Today, we're continuing my Looking Ahead series with what's coming out in November. There might be other games dropping at the start of the holiday season, but these two are the ones I'm most likely to pick up.

Post-modern warfare?

CoD Black Ops II - November 13th

If you're disappointed in this choice, I really don't know what you'd expect. My first game review on this site was a Call of Duty title, and in it I outlined the reasons behind my affinity for the franchise. Such as it is, I'm optimistically excited about Black Ops II. Truth be told, I haven't looked into it much at all. In this iteration, I believe the intent is to be set in the future. While this is certainly not the first attempt at this in the genre, it is a first for for a Call of Duty title. Granted, they have little in the way of new time periods to exploit; and with Turrok's relative stranglehold on dinosaur-era shooters, the future seems like the next logical choice. Kidding aside, I am looking forward to Black Ops II. A lot of my time playing games is spent wading into the maw of an RPG. I've spent an ungodly number of hours playing those in my time, and sometimes it nice to have a break and play something with a linear story line where I don't have to manage character relationships. I know that at the very least this title will provide that periodic, necessary diversion, but I was pleasantly surprised by Black Ops I, and I'm hopeful that I'll be surprised again.

Because America, that's why.

Assassin's Creed III - November 23rd

Oh yes. This is exciting. Like really exciting. This was one of the few things I waited in line for at PAX this year, and even though it was just to watch a gameplay demo (and get an inflatable tomahawk), it was totally worth it. One of my friends had a pretty impressive Ezio costume, and the grin on his face when he got called up to be showcased by one the Frag Dolls was priceless. He was less impressed with the demo, which apparently had been out for a while by then, but I (who generally avoids those kinds of things) got to see gameplay for the first time. All the new elements they showcased were money. There are new weapons, you can free-run in trees, and you can assassinate people from moving carts. The new weapons are a point of interest to me, and not just because it reveals new ways to do something repetitive. In Revelations, Ezio's arsenal of weapons felt a little OP'd by the time you started using your one-shot hand cannon against an almost exclusively melee enemy force. The block/counter mechanic took quite a bit of fear of death away from the start, but assassinations still required a bit of finesse. Cut to the most recent title where you still have your counter-kill security blanket, and you can also select your favorite, extremely accurate ranged weapon to take your targets down with relative ease. So I'm hoping the new weapons available to Connor spice things up a bit, and I also hope the greater abundance of rifles in the hands of your enemies gives a player greater pause when thinking about breaking cover.
This week's cover is Supergirl #55, and I'll admit, I haven't read it. I was a little low on inspiration this week, and I haven't gotten a chance to run to a comic shop in a while, so I reached back into the pile of cover images I accumulated while putting this site together and pulled out this one. Unlike a couple of my friends whose first big date together was a Smallville tour through British Colombia, I never got into the Superman universe (comics, TV, or otherwise). The closest I get is Justice League, and it's not quite the same. Still, when I came across this cover, looking for some DC covers for a header graphic, I thought it was one of the cooler designs I had seen. At first I thought it was a kind of shattered mirror image, with the cracks separating the different elements. Looking at it a little closer, I could see that it was actually the viewpoint of Supergirl looking at Bizarro Supergirl through a field of broken glass. I think it's a really cool concept that translates into an awesome cover. Supergirl #55 was was Amy Reeder Hadley's introductory cover to the series, where she did several covers before working on (coincidentally, given my last comic cover post) on the new Batwoman series. Hadley has a website, a blog, and recently completed a Kickstarter project for a Halloween Eve comic book. It's all definitely worth a look.
Welcome back! This marks my next post on upcoming games that I'm looking forward to. Yeah, Borderlands 2 was really the only oddball one that I could care less about.

Resident Evil 6: President Evil

Resident Evil 6 - October 2nd XBox/PS3, PC TBD

Ok, this is exciting! I'm a Resident Evil fan to the point where I really enjoy it and pretty much everything that has to do with it, but I'm not at all militant about how it's presented to me in terms of cannon accuracy. That last part may cause some to disqualify me as a fan, but trust me, it's a lot easier this way. It's a lot less stressful, and it allows you to enjoy things you probably wouldn't have otherwise enjoyed. That being said, I'm blissfully optimistic about Resident Evil 6. I'm a little less optimistic about the lack of a PC release date. I've learned that this kind of thing comes with being a PC gamer, but it still kinda sucks that I have to wait an unknown amount of time to play something on a system that can actually present a game to it's fullest potential. My girlfriend suggested just getting it for both console and PC, and while that seems wasteful to the Depression Era values previous generations have passed down, I'm seriously considering doing exactly that. It would have likely bought two PC copies anyway for my girlfriend and I to co-op (an, but the lack of release date makes me unsure of how long I will be able to make myself wait. I'll probably end up waiting. I've got more games than I know what to do with right now, and there are a lot of good games coming out that don't feature this particular dilemma. Case in point, the fact that I can write this post and several others about games that only interest me without having to look beyond four months.

I don't have anything snarky to say about
this. It just looks awesome.

Dishonored - October 9th

You can check out the trailer on their website, it's all you need to see to get excited for it. Nearly everything about this game looks incredible; the story line, the setting, everything. I saw it at PAX and I while I checked out a little of their demo, I didn't have the courage to get in line and wait, for fear of spoiling something in the game. Unfortunately this time, my fear has prevented me from assuaging the only real doubt I have concerning this game, which is the gameplay itself. I know, kind of a basic element upon which the whole game hinges, but it's a caution I am going to dismiss regardless. My worry arises from this being a first-person oriented Bethesda game with a focus on melee combat. Anyone who's played the Elder Scrolls series, or really any melee-heavy RPG, knows where I'm coming from. Still, what I've seen is more akin - thankfully - to Mirrors Edge than Skyrim when it comes to the combat, so I'm hoping this will pull through for the better. And I'm sure it will. The nice thing about Bethesda is that they make good games, and I'm sure this won't be an exception. Besides, the worse case scenario that the combat is a little too reminiscent of some of Bethesda's other titles still means that it'll take away a substantial portion of my life. Just like every other Bethesda game I've played.

No, it doesn't stand for Big Friendly Giant.

Doom 3 BFG Edition - October 16th

If you first saw this a PAX, you were probably thinking the same thing I did, "Didn't they already do this? Are they rebooting a reboot?" Well, all signs are pointing to yes at this time. The new edition, featuring an updated engine, gets an HD facelift as well as some other considerations. I'm am less sure about my acquiring this particular title, simply because I've already played it. I know it comes with some extra missions, but it's still the same game. I remember it; it scared the shit out of me. It's one of the few times a game has genuinely terrified me; it's in elite company with Silent Hill and it's damn inside-out dogs. It's going to a take a bit of encouragement to go through that again except with more realistic detail. It's going to take a relatively cheap price tag, but I don't think that's something I'm going to get. When the developers are emphasizing that this is a new game and that they've done a lot of work to make it more than just a re-release, this tells me that one of two things are probably going to happen:
  1. It's a new game, and it has a new game price tag, OR
  2. It's the same game as before, and it has a new game price tag.
One thing gaming conventions (yes, I'm still talking about PAX two weeks later) is that they get you thinking about the future, usually in that wishing it were here now kind of way. For me it's a bit of a mixed bag, but overall I'm pretty optimistic. So here is the first of several posts featuring some of the more high-profile (and still relevant to me) titles currently scheduled for release before 2013 and my personal feelings towards them.

Borderlands 2 - September 18th

I'll cut to the chase and say that this is not a game I really care about, but I always feel like I should. I played quite a bit of the first Borderlands when it came out; and I liked a lot of things about it (mostly the blended shooter/RPG elements), but there were a few things I just couldn't get past. First, was the enemy spawn patter that just never changed. Every time you left your first little town, TA-DA! Here come 4 or 5 dooders out of a little canyon pathway to a base on the right. What's that you say? You just cleared that base out 30 seconds ago? Well too damn bad, because you just left town and that means it's enemy spawn time. In my opinion, a major hurdle of any action RPG is avoiding, or at least disguising, the redundancy inherent in a game where your mission/quest/thing options are to interact with an item (retrieve/deliver it, activate/deactivate it) or interact with a person (talk to them, kill them, or talk to them and then kill them). Maybe if there was some kind of explanation for it, even a weak one, I probably would have stuck it out, but it added points where you were constantly being grounded in routine. What has impressed me about Fallout 3: New Vegas (yes, I'm still playing that after 10 weeks) is it's ability to make the things that I've been doing over and over again seem new and meaningful. I've spent 10 weeks taking a long time to go from point A to point B so I can do a relatively simple task and then fast-travel back to point A. but I'm having fun doing that, and I didn't have fun doing in it Borderlands.

What's he going to do when they get to Borderlands 3? Do you think they'll give him an extra arm?

Also, I wasn't super crazy about the animation style, and that was kind of it's shtick. It's not that they didn't do it well or anything like that, it's just that I don't like it in many - if any - games I play. I don't even like TF2 very much for that reason, despite it being a great game. The spawn things is probably something that could be done differently in Borderlands 2, but the art style just leaves me with absolutely no urge to acquire it. I don't know why I even decided to write about it (especially this much) in this psudo-segment (haven't decided if this is going to be a thing or not). Maybe because other people like it so I should write about it for them, but I know who my only reader is, and they don't like it either. I guess I just want to note that while I don't particularly care for it, this is still a good game; and it's release in four days is worth noting.

Wednesday’s Weekly Comic Cover: Batwoman #5

September 12th, 2012 | Posted by Emmett in Comics - (1 Comments)
Batwoman #5 I'm glad I remembered this one. I saw this cover a month or two ago on a Wednesday after writing the comic cover post for that week, and I told myself that I'd remember it for the following Wednesday, but I didn't. Luckily, something about it stuck and I thought of it immediately after seeing the cover for the latest Batwoman issue earlier this week. This cover is for Batwoman #5, and in addition to being incredibly beautiful, I also find it a little unsettling. Kate Kane's turmoil is depicted so well that you can't help but internalize that emotion a little, or at least not in my case. This cover, and the others in Batwoman's flagship series, was done by JH Williams III who has a website you can check out if you're interested. Williams also just won two Harvey Awards this past weekend at the Baltimore Comic Con for Batwoman, one for Best Artist and one for Best Cover Artist.

Brought to you by someone who definitely did not also make NFL Blitz.

Injustice was one of the few games I waited in line to play at PAX this year. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I'm usually not big on things that just give me a glimpse of something I'm really interested in like trailers or demos. However, there are a lot of exceptions to this tendency of mine, and fighting games (where there is no story to spoil) are one of those exceptions. Truth be told, fighting games are really the main reason I own a console; my affinity for computer gaming has claimed the remaining genres. Not that I haven't tried fighting games on a PC. I have and it was a mistake, but I'll digress. Injustice is a head-to-head fighting game set in the DC Comics universe. It's being developed by NetherRealm Studios, who you may recognize from last year's Mortal Kombat title, because when you're eight or nine games deep in a series, you might as well just start over with your numbering convention. This may also sound familiar to those of you who remember the Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe crossover title from 2008, but lucky for us, that was a different developer. Moral Kombat vs. DC Universe was developed by Midway, the people who brought you what was always the loudest and most obnoxious game from your childhood arcade / bowling alley / sports-themed pizza buffet restaurant.

The absence of Midway games in development probably means no Big Head Mode for Injustice. Sorry.

Regardless of whether know who the developers are, if you have played the most recent Mortal Kombat game, you'll instantly notice similarities in the look and feel of Injustice. The dark but polished look of the character designs (at least from who was playable at PAX) and the character movement was almost identical in the classic forward/back, up/down options with minimal running. The Soul Calibur series is a good contracts in terms of movement and combat styles, I think. Injustice doesn't seem to be trying to keep up with the level of gore you expect from it's Mortal Kombat counterpart, but the combat is a lot of fun. Characters introduced so far seem to fall somewhere on the acrobat/strength-focused/gadget-focused Venn diagram. My girlfriend and I played as Harley Quinn and Nightwing, respectively, and as I was getting my ass handed to me, I got the impression that there are a lot more extra combat elements than what we were able to discovery from a single round with no other information. On a couple exchanges, the combat would become more cinematic (beyond what you see with a lot of grabs), and it seemed to do this in the form of special attacks for a single character as well as kinds of mutual attacks that trigger some kind of quick-time or button mashing challenge between the two players.

While I don't think we're going to see a spine removed, it's still pretty intense.

Again, we didn't get much opportunity to experiment, but even the normal combat was fun. Your choice of characters gives you a lot of variation in terms of weapons or no weapons at all, and even individual characters give you options on how you want to use them. For our experience, Harley had a interesting mix between acrobatic combat and weapons like pistols or a giant hammer and Nightwing had two different play styles based on whether he used his two Eskrima sticks separately or joined together as a staff. Really, there was little chance I wouldn't pick this up, and there's also little chance that I wouldn't spend a fortune on DLC if they keep adding characters to the roster. It's the characters I'm really in this for, and I'm guessing it also is for 99% of the people who eventually buy this game. Games like this mix the childhood joy of nostalgia with the adulthood joy of decimating your opponent. This game in particular also provides a medium to settle those "who would win in fight between..." discussions, and allows you to champion your hero and kick the crap out of anyone who doubted that they were the best. Not that it will likely help you and your friends settle those discussions, but you can still have fun trying.

PAX Prime: lessons and looking ahead

September 7th, 2012 | Posted by Emmett in Games & Gaming - (0 Comments)
Besides the whole feeling a bit like death on Sunday part, each year of PAX yields new insight on what you can do better the next year. The main lesson I learned is that costumes need to be durable - like really durable - to last an entire day. I made two costumes this year, and my Link costume almost held up all of Saturday, until the grip for my shield broke off the actual shield part. I used a bunch of different epoxies this year for various costume bits, but nothing really beats welds or rivets. And mine wasn't the only thing to break; my girlfriend's mock hostler for her Han Solo costume didn't last as long as I'd hoped and both of my friend's hidden blades for his Assassin's Creed costume bought it before the day was up. Granted, these are pretty minor issues, but it's nice to know that you don't have to baby everything you're wearing, especially in a crowded convention center. Another thing I've learned is that it's hard to negotiate PAX with a large group. First off, the expo hall is packed 99% of the time, and trying to get through crowds with more than five people usually results in losing someone. Also, if you stop to look at something as a large group, half of you won't be able to see what's there. I suppose in these ways, the PAX Prime expo hall kind of breaks down that large group dynamic and relegates it to after-parties or PC free-play. I think four is a pretty good number to roll around with; it's easy to chain four people together and get through a crowd and the natural pairs help with certain game demos. Still, PAX hindsight isn't all about what was bad and could have been better, each year also provides ideas for new things that can add to an overall PAX experience. Last year, it was wearing a costume. This year, it was taking my girlfriend and wearing a better costume. Next year, I want to catalog the things you see at every PAX; like Pokemon Snap: PAX Prime Edition. PAXemon Snap? Whatever, you get the idea. To me, that would add another fun dynamic to the weekend, and you end up with a bunch of cool pictures. These little +1's aren't too hard to think of, and it's things like them that make it hard not to get excited for PAX year after year. And it's why I hope to always go to PAX, even if I have to go to Australia to do it.

Only 360-ish days until the next PAX Prime.

PAX is a unique sort of animal. On the first day, you've never been so excited to wait in lines your entire life. On the second day, everything is still awesome because most of the cosplay people are out on Saturday and you've already seen everything in the expo hall so waiting to play games you want to play doesn't seem like a waste of time. However, day three marks a kind of tipping point where you reach critical mass and become what I'm sure others also call "PAXed out". This condition makes my typical PAX Sunday a wrap-up for the whole weekend that should only take an hour but instead takes most of the day because my body isn't physically capable of moving quickly. First, I get up; it takes a long time to get up. After that I'll make my way down to the Convention Center and wait in line to get my badge signed, during which I usually pound a few bottles of Bawls so my body is able to propel itself up the stairs leading up to the riser Gabe and Tycho are on and manage a thank you. By that time, people are usually ready to eat so I'll meet up with some friends and grab a pint (assuming I don't shudder at the thought of putting more alcohol in my system) and something to eat. At this point, I maybe make one last trip around the expo hall or go straight to where they're holding the last rounds of Omegathon. Finally, it's time to make the rounds and say goodbye to friends. By Sunday at about 4pm, I'm pretty much through with PAX. I'm sore, malnourished, exhausted, and ready to sleep for the next week. Even now, five days later, my body doesn't feel quite pre-PAX but I'm already starting miss it. That's part of the magic of PAX; no matter how close to death you manage to get, you're always ready (and anxious) to do it again the next year.
Deadpool #900 Yes, I'm finally getting around to that Deadpool cover I was going to post. I was originally going to post this cover, but you may be able to tell by the post date that today is Thursday, and I was informed by a reader last night that I was late with my Wednesday comic cover post. So, in an effort to not disappoint my one reader, I've upgraded to the wraparound cover for Deadpool #900, a special 8-story, 104-page special edition celebrating the series' milestone. I realize it's not much in way of appeasement, but I haven't even gotten a chance to write about PAX stuff yet, so there will be more posts than usual this month. Anyway, this particular cover is by a Deadpool cover regular, Dave Johnson. Johnson is also one of the founders of something called the Drink and Draw Social Club. As you can probably guess, it's a get together of artists and aspiring artists at a bar for drinking and drawing. It looks like it happens just about every Thursday at a bar in LA, but they also appear to tour around a bit with various comic shows if you happen to live somewhere other than LA. They even have books with work from these outings for sale if you're interested. All in all, a pretty awesome thing that you might want to look out for the next time you go to a comic con.
Carnage #5 Wow. So this was a random find. I was planning on doing another Deadpool cover this week, because Deadpool is my favorite and I wanted to do a cover of his that I liked more than my post from a couple weeks ago. This a little too awesome to pass up though. The cover is by Clayton Crain, and it's issue three of five in this series that tracks the return of the Carnage symbiote from space. Crain does all the covers in the series as well as the inside work. You might also recognize his work from X-Force volume 3 (another one of the my favorite series) and - as I'm learning today - a lot of other comics where he does the same cover/pencil/ink/color combo. A lot of Crain's work is pretty amazing, but I think he does a spectacular job with Carnage. It's legitimately terrifying. I know that's kind of the point of Carnage, but other renders of him haven't strongly invoked that kind of response from me. The story synopsis also sounds incredibly interesting. Parts of the story are told from the viewpoint of someone being taken over by the symbiote, not Cletus Kasady, and it details that person's struggle to keep control of their own mind even after their body has been taken over. Like I said, it sounds like it would be a really cool perspective to read from, but maybe that's because of it's similarity to another series I love. Either way, I'm adding this to my list of comics to pick up.