Going on hiatus…

September 18, 2009

Unfortunately, whoever is reading this blog has noticed that I have been on hiatus and haven’t updated in nearly two weeks. That’s the single longest stint to date, sadly with work, school and other obligations I have not had the time to read as many comics as I do regularly, a trip to the comic book store is long overdue. Also, this blog has slowly been evolving inot incorporating more and more of my gaming interests. Therefore, I  have decided to dedicate time to my new gaming blog: http://mmorpgchronicles.blogspot.com which is being sponsored by google. This one focuses on fantasy role playing games which I really enjoy.

Who knows, this blog may be back if I get more time, or I may incorporate comics reviews later, but for now it is going bye bye…

My favorite old school PC games

September 1, 2009


Lately on my free time, such as it is, I have been playing MMORPGS and other computer games. I have always been a PC gamer, going back to the days of old DOS based games, even before Windows.

I am probably dating myself too much with this post, but you know what? I fondly remember playing a lot of these and even though most gamers are console crazy I bought my PS2 to play dvds and rarely even used it for gaming, it got most of its use when my nephews came to visit.

However, PC gaming is another story, so I thought it would be fun to reminisce about the old games I used to play and remember fondly, in no particular chronological order but starting with the original Fallout (circa 1997) I vividly recall going out to Target and plopping down $50 for the original Fallout by Interplay software when it was brand new and I played it for hours on end.

I think what was most appealing was its in game story, its genious intro and its superb graphics which were top of the line for its day. Killing mutants, exploring a post apocolyptic world was never as much fun as it was during the good old days of this futuristic RPG. In comparison to today’s Fallout 3, the original, with its clunky turn-based system and old school graphics probably feels ancient, but if you never played this futuristic post nuclear game back in the day, I truly feel sorry for you and have to wonder, what did you waste your idle non-working hours doing?? The o.g. Fallout is a classic and it probably inspired such future games like Bioshock and others of  its ilk, and as such is one of the best PC games ever, in my opinion. I rate it 4 stars out of 5 for its playability factor

Bitten by the MMORPG bug again

August 25, 2009

gw013yea like I mentioned in my last post, I’m trying out some cool MMORPGs on my free time, of which there seems to be little these days. Since my friend let me try out his GW account and I promised another friend I would let her know how it is (because she’s a big Wow head) here’s what my experience has been thus far:
GW is a fun game, but it is not truly an MMORPG in the true sense of the word. For one thing, the sense of community that you feel while playing Wow and other MMORPGs is a bit eroded given the fact a lot of the quests are in areas on the field instanced for your specific party.

I have yet to try out a PvP character, so I can’t comment on that, but I have a level 7 warrior after a few days of playing, which should tell you it isn’t really difficult to level up in the game, the lvl cap in GW is 20, but there is a lot to do even after you recach lvl cap.

One thing that is cool is you can play this game alone because in the PvE mode you can add henchmen to your party which help you do quests. This comes in handy when your guild members are offline, or even when you need a little extra muscle in the form of NPCs. One big plus is that the camera controls for this game are a lot better than on other f2p MMORPGs, Runes of Magic comes to mind, maybe because it was the last one I tried out. Frankly, I got a little bored running through the world of GW but my friend tells me things get a bit more interesting when I get off “newbie” island. I also wish that there were more classes to choose from in GW other than human, but it’s cool to be able to choose a secondary profession for your character. Overall the GW plalying experience has been a good one, the price is right, but with DDO Unlimited dropping in September, it remains to see if GW can rival Turbine’s new expansion for Stormreach. I will probably review that one next.

If you would like to try out Guild Wars yourself here are a few links I found helpful:




The Guild at Blizzcon 2009

August 18, 2009

theguildSorry for the infrequent updates again my friends, for anyone still reading this blog, but summer school is finally over and I can update with a little more regularity, at least that is the plan. Since late 2007 I have been an on and off dabbler of MMORPGs and if you read this blog with any regularity you also know that I have sampled and written about many a game.

Today I focus on one of my favorite (if not my very favorite) web exclusive shows: The Guild. As a casual PC gamer whose favorite genre is of course the MMOs, The Guild is very accessible and funny, but even to a non-gamer, this show can also be a source of joy because it is so extremely well written and produced. It is about a group of gamers who meet online playing a Wow-like game (even though the show doesn’t name the game for obvious reasons) and one day decide to meet in real life. The show’s real beauty comes in both the interaction of the characters and on its witty dialogue which if you are a gamer, you probably will enjoy more than if you are not, but can still be funny to non-gamers. It stars Felicia Day. Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans will recognize the actress as one of the potential slayers in the show’s final season and non-Buffy fans may also recognize her if they are casual web viewers from Joss Whedon’s online musical Dr. Horrible (co-starring Neil Patrick Harris) or from Whedon’s Dollhouse. Also, if you browse twitter.com (if you have a twitter account, chances are Felicia was one of the celebrity twitters you could have chosen to follow.)

The entire cast of the Guild made appearances at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego and will also be making an appearance later this week at Blizz Con 2009 at the Anaheim Convention Center. I would love to score press passes for this, but those unavailable to attend can also order the event on pay per view. More details are available on blizzard’s website at blizzard.com.

In other MMORPG news, Tentonhammer.com is reporting that the new DDO Stormreach: Unlimited is set for release on Sept. 9. I found this very interesting, recently I have been sampling Guild Wars because my friend lets me play on a free account, but DDO was one of the first MMORPGs I played after Wow and I remember having fun during the trial period,even if I got tired of killing kobolds. It was a fun game and I am curious to see if Turbine can top its initial efforts with this new expansion. Will keep you all in the loop!

Buffy #27 vs. Twilight

August 7, 2009

buffy27_1Buffy #27 is a very Oz-centric issue. The Slayers’ retreat has necessitated Buffy and her cohorts hide out in Tibet where they catch up with a dear old friend. Financial constraints prevent me from getting both covers, so I usually choose one or the other and this month I picked up the cartoon cover by Georges Jeanty. At first I thought that was a bear attacking Oz, until I read the story within!
Where there’s Oz, there be werewolves of course. The reader gets to find out through a very serviceable script by Jane Espenson what Oz has been up to, and it’s quite a lot he has a better half and a baby!
More than anything this is a story about the mystical powers of Buddhists who helped Oz find the cure to “repress” the wolf within him. It’s funny to think of Oz as this Bill Bixbyesque character roaming through the world looking for a cure for the beast that rages within him. You can almost picture Mr. McGuee hot on his trail.
Yet, it’s not him but Twilight that’s on the trail of the Slayers and her pals and Joss has set him up as a formidable “big bad” for season 8. Slayers are magical, but they have to suppress their magiks or Twilight will have an easier time tracking them down. Twilight is seen this month more than in previous installments and it’s confirmed that he is someone who “knows” Buffy quite well through his dialogue. The mystery of who is behind Twilight’s mask is another subplot Joss has intertwined into this comic following the pattern he set up so well during 7 seasons of the Buffy program on TV.
Meanwhile, Oz and his group have been having problems of their own when one of their own takes on Veruca’s philosophy regarding the power of the wolf.
In between the action there is the familiar quiet character moments that made the show unique: Willow is happy for Oz, but she is jealous because she wants what he has, a family of her own. While cleaning his glasses, Giles offers his skepticism over the magic that is holding the werewolves at bay and within the confines of Twilight’s army, Amy and Warren bicker about their ineptitude. It’s the little things that summed up to something bigger than its parts on the old TV show and that tradition is a constant in the comic book series. A big showdown is coming between Buffy’s forces and Twilight’s army and big showdowns in the Buffyverse usually have dire consequences, the battle with the First cost Xander his eye and Anya and Spike’s lives. Nothing is ever easy and another status changing endgame is surely eminent.

No doubt rocks the house down

August 5, 2009

no_doubt1Sorry about the infrequent posts. Summer school has dominated most of my attention and time of late. Only one more week to go though!

Over the weekend I went to see the No Doubt concert at Verizon Ampatheater in Irvine formerly known as Irvine Meadows. It was completely surreal because even though I have been following their summer tour via you Tube, it still was something else to see them perform right in front of you. Two giant screens amplified the proceedings, but they really weren’t needed from center loge where we sat.

It was a hot but pleasant summer night and we could see the Orange County fair in the background with the big Ferris wheel all lit up in the night sky.

As for the band, incredible! They took the stage shortly after 9 pm (following good solid sets by openers The Sounds and Paramore) and rocked for nearly two hours.

My favorite parts were the opening rendition of Spiderwebs and after the encore, my friend was packing stuff up and I said, wait a minute, it’s not over. I knew that they had yet to play some of their biggest songs. The place went completely dark and was illuminated by the usual combination of lighters, cell phones, and digital cameras and of course, the familiar aroma of pot lingered in the air. Occasionally, you could see billows of smoke escaping upwards and different colored lights darted from the stage. Although I had sat previously in the sprawling lawn of Irvine on a few other occasions, I was determined to have seats this time around so I looked up at all the people up in the lawn and they looked like tiny specks of light.  I sang along and bounced around to almost every song and the place went crazy when Gwen got on the floor to do pushups (any No doubt fan knows what this signals) and she went into a blistering rendition of “Just A Girl.”

“Where are my Orange County girls at?” Gwen asked the crowd and seconds later the place rocked with a chorus of “I’m Just a Girl”

Paramore’s Haily Williams and the lead singer of the sounds along with members of the other bands were invited during a cover version of Adam and the Ant’s “Stand and Deliver” and they closed the concert with “Sunday Morning” which has become the traditional closer for ND.

I had the best time. Would go see them live again if I could.

Holy crooning caped crusaders Batman!

July 25, 2009

batmanbeyondThere was a piece in yesterday’s L.A. Times about the first ever Batman musical “Mayhem of the Music Meister” being unveiled to audiences at San Diego Comic Con this weekend. The article goes on to chronicle how the producers of the “Brave and the Bold” animated series, going into its second season, thought it would be a good idea to do a musical featuring Batman, along with fellow super heroes Green Arrow, Aquaman, and Black Canary and villains gorilla Grodd, Black Manta, and Clock King.

Black Manta? Breaking into song? Lord help us…

Neil Patrick Harris, known to fans as Doogie Howser M.D. will voice the villian the Music Meister. The article goes on to talk about the genesis of the idea, but I think the producers were probably sitting around drinking beers watching Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible and thought “We can do that!” and recruited Doogie for the project.

“We wanted to free up Batman to be fun again,”  producer James Tucker was quoted as saying.

Because we all know how well that worked last time they tried it! Can we say Clooney?

When will they get that Batman isn’t supposed to be fun? He’s a gloomy, conflicted, dark, menancing angel of vengeance, not some prancing dragqueen.

I blame Batmite.

I have just one more thing to add: Buffy did it first.

Buffy season 8 #26

July 15, 2009

Buffy season 8 #26 coverFor my money, Jane Espenson wrote some of the best Buffy episodes during her stint as executive story editor and writer on the show including third season gems like “Earshot,” and the fourth season’s “Superstar” and many of the seventh season episodes.
However, she also wrote some mediocre ones like “The Replacement” and my absolute least favorite episode ever, “Doublemeat Palace” which is considered the worst in many circles.
Buffy season 8 #26 is penned by Espenson and it feels like an extension of her work on the seventh season of the show, right down to Willow being embraced and doted on by Kennedy and featuring a huge battle between Twilight’s army of demons and the Slayers which also have magic users amidst their ranks.
Perhaps as a response to criticism that the book hasn’t resolved any subplots of late and was stagnating with constant one-shots without resolution of the main story threads, this comic feels like a watershed. Everything comes to a head, the battle against Twilight’s forces and a poignant reunion with Giles and Faith. Giles has been working with and rehabilitating Faith most of season 8, but I find it hard to swallow the fact that after all the history between the characters, Buffy can work so easily with Faith again. Of course, like she says in this issue, she has a lot of other things to worry about including trying to keep the other Slayers alive. Amy and Warren’s partnership is further explored in this comic, but as two minor villains who didn’t pose too much of a threat to Buffy in the show, their union and promotion to A list baddies is less than spectacular. Previous Buffy adversaries have proven to be more interesting. The artwork by regular penciler Georges Jeanty is serviceable, but some of it feels rushed, as though not a lot of detail has been devoted to the panels which contrast with Jeanty’s usual methods. It isn’t the case throughout the comic. There are panels which are replete with detail and there are some very effective close ups and facial expressions used effectively to create mood and tension, but some of the battle scenes and crowd shots are less detailed.
While the central theme of the new season, that humans have accepted vampires and that Slayers are now feared by humanity and have been driven into deeper and deeper hiding is explored, it’s subverted by the battle sequences. This is a more grim comic than Buffy usually offers with Andrew’s comic relief being limited. I was also confused by the ending, I know I am supposed to be surprised by the appearance of a familiar character at the end, but in reality it is hard to tell who it is. I do like the cover of this comic with the cast beautifully rendered in Earth tone hues.
Buffy #26 is a good extension of season 8 but not a standout example of how good this comic has been since its inception.

Adventures in Taborea

July 9, 2009

Summer means inevitable downtime when away from work and it has given me the perfect opportunity to try out a new MMORPG. I had been searching for one ever since Warhammer Online became available last year, but I was unable to play it due to my limited system and inferior Intel video card.

Enter: Runes of Magic by Frogster Entertainment, a free to play MMORPG that has been called a Wow clone and compared to old school EQ. Well, I never played EQ but I have played my share of MMORPGS from DDO to LOTRO to Wow and this one is not half bad so far. I was able to level up a character to 3 rather easily, even though I was a bit annoyed by the inferior quality of the camera controls for the characters. “You get what you pay for” or maybe I am just used to Wow and its ease of movement for my horde toons, nonetheless the huge landscape of Taborea in which this game is set offers much to explore and I think that I will try out a few classes before I am done examining the game.

My warrior tank fights some fungus humanoids in Runes of Magic

On the plus side, the game interface is almost identical to Wow’s and there appears to be no shortage of quests and NPCs in this game and while I prefer to play a tank, I am not adverse to trying out the two new races that the game seems to have added recently. Also, I have mostly been dealing with NPCs but with a level cap of 52 and over 200 quests, RoM may be the perfect solution to the p2p MMORPG blues even though I have yet to engage the community or to explore any guilds.

Another tempting feature to this game is the ability to level a dual class beginning with 10. This means that I can have both my warrior and another class dueling on the game server with various skill sets, although I am not quite sure how this works yet.

Wow’s new game patch is expected to drop next month and some of its benefits include mounts at level 20 and flying mounts for the Lich King expansion areas. The jury is still out on Runes of Magic, it might be the best free MMORPG out there, or it might just fizzle out like a curious summertime concoction.

Happy birthday America?

July 2, 2009


As we approach the nation’s birthday on Saturday, it seems we have little to celebrate this year. The Bush administration focused more on the war on terror and on foreign policy, ignoring domestic affairs and we have been in a deep recession since late 2007.

The worst recession since the 1930s, as a matter of fact. A lot of families this 4th of July holiday will be strapped for cash. MSNBC reported today that the jobless rate in the nation fell to a 26 year high. On Wall Street, the employment news pulled stocks lower. The Dow Jones industrials lost about 175 points in afternoon trading, and broader indices also fell.

Things in California, where we live, are pretty bleak. Under Republican rule,  the state declared a fiscal emergency to force lawmakers into a special session to tackle a state budget gap that has widened to $26.3 billion from $24.3 billion.  Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger, who promised that he would fund education at all costs, has allowed this to happen on his watch. Vendors and local agencies, who instead of payment will get “IOU” notes promising payment must be exasperated. Taxes have gone up.

On a personal note, things became clear to me how bad they were getting when summer school was slashed at Cal Poly where I had planned to spend part of my summer. Things have to get worse before they get better, but what will it take? Another stimulus by the federal government? Hilda Solis and President Obama should seriously consider it,  people are having a hard time making ends meet.

Happy birthday America.