The Room Review

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To be honest, I don’t know where to start with this one. The Room was released by Tommy Wiseau in 2003. He not only wrote the movie, but also produced, directed, and starred in it. The problem is that Wiseau is a man so out of touch with reality that seeing the world through his eyes is both terrifying and hilarious all at once.

The plot is pretty simple, girl cheats on guy with his best friend, guy gets pissed. Its the way that the story is told that sets it apart. Knowing how human males live Wiseau manages to capture every facet: pillow fights, daily trips to the flower store (without his sunglasses on, the clerk had no idea it was him when he was wearing them), football tossing from 3 feet away, paying for a random kid’s college tuition, and saying “chip chip chip” to antagonize your friends. It’s all there. Is this seriously how Wiseau envisions people living their lives?

While you may not be able to count on this movie for good acting, or believable situations, or really even a decent grip on reality, what you can count on is horrifically awkward dialogue. In the beginning of the movie people keep saying “I’m really busy, I cant talk right now”. While this isn’t inherently funny or ridiculous, the first time it happens the person saying it is sitting in traffic. The second time the person has just ordered a pizza and is then pictured reading a book. Busy indeed. Another gem is when Lisa, the cheating girlfriend, is talking to her mother… and the mother recounts her brother trying to get her house… shes not having it… too bad shes dying. What? Yep she just got those tests back, she definitely has breast cancer. Lisa has no real reaction and instead says “Don’t worry about it, everything will be fine.” This breast cancer thing is never talked about again. At another point in the movie Johnny (Wiseau) is telling his best friend Mark (who is bopping his girlfriend) about a new client they picked up at the bank he works at, Mark wants to know who this new client is buy Johnny cant say. Johnny responds, “I don’t want to talk about it, so how is your sex life?” Needless to say, Mark doesn’t want to talk about that either.

All in all this is probably the worst movie in existence. As such it has somehow managed to bend the laws of the universe and be enjoyable to watch if only to observe its absurdity.

Blaz Blue Calamity Trigger Review

For the past few days I’ve been playing quite a bit of Blaz Blue. I’ve been through the story mode a few times, played through the Arcade mode, and done some Online as well. The online mode especially is so much better than any other online fighting game I’ve played. I like how you can have multiple people in the room and have even more spectating. Now for someone like me who is awful at this and fighting games in general, I don’t necessarily want people watching me lose, but its nice to know I have the option.

The story mode is, as they said in the Giant Bomb quick look, “aggressively incomprehensible”  but who comes to these games for story. The fighting is where it counts, and Blaz Blue has that shit down. The combat is deep and rewarding, and the characters all feel very different. Litchi for example can put her staff into the ground and you can use that at any point to attack, or you can use it to stand on top of and get out way of the enemy’s attacks. If you like great 2d graphics and fast paced inventive fighters you should give Blaz Blue a try.

Windows 7 RC1 Impressions

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Back in the fledgling days of  2009 Microsoft released the Windows 7 Beta, build 7000, and it was pretty awesome. I’ve used it on my laptop quite a bit in the last  5 months and its returned the favor with rock solid performance and stability.

Enough of this “past” whoo haa! These are cutting edge times, my friends! These days build 7000 is for LAME-O’s all the cool kids have Windows 7 build 7100 (or RC1 ). I just finished installing it and I’ve done very little on it, added firefox and a few plugins, changed the wallpaper, looked around the control panel. The speed of version 7000 is definitely still noticeable. There have been a few UI tweaks and the default backgrounds have been refreshed.

There is some new software included with the install. A built in “snipping tool”, which helps you grab screenshots (either full page or selected area). Nice to finally have something like this built in. the old “prnt scrn” button has always been a pain in the ass. One thing lacking in the snipping tool is a scrolling capture for long web pages. Probably not a big deal for most but for those of us that make millions of PDFs out of web pages… Fast Stone Capture it is. I’ve been told on twitter that this was in Vista but for the life of me I cannot find it. So slap this one in the “new to me” camp.

There is also an updated magnifying tool built in standard. Works really well.

Finally, a Windows XP mode for those of you that do not live in modern times like the rest of us.

Build 7100 really has me excited for the release of Windows 7. It will be the first version of windows I’ll purchase not pre-installed on a computer.

Killzone 2 Multiplayer Review

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I’ve been playing Killzone 2′s multiplayer mode for a week now and figured it was about time to give the old girl a review.

The graphics are amazing, that goes without saying. Screenshots don’t do this game justice. The textures are sharp. The models are detailed. The particle system is crazy, allowing for dust and debris to blow by in the wind. Explosions look natural and dangerous with billowing volumetric smoke and fire. Its all very impressive. The fact that this much detail is in the physics engine, even in multiplayer, is astonishing. Just last night I was running behind my friend Jason, and his character kicked a tire aside as he ran past, I was blown away.

The game’s unlock system, is pretty cool. It makes you earn the ability to use the games multiple classes instead of just giving them to you at the outset like Team Fortress. It gives you something to shoot for instead of just blindly plugging away at dudes with your rifle for hours. You can get new abilities and weapons by achieving small, per round goals, like getting 10 headshots with a pistol. You earn ribbons, which when collected to a pre-set number, earns you medals. These medals are what give you the additional skills.

The game modes, which rotate between, control point, capture the flag, assasination, and deathmatch type games keep the game new and fun for extended play periods. 32 vs. 32 player matches can get pretty crazy on the smaller maps. I want to try some 16 vs. 16 to see if it alleviates some of the grenade frenzy that sometimes occurs.

The controls (especially when set to Alternate 2) are great. I’ve heard lots of people complain about them, but I think they are just being stupid. To me they feel a lot like COD4 but with a little more weight. It translates to it feeling more realistic, for me anyway.

Ultimately, I don’t think the muliplayer is as good as COD4, but its damn close. I’ve only played the single player very briefly, but if its half as good as the multiplayer I’ve got a lot to look forward to.

Soul Calibur IV Review

Soul Calibur IV’s visuals will make your socks shoot off your feet like little smelly rockets. It’s got fantastic, high-rez textures on very well modeled, detailed, cool looking characters. The stages are beautiful and varied (I like the pirate ship one!), though from playing through the story mode you might not expect it. During my 5 or 6 plays through story mode I think I saw a total of 4 stages. Then, on my play through Arcade mode almost every stage was something I hadn’t seen before.

Liz and I have started the Tower of Lost Souls game mode. It’s difficulty is relatively high, but it gives little clues about what you have to do to win a hidden treasure chest for each round. In these treasure chests you receive clothing to use when customizing your character.

The ability to modify existing character’s look and augment them with additional stat bonus’ and abilities is pretty awesome. The create a character mode is also super deep and is way more customizable than I had expected it to be. I have made 2 characters so far and both look just as believable in the SC universe as any of the main story players. I wish there was a name generator, though. I suck with coming up with names.

The cast of fighters is filled with familiar faces like Ivy, Cervantes, Maxi, Kilik and Talim, as well as some new comers (Algol, Hilde) and guest characters (Darth Vader, The Apprentice, etc). I could have done without some of the manga artist created characters like Angol Fear. She kind of breaks the visual aesthetic of the rest of the game.  It’s easy enough to just not pick her in battles.

Soul Calibur IV is the cumulative knowledge of an already great fighting game applied in a way that makes the game become something fantastic. It’s easy to pick up and play, but has the depth necessary to continue learning and improving the more time you invest.

Call of Duty 4 Review

I just finished COD4 and the credits are rolling. While hadn’t played any of the other Call of Duty games, I really enjoyed this one. The S.A.S. missions with Soap, Gaz, and Capt. Price were probably my favorite ones I  and especially liked the mission in the gillie suit. That one was awesome. I also liked the final USMC mission. That one had some pretty powerful imagery. I cant think of another game that has done anything like that. The graphics in the game were pretty good too, but I wish that the shadows were a little softer. And some of the bump mapping looked a little weird. Aside from that it was beautiful.

Ah shit! Another playable part after the credits! Whew. That was pretty cool too. Ha ha ha I wasn’t expecting that!

The story isn’t anything fantastic, but it does get you to care about your team over the course of the game. I also liked how you’re the one that gets to take out the main bad guy at the end when Capt. Price slides you the gun.

This game is absolutely fantastic and I think that I’ll be playing its online mode for a long time still. If you haven’t played this game already go pick it up. Its probably one of the best games so far this generation.

The Dark Knight Movie Review

Let me preface this by first saying that I really loved Batman Begins. That out of the way, I think The Dark Knight is a better movie in every single way possible.

Heath Ledger blows every past Joker out of the water (including animated versions and such). He perfect for the role, and the writing and plot surrounding his character is so smart, and brilliantly planned. The bank heist in the beginning helps set the stage with what you should expect from him for the rest of the movie. You really get to see how fantastic of a villain The Joker is, and why he deserves to be Batman’s nemesis. I liked the treatment of Joker’s back story, and the nods to the graphic novel “The Killing Joke” in which the Joker tells Batman his “origins” and that he believes anyone could become just like him if they had one really bad day.

Oh, and the disappearing pencil trick was awesome.

I’ve been listening to and reading a lot of reviews and a lot of the complaints about this movie are the same ones that were raised for the first movie. People don’t like how Christian Bale speaks when dressed as Batman. I think it totally makes sense, though. In a world where people aren’t retarded (Superman Universe). He needs to not use his normal voice so people won’t recognize him. Bruce does interact with all of the same people as Batman, so I think it just adds another layer of realism. It doesn’t matter that it sounds forced. Its not Bruce’s real voice either.

I think that this movie was not only the best superhero movie to date, but also the best movie of the summer so far. It should definitely be a contender for Best Picture. If Heath Ledger doesn’t win Best Actor then he was robbed for much more than just his life. He was absolutely amazing. Whoever plays joker next is going to have a pretty fucking hard time filling his shoes. Go see this movie.

WALL-E Movie Review

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So I saw WALL-E today. We got to the theater only 10 minutes before the show started, so we ended up having to sit in the third row. During the previews I thought it was going to be a pain in the ass seeing anything. Once the movie started it wasn’t that bad as long as there wasn’t text or anything on the screen. If this movie was subtitled my head would have exploded.

As always, Pixar’s CG was insane. As someone who does CG as a hobby, I’m floored every time I see their work. WALL-E was a very cool character, and was surprisingly expressive for a robot that wasnt all cartoony.

Overall I thought that the movie was fantastic, but for me, there were a few negatives. First, I didn’t really like some of the lecture-like messaging in the movie which essentially boils down to “dont screw up the environment, and dont get fat.” Second, I didn’t really like the awkward addition of live action on the screens in WALL-E. It just kind of took me out of the fully 3d world.

Aside from that, it was a fantastic movie. Among the best they’ve produced.

CJ7 Movie Review

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I’ve been meaning to post a review of CJ7 for awhile now. I got the Bluray disk awhile back. The first thing you notice about the movie is that the visual fidelity of the CG has been improved enormously over Stephen Chow movies like Shaolin Soccer. I was kind of nervous that better CG would lose a certain ridiculousness that his other movies had posessed. Fortunately, this wasnt the case. They more than made up for it in other areas.

The story was pretty hilarious, though it makes you feel bad for CJ7 for the whole movie. There is definately the stephen chow token serious moment, which feels familiar, but not in a bad way.

Stephen’s screen-son was pretty good too, with the notable exception of his attempt at crying. His comedy was spot on, though. It was also great to see people from his other movies making cameos like the foreman at his job, and the son’s male teacher. The female teacher was pretty cute too, so that didn’t hurt matters.

If you are a fan of Stephen Chow or are willing to give HK comedy movies a chance, I’d say this is a good one to try. I’d say its better than Kung Fu Hustle, but not as good as Shaolin Soccer.

Get Smart Movie Review

I’ve read some reviews that are shitting all over Get Smart for being more about action than comedy and not sticking to the strictly comedic blundering spy formula of the 60′s television show. I gotta say, I couldn’t disagree more. This movie’s comedy may be slightly less slapstick than the show, but its smart, and funny. Don’t get me wrong, there is slapstick. Like Steve Carell skewering himself with his pocket knife’s harpoon gun trying to escape from ziptie handcuffs, or a blundered trip through a room full of lasers.

In addition to the purely slapstick, Get Smart has a much smarter variety of comedy going on in the background. Liz and I both laughed out loud when the director of the good guy spy agency “Control” yelled, “Nuclear!” correcting the President’s “Nucular” which is always something that annoys her in movies and she has me noticing now.

The story is pretty standard spy fare, but  Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway really sell it. Carell is pretty much the spy version of Micheal Scott from his show The Office, which is awesome. The rest of the cast is all pretty good with some pretty great people in cameos and other minor rolls.

Get Smart is a great summer movie, and delivers comedy and action in one neat little package. Sure its no action epic like Indy or Batman, but I think in a summer brimming with big names Get Smart can hold its own.

Metal Gear Solid 4 Review

Metal Gear Solid 4 Review

I just finished Metal Gear Solid 4. I got it last night at midnight, got home at 12:10, then played till 5 am. The next day I played from around 11am till now. Pretty much without any breaks. The whole game took me right around 20 hours to complete (And I managed to get “Eagle” for my codename). Enough anecdotes, onto the review.

Metal Gear Solid 4, is a fantastic game. It takes all of the craziness and out-there plots of the past 3 MGS games and manages to tie all of them up, and conclude every character’s story perfectly. You even come to understand why the hell Liquid pretty much took over Ocelot’s body after having his arm graphted on.

The gameplay is very similar to the old games, but with a notable update to the controls. The shooting is great, albiet way easier just using the crosshairs or investing in a scope attachment for your gun. The barrel sights and lazer sights are much harder to use because of how much of your vision is obscured by the gun (because unlike most FPS games, in metal gear you actually hold the gun up to your face to aim in first person. The amount of weapons available in the game are crazy. I picked up most of mine off of enemies and had Drebin (an armsdealer you meet early on in the game) unlock the ID bindings so that I could use them. But in Drebin’s store there are tons of guns, add-ons, and explosives. I was surprised with how much variety there was in the gameplay. From firefights, to tailing a mark, to car chases, to tracking people through the wilderness. This game has it all. Not to mention a healthy heaping of Tactical Espionage (Action). The boss fights were amazing and really fun. The lengthy codec conversation with Drebin after each BB Corps fight gets kind of tired, but luckily there are only 4 of those. I wish the story of how they became what the did came from their mouths after the fight or something.

The story is pretty much exactly what I wanted from this game. It neatly ends Solid Snake’s story and brings everything out into the light of day. I think for people that find themselves scratching their heads at the end of metal gear games, this will be a big sigh of releaf. I think David Hayter gives his best voice performance since the original Metal Gear Solid in 1998. It was pretty awesome.

Finally, the graphics. Holy Crap! This game is one of the finest games I’ve played, at times it rivals Crysis. The faces are more stylized, but they are super detailed and look fantastic. Also, it sounds weird, but I was really impressed with how realistic the tears were. The art team really pushed the PS3 to its limits, and everything runs nice and smooth. I don’t think I ever saw any slowdown.

If you own a PS3 you should already have this game. It’s the best game on the PS3 so far, and best MGS of the series in my opinion.

Grand Theft Auto IV Review

I have never really been a fan of GTA games. That being said, this one seemed like it was going to do enough different that it sounded kind of interesting. When I got the game I liked that the narrative seemed to have been spruced up a bit, but it still felt like a GTA game. Surprisingly, this one kept my interest the whole way through. I just beat the game a few minutes ago, so I figured now would be a good time to give a brief review.

Things I liked:

  • The Story
  • The Voice Acting – This was probably my favorite thing about this game. The voice acting was brilliantly done. I wish Niko had a few more quips to shout when shooting, those got kind of repetitive after awhile, but over all. It was excellent.
  • The Shooting Mechanic – This was a problem for me in the previous games, and I thought it worked pretty well in this one.
  • The graphics – Some of the shadows were a bit flickery, but I thought the game looked pretty good as a whole.
  • The multiplayer seems pretty fun. I’ve only played a few times with friends, but it was pretty cool. I think free mode is my favorite, because you can just fuck around and do whatever you want.

Some things I didnt like:

  • The Driving – If this game drove like Burnout Paradise it would have been MUCH better, and car chases would have actually been fun instead of being an “ugh here we go again”. The cars felt like they weighed about 6 pounds, and would flip extremely easily. The desire to go fast was often defeated by the fear of sending a car into a flip/spin frenzy. Motorcycles were probably the worst controlling vehicles in the game. Every time a mission required the use of one (including the last one which took place on sandy beaches, further reducing handling) I would groan.
  • Some of the contextual button presses didn’t work very well. I would often have to hit the button 2 or 3 times before Niko would scale a ladder. Also I don’t know how many times I accidentally stole a taxi when trying to enter as a passenger.
  • AI/Glitches – There seemed to be several problems with the AI. I died countless times because of people running toward the motorcycle while screaming in fear. Because motorcycles in this game only weigh 2 pounds, this would cause me to flip headfirst into a wall. I saw a lot of animation glitches, like Niko’s foot coming out of his pants at some crazy angle and shaking violently. I was doing the last mission today and there was a part where you have to go off a jump. I wasn’t going fast enough so I failed the mission, and when I got to shore, instead of getting the restart mission option I got a the call that activates the mission in the first place, Which includes an additional car chase, plus having to manually backtrack.
  • It was kind of annoying getting calls from every single person you meet in the game constantly.

Overall this game is definitely worth playing, and I’d say its the best one in the series. Its pretty fun, and engaging throughout. I don’t think it is as good as all the reviewers for major sites have been saying, especially once you’ve removed the rose colored glasses that come with a big name release like GTA.

B

Weezer (Red Album) Review

Weezer is a band that experienced great success early on in their careers and have been trying to get back to those lofty heights but failing to meet fan expectations with each subsecquent album. With their newest, the Self titled Red Album may be a line in the sand. For me this album is the best thing they’ve put out since 1996′s Pinkerton.

The album bursts out of the gates with everything from “Troublemaker” to “Dreamin’” being pretty good with highlights like “Greatest Man” and “Pig”. The album then takes a turn with “Thought I Knew”. “Automatic” the best of the band sung tracks begins the acent and the album finishes pretty strong.

If they got rid of all the songs fronted by other members of the band I would have given this album a B, but each time one comes up it feels like my ipod is revolting against me and forcing me to listen to some other band before returning to the weezer tunes.

Firefox 3 (RC1) is Delicious

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I am a pretty savvy guy when it comes to the web. fact. So it’s been kind of bugging me that I haven’t been able to upgrade to Firefox 3. You see, I’ve become hopelessly reliant on several firefox addons, with Delicious at the top of the list. I drew a line in the sand yesterday and decided to throw caution to the wind and upgrade anyway. Afterwards, I scoured the internet for a beta of the Delicious plugin and after only a few minutes… success! Yahoo has released a beta of their addon for people looking to experience the new firefox without being hopelessly crippled and unable to see their universal favorites list.

Now, for a little review of firefox 3 after the break.

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SingStar Review

SingStar

Today I bought SingStar for the PS3. The SingStore is great (Liz and I already bought 3 songs), the microphones also feel really solid, and the interface for the actual game is really awesome as well. It is a really fun game too. The songs that it comes with are really impressive containing Pixies, Franz Ferdinand, Weezer, Outkast, and Smashing Pumpkins.

As far as actually tracking the voice it seems like its really pretty accurate and if you’re fucking up its going to let you know.

New songs are only $1.50 and they come with the HD music video and everything. Plus there are already like 200 extra songs on the store, so if you don’t like the default tracks you can get some more for pretty cheap. As far as karaoke games go I’d have to say that SingStar is as good as I can imagine. If you like karaoke games, or have a lot of parties, I’d totally recommend it.

I’d recommend it!

A-