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Suskie Susquatch

Title: Playing Rage. Still utterly dumbfounded that a PC I've built is capable of rendering graphics like this.
Posted: August 10, 2012 (05:56 PM)
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Title: My 300 favorite songs of 2011.
Posted: January 01, 2012 (03:24 PM)
300. “Caffeinated Consciousness” – TV on the Radio
299. “The Piano Drop” – Tim Hecker
298. “Go Ahead” – Banjo or Freakout
297. “Jake and Eggars” – The World/Inferno Friendship Society
296. “Sleep Dealer” – Oneohtrix Point Never
295. “Calamity Song” – The Decemberists
294. “Hunger Song” – The Middle East
293. “Before” – Washed Out
292. “Children” – The Rapture
291. “The Circle Married the Line” – Feist
290. “Return to the Violence of the Ocean Floor” – Moonface
289. “The Last Living Rose” – PJ Harvey
288. “Human Qualities” – Explosions in the Sky
287. “17” – Youth Lagoon
286. “Flare” – Boris
285. “Forever 28” – Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
284. “Memories of the Future” – Handsome Furs
283. “Bumper” – Cults
282. “I Found a Reason” – VHS or Beta
281. “Calgary” – Bon Iver
280. “Adam’s Plane” – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
279. “Shift Operator” – Obits
278. “The Bay” – Metronomy
277. “Reunion” – M83
276. “One Hand Loves the Other” – Bodies of Water
275. “Sundome (ft. Yamantaka Eye)” – Battles
274. “Birth of Serpents” – The Mountain Goats
273. “Before the Bridge” – Future Islands
272. “Be the One” – Moby
271. “Hurting” – Friendly Fires
270. “Two Cousins” – Slow Club
269. “Monkeys Uptown” – Iron & Wine
268. “Berlin” – Is Tropical
267. “Give Up the Ghost” – Radiohead
266. “Suicide Demo for Kara Walker” – Destroyer
265. “Don’t Stop” – The Dodos
264. “The Birds” – Elbow
263. “Rox in the Box” – The Decemberists
262. “New Beat” – Toro y Moi
261. “Itchy Fingers” – Junior Boys
260. “Cape Dory” – Tennis
259. “Audio, Video, Disco” – Justice
258. “Odd Soul” – MUTEMATH
257. “Seekir” – Zola Jesus
256. “Life Is Simple in the Moonlight” – The Strokes
255. “Unless I’m Led” – Mates of State
254. “Hold My Breath” – Holy Ghost!
253. “Sister” – The Black Keys
252. “Que veux-tu” – Yelle
251. “City Grrrl” – CSS
250. “Austere” – The Joy Formidable
249. “Slow Motion” – Panda Bear
248. “Parenthesis” – The Antlers
247. “Holy Holy” – Wye Oak
246. “Breaking Down” – Florence + the Machine
245. “Mona Vegas” – Starfucker
244. “Power of Persuasion” – Oneohtrix Point Never
243. “Coming Up” – Asobi Seksu
242. “Lose It” – Austra
241. “Chasing It Down” – Mother Mother
240. “Steve McQueen” – M83
239. “Mona Lisa” – Atlas Sound
238. “Blue Cassette” – Friendly Fires
237. “Cannons” – Little Scream
236. “Tree by the River” – Iron & Wine
235. “Knuckle Down” – Man Man
234. “Tripped and Fell in Love” – YACHT
233. “Let England Shake” – PJ Harvey
232. “Keep Your Heart” – TV on the Radio
231. “Inn Keeping” – The Sea and Cake
230. “Hounds” – The Antlers
229. “Plainclothes” – Cymbals Eat Guitars
228. “The Bad in Each Other” – Feist
227. “Come Back to Me” – The Rapture
226. “Otis (ft. Otis Redding)” – Jay-Z and Kanye West
225. “Fun Girl” – Jessica 6
224. “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep” – Bombay Bicycle Club
223. “All in a Summer Day” – VHS or Beta
222. “Pharaohs & Pyramids” – Cut Copy
221. “High Hawk Season” – The Mountain Goats
220. “Perfection” – Oh Land
219. “Brick by Brick” – Arctic Monkeys
218. “You Know What I Mean” – Cults
217. “Towers” – Bon Iver
216. “Secretary Song” – The Go! Team
215. “Jump on My Shoulders” – AWOLNATION
214. “Rise to Me” – The Decemberists
213. “Vessel” – Zola Jesus
212. “The Wall” – Yuck
211. “Whale Song (Song Instead of a Kiss)” – Moonface
210. “Helix” – Justice
209. “Black Dunes” – This Will Destroy You
208. “Inchworm” – Battles
207. “Morning Mr. Magpie” – Radiohead
206. “South Pacific” – Is Tropical
205. “Blood Pressure” – MUTEMATH
204. “Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out” – The Antlers
203. “In the Grace of Your Love” – The Rapture
202. “Aileron” [Heavy Rocks version] – Boris
201. “Diamonds and Death” – VHS or Beta
200. “Spectrum” – Florence + the Machine
199. “Idiot Rain” – Banjo or Freakout
198. “Cheerleader” – St. Vincent
197. “We Bros” – WU LYF
196. “Second Chance” – Junior Boys
195. “I Don’t Want to See You Like This” – The Joy Formidable
194. “Running Away” – Friendly Fires
193. “Hysterical” – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
192. “Half Moon” – Iron & Wine
191. “Ixode” – Zola Jesus
190. “Follow the Leader” – Sloan
189. “Gold on the Ceiling” – The Black Keys
188. “Simply Simple” – Mother Mother
187. “Do It Again” – Holy Ghost!
186. “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala” – Arctic Monkeys
185. “By Your Hand” – Los Campesinos!
184. “Leave It” – Bombay Bicycle Club
183. “Pulse” – I Break Horses
182. “New Map” – M83
181. “Black Cloud” – Little Scream
180. “No Widows” – The Antlers
179. “I’ll Take My Chances” – Is Tropical
178. “Last Known Surroundings” – Explosions in the Sky
177. “I Want Results” – Obits
176. “Machu Picchu” – The Strokes
175. “The Future” – Austra
174. “Saying I Love You” – Girls
173. “In the Heat” – Jessica 6
172. “Home Is a Fire” – Death Cab for Cutie
171. “I Am Sick of People Being Sick of My Shit” – The World/Inferno Friendship Society
170. “Pink Light” – Asobi Seksu
169. “New West” – Cult of Youth
168. “In No Time” – MUTEMATH
167. “Queen of Hearts” – Fucked Up
166. “Most Wanted” – Cults
165. “Bury Me Standing” – Handsome Furs
164. “Chimie physique” – Yelle
163. “Julius” – Starfucker
162. “Belong” – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
161. “House” – Patrick Wolf
160. “When Will You Go” – The Dodos
159. “Get Some” – Lykke Li
158. “No Light, No Light” – Florence + the Machine
157. “Cannons” – Youth Lagoon
156. “Party Boy” [New Album version] – Boris
155. “Splendor” – M83
154. “How Come You Never Go There” – Feist
153. “Stutter” – Yuck
152. “A Truly Happy Ending” – Junior Boys
151. “Strange Mercy” – St. Vincent
150. “Abducted” – Cults
149. “Two Lovers” – The Rural Alberta Advantage
148. “I Might” – Wilco
147. “Little Black Submarines” – The Black Keys
146. “A Heavy Abacus” – The Joy Formidable
145. “Putting the Dog to Sleep” – The Antlers
144. “Black Night” – The Dodos
143. “Adult Goth” – Gang Gang Dance
142. “The Look” – Metronomy
141. “Never Gonna Die Again” – The Rapture
140. “Make Some Noise” – Beastie Boys
139. “Africastle” – Battles
138. “White Gold” – Ladytron
137. “Let Me Back In” – Explosions in the Sky
136. “Separator” – Radiohead
135. “Jam for Jerry” – Holy Ghost!
134. “Down by the Water” – The Decemberists
133. “Spooky Jookie” – Man Man
132. “Trails” – Asobi Seksu
131. “True Loves” – Hooray for Earth
130. “Le grand saut” – Yelle
129. “Escapee” – Architecture in Helsinki
128. “Shuffle” – Bombay Bicycle Club
127. “The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade” – The Joy Formidable
126. “Something Came Over Me” – Wild Flag
125. “Attention Please” – Boris
124. “Allies” – MUTEMATH
123. “Last Night at the Jetty” – Panda Bear
122. “Newlands” – Justice
121. “Kimmi in a Rice Field” – Twin Sister
120. “Curl of the Burl” – Mastodon
119. “Kill Your Heroes” – AWOLNATION
118. “Second Song” – TV on the Radio
117. “In My Head” – Dum Dum Girls
116. “Such a Sad Puppy Dog” – WU LYF
115. “Alex” – Girls
114. “Take Me Over” – Cut Copy
113. “Open Rhythms” – Bodies of Water
112. “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” – Arctic Monkeys
111. “Sway” – Mates of State
110. “Goodbye Kiss” – Kasabian
109. “What the Water Gave Me” – Florence + the Machine
108. “I Kill Your Love, Baby” – I Break Horses
107. “Art of Almost” – Wilco
106. “No Feelings” – Handsome Furs
105. “Little by Little” – Radiohead
104. “Lorelai” – Fleet Foxes
103. “Überlin” – R.E.M.
102. “My Machines (ft. Gary Numan)” – Battles
101. “Every Defeat a Divorce (Three Lions)” – Los Campesinos!
100. “Flikr of Ur Eyes” – Swarms
99. “Breaking Bones” – VHS or Beta
98. “Super Duper Rescue Heads!” – Deerhoof
97. “Hold On” – Holy Ghost!
96. “Prisoner of Love (ft. Antony Hegarty)” – Jessica 6
95. “Comme un enfant” – Yelle
94. “Perfectly Crystal” – Asobi Seksu
93. “Corner of the Sky” – Cut Copy
92. “Taken for a Fool” – The Strokes
91. “Capybara” – Farewell Continental
90. “Polish Girl” – Neon Indian
89. “Don’t Carry It All” – The Decemberists
88. “Shivers” – Zola Jesus
87. “Surgeon” – St. Vincent
86. “Sick of You” – Cake
85. “Rabbit Will Run” – Iron & Wine
84. “Muscle Relaxants” – The Rural Alberta Advantage
83. “Balance” – Future Islands
82. “Quarantine” – MUTEMATH
81. “Glass Bubbles” – All Tiny Creatures
80. “Futura” – Battles
79. “In the Dark Places” – PJ Harvey
78. “Money” – The Drums
77. “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” – Noah and the Whale
76. “All Die Young” – Smith Westerns
75. “Buy Nothing Day” – The Go! Team
74. “Everybody” – VHS or Beta
73. “After the Moment” – Craft Spells
72. “Marathon” – Tennis
71. “Fast Peter” – Moonface
70. “I Follow Rivers” – Lykke Li
69. “Dead and Gone” – The Black Keys
68. “The Greeks” – Is Tropical
67. “Static on the Wire” – Holy Ghost!
66. “Night Air” – Jamie Woon
65. “Virgin” – Manchester Orchestra
64. “The Heron and the Fox” – Little Scream
63. “Hits Me Like a Rock” – CSS
62. “Missing Pieces” – Boris
61. “Killed the Lord, Left for the New World” – This Will Destroy You
60. “Dystopia (The Earth Is on Fire)” – YACHT
59. “Sails” – Hooray for Earth
58. “She’s Thunderstorms” – Arctic Monkeys
57. “Woods” – The Rosebuds
56. “Baby Don’t Dance” – Mother Mother
55. “Intro (ft. Zola Jesus)” – M83
54. “Canon” – Justice
53. “Sun God” – Cut Copy
52. “Days Are Forgotten” – Kasabian
51. “Shook Down” – Yuck
50. “On’n’on” – Justice
49. “Prytania” – MUTEMATH
48. “Gangsta” – tUnE-yArDs
47. “Cradle” – The Joy Formidable
46. “Go Outside” – Cults
45. “Thirteen Years Without Peter King” – The World/Inferno Friendship Society
44. “Death as a Fetish” – Starfucker
43. “Unkind” – Sloan
42. “Shake It Out” – Florence + the Machine
41. “Act on Impulse” – We Were Promised Jetpacks
40. “How Deep Is Your Love?” – The Rapture
39. “Leave the Drummer Out There” – Asobi Seksu
38. “Confetti” – Cold Cave
37. “Beat and the Pulse” – Austra
36. “Romance” – Wild Flag
35. “Shangri-La” – YACHT
34. “Holocene” – Bon Iver
33. “Bay of Pigs” – Destroyer
32. “Under the Sun” – VHS or Beta
31. “Some Children (ft. Michael McDonald)” – Holy Ghost!
30. “Don’t Try and Hide It” – The Dodos
29. “I Don’t Want Love” – The Antlers
28. “Civilian” – Wye Oak
27. “Lonely Boy” – The Black Keys
26. “Live Those Days Tonight” – Friendly Fires
25. “Graveyard” – Feist
24. “White Horse” – Jessica 6
23. “French Exit” – The Antlers
22. “Wait” – M83
21. “Repatriated” – Handsome Furs
20. “East Harlem” – Beirut
19. “Days” – The Drums
18. “Contact High” – Architecture in Helsinki
17. “Postcard from 1952” – Explosions in the Sky
16. “Lotus Flower” – Radiohead
15. “One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley’s Boyfriend)” – Wilco
14. “We Have Everything” – Young Galaxy
13. “The City” – Patrick Wolf
12. “Circuital” – My Morning Jacket
11. “Cruel” – St. Vincent
10. “Whirring” – The Joy Formidable
9. “Bury Us Alive” – Starfucker
8. “Will Do” – TV on the Radio
7. “Ice Cream (ft. Matias Aguayo)” – Battles
6. “Walking Far From Home” – Iron & Wine
5. “Civilization” – Justice
4. “Under Cover of Darkness” – The Strokes
3. “Need You Now” – Cut Copy
2. “Midnight City” – M83
1. “Banana Ripple” – Junior Boys
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Title: Skyrim.
Posted: November 14, 2011 (04:45 AM)
It'll be a while before I review Skyrim, partly because it's an enormous game and partly because I'll soon be forced to shelve the game for an extended period of time what with Assassin's Creed and Zelda coming out this week. So, since I've played enough of Skyrim this weekend that my eating and sleeping habits are badly off-kilter, I thought I'd share some impressions based on what I've experienced so far. If anyone else has been playing it, feel free to chime in as well.

- First, some stats. I've spent around 26 hours with the game so far and am at level 21. I've discovered 120 locations, completed 22 quests, cleared 17 dungeons, and killed 11 dragons. I've joined the Companions, the Thieves' Guild and the College of Winterhold; I've also sided with the Stormcloaks. When I last stopped playing, I was resting in a little village called Karthwasten on my way to Markarth (on the far west side of the map) as part of a major quest for the Thieves' Guild. Nearly the entire left half of the world map has gone unexplored by me, and based on a few of the battles I've gotten into around here so far (including a frost dragon who was on my tail for a very long time), it may have been foolish to venture into this portion of Skyrim so early in the game.

- I chose the Redguard race and have been focusing largely on melee combat, which is how I usually play RPGs. So far, one-handed weapons are by far my highest skill (level 67), but the combat's been extremely open-ended nonetheless and I'm slowly incorporating magic more and more into the way I fight. Being able to assign "favorites" to the d-pad doesn't work seamlessly, but it greatly speeds up the process of juggling equipment and spells mid-battle.

- I'm also focusing on crafting skills (smithing, enchanting) as well as some stealth-based stuff (sneaking, pickpocketing, lockpicking) as a way of scoring some extra money from time to time. The lockpicking mini-game is indentical to the one in Fallout 3.

- Speaking of which, an awful lot of the game's presentation values were pulled from Fallout 3. The slowcam finishers, the streamlined (and surprisingly modern-looking) menus, and even the little drum roll every time you complete a quest remind me of Bethesda's previous open-world RPG.

- The combat is great. I played too little of Oblivion (and too long ago) to recall how battles played out in that game, but the combat was always my biggest frustration with Morrowind, how it still seemed more reliant on stats and die rolls than on physicality. The swordplay in Skyrim has this back-and-forth weightiness to it, a bit like Demon's/Dark Souls, but without the grating frustrations that that I believe I made clear I wasn't overly fond of with those games.

- I love the dragon battles. You never know when they're going to pop up, and they provoke a multitude of emotions: the sting of fear when you hear the screech and see the giant shadow of a dragon pass over you, the thrill of studying their attack patterns and pacing yourself to stay alive, and the invigorating sense of accomplishment when you bring one down. I didn't read up much on Skyrim before its release, so I didn't know that dragons would play such a heavy role in the game. It's easily one of my favorite aspects.

- There are a lot of surface-level presentational issues with the game: muddy textures, blocky shadows, noticeable bugs, inconsistent voice acting, and so forth. Yet I'm so overwhelmed by the game's astonishing scope, and the consistent beauty of everything in it, that I don't care. Bear in mind that my big problem with Fallout 3 was that it was all so gloomy and miserable that its world being so well-realized was, for me, its biggest turn-off. Here, it's desolate and haunting in calming, beautiful ways. I can't get enough of it.

- Also, the alpine setting does wonders to give Skyrim a distinct visual style. It is, after all, generic swords-and-dragons fantasy, yet it has a look and feel all its own.

- In the realm of minor flaws, it would be nice if there was a way for me to quickly exit a dungeon after clearing it, unless there is and I'm simply unaware. It's a bit tedious to have to backtrack all the way through an empty dungeon once I've done everything there is to do.

- Also, the way characters interact with each other and the player is far from perfect. For example, one time while I was fighting a dragon, I died because I was pulled against my will into a conversation with a passerby who seemed completely unaware that a dragon was attacking both of us. That sort of thing is uncommon, though, and totally excusable for a game of such staggering size.

I'm working a massive 14-hour shift tomorrow, and on Tuesday, a new Assassin's Creed game will be in my possession, so Skyrim will have to go on hold for a while, unfortunately. It says a lot about the game that I can play 26 hours of it in one weekend and still be sad to have to put it away, though I suppose it also says a lot about how much of a hold the Assassin's Creed games have on me that I can love Skyrim this much and still not even hesitate to shelve in once Revelations is released.

Every Bethesda game of this ilk has thus far failed to drive me to completion. I was blown away by Morrowind's world but eventually grew weary of its stagnant gameplay. Oblivion played more smoothly but inhabited an uninteresting world. Fallout 3's world was interesting, yet it was so oppressively gloomy that I didn't want to stick around. From what I've played of Skyrim so far, it keeps all of the elements that worked for me in previous Bethesda games and ditches everything that turned me off. Whenever I get around to playing more of it, Skyrim could very well be the first Bethesda game that I play to the end. Might even replace Arkham City as my 2011 Game of the Year. We'll see.

I'll leave you with this. Some courier ran up to me and told me a man in a dark hood paid him a great sum to deliver this into my hands:



I don't... um...

Edit: Hey Jason? You know that little box you can check when you're posting a blog entry so it also posts in the forums? Yeah, it doesn't work anymore. Just letting you know.
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Title: Larry King Geoff.
Posted: November 12, 2011 (11:07 PM)
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Title: How I felt after I sold Dark Souls this morning.
Posted: November 01, 2011 (09:07 PM)
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Title: Borderlands 2.
Posted: August 03, 2011 (12:11 PM)
Just sayin'.
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Title: Batman.
Posted: July 12, 2011 (12:02 AM)
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Title: LOOOOOOOOL
Posted: July 07, 2011 (01:29 AM)
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Title: Receipt Racer.
Posted: June 21, 2011 (09:48 PM)
Behold:

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Title: Mr. Toots?
Posted: June 16, 2011 (07:02 PM)
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Title: Brink
Posted: May 28, 2011 (06:26 AM)
sucks.

Title: Arctic Monkeys @ The Electric Factory (Philadelphia, PA 5/18/11)
Posted: May 20, 2011 (05:29 PM)


She's Thunderstorms
Brianstorm
This House Is a Circus
Still Take You Home
Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair
Pretty Visitors
Teddy Picker
Crying Lightning
Reckless Serenade
I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
Potion Approaching
Brick by Brick
If You Were There, Beware
Do Me a Favour
Cornerstone
That's Where You're Wrong
===
The View from the Afternoon
The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala
Fluorescent Adolescent

Holy hell was this crowd violent. I'm a firm believer that a good crowd can really elevate a live show (and, likewise, a dead crowd can deflate it just as easily), but what I experienced at the Electric Factory a couple of days ago was just too much. We got in line early to secure a good spot in the pit, and as soon as the show started, people from the back of the venue began shoving their way forward, crushing us against the barricade. We could barely breathe, and everyone in the entire front half of the pit had to spend the first few songs knocking each other around rather than, say, enjoying the music.



I get that roughness comes with the territory when you've got an enthusiastic crowd at a sold-out show in a small venue, but a girl I got shoved into during "Brianstorm" came very close to getting completely knocked down, which, in a situation like this, is pretty scary. The crowd was brutal to a fault.

Thankfully, it didn't last too long. Knowing I wouldn't enjoy myself if this kept up, I began forcing my way to the right and eventually back a bit, and by the time the Arctic Monkeys finished their third song, I began enjoying myself. If you were on the floor, this was always going to be a tight, exhausting and disgustingly sweaty show, but the crowd's energy really elevated some of the Monkeys' most enjoyable songs, provided it wasn't a life-or-death scenario (which, being up front, it certainly felt like).

The Monkeys themselves sounded excellent live, and while they didn't have an extravagant set or even a particularly lively stage presence, some great setlist choices and the rowdy atmosphere made it a memorable show. Frenetic stuff like "The View from the Afternoon" had the entire crowd jumping and screaming along in unison, while the slow-burning buildup and release of "Crying Lightning" was a pleasure to witness. The band's few subdued songs, particularly the wonderful "Cornerstone," gave us a chance to cool down and provided me with a few opportunities to snap some decent pictures.



The crowd was ludicrously responsive to virtually every song, save for some of the new stuff that the weren't familiar with. (The two new songs that have been officially released, "Don't Sit Down..." and "Brick by Brick," might as well have been old favorites for the way they got the audience going.) About halfway through the show, some people cleared out a space in the middle of the floor and starting a legit mosh pit -- the polite kind, where people can jump in and slam into each other and anyone who doesn't want any part in it can stand aside and watch the band. And I'm not gonna lie: I joined in when the Monkeys played "Fluorescent Adolescent," my favorite track of theirs and the last song of the night.

If I have a complaint about the band's performance, it's that they didn't play enough songs from their first album. I was definitely pulling for "A Certain Romance," and some people near me started a chant for "Mardy Bum," to which I joined in. It was made even more puzzling by some strange selections from Favourite Worst Nightmare, though I was incredibly happy that "Do Me a Favour" was played.



When I was struggling for breathing space at the beginning of the show, I had the crushing feeling that it would ruin the entire experience for me, but I left the show glad that I'd opted out of sitting on the balcony. Took a few songs for the crowd to, erm, "settle down," but for the following hour, it was a great place to be. Here's a video of their performance of "Fluorescent Adolescent." (The T-shirt Alex is wearing is the same one they were selling. If you think seeing an Arctic Monkeys logo emblazoned with an American flag looks weird, you're not the only one.)

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Title: First look at Bane in The Dark Knight Rises! (Not a joke this time.)
Posted: May 20, 2011 (12:54 PM)


Full story about how this image was revealed is here.
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Title: OH MY GOD I WANT THIS
Posted: April 26, 2011 (12:03 PM)
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Title: The new Batman trailer has leaked!
Posted: April 15, 2011 (02:30 PM)
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Title: Five XBLA games 50% off, today only.
Posted: April 15, 2011 (02:23 PM)
Limbo, Shadow Complex, Castle Crashers, Monday Night Combat, and something called Trials HD are all on sale for 600 Microsoft points (i.e. $7.50) today only. So if anyone here has been hesitant to buy any of these games due to steep pricing (which for me would be the first two), today's your chance. Credit to @geekadelphia.

And apparently there have been some other pretty nifty XBLA sales going on this week, so check 'em out.
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Title: My review of Mass Effect 2: Arrival (because apparently Jason doesn't want it posted to Gameroni after all).
Posted: April 10, 2011 (09:58 PM)
[Brief note: As of now, I will no longer be writing for Gameroni. If my contributions aren't wanted, then I'm not going to force it.]

So it’s been a good 14 months since Mass Effect 2’s release, and now that the game’s long-winded DLC run has finally come to an end, I think we can officially declare EA’s infamous Project Ten Dollar a resounding success. Here’s a meaty single-player game that already warrants at least one revisit – it’s a BioWare game, after all, so it’s impossible to get a full grasp of the story in just one run – and EA has kept it alive for over a year through some of the best downloadable content on the market. Arrival marks Mass Effect 2’s swan song, giving it an emotional relevance to those of us who have returned to the game time and time again, and that only makes it all the more shocking that the mission itself is a rushed, uninspired mess.

I won’t beat around the bush here: Arrival is boring. I’ll grant you that it’s got two tough acts to follow, but even if it can’t live up to the standards that BioWare has set for its DLC so far, Arrival is a disappointment. It consists almost entirely of linear shootouts and endurance-style defense scenarios set in bland, repetitive environments. What’s worse is that Shepard goes solo for the entire mission, meaning squad play with your companions is out (which is especially damning if you’re playing a class like Soldier or Sentinel that’s relatively boring on its own). I like Mass Effect 2’s combat, but not enough to endure it in such a manner for so long a period of time. It’s telling that Arrival is one of Mass Effect 2’s shortest downloadable missions to date and still feels like it overstays its welcome.

The mission starts off promisingly enough. Lance Henrikson reprises his role as Admiral Hackett from the first game, who is now given a face and has come to Shepard for help. A friend of his, Dr. Kenson, seems to have some information regarding the impending Reaper invasion, but she’s been captured by batarians. After what I think is supposed to be a brief stealth mission (in which you can choose to engage enemies or simply sneak past them), you rescue Dr. Kenson and she fills you in on the grim details: that she’s discovered which mass relay the Reapers will be using to enter the galaxy, and that they plan to show up in… two days. Um, whoa.

This, of course, is where Arrival is meant to bridge the gap between Mass Effect 2 and its sequel, in which the Reapers will eventually invade the galaxy and attack Earth (which we know from the game’s announcement trailer). It’s an intriguing setup to say the least, and even if Arrival falls short of its potential simply for being blandly designed, I could have seen it being worthwhile for hardcore fans on the grounds of providing some context to the impending Reaper invasion and even giving us the edge in the third game.

The kicker is that BioWare has already stated that they won’t “punish” players who don’t partake in Arrival, which effectively kills the urgency that this mission is supposed to have. If players complete this DLC, then they’ll have thwarted the Reapers’ plans and delayed their impending invasion. If players ignore this DLC… well, then I’m pretty sure the Reapers will still happily wait for Mass Effect 3’s release before showing up, and Arrival’s doomsday countdown clock won’t even be referenced. So Arrival’s only purpose is to reiterate what we already know, which is that the Reapers are on their way and that everything we’ve done so far has only delayed the inevitable. Even a climactic encounter with Harbinger only sees him repeating what he’s been shouting at you for the entire game (and, for that matter, what Sovereign was shouting at you in the last game).

But the worst thing about Arrival is that it presents us with an absolutely devastating moral dilemma and doesn’t give us a choice about it. Shepard makes the decision completely free of player input, which breaks the spirit of the series and destroys any possibility of long-running consequences that this mission could have had on the third game. So in every way, Arrival falls disappointingly short of the consistent level of quality that BioWare has to this point maintained with Mass Effect 2. Had the mission been included out of the box, it would have felt jarringly weak and underdeveloped in contrast to the rest of the game, and the fact that BioWare wants us to pay for it is nothing short of absurd. After Dragon Age II, this is twice in one month that BioWare has hugely disappointed me. If Mass Effect 3 follows suit, there will be hell to pay.

Arrival can be purchased for 560 Microsoft points and requires 781 MB of hard drive space. It adds three new achievements, totaling 100 achievement points. It will last roughly an hour and a half and can be initiated by checking Shepard's inbox.

Addendum: This review is dedicated to RunningFree.

Title: LCD Soundsystem's Final Show @ Madison Square Garden (New York City, NY 4/2/11)
Posted: April 04, 2011 (09:11 PM)


Dance Yrself Clean
Drunk Girls
I Can Change
Time to Get Away
Get Innocuous!
Daft Punk Is Playing at My House
Too Much Love
All My Friends
Tired
===
45:33 Part One
45:33 Part Two
Sound of Silver
45:33 Part Four
45:33 Part Five
45:33 Part Six
Freak Out/Starry Eyes
===
Us v Them
North American Scum
Bye Bye Bayou
You Wanted a Hit
Tribulations
Movement
Yeah (Crass Version)
Someone Great
Losing My Edge
Home
===
All I Want
Jump into the Fire
New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down

Why I haven’t gotten around to seeing LCD Soundsystem is beyond me. “All My Friends,” which came out when I was still in high school, is one of the songs that shaped me into the music fan that I am today, and the band currently sits among my most highly regarded and all-time favorites. James Murphy’s distinct brand of slow-burning, carefully layered composition is exhilarating, and his nostalgic songwriting is among the best in the industry, as far as I’m concerned. They’re an incredibly unique band in the emotions they draw from their fans; you could be moved to tears while dancing your ass off. So it’s a pity that Murphy and his band are calling it quits, and needless to say, their decision to hold one last show at Madison Square Garden this last weekend was a big deal, not just to the underground/hipster music industry, but to myself, as this was my last chance to see them live.

Unfortunately, the show earned quite a stir when tickets went on sale and scalpers snatched up a large portion of them, charging outrageous prices. I was lucky enough to get tickets directly from the presale, but Murphy’s anger over his fans not being able to attend forced him to add four more dates at Terminal 5 during the preceding week. So the “one last show” concept turned into a week-long party, but the MSG gig was still slated to be their last performance ever, making it unlike anything I or my friends had ever attended. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and it lived up to my expectations in that it was the best concert I’ve ever been to and one of the most memorable nights of my life.



James promised a set running nearly three hours that spanned LCD’s entire career and featured special guests. In reality, the show was over three and a half hours long and divided into three acts and one encore, with short breaks in between each. Without having seen LCD live before, I’m willing to say that this was their most extravagant set of all time, with an enormous light setup, male and female backup singers, and a brass section. It was a full-on production, and added with the epic length of the show and the sheer size of the place – LCD has never played a venue as big as MSG – I couldn’t have imagined the band going out on a higher note.

The great thing about the show’s length was that it allowed them to play all of the old favorites and still left some flexibility to play material that they’re rarely, if ever, had the chance to perform live. Much of the first act was devoted to popular singles – “Drunk Girls,” “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House,” etc. – but they still took the time to hit up unexpected tracks like “Too Much Love” and “Tired.” When the lights initially dimmed, the band members slowly took the stage, one by one, to the opening drum beat of “Dance Yrself Clean,” a song with an almost unbearably tense buildup. But when the song finally erupted (anyone who’s familiar with it knows what I mean) and glowrings were fired into the crowd, the place went nuts.



One of the biggest surprises of the first act was the decision to play “All My Friends.” I’d heard that they tend to play that song early on, which always puzzled me; it’s such a showstopper that I couldn’t imagine them playing it at any point but the end. Having finally seen it live, I’m guessing that they prefer to play “All My Friends” while the audience still has their energy. By the end of the show, nearly four hours after we’d started, we were exhausted. Yet the song’s placement at the end of the first act gave us just enough warm-up time to go ballistic when we heard the piano kick in. The place went berserk for the whole song, particularly when Murphy sang, “To tell the truth, this will be the last time!” It was an overwhelming performance that should have been the standout moment of the night, but the show was only a fraction over.

In the second act came the biggest surprise of the evening: that the band would play the “45:33” jam nearly in its entirety. For those who don’t know, “45:33” was a six-art song created as a promotional track for Nike to be used during workout sessions. Murphy has since hinted that he more or less used the opportunity to create a long-form, largely instrumental composition with little regard for how well the music worked for jogging. To my knowledge, “45:33” had never been played live before last week, which is part of what made it so exhilarating to watch.

The band did skip over “Part Three,” probably because the track eventually became the blueprint for “Someone Great,” and it would have been redundant to play both in one show. Instead, after “Part Two,” the band took a break from the song and launched into “Sound of Silver,” sung by a male choir fitted with silver spacesuits. It sounded excellent and ended with a slow transition into “Part Four,” which was an absolutely beastly live song.

The second act also brought about most of the night’s biggest guest appearances, such as singer/comedian Reggie Watts singing soul in “Part Two.” And Shit Robot showed up for “Part Five,” as well as Juan MacLean in a spacesuit and a diamond-shaped UFO:



I don’t even know what the fuck.

They ended the second act with “Freak Out/Starry Eyes,” the double-song that concludes the 45:33 release. The former had a fun shout-along chorus (“If you do it again! I’m gonna freak out! So do it again!”), while the latter made the three female backup singers the center of attention. The third act was when LCD finally started punching through their big hits and old favorites again. They took the stage to “US v Them,” during which they finally and inevitably dropped the big disco ball:



And then came the most exciting quest appearance of the night: Arcade Fire doing backing vocals for “North American Scum.” They didn’t even have a big entrance or anything. Despite the massive set, James Murphy’s chatter in between songs was endearingly awkward and unshowmanlike, and when Arcade Fire took the stage, very little attention was actually drawn to them until their faces popped up on the big screen, at which point the place went nuts. They looked thrilled to be there.

In my mind, the biggest showstopper of the night was the one-two punch of “You Wanted a Hit” into “Tribulations.” The former was unbelievably intense, with the live guitar adding a lot of momentum to the mass-chant-along chorus (“We won’t be your babies anymore!”). Then the drummer transitioned into “Tribulations” and the crowd went absolutely off the chain. LCD is largely an electronic band, so seeing them do a straight-up rock song and absolutely kill it was a huge adrenaline rush, and I’m willing to bet playing that song in Madison Square Garden was the high point of the guitarist’s entire life. A drunk girl in front of us flashed us during the song and I can honestly say it was the least concerned with female nakedness I’ve ever been in my entire life.



The rest of the night played out predictably but beautifully, with all of the expected hits: “Movement,” “Yeah,” “Someone Great,” and Murphy’s crazy spoken-word single “Losing My Edge,” during which all of the referenced artists were shown on the giant screen. The final song of their main set was “Home,” the last track from This Is Happening and, if you ask me, the best and most fitting swan song by any band, ever. I would have been totally happy if the show had ended there, but then the band came back on for an encore, at which point Murphy announced that they still had three more songs. I was overjoyed to finally hear “All I Want,” though most of the crowd was getting tired by that point.

The last song of the night, as we’d all anticipated, was “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down.” The song’s general slowness allowed Murphy to talk and squeeze in his final thank-yous in between verses as he fought back tears. It’s one of LCD’s few hold-up-your-lighter songs, and a friend and I, being non-smokers, elected to sneak into an unoccupied tech booth and wave a lamp back and forth. The band took a long pause before the song’s emotionally-charged final stretch, during which white balloons were released into the crowd.







Aside from a few lyrical mess-ups on Murphy’s part (and he had a long week, so that’s perfectly understandable), the band sounded as good as they could have and I can’t have imagined them putting on a better show or constructing a better setlist. My only complaint about the concert was the crowd. The people on the floor seemed to be having a blast, but a good portion of the audience around me was either disappointingly unenergetic or obnoxiously drunk. My friends and I were dancing our asses off and I’m disappointed that more people didn’t seem to realize where they were, especially since there were plenty of diehard fans who couldn’t make it to the show who I know would have made the atmosphere better. This was my first time attending a show in New York City and I’ll definitely be sticking with Philly unless the circumstances demand otherwise, as they did here.

But I didn’t let that stop me from having a good time, and this was, bar none, the greatest show I’ve ever been to, a once-in-a-lifetime event that could never be replicated. I had to drive three hours afterward and didn’t get home until five-thirty in the morning, yet I went to bed the happiest man alive. For one night, I was a part of musical history.

My entire set of pictures from Saturday, including our journey through New York City beforehand, can be found here. And check out this video I took of James saying his tearful goodbyes before the final song:

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Title: Cut Copy (w/ Holy Ghost!) @ The Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA (3/31/11)
Posted: April 01, 2011 (09:58 PM)


Visions
Nobody Lost, Nobody Found
Where I’m Going
Feel the Love
Corner of the Sky
Lights and Music
Take Me Over
Pharaohs & Pyramids
Saturdays
Voices in Quartz
Hearts on Fire
Sun God
===
Need You Now
Out There on the Ice

As anyone who’s been following my Twitter account is well aware, I’ve been excited as hell for the last two months for last night’s Cut Copy show. The band’s own Zonoscope is in competition with Holy Ghost!’s self-titled debut for my favorite album of 2011 so far, so the opportunity to see both in one show (especially given how upbeat and dance-centric their music is) wasn’t something I was going to miss out on.

As far as opening acts go, Holy Ghost! was excellent. They played a very slick, tightly-constructed set (as their brand of dance-punk electronica requires), and they hit up some obvious highlights from their album. Taking the stage with “Wait and See” into “Hold On” was a real treat, as was finishing off with “Jam for Jerry” (one of my favorite songs of the year and the most immediately likeable track on their album). Even their lead single “Do It Again,” which I was never a huge fan of on record, was thumping and awesome live.



My only complaints about Holy Ghost! are the same I usually have with bands who are too good to be opening acts. These guys deserved a more extravagant light setup, for one, and while they were all energetic, you could tell they weren’t entirely conformable playing in front of an audience who wasn’t here to see them (which comes with being a supporting act, but nevertheless). A good portion of the crowd hadn’t even shown up yet when they started playing, but everyone in my vicinity was having a great time.

The stage looked a bit cluttered for Holy Ghost!, but Cut Copy’s set looked clean and efficient, consisting of a ridiculously well-synchronized light setup and a single household door in the middle of the stage, from which the band emerged to the tune of their “Visions” intro tape. Hearing that track was especially exciting because anyone who was familiar with In Ghost Colours knew that they were about to jump into “Nobody Lost, Nobody Found,” the album’s closing song and pleasantly surprising choice for their opening song.



In fact – and I cannot overstate this – their setlist was perfect. My wish was that the show would consist of a slew of new songs from Zonoscope, a bunch of favorites from Colours, and the barest minimum of inclusions from Bright Like Neon Love (an album I find incredibly weak compared to their other two). The song selection was perfect – there wasn’t a weak spot anywhere in this show – and the crowd was the best I’ve ever seen. We were dancing to literally every single song.

The first major highlight of the set was arguably their best song, “Lights and Music.” It came about a third of the way through the show, giving us just enough time to get warmed up. Couple that with the song’s momentous buildup-and-release during the first half and it was an incredible performance. Just before the first chorus, guitarist Tim Hoey slowly raised his arms up, as did the audience, and as soon as Whitford belted out “LIGHTS AND MUSIC!” we all threw ourselves into the air at once. Whitford and Hoey definitely need to be credited for being such comfortable showmen and commanding such energy from the crowd throughout (not that these people needed encouragement; some were dancing their asses off to the DJ sets in between acts). You could tell they were having almost as much fun as we were.

The other high point, obviously, was “Hearts on Fire.” I flailed my head so hard on the second chorus that I literally had to reach up and keep my glasses from flying off. A big surprise for me was the early inclusion of “Feel the Love.” Cut Copy have pretty much been playing the same setlist every night, but they’ve recently started swapping out “So Haunted” for “Feel the Love,” and it was a trade-off I’m happy they made. I went nuts when I heard the intro.

On “Pharaohs & Pyramids”, the door on the stage flipped around to reveal a screen that displayed some appropriately psychedelic imagery during some of Zonoscope’s trippier stuff, particularly the latter ten minutes of “Sun God.”



Even “Saturdays,” the lone track from Neon Love, was a raucous live song, particularly during the finale when Whitford commanded us to start jumping up and down on his countdown. Surprisingly, they closed the night with “Out There on the Ice,” one of Colours’ most underrated tracks. It was fun to see that song performed live, but I’m glad they didn’t save one of their genuine showstoppers for the end, because I was a little worn out by that point. (I still haven’t been to enough non-stop-rave shows like this to be totally used to it.)

So yeah, I had an amazing time. Whether or not Cut Copy put on the best show I’ve ever been to is a matter of perspective. Obviously, their set couldn’t compare with the spectacle of bands like Muse and the Flaming Lips, and I wasn’t blown away by the sheer power of their songs like I was when I saw Arcade Fire. But this was, bar none, the most fun I’ve ever had at a concert, so take that for what you will. Of course, I’m seeing LCD Soundsystem at Madison Square Garden tomorrow, and I fully expect that show to steamroll everything else I’ve seen in every possible regard, so we’ll see.



All of the pictures I took at the show are here. And have a look at this video I took of Holy Ghost! playing "I Will Come Back."

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Title: My dream setlist for LCD Soundsystem's final show.
Posted: March 24, 2011 (12:46 AM)
Intro by Stephen Colbert (because I said so)

Home
North American Scum (w/ The Flaming Lips)
All I Want (w/ Arcade Fire)
Movement
Drunk Girls (w/ pandas)
Bye Bye Bayou (w/ Alan Vega)
Someone Great (w/ Hot Chip)
One Touch
Disco Infiltrator (w/ Soulwax)
Yeah (w/ Out Hud)
Dance Yrself Clean (w/ The Rapture)
Sound of Silver (w/ Shit Robot)
Daft Punk Is Playing at My House (Daft Punk comes on at the end, stays for…)
Get Innocuous! (w/ Daft Punk)
Pow Pow
Tribulations (w/ Holy Ghost! if they can hurry over after Cut Copy)
I Can Change
Losing My Edge (w/ !!!)

[Encore 1]
Us V Them
Beat Connection (w/ The Juan MacLean)
New York I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down

[Encore 2]
You Wanted a Hit
The Great Release (buildup into…)
All My Friends (rejoined by everyone, release black and white balloons into crowd)
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Title: Need help buying a new TV.
Posted: March 22, 2011 (02:22 PM)
Well, I'm not, but I've been tasked with helping my sister shop for one. She wants a 32" screen that's 1080p-capable. I confess I'm not very studied in this area, so does anyone have any suggestions on brands/models? Thanks in advance.
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Title: Look up.
Posted: February 25, 2011 (10:52 PM)
So, no more gamercards?

Sad day.
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Title: In celebration of the new album, I rank every Radiohead song from worst to best.
Posted: February 15, 2011 (05:18 PM)
No b-sides or live tracks, and I left out Fitter Happier, Kid A, Treefingers, Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors and Hunting Bears, none of which can really be judged as standalone tracks.

76. Prove Yourself
75. I Can’t
74. How Do You?
73. Ripcord
72. In Limbo
71. Anyone Can Play Guitar
70. Lurgee
69. We Suck Young Blood
68. Vegetable
67. Sulk
66. Where I End and You Begin
65. You
64. Morning Bell (Amnesiac)
63. I Will
62. Bones
61. Myxomatosis
60. I Might Be Wrong
59. Scatterbrain
58. Electioneering
57. The Bends
56. Thinking About You
55. You and Whose Army?
54. The National Anthem [still don't know what to make of the second half]
53. Knives Out
52. A Wolf at the Door
51. Black Star
50. Motion Picture Soundtrack
49. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
48. Just
47. A Punchup at a Wedding
46. Faust Arp
45. Life in a Glass House
44. The Tourist
43. Lucky
42. (Nice Dream)
41. Backdrifts
40. Exit Music (for a Film)
39. 15 Step
38. Bullet Proof… I Wish I Was
37. All I Need
36. Sail to the Moon
35. Videotape
34. Morning Bell
33. 2 + 2 = 5
32. Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box
31. Planet Telex
30. Stop Whispering
29. Jigsaw Falling into Place
28. Go to Sleep
27. Climbing Up the Walls
26. My Iron Lung
25. Blow Out
24. Sit Down Stand Up
23. House of Cards
22. Subterranean Homesick Alien
21. Bodysnatchers
20. There There
19. Dollars & Cents
18. Creep
17. Optimistic
16. High and Dry
15. The Gloaming
14. Nude
13. Karma Police
12. Like Spinning Plates
11. Reckoner
10. Everything in Its Right Place
9. Street Spirit (Fade Out)
8. Let Down
7. Pyramid Song
6. How to Disappear Completely
5. No Surprises
4. Airbag
3. Fake Plastic Trees
2. Idioteque
1. Paranoid Android
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Title: The Beat Hazard mix.
Posted: February 07, 2011 (06:34 PM)
I forget if anyone here other than Ben wound up trying the game after I reviewed it, but here are some of the songs I've found make terrific Beat Hazard levels. I've even taken the time to provide links for all of the songs so you can hear them for yourself first. I'm so considerate.


“Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) – Arcade Fire
“Tonight, Tonight” – The Smashing Pumpkins
“Map of the Problematique” – Muse
“This Time Around” – The Radio Dept.
“Reptile” – Nine Inch Nails
“Shine a Light” – Wolf Parade
“Parallel Lines” – Junior Boys
“Atlas” – Battles
“Let Your Love Grow Tall” – Passion Pit
“I Remember” – deadmau5
“Dancing on My Own” – Robyn
“Nonpareil of Favor” – Of Montreal
“Pompeii am Götterdämmerung” – The Flaming Lips
“Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second” – Starfucker
“Idiot Heart” – Sunset Rubdown
“Lisztomania” – Phoenix
“Everything in Its Right Place” – Radiohead
“M4 Part II” – Faunts
“Bullet in the Head” – Rage Against the Machine
“Hearts on Fire” – Cut Copy
“Inní mér syngur vitleysingur” – Sigur Rós
“All My Friends” – LCD Soundsystem
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Title: Oscar predictions.
Posted: January 26, 2011 (06:36 PM)
Most people are waiting until later to do these, but I wanted to get this out of my system before I get sick of hearing about the Oscars.

BEST PICTURE

127 Hours
Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Rabbit Hole is a great little drama that’s not getting much year-end attention, and people seem to have forgotten about The Ghost Writer, one of my favorite films of 2010. Pretty solid selection otherwise.

SHOULD WIN: Well, Inception was my favorite movie of the year. Several others on here come close, but no other movie in 2010 wowed me as much, or gave me as much to talk about.

WILL WIN: There are plenty of nominations we can rule out straight away. Black Swan and The Fighter are both gaining award season momentum for their standout performances, but while the Academy will likely honor them as such, that’s the most they can hope for. Inception could have been a dark horse if Nolan had received a Best Director nomination; as it stands, it can only hope to dominate the technical categories. Kids is a comedy, and can more realistically expect to be honored for its screenplay; same for Toy Story 3 and the animated category. True Grit won’t win, just because. 127 Hours and Winter’s Bone are in danger of going home empty-handed.

That leaves The King’s Speech and The Social Network. The former seems to be the frontrunner, being an Oscar-friendly historical drama that leads the pack with 12 nominations total. Honestly, though? I just don’t see it happening. In recent years the Academy has been ever-so-slightly edging away from awarding its highest honor to this sort of awards season bait, and The Social Network still easily classifies as something they’d like: relevant, well-written, well-acted, highly-regarded and damn good.

I’m betting on The Social Network. The only thing going against it is that the Academy Awards don’t usually follow the footsteps of the Golden Globes, but I see them making an exception this year.


BEST DIRECTOR

Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen – True Grit
David Fincher – The Social Network
Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech
David O. Russell – The Fighter

NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Obviously, Christopher Nolan. It takes so much ingenuity to make a movie like Inception work as well as it did. You can’t tell me with a straight face that little character dramas like The Fighter and The King’s Speech took more skill to direct. And while I know it’s not popular, Enter the Void is one of 2010’s most inventive movies, and its visionary director, Gaspar Noé, deserves a mention for that.

SHOULD WIN: Black Swan was the only movie where the direction actually jumped out at me, but I think I’d still vote for the energetic work by Fincher, whose last several films have demonstrated considerable range on his part.

WILL WIN: Best Picture and Best Director almost always go to the same film. There have been plenty of exceptions, but even if The King’s Speech goes on to win the top award, I can’t see the Academy giving this one to anybody other than Fincher.


BEST ACTOR

Javier Bardem – Biutiful
Jeff Bridges – True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg – The Social Network
Colin Firth – The King’s Speech
James Franco – 127 Hours

NOTABLE OMISSIONS: There were too many this year to be condensed to a mere five, but off the top of my head: Aaron Eckhart in Rabbit Hole, Robert Duvall in Get Low, George Clooney in The American, Ryan Reynolds in Buried, Jim Carrey in I Love You Philip Morris, and Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island. And Ryan Gosling’s snub for Blue Valentine is the biggest shocker of all, especially considering that his co-star, Michelle Williams, was nominated.

SHOULD WIN: James Franco, quite easily in my book.

WILL WIN: Firth gave precisely the sort of performance that the Academy loves. He gave a way better performance last year in A Single Man and Franco showed far more range this year, but nevertheless, Firth is the safest bet.


BEST ACTRESS

Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman – Black Swan
Michelle Williams – Blue Valentine

NOTABLE OMISSIONS: I don’t know if she’d qualify for this year’s awards since the movie was released overseas in 2009, but Noomi Rapace gave, bar none, the best female performance of the year in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Other omissions include Tilda Swinton in I Am Love and Gemma Arterton in The Disappearance of Alice Creed.

SHOULD WIN: There’s a lot that I admire about Natalie Portman’s work in Black Swan, but I’m surprised to find myself leaning in the direction of the effortlessly natural Bening, who stood out in a fine ensemble cast in Kids.

WILL WIN: Had Hailee Steinfeld been nominated in this category instead of the supporting race, this would be a whole different ball game. As it stands, Portman hasn’t lost any momentum (even by the unfortunately-timed release of an Ashton Kutcher rom-com) and is the safe bet. Still, if there’s an upset, it’ll be Bening.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Christian Bale – The Fighter
John Hawkes – Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner – The Town
Mark Ruffalo – The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush – The King’s Speech

NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Both Justin Timberlake and especially Andrew Garfield were robbed for not being recognized for their work in The Social Network. Also, newcomer Miles Teller was a standout in Rabbit Hole.

SHOULD WIN: Man, tough one. I was very impressed with Renner, but wished the movie had given him more to do. The rest were all good as well (and it’s nice to see Ruffalo got a nod), but I’ll have to vote for Rush, who was the best thing about The King’s Speech.

WILL WIN: Bale has been the frontrunner for this category for a while now, but The King’s Speech winning in total nominations changed that a bit. I could easily see the Academy siding with Rush, though if I must guess, I still say it’ll be Bale.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams – The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter – The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo – The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit
Jacki Weaver – Animal Kingdom

NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Both Julianne Moore and Mia Wasikowska did fine work in The Kids Are All Right. And how the hell was Mila Kunis not nominated for Black Swan? Other female supporting roles that stuck out for me this year include Olivia Williams in The Ghost Writer, Violante Placido in The American, and Rebecca Hall in The Town.

SHOULD WIN: Steinfeld, frankly, deserves better than this; it was a lead role. Still, her placement here should make it easier for her to snatch up the award she very much deserves.

WILL WIN: Steinfeld.


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: I’ll say it again: The Ghost Writer is a damn taut political thriller. Plus, while I know it’s not exactly Oscar bait, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is easily one of 2010’s funniest and cleverest films.

SHOULD WIN: Aaron Sorkin had the difficult task of making a movie about the creation of a web site entertaining. He succeeded. The Social Network wins this one.

WILL WIN: Even if it doesn’t go on to win big, The Social Network will almost certainly take home this prize.


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Another Year
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: In a category where the Academy traditionally recognizes comedies it doesn’t want to give Best Picture, it kinda sucks not seeing Cyrus on here.

SHOULD WIN: Whoa, what the hell is Inception doing here? I loved it, but the screenplay was the worst thing about it. Anyway, Kids was a very funny ensemble comedy with a cast of three-dimensional, well-established characters. It easily deserves this one.

WILL WIN: Like I said, the Academy does traditionally use this award to honor comedies that are well-regarded, and The Kids Are All Right fits. People are predicting that Inception might win as compensation for Nolan not getting a nod for direction; these people don’t realize that these other nominations are his compensation. The King’s Speech could win, but I wouldn’t bet on it.


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Nothing that I care about.

SHOULD WIN: Toy Story 3. The dragon movie was pretty good, but, I mean, c’mon.

WILL WIN: Toy Story 3 without breaking a sweat.


BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Biutiful (Mexico)
Dogtooth (Greece)
In a Better World (Denmark)
Incendies (Canada)
Outside the Law (Algeria)

NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Mother was one of my favorite films of the year. I’m sure there are plenty of others, but there are far too many obscure foreign-language films released every year to keep up with all of them.

SHOULD WIN: I haven’t seen any of these, and in fact had only heard of Biutiful until now. I’m not in a position where I can form an opinion on these, at least until they see a wider release schedule.

WILL WIN: This is always a very difficult category to predict. The thing about the Foreign Language Film award is that voters are required to have seen all five of the nominees before they’re allowed to choose a favorite (which you’d think would be the rule for every award, but here we are), and movies are often nominated for this award before they get an official release. So in many cases, the winner of this particular Oscar is a movie that no one’s really heard of.

The most famous example of this was in 2007, when everyone was betting on Pan’s Labyrinth taking home the Foreign Language Film award, only to see some movie called The Lives of Others snatching it up instead. Then the movie saw a stateside release a few months later, and people realized that, wow, it really is better!

So it’s impossible to say, especially without much in the way of a critical consensus for any movie on this list other than Biutiful. I’m gonna hazard a guess and say that Incendies will jump out and surprise everyone. We’ll see.


ART DIRECTION

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Inception
The King’s Speech
True Grit


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: This is where I start to get mad about Tron Legacy not really being nominated for anything. Regardless of what you thought of the story and script, it’s hard to deny that the movie looked and sounded pretty freakin’ awesome.

SHOULD WIN: Alice in Wonderland is the one that probably jumps out at most people, though it’s gotten to the point where I pretty much hate everything Tim Burton does, and I stand by the “more is not better” philosophy. Inception was one of the year’s most distinct-looking films, using color schemes to contrast parallel dream worlds and occasionally breaking the rules of physics to make otherwise normal-looking sets look just out of the ordinary. It’s a movie that had what Alice lacked: subtlety.

WILL WIN: Between this category and Costume Design, I’m guessing Alice in Wonderland will take one and True Grit will take the other. And I’d say Alice in Wonderland nabs this one.


CINEMATOGRAPHY

Black Swan
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
True Grit


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: I wouldn’t blame anyone for absolutely hating everything else about it, but the one thing that we can all agree on about Enter the Void was that its camerawork was the biggest technical marvel since Children of Men. Its snub here is a travesty.

SHOULD WIN: As beautiful a job as Wally Pfister did bringing Inception’s unique imagery to life, I’m ultimately going to side with Matthew Libatique and his incredible Steadicam work on Black Swan, an important factor in conveying the intensity of its otherwise harmless-looking ballet scenes and Natalie Portman’s level of commitment to her role.

WILL WIN: And I see Black Swan winning, too. But don’t be surprised if the voters lean in Inception’s favor.


COSTUME DESIGN

Alice in Wonderland
I Am Love
The King’s Speech
The Tempest
True Grit


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Centurion pops into my head. Also, Tron Legacy.

SHOULD WIN: Again, most would likely go with Alice in Wonderland, but I’m sick of Tim Burton’s overachieving production design. I’d probably vote for True Grit, which employs genre tropes in visually arresting ways.

WILL WIN: Again, between this and Art Direction, I suspect Alice in Wonderland will take one and True Grit will get the other. My guess goes to True Grit winning this one.


EDITING

Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: In what sick, twisted universe was The King’s Speech a bigger triumph of editing than Inception? To take an idea like Inception’s and simply make it watchable, delicately juggling between several different dream worlds in such a way that viewers can make the most of what should be a baffling concept, is a remarkable achievement. There was a bit of an uproar over this omission and it’s well-deserved. Oh, and while I hated the movie itself, the Bourne-esque action sequences in Salt were masterfully executed.

SHOULD WIN: The Social Network should win for the Facemash sequence alone.

WILL WIN: And it will. The Social Network all the way.


MAKEUP

Barney’s Version
The Way Back
The Wolfman


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: I hate to keep bringing up this movie, but turning Angelina Jolie into a man at the end of Salt was pretty damn cool. Some Splice love wouldn’t hurt, either.

SHOULD WIN: I haven’t seen the first two, but there’s no way whatever their makeup artists pulled off was as cool as Rick Baker’s work in The Wolfman.

WILL WIN: Baker has deservedly won six Oscars in his lifetime. The Wolfman will earn him his seventh.


ORIGINAL SCORE

127 Hours
How to Train Your Dragon
Inception
The King’s Speech
The Social Network


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Where the fuck is Daft Punk?

SHOULD WIN: As cool as it would be to see Trent Reznor win an Oscar (so he can stop pretending to be proud of his Golden Globe), Hans Zimmer churned out the year’s most iconic score in Inception. It would be a crime to give it to anyone else.

WILL WIN: And I’m betting Inception will win him his first Academy Award since his work on The Lion King. Given how much the guy works, he certainly deserves it.


ORIGINAL SONG

“Coming Home” – Country Strong
“If I Rise” – 127 Hours
“I See the Light” – Tangled
“We Belong Together” – Toy Story 3

NOTABLE OMISSIONS: I can’t think of anything.

SHOULD WIN: I haven’t seen Country Strong or Tangled and I don’t remember the songs from the other two. I’d sure like to see 127 Hours walk away with something come Oscar night, though, so I guess I’ll go with that.

WILL WIN: I’m hearing ”Coming Home” from Country Strong is the best contender, and the Academy has famously good taste in this category, so there you go.


SOUND EDITING

Inception
Toy Story 3
Tron Legacy
True Grit
Unstoppable


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Meh. I generally put sound design out of my mind when I watch movies, so I don’t have a strong opinion on this one.

SHOULD WIN: Just so we’re clear, sound editing is the art of actually creating and recording the sound effects used in movies. And Tron Legacy’s digital world relies heavily on otherworldly audiovisual design, so that’s my vote.

WILL WIN: Animated movies, especially Pixar films, tend to have a good shot at winning this one. So, Toy Story 3.


SOUND MIXING

Inception
The King’s Speech
Salt
The Social Network
True Grit


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Meh.

SHOULD WIN: Meh.

WILL WIN: Inception.


VISUAL EFFECTS

Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Hereafter
Inception
Iron Man 2


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH TRON LEGACY

SHOULD WIN: It’s not a movie that’s as heavily reliant on digital effects work as a few of the others, but Inception was still one of the year’s most technically impressive and visually striking films.

WILL WIN: I see Inception winning, but Alice in Wonderland could pull a surprise victory if it loses in Makeup and Costume Design.


DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Exit Through the Gift Shop
Gasland
Inside Job
Restrepo
Waste Land


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Waiting for Superman is the obvious one. I’m not exactly a documentary aficionado so there are probably far more that deserve mentions, but that’s the one that stands out for me as an obvious omission.

SHOULD WIN: I’ve only seen two of these. Exit Through the Gift Shop was quite good, but Restrepo was incredible. I can’t imagine that any of the other three are more fascinating.

WILL WIN: The only thing going against Restrepo is its minimalist approach to documentation. Otherwise, it will almost assuredly win.


DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

Killing in the Name
Poster Girl
Strangers No More
Sun Come Up
The Warriors of Quigang


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Gee, there are so many that I don’t want to leave anything out.

SHOULD WIN: This is one of the categories everyone’s always clueless about. Killing in the Name is titled after a Rage Against the Machine song, so I guess I’m voting for that one.

WILL WIN: The Warriors of Quigang sounds like it’s about warriors, which is pretty cool.


SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Day & Night
The Gruffalo
Let’s Pollute
The Lost Thing
Madagascar, a Journey Diary


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Derp.

SHOULD WIN: Oh hey, I actually remember Day & Night from Toy Story 3! Not as laugh-out-loud as Pixar’s shorts often are, but it’s also got a ridiculously clever idea behind it.

WILL WIN: Sure, why not? Day & Night.


SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

The Confession
The Crush
God of Love
Na Wewe
Wish 143


NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Ha.

SHOULD WIN: Na Wewe has a funny name.

WILL WIN: Wish 143. Total guess.

Title: 2010 in Reviews: Suskie Edition
Posted: January 24, 2011 (09:24 PM)
Because I was bored this weekend.

Crackdown (1/1)
It’s New Year’s Day and I’m already cranking out reviews! That’s crazy! This was written for the Alphabetolympics, for which I was obviously assigned the letter “C” and finally had the motivation to review a game I’d played a few months prior. I wound up scoring second place, as I always seem to. This one also won Review of the Week. Off to a good start.

Machinarium (1/2)
One of two instances this year in which I review an adventure game and make it very clear from the get-go how much I loathe the genre. I’m of the opinion that you can do that, occasionally, so long as you put it into context. I have a reason for playing everything I play, and I actually quite enjoyed the Machinarium demo – the game’s look is irresistible and the early puzzles are agreeable enough. But then I downloaded it, and sure enough, it turned into an adventure game, with all kinds of adventure gamey problems.

If anyone wants to know why I hate adventure games, this is the review to read. And I still say it’s impossible to argue against some of these points without sounding like a pretentious buttsore who’s judging Machinarium as an interactive painting first and a game second.

Halo 3: ODST (1/3)
I got this game for Christmas, and when I reviewed it, I tried very hard not to judge it by its value, since I didn’t actually pay for it. I like the conclusion that I came to in the final paragraph.

Infamous (1/3)
Three days into 2010 and I’m already four reviews deep?! Surely I am on my way to winning the Alpha Marathon for the first time! I actually wish I could approach Infamous strictly from the angle of moral choices, since it does everything wrong in that regard, but I actually like Infamous quite a bit, so this is the review that resulted. I did write this blog entry as an extension of the moral choice topic, pulling a specific spoiler-ish example out of the story to demonstrate just how poorly Sucker Punch handled that aspect of the game. Again, though, it’s otherwise a terrific game. This is also another review that won Review of the Week.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (1/10)
My third Review of the Week winner in a row. I don’t really have much else to say about this one.

Borderlands (1/23)
I was one Review of the Week victory away from Total Suskie Domination (i.e. all four slots in the Featured User Reviews sidebar would belong to me), but this is the review that ultimately ended the streak. Looking back, of all the reviews I produced in 2010, this is probably my least-favorite. It’s rambly and meandering and it feels like I’m fumbling for a compelling thesis and only land on one in the final paragraph.

Still, this is one of my most weirdly successful reviews of the year in that it literally convinced Jason to run out and buy the game that night. Seriously. I was talking to him over AIM, and he left for a bit, and when he came back, he said something to the effect of, “Well, I hope you’re happy. I just bought Borderlands.” So I guess I did something right, even if I’m totally at a loss to see what it is. He also nominated it in Jerec’s tournament, so thanks!

Mass Effect 2 (1/28)
I don’t know if my promptness with this review is something I should be proud of or ashamed of. My first playthrough of Mass Effect 2 lasted 25 hours, and I had this review submitted less than three days after the game came out. Hell, I had it done before the game was even released in the UK. I’m insane.

I don’t like either of my Mass Effect reviews, mainly because I adore the series so much and both of my write-ups were rushed efforts that don’t properly convey what it is I love about these games. But eh, whatever.

Bionic Commando (2/6)
Philly was hit with a few nasty snowstorms early this particular semester, and Michael Nutter basically ordered a city-wide shutdown on a couple of occasions. So I spent one of my weeknights playing through this game in one sitting, and then I wrote up a review the following day when I didn’t have classes. Good times. The review itself is thoroughly average as far as I’m concerned.

Demon's Souls (2/13)
Man, fuck this game. Seriously. And you know, what’s really frustrating is that Demon’s Souls handles certain elements (like the standalone combat) extremely well, so I can’t just take a stand and say that the game’s mentality is evil and that the people who defend it are trying to compensate for something. Though they are. (By the way, here’s another Review of the Week winner.)

Ninja Gaiden II (2/14)
I rented this game hoping it would be cured of the camera issues that made its Xbox predecessor so unplayable. Whoops.

BioShock 2 (2/18)
I like it when one of my reviews expresses an opinion that not many people hold. Gives me an automatic leg up. I don’t like BioShock all that much and I thought the sequel was an improvement in nearly every way. I get people thinking it’s just an uninspired rehash, but I’m surprised how many fans of the first game genuinely hated the second one. Is 2010 the year that BioShock fans finally figured out how mediocre the first game was? Strip away the appeal of exploring Rapture for the first time and it’s really not that great. The only thing the sequel lacked was the element of newness, and for that, people despised it. This review more or less covers both games, but I’m happy with what I came up with, which won Review of the Week and ranked second in the Challange… thing.

Heavy Rain (3/31)
I really, seriously didn’t play Heavy Rain expecting and hoping to hate it, so when I did play it and did hate it, I had to approach my review in the most level-headed manner possible. Much like my Machinarium write-up, this doubles as a review of Heavy Rain and a rant on the inherent flaws of the adventure genre as a whole. Quantic Dream, if you guys want to make movies, then make movies. Shoehorning button prompts and a few alternate endings in doesn’t make it a video game.

The rather lengthy feedback topic that spawned is worth reading, if only because it clarifies a couple of points that Zipp inevitably tried to argue against. He actually brought up something I wasn’t aware of, but I explain therein why it didn’t change my perspective on the game or the review. Incredibly, I won Review of the Week for this… when Zipp was judging. He did not enjoy awarding me that one, no sir.


God of War III (4/7)
I feel like I spent too much of this review complaining, but most people are well aware of what the God of War series does well, so I wanted to spend some time explaining what it doesn’t do so well. Still a great game.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction (4/19)
I bought this on a whim and it wound up being one of my favorite games of the year. I also happened to have a roommate who was also really into Splinter Cell, and we wound up having a great time with Conviction’s co-op mode. Got this review done within a week of the game’s release and I’m reasonably happy with it.

Just Cause 2 (4/24)
This one was a story. The number of times each year in which Jason offers a freelance assignment I’m genuinely interested in could easily be counted on one hand. So, when I do want a game he’s offering, I’m incredibly persuasive about it. I really wanted to play Just Cause 2 and wrote up a passionate, lengthy essay on why I’m the perfect candidate, pointing to several sandbox reviews of mine that had received accolades. Not only did he not send me the game, but he actually sent me an e-mail for the sole purpose of telling me that someone else was getting it. So I opened my inbox, saw I’d received a response from Jason, got all excited, and was then devastated. Go fuck yourself in the face, Jason.

I wound up renting Just Cause 2 several times in a row immediately thereafter, played the hell out of it for a week or two, and produced this review. My mission, ultimately, was to write something better than whatever the assigned freelancer churned out, just to make Jason hate himself. I never actually received any feedback from him on this review, but I consider myself successful; of all the reviews I wrote in 2010, this is my favorite. I also got it done before Louis Bedigian finished his, which is hilarious. Also, OD awarded this one Review of the Week. Thanks, man. I only recently wound up actually buying Just Cause 2, which I wouldn’t have had to do if I’d gotten the game as a freelance assignment. Fuck.

Final Fantasy XIII (5/1)
This is a weird one. I can’t deny that I enjoyed Final Fantasy XIII, but at the same time, I find myself sympathizing more with people who hate it. The conclusion that I came up with – FFXIII is all about combat, and the combat works – is one derived more from logic than emotion, and most of my feelings toward the game are negative. You know the crazy thing, though? After I finished FFXIII, I started seeing ATB meters as I tried to go to sleep at night. And any game that can inflict me with Tetris Blocks Syndrome is clearly doing something right.

Jerec awarded this one Review of the Week, but there were only three reviews submitted that week and he really didn’t like the other two, so it was determined that this particular victory didn’t count. Ah well.

Metroid Prime Trilogy (5/4)
Compilation reviews can be tricky to write, but in the case of Metroid Prime Trilogy, I actually had a great time reviewing the series rather than any particular game. I also, for the first time, properly conveyed what exactly I loved to so about the first one, which worked as a segue into what I didn’t like about the sequels.

Borderlands Double Game Add-On Pack (5/6)
Remember how Jason found my Borderlands review scary convincing? Well, he actually PMed me saying he’d obtained the expansion disc for the game and that it was mine if I wanted it. Unbeknownst to him, my roommate already had the disc, and we’d been playing the DLC incessantly at the time. So I said I’d be happy to review it, but that sending me the game wasn’t necessary. So there you go.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (5/9)
I rented this mostly so I’d have an X game to review for the Alpha Marathon, but I actually had a surprisingly good time with it. Four bucks and eight hours well-spent.

Left 4 Dead (5/11)
I’d originally planned to review Dead Space for the horror contest, but the game wasn’t fresh enough in my mind and I wasn’t about to rent it again just to review it. Thankfully, my roommate and I had been chugging through the L4D games at the time, and that sort of fit, even though they’re more action-centric than what you’d typically associate with horror games. I like the review that I came up with, and it scored rather well in the contest. Except from Zipp.

Zeno Clash: Ultimate Edition (5/14)
I’d had an interest in Zeno Clash for a while but couldn’t play the PC version because my laptop blows. I excitedly snapped up an opportunity to do a freelance review for the Xbox version, and then a week later, I’d more or less forgotten I’d even played it. Very underwhelming.

Pokemon: SoulSilver Version (5/24)
The most meta review I wrote this year in that it’s not really a review so much as an evaluation of Nintendo’s ongoing strategy with this series. Everyone knows about Pokemon by now and a straight-up review would have been boring; instead, I greatly enjoyed writing this opinion piece thing.

Alan Wake (5/31)
I still consider Alan Wake one of the year’s most pleasant surprises – not just that I loved it, but that I enjoyed it for different reasons than I was expecting. The story was largely irrelevant, but the combat was satisfyingly crunchy and the atmosphere was superb. I consider this one of my better 2010 reviews.

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (6/12)
So people didn’t like the reboot, and now the series’ return to form is an uninspired rehash. You guys are impossible to please, you know that?

Alpha Protocol (6/21)
More or less my biggest reviewing success of 2010. Firstly, this was a freelance assignment for a game I really wanted to play but didn’t want to gamble on by buying it, what with all of the negative reviews. Secondly, the resulting review, which conveyed my torturously conflicted feelings toward the game, actually convinced at least two people to buy it, and Ben actually wound up liking the game more than I did. Zig actually did bring up a good criticism regarding my description of the story when judging this for TT, though, and now I’m powerless to edit it. Oh well. For what the game does wrong, I’m glad I had the opportunity to play it and share my opinion about it.

Dante's Inferno (7/3)
I was going to review this for TT, but then Asherdeus wound up doing exactly that and I didn’t want to bore the judges. But then True requested that I review it anyway, so I did. All for you, buddy!

Whether or not this review is any good isn’t for me to say, but I liked the heavily analytical angle I approached it from – I was an English major at the time and I’ve read the poem, so I decided to get a little pretentious about it in spots. This write-up is a rather important benchmark for me, because it resulted in Ben awarding me my 25th Review of the Week win, making me the only person to unlock the RotW Warlock milestone, which I felt understandably proud of. It was during a very competitive week, too.

Super Mario Galaxy (7/8)
For most of last year’s TT, I dipped into my backlog. Super Mario Galaxy was the only review I wrote specifically for the tournament, and it was also, ironically, the only review to lose. I’d actually spent a great deal of time working on it and was completely confident that it would win, even against as formidable an opponent as Leroux. I was shocked, angry and befuddled when it didn’t. I was initially a sore loser about it, and I took out my anger on my teammates at the time, which wasn’t cool.

I calmed down pretty quickly, but I also took up the opinion that the judging panel sucked, which I never retracted. I decided that TT was no longer worth my time and that I was going to rely on my backlog for the remainder of the tournament. The trouble was that everyone, to the very end of the tournament, thought I was still being a sore loser, even when I wound up only losing one round. And I couldn’t correct anyone, because I didn’t want to sway the judges’ results by publicly calling them out.

Funny thing was, I was totally content to just sit back, prop up my feet and let everyone else have their fun while TT more or less sailed on without me, but everyone else’s unwillingness to accept that fact that I’d lost interest spawned an uncomfortable amount of heat that started when Leroux posted a message publicly chewing me out. My breaking point came when our team actually pulled to first place, I made a joke about how my indifference was helping us, and it got deleted. I wound up unapologetically losing my temper with at least four individual people.

But anyway. The rather heartwarming ending to this story is that despite the anger this review ultimately spawned between myself and Leroux, the man recently nominated it in Jerec’s Review of the Year tournament, which, all things considered, is pretty fucking awesome of him. It also scored a Review of the Week win, so that’s cool.

By the way, our team wound up winning TT. Which is hilarious.

Alien Swarm (7/25)
This game was a Valve-published free download over Steam. It was popular, yet only one website that I’m aware of had actually reviewed it. I told Jason that if he added it to the database, I’d write up a staff review for it, which would hopefully attract some traffic. To date, it’s one of only four reviews linked on GameRankings and has tallied over 1300 hits. Not bad.

Mass Effect 2: Lair of the Shadow Broker (9/9)
My first contribution for Gameroni was fittingly for a downloadable mission that I couldn’t formally review here. I never get sick of talking about Mass Effect (as you all know) so this was a pleasant experience for me. Great DLC.

Halo: Reach (9/16)
I churned out this review within a few days of the game’s release, when I’d beaten the campaign but only had a little experience with the multiplayer, which I’d been only mildly interested in, anyway. I’ve since become totally engrossed in Reach’s online component, so this review is an outdated summary of my feelings toward this game, really. I still plan to eventually write up a review for HG that covers the game’s multiplayer, so stay tuned, maybe.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (10/16)
This was another one of those cases where I went to Jason and said, “Hey, I’m about to review this relatively new game, so do you need a review for either HG or Gameroni?” He said he didn’t have a particular need for it over on Gameroni and pointed out that after I blew a gasket in the forums trying to beat the game on the highest difficulty, a few people here probably wanted to hear the conclusion to this particular story. This was a weird review to write, too, if only because I had so many individual complaints about the game but still wound up recommending it. The review won RotW, at least.

Also, I submitted this for True’s Dark Contest Thing and broke my habit of always placing second by… placing third! Except True was actually awarding wins to the two highest-scoring participants, so as it turns out, I actually did place second. Well, shit.

Medal of Honor (10/20)
I spent the majority of this review explaining why Medal of Honor doesn’t even touch Call of Duty. Ironically, the game wound up having a better campaign than Black Ops, though that’s not much of an accomplishment. Still, Medal of Honor’s multiplayer is a pile of decomposing scrotums.

Singularity (11/2)
I suspect most people weren’t expecting the conclusion that I came to at the end of the review, where I spent the length of the thing complaining and then saying, “Wait, this game is totally better than BioShock.” Of course, I didn’t really like BioShock, but there you go.

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (11/23)
I don’t have anything to say about this one.

Killzone 2 (11/30)
Did any of you read this? I don’t think any of you read this.
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Title: Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
Posted: January 06, 2011 (10:21 PM)
So I guess the people who made this expected me to play the entire game upside-down.

I'm gonna go play something that isn't shit.

Title: I'll just leave this here...
Posted: December 20, 2010 (01:51 AM)
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Title: So after all of that buildup, BioWare's big mystery game is...
Posted: December 11, 2010 (09:51 PM)
...Mass Effect 3? Seriously?

Don't get me wrong; no one on the face of the planet has ever been more excited for anything than I am for this game, but with all of the hype and clues BioWare's been dropping, you'd think their announcement would have been revolved around something we weren't expecting. As opposed to, you know, part three of a trilogy and a game that has been mentioned by name in Mass Effect 2's load screens. Well, that's EA's marketing for you.

But anyway, now I have a one-minute debut trailer to get excited about. If anyone here is remotely as enamored with this series as I am, take a look:



The funny thing about this trailer is that someone with no prior knowledge of the Mass Effect series would watch this and think that it's another grey futuristic shooter about Earth being taken over by aliens. I'm willing to bet that very little of the game will actually be set there, as the implications toward the end of the trailer are that Shepard will be off doing his own thing, possibly rallying an attack force Dragon Age-style or battling Reapers in other parts of the galaxy as well, since I highly doubt the Reapers are only attacking Earth.

Come to think of it, the threat of a galactic holocaust has been hanging over this series since the last act of the first game, and I'd really like to see that come to life in Mass Effect 3.

So yeah, it would have been cool if BioWare had actually been working on a new franchise, but hey, I'm excited.
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Title: Halo HORSE.
Posted: December 06, 2010 (08:34 PM)
I fucking love these guys.

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Title: This drove me insane. See if you can figure it out.
Posted: November 29, 2010 (06:28 PM)
I beat Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood about a week ago, but I've been spending some time doing side quests, hunting for items and generally getting all of the achievements that I missed during my playthrough. Brotherhood, like the last game, has a subplot where you search for glyphs left by Subject 16 and solve vaguely Dan Brown-inspired puzzles to unearth a conspiracy. One of the most frequent recurring puzzles, in both games, is the code wheel. Here's the one that appeared in the tenth and final rift:



If you haven't played the Assassin's Creed games and don't understand how this puzzle works, let me make it incredibly simple: you need to look at the sequence of numbers represented in the outer wheel, figure out the pattern, and use that to determine the two missing integrals. So, the sequence is as follows:

2 3 5 8 13 21 24 45 ? ?

So... what the hell is the pattern? The first six numbers seem to represent the Fibonacci sequence, in which the next number in the sequence is determined by adding the previous two. It's a little weird that it's missing the two ones at the beginning, but what's even weirder is that the pattern goes haywire after 21, jumping forward by only 3 and then making the massive leap to 45.

I studied this forever and couldn't figure it out, and I'd made it this far in both games without ever looking up a solution online. Finally, I caved. See if you can figure it out before I reveal the answer.

...

Are you ready for this?

The pattern is to multiply the tens digits in the previous two numbers, and then add the ones digits. So how do we get 24? Look at the previous two entries, 13 and 21. Multiply the tens digits. 1 x 2 = 2, therefore the next entry will start in the 20s. Then add the ones digits. 3 + 1 = 4. Hence, 24. Continue to apply this pattern and you get your solution:



I think what I ultimately don't like about this puzzle is its use (intentional or not) of the well-known Fibonacci sequence as misdirection. I get the sense that most players, like myself, will focus largely on how the numbers from 24 onward relate to the Fibonacci sequence rather than whether or not this just happens to be an entirely separate pattern. It's a very tricky puzzle, to be sure, but I kinda feel like Ubisoft was trying to be a little too clever for their own good. I don't feel guilty for looking up the solution.

Title: Hey Zipp.
Posted: November 17, 2010 (04:54 PM)
WHO THE FUCK WAS MISCAST IN INCEPTION?!

Title: Here's a movie that looks a lot better than Skyline.
Posted: November 13, 2010 (12:43 PM)
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Title: Someone help me out here.
Posted: November 09, 2010 (01:33 AM)
I'm trying to get Netflix to run on my Xbox 360, but it's telling me I need to have both my console and my computer connected to the internet at the same time for it to work.

How the fuck am I supposed to do that? The only way I can see is to have two internet connections, and who the hell has two internet connections? Anyone have any advice?
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Title: Wolf Parade @ The Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA (11/4/10)
Posted: November 07, 2010 (01:50 PM)


Language City
What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way)
Palm Road
You Are a Runner and I Am My Father's Son
Fancy Claps
Ghost Pressure
Oh You, Old Thing
Fine Young Cannibals
Cave-o-Sapien
This Heart's on Fire
I'll Believe in Anything
Pobody's Nerfect
Semi-Precious Stone
===
Cloud Shadow on the Mountain
Shine a Light
Kissing the Beehive

You know, there was this one time when a guy I follow on Twitter asked his followers for favorite bands of theirs that were disappointing live. When confronted with this question, I realized that this has never happened with me; I've been pleased with every live show I've been to. The Wolf Parade show I went to on Thursday is a great example. There were some questionable setlist choices (opening with "Language City"?) and some notable omissions (no "Dear Sons and Daughters of Hungry Ghosts"?), but what they did play absolutely came alive, and one song in particular might just be my favorite concert-going experience ever.

Surprisingly, I'd never been to the Trocadero before, and had trouble finding it. I knew it was in Chinatown (which isn't very big), but I actually walked past it a few times because the place has such a small sign. I wound up being the first person in line, which has never happened to me before. I had to wait a while, but I landed a spot right in front of the stage.



As far as I'm concerned, Expo 86 is one of the best albums of the year, but my two favorite new songs, "Yulia" and "Little Golden Age," weren't played. On the other hand, pretty much everything they did play absolutely exploded in a live setting, including a couple of songs I originally wasn't fond of, like "Cave-o-Sapien." It took a little while for the audience to get warmed up, but by the second half of the set, we were all headbanging and jumping around and having a great time.

The highlights of the set were songs from Apologies to the Queen Mary, one of my all-time favorite albums. "Runner" into "Fancy Claps" was an exciting early moment, but the high point of the show was the one-two combo of "This Heart's on Fire" and "I'll Believe in Anything." The latter is probably my favorite live song to date, as that was when the audience absolutely erupted, screaming the mass-chant-along-ready lyrics in unison. It's such a fantastic song and seeing it performed live has only raised my respect for it.

The last song of the night was "Kissing the Beehive," an eleven-minute monster of a song that made an epic closer and is easily the best track from At Mount Zoomer (from which they played very few songs). It feels like every time I go to a show nowadays, I come back calling it one of the best concerts I've ever been to, and this was no exception. It demonstrates what happens when you combine an enthusiastic crowd, an intimate venue and a band that knows how to rock the hell out.

Unfortunately, only a couple of videos of the show have popped up, and none of them are great. Here's one of "Cloud Shadow," a great example of a song I never particularly liked on record (it's just so freakin' bizarre) that really improved live:



By the way, the opening act was a Japanese band called Ogre You Asshole. Check them out, because they were awesome. More pictures from the show are here.
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Title: I made a Reach map and outside opinions would be nice. Screenshots included.
Posted: November 06, 2010 (11:41 PM)
I actually made another one earlier this week called Alcove, but it was my first Forge map and it was altogether kinda bland. The new one I've been working on is a complicated tower thing called Suskie Complex. You'll notice there aren't a lot of wide-open spaces, as it's designed for close-quarters combat and the like. It's also quite vertical if I do say so myself. You can download it directly to your system here. You're welcome to friend me and check your recommended files, too, but the above method is faster and doesn't involve you being associated with me.

As of now, the map should be Slayer-ready. I'm still learning how to sync maps to specific game variants, and while I'm not interested in objective-based stuff, I would like to have this map set up to support basic team matches. So if anyone knows how to do that, let me know.

Here are some pictures. Click on them for larger versions.

















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Title: There is an achievement in Vanquish to beat the game without dying.
Posted: October 27, 2010 (04:54 PM)
Wish me luck.
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Title: LOL.
Posted: October 25, 2010 (10:22 PM)
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Title: This video series is hilarious.
Posted: October 15, 2010 (12:05 AM)


The others are here, here and here. They're all quite amusing.
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Title: The ten best Halo levels ever.
Posted: October 01, 2010 (09:51 AM)
10. NMPD HQ (Halo 3: ODST)
9. The Arbiter (Halo 2)
8. Halo (Halo)
7. Metropolis (Halo 2)
6. Long Night of Solace (Halo: Reach)
5. Gravemind (Halo 2)
4. Tip of the Spear (Halo: Reach)
3. Assault on the Control Room (Halo)
2. The Ark (Halo 3)
1. The Silent Cartographer (Halo)
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Title: MEGA MAN LEGENDS 3
Posted: September 29, 2010 (01:01 AM)
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHOLYFUCKINGSHIT
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Title: Couldn't pass it up.
Posted: September 26, 2010 (12:29 AM)
For a limited time, Microsoft is offering a one-year Xbox Live Gold subscription for only $40. And since I recently became the owner of Halo: Reach, I decided that after several years of owning an Xbox 360, it's time to see what all the fuss is about.

Having just spent several hours playing Reach online, I'm not yet disappointed.
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Title: The guys on the Quantum Theory marketing team are gods among men.
Posted: September 24, 2010 (11:55 PM)


Also, the demo is unbelievably bad. It's like they copied everything from Gears of War except for the fun. Let's all skip this one.
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Title: Man, Bungie puts the coolest Easter eggs in their games.
Posted: September 23, 2010 (01:34 AM)


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Title: Should I pre-order Black Ops?
Posted: September 20, 2010 (07:54 PM)
topic
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Title: The effects in this music video are not as good as I remember them being.
Posted: September 20, 2010 (07:53 PM)


And he's definitely saying, "If I was green, I would die."
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Title: My Halo: Reach review...
Posted: September 17, 2010 (12:35 AM)
...isn't here. It's on Gameroni. Please give it a read if you have the chance.

By the way, just to clarify, I'd probably give the game a 9/10 on HG's rating scale, but Gameroni uses a five-point letter grade system with no plus or minus modifiers. I just wanted to point that out in case anyone thinks I'm being too generous. But yeah, awesome game.
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Title: Halo: Reach campaign first impressions... in the form of tweets.
Posted: September 14, 2010 (12:35 AM)

  • Incidentally, the last game I waited in line at midnight for was... Halo 2.

  • This place is not nearly as packed as it was in 2004. Literally took me two or three hours to get in then.

  • This would be a great time for a zombie infestation. Bunch of Halo fans crammed into a mall.

  • The Arby's next to GameStop should have stayed open tonight. Imagine how much business they'd be getting.

  • Too bad my phone can't send photos to Twitter or else I would totally tweet the copy of Halo: Reach I am holding in my hands.

  • THERE it is. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go play it. http://twitpic.com/2o9by1

  • Wait. The guys on Reach already knew who the Covenant are? I thought they were gonna be like, "SHIT WHO THE FUCK ARE THESE GUYS?!"

  • Why the hell are there ostriches everywhere? Seriously, there are ostriches everywhere.

  • Holy crap. One of the new weapons highlights enemies for artillery strike.

  • ...Okay, so it's basically just the Hammer of Dawn.

  • The Elites must have devolved in time for the original trilogy because they can fucking haul ass in this game.

  • Ugh. Remember the days when you could kill a Hunter with a single well-placed pistol round?

  • I'm glad they didn't make the main character a silent protagonist like that lameass from ODST.

  • Am I crazy, or does this old lady have Cortana's voice?

  • More tired than I wish I was. Gonna take a break. So far, this is everything I want in a Halo game.

  • Oh, except for good driving AI. That still sucks.

  • I'm still waiting for the Flood to make an unexpected and entirely unwanted appearance.

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Title: So I wrote something for Gameroni.
Posted: September 09, 2010 (07:04 PM)
It's a review of Lair of the Shadow Broker, the latest DLC for Mass Effect 2.

I promise that if writing for Gameroni becomes a regular thing, I won't resort to constant self-pimping like this. For the time being, though, it's worth it.
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Title: NSFW ad defense
Posted: September 04, 2010 (08:18 PM)
go

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