Ice Cold Killers

Hey Guys,

I’m going to change pace with you for a moment from our typical reviews whenever the hell we feel like it atmosphere, and talk a little about a side project I cooked up about a month ago called Ice Cold Killers: The Serious Cases of Detective Rick Frost  . Here is the concept art I thought of to set the tone before I elaborate: 

Image

So here’s the idea: L.A. Confidential meets Magical Christmas Wonderment, sans Christmas. In a world populated by snowmen, how would they react to a serial melter running around? I want to create a comic series to show the world just how that shit would play out, so I submitted this idea to Indiegogo in order to try and raise some funds to get some real electronic drawing gear to set up shop. Now, things have gone really well, in the first 15 days of the project being up we rushed to about 50%, and now we’re hanging around just above the 60% mark with less than 10 days to go. I realized a little too soon what part of the problem was in the sudden drop off: Indiegogo recently changed their layout and a little design flaw made it almost impossible to find the project as it entered the limbo from “Fresh this week” to “Final Countdown,” so I would like to call on the nice folks who follow this blog to help me out and spread the link for this project, to see if we can’t just sneak the rest of the funding in while the clock is still ticking!

WHAT IS IN IT FOR YOU? Spreading the word is an amazing thing to do, because you really have no reason to do it for some asshole sitting on the other end of a keyboard asking for help, but I want to have a way to thank the people spreading the word. So, if you spread the link, give people your email to give me or email me yourself (at detectiverickfrost@gmail.com )to let me know that they are contributing, so that when I see their contribution come through, I can hook you up with a PDF copy of the pilot comic once it’s fully colored and ready to go. What the hell’s a pilot comic? Think of it like a pilot for a TV series, except with this issue I will be emailing everyone who received a copy to weigh in on what they think so far, and what they would like to see moving forward. It’s a cool way to keep everyone involved int he great project they are helping me bring together! Plus there are plenty of images from the pilot up online for you to see before you contribute! 

Thanks for reading, and please check out Ice Cold Killers on indiegogo to spread the word and support this project! In case you missed the link it is in bluuueeeeee!

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“I know it sounds like a cat poster, but it’s true.” or The Lego Movie

hr_The_LEGO_Movie_10The Lego Movie has something for everyone, and for me that means off the wall goofy comedy. Not campy goofy, mind you, I mean honest to goodness just screw ball stuff. If I had any doubt that the movie was an all ages draw, all I had to do was look around the theater at the random middle aged lonely dudes and ladies in between the families! And of course there was me and my crew, but we’re another sub culture altogether.

So visually the movie is amazing, it looks like it’s made out of actual Legos, even the stuff in the distance. The water is Lego pellets (Until they go underwater, but let’s not split hairs here) and the explosions are all animated with Lego bits, even the smoke! If you have seen the Lego versions of Star Wars or Marvel superheros you know that previously in Lego movies it was kind of “whatever we felt like” was made out of Legos. When I say it looked like it was all made out of Legos, by the way, I don’t mean it looked like it was made out of CGI Legos, I mean it looks liek every thing was made out of LEGO Legos. I really can’t tell if it was somputer animated or stop motion, it just blows my mind. There are sections in the movie, not to spoil anything, that transition between the real world, the Lego World, and the stop motion and freeze frame devices work so perfectly. When the movie pauses on the action, instead of Legos free floating like they have the whole movie, suddenly they are propped up on little clear plastic bits like a model set. The creators of the movie really put loving care into the ideas behind this movie and brought it out so well.

You can really tell that tv's analog!

You can really tell that tv’s analog!

Let’s talk voice acting, my favorite fucking thing in the world. This movie has such a crazy assortment of actors that the characters stand out as individuals among the thousand of other Lego figures in the movie. There’s Will Arnett as Batman, which is phenomenal and will make you wet your pants ever time he delivers a line, Allison Brie from Community, Jonah Hill as an awkward Green Lantern, Will Ferrell and of course Morgan Freeman, who calls his own voice “Sweet Molasses.” The dynamic between the cast will have you chuckling more often than not. Charlie Day voices a spaceman who only wants to build a FREAKING SPACESHIP the whole movie, and delivers the pain and frustration with eloquence. Also Liam Neeson plays a psychopath cop with two faces, literally, and a vendetta against chairs. He. Hates. Them.

Green Lantern just really wants to be buddies with Superman.

Green Lantern just really wants to be buddies with Superman.

The story is cute, and I’m not afraid to say it. There’s a whole meta-narrative going on that I won’t ruin for you, because it’s a pretty big plot twist (Kinda) and it’s a lot better if you don’t see it coming. The commercials do a good job of not ruining the story, which is always great to see. Without revealing too much about it, the whole thing is about these creative types, the Master Builders, being hunted down by Lord Business who wants everyone to follow the instruction manuals while the Master Builders just want to build fun shit 24/7. It’s a cute little retelling of the rule breakers vs. the rule makers, and it’s fun. You don’t feel like you’re being taught some huge life lesson at the end of it, you just feel a little lighter hearted.

space man

Go see this movie if you want a nice break from the over-the-top stupid comedies (Which I love, I’m not knocking them) the overly action-packed action movies with actors that should be retired by now, or the dreadful rom-coms that are coming out this time of year. It’s worth the matinee price, for sure.

Especially if you have billionaire playboy money.

Especially if you have billionaire playboy money.

As a side note, I saw it in 3D, and it was okay, but the 3D wasn’t really needed to enjoy the movie. Perfectly fine to see in 2d!

-Nevets

 

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Vincent and the Sunflower

vincent-van-gogh-sunflowers

His mind pooled with depression, yet his paintings screamed color and light. You have to want to get behind a mind like that.

In Doctor Who’s fifth series and tenth episode, we get to visit with Vincent Van Gogh as written by Richard Curtis. (It’s a wonderful episode! And if you haven’t seen it, you need to go watch it right now. Do it. I’m waiting. I’m waiting more. I’m done waiting. Onward.)

Vincent Van Gogh was born in 1853 in the Netherlands during a time when God was a lantern. After wars and floods ended a time when Protestantism was meant to “rally the faithful,” Van Gogh was born into a world that sought God to comfort it in its trials (Naifeh 17). This is the mindset that Vincent grew up influenced by—the mindset that all his hope was in refuge.

One of Vincent Van Gogh’s most well-renowned paintings is that of the sunflowers. There are actually five different sunflower paintings created by Vincent Van Gogh, each hanging in a different spot. Only one has a yellow background—Vincent’s favorite. In this painting he takes definite artistic risks, putting purple against yellow and using yellow for both the foreground and background (The National Gallery 5).

Let’s get a good look at the sunflower paintings. If you zoom in on the paintings, you can actually see the brushstrokes in each petal. Incredible.

http://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/asset-viewer/sunflowers/hwEGmsM-FoHAwA?projectId=art-project

The first two are paintings by Van Vogh. The last is a painting of him by his friend, Paul Gauguin.

Vincent was a violent painter. He slashed his canvas with oil paints while muttering angrily at his work (Naifeh 615). Can you see it in the brushstrokes? Especially in Sunflowers with the blue background, you can see how heavily the paint has been laid on, the jagged angling of the petals. Vincent believed himself to be “consuming” nature and setting it free. Vincent saw none of this as his own imagination (Naifeh 632).

The Van Gogh Museum states that Van Gogh meant for the sunflower paintings to be framed and stand as candles in between his other paintings, beacons of hope. They were to be small suns between the darker portraits in his gallery.

For a man whose life was filled with rejection by society and his family, as well as severe mental illness, the Sunflowers series was more than paintings. These paintings were symbols of the refuge he was taught to take as a child, wicks to light his way.

“Vincent and the Doctor” explores the idea of the sunflower as a symbol of life and death cycles. We can examine this ourselves: the petals grow and the pollen is heavy on the center of the flower. Pollination occurs and the petals die and the seeds are born and mature. The sunflower heads hang, heavy, and the seeds are plucked by birds or people or—perhaps—are planted. God, The Lamp, protects the seeds and Vincent finds hope in new sunflowers. God the Lamp is reborn in a new symbol of changing life.

And Vincent paints it because somewhere in his dark mind he has to consume hope again through the flowers. And, violently, Vincent sets hope free to light our galleries.

And, in the words of the Doctor:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjUKGfBW74o

-Julia

Works Cited

Naifeh, Steven, and Gregory White. Smith. Van Gogh: The Life. New York: Random House, 2011. Print.

“Sunflowers – Vincent Willem Van Gogh, Dutch, 1853 – 1890 – Google Cultural Institute.” Sunflowers – Vincent Willem Van Gogh, Dutch, 1853 – 1890 – Google Cultural Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2014.

“Sunflowers: Symbols of Happiness.” Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2014.

“Van Gogh Museum – Sunflowers.” Van Gogh Museum – Sunflowers. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2014.

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Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (3DS Version)

Monster_Hunter_3_Ultimate_box_art

Graphics/Aesthetic:

Though the PS Vita has been ubiquitously considered a flop—let’s call it an underdog, since it has some solid titles—, it is the only other handheld in competition with the 3DS, and, because of this, its library is constantly being compared to the 3DS’ stockpile.

Recently, I watched a video on Nnamz’ YouTube channel, “Soul Sacrifice vs Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate.” Excellent video. Some well-thought-out opinion there. He was right to compare the two; they do belong in the same discussion. However, I had some beef with some of what he said. Nnamz posits that the aesthetic of Soul Sacrifice is far superior to that of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. Within the first fifteen minutes of Soul Sacrifice, you understand what world you’re in. You’re unsettled, undoubtedly, but not surprised. It’s an atypical art aesthetic that is not popular for a reason, except if you already know you enjoy the dark/punk gorefest coming your way. All this to say Soul Sacrifice is campy, alienating.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is campy also, insomuch that it is the kind of videogame that displays Japanese developers struggling to wrap their minds around what a fantasy medieval Europe looked like. No, there were no cats serving up soufflé or dolled-up piggies in European medieval myths, Capcom. Monster Hunter has an aesthetic incongruous with its allusions, but at least it’s in on the joke. Soul Sacrifice is guilty of taking itself a little too seriously.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate stands head and shoulders above Soul Sacrifice in the graphics/aesthetic department when it comes to what I’ll call “environment as character.” The confluence of monster/environment is where this game shines. Even though there are only a handful of maps, every hunt feels unique. This is largely due to the organic way in which the monsters and environments interact. You could be wailing on a wyvern, comfortable you’ll be able to take it down in the tight gully you both occupy, and it decides I’m out! fleeing from that area into an open vista where it can move freely.

While the aesthetic experience may be a bit off, the game’s landscapes are brilliant. Capcom has the right eye for detail. Waterfalls and caves, volcano tops and marshes—all the places you want to lay waste to big ass dragons.

Music:

Memorable. The Deviljo theme is—hands down—the best new addition, post-Tri. It’s playful, ominous, and—the most crucial mark of a Monster Hunter song—adventurous. The Monster Hunter theme song captures so well the trials fans of the series have experienced, so that every time it plays, the player is assaulted with nostalgia. At crucial moments—normally when fighting elder dragons—Capcom begins to play the theme, and the player recalls every trying moment, every thousand failures, every well-earned success.

Something does need to be discussed, however. Tri was, in my mind, a step backwards, sonically and mechanically. The themes in Tri tended to exoticize the seaside village’s people. Whereas themes from the first and second games elicited adventure, themes in Tri sounded a bit too aboriginal. Three Ultimate keeps the themes from Tri, but adds several new themes which are decidedly less exotic. Not a total rehaul, but an apology nonetheless.

Gameplay:

The Monster Hunter franchise does away with the level/boss formula, tossing you directly into the boss fight without prepping you for the challenge. And this is the case boss after boss after boss. It’s unforgiving, and the learning curve is steep. I spoke previously about games designed by Japanese developers with medieval aesthetics. It’s hard to ignore the Demon’s Souls/Dark Souls series fits well into this discussion. Both are games that pride themselves on their fist-shaking difficulty. They’re retro in that they recall a time in which games were more challenging.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is no different from the other games in the series. There are a thousand things you need to learn which are not explained. Sure, you can open up the Hunter’s Notes, but who wants to do that? Even then, you may learn one weapon’s control scheme, but the game is much simpler when a player has mastery over several weapon types. Also, every new monster you fight requires you to adopt a new battle style. Armor, weaponry, inventory items and how you combine them, abilities, charms—all require extensive knowledge to operate. Every step the player takes is marked by heavy resistance.

The control scheme should be discussed in more detail. It is more than challenging; it is borderline broken. Water battles—added in Tri—make the already difficult controls wonkier. In order to feel like I didn’t have to rely on the auto-lock feature, I purchased the Circle Pad Pro, which makes managing the camera much easier.

So why would anyone want to play Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate? Picture this: you’ve spent the past few hours, maybe days, studying a monster, learning its weaknesses, watching tutorial videos, reading walkthroughs, preparing traps. You enter into battle confident. Maybe the battle starts a bit rocky. Maybe you die once. But then you settle into a rhythm. You cut the dragon’s tail off. You break its head crest. And finally, after twenty brutal minutes, you kill it. For me, these battles, these victories, have given me some of the best moments I’ve ever had in a video game.

Players generally believe that a good game acclimates you to its challenges as the game progresses. Though Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is very hard at first, no game I’ve ever played makes me feel as in charge of my destiny. To this day, I can still die to an easier wyvern, because I play poorly.

Gab (Discussion/Final Thoughts):

This game is not for everyone. If you’re looking for a casual gaming experience, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a challenge that starts off with you already in the red and keeps you constantly on your toes, then Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is for you.

But why a review months after the game was released? Who am I trying to target by writing this? Well, one of the reasons I want new people to play this game is selfish. In order to bring Monster Hunter 4 to the West, fans need to raise enough support for Capcom to consider the overseas sail. The other reason is decidedly more philanthropic. I want new hunters, because I want a new type of video game player. Many of our Triple A video game titles in America create whiny, hyper-competitive, foul-mouthed twats that no one aspires to be, or be in the company of. I’m guilty of having been that person. I’ve thrown my controller and cussed a storm playing CoD before. I tend to believe that video games can inspire us to be better people, though the stereotypes which have continued to be portrayed say, loudly, otherwise. Games which encourage teamwork and using your brain for something other than splattering your opponents gore on the wall can and do generate real creativity in players. Play this game because it’s going to foster in you a desire to become better at it, without the nasty aftertaste of twatishness. Play it because you’ll use all of your mental resources to face its challenges. I think you’ll find, when you put it down, that you can see the world around you in a more creative, problem-solving way.

-Ian

P.S.

I wrote this article last week, finished it yesterday, and today (26 January 2014) Capcom announced that they’ll be bringing Monster Hunter 4 to the West, in the form of another Ultimate game—yes, this time next year players will be able to purchase Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate in the US. I need to keep writing these reviews. All my nerdiest dreams will come true!

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In a world without gold, we might have been heroes!

titleI unboxed my Playstation 4 on November 15th thinking I would have a fun time switching between the four launch titles I got. Three weeks later I finally beat Assassin’s Creed 4, Black Flag (Ass Creed 4), and picked up another game. I did not even look at another game until I was done with Ass Creed 4, so that should tell you a little bit about how I feel about the game.

I know it’s a basically a port, also released on the last gen consoles, so it’s really not a fair representation of what the next gen hardware can do, not that there is really any game beside Knack that can be considered “Next Gen” right now, but it is one hell of a good looking game.

Do Pirate Leprechauns Leave Booty?

Do Pirate Leprechauns Leave Booty?

I  mean just look at that detail, that rainbow is the most accurate rainbow I’ve seen in video games, and the mist is not just a background layer, it’s an active effect from the waterfalls in the distance. Think that rainbow is there all the time? NOPE, on an overcast or rainy day that shit is gone. Not only that, but for the first time that image you see up there? That’s my actual game play, because these next gen consoles are all about the social media. Sure, it’s just a picture, I gotta grapple with the video stuff some more, but that means that everyone and their grandma is going to be posting game footage. How much easier can they make it to figure out if you want to try out a game?

Pretty aesthetics aside, how is the game play? Not revolutionary, but tight. They fine tuned the mechanics from Ass Creed 3 to make you really feel in control of the character, at least more than the Playstation 3 titles had offered. Remember the sailing sections from 3? Well you better get re-acclimated because that is going to be 60% of your game play time – and it is fun as hell now. With the ship being the main up-gradable resource in Ass Creed 4 the money system is not longer out of whack, in my opinion, and you’ll find yourself immersed in not only fighting ships on the open sea, but delegating sailing missions to your fleet of ships as they become available. These actions can all be done from the ship, your mobile base basically, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t upgrade your port at all to save your cash for the ship, besides buying a whore house on your island to save on petty cash during missions, but even that isn’t really a sound investment. The ship, however, only ever returns your cash – and how! With several attack and defense parameters for you to upgrade, as well being able to upgrade your harpooning equipment, you’ll find yourself constantly hunting down ships to get a better edge with the loot they drop. I’m not ashamed to admit that as of the end of the main story I am still not fully upgraded, despite my efforts, and I have yet to sink a single legendary ship, which really gets my goat! However I did recently get the Freedom Cry DLC so hopefully I’ll find myself yearning for the open sea here again soon.

Oy, Look At That Whale Tail

Oy, Look At That Whale Tail

On the land side of things, the controls that I talked about being tighter are nice, apart from the infuriating aiming of the free running, which will make it harder on you to find the shanties scattered about. Do yourself a favor, look where it floats to start, and just let the bastard fly away. Wait about 2 minutes on the spot and the thing will spawn right on top of you, easy collection, especially for something so trivial in the game. Other collectibles are not goign to be so easy to come by, the most fun one to collect is going to be the Templar Keys, since they have assassinations tied to them, and the least fun is going to be the Mayan Stales. Guess will be better though?

Bite My Shiny Metal Armor

Bite My Shiny Metal Armor

The Mayan armor is far superior, and grants you immunity to metal projectiles, which will save your skin more often than not. However, as awesome as it is, if you collect every Mayan Stone as you come across it, you won’t net the final piece until about 70% though the story line, but you are going to want it for the last haul.

Speaking of story line, this game has the most immersive story line of the series, in my humble opinion. This is due to two factors: One, it puts you in a game within a game as yourself pretty much, which gives depth to the crazy conspiracy theories that are going on, and really gives the ending moments a lot of impact. Two, Edward is not an assassin for most of the game play, and how he gets introduced to the world is much more entertaining than any of the last couple characters. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Ezio, he was awesome, but he was born into it, this is a much cooler story, and Edward a much less predictable antagonist. Edward’s self centered nature keeps you going, because you don’t know what is going to happen next, every time you think “Oh well that’s an easy choice, of course he’s going to help them” NOPE – Edward turns around and does something totally different. The Easter eggs in this game are amazing as well, and compliment a lot of the story, but I won’t ruin them for you. Just hack early, and hack often, and you’ll find the golden nuggets. Protip: they aren’t the boring ass audio files. Sure, they give a lot of depth, and it’s cool to hear about the beginnings of the animus program, but it’s a lot of boring tech talk.

So, if you want yourself a great experience with a  story that is going to keep you interested, Ass Creed 4 is your game.

Yo Ho! 9/10 and a bottle of rum.

-Nevets

 

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A New Day

I am sick and tired of seeing nothing but biased reviews on video games from the major sources- so while I may not be the fastest as reviewing games, I want to make a promise for anyone who cares to read my reviews: I am going to do my best to remain unbiased and give a review that will actually HELP you decide if you want a game. I like to think that I haven’t been biased up to this point, but I do know that I haven’t been very faithful in posting. Well- I got a PS4, and most of the games that came out- so fuck it, I’m going to kick this bitch into overtime.

First up- Assiasian’ Creed, Black Flag
Then- Pokemon X-Y
Then eventually- Killzone- Shadowfall, Battlefeild 4, and Call of Duty Ghosts.

Spoiler alert- if you get any of these games, don’t pick CoD, it is by far the weakest of the entries- but more on that later.

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Dr. Scholl’s Active Series for Men

So recently i got the honor of finally receiving a VoxBox from Influenster, which I have been trying to get for about a year with little success. This box was a great surprise because I had recently started to try and get back in shape by doing a little running, and a lot of walking, as most video game enthusiasts probably find themselves doing when they try to run. The product in the box was Dr. Scholl’s Active Series for Men replacement insole. 

If you are looking for a comfortable insole, look no further, because this is the real deal. The heel is nice and cupped so you don’t go sliding around in your shoe, so you don’t waste energy, and the arch support is KILLER. It looks a little uncomfortable at first, because it’s a hard piece of plastic, but it make you feel liek you’re walking on a cloud. My only two complaints for this product are that 1. The arch support is the first thing to wear out, especially if you’re chubby like myself, so be sure to follow through with your steps because flat footed running is going to turn these into limp noodles. 2. The ball of the foot goes largely un-cushioned. As you can see in the image there is some cushioning with the teal colored rubber, but with the arch support redistributing your weight over your foot, there should be a bit more to ease the shock. While the majority of my foot felt better after running in these shoes, the balls of my feet have become a bit abused compared to no insole at all. Still, it’s much better than running on no insole at all! 

I give these a 9/10 

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