WOW Rantings & Ravings Vol. 1

The header is sort of joke. As I have stated, I will not make this a column mainly devoted to WOW, but I will occasionally talk about it. And with Blizzcon, where they are showcasing the upcoming expansion pack for WOW going on this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about my thoughts on the expansion as it's now known and my experiences with the game.

First thought-the methods of travel need to be vastly improved. Currently there are three realistic options to get to anywhere-foot/ mount, griffin or begging some mage to teleport you there. While there's nothing theoretically wrong with traveling on foot it just takes awhile. The real problem is with the griffins. I admit, the first few times I flew on a griffin, it was pretty cool. You get to see new places as you are flying over, and it has a very majestic feeling. The problem is that it is much like your modern day bargain bin flights, only without the fun strip searches. There is no direct flight path to many cities, and you have to make many stops if you are trying to get to a particularly far place. And it's not like you can get transfers, so it can get costly & time consuming jetting around from city to city. Now, I can ask a player to teleport me, but that can also take a whole lot of time, be costly, and pointless if there's no one available. The simple solution-Have NPC teleporters that can teleport you to any city/refuge you've already traveled to. It should cost a bit more since it's a more convient way of traveling, but I think most would gladly pay extra in order to get there fast. It would also stop greedy mages from ripping people off (or least have them offer bargain bin discounts).

Second thought-New Class: Ambassador. Now I know that Blizzard has repeatedly stated that it is (understandbly) incredibly hard to to balance the current classes, which is why we probably won't be seeing a new one anytime real soon. But I think an Ambassador class would benot only an ideal and original addition, but a fairly easy fit. The idea is this-although some players really keep to heart the whole Aliiance vs. Horde thing, many (including myself) get along fine with suppossed enemies and even occasionally help out if possible. The downside is that we can't really communicate with each other or team up. The Ambassador would be a solution to that. Your basic tool would be the use of language. You can team up with members of an opposite faction and if you are on a party they can invite members of another faction. As far as attack, your powers would focus and crowd control-lowering agression of nearby enemies, charming (which most magic clases dcan do to some extent, but this would be much more focused), and be able to talk to enemies in their language and listen so they reveal key locations of items, bosses, etc. I think it would truly add a unique dimension of gameplay.

Now, onto the expansion itself. Not everything has been revealed as of yet, but honestly the tidbits that have been aren't that exciting. Don't get me wrong, being able to explore the orc homeworld sounds very cool-

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

But the new level cap doesn't really solve the end game issue, just prolongs it a little. And then there's the new races. While the Alliance race hasn't been revealed yet, the Horde race, the Blood Elves, Seem like a fairly poor choice.

Blizzard has pretty much admitted to the Blood Elves being there to offer a "sexy" race for the Horde side. The Horde isn't supposssed to be sexy. They are suppossed to be a mostly vicious, ugly and cruel group built on an uneasy alliance that seems about to break at any moment (which might be something WOW can touch upon in the next expansion, whenever that is). These Blood Elves just look like Night Elves with a different hue. Hopefully the gameplay difference will make up for the lack of creativity there, but if that's the biggest selling point of this expansion, I may skip it for awhile.

Moving on from WOW, I've sort of decided to scale back on my focus on game releases. Not in the sense that I'll really stop talking about them, more that I'll talk about them when I get to play with them so I can give a better opinion on them. It may mean I'm giving an opinion about a game months after it's out, but it's not like I'm really under any pressure or get paid to do this. That's it for today.


Legend of Zorro? More like Suck of Zorro. Saw 2? More like Suck 2. Weather Man? More like; well, you get the idea....

Today's title was inpsired by a very funny PVP comic I ran across:

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Another weekend, another slate of lame releases. I mean, seriously, nothing coming out this weekend looks promising in the least. Sure, Weatherman has Nicholas Cage & Michael Cane, but it also has hackjob driector Gore Verbinski (The Ring, one of the least scary horror movies of the last decade) behind the helm and seems almost like a retread of Family Man, just without the fantasy element. Saw II is a crappy slapped together sequel to an excruciatingly bad original, only with even worse actors this time.
Then there's Prime with Uma Thurman & Meryl Streep . The premise itself sounds interesting enough-A neurotic woman starts dating a much younger man who is also her therapist's (Streep) son. But the trailers seemed to really strain for laughs that just aren't there.
And finally there is the Legend of Zorro. You know how this automatically sucks-they added an annoying kid. It's always the death knell of a franchise to add a child. In other words, this weekend I will be catching up on movies I should've seen ahile ago like History of Violence.

Moving on, I did see Doom last Sunday, and it didn't suck, automatically making it the best video game adaptation in quite a while(arguably ever, but I actually liked the first Resident Evil movie & the first Mortal Kombat movie). It was far from a great film, but it had some good action, cool monsters and was faithful to it's video game origins.

Dear god-Uwe Boll can't be stopped. First, he acquires the rights to make an awful movie based on the awful game Postal, but before he unleashes that atrocity on the public-he's going to release his $60 million dollar "epic" fantasy Dungeon Siege as two seperate films. Hardly a new tactic, but these two films are only going to be a month apart. If he ever does get the right to make a film based on the Warcraft franchise I'm going on a little hunting trip in Germany....


Doomed if you do, Doomed if you don't.

Yeah, I could go see a possibly oscar-worthy peromorfmance by Charlize Theron in North Country, or a mind-bending thriller from the director of Monster's Ball in Stay, but being the video game nut that I am, I need to see Doom this weekend. Granted, if it looked really horrible or had a hint of Uwe Boll anywhere near it I would not give it a shot. But it looks like it really captures the game well, provieds high violence with a healthy R rating rather than a demo-friendly PG-13, and I love the Rock as the next big thing in action. But I heard Rock's role in this may be akin to Steven Seagal's role in Executive decision, but as long as there is plenty of carnage I'm there.

One film I will definitely not be checking out this weekend or ever is Dreamer with Dakota Fanning. Fanning is arguably the most brilliant child actress in years (hell maybe decades), but this obviously cheesy Seabiscuit wannabe is so obviously hokey and made up manipulative crap for little kids who have a thing for horsies.


The Gift for the ubernerd in every World of Warcraft player.

The World or Warcraft is a staggeringly huge place with many things you may never discover even if you play for years. That being said, many free online guides are available and the in-game map is very well done also-So why in God's name would any idiot go and waste his money on a freaking Atlas for the game?

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

It's another huge week of relesases for most systems this week.

Never gotten into an MMORPG? Maybe you might want to start with the grandaddy of them all-Ultima Online-the 8th age includes the original game and all the expansion packs so far, for the bargain price of $20. Why only $20? Cause the game is ridiclously dated and most other contenders have far surpassed it, you can tell by the desperation of the packaging-along with all those expansions comes 45 free days, free online items and an advanced character in case you don't wanna start at the bottom cause you know the only people left playing this are Lord British's most diehard subjects.

For some reason, a disturbing new trend this past year is brigning back licenses that were popular a generation or two ago. The latest is the video game take on the cult classic-The Warriors by Rockstar games for the PS2 & Xbox. I haven't played it yet, but judging from all the reviews, other than the plot it doesn't sound much different from Grand Theft Auto. You commit crimes, beat the hell out of rival gang memebers, etc.-The only difference being that you can play with other people. I think a real innvation to this whole genre would be realsitic management of a gang-Recruting menbers, keeping an eye on potential rivals, setting up a relationship with crooked cops, etc. The whole genre just seems to be incredibly stale no matter what era you put it in.

Possibly the last noteworthy Gamecube game of the year also comes out this week-Fire Emblem. It's fairly traditional strategy rpg-It's also the only one on the GC, so if you have one do yourself a favor and pick it up.

3 Huge shooters release this week. Serious Sam II-You like blowing lots of shit up at a insane pace with a good sense of humor thrown in-go with Sam. The graphics and gameplay are about as old-school as you can get, but there's definitely a good charm factor becuase of that. The latest Quake game is out this week as well. You played Doom 3? It's the same crap only they were smart enough to let you use a guna and a flashlight at the same fucking time in this game.
The new big dog is F.E.A.R. for the PC-all accounts say this game essentially captures the feel of being in a Jon Woo style gunfight. I'm not huge into shooters, I haven't played one since Halo 2, but I the reviews are so resoundingly psitive on F.E.A.R. that I may have to at least check it out.

Blitz: the League hits stores as well. It's suppsoedly an alternative to the No Fun League games that EA has a monopoly on now, but I've seen the gameplay and it fails to seem any different from the same rehashed NFL Blitz formula that got old years ago.

But the two games I am really interested in this week are Shadow of the Colossus and Shining Force Neo for PS2. Shadow of the Colossus is the sipritual succesor to a little brilliant cult game called Ico, in which every room was a brilliantly concieved puzzle you had to get through while protecting a mysterious princess. This new title is from the same team, but instead each boss is essentially a huge intricate puzzle. Shing Force Neo is the long overdue follow-up to what is the originator of turn-based strategy console games that started way back on the Genesis. But it's no longer a turn-based strategy title. It's an action adventure where you have a party of AI controlled team mates. It's not the classic return I was hoping for, but as long as the gameplay rocks, I really won't care.

Finally-It has become readily apparent that Ted Turner is out of touch with time & reality even more so than usual. This week-Gametap, a PC online gaming service launched. For a monthly fee you can download classic console titles. Apparently Billioaire ted or nobody that works for him has ever heard of an emulator....

Gabe & Tycho are my heroes

Joss Whedon may be my master, but Gabe & Tycho's massive pwnage of Jack Thompson this week earns them my completely unworthy worship for at least a good while. Remember how Thompson pledged 10,000 dollars to charity if anybody made a videogame according to his specifications? Well, somebody actually went ahead and did it; and big suprise, Thompson claimed he was only joking. Gabe & Tycho's response-donating 10,000 to charity in Mr. Thompson's name!

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Jack Thompson's response-Trying to have them arrested(just what failure of a University gave this moron his law degree anyways?):

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Yes he is a senile old coot that us gamers should laugh at. Here's the problem as Gabe & Tycho have pointed out-People are giving this guy some fucking attention. He was on CNN Monday night telling more blatant lies. Specifically that the NFL wanted nothing to do with Midway's upcoming Blitz: The League game because of it's edgier content than a normal football title when the reality is that the only reason the game is even being made is in response to EA's buying the rights to any & all NFL games. This man needs to be taken seriously, called on all his total bullshit, and recognized for the dregg of society that he truly is.

Moving on, game demos can be a very crucial thing, as they can make or break a game. That's why I was very disheartened trying out the new Dragon Warrior VIII demo I got by reserving said game. With all my highly anticipated rpgs quietly slipping to 2006 (Kingdom Hearts 2, Final Fantasy XII, Shadow Hearts 3, etc.), I was really hoping the latest Dragon Warrior would be able to fill my rpg needs. If the demo is any indication, it will fall way short of that. Not only do the characters look like Dragonball Z rejects:

, but the preview is very oddly put together, seperating a story quest where all you do is talk to people until you find the right one, and showing off a very basic battle system that shows little to no innovation along with very bad translation. There is nothing here to indicate why in a country where they release rpgs as often as we release sports titles, why it is the best-selling PS2 game ever. Granted the Japanese have very quirky taste when it comes to their gaming, but this seems like some relic dressed up with fancy artistry that I personally don't care for.

Finally today, I got some time in with Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge. I wasn't sure what to expect of a title based of such an awesome movie but made nearly a decade later, but Capcom has pulled off a fairly decent effort with it. Presentation-wsie, the game is flawless, the characters & look of Halloweentown are represented very well, and it features great original music & lyrics with some help from the legendary Danny Elfman. Combat-wise, it's really not much different from Capcom titles like Devil May Cry where you work up massive hit combos with a few very cool weapons. And just for the sake of weirdness, which sort of fits, boss battles really depend on how good you are at Parappa the Rapper-style sequences. It's nothing I would highly reccomend, but worth a rental.

That's it for today, but I'll be back tommorow with views on all the big games hitting this week.


Jack Thompson-Video game maker?

That's right, Jack Thompson, senile insane crusader, wants to make a video game! The catch? It's a video game that blatantly supports his view that video games are bad for you. If this guy is actually responsible for anything significant ever (instead of just latching his name on to reasonable legislation he had nothing to do with) I am moving to Canada.

Even more bad news-After confirming Edler Scrolls IV for Xbox 360 launch, developer Betheseda is quickly correcting that, just sticking to vague "holiday release". Not only that, butthe PC version is currently listed as 10 bucks cheaper. Selling my 360 for a hopefully insane profit is looking like a better option all the time.

Moving on into movies, although an official announcement will suppossedly be made sometime today, word is that Craig Daniels is the newest James Bond.

In my opinion he looks the least right for the role out of most of the other supposed front-runners (Hugh Jackman, Clive Owen, Jason Statham, who would've been my choice). But maybe this also means a new direction for Bond, which is probably badly needed at this point.

Three movies open this weekend that I could really care less about. Sure, Elizabeth town is a Cameron Crowe film, but his last few films all seem to be roughly the same movie-Young man rediscovers what he was missing in his life by meeting a vibrant young woman. It was pretty much the theme in Almost Famous, moreso in Jerry Maguire, and it just seems to be the only point of this movie.
Then there's Domino with Keira Knightley playing a real life model turned kickass bounty hunter. This initially looked somewhat promising, but further ispection by early reviews seems to indicate otherwise.
And finally the Fog. A remake of a fairly stupid John carpenter orignal with a cast of known but not big name actors (Tom Welling from Smallvile, Maggie Grace from Lost, Selma Blair) and yet another cheesy bad horror theme. I think I'll go catch History of Violence or Wallace & Gromit instead.....


MCcarthy, that was one of the Beatles, right?

Although it isn't a direct quote from anybody, I guarauntee you most of today's youth sadly has no fucking clue who Joseph MCcarthy is, and that's just sad. All the more reason they should go see George Clooney's Good Night and Good Luck-All about MCcarthy and his insane vendetta against imaginary enemies, and the one guy who had the integrity and spine to take him on-Edward R. Murrow. From all accounts it is an excellent portrayal of the events and rings shockingly relevant to current events as well (just goes to show that the world never changes all that much).

But, if like me, your ony major theater isn't even carrying that film, a pleasant alternative might be Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Wererabbit. Anybody who has seen Wallace & Gromit's video effrots knows that it's as very clever show even for adults. The movie has also gotten ridiculously positive reviews, so I'll hopefully check it out in the next couple of days.

The weeknd's other offerings seem much less promising.Two for The Money seems like a stupid carbon copy of just about any movie about a young hot protege who screws up big time and doesn't realize he's in way over his head (i.e. The Firm, which was also a horrid film). Waiting seemingly has a great cast, but glaringly bad reviews across the board, which usually means something, and In Her Shoes screams chick flick in every way possible.

The other big movie news this week is that Peter Jackson is taking the job of Executive producer for the upcoming Halo film. Let's pray this guy didn't just get lucky with LOTR. I ghighly doubt it, but we'll really have to wait til Kong is out to be sure. But it does seem like Halo is destined to be the first videogame movie that is more than just decent, and may actually be awesome.

Finally, the Xbox 360 launch limeup is starting to take form, and i'm offiically pumped. Perfect Dark is looking great if you've seen any recent videos and it's confiremed for launch day, along with Dead or Alive 4, Project Gotham Racing 3, Kameo, and several solid sports titles. But in my opinion the true killer app will be Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, which has officially been confirmed for launch day. Between that & WOW, assuming I'm still playing it, I may dissapear from the face of the Earth for several months, if not years....


Dying is easy, Good TV is hard

I haven't really mentioned the new fall season much, mainly cause there hasn't been much worth tlaking about. Most of the shows I have had high hopes for have sucked royally-Prison Break, Bones, Reunion Martha Stewart's apprentice (ok, I was expecting that to suck, but not because Martha is playing faux nice and not being the heartless bitch she's known for). But two shows have surprisingly seemed to rise about the rest of the fall garbage.

First, My Name is Earl with Jason Lee-It's about a slimy loser who lead a bad life, until he started believing in karma and decided to right all his past wrongs. It sounds cheesy & hokey, but smart writing truly makes this show work for now, we'll have to see if they go anywhere with it, though.

Second, Kitchen Confidential-This is what the big surprise for me was. I only even bothered checking it out because it has Xander(Nicholas Brendan) from Buffy in it, and it's an amazingly fast & sharp show that captures very well the intensity of running a five-star restauraunt. And it's already shown some good character development in a few episodes, which is a good sign as well.

Now, let's talk about Serenity. I saw it this weekend, and it was brilliant. I was hoping the opening take would be some huge suprise, thus guaranteeing the future of the franchise, but it made a very solid showing, and if most fans are spreading word and going to see it at least a few more times (I'm seeing it at least two more), it should do very well. But if for some reason it doesn't continue, it's a very fitting sendoff for fans. But just don't take my word for it, take Orson Scott Card's, the writer of the Sci-Fi classic Ender's Game

Ok, that's it for today. Go see Serenity! Again!