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Archive for September, 2008

Busy Week

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

Yesterday was a haze of busy busy. As is today. So much work, so little time.

Telltale sent me Strongbadia the Free last night, and I beat that in a little under three hours. A definite step down from Episode 1, but it’s looking at a 6 most likely.

Jesus, I have over 2K in freelance contracts I signed this morning. I’ve been doing a lot of writing in addition to my DHGF stuff.

Next week is a crazy travel week, which fits with the crazy workload I have. Why must both hit at once? Boo-urns.

No real plans for the week so far. I know Konami is sending me the new DDR for the Wii, so that’ll at least keep me off my duff (like I don’t exercise enough) instead of sitting in front of a screen.

We’ve become the house of packages as of late.

I’ve definitely adapted to VA weather. I went out side this morning and was like, “Brrr, it is cold today.” According to my car it was 65. Of course, yesterday was 90 so that is a bit of a drop, and I’m certainly feeling it in my sinuses. Grrr.

HBK World Tour Update

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Kansas City. MO - 09/23-24

New York, NY 09/24-09/26

Salem, Ma, Boston, Ma, and Providence RI 10/29-11/2

Minneapolis, MN 11/22 - 11/29

Review #213

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

Hell’s Kitchen: The Game
Developer: Ludia Inc.
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Cooking
Release Date 09/10/2008

Hell’s Kitchen: The Game marks both Ludia and Gordon Ramsay’s first foray into video games. Thankfully their publisher, Ubisoft is no stranger to gaming, especially cooking games. Early this year Ubisoft published Gourmet Chef, for the Nintendo DS, which turned out to be an enjoyable game, and one of the better DS titles I’ve played this year.

In regards to Hell’s Kitchen, I have to admit I have never watched the reality show competition this game is based on, nor do I want to. While both the US and UK versions of Kitchen Nightmares were okay, I’ve never been a fan of the way Gordon Ramsay bullies, cajoles and screams profanity in his attempt to better people. In terms of celebrity chefs, Ramsay sits right below Guy Fieri and Bobby Flay in the douchebag category. (For those interested my favorite Celeb chefs are Ming Tsai, Emeril Legasse, and Hiroyoki Sakai.)

Thankfully Hell’s Kitchen: The Game has nothing to do with the TV show. It’s merely a cooking video game that uses Chef Ramsay’s voice and likeness. As I reviewed Gourmet Chef, and I have Iron Chef and Jamie Oliver’s games slated for review down the line, I thought I might as well pick up this title as well to make a clean sweep of all the cooking video games coming out this year. (Not to be confused with Can’t Decide What to Eat which the other Alix will be reviewing, as that’s not a cooking game but an actual digital cookbook.

So is HK:TG worth picking up, or is the game as Chef Ramsay would say, “Donkey piss?”

Review #212

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Developer: Midway Studios - LA
Publisher: Midway
Genre: Wrestling
Release Date: 09/10/2008

I really haven’t been a wrestling fan in years. I stopped watching after Wrestlemania X8 when Vince managed to blow the NWO angle. Of course I was primarily an AWA, UWF and AJ/NJPW fan, so it’s no surprise the WWE being a monopoly eventually wore me out.

That isn’t to say I stopped watching wrestling all together. I own 26 wrestling dvd’s, which include the big ass Summerslam and Royal Rumble anthologies. So it just means occasionally I get to see something new. Sometimes it’s great (Royal Rumble 2007) and sometimes it’s well…not.

A few years ago, friends of mine raved about this new company called TNA. It was supposedly a mix of Smokey Mountain, ECW, and Mid-South in feel. It had Ken Shamrock, Jeff Hardy, Raven and a bunch of new guys. So when Don West had one of his crazy DVD deals I picked up four TNA dvd’s to see if it would interest me. They were: Best of Raven, Best of AJ Styles, Best of Jeff Hardy, and the Most Violent Matches, or something like that. Out of all four, the only one that really interested me was the Jeff Hardy disk. The others were okay, but I’ve seen Raven/Sandman zillions of times live at the ECW arena and AJ Styles was the most over-rated wrestler I’d seen in a long time. So I traded them all in and never really gave TNA much thought after that.

Then I was called on to review this game by Jon Widro and some friends of mine over at Pulse Wrestling. See, even though I’ve been out of the loop with WRESTLING (I will not call it Sports Entertainment), I know my stuff. That and everyone loved my Macho Man Diaries for the virtually unplayable Wrestlemania XXI for the Xbox. However when I mentioned to the Pulse’s resident wrestling guru Aaron Glazer that I was playing this game his words were a foreboding, “Oh Christ.” I was surprised. I mean this game has Angle, STING(!), Booker T, Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash, Jeff Jarrett, and wait…is this TNA or legends of WCW? Thankfully the game came with a bonus disc of five matches and there were yet another five matches on the game itself as bonus material. Before playing the game I watched all ten matches…and was actually pretty bored with the content, seeing as they were all 95% punches and kicks, then trading finishers. Even a Sandman/New Jack brawl had more wrestling moves then these matches. But don’t think that means I’m anti-wrestling. I just finished the Mr. Perfect DVD that came out on 9/9 and I loved it. They might not have been the best matches to represent Curt, but I’ll take 2 Bret/Hennig matches, and any Kerry Von Erich/Perfect match anyday.

So the question that remains is, was TNA IMPACT as boring a game as I found their matches, do we finally have a wrestling game that can break the stranglehold Yukes/THQ has on the North American market with its below average games (Although Sd Vs. Raw 2k6 was the best I’ve seen by them in half a decade), or maybe, just maybe, we have a game that has pushed Wrestlemania XXI to the silver and WCW Thunder to the bronze in the “Worst Wrestling Game Ever” competition.

8 Films to Die For III

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Okay the first year? Fucking amazing and I own all but the Awakened. I should probably dump one or two others, but a friend of mine is (who thinks my Pokemon gimmick is sexy, go figure) in the worst one that I own, so I can’t really get rid of that.

The second year? Oh man, shit-tastic aside from Mulberry Street, which truthfully wasn’t that great. it was a nice plot, original ideas, but they never should have fully shown the wererats.

Yes, wererats.

Anyway, five of the 8 films have been announced for this year, and I’m not sure if I’m going to participate this year….

1. Broken. Girl meets mirror version of herself, then learns her family and friends are part of some craaaazy conspiracy. Okay then.

2. Slaughter. Derranged cannibal farm family. Yep.

3. Perkins 14, which actually sounds awesome. Serial killer who actually doesn’t kill but tortures and brainwashes his victims into becoming killers themselves. When he dies, they all go berzerk and so the father of one has to shut them all down. Sounds more like an action film, but the summary on the site sounds nifty.

4. Butterfly Effect: Revelation - DID WE NEED ANOTHER ONE OF THESE FILMS! Why is there a sequel in indie horror that is neither indie nor horror?

5. From Within. Sounds like an Americanized Suicide Club.

You can learn more about these films at the Horrorfest website.

Hopefully it will be better then last year, but more and more I’m thinking the first year was a huge fluke.


Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Jesus what a week it has been. Friday was a 13 hour work day basically entitled, “alex saves everyone else’s ass because they don’t know how to do their freakin’ jobs!” That was fun. Especially as the damned retarded Military Times took until that morning to get me the layout specs for their pages. INSANE. I didn’t leave the office until a little after 8 and came home to find Ferrari Challenge waiting for me. Umm, yay?

Saturday was a date of which we will never speak of again, reviewing Outcry, working otu and blah blah blah. Nothing Major.

I can’t even remember Sunday, that’s how busy this weekend was. Just a blur of going places and doing things in the remnants of a hurricane.

Monday was utterly batshit as the proofs and ad designs I had done for the company Friday night were STILL NOT DELIVERED TO THE PRESS. I swear to god I about walked out then and there. That was a long day of work.

Today I come in to find an email from the Military Press who a) Could figure out how to use InDesign files even though that’s one of the two formats they told me to send documents in…but they could use exported PDF’s of the files. Sigh. Of course the PDF’s were what I tried sending originally but they can only take emails of 5 MB or less. Publishing files of 5MB or less. That’s like a freaking PAGE in Indesign if it is graphically intensive. Sigh. Finally I got them to give me their ftp site which I had had been asking about for a month. Dipshits. Utter utter dipshits.

On the wacky side of things I joined www.paperbackswap.com and its DVD sister site Swapadvd.com I’ve already mailed 10 books and 22 DVD’s and have 8 DVD’s and 18 books coming. It’s a great way to get rid of crap and although the DVD site is lacking in choices that *I* want (considering how big my collection is) I can swap trade credits over to the book site, which has a ton of books I have been look for for years. Plus a DVD credit is worth 1.5 book credits.

If you sign up, let me know. I’m at http://alexlucard.paperbackswap.com and http://alexlucard.swapadvd.com. It’ll be neat to see what you all have.

Review #211

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

Developer: Phantomery Interactive
Publisher: The Adventure Company
Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 09/03/2008

Russia puts out some weird surreal video games. It’s one of the reasons I love them so. A few years ago I imported Pathologic and it still remains the freakiest most f’d up game I have ever played. Although it’s never come to North America, you can download it through Gamer’s Gate. Ever since then, I’ve paid close attention to what’s being developed in the remnants of the former Soviet Union.

So enter Outcry, originally titled Sublustrum back in Eurasia. I remember stumbling across the game’s website and I found it to be one of the freakiest and coolest websites for a game I’ve ever seen. Check it out here. So of course I was quite excited when TAC decided to bring it stateside.

It’s been a banner year for adventure games, with titles ranging from the awesome like The Sinking Island and The Lost Crown to retched piles of dung like Sherlock Holmes: Nemesis and Dracula 3. With Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel and Nikopol also coming out this month. It’s going to be a busy time for an Adventure game fan’s wallet.

So is Outcry a contender for our adventure game of the year, or is it better left sitting on the rock on your local store?

Can it be weekend time now please?

Friday, September 5th, 2008

Jesus god, in 24 hours I have now designed 15 ads for various charities. The deadline to get them in to the publisher is today and we were told after I left yesterday (after putting in a 10 hour day) we need to format the ads ourselves. And they still haven’t given me the dimensions column spread or anything. After having some words with them the deadline has been pushed back towards Tuesday but I’m still pissed at the sloppiness that tends to go along with every other editor on the planet but myself and Becky. Granted, I can’t edit myself,but most people can. How hard is it to get your customer stats for your publications? Jesus, fuck.

Nearly done Adam Nimoy’s “Anti-Memoir.” This was one of those uncorrected proof/review copies sent to me via Amazon and the publisher and I have to say, it’s one of the best (and funniest) biographies I’ve ever read. It’ll be the book of the week for next week for sure.

I finally found out how I got into the reviewers circle with various book/dvd publishers. Nyogtha. It turns out a bunch of old readers are in the publishing industry and wanted me to write something other then video gaming bullshit, so they got together and put me through for the gig. God knows I was the last to know, but thank you guys for thinking of me and getting me more free stuff. I will say that my free time is nil at this point from every company on the planet deciding my opinion is more valid then most (It’s not, but thanks for the ego boost!), but generally said free time is doing stuff with Kim or I’ll be going down to the State fair in a few weeks and probably saying hi to Joy or one of my other friends on an all day excersion, so having books and DVD’s to review gives me an excuse to spend more time petting the rabbits.

Outcry arrived yesterday. Very nice Adventure game and possible nominee for the point n’ click award of the year. It’s City of Lost Children meets From Beyond. Weird and awesome and fucked up.

This weekend should be mostly laid back. Hmmm. Nandos?

Book of the Week - Week 3

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

I wrote this up for Amazon on Monday, but I forgot to put it in here. D’oh. Chalk it up to doing print advertisments for 140 or so charities for the CFC, and getting swag for reviews by Amazon. Yay print design work! Boo for explaining web quality vs. print quality graphics. Anyway. here’s the book.

When I picked up The Bordeaux Betrayal, I had no idea it was the third book in the series. I picked it up mainly because I had just finished reading The Billionaire’s Vinegar and thouight it would be a good plunge back into fiction after that.

I found this to be one of the best mysteries I have read in years. All of the characters are well developed, albeit flawed individuals and I had a hard time putting it down.

The book is told from a first person perspective by Lucie Montgomery, the main character in the book. Lucie is 30-ish owner of a vineyard preparing for a charity wine auction. The prize piece from this auction is a Jeffersonian wine that was meant to be a gift for George Washington, but when an irreputable writer on wine hints to Lucie that there is something amiss with the bottle, Lucie begins to wonder if she has a fake on her hands. Things compound when this writer, who is also having an intimate relationship with the man she believes to be her cousin’s fiance, turns up quite dead the next day.

From there the book spirals into a mystery filled with a large array of characters, all of whom are interconnected as both friends and neighbors with attitudes and alliances constantly shifting. The end of the whodunit is a bit out of left field with another murder, the invoking of Godwin’s Law, and a slightly unsatisfactory ending, but make no mistake about it, the book is a high paced page turner with a lot of detail to not only the character’s personalities, but the surroundings of the Virginia Wine region.

I was also quite happy that the book stands alone on its own. Having not read either of Ms. Crosby’s previous two novels in this series, I was a bit worried that there would be a lot of continuity and back story that would be needed in order to enjoy the book. I am happy to say there is no issue as such, and that I am looking forward to reading the other books in the series.

This was a great little find, and although it has a few small flaws that were mentioned above, I think The Bordeaux Betrayal is a wonderful book that will appeal to most mystery fans.

Back to the Grind

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

I had a lovely three day weekend. Saturday was a lot of exercising and then seeing Hamlet 2 which was quite amusing. That’ll be an eventual addition to the DVD collection.

Sunday saw me drive up to Hanover, PA, which is Kim’s home, and do the Chili Cook-Off they have there. I got there early as Kim let me know it was a very religious conservative town. Now you’re probably thinking I went there to get in and get out, but the real reason I got there early is I figured most people would be at church early on which would leave me with clear shots at all the chili varities. And I was right. By the time the crowd really got going I had tasted two servings of each kind of chili. Oh lord. Oddly enough, the collection of beans and fibery goodness never hit me.

On the way home I stopped in Gettysburg as it was on the way and I had never been. I guess it’s interesting if you are a Civil War buff but for me, it was just a bunch of fields. In retrospecti should have taken pictures and done a follow-up Nyogtha to one I did a few years ago.

The rest of Sunday was writing the Disgaea review and watching some A&E haunting documentaries Amazon sent me to review. I’m liking the books and DVD’s Amazon is sending me for free these days as it mixes up with the games I have to review and keeps me from burnout.

Monday was a loaf day of just playing Disgaea, reading, playing with rabbits, exercising and watching the hit counter on DHGF explode. yesterday we did twice the hits we did the day CNN linked to us. I’m just hoping my guys can keep the content coming to keep the new audience coming back for more.

This week I’ve got nothing on my plate. Amazon is sending me a set of Travel Channel documentaries on haunted places which is no doubt at TC’s urging and a book or two. No video games though so it’ll be a nice relaxing week for me. At least at home.