Sunday, November 3, 2013

Rant #001: Why I Love (and Hate) Minecraft


For those of you who have not yet caught on to the cultural phenomenon that is Minecraft, allow me to save you some money and A LOT of time: just don't do it. Why? You remember those other things you were going to do? Mow the lawn. Hang out with friends. Be productive in some other capacity. Yeah... no. You're not going to get to them today. Minecraft will literally suck you in and keep you engaged for hours at a time. I'm not even exaggerating. I sit down for like a minute and suddenly, it's 3AM and I've got to work the next day. Seriously. I haven't played a game this much since I discovered the Elder Scrolls! (and that is an entirely different can of worms)

I'll be honest, the first time I saw my little brother playing it, I was like, "that looks stupid". But no. It's like playing Legos... but in a Lego world with monsters and blocks and frequent patches and upgrades. Minecraft is something for people who have wayyyy too much time on their hands or literally no friends... or friends who only play Minecraft. That's how stuff like this happens:


I don't care who you are: that sh*t is impressive. Do you know how much time it took to make that? Hours. Days. Weeks. Why? Because they could.

Of course, stuff like that makes my own attempts at architectural grandeur seem weak by comparison. I mean, look at this:



Sad, right? That whole thing took me HOURS to make and it's nowhere near as impressive as that other dude's stuff. That being said, I pride myself on efficiency and my building designs are targeted towards that goal (mostly).

Anyway, for the aforementioned reasons (and many more), I both hate and love Minecraft. If you want to discover the hate/love for yourself, visit: www.minecraft.net

Here are a couple of other impressive shots from around the interwebs:



LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This review is an opinion piece provided for your viewing pleasure. It does not replicate, in whole or in part, any body of work that I know of. Any and all subject matter is the intellectual property of the aforementioned author/artist and I'll be damned if I'm going to try claim any of it as my own (which I'm not)! If anyone has any legal issue with my review, please contact me before unleashing your lawyer(s)!

Book Review #012: Galaxy In Flames

Galaxy In Flames
 Black Libraryby Ben Counter

Taking into account that Ben Counter is one of my favourite Warhammer 40,000 authors, I enjoyed this novel much more than the second installment in the Horus Heresy series. It actually made me invest more in the characters and events that were going on. It also introduces several key characters (e.g. the primarch Mortarion, Khârn the Betrayer, etc.) and elaborates on the history and mythos of the Death Guard and the Emperor's Children.

It is grandiose in scope (as are almost all Warhammer 40,000 novels, I think) and does a great job of tying in characters, places, and elements from the Warhammer 40,000 universe at large. All in all, the third installment of the Horus Heresy series does not disappoint!

Find more Warhammer 40,000 action at http://www.blacklibrary.com!


G.A.S.P.:
Character Development - 10
Dialogue - 10
Plot - 10
Overall: 10

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This review is an opinion piece provided for your viewing pleasure. It does not replicate, in whole or in part, any body of work that I know of. Any and all subject matter is the intellectual property of the aforementioned author/artist and I'll be damned if I'm going to try claim any of it as my own (which I'm not)! If anyone has any legal issue with my review, please contact me before unleashing your lawyer(s)!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Game Review #001: Endless Space




Before I begin, I just want to clarify that these are simply my initial impressions. I spent the better part of yesterday engrossed in the sheer enormity of Endless Space: Emperor Edition (purchased on Amazon, validated through Steam). That being said, I will try give a good account without too many spoilers.

The Plot:
From what I've gathered so far, there really isn't a set plot. There's a back-story and a premise, but that's about it. Nonetheless, the plot elements that are there add a lot of depth and atmosphere to the game.

Gameplay:
My first thought while going through the tutorial was: "Holy ****balls, Batman! This game is HUGE!" (or something like that). I've never been one much for tutorials, but trust me: in this game, you need it. There are seriously nested menus 4 to 5 levels deep in some cases with a ridiculous number of options. That being said,  that feature alone makes the game very non-linear (which is awesome if you're like me and like games with a lot of replayability).

Pros:
Non-linear gameplay
Impossibly huge game world
Copious amounts of options
Full control from the macro- to the micro-level
Lots of playable races with their own special features
Beautiful graphics and a thought-provoking score

Cons:
Almost too detailed
It truly does take forever to research new technologies
Static technology tree (not really a con, but neither is it a pro)
Baddies start off with larger, better ships than you

Overall:
9 out of 10

Recommendation:
Buy this game NOW!

Cover Shot:

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This review is an opinion piece provided for your viewing pleasure. It does not replicate, in whole or in part, any body of work that I know of. Any and all subject matter is the intellectual property of the aforementioned author/artist and I'll be damned if I'm going to try claim any of it as my own (which I'm not)! If anyone has any legal issue with my review, please contact me before unleashing your lawyer(s)!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Life, Love, & Literature #001: Shameless Boohooing and Perhaps a Nugget of Truth

DISCLAIMER: The following piece is intended for entertainment purposes ONLY (e.g. tongue-and-cheek) and is NOT intended to be offensive in any way. If you find yourself being offended, feel free to let the author know and he will attempt to correct the error of his ways. That being said, this is a blog and this is the internet, so a little drama is inherent. ~ The Author

In a recent conversation with a friend and fellow blogger, he suggested I write a piece or two on relationships in the modern world. For lack of a better place to start, I shall begin with a short diatribe about the societal pressures media crams down our throats every day and move to other subjects as they come to me.

Firstly, the notion of "love" comes to mind -- especially as portrayed by Hollywood. There are many types of love stories, chief among them being the following formula: 1) guy and girl get together, 2) some issue breaks them apart, and 3) they somehow find a way to resolve said issue and get back together -- the end.

This is deliciously fallacious for the following reasons: 1) simply getting to Step One of the process is hard enough and presents an entirely new set of challenges, 2) in any relationship, there are bound to be issues, but if said issues are present from the start and the couple decides to ignore them, well then, that's their problem and they probably should break up, and 3) nothing is ever as perfect as it appears to be in the beginning. Any couple, once separated for any reason, will never be able to view the relationship through the haze of infatuation that they did at the beginning. Furthermore, if the "issue" was serious enough for them to "take a break" in the first place, that's a clear sign that they should probably just break up. I say this in all seriousness and without pleasure, but that is the hard, honest truth of things.

That being said, I find myself continually sucked into the endless drama and intrigue of such shows as Smallville and Bones, rooting for the prospective couples in each -- investing in the lives of fictional characters and living vicariously through their trials and triumphs. Is that sad? Yes. I know. It's pretty pathetic. Bite me.

Anyway, this type of shameless fantasizing has its uses, but can only lead to heartache, bitterness, and despondency in the end. While the series still survives, I feel alive inside. When it ends however, my soul is crushed. I long to experience what those characters felt. It is here, that Hollywood has set me up for failure. So many people, myself included, approach real relationships like their favourite TV or movie characters would, whether that be with swagger or timidity, it's not what should be happening.

In my experience (and I say this with only a hint of bitterness), real relationships are nothing like they are portrayed in film or television. They are difficult, capricious things that flounder and fail at the first sign of hardship. They are joyous and brief, be they two weeks or two years. In the end, all one is left with is a lingering memory: the smell of her hair, a favourite song, her silly laugh as she wrapped her arms around you... In the words of the gladiator: "All we are is shadows and dust" -- a fleeting whisper in time.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Random Observation #002: Two Men at a Bar


The two men sat at a table in the corner. It could have been any bar in America – a small, hole-in-the-wall drinking establishment with the usual assortment of inebriated townies and various passersby. They conferred in normal tones, just loud enough to carry over the raucous punk music blaring over the house system. To anyone who cared to notice, they were just two guys having a drink on a Saturday night. They could have been businessmen or grad students judging by the laptop on the table and the other stowed casually on the overstuffed booth seat. Their demeanor was one of easy camaraderie, gestures and frowns coming in equal shares in reaction to the turn of conversation.

All at once, they reached a natural pause. One man smiled absentmindedly off into the distance while the other slid from his seat to order another drink from the bartender. After a moment, the second man returned, drink in hand. He sat, careful not to spill the overfilled pint glass. Then, in an action no other patron would have given a second thought to, he nonchalantly closed the top flap of his laptop case.

“Got an LC9 in there.” He remarked casually, a knowing smile playing at the corners of his mouth.

The other man grinned and gestured to his own case. “USP Compact.”

With that, the conversation resumed, all talk on other subjects. It was not the nervous chatter of two conspirators or the verbal backpedalling after a Freudian slip. It was as if it had never been. It was two neighbors talking about their yards or two mothers about their children. It was a remark about the weather or the traffic downtown. It was the epitome of normality for these two men, as strange as it might sound to anyone in earshot.

The unspoken subtext however, was far from that. It was the echoes of a war they had known since manhood. It was the feeling one gets on a dark street at night: muggers in every footstep, killers in every shadow. It was the unconscious imperative to protect one’s self and others from harm. It was all of these things and it was none of them, for a second thought was never given to the two men as they left the bar, bags in hand.

Book Review #011: Picking the Bones

Picking the Bones
by Mike Lee

This short story takes place immediately after the events of Nagash Immortal and involves his erstwhile minion, Arkhan the Black. As stated in previous reviews, I enjoyed the continuation of story lines and characters from the Nagash trilogy. This short story is well worth the read and adds to the awesomeness of the Time of Legends series.


G.A.S.P.:
Character Development - 10
Dialogue - 10
Plot - 10
Overall: 10

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This review is an opinion piece provided for your viewing pleasure. It does not replicate, in whole or in part, any body of work that I know of. Any and all subject matter is the intellectual property of the aforementioned author/artist and I'll be damned if I'm going to try claim any of it as my own (which I'm not)! If anyone has any legal issue with my review, please contact me before unleashing your lawyer(s)!

Book Review #010: The Red Duke

The Red Duke
by C. L. Werner

First and foremost, a little back story: I first learned about this book because the picture was in the back of Nagash Immortal (and I was on a big vampire kick) so I decided to check it out. The first place I looked was on Amazon (naturally), only to discover that a single print copy was going for around $180 (US)! I then looked on the Black Library website and found that this book was only available from them in eBook format. I like print books when I can get them, but in the event that only a digital copy is available (and given the fact that eBooks provide for the ultimate instant gratification), I promptly created an account and ordered it.

Having read many more Warhammer 40,000 books than Warhammer books, I was only marginally familiar with the fictional province of Brettonia. That being said, Werner does an excellent job fleshing out the cultural details of the place. By way of a brief, spoiler-free description, here is the basic plot: Vampire with ties to the royal family wreaks havoc in Brettonia.

The only beef I had involved the formatting, which failed to put spaces before certain paragraphs before it jumped from one time period/scene to another, leaving me briefly confused and frequently made me have to flip back a couple of pages to figure out what exactly was going on. This might be an ePUB-specific issue, but I'm not sure. It wasn't too much of a detractor, just minorly annoying.

At any rate, it was a good read which kept me interested and engaged and would have been finished much faster had I not been driving across the country when I first started it (though I did manage to sneak a peek at a couple of pages while traversing the Mojave -- don't judge me). :)


G.A.S.P.:
Character Development - 9
Dialogue - 9
Plot - 10
Overall: 9.3

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This review is an opinion piece provided for your viewing pleasure. It does not replicate, in whole or in part, any body of work that I know of. Any and all subject matter is the intellectual property of the aforementioned author/artist and I'll be damned if I'm going to try claim any of it as my own (which I'm not)! If anyone has any legal issue with my review, please contact me before unleashing your lawyer(s)!


Book Review #009: Nagash Immortal

Nagash Immortal
by Mike Lee

The earth-shattering conclusion to the long-awaited Nagash trilogy, Nagash Immortal finds our despicable villain in an unexpected battle with the vile ratmen -- the ever-scheming Skaven -- and the other powers vying for control over Nehekhara. Truth be told, I'm not sure if the story itself drew me in (though it was very well written) as much as the endless possibilities for spin-offs and sequels generated by the rich characters Lee has created.

In conclusion, I enjoyed this book immensely and look forward to other works by this author, in or out of the Warhammer world.


G.A.S.P.:
Character Development - 10
Dialogue - 10
Plot - 10
Overall: 10

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This review is an opinion piece provided for your viewing pleasure. It does not replicate, in whole or in part, any body of work that I know of. Any and all subject matter is the intellectual property of the aforementioned author/artist and I'll be damned if I'm going to try claim any of it as my own (which I'm not)! If anyone has any legal issue with my review, please contact me before unleashing your lawyer(s)!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Review #008: Cain's Last Stand

Cain's Last Stand
by Sandy Mitchell

What can I say about the sixth book in this series? Awesome? Amazing? These words have no meaning next to the gloriousness inherent in the adventures of the galaxy's most prolific shammer. When I finished it, I would have been seriously depressed had it not been for the fact that there are three more books!

But seriously, this book is just as well written as the others in the series. It chronicles the adventures of Cain in his later years around the time of the 13th Black Crusade.

Bottom Line: Epic Warhammer 40,000 action and hilarity!


G.A.S.P.:
Character Development - 10
Dialogue - 10
Plot - 10
Overall: 10

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This review is an opinion piece provided for your viewing pleasure. It does not replicate, in whole or in part, any body of work that I know of. Any and all subject matter is the intellectual property of the aforementioned author/artist and I'll be damned if I'm going to try claim any of it as my own (which I'm not)! If anyone has any legal issue with my review, please contact me before unleashing your lawyer(s)!



Thursday, January 24, 2013

Book Review #007: Nagash the Unbroken


Nagash the Unbroken
by Mike Lee

The second novel in the Nagash trilogy leads off with a bang and never stops! Nagash the Unbroken follows the continued adventures of several seemingly minor characters from the first novel, as well as the plight of Nagash himself following that story’s events (not saying anything more!).

In comparison to the first novel, I found it to be much more compelling – one I couldn’t put down for the life of me! Each chapter piqued my curiosity and left me slavering for more. Mike Lee really comes into his own, nearly relegating the events of the first novel to nothing more than a footnote in the saga of Nagash.

All told, this novel tops the first one and has me pumped to read the third and final book in the series!

G.A.S.P.:
Character Development - 10
Dialogue - 10
Plot - 10
Overall: 10

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This review is an opinion piece provided for your viewing pleasure. It does not replicate, in whole or in part, any body of work that I know of. Any and all subject matter is the intellectual property of the aforementioned author/artist and I'll be damned if I'm going to try claim any of it as my own (which I'm not)! If anyone has any legal issue with my review, please contact me before unleashing your lawyer(s)!

Book Review #006: Nagash the Sorcerer


Nagash the Sorcerer
by Mike Lee

The first of the much-anticipated Nagash trilogy, Nagash the Sorcerer tells the story of Nagash, the most famous (if not the first) necromancer in the Warhammer universe.

The characters are well-developed (though not terribly complex) and the imagery is superb. Those familiar with the Warhammer universe will find more than a hint of similarity in the Time of Legends series.

My only gripe (without giving anything away) is that the book wasn’t longer and the back story more elaborated upon (which is not to say that it wasn’t put out there in detail – I just would have liked more nitty-gritty).

All things considered, Mike Lee’s presentation must be given an “A” for effort, as creating an entirely new world from scratch is nothing to laugh at. I highly recommend this novel.

Stay tuned for a review on the second novel: Nagash the Unbroken!

G.A.S.P.:
Character Development - 10
Dialogue - 10
Plot - 9
Overall: 9.7

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This review is an opinion piece provided for your viewing pleasure. It does not replicate, in whole or in part, any body of work that I know of. Any and all subject matter is the intellectual property of the aforementioned author/artist and I'll be damned if I'm going to try claim any of it as my own (which I'm not)! If anyone has any legal issue with my review, please contact me before unleashing your lawyer(s)!

Book Review #005: Death Or Glory


Death Or Glory
by Sandy Mitchell

Everyone’s favourite reluctant hero returns in this fourth installment of the much-lauded Ciaphas Cain series.

For those that haven’t read any of the previous books, stop reading this right now and get the first omnibus! Totally worth it!

Anyway, this story follows the further adventures of Commissar Cain, pitting him against the always-entertaining Orks.

Personally, I love everything about the character and the concept and feel that Sandy Mitchell delivers a thoroughly enjoyable story, even for those who might otherwise be skeptical of the genre.

G.A.S.P.:
Character Development - 10
Dialogue - 10
Plot - 10
Overall: 10

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This review is an opinion piece provided for your viewing pleasure. It does not replicate, in whole or in part, any body of work that I know of. Any and all subject matter is the intellectual property of the aforementioned author/artist and I'll be damned if I'm going to try claim any of it as my own (which I'm not)! If anyone has any legal issue with my review, please contact me before unleashing your lawyer(s)!

Book Review #004: False Gods



False Gods
by Graham McNeill

Before I begin, I must state for the record that this book is very well written and immensely enjoyable. That being said, for some inexplicable and extremely nebulous reason, it was not anywhere near as compelling as its predecessor. Still, it does – in no uncertain terms – set the stage for the next novel which is sure to be at least as good if not better (hopefully).

All petty nitpicking aside, False Gods delivers classic Warhammer 40,000 action and one unexpected twist after another as the events of the Horus Heresy continue to unfold.

Find more Warhammer 40,000 action at http://www.blacklibrary.com!

G.A.S.P.:
Character Development - 10
Dialogue - 10
Plot - 9
Overall: 9.7

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This review is an opinion piece provided for your viewing pleasure. It does not replicate, in whole or in part, any body of work that I know of. Any and all subject matter is the intellectual property of the aforementioned author/artist and I'll be damned if I'm going to try claim any of it as my own (which I'm not)! If anyone has any legal issue with my review, please contact me before unleashing your lawyer(s)!