for a movie to have had that great of an effect on someone as desensitised as me is testament to its truly harrowing nature. I've seen films that reach every extreme, films even more explicitly graphic than this, but it is Salo that still lurks in my subconscious, that still haunts my mind with the grieving, hopeless cries of the victims trapped in it. Of every film I've ever seen, it is only Salo that has proved so difficult to ever watch again.

So yes, Salo is indeed filled with horrors that will no doubt scar the mind of anyone brave enough to watch it, but is this, as the reviewers suggest, merely pointless, or worse still, the work of a fetishist? Is this laborious endurance, which some suggest cost its director his life (although this is unlikely), really the equivalent to modern-day films like 'Hostel' and 'The Human Centipede'? Is the legacy of Salo simply the advent of torture porn?

Well, there are others that believe, as I do, that Pasolini wasn't a mere provocateur, but an observer of the human condition. An artist with a point to make, even if that required corroding away the ability we all possess to detach from the screen *by using gruesome and vile imagery.*

Salo is a modern adaptation of de Sade's chronicle of tortures which is transposed from 18th-century France to the backdrop of Mussolini's fascist Italy, in 1944- more specifically the Republic of Salo. The film takes only the premise of the book; merely using de Sade's grimly perverse imagination as a foundation for what Pasolini really wants to explore: Fascism, Capitalism, sexuality, and the human nature.

The story picks up in a small town, with what appears to be the army rounding up a group of young teenagers. The children are taken to a sealed off castle, inhabited by four of the corrupt elite: The Duke, The Magistrate, The Bishop, and The President. Soon it becomes clear that these four are sadistic libertines, who intend to use the children as sexual objects, on which they can unleash any and every desire they possess. In order to inspire their libidos, the four also invited some seasoned and experienced prostitutes, each with her own speciality.

The film is split into four distinct sections: The 'Ante-inferno', the 'Circle of Manias', the 'Circle of Shit', and the 'Circle of Blood'; these stages seem to be loosely inspired by the narrative set in the 13th-century epic poem 'Dante's inferno'. In the Ante-Inferno, the children are put through a rigorous selection process based solely on how sexually attractive the four men find each of the them, and the rules to which they will be made comply are made clear. In the 'Circle of Manias' the violence begins to escalate, leading to the 'Circle of Shit'- which contains the film's most stomach-turning scenes, then finally, 'The Circle of Blood'- the blackest point of the film.

It seems fairly clear, without much analysis, that Salo is showing the horrors of Fascism: the unbridled ruling class using their power to commit unspeakable atrocities, discarding every moral law that gives us any sense of being human. Even the harshest critics of the film seem to accept this. The problem tends to be that such horrific imagery isn't necessary to tell such a simplistic message; that 'fascism is bad' is indeed a redundant message, which needs no explanation because the world has already witnessed its horrors. And that may be so. We have all seen the documentaries and read the textbooks, but documentaries and textbooks show the events in a cold and educational context. Pasolini lived under Mussolini's fascist regime; he experienced Fascism first hand. This isn't to say Pasolini experienced anything like the events depicted in Salo, but surely someone with his milieu is entitled to portray that sense of despair and powerlessness as he felt it. As Salo does; the film reeks despair throughout. Perhaps that is what makes Salo so hard to watch. The constant, impending doom. The viewer never expects the cavalry to arrive, or a white knight to ride in and save the day. As is with Fascism, 'Abandon hope, all ye who enter here'.*

It is established as soon as the libertines have their way that the children are no more than objects. Possessions. In the 'Ante-inferno', the children are reduced to how attractive they are and treated like animals. They are no longer allowed individuality or personality. They are being broken. Pasolini sees this as the dehumanising effect of Capitalism. As a staunch communist, Pasolini believed Capitalism strips us of our essence. That sexuality has become a commodity. That we are objectified. Some believe that the film's portrayal of sexuality as painful, debauched and degrading signifies how Pasolini sees Capitalism's effect on the person; that the commercialisation of sex has, in effect, killed it. This is made particularly clear when the libertines examine the children for any physical flaws, willing to dispose of those they find unappealing. This almost anti-erotic, clinical portrayal of sex, I believe, defies the critics views that the film is somehow a cathartic, sexual release for Pasolini. The film is void of any sort of arousing build up. There is perhaps only one instance of consensual sex, and that takes place between one of the captors and an abettor. Any other instance of consensual sex is punished by death.

Then, in the final act, the 'Circle of Blood', the film reaches its startling, but expected, conclusion. The children are tortured to death. They have passed their sell-by dates. They no longer hold any value, they're worthless. The libertines revel in destroying them. Any ember of hope that may have flickered in the mind of the viewer is now extinguished. Again, the torture scenes are shown in a dissociated way. Shown through the binoculars of one of the torturers, as he watches his comrade cut the tongue out of one of the young boy's mouth (a scene that became iconic, and is cited as effectively ending the young actor's [Franco Merli] career). The final scene of the film shows two guards perform a slow waltz, carelessly joking; the scene perfectly captures the essence of the film: detachment.*

De Sade had strong political views, but of which are being shown in his novel is a highly contentious subject amongst scholars: notably feminist scholars. Some Feminists, like Simone de Beauvoir, argue in his favour, whilst others are vehemently opposed. *Anyway, I argue this, because this is what Pasolini and de Sade's work truly have in common. More than the torture. More than the paedophillia. More than the infamy. They parallel in misinterpretation. There are loads of different interpretations of Salo and 120 Days..., many of them driven by ignorance, or stilted by repulsion, or just mistaken. But even the analyses that aren't wrong, the few analysts that retain a logical and coherent line of argument, they can still differ to extremes in what they believe the primary message is. This is, of course, because we all perceive words and meaning differently, and we can never truly trust that the other person is even expressing the message they wish to convey as is intended, not to mention the difference in ideological perspectives we're all tainted by. All art is forever contentious, as it should be. And this is my preemptive defence of Salo. The fact that it can be so hotly debated by scholars, whom can maintain logical arguments but still disagree vehemently isn't a weakness of the film, but a strength. All art has an observation of the human condition to make, and Salo is no different. And maybe this is why the film is now respected as a work of art, with avid supporters such as German director Michael Haneke and even film critic Roger Ebert.

Perhaps the one controversy that can't be wholly defended is Pasolini's decision to cast the part of the children to actors who were probably under the age of consent. Why Pasolini chose to do this, I don't know. Perhaps it could be argued that showing actual children in these scenarios solidifies the horror and despondence of it all...

Drunken Savior
03-30-2012, 03:17 PM
Are you going to change the blurb on the cover too?

I can't trust anyone!!1

03-30-2012, 06:08 PM
I'm shocked you put Salo up here lolololo. Time for Cannibal Holocaust!

03-30-2012, 06:20 PM
Salo is just such an important piece. It is unjust to mention it in the same sentence as other so-called 'video nasties'!

03-31-2012, 12:26 AM
Do I see nipples or are those Madonna's nipple covers? How can we as a user-fan base be respected when we show full fledged nipples?

03-31-2012, 08:51 AM

Parasite Eve: The 3rd Birthday

Being a fan of the original Parasite Eve games for the Playstation 1, I was fairly enthused when I discovered The Third Birthday available as a rental. This enthusiasm swiftly transmogrified into absolute disappointment.

The story of the Parasite Eve universe that has been established thus far in the series was decidedly abandoned in this iteration, and with zeal. Okay, so never has Parasite Eve been known for it's gritty realism, or how it meditated on the deep philosophical issues of life, but it did have in it a working internal logic, and an enjoyable mythos which struck an interesting tone- somewhere between chilling and action-packed; never so much action that it'd be mistaken for Resident Evil, and not scary enough to be in the league of Silent Hill, instead it had it's own nice little niche in which it was able to scare, entertain, and provide in essence, an interesting story.

That's no longer the case. Enix has abandoned the established format entirely, and apparently have decided that horror is a bit dated, and instead came to the weird conclusion that it would be best to magnify the sci-fi undertones of the previous games. Using science fiction as the focus of the story was a terrible mistake, it makes for an absurd game, and one I assume will alienate the fan base (if it still exists).

So that's it for my take on the story. I'm not going to bother with a synopsis, 'cause it's pretty pointless, to be honest. Instead, let's just hastily move on to the gameplay. The gameplay actually isn't terrible. I preferred the original, but they like to change things up for the PSP, don't they? So with that in mind, I appreciated the system they created. Basically, you get to customise a fairly wide array of guns, which you will then use to stave off hordes of enemies as you work your way through various areas of the mission you're in. However, there's more! Aya's new found sci-fi self has discovered she has the ability to 'overdive', that is the ability to travel back into the past, and take possession of someone from that time's body.

This makes the core of the gameplay: you must constantly jump from person to person in order to stay alive, and take out the enemies. The enemies are fairly sturdy, and take a lot of shots, so using Aya's 'liberation' technique in order to make it easy to possess an enemy and do a lot of damage is essential. To achieve this special move, it often helps to cross shoot, which is focusing your computer-controlled allies' attention on the same target and unleashing a volley of fire. Aya can also buff up with a system which levels up her 'DNA', basically your typical way of improving the character's skill set. It's a bit annoying, and all quite random, no real skill involved and also has an absurd premise.

One thing about the game that's fairly undeniable is the great graphics (for a PSP title). The cutscenes in particular wouldn't look too bad on a Playstation 3 or X Box 360, which really is quite a feat for such a dated system. The in-game graphics of course don't compete, but they are some of the best the PSP has to offer- although, saying that, I still couldn't enjoy them as although they are indeed good for the PSP, they are dated and rough compared to console games, which are the games I usually play.

IN conclusion, the story is ridiculous, the characters are cardboard cut-outs, the graphics are pleasing, the soundtrack is suitable, and the battle system has some depth but in the end is merely repetitive, frustrating, and not worth your while. All in all, this makes The Third Birthday nothing more than a Parasite on the franchise' selling power. (See what I did there?)


03-31-2012, 09:40 AM
Loved the first two but I ignored this one.

03-31-2012, 01:14 PM
Wow, I thought I was the only one who liked PE2.

It's been a really long time since I played it, but I do remember the exploding babies.

Drunken Savior
03-31-2012, 05:16 PM
So when are we going to tell him that you're supposed to make your own review thread?

03-31-2012, 05:19 PM
In a bit.

03-31-2012, 05:44 PM

Actually soon .. As DS might lose his 5* rating otherwise

03-31-2012, 05:45 PM
So when are we going to tell him that you're supposed to make your own review thread?

Oh. Haha. I'm sorry! I genuinely just assumed, with the size of this thread, it was just like the 'Last thing I bought' thread. Sorry, newb mistake. Should have read the first page.

Drunken Savior
03-31-2012, 08:58 PM
Oh hey, Mass Effect books. Nice review DS, I might look into snapping some of those up. The Mass Effect storyline isn't so great but the world and characters is what makes it awesome so I'd love to read some books set in that Universe. I'd love to see some more Saren stuff, was a great character, I agree with that. Thankyor

You'll probably like it then. Saren is in most of the second half of the book, but he's a big powerhouse player and he definitely rubs Anderson the wrong way with his "the end justifies the means" methods.

I've actually read the second one, but I'm mulling it over in my head for a bit longer before I type up the review.

06-30-2012, 06:50 PM
who is ernest and why is he posting reviews in this thread?

but salo is quality cinema, i enjoy it very much. a touching film.

07-01-2012, 03:15 AM
Extremely romantic for sure.

07-03-2012, 02:39 PM
who is ernest and why is he posting reviews in this thread?

Maybe this is DS without the mask. Maybe this is him in real life, and maybe his real name is Ernest. But don't expect the Ernest we all grew up in our child hood from his classic movies, such as Ernest goes to Jail, or Ernest Scared Stupid. Picture him as a sophisticated Ernest.

Drunken Savior
11-02-2013, 10:01 PM

Released 10/25/2013 (PC, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U)

Deverloper: Warner Bros Montreal (singleplayer), Splash Damage (Multiplayer)
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Graphics: B+
Sound: B+
Story: A
Gameplay: A-

Overall Score:

Initially I didn’t plan on reviewing this, simply because at its core, Arkham Origins doesn’t really do anything to advance the gameplay found in Arkham City, the second game in the 'Batman: Arkham' franchise. It’s extremely iterative whereas Arkham City was certainly innovative. And if that’s a huge problem for you, then none of the positives or negatives here are going to sway you. Just watch a 'Let's Play' to get the story. But here’s my review on this game.

I’m also strictly reviewing the singleplayer. If I decide to review the multiplayer, then I’ll add something here.

Are you ready to go back to Gotham City for an early Batman adventure?

The story acts are a prequel to Batman: Arkham Asylum, focusing on a young Bruce Wayne who has been Batman for around two years. Batman hasn’t met the Joker, or the Riddler, or much of the villains later found in Arkham Asylum and City. He’s pretty much used to smalltime crooks, corrupt cops and politicians, organized crime, and some of the lesser known characters from Batman’s Rogues Gallery. Apparently Bruce’s doing a damn good job as Batman because he’s putting a dent in the profits of organized crime. In response, Black Mask, a powerful figure in Gotham’s underworld, has put a $50 Million bounty on his head, causing a flood of talented assassins to come to Gotham. All of this happens on Christmas Eve. It's a storyline that's been done many, many times before.

A lot of the game focuses on Batman’s first encounter with his villains, including the Joker. The Gotham City Police Department is also out to get Batman, meaning the Police will be out to get Batman. Furthermore, Alfred does not fully approve of Bruce Wayne’s zealousness to fight crime.

I found this story to be highly enjoyable. It focuses moreso on Batman’s relationships to the GCPD, Alfred, and the Joker than either of the first two Arkham games. To both Batman and the Joker, their opposites aren’t anything special. To the Joker, Batman is just a guy in a costume. To Batman, Joker is just another thug. It isn’t until they actually meet and see how the other operates do they begin to realize how different they are from their peers. And really, that realization is one of the highlights of the entire game. Additionally, Capt. Jim Gordon is hellbent on capturing Batman, and Batman must prove to him that he’s not just a common vigilante. Batman has to prove that he’s both Gotham’s protector and works within a code that Gordon respects. However, this Batman lacks the patience and understanding his future self exhibits. In fact, he’s downright cruel, nasty, and mean to both his friends and villains at time.

Some think he's real, some don't. Many wish he isn't...

The franchise's freeflow combat is back and...well...pretty much the same

Troy Baker's Joker sounds a lot like Mark Hamill, but this Joker is much more sadistic, cruel and all around more evil in his younger years.

Off the bat, fans of Arkham City will notice that Arkham Origins reuses a lot of assets from Arkham City. The overall map consists of the original map from Arkham City (which makes sense, Arkaham City itself was just a walled off part of Gotham) connected via a large suspension bridge to another part of Gotham City of roughly equal size, if not slightly smaller. However, both are modified slightly to reflect winter and Christmas themes. There is also a fully explorable Batcave, plus you visit some new areas within both the old and new parts of Gotham, such as Blackgate Prison, which is currently the only place Gotham has to store criminals.

The animations, for the most part, also seem to be mostly from Arkham City. Batman does the same animations for beatdowns, disabling weapons, disarming goons, yeada yeada yeada. It would have been nice if Batman had some new animations for some of his moves to reflect his inexperience.

The lipsyncing is pretty bad due to the limited animation loops. It’s a step down from Arkham City. Does that really detract from the gameplay? No. But it just seems lazy, and it begs the question “If you’re reusing assets from an earlier game, why do you half ass the parts you are adding?” Whatever reason they have, it’s pretty inexcusable and really detracts from an otherwise gorgeous looking game. This is seen in the cut scenes and not during in-game discussions. You’ll notice it most when talking to Alfred.

Speaking of cut-scenes, they are partially pre-recorded video using the in-game engine. And they are encoded pretty poorly. I don’t know if it’s as noticeable on consoles, but it’s very evident on PC. Lots of artifacting, especially in the blacks and other dark colors…which you can imagine is a large portion of a game that takes place entirely at night. The cut-scenes themselves seem to be using the in-game engine, so why pre-record them? It’s just a bummer that screenshots of the really cool pre-recorded cutsceenes will never look as clean as in-game cutsceenes.


Comparison between in-game graphics…and pre-recorded scenes using the same engine. Even with IMGUR’s compression, you can see how the background isn’t as well defined in the pre-recorded scenes. Additionally, you see a lot more artifacting (large, homogenous squares of color) in dark parts, noticeable mostly on Batman. These are more noticeable in fulls screen.

11 minute long video. It takes some time to get around in Gotham City. Here I start at the bottom of the map (the new half) and travel to the top (Arkham City half). I visit some old locations such as Sionis Industries (Joker's HQ in Arkham City) and the Courthouse (Where you rescue Catwoman in Arkham City).

You'll be visiting a lot of recognizable locations found in Arkham City. The entire map of Arkham City is, for the most part, reused and consists of about 50% of the entire map.

But the reused assets are still very good and shows that the groundwork laid by original developer, Rocksteady, still holds up to today’s standards. The animation is very slick, which is crucial to the success of the ‘free flow combat system’ that is synonymous with the franchise, though Bats and thugs do ‘slide’ from time to time to make the timing work. I did see a few animation bugs while gliding through Gotham, making Batman look like he was trying to swim through Gotham’s skies, which occurred maybe four or five times in my 30 hours of gameplay. I also had Bane punch me off the map, causing me to clip through walls and into the open world underneath the map once. Dude’s fucking strong, I’m amazed my PC didn't just explode when it happened.

Batman must prove to Gordon that he's a hero. These two forces must learn to work together if they plan on keeping Gotham safe.

Fan favorite Mark Hammil does not return as the Joker, and neither does equally loved Kevin Conroy to voice Batman. Their respective replacements, Troy Baker and Roger Craig Smith, feel like capable understudies. However, Baker’s Joker really outshines Smith’s Batman. Baker, on the surface, is doing a very good Hammil impersonation, but his Joker is less ‘appreciative’ of Batman than Hammil. And you can really sense a more venomous Joker in Baker’s voice alone. Smith’s Batman, on the other hand, does a good job at replicating Conroy, but doesn't reach the same level of success as Baker does, in my opinion.

The rest of the cast does a good job, but nothing really stands out this go around. However Robert Costanzo is in the game! Don’t know who that was? Shame on you. He was the voice of Detective Harvey Bullock in Batman the Animated Series, and he fills the doughnut loving detective’s shoes in this game.

The music hits the same notes as Arkham City. I wouldn't call it particularly memorable, but it doesn't take away anything from the game.

Of course, the Joker shows up to ruin even the best plans.

Arkham Origins is very much Arkham City 2.0. You do similar tasks, and get around the map in the same manner, using your grapple to gain altitude and soaring through the city. When you’re not in the city, you’re beating up thugs using the free flow combat system that is virtually identical to Arkham City. You’ll also be hunting down thugs in Predator mode, swinging from gargoyle to gargoyle, waiting for that perfect moment to strike. Otherwise, you’ll be navigating 3D environments, using your grapple to ascend and cape to glide over expanses. All of it still feels very good as it did in Arkham City.

New to the franchise is fast travel, utilizing about 7 drop off points throughout the city and one at the Batcave. These drop off points are located in Gotham City Radio towers, which are controlled by the Riddler (given the name ‘Enigma’ by Batman) which can be unlocked through either a small 3D puzzle (navigate a 3D environment) or need items you collect throughout the game’s plot to unlock.)

You’ll get some new items in the game, though not all that extraordinary. Replacing the Mr. Freeze grenade from Arkham City is a Glue Grenade, which functions identically to the former. You’ll use it to block off steam pipe exhausts, temporarily incapacitate enemies, and create islands in water to stand upon. You also get a remote grapple, a twist on Arkham City’s Line launcher. You can use it to stun multiple enemies at a time, or create lines to prey upon your enemies from above in predator mode. Lastly, Batman eventually gets a set of electric gloves that make freeflow combat ridiculously easy. Once they are charged, every hit you lay is a hit, regardless if the enemy is armored or not. It removed a lot of the additionally difficulty of advanced freeflow combat mechanics found in the latter half of the game, for better or for worse.

There’s a new sidequest worth mentioning called ‘Casefiles.’ These detective stories range from epic stories involved in the main plot, to simple crimes found throughout Gotham. Batman hears about them through his Gotham City Police Department wiretap and can investigate them at will. By recreating the scene, Batman can discover the truth behind the mystery. It’s very cool and pretty interesting. However, with any mystery story, the amazement is only experienced once and successive playthroughs of the casefiles won’t really impress you the second time around in replays. In fact, they may be downright tedious going through all the motions just to find the hints. It would have been nicer if there were more stories, or if they varied between playthroughs. It’s a ‘good idea, bad implementation’ scenario where I’d like to see it done again, but with replayability involved in the design.

The boss fights, which were Arkham Asylums weakest feature, are a slight stepdown from Arkham City. There really aren’t many standout boss fights this time around. Furthermore, the boss fights all seem like variations of Arkham City bossfights. That’s not a bad thing, since Arkham City’s boss fights were, for the most part, very good.

Marial Artists add a new dimention to combat, if only slightly. You'll be tasked with keeping an eye on them at all times, and be ready to either double tap the counter button or remember to counter again immediately after.

Lastly, the game does throw some new tactics and techniques to the freeflow combat system, advancing it a little past Arkham City. You’ll face martial artists and ninjas, who require a chain of counters or a double-counter in order to successfully defend against them. Enemies seem more ready to attack Batman this time around, I found them more likely to attack in the middle of my non-special takedowns, forcing me to really manage the battle before trying to score a cheap takedown without being suckerpunched. The game also adds armored brutes, which require you to strip their armor off by performing a takedown.

Armored Thugs require you to use a special takedown to strip off their armor before you can bring them down.

Final Thoughts....
Arkham Origins is virtually a 15 hour campaign DLC for Arkham City. It doesn’t add much, but it’s a new map to explore, with a great new story. It lacks the advancement that Arkham City had over Arkham Asylum, but at it’s core, Arkham Origins is still a very good game. If you want more Arkham City, then you’ll really enjoy Arkham Origins. The developer, Warner Bros Montreal, doesn't reinvent the wheel, but for their first original game (the only other work is the Arkham City port for the Wii U), it's a great effort. It's a shame that this game gets low marks among some other reviews for being iterative instead of innovative, when other iterative games seemingly get a pass by the same reviewers. Does being iterative make a game inherently bad? I don't think so. And really, there isn't really anything in Arkham Origins that I can find that really make me think of this as a bad game.

One thing to note is that some PC users are stating that they are expericing some bugs in this game. I never ran into anything gamebreaking in my 30 hours of playtime, except for a radio tower in a side mission I had to glitch into to complete. But, regardless, I thought it warrants mentioning for PC gamers.

Fun Drinking Game: Take a drink everytime Batman wants to know where he/it is. He's quite the inquisitive fellow!

05-27-2014, 04:52 PM
^Totally not biased review.:rolleyes: