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The Kings of Denmark

So admittedly, I really haven’t written in a good while. Furthermore, I haven’t written on music in a really good while. Nonetheless here I am, returned from the proverbial grave to enlighten you magnificent handful of readers who choose to edify my ego by reading. This entries focus goes squarely on one album I have been meaning to write about for some time. Actually, to be fair I wanted to write primarily about the band but since they have recently released an album I’ll make that my excuse. It’s hard to really claim any sort of special knowledge of the band, nor can I claim to have known of them before they were huge. However, the funny thing is, this ultra famous band is one that chances are you have never heard of, nor have you ever heard any of their singles. That band is Kashmir.

just a casual impromptu picture of the members of Kashmir

Now the reason you will have never heard of Kashmir, despite their receiving numerous critical accolades and awards is because they are a Danish band, and I guess Danes don’t seem to make it big here in North America. Still though, all their songs are in English and their style is so foreign that it would jar you to hear their music. In fact, many have likened their sound to Coldplay and Radiohead, which is probably fair though I think they stand a bit apart from those two bands. The bottom line is that this band is really interesting and dynamic and if you ask me it’s crazy that more people aren’t aware of them. If you want band’s full store you can check it out here. For now, let’s move on to their newest album, Trespassers, which was released this past February.

Trespassers is actually the band’s sixth full length release, so like I was saying this isn’t a group that came out of nowhere, and is the bands first album in 5 years since they released No Balance Palace in 2005. To my mind, it is probably the most balanced and consistent album of their to date, with each song managing to keep my attention while a few standouts really managed to grab me. Manta Ray and Still Boy stood out to me as the most powerful tracks on the album, with Pallas Athena probably being the weakest effort made. The sound is generally a sort of melodic rock sound, with a sort of taciturn mood for the most part. While this could aptly describe every album of theirs to date, what I felt really made this one stand out was a certain undercurrent of optimism which seemed to pervade pretty well every track on the album. I’m no musician so to comment on the instrumental competence or production qualities would be pointless, though I will say that I think Kasper Eistrup’s vocals are some of the most moving you are likely to hear on any album, which ring with a sort of sincerity and vulnerability which you so rarely seem to find. All in all the album sounds very good, and very polished.

I can’t talk about this album without at least mentioning the album’s music video for the single Still Boy. My first experience with Kashmir was actually through a music video, where I happened to stumble upon the video for Rocket Brothers. The band seems to have a tendency to make videos that have a linear narrative and some sort of morality or theme to them. There aren’t any cuts to the band rocking out or anything like that, more just a short movie with the track acting as the score to the story. for Still Boy, the video depicts a crazy homeless man trying desperately to bring to life a doll he has built in his sort of cardboard workshop. The video is powerful, and really compliments the strength of the song, but rather than describe it it’s probably best I just show you:

Thanks to Kashmir for making the video available on YouTube through their band’s channel.

I’m not really sure what more I can really say, the album is excellent and if you haven’t heard it you really should. It’s hard to really recommend this band to any one type of music listener, they have that sort of general palatability which I typically loathe. However I have to admit there is a sort of distinct character to these guys which is very charming and they really do have a sound that sets them apart.

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Returning to Rapture

Howdy folks, its been a while and for that I am deeply sorry but at last I return with more criticisms on the hard work of others that I enjoyed at my leisure. Today’s focus being chiefly on the sequel to the 2007 PC game of the year* Bioshock, Bioshock 2 (clever title, no?)

Because I just recently played Bioshock I’ll give you the cliffs notes to provide some context. You play as a fella named Jack who has just survived a plane crash in the middle of the ocean and winds up at the entrance of Rapture, an underwater city founded by a man named Andrew Ryan. As soon as you get there all hell has been thoroughly let loose as you find the city in ruins populated entirely by a bunch of crazies called splicers. You are guided through by a guy named Atlas, who communicates with you via headset through the city with the promise of getting you out. As you progress the plot get a lot more complicated but for the sake of the review that’s all you need to know. Basically its scary, its underwater, and there’s a lot of murky history going on. The core mechanics of the game are shooting and use of special powers called plasmids. The use of plasmids is contingent upon 2 things, the use of Eve (basically your token mana or magic juice) and Adam, which are upgrade points to get new plasmids or upgrade existing ones. The key to getting Adam is by collecting it off little sisters, creepy little denizens of rapture which are young girls who frankly look…off. While relatively harmless themselves they are always guarded by giant certified bad-asses called big daddies. The game is part survival horror and part action shooter, all mixed in with upgrade systems along the lines of RPG’s to make it a really cool genre bending game.

Now on to numero dos, which takes that very sleek and complete package and attempts to add to an already stellar experience.

The story is easily the biggest hurdle to overcome in this one, for any who have played the first this is apparent, since the first wraps up very well with little to absolutely no need for a sequel at all. However here we are and surely they had to figure out some way to drag you back to rapture. so here it is; you roam through rapture this time around as a big daddy (yeah, one of those almighty bad-asses as previously mentioned). However you being a prototype big daddy you are both blessed and cursed with some distinct differences. first, you can’t go waylaying enemies left and right, you are about as strong as the previous game’s character Jack and feature the same health system. conversely, you also have the previous game’s ability of all the same weapons (plus some crazy new ones like the big daddy drill arm) and plasmid systems. The objective of you, the prototype big daddy, is to find the little sister you are separated with in the opening sequence of the game. This time around the focus is very squarely on the relationship between the big daddies and little sisters, with the antagonist being the mother of your respective little sister Dr. Sofia Lamb. Taking place a few short years after the events of the first Bioshock the city of rapture is in ruins with Dr. Lamb looking to rebuild it in her own utopian ideal. As you progress through the game you unravel the history of Sofia Lamb and her opposition of Andrew Ryan back in the glory years of Rapture through audio diaries scattered throughout the game (same as the first one). What is a bit tricky here is that they introduce a pretty large-scale event that occurred in the history of Rapture which isn’t so much as alluded to in the first game, which makes it at times difficult to suspend disbelief. However this quibble aside the story is well told and the characters are engaging, with the return of Dr. Tenenbaum from the first game, and your primary ally being a southern gent named Augustus Sinclair, who rivals the first game’s Atlas in quality.

With the story being good it’s hard to say this game really lives up to the first on that alone, Bioshock was renowned for its incredible storytelling so being good doesn’t quite measure up. However gameplay is one element in which Bioshock 2 really does it’s predecessor proud. with the first game being a bit clunky the shooting mechanic this time around is much more responsive, as well, the dual wielding capabilities of plasmid/weapon combinations makes possible what the first game promised but could not quite deliver. This time around plasmids and firearms can be used seamlessly, which in turn creates a much richer and diversified combat system. Players can be entertained for hours just by tooling around with various weapon and plasmid combinations to discover new ways to dispatch enemies. As well, with the games use of a research video camera, the player is rewarded for creative weapons use by awarding more research points for using different weapons and plasmids, which in turn unlocks new damage modifiers and status affecting tonics. Other innovations have been made throughout to make the experience more streamlined as well, with a new hack tool which replaces the former puzzle based hacking mini-game, this time around hacking is done using a timing based bar and needle in which you stop the needle in the green area (think old school field goal kicking controls). The new hacking is a huge improvement, being that while the puzzles in bioshock were fun for the first 10 or 20, by the end of the game you’re solving virtually the same puzzles 100+ times. also, the new hack tool features a hack dart which can be fired, allowing for remote hacks of security devices which prove both strategic and less frustrating. and lastly one of the biggest changes in the game’s gameplay is in the harvesting of Adam. While in the first it was relatively straightforward (you kill big daddy then choose to either harvest or rescue the little sister) this time the choice is a lot more complex. Being a big daddy you now have the ability to either harvest or adopt a little sister after her big daddy has been dispatched. Adopting the little sister means significantly more adam but at significantly higher risk. To harvest Adam you must take your little sister to a specified corpse and defend her as a barrage of splicers attacks. After these salvo’s are over and the little sister has harvested all the Adam she can you take her to the nearest vent where you can decide to either harvest or rescue her. Like in the first, harvesting means more Adam right away, where rescuing means some rewards down the road. I am not sure which is more beneficial overall but I get the sense that harvesting is the easy route. Apart from the splicer raids, the other reason not to hang on to the little sister is the arrival of a Big Sister which are even more intense and frightening than the big daddys of the first. if you choose to go the route of harvesting you will randomly have to encounter the big sisters which can prove difficult even with your health and inventory in good order. This gameplay element is easily the most interesting and rewarding of the whole game, with the excitement of challenge of fighting big sisters the game keeps you on your toes. Conversely the relationship you form with the little sisters as you protect them while they suck the life force out of corpses is bizarrely endearing.

The games presentation is once again amongst its many long suits with its sharp graphics serving really as the underpinnings for the spectacular art design which makes this game so visually pleasing. With the distinctive art deco meets steampunk design the world of Rapture is easily one of the most interesting settings of a video game to date. The unique case of characters is equally as well acted as the first game, with honourable mention going to the character of Augustus Sinclair who does an excellent job of making you question his motivations throughout the game. The game’s sound is equally impressive, with its standout being the creepy dialogue you can often overhear between the splicers before they’ve detected you. The ambient noise is one of the elements that really gives the game it’s character.

All in all the game is a unquestionably enjoyable experience, and I would say if you enjoyed the first one the second is one you should definitely tackle. I should place an asterisk on this review given that I really didn’t play the multiplayer at all so I can’t rightly say whether or not its worthwhile or not. However, the quality of the single player alone is enough to justify playing this game, and certainly owning it if you’re a hardcore fan.

*Game of the year as according to IGN http://bestof.ign.com/2007/pc/22.html

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It’s Raining It’s Pouring

So one of Sony’s most anticipated exclusive releases came out last week and I have had the pleasure of borrowing it off someone else to play it. I am speaking of course about Heavy Rain, The highly enigmatic noir styled murder mystery game by Quantic Dream. Over the weekend I got the chance to really sit down and sink my teeth into this game. So gather round children, while I tell you a tale!

Lame North American Cover

Now writing about this game is going to be tricky for me, chiefly for two reasons. First, it’s not a game in the most conventional sense, more of what the game designers themselves label it as interactive drama. This is to say, its a choose your own adventure story in video game form. Secondly, the game’s appeal is mostly in the unraveling of the mystery and as such divulging too much about the story would potentially ruin it for you. Given that I am prone to prattling on in my reviews going into at times excessive detail this will challenge me, and I will do my best to walk the fine line between description and spoiler.

So to give you a brief overview of the premise, the game is set around a string of murders being committed by the origami killer who’s m.o. seems to be drowning children. The game is narrated through the perspective of four different characters which you will interchange between throughout the various chapters. As the game progresses, more and more details are unraveled by the games multiple protagonist until leading up to the games climactic final scene. Through the game you play as: Ethan Mars, the family man and architect, Norman Jaden, a FBI investigator, Scott Shelby, a private eye hired by the victims of the origami killer to investigate the murders, and Madison Paige, a photographer.

Gameplay in Heavy Rain is a sticky issue for me to address, because it’s very minimal. The game is based mostly on quick time event interactions while scenes play out, with your correct cues or misses effecting the particulars of the scenes choreography. While some of the decisions you make will have a profound impact on how the game plays out, most of it is really just token interaction, as you will do menial tasks like dry off after a shower or push your kid on the swing set. The little touches add a bit of attachment to the character but it is minimal at best. There are also several times where you will find yourself walking around, this is by far the game at its worst. The control is clunky and often you will find yourself getting turned around or walking in the wrong direction because of how poorly the mechanic works. It’s a minor flaw, however it is a glaring one which will seem to constantly make itself apparent. There are scenes where you get to search for evidence and later examine it with Jaden using CSI gadgetry that seems to fall somewhere between Batman and Minority Report, this is probably some of the most engaging gameplay and I found it to be a fun challenge to try to divine out as many clues as I could, using my holo-files.

ARI the forensic program Jaden uses in Heavy Rain

The Future of Internet Porn?

Without going into too much any detail, the story is an entertaining one. The mystery is maintained throughout the game, with several red herrings and plot twists to keep the player guessing. Speaking for myself, when I discovered who it was I was quite surprised because I had already suspected and then dismissed the person as not being the killer. The plot moves at a deliberate pace constantly taking strides to draw you in and become emotionally attached to the games many characters. The tactic is effective, as suspenseful moments had me itching to hit the cues and make sure my characters got through unscathed. When someone dies in this game, you feel it.  Such feeling is rare in a generation of games fraught with shoot em ups and hack and slashers, where someone dying is nothing more than another multiplier on your combo. The point is to feel cinematic, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to call this Oscar worthy, it certainly achieves its ambition.

The visuals are inconsistent, but they range from being breathtaking to acceptable. Being a game where the player mostly takes the backseat while the story unfolds you would expect nothing less. Its obvious playing the game the focus was on the characters and more specifically on facial animations. The tactic is extremely effective, as the vivid visuals allow for unparalleled levels of emotional range through facial expression. Environments look gritty and real, typically having a dingy feel. Throughout the game it is raining, which is represented very effectively, with a sort of hazy look to outdoor environments. The game does suffer from it’s limitations however, with moments where more nuance physical interaction ends up looking like a scene played out by your kid sister with her Barbie dolls…

Take me Ethan, take me now!

The sound is phenominal, and it certainly helps to create the heightened tension in the atmosphere that makes the game so gripping. Music is well used with a recurring brass driven theme that seems to come in and out at strategic moments, creating a gritty noir cinema style. Voice acting is also excellent, with one caveat which I will get into in a moment. The actors almost all do an excellent job of hitting their marks and using effective emotional range to make the characters believable. However one problem I found was that given that the game was developed in France, the use of European voice actors in a story voiced with north american english makes them sound at times very bizarre. I have to admit there were moments where emotions were supposed to run high but I ended up finding myself giggling at the odd accent characters were speaking in.

wat else can I du? I need to save 'im!

All in all the game is not without its flaws. If you’re a hardcore gamer looking for a game that will take playthrough after playthrough to master, this game is not for you. However the unique experience offered is something I really feel anyone can enjoy, and for the hardcore gamer I would even still suggest renting the game and running through it at least once. Heavy Rain continues Quantic Dream’s attempts to fuse video games and cinema to create an interactive cinema experience. The story makes the game in this case, and while it does have a couple of plot holes and at times borders on the incredulous, it is overall a very entertaining story. I really enjoyed playing this game, and I think this sort of game will become more and more prevalent over time, engaging a different audience from the modern warfare players, that allows for something you can casually enjoy and get sucked into a story.

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Hell Hath No Fury…

So back to talking about things I like talking about, derivative video games! The latest game I have chosen to waste my valuable time on was Dante’s Inferno. For those of you unfamiliar this is based on the epic poem written by Dante Alighieri of the same name. If at this point you’re wondering to yourself ‘why in the fuck would anyone make a video game about 14th century guided tour through the underworld!?’ don’t worry, you’re not alone. This was the story that nobody ever fucking asked to be made a video game. I mean even Ghostbusters, a game made based on a franchise seemingly dead for nearly 20 years made a bit of sense as a video game, but Dante!?

who ya gonna call?

So anyhow all ranting aside the question remains, how does the game measure up? well that’s ultimately the biggest problem, not only is this a bastardized literary classic, but the game is a bastardization in itself! This game is, with only a few minor details, God of War. everything from controls to presentation right down to art design. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering God of War is undoubtedly one of the very best in frenetic action adventure games, it brings me back to the question of ‘why should this game exist?’.  To sum it up quickly I’ll break the gameplay down into its core segments. You run around getting locked into battles with hordes of piddling minions while you flail your long reaching weapon around in circles until they all explode and little orbs fly out of them (God of War). Occasionally you find sinners who you can either chose to punish or absolve, punishing leads to gory death while absolving means a timing based mini-game where you hit buttons as they are prompted (Parappa the Rappa or any controller based rhythm game ever made). Once you collect points you can use either holy or unholy points to level up skills on either side of your skill tree (infamous). Also, along the way you come across relics which you can equip into slots which will give you bonuses and will get leveled up to increase their usefulness the longer you have them equipped (Call of Duty Modern Warfare). If you look very carefully there, you might just see a pattern…

Now normally, I don’t have a problem with derivative games. The way I see it when a great game is made it makes sense to take what made it great and apply it to other games. The problem I have with God of War Dante’s Inferno is mainly that it doesn’t even try to differentiate itself from the material it borrows from. enemy designs, cut scenes, quick time events, attack animations, IT’S ALL IDENTICAL! Also, the gameplay on normal was at times downright difficult, not to be confused with challenging. To distinguish my point, solving a sudoku puzzle in the Sunday morning paper is challenging, putting your fist through a concrete wall is difficult. There are some points which I should address though which I did like about the game. First, it looks pretty, visuals are polished with some very cool effects and cut scenes are among the most impressive I have ever seen in a video game. Second, for all of my harping and whining the gameplay is very playable, and though I died on several occasions without having any fucking clue why or how to fix my error I still managed to enjoy the bloody carnage. Lastly, Trophies are handed out in that game like candy, so if you’re the sort that likes trophies/achievements/digital phallus’ to prove your worth then this game will treat you very well.

I almost feel bad disliking this game as much as I do looking back on it. However with a story that shames its source material, gameplay that fails to innovate on a game that came out for the Playstation 2, and because at times the game could be an exercise in frustration aggravation this just fell hopelessly short for me. It’s not a terrible game, in fact it’s probably better than a good deal of crap out there, but if you have a Playstation 3 you may as well just wait for God of War 3, or even simply buy the God of War collection (if you have a Xbox 360 you should probably only be playing mass effect 2 anyway). However if you need to play some medieval christian allegory or if you just want to see a buttload of tits, then maybe you should give the game a shot.

Beatrice, Dante's extremely liberal sweetheart

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I Watched a Movie a While Back

So the title pretty much says it all.

I watched a movie a while back, and given that it was a relatively limited release I may as well review it now (3 weeks after I saw it). Given that it may very well still be in select theatres and also because chances are you won’t go out and watch it anyway, it really makes no difference if I do so now as opposed to immediately after I saw it.

So what movie you ask? praying I may at last get to my point so reading this article might soon come to a close. Well let me tell you what movie! Jim Sheridan’s dramatic film Brothers.

If you’re not familiar with Jim Sheridan, he is the auteur responsible for the oscar winning Daniel Day-Lewis triumph My Left Foot and of course more recently his tour de force piece of shit Get Rich or Die Tryin` which tells the epic tale of the venerable actor rapper Curtis `50 cent`Jackson…but I digress

The movie stars Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, and Jake Gyllenhaal in a story about a marine with a perfect family life that all goes to hell when he is captured in Afghanistan and is presumed dead (for a trailer go here). Without giving too much away essentially the marine`s brother (Gyllenhaal) steps in and sees to helping the family through and ends up becoming very close with them. The Marine (Maguire) returns and is emotionally unstable and as a result must try to return to his family life, and overcome the suspicions he has of his brother and his wife (Portman).

So what to make of the film then, the story is one of genuine substance, focusing on the adverse effects of post-traumatic stress which alienate the marine and the power of redemption a loving family has on a troubled and misguided person. The characters drive the story and are complex and well portrayed, the cast is very small and you really get a good sense of every character in the story and get to see a great deal of emotional range. Maguire is easily the worst fit here, due to his flat portrayal of the loving family man. Considering though that Maguire delivers a chilling performance towards the end of the movie as a man lost in his own perennial nightmare speaks volumes then as to just how good the performances of this cast truly were. The film does stumble however, with it`s chief issues being pacing and some poor editing choices, cause the movie to at times sag and lose momentum. Music cut to montages of the brother with the family is cheery like something out of a Disney movie despite the scene having a certain eeriness, and stirring scenes conveying emotional tidal waves seem to come and go in the blink of an eye, swaddled with empty fluff showing mundane family activities ad nauseum.

The film ultimately falls short of greatness, though certainly still maintaining the ability to hold your interest for a full 104 mins getting you to genuinely care about the characters in the story. The greatest thing I can say about this film is that it feels as though it’s about real people, which is truly a credit to the actors.

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New Music for listenin’s

So yes I only just posted a new update yesterday after a horribly long hiatus but I am just so damn excited to be back I need to post more crap!

Actually in all seriousness it’s really more of a log jam of topics that I want to talk about that has me wanting to get on top of my updates so I can get back to talking about new things that nobody cares about.

I am dedicating Today’s post to music, two new albums have recently been released that I was actually on top of and got immediately upon their release, a momentous feat on my part and so I need to share with everyone my thoughts and evaluation of the albums because frankly I am a music genius and I know very definitively what is good and what isn’t! So gather round my disciples and hear me well as I regale you yet again with more expert analysis on pop culture.

First album up is Vampire Weekend’s sophomore album Contra. Following up on the unprecedented success of their self-titled début it’s fair to say that great things were expected. The band’s unique uniquely blended indie pop sound is an upbeat cross of African inspired drum beats with classically inspired melodies in an amalgam that sounds distinct unto itself. The album opens strong with what I consider possibly it’s best song Horchata, which is some sort of love ballad to the drink of the same name, and a ballad of loathing of wintertime. While this may seem irrelevant it’s important to note the lighthearted and easy-going tone of the song as it seems to carry throughout the entire album. The songs have a fast paced off-beat tempo with quick-firing vocals laced with fun and clever lyrics. Since getting the album I’ll confess to listening to it countless times, the album is entertaining from start to finish with a lot of high points such as Horchata, California English, Run, and Giving up the Gun being notables in my opinion. The album strikes me as a better and more consistent album than their first, I would recommend it to any fan of the band as well as fans of the indie pop genre.

Vampire Weekend's second full length album

The second album to recently be released was Spoon’s fifth full length album Transference. Spoon has at this point reached the status of indie rock legends after their work being featured in movies, television, commercials, and pretty much anywhere where people appreciate good music. I have followed spoon for a long while now and have always enjoyed their past efforts, with their last album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga they had released a strong effort with a good portion of the album being really great songs and only a couple of misses (the ghost of you lingers goes down as their worst song to date in my opinion) but ultimately a truly great contribution to their body of work. Transference is a tough album for me to gauge, while I enjoy the album well enough it’s not quite what I was expecting from them. This time around Spoon seem to have kept the album very subdued, consisting of tracks that build up very slowly and keep a pretty deliberate pace, with the exceptions of Got Nuffin and Trouble Comes Running which take the tempo up a notch the album is pretty slow, certainly for Spoon’s standards. The tone of the album certainly keeps to the band’s style, with their punchy beats hitting hard and frontman Britt Daniel’s distinct vocal style as present as ever I wouldn’t go so far as to say the album is a massive deviation from their past efforts. Really every album spoon has made has had at the least flashes of the tone this album portrays, this is simply a consistent collection of their more down tempo style. It’s a good effort and its by no means a discredit to the band’s excellent name. However, I will say that it didn’t take me the way past albums have, it’s simply solid by Spoon’s standards.

Spoon's fifth album transference

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Hello again, loyal readers!

Your cries have been heard! the weeks and weeks of the people crying for biting sarcasm and cynicism have finally been answered, I HAVE RETURNED.

Alright so maybe thats my delusional nature getting the better of me but regardless I am happy to say I’m back on the bloggity bandwagon once more! I’m actually really annoyed with myself for not posting sooner, I have now completed 2 new games I was hoping to review before christmas (Assassin’s Creed 2 and Dragon Age: Origins) but exams and holiday schedule conflicts prevented that. It’s a shame too, because my poignant and concise observations may have been helpful back when best buy and future shop had them on sale for 39.99 each.

Anyhow I’m going to do a mini-review of each and then move on to something more current, deal? deal.

Dragon Age Origins:

I recently finished my first playthrough of this game and logged just over 40 hours of gameplay in the process, I didn’t manage to finish half of the total side-quests so needless to say this thing offers lots of content to sink your valuable time into. You have the choice between six main character types with all the standard creation tools, the intro stories add some replayability but ultimately they all turn into the same storyline about 2 hours in anyhow, so it’s not limitlessly varied. The story itself offers several forks in the road though where you side with one group or ideology or the other, it’s not exactly black and white either which is refreshing as opposed to so many other games which offer you either status as patron saint or evil fucking incarnate. These decisions will ultimately shape the environment both in how people interact with you and what is available to you so really there are two somewhat unique playthroughs of the game to be had, but beyond that you will basically tread an awful lot of familiar territory. Gameplay wise the game is nothing new considering past games by Bioware, you have a party of four characters which you can choose between various party members you recruit through the story. There are warrior, rogue, and mage classes which offer the sort of gameplay styles you might expect in a fantasy rpg such as this. Also it’s worth noting that the fantasy realm they have created for this is immense, spanning hundreds of pages of backstory and general factoids, as well as two god-damned novels! Well to keep it short and sweet I’ll say this, it’s an engrossing game that while not perfect is serviceable enough to provide a very satisfying addiction. also, bonus points for being able to digitally bone this chick:

*The Digi-boning is totally PG though...

Assassin’s Creed II:

Continuing the adventures embedded deep within the cranium of it’s predecessor’s pseudo-protagonist Desmond Miles (which is arguable considering Altair was considerably more badass where Desmond was mostly just a little bitch) Desmond now touches on the memories of a new ancestor, Ezio De Auditore Di Firenze…et fettucine bolognese (yes, I am aware that’s a penny-arcade joke.) This time around Ezio is responsible for avenging his family and taking on his father’s legacy as a super badass assassin. Ezio goes along killing templars and crazy conspiracy and intrigue run amok…it’s more of the same high quality story-telling of the first. The game is a massive improvement on the first installment, adding a wide variety of mission types, larger and more detailed environments, and the addition of a home villa which you can upgrade and make a profit off of.

casa dulce casa

The story is a long an winding one, with many a twist and turn, but the end result of beating it is mostly rewarding, also if you’re a trophy whore this thing hand’s em out like candy, giving you a silver for each chapter of the story completed. All in all it’s a rich experience, with a lot more to offer than the first, the challenges and optional quests have a real sense of purpose to them adding to either the story or to your villa’s worth, making the pursuit of the game’s many hidden treasures an insatiable passtime.

There all done, that wasn’t so painful was it? Now on to more relevant issues. How about that earthquake in Haiti!? As if Haiti really needs more shit on it’s plate, that place is a hotbed of poverty, civil strife, and hurricanes …It seems as though a 7.0 Moment Magnitude level earthquake just seems a little overkill.

It’s good to see how people have come together to raise money to help the cause, recently I’ve looked into it and via text message alone there has been roughly $27 million has been raised already via various text message services that take donations, while Telethon’s in the states have raised over $57 million and $16 million was raised by the CBC’s telethon. I am always skeptical however of charitable organizations initially though as it is never easy to tell how well these organizations allocate funds and how efficient they are. To make a personal suggestion, I would recommend donating to UNICEF which is one of the finest organizations providing aid to ailing children.

I actually want to end this post with a couple of questions. What do you think of the efforts being made to aid Haiti after the earthquakes? Is it surprising the amount of money being raised and efforts being contributed? and how do you think this response reflects on efforts of past crisis’ ?(i.e. the tsunami in 2005, New Orleans after hurricane Katrina)

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