Monday, October 22, 2012

Xbox 360 Review: 007 Legends

This review was published on
I was sitting at home playing 007 Legends when a friend stopped over to watch me shoot my way through one of the missions. I was ducking behind a car, trying to knock out an RPG nest, while indicators warned me that enemies were throwing grenades in my vicinity. “Is this Call of Duty?” I was asked, which really is a fair question.
Truth is, 007 Legends is allegedly a James Bond title, though the game is little more than a poorly crafted military shooter. The cast from MI6 is thrown in here aimlessly, seemingly for no reason.
I'll concede to you that Legends isn't the worst shooter I've ever played. However, when I think of James Bond, I don't imagine him taking down machine gun emplacements, or leading an army of soldiers into battle. It's so inappropriate, so absolutely ridiculous, that it makes you wonder if this was ever intended to be a 007 title in the first place.
You play Bond throughout the game – at least that's the character's name. The suave spy is nowhere to be found, despite having the likeness of Daniel Craig. There are moments during missions where you do some spy related things, like search for evidence or hack into computers. The problem is that all of this involves a mini-game, and most of the time I felt like I was being taken hostage. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

XBLA Review: Double Dragon Neon

I was excited to finally get my hands on Double Dragon Neon, a game that I thought would bring back great memories from the old days of my youth. However, after playing Neon for only a few minutes, I realized that those memories may not have been as great as I thought. Double Dragon Neon isn’t a bad brawler game. But, I will suggest the brawler genre as a whole that needs some serious reimagining.

A couple months ago a friend and I sat down to play Streets of Rage 2 on the Sega Genesis Collection. I remembered really enjoying the game as a kid, but this time I wasn’t having any fun while playing. For me, Streets of Rage simply didn’t withstand the test of time.

Brawler videogames come out of an era when you would do much of your gaming in arcades, feeding quarters into a machine with some friends. The ability to play on the same screen with a buddy, working together to conquer mutual enemies, was much of the appeal of the brawler genre. Fast forward to present day, and none of that is really all that appealing -- we’re used to it.

So, what else does the Neon offer besides multiplayer functionality? Well, not much. You roam around a small game area, punching enemies in the face, and occasionally there will be a terrain hazard or new foe to change up the action.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Rumble 2012: A Display of Party Politics

I'll be honest and admit that I didn't watch the recent presidential debate, and I'm unlikely to watch anything that has to do with Mitt Romney or Barack Obama in the future. Neither candidate provides any real representation of my philosophy, as tends to be the case every election, thus I'm cynical about the process as a whole. I've given up on national political races, if only because they've become nothing more than a two-party sham. Real issues are swept under the rug in favor of team-based competition. 

I'm not lazy or uninformed; I just don't really care who wins. With elections locked down tight, realistically there are only these two options -- and they're both terrible. I lack a voice in Washington, and it's for that reason the debate between Jon Stewart and Bill O'Reilly, dubbed the Rumble in an Air-Conditioned Auditorium 2012, was so important to me. It was a time to see two powerful media figures clash on the issues, free from party talking points and political pandering ... at least that's how I had hoped everything would go. 

In hindsight, I may have been a bit naive to think these two men on stage could rise above party-line bickering – but hey, it was worth a shot. I'm a big fan of Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, which serves to provide the rational perspective that it missing from the usual political discourse. With Stewart you usually get a consistent liberal message that takes on both parties almost equally, and that's exactly why I love the guy.  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Movie Review: Dredd 3D (2012)

Judge Dredd is a badass who obeys the law -- perfectly. When he’s sent out to train his new psychic rookie, Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), the two find themselves locked down in a gang infested city block, where the only justice crime knows is pain. Dredd 3D is an immensely-fun action thriller that gets right what the 1995 Judge Dredd got so very wrong.

From the opening scene, it’s obvious that Dredd isn’t the type of film that takes itself seriously. This is a bloody satire that, if it wasn’t done right, could have been a colossal failure. The costumes are silly, the setting is hilariously bleak, and the characters aren’t exactly original -- and that’s exactly why it works so well.

Dredd is based on the long running comic strip Judge Dredd which is famous for its tongue-in-cheek approach to tackling important themes, like anarchism and the growing police state. The cyberpunk strip shocked readers with its dystopian visuals and gritty storylines, many of which were very influential in shaping the future of comics.

This latest film adaptation is a successful update that is sure to please fans and newcomers alike. Much like the comic strip that came before it, Dredd is a smart movie, though on its face it may seem like nothing more than a “B” production with a big budget.