Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I really like Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale.

So, if you have seen me on PSN in the last month, I've have been only playing one game non stop. Playstation All Stars Battle Royale happens to be the most fun I've ever had on the PS3 and one of the best fighting games I've ever experienced. Strong opening statement, right? Well, I'm not that big of a technical fighting fan. Games like Street Fighter, King of Fighters and Tekken are not my cup of tea. The games have a huge learning curve that make the game less fun to me. Unless I get the game launch date and pour my heart into memorizing combos, I have no chance of making any progress in a legitimate fighting game. To me, unless you are a very skilled gamer, you have the same chance of winning as someone who just picked up the game. Let me tell you, nothing is more thrilling than getting your ass handed to you by a 14 year boy that just got home from school that just bought the game yesterday. I like even playing fields and Playstation All Stars makes sure that skill is a big factor into every match.

I'm not going to sugar coat it,All Stars is a direct rip-off from the Smash Bros franchise. Explaining all of the similarities would take way too much time and effort for something that is so blatantly obvious. When I play All Stars, I don't get the feeling of a carbon copy game. The developer has taken a well-crafted fighting game and refined it giving each character more depth and personality. The number of different characters is average for a fighting game, but the most surprising aspect of All Stars is that every characters individual moves are very true to the characters personal fighting style. When I play as Nathan Drake, I feel like I'm back in the mechanics of the Uncharted series. Although some characters are very similar, all of the characters play very differently and are still very balanced. It’s a well-crafted aspect of the game that makes this one stand out.

My favorite character to play is Kratos. Saying he’s a bit of a jerk is an understatement. I’ve been called a certain term so many times, I’m starting to think that I am really a bundle of sticks. He’s fun to play and when you play him right he can be extremely annoying. Which brings me to my only real problem with the game, most people can win by spamming the same effective move over and over again. I’m looking at you, Radec, Sly and Drake. Sackboy was the biggest offender in this category, but a well needed patch nerfed him to being one of the bottom ranks. Kratos tends to fall into this category, but you can only get so far with being so cheap when it comes to Kratos. Rarely am I out Kratosed by another Kratos, but that is another story for another time.

The game so far has a good following, I have never had to wait more than a minute to get into a new match. Online multiplayer is done very well, everyone being muted at the recap of the match a double edged sword. I’m so happy when someone who talks smack is promptly shut up as soon as they lose the match, but I miss rubbing their loss into their faces when they make keep on asking me to make them a sandwich. I guess that’s what messages are for.  

Once you understand the gameplay and what each level’s power does, the game becomes very addicting. Ranked matches become very intense with the belt ranking system. I’m still trying for my red belt with Kratos, and patience is a virtue that is used often in trying to rank up. (I still don’t know what a patience bonus is for.) That being said, I’m off to play some more ranked multiplayer. If you haven’t added me already, you should. (PSN: MelissaHogan)

Friday, October 26, 2012

In the Chill of the Night

I hate cold weather. There, I said it. Admitting it is supposed to be the first step, right? I don’t feel any better typing that sentence. What I do feel is cold. My dislike for the mornings has increased due to the lowering temperature of the season. I dread the initial chill that I get when Death Cab for Cutie’s “Brother’s on a Hotel Bed” fills the room and wakes me up from my eternal slumber. My definition of “eternal slumber” has changed from uninterrupted sleep into the few precious hours I have to dream that aren’t interrupted by the cats, work, or the occasional movements from my sister or her boyfriend getting ready for their respective days.

As soon as I hear the soft tones of the alarm it triggers the cats into a frenzy of pawing at the door, and meowing as loud and frequently as possible. To them, it’s a blessing from the heavens that someone is in the house to bestow upon them blessings of canned goodness. To me, I had the misfortune of being the first person to wake up that day. As soon as I make any movement to calm the excited cats at my doorway, that unfamiliar cold hits the side of my face. I am immediately cranky. It’s October in Atlanta and my poorly insulated room makes sure that it’s colder in the house than it is outside.

This is what I get for being born in South Florida. The Sunshine State that has 11 months of summer and then in December, has a sudden identity crisis, does a nose dive into 2 weeks of winter and levels back out into summer again in January. Cold by South Florida’s definition is around 50 degrees. This is when the bleached blonde trophy wives are stirred into a frenzy, finally having a reason to validate the July purchase of their 250$ UGG boots. Parkas, boots, and windbreakers are taken out of the back of the closet and worn proudly amongst the palm trees and salty sea air. I hated those two weeks with a passion. I hated wearing the long sleeved shirts that irritated my dry arms and my attitude. Now I have to deal with it 4 months out of the year.

“You think this is cold? Just wait until December.” my sister Megan says with hints of superiority in her voice. She moved up to Atlanta about 2 years ago, when Atlanta had one of the worst winters in the last twenty years. It was catastrophic to the people in the city. Supermarkets were sold out of water, bread and fresh fruit. The newscasters said that the weather had shutdown downtown Atlanta and its multiple surrounding cities for a week.  “It was about 6 inches or snow. You should see the pictures of my car, it was covered in snow.” Megan said as she reached over to her cat and scratched it behind the ears. “We only had one Zamboni for the entire city. People just didn’t know what to do.” That winter had made her into the cold bearing woman that she is today. She laughs when I put on a sweater when it’s 70 out. Her tip for beating the cold mornings? “Wear socks, all the time.”

So now, I sit at the edge of the bed putting on the pink socks that I purchased last week trying to avoid accidently kicking the cats as they swarm around the edge of my bed, hoping that I will relieve them from their hunger. I reach for the door handle to give myself room to get out. It’s cold. I hate the cold.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Melissa's Mediocre Iron Man Review

I know the first thing you thought of when you got on the internet the first thing in the morning and saw that the internet had magically produced the Iron Man 3 trailer was “What did Melissa think of the trailer?” First of all, that’s kind of weird that one of the first things you thought of was me. When it comes to Iron Man, I really don’t mind.

Most of you know by now, but some of you don’t so I will fill you in. I’m a huge Iron Man fan. Granted, I’m pretty new to the entire series. I’m going to go ahead and admit that I jumped on the bandwagon back in 2008 when I happened to catch an eight o’clock showing of Iron Man with my sister and our respective boyfriends at the time. Marvel decided to add last minute 8pm shows to try and boost numbers for the weekend gross, and because of the change, the theater was almost empty when I watched it for the first time. I had always been a comic book fan growing up, but I was never heavy into the scene. I could name and identify all of the X-Men from the amazing 90’s X-Men: The Animated Series. But Iron Man? Really? A guy in a suit of iron, great. What’s the big deal with this Tony Stark guy? 2 hours later, I had one goal in my mind that was ringing loud and clear. I want to understand all of these fantastic characters in the Marvel universe.

After reading comic book after comic book, the storylines and characters of Iron Man really stuck with me. Tony Stark is indeed a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, but he is so much more than that. He really in most regards a broken man fighting the world with his ideals of a better place for humanity to thrive. He has several problems, serious problems that lessen with the help of our good friend Jack Daniels. Whenever Tony makes a decision he dives in head first, using his own warped morals and dealing with the consequences later. From the looks of this trailer, it looks like are dealing with the double edged sword that is Tony Stark and the heavy burden that he has to endure with wearing the Iron Man suit.

The trailer is dark and I that aspect to death. Panic, screaming, tension? Awesome. However, this is a huge step away from the snarky loveable jerkface that we have grown accustomed to. When Iron Man first came into theaters, many people had compared it to the Dark Knight trilogy. The best example of is happens to come from 4chan: Iron Man is the FunVee, The Dark Knight is the HumDrumVee. Batman was supposed to be the tough, sad intense journey and Iron Man was the more light hearted adventure. Sure, Tony has had some hardships in the movies, but he shot a Watermelon! He makes fun of everyone he meets! What a wacky guy.

It looks like the movie is taking an Extremis route, which is also fantastic. I know this was confirmed back when they were filming, but I still had to hold out until the trailer told me so. Without derailing this thread, Extremis is arguably the best the Iron Man comics have to offer. The tone of the Extremis is a dark and scary one, with Tony trying to turn himself into a monster in order to defeat the physical and emotional demons he was dealing with. Extremis is a fantastic step towards new beginnings for Iron Man. I’m really excited to see how the plot develops. I don’t know how the dark turn will go with the audiences that are used to Tony and his schwarma loving antics. Only time will tell for that one.

A big elephant in the room when watching the plot has to be the portrayal of the Mandarin, who is played by Ben Kingsley. The weakest part of the Iron Man universe is the villains. Titanium Man is a villain that has a suit made of Titanium. Madam Masque is a villain with a mask. The writers of Iron Man really weren’t that creative with the actual villains. Look, the Mandarin was called the Mandarin because he was Asian and had some magic rings from which he gets his powers. It’s not a lot to go off of when Iron Man is technology based and has no magic whatsoever. So, what do we do with this? Faverau had to combine villains in Iron Man 2 just to make a villain that had some kind of depth to him. I can understand why Shane Black let loose with the character. I honestly don’t care what Black or Kingsley do to the Mandarin, as long as they make him interesting, I’m a happy camper.

Other than that, the trailer really did do much to excite me. Tony and Pepper in trouble? Ok. Mansion being blown up? Eh, ok. Underwater Iron Man? Alright. The other two movies had something to rev up the audience for the movie to come out. Iron Man breaking the speed of sound was baller, and the suitcase suit was top notch. But the trailer ends with the arc reactor going out, a cut away to Tony walking in the snow, and then the date of the release. Did I miss something? I’m assuming the suit is in the bag. Unless it’s Pepper! OR RHODEY. Man, this trailer got a whole lot darker.

I’m saddened to say that nothing in that trailer made me excited for the 3rd installment to the Iron Man franchise. Then again, I did say the Avengers movie looks god awful and I was completely blown away with how awesome the movie was. I did also say that the Iron Man 2 trailer was amazing, and we all know how that movie turned out. So take what you will from this Iron Man fan. Let’s hope third time is the charm with this franchise.