28Jan2009 1900: Mount and Blade
First post from the new tablet PC!
Before I move on: yaaaaeeey skate 2!!!!
Moving on! Another week, another game. I don't know why I suddenly started hearing about Mount and Blade over the weekend, but it might have something to do with the 75%-off sale on Steam. It is awesome! At least, it would be awesome if my character stopped getting captured by bandits. I hear that the game eventually looks like this , but right now it mostly looks like this. My stalwart warrior and his band of farm-fresh peasants can't seem to catch a break from the roving bands of bandit cavalry.
[Doctor Krapula - Mister Danger] is in Spanish but for once I don't care. Energetic ska gets the blood pumping! It breaks no new ground and pushes no envelopes, but I'm always up for a chorus of ska dudes yelling something with gusto. Mucho gusto!
[Asa - Jailer]...swing and a miss. It comes so close; a mild reggae flavor with just enough jazz to make me not angry, but then the lyrics are so bad. The entire first verse rhymes the word "too" against "too". The social message is dumbed down into some sort of Teletubbies show and tell. I would take this artist and her tune with any words of note, but I couldn't bear to keep this around.
[Adam Gregory - Crazy Days] ACK ACK COUNTRY LOVE SONG ACKPTHP!
[SafetySuit - Someone Like You] is the video this week. What is this weenie doing in Michael Jackson's jacket? And why does he only speak in hypotheticals? Skip this pablum like it had pneumonia.
21Jan2009 1825: Skating
I have really been digging the demo for skate 2 this past week. This is the "sim-skate" answer to Tony Hawk's "unrelenting bullshit". It fails the first test of a video game; I did not immediately feel like a badass. But it passes the second test, as I eventually felt like a badass. And I feel that way when I land a simple kickflip into grind. There is also the thrill of the illicit present in the demo area.
It's a calming, simple take on skateboarding that may delve into XTREME later on, but only in an optional way. See, skate 2 also promises open-world freeskating multiplayer modelled after Burnout Paradise, and that is the game among games that has captured my multiplayer crew. If the XTREME gets too stupid I could just set it into freeskate mode and do whatever. All told this will probably go next to Mirror's Edge as one of those games I respect from a distance and buy from the bargain bin later on.
[Beni - My Love Sees You] is nice little electronic tune. Not quite enough words to make me happy, but it's completely transparent fun. The kind of tune featured in a car commercial or sports videogame to make people bob their heads in a nearly-committed way.
The other two songs are actually one song. Apple pulled their rare trick of releasing an English and Spanish version of the same song. [Jean - Stop the Clock (Peligro de Extincion)] suffer(s) from a bad case(s) of R&B and isn't/aren't very good in either language.
The video is [Oren Lavie - Her Morning Elegance]. As much as I like the concept ("cute redhead in a bed"), I had to download it twice to keep it from becoming a slideshow -- and yes, I'm aware it's in stop-motion HAHA I mean it was actually dropping frames that were supposed to be there. The version I finally got to mostly-work is pretty good. If by good you mean "mellow as all hell".
18Jan2009 1935: Sploitz
So this is what it has come to. In an effort to shave precious seconds off their Mega Man 2 time, players have moved beyond manipulating enemy AI or lag and have resorted to what are essentially kernal exploits.
15Jan2009 1436: Gain
It doesn't take nearly as long to add 16GB of music as I thought it would. Just, y'know...my ratings. Those are important. My day got even better when I saw a suitable laptop replacement to replace the iBook that died forever ago. I'm going to see if a tablet gives me any more motivation on 52 Yo Mama.
[The Boxer Rebellion - Evacuate] is -- spoiler -- the only song worth getting this week. The lead has that kind of constantly-cracking rough voice that was popular in the mid-90s, and as we have established that is squarely in my Nostalgia Zone damn you radio!! Otherwise the song comes at you with some insistent rock guitar and doesn't slow down for anything.
[Julia Fischer et al - Violin Concerto No. 1 etc etc BLOODY ETC] complies with all federally mandated labeling requirements for classical music. I dunno, there's only one Bach song I ever really liked, and I'll give you three guesses as to why that may be.
Lord, whoever recorded that is absolute clown shoes at it.
[Alexander Acha - Te Amo] is a Spanish Barry Manilow.
Finally, the video this week is [Gabriella Cilmi - Sweet About Me]. I had high hopes for the first thirty seconds or so; it's a nice fusion of swinging pop and 60s-ish vocals. Unfortunately the song has less than nothing to say.
14Jan2009 2010: Loss
I already used the title "Disaster" this month, which is unfortunate because I turned on my computer this morning and found that iTunes had eaten my library file. No reviews until I get my music imported. And then I start rating things again.
07Jan2009 1805: A Surprising Lack of Heroes
Remember that No More Heroes game I raved about? It's getting the Let's Play treament by a player far more skilled than I. It's your best bet to see what the game is really like; the videos preserve all the inane cash-grinding but speed it up to keep the flow. Mostly. But if you're never going to play the game you should at least experience it through the magic of the Internet.
Morgion caught some of the new Knight Rider on Monday and didn't immediately begin bleeding from every orifice of his body, so he texts me and asks if it's a show we should be keeping track of. I had to tell him no. No it is not. When a show gets a "reboot" in the middle of its first season, you know (a) that nobody has an idea what to do with such a shitpile and (b) they don't have any better shows to replace it with. At least FOX has the decency to cancel shows by surprise after screwing with their timeslot.
Last week's offering of Thriving Ivory got me interested in the iTunes Free Video. I hadn't heard of Of Montreal until web sites started making their Best of 2008 lists, and lo! [Of Montreal - Id Engager] is here! It's a pretty harmless dance tune with visuals that try a little too hard.
[A Filial - Calma Pedro] is rap with nothing to distinguish it from all the other rap I don't like. No thanks.
[Company of Thieves - Oscar Wilde] wishes for you to start them up, at which point they will never stop. At least that's what the opening guitar riff tells me. The rest of the song is pleasant pop-rock but I don't think I'll be seeking to pay money for their other tunes.
I'll be honest; I couldn't listen to [Slim - Good Lovin'] all the way through. Slim wants to get with a girl in an R&B way, but if he was really all that good it wouldn't take him 4.5 minutes to seal the deal.
01Jan2009 1220: Disaster
I guess I shouldn't take that long of a vacation from the site; in my usual new-month updates I managed to overwrite last January's file by mistake. It's not like I haven't been doing this for years now. I even managed to write "2009" on my HOA check today, but when it comes to archiving my brain drippings I apparently can't be arsed. Ftaghn Cthulhu for Google's cache, is what I'm saying.
If you're hoovering up every little bit of Watchmen content you can shove into your eyes, don't miss this one. I realize the spoiler tag for a 22-year-old comic book is probably unnecessary, but SPOILERS.
Anyway, how were your holidays? The weather cock-blocked the usual family trip so I spent mine playing Gears 2 and watching TV on DVD. While shopping for the family I also managed to score one of these ridiculously fancy Hitchhiker's Guides for myself. This is serious literature, folks.
I also got the new Prince of Persia and it is unabashedly fantastic. I'm calling it the Best Prince Ever, although the original Sands of Time is pretty close. And it's not really the BPE because of anything the game does. As a game it's pretty standard.
Yahtzee gets it mostly right; the platforming is great but you're forced to do each section of game at least twice and the combat is okay but all the jumpy-flippy attacks are mostly removed from your control. What Yahtzee gets wrong in that review is that the writing is definitely not shit. He complains that both characters talk like generic American twenty-somethings but (a) this is a big-budget video game and we should be so lucky as to have the emotional depth of the latest Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy and (b) he then admits at the end that he never used the "chat" button.
Yes! In a game series that I adored for its interactions between Farah and the Prince, the best new innovation is the dedication of left-trigger to "chat with Elika". All the backstory and characterization that Yahtzee says is missing is instead optional and available with the press of a button. Or several presses of a button; the game doesn't just launch into a lengthy cutscene when you chat. You talk to Elika about one little thing, and then the game forces you to continue the conversation by pressing the button more. If Elika drops a little tidbit about her mother and you really don't care you can just get on with the jumping. Me, I'm hammering on left-trigger every chance I get. There is geniunely funny writing in here and I applaud the developers for taking the time to write it. And if anybody wants to fight me over this I would point them to the "I Spy" exchange in the eastern caves.
That's right. The new Prince of Persia teaches a sheltered magic-woman how to play I Spy to pass the time in the middle of Ahrimangeddon, and he's a dick about it. I think the writers nailed the right level of "charming rogue", much better than the emo bullshit or tortured hero they tried before.
Perhaps most importantly, Farah is also back! That's not a spoiler as "Farah" is literally the first word out of the Prince's mouth.
We're finally on the other side of the iTunes Carol Wasteland. You should definitely pick up the free music video for [Thriving Ivory - Angels On the Moon], and [Kalimba - Se Te Olvido] is a pretty decent mellow rock love song even though (or perhaps because) I can't understand the lyrics. Just ignore that the album cover looks like somebody gave Stevie Wonder a guitar.
[Tomer Yosef - Little Man] is a bouncy little rap tune that sounds like it belongs on a foreign radio station in GTA4. It's not just that the album has a city and a taxi on it already; this is the kind of foreign-urban tune that make sense in a context of stealing somebody's sports car and driving it on the El tracks.
[Erin McCarley - Pony (It's OK)] starts out with the kind of piano-pop that I'm a fool for but then explodes into an offensively generic chorus. All in all, one of the reasons I still avoid radio.