Sunday, June 22, 2014

My review of Godzilla

So, I have been a Godzilla fan since I was about 7 years old.

Hell, as a child, the first story I ever wrote was a story how Godzilla came to America and kicked some monster ass. Well, I didn’t think ass at the time, hell I was like seven. But after the debacle of the Godzilla made in the 90’s, I never really thought there may be another one.  But then I saw the trailers, excitement grew.

So, after watching it. I am torn.

First, the not so good. I did not care even a LITTLE about the relationship between Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Owen. Part of it is that it is hard to not see the nerdy kid in Kickass when I see him. But either way, their relationship just seemed kind of cliché and uninteresting. Hell, even the kid did nothing to help sell them as a family. Snooze.

Does a human part of the story, help? Yes, but there were times where the story seemed more about ATJ’s character, than the creature the movie was named after. He is just not a good enough actor to have that much weight in this kind of story.

 I want to see a movie that has huge monsters destroying cities and beating the crap out of each other.  For too long, they just would show a little of that. Only showing bits and pieces of the monsters.  But until the end, you did not even get to see Godzilla and the two monsters really go it. It felt like they waited a bit too long to do this.

What in the hell is that?

Now the good. You have to love Brian Cranston. He made you feel for him from the very beginning. In a scene that could have been just so so. It is never easy to do an emotional scene at the beginning of a movie as you have not invested in characters yet. But he is a damn good actor, and was good throughout. Ken Wanatabe was as good as well.

I remember reading that some Japanese thought that Godzilla was too fat. Now, to be fair, this is their baby and I can see how they would be a bit touchy about how it looked. But overall, I really liked how the creature looked. Yes, it was HUGE. But I felt it kept the overall look and that is what I wanted out of it.

The fight at the end made up for the lack of the creatures fighting earlier. Well, mostly. It was a free for all at the end it was nice to see the see the creatures do a great job of outmaneuvering Godzilla for a bit. But you do know what the name of the movie is, right? Eventually, our hero? took it to them. I especially love the moment where Godzilla unleashed its breath weapon. That was kick ass. I mean seriously kick ass.

Overall. If you are a fan of Godzilla, you will probably enjoy this. I do feel like they tried too hard to make AJT’s character relevant, but once you got to the end, the pay of was worth it. Godzilla was huge, but still felt like the creature I grew up. I think they are making a second one as our favorite anti-hero surely has more monsters to smash.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ranking the Dresden Files novels part 2

Ranking the Dresden Files from least to most favorite. This was not easy as I love this series more than any other. Yet, something has to be the best/worst right?

So, I decided to break it up into two posts. First ranking them from #15 to #6, and then from #5 to #1. That way the post isn't just HUGE.

You can check the first post out here. Part 1

Don’t hate on me for this. :)

5 Cold Days Book #14 of the series So, Harry is the Winter Knight. D’oh! So, what does Mab have Harry have do first? Kill Maeve, which is sort of impossible. A lot is explained about actions of the Fae in previous books and how they were affected by something called Nemesis. But Harry coming back from the dead is not easy for his friends to deal with. That and a huge ass battle with the outsiders….you know to save the world. Oh and now Molly’s life has changed yet again. That girl could use a bit of therapy.

4 Skin Game Book #15 of the series This was a heist book, which was handled pretty well with a few twists and turns. You also had to love the cat and mouse between Harry and Nicodemus. But what made this book great was different interactions between the players. Harry with Murphy. Murphy and Butters. Harry and Michael about hubris and arrogance was maybe my favorite scene in the entire series. It was handled so perfectly and Michael may be the only person that could say what he said. Harry and his daughter Maggie. I love emotion and this book was the most emotional in the series. Oh, and Michael took up the sword again! Butters + Star Wars=Epic.      

3 Turn Coat Book #11 of the series It is so easy to hate Morgan as a character. But him asking Harry of all people to help him was in a word, awesome. The two at least grew to respect each other over the years, yes they still hated each other, but that is life. The traitor in the Council sets things in motion which lead to a free for all battle on the “Island. Harry has to fight something horrible…a skinwalker and it was truly evil. But you go Injun Joe! SO much going on here as you find out who the traitor is (a bit obvious to me) and poor Anastasia. It was sad to see how Morgan died at the end, but it was really fitting.

2 Changes Book #12 of the series Holy shit. So much “changed” in this book as the Red Court kind of declared war on Harry. They took his daughter (the one he did not know he had), destroyed his car, burned his home, and crippled him. Wow. Add that with Susan coming back, and there was a lot of drama going on here. Yet, Harry would do ANYTHING to save his daughter. He made a deal with Mab, and with what has to be the craziest moment in the entire series…he helped Susan “sacrifice” herself and wiped out the entire Red Court. Oh and cliffhanger galore as someone shot Harry at the end.

So much happened in this book that just took my breath away. A killer pace and a crazy ass ending. The entire direction of the series changed in this book.

1 Proven Guilty Book #8 of the series
This may be the book that made this my favorite series. Love, love, love, Molly. The idea of the horror creatures being used to terrorize the Splattercon!!! Convention was nice. But this was about Molly and the similarities of her situation with what happened to Harry with Justin DuMorne. He was almost executed, she could have been executed. The arrogance of the White Council. I also loved how Charity became a character in this book. More than just Michael’s wife. She had her own story and her own fears.

But the reason why this one wins, is even though I have read this series many times, I always get the feels when I read it.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ranking the Dresden Files novels part 1

Ranking the Dresden Files from least to most favorite. This was not easy as I love this series more than any other. Yet, something has to be the best/worst right?

So, I decided to break it up into two posts. First ranking them from #15 to #6, and then from #5 to #1. That way the post isn't just HUGE.

Don’t hate on me for this. :)

15 Fool Moon Book #2 of series I have always liked this one the least. The characters were not really well developed yet in the series, and the FBI agents who were the “villains” were not that interesting. Also, too much werewolf for me. You were kind of beaten over the head with them. The Loup Garou was awesome though.

14 Storm Front Book #1 of series The First book in the series and a nice introduction to the series. Not the best written, but it got things going. Always enjoyed Victor Shadowman and the idea of third eye was cool. A drug that lets you have the sight? Also, Morgan was a dick and you got a glimpse of how the White Council worked. Death by lightning storm? Yes, please.

13 Blood Rites Book #6 of series I also struggled with this one a bit. Part of it is that I have never been THAT into the White Court stuff. I felt like both book 4 and 5 were much better and this one stepped back a bit. Now saying that, finding out that Thomas was Harry’s brother was a game changer in both of their character’s development.

12 Grave Peril Book #3 of series Ah, Susan. This is where the series started to take off for me. The Nightmare was a cool thing as it could take power from Harry. But the best part was Harry’s unwillingness to give in to the Red Court. It brought about the war and it was such a great moment. Is still maybe my favorite quote came from this moment. Also, the introduction of Michael Carpenter, Knight of the Cross.

11 Summer Knight Book #4 of series Elaine is alive? What the What? The Introduction of the Summer and Winter Fae. Also, Harry’s chance to get rid of his debt to his Fairy Grandmother. This was also significant because he finally brought Murphy in and let her know what was going on. She had been following him blindly before and this needed to happen. Oh, and Harry killed the Summer Queen, Aurora. No way that will come back as a problem later, right?

10 Dead Masks Book #5 of series Nicodemus and the Denarians vs the Knights of the Sword. My love of Michael as a character really took off here. Nicodemus may be the most evil character in this series and the sacrifice of Shiro was a lot more impactful then you would have thought for a character you did not know for long. Harry picking up the coin so Michael’s son didn’t brought us future drama with Lasciel.

9 Small Favor Book #10 of series Gruffs! They were kind of bad ass. It also brought the return of Nicodemus and his attempt to use Ivy in his plans. Kincaid is still lethal and Luccio had a huge part in this story. Yet the biggest moment was the shooting and almost demise of Michael Carpenter. That scene kills me every time.

8 Ghost Story Book #13 of series Wow, so Harry died…and now is a ghost. Weird, huh? Having to solve your own murder can never be a good thing I would think. Things have changed since the Red Court is gone. Who would have thought that things could get worse with them gone? Poor Molly and Karen, as they both struggle with Harry’s death.

7 White Night  Book #9 of the series I love Elaine. The scenes with she and Harry are really good. Someone is killing lower level practitioners and it was obvious that it was the White Court. Still, Thomas was strong in this one and I liked in spite of the White Court Stuff. Lash, sacrificing herself for Harry was a cool thing to witness. Their interactions have always been interesting as they were both influencing each other.

6 Dead Beat Book #7 of the series Harry rides a T-Rex. Harry rides a T-rex!!! I feel like you could just stop there, but alas there was quite a bit more going on with other scions of Kemmler in town. Wow, Cowl is really kind of bad ass and I wonder if he ends up being a major player toward the end of the series. Add the wardens coming to help and the emergence of Butters as a character. Harry officially became a Warden…with a paycheck and everything.  Only down side? No Murphy.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My review of The Last of Us

It is never easy to get do a video game rveiew and keep it non-spoiliery. Especially when the game is such a story based game like The Last of Us. There will be a few, but mostly minor ones.

Here I go.

First of all, the game was gorgeous. I mean it really looked great on the ps3. I can only imagine how good it will look on the ps4, but there was so much detail put into it and it just paid off.

The Story I was hooked from the get go. The “prologue” really sent the tone of the game and hit you in the mouth from the get go. It is rare to have a game really surprise me that early on. The writers deserve a lot of credit for how they handled it.

Still the game is about Joel and Ellie. It is a simple as that.

An older Joel is rugged, paranoid, and more than a little jaded. He spent twenty years finding a way to survive in a world that that became increasingly hard to endure. Yet, he made due by being smart and understanding the way the world was. You had to look out for you.

And then he met Ellie.

At first glance she was just a kid that annoyed him. A complication in his life that he did not really ask for, or wanted. But the interaction they had throughout the game was amazing. Little snippets of conversation they had where they go to know each other.

Then much larger things that drew them together. There were so many little moments in this. Just bit of conversation they started to have with each other. You could see them slowly growing into a dynamic and I kept wondering if one or both would die.

It was an amazingly well written story, and one that I kept wanting them to push more and more and more. There is emotion, and shock, and characters die. There is fear and sadness and a lot of other things. It may be one of best written games I have ever seen.

I am not even touching on the ending here. No way.

The gameplay prior to playing this, I beat Uncharted and Uncharted 2, along with Tomb Raider. With those games you are swashbuckling heroes and you spend a majority of the games just killing anyone that gets in your way. There is nothing wrong with this, but this is NOT that kind of game. Even if it took me a moment to realize it.

Don’t get me wrong, you can play this game like that. Guns blazing and all that. But you will die. A LOT. Hell at the beginning if the clicker’s grab you…you are just dead. No fighting, just game over. Joel is NOT Nathan Drake or Lara Croft.  It isn’t that he isn’t capable, but he is more of a survivor, than a fighter. Although he can fight.

So, you sneak, and avoid if possible. And lord do you spend time looking around everywhere for items that you can get to upgrade your character, equipment, and ammo. There is something awesome about wandering around with nothing but a flashlight and trying to sneak past/kill creatures that just want you dead.

I died so many times, but it rarely felt frustrating. I do wish the bow mechanic was better as I did not like the aiming component of it. I spent so much time trying to sneak up on the creatures/soldiers and trying to kill them quietly. This did not always work and I spent a lot of other time running for my life.
So, this happened.

You even played as Ellie for a bit and that part of the game was much different as she is a 14 year old girl versus previously playing as a 40 year old man. It was a nice contrast as she could not do some of the same things physically that Joel could do. But it was damn cool.

Overall. Where does this rate in my favorite games of all time? Damn high. May have even been higher if someone had not ruined the ending for me. I still loved the ending, but it took a bit of the emotional aspect of it as I knew what would happen. Still, it was a beautiful game with fun gameplay and a damn good story with two characters you grow to care about.  A few twists, and a few deaths, make it an emotional journey as well. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My favorite Dresden Files quote from each book

This is a list of my favorite quote from each book.

Storm Front
Best quote. “Where instinct fails, intellect must venture.” 

Fool Moon
It isn't enough to stand up and fight darkness. You've got to stand apart from it, too. You've got to be different from it. 

Grave Peril
Bianca's eyes widened. "You are mad," she said. "You would flirt with chaos, destruction--with war, for the sake of this one wounded soul?"
I smote my staff on the floor, reaching down for power. Deeper than I have ever reached before. Outside, in the gathering morning, the air crackled with thunder.
Bianca, even Ortega, looked abruptly uncertain, looking up and around, before focusing on me again.
"For the sake of one soul. For one loved one. For one life." I called power into my blasting rod, and its tip glowed incandescent white. "The way I see it, there's nothing else worth fighting for."

Summer Knight
“Wait. You don't understand. I just wanted it to stop. Wanted the hurting to stop."
I smoothed a bloodied lock of hair from her eyes and felt very tired as I said, "The only people who never hurt are dead."
The light died out of her eyes, her breath slowing. She whispered, barely audible, "I don't understand."
I answered, "I don't either."
A tear slid from her eye and mixed with the blood.
Then she died.” 

Dead Masks
“I am blind and limited. I would be a fool think myself wise. And so, not knowing what the universe means, I can only try to be responsible with the knowledge, the strength, and the time given to me. I must be true to my heart.” 

Blood Rites
“Love is another kind of power, which shouldn't surprise you. Magic comes from emotions, among other things. And when two people are together, in that intimacy, when they really, selflessly love each other it changes them both. It lingers on in the energy of their lives, even when they are apart.” 

Dead Beat
“Fear is a part of life. It's a warning mechanism. That's all. It tells you when there's danger around. Its job is to help you survive. Not cripple you into being unable to do it.” 

Proven Guilty
“A bolt of warmth, fierce with joy and pride and gratitude, flashed through me like sudden lightning. I don’t care about whose DNA has recombined with whose. When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching—they are your family. And they were my heroes.” 

White Night
“Being a wizard gives you more power than most, but it doesn't change your heart. We're all human. We're all of us equally naked before the jaws of pain.” 

Small Favor
“Body or mind, heart or soul, we're all human, and we're supposed to feel pain. You cut yourself off from it at your own risk.” 

Turn Coat
There's power in the night. There's terror in the darkness. Despite all our accumulated history, learning, and experience, we remember. We remember times when we were too small to reach the light switch on the wall, and when darkness itself was enough to make us cry out in fear....” 

“But there were some things I believed in. Some things I had faith in. And faith isn't about perfect attendance to services, or how much money you put on the little plate. It isn't about going skyclad to the Holy Rites, or meditating each day upon the divine.
Faith is about what you do. It's about aspiring to be better and nobler and kinder than you are. It's about making sacrifices for the good of others - even when there's not going to be anyone telling you what a hero you are.”

Ghost Story
“Courage is about learning how to function despite the fear, to put aside your instincts to run or give in completely to the anger born from fear. Courage is about using your brain and your heart when every cell of your body is screaming at your to fight or flee - and then following through on what you believe is the right thing to do.” 

Cold Days
“No one just starts giggling and wearing black and signs up to become a villainous monster. How the hell do you think it happens? It happens to people. Just people. They make questionable choices, for what might be very good reasons. They make choice after choice, and none of them is slaughtering roomfuls of saints, or murdering hundreds of baby seals, or rubber-room irrational. But it adds up. And then one day they look around and realized that they're so far over the line that they can't remember where it was.” 

Skin Game
I want to read this a second time to figure this out.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Three games that could get me back into tabletop gaming

The three games that could possibly get me back into tabletop gaming.

So, I have gamed twice in the last year. There are so many reasons as I went through some crap, some anxiety and depression, and even a bit of burnout with gaming in general. It has been a long time since I have felt no desire to game. I cannot even say it is completely back yet, but I am at least thinking about it at this point.

So, here are three games that I think could pull me back into gaming.

#1. Dragon Age
I have wanted to play this for a while now. I have the initial box set and have read through it a few times. But even more than that, I am a HUGE fan of the video game. I am a sucker for a great fantasy setting and this one has always pulled at me. Being a Grey Warden is something I would love to do and the setting is rich.

The world of Ferdelden is a huge place. With so much drama going on with the threat of the Blight. This is what made the video game so great. 

A pretty straight forward and simple dice mechanic with a few twists. At this point in my life, I am not really into game mechanics that are overly complicated. I remember having so many problems with Shadowrun 4th ed, and it made my brain hurt. I don’t mean simple to the point where it is ridiculous, but the days of needing multiple cheat sheets to play something is far in the past for me.

#2. Firefly
I remember how excited I was to play Serenity.

I also remember how disappointed I was in the game. The book itself was convoluted and not structured in a way that made it easy to read, much less run. When I played it a few years later, I never really got into it. It was a sad time.

So, when I heard they were making a Firefly game, I became excited. Even more so when Mark Diaz Truman became involved in the game. I respect the hell out of him and his vision.

Then consider how much I loved the television show and movie, and my excitement for this is really high. I have wanted to play a great Firefly type game for years, and I am hoping this will finally happen. I have heard great things about the Cortex plus system, so there is optimism…if it ever gets released.

Really excited about this one.

#3. The One Ring
Even longer than me wanting to play a great Firefly game, is my need to play a truly great Lord of the Rings game. Years ago, I played Merp’s, and it did an ok job with it, but I did not like the system all that much. But a later LotR game was even worse, so for a while all hope seemed lost.

Then Cubicle 7 came into play. They have been releasing different books for this, the first taking place after the events of the Hobbit. I have read them and they seem like they would be fun. But the biggest pull is being able to be a part of Middle Earth. Don’t get me wrong I love the idea of getting to play one of the Dunedain, a hobbit, elf, or a dwarf. But the setting is what makes the books so great. Middle Earth is a vast and awesome setting, and one I want to sink my teeth into.

It is not a shock that the three games I want to play are from games/movie/tv that I love. All three are worlds I love very much and want to explore pretty badly.