Archive for June, 2013

Let no one every tell you that perseverance doesn’t pay off, because I have way too many examples to offer you from my life for that to be reasonably true. More specifically, I’m referring to my fruitless job search. I’ve been plugging away at all my options for weeks now, and I’ve finally won! This past week, I was offered a position Quality Control Technician at an A/V presentation company called Freeman.

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It all-in-all took 3 interviews to get there, but at long last the senior hiring manager saw enough in me that he liked that he extended me an off, which I gladly accepted. I’ll start with them after July 4th, so I’ll need to make the best of the complete freedom that I have left.

I’ll probably start by trying to knock off some more of the movies off my Summer Watch List. I’m a little bit behind right now, but I did get to see Man of Steel since the last time I did a review. I’m prepared to render my judgement on the movie, but I may need to toss in a few SPOILERS to adequately get my point across, so if you don’t want to have any plot points or story details ruined for you, skip to the end of this review.

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So, Man of Steel, the Superman movie of this decade. This movie had a lot going for it…intense action, a very strong cast, and a very followable storyline. All things considered though, this movie fell awfully short. That’s even considering that I walked into this film with low expectations, and I still left somewhat disappointed. One of the things that killed the movie for me was the origin story. It was told well, but it’s been told so many times. I feel like even non-Superman fans know what his deal is. “Hey, do you know where Superman comes from?” “Krypton, right?” “Yea, I think you’re right.” Maybe they felt like it was necessary to better set up the villain, but I was dreading seeing it…and there it was. Another thing that I had a problem with was…earmuffs guys, SPOILER, Superman didn’t save the day. Yea, he defeated the villain(s), but he completely let Metropolis get destroyed. Like, the entire city, broken up like Saltines in a soup. He was a main contributing factor to it as well, carelessly tossing his foes through building with complete disregard to the buildings and their occupants. And after a false ending, he comes back to a repaired city, where no one addresses what he did. “Oh, we spent billions of dollars getting the city back on it’s feet…what’s up Superdude!” Dafuq? That’s one thing I loved about The Avengers; at the end of the movie they had those news broadcasts where some of the citizens ask that the Avengers be held accountable for what happened to the city. /SPOILER. Another thing that I had a problem with is that I never felt a strong connection with any of the characters, I never felt invested. Not Lois, not Ma and Pa Kent, not even the biological parents, Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van. I felt not even a tiny tug on the heart strings when they parished in the destruction of Krypton.

What I’m trying to say is that my overall feeling for the movie is…blah. And this is a superhero movie, you’re suposed to walk out feeling  pumped, patriotic, and faux-powerful. Meh was the exact sentiment I exited the theater with. I’m just glad that I didn’t go in with high hopes for the movie, only to have them brought crashing down…with Metropolis.
Man of Steel4 out of 10

Whatever. I ain’t mad. On the contrary, I’m pretty happy. I know I just got a job, but I’ve got more to be happy about as well. Microsoft has pulled a complete 180 in regards to their DRM policy for the Xbox One. I went in to the DRM policies of the One on my June 2nd post, and again some of the backlash on my last post, but all of that can be tossed out of the window after a press release this past week. So what does that mean for potential buyers of the One? Here’s what changes Microsoft has claimed they will make to the X1’s functionality.

  • No more always online requirement
  • No more 24-hour check-in
  • Game discs will function on the X1 as they do now on the 360
  • No more authentication
  • Internet only required with initial console setup
  • All downloaded games will function the same whether being played offline or online.
  • No additional restrictions on traded on loaned games
  • No more region locks

A lot of people are saying that this is Microsoft backpedaling, trying to save their console and their bottom line before the Next Generation War has even begun. There’s obvious antagonism in that sentiment, and while it’s probably true, I choose to see things a little differently.

Everyone was up in arms after the initial announcement of the Xbox One’s DRM policies, and it was painstakingly apparent at E3 that consumers wanted blood, despite the fanfare. But Microsoft, at that point, decided to do what most good companies do when their consumers turn against them…listen to them. I don’t see this as Microsoft backpedaling…more rather them taking the high road and giving their customers what they want. Isn’t that the first rule of business…the customer is always right? I applaud them for having the humility to admit that they were wrong, and in trying to do something innovative…failed their market. If you want to read their corporate release, straight from the horse’s mouth, you can check it out here.

All in all, this past week has worked out absolutely swimmingly. I’m not sure when I’ll get around to my next post, as I’ll be out of town this coming weekend. I’ll get around to it, I promise…I always do at some point, right? Till then…

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

– CVSleen

My hasty version of a Shooter Sandwich

My hasty version of a Shooter Sandwich

I didn’t know whether I was going to get the opportunity to talk about all of E3‘s glorious and wonders here, but as it turns out, I’ll be divulging everything here.

It wasn’t easy finding everything this year. I thought that when Spike said that they had E3’s exclusive coverage for this year, that they were going to do more than cover the absolute bare minimum. They aired the Microsoft press event, and Sony‘s event…and then for some reason decided start on on a year-old Ink Master marathon. Where did the rest of the E3 conference go…to a tiny screen on gametrailers.com. I guess gametrailers has some kind of affiliation with Spike, but I was expecting all day coverage on TV the way that G4 used to do things. Neither have I really been able to find archived footage of it, so finding comprehensive information has been a bit difficult.
Anyways, I’m mad a Spike…I don’t need or want to go in depth to that. You’re here for one reason today: E3. So let’s get down to brass tax.

Microsoft and Sony made large stage performances on the E3 stage this past week, as well as a number of third party game developers for the consoles. Nintendo also had it’s own independent conference that coincided with the E3 press event. I’ve been all over the interwebz looking for the best of all the presentations, and I’ve got some stuff here…so let’s get started.

Microsoft’s Conference was the first up for the day, and though they went very heavy on software, they also announced a few more details about the Xbox One that they didn’t make available. The biggest question mark they shed light to was the price point.

The Xbox One, at this point in time, is set at $499 US/£429 UK/€499 European. It’s a little steep, but this is also considering that the Kinect is included with the console on release, in all versions that they might have. Last time I looked at Best Buy, the Kinect for the 360 was right in around $100. That puts the price point for the console itself and the other included components right in around $400. I really don’t think that’s too outrageous, but it’s still pretty pricey.

Microsoft is still reluctant to post the full specifications to their new console, but if you want to know what they’ve up to this point, this might be a good place to look.

Microsoft also announced that available immediately is a new version of the Xbox 360, made to look more like the One, with cleaned up hardware.

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The price point for it is decent, and Microsoft is planning on supporting it with new games for quite a while now still. I’ll link you to some more info in case you’re interested.

As I mentioned, Microsoft is going to keep supporting the 360 with new titles, through the release of the Xbox One, and that brings me to the focus of Microsoft’s presentation…games!

Microsoft has quite a few exclusive titles that they brought to the table for this show, and here’s a few of the ones that caught my fancy.

Dead Rising 3
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Dead Rising 3 is Capcom’s latest installment to their addition to the vast number of zombie games on the market. Slightly more serious in tone than the past two installments, DR3 lets you craft weapons from your surroundings to rain down devastation on the zombie population that stands between you and your objective. I’ve never played DR1 or DR2, but this one has me interested.

Forza Motorsport 5
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Forza Motorsport was Microsoft and Turn 10 Studios answer to the Playstation exclusive Gran Turismo franchise. I’m really not the authority to say how well Forza matches up to Gran Turismo’s physics, car collection, customizability, map selection, or graphics…but i will say that I’ve always been impressed with the franchise, and I’m interested to see how it looks on the X1.

Halo
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It wouldn’t really be Xbox party if the Master Chief didn’t show up. And sure enough, the bad boy in green did. That’s about all I can say about this game though, because there is a startling lack of information out there. It doesn’t even have an official name at this point. The most official title I’ve found is “Halo (for Xbox One)“. There are a couple of theories out there as to why the lack of info, the one that I believe is that 343 still has a lot of development to do, and they wanted to give Microsoft just enough rope to be able to reel everyone in. We’ll see if it works, I guess.

Killer Instinct
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The legendary fighter returns…sort of. It was an Arcade fighter turned console fighter back in 1994 on the SNES. It borrowed a lot of style and components from both Street Fighter and Mortal Combat. Not original by any sense of the word, but I played it and found it fun at the time. It’ll be cool to find out what the next iteration advances on from it’s big brother several console generations ago.

Minecraft Xbox One Edition*
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I don’t see anything increasing in the graphical quality of this game, as the blockiness is part of its appeal. This game has a cult following, one that I’m reluctant to join because I hear that it can suck people in worse than WoW in some cases. In the past year or so Mojang made the decision to port it over to the 360, and it’s had some amazing success. They’ll continue to offer it on the One once it hits markets, but you’ll never find a physical copy of this game, as there has never been one in the games history.

Project Spark
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This game is a bit of an enigma to me. The game is completely customizable; from the landscape, to the characters, even down to the plot and objectives. I don’t think that the creation is based on resources either, like Minecraft. I don’t really get what this game is about, unless it’s supposed to be like a God simulator. I dunno…I’m anxious to see what the deal with this game is.

Quantum Break
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This was one of the few titles that Microsoft decided to announce at their Xbox One reveal a number of weeks ago. Not a lot of sense could really be made of the title then, but it’s evident now that this is some sort of time travel mystery game, that unfolds in episodic content, with some live action storyline, like a TV show. I wonder if this is supposed to work like The Walking Dead, or maybe Halo 4. The game looks interesting as hell. I’m betting that the time travel works more as a plot device, and less of an actual gameplay element like Prince of Persia had it. Either way, I bet it’s gonna rock.

The last Microsoft exclusive that really caught my eye is by far my favorite part of E3, and might end up being the console seller for yours truly.

Titanfall*
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Titanfall is a multiplayer only title where you can switch between either a free-running first person shooter, or pilot-able mechs, called Titans, capable of immense destruction. I actually just found out not long ago that this was a multiplayer only title, no single player at all. I love a good campaign, so I’m not sure how I feel about this, but this game looks beautiful. And I love a good Mech game. Mech Warrior and Armored Core used to be my jam. Add a little dash of Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed to that, and this game could be completely amazing. I hope I’m not overhyping it up.

Those were the highlights I saw from the Microsoft conference…and while we’re still on the subject, Microsoft made clear a lot of the…for lack of a better word, issues that had a lot of people up in arms after their reveal event.

Yes, the Kinect will always be on, but it can also be paused. That’s not a lot of assurance with everyone that wants to worry about the government or hackers looking in on us…but don’t we already have smartphones and laptops with built in cameras that already have cameras installed anyways?

There’s also the issue of DRM and selling of used games. Microsoft has made the selling of games to certain retailers possible, and made it so that the retailer and the publisher both benefit, and you still some money back. They’ve also made it possible for the limited sharing of games with friends and family. You don’t have to take my word for it; take theirs instead. You can get it straight from the horses mouth here.

Moving on now…Sony took the stage after Microsoft was done. And finally, finally…we got a look at what the Playstation 4 will actually look like.

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Honestly, I expected something a lot more sleek and sexy than this…but whatever. All they want it to do is play games, so if that’s what it does, and does it well, there’s really nothing to complain about. That’s been their whole platform for this campaign; the PS4 is a fully amped gaming machine…nothing more, nothing less. Though don’t get me wrong, it still has a blue-ray drive, so it’ll still play movies. The price point for this machine is $399 US/£349 UK/€399 European, beating out the X1 by a cool benjamin. I really don’t know if that price has there motion controller (Move I think) included in the price, but the high initial price of the PS3 is what crippled it early on. They came ready to compete this generation.

I won’t drone on about the tech specs of the PS4 while more informed people are doing it right here…so, on with the games.

Blacklight: Retribution*
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Blacklight: Retribution is going to be a free-to-play FPS set in a futuristic urban environment. This already is a playable PC game, and I could be mistaken, but I think this is predominantly a multiplayer game. I’m willing to bet this is a game whose true purpose will be to showcase the speed and beauty of the PS4’s graphics. Looks pretty cool regardless, and with a price of $0, you’re pretty much guaranteed to seek it out at some point.

Drive Club
Drive Club PS4 Evolution

Why is this on my list when you know that Gran Turismo is going to pop up too? Well, of the small amount I know about this game, I still think it sounds pretty cool. This is racing game that has a very social aspect to it. It is a very team based racer, and it’s up to you to build your team. This is literally a car club game, where you compete against other clubs for prestige. It promises incredible graphics, but let’s see how it stacks up to Gran Turismo. Speaking of…

Gran Turismo 6
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This game pretty much speaks for itself. It is the standard when it comes to driving games. Excuse me…racing simulators. Forza challenges in pretty much every way, but this has always been a great franchise and has been around a lot longer. You can definitely stand to see a slew of new cars and maps. The game also promises a new physics engine, a new aerodynamics engine, and a new rendering engine. The game is promising a lot, and I guarantee you all we’ll notice are the shiny new cars.

inFAMOUS: Second Son
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New main character, new set of problems. 7 years down the road from inFAMOUS 2, our new protagonist, Delsin Rowe begins developing powers, and becomes a target for the newly-formed Department of Unified Protection, or DUP. Naturally, he’ll do what he can to go against their wishes. I really know next to nothing about this series, but have always sat back and thought that it looked pretty. If I end up acquiring a PS4, this will be a title I pick up.

Knack
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I really don’t know what to say about this game besides it just looks cool, the same way Katamari Damacy did. In fact, I’m pretty sure this was developed by a Japanese company. I can’t do this game justice by way of explanation, so maybe Sony can do a better job here.

Killzone: Shadow Fall
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I feel like you either know this franchise or you don’t, and as I never had a PS3, I was one of those people that sat back and had my friends tell me, “Don’t worry, it’s cool.” All I really know of the series is that the perpetual enemy is the Helghast, and this game is no different. 30 years past Killzone 3, and they are still a thorn in your side, so gear up and get ready to shoot.

The Order: 1886
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Go back to 1886. No, really. Take what you have now, and go back to 1886. This game looks exactly the opposite of steam punk. Instead of taking the past into the present, it’s taking the present into the past. My info on the game is limited, but I know that I’m seeing farely modern guns brought back to the pre motorist days of horse drawn carriages. You know, slap a tazer and an M4 in the hands of Sherlock holmes type stuff. You’re a member of an elite order of knights tasked with conquering an ancient evil. Up to the task?

Transistor*
Transistor

The art style of this game is what really catches my eye. Transistor is a sci-fi RPG, set…someplace and sometime in the future. You acquire this mystery weapon of unknown origin, called a Transistor. The weapon looks like something akin to one of Cloud Strife’s buster swords later in the game of Final Fantasy VII. All along the story of the game, you’ll piece together Transistor’s mysteries in the pursuit of the original owners of the weapon. The appeal of this game, as far as I’m concerned, is completely visual. But the gameplay is supposed to be fast-paced, and requisite of some strategy and forethought, so this could turn out to be a big breakaway hit.

Now, I’m admittedly since I skipped over a generation with Sony, so I wanted to include one more game for them, so…

Warframe*
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This is another one of the “Free-to-Play” from launch titles that will accompany the PS4’s release. A 3rd person action game, focused on co-op and teamplay, you set out and do battle in numerous locations seeking artifacts to upgrade your Warframe. Build your stats, build your team, build your arsenal, and do battle. I don’t get the impression that there is a multiplayer element to this beyond a co-op campaign that can accomodate up to 4 players. It’s free, so why wouldn’t you check it out.

* The titles above listed with a (*) will also be released on their previous generation counterparts.

Now, as imagined, there are nearly twice as many titles being released cross-platform as there are console exclusives. I saw a lot more potential in these cross-platform games than I did the majority of exclusives, so let’s take a look at a few.

Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag*
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I still haven’t finished Assassin’s Creed 3, because it just feels like it’s dragging on and on. Even though I’m having my own personal problems with it, I am very excited about 4, if for no other reason than pirates. Swashbuckling, ship-to-ship combat, a yo-ho-ho, and certainly a few bottles of rum, what’s not to love. No, honestly, once ships came into play in the franchise back in like Brotherhood or Revelations, I’ve been wanting them to do a pirate game, and here it is. I’m stoked.

Call of Duty: Ghosts*
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The next leg of the franchise with a new cast, a new story, certainly some new guns, and…a dog! Not the pack of dogs multiplayer perk from a few of the previous games, a teammate through the campaign. I don’t know why it’s taken so long for this idea to come around, but I’m glad it did. Beyond the graphics engine, we can pretty much stand to expect exactly what we’ve received in the past: a pretty good campaign, and time-murdering multiplayer. Call of Duty has pretty much set the standard when it comes to FPS multiplayer (both Infinity Ward and Treyarch), and unless they really screwed this game up, you can probably expect to give all of your weekend to this game.

Destiny*
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I haven’t decided what next gen console I’m going to invest in yet, but I’ve had this game pre-ordered for months. Bungie, the people that brought us the original Halo franchise, now bring us Destiny. We must fight to protect the last Human city, and fight back across the battlefield of our own solar system. The early media for this game showed the experience extending beyond the console, expanding at least social aspects of the game to possibly our smartphones and tablets. This is supposed to be a game that, no matter how you play, will bring everyone together in an experience that fuses single player, co-op, and multiplayer together. Like I said, I already have this game pre-ordered, and I’m eagerly awaiting its release.

Final Fantasy XV
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I pushed the Final Fantasy franchise out of my mind a long time ago, while it still holds one of my all time favorite titles. Final Fantasy VII is almost inarguably the greatest title the franchise has produced, and deserves a nomination for greatest game…EVER. That being said, once Final Fantasy X was released, the franchise lost a lot of ground, and a lot of its fan base disappeared. I’ve been wondering when a good time would be to step back into the franchise.
It’s never easy to try and explain the plot of a Final Fantasy game, and more just suffice it to say that it’s a fantastic adventure. It does appear that way, and I’m really interested to see how the combat works since they left behind the turn-based model (yea, I’ve been out of the game for a while). Now might be the time to jump back in.

Kingdom Hearts 3
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God, how long have we been waiting for this. Never mind the handheld versions of the games that have been out since KH2, they’ve been waiting for ages to put out a full console sequel for this Disney/Square Enix giant. All we really know right now is that it is in development. As a result, there’s no date remotely in sight…in fact it might be a lot like Watch Dogs, and wait till next E3 to announce anything concrete for us. It’s been long awaited though.

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain*
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Metal Gear Solid has gone open-world, and given us a much more vast amount of freedom to accomplish our goals than ever before. Greater stealth options, myriads of vehicles at our disposal, a more dynamic CQC system…I’m just hoping I can dive back into the story. I missed out on MGS4 and MGRising (No PS3, realy kicking myself now), and I know that there’s a lot of story that can be told, but MGS3 was a prequil, and Snake was looking pretty spry in the demo for MGS5, so maybe this is a prequil too. They could have made another Snake though…maybe, no? I dunno. It’s a departure from the normalcy of the franchise, and looks pretty impressive to me, I’ll find it.

And lastly for me…

Watch Dogs*
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With seemingly the whole country worried about our government spying on us, there has never been a better political climate for this game to arrive at. This game was the sweetheart of E3 2012, and it’s now finally within our grasp. With the entirety of cities power grids, computer systems, and online data at your hands, there is nowhere you can’t reach, and nothing you can’t see. The city is your weapon. Take down the badest of the bad guys in ways that PRISM would be impressed by. We hate the idea that the government was spying on us, but if you were in the other seat, and let’s be honest, wouldn’t you want to have some fun?

There are a number of games that I skipped over or may have omitted, and while finding a full list of new titles is hard, this is the most complete list that I can find right here.

Now, I’m been pretty mum about Nintendo up to this point, and for good reason. They didn’t show up this year. No, really, they decided that they didn’t want to have a showing at E3 2013, at least not in any capacity the same as Microsoft, Sony, or the 3rd party developers. They instead held their own private conference via Nintendo Direct. Frankly, I’m pretty sure they know that they’re playing a different game at this point, and if they showed up like they did last year, they wouldn’t be there to compete. They did have a booth though and showed off some of their software. These were a few of the bigger news makers.

Mario Kart 8
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We’ve got another new installment of Mario Kart here with the expected new levels, new characters, and a new anti-gravity system? Not sure how that’s supposed to work.

Pokemon X and Y
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Pokemon has gone 3D! Or, they’ve at least moved into the world of polygonal graphics with the launch on X and Y to the Nintendo 3DS. I can’t even keep up with how many Pokemon there are now, I stopped counting at 151. Expect Pokemon X and Y to hit shelves in late October this year.

Super Mario 3D World
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Nintendo wouldn’t have bothered showing up at all if they didn’t have a new Super Mario title to announce, and they didn’t disappoint. I thought they’d already covered the great 3D aspects of the game when they put out Super Mario Galaxy, but I would be wrong. I’d love to tell you about some of the new gameplay here, but my only takeaway was the new catsuits. Catsuits. Be excited if you want, but I think I’m just going to sigh, and move on.

Super Smash Bros for Wii U
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I kind of beat around the bush with the rest of these Wii U titles, but I’m legitimately excited about this one. There’s always a big hubbub about what new characters the franchise is going to add to their lineup. Last year Solid Snake and Sonic were the big additions. This year…I finally got my wish.

Megaman-Super-Smash-Bros-debuts-trailer-featuring-the-Blue-Bomber

I’ve only been asking for Mega Man since the original Super Smash Bros on the N64. It’s about time. He’s also being joined by the Villager from…well, what is he from…Animal Crossing? And also…the Wii Fit Trainer. An odd choice on that one, but her moves look pretty good. Not quite as good as my Blue Bomber’s though…

megaman1

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megaman4

SupersmashBros

It sounds dumb, but this may be a console seller for me. I’ll be getting my hands on this as soon as I can.

For a fuller list of what Nintendo is serving up on their plate, look here.

Well, that’s just about everything I can wrap my head around. These are all the games and various tidbits of information that peeked my interests this past week at E3. If there’s anything else that you would have liked to see, or if you want to share a few of your favorite moments from the past week, please feel free to comment.

I’ll be back next week. I don’t know what my subject will be, but it’ll be hard to top this one. Won’t stop me from trying though. Till then…

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

– CVSleen

Barbecue Pork Spare Ribs

Barbecue Pork Spare Ribs

Alright gang, let’s bring it in. I’ve got some news for you, got some reviews, and a few other interesting things to discuss. Put your hands in…Team Nerd-Badass, ready…break!

I mentioned before that I’m in the middle of a grueling job search at the moment. Well, there might be a little light at the end of the tunnel now. I had a phone interview the other day with a hiring manager for a company Freeman. Freeman provides Audio/Video solutions for all kinds of presentations and conventions, some on a very large scale. Well, I guess I made an impression, because I have a more formal, wear your fancy pants, type interview set up for Monday. Keep your fingers crossed for me, I’m hoping this works out.

I’ve gone and seen a couple more movies that I have on my Summer See list, and I feel like I want to give some small reviews of them. Now, since these flicks are only a week old at this point, I’ll try to avoid any kind of spoilers. So here we go.

After Earth
After-Earth

The previews of this movie let you know that Will Smith is some kind of military badass, and on a trip with his son, their ship crash lands on the long abandoned planet Earth, on which everything has evolved to kill humanity. It sounds nice in theory, but once you learn that this was a film by M. Night Shyamalan, and your expectations are instantly lowered. I covered this much in my preview and said that I wasn’t holding my breath.
::sigh::
I wish that I could tell you that I was wrong about it. I can’t though, the bar was not raised.
To start things off, Will Smith’s character is injured in the crash, and basically spends the majority of the movie sitting and directing his son around. All the weight then comes to rest on Jaden Smith‘s shoulders…and god is his performance weak. Like, really weak. I never saw him in the Jackie Chan version of Karate Kid, but Jesus, the kid cannot act. Not even by elementary school standards.
The plot was extremely poor too, and completely reliant on the movies action. Hell, I’ll go ahead and spoil the movie for you. Jaden fights a bunch of creatures and elements, and finds the ships emergency beacon. That’s it! There’s some subplot thrown in there about finding and cultivating your inner badass, but it’s just weak.
The visuals in the movie were also so horrible. I’m talking the quality of the CGI, nothing looked real. Transformers; it looked legit, Rise of the Planet of the Apes; extremely convincing, After Earth; I could tell it was computer generated the whole time. I mean, I know that’s obvious, but my suspension of disbelief never took effect.
I want to grasp at straws here to find some redeeming qualities, but even the music in this movie didn’t feel like it matched. The underlying backstory was the only thing I felt mildly interesting. I don’t want to come right out and call this movie bad, but it certainly wasn’t good, so let’s leave it at that.
After Earth4 out of 10

On a related note, I read an article recently that compared the plot and the iconography to the values and pillars of Scientology. I was a really interesting article that made a fair few points. The comparison and linkage to Scientology might be one of the reasons why After Earth has gotten such poor patronage in its opening weekend. I dunno if I buy into all of what the article is selling, but I won’t deny y’all the opportunity to decide for yourselves. So here’s the link to the article for you.

Anyways, moving on…

Now You See Me
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The previews will tell you that this flick is about a group of 4 magicians, calling themselves the 4 Horsemen, staging elaborate bank heists under the guise of magic. This movie has an all star cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fischer, Dave Franco, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Mélanie Laurent, which you might recognize from Inglourious Basterds(2009). I’ve gotta say, they all deliver. The visuals in this movie were stunning, and the plot did a good job of pulling me in. I really left wishing there was more magic though…it was really more of a flashy heist movie. There are a few plot twists, a few cheesy lines, but a really good movie.
The thing is, I don’t know what else to say about this movie. As good as it was, it’s extremely forgettable. By the end of the weekend, it will have completely disappeared from my mind. It was great, but it didn’t grip me that well…it’s not really buzz worthy. It’s a very generic movie that, despite its star-studded cast, failed to blow me away. Normally I’m thinking about a movie from in my seat in the theater all the way to my bed, when I’m laying down at night. I walked out of the theater thinking about what was in my fridge at home, and I just ate at the theater! I wish I had more good things to say about this movie, but it was just good.
Now You See Me – 6 out of 10

I’m looking back on my summer movie list, and I’m realizing now that I forgot to post dates along with all those movies, so by the time you read this, you can go back and figure out when to pop all these into your schedules. I also don’t know what I was thinking adding American Mary to the list, that came out last year…brain fart, delete. There are a couple I want to add to the list as well.

The Bling Ring – 6/14
A group of celebrity obsessed teens use the internet and social media to track their favorite stars and rob their houses. I think I’m more interested in this flick because it features Emma Watson looking pretty sexy, and comes with an ‘R’ rating. This movie was also inspired by true events.

The World’s End – 8/23
The newest movie featuring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hott Fuzz (2007), and Paul (2011)) where they reunite a a group of friends after 20 years to do a legendary uncompleted pub crawl. The only problem is, the inhabitants of their home town have been replaced by robots. As ridiculous as the premise is, you know this is one of those movies that’s going to be amazing. This flick also features Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsidan, and Rosamund Pike.

Speaking of Emma Watson, she’s been rumored to be the lead role in an upcoming adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. I usually want to hate on everything that was a fairy tale or a cartoon when I was a kid, and finds its way to becoming a big hit movie as I’m an adult (Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013) , Jack the Giant Slayer (2013), The Great and Powerful Oz (2013), etc.)…but for the sake of Emma Watson, I’ll give it a chance.

The theaters will probably be pretty packed now that all the kiddoes are out for summer, so I may have to back off of seeing things so close to opening weekend for a while. Ugh…the kiddoes…I still hate kids.

I’m reminded now of a story I ran across a couple weeks ago that I was just flabbergasted by. See if you agree.
May 24th, Quebec — A Canadian school board opened an investigation after one of Cap-Jeunesse high school’s teachers strip searched 28 sophomores after a cell phone went missing during a final exam. Yea, you read that correctly…strip searched.

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I remember when a coach got fired from my high school, a couple of years after I had graduated, for an apparent inappropriate relationship with one of his softball players, or something. This just seems daft though. A strip search? And no one at the time thought to speak up and say, “This might be inappropriate.” at all? (I remember a couple of teachers whom I’d have enjoyed being strip searched by, but that’s a different story) There was nothing said in the story as to whether the teacher faced any disciplinary action or not, which I thought was the most bizarre thing. Ugh…what the hell do they have going on in schools these days. Another reason I’m so weary of ever getting around to having kids.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for you this week. Not sure what I have planned for next week, but at a bare minimum I’ll probably have another movie review for you. Let’s see what else I can come up with in the mean time. Till then…

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

– CVSleen

Homemade Chocolate Chip and Blueberry Pancakes

Homemade Chocolate Chip and Blueberry Pancakes

Howdy y’all. First and foremost I wanna get something off my chest. Literally.

This past week…on The Status Bro Show…we did a bit. This stunt, like all others was supposed to be humorous…which it was, but this time it came from our pain. I mean, we’ve done the stun gun before, but that’s over and done as soon as it hits you. This time though, even though the pain disappeared quickly, the shame will last for a good long time. Our bit for this last week was waxing strips. Ugh. I think most of y’all are aware at this point that I live my life without regrets…but if I did, i might regret participating. My nickname on the show at this point is “The Sharpshooter” which, if y’all wanna find out what that means you can listen through The Status Bro Show’s catalog, but I may be “Racing Stripe” from this point forward. Here’s some context for that…

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Not exactly my proudest moment, but there it is. The pool party this coming weekend is gonna be great.

Well that’s news in my hood. Now for the meat and potatoes. Last week, I said that I was going to talk about the Xbox One, and my expectations for E3. Well, I watched along a couple weeks ago when Microsoft made their big announcement, I’ve got a lot of the specs and details, and where the audience for the podcast evidently was tuning it out, I know that it will be appreciated here.

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So, the Xbox One announcement. It seemed that the big point that Microsoft wanted to get across in their announcement were the specs of the the new machine, the appearance, the functionality, and their biggest message was that the Xbox One would be an all in one box.

Microsoft’s vision for the future is to put one box in everyone’s living room that is going to do everything…including cover your TV options. Even current 360’s can support Verizon Fios and few other carriers.

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Supposedly though, the One will be able to serve up quite a few different carriers with the full array of options like DVR, video on demand, and all the good stuff. Even if that isn’t your thing, the One will have what they’re calling HDMI pass through…which should allow you to hook the HDMI out from whatever your TV provider is (cable, dish, w/e) straight into your Xbox so that you no longer have to change inputs on your TV, and so that you can take advantage of Xbox’s new Guide.

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I’m not sure what the hype is that they’re trying to create around this Guide is…it seems like a traditional interactive guide that most of us have grown used to at this point. Maybe it’s supposed to be more awesome since it’s going to be working with Kinect…I still haven’t invested in Kinect at this point, so I’m still iffy about it. Microsoft is also really proud of their new Snap feature, which essentially lets you switch from activity to activity with very little lag time.

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With Snap, you should be able to quickly switch between game playing, watching TV, web browsing, skypeing, and whatever else. Microsoft says they’re accomplishing this by running 3 separate operating systems at once on the box. One is the standard Xbox operating system, the second is Windows Kernel, which I think is the OS that Windows has running on all their mobile devices, and then a third OS which is dedicated to multitasking.

As mentioned above, the One is going to have a DVR native to the system, that if I remember correctly isn’t going to be directly tied to the TV/cable system. I believe that with it we should now be able to record and playback our game footage, so if we have a particularly good multiplayer match, or a perfect campaign section, we can play that back and maybe post it online. This is probably one of the most exciting features I’ve seen, because we should see an explosion of amateur machinimas pop into the scene.

As expected, Microsoft has admitted defeat in the high definition video race, and the One will come equipped with a blu-ray player. Another reason why I’m excited for this console. I do have a blu-ray player, but with respect, it’s a honking piece of crap. It won’t connect to my internet connection, the video is laggy, and half the time it won’t recognize its own controller. I also never jumped on the PS3 bandwagon, though I was able to get my parents to jump on. I got them to pick one up, proving to be a superior blu-ray player than the one that I inherited, but with the amount of time they spend watching TV I never got to do a lot of gaming on it.
The point being…It’d be nice if I had a decent quality blu-ray player, and Microsoft sounds like they will provide.

Microsoft will also be upgrading the capabilities of SmartGlass. For those that don’t know what that is, it’s an application for smart phones that transforms them into a limited capability remote for the Xbox. I use it all the time on my iPhone to control Netflix. Microsoft is alluding however that the SmartGlass we know has been a beta-test for the SmartGlass they want to roll out once the One launches. I don’t exactly know what that means right now, but if that somehow means more interactivity, or cross connectivity…I’m all for it.

Even though it’s been announced that the unit will have a 500 GB hard drive, it looked like most of the file storage and game saves will be stored on the cloud. Emphasis on cloud storage has been increased 10-fold. I understand, that this is the direction that things are going, but I like having local storage just in case things get messed up and deleted. Hopefully there will still be an option for local backups. My guess for the reason for 500 GB of storage when most everything is going to be saved on the cloud, is the requirement for all games to be loaded to the hard drive in order to be played.

Yea, the only reason that the discs will exist anymore is for game verification. It was inevitable that gaming would eventually move in a direction away from physical medium, but no one wants to be the one that goes first and gets all the consumer backlash.
I’m one of those people that I thought would be up in arms over the direction that gaming is going, the transition digital download and DLC, as I’m still slow to download my games from the Xbox marketplace, I still by CD’s and DVD’s instead of using iTunes most of the time, and I still prefer to read hardback books. I see the convenience now though that a digital medium offers, probably most so right now because I have a lot of clutter in my life. My parents just turned me on to the Kindle app for my iPad, and I just finished reading Dan Brown’s new book Inferno, and I’ve got to admit that, though hesitant at first, it’s nice not to have to look for a place to put it on my bookshelf now that I’m done. I currently have a stack of DVD’s sitting on my coffee table that don’t have anywhere to go, as I’ve run out of space in my DVD racks. If I had an Apple TV, and all my collection on iTunes, my place might look a little cleaner. I see the value of converting to digital, so I don’t vilify Microsoft in the least for taking that next step towards the full conversion to digital…in fact I’d sooner praise them for it. We’re just a bunch of old dogs reluctant to learn new tricks.
That’s not where the biggest backlash is though. The thing that has most people up in arms is how these games, once installed to the hard drive, become tied to your Xbox account, and thusly tying enough a physical copy of a game to one Xbox. Once installed, if you take a game over to a friends house, you become forced to pay a fee to install it to the friends hard drive. Supposedly this also uninstalls the game from your own drive, and makes you pay a fee if you want to put it back. Sharing games is a thing of the past. If that weren’t enough, you should be able to imagine the implications that this has on the used game market.
Let’s run through a scenario real quick. You go to GameStop and buy a used Xbox One game. You have to pay for it once there. Once you get it home, and out of the package, you have to pay another fee to Microsoft to install it, as you are not the original owner. Who in there right mind wants to pay for a game twice? The easier thing to do is just but everything off the Xbox Live Marketplace. Ideally the price should be lower, you are getting the newest version of a game, and obviously you’re not playing twice. Coming full circle, digital medium becomes the easier and more favorable route, and physical medium becomes a hassle and more expensive.
At some point everything will be digital, but we’ll only get their if someone makes that first step. Microsoft is going to get crucified for their decisions here, but I’m sure we’ll end up lauding them for their innovation and their foresight.

Wow, I just compared Microsoft to Jesus. I’m almost ashamed of myself, the self-proclaimed Apple fanatic, paying so much lip-service to the enemy. Whatever, I think it looks fantastic right now, and I’m much more excited about it that any of its competition at this point.

Well, I think I’ve hit on most of the high and low points of the Xbox One’s press conference. What I didn’t hit on really were the content announcements for the console, and I leave that for last for a reason…

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E3, or the Electronic Entertainment Expo for the uninitiated, is happening in a little over a week. Microsoft would be stupid to reveal all their cards meer weeks before one of the biggest trade show of the year. Microsoft showed off a few exclusive titles with the Xbox One announcement, but if I had to guess, the announcement was going to be introduction of the hardware, where E3 is going to be more about showcasing the software. I’m anticipating tons of games, exclusive titles, more exclusive video content, gaming previews, and possibly some demos and playable betas. They left themselves a lot of room to win back our hearts making E3 about content, now that the hardware and specifications are already out there.

Sony has been pretty reserved about the hardware and specifications for the Playstation 4, so I’d be willing to bet that even though the PS4 has already been announced, that E3 is going to be there chance to really let their hardware shine. Sony has also been pretty vocal that, while the Xbox One aims to be an all-in-one entertainment box, the PS4 is going to be a dedicated gaming machine. It of course will also still play blu-rays, but they want the big emphasis of their machine to be on gaming. I’m anticipating a lot of exclusive titles, and hardware demonstations from the Sony camp.

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I really have no idea what to expect from Nintendo. The Wii U is old news, and on top of that, it’s not selling that well in the United States. I’ve also heard that there aren’t a whole lot of games coming up on Nintendo’s release schedule, unless they’re planning on announce a whole slew of new games they’ve been keeping under wraps for a while. I hope they’re bringing some serious heat to E3, because I hate to see an old love like the Nintendo fall so far off the wagon.

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I also have a hope for E3, that, if it happens, will change everything. I don’t know how long the talk and rumors have been floating around at this point, I’m going to say a year or so, but their has been a lot of chatter about Valve developing a Steam Box. I have a hard time trying to describe what Steam is, but I’ll do my best here to not butcher it.

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Steam is a service, developed by Valve, that is a distribution port for a plethora of games, and a multiplayer and communication hub that surrounds the games. I’m hesitant to call this a PC game service because, in addition to supporting games for Windows, Mac, and Linux, there is also some support for iOS and Android devices. At current, their are somewhere near 2000 different games available on Steam, and more that 50 million users. The conditions are ripe for Valve to develop a console of sorts around this service, and for them to own a sizable chunk of the gaming market. The possibility is so real for this Steam Box to happen, that there have been a number of different manufactures that have mocked up different versions of the hardware. I’ll give you a few examples…

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Regardless of the form it takes, this isn’t going to be so much of an actual console, as it will be a standardized piece of computer hardware designed around the singular purpose of gaming. I know that’s pretty much the definition of what a console is, but whatever…I said that don’t really know what I’m talking about as far as Steam is concerned. E3 would be a prime opportunity to edge their way into the market.

Any way that you want to look at it, this year’s E3 has the potential to be truly amazing. E3 starts this year on June 11th. Mark your calendars, and I’ll see if I can setup some kind of countdown on here. If you have any comments on the Xbox One or any of your own speculations for E3, drop me a line. I’d love to what others have to say on these matters.

That’s all for today. I’ve got a couple of other topics hanging out in my bag here, but I’ll leave those as a mystery until next time. Hope that those of y’all that are there are enjoying AKon. Go do some cool stuff and have some summer fun.

Keep your heads up, your minds sharp, and your hearts open.

– CVSleen

Boiled Crawfish

Boiled Crawfish