Thursday, October 31, 2013

X-Men: Days of Future Past Trailer


Once again helmed by Bryan Singer, this is the first glimpse of the latest X-Men movie. I'm hesitant to say it looks good, as I've been burned in the past, but I was excited to catch a glimpse of Bishop. I was wondering when one of the futuristic X-Men would make an appearance. I just hope he's going to be more than just a cameo in the opening sequences, when they show how the war ravaged Earth.

The trailer, unlike others, doesn't divulge too much about the movie. I appreciate that. It leaves a lot of mystery, especially in terms of action and, of course, the Sentinels, yet still gives us the plot and a slew of characters. As someone that wasn't huge into X-Men growing up I didn't even recognize a few of the mutants; I did spot fan-favorite Beast (will Kelsey Grammer have a cameo?), Rogue, Mystique, Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Blink, Storm, Bolivar Trask--I can't wait to see Peter Dinklage as the villainous genius behind Sentinels--and Wolverine, who looks to be a co-lead with Professor X and Magneto.

It'll be interesting to see how Singer weaves such a large cast into the movie.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Trailer


Here's the first trailer for the next Captain America movie. Unlike a lot of people, I was a fan of The First Avenger, particularly the first hour, and its sequel appears to have improved the franchise with a darker tone and a more serious theme.

Again, I think this trailer shows too much of the film--I wish both the helicarrier crashing and the elevator scene had been kept a secret until release, but at least they didn't reveal (for those who haven't read the comic) the identity of the Winter Soldier. Hint: it's not Captain America.

What I enjoyed the most about First Avenger and will probably enjoy in this film as well is the involvement and growth of S.H.I.E.L.D. characters and Black Widow. It's good to see the introduction of new characters as well: Robert Redford as Alexander Pierce and Anthony Mackie as The Falcon, who could possibly make an appearance in Avengers 2 or even Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. In the comics, the Falcon has ties to the cosmic cube, Black Panther, the Secret Avengers, and even replaced Steve Rogers as Captain America for a while, so there's a lot that could be done with this character.

Actually, the Black Panther helps design the Falcon's wings; I'd be ecstatic if he had a cameo.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Things We Say When Drunk

“Happy," I muttered, trying to pin the word down. But it is one of those words, like Love, that I have never quite understood. Most people who deal in words don’t have much faith in them and I am no exception – especially the big ones like Happy and Love and Honest and Strong. They are too elusive and far too relative when you compare them to sharp, mean little words like Punk and Cheap and Phony. I feel at home with these, because they’re scrawny and easy to pin, but the big ones are tough and it takes either a priest or a fool to use them with any confidence.”
Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary


Ever since Saturday night my head has been in a whirlwind. I've been anxious and paranoid, excited then depressed, then confused. I've had partial insomnia, then when I do fall asleep, I wake up in the early morning and have no desire to get out of bed. One moment I flip between wanting to find jobs out of state, retreating to the woods to live in seclusion, or driving my car into a tree; the next moment I'm incredibly hopeful, writing feverishly, planning for future endeavors, and grateful to be alive.

All of this is due to a night of heavy drinking with great friends, and it's not because I said something wrong. It's not because I embarrassed myself or hurt someone. For once, it's not anything I did at all, yet it stems from the frustration of the things people say when they are drunk. There's the old Latin phrase, "In vino veritas," meaning, "In wine there is truth," but is there truth?

Words are powerful. People tend to forget that. After a few shots, the tongue starts waggling. Stories become exaggerated. We start confessing, revealing thoughts and feelings that would have remained in check if not in the company of Jack Daniels and his sordid friends; as the Russian saying goes, "What a sober man has on his mind, the drunk one has on his tongue."

When drunk, I've poured my heart out to pretty girls. When drunk, I've aired my grievances like Frank Costanza on Festivus. It was what I felt, and it felt right...at that time. I think that's the key: the things we say when drunk are exactly how we feel in that moment, good or ill, and when we sober up, that feeling wanes. Those emotions subside, and we're left to wade through them, to ponder what extent we meant what we said, if at all.

Words are powerful. They can break relationships. They can strengthen them. Words can be petty or cruel. They can be grand or insightful. They are what we make them to be and take on a new meaning for the one that voiced the words and the one that heard them, and more often than not, at least in my short-lived, personal experience, the things we say when drunk are laughed off or ignored the next day, especially if we're afraid of how serious those words really were. Such words turn into awkward stares, uncomfortable silences, and a sad game of chicken where both parties swerve in opposite directions as they shrug aside the previous night's events with, "I was so drunk."

And I, days later, maybe even months and years from now, am left to wonder if what was said to me in the waning hours of a crisp autumn night was truth or alcohol or a bit of both.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Marvel Heroes: Patch 1.3 Review

Initially, Patch 1.3 was loaded with bugs, so I waited on my review. Its follow-up patch to correct bugs and adjust spirit and defense was practically unplayable, causing disconnects whenever entering terminals, treasure rooms, or different zones. I was sentenced to Avengers Tower for twenty-four hours, but as of yesterday night, the problems are mostly fixed.

One of the big arrivals to Marvel Heroes is Synergy. This system allows for passives on each hero, unlocked at both level 25 and 50. Once you reach that goal, they can be toggled at level 1 for any hero you wish or all your heroes. While it's a wonderful addition, granting bonuses to energy damage, health, rarity/special find, and even XP, I find it tedious to level a majority of my heroes beyond that first level 25 mark. The leveling, at least for me, is still grueling from 25 - 50. I have 15 heroes and only one is at level 60. The rest are 30 or lower, excluding a level 47 Iron Man. Synergy essentially promotes the usage of multiple heroes and alts yet the rate of leveling dissuades me at the same time.

Speaking of Iron Man, he saw a complete revamp. Along with new skills such as Wrist Rocket, an aoe missile attack, and One-Off, a laser attack taken from the movie Iron Man 2 (this skill is absolutely amazing and clears the screen), he now hovers when moving, instead of running. I do still find him a bit squishy, making a melee build impossible at higher levels where red terminals are desired to level faster, so some of the new skills are pointless until he is tuned. I've spent a few retcons on him, toying around with builds, checking out the different skills. He's fun, yet I still find other heroes such as Deadpool and Human Torch more fun to play. Others are loving Iron Man, especially the diehard fans of him.

A Prestige Mode was also introduced; it's akin to prestige in Call of Duty, where players with a level 60 are given the opportunity to start over from level 1. I said previously that 25 -50 is grueling for me, so I have no desire to even attempt this mode. It can be done up to 5 times. I can barely get a hero to 60 once. Unless they drastically change the speed at which one can level without buying loads of XP potions, I can't imagine very many players will endure this mode, especially since the only benefits are pets you can buy and a change in the color of your name. Maybe when achievements are implemented Prestige Mode might appeal to more people. I doubt it ever will for me.

Legendary Quests were implemented to assist the leveling experience. They're a randomized auto-pickup, starting in Heroic Mode and sending you to different zones and terminals to accomplish a list of goals. Once completed, you gain experience and pick up Odin Marks. These marks are spent at the crafter, improving artifacts. At first, the quests did not give anywhere close to the promised "best experience" in the game. When players complained on the forums, the amount was adjusted. They can be a tad time consuming; I find red terminals remain the best way to level, if your hero can survive the insane damage output of the mobs within them.

Along with the Odin Mark upgrades, artifacts can now be Advanced. They're supposed to be superior, but I haven't found any of worth--they've all gone to my crafter, which I'm tirelessly leveling...still.

On top of the hunt for Advanced drops, a slot for team insignias was put into the hero gear sets. These little perks, ranging from uncommon to epic, drop at random and not only give boosts to your hero, they boost those on your team. There are several types of insignias. Since my Human Torch has only ever been part of Fantastic Four in the comics, he is limited to Fantastic Four insignias and S.H.I.E.L.D. insignias (any hero can use S.H.I.E.L.D. insignias). Other heroes like Spider-Man and Iron Man have more options.

As usual, Gazillion continues to slowly but surely improve the overall depth of Marvel Heroes, demonstrating the game's potential. Their patches come fast, one or two majors a month, and every major patch seems to bring a new hero. This time around it was Luke Cage, who I haven't had the time to play, even though I received him in a random splinter box.

Unlike other ARPGs, I don't find myself getting bored to the point that I start searching for another game. It's probably due to the amount of patches and updates and heroes and bonus weekends. Plus, if the developers stay true to their word and start bringing in new zones (Asgard is slated to arrive soon), as well as raids and PVP, I may have no time for other games at all. My Xbox is dusty and lonely this morning, yet I'm about to log back into Marvel Heroes.