Penny Arcade Episode One :: Game Review :: XBOX 360

This is a short (5-minute) review I put together of Penny Arcade’s “One the Rain-Slick Precipice of Doom : Episode One” which is a short RPG for the XBOX 360 available through their download service. There’s probably a couple other ways to get at it, but that’s the one I used.

Peep the video and let me know what you think.

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Movie Review: Gonzo: HST on the Screen

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008)

Rated R for drug and sexual content, language and some nudity.

Not to mention a few subversive themes, some seriously whacked out thoughts and a cultural revolution that failed….mostly.

Overall I really enjoyed the re-mix/documentary. It’s not like HST hasn’t been covered before in film. Heck, Bill Murray covered him in 1980, and there’s Johnny Depps now evidently spastic portrayal of Thompson in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”. So he is no stranger to the film (or even comic book treatment) and as such has officially reached cultural icon status. This status was further cemented with his totally predicted and threatened for 20+ year suicide. When your son calls your suicide a touching family moment, you know you’re talking about a special breed of cat.

Ultimately the thing I found most worthwhile about the documentary was the live footage of Hunter doing his thing. It does, quite obviously, expose Depp’s portrayal a wee bit over the top. Thompson, the man, kept most of his meltdowns on the inside and the fact that most people felt he could hold his drugs like no other makes the floppy and stumbling performance of Depp seem overly comical.

He most certainly was a victim of his own success and his story demonstrates how difficult it is to stay consistent as an outsider when the first signs of success quickly propel one to the center of the circle. When one’s main gift is to tear apart the system from the outside, once one is firmly implanted in the middle, there’s naught left to do but party.

Which he did. Until he died.

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Rating : 7.8 out of 10 for documentaries. It was a bit slow at times, although that could have been my fault. In a strange twist of fate, this was the first movie I saw with mind unaltered in years.

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Trailer

The Flying Rays of Mexico (and Planet Earth Live Mini-Review)

The great ocean migration… thousands of majestic stingrays swim to new seas | Mail Online

Like autumn leaves floating in a sunlit pond, this vast expanse of magnificent stingrays animates the bright blue seas of the Gulf of Mexico.

Taken off the coast of Mexico’s Holbox Island by amateur photographer Sandra Critelli, this breathtaking picture captures the migration of thousands of rays as they follow the clockwise current from Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula to western Florida.

Measuring up to 6ft 6in across, poisonous golden cow-nose rays migrate in groups – or ‘fevers’ – of up to 10,000 as they glide their way silently towards their summer feeding grounds.

Rays

Arc: The rays, swimming in a long line, was spotted by amateur photographer Sandra Critelli

Some pretty amazing pics there and a cool phenomena.

On a slightly related note, I spent last night in Downtown Big D watching this special…

The Blue Planet Live rolled into the Meyerson Symphony Center for the first of three shows Tuesday night and delivered big in offering one of the coolest, most creative escapes yet to the summer doldrums. Under the baton of composer-conductor George Fenton, it makes deft use of the 76-piece Dallas Symphony Orchestra in carrying 2,000 viewers on an oceanic expedition.

It does so with a mesmerizing score that swings from calming to exhilarating to terrifying, only, in the end, to return home again. Mr. Fenton composed the music and flew in from London to conduct the DSO, which makes splendid use of horns, strings, percussion and a trumpet soloist to enhance the emotional current.

[more info]

A good show that could use a couple tweaks (the preaching at the end needs some “action items”) but overall a very moving experience.

As a pirate with long experience dealing with unregulated Nature, it was fun to see some of the incredible images highlighted by professional musicians and air-conditioned joy.

Dark Sector :: Game Review :: XBOX 360

It was good to spend some time back in full ninja mode. Never before have I seen such a slow moving ninja, but eventually I was able to get around like the best of ’em. The secret is fairly constant use of the A button.

The Basics:

Dark Sector is a third person violence fest with an over-the-shoulder view. The gameplay is along the lines of Resident Evil 4 (RE4), with the Halo health system and some Gears of War cover action. The addition to this type of gameplay, and a newish weapon to play with, is the “glaive”. I’m calling it the glaive because that’s what they called it in Krull and that’s where the idea came from. It’s never really explained why you have a glaive, and not ninja stars, or nunchucks, so some other cool implements of death, but the glaive works and eventually it works quite well.

The Story?

You are one of the infected (some sort of goverment/business defense research). As the story progresses, so does your infection and you track down the doctor who created the virus. The mood and storyline are also very much along the Doom 3 lines of demons/infected and a mastermind at the end. You kill stuff, you fight special bosses and the story moves on.

You continue to gain abilities as you move through the very linear storyline and get your personal weapon upgrades out of the “black market” that is a very direct homage to the weapon upgrade system in RE4. I was able to complete the game without getting enough cash to buy the final handheld weapon, but my trusty AK with full upgrades made good work when needed.

The Glaive:

The glaive is one of the first automatic upgrades that you get as the game progresses. You soon gain the ability to control in bullet time the flight of the glaive, learn to embue it with various elements (fire, cold, electricity) and even make the thing blow up on command. As your timing with the glaive get better, it is possible to through a “super-glaive” that is orange. Orange means dangerous, as limbs and heads flow much faster with the organge glaive.

You also get random (to you) upgrades, including a very handy force shield, and finally the ability to go momentarily invisible. This is useful for the finishing moves that also cause of lot of limbs/bloods/energy to flow.

The Gameplay:

The game is divided into 10 chapter, leading up to a final confrontation with the big boss. Most of the chapters conlcude in a pitched battle with a boss character, many taking particular combination of glaive power-ups, boosts, and finishing moves to defeat.

You will die, and you will die often. Enemy are plentiful, if a bit dense. They’ll take cove but stick to it, and group tactics seem well beyond the AI. There’s not a lot of variety in the targets, but those that do make the grade and nicely animated, including demons that hop with the agility of, well, the demons in Doom 3. Once they land, however, they become pretty slow moving targets, fighting with a steady barage of energy shotgun blasts.

Working a combination of the glaive and standard weapons, the game avoids drudgery with a bit of variety with locals, short vehicle sequences, and some wonderfully rendered cut-scenes. All in the graphics do a good job of displaying the on-screen action, and let you know who and what is likely to kill you wkith splotches and vibrations.

There are a few moments of dread, albeit, less than RE4, and some excellent ambiance.

Conclusion:

A workable action title, easily finishable within a week rental. The game is fun enough, although breaks no real new bounds. The artwork fits the theme of a dark and nasty base, replete with ruins, sewers and the test labs.

I’ll give it a 7.4 out of 10.

And I got 605 out of 1000 achievement points.