Greetings and felicitations, Malefactors! It is time for another GS review. Today I am going to review the already known Death of Wolverine 4 issue miniseries written by Charles Soule and art by Steve McNiven.
The reason I really wanted to do this review was because Wolverine is a very special character to me, having been my favorite character as a child when I originally watched the X-Men cartoons back in the day before I ended up becoming more of a Cyclops fan as I got older, but Wolverine has always managed to stay in my top 3. We all knew this death was coming as Marvel hyped it up months ago and with 3 months to die and coming off a horrible first run with Cornell, whom planted the seeds early on, and then proceeded to do an equally if not worse run after that. When you go from having a killing machine character to making him scared to shave and complain about allergies to his "big character growth" being him defeating his arch-nemesis with a punch while in his underwear, I take a bit of issue with that. Enough of my little rant, let's get down to it.
In a quick summary and in case you haven't read the series, the basis for this mini is that Wolverine has a bounty on his head. So Wolverine goes off on a spree to find out. He steamrolls through fodder, a lot actually, and he starts to face off against a lot of people from his past. We see Logan fight the likes of Nuke, Sabretooth, Lady Deathstrike, an encounter with Ogun and so on. Fast forward, and we learn the bounty was put on him by Dr. Abraham Cornelius. Logan confronts Cornelius and deals with him and his creation and then Logan does end up dying. Lots of stuff in between that happens and a lot of excellent fights, but I don't want to spoil too much.
There are a lot of pros about this series.
Soulverine over Cornellverine- I loved what Charles Soule did with Logan. If you have a moderate amount of interactions with me, you probably know I absolutely hated Cornell's run on Wolverine. But Charles Soule absolutely killed it with Wolverine, no pun intended. For years we have had a poorly consistent take with Logan (not uncommon among writers), but he's been more controversial with his whole becoming of a headmaster and "think about the children" attitude, but at the same time two other writers will still have him walking knee deep in blood because, hey, it's Wolverine. Soule does a find job mixing these two developments and balancing them really well, which I think hasn't been much at all over the last couple of years. What I mean by that is Wolverine is still kind and caring, but one wrong move and you lose a hand...or two. His scene with Ogun/Kitty (before knowing it was Ogun), was an awesome scene. The dialogue and the art helped it. At the end of the final issue, pay attention to the panels, and the same thing. So he does touch on Wolverine's caring side, but he plays with Logan's beastliness and savageness as a fighter quite a bit during the action scenes. So to me, this is probably the most balanced Logan we have had in awhile and it sucked it only lasted 4 issues before his inevitable death.
Story- The story felt mostly natural. To me, this didn't feel forced, it felt organic. Between how the pacing went with setting up the plot, Logan's tendencies and his death, it fit mostly well. Overall, Soule had 4 issues to work with, and he put in a lot of past Wolverine stories, faces, and references into this series. I felt like he truly cared about the character, the fans and wanted to give Logan a proper send off, which he almost did. A lot didn't feel out of character, and while some flaws stuck out to me that didn't make a whole lot of sense, there were only a couple, so that didn't bug me.
Logan Can Fight!?- Remember how Logan is supposed to know almost every martial art and can bust out fancy karate moves every now and then? Charles Soule does. We finally get a reminder that fighting Wolverine that was a solid fighter for consistent issues instead of him going "ragghhh" and stabbing stuff, which he did even without his healing factor and for some reason forgot how to dodge (Cornell did it). Logan was vicious in his fight with Nuke. He took out fodder bare-handed and was blocking swords with his knuckles, and kicking people around like nothing. When Kitty was resisting Ogun, then you can see him blocking and defending against his attacks almost casually. I do feel none of the big fights were super exciting and drawn out, but Logan desperately needed to be touched up on that he can be brutal or technical, (see differences between his fight with Nuke and then his fights against Viper's goons or Ogun/Kitty).
The Art- I like the majority of things that Steve McNiven draws, but I felt he was really top notch in every issue of this series. He normally has a very clean style to me, but this showed he can be almost cinematic in his approach and be gritty with it, too. When Logan slammed Nuke's face off, it was brutal. When Kitty ripped Deathstrike's hand off, that was brutal. Logan looked messed up in a lot of his panels, or you could tell he was getting tired and so on. From issue to issue, he just looked a little more beat up. But we also get scenes like the garden with Kitty and the artwork was beautiful for it. So McNiven does a fantastic job switching and setting the tone of the scene rather quickly when he needed to. He also did a couple of flashback panels during some of the important scenes, which I would group in with past references, but awesome nonetheless. (look at his fight with Sabretooth and his death are the ones that stick out most to me)
Just some examples.
Why, Logan? - What I mean by this is somethings Logan did were questionable to me. Primarily this was in the the 2nd and 3rd issues. One of them to me was when Deathstrike was going to kill Sabretooth and Logan said no....because he's suffered enough and poisoned and why would he care.(?) Idk, it bugged me. This is the same guy he thought he beheaded in the wilderness and left it at that. I get Wolverine's code of honor sometimes and Soule needed Sabretooth alive, but that irked me a bit. The other one was in issue 3 when Ogun offered him more healing serum, and my good friend and CV staff member, @k4tzm4n touched up on this quite nicely in his review of the issue I will link here. So he is about to face the man who set the bounty on him, but denies any serum? Hmm...just in case why not take some?
Final Issue -- So we get this big build up, and we see the real reason Logan was brought back by Cornelius, and we get the touted perfect weapon that is above Wolverine. Well, his name is Major Spark and just see how he is dealt with and you will figure out what I mean. Also, I felt like this issue was really rushed. It felt like Soule wanted to do a lot more with it, but just didn't have the room. Some things in this issue felt abrupt and the last villain is one of them to me. So I think while the intentions were good and this issue, given a couple more pages, could have been awesome. Still, the issue wasn't bad, but just not what I expected. And Logan's actual death itself was meh.
The Death of Wolverine was overall a good mini. I think the problem with Marvel hype is it is usually 90% sh*t. Soule lived up to the hype for the majority of the series. I felt there could have been things that were done better, but overall, the characterization of Logan was better than it has been in a few years. The story was solid. The art was fantastic, and the mini was really good with bringing so many different pieces of Wolverine's life, be it events or characters, and tying them into the scene at hand with only 4 issues to do it with. When Marvel does decide to bring Wolverine back, I really hope they give Soule the reigns to Logan. I think it was a fitting ending and despite my opinion of the last issue, I felt like Marvel has found their current niche writer for him.
This review is all purely subjective and based on my own opinions.
GS Review time It's been about 6 months since the last GS Review I did, and today I'm doing the somewhat recently released No More Humans graphic novel written by Mike Carey and Salvador Larroca on art.
I'm going to try and summarize this as quickly as possible since it's kind of a lot. So the book starts with a surprise, we get Mystique and Wolverine's alternate future love child in the form of Raze attacking a the owner of a company called Autolycus. The next thing we get is a plane crashing towards the Jean Grey Institute. The plane is saved but with no one in it, the X-Men of JGI investigate. They find out no one else but mutants are on the planet from Cerebro and begin their hunt for answers. Wolverine's team teleports to New York and do find things to be a wreck. And right on queue comes Cyclops' teams. Wolverine and Cyclops argue...again, but then Magneto comes. So they all team up and find human left in the, Gregory Sales, the scientist and entrepreneur that Raze attacked. They also find this machine by him and upon messing with it, they get zapped into a different dimension. They mess with the machine and try to figure it out, Magneto and Beast work their magic and the group is zapped back into the real world and find Sales dead. They get a message from Rachel about a bunch of mutants seeking refuge. The field team confronts Raze, who has kidnapped an infiltrating Nightcrawler. The X-Men attack can't do much with Kurt held hostage and Raze having a backup of alternate versions of various mutants, and has built his own brotherhood. He was the one responsible all the humans disappearing and he has turned the X-Men's school in a refugee camp since all mutants coming through this portal are apart of timelines where mutants are killed.
They figure out Raze's flaw in his plan thanks to Eva being a spy in Raze's compound and figures out he doesn't fully understand the tech. Props to Storm for coming up with the idea, and Cyclops comes up with the idea to have Triage raise Sales from the dead to get his help about understanding the machine. They figure out all the humans are in the dimension the X-Men were. It is a virtual limbo dimension that can store people. So Raze used it to make a Utopia for all mutants, even ones from different timelines. The X-Men attack Raze and his Brotherhood in a big battle. Cyclops' team starts to look like they are winning, but Raze calls in his trump card of an alternate Phoenix Jean Grey being controlled by Mastermind.. The X-Men try and stop her but to no avail. Teen Jean tries her luck and also becomes possessed by this Phoenix Force. The X-Men manage to get through after configuring the device to teleport all mutants away. Zombie Sales pulls a double cross and destroys the machine. They manage to get the Greys to come to a conclusion of saving all the humans and the main Earth's X-Men and send them back. Magneto helps compromise that the virtual storage become the home of the alternate Earth mutants so they don't get sent to their timeline of mutant killing radicals. So everyone is saved, there is a new dimension full of mutants and the humans are safe.
Single Faction and Everyone gets a turn- The X-Men team up and fight a common threat. I know we had BotA a couple months ago, but I felt like this was handled better and a bit more organized. We see Wolverine and Magneto acknowledging Cyclops as the best role of leader for the situation. We see Storm showing her tactical abilities by coming up with a fallback plan for Cyclops. We see Wolverine leading the charge against the Brotherhood. We also see things like Nightcrawler and Cyclops doing port and blasts. Storm was using her wind to guide Cyke's optic blasts. We get callbacks of a character like Psylocke when an enemy asked if she could throw mountains. Emma tells Jean to use her as a conduit for her telepathy since Emma is more experienced than Jean. Beast played an important role here in saving every one. I thought it was awesome seeing the X-Men just sit down and game plan. Other mutants helping others instead of just them attacking together, but fighting separately if that makes sense. The X-Men were a team here.
I thought this choice was interesting as the main villain. Carey could have made this graphic novel like an anime movie. You know the ones where they come up with a movie specific villain that kicks the crap out of the main guy and almost wins the day? If you're an anime fan, you'd get it. But he went with a fairly new character. Raze made his debut back in the beginning of BotA. so he's not even a year old yet. I'm not too big on the character, but he does have a lot of potential and damn near won with his plan. Reason being as I see him more a background cast character like he was in BotA.. Just another enemy on a team. But Carey does a real good job here turning him into a credible threat. The character comes off just like his mom and like a new Magneto. He loves his race and saved alternate timeline ones while successfully getting rid of humans. The character also held his own against Wolverine in a claw battle and then started using mommy's abilities and seemed to have the upper hand. So he's getting a push here in this novel and I think Carey did a nice job without having a lot to go on with the character.
Magneto the Hero/Villain/Switzerland- Magneto is legitimately all over the place in this book. While that may sound kind of bad, you have to read to figure out his decisions. At first he wanted to find out what was going on and had no problem teaming with Logan and Cyclops, two people that have very similar goals but different ways of doing things, but at the same time not really. When it comes down to an ultimatum of saving the human race or sending all the mutants back to their time periods where they will die, Magneto had no problem leaving the X-team and fought alongside the Brotherhood. And at the end of the day, it was him finding a way to save everyone in the book. I know in his on-going he has no problem crossing the line. He does that here by following the one true core value of his character: Mutant survival. So given who he is, all of the decisions he makes here make sense.
Larroca- The artwork was awesome in this book. I've always liked Larroca, but I don't think I've ever been like "Wow". The last thing I saw him do was the majority of Cable and the X-Force. I liked the artwork he did there, but it was just good. He's like that one person you know that might not be outstanding, but he won't do a bad job. He's just "safe". But the attention to detail in some panels was awesome.
He drew the fight scenes really well. He showed the constant emotions of the characters. Nothing seemed wooden and for penciling a 100+ page graphic novel, he remained consistent with it. I was afraid he might have gotten worn out working on it, but he surprised me here.
Classic Comic Feel- What I mean by this is it gives me a feel like I'm reading old school comics. The book is canon but is a separate entity. I think that gave Carey a bit of elbow room to write a story without really being restricted with it having to fit in with whatever crappy event is going in Marvel at the moment. Still, he does bring in current continuity elements like not having 05 Cyke there. Nightcrawler is on a team. Magneto is in his black armor and on his own. Now I know that might possibly be on the artist, but if Carey told Larroca to do it that way he did. Anyway, back on track. We all know the heroes will win in the end. But we actually get a situation in which the X-Men do seem to be on the losing end here. We actually get a couple situations like that. It's like everything that could go wrong did, but Carey makes it all connect.
Wolverine and Cyclops Arguing: Round ???- What I mean by this is we have to see Wolverine and Cyclops argue again. In fact, they but heads quite often in the book. The worst was at the beginning, but they routinely take shots at each other throughout the book. I know Wolverine and Cyclops take shots at each other or argue even when they are on the same page, but ever since AvX it's just been kind of over the top in more books than one. I didn't like it had to happen here.
Magneto- Magneto isn't bald....c'mon, Larroca. I don't care that he has hair, but it's just such an obvious blatant thing in current continuity, why couldn't he do it?
Phoenix Plot Force- They had to use the alternate universe Phoenix Force to fix every thing. It connects with the other points in the story, but it has been a plot device has just gotten so old, and they had to bring in the alternate one to use it in the story since AvX destroyed it or broke it. Carey could've done something different since he had an open canvas, but nope. Phoenix Force.
It Reads Like BotA With an AvX Ending- It reads like a combination of AvX and BotA. This story involves time travel. It possesses alternate universe versions of characters to be used as enemies. It has mutants reigning supreme over the human race. It involves the Dark Phoenix. 2 red heads become hosts of the PF. Jean Grey basically replaced Hope and Jean Grey's ghost was replaced with an alternate Jean...a 2nd alternate Jean. The Phoenix Force is the plot device used to save the day and fix things before it goes away forever. While I think Carey does write a decent story, it does bare some blatant resemblance to BotA and AvX. Honestly, this feels like this COULD have been Battle of the Atom or if you take BotA out of continuity, this could easily replace it.
Rating: 6.5-7/10 "C"
Overall, I liked it. I didn't have any agonizing complaints about it. It at points does feel like the X-Men are in trouble and you wonder how they will get out of it when you think it will go a certain way and it doesn't. The artwork was awesome and made the story a lot better than if it was just an ok artist. Larroca's artwork here does wonders with the action scenes. The only real big gripe I had was the fact it did feel like it took elements from two events that happened relatively recent, and neither were good. I think Carey actually made a better BotA, but it still doesn't feel right when it comes off as basically a sequel to it. Nothing really makes you go "wow" in the book, but nothing really made it bad. Larroca at least livens things up with his panels. Carey also worked a fairly large cast well and made a relatively new character that isn't his own into an actual threat. It's just that it all seems like he hashed some major elements of two big events Marvel did and put his own spin on it, even if it did work out. I would recommend No More Humans if you have some spare cash since it was like $25, but since it's stand alone, it can be treated as its own entity without having to worry about continuity issues.
Well, it's after Christmas. Got some new games, so new reviews will be coming out. On that note, I know it is the day after Christmas, but I had previously rented the game for a few days prior. So I have gotten quite far into the game. I beat the main story. I have over 100+ characters right now. I think I'm in a good spot to review the game.
SHIELD and Iron Man are chasing the Silver Surfer. Dr. Doom attacks him and takes the cosmic bricks for their power. He forms an alliance with some of the villains, but it is revealed to be Loki's plot all along, as he wants revenge on Earth and Asgard, so he concocts a plan to use Galactus for vengeance. It is up to the Lego Marvel Heroes of the world to save it. It's a pretty simple and straight forward plot.
Hah! I'm not going over each character in the game. But there are plenty of characters. You can play as many of the Avengers, X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, to even some of the Marvel's best villains like Dr. Doom, Magneto, and so on. The roster is just huge.
The Roster: The roster in this game is like I said, big. There are 150 characters (originally) out of 168 (?) I believe if you get the DLC packs. Most of the characters come with their own abilities and I will expand a little bit on this in another section.
The Storyline: The storyline is very simple. I basically explained the whole thing in the beginning. But why is it a pro? Because it is so simple. The game to me takes us on the good old fashioned superheroes fight bad guys days. And at the end of it, everything is good. This isn't like the host of Marvel events over the past few years where heroes are constantly fighting heroes, or they fight a common enemy but someone has to die. No, it was a happy ending for once. I think the game kind of took us to what comics originally meant. When a character was supposed to die, it was a big deal. Nowadays, someone dies and 6 issues later are back. It wasn't a compelling tale, but it was fun, light-hearted, and the game ends on a good note.
Gameplay: Gameplay was awesome. The game is set in Marvel New York, so it's big. The game is a sandbox and free roam, so I like that stuff. You get a lot of characters that do different things. Some can double jump. Others can just fall on their heads. You can glide, levitate, or do the fun thing and fly. I like the characters that do fly have their unique ways of doing it. They stay faithful to Iron Man repulsors, Human Torch is flaming, Silver Surfer...surfing, Thor needing to spin his hammer around. Now some characters will float or fly in a similar fashion, but the game at least gives them like their own unique aura and stuff to match the character.
Each character will generally also have a special ability. Certain characters can only shoot bolts of energy while others can do steady beams of different types like lightning, ice, fire, optic blasts, etc. Some characters can use telepathy, others telekinesis. Some just block stuff with a shield or force field. Or some characters just clobber or smash. These abilities will come in handy on missions and are fun when just goofing off. And some characters can't do jack but might have a gun to make up for it. Plus, there are a bunch of different vehicles to use in the game.
There are also side missions from helping get taxis to fighting hordes of frost giants or HYDRA agents. These can award you with vehicle or character tokens. There are also side story missions narrated by Deadpool. These you need a set number of bricks to enter the buildings. The cool thing is there are 250 bricks. So it takes awhile to get all of them, but it keeps you busy.
The Roster: The roster is kind of a double edged sword for me. While it is huge and is plenty versatile, I found some characters ...unnecessary? And let me explain, I understand some characters are there just for fun, but I think game found the line and slightly crossed it when they could've put someone else in. Do you want to play as Mary Jane or Gwen Stacy in the game? I didn't. They are there. There are also about 4 web swinging characters in the game that I have so far. Spider-Man, Venom, Carnage, and Superior Spider-Man. Venom can at least Vulk out into his massive Hulk/Venom size. This also gives him a different powerset, but it was cool. I can understand having another character in there like Carnage, but he doesn't do anything different than act like Venom but he doesn't have a second stage he can enter. Then we have Superior Spider-Man. He has a different suit than Parker, but also has the Ock arms. The arms don't do anything....I think it would have been better to add him as an alternate outfit. Parker already has an alt outfi, but a 3rd wouldn't hurt when Iron Man has like 7 different outfits. Some of them useless.
The other downside is when they just kind of half-ass a character. Emma Frost can go diamond in the game, but they don't give her telepathy. Drax and Elektra have the exact same template. They do the exact same attacks and both use sais. The only difference is one is a green, bald space explorer while the other is hot Greek ninja. They could have at least given her the silent scream or telepathy or something. Or give Drax his knives instead of sais.
Glitchy: Not really a huge problem, but the game isn't without a few bugs. I just wanted to point out a few that happened to me. When I flew jets or other flying vehicles and they exploded, the character would turn kind of on an angle. I would then be stuck running around with said character on angle. I would try and correct this problem by picking another character and the character would be upright in regular standing position. The glitch is though if you pick a character with anything attached to the back like cape, you lose it. Thor, Emma Frost, etc won't have their capes. Venom or SpOck won't have their back pieces. I just exit back to the main menu and reload the game. Every thing was fixed. During some side missions, some enemies get stuck in walls. I had this happen in a Captain Britain mission where a Hydra agent was stuck in the ceiling with his legs dangling out. I killed him with Cyclops' optic blast, but it took me awhile to find the guy as all I heard were jumping noises.
Overall, it has been an awesome game. I haven't had a good game where I could just kind of turn off my brain in awhile. With a game this big, I didn't expect it to be perfect, but clearly the positives outweighed the negatives for me.
Yo, yo, yo, bros. It's D-Midge and Gee-$ with another edition of Swole your Role. Where we turnin your YOLO into SWOLO. We got the answers to the hottest questions, so let's get right to it.
"How often should I do legs?"
GS: Bro. Bro. Bro. You don't need to do legs. You just need to focus on chest, biceps, and shoulders, bro. Girls don't care about overall appearance. Girls don't hang on ya legs and go "man, them thighs be sexy." They don't go "Them calves are hot." Bro, you be wearin' shorts anyway. It don't matter. You need to do bench press and curls every day. You wake up, first thing you do is bench and curl. You get that pump started early. When you feel that pump fadin, do more curls. Carry a bag with ya. Keep some a dem weights in the bag and curl til you get them veins poppin.
DM: Legs? Waitaminute, waitaminute, waitaminute... *gives look of distress* Bruh, you ever seen Hugh Jackedman or Superman work out their legs? Nah bruh and you know why? Because the ladies only check out that upper body man! They don't care for your legs! They want to be drooling all over your swole pecs and your tree-trunk biceps son!
But hold up... I only make one exception. Bodacious buttchecks. Yeah, that's right. I work them lunges and squats not for my legs but to get a rock hard behind you feeling me?
"How do I lift more in my workouts?"
GS: Yo, bro. I'll break it down step by step for ya.
Wear a muscle shirt. It is scientifically proven by scientists or something that if you wear a muscle shirt, you can lift more. It's called a muscle shirt for a reason, bro. You don't wanna wear that T-shirt. You know what else starts with T? Tits, bro. You don't want them flabby man tits, you want pecs. You know what else starts with P? Pump. And as a meathead you want that pump. It's ya goal. A pec is a muscle, hence muscle shirt. See? Science, bro. I would know, I'm a masstrophysicist.
Pace around the machine or weights you're usin'. You're an animal. You stalk that b*tch like it's a piece of meat and you're hungry. You're hungry for the pump.
Slap your face. Get psyched. Growl. Let everyone know who is the king, you are. You lift the weight, bro, the weight don't lift you.
Scream when you move the weight and make a face. When you scream, adrenaline gets goin' and by making a face, you be activatin more muscle fibers in ya body at once. Science, bro. More muscles recruited=more weight= bigger pump. Duh.
DM: Eh man, my bro over here pretty much covered the basics for all you gents (and ladies) who want to get swole. People like to tell you that it's about proper training and diet and all that fancy, schmancy nonsense. GET OUT OF MY HOUSE! Man, all you have to do is workout for HOURS ON END. You lift that weight until you tore every muscle in your body and then you keep lifting it! But as Gee-$ laid it out, you have to rep the proper attire! Ain't no walking in with some goofy shoes and special shirts. NAH! You rip off that shirt in the middle of your damn set! Look like an animal, work out like an animal. Bruh's be mirin the entire time, BELIEVE THAT!
"How much cardio should I do?"
GS: Pfft, cardio? Yo, D-Midge, ya see this question? Cardio. Hah. Only two kinds of people do cardio: chicks and uhh....well, marathon runners or some sh*t. But you ain't a chick or a marathon runner, you're a man, bro. Bros don't run, they lift.
DM: I see it bruh... I ain't never seen the nerve of someone bringing up this cardio in my business. Eh man, you like cardio? That's fine but if you want to make dem gains and get swoooollllleeeee, STOP HITTING THAT CARDIOOOOOO! Ain't nothing worse than a blood pumping pec bananza only to ruin it with some pathetic muscle burning sessions of cycling or stairmaster. Get up off my land son. Ain't nobody got time for that.
"When is the best time for protein?"
GS: Bro, when ISN'T the best time for protein, bro? Anytime is good for brotein. You got muscles that need feedin, you feed them that brotein. Start ya day after that bench with 20 raw eggs. Slam that sh*t down and you good. Lunch rolls around, whatcha gonna do? Eat brotein. Eat dat steak. Put it in ya pocket. You eat it on the go since you a On-The-Go-Bro. 2 PM rolls around, you hungry yet? You should be. You shoulda set that protein clock. Slam a shake. Hell, slam 3. Get them shakes. You a machine, son. Feed it that fuel ya need to be a hot rod.
DM: Eh man listen, you eat at every opportune moment and when- Oh the hell with these fancy, big words! Man, you eat that protein during your workout, before your workout, after your workout! When you're driving, sleeping, working! You don't eat that protein, dem gains be slipping away as we speak bruh!
"What should I eat to get big?"
GS: You need a steady diet of eggs, dead animals like ya cows, chickens, and pigs, and the nightly intake of beer and patr'on. Real bros drink patron. You don't seem them skinny kids and chubby dudes drinkin patron, bro. You only see bros.
DM: Anything bruh. Grab anything you find, it's all just protein, carbs and fats. Ain't no thing as food groups baby! Ain't no picky picky with this! You see some of that cheap Mcky Dee's? You buy seven of them big macs. Dem gains be coming faster than you believe bruh! You buying a pizza? Better make that two just for you! That's how you get big and swole.
And there you have, bros, and brodettes. You now have the necessary tools and knowledge to get big. Have a nice day, and remember, Swole your Role!!
Out of sheer boredom and nothing better to do, I have decided to do a review on a lesser known little manga series called ...
Black Cat is a manga written by Kentaro Yabuki and is actually the only manga I ever decided to fully collect over the years and when I was younger. The series is relatively short, being about 20 volumes long, but it isn't lacking in any aspects and I will get to the goods and bads later. Also, I shall add links to some of the characters under their names since they pages on this site if you want any further in depth info.
The main character is called Train Heartnet, and he is a sweeper, which is basically a bounty hunter. He was an assassin of a group called Chronos and a member of their elite squad called the Chrono Numbers. He was number 13 and was dubbed the Black Cat due to his golden, cat-like eyes. So by adding the two notions together, he gets the moniker of being "unlucky" and that plays a pertinent role in the series if you choose to get it. So something happens and he befriends a sweeper after she saves him from being killed. She ends up dying due to his former partner and being crazy and obsessive to the point it possibly borders on the erotic. So anyways, he becomes a sweeper and partners up with another guy named Sven Vollfied. They periodically team up with a thief by the name of Rinslet Walker, and acquire a special little girl by the name of Eve. They are then contracted by Chronos themselves to kill Train's old partner and prevent him from taking over the world.
There were quite a few characters in the book that were extremely likable. The cast was large but without being too crowded and it fit well in the 20 volume story. Due to the size, I will only focus on the 5 main characters.
Train Heartnet: The protagonist of the series and the guy in the chair at the top. Train is a 23 year old bounty hunter that suffered through the assassination of his parents and the assassin who killed them didn't realize they had a son and asked Train if he wanted to live or die. Train wanted to live, so the assassin took Train in and taught him to kill properly. Train used the teachings the assassin taught him to try and exact his revenge, which the assassin took as kind of humorous at times, commending the determination of the young boy. Well, the assassin dies and Train hates the fact he cannot exact his revenge. He was eventually taken in by a member of Chronos and raised by them until he achieves the level of becoming unlucky Chrono Number 13. Thus, he is given his trademark and nearly indestructible pistol, Hades. As an assassin, Train was incredibly ruthless and was often able to freeze people in fear just by staring at them as he would brutally slaughter them. Upon meeting the sweeper friend named Saya, he goes on to quote "fell in love with the way she lived" as he felt like she was free. Train was always chained and bound in some fashion so he became a sweeper in her memory and adopted a much more carefree attitude. Train's CV link can be read here.
Sven Vollfied: Sven is the guy with the eye patch and fedora in the picture. He is older than Train (I think he is 30?) and he was a former FBI agent or cop and his partner had a special gift to where he could see the future. So anyways, Sven is captured and loses an eye due to a gang attacking him and his partner dies but donates one of his eyes to Sven, Kakashi Hatake style. He retires from being an agent and becomes a sweeper instead. He ends up meeting Train and joins him on his journey. Sven is basically the tech guy of the group, as he is normal for the most part, and often times is the one inventing new types of bullets, weapons, explosives, etc. He even built a briefcase filled with a myriad of weapons such as a machine gun, net gun, compartments for pistols, an electrocable, and a pressurized diamond cutter. Shooting with class, people. He is also much more serious than Train and is pretty cool in his own right. Anyways, he also expands on his friend's gift to him and I won't spoil that unless you want to read the manga or check out the page which is right here.
Rinslet Walker: The lady in purple. She is 21 and plays the role of sexy thief. She isn't afraid to use her looks to manipulate people and is pretty handy when it comes to whips, guns, and overall stealth. She is actually a pretty strong character without being too serious, providing some funny moments throughout the series. Also, they never put her in a position of does he love me or does he not with any character and I liked that Kentaro did it. I'll explain that a bit more later on in the good section.
Eve: Eve is the little blond girl and is actually a genetically engineered bio weapon. She is full of nanites and can shape or transmute her body, such as forming blades, to transmuting her body into metal to deflect bullets, to even forming blades gloved fists with her hair. She really tries to prove herself as not just a kid and wishes to be a sweeper like the boys when they take her in. I really liked her character progression as far as refinement in powers go. Kentaro does a fantastic job showing her rudimentary shaping with her powers to the point she can grow wings to fly or become a mermaid like being to swim. He also shows little details in the transformations and weapons too to show said refinement. One example I remember is in the beginning she was using blades all of the time and they showed like veiny muscles and shapes at their bases, but she can eventually showed perfect and detailed hammers.
Creed Diskenth: Since Creed wasn't in the main pic at the top, I'll post this here.
So Creed Diskenth was Train's partner at one point. He always tried showing his mother he loved her by doing things like getting her flowers, but she was constantly drunk and beating him senseless since she blamed him for her never getting a man. So one day he poisons her drink and runs away. He lives on the streets and was routinely beat up by cops just venting their frustrations. So the guy didn't exactly have a warm childhood, despite trying to gain his mother's love. Somehow he gets picked up by Chronos and becomes an assassin, wielding his beloved kotetsu. He finds Train, as an assassin, to be a kindred spirit and admires him. He feels like this is the only person he can connect to. When Train changes, Creed goes apesh*t and kills Saya, as he blames her for changing the one person he felt a connection to. Creed was also at one point going to be Chrono Number 13, but was deemed too unstable for it and that position went to Train. So Creed ends up risking his life and ends up gaining the power of the Tao which allows him to generate a sword made of chi with varying stages and attributes. He calls this sword the Imagine Blade. His end goal is to become immortal via nanomachines and live forever while he overthrows Chronos and the governments of the world and he will selectively hand pick those that will survive in his world. He also leads a team of like-minded individuals called the Apostles of the Stars. And he has an obsession with trying to change Train back to his old ways and for him to join his team. This borders on the erotic...Creed is just nuts. He's awesome, but he's off the walls psychotic. Oh, and he too shares that ability with Train to freeze people in fear. That becomes pertinent too. Creed's page if you want to check out more here.
Story: The story is fantastic. It is very smooth and takes place over a period of time of just over a year at the most. It doesn't force itself into certain situations where it has to slow down or speed up and has a few chapters that allow it to kind of stray from the main story itself without becoming filler and going completely off track. Because of this, it allows the characters to move around through various cities so it gives a sort of adventure feel to it, too. Kentaro just does an amazing job developing every little detail with the story. It is a little cliched of a story when it comes to general terms, but the details of it are really great as to not become just another crazy guy bent on world domination and main protagonist must beat him. Like I said, it doesn't ever really spread too thin, it has an adventure kind of feel to it while having very likable characters and great action all around without seeming to stop like One Piece or Bleach.
The Characters: Every character is pretty much likable for some reason or another. He has solid personalities for each one so they don't blend together but the characters themselves have interactions without forcing it. Kentaro does a great job at making every character develop in a way that feels natural. So it's not like Bleach where Ichigo gets his butt whooped, trains for 3 hours, or finds some kind of revelation and comes back and owns the person. No. He has a casual progression and you can see it throughout the story. And to maintain it for a 4 year series, I commend the man for it. He just has a way of molding the characters and eliciting certain reactions. Like Train is a goofy character and often times it actually makes you forget he was this ruthless and cold blooded killer. Or how Creed tried very hard as a kid to make his mother love him and seemed like a sweet boy until he snapped.
The artwork: The artwork is really good. He scales the characters properly so we don't have 15 year olds looking like they are 25. I mean, you could probably guess the character's ages, and I like that because I always had problems in some animes and mangas where story lines just drag on forever and characters are just drawn certain ways that they could be in their 30's but aren't even out of their teens. He does fantastic detail in some panels and the action and detail is always very crisp and refined.
Powers and Fighting: One thing I also liked is the powers some of the characters had. People in Chronos were trained and were thus physically able to do superhuman things and he doesn't force the humans that have not done that to do that. Instead, he gives them basic street level stats, so bullet dodging as long as they are trained to a degree and tech. He also does well when blending these powers into fights. So guys with swords can battle guys with guns. Or someone with the ability to increase his muscle size to the point he can with stand explosive rounds and they must find a way around it. Or a guy who can control gravity to a degree. One guy can manipulate his own blood and we have a girl that can raise her body to 1000 degrees and kiss people to the point they combust. Eve goes crazy with her nano powers and shows she can transform to fly to creating blades that supposedly could cut through molecules. Train has some awesome accuracy feats and gives me that old school Vash the Stampede feel with his attitude and accuracy. Creed's sword is awesome and I love the different effects each stage grants him. It also shows some ingenuity on the characters' parts in certain battles. There are just a lot of diverse powers and no two characters are really the same. It provides fresh battles instead of just constant sword and gun fights. And each Chrono number has their own weapon and have some cool spins on different weapons. They range from a massive spear, Train's gun has a blunt edge for bashing and even a leash that extends to five meters and he does some unique things with that. Other people have a glove with retractable wires that can slice through virtually anything and one guy that has a bazooka that can convert to a massive hammer like weapon. One guy even has massive tonfas, so cool callback on that since I don't see them used very often outside of the old school samurai style like shows, similar to Rurouni Kenshin.
No love: Yes. No one loves anyone in this story and it is great. No annoying love triangles. No oblivious boys to shy girls ala Orihime/Ichigo, Hinata/Naruto kind of thing. Now, they do hint at some certain characters being possible ships but Kentaro never fully follows through with it and redirects it. He makes them friends and family. If I could give Oda one prop about One Piece it is that, aside from Sanji being ...Sanji, he makes the Straw Hats a family. Kentaro here does follow that aspect and I like it. He doesn't make Train and Rinslet go gaga or it isn't Train avenging Saya because he loved her. It is always something different, like how he loved Saya's style of life and how she made an impact on his life.
Cliches: It follows some anime cliches like Creed being egotistical and Training being the goofy idiot but smart when it comes down to it. Or how many of them have some tragic past element which almost every anime character has nowadays. Aside from that, that is really all I can complain about.
Fantastic manga. Fantastic characters. Fantastic story. Kentaro Yabuki kills it in this story and everything flows so smoothly and the art and fights are detailed and crisp. Btw, don't watch the anime. I know some animes change from the manga, but the anime seems like a completely different story with just the same characters.
Haven't done a game review blog in forever and after seeing my good buddy's @dragonborn_ct's blog on AC2, I decided to do my own gamer blog on one of my favorite games. I chose...
Now I chose this and completely skipped Resistance: Fall of Man because I liked the sequel better. DILLIGAF about order? But seriously, I think the Resistance series is one of the best system exclusive games for the PS3, if not the best and I'll explain that later since I do intend doing all 3 games. Anyways, onto the review.
So a quick rundown of the game. The game is set in the 1950's and there is this virus called the chimeran virus. No one knows where it has come from in the game. The game is a WWII era inspired game it takes place in Europe where you first battle the infected. In the 2nd game, it has spread around the world and is starting to impact the USA. To get an idea of the chimeran virus, if you have ever played Halo think the flood except in a much bigger variety of uses and creatures. So you're Sargent Nathan Hale. He was infected with the virus in the first game, but he survived the infection and was never taken into the evolution pods and therefore was never fully converted. So he is mostly human except for having enhanced strength, golden eyes, and a healing factor. Anyways, you are apart of a team of similar individuals and you do take vaccines every now and then to keep the virus in check. So you battle the chimeras across the good ole U.S.of A and you learn that there was a former agent like Hale that became a super chimera and called himself Daedalus. He was experimented on as part of program that tried to create human-chimeran hybrids in an attempt to make super soldiers called Project: Abraham. It was revealed that Hale was actually originally injected with the DNA, but the DNA remained dormant until he was reinfected in the first game. Only he didn't go nuts and morph into a giant whatever Daedalus is.
This is Daedalus
So anyways, Daedalus has psychic powers and single-handedly controls all of the chimeras. And he wants to activate these chimeran towers for some reason. Hale gets sent on a mission and too much time passes and it jump starts the virus. So at this point Hale is going to be dead....or completely turned in a matter of hours. He knows it and the player knows it and they want the player to know it because it makes Hale seem like a much bigger badass than he already is. So you team up with the last members of the super soldier squad and they plan on blowing this tower up. So you fight Daedalus and kill him. Hale touches him and gets massive psychic powers and you can then blow chimeras to pieces, like literal pieces with just a button and it is awesome. Then the bomb goes off, Hale is with one remaining soldier named Joe Capelli. Capelli is a hardass and typically comes across as the guy you wanna punch in the face...or use a sledgehammer, but you two escape and Capelli gets knocked out because they escape in a ship and an EMP causes it to fail and crash. He wakes up when you get outside there is this giant planet looking thing and .... I'll actually post it since there is more to it.
Characters: I liked how they added more meaningful characters to the game. In the first it was basically all Hale with a few people here and there, but in this one we get new agents, a story built and driven by these characters and they all do their jobs at playing their roles perfectly. None of the two characters are really the same, but Hale and Capelli in particular really standout as far as soldiers go because they kind of represent opposites but still end up in a few stereotypical roles. Hale is the perfect soldier. Hard on the field, but not cold. He's just unyielding and calculating but is a true patriot, whereas Capelli is hot headed, he carries the big gun with a f*cking energy shield and it's ridiculous and awesome at the same time.
VA's: Voice acting in the game is near perfect. They don't go too much into the cutscenes which was really nice. They tried to make the cutscenes more supplemental to the actual storyline vs rather the gameplay being the supplement which is something I feel more games need. So the cutscenes aren't very long and it is the mission that you play that tells the story more. David Kaye kills the role as Hale.
Gameplay: Gameplay is very smooth and the combat is hard. It's not easy without overdoing it. The melee attacks are helpful and you get a large array of weapons. You get both some classic type guns and the chimeran guns, so more high tech stuff. Each gun also comes with a secondary feature that ranges from explosive rounds, to energy shields, to a tag shot that makes all bullets home in on the target, to a gun that allows you to see through walls and your bullets will phase through said walls. Kind of cool.
Graphics: The graphics are fantastic. The designs in the surrounding areas are phenomenal and some of the bosses are just jaw dropping. Seriously, go look up the leviathan. The attention to detail is amazing in the game and they even show Hale throughout the game as the virus furthers its infection. So he starts becoming more chimeran like.
The ending: The ending to the game was awesome. I'll actually post it, but without full context to it, it kind of loses its meaning, but hopefully with my plot summary it helps you appreciate it. But it was just so wonderfully done with Capelli's VA capturing the moment perfectly. I beat the game and kind of sat in my room like ....
But here is the ending.
Aliens? Zombies? Alien zombies? The chimerans are actually revealed to be aliens. They are just aliens that can convert creatures to...themselves. The first game didn't show they were aliens, but you could guess it, but they left it pretty ambiguous which is something I liked. I love the chimeras but to me it was just like...aliens? It just kind of went TOO sci-fi and the game doesn't really give off too much of that feeling. But it is a good thing on their part they could do something like that. Didn't detract me from liking the game, though.
Final Verdict 9/10
This is, in my opinion, the PS3's best exclusive game series. 3 games and they all are different from each other but flow smoothly together. None of the 3 games I believe have even fallen below 9/10 on IGN as far as the rating goes. It's such a good series and I definitely recommend those in need of a good war game with a bit of a outer world twist without going too Halo-y.
Now onto the game's sequel, Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World.
I'll copy and post the original cast part here too from my other blog.
Emil Castagnier: Age 16. Emil is the main protagonist and is a very naive and timid person. I mean very. This guy is a coward at its finest....at first. Then he has his badass side where he has the king of all monsters possessing him. Emil has a slow growth over the course of the game, but comes into his own competent fighter over time. He is pretty fun to play with and is a melee type character with plenty of speed and agility. He uses a single, somewhatt large sword as his weapon and uses the standard melee attacks seen like with Lloyd. His Ratatosk finisher is also pretty awesome.
Marta Lualdi: Age 16. Marta is the lead female role and is very obsessive over Emil. She is usually a happy go lucky character, very similar to Colette from the first game, but not nearly as deep of a character, funny, or useful in combat. In short, extremely one dimensional. Marta is very problematic in fights, as her offense is piss poor and her finisher is also lackluster. She does have some solid healing spells, but is very bad on offense. Just saying.
Richter Abend: Age 21. Richter is a half elf and is very good in combat. He is very stoic, doesn't tolerate any nonsense and is probably the best new character introduced. He uses a sword and axe combo, which is awesome. He has a deep character about him and is a step above the primary two new characters and is very reminiscent of the older cast as far as depth goes. He has some solid spells and a great offense. He is playable for a time, but soon becomes the lead antagonist.
Lloyd is the main protagonist. He is a stubborn idealist with a hot head and a good heart. He has a thing for the chosen, Colette, in the canon ending of the game where she reciprocates those feelings. He uses dual swords, preferably katana esque swords. His gameplay style is a fast paced, rapid, capable combo linker that ties in with fast paced special attack followed by a heavy, powerful attack. Lloyd is the quickest character in running and attack speed in any of the ToS games with a medium attack power, a medium defense, and a high level of health. He is essential for any front line character capable of distracting multiple foes at once and with the extra hp, can take a hit and keep on dishing and with a high tp level, he has bountiful use of special attacks for a melee character.
Age: Previously: 16 (ToS). Current: 18 (DotNW).
Colette is the love interest of the main character. She is very clumsy which provides many interesting and comical situations to the game. She is very kind and also likes dogs quite a bit. Colette is also an "angel" which adds a dynamic to her fighting style since she flies er floats. Her weapons are dual wield chakrams. Colette's a solid character if you have the patience to use her. She is kind of slow in speed and doesn't have much finesse like others do. So she kind of has a hard time linking her chains together, but the upside is she has techniques for every range on the field, from short, to mid,to the most powerful spells in the game. She is a decent speed in spell casting and with her mid-range attacks with magic powered special attacks, she is a force when used properly and shines bright on a team rather than by herself.
Age: Previously: 12 (ToS) Currently: 14 (DotNW).
Genis is a super genius half elf with a bit of an attitude but that is due to being persecuted all his life and is Lloyd's best friend. He wields kendamas. His fighting style is best suited for team use and for behind the front lines. His physical stats are terrible. He has a 2 hit max combo with no linkable specials and slow attack speed and slow running speed. He has a decent amount of health but a very high amount of TP allowing for his ace. Genis is the most powerful spellcaster in the game. He knows spells that cover all basic elements outside of darkness and light and can decimate entire fields once leveled up enough. He can easily 2-3 shot most enemies with his more powerful spells.
Age: Previously: 23 (ToS) Currently: 25 (DotNW).
Raine is Genis' older sister and is incredibly quick tempered and smart herself with a fear of water and a fetish for ruins and old historic things ensuing many shenanigans.Her weapon is a staff. She suffers from the same problems Genis does and makes up for it in spells. Her offensive spells are light based and very powerful but few unlike her brother. Her main goal is that of a healer, removing stat effects, resurrecting dead players, multiple enhancers and field wide healing spells. She is a very useful character when used right, just not one that will be best trying to get kill shots with.
Age: 28 (ToS) not playable in DotNW: Kratos I won't spoil too much about him. He is a mercenary and is the calm, quiet type but is a machine on the battle field.He uses a sword. His running speed is moderate, his attack speed is slower than Lloyd's but still solid and his attacks reflect his power and skill. He also knows some solid healing spells, low to mid level basic elemental magic and has a higher strength level than Lloyd with a solid defense and solid level of HP and TP but he can burn through TP fast if constant use of special attacks. He can also learn the highest level light spell given the right circumstances.
Age: Previously: 19 (ToS) Currently: 21 (DotNW).
Sheena is a passionate and impulsive, albeit clumsy, assassin of the Igaguri clan in the game. She has a tough exterior that belies a very insecure woman due to a past mistake. She is also implied to be Zelos' canon love interest but it's the underlying subtleties that give it away. She uses cards and is a summoner. She also is one of the most powerful characters in the game for many reasons. Her attack speed is high as is her running speed maybe even being faster than Lloyd, though I am not sure. She has a solid combo ability and uses quick paced but powerful special attacks that have varying effects from blowing enemies away to reducing various stats on the opponents or stealing HP. She can also employ elemental based magics onto teammates or herself for element attacks. She is also capable of resurrection herself. And her best ability is when you get hit enough and in a short time you go into an overlimit mode which makes you invulnerable for a period and much stronger. In this state Sheena can summon any of the summon spirits you come make pacts with. These spells range are very powerful and some can solo entire fields in one shot. She is fast, has a decent attack strength, is very versatile and has a solid amount of health, defense points and TP for special attacks. Sheena is an easy replacement for Lloyd if it comes down to it and is probably my 2nd favorite character to use.
Age: Previously: 12 (ToS) Currently: 14 (DotNW).
Presea is a pink haired girl little girl and is the strongest physical member of the team. Yes, the 12 year old sweet, pink girl is the tank and physically strongest member in the game rivaled only by Regal. She is very quiet and straightforward but somewhat shy too and is Genis' love interest. She uses massive axes as weapons, she has a high health amount, solid defense, moderate TP, very strong and surprisingly quick in all areas of speed. She isn't much for linking though and has few specials that can link. Her combos are short and can leave her wide open in mid swing if an enemy blocks but she is just a beast and can easily make up for a few hits here and there.
Age: Previously: 22 (ToS). Currently: 24 (DotNW).
Zelos Wilder is a guy, kind of looks like a girl but is a guy. He is also the flirtatious ladies' man of the group. With him you can talk to any woman in the game and they give you free stuff. Aside from that, Zelos is very intelligent despite acting like an idiot. He is extremely funny, despite having the most f*cked up backstory in the game, and is also implied to be Sheena's love interest. His weapons are swords and daggers, and he is very similar to Kratos being a magic swordsman. Zelos and Kratos are replaceable in the game as you only get either one but I won't spoil how or why. Zelos runs at a similar pace to Kratos and suffers from burning through TP like him but knows the same spells except the angel spell, Judgement. The difference between him and Kratos though they know the same moves is that Zelos attacks faster and more fluidly. His attacks reflect finesse and can combo easier than Kratos and his special moves tend to hit easier than Kratos' versions. (they do different versions of the same titled attacks). He has a solid strength, solid health, knows some moderate spells and is stronger than Lloyd albeit slower. You can give him or Kratos jet boots to increase their speed and they basically become better on the front lines than even Lloyd and have the spells to back up.
Age: Previously: 33 (ToS). Currently: 35 (DotNW).
Regal, like Kratos, I won't spoil much. He is very serious, very quiet, a very good cook and can be funny when he has to but it scares the team due to his naturally stoic nature. He uses his feet to attack only using greaves as weapons. He is the only character than rival Presea in strength. He knows basic healing too and has a decent running speed and attack speed. His combo ability is kind of poor with regular attacks, but his special attacks can link for a solid combo and he has a few evasive moves and is the only one that can do that. He has a decent defense, solid health range and tp range. I don't like using that much but I've seen him used by my friends who like him and he can pretty much take out fields of 4 different enemies without getting hit. This is impressive for being a front line guy.
It's been 2 years after the end of the first game. So that blonde dude with the weird colic is Emil. He is our main protagonist of this story and he was apparently a member of a family that was destroyed in something called the great blood purge of Palmacosta because of the world and Great Kharlan Tree being unstable. So Lloyd Irving from the previous game is said to have gone batsh*t crazy and literally slaughtered an entire town and set it ablaze. This sets the tone as Emil is living with his abusive aunt and uncle. Emil meets a half elf named Richter Abend and he eventually meets a clingy girl named Marta Lualdi. Richter is very angry and eventually leaves the team and becomes the main antagonist. So it is up to Marta and Emil to stop Richter and find Lloyd, whom at this point has ventured on his own and is hunting down something called the centurion cores, which are mana stabilizers in the world. The centurions are basically spirits that control all the elements they are assigned and their cores are when they are asleep. And they all serve their master, the king of all monsters and centurions, Ratatosk. Marta becomes Ratatosk's core and Emil has an alter ego that is Ratatosk himself. Think Nine-Tailed Fox and Naruto. Emil is the very timid side, while Ratatosk comes out during battles and is able to enhance Emil physically. So it is basically up to Emil and Marta, and along with the entirety of Lloyd's friends, to uncover the truth of everything and stop the unstable new world when Lloyd rejoined Tethe'all and Sylvarant together, from falling apart.
Updated Cutscenes: The cutscenes are more animated now. The old game wasn't as updated with cutscenes and some of the motions were a bit limited. Due to the game being on Wii, we get more theatrical like cutscenes, which adds a nice flair to the game. New emotion faces add new feels to the cutscenes and the fighting scenes look more intense and are very fluid.
Updated Skits: The skits in the previous games were just in-game little chat boxes that the characters had with each other and added in game context of what everyone was feeling or just some hilarity in situations. The new game has them vocally talking now, whereas the original was just something you read. So it's a nice addition.
Updated Battle System: I absolutely love the updated battle system in this game. While the old game was very fun, it was more linear in fighting as you could really only go back, forth, or jump and you could go side to side, depending if a villain smacked you in a certain direction. You get that same style in this game, but there is a button that allows you free roam in combat now. So you can go any direction you please now and form up new strategies of attack.
Monster training: In this game, because of the lack of characters in the beginning since you only get Marta or Emil, you can capture monsters now, train them, feed them, and evolve them to help in your battles. They can even use spells so it's kind of cool. I personally didn't use the feature that much, but some people really liked it and I'll admit it helped out in a crunch. Think Pokemon.
Finishers: There was a secret feature in the original game where if Lloyd had his health low enough, eternal swordsman title used, material blade, and you had like 100 TP left, and you pressed A+B+X at the same time, you could execute a powerful move that pretty much killed anyone enemy one hit. Well, Japan re-released ToS on PS2 sometime ago and they added that finisher feature to every character, just more accessible and less situational. In this game, they brought that about and it's like an in-battle cutscene where the character just brings destruction to the battle field. So it's helpful in situations and you can use this feature instead of the unison attacks, or you can still use unison attacks.
New Characters: I actually use this for about 2 characters. While the new characters in the game added more human like bosses instead of monsters, there were only 2 I really liked. Decus and Richter. Decus was hilarious and a tough customer. Richter was a badass all the way through the game and his purpose in the game was great and I am glad he became a boss.
Bigger attack sleights: Due to the wiimote having more control options (like swinging the controllers), you can have a bigger attack sleight in the game. So any of the characters can have I think like 12-16 moves now during a fight instead of the previous 7 or 8.
Lack of field map: Due to a rush in the project, they had to scrap the world map and replaced it with a menu feature. I think it sucked personally. The big field map between towns and travel options like Noishe and the rheairds added a huge adventurous feel to the game. I don't blame the creators though for this. They had a deadline and I guess things caught up and they couldn't cut it.
Emil and Marta can only lead: This feature reaaaaaaally pissed me off. In the first game, you can pick any character you want as the head of your party even though things revolved around Lloyd. So I could exclude Lloyd in whatever fashion I pleased in that game, save for certain points. Emil or Marta must be the head of the party. It doesn't matter who, they just have to be. So that means you cannot walk around as any other character, you can't start a battle as any other character. And to actually control one of the other characters, you have to set their control option to manual, pause the game, and then press a button to switch between the characters on the field. It blew. To constantly have to do that in the game really ticked me off. I'm at least glad they kept the option to use other characters in the fights, but to have to pause, switch etc constantly to play as Lloyd or Zelos or Sheena was a pain.
Can't customize characters except for Emil and Marta: This kind of ties in with my previous con. The old characters already come with pre-set stats, levels, and weapons. You have no free reign over them anymore. You can, however, still pick their attack lists. So at least there is that much.
Can only cook for monsters: In the first game you could cook for your entire party to heal. Now you can only cook for monsters I believe. Self explanatory.
Voices: Not all the voices were bad. Johnny Young Bosch actually plays Emil and does a fantastic job at both sides of the characters from Ratatosk to Emil. And Laura Bailey did a good job as Marta. And only a handful of the old cast return like Kratos as the narrator, Tara Strong for Presea, Heather Hogan for Collete, and Raine's VA came back. Other than that, a new VA's. And with some of those new VA's, they just didn't capture the characters. Scott Menville (Teen Titans Robin), captured Lloyd perfectly in the old game. Brian Beacock takes over and doesn't do bad at all, but he just doesn't have that same feel Menville brought, their voices just don't transition over well. Zelos' new VA (Christopher Corey Smith) was ...AWFUL. I hated it. He had no swag. No suave. No inflection on the character whatsoever. He had a nasally voice, kind of high pitched, had the charisma of a cardboard box, and was flatter than a can of week old opened soda. It was just plain bad. Some of the characters just lost a lot of what made those characters just because of a simple voice change and it sucked. I adored every single original cast member that VA'd the game. But small things like changing Scott Menville to Brian Beacock lost some of inflection on Lloyd. Shiloh Strong did AMAZING as Zelos and captured the pompous ladies' man that could drop panties with a whisper and a wink to..... what I previously described. What makes it worse is the fact they didn't even contact Shiloh Strong. Namco didn't bother contacting him. I heard his new voice and was like...."WHAT DID THEY DO YOU??" And I honestly have no problem with Christopher Corey Smith. He played another role in the game as Tenebrous, a centurion, and did a deeper and intellectual voice perfect for that character. He isn't a bad VA. He was just a terrible decision for Zelos. Dave Wittenberg was decent as Regal but he was no Crispin Freeman. Oh, and Megan Hollingshead as Sheena was solid too. I can tell she really tried to emulate her inflection and speech patterns, but she couldn't replace Jennifer Hale on the character for me.
Here. I'll post this video to one, show the finishers, and two, give you a sample of the new VA's for those that played the first game.
Lack of mini adventures: The first game was based on a lot of it's freedom and sooo many side quests that the game could be played for hundreds of hours. I have about 300 hours logged into the first game because I have played through 3 times over 9 years and still haven't gotten everything. It's awesome. The first had so much to offer then we get some mini games and side quests, but not enough and nothing too engaging because of lack of character interactions and accessibility to said previous characters. Majority of the miniquests in the new one are based on Marta and Emil so like I said, just lost of accessibility.
Emil and Marta: Despite these two being the focus and their VA's did a good job on them, they just weren't good characters at all. Johnny Bosch did awesome as Emil. Emil was just waaaaay too sniveling of a character, too naive, and his growth as a character seemed too slow until the end. Laura Bailey is a fantastic VA. I love her to death as a VA and if you don't believe me of her being good, go look up her scene as Helena Harper with her sister Deborah in Resident Evil 6. Just fantastic selling on her part. Problem now is the fact that Marta is just a sh*t character. She is EXTREMELY one dimensional. Obsessed over Emil. Her battle prowess is god awful and she is more of a liability than anything. She is a good healer and all that, but in comparison to the healers and mages in the previous game, she sucked. At least the 3 worst offensive characters in the previous game could be salvaged in most cases. Raine in the previous game was a ridiculously powerful mage with the few offensive spells she had. Genis was ridiculous with his spells and control of the elements. Colette had very dangerous spells but could hold her own in a close range fight when used right thanks to her special melee attacks. And even the melee based characters had some magic, save for Lloyd and Presea. You had Sheena with a few elemental spells to attribute to weapons (and summoning in certain conditions), and Zelos and Kratos had solid healing spells along with basic to mid level elemental attack spells. Also Regal had decent healing spells too. Emil was solid to play with at least, but he wasn't anything special. If anything, Richter was the best new character in the game. Awesome gameplay, good VA, purposeful. Emil and Marta were just too one dimensional and annoying. Marta didn't even have any growth as a character and added nothing but annoyance.
The overall premise of the game was good. I enjoyed the storyline. I enjoyed the updated battles. And I really liked the inclusion of the finishing moves. What got me though was the lack of freedom and use of the previous cast. The last game had it all. Great characters. Great scenes. Great VA's. Great storyline and soooo much you could do. And this sequel just cut so much out and the game felt shortened by a large margin (it was). Little things like a new VA for one or two characters can really throw you for a loop. There was just so much more they could have done with this game to make it a great game like its predecessor. What good they added was completely outweighed by the shortcomings. But if you can get past some of them, the sequel is enjoyable.
I actually wrote this blog the other day but for some reason CV glitched and then I couldn't post it and what I spent 2 hours on was unpostable. Anyways, this is a shorter version about me giving some respect to some specific debaters. 2012 was a good year for GS on the vine. Voted into the debaters Hall of Fame. Debaters round 3 champion held by the great @Strafe Prower. Then best debater of 2012 by the entire Vine. Then I was modded and have helped to better the Vine (at least I think I have?) Anyways, despite the deal of it being rather small, it is still a hobby of an interest we all share so I figured why not give some guys their credit? So I have. I picked who I feel are the top 5 debaters. So no offense to those I don't pick and some I may have not chosen due to other circumstances like not being consistent.
@jashro44 I have said it before and I will say it again: I think Jashro is currently near the top of being the best all around debater on the Vine. I've been amazed at his posts and he has scans for everything. Jash is the street level supreme on the Vine IMO and you also have a healthy range of characters even outside of the usual street characters I see you debate in. Jash is easily one of the most respectful and unbiased users there is here, yet this does not deter from the fact he has completely destroyed arguments that can span paragraphs or just simple sentences. So thank you, Jash. I wish we had more users like you.
@Killemall : Another one of CV's top debaters and voted 2nd best debater of 2012 by the Vine. I think Killemall is a lot like Jashro in the sense that he has scans for everything, knows the context, and is generally a very well mannered and respectable user. Killemall is to cosmics like what Jashro is to streets levels. I'd say Killemall is the TOP consistently on cosmic level debater on the Vine.
@Lvenger Another great user. Lvenger is probably my favorite user when it comes to debating for the comic staple in Superman. I think he is a fantastic debater, also well mannered, respectful and can tear 97% of people when it comes to Superman. I know I stress this Superman thing a lot with him, but he's just that good. Lvenger is a great overall debater but I know where he shines and I like reading what he comes up with and have never been disappointed in any of his posts.
@Super_SoldierXII My brother in claws. (see what I did there?) I know SS might not care but I think he is another one of the top street level debaters and debates just like our shared character in Wolverine. If anyone can debate Wolverine better than me, it is this guy. His posts are always spot on street levels in general and he isn't afraid to get aggressive in debates yet remain in tact and I respect that. One day my bub brother, I shall buy you a lot of beer. Cheers.
@JediXMan One of the users I respect the most, and as much as I torture and have turned this guy into a meme, JXM was probably one of the first users I paid attention to when learning how to debate properly. A debater hall of famer himself, he has a wide range in characters from X-Men to heavy hitters in DC to the Avengers and so. He will absolutely destroy anyone in Star Wars except Silver (mad respect for him too). And on top of thanking JXM for watching his debates, he has opened up a bigger world of Star Wars to me and as a life long fan of Star Wars, I appreciate it.
Sorry for it being a bit sloppy guys but I didn't want to spend 2 hours on this like I did the previous. If I didn't mention you, no offense, this is just my opinion on the forum and the users I selected I feel are there for a good reason.
I didn't want to write 5 separate reviews for these X books so I'll just blog it instead. This is part review and opinion on the direction or current states of the books.
1. All New X-Men 7/10
The Good: As much flack as Bendis gets (and often deserves), the book has been generally solid. I was iffy about the Original Five coming back, but it has been interesting seeing not only the reactions of the 616 X-Men to their younger counterparts, but the 05 and how they are doing in the future. It's the simple things that I think are helping the book. Like Cyclops at the mart asking about all the water in the bottles. How Ice Man has yet to deal with his younger self. Jean kind of forcibly maturing too fast because a lot has happened. I also like the fact they got rid of cat Beast. I am interested to see where Mystique being injected into this mix goes. So aside from all the excess dialogue, Bendis is doing a solid job with the kids, with the moments of Cyclops earlier on in the series which set up Uncanny X-Men just fine and what direction he is going in. And some of the humor has been funny to me. I liked seeing Wolverine get blasted across the city, fall butt up when induced to sleep and I am a huge Wolverine fan so don't take it against him. And Immonen has helped the issues tremendously. I do think his art has helped sell the book, tbh. Immonen's art is always good though.
Bad: The pacing. I think the pacing is bad. 7 issues into the series and a whole lot of nothing really significant has happened. I mean we have a lot of little things like the 05's reactions, Beast changing etc, but overall I am not sure where they are going. I know some issues in the near future will also revolve around Cyclops's group instead of him in 1 book. Which is fine, but I don't know what Bendis is doing. So we get Mystique and mysterious escort but 2-3 issues down the road why is Cyclops back? To recruit another mutant? But we just got Mystique? And Bendis still can't write some characters. He hasn't found his voice for Emma and I will admit that. "Fellas" anyone?
Rank: 7/10. I like the issues as single entities and build up of other aspects and I like the character interactions overall and the artwork. But since I don't see a solid direction right now, it gets an average rating.
Wolverine and the X-Men 3.5/10
The Good: It has Wolverine and some of the students are cool. Quentin Quire anyone? And I personally like Broo, Warbird (pre-Doop date night). Yeah, that's all I got right now.
Bad: F*CKING EVERYTHING. This book was good in the beginning. It got away from some of the serious soap opera tones and was funny. It had a few interesting arcs without crossing too deep into dark tones. It's gone downhill and very, very fast. The arcs have been terrible. I can't take the Hellfire club seriously at all. I can't take a bunch of 10 year olds being the Hellfire club and constantly humiliating the X-Men. So 3 Omega Level mutants, Storm, Wolverine, a genius in Beast etc are all getting one upped by children....all the time? FFS it is ridiculous. And what the hell was with the Frankenstein arc? We needed 4 issues of a snot nosed genius 11 year old with a swearing problem? And ZOMG he turns out to be DR. FRANKENSTEIN!!! Seriously, Aaron, get your sh*t together. The random arcs followed by 2 issues of bio issues are just so ...riveting /sarcasm. This book has no direction and no development and the humor has gotten old. Eye Guy throws up on his hand eyes lololol so funny /more sarcasm. The book was good at first but what happened? Aaron can actually write a pretty good Wolverine and the characters were likable in the beginning but not anymore. Broo is ruined, Idie sucks, Warbird lost my interest when every other comment was towards Doop and sex. At least it was funny when she did it to a dismembered and beheaded Ice Man. Considering how good his Thor is, I am very disappointed how far this book has fallen. Guess I can't be surprised after his Hulk run and Schism.
Rank: 3.5/10 Aaron should be able to do so much better and the recent Savage Land issue at least was the most decent issue he has done and finally looks like he is getting some development in for Quire at least. The latest issue finally seems to set up a direction which this book desperately needs if Marvel wishes to salvage it. But we have seen nothing important for almost 10 issues of some of the worst garbage pumped onto paper in recent memory IMO.
Cable and the X-Force 6/10
Good: The theory. Ok, I honestly really had high hopes for this book. I saw the previews, read the interviews, saw the cast and I was like "AWW YEAAAH!!" Cable? Awesome. Domino? Hellz yeah. Colossus? Love me some big C. Forge? Cool. Nemesis? Meeh, but whatevs. And these guys run and mess around with the Avengers while saving the world? Sounds good. It seemed like an Oceans Eleven with a mutant twist. The character interactions have been pretty solid and I feel the characters are sticking to what makes them, them. Colossus isn't squishing faces and is still the big ole softy we know and love.Cable is still the soldier (though a little too trigger happy at times), Domino trying to get Colossus to get her tequila was pretty funny. Nemesis is still...Nemesis. The art is pretty solid, the cast is solid, and the concept is solid.
Bad: So like the recent trend in X books, I think this pacing is slow. I am not sure what has happened but I feel this book should be much more exciting. The execution behind all of this has been rather slow and dull. All I've seen is obese monsters and Colossus consistently getting his butt kicked or head attempted to be eaten. I think the last issue kind of picked things up a bit but this could change easily.
Rank: 6/10 Like I said, everything here to me seems good in theory. The execution has just been a little dull which I don't think it should be for this type of book. I give it the 6/10 cause it does have direction and I think Hopeless just needs to pick up the pace a bit. And I also do want to see what is gonna happen when
Uncanny X-Men 8/10
Good: I know we just got off of the first issue no more than 3-4 days ago, but I feel like what Bendis was building up to in ANXM became apparent in this issue which I thought was good. We now know a bit more of what the Phoenix has done to the characters. Cyclops's mission and drive become more focused. His evolution is apparent. Bachalo's art I think was for the most part good where he needed it to be. Magik slicing a sentinel in half and Scott leveling the entire area, and I mean leveling the area were awesome.
Bad: Emma....Emma...Emma...Emma. She is neutered, seems almost useless in the issue, and Bendis can't write her dialogue. "Ball those puppies up" huh? I can't tell if that or fellas is worse. I mean at least he has some of her quick wit down on the insults but not really her wit. I do hope he can at least learn how to write her eventually but I won't get my hopes up on her. And Magik just kind of seems like a parrot of Scott which I don't like either. And Magneto's reason for betraying Scott seem...shoddy.
Rank: 8/10. I give it a higher ranking because I think it has a head start. We know what is supposed to happen. We know the direction Bendis is going and all this should be good. It's early enough to where he can eventually write some of the characters better but that is a dual edged sword as it can decline quickly. He has focus. He has reasons behind the book. the new mutants are also pretty cool and I like Tempus so far. Not sure what Fabio does exactly except shoot balls everywhere. A few tweaks and the book could be consistently good.
Uncanny X-Force 9/10
The Good: So far, everything was really solid in that first issue. Betsy was badass as usual. Storm got some of her rage out. The team will be nothing less than interesting and to see what Bishop does will be kind of cool. The dialogue was good. The art was good. The interactions were good. The fight was brief but solid between Spiral. Puck was pretty funny. the Fantomakeout was weird... So I think this will probably be one of the better if not best X book (that I am reading at least) to come out in Marvel NOW.
The Bad: Nothing so far. I will admit I was very uninterested in this book based on the team. I am a huge Betsy fan but have never considered Storm or Puck favorites and I don't particularly care if they are in books or not. Spiral I could care even less about. And 3 Fantomexes running around kissing each other is still a bit...weird. And I was never fond of Bishop either.
Rank: 9/10 Everything seems right for this book and I was pleasantly surprised reading it. It took some goading from my favorite purple ninja panther goddess, @ragdollpurps and I don't regret giving it a try and I look forward to it more than any other X book right now.
WWE 13 is the latest in the line of wrestling games from WWE. The game is a huge mix of the Attitude Era and the Modern Era wrestlers. Not much more really needs to be said lol.
The gameplay is like any other wrestling game. You beat your opponent up and make them submit, pin, put through a table, escape a cage etc depending on the match type. The grapples are the same as the last 2 games with a new added feature of the limb targeting system. More matches and moves have been added to movesets and match types for a bigger variety. The crowds react, different commentators talk on about the match and different superstars etc.
The Attitude Era mode. The attitude era mode is just awesome and basically replaces the only storyline aspect of the game. It is just a really big concept and adds a fresh feel to the game with so many matches and things to unlock (I believe over 100 unlockables)) reliving the good ole days of wrestling.
Huge Roster- The big roster grants access to the attitude era and new superstars for dream matches and whatifs that could only be found in a video game. It lets you mix the best of both worlds and I love that part.
Toned up graphics.- The graphics are a bit smoother.
Universe Mode- Universe mode is largely customizable now and adds different stories and forms new feuds that end at different parts and add movie clips to the feuds featuring your superstars, created or not. You can create arenas, PPV's, different shows, delete shows, and just take charge of a largely accessible style of gameplay.
Create a Superstar- They just add more features to choose from when making your own characters.
Camera angles- There is a new set of angles they do are sometimes irritating.
Crowd Sound Clips- The audio samples suck tbh. I've won matches with a face (good guy) character and the crowd sounds dead or starts a small cheer but sounds like they are booing.
Commentary- The commentary can also get pretty bland fast as the announcers sound like they are just kind of reading from cue cards.
Glitches- LOTS of glitches in this game and I will say it is frustrating. Some moves glitch limbs in weird, gumby, like movements. Some moves that should end matches (like certain submissions) like Daniel Bryan's cattle mutilation hold will cause a superstar to tap but then the ref kind of glitches in and out of place then reappears and the match is still continuing. Characters bleed way too fast and in highlight clips and replays, some of them will drip blood but not have cuts on their faces while others will.
Lack of 2 counts- Very rarely is there a 2 count in matches. This one is one of my biggest gripes. It may not sound like much, but because of it, it just seems hard to have the matches tell a story. And while it is a video game, that's what wrestling is, telling stories. You hit a finisher on a guy and it's like "Aw yeah, I win. He's battered up and everything." Then boom, kicks out at one. It just kind of takes away a lot of suspense for me in the matches.
Stagnant- Once you kind of take away all the suspense and awesomeness that is the Attitude Era mode, you begin to realize the game tends to blend and become stale. While it seems ironic with the versatility, you realize with all the bugs and everything that it becomes just versatility while being stale. You don't really end up doing much more and by having the game not have that match suspense like "aw yeah, beat this guy" and then the computer kicks out at two and then you get all beat up and it becomes a crunch time kind of deal which wrestling games SHOULD have.
The game is good. I The Attitude Era and versatility of the game is awesome and it is really cool as a long time wrestling fan to interact with both eras from my childhood and what kind of era I am going into now. What kills the game is the glitches. It is a very good wrestling game and WWE 13 picked up and fixed some issues from the previous games but it has created new ones and hasn't fixed some of the old ones like limbs moving in weird directions which I know has dated back for me all the way to SVR 09, so awhile. Once outside of the story mode, the matches themselves can't really tell stories and the gameplay just blends together which makes you end up either getting bored. Once WWE14 rolls around, I really hope they can fix some of these long standing issues and bring back the two count. Other than that, the game is solid. If you are a wrestling fan, I recommend it but just play at your own pace. Don't over due it cause then a lot of the underlying problems become apparent and just tends to spoil the gameplay.