Thursday, May 25, 2006

Vae Victis

So, why am I posting today? Because I just finished playing Blood Omen and got the rest of the night free (a rare event). Therefore I decided to place here an overall vision of the Legacy of Kain Series, and then decided against it because it would take way too long.

Blood Omen is the first game in the Legacy of Kain series, however it was also the last one I played due to several reasons, one of them was that every other time I started playing it I messed up and didn’t feel like going back to the beginning.

This one is very different from all the others in the series! For one thing it is HUGE! Not because it’s the one that takes longer to finish (I’m not sure which one that would be, but I think Blood Omen 2 to be a good bet) but because there is so much to do and so much that can be done. There are lots of side areas that you can explore, as well as spells and other stuff (just so you had an idea, I got 21 out of 100 secrets and failed to learn all the spells, although I did get all the weapons and armors). The main difference from the other games however is the gameplay. While all the other’s are 3D straightforward action games, this one is a top down action game, but with and inventory and spells and (a lot more) stuff.

Unfortunately the only version I got my hands on missed the cutscenes, so I couldn’t get the game in its full potential (among other things I never actually saw Vorador except for the title screen and a picture in Avernus), but since I already knew most if not all of story due to the other games and some research that wasn’t really serious. Obviously knowing the story beforehand spoiled the game a bit, but was also what kept me going.

The gameplay is not great, but rages well in acceptable, although it can keep some people away as it may both be too repetitive and too complicated. But this is not the kind of game you play because of the gameplay (none in the series is (except perhaps Blood Omen 2)), it’s the kind of game you play for the story.

The story on itself is way too long for me to explain here (I tried, but gave up soon after), a very basic outline is: Kain got to kill guardians of the pillars who got corrupted and yadda yadda yadda, plot twist here, backstabbing there (you got to kill exploding teddy bears along the way too) and you find out that you are also one of the guardians, chosen after the death of Ariel, and must decide whether to kill yourself and restore the land and go on and rule the world (guess which one leads to the following games).

Anyway, the guardians are:

Mind: Nupraptor the Mentalist
Conflict: Malek the Sarafan (I love this guy! More detail ahead)
Nature: Bane the Druid
Dimension: Azimuth the Planer
Energy: Dejoule the Energist
States: Anacrothe the Alchemist
Time: Moebius the Timestreamer
Death: Mortanius the Necromancer
Balance: Ariel (but this one is already dead)

From the nine, there are three you don’t actually kill:
Ariel, partly because she’s already dead (but is cursed to haunt the pillar she protects) and because it is her death that cause the decay of all the others (long story here too).
Malek, you fight him, but you can’t defeat him and eventually got to run away. The reason you can’t defeat him is because *drum roll* he doesn’t have a body! Actually he does, but not a mortal one, basic plot: he failed to protect the previous guardians and as a punishment had his soul ripped from his body and fused to his own armor. He is killed by the vampire Vorador who comes to your aid, but you never find out how.
Anacrothe, Mortanius does the job for you near the end.

Please be aware I didn’t explain more than 1/10 of the story of this game!

Oh sure, I told the ending, but since that is the basic knowledge for four other games (and the reason it is called Legacy of Kain in the first place) don’t come whining to me!

Oh, and you get to find a really cool sword! (A lot of story about that sword! But that is a post for another time.)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

And we are live!

And we are live in 5...4...3...2...1...

Fade in to Zavatar behind a news desk with his feet up and a finger up his nose

"What? What do you mean we're live? The little red light isn't on... oh crap"

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Zavatar and I will be your co-host for this blog. I regret not being here from the beginning, but matters of the highest importance have required my undivided attention.

Subtitles: He's been to lazy to do anything. Actually, that's not true. Zavatar has been finishing his masterpiece, the soon to be published "Bellybutton Lint And You: What the Government Doesn't Want You To Know". Coming this Fall

I hope to entertain you during this blog, along with Xocrates, who right now is showing me the "kill" sign. You know, the one with the hand across the throat, so I guess it is time to end this post. Huh, that's funny, I don't remember the kill sign involving a sharp knife and a maniac grin... oh crap

Fade out

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Fear the Bunny

Aliens, demons, robots, witches, vampires, pirates, wizards, ninjas, assassins, talking shadows, satanic kittens, inflatable technology, parallel dimensions, time travels, timeless space, funny, stupid, sad, smart...
These are just a few things you would have to say if someone would ask you to describe Sluggy Freelance.

I love comics, not the serious type with a lot of pretty pictures but the strip a day kind of comics. So, as you can imagine, I have a few webcomics in my Favorites list, as well as several shelves filled with comic books up in my room.
So it was time for me to pay tribute to this art form by analyzing one of them in this here blog.
Sluggy Freelance stands as my favorite webcomic for some time now, I still remember clearly the first strip I came across, sure it wasn’t nothing special at the time, but a quick click in the “first strip” button and a few days later and it looked pretty nifty.

Enough with the idle chit-chat! Now here’s what you need to know:
Sluggy Freelance started in the distant year of 1997, at the time it was a sort of innocent unconcerned comic making fun of things or telling non-sense jokes (these times are now called The Bikini Suicide Frisbee Days) it started with two characters: Torg, aka Nerd boy, and Riff, a freelance inventor. Then it added a talking bunny with a bad attitude and a switch blade, a female character, a ferret, an alien, a neighbor, another female character (who later became a witch), a dimension of demons, a… just read the first paragraph for an idea, ok?
Nowadays the strip usually goes for more epic storylines, with one of the last ones going on for over a year (curious tidbit: a couple of months before that storyline started, another one had gone for about six months and the author said that he didn’t intend to go on another story as large anytime soon, events got a little out of control though).
There are a few characteristics of the strip that make it quite unique, not only the bizarre setting, but also the way as it is told. It is not unusual for characters to die or being altered beyond recovery. It is also curious that some of the goriest strips end up being some of the funniest (read this storyline to get the idea).

This is simply big! Sure, it has as lots of low points, but some so high that looking down will even cause a sense of vertigo.

Bored? Have some time to kill? Like a good story?

Click this link and be doomed for all eternity!!!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Strictly Business

So, last Friday I finally managed to become on par with the rest of the world as I watched the closing credits of “The Godfather: Part III”, thus ending the journey started three weeks earlier when I saw the title screen for “The Godfather”.

“The Godfather” is probably the most famous Mafia series in the world. The image provided by Marlon Brando became the stereotype for the Sicilian mobster. It’s a movie often mentioned and (mis)quoted.
What did I think of it? Let’s go by parts:

Part I:
The first movie of the series is, without doubt, the best and most interesting of the three. Not only because it has Brando playing the famous Don Vito Corleone, but also because the story is one of strongest and most coherent.
I was rather surprised by how small the participation of Brando is compared to what I expected, and still he succeeds in becoming the most memorable character. The rising (downfall?) of Michael Corleone from honest guy, trying to keep away from the family business, to leader of the family itself also presents many interesting moments, namely the excellent ending sequence.
The remaining of the movie is parted between the family “businesses” and a war between the top families.
All in all, this is a great gangster movie if rather slow in pacing.

Part II:
Apparently many people acclaim this as the better of the series, personally I found it un-interesting and boring.
“The Godfather: Part II” is divided in two storylines: One is the rising of Vito Corleone (this time played by Robert De Niro) to head of a crime organization while the other continues the story of the now head of the family Michael Corleone.
Vito Corleone’s side of the story appears sporadically throughout the movie. And while it had potential to be quite interesting, I felt disappointed. In the original movie, Don Corleone is presented as someone that (if you squint a bit) can be considered as a good man doing what he has to do to protect and help his family. On this one he is little more than a thief and a murderer, inspiring more fear than respect.
Michael’s side of the story starts in a very (and I mean very) similar way to the start of the previous movie, making one wonder if the original idea of the movie was just to make some more money. The remaining of the story just…. is. The guiding line is weak, making that they mostly just wonder around killing (or trying to) someone now and then. There are also a few disconnected events, like the trial, that appear out of no-where and have little effect on the story.
It’s a viewable movie, but not for the name and it would be unknown by most people. The slow pacing, which is a feature in all of the series, hurts the most in this movie (the other two pass mostly unscathed).
I dunno… was I the only one who felt this was not that great?

Part III
“The Godfather: Part III” was made a lot of time after the other two, and this is obvious in many elements and style of the story (and I’m not talking about the actors being older). Perhaps this is what harmed the movie the most, since many of the classic Mafia references are gone.
The story is similar in construction with the first movie, with the beginning and ending having very little to do with one another, but with a logical evolution between the two. There are also several references to the previous movies, namely part one, some obvious and some a little more obscure, like the baker Enzo, meaning that more than a sequel this movie also pays a lot of tribute.
Among the new acquisitions to the cast, there are two I would like to mention: One is Sofia Coppola who obviously only got the part because a) they didn’t manage to get anyone else and b) she was the director’s daughter. The other is Andy Garcia, who really shines towards the ending of the movie simply for his style.
I don’t know what else to say about this movie, so I won’t.

All in all, the Godfather trilogy is an interesting watch, but not one that most people would be willing to do often. They’re classics and they deserve to be treated as such. I recommend the first movie to anyone who likes a good movie. The other two are not essential, but, among the two, modern audiences are more likely to enjoy part III.

In other news, Life of Fiction now has a new collaborator. Say hello to Zavatar and expect his first post soon.

Really soon…

Any minute now…

On second thought, just check by in a few days or something.