No Claws: The Black Panther Vol.3, #1 – 5 Review


After five issues, T’Challa is not a character I easily relate to. At least in this incarnation, writer Christopher Priest renders the hero as a calm and stoic individual. He’s also very intelligent and has a handful of gadgets like vibranium claws that make him stand out. These aren’t necessarily bad qualities, they’re just not terribly exciting apart from the “aha!” moment when he first uses his tools.

The narrative device is an upside though.

Everett K. Ross, a U.S. government employee, has the unfortunate job of escorting the Black Panther during the hero’s stay in New York City. Everett is the every man and acts as the eyes and ears for the reader thanks to his internal monologue. Ross also acts as the comedic relief as he goes through a few issues without any pants. The dialogue between him and the Black Panther’s trusted guard, Zuri at a Chinese restaurant is also pretty amusing.

I’m not an avid comic book reader but the politics involved in these introductory issues of Priest’s run was a definite plus. Long story short, The Black Panther arrives on American soil because a children’s charity named The Tomorrow Fund, an organization backed by The Wakandan consulate, turned into a money laundering scam for drug cartels. And to make matters worse, the poster child of the charity was found dead. T’Challa’s primary goal was to find the murderer and the origins of the corruption.

The driving force behind the Panther’s actions is commendable and honest, which is fine, considering he’s a superhero. And I guess that’s why I think T’Challa is a bit boring. Like Captain America, his moral compass is right on the center. Dropping the hero in Hell’s Kitchen of all places was a good idea for Priest, since that part of the city is famously depicted as the most crime-ridden. Despite sharing the streets with Daredevil himself, and involving a politically driven plot, these first issues had a lot of problems.

Pacing was an issue. It felt very jarring to see Black Panther taking out street-level gangsters and then a few pages later, we’re in a flashback with the King having a very quiet conversation with his mother, which showed a very refreshing, relatable and human side of the character. The story jumps to and from Wakanda constantly and it’s difficult to really grasp the fruits of the narrative. There was also a dream sequence that takes place in which the central character wakes up in the back of his limo doing something he regretted. But readers wouldn’t know it was a dream until after the fact and either way, that section of the story did little to progress the character or story.

After the fifth issue, T’Challa comes to a conclusion on the murder of The Tomorrow Fund’s poster child. And as quickly as that story line finished, another began. It’s just that it didn’t feel like a true resolution to the problem. There was no payoff at the end. Perhaps it was the way Priest rendered the characters, or maybe it was the pacing that made the narrative feel weak. There was just too much going on at the same time. And at the end of issue five, I honestly, didn’t care.

Why I’m Going to Review 60 Issues of Marvel’s Black Panther Comics

via Marvel

It happened. Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige just revealed the upcoming film slate for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There are a ton of superhero films coming out in the next six years including both Marvel and DC. Alongside Avengers: Age of Ultron and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, we’re going to get lesser known heroes like Captain Marvel and Shazam. But I wanted to focus on one movie. That movie is Marvel’s Black Panther.

Who the hell is Black Panther and why does he look like Batman that forgot his cape at home? As a casual comic book fan, those were the questions I had in mind when I read about the news. Honestly, I was a little skeptical about this whole Black Panther guy. He just doesn’t look that cool. And from what I understand, what makes him cool isn’t even that interesting. He has claws? Not the claws that shoot out of your hands Wolverine style but claws that remind me of bad Catwoman cosplayers. I mean, what?

After having a chat with a friend that seemed genuinely excited for the upcoming film starring Chadwick Boseman, who played James Brown on Get On Up, I decided to give the Black Panther a shot. From first impressions and light research, I’m not entirely convinced he’s a film-worthy hero but let’s see what the Nubian Prince has to offer. That’s why I’m going to read the entire run by writer, Christopher Priest, starting with Black Panther Vol. 3, Issue #1. I’m also going to write short reviews of each issue. Because, you know, comic books.

I’ll write you from Wakanda.

Bus 013

Early on in my trip, everyone kept pushing me to ride the public bus to work. I resisted for the longest time, but eventually I had to succumb to pressure. Couldn’t always rely on the e-bike to take to work. Walking I found out took 2 hours to get there, which wouldn’t be so bad were the weather not so dang hot. As much as I hated to admit, the Bus was inevitable.

I was nervous at first. The only time in my life I have taken the public bus was at 1am in San Francisco when my Billy (the main blogger dude on here) and myself saw the Australian band, San Cisco, and missed the last train and forced to ride the bus. It was uncomfortable and crowded. I hated it and didn’t want to experience something like it again. So I had some reservations at first.


My bus card.

Finally though, after a lot of pushing, and some unforeseen circumstances, I was forced to take it. It was early on in July. My aunt and uncle were back in America, visiting for two weeks. I was here, with 4 native Chinese speakers, one of whom knew a little bit of English. My Chinese was nil. The day before, I was given a bus card by the wonderful girl who helped me out my two weeks here seemingly alone, Miki. She had an extra bus card with 10 Yuan on it, good for 10 bus rides. I was set. Almost.

I had no clue where to go. May, a girl who was staying with us at the time, wrote up directions to get there, but me, dumbfounded by the directions, was confused and afraid. Where do I go? What stop? What if I get lost? Help me!!!

She ended up riding to school with me that afternoon – I had an afternoon class – showed me where to get on, and where to get off. I only needed to be shown once and I was good.

The bus is 013. It’s first and last stop is a couple minute walk from the house, and I get to pick my own seat. I always choose the seat in the middle of the bus, to the left of the door. I get to stare at and just daydream. It usually takes about 45 minutes to get to school, a little longer during traffic hours.

That first time was oddly peaceful. Perhaps it was picking the right time to get on, when there weren’t as many people, but it was great and I enjoyed it. If it had turned out differently, I might not have enjoyed it that first time, which would have potentially changed my perspective on riding the bus.

Now I ride it all the time, regardless if it’s extremely packed – it can get pretty uncomfortable at times, and even have accidental bump ins with people at times – or barely anyone on.

The people I’ve noticed are wonderful. There’s one moment that has stuck with me. It was around 10pm. buses stop at 11 so people were cramming on. I got on, backpack and all, and was shoved to the middle of the front, along with other people. There was literally no room to move. We were like a sardines shoved inside the tiny container. A stop later, some new people got on, barely fitting in the back, but weren’t able to scan their bus cards up front. So they handed them forward, person after person, until reaching me, and I handed off to the person to my right. She scanned the cards, handed them back to me and I handed them back to the person behind me, people doing the same until it reached the owners hand. I was amazed at such cooperation. Perhaps I don’t know a lot about public transportation, but that made me appreciate the people here so much more than I had before. It made that pact ride home wonderful.

Looking back on it, It was pretty silly to be fearful of riding the bus. There’s nothing to fear. Get on. Scan your card (or pay 2 yuan). Grab a seat. As simple as that. I love riding the bus, and plan to keep on doing so the rest of my time here.

Censored Democracy: You done fu**ed up China

It’s evening here in the SouthEast part of China, a small city in the Guangdong广东 Province,  Zhongshan中山 (middle mountain). The day is heavy in heat, the sun out, not a cloud in sight but a never ending fog of pollution that results in high humidity and scorching 36 degree (celsius) weather making today a great day to be indoors and on the computer. About an hour away from here (30 minute drive, 30 minute ferry), off the coast of the mainland sits Hong Kong.

I didn’t know about the protests in Hong Kong until I went on Facebook (have to use a VPN of course) and saw the Hong Kong protests trending. The government here has made sure there’s little to no mention of it in the mainland. I knew nothing about it. Hong Kong protesting the mainland governments decision to change the process of deciding who the people can pick for the Chief Executive of Hong Kong in 2017.

Byw-tJaCUAArAtfFrom my understanding, the way it works in HK is an election committee picks the various candidates candidates and the people vote on who they choose. A normal process in most countries in the western world. However, the Beijing government proposed a new election process in which each candidate must be picked by a majority of the committee selected by the People’s Party, and then those selected are to be voted on by the people. In other words, the People’s Party selects the people who they feel would best fit the job in Hong Kong (with mainland ideology) and the Hong Kong people must choose between only those candidates. The “one country, two systems” law the residents of Hong Kong have is trying to be thwarted by the government who wishes to control them.

Hong Kong was once occupied territory of British rule, when during trade gone wrong, they came and conquered China during the 19th century in what became known as the Opium Wars. Hong Kong was one of it’s prizes from the victory. It wasn’t until 1997 that the mainland was given the city back under its control. What they got back was something different. Something they couldn’t totally control. The years during British ownership brought a declared independence and democratic city state that while in technicality attached to mainland China, wasn’t fully under the same strict laws. Even when it was returned to China, a mini-constitution created by the British government and a stipulation in the return of the city allowed Hong Kong to remain it’s own democratic state, able to make it’s own decisions, elect it’s own people, and be not so much it’s own country, but remain a city-state like way of governance. It was once again the mainlands, and yet it wasn’t at all.

The people, after the announcement was made on August 31, were livid. How could they not be?

It’s because of this injustice that’s led to the protests currently taking place. Called Occupy Central with Love and Peace, it’s a massive gathering of people peacefully standing up to the bully that is China. Thousands of people have marched on to the central District of Hong Kong, which is an important area in Asia, and sent the message to the mainland that they won’t put up with the bully tactic being played and to defend their right of democratic voting.


This protest, much the the chagrin of China, sparked massive coverage worldwide. Top news organisations were on top of it and at a time when China is amidst its 7 day “National Holiday”, not a good time for this protest to occur in the eyes of the government. Their reaction to the protests, the mistake everyone seems to make, is to send the military, with tear gas, batons, guns, pepper spray, all the tools a cop can use to harm another human. They sent them out to forcibly stop the protests only to shoot themselves in the foot. It only added fuel to the already burning fire.

Reactions sparked more outrage and a will to keep up the fight against the government, not with violence but with words. They took to the internet. Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, FireChat to spread the word about what’s going on. People all over the world have been sending their moral support, encouragement necessary to keep the fight and not back down from the People’s rule.

“If the tanks come rolling in,  the people won’t be backing away.” Something my uncle told me as we discussed the protest going on. It made me think of Tiananmen Square. The governement rules on something and the people don’t like it and protest, and the famous image of the boy sitting alone in front of a tank and unwilling to move. This could be that, only instead of one boy,  there would be thousands of boys and girls sitting, unwilling to move. A Tiananmen 2.



We are all Hong Kong ppl, police you can miss the target.



Gertalt of Rivia Freestyles at San Diego Comic-Con

At this year’s San-Diego Comic-Con, CD Projekt Red, the makers of the popular Witcher video game series, presented a demo of their latest title, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. According to Polygon, the equipment they used for the demo was damaged during travel. This resulted in missing voice-overs during the demonstration. Fortunately, Doug Couckle, voice of the main protagonist, Geralt of Rivia was on the panel to “freestyle” some lines for the audience. The video is below.

This past summer I finished the first two games in the series and can now safely say that I’m emotionally invested in these characters that Andrzej Sapkowski created in his original novels and short stories. With that being said, The Witcher 3 is my most anticipated game of next year, so much that I even built a new gaming PC just so I can play it.

If you’re in the same boat as me and just can’t wait until February 25th for the “Wild Hunt’s” release, check out the books by the author himself. The game borrows heavily from the Sapkowski’s dark, mature stories and fans of the series can even get a better idea of the world and its characters that aren’t featured in the games. I recommend the  first collection of short stories, The Last Wish to any die-hard Witcher fan, or fantasy-genre addict. It’s damned good reading and it’s more Witcher, what’s not to love?

Batman Looks Badass in the New Film

This new picture just surfaced. It’s a picture of Ben Affleck under the cowl. One thing that is very clear is the actor’s jaw certainly reminds me of the classic Batman jaw, something that Christian Bale’s costume didn’t emphasize. I just hope he can move his head this time unlike in Batman Begins. Hopefully they learned their lesson and bring those design choices to the new costume. It’s the little details that count! Can’t wait for the release of Batman v. Superman in 2016!

I graduated and so, uh, I’m building my first gaming PC

As a recent college grad, it wasn’t looking for a job (I already have two!) or traveling that was at the top of my priorities list. At the top of that list was building my very first computer, all by myself, and a gaming PC at that! I’m not completely out-of-the-loop when it comes to computer hardware, I’d like to believe I know what I’m doing, at least, mostly. But why would I do this? Why would I build a gaming PC instead of taking a bit of time to travel the world or explore career opportunities before the government remembers I owe them thousands of dollars?

Once upon a time I did have plans to travel after graduation but those eventually fell through, but even before that I’ve always lusted over the idea of building my own machine. And as far as the career thing goes, that’s a constant search that never really ends. I can say that I’m content with the positions I hold now, though I’m always looking for more. So with a somewhat open and typical job schedule, I’m doing it. I’m building a gaming computer, even if I’m not really sure what I’ll be playing on it.

Ever since the Xbox One and Playstation 4 released last holiday, I’ve been debating whether to pick one up. But after months of saving and debating I came to a realization that I would get more joy out of a custom-built computer. Not only are there already a ton of Steam games I have to get to, the PC comes with the ability to upgrade and is potentially more powerful as well. But as I said before, the build, that is the process of actually putting the pieces together, is in my opinion what I have been looking forward to most. There’s just something about constructing a machine, turning it on and having it function correctly, that is incredibly enticing and alluring to me.

Plus, since I work at an electronics store part-time, I used my employee discount for a number of main components.

Parts are listed below with estimated price in case you were wondering!

CPU – AMD FX-6300 Vishera 6-Core (3.5 /4.1GHz) $119

I went with AMD primarily to keep costs down. I also chose the 6300 specifically because of it’s rated for 95 watt tdp and didn’t want to deal with the 8-core 125 watt processors. The idea was to build a console-like gaming PC, and try to keep it as energy and power efficient as possible. For the money, the FX 6300 seemed to be the best fit in terms of price-to-performance ratio for what/how I’ll be playing.


GPU – EVGA NVIDIA GTX 760 w/ ACX 2GB – $249-299



I was going to pair the 6300 with an R9 270x GPU but I said screw it, and decided on a GTX 760 by EVGA because it seems to perform a little better than the R9. Plus, I got it with a killer discount.



I didn’t want to skimp on a motherboard but it was difficult finding a micro-ATX board with USB 3.0 ports that wasn’t too expensive. I don’t know too much about mobos but I’m hoping this one will serve me just fine. Fingers crossed for no fried hardware down the line!


RAM – Kingston Hyper X 2x4GB – $79.99


kingston ram2

8 jiggers. Ram is ram is ram. I’m not going to be overclocking this machine at all and I don’t plan on playing/editing any 4k games or videos or anything like that. They’re blue, they look cool, got a great deal on them. Paid $5 and some change for a brand new pair.


PSU – EVGA 600B – $59.99

It was on sale, and again, discounted price! The fact that it’s not modular upsets me only a tiny tiny bit, but it does the job.


HDD – Western Digital Mainstream 1TB – $64.99


No SSD for me, I can’t justify paying hundreds extra for shaving a few seconds off a load screen. Western Digital has always been solid though.


COOLING – Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo – $29.99

I wasn’t sure if I was going to get an after-market cooler but I know AMD processors tend to run a bit hot when compared to their Intel counterparts. Having six cores is also a bit hefty on the heat, so I decided to grab this guy off Amazon. It was this or a Corsair Hydro Series all-in-one liquid cooler but in the end I didn’t’ want to deal with potential fluid leaks or the higher price tag. Plus, I’m not overclocking.


CASE – Bitfenix Prodigy M – $99.99

I could have gone with a cheaper case and had even more room to build but these cases look too cool for me not to purchase one. The original Prodigy case looked a little strange so when I realized they updated it with a better arrangement, I grabbed a used one that looks brand new.


OS – Windows 8.1 Pro – $69.99 with a student discount

It’s Windows! I’ve gotten used to the modern UI and I think it runs a lot faster than 7 ever did. It works.

Like a Dream: Child of Light Review

I never played Final Fantasy VII, I can’t seem to finish Tales of Vesperia (one of the few great JRPGs on Xbox 360), and I generally shy away from the genre. But why was I obsessed with finding every treasure chest and fighting every monster in Child of Light, a Japanese-inspired role-playing game?

Ubisoft’s Child of Light takes many aspects of traditional JRPGs such as leveling up, turn-based battle systems and gear progression and simplifies them so that the average player can easily jump in without feeling like they have to put in 20, 30, 40 plus hours just to get to the good stuff. For those of you who are okay with such a time-consuming game, more power to you, however, I like my games to be tight, compact and well-balanced in its systems, which Child of Light delivers. Couple these tweaks with the UbiArt Framework – the engine made famous by recent Rayman games –  a fun cast of characters and a story that is surprising, you get a game that is made entirely of fun content wrapped in a 12-hour package. At least, for the most part.

At the very start of the game players are introduced to Aurora, a little girl with flowing red hair who is the daughter of a duke. But we quickly learn that the character is ill and she falls asleep before waking up in the vibrant water-colored world of Lemuria where she meets a glowing blue ball of fire, or maybe it’s a firefly. Either way, the narrative points towards this theme of death and the afterlife. It reminded me a little bit of Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, a film that also centered on a little girl, her imagination and the afterlife.

In a world where most video game protagonists are macho bro-dudes with guns trudging through explosive terrain, Aurora and the world she inhabits feels completely fresh. Even if her quest to save her dying father and rid the world of darkness doesn’t bring anything new to the table, the music coupled with the art can only be described as dreamy.

The presentation immediately brings the game to another new level; this isn’t your typical “indie game,” a term that has been tossed around in the past as a cheap, less-spectacular downloadable. Child of Light may not hold the blockbuster flare that is found in its Ubisoft siblings like Assassin’s Creed or Splinter Cell  but it doesn’t need to. In its lack of scripted and cinematic spectacle, it makes up for in charm and creativity. The game’s narrative is told like a childhood fairy tale and every character, every dialogue box is exquisitely written and unique thanks to its rhyming iambic pentameter structure. I’ve never seen anything like it in a video game.

Ubisoft was smart to use this dialogue structure to characterize each party member you meet during the Aurora’s journey. Rubella, the female jester who’s only wants to reunite with her brother, often loses her rhythm in the last line of her dialogue and is often corrected by other characters like the elemental sprite, Igniculus. Robert the mouse is dead set on winning over his crush while also reminding players he is a character that values money and business through his diction.

Dialogue was a great way for the developers to make each character feel unique but their distinctiveness is further solidified when taken into combat. Child of Light’s combat is a nice blend of classic turn-based RPG battles and real-time strategy.


Each character and enemy moves along a bar at the bottom of the screen during a fight and when one of them reaches the last quarter of the bar (in red), they get to act. This is where it gets interesting. Depending on what you choose to do, your character will execute the action either quickly or slowly. A standard sword attack with Aurora takes no time at all, while a powerful Lightning Strike from Finn the mage, may take a few seconds to land. During this cast time players are susceptible to interruptions from enemy attacks which cancels the action completely, sending the character back to the start of the timer bar. This of course, works both ways, so players are able to interrupt enemies and if done correctly, can get through an entire fight without ever being hit. The combat is one of the best parts of the game. It’s deceptively simple, potentially frustrating and insanely satisfying.

The combat system also does away with some of the hassles in other classic turn-based RPGs. You can only use two characters at once but players can switch out characters infinitely. If you don’t have potions to heal, you can use Igniculus to heal at anytime as long as he has something in his meter. Every debuff you cast will land, even on bosses. Leveling up is also simplified and if you spent enough time, could unlock every skill in the skill tree. As far as equipment goes, the game uses upgradable gems called Oculi, which players can craft. Get three of the same color gems, craft them and create something stronger, easy as that.

Some may say that this game is too easy, and I agree, it’s a very easy game but I don’t see that as necessarily a bad thing, though some may disagree. After a few hours, things started to feel repetitive. Enter dungeon area, fight monsters, complete puzzle, fight boss, repeat. But this is a very small nitpick. After a time, I started to break up my constant battles with exploration and side quests.

Outside of combat, the game’s gorgeous art style encourages exploration. I was lost many hours of sleep flying around, looking for scattered collectibles, completing side quests, solving puzzles and unlocking hidden skill points.

Child of Light feels like a dream and that was probably intentional on Ubisoft’s part. The central character Aurora wakes up in the beginning of the game, unfamiliar to her surroundings but quickly finds a friend and embarks on a journey to save her father. At first it may have felt a little different but it didn’t take long before I was completely invested in these characters even if the overall plot was nothing new. And its mechanics, well a lot of games play like this one, but at the same time they don’t. It’s half side-scroller, half-JRPG. Thanks to its unique, hand-drawn visuals and a couple of surprises in the middle of the game, this UbiArt title isn’t like any dream, but a familiar dream. I’ve been there before, it feels warm and comfortable. And when I finally finished the game, it was like waking up. With that being said, I can’t wait to go back to sleep again, back to the world of Lemuria, back to the light.


My Top 10 Xbox 360 Games


You know what’s cool? Video games. Vid. Ya. GAMS. The Xbox One and the Playstation 4 are here ushering in a new generation of consoles. With that being said, their predecessors will most likely be phased out over the next couple of years. I don’t have a shiny new box from Microsoft or Sony but I still have one of their old boxes and damn did it serve me well. Think of this as a celebration of the previous generation of games. These are my top 10 games on the Xbox 360.




Bastion took the stigma of downloadable games and kicked its ass all over my face.

In the skies of the Bastion is where I first began to truly consider downloadable games as more than just cheap, short adventures. With hand-drawn graphics, fun but challenging mechanics and a very unique setting and story, Bastion easily became one of the best games on Xbox Live. Right when you’re dropped into the game and playing as The Kid, the narrator begins telling the tale of The Kid and The Bastion. The unique thing is that the narrator’s lines are dynamic and actually reflects what the player does. If you go nuts and break a bunch of boxes in the middle of a level, the narrator will say something like “And The Kid was letting off some steam on some those boxes.” The game also had RPG-like elements where you could upgrade The Kid’s weapons and armor and by the end of the game, players were also given crucial story choices after introducing memorable characters. Bastion took the stigma of downloadable games and kicked its ass all over my face. With its beautiful art and sound, along with its simple but challenging gameplay, Bastion became one of the greatest games I’ve ever played.



Portal 2

By the end of Portal 2 I was left in awe, my mind had exploded.

The Orange Box was the first time I played, I mean, really played Valve games. After I had spent countless nights running through Half-Life 2 and its episodes, I played Portal. From the moment the portal gun was introduced I was helplessly hooked until the very end. Then there’s Portal 2. All Valve did was take the basic mechanics of the original and toss in a few extra physics puzzles and a meatier story with a witty robot named Wheatley. And that’s all they had to do. By the end of Portal 2 I was left in awe, my mind had exploded. The ending, seriously, is one of the greatest endings in video game history. After I finished the game I had trouble playing others because nothing else in terms of writing and gameplay came remotely close to Valve’s masterpiece. From the moment it hit shelves, Portal 2 became an instant classic.



Dead Space

“Oh my god, what the fuck!”

Is what I said to my brother who was in the room when I started playing the original Dead Space. I’m not big on survival horror games mostly because they have shitty gameplay mechanics and the story sucks. Bring in Dead Space, where the story wasn’t too bad and the gameplay was fucking awesome. If you’ve ever played Resident Evil 4 then playing Dead Space feels very similar and that’s a great thing. In Dead Space you follow the story of Isaac Clarke, a mechanic whose job gets turned into the worst/scariest episode of Dirty Jobs ever when he and his crew discover alien-zombie things all over a government space ship the size of Texas. The story gets a little religious and cuckoo but those damned pop scares are littered about the dark corridors and you as the player can do nothing about them except shoot the freaky monsters, tearing their limbs apart because shooting them in the head is not an instant kill. I tried not to play the game in dark with head phones on because I’m a wuss but I kept playing anyways because the mechanics of shooting the arms off a necromorph and then stomping on their face with my big ass space boot was too good to pass up.



Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

By the end of the three hour tale, I was deeply moved and a little sad

It kind of looks like Fable but it’s not an RPG from Lionhead Studios. This is Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. It’s a short, three hour downloadable game where the player controls two brothers, one on each thumb stick. The premise is simple: the two brothers must go on a journey to save their sick father. The journey takes the two brothers through mountains and forests full of blood-thirsty wolves and hills where spiders and giants live. The puzzles are clever and since you’ll be controlling both brothers independently with each analog stick, your brain may feel like you’re patting your head and rubbing your tummy all at once. And even though there’s no spoken dialogue, the emotions of these characters are all shown with their body movements and facial expressions. By the end of the three hour tale, I was deeply moved and a little sad. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a lot about accepting what has happened in our lives, and trying our best to appreciate what we have now because you never know, you might get killed by a tribe of mountain men.




Never before had players been dropped into such a uniquely disturbing and beautiful dystopian world…

Rapture. The original Bioshock ushered in a new style of gameplay for first person shooters. Gun in one hand, magic in the other, with easy access to additional weapons and abilities with a flick of the left or right triggers. The original Bioshock also gave us something in terms of story telling through clever use of audio and environmental cues. The city of Rapture is by far the most impressive feat developers Irrational Games accomplished in it’s 2007 hit. Never before had players been dropped into such a uniquely disturbing and beautiful dystopian world where big giant suits of metal and iron drilled crazed civilians into walls. And to layer underneath that gruesomeness, the game even commented on societal issues such as socio-economic standing and political intrigue. Bioshock is not only a smart and deeply detailed, at times grotesque game, but it’s one of the greatest games of all time.



Dragon Age: Origins Ultimate Edition

I played a lot of Dragon Age: Origins. Like, a lot.

By the end of the original campaign I had recorded over 33 hours and after I finished all of the DLC campaigns, the total number of hours was well over 50. Bioware’s first installment in their fantasy epic hooked me with the dark fantasy setting, impressive character customization (I was a very short elf) and the company’s signature dialogue system. Choices you made mattered and influenced your party members opinion of your character. It’s easy to dismiss Dragon Age as the fantasy version of Bioware’s Mass Effect series but it’s much more than that. As somebody that played through both franchises, I found myself more at home in the magical land of Ferelden than the lens flaring SSV Normandy.



Tales of Vesperia

None of that turn-based crap.

The Xbox 360 doesn’t have a rich library of JRPGs. I could never get through Final Fantasy XIII and the handful of other JRPGs, as far as I know, are trash. It wasn’t until I started playing Tales of Vesperia that my hope for a quality JRPG on 360 was fulfilled. Here we have the very basics of the genre at its highest quality. You can fight monsters, you can cook, you can watch your characters talk in Japanese anime-style cut scenes and everything is cel-shaded for a real animated look. The combat is also live. None of that turn-based crap. When I press A, the character does things. On top of it all, the characters are charming, there’s a ton of voice-acting and dialogue which you can bring up at almost any time by pressing the Back button. The story is also pretty interesting with clever twists most people wouldn’t expect. What else can I say? The combat, story and characters are all solid, making it one of the best JRPGs on the platform.



Alan Wake

…Alan Wake’s best moments come from the players constant need of light.

I guess you can say Alan Wake is a survival horror game about a writer who is battling an evil spirit that took his wife away. What? That plot sounds absolutely insane but that’s more or less what the game is about. But fear not, the dark and wavy forests of Alan Wake are lined with impressive gun play and some of the best lighting effects you’ve ever seen. The story is also at the center of this adventure thanks to developers Remedy and director/writer Sam Lake. The game is separated into episodes, similar to a T.V. show and each episode even gives a recap of what happened previously. It all ties into a very writerly style of presentation. Outside of the presentation, Alan Wake’s best moments come from the players constant need of light. With that being said, the game is a very dark place and this gives the player a real sense of dread and tension that never really goes away. For a survival horror game, that’s one of the best things which makes Alan Wake one of the best in its genre.




Halo 4

…if a game such as Halo, where you mostly shoot shit, makes you actually feel emotional, then that’s probably a good thing.

After a few years of drifting through deep space,  John 117 made his triumphant return and damn was it really really nice to look at it. I don’t know how the team at 343 Industries pulled it off but the fourth installment to Microsoft’s most popular video game franchise pushed the aging Xbox 360 to its very limits with gorgeous scenery and an even more impressive audio design. Halo 4 was one of the few games I actually played to the end in one sitting. The shooting mechanics were perfected and the missions were designed with diverse gameplay. Players got to ride in tanks, take to the skies for aerial combat, as well as the usual run and gun. Couple this with the highly cinematic campaign and top notch voice acting, boring moments in Halo 4 were nearly non existent. For about 75 percent of the game I felt that the game was a nice improvement over its predecessor but then it happened. The ending of the game had me feeling all sorts of, well, feels. And if a game such as Halo, where you mostly shoot shit, makes you actually feel emotional, then that’s probably a good thing. Thanks to its awarding winning A/V, its top-notch writing along with its unprecedented online community, Halo 4 is the best Halo game yet and is one of the Xbox 360’s greatest titles.




Batman: Arkham City

I don’t know what to say, this game is badass.

Here we go. I played Arkham Asylum and beat the hell out of that game. Asylum was the first superhero game where I actually felt like I was the superhero. I am Batman. In Arkham City, you play as the Dark Knight but it’s completely open world this time around. You can zip across rooftops with your grappling hook, or glyde around with your cape. You can drop down and beat the living crap out of bad guys or go find Riddler trophies that are scattered all over the game. You had all of the Bat’s gadgets including an impressive amount of upgrades. This time around though, you could also play as Ms. Selina Kyle, Catwoman herself which gave the game a nice pace. As with its predecessor, Arkham City built an incredible story full of crazy twists and turns. The acting of Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy was also brilliant as ever. And then, gah, I, I just can’t. I don’t know what to say, this game is badass. Just one of the greatest games ever. I put close to 50 hours into the game, I got just about every Riddler Trophy (before I lost my save) and tracked down every side quest. I love Batman, I love this game.

Away From Keyboard: The Pirate Bay Documentary


Browsing the webs as I tend to do most of the time, I came across the Pirate Bay documentary that had been released a while ago, which up until now didn’t bother to see it. Bored at home and nothing to do, I decided i might as well see it finally. Scouring through the Pirate Bay (yes I have been to the site), I found a nice quality version and downloaded it to my computer, as the creators had intended. This film hooked me, from the opening scene, with the guys packing up their hardware and moving, before being put on trial.

First off though, let me give a brief history of the site. The Pirate Bay is a peer-to-peer file sharing site started by three men: Gottfried Svartholm Warg (a scary looking lad with a badass beard); Fredrik Neij (a programmer who loves the booze as much as coding); and the spokesperson for the site, Peter Sunde (either he never sleeps or dabbles in the drugs). These three men started the site back in 2003, and solely operated what would become the largest file sharing site on the planet. Because of what their site is and who uploads (putting content on the site) the various things, they are being targeted by the biggest industries in the world from the music industry to the movie industry. Companies after companies what their heads on spikes, and three seemed baffled by this.

Watching this film, it shows us who these men are: not evil people purposefully trying to bring down corporations; just 3 nerds who wanted a site for people to share stuff with each other, and who like programming. I use nerd in a good sense of the word. For example, the beginning of the film is the beginning of the trial, and the three me are being questioned. Peter is asked, “when was the firs time you met IRL” with IRL meaning in real life. He responds with, “we don’t use the expression IRL. We say AFK. But that’s another issue.” AFK for those unaware means Away From Keyboard. Another example is a little bit later, the three are standing outside of some building in the morning, and they are joking around how the prosecutor mixed up the terms bits and bytes. Its little nerdy things like that which i feel show their character and who they are.


What i love about this documentary is that for once, the viewer is shown the other side of the equation. In the mass media, we seem to only get the movie industry side of the argument over the issue of the pirate bay and piracy; but here we see the side of three men fighting to stay out of jail for a crime they feel they did not commit (and i don’t believe they did either).

It sickened me yet somehow made me totally not shocked how the courts of Sweden seems to work the same as ones in America: a system ruled by the idea that you’re automatically guilty until proved innocent. It’s because of that attitude, that i wasn’t shocked by the verdict in the trial, just disappointed.

Another striking thing is not just a film about three men on trial but of a trial about the freedom of the internet. It was professor (and self professed old man) Roger Wallis, who gave the best quote in regards over the issue of Copyrights. He said, “I support copyright, but only if it encourages creativity- or economic enticement or an incentive to create. Not the way copyright is now, as a huge control mechanism – for people who sit on large swathes of rights.” Those words speak for themselves, and it is true that copyrights and trademarks and the patent system is absolutely out of whack and needs fixing.

The whole film delves through the long process, the agonizing process of trial, up until the final verdict, landing the men in jail.  The courts had sentenced the key programmer Frederik to 10 months, and the key spokesman Peter who received 8 month, with a fine of $6.6 million. The third man Gottfried had fleed the country and was in Madagascar, when authorities had caught him and sent him back to Sweden, where he was charged with various other hacking crimes.


Were the three men right or wrong? Should they be punished for other people posting on their site? Well that’s really up to your beliefs. I personally don’t think they should be the ones punished. I see torrent sites such as the pirate bay like rental sites. You go on there, search for a movie or music you want to try out to see if you like it. If you do, great, go out and buy that film or CD. Is it all like this? No, of course not. But in a time when the economy is still in the toilet, people have harder times finding jobs, and when they do manage to find them, spend it all on living expenses, they a lot of the times might not have those extra funds to watch a film. So when you expect people to spend 20 dollars, 30 dollars on a movie they might have not seen, and might not like, well they are less likely to. Sure there are rental services like Redbox or Netflix, but they don’t always have what someone is looking for.  This is just me though. Let me know what you think of the film, and/or of your opinion on the subject in the comments below.

All in all, this film was really well done I thought. The sound quality was superb, the video superb, the writing and direction of the film were really good. The way this film was shot like a crime thriller suspenseful movie, keeping me engaged throughout the whole film. If you are interested in this topic of file sharing and it’s place in the world, or want to study up more on it, I would wholeheartedly recommend this film.

If you want to watch it, you can find it on, well I guess it’d be obvious, The Pirate Bay. While this blog doesn’t condone anyone stealing movies or music, this is one film that was meant to be watched in the living room or on your computer or portable device, downloaded from such a file sharing site. Yet for those who don’t want to go to such a site, or don’t know how to download from a file-sharing site, you can find the movie below, courtesy of youtube.