Tenfold Hate

Men in Tights
January 22, 2009, 10:17 am
Filed under: Comics, MMORPGs

There’s a lot of speculation about what the new shiny of 2009 will be. Though at best it’ll garnish nothing larger than a niche group of players (if it’s any good–or in fact, more than vaporware) I’m intrigued by Darkfall. Any move away from the gear-based, Barbie dress-up game that all major fantasy MMOs have become has potential in my book–and FFA looting ensures that your character won’t strictly be what he or she wears. I’m certainly willing to forsake somewhat outdated graphics for a change of pace–but I tend to enjoy PvP. Most don’t. And FFA looting has the potential to become very frustrating very fast depending on player culture and maturity levels.

But the big slugfest of the upcoming year will surely be between DC Universe Online and Champions. DCUO will no doubt win out on the sub side since they have the big name license and the big name company behind them. But which will be the better game?

The recently released preview of DCUO fell short in my eyes. The city (presumably Metropolis) seemed too “clean,” the character models didn’t scream “Jim Lee,” and the screen was overpopulated with glowing orbs and floating whirligigs, hearkening back to the power ups and hovering coins of arcade games of yore. I loved Crystal Castles and Double Dragon, but the thing is, I wanna forget I’m playing a video game every so often in an RPG.

Both DCUO and Champions promise an “action-oriented” game too. This is another cool idea that has yet to be executed well. One of them has gotta pull it off, right? But let’s get back to the subject at hand–MMORPGs–and what they’ve been sorely lacking. Story.

Now before you start up, I don’t wanna hear how the Death Knight is really cool and Blizzard really outdid themselves with adding quirky quests and fun twists to WoTLK. Stitches by any other name is still Stitches and I’ve been there, done that, it was fun, but it’s over.

This is where Champions hooks me in. Their Nemesis system allows you to create an archenemy for your hero who plays a significant role in your game play. Now this creates some solid potential for unique storytelling, one that moves away from the cookie cutter quest lines we’ve all been ushered through for the last half decade. You’ll not only be able to customize your character with an even greater breadth than Cryptic gave us in CoH, but you’ll be able to customize your powers and how they look.

The main thing that troubles me with superhero MMOs is that I’ve never found it an adequate fit for existing MMO conventions, like the tank/healer/DPS archetypes or the raid/dungeon crawl-reskinned-as-instanced-evil-scientist’s-underground-lair-crawl. Since those mechanics are so rooted in fantasy tabletop RPGs, they’ve always seemed strangely forced to me in any other genre.

New Wolverine Trailer
December 15, 2008, 4:04 pm
Filed under: Comics, Film

I’m approaching this spring’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine with severe reservations, based mostly on the extreme suck that was the third installment of the X-Men franchise. But I’ve gotta say, this trailer has piqued my interest. First off, if I’d been editor-in-chief at Marvel in the early nineties, I’d have squelched fleshing out Wolverine’s origins in the first place. I always thought his story played out better veiled in mystery than the stories of Victorian-era Canada fleshed out during a time when Marvel really hit an all-time low in terms of storytelling.

Anyway, this trailer is a mine field of nods to comic book geekdom, which I’m always a sucker for. However, this is dangerous territory, because it provides enough filler to make a trailer look awesome without suggesting any substantial plot. You’ll notice everyone from Emma Frost and the Blob to a young Storm and Gambit making cameos. But nods to nerd-dom does not a movie make–that’s where Last Stand failed. They culled superficial elements of X-lore, put them all in a blender, and added explosions.

Hopefully Jackman and company can flesh out a coherent, gripping story that doesn’t pee all over the existing lore, something Last Stand was not able to do on any level. Liev Schreiber looks like a great choice for Sabretooth and I always find Hugh Jackman likeable. And from the brief clips of them together, the two actors nail that antagonistic anti-chemistry Logan and Creed have for each other.

It’s hard to say what the worst Marvel adaptation has been. For me it’s a three-way tie for last between Fantastic Four, Elektra, and Spider-man 3.

Check out the trailer here!

Renowned Comic Creator Crankier Than MMORPG Bloggers?
November 12, 2008, 12:26 pm
Filed under: Comics, Film

You be the judge.

I agree with Moore’s criticism of Hollywood as a vampiric machine that spoon-feeds moviegoers utter crap and all–especially when comic book licenses are concerned, but putting a hex on a movie?

I think Zack Snyder did a great job with his Dawn of the Dead remake. He was able to perform that difficult juggling act of maintaining the essence of the original while freshening the material and making it his own. Most directors fail miserably trying.

Sure, we’re not gonna get a frame-by-frame recreation of the graphic novel in all of it’s intricacies, but I think Snyder has proven he has the talent and enthusiasm for the subject matter to capture the spirit of Watchmen without peeing all over the source material.

Heck, it’s guaranteed to be better than The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Sam Mendes Set to Bring “Preacher” to the Screen
October 30, 2008, 9:21 am
Filed under: Comics, Film

Sam Mendes, the guy who directed American Beauty, Road to Perdition, and Jarhead is slated to bring Garth Ennis’ comic book series Preacher to the silver screen. I’m happy to see another quality, non-schlock director at the helm of another quality, non-schlock comic book adaptation. Probably best known in mainstream comic book circles for his Punisher revamp, Ennis is a very talented writer who is worth reading.

Preacher has a unique, bastardized, Southern gothic feel to it, telling the story of a modern day preacher travelling through the west (accompanied by a former girlfriend and an Irish vampire) in search of God, who seems to have abandoned Heaven. Many supernatural hijinx ensue. I’m pretty sure you can pick up the whole run in a series of handy trade paperback collections.

One of my favorite mainstream Ennis storylines that many people seem to have missed is Marvel’s Thor: Vikings. It’s about a cursed Viking ship doomed to roam the seas for all eternity that washes ashore in NYC. The undead vikings start to do what they do best (rape and pillage) while beating the crap out of the Avengers in the process.

At its heart, Thor: Vikings IS a Thor story, and a damn good one. I never quite bought Thor in the Marvel Universe. I mean, why would a Norse god speak in Shakespearean English? He never seemed believable to me–even in a fantastic universe where folks don tights and swing from buildings. Though Walt Simonson’s run on Mighty Thor in the eighties was a lot of fun in an over-the-top, traditionally “comic booky” way, it was more Simonson’s fantastic visual style that appealed to me than the stories themselves.

Ennis gives the character three-dimesions and made me really root for him, as the normally omnipotent man-god finds himself defenseless against the viking invaders and must find a resolution outside of his brute strength and otherworldly wamma-jamma.

With a story rich in history, folklore, and mythology, I highly recommend Thor: Vikings–especially to hesitant fantasy fans who may have never caught onto the whole men-in-day-glo-tights-fighting-crime thing but want to jump into comics.

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Dark Knight Trailer Leaked Online
December 14, 2007, 4:04 pm
Filed under: Comics, Film

Apparently, someone whipped out their camera phone at the midnight premier of I Am Legend Thursday night and captured the Web’s first peak of The Dark Knight trailer. The quality is shoddy at best, but a must see for any Batman enthusiast. It probably won’t be around for long–seems that Warner Bros. has their internet bloodhounds on the case. Catch it if you can.

Director Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger manage to capture the Joker in all his deranged, psychotic glory from what I’ve seen. Perhaps it can erase Jack Nicholson’s portly, polished, pale interpretation of the character from pop culture memory once and for all.

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