Posts Tagged ‘Story’

I remember how magical the world of Middle Earth was to me when I first dipped into the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy. A world filled with many races all entangled in an epic battle of good and evil. When the One Ring was finally destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom, and the the elves, Gandalf, Bilbo, and Frodo left Middle Earth forever I had a moment of sadness. The Lord of the Rings was over. Years of my life involved in what was an amazing story has come to pass. Now over seven years later director Peter Jackson has brought me back to the world of Tolkien’s masterpiece with a new prequel trilogy, The Hobbit.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first part of a three part prequel trilogy based on the story of Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo (Martin Freeman) is recruited by Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) to accompany a group of thirteen dwarves on an adventure to reclaim a treasure they lost to Smaug the Dragon in the Lonely Mountain. While Hobbits don’t necessarily appreciate the mere thought of adventure, Bilbo would eventually take part in the biggest adventure of his life. An unexpected adventure where he will eventually come to pass with something “precious” that every Lord of the Rings fan knows all about. Just keep in mind that the finding of this “precious” item is just a side story to a much grander adventure.

Now when it comes to The Hobbit, most people will try to compare it to The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Sure it has some similarities, but comparing both of them will be like comparing apples to oranges. You just can’t do it. J.R.R. Tolkien originally wrote The Hobbit as a children’s book. The Lord of the Rings trilogy however was for more of a grown up audience. Peter Jackson’s vision for The Hobbit is no children’s story. The same Middle Earth I knew from The Lord of the Rings trilogy is here once again except this time there’s more CGI than ever before. In a way that takes away a bit of the magic of the previous films, but I’m not going to make a big deal about that.

One big similarity is the fact that it seems that The Hobbit is presenting me with an all new sort of Fellowship. Basically this new crew consists of Gandalf, Bilbo, twelve Gimlis and an Aragorn wannabe. Sure it’s not the Fellowship that I’m familiar with from The Lord of the Rings, but they do have their moments which I’m alright with. Of all the dwarves, it’s the leader Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) that stands out the most. He’s the badass of the group with rugged looks and his ass kicking fighting ability. While Thorin is no Aragorn he is very likable and the type of character I would want watching my back if I had to go into battle. As for the other dwarves…well they’re quite forgettable.

The Hobbit also features quite a few faces that I remember from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Back for this adventure include Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Saruman (Christopher Lee), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), Elrond (Hugo Weaving). older Bilbo (Ian Holm), Frodo (Elijah Wood), and Gollum (Andy Serkis). I must praise the performance of Ian McKellen because he once again nails the role of Gandalf the Grey. He is also a complete badass during the battle sequences. I also have to once again commend the performance of Andy Serkis as Gollum. I really enjoyed Gollum in the trilogy, and seeing him again in The Hobbit was amazing. His scenes and riddles with Bilbo made me both happy and a little sad at the same time, because I knew after this film I won’t see Gollum on the big screen ever again.

While The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey¬†is an amazing adventure there is something that holds it back. Length. Not in terms of the film itself, but the fact that Peter Jackson is making this one book into a trilogy. That’s a little much considering the fact that now some scenes will be extended a little longer than expected. This is noticeable in the opening hour of the film as it seems to drag on for awhile before the action begins to pick up in the second half. There was a moment where I swear that I heard a snore or two in the theater during the Shire sequences only to be woken up again when the soundtrack got a little louder and the action kicked in. Sadly, I feel like there will be more of this in the upcoming films as well.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is a welcome return to the world of Middle Earth. Seeing Bilbo’s adventures and how the events of The Lord of the Rings will begin is pretty cool. The acting is wonderful even though some of the CGI moments in the battles are highly noticeable. Just a piece of advice: watch the movie in 24 frames per second because it just feels right. Peter Jackson did make the movie for 48 frames per second, but from what I’ve heard from some moviegoers is that it didn’t feel the same. Maybe the movie going audience is just not ready for the future yet. Good thing I watched it the way I’m used to. Overall, this is a film meant for the fans. For everyone else you might want to consider a rental on Blu-Ray.

The release of Darksiders back in 2010 was one of my favorite games at that time. An apocalyptic adventure that combined franchises including The Legend of Zelda, God of War, and Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. All of this while starring as one of the legendary Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. War was an absolute badass in the first game as he took on the forces of Heaven and Hell on a quest to clear his name for the Apocalypse that wiped out the race of mankind. Now I get to enjoy more of the story, but this time I get to play as the Grim Reaper himself.

Darksiders 2, from THQ and Vigil Games, takes place alongside the events of the first game. This time I get to step into the role of Death who by the way looks like a combination of Casey Jones and Skeletor. The brother of War is on a mission to prove War’s innocence along with trying to restore the race of men. However, it looks like the forces of evil have other plans up their sleeves as they try to keep the remaining Horsemen out of the picture. Corruption runs deep within the roots of the Nether Realm, and Death believes that the Tree of Life has all the answers along with what could be the key to resurrecting humanity. Getting there however will be a challenge, but this Horseman is clearly up to the task.

The storyline in Darksiders 2 is enough to hook me in and not let go. It’s deep, engrossing, and made me want to see what happened next. When I had to stop playing due to work and sleep the game would start me back up where I left off last and give me a “Previously on Battlestar Galactica” moment to fill me in on the key events that took place before my last save. I like that. Of course there’s other features that made this sequel better than the original game yet stayed the course on it’s core mechanics which made the first Darksiders game successful.

The first thing about Darksiders 2 that amazed me is the sheer size of the world I traveled in. The Nether Realm is so much larger than the Apocalyptic Earth from the previous game. The realm is littered with towns, villages, and of course the treacherous dungeons all which stood between me and the Tree of Life. From the first moment I took off on my horse Despair I felt just like Link riding Epona in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. There’s so much to explore in the game which kept me busy for hours just riding around looking for secrets, killing random enemies, and collecting gold along with other loot.

Speaking of gold and loot, Darksiders 2 also improved on the action/adventure formula by adding some RPG elements. Side quests to detract from the main campaign, level ups, upgrading weapons, skill trees, gold instead of souls to collect for currency, constant loot from killed enemies that you can immediately equip, interacting with NPC characters including returning characters like Vulgrim and Samael. This game has it all and it’s awesome. As I was playing and picking up experience I became so impressed with the incredible amount of depth the game possesses. This is a huge step over what was presented in the original Darksiders which is a game that I still play even if the Portal gun moments near the end of the game drove me batshit crazy at times.

Now what do I like best about this game? Combat! With the ideal of if “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” this area is pretty much untouched from the original game. Hack and slash bloodletting with my scythes, axes, hammers, and more is awesome and fulfilling. Add in wrath attacks and the combos become sickening. Some may find this a little repetitive and boring, but I disagree. I find the God of War combo driven gameplay fun and exciting. Finishing moves are back again where with just the tap of a button will slice, dice, decapitate, and rip enemies into shreds. If not for the entertaining storyline, Darksiders 2 also substitutes as a¬†great stress reliever when I have a tough day at work.

Darksiders 2 takes a huge leap over the original blockbuster hit and succeeds. It’s not a perfect game, but it really doesn’t need to be because it’s a lot of fun to play. The amazing storyline as well as the awesome combat and platforming elements make Darksiders 2 enjoyable and addicting enough to make me not want to put the controller down. Between both main characters I have to say that playing as Death is even more fun than playing as War. His appeal is astounding and with no Watcher to limit him makes Death a badass. With the main campaign, new game plus, the unlockable Crucible, and plenty of DLC on the way it’s safe to assume that Darksiders 2 will be around for a long time. Death lives, and it’s time for me to kick some more ass.

Developer: THQ, Vigil Games
Platform: Xbox 360
Players: 1
Price: $59.99

GAME STATUS: Quest Completed
ACHIEVEMENTS EARNED: 45 out of 61 (875 Gamerscore)

For my original review of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Click HERE.

The realm is safe once again. Tirnoch has been destroyed (quite easily I might add), Dead Kel is no longer a threat, and the Kollossae are free. The people can rest easy once again. Well not too easy considering the fact that there are plenty of baddies still in the woods, and there’s that part where I’m not in the good graces of the Warsworn. So I killed all the heads of the guild. You would think they would’ve forgiven me by now. Besides, the townspeople all forgiven me after constant looting, pickpocketing, and the occasional mass murder. Just another day in Amalur.

Resurrected from the depths of the dead sure worked out for me in this game. Throughout my adventure I¬†felt like¬†a death dealer as I destroyed everything in my path sort of like Kratos from God of War or even Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden. No enemy was safe from my hack and slash combo attacks along with some badass magic to boot. This was my favorite part of playing the game. No matter how tough an enemy was (couldn’t find one four levels higher than me to get that achievement) they still met the end of my blade or the blunt of my hammer making for some satisfying moments.

While I really enjoyed kicking ass on the screen, I did have a few problems. One has to do with all the bland dialog. Maybe I’m not too big on the whole fantasy angle, but the storyline at times really had me bored which led to me falling asleep for short periods only to wake up hoping that the dialog ended and the combat begun. Amalur is a loooong game, and when sleepiness started setting in between all the constant grinding that led to a big negative in the¬†overall picture. Good thing I could press the “X” button to skip through the boredom faster.

I also had a problem with the game’s literally easy difficulty. I never met an RPG that was so light on the difficulty, and no I wasn’t playing on “easy” if your thinking that. Sure disposing a group of six to seven enemies at one time led to frustrating moments of being hit in all directions before using my “Reckoning” ability making everything super simple along with lots of XP. Even the bosses like the super-screen sized slug Balor met his end¬†pretty quickly with no challenge whatsoever. That was really disappointing when all you have to do is hack the long nails when he sticks them into the ground. Even the final boss Tirnoch was no challenge. Sad.

AMALUR’S FINAL FATE

While my character had no fate, this¬†game certainly¬†did. After spending what felt like a few hundred hours traveling, discovering, committing crimes in front of a small audience, and easily dispatching foes in the heat of¬†battle I felt that my time was done. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is fun, but I can’t see myself going through another quest. I might end up sleeping all day. My copy of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning¬†will now¬†lie on the used game shelf for someone else to play.¬†The ending was left open for further expansion, but¬†due to the layoffs of 38 Studios and Big Huge Games (now a part of Epic Baltimore) we may never get to see a sequel.

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Big Huge Games, 38 Studios
Players: 1
Price: $59.99

Pros:
The 3D fighting mechanics are well done and much improved over the previous versions
Fantastic visuals
Character Customization is better than ever
Multiplayer is fantastic

Cons:
Single player game modes are lacking
Story Mode is short and boring
No character endings in Arcade Mode

“Chosen by history, a man becomes a warrior. Engraved into history, a warrior becomes a hero.”

Seventeen years have past since the last duel for the fabled soul swords between mere mortals along with some guests from a galaxy far, far away. Now they return again with the fire to wield their sword of choice. Destiny will be foretold. Legends will be made. The epic tale of souls and swords continues once again and the soul still burns in SoulCalibur V on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

SoulCalibur V, the sixth title in Namco’s “Soul Series” follows the tale of Patroklos, son of Sophitia, who’s on a quest to save his sister Pyrrah. Of course he’s also on a quest for the mystical blade Soul Calibur. I wonder which quest is more important to him? Honestly, the story is not going to matter that much to you, because it’s not the driving reason to purchase this game. You’ll want it for the amazing 3D weapon based fighting action, or maybe it’s because you wanted to stare at Ivy’s amazing rack. Either way it’s a win/win situation.

Being a fan of the Soul series since Soul Edge in the arcades, I was always amazed by the 3D weapon based fighting action. Sure the characters didn’t bleed out like some other games I’ve played including Bushido Blade and Deadliest Warrior, but the Soul series games had it’s own unique charm that immediately drew me in. Bad ass weapons, critical edge attacks, terrible English voiceovers, creating your own characters, and even the popular ring outs that drove everyone crazy in the arcades and in tournaments. The Soul series stood out from all the other fighters that clogged he market and that was a good thing. Ok, enough fanboy remarks. Let’s get back to the review.

So what’s so special about this game compared to the others in the series? Well for one thing there’s almost a complete overhaul in the cast. At least half the characters that have been mainstays in the series are gone and replaced by some fresh blood. Some are pretty original while others are more of a new face yet same weapon style of previous characters. The new faces really change things up and keep the series entertaining, but there are times where I’d rather have more of the fighters I’m used to using. Fans are already complaining about the lack of favorites, but I’m ok with the changes.

Guest characters are also back as well, but this time don’t expect any lightsabers and force powers. Ezio Auditore, from the hit Assassin’s Creed series, makes an appearance in SoulCalibur V and let me tell you that he really fits in with this cast rather than Spawn, Heihachi, Darth Vader, The Apprentice, and the “broken” Yoda. I’m really impressed with Ezio’s moves as well as incorporating his weapons like the crossbow and hidden blades to make it authentic. Controlling Ezio is like painting a work of art. He’s so fluid in his movements and keeps a good pace on the action unlike the slow Vader or overpowered Apprentice.

There’s also been a big change on the fighting department via the use of super moves ala Street Fighter. Branded as Brave and Critical Edge, these super moves help turn the tide of the fight and they look pretty cool as well. These super moves are based around a meter by your character’s life gauge. As the meter builds up you could then choose to use a Brave Edge consuming a half level of the meter, or use the Critical Edge and consume one full level of the meter. No more pain in the ass Critical Edges like what we had in SoulCalibur IV. While I do like the use of these moves there’s a part of me who feels that this has already been done in other fighting games. Was this really necessary? Not really, but they’re still fun to use when your in a pinch and your opponent is spamming you with the same two or three moves using Kilik.

Creating characters is also back this time around and this means it’s time to use your imagination to come up with some stylish, sexy and even wacky off the wall characters, or just make some new outfits for the existing fighters. Once again you can expect quite a bit of time being spent here. There’s so many items to equip along with colors and patterns to work with. The possibilities are endless, so you can expect some message boards as well as YouTube videos filled with created fighters. I’m sure you can expect some pop culture favorites like Kratos, Shredder, Ryu Hayabusa, Dante, Altair, some Mortal Kombat characters, superheroes, and a host of others (I’ve seen some already). While creating popular favorites are cool, I wish more gamers would just go outside the box and get crazy. That’s what I’m doing.

Now everything in this game is not as great as you want it to be. I do have a few gripes. One would be he fact that there is a severe lack of gameplay modes for single player. Some of you might think I’m crazy talking about single player, but think about it. SoulCalibur always had quite a few single player modes like Mission Mode or even the Tower of Lost Souls. Here your given Quick Fight, Arcade and Story Mode (starring only one character). Don’t get me started on Legendary Souls, because that mode is a real pain in the ass to complete. Also, there are no character endings whatsoever. Now that’s just plain lazy. Every fighting game including previous SoulCalibur games had endings for every fighter even if you never really cared about the storyline.

While the single player may not be to everyone’s liking the multiplayer will have you wanting to play for quite awhile. Lobbies have been set to talk to other players as well as challenge one another. Tournament options have also been added for expert players to showcase their talents. I will say that he online portion of SoulCalibur V is brilliant. It runs great with no lag issues plus you’ll find plenty of trash talking noobs to destroy.

So what else can I really say about SoulCalibur V? Sure the Story Mode is not very good, but then again when we all played Mortal Kombat the idea of what a story mode should be got us all spoiled on that notion. Yes, it’s missing a lot of single player options which sucks, but maybe it’s time to take your talents (or lack thereof) online for some real action. Maybe the characters are a bit unbalanced (like Nightmare), bit give it a couple of updates and everything will be ok. SoulCalibur V may not be the best game in the series, but it’s far from the worst so don’t give in to all the negativity as of late. The fighting action is still top notch, the game is still fun, and it’s got Ezio Auditore. If your a fan then this is a buy. For everyone else might I suggest a rental or wait for a price drop.