Thursday, July 28, 2011

Technology Fail

MMORPG REVIEW: Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited

Well, I had wanted to pen a review of the free D&D MMORPG, but after downloading it onto my netbook, it looks like my little device don't quite have the juice necessary to load and run the game. That or there's some other technical difficulty that makes the game's load screen hang and freeze after I open up the app.

Ah well, nothing beats in-person pencil-and-paper gaming, anyway. But maybe if I upgrade my tech, I'll be able to post a review at some later date. We'll see, I guess...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dungeons & Dragons Encounters - Dark Legacy of Evard, Episode 12

Dungeons and Dragons Encounters is a "season" based weekly 4th edition mass game campaign produced by Wizards of the Coast that's played in comic book and gaming shops across the nation on the same day every week from season's start to season's end.

This season's campaign is "Dark Legacy of Evard", and runs 13 episodes. I'm only recently back into D&D after a very long absence away from the game, having subscribed to the D&D Insider earlier this week. This week's penultimate 12th episode was my first chance to put my subscription in action and see if I got my money's worth from it.

So far, the verdict is a big YES.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

REVIEW: Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #521

Marvel Comics' Black Panther stalked back onto the monthly issue scene at the end of last year (in December, I think), taking Daredevil's title (both literally and figuratively) as the new Man Without Fear in Hell's Kitchen, NYC, as written by David Liss and illustrated by Francesco Francavilla.

I've always had a soft spot on my heart for the Black Panther in his various incarnations, though the incarnation that had me buying his adventures on a regular basis was not T'Challa but rather that of Christopher Priest's American, urban and working class Kevin "Kasper" Cole, a NYC narcotics cop who took over the mantle for a brief time on the streets of Harlem.

Maybe it makes sense then that I'm now adding the current series back onto my pull list given that the original Black Panther, T'Challa, has been placed into a similar setting (NYC) and role (urban vigilante facing modern problems and real world challenges beyond just the supervillain du jour) of my most favorite incarnation.

Monday, July 25, 2011

REVIEW: Dungeons and Dragons Insider

So as a birthday gift to myself, I took the plunge and decided to subscribe to the Dungeons and Dragons Insider on the D&D website for a year at a rate of $5.95 a month.

I'm hoping that it will help facilitate my entry back into the world of tabletop role playing games after a long absence from the hobby, seeing as the last time I played tabletop pencil-and-paper D&D it was AD&D 2nd ed.(published in 1989).

Is the investment in the online subscription worth it? Well, the subscription gains one access to the Dungeons & Dragons Insider Toolbox which includes the following components:

  • A browser based Character Builder, which saves me from having to buy or hand write character sheets for my Player Characters
  • An online  D&D Compendium, which is basically an indexed collection of all the rules from all of the published 4e D&D books, including both Dragon and Dungeon magazine content
  • An online Adventure Tools service, which assists in dungeon mastering adventures should I ever care to take up that little bit of insanity
  • Online subscriptions to both Dragon and Dungeon magazines, which I haven't read in ages but am really looking forward to catching up on

Time will tell how useful it all is when I actually start attending the weekly D&D Encounters session at my local comic book/game shop, but if nothing else the two magazine subscriptions alone seem to make it worth my while for now. I'll post an update after attending a D&D Encounters session this week with a review of how useful the service actually is in facilitating my participation and return to the game.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

REVIEW: True Blood Episode 41, "Me and the Devil" (with spoilers)

True Blood Season 4, Episode 5, entitled "Me and the Devil," in which various things of great consequence and import happen to our beloved cast of characters, imperiling their bodies and/or souls.

Without further ado, here are what I thought to be the highlights:

  • Tommy whacks both his parents as dear old mom tries to bring him back into the world of dog fighting for not so dear old dad
  • Lafayette and Jesus go on the lam to Mexico in search of Jesus's brujo father so that they can gain some way to protect themselves from big, bad, Eric Northman after their wicca group banished the vampire's memories and set Northman's child Pam to rotting
  • Sam helps Tommy get rid of the evidence of his parricide, where we learn that 1. Alligators LOVE marshmallows and 2. Sam's killed before and done just fine afterwards
  • Jason is rescued from panther hillbillie enslavement by best-friend Hoyt and redhead hottie vampire Jessica, only to have a dream of stealing said redhead hottie vampire away from Hoyt
And the biggest bomb of the evening
  • Bill learns that Eric has been hiding out at Sookie's place, even after Sookie told him she had no idea regarding Eric's whereabouts (oh, Tara also find s out Eric is hanging at Sookie's, and storms out in typical Tara fashion)
This season of True Blood has been one of expanding mythology with the introduction of faeries and witches, and this episode's drama arises from the mischief wrought by the latter. Its also been a season of secrets kept and secrets revealed, of which there were plenty of this episode. I was a little unsure of how the expanding mythology would play on the show, and feared that it would weigh down the story rather than enhance and carry it along, but so far my fears have been (happily) allayed.

Here's to next week's episode, in which Bill Compton (angrily) goes to see about a girl and her Viking vampire! Will we see that Hell hath no fury like a vampire scorned?

Its my birthday!

Happy birthday, to me.

Hope that everyone else with a birthday on this day has as whimsical a day as I'm going to try and have!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

REVIEW: Howard the Duck (with spoilers)

Howard the Duck (released in the Summer of 1986, directed by Willard Huyck and produced by George Lucas, based on the Marvel Comics character created by Steve Gerber) has been considered by many to be one the worst films ever made. So how is it that I decided to review it in the Summer of 2011?

Well, I was shopping at Target for this and that, and I saw this on their shelf of $5 DVDs. Seeing as it's my birthday tomorrow, and I wanted to kick it off with some whimsy, I said what the heck and tossed it into my shopping basket. Unable to wait for the clock to hit midnight, I opened up the package after dinner, pulled out the DVD and popped it into the machine to give it a spin.

A little over two hours later, and here I am penning my review. Was it truly as bad as some people have said? Or did it somehow improve over time, like a bottle of fine aged wine? Well, I for one think that time has been good to this little flick - leaving it rolling around on my palate maybe not like a bottle of aged wine, but at least like a tasty Chinese century egg.

Friday, July 22, 2011

REVIEW: Captain America: The First Avenger

 Captain America: The First Avenger is the best Marvel Comics film adaptation yet since their release of the first Iron Man film (which I also tremendously enjoyed, in no small part to Robert Downey, Jr. nailing the essence of that flick's protagonist). If you enjoy period romps like Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc, The Rocketeer, and the Mummy, then this is the superhero flick for you. 

With a story set in the 1940s during WWII and book-ended by two scenes that take place in the present day, director Joe Johnston provides a fun, straightforward superhero film that delivers the goods like a champ (not surprising, considering his hand in the Rocketeer film and the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles television series). 

Chris Evans does an excellent job portraying the earnestness and moral strength of character possessed by Captain America's alter ego Steve Rogers

RPG BLOG CARNIVAL - What Makes a Roleplaying Game Bad Ass?

What's this thing called the RPG blog carnival, you might ask?

Well, according to the fellows over at Nevermet Press:

"Blogger carnivals are a way for a group of bloggers to all simultaneously write about the same topic. They are a great way to build community and dialogue across many different blogs at once. This benefits fans/readers of those blogs because they have the opportunity to explore lots of different viewpoints in a short period of time. It also benefits the bloggers because they get new readers to stop by and (from a technical point of view) it helps with SEO. Everyone wins."

This month's carnival topic is What Makes a Roleplaying Game Bad Ass?

Without further ado, here are my thoughts.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

REVIEW: A New Day (the online Burn Notice graphic novel)

"A New Day" is the serialized online graphic novel (GN) featuring the characters from the "Burn Notice" series on cable television's USA network. Both  feature Jefferey Donavan as Michael Westen, the spy in question who received the show's titular 'burn notice' - a notice issued by intelligence agencies that discredits or announces the dismissal of agents or sources who are considered to have become unreliable.

Michael's attempts to get his old life back with the help of his pals, along with acts of kidness to those in need that only a burned spy can provide,  make up the story.

The GN's release coincided with the premier of the show's 5th season. Its story arc takes place between seasons 4 and 5, filling in some of the blanks and touching on new content. It also provides some interactive games and activities between the e-pages for the reader to engage in as they make their way through each chapter. Some of the interactive content falls flat from being overly simple, but some of it is interesting enough that I felt it didn't take away from the story's overall narrative.

As a fan of the Burn Notice series, the online GN works well enough for me.  I've come to look forward to reading the latest chapter each week right before the newest episode premiers. If you're not already a fan of the Burn Notice show, I'm not sure that this online GN will pull you into watching it, as you'll lack context, but its not so continuity heavy that a Burn Notice newbie couldn't use it as an entry portal into the bigger Burn Notice universe.

RATING: 3 Yogurt Cups out of 4

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part 2)

Yes, I watched it.

No, I haven't seen all of the previous films in the series, nor have I read all of the books.

Did I still enjoy it? You bet I did! I am normally not a fan of films with a running time of way over 90 minutes, but with this one, time flew by way too fast.

I've read reviews that have been overly harsh, and reviews that have been overly gushing. As a casual fan of the Harry Potter mythos, I can say that I found the film entirely satisfying. I laughed, I cried, I found myself wanting to watch all of the previous films in the series and read all of the books. If that's not some measure of success, I donno what is. Of course, it also made $169.2 million or so in initial box office take, so there is that too.

RATING: 10 out 10 points for Gryffindor!

REVIEW: Daredevil #1 (with spoilers)

 Daredevil is back with an all new #1 issue written by Mark Waid and penciled by Paolo Rivera. 

Will the latest relaunch by Marvel Comics of the Man Without Fear prove true the old adage of "Better the devil you know..."?

The answer might well depend on when you were first introduced to Daredevil. 

He's alternately been portrayed as a footloose and fancy free swashbuckler as well as a brooding, tortured soul depending on who's writing him at the time. In recent history though, Marvel has demonstrated a fondness for putting DD through the wringer, again and again, with the final "Shadowland" story arc of his previous series having had DD possessed by a literal devil, building a fortress of murder and torture in Hell's Kitchen and taking on friends and foes alike, culminating in his "death". His title was then given to the Black Panther, both literally and figuratively before Daredevil was "reborn" while on walkabout in New Mexico (don't ask), and now we're here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

REVIEW: Captain America #1 (with spoilers)

Captain America is back!

Marvel Comics has returned Steve Rogers to the red, white and blue in a brand new #1 issue by writer Ed Brubaker and penciler Steve McNiven.

Is it just a cheap, commercial ploy timed to coincide with the release of Cap's feature film this weekend? Or does the first issue mark a bold new direction and newbie friendly jumping on point for one of Marvel's oldest superheroes? Well, its a little bit of both, I suppose.

Yes, Cap is hitting the silver screen this weekend in the USA, and is thus accompanied by all manner of merchandising roll out, including comic books, etc. But this issue also marks the return of Steve Rogers to the star spangled uniform he made famous after time away while his former sidekick Bucky took up the mantle in his absence.