What I'm Doing Right Now

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bethesda Softworks - Brink Special Features

Well, our work on Brink and revealing of our work earned Logan Frario an interview, who informed said website about the game itself. Many thanks to TheLP for his awesome interview.

LP: 1. What exactly is the storyline of Brink? What are you progressing through so far, being a fellow storyboard artist?

Logan: It's set in a future city in the sky called The Ark, a little west between San Francisco and San Diego. The people of the city are disappointed with lack of natural supplies, and the people form their own faction, simply known as "The Resistance", who are intertwined in a war with the Ark leaders, or known as "Security", and the Resistance arms themselves to storm the Capitol. You'll play in between the factions, decide which one benefits and which one suffers, like in New Vegas.

LP: 2. Is the game going to be similar to Fallout 3 or New Vegas in any way?

Logan: Theoretically, no. There's the same mechanics in several ways: the character customization system, weapon design, and various elements that seem familiar: like who benefits and who suffers. But, it's not supposed to be Fallout. It's supposed to be something different: if they just kept giving us the same mechanics outside of the series, fans are eventually going to get bored.

TheLP: 3. What's included in Brink?

There's going to be the 16-player multiplayer, both competitive, against bots, and cooperative modes. It's a completely free game as well: there's a lot of distances to travel, running around with your rifle is supposed to have a sense of freedom, in the SMART system, which stands for Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain, and you can still gain XP, and this can be used to upgrade weapons or further customize your character.

There's different classes throughout the game, like the Medic class, which can increase health and help revive incapacitated players,  the soldier class, who uses explosives and resupplies magazines. Engineers place turrets for a brief time and can help repair weapons from their standard condition, and the Operative class is kind of an all-around: the player can disguise him / herself in the enemies' armor and is able to gain intel by interrogation, my personal favorite.

TheLP: 4. Sounds great, who's all involved in the project?

So far everybody. We're working on this like we worked on Fallout 3 four-five years ago: with a goal to achieve, ambitions to set, and expectations to be met. Bethesda is a terrific studio. We've been sending in character models, scripts, animations, art, cooperative designs, and a lot of other design options for the game. Splash Damage is also a great studio, they can certainly multi-task.

TheLP: 5. What systems will it be released on, and when?

Around mid-2011 on the 360, playstation 3, and PC. It's going to be released in May 10th in the Americas, and the 13th for Europe and Oceania. It'll be rated 16 outside of the Americas, but in the Americas, the ESRB will be T.

TheLP: 6. One last question: what will the engine be?

The updated id Tech, which was used in other games like Quake 4 and Doom. So expect a lot from the game, and thanks for having me.

Thanks to TheLP for posting this today.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Random Cartoon Crap - Ren and Stimpy: Hermit Ren

I'm going to hold off on games information for now and take a look at what could be the biggest cartoon humiliation since American Dad officially got an airing deal. Ren & Stimpy I never really could understand some of the time: the jokes were great and the writing was superb, not to mention the artwork, but what the cartoons lacked was precision. The first two seasons, though they are some of the finest pieces of animation ever shown on television, could really benefit from some serious editing, not to mention restoration of the numerous cuts.

Then John Kricfalusi and his Spumco team got fired. Then the Ren and Stimpy Show, once the best cartoon since the Looney Tunes era, completely went over the edge. Watching Ren and Stimpy like this became the worst four years of my life since World War I.

Now this Season Four episode, "Hermit Ren", an incredibly brief two-parter, backed up by a nearly 5-minute skit, is a great example of taking an average idea and beating it to death. To the point of oblivion. Seriously, whoever wrote this story needs to be hanged. So, I'll do a Boycott-esque review and run through the entire episode sec-by-sec.

Ren and Stimpy, in this episode, live in a cow carcass. Seriously, what the fuck? Was this some cheap joke added in at the last minute? A five-year old on high amounts of sugar could think up a more unique gag.

Anyways, the cartoon opens with Stimpy stupidly singing a "comebya" beat on an accordion. Look at him for one second, then turn away, because I swear, he will get stuck in your head for days and days.

They live in a very poor house. You can obliviously see there's cracks and smears on the walls about a minute into the cartoon. Ren comes home, voiced by Billy West, who sounds less tolerable than Urkel on crack. Sweet fucking jesus, you call that acting? Anyways, he comes home, and he's busy beating a dog that's pissing on his lawn and yells at a raging car.

The chihuahua's in an obvious wreck, as he's got bloodshot eyes, breathing heavily like he just got home after he was raped, wearing a tie that he SOMEHOW manages to win, even though he's more naked than Ron Jeremy, and slammed the door open so hard he knocked down the 'Home Sweet Home' sign, revealing YET another crack. So far, not so good. He notices Stimpy being his regular stupid self, and is annoyed by it again. Okay, we've seen this before, WHAT THE FUCK ELSE IS NEW? You know, that brings me back to something: Ren and Stimpy was the second best Nicktoon, even though I couldn't stand Doug and Rugrats I looked at once or twice. The jokes were just random, no matter who directed the damned seasons. John K rants on about how Games Animation is the reason. They grabbed one obvious joke (Ren hates Stimpy, Stimpy's too stupid) and beats it to death.

He then is greeted by Stimpy, who shows off another stupid work, and explains that Ren's dinner is in the oven. Ren forces himself to the kitchen.

He pulls out the chicken, which looks burned to the point of oblivion, and absentmindedly drags it to the table, then begins to chow down on said chicken, but then the burn's so intense it blisters his tongue. Look at it now before your tongue and eyes get an infection.

And you know what's amazing? The fool keeps it in his mouth for two-three seconds more. Logic never was present in R&S.

He spits it out, begs for something to drink by rapidly screaming like a half-naked freak at a mental asylum. Stimpy gets the hint and gets him a glass of milk, which turns out to be a gooey, past-expired date, and it looks so grotesque it makes mud seem like a tasty wine. Really, look at it.

The idiot downs the whole drink, then spits it out. That's another problem that was present 90% of the time when John K left. They used gross jokes for no absolute reason. Check out the commentary on Stimpy's Cartoon Show, and you'll know what I mean. Ren then screams that he just wants to be left alone, and then dashes off while Stimpy finishes off Ren's vomited, expired milk. Absolutely sickening. Ren's in a gross bathroom, which I SWEAR could be smeared with blood. Perhaps Ren finally figured out how shitty this damn cartoon turned out to be.

He looks around for his razor, which is really stupid because he doesn't have a fuckin' beard. I never noticed once dot of facial hair on Ren throughout the entire five seasons despite the occasional stuble. Stimpy then gives Ren a razor which he has been absentmindedly using as a hammer to nail up the sign Ren made fall down, so it's got more jagged edges than Ron Jeremy's dick.

It's too obvious you know what comes up next.

Ren storms out of the bathroom, looking really angry, in an expression that I've seen before, in a mood that's far too common. The personalities of the characters rarely changed in Ren and Stimpy, maybe the biggest change I saw in characters' moods was in cartoons like "Stimpy's Fan Club" and "Son of Stimpy", partly because they delved a little more emotionally than other cartoons. Oh, wait, those were actually GOOD cartoons.

Ren prepares to charge at the dumbass cat, and the only thing that saves the cat from a certain death by strangling, a very fucking well-deserved death, is when Ren glues his foot into an accordion, that Stimpy dropped. How he dropped it all the way to the fucking bathroom door is beyond me. He then takes in the world around him: the telephone repetitively ringing, Stimpy being an idiot (oh, wait, we learned that about three years ago, idiot writers), and bad television. He then lets out a scream enough to annoy Donald Sutherland, and storms out with the accordion still on his foot. He packs his suitcase and runs out, claiming he's never coming back.

Which is ironic, we already know he will.

He then gets his own personal cave (you've got to be trolling me), from the Hermit Union. The images are so stupid it's not even worth MENTIONING. He has to have no friends, no outside time at all, blah, blah, blah. And the cave is locked by a boulder that's activated by a button. Umm... a button activates a thing of nature? That's another thing: Ren and Stimpy took logic and raped it. Completely raped it up the arse.

As the story progresses, he goes insane: he becomes best friends with a scarecrow that was laid in the cave somehow, mistakes bats for cow utters, and sees some random dude called Old Man Hoek, who doesn't even look related to Ren, he just looks like some random street hobo put in a farmer's outfit. Stimpy's a wreck, and now makes dinners out of telephones.

Which is really stupid: he made dinners all by himself. Probably put in as a cheap gag.

Ren's all alone, and after hallucinating like he's taken six hardcore bags of valium and mushrooms mixed together: he makes a pile of BAT DROPPINGS into a shape like Stimpy. I was about ready to turn it off here because of the horrible one-liner the bat later follows.

The scarecrow then tells Ren he must bring out his three personalities: and brings out his anger side, his fear side, and his ignorance side, all of which every character possesses, and they're all interpreted as other chihuahuas, with angry Ren as a steaming-red, ready-to-explode, very hostile, fearful Ren as a skinny, cowardly bag of bones, and ignorant Ren with his eyes completely all over the place and somewhat fatter. Yeah, ignorant characters nowadays look just like that.

They play a blackjack game with a table that they just randomly pull of their assholes. Ren slowly becomes paranoid with the hallucinations around him, which is really stupid because they're reflecting what he really is, but hey, this is a schizophrenic cartoon. (And, in this moment, comes the only good line spoken in this cartoon,  by Angry Ren:  "I'm cheating? YOUR WHOLE LIFE'S A CHEAT!") He then rips off the arm of the scarecrow and beats the pretend sides of him, and then the Hermit Union leader comes in and forces him to leave because of friends. Is the human really that fucking ignorant to know that the friends were rocks?

Ren leaves with the fur on his back and that pile of bat shit he made Stimpy out of. He comes home to see Stimpy still living in the dead cow, wearing cowboy boots with a short skirt and green dress, with lipstick on his face, running around with a pile of ear wax shaped like Ren. I turned the cartoon off right here.

That was the worst seventeen minutes of my life since I was tortured. I don't care what you think: but this cartoon had an idea pulled right out of their spine and beaten with a rusty cane. I would rather poke a spike through my own brain while watching the Jerry Springer Show. That was horrid. I don't care what you think about Ren & Stimpy: it was shitty from the start, but it had tweaks of decency throughout that helped it through the otherwise puzzling two seasons.

At least John K can't be blamed for how crappy Ren and Stimpy is.

Section 8: Prejudice - Verdict

Title: Section 8 - Prejudice
Systems: Downloadable Game: Xbox Live
Format: HDTV available, Online Multiplayer, No Co-Op, Subtitles
Release Date: April 20th 2011

There's a certain passion I've had over the years for downloadable games. I mean, the addition of buying Games on Demand, for cheaper prices and not having to actually go to the store to pick it up sounds great. We're all lazy and don't want to leave our house, right? Well, so far there's been no victor for a singular downloadable game, in my opinion. The PS3 has games like Flower, and the 360 has games like Torchlight. Section 8: Prejudice, a sequel to the surprisingly impressive Section 8 from last year, fails to impress, and is an excellent example of a mixed bag.

I'll let this out right here: I like the story in Prejudice. Soldiers have been launched from a space cannon when they intergalatically traveled to tame it (how the fuck you do that though, I have no idea) from the Section 8 military section. And... that's it, though. It's too short, and I could see why: The first problem evident is that there's several unoriginal level design flaws. You go from Point A to B, shoot x number of AI enemies, with the annoying training modes that will pop up. Though it is lessened from the first game, there's no point to train for multiplayer that some gamers will probably play the minute they get the game.

And it's repetitive. Throughout the single player campaign, hordes of enemies will launch out at you, and homing missiles that will blow your genitals off. At least they walked towards something different from the last game: they went from mind-numbingly boring to mind-numbingly difficult. What an improvement. Every mission you take feels like the last one: it seems to follow the same flow with slightly different tasks. It feels like most of the missions were slapped on the package.

 The graphics are really good: from the snow, grass, and dirt. Playing this on an HDTV is amazing.

On the upside, there's some improvements made to your special suit. You can use the jetpack, which I think is really useful, and dash, which is barely tolerable, as additional weapons of mass destruction against the incredible amount of enemies that just SOMEHOW don't seem to stay damn dead. Unlike the tight, on-the-click button responses that games like Call of Duty and Battlefield have, but they're rather dragging onward, like it got injured along they way and limps instead of jogs, so to speak. (Terrible metaphor, I know.)
There's a ton of weapons available: assault rifles, machine guns, SMGs, shotguns, explosives, and different kinds of ammunition, like in Borderlands, and each have different properties and damage against the environment like vehicles, armor, and other baddies, but it doesn't have the desired effect.

Thankfully, however, the multiplayer is slightly amped up from the last game. Conquest comes in as a returning mode, the objective-based missions, like Stockpile in Halo or Domination in COD. If you complete a side objective, kill enemies, or defend this position enough, you're able to call in supply points for various weapons, like turrets, jeeps, aircraft, etc. This system, intertwined with the defend-the-position mode, sounds interesting enough on paper, but doesn't go through in the way most would expect. At times, the modes feel very repetitive (even in multiplayer), and aren't as exciting as other multiplayer matches online gamers have come to love.

Swarm is probably the redemption point in this game, and maybe alone worth the price of pay. In a last stand mode reminiscent of the survival mode in the Left 4 Dead series, with a select number of players against the environment, where you stockpile on weapons in a fight-or-flight. It's a really entertaining cooperative mode, and should keep you busy if you have downloaded the game.

 Swarm is a highly impressive mode, and a great addition to the series.

On a positive note, the graphics look really good. The textures are strong and the cinema is bolder. The digital system looks great in its 4:3 format, from the lush backgrounds. Many thanks to the ever-popular Unreal Engine, and it's a good surprise. The soundtrack and sound effects also kick off at a progressively good rate, the rattling gunfire sounds as good as you'd expect. But the voice acting is more drab than Vin Diesel's entire career.

If you have some money to spare, and you're looking for a game to download and waste the weeks on, I can't recommend Section 8: Prejudice entirely. I did have a lot of fun: Conquest is actually really nice, and Swarm is superior. But there's just not a lot of material and the single player mode is arguably worth skipping entirely. It has potential, but doesn't show it. I'd have to, nonetheless, give it a very mixed recommended.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Alec gets an interview, world shocked

Another interview from Underground Gamers rolls in to us, this time a little interesting. Thanks to the staff.

Could you explain your jump from Bethesda's New Vegas to Masthead's Online?

While TF141 Media was doing work for Fallout as our main project, and also doing side-projects for games like Red Faction: Armageddon, Crysis 2, and Black Ops, due to TF141 Media being an independent studio. The notorious argument of Bethesda vs. Interplay got far too extended to the point of insanity, so our supervising editors, Elinor and Gregg, made a call to Masthead hard at work. After that, we got to work with some character models, weapon design, scripts, animations, and multiplayer function. Since Masthead is all in Europe, there was no need for overseas shipping. Here and there, we'll need to send in some boards or audio sound effects to Interplay, and maybe some weapon designs, but other than that, it's nice to have a studio in the same continent, compared to us constantly sending items over to Bethesda.

How is it working with Pete, Emil, Todd, and everybody at Bethesda?

Oh, they're all great. Obsidian and Bethesda can definitely multi-task, not to mention be very creative in their mechanics. Even people at the studio who hate their games love the studio. An interesting look at it. When you play Fallout 3 and go through events like the Radio missions or escaping Raven Rock, or even going out into the wasteland out of the Vault for the first time, you know it's going to be one of the best games ever, that is, when Fallout 4 inevitably comes out in the not-too-far future.

Two things in particular stood out in the Fallout games for me: one, the ability for endless freedom, and two, the story progression in every game, from One to Tactics to New Vegas. Were there any kind of boundaries you guys thought three would break?

Well of course. Fallout was and is supposed to be a game where you have complete freedom, compared to other games where you're stuck in one spot until you complete this objective. Granted, you're forced to go through a few missions, but other than that, Fallout's got almost unlimited freedom in the Capital and Western Coast Wastelands. The stories throughout the games were also supposed to have.

And the combat was also supposed to be different, a balance between real-time and first-person perspectives in the games were supposed to make a difference, like the additions of V.A.T.S. or the amounts of survival you are forced to put in the game, like the need for stimpacks, layers of body armor, and weapon maintenance. Unlike other games, where you just grab a gun and you've already finished 70% of the game, Fallout requires to be extra-cautious, no matter what level.

Do you consider Online will be more ambitious than any other Fallout game?

Yes. In fact, I think it's the most ambitious Fallout moments of all time since FALLOUT 3 was announced several years ago. Fans will be expecting something major different, more in part due to the brand new concept of multiplayer in the Fallout games, and it's not aiming for a bandwagon. It's also an MMO instead of the RPG concept that made the series so popular. It's really hard to tell if it will meet the high expectations, but it's certainly setting some ambitions.

Similarly, multiplayer for a game that's been single-player for 11+ years sound more like an experiment in the genre rather than an actual addition to the game. It's not about raising more popularity, it's about the gameplay. Unless there's some kind of cooperative addition, this seems completely like an attempt a game. You have to give credit for adding an inventive idea, an ambitious one at that, and make sure it goes through, but after 6 plus years, let's hope it beats Modern Warfare 2, which is right now the fastest-selling game in the UK.

So you don't agree with the war between Bethesda and Interplay, and that the whole project might very well be ditched?

Right now, Masthead's working HARD on this website, but they've so far updated nothing about Fallout on their website, and the production has been delayed more times than Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Making a good game is about getting lost in the gameplay and adding mechanics that everybody can like, make an atmosphere that everybody gets hooked into. That's why MMOs rarely work: they focus solely on the other players. You couldn't cross the streets without being asked for a fight or spammed, and entirely based on, as the genre's name explains, the massive multiplayer.

Thanks a lot!

Weirdest Rap Story of all Time

Ever Since Life and Lyrics.

Found this at sputnik music.

I recall this tale very violently once before, in a time, place, and world where everyone was mentally screwed up by rap. So, here's what happened.

EXCLAIMER: This is completely and totally REAL.


I walked across the hallway down the Upper Penisula Hospital, located outside of Detroit. I took note of the two patients I was forced to work with today: Marshall Mathers the Third, who has been subject to being a misogynist, homophobe, violent, psychotic outlaw, rapist, murderer, and insult to humanity. I had experienced worse. He was locked up in a literal cell of an office with Rihanna and Lil' Wayne, both of which have had complete mental meltdowns due to harsh criticism and subject to mass media stupidity. I peered inside the metal circle of the metal door, and saw Mr. Mathers absentmindedly freestyling while peeling a rotting spanish onion, while Rihanna has brief seizures and half-singing the chorus to 'Love The Way You Lie' and half-slitting-her-own-wrists. He opened the door and saw the machine tubes strapped to Lil' Wayne, who's true name has never been revealed. Marshall began to make crack out of the rotting onions.
"Uh, hello, Mr. Mathers?", I silently asked for his attention. "THAT'S SLIM SHADY TO YOU, DAWG.", his voice tweaked as he violently twitched upward. I rolled my eyes, I got tired of that nickname the minute I listened to TSSLP. "Whatever, Shady,", shuttering as I said it, "we need you to-" He then got lost in his own world again. "HI, MY NAME IS-" "Okay, Slim, please, please just SHUT UP. Go hang yourself if you're going to keep that up.", I said back to him in my irritable tone, one that I rarely use towards patients, if not never. "Ah... I like your attitude. I need you to do something for me, Doc.", he smirked. Whenever he asks a request and smirks, I know it's something ridiculous. "What? You want me to get you more mushrooms, or maybe get you a paper to write another rap?", I asked with a hint of displeasure in my voice.
"No. Now, here's the deal,", he said, spitting at Lil' Wayne to shut him up. I twitched. "If you don't do this for me, I'm going to jump out this window, and detonate some hidden bombs here, therefore blowing up every single newborn child here and crippled patient. Anybody who's alive, I'm going to sing Untitled to them whilst cutting their eye out and forcing them to eat it." My jaw gaped. "How.. where... when?" Marshall then finished it for me: "I hid it underneath the floorboard in the main hall, and another one near the ambulances." I then wondered why I ever let him wander around the office. I was forced to put a shot into Rihanna to shut her the HELL up, and I then put an end to that tirade of hers as he continued to talk. "This is my request, dawg. Listen loud and clear."
"I released the Recovery album back in 2010. I then re-released it the next day, after after a series of re-releases, I currently had to end it at the re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re release, which featured an uncensored censor on an uncensored album next to the censored uncensored bonus uncensored track of the censored album to the uncensored double album." Listening to him was mind-boggling. I'd rather poke a spike through my brain then choke on Chicken Rotesserie while bashing my teeth against a hammer. "So, after the re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-RE release which was featured in an underground album near the underground scene on an underground, but not-underground underground EP, it changed one lyric in "25 to Life"'s third verse, sentence 19. That officially caused Pandemonium near 54 Sound Studios in Detroit. The head of Vulgar Music, Justin Bieber Ph.D. declared a quarantine of the area around 54. So, this is what you need to do: we need my new re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-RE release of the album that added in a four-second skit. I'll talk to you on this handmade radio I made out of parts of my di-I mean, wood. And if you don't do this, I'll rape your girlfriend while nuking the entire state of Wyoming and sending a bunch of rappers to shoot up the Red Cross building." I actually knew he would do it. He had once blew up the Eiffel Tower by accident, and has killed over 1400 people with his own voice. "Oh, and if you try to rip off that radio, it's attached with a microscopic bomb, dawg. If you even remotely take it off, unless you drop it by accident, well... let's just say you'll be hearing my albums in hell."
I rolled my eyes, but on the inside, I was kind of excited. "What to I have to deal with?", I nervously asked. "You gotta leave first, bird-face. Oh, and I want you to write a review of Recovery somewhere on your way." Although I didn't understand bird face I knew everything he commanded me to do he wanted done.
"Fine. I'll be at the metro by 8:30." "Contact me there, stud.", he said smirking. This skit he's adding better be worldwide-changing. I storm out the doors from the reception center, ignoring everyone's questions, then strip off my doctor's gown, revealing a black shirt, with my gray pants still on. 'Hey, Bird-face!', a scratched audio blurted from the radio. I snatched it out of my jeans pocket before opening the door to my jeep. "WHAT?!", I asked, irritated to the point of oblivion. "There's a weapon I snuck in at the glove compartment of your car. Use it on your way, you'll need it. Nobody crosses the border unless you're part of the Justin Bieber Supporter Squadron, or they might misidentify you as part of the Aftermath Resistance. And trust me, you do NOT want that to happen."
I groaned at got in the car, opening the glove compartment and sorting through the first aid supplies, packets, and papers, and found a SPAS-12 shotgun with a total of six full magazines. "I really need to watch where you go now. If you didn't place that bomb in the hospital, I would report your ass and they'd hall you off to Arkham.", I bitterly announced in the radio. "Just drive. I'll talk to you there." I pumped the shotgun, hearing the satisfying CLACK as it loaded the last magazine, put it in the seat next to me, driving off into the rainy evening.
On the border outside of Detroit, 8:26:39
I brushed back my blonde hair, then peered down at the metro station, an underground subway, not like the metro rail I'm used to. I step down the gravel, conceal my shotgun in my backpack full of first aid and protective armor, then unholster the radio. "Marshall? You awake?" The sound of his confused groan, and stumbling for his radio tells me otherwise. "Y-yeah, I'm here,", he yawned. "Alright, listen. Everybody's asleep, and that metro's going to come in about two minutes. I want you to make sure you have everything you need."
I took off my pack and sorted through it. A couple layers of protective armor, metro rail tickets, first aid supplies, the shotgun, two Mack-11s he SOMEHOW put into my backpack, and some spare change with extra money. I also had a small case containing a knife. It seemed good enough. "Yeah, pretty much, Marshall.", I said, absently chilling in the cold night. I should have brought a jacket. "When you get on that metro, there's no turning back. You're sure you're entirely packed?" It seemed like I had everything, so I explained all the supplies I had. "Anything I'm missing, Mr. Terrorist?", watching as the train came down the spiked railway to the left. "Just need to make sure your dignity's still in check. Anyways, when you arrive at the very outside of Detroit, talk to Tupac." "Whoa, I thought he was dead!", I exclaimed, incredously raising an eyebrow. "Yeah, well... I went back in time to save him. By the way, I ate your lunch in the hospital." I shook my head, about willing to believe anything at this point. I'd rather believe Chuck Norris went to Mars and conquered the universe than believe 2pac's alive, but I nonetheless responded, "Time Travel? A lot of stuff I don't know about you." "The train's here, Mathers. This is where we go."
"I'll be in contact, bird face. Just be careful.", he said, but he sounded so much more mature than the usual teenage sneer in his voice all the time, the sarcastic vocal capacity he seems to famously hold, almost hallow. I waited as the metal doors slided open, then gave the train ticketeer the tickets, and sat on a nearby chair, breathing nervously as the green walls seemed to stare at me, and I stared out the metal circle, saying goodbye to the Upper Pennisula.
I found a pack of food in my outer packet, began to chew on some chips, very crunchy and good. "HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!! MY NAME'S HAROOOOOOOOOOLD!", I had a gleeful screech from the left of me, and looked at the left. He was fat, wearing a stupid hat, and in the worse clothes I had ever witnessed: brown lipstick, red hair, yellow jeans, and a pink shirt, which stated "I follow Mega***!", a metal band made by Dave Mustaine. Surprisingly, we were the only people on this train, apart from a wandering Labrador which I could only guess was his. "Hi...", I said, already annoyed. "U WANNA BE FRIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENDSSSSSSS?", he extended his sentence, getting saliva in my gray eyes. "Yeah, whatever...." "AWEEEEEEEEEEESOOOOOOOOOOOOOMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE EEEEEE! I usually end up raping and looting everybody who turns me down, but I have a feeling about you!" I was just about to plug in my iPod and deafen myself, before Marshall spoke in a dark tone this time, so serious I actually follow.
"Kill the fat weirdo." I grabbed my Mack-11 and blew a cap. There was a dog licking my brown shoes, I couldn't help but shoo the dog away before he started to lay down on his master's body. Definitely saddening, but nonetheless boring. I feel into a deep sleep.
Outside of Detroit, On the Train: 3:28 am
I was awakened by an annoying computerized sound: "NOW STOPPING OUTSIDE OF DETROIT. PLEASE EXIT TO THE LEFT, AND EXIT WHEN THE DOORS HAVE OPEN. HAVE FUN!" I wanted to strangle whoever that was. I then peeked over at Harold, who's dog had eventually got bored of and was absentmindedly biting his loose shoelace. Kind of creepy.
I was then introduced to Tupac. I couldn't believe it. His black skin looked flawless and without any bullet holes, and that deep black moustache still remained on him. He was wearing a long-sleeved white shirt, blue jeans, and black shoes. He looked better than ever, so I wondered how old he was now. Probably in his 40's. "Sup, dawg, I've been expecting you. Follow me. We're going to 22 Aracia Avenue."
This made me groan even more, but Tupac knew that it was an ironic groan. That was the name of an Iron Maiden song. "So, what are we going up against?", I asked after a long perioid of silence.
"Well, we're neutral in this conflict. We've got the Justin Bieber Supporter Squadron, run by Justin Bieber, Ph.D. It's made up of at least one hundred members, now it's been reduced to sixty-seven, but still putting up a fight. The Rebecca Black Resistance is currently the dominating force, with more experience and members, not to mention a better leader. So, we just have to wait until they eventually kill eachother. Then, that's when we come in. While they're distracted, we have to send in an armored truck containing the East Coast and West Coast Legions, who currently have an alliance. We just have to help defend the truck. Once we reach 54 Sound, they'll take care of it for us while we storm in through the rest of the building. Once you reach the studio room, break in, and yank the album. We'll escape through a lift to the top of the building, then escape via a helicopter. Unfortunately, it will be carrying out far too many wounded, so they've attached a rectangled platform hooked up beneath the helicopter. We just have to stand on that and maybe rain some fire before they finally escape."
And this point, I would think invading the Pentagon sounded easier.
And sure enough, I was right: 22 Aracia Avenue was definitely a parody. I was then introduced to a zombie. I recognized him as Eddie the Head. His long hair was fuzzled up like he had just electrocuted himself, but he looked sturdy for a dead person. He's dressed in a black jacket with a yellow shirt underneath, with black jeans. "Welllllcoommmeeeee...", he hissed. "Thisssss issssssss the birrrrrrrrrrd facccccccccccccee?" Great, that's now an official nickname. "Yep, he's here to help us. We've got twenty hospital trucks going off right now, containing about 300 in total. We'll have our own ambulance, and you'll be riding shotgun. Eddie, you'll be in the back with an explosive-bolted crossbow." I never noticed the click of the weapon in the dead man's hands. It was tattoed like flames, with the occasional black dots here and there. It also had a scope, and the canteen looked like enough for sixteen arrows, eight of them normal arrows, the other eight explosive. "We'll give you a Ppsh-41, you know, from Russia, with an extended mag, Martin.", 2pac snapped me back to reality, handing me a gun with a drum-shaped magazine. "Get in.", he said, once the twentieth ambulance left.
I sat against the white seat, cold and solid enough to leech the body heat off your skin. Tupac was half-driving, half-leaning out the window with a shotgun. Then there we were, arriving at the 54 Sound Studios, completely quarantined. Gunfire rained through the sky, as did explosions and downed vehicles. "MOVE IN!", Eddie screamed from behind, finally carving a thorough hole in the back of the truck with his elbow bone (which I'd imagine is pretty sharp), then aims out the window.
As we progresed, I took down at least thirteen members as we went forth. Somebody tried to kamikaze themselves by running up with a sword to Tupac's window. He had just dig his fingers into his face before throwing the attacker down and crushing his face beneath the wheels. We were screeching down the battlefield at high speed, Eddie doing a good job of cleaning up crowds, Tupac doing a good job of manuevering, and I hope I was doing a good job, for I was never trained for this kind of crap. I soon ran out of magazines, before an explosion rattled my senses, earsplitting. The vehicle was flipped over, literally doing a 360, bashing my head against the cold white walls, Tupac barely clutching the wheel, my shotgun lost and his feet flying in the air. The impact flew Eddie back, crashing him through the windows.
The vehicle then crashed down on the surface with a harsh bang, just breaking into 54 Sound. I then flew straight out of the window, sliding across the tile with my ankle. I gathered my bearings: I was still alive, but badly injured with a limp. Tupac was pulling pieces of glass out of his head and fumbling through my first aid supplies, getting cut medicine and appyling gauze on his wounds. Eddie was the most crippled, but he's already dead. "Can you walk, Eddie?", I called out, finding that my vocal cords have suffered damaged somehow. I force myself to cough out a piece of glass. "Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssss.... Goooooooooo.... Get alllllbummmmm.... killllllllll Mathersssssss.....", he then slipped out of reality, into unconsciousness. "I'll carry him. He's still alive.", Tupac said. "You'll have to get me in the elevator because of Eddie. You go up the stairs." I nodded and watched them go up the wired lift as I dashed upstairs, snapping off hostage's ties as I ran, them thanking me and crying freedom. In about five minutes, I had made it to the third studio, and Tupac had been waiting there with a barely-conscious Eddie. "Take Eddie.", I left him off, hauling him into a nearby studio, placing him on the floor, concealed. "STAND BACK!", he zips an explosive bolt on the locked door, and it then explodes, getting gravel in the hell of my boot. I pick it out before rushing in to get the album.
I then began to hear screams down below.
"You better run now, Birdie.", Tupac snarled, loading an explosive bolt. "But you're low on ammo and hurt! I can't..."
"Go. Finish your job. Go off on the helicopter. Save Eddie. Kill Marshall.", that makes two requests for Shady to die. "It's okay, everybody thinks I'm dead anyways." I heaved up Eddie, waving one last goodbye, a frown on my face, and I took the lift to the roof. Eddie had somewhat regained consciousness, and was somehow able to stand, albeit painfully. I rushed onto the roof, the helicopter waiting for me.
"GET YOUR ASSES ON HERE!", the pilot yelled. Eddie draged himself onto an empty spot in the helicopter before passing out again. "On the platform, bud." I noticed the hooked up platform, wired and everything. I stepped onto it, surprisingly sturdy. "You got the album, kid?" I nodded. "We're moving, people!", as if the whole purpose of sitting there was for me to get the LP.
I was able to put the album into my CD player, and surprisingly... I liked it somewhat. Even though everybody said it sucked major balls and that it should be buried alongside Hitler's grave in Germany. I couldn't stand Untitled, Love the Way You Lie, or No Love at all.
"Well, Marshall, here you go. I hope you give one in to our friend, Tupac. Eddie's recovering, and..."
"I have something to confess.", he interrupted. "The skit I told you about, the whole reason you got the album?", I nodded, knowing I had made some mistake. "It sucks balls, so I'm not gonig to release it."
I stared at him, my jaw gaping. "I should have done this a long time ago, Marshall."
I cocked my Mack-11 at him, and even though he had that psychotic smile on his face, he knew that I wasn't giving him a 21-gun salute, even though he was going to his death, there was no remorse in those eyes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Crysis 2 - A Few Thoughts

Title: Crysis 2Systems: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Release Date: March 22nd, 2011
Formats: Subtitled, Online Capabilities, 1080i HD, CryEngine 3
ESRB: M for Mature (16 in the UK)
Developers / Publishers: Crytek UK / Electronic Arts

Let's be honest: Science Fiction is a pretty popular genre for video games. With stellar releases like Halo: Reach and Starcraft II popping up in the last year, not to mention Fallout: New Vegas's intelligent, futuristic apocalypse (in a way that's sci-fi), world, the realism in games seems to have toned down, included in games like Mass Effect.

Crysis is a real eye-opener. Fenced in by breathtakingly earth-shattering visuals and a tight FPS feel, mixed with a new, unique game engine and strategy elements, the previous Crysis game (and it's expanded, less talked about version) was definitely a shocker for 2007. Now, nearly five years later, comes Crysis 2, a highly anticipated follow-up to Crytek UK's masterpiece. In all honesty, I wasn't expecting a whole lot. When an earth-shattering first game comes out, you wonder: "Will the sequel be better?" In the case of Modern Warfare (remember, this is all opinion-based), that's not happening. In cases like Mass Effect and Halo, yes, the sequels are better. Ultimately, Crysis 2 isn't better. Though the expansion from the PC-only game to other modern day gaming system is a big step up for the series, not to mention an improved multiplayer mode.

Crysis 2 is not full of nostalgic reminiscing. Don't expect the large variety from the 1st game. The setting is different, your protagonist is different, the enemies are different. This is set in a post-apocalyptic (man, everyone seems to like that) New York (poor New York, always used to be apocalyptic), but there's a twist: it's been evacuated due to aliens. So, you have to "take care" of the aliens.

If there's one thing that I heavily enjoyed romping through in Crysis 2, was the awesome combat. You still have abilities from the original Crysis, such as turning invisible, adding limited-time weapon attachments, but you have a new Nanosuit, called the (yeah, unoriginal) Nanosuit 2. You can kick cars, you can vault walls, throw anything around you, perform special melee moves on enemies. In fact, when you fire an assault rifle and burst down anything in your path, you'll know something's changed, and for the better. From Crytek's long-time experience and expectations for Crysis 2, it should pass by as no surprise that Crysis 2 is indefinitely an improvement over the original Crysis, in terms of gameplay.

Bugs, though, are oddly present. I've seen some questionable AI movements present in Crysis 2. In fact, when the half-always present dumb alien just sits around on his ass, it made it somewhat easier. Granted, the sense of threat and danger is present in this alien-invested New York vision, but it doesn't exactly show outside the visuals and character interaction, not to mention the amount of stealth forced inside said game. And the save system annoys me to the point of smashing buttons, it's all checkpoint-based, which gets tedious and furiously repetitive.

There is thankfully a long plot to keep a fan satisfied. Your character, Alcatraz, has an interesting story that's easy to follow, and lengthy for those who want to keep on going. And there's plenty. The violence does seem very over-the-top. Firing rifles and smashing enemies into walls, or strangling someone until their vocal cords are entangled is very fun indeed. (That kind of sounds like I get sick pleasure out of homicide, but whatever) But stealth is becoming more and more forced into the game, as I said before. You can skip entire stages of combat by just engaging a stealth mode, sneaking off, waiting in a spot when your stealth area discharges, wait a ridiculously short couple of seconds for it to re-energize, then sneak off again. You just rinse and repeat, and then boom, you're done.

Since I never have exactly been one for Crysis's multiplayer, I'm pleased to say that the sequel is actually quite brawny and interesting. It's straightforward and based on multiplayer today, basically. There's the team deathmatch, which pits players in the Nanosuits versus regular armored soldiers, the 'defend objective' mode, called Crash Site, my personal favorite, where you have to defend pods, and other modes to keep you entertained. The maps are nicely designed and diverse, so it's quite nice to see a change of pace (though they are all set in New York City, perhaps to follow the game's story?)

Crysis 2 is a game that sets high expectations, and for the most part, I think it meets them. The scripting is interesting. The visuals are breathtaking, I can't play this game on an HDTV without standing there in awe. There's a lot of length and diversity in the game to keep any gamer entertained. There's still the numerous moments where bugs will piss you off, and it can be difficult (or sometimes too easy, and that's a stab at the stealth), but overall, I highly recommend it. It's (hard to believe) an improvement over the first.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I interview Stefano of K.O.T.M.

Highly off-topic here, but recently I've been interviewing a few band members recently. I'm trying to help promote a rap group, K.O.T.M. They're under DJ Timbo Records, for those iTunes users who are familiar, and have so far Recorded one full song so far. So, I decided to do a phone call interview with one of the main men, Stefano R., aka "Certified G".

A: We’d you get the idea to form the rap group?
S: We had just decided to form the group several months ago, around October of 2010.  The original members were me, Issac, Ethan, Max, and Jake.
A: Where did you first perform?
S: Max’s Barmitzeah on December of 2010 with DJ Timbo.
A: You’re still working on a mixtape?
S: Yes.
A: How many raps will it include?
S. Two.
A. What are those songs?
S: We’re not sure what we’re going to call the two, we just began recording and writing of those two songs.
A: I listened to your first song, and how many people rapped in it?
S: Me and Max had two verses, and everybody else had a bridge. So everybody else had a role.
A: When you release an EP, how many will it include?
S: About four songs, including Knock Out, Take Money, the debut.
A: And will any of those be singles?
S: All of them.
A: Will you have any extra tracks, like acapella versions?
S: Probably not.
A: What’s your favorite part about working with KOTM?
S: Perhaps the numerous meetings at the recording studio, such as the movie theater in our camp. It’s a great place to hang out and write down songs. Oh, and performing. "


Check out the rest of the interview yonder.

It's usually nice to talk to talk to dudes like him, very laidback when I talked with him.