Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Top 10 Anticipated Games of 2010 Follow-Up

Well since we are starting into August, I thought it was high time to do a bit of a follow-up to the list I did at the beginning of the year on the CWTC blog regarding my most anticipated games of 2011. I outlined 10 games slated for release this year, and why it was I was looking forward to them. Now that the year is a bit more than half over, let’s see what kind of progress we have made on that list I put together back in December. In addition to that, I am including a mini demo review of a game that while it didn’t make my personal top 10, it was one that a lot of people have been waiting a long time for.

11. Demo Review- Duke Nukem Forever

This game has been a long time coming. Twelve years in fact, stuck in development hell and passed around from developer to developer. Now it’s here. I know the full game is out now, but I am going from the demo, which I played at my sister’s the other day. Let me say, I’m not impressed. Welcome to yet another modern first person shooter, to join the countless ranks already present. Well, this one is a little different. It’s incredibly crude and juvenile. If you’re looking for crude humor that’s got some wit to it, this is not your game. This is middle-school, sniggering teenage boy in sex ed humor. I didn’t have high hopes for the game when it begins with you having the option to use a urinal, or fling feces if you’re inclined. Sorry Duke, I’m not sure it was worth the wait. Give it a try if you’re a fan, but if you’re not, I’d say skip it.

10. Max Payne 3

Much like poor Duke Nukem above, this game has been rumoured and floating around for years. Unlike Duke Nukem, we’re still waiting to see if Max will get a third instalment. Apparently the game is still in development, but who knows when, if it ever, gets released. So we’ll have to see.

9. Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword

This one we are still waiting on, as it is scheduled for Q4 of this year. Also, I’m still without a Wii console, so that might make things tricky.

8. Batman: Arkham City

I’m sure the Cynic and/or I will let you all know how this one is when it comes out in October. Until then, there is a five-issue comic arc that connects this to the first game written by Paul Dini (for anyone not in the know, the writer from Batman: The Animated Series, as well as the first game and much, much more). If we can get our hands on said comics, I’m sure the Cynic will let you all know how they are.

7. Marvel vs. Capcom 3

I hate to say it, but this game was rather disappointing. It was bare, with few features to make it stand out, and did not live up to the legacy of the first two games. The art style was pretty cool, using similar graphics to Street Fighter IV, but the lack of play modes really dragged it down. Now apparently there is an ultimate edition coming in November with new character, modes, and stages, stuff which probably should have been in the game to begin with. At least we still have Marvel vs. Capcom 2 (thank you X-Box Live!)

6. Star Wars: The Old Republic

And here I was itching to get back into MMO’s. This game has been pushed back, at least to around Christmas time, although next year wouldn’t surprise me either. So we go back to the waiting game. I guess I’ll just have to be patient about getting my Twi’lek Jedi Guardian. *sigh*

5. Portal 2

Now I should have already played this game. Unfortunately, there was a bunch of moving BS and gaming kind of got pushed to the back burner. Now that things have calmed down, I will try and get my hands on this and see how it is. I’m still very excited for this game, and hopefully can give it a try soon.

4. Mass Effect 3

Everybody who wanted this for Christmas, put it on your Easter lists instead. We’re looking at next March before we get to play our Shepards through the third and final game of the series. While it sucks we have to wait a couple extra months, I believe it will all be worth it in the end. And it gives me a chance to do a few more ME and ME2 run-throughs, not to mention some of that DLC.

3. Diablo III

If I know Blizzard, I’d say don’t expect this anytime soon. Beta testing is projected to begin Q3 of this year. ’Nuff said. Still, very excited, as I recently began playing Diablo II again and I can’t wait for my lady Barbarian so I can wreak havoc.

2. Mortal Kombat

I’ve already written my views on that game, so I’ll reiterate. Holy shit! This is a fighting game. This is what Marvel vs. Capcom 3 should have been. This is Mortal Kombat and fighting games at their finest, no doubt about that. Even Roland loved it, and he’ll still exclaim ‘Kaba!’ whenever he sees something MK related. As soon as we can, this is a definite buy. And to Netherrealm Studios: you guys did a beyond awesome job. Thanks for giving one of my favorite franchises the love it deserves.

1. Dragon Age II

Now this game met with mixed reviews. But I’ve made my opinions perfectly clear. BioWare characters suck me in, the cultures suck me in, and the voice acting is always superb. Really, you don’t need to hear me gush any more.

So there you have it folks, a quick rundown of my anticipated games of this year and how they've turned out so far. Stay tuned for updates as I will talk about the forthcoming games as they are released, or as we get closer to said release dates. Cause really, that's about all we can do.

Until next time!

(Sorry about the lack of pictures. The slow as molasses dial-up internet makes the process almost impossible.)

Friday, July 29, 2011

30 (Day) Song Challenge

Since I've been away from the blog for awhile, I thought I would do something up while I have the opportunity. The Cynic did one of these for movies on the CWTC blog a little while ago, and that got me thinking. However, music is more my thing, so I found the music version of the 30 day challenge, and let's get cracking!

1. Your Favorite Song- Foolin' by Def Leppard
My favorite song of the moment changes by day, but overall, I have to go with Foolin'. Given that Def Leppard is my favorite band, that should be no surprise. My first Leppard album was Pyromania, taped from vinyl backwards so this was the first song. I just love it every time I hear it, and I've even had the privilege to see it performed live twice. You can't beat it.

2. Your Least Favorite Song- Blah, Blah, Blah by K$sha
This has got to be the most irritating, grating, sonic assault on the planet. From the inane, trashy lyrics, to the cringe-worthy beat to Kesha's nails-on-a-chalkboard vocals you just want to stick sharp pencils in your ears. Yuck.

3. A Song that Makes You Happy- Still Alive from the game Portal
The female robot boss from the game Portal singing a cheerful little song about how you didn't actually manage to kill her. Twisted, but you can't help but smile. A close second to this would be the level music from Plants vs. Zombies with is both cute and cheerful, just like the plants themselves.

4. A Song that Makes You Sad- the Christmas Shoes song
I don't know who sings this, but it has got to be the saddest, most depressing song ever. The worst part is that it's a Christmas song. I nearly started bawling at work one time when this was on (although I was pregnant). But even now, it's still way to sad, especially for a season that's supposed to be about joy.

5. A Song that Reminds you of Someone- Sister Christian by Night Ranger
This is kind of an in joke between me and my sister, and this song makes me think of her everytime.

6. A Song that Reminds you of Somewhere- Crazy Bitch by Buckcherry
This song was huge when I still went to the bar. Couldn't really think of anything else.

7. A Song that Reminds you of a Certain Event- Rock On by Def Leppard
I remember seeing this song live at my first ever concert. I remember how the title clicked (it's a cover of the old David Essex song) during Rick Savage's bass intro. Good times.

8. A Song you Know All the Words To- anything by Def Leppard
I know the words to lots and lots and lots of songs lol.

9. A Song that You Can Dance To- Stricken by Disturbed
For some reason I have to at least bob my head to this song. I don't 'dance' per se, as I lack the coordination. Something about it makes me want to move.

10. A Song That Makes You Fall Asleep- Your Body is a Wonderland by John Mayer
I am NOT a fan of the 'frat guy with a guitar' type of music, and something about John Mayer is alternatively irritating and boring. This song is both, with an emphasis on boring. Come on man, pick up the friggin' pace on this one, or wake me up once it's done.

11. A Song From Your Favorite Band- Work it Out by Def Leppard
A great song with a cool video from an underappreciated album (Slang). Well worth checking out.

12. A Song from a Band You Hate- Viva La Vida by Coldplay
I hate Coldplay with the fiery passion of a thousand burning suns.

13. A Song that is a Guilty Pleasure- E.T (Futuristic Lover) by Katy Perry
My sister played this one for me earlier today. I'm referring to the non-Kanye version. Katy Perry's singing is overwrought and the lyrics are beyond silly, but I kinda dig the beat. I feel dirty now.

14. A Song that No One Would Expect you to Love- Step Into the Light by Darren Hayes
I was hooked on Darren Hayes from the first Savage Garden album and into his solo career. I know a lot of people see me as solely a classic rock/metalhead, but here is where I make an exception. This is no guilty pleasure, I genuinely love his music and I have no problem proclaiming it.

15. A Song that Describes You- Livin' After Midnight by Judas Priest
Simply for my night owl ways, not so much the all-night partying (any more lol).

16. A Song that You Used to Love But now Hate- What I've Done by Linkin Park
Now I don't think I hate this song, but think it's just kind of blah. It just seems a waste of the talents of the whole band. It's meh at best.

17. A Song You Hear Often on the Radio-Sorry to say, but I don't listen to the radio

18. A Song you Wish You Heard on the Radio- Indestructible by Disturbed
I never hear any Disturbed on the radio. Someone should change that.

19. A Song from Your Favorite Album- Touch of Evil by Judas Priest
If I had to go on favorite album by how many times I've listened to it, it would be Painkiller due to the fact it makes excellent driving music so it's put on in the car a lot. And Roland likes it.

20. A Song You Listen to When Your Angry- Mein Teil by Rammstein
There is nothing better for a bad mood than Rammstein. You just let it wash over you, rock out, and then you feel better.

21. A Song You Listen to When Your Happy- Trust by Megadeth
I've become quite a bit of a Megadeth fan in the last little while. It's always a good time for Megadeth.

22. A Song You Listen to When Your Sad- I just listen to whatever I usually listen to. I song I listened to that made me sad was when I heard Bon Jovi on the country station. That was a sad day indeed.

23. A Song that You Want to Play at Your Wedding- My Curse by Killswitch Engage
It's mine and the Cynic's song. It will be played.
I also would put Angel by Judas Priest here too.

24. A Song that You Want to Play at Your Funeral- A Tout le Monde by Megadeth ft. Cristina Scabbia
Good song and it would fit.

25. A Song that Makes You Laugh- S&M by Rihanna.
Thanks to one Todd in the Shadows from, I can't hear this song without cracking up. Especially the chorus. Totally ruined the song but totally worth it. (you can watch his review here)

26. A Song that You Can Play on an Instrument- none. I can't carry a tune in a suitcase.

27. A Song You Wish you Could Play- Gods of War by Def Leppard
I would love to play this on guitar.

28. A Song that Makes YOu Feel Guilty- I don't know of any song that makes me feel guilty. That's a weird question.

29. A Song From Your Childhood- Don't Turn Around by Ace of Base
Roxette + ABBA = Ace of Base. I remember when this song was big. Did I really listen to this crap? Well, I guess we all did.

30. Your Favorite Song at this time last year- probably the same as it is right now lol. This time last year I was getting pretty excited for Disturbed's Asylum album, so I was picking up whatever there was to be had from that.

Monday, May 9, 2011

This Is Going to Get Ugly- A Review of Lady Gaga's "Judas"

So in lieu of the fact we spent quite literally all day in the car (we looked at an apartment and applied for some jobs two hours away. Moving is fun!), we are taking it easy tonight on the cleaning, packing, and organizing. So I figured I'd hack out a new blog for you guys. And so, because the computer is acting up (apparently the hard drive is going) and won't let me open Microsoft Word or Movie Maker so I can work on our Flood Watch video, I'm going to do a little written version of my "This is Going to Get Ugly" segment. Cue the Megadeth intro!

Today we are going to talk about Lady Gaga. Now, I've been avoiding talking about her because 1) it's too damn easy 2) As a metalhead/classic rocker, I can already hear the whining about how "mean" I am and how I don't "get her", 3) I have friends that like Lady Gaga, 4) I try to respect people's opinions on music even if I personally loathe that particular thing and 5) I don't listen to pop music, and for the most part, don't like it, therefore, I don't feel particularly qualified to talk about it. That being said, I think we need to have a little talk about this particular song, Ms. Gaga.

Now Ms. Gaga, or Lady, whatever you prefer, I think it's time we had a chat. And no, I think enough people have pointed out the whole debacle about this song sounding like this one and this one. I'm not even going to talk about the awful "Born this Way" single cover that looks like a bad Photoshop rip off of the Painkiller cover. It's okay, I'll leave that one alone for now. We're going to talk about your song "Judas".

You can say what you like about my musical tastes, and how I should shut my cake-hole, as I am not a fan of pop music to begin with. But honey, this is a horrible mess. First off, let's talk about the autotune. To be honest with you, I didn't understand a single word you said while that shitty gimmick was being used. It's awful, and we both know you're better than that. I've heard you sing with none of this noise accompanying you, and you've got a decent set of pipes on you. So why you use that horrible autotune is beyond me. And don't give me that "everyone else is doing it!" B.S, I'm a mom, that shit doesn't fly with me.

Second, we need to do something about that background noise. That's all it is, an ugly jumble of noise. The chorus is fine (maybe because it sounds more like that other artists, whatshersname?), but everything else is just a discordant mess . And the chanting and yowling? I'm unsurprised, but still disappointed. That's just a lazy way to make filler that sounds like it has some meaning. I have no problem with such things, but when it takes up half the song, it really feels like you just wanted to pad it out because you don't actually have anything to say but needed to fill time.

Okay, and here's the big one. I didn't want to bring this up again after I mentioned it earlier, but we have to talk about this lyrics, Lady. After I looked them up because I didn't understand half of them, the other half that isn't lazy padding is... problematic. Now, I know you come from a genre where songs don't really need to have any kind of meaning, and I understand that. What I'm saying is that be that as it may, a bunch of incoherent thoughts and biblical references thrown randomly together does not a song make. Now I know you're going for the whole shock value thing, being all controversial and such, but at least make a statement that we can understand. Speaking of the shock value, the whole releasing the single around Easter. Now I'm not some evangelical bible-thumper or anything. I believe what I do and respect other people's beliefs and would never seek to push my own agenda on others. But really? Releasing a song called "Judas", with that accompanying video, around Easter? I think that might be a little much, even for you. But perhaps that's just my opinion and I will digress.

I'm not going to talk abut the video. I'm just going to pass along the suggestion that maybe you should look into some new dance moves. It's just, it's the same ones from every other music video I've seen of yours. I'm just saying, if you're going to market your physical image so heavily, you might want to go a little further than how to incorporate the things you find in the alley behind your house into your wardrobe. Food for thought, perhaps?

Well Lady Gaga, I'm glad we've had this talk. I'm not saying any of this to be mean, I just want to put some thoughts out there for consideration.

Okay, no more writing in that ridiculous conversation-style. These are just my thoughts, and you are free to disagree. I welcome any comments/thoughts. Even the angry ones. It's all cool.

Till then, I am your rather tired Scholar, and I told you this was going to get ugly.

(For srs, if you want to listen to something with "Judas" in the title and features amazing talent, go listen to some Judas Priest. There is no questioning the superior vocal abilities of one Mr. Rob Halford, nor the melodic abilities of the rest of the band.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

First Thoughts: Mortal Kombat (2011)

So I got a chance the other day to give this game a whirl. And I think I can sum up my feelings on this game with this image:


Now I liked that last entry into the series (Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe) but it was just missing that extra something that makes MK so magical. Hardcore violence and fatalities of epic proportions, of course! and MK 2011 makes up for this in spades. Netherrealm Studios (formerly Midway) brings MK back to it's roots in some aspects, but keeps the good from previous games later in the series, such as Deception, Armageddon, and MK vs. DC.

First off, this game is a hard M rating, there is no two ways about it. Some people will get up in arms about this and bitch, but really, this is the game franchise responsible for the ESRB, what did you expect? Add to that the fact that the ladies barely wear enough to cover their naughty bits in most cases. So if you have some sort of moral objection, now is the time to quit reading.

For those of you still with me, let's take a quick look at the game. You have a total of 27 playable characters (on the PS3 version there is a bonus "guest" character. No such love for us on the 360) . I would show you a picture of the roster, but I can't seem to find one that doesn't include a massive spoiler that I don't want to give away.
These are the various awesome playable game modes:
1) Story mode with 16 chapters. Similar to MK vs. DC where you play a different character each chapter
2) Tournament ladder with unique endings for each character
3) Training mode
4) Challenge Tower- a 300-mission behemoth where you do various fights and other challenges for Koins and an ultimate reward.
5) Fatality Training mode- to practice your all your favorite finishers
6) Mini-games- Test Your Might, Test Your Sight, Test Your Luck, and Test Your Strike.
7) Online- with a King of the Hill mode where XBox 360 players can actually import their avatars to use while watching matches.
8) The Krypt- where you can spend all those hard earned Koins on various unlockables

Fatalities- each character has two Fatalities in the game, as well as the humorous babalities. There was a rumor Friendships would be included, but it appears that is all it turned out to be. Along with this is the X-ray attack, a kind of supermove that shows the internal damage caused by the various hits of the combo (which does more damage that usual). It is charged on a bar at the bottom of the screen, similar to the way the slamming move charges in the Ghostbusters game (2009). These are rendered with care and brutality, showing bones breaking and organs destroyed.

part of Raiden's X-Ray Attack- a skull- cracking good time!

Gameplay is overall very good, and easy to pick up. The moves list now shows the Fatality combos, which is really nice. The fighting is back on a 2-D plane, so anyone tired of side-stepping and 3-D arenas can breathe easy. Classic stages such as The Pit, the Living Forest, and the Dead Pool all make a comeback (among many others), as do the Stage Fatalities where applicable. The game, for all it's new features and shiny new look, will feel like an old friend to long-time fans of the franchise.

The story- the story is kind of like the new Star Trek movie, in that the timeline of the MK universe is altered. It begins immediately after the events of Armageddon before moving back in time and you essentially replay the first three Mortal Kombat games with a vastly different outcome as Raiden tries to avoid that particular future. A very cool concept, and I am very excited to see how they go forward with this into further games.

My only complaint is some of the character models look goofy in game. Raiden looks awesome, like they just lifted him out of MK vs. DC. Kung Lao and Liu Kang in particular look a bit off, it's something in the facial renders, they don't look good. Some of Kitana's expressions are as well. They're just kind of ugly, to be honest, although when fighting you don't really notice. Favorites like Sub-Zero and Scorpion look really good though, as do all the ladies (minus Kitana's funny faces sometimes). One of my favorite looks for this game is Ermac, who looks badass and menacing, and with a very cool alternate costume that can be unlocked (as you can do for all characters- except for Mileena who has 4 different costumes).

So my final verdict? GO PLAY. NOW. This game is amazing, and for Mortal Kombat fans, a great entry into the franchise. This makes up for every wuss out "Heroic Brutality" we had to put up with in MK vs. DC. It's also an interesting story, can Raiden really change the past and prevent Armageddon? What is the cost of this alteration? Where does the story go from here? There is a ton of content here, and this game truly exemplifies why Mortal Kombat is (in my mind, at least) superior to all other fighting games. Is it brutal? Hells yes! And that's just the way Mortal Kombat should be.

To end this I'll leave you with two things. First is the most kick-ass use of a techno beat ever:

The second is a bit of my own personal geekdom. I got this done about three years ago. This is what it looked like brand new (it's the best pic of it I have lol):

Well that's all for now folks! See you next time!

*EDIT*- Forgot to throw this on too. Mortal Kombat: Legacy!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Top 10 Most Metal Songs

Hey everyone, to make up for my absence for the past week or so, I've compiled a bit of a Top 10 list for your enjoyment. So here are my Top 10 songs (and 2 honorable mentions) that embody the spirit of metal. As a note, I have a fairly picky description of what counts as metal and that had a bit of an effect on the list. But with so many great metal acts out there, it wasn't hard to fill a top 10. I chose songs that I thought embodied the idea of heavy metal. I'm sure we won't necessarily agree, this is just my opinion. So enjoy the list for what it is, a celebration of great music. :D

Honorable Mention 1: Progenies of the Great Apocalypse- Dimmu Borgir

I first heard this song playing the game Brutal Legend. And I was blown away, it was so huge and operatic, I wasn't expecting it. What kills it for me is the vocals. I'm not a fan of the death-metal guttural snarl vocal-style. I have nothing against any of those elements, but I guess I'm just picky I like to be able to understand what the hell a vocalist is saying. But then at about the 2 minute mark, something amazing happens. Beautiful, soaring vocals from guest singer Abbath from the band Immortal. Why couldn't the whole song be sung like that?

Honorable Mention 2: For Whom the Bell Tolls- Metallica

For some reason, I tend to rag on Metallica. I really don't know why, it's not like I don't like them. But I suppose that's neither here nor there. Maybe I'm a bad metalhead for putting them in the honorable mentions, but that's just how things turned out. I really liked the album Ride the Lightning, and this song is probably my favorite Metallica song. I mean, it was inspired by an Ernest Hemingway novel, which I think is really cool. I love it when songs are about something, especially when it's a little more profound than booze, sex, and partying (I'm looking at you pop music), not that I don't like those kind of songs as well, but something a little deeper is always nice.

10: Back At the Funny Farm- Motorhead

This is another song featured in Brutal Legend (this game's soundtrack is phenomenal!). This is a very fun song, a tongue-in-cheek kind of song about an insane asylum. I included this song, not just because of how awesome it is, but to show how not all metal is all doom, scary things, and evil. A lot of new bands (especially in the doom/death/black genre) have gone this way in regards to look, style, and lyrics, but metal can be a lot of fun too. Ace of Spades may be more well-known, but by all means, look into this song too!

9. Beautiful Mourning- Machine Head

I'll admit, the first time I heard people talking about listening to Machine Head, I thought they meant the Deep Purple album. Then I heard some of their stuff. This is a great song because it mixes the shouting-screaming type of metal with the more soaring lyrics I mentioned earlier. And you can understand what he's talking about throughout. I don't listen to a lot of newer bands, especially in metal, but this is one group I will gladly make exception for. This song is on the album The Blackening, which also contains the song Aesthetics of Hate, which I am going to make a post about later, so it doesn't crowd out this article.

8. When Darkness Falls- Killswitch Engage

Killswitch Engage is a band that the Cynic and I got each other into. When we first started dating, I don't recall who started it, but someone sent the other a song, and a few others followed. Then I went out and bought an album. The rest is history. This is the newest band on this list, and incorporates the screaming-and-singing style much like Machine Head. They also do a pretty nifty cover of Dio's Holy Diver. And Killswitch is great driving music, too!

7. The Trooper- Iron Maiden

Ah, The Trooper. The song is about the Battle of Balaclava in 1854, and inspired by Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson. And it's by Iron Maiden. So naturally it found it's way onto this list. I'm not sure what else needs to be said. This one is stood out to me for this list over personal favorites like Fear of the Dark, I can't really explain it. So just enjoy the song :D

6. Dawn of Battle- Manowar

I'll admit it, I'm a big fantasy, swords-and-sorcery geek. Enter Manowar, a band whose discography is rife with mythology, battle, fantasy, and Norse themes. And you can call me sold. If this song doesn't get your blood pumping, you should probably go check and make sure you still have a pulse. Epic and with a touch of thrash, you can't go wrong with Manowar.

5. A New Level- Pantera

Now Pantera is more the Cynic's thing, but this is probably my favorite of their songs. It's so heavy it assails you and beats you into the ground. And you'll love it. With it's raw power and aggression, A New Level is a no-brainer for this list. Really, it speaks for itself better than I can. If you like, also check out this cover done by Five Finger Death Punch for the album Getcha Pull: A Tribute to Dimebag Darrell.

4. Holy Wars... The Punishment Due- Megadeth

As with most of the bands on this list, how do you pick just one song? This was an issue I had with Megadeth. Sometimes it just comes down to listening to a few songs and going "this is the one". That's what happened here. The frenetic pace and solo of this particular song won it out over others. If you need a reason why Megadeth is part of the Big Four of Thrash, look no further than Holy Wars... The Punishment Due. Speaking of which, the Cynic and I both very highly recommend the Big 4 DVD as an excellent investment for any metal fan (my favorite performances: Megadeth and Anthrax).

3. Reise, Reise- Rammstein

This was the second Rammstein song I ever heard, and the one that made me utterly fall in love with the band. Between the epic feel, the heavy as hell guitars, and Till Lindemann's incredible vocals, I knew I must have more. The fact that they sing almost exclusively in German just makes them more awesome. This song found me at just at the right moment, when I had begun to look to metal to build upon my classic rock roots (I didn't really get into metal until I moved out on my own, minus a few bands I would consider more like hard rock now). This song, indeed this whole album, is one I have no qualms about recommending you look into, if not acquire outright. For lyric translations, I found a great site here for that.

2. Iron Man- Black Sabbath

You can't have a list of metal songs and NOT include one from the progenitors of the genre. This song grinds like a train inexorably towards it's finale: a rocking, minute and a half, instrumental outro. Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne have long been synonymous with heavy metal, so this choice is a no-brainer.

And finally....

1. Painkiller- Judas Priest

If you want a song that's metal personified, it's Painkiller. From the pounding bass and drums (see the Cynic attempt to play the drum chart here) to the alternatively screaming and rhythmic guitars, accentuated by Rob Halford's glass-shattering shriek, this song is pure fucking metal. One could argue that other Judas Priest or Halford songs might be heavier, like Judas Rising or The Mower, but there's something in the way Painkiller just grabs you right from the opening drums to the last second without ever letting up that just gives it the edge. You cannot listen to a single second of this song and not know that it is pure, undiluted metal. Only another progenitor of the genre (in look as well as sound) could get past the others and be my number 1.

I hope you've all enjoyed this list. I love music and I love sharing great songs with all of you. Now, if you'll indulge me, I will leave you with one last song. Due to an unforgivable oversight on my part, this list is devoid of the late, great, Ronnie James Dio. Allow me to fix that. So, as a special bonus, Heaven and Hell by Dio-fronted Black Sabbath. I hope you enjoy all the music and we'll see you next time, as I will try to post more regularly again.

And the dates are showing up screwy again. This was actually posted April 16th at 12:41am. Bah.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Of Value Village Hauls and New Family Additions

So this was supposed to be a new P.M.S Cooks! but instead I thought I'd do something a little fluffier. We went to Value Village yesterday, and I think I made out pretty good. I figured while I was at it I could show off some really awesome things I got there a little while ago. Also, the Cynic and I became Aunt and Uncle for the second time yesterday, and I have a little pseudo-craft to go along with that.

Okay, so for the haul. Well, I dunno if you'd call three things a haul, but I will for the purpose of this post. First was this:

I'd like to try and get my hair kind of the way it was when it was cut. So I found this straightener (which even matches my hair dryer! :O ) and I will give it a go.

The second thing is something I've wanted for a while, but could never find in my size. Yay shoes!

These are not quite my dream shoe, but they are damn close. It's ridiculous, no one seems to carry red heels in sizes 9 1/2-10. It sucks. That's why I was so happy to find these.

This next thing is a sweet piece of geekdom if I may say so:

An original Episode IV VHS? Yes please! And in good shape, too. It was just too cool to pass up.

That leads to me the next thing. I actually bought it quite a while ago but put it in a safe pocket in my purse and didn't find it again until yesterday. Oops lol.

Simple and pretty. I've been reading Lord of the Rings lately, and it makes me think of the elven cloak pins from Lothlorien. Yeah, I know, I'm a big dork. But I like it.

Now, as I mentioned at the beginning, the Cynic and I became an Aunt and Uncle for the second time. So I'd like to congratulate the Cynic's brother and sister-in-law on the new arrival. As I did when my sister had her little guy last fall, I put together a little something for our new nephew (lol, it's 3/3 for boys so far). Here's a quick rundown, and it's more or less the same thing as I did last time.

This is what I started with. Clockwise from the top left: a basket, tub toys, ribbon, cute onsie, bib, cute charm with baby's name (I used a soother last time as I couldn't find a name charm), towel, and bear with a "congratulations" cupcake.

Everything got packed in nice and tight, as it will have a bit of a trip ahead of it. But it was arranged to make a nice little nest in the center.

Which was a perfect little spot for the bear to sit nice and comfortably. Also stably, and less likely to fall out.
And then the final touches:

Don't mind my foot in the picture lol. The ribbon is actually gold, but the flash from the camera with the blue basket turned it that funky purple in the picture. I like the little charm, I wish I could have found one for my other nephew (although he got a nice new soother that I think he got more use out of, to be honest). So there it is, a simple gift basket for baby. I know you can buy them pre-made, but I like putting together my own, to make it more personal and less matchy-matchy, mass-produced feeling.

Well I was going to put up some records I got a while ago, but I think that will have to be a separate post. Maybe I'll do a post of my vinyl collection. We'll see. Anyways, I WILL do that P.M.S Cooks! next, I promises. So look out for that very soon. Maybe tomorrow!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I'm doing science and I'm Still Alive...

Sorry for being MIA this past week or so. Between overhauling the apartment, the last round of baby needles, and trying to finish Dragon Age II, it's been busy here at CWTC headquarters. As it is, I'm behind about two P.M.S Cooks! posts, and at least one LOTD. I will see about getting those up as soon as I can.

So I did finally finish Dragon Age II tonight. Tonight I started right at endgame and finished up the first go through. And damn. There are two words I would use to sum up this game: intense and emotional. This one pulls at your emotions far more than Origins, the choices seem more dire and consequential. It was also a lot darker than Origins, which a lot of people are complaining about. I'm not. Sure, it could use more of the levity that Origins had, but I like that it's different that way. I love how engaging the characters are as well, though I will admit there were a couple of characters I didn't really like. Oddly enough, the ones I wasn't crazy about are two of the more popular ones: Isabela and Fenris. They just didn't jive for me (and truth be honest, Fenris' voice didn't get me as hot and bothered as apparently it should have *hides from fangirl mob). I will firmly put myself in Teams Anders and Varric, however. Anyways, I won't go too far into it as I plan on putting up a video review for the game very soon.

In other gaming news, I was browsing the XBox Live Arcade and downloaded a game I've been meaning to check out: Costume Quest.

This game is brought to us by Double Fine, the team who also brought us the fantastically heavy metal mayhem of Brutal Legend. I began playing this, and did so for quite a while before switching over to DA:II. And what do I think? I think you should go try it! This game is adorable, with great humor and a neat story. The controls are a snap, and the combat is really fun (even though I loathe turn-based combat). It's a really great game, and the full version only runs for 600 MS points! It is the cutest, most unabashedly tongue-in-cheek, fun time of an Arcade RPG that you could ask for. I'm not far in, but I will already recommend it!

In other news, I got my hair cut! Yay! Well, maybe that isn't as exciting to you as it is to me. Maybe this makes me the most pathetic fangirl, but I really liked the default Lady Hawke's hair style. And given that her face is rendered in about the same shape as mine, I figured I could pull it off. Truth be told, I'd been looking for something to do with my hair for a while. So here was the result:

It's slightly modified from the original, but I like it.

Compared to one of the pictures I took in

I like it sooooo much better. Out of the way, washing and brushing is ridiculously easy, and looks good. Can't complain!

Oh, I almost forgot! Did you see my new widget up in the right corner? That's our (mine and the Cynic's) shared Gamertag on XBox Live. Clicking on it will take you to the XBox website where you can check out our games and compare them with yours and generally see what we've played (minus the demos, of course).

So that's the news. I will attempt to get a P.M.S Cooks! up tomorrow. And there will be a new video coming up soon! Till then, I leave you with GLaDOS, because who isn't excited for Portal 2?*

*Although it drops the same week as Mortal Kombat, and so I am torn. But if I had to choose only one, I would go with MK.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

P.M.S Review and St. Patty's LOTD

Hey everyone, just a couple of quick things today. First, Happy St. Patrick's Day to all of you, whether Irish today or everyday!

He'll drink to that!

Our first order of business is a quick product review. Yay! I haven't really done one of these before, other than when I was showing off my new makeup. So here goes.

Now that we are planning an upcoming change of scenery (this Scholar is going back to school in the fall!), my budget for non-essential beauty stuff is basically back to nil. But, I have been looking for a cream or moisturizer or something for my face because it gets dry around my nose, cheeks, and forehead. Unfortunately, it's also oily, so I break out (hence why I don't use foundation 99.9% of the time. I also didn't want to spend $20 on a tiny pot of stuff that might not even work (my usual face-washing stuff doesn't). I happened to be in the local dollar store cruising for random stuff and came across this:

It's called Delon Daily Moisturizer (for face and body) With Shimmer. It's also says Oceanus, which I assume refers to the fragrance. Since it was only a buck, I figured what the hell and picked it up.

It smells really nice. It's unfortunately kind of hard to describe, but it's not overpowering, just a nice light scent. It goes on nicely and doesn't feel greasy or sticky, which is a big thing for me as I can't stand that. The sparkle/shimmer looks nice, noticeable, but not as bad as the fallout from when I do my makeup.

But does it moisturize? The answer to that is a resounding yes! My face was much softer after using it, even the sides of my nose that get really dry. I wouldn't recommend using it everyday, though, at least on your face. I was starting to break out a bit by about the fourth day or so. But to use even every other day would probably be fine.

Final verdict? I really like this stuff. For being dirt cheap it works really well, smells really nice, and leaves you with a nice scent and a pretty shimmer. Hands, face, whatever. I definitely recommend it. I found it at the local Dollarama, but I am sure there are other places it can be found. There were a few other things there that I want to try, but that will have to wait until I get there next.

Next up, St. Patrick's Day LOTD. Or: where I discover I don't have that many greens in my makeup collection, and only one that's nice and bright.

Inner to outer: Jane Eye Zing in Greens, e.l.f dark green from the Sparkle Eye Encylopedia, over top is e.l.f light gold and sparkly white. All of these are over a base of e.l.f cream eye shadow and matte white (which can be found in another of the encyclopedias).

In a bit different light. There is a fine line of brown e.l.f eyeliner under the eyes only that goes from the outer corner and meets the green at the inner corner. Mascara is L'Oreal Extra Volume Collagen in Blackest Black.

Here's the whole look:
Lips are regular chapstick with Rimmel Mix It Up Lipgloss 700. Blush is random I've had forever. Don't mind my hair and how bleh it looks, I'm planning to chop it all off next week.

Well, there it is. I've got at least one new P.M.S Cooks! to do (this time with real recipes!) coming up, as well as a Dragon Age II review, once I finish the game, although that may be a video. I'm not sure yet. But until then, I'll leave you with this:

For anyone going out and having fun tonight! See you next time!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dragon Age II: First Thoughts (Length Warning, but there's pictures!)

So I've been playing me some Dragon Age II (after having to redo 3/4 of the Awakening playthrough I had all ready to go because I oopsed and accidentally deleted the wrong save game). I've put in about 11-12 hours, and I thought I would share my thoughts on the game thus far. I can only go on what I've seen and done up to this point, so this is not an analysis of the entire game. I will try to keep things spoiler-free.

The Good:

1) The characters. I am LOVING the characters so far. I take back every "meh" thought I had about Varric and Merrill, I'll tell you that. Here are the party members/characters so far and my thoughts: (note, I haven't recuited everyone, which is why Fenris is missing. And some I've talked to more than others, hence the uneven amount I talk about each)

Varric (voiced by Brian Bloom)
I don't know what it was, but I wasn't really interested one way or the other in Varric prior to the game's release. I don't know what it was, especially given how much I loved the dwarves and their culture in the first game. But I was wrong, Varric is great! He really is an enjoyable character, from his party banters, to your conversations with him, to what I've seen of the interaction of him and Cassandra. Plus, once you have a few points to spend, you can get some pretty nifty upgrades for that crossbow that are pretty sweet. I also really, really like how the dwarves don't have Scottish accents, like every other dwarf out there, and Varric has a great voice for his personality.

Bethany/Carver (voiced by Rebekah Staton/Nico Lennon)
Now here's my one and only spoiler. I don't really know anything about Carver. I've been running with Bethany in this playthrough, but next one I will be able to give you something on him. Bethany is an interesting character. She's a mage, and understands what your family went through to keep her (as well as your character's father) safe from the Templars and the Circle. In a way, she wants to be normal, but it's not overwhelming. As a mage, once you get some talent points into the various trees (I have her specced as a DPS mage), she will destroy enemies. The sisterly banter is really fun, and is a nice addition to the game.

Aveline (voiced by Joanna Roth)
Two words: lady tank! This is what Mhairi should have been. Aveline is a sword-and-shield tank you meet very early in the game. She's a sweet person, loyal and a believer in the good and right decisions. She can also smash in a hurlock's skull with her bare hands and lift a full-grown man like a child. Maybe you won't like her if you play a Renegade-type character, but even a "Paragade/Renegon*" type should be fine without venturing too far into rivalry (unless that's what you want, I suppose). I love Aveline, personally, even if she and my Hawke don't see eye to eye all the time.

Anders (voiced this time by Adam Howden)
Oh Anders, what did they do to you? *sniffles* Yes, Anders is in many respects still the awesome, snarkly mage that we all loved in Awakening (well, I didn't the first time through but I didn't really give him a chance, either. I blame Alistair withdrawal). But at the same time, he's not the same. He's more melancholy. And without saying what he tells you, I can tell you this, not ONE of my Wardens would have stood for it, and I'm sure my Queen Cousland would have used all her backing to make those responsible pay. My Aeducan Commander would definitely not have allowed such dishonor (what does a dwarf care for the Chantry anyway?). After a personal quest and conversation, in which I tentatively attempted a flirt line or two, I just wanted to hug him and send him back to my Amell warden so they could run off and be happy apostates together. But, we shall see how the game progresses.

Merrill (voiced by Eve Myles)
I didn't know who Merrill was when she was announced, although she was in Origins. Reason being, I hadn't played the Dalish Elf Origin (although the Cynic did). Luckily, my brother came over and played through as a Dalish Elf. Merrill in Origins was bland and kind of bossy. Merrill in DA II is adorable. She's like Sigrun, minus the harsh, casteless upbringing, and with an extra dose of naivete about how Kirkwall's society works. The new Welsh accent is really cool too, and differentiates the Dalish more from the City Elves and the Dwarves, which I really like. And she's a mage, so with her, Anders, Bethany, and my warrior Hawke, it's wonderful destruction every battle.

Isabela (voiced by Victoria Kruger)
Holy tits, Isabela's back! Now I've only just recruited her, so I haven't been able to ask her who in Thedas does breast implants, how she can stand upright with those, or where her pants have gone. I have, however, already been told where she's staying, in case I want to come keep her company. I wonder if she'll tell you she slept with your Warden (if you did), or about the possible threesome or foursome (I did the threesome with Alistair). So yeah, I can't tell you much about Isabela just yet, other than she's a dual-wield rogue.

Sebastian (voiced by Alec Newman)
Now I know what you're thinking; another noble-born archer with a dead family? Now, I haven't actually recruited Sebastian yet, but I have met him in game, and he isn't just a Nathaniel Howe clone (doesn't seem stoic enough). I shall have to see once I have him in my party, of course. His circumstances seem different enough to make him a different character just for that. More to follow once I know him better (but oh mah goodness, dat accent!).

There are also lots of great NPC's that you meet in the game. Cassandra is one such character. I'm looking forward to seeing some more cutscenes with her in them to see more of her and about her. It is also interesting to see more of the Qunari, including the Arishok. Also, Flemeth! She is as mysterious as ever, especially if you played the Witch Hunt DLC for Origins, but with a badass new look. And is once again magnificently voiced by Kate Mulgrew. I want more Flemeth! You also have a mabari, this time as a summon, which was a fantastic idea. I named him Gimli this time. As I said, I haven't really gotten all that far in the game, so I am probably missing lots of awesome characters I simply haven't met yet.

2)The Story. We are building up to something exciting. I doubt this game will be able to bring the overarching story to resolution, but I can see the set-up to continue it in further games (like the end of Mass Effect 2, which was holy shit to say the least). Mages, Chantry, Templars, Qunari, Flemeth, Wardens; there are so many angles (and more than this even) that are going to align with and against each other into something cataclysmic, whether for good or ill is still up for debate. And right now we see this through the eyes of a Fereldan refugee scraping their way up from nothing in Kirkwall. I can see it being a bit like Mass Effect 2, in showing a very specific story, but as a build-up to the events of a later game.

3) The redesigns for the races. I was very skeptical about these, but I like them a lot. It makes the races different, rather than a Star Trek-ish they all look like humans but adjusted for height and maybe prostheses, like ears. It makes them more individual as separate races. Humans and Dwarves seem to have had the least alteration, basically just updating their graphics into the new desgin. Flemeth, Elves and Qunari have had the largest changes, including the horns the Qunari were supposed to have in Origins. Although, not all Qunari have horns, as Sten is a notable exception.

Velanna (left) in Awakening, and Marethari (right) in Dragon Age II showing the new Elf look.

Sten (left) and a horned Qunari (right). You can definitely still tell they are Qunari when you talk to them. It's very cool to see more of them, and learn about their culture, such as the Tal'Vashoth and Qunari mages.

Flemeth in DA II and DA:O (inset)

4) The graphics. The graphics were vastly upgraded and the entire style of the universe was overhauled for DA II. And I like it. Maybe it won't impress everyone (in fact, I know it won't), but I like it. I'm sure a lot of people will complain it's too simple and lacking in detail, but I like the simplicity, without feeling like they're trying to cram as many pixels in just because they can. Now, I played the demo for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, and it looked very, very pretty. But you know what, the Dragon Age universe isn't pretty. It's dark, it's dreary, it's not a nice place. But then again, I'm not terribly picky about graphics, so maybe I miss the point entirely when it comes to that.

5) Gameplay and combat. These two things also went through a massive overhaul. The dialogue wheel from Mass Effect makes it's DA debut. And you know what, I like it, after being sure I would hate it. The icons that show the intent (sarcastic, diplomatic, flirt, etc.) is an awesome addition, and makes it much easier to plan the conversation. the UI is easy to navigate and the combat talents have been organized into easy to handle talent trees with upgradable skills. Combat is wicked now. It's faster and more effective. When you hit a button for a spell, it happens now. It's much more responsive and you feel more in control. Your character also moves faster in combat, making the overall experience very satisfying.

6) Voice acting. Was there a doubt here? Several changes were made, such as the voice of Anders and Merrill, and switching the Dalish Elves to have Welsh and Irish accents. But overall, the voice acting is every bit as good as you expect from Bioware. A lot of people were iffy on the voices for Hawke. I haven't played male Hawke at all, but I like Lady Hawke's voice. I'm glad it's a little more feminine sounding, otherwise she would have sounded (and thusly been compared to) Commander Shepard. I love Shepard and I think her voice is perfect for her, I'm just glad they went for something a little different here, and I think it works. There was some complaints because they sounded too posh to be from Lothering, but Hawke's mother was nobility, so it does make sense.

7) Preset Hawke. I love character creators. I will spend an hour in just the character creator, especially in a first playthrough, looking at all the options. I've never really cared about the presets since I love customizing my own. But damn, I'm going to have to try out default Lady Hawke. She is probably one of the prettiest defaults ever! Not only that, even the default name is awesome. I've never used a default name in an RPG (if I could change it) until now. But I just couldn't think of anything I liked better than Marian. So I went with it. I did change up how she looked, though.

default Marian Hawke

My Marian Hawke

The Not So Good

1) Tiny Writing Syndrome. I know, I know, it's the fault of my old-ass, obsolete TV. Doesn't mean I can't complain about it. The text is tiny, especially for loading screens. I can read it, but I generally have to sit closer to do so. I don't really even pay attention to the loot I'm picking up because it's too hard to read whatever the damn thing is. Unfortunately, until I acquire a new TV, I'm stuck with it.

2) Anders' voice. Now, I have no problem with the voice actor who plays him in DA II. And I now know why they changed it and why he isn't voiced by Greg Ellis but I wished they'd done it the other way so that he was. I think it could have worked the other way too. Oh well. It's a bit of a fangirlish complaint, but it wouldn't have been my preference. His current VA does do a really good job though, and really illustrates how he's changed based on how the world has treated him.

Final Verdict- So Far

Well, obviously I'm enjoying it, or I wouldn't have written a novella on my first thoughts. It's a darker game, that's for sure. Damn dark. There are still moments of levity and snarkiness, but I agree with others that there doesn't seem to be as much. Or at least, it is more overshadowed by the grittier part. But we shall see as I play more. I read an interesting review that compared it to the old RPG Planescape Torment, which I think is an apt comparison. It's bleak, concentrated mainly in one area (in and around the city-state of Kirkwall) rather than a whole country, and while an excellent game, it won't be for everybody. I think the best way to describe DA II, at least so far, is Planescape Torment crossed with Mass Effect 2 in the Dragon Age universe. Not to say it doesn't feel like a Dragon Age game, because it very much does. Though I'm still in the First Act, I will say that I am really enjoying the game and am looking forward to getting more time into it.

Well thanks to everyone who slogged through yet another ridiculously long post with me. As a reward, The God Drums, in their entirety. The video's trippy though, even for Lud. :D

See you guys next time!

*Paragade- combination Paragon ("good") and Renegade ("evil") more to the Paragon side.
Renegon- same idea, but opposite to Paragade.

Hey Folks!

Sorry I haven't put up a first impressions of Dragon Age II yet. I've been trying to play through a bit more, and the Cynic wanted to get up his Devils in the Desert #3 review. So hopefully I will have something for you tomorrow.

And big news in the CWTC world: I, the Picky Mama Scholar, am going to be even more scholarly! Well, what I mean to say is, come the fall I will be starting my Masters Program! Hooray! It's very exciting, although it will be a lot of work, but it will be worth it in the end. It will be a big change, but it will be a good one for us in the long run.

I really have to go to bed now, but that is the plan. Hopefully something new for you all tomorrow (errr... later today).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's Here!!

Today* was the big day. I got myself ready:

L'Oreal Hi-Intensity pink over a black base with e.l.f gold over top with a white base. Intentionally unblended, but the effect didn't really work like I wanted it to.

And headed out. And off to EB Games, where this was waiting for me:


Hurray for release dates and pre-orders! That, my friends, is the Signature Edition. With oodles of delicious, free bonus content; like an Exiled Prince with a hot accent, a wardog (who I will have to think of a new name for, because I can't name a second dog Hannibal, despite how awesome that sounds), and a pile of other goodies. There's even has a tie-in if you bought Dead Space 2, much the same as the DA:O-ME:2 Blood Dragon Armor. I'm super excited about this game and I will have my first impressions up very soon, don't worry. :D

While we were out and about we also picked up a) a bigger hard drive for our 360-which we needed quite badly, especially with DA II, Mass Effect 2, and Warriors of Rock. And b) a renewed Gold Membership, which means I can do my Demo Reviews more efficiently as I won't have to wait the extra week for the games to switch to Silver. So excitement all around! Now if I could just shake this tummy bug, we'd be grand.

So yes, I will have something up with my first thoughts on the game as soon as I can!

*And today it shows the right date. Ack. Well, by today I mean Tuesday, March 8th.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

P.M.S Cooks! Stew and Biscuits & Latest Looks

Hey all, another entry look into my cooking and makeup hobbies. Let's start with the food!

Today's post is yet another stew lol. Here's the rundown:
Prep time: ~9 hours (8 of which were prepping the soup bones)
Ingredients: beef stock & meat (from soup bones), 3 chopped green onions, 4 grated parsnips, several small potatoes cubed (probably 3-4 large ones), fresh rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, sage.

Instructions: cook beef bones for about half an hour with rosemary, some crumbled sage, and Worcestershire sauce. Boil/simmer/cook in water for about 8 hours for broth. Remove meat and bones, let cool, then put meat back in. Add potatoes, parsnip, onion and more rosemary, Worcestershire sauce, and sage. Then you're good to go! It's actually better the next day, as the parsnip flavor mellows a bit and is less harsh.


Oh, I almost forgot what I whipped up to accompany the stew!

Cheese Biscuits!

These were just a basic biscuit recipe you can find anywhere, with added shredded cheese. Very yummy when nice and hot with butter/margarine.

On to the makeup looks. Well, I've done a few. Not all of them were great, but these are my two favorites from the past week or so.

First was a dupe of a pink/gray smoky eye. I wanted to do a bit of a toned-down version, as it was pretty intense and I'm still not sure how crazy of makeup I can pull off well. So here's how it looked. As a dupe, it was awful, but as a look, it looked really nice.

The gray is e.l.f and the pink is L'Oreal Hi-Intensity Pigment Eye Shadow in Brazen (it's a duo with a brown. The grays were sparkly and the pink is matte.

This was the second look, from the other day.

The eyes are with a Bonnebell 4-set called Backstage Beauty Browns. For powder, they're really creamy and go on really nice. I used the silvery brown, the purply brown, and a coppery brown for this. I used L'Oreal Glam Shine Juice in Mambo Juice for my lips, and my usual mascara- L'Oreal Extra Volume Collagen in Black. No foundation or anything, I'm usually too lazy or rushed, and my face doesn't like too much stuff on it. Blush is random stuff I've had forever.

Well that's about it. This week is a very exciting one, I'll have my first thoughts on Dragon Age II up for sure sometime. As to what else, I'm not sure yet. Perhaps a day-of-release makeup look. For now, I'll leave you with an amazing early song from my very favorite band!