Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas is for Children

OK, before all the angry comments start, I’m talking about Secular Christmas here, which I celebrate even as a non-Christian.  I stand by the title of the post, though.  While Christmas with the family is great, it really is for children.  When my sister and I were in college, we would come home to spend the holidays with our family, but it really was just another visit.  On Christmas Day during those years, everyone would roll out of bed whenever they wanted.  We would eat breakfast and wait for other relatives (mainly my grandfather) to show up before we would even consider opening presents.  Now I got some great gifts, don’t get me wrong, but there wasn’t that sense of wonder or excitement.

Now that I’m a father, I see how Christmas really should be.  My three year old got us up early and was completely blown away that Santa had been there while we were asleep.  Every new present was a new high for her (and they all had to get opened before food was even considered).  To quote my favorite Christmas special of all time (The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus), “In all this world, there is nothing so beautiful as a happy child.”  Christmas morning is the most perfect illustration for this and without it, it’s really just another day.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

(happy adjective) (winter holiday)

Since I am from a mixed religious household, I will wish you the PC “Happy Holidays” rather than another greeting this year.  I wish you all happiness & health in the coming year.

"So have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, a Krazy Kwanzaa, a Tip Top Tet, and a solemn, dignified Ramadan. Now, over to my god, our sponsors." - Krusty the Clown

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Solo Gameplay

One of the things I like over at The RPG Corner is his feature on the Solo Great Pendragon Campaign he runs for his wife, Des.  This isn’t just because I’m a Pendragon nut (which I am), but also because of the way David writes up the sessions as a story.  I used to do that WAY back when I ran my Play By E-Mail Star Wars game*, but it wasn’t anything like this.  (It did have its moments, though.  Especially when the one astromech played a prank on the Jedi and had the laundry tie-dye his robes.)  Great job, Sir Larkins!

In any case, this recently got me thinking on the topic of solo gameplay, either one player & one GM or playing board games, like Silent Running, solitaire.  This really isn’t something that I have any experience with, since if I’m gaming on my own it will be with video games.  Even if I’m with one or two other people, I will tend to play a board game rather than run an RPG.  I think it’s because that I have always had at least 3 players in an RPG all my life.  It strikes me, though, that a game like that would be quite cinematic.  The world actually would revolve around that one character, the lead of the movie/tv series, and all the stories would bend themselves to that character’s life.

Due to time constraints, and other forms of entertainment that I know I enjoy, I don’t think I’ll be trying this kind of gaming any time soon, but I am interested in how prevalent this is.  What kind of experiences have you had with this?

* Believe it or not, the website for that game is still up.  Check it out:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I had the chance to Beta Test the upcoming Star WarsMMO.  Being the casual player that I am, and that I had family obligations, I was only able to devote a few hours to playing the game.  (Please also note that the notes I received while downloading the software stated that they were waving the NDA portion of the testing agreement, so I am not breaking any confidences with this post.)  As someone who has played his share of MMO’s (World or Warcraft, Champions Online, City ofHeroes, DC Universe Online and Star Trek Online) I feel that I have a good background to judge what I saw, even if this isn’t the final product.  Overall I have to say that I was not impressed.
Don’t get me wrong, the game play is nice and I could see myself playing the game in the future (the far future if they don’t go Free to Play) but it’s nothing spectacular.  Now I realize that I didn’t get to the space combat part, etc, but what I saw planet side was basically WoW.  You have your character classes, each with their special abilities.  You have to go to a trainer to get the new abilities.  There are Taxi’s that you discover that can take you from place to place, for a price.  I could go on and on.  Even the interface wasn’t all that different than just about any other MMO on the market (with the exception of DCU, since that had to be modified for the PS3).  Nothing gave me any sense of “This is new and different!”

In fact, there is one major thing that I thought was a mistake in the game, and that is the cut scenes.  I know that the developers are trying to make it feel like you are in the Star Wars universe, so that you don’t have to read every quest, but it doesn’t work.  First off, I had to watch a 5 minute set-up video before I could create a character, which I hope you’ll be able to skip in the final product.  Then I created a character and had to watch another 2+ minute cut scene where I had to choose my responses to questions.  So I get my mission, do it and come back to, you guessed it, a cut scene where I have to give responses.  I must have spent a third to half my time watching these scenes.  I even let the developers know how annoying it was in one of the surveys, saying “if I wanted to watch Star Wars, I’d put in the DVD.”

So, we have mediocre game play along with annoying cut scenes and, to top it all off, it’s not Free to Play.  Yes, it’s a new game and they need to earn their money.  I get that.  But then give me something I want to pay for, not Star Wars Galaxies with less original game play and better graphics.  This just isn’t a game I can see paying $15 a month for, especially since there are better/more interesting games that are at least free for an introductory period.  Personally, I would recommend holding off on this one until either the video cut scenes are made optional and/or it goes Free to Play.  That is, unless you are George Lucas’s Bitch.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cooperative Board Games

In the past few years I have been introduced to the world of cooperative board games (thanks, Zeke!).  For those of you that don’t know what these are, they are essentially a paradigm shift away from the standard American games like Monopoly, Sorry, etc., or even European games like Formula De.  Here the objective isn’t to win, it’s to not lose.  Games like ShadowsOver Camelot, Yggdrasil, Lord of the Rings and Battlestar Galactica, just to name a few, pit all of the players against the game instead of each other, forcing them to team up to outlast the game.  The form that this opposition takes varies from game to game, but it all boils down to “Prevent this from happening, or you lose.”

Many of these games involve players strategizing between themselves, but there are a few that don’t allow it and that is because they add Traitors to the mix.  Battlestar Galactica and Shadows Over Camelot are the two that standout in my mind for this, which adds another level of depth to the way the game is played.  In these cases you have players that are secretly trying to make you lose the game and if they are found out, they join the enemy and can really work you over.  This isn’t something that I’ve experienced in gaming, but it is definitely there in literature (Mordred anyone?), and it adds quite the level of paranoia to playing.

All in all, I find these games to be much more satisfying than the board games I grew up with.  I’m not sure why this is, unless it has to do with my gaming background.  It is rather reminiscent of a group of adventurers taking on a large challenge, which is not necessarily balanced with their abilities, and overcoming it through a group effort.  If you haven’t tried a game like this, I would highly recommend finding someone that knows how to play one of these games and asking them to teach it to you.  It’s a fairly difficult thing to pick up on your own the first time.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this, the 149th Official American Thanksgiving, I would like to let you all know what I am thankful for.  First of all, I am thankful for my family.  My wife and daughter are my life, but I am also thankful for my parents, sister and umpteen other relations, both kith and kin.  Secondly, I am thankful for my good friends, even those that I have not seen or spoken too in far too long.  Third, I am really thankful that I live in the greatest country in the world (no slight overt or implied to my foreign readership, I’m just a patriot).  Lastly, I am thankful that I have a good job and can provide for those that I need to.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Aquaman? You like Aquaman?

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.  In fact, I think that I have more Aquaman comics than any other (barring Superman and Nightwing).  I know, I know, most people think Aquaman is a useless superhero, but I don’t agree.  I first really got into the character with the Time and Tide miniseries, where they retold his origins as a set-up for the new on-going series by Peter David.  This is the series that had Aquaman lose his hand early on and replace it with the infamous hook.  Between this book and JLA: Year One, it really fleshed out a character that I really had only known from Super Friends.  Plus, once your read how they treat him in Justice, it’s hard not to have a huge amount of respect for the guy, even if you thought he was a joke going in.  So, let’s take a look at the Aqua-Powers:

        1. Command Sea Life – Yes, I said “Command” not “Talk to”.  He doesn’t have a conversation with fish, he tells them to do what he wants.

2.       2. Super Strength – No, he’s not on the level of Superman or Wonder Woman, but he is able to impale a speeding van on the end of his “trident”* (without being pushed back, I might add) and flip it up and over himself, landing it on its roof.  That’s pretty dang strong.

3.       3. Invulnerability – Again, not on the level of Superman, but here he is one up on Wonder Woman.  Where Diana will have the same injury you or I would if she got shot (luckily she has those bracelets and super speed to save her), Arthur can take multiple bullet strikes and only have a few scrapes.  Quite good, if you ask me.

4.       4. Super Speed Swimming – The guy can swim up to 1,000 feet per second (682 miles per hour) and can swim UP Niagara Falls.  Wow. 

5.       5. Breathing Underwater – This is the one I always wanted as a kid.  Of course, growing up at the Shore I swam like a fish anyway, and I was able to hold my breath for a good, long time, but I always wanted to be able to dive down and explore for more than a couple of minutes at a time.  Not that there was much to see, mind you.  New Jersey water ain’t anywhere near as clear as the Bahamas.

6.       6. Absolute Ruler of 2/3 of the Planet – Don’t think this is a super power?  Just try getting your goods to market by boat if he doesn’t want you to.  In fact, in the series I mentioned above, Atlantis actually invaded a surface country and kicked the snot out of them.

Now, after his treatment in Blackest Night and Brightest Day, Aquaman has become one of the premiere characters in the DC Universe.  If you haven’t checked the new comic out yet, I would recommend it.  And don’t take my word for it, check out The Aquaman Shrine (who were kind enough to induct me into the Friends Of AquaMan, aka FOAM, recently) for all the up to the minute Aqua-News.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank a Vet today

I would like to thank all of those out there that have served our country and defended the rights and freedoms of all of us.  I am proud to number among my friends and family several of these great americans.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Guess I’m an Old Fogy

Listening to the radio at work we heard someone call in about standing in line on Black Friday to buy his 11 year old a laptop. I commented afterwards that the only thing I got out of that story was "Why does an 11 year old need a laptop?" My coworker then piped up that her niece's daughters, 7 and 9 mind you, each have their own laptop & televisions, and the 9 year old is getting a cell phone this year. Why? Why can't these kids use the family computer or television? Why does a 9 year old need a cell phone? (Her answer to that last one was that the mother forgot to pick her up after track practice one day so the father needed to be called. Ugh.)

OK, I'm 35, which I don't think is old, but I just don't get it. <grumpy old man moment>When I was a kid, I didn't have my own TV until I finished 6th grade and I didn't have my own computer until college. Yeah, I had a phone, but it was in my room and I didn't get it until High School! In other words, until I was no longer able to use the family computer, or until I proved that I was responsible enough for my own TV/Phone, I used the family's.</grumpy old man moment>

I know that things are different today, but that doesn't mean its better. People have to have parental controls because they don't watch TV with their kids, or let the kids use the computer out of site of the parents. Do you think I watch My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake because I like them? Not a chance! I watch them because I have a 3 year old and I want to see what it is she's watching. If she's watching TV alone it's because I know what it is she's watching and I need to run upstairs for a minute to get something. The TV is not a babysitter!

"But they need to do reports for school," my coworker said. So? I needed to do reports for school, too, and I was perfectly able to do them on a computer that wasn't mine. Is it really that hard to make kids use something that belongs to the family rather than the child? Oh, I'm sorry but I'm too busy being her parent to be her buddy.

Rant over. We now return you to your regularly scheduled geekiness.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Case for Kid Devil

The Aquaman Shrine recently asked for submissions for who we would like to see as a new addition to the team on Young Justice.  For those of you unfamiliar with the series, it runs on Friday nights on Cartoon Network.  It consists of Robin, Superboy, Kid Flash, Miss Martian, and Artemis, led by Aqualad.  They are a covert team that Batman uses to gain information or run ops against supervillians.  Quite the enjoyable show.

Having read the most recent run on Teen Titans, with many of the same characters, I thought that Kid Devil (the demonic sidekick to the JL member Blue Devil) would be a nice addition to the team.  So, I sent an e-mail and made it to the second round.  I won’t rehash my ideas about the character here, since I’m not sure if the others have blogs to use as a pulpit, so please click on the link below to see my reasoning.

I would encourage you to vote for my choice (obviously) but please make sure you read all of the options and vote whichever way you feel you should.  (BTW, this goes for the elections being held today, too.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

DC Universe Online Review

Here it is, the long awaited (by who I don't know) review of DC Universe Online. First of all, let me say that I am a casual gamer. I play on the weekends, having to hold down a job and take care of my family, and even then I only play for a few hours at a time, so please take what is below with a grain of salt if you are a hard-core, play every day type. Also, which I have been in instances/raids/etc, I general do not prefer that type of play. If possible, I will solo and maybe help out other players on missions. With that boilerplate out of the way, let's get on with it.


Character Creation

Creating your character is quite easy, but also in depth. You are able to pick from Male/Female and from 3 Body Types in 3 Sizes each (none of which has any bearing on the character other than looks). From there you can pick a Hero/Villain to be inspired by, which will give you a character with random powers and a costume based on that person, or you can go the custom route. I prefer the custom way, but then I was trying to create a specific character when I first played the game. You have a wide variety of powers, fighting styles and origins, so that you are able to get a very custom character. The same can be said of the costume choices. I had a costume in mind for Lupine (who has since been renamed to Lupine Prime when the servers merged), to match the one I own in real life, and I was able to get close enough that the differences don't really matter. You will also have a choice of which Mentor you want to follow. They are Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman on the Hero side & Lex Luthor, The Joker and Circe on the Villain side. Regardless of which mentor you choose, you will still have access to all the missions on that side, which is a little rough on replayability.

One thing I would like to see them add would be secret identities. While it's great to be super all the time, I would like to be able to duck into a phone booth (yeah, I still remember those) and change into a civilian. Maybe have some missions where that is necessary, or just remove your character's information from the map. There might even be a way that heroes/villains that know your SID could see that information but no one else can. For example, if Clark Kent were walking around the street and both Lex Luthor and Batman say him, Lex would see him as an NPC and Batman would see the same info as if he were in his Superman costume. Just something that popped into my head when I was doing the character creation for the first time.


Early Missions

I really like how they scale missions to match where you're supposed to be, level-wise. You also have options as to what you want to do when, so it is definitely non-linear after the first couple of missions. There is a decent amount of variety to them and it shows you how to do everything you'll need to in the game. The issue here is that you can do missions from every mentor, which means that all characters end up with the exact same experience. I would much rather triple the missions for each mentor and only allow a character to do the missions associated with their mentor, except for a few crossovers that would make sense or if another character shares the mission with you. That would give people more incentive to play different characters just to get the full number of missions.



The graphics are definitely up to snuff, especially if you look at it compared to World or Warcraft or Star Trek Online, both of which I have played. What makes this even more impressive is that it was designed to run on a console rather than a PC. The character models, both NPC's and Players, look clean and not very blocky. The emotes are nice, if limited, and do add to the game. One of the problems with the characters, though, is that if you interact with someone, they turn to face you but keep doing what they are doing. The Flash, for example, is busy typing something when you speak to him in Metropolis, but he keeps on typing when he turns to you. Just a little odd.

The backgrounds are exquisite, with lots of nice little touches that comic geeks will get a kick out of. They really planned out the cities of Metropolis and Gotham well, and that makes me sort of regret what I'm going to say next. I wish there were more cities out there to explore. Don't get me wrong, I love what they've done, but there's only so much of these two areas that I can take. I know, there are alerts, etc, but those aren't really meant for exploration (and I have other problems with them that I'll get into later on). I would REALLY like to see Star City, Coast City, Keystone/Central Cities, or just somewhere else.

One other issue that I have, and it's not like it detracts from anything, is that I have to play in 720p rather than full 1080p. It's probably due to internet connectivity and other technical issues, but I've got the TV that can handle it and I really would like the higher resolution. But that's just me.



I had a number of issues with the sound for the game, but that was a few months ago. It would cut out at times, so I could see Wonder Woman's lips moving but not hear anything. This seems to have been fixed and the sound is quite good. Both the music and the sound effects add to the game and give it some added flavor. It is a bit odd to hear conversations of people with microphones (I don't have one) when going past them, but it is part of the experience I suppose.



 They did their research, I'll give them that. The universe in this game has a whole lot of depth. There are characters all over the place, some of which you really have to search to find. Again, though, I would like to have a Secret ID available so I could go into a place like the Ace of Clubs, or the Lexcorp building and not attract attention (or, heck, just go into them period). The number of heroes and villains they crammed in here are great, but I would like to see more of the background players, like Bibbo, Jimmy Olsen, Harvey Bullock, etc.

The layouts of the cities, as I mentioned above, are great with lots of little achievements for finding certain iconic locales. The first time I found the Bat Signal in Gotham I definitely geeked out, and that just shows how much thought they put into the game and what's the players want. Although, I would like to see more things available, but that will probably be after the whole "Brainiac is attacking" thing runs its course, since the Daily Planet Building is currently bubbled and you can't get to it.


Later Missions

Being a casual player without a huge amount of time to play, I don't have much success with the end game missions. They are made to be done by groups, and I tend to solo everything. Even the PUG's I'm in for the alerts seem to be made up of people that take the game MUCH more seriously than I do, so there's not much here that I've enjoyed. I guess I won't be doing much of this stuff anytime soon, since I don't relish the idea of getting killed over and over, but I'll give it a shot now and then. It would be nice if these missions were scalable so that you don't need three or four people to get through it.

The major problem is that the missions I listed above are really the only ones out there. Sure, I could go and do the instances that I did before, only tougher, again but I really didn't get that huge a thrill out of it the first time. And, once those are done, then what? Oh, I can create another character and do all the same stuff over again. Thrilling.


Bottom Line

OK, here's the total of what I was saying above, and I'm not going to just give one rating, since the game's too complex for that. Just remember, this is only my experience so you might have a completely different take on it.

Initial Play = 4 out of 5
Replayability = 3 out of 5
End Game for Casual Players = 2 out of 5
End Game for Hard Core Players = ??? (I'm not one, so I don't know)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Halloween is probably my favorite holiday. You can dress as whatever character, etc you want; people give you candy just for knocking on their door, and there are some really good specials on TV. But beyond all that, it is a holiday about having fun! It's fun to do all these things. It's fun to get scared or to scare people. It's fun to go to or throw costume parties. It's one of the few times where an adult can act like a kid and not get slammed for it. So, in honor of all that, I present what I consider to be the end-all, be-all of Halloween Visual and Audio:


Also, for my wife, we have to include Witch Hazel:


That's kind of both ends of the spectrum there. Happy Halloween everyone!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

To Miniature or Not To Miniature, That is the Question

Well … not really. You see, I'm one of those people that has never had a problem with picturing what's going on during an RPG session. It could be my over active imagination, or just that I grew up playing games that required you to see what was going on in your head. I mean, the most we ever did, and the most I still do, is to draw a quick sketch if it's obvious that the point is not coming across. That is not to say that I look down on those that use miniature to enhance their gaming experience; it's just that I never saw the need for it.

Something that I DO have a problem with is game producers trying to convince players that they NEED to use the miniatures in order to play the game. That is not only greedy, but insulting to the players. They're basically saying, "Hey, dummy. We know that you're not bright enough to use our products without some type of visual aid, so here is our line of reasonably priced <snicker> products to make sure that you don't have to use any brain power." That might be a little over the top, but that's the impression I get when seeing this kind of thing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Which is your favorite Batman?

Not an easy question to answer, really. There are so many to choose from, much more than Superman, if truth be told, but here is a list of the ones that pop into my head when I think of the character:

  1. Original Bat-Man, by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, et al. This Bat-Man smoked a pipe and only went out when there was a crime broadcast on the radio, or his fiancĂ© was in danger. Even after the introduction of Robin a year later, this character remained virtually unchanged for decades. This version of the character was more lighthearted than what people think. In fact, way back in the beginning of the Golden Age of comics, Superman and Batman we very different from the way they are today. It was almost as if they swapped personalities somewhere in the 70's. This is also the version of Batman that I link to Adam West, Super Friends and the Brave & the Bold cartoon. Kind of campy at times & definitely not the brooding avenger he became. 
  2. 1970's Batman, the Dark Knight. The 1970's is when Batman started to brood more and the stories got grittier. I hesitate to use the term "more realistic" since it's comic books, but this was when Rupert Thorn, a Gotham Crime Boss that didn't put on tights, was introduced. Batman was also more involved in the down-to-earth storylines rather than the Save the Planet from the Menace of the Week kinds of JLA/Superman/Green Lantern stories. I would argue that this Batman, in general, is what we still had in comics up until the past few years. 
  3. Azrael Batman, pretender to the throne. Following the success of the Death of Superman, DC decided to knock off Batman by having Bane break his spine and paralyze him. Rather than having Dick Grayson aka Robin I aka Nightwing takeover (because it might just last and they wouldn't be able to get Bruce Wayne back), Bruce decided to pick the psycho, brainwashed assassin from the holier than thou Order of St. Dumas. Obviously, he went way around the bend and forced the miraculously recovered Bruce to come out of retirement and reclaim the job. Not my favorite storyline, as you might suspect. I liked the Death, Funeral, and Return stories over in the Superman titles, even though I knew it was a gimmick, but this just struck me as way too forced a set of circumstances in Batman. But, as I have stated before, I LIKE the idea of an original hero retiring/dying and having a replacement take over permanently. This could have been a great time to have Dick become Batman with Bruce as an advisor, but it didn't happen. 
  4. Dick Grayson, Son of the Bat. When Batman got on the wrong end of Darkseid's Omega Beams, several people tried to fill the role. The one that came out on top was, of course, Batman's original partner. Dick changed the costume slightly and moved out of the Cave to downtown Gotham (as Bruce did briefly in the '70's). After fighting to have people accept him as Batman, which didn't take long, Dick became an integral part of both Gotham crime fighting and the Justice League, which seemed to feature many possible successors such as Donna Troy, Supergirl and Jessie Quick. Of course, this couldn't last and Bruce was returned to the land of the living and immediately formed Batman, Inc. (so as to allow Dick to remain as Batman). Obviously, with the New 52, this is now a defunct history, but it was nice to see the Squire become the Knight. (As an aside, some people knew that this was someone different inside the costume from 2 clues. First, this Batman did a lot more acrobatics, a tribute to the circus in Dick's blood. Secondly, this Batman smiled.) 
  5. Animated Batman, Icon of the Small Screen. Batman: The Animated Series is the be all and end all of cartoon treatments of Batman. Not only is Bruce Wayne shown as merely a role that Batman plays (with different voices even), but is introduced us to a very successful revamping of many of the characters. While Batman was the main character, it was presented as more of an ensemble show. Alfred was integral to many of the plots, sometimes even verbally smacking Bruce upside the head when he needed it. Commissioner Gordon's Police, with Detective Bullock and Patrolwoman Montoya, were presented as being much more effective than you might come away with in, say, the Adam West show. Not to mention that the voice actors are now THE people that are associated with the characters, so much so that they were tapped for the Arkham Asylum and Arkham City video games. It's just not Batman if Kevin Conroy isn't doing the voice, IMHO. As you can probably tell, this is my favorite version of the character, since it's all encompassing without getting depressing, not to mention that I can watch it with my daughter and we both enjoy it. I would also include the Justice League and Justice League: Unlimited shows in with this as well.
    1. Batman Beyond. Although a distinct person, I have to include Terry McGinnis as part of the TAS universe and, thus, as a sub-entry. This is what I was talking about above, with Bruce becoming the mentor and having another Batman out throwing the punches. It was quite well done, with Mr. Conroy returning as Bruce, and the writing really held up. It's a shame that most animated series don't last very long, because I would really have liked to see more of this one. But, if you've got to go, you can't go out better than bringing back the original Joker and then killing him off.
  6. Live Action Batmen, most of them anyway. There have been many men who have put on the tights of Batman, and only some that got it right. I will be skipping the movie serials, which I do have on DVD, due to most people being unfamiliar with them.

    1. Adam West – Probably the best known Batman, and certainly the one who held the title the longest, is also the one most people despise. I don't, and it's probably because of 2 reasons. First, when the show was made, Batman had been written pretty much this way for about a decade, so it's not like this was any great departure. Secondly, this is the Batman that I was introduced to as a kid, so I guess it will always hold a special place for me. In fact, West has become so inseparable from Batman that he went on to voice the character in later Super Friends episodes and has even done a cameo on "Batman: The Animated Series" as The Grey Ghost, a TV character that Bruce Wayne watched as a boy. Even so, "Bat Shark Repellent"? Who thought THAT was a good idea? Even as a kid I didn't buy it.
    2. Michael Keaton – I actually liked Keaton's Wayne better than his Batman, not that his Batman was bad, just he was a little too … off. In any case, this is the only Batman that dealt with the Joker in the appropriate manner. Did he kill him? Not directly, but he didn't save his life either. I'm sorry, I love the character of the Joker, but there are just so many bodies that a hero should allow. Why the duel identity had to be revealed to Vale or Kyle is still a mystery to me.  
    3. Val Kilmer – This situation is the reverse of Keaton, since I like Kilmer's Batman better than his Bruce Wayne. Yet again we see the "secret" getting out to everyone and their sister, which does nothing to add to the story at all, IMHO. Still, Kilmer makes Batman as believable as possible in this movie, and I have to give him credit for that, since there wasn't much to work with there.
    4. George Clooney – Really? The less said about this debacle the better. 
    5. Christian Bale – The most recent actor to wear the cowl is probably my favorite of the five. He definitely got the "grim avenger" thing down and is easily the most violent batman on screen. I really liked how they had Alfred and Luscious Fox helping Wayne, and how they were both able to stand up to him. Again, I'm not thrilled that he had to let his girlfriend in on the secret and what the heck is with that voice? He couldn't do anything else to make Batman and Bruce Wayne sound different? He probably couldn't keep that up for more than a few minutes before needing a Bat-lozenge.  Oh, and one more thing.  Ra's, as in Ra's Al Ghul is pronounced "Ray-Sh" NOT "Raz".  They did that bit in Batman Beyond.  Sorry, but that irks the hell out of me every time I hear it.
That's my list. I'm sure I have forgotten some, not being the Bat-Expert that others are, but I think it's pretty comprehensive. Just remember to "Tune in next week. Same Bat-Time. Same Bat-Channel."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Digital Comics

OK, let me risk the wrath of the "Comics Purists" out there, but I happen to like the idea of being able to purchase my comics digitally. I've seen some of the free content out there and I think the quality is definitely up to snuff. Add that to the fact that I don't have to store the physical copies, along with the cheaper price, and I think we have a winning concept. I recently got rid of a few long boxes of comics, and I still have too many to keep in the house. If I could have all of that content on my laptop or an external drive, I would be ecstatic. 

Of course, I'm not one of those people (any more) that collects comics for their monetary value. I read them for the story and the art, so the lack of resale value doesn't bother me that much. Of course I'm also the guy who waits for collections of comics to come out so that I can save money versus buying each issue individually, so I might not be the most mainstream comics buyer out there.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The New 52

So DC Comics has decided to reboot everything for the second time. The first time, for those not in the know, was after the 1986 Maxi Series "Crisis on Infinite Earths", a move which I have always liked. However, it must be said, that I was only getting into comics at the time, and I was more of a Marvel guy (Hail Thor!). Now they've done gone and did it again. I haven't read any of the new comics, not because I'm not interested but because the disposable income just ain't there. From talking to an expert in the field (Ilan of Fat Moose Comics & Games in Whippany, NJ), I think it was another good move. Yeah, it sucks for the FLCS owner, as now they have fewer titles to sell, but as far as story, characters & continuity it seems to make sense, just like the '86 reboot.

The major problem I have with it, though, is the numbering. Taking Action Comics, for example, a title that has been around since the FIRST APPEARANCE of Superman and starting it over at #1 just seems too gimmicky to me. It's almost like saying that the last ~80 years of DC Comics aren't worth remembering, which I highly disagree with. But, if that is the only criticism, and it seems like it is from the things I have read, then I can deal with it. I might pick up a couple of issues eventually, even if it's just in collection form, but I think that, again, DC has made a bold decision to streamline things and I really hope it works as well as it did 25 years ago.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why do we play Tabletop RPG’s?

By "we" I mean gamers in general, not just those of my age demographic. Obviously, there isn't any one answer, so I will just break my reasons down for you.
  1. To spend time with Friends – This is the penultimate answer for me. There is no other reason to play a tabletop game, IMHO, than to have a good time with others. Even if you play in a pick-up game at a convention, or your FLGS, the goal is to have fun. As we like to say on the USS Justice, "If you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong." There have been many time when an entire 4-5 hour gaming session consisted of nothing but telling stories/jokes, ribbing people or their characters (yes, S.M.U.R.F.E.T.T.E, I'm looking at you), or just generally laughing ourselves silly. (Just check out some of the Greyhawk Campaign Logs over a Greyhawk Grognard to see what I'm talking about.) So what if we got nothing done in game, everyone was able to have fun and that's a successful night in my mind.
  2. To try out something new – For example, I was involved in the playtesting for Adventures Dark and Deep up until recently (scheduling issues) and it was a great time. We purposefully tried out wacky things just to see what the rules could do, and that was fun in and of itself. And it's always amusing when your Half Orc Fighter (with 18/63 Strength) rolls a 1 for damage in unarmed combat and nearly rips a guy's arm off. Mongo, you will be missed.
  3. It's CHEAP! – Yeah, I know it seems trite, but once you buy the rules, you can play for an unlimited amount of time and you're using the most advanced processor on the planet to run the game (that's your brain, people). I don't know how many hours I played RPG's with my friends growing up, and usually only one person had to lay out the cash for the game for all of us to play. Much better than $40-60 per game that only lasts 20-40 hours of game time, not to mention the system to play them on. Pen and paper games are a bargain at twice price.
  4. You just can't do it anywhere else – I run a monthly (usually) game of King Arthur Pendragon for my wife and a few friends, which we always have a good time at. We're using The Great Pendragon Campaign, which takes the players from 10 years before Arthur is born until after his death, which spans 80+ years. How many games, other than a tabletop RPG, will have that scope? Not only do the characters get married, have families and die, but they are succeeded by their offspring to carry on in the game. It's not just that it doesn't happen anywhere else, it CAN'T! Try to get a PS3 or Xbox game with that many facets to it and it would be cost prohibitive. You get close with MMORPG's, but even then the world events and expansions cost a pretty penny. This is an expensive book to buy (luckily, one of my friends, who is a player in the game, owned it already), but you can't beat the experience.
That's my list. Anyone out there on the interwebs have any other reasons?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Luke Skywalker is 60!

Wow! When I read the post over at Grognardia about Mark Hamill turning 60 on September 25th, I was floored. Now, I am in my mid-thirties, and even though I'm still older than Star Wars (which in itself is a depressing thought), I grew up with Luke Skywalker being a young man, a hero farm boy, and someone Harrison Ford called kid. I guess being a father myself (of a 3 year old girl), celebrating my baby sister's 33rd and my father's 61st birthdays this past week, news like this really makes you take stock of where you are in your life. I've been at my job for 10 years (that's a decade folks!) and while I still play games (PS3 and Tabletop RPG being the preferred ways), I know that I'm getting older. I've owned, and had to sell, my own home. I've outlived my first pet (not one my parents took care of, a dog who was really wholly mine & my wife's responsibility). I've got more grey in my hair and more weight than I'd like. Not to mention the migraines and knee/hip problems that seem to pop up at the worst times.

All that being said, I believe there's more good in my life than bad. I've got a great family and set of friends that I get to see often. I may not be able to go out and buy everything I want, but I'm not behind on any bills. My wife just got a job after over a year of unemployment, and my daughter started Pre-School this past month. I have a roof over my head and food in the fridge, so all in all, I'm doing fine. It just takes me a little time to realize that every now and again, just ask my wife when I lose my temper.

Oh, and as for Mark Hamill (who will always be the best Joker; sorry Caesar, Jack and Heath), I'd say he's doing pretty well, too.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Let's try this again

OK, so the regular schedule thing obviously isn’t working for me, so rather than promise what I can’t deliver, I’ll just be posting various things that strike my fancy when they do (should I have time to type them up that is). I would like to thank you all for loyally following me, even though there was nothing to follow.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Content Coming Soon

Sorry for the drought on the content.  I'll be publishing a review of the PS3 version of DC Universe: Online fairly soon.  Watch this space.

Lupine - Level 22 Magic Hero on the Crisis Server
In the mean time, check out the G4 review: