sábado, 29 de setembro de 2007

Not dead yet!

Besides being the title of Chidren of Bodom's last album, which I managed to loose before even listening to once, the title of this post can also describe my blog. Yeah, I know, it's been ages since I last wrote something, but not only I've been pretty busy lately, also nothing special happened. Well, besides 25th September, that is...

That day marked the release of Dethklok's first album! Don't know who Dethklok are? Well, they're basically a virtual band, stars of the TV show Metalocalypse, an adult-oriented cartoon with a dark humour not suited for everyone (I have to admit, although I love their music I'm not really a fan of the show). Although a virtual band, their music is just great, something fans noticed from the very beginning, but until now all we could do to listen to this great songs was capture the audio from the episodes or listen to some clips on their MySpace page. Both ways are not practical and limited, since the songs from the shows were always short (1-2 minutes).

Fortunately now those days are gone, thanks to the release of all of our favourite songs in audio-quality, full-length, arranged versions! There are also exclusive songs, that I don't remember seeing before, which is great!

So, what can I say more about The Dethalbum? Well, the first time I saw the tracklist I was somewhat disappointed to see that 2 of my favourite songs were left from the main album, being available only in a bonus cd. Also, when I finally put my hands on the album, I noticed that this tracks were different from what I was used to.

Anyway, all this suddenly disappeared when I started to listen to the other songs. Both Murmaider, the 1st track, and Fansong, the 6th, are bloody brilliant, and all the songs in between are pretty awesome too! In fact, the first 6 songs are so good that I haven't played the rest of the album yet, but I bet there's more awesome songs waiting.

Here's a quote from a review over at metal-archives.com:

"The best thing about this album though is not it's great riffs and solos, Gene's drumming, or the vocal hooks - but the variety of metal on this disc. There is literally something for everyone here. There's brutality, beautiful melody, orchestral score, 80's metal, blues influence, and alot of accessibility. I wouldn't be surprised if they started selling this at local Wal-Marts, if they aren't already. (It would be great to get some mallcore kids into the real metal scene) This is the metal record for the whole family if you will, 38 flavors besides vanilla - one of those albums we get once in a decade. It truly is an amazing album. Hopefully they can top this, should they release another album. But personally, I think that will be hard to do."

So, interested now? If you are, you can check out their MySpace (I personally recommend listening to Duncan Hills Coffee and Blood Ocean) and, or course, there's always youtube:

- Murmaider

- Fansong

- Thunderhorse (did you know this was a bonus song in Guitar Hero 2?)

By the way, in a somewhat unrelated matter, rumour has it that Iron Maiden are coming to Portugal in 2008! OMFG!!! If this is true one of my life goals will be completed next year!

domingo, 16 de setembro de 2007

Movie critics are fucking idiots!

Not only critics, but almost all the people that write about movies for sites like the Internet Movie Database, Rotten Tomatoes and such. Like someone wise said in a thread about the movie I just saw: "They [critics] wouldn't know a good movie if it slapped their arrogant grins off their faces". Why am I telling you this? Well, for a long time I've seen some of my favourite movies being torn apart by critics, but now I'm full of it!

Just a few hours ago I watched Pathfinder. It's a movie I didn't know anything about until I saw a poster of it in my regular movie rental store. The premise caught my attention from the start. Vikings and Indians (ok, native americans), two ancient cultures, beating the crap out of each other. Then, as I searched for more information, my enthusiasm cooled down. It seemed that the Indians were victorious in the end (fuck, I wanted the Vikings to win!) and they do that with the help of a Viking boy who is raised by them and then turns against is own people (WTF? I hate when someone does that). Anyway, it still had Vikings and Indians killing each other, so that should be enough for me.

Well, now that I've seen it, yes, it was enough for me. The movie is not perfect, far from that, and I didn't like the many incoherences when it came to the Viking culture. For example, the horned hats are just a stupid stereotype, they were just used in ceremonies, and, unlike what the movie tells you, not every Viking carried a sword. In fact, swords were hard and expensive to craft, so only leaders carried them. Regular soldiers had to bear with just axes. But, despite that, I enjoyed the movie. It's brutal, it's bloody and it has great action sequences

Wanna know what people think about it? They all say it's crap. WTF? Are you fucking kidding?

This shouldn't be a surprise, really, since many other personal favourites of mine suffered the same fate. Know Alien vs Predator? Jurassic Park III? It happened to them too. Fuck, it even goes all the way back to my childhood! Ever heard of Godzilla? That fucking awesome movie with a creature 100% cooler that the ridiculous original Japanese character? Everyone said it was crap. How is that even possible???

But I can go on. Know Danny the Dog (known as Unleashed in some territories)? I'm not an expert when it comes to martial arts movies, but I do know that was an impressive movie like no other I have seen, and one of, if not the best movie in Jet Li's carrer. Now, I don't really need to tell you what everyone said about it, do I? Guess they prefer the Jackie Chan's comedy-style martial arts stupid films.

Well, I think is enough with the ranting. The whole point of this post, other than canalizing my rage in a productive way, is that you should never trust the opinion of a critic, or of any other person that writes movie reviews, for that matter. See the movies for yourself, because all the judgement you need is your own.

Oh, and if you want some good action movies, you can check out any of the ones I mentioned, despite what people say about them...

sábado, 15 de setembro de 2007

Aliens and Predators

Well, guess it's about time I post anything new, isn't it? Sorry for being away for so long, but nothing special happened lately, so I really didn't have anything to post about. Also I'm feeling a little depressed this week. Don't know exactly why, to be honest. Guess it's just me, I get like this from time to time.

Anyway, since I saw Alien vs Predator (great movie, I don't care what people say) last weekend I already played two distinct games in order to extend the experience of the film. The first was not a game per se, but an expansion pack for a game. I'm talking about Alien vs Predator 2 Primal Hunt. Although I've played AvP2 some years ago, I never played the expansion, maybe because of the bad score it got from a Portuguese mag back in the time. Well, now, with the movie still fresh in my mind, I decided it was about time!

So, now that I've played it to the end with all 3 races, I have to admit, that review was right about some things. The whole expansion feels like just a poor extension of the main game. There's barely anything new, the level designs are far from great, and it all ends too quickly. But is it worthy for a fan of the original game?

Hell yeah! The opportunity to play with a Predator once again is great. There's nothing like turning your cloak on, sneaking behind a prey and ripping it apart with the Wirst Blades. Or just snipe at them from afar with the Spear Gun, with the bonus of the heads being ripped off the body and getting stuck in the walls behind. In the end, as always, you can also collect the heads of your enemies and take them as trophies. There's no actual reward for that, but it's cool to hear your Yautja screaming while you take the head off.

And, for the first time, you can also play with a Predalien, that cool mix between and Alien and Predator. The gameplay is exactly the same as with the Alien of AvP2, but it's just cooler to play with this new guy.

After beating this expansion I also tried to play the original AvP, but unfortunately it didn't run on my PC. Guess my machine is too good for that game, which is a first, since I was only used to it being too bad for games.

Anyway, while I was thinking about getting Predator: Concrete Jungle for the PS2 (which I didn't get yet, waiting for this "predator fever" to cool off and then reappear by the time the second movie hits the cinemas), I decided to try some arcade action. You know, that Model 2 emulator I talked about in the Saturn Junkyard is not the only "board-specific" arcade emulator out there. While searching for more arcade goodness I stumbled upon Modeler, a lovely Model 1 and System 32 emulator.

The Model 1 emulation is still in a early stage, though, so you can forget Star Wars Arcade for the time being, but the System 32 emulation is pretty good. And what could possibly be the best game to try the emulator with? That's right, Alien 3: The Gun! An amazing shooter this game is, and since the emulator has mouse support, aiming could only be better with a light-gun.

Taking control of a marine armed with an awesome machine-gun with infinite ammunitions (no little pistol for you!), you blast your way through 6 levels full of almost every alien you can think of, from face-huggers, to chest-busters and many variations of an adult xenomorph. What I find really amazing are the animations of the aliens, so fluid that you just want to shoot them to see them move! Ok, that sounds weird, but if you play this game you'll see what I mean.

You can get both the emulator and some roms here.

As always, great posts demand great soundtracks, so once again I listened to a whole cd:

Slayer - Christ Illusion (strong cover, guess that's why it has been censored)

Here's the first single of the album, and my favourite track - Eyes of the Insane

sexta-feira, 7 de setembro de 2007

Jurassic Park: Trespasser

After watching Jurassic Park III for the 2nd time last weekend (the first one was in the cinema, when it first came out), I felt like I needed something to expand my experience, hence, a videogame. The problem is there's not much JP games, especially recent ones. Anyway, after playing JP arcade on MAME, I decided to try Trespasser, an old FPS (released in 1998) said to be pretty advanced for it's time.

Well, now I can say it myself, that game not only was, but still is, an FPS like no other, and in many ways it's precisely the FPS I've been craving for so many years. Yes, it's that awesome!

I really don't know where to start. Well, I think I'll begin with the story. Here you control Anne, a young woman who crash-landed on Isla Sorna, the island from JP 2 and 3, sometime after the events of the 2nd movie. Like in the movies, you control a civilian who just wants to get out of the island alive, and that's your main goal.

There isn't much story here, but you character usually talks to herself, about what's happening around you, and you'll often hear clips of John Hammond's memoir, which is great for fans since it gives you an intimate look about Hammond's life and the creation of Jurassic Park.

But what really shines in this game is the gameplay. There's so many brilliant and unique things about it that I don't really know where to start. For instance the game is all about realism. There's no HUD whatsoever. You can see your health by looking at your chest (yes, if you look down you actually see your character's chest, something we only started to see last year with Call of Juarez and other game I can't remember now). There's a heart-shaped tattoo on one of Anne's breasts that fills as you gain damage.

There's also no health packs. You regain your energy automatically over time as long as you're not hit, something Call of Duty 2 was famous for "introducing" in 2005...

Since there's no HUD you also depend on your character to know how many bullets are left on a magazine, so you have to pay attention to her comments when you shoot.

Now, what really makes this game stand out is the arm. The right arm, to be precise, since the left one was broken when Anne crashed on the island. All the interaction with your surroundings is made with this arm, that you can move freely in every direction, and by interactions I mean picking and using weapons and objects, open doors, press buttons in keypads, etc...

Related to this is the game's physics engine, which was so advanced for it's time that it was only surpassed by the on present in 2004's Half-Life 2. Unlike HL2, though, where the objects you picked up appeared suspended in front of you, like some invisible hand is holding them, here you actually see your arm extend to pick the object and your hand holding it.

Now, about the weapons, they're also unlike anything you've seen before. Not the weapons themselves, but the way you handle them. Like the objects, you actually see your arm extending to pick them up (not only you see, but you have to do it, since it's not automatic), unlike every other FPS where you just pass over them and they magically appear on your hands.

Now, once you pick them up, you also don't handle them like you do in other games. For instance, there's no crosshair and you actually have to position your weapon in a way that you know where you're shooting, cause if you rotate your weapon to the left, you'll shoot to the left. Another thing is that your weapon is not an independent object like in other games, it's still part of the world, so it interacts with the objects around it. This means that if, for example, you go against a wall, the weapon will react accordingly. This is most important when fighting dinosaurs that like to bash you, since if you're not careful you can loose your gun in the middle of a fight.

(not the best video, this game looks bad if you don't know how to play it)

This is specially great for finishing of half-dead dinosaurs. If you see a dying raptor you can put your weapon against it's face and actually feel when your gun is touching it, by the way it won't move further. Then, you just need to pull the trigger...

Despite all it's innovations, this was really a game way ahead of it's time, which explains the poor sales and reviews. Of course the game is not perfect. The budget wasn't enough for what the creators were trying to do and since the game had to be rushed to meet the release of the 2nd film, there are some rough edges. The realism and slow-paced action wasn't also well received by gamers with Quake running in their veins, but that's not the game's fault. It's actually the gamer's fault, since now we could have more games like this one, if it wasn't for the stupid gamers that just want another brainless shooter like the other million brainless shooters that already exist...

Anyway, if you like Jurassic Park or just want an FPS like no other, give this game a chance. Although it's an old game, you can make it look (and actually play) better using this unofficial patch, and there's also a great community dedicated to this great game.

PS - From now on I'll always end my posts by telling you the music I listened to while writing the post. I think it's a good way to share my favourite bands with you guys. This time, since the post was really big, I listened to a whole album:

Sonata Artica - For the Sake of Revenge

Some of my favourite songs:

- My Land

- Gravenimage (short version) and Don't Say a Word

- The Cage

terça-feira, 4 de setembro de 2007

Blind Guardian awesomeness!

Say hello to the latest acquisition for my music DVD collection:

Blind Guardian - Imaginations Through the Looking Glass

Being the only DVD they released so far, this and the CD Tokyo Tales are the only way to listen to this great band playing live in the comfort of your home.

Wait, don't know who Blind Guardian are? Well, for a start you can look here and here, but I can also try to define them myself, of course. They started as a Speed Metal band, but after the album Somewhere Far Beyond they started to sound more like Power Metal, and, like all Power Metal bands, their lyrical themes are mostly about fantasy tales and legends. One difference between BG and other Power Metal bands, though, is that, although every band sing about fantasy settings that immediately remind us of well known books, although never making references to any book in particular, BG never try to hide their influences, with obvious songs like Lord of the Rings or The Quest for Tanelorn.

Since I'm already talking about LotR, Tolkien is probably the single biggest influence of BG's work, with an entire album dedicated to singing about The Silmarillion. Their music is not consensual, though, and I've already introduced BG to Tolkien fans, with negative reactions.

Now, about this DVD in particular. Well, to be honest, I only know 3 songs present in it, since as of now I only have 2 albums, Somewhere Far Beyond and Forgotten Tales. Anyway, those songs are great when played Live, although not perfect (I'm used to Iron Maiden's perfectly played live songs, so I'm picky about this). LotR's final is not as good as in the orchestral version present in Forgotten Tales, and the very end of Somewhere Far Beyond could also be better, with the guitar playing too low and the vocalist singing the final lyrics with fewer enthusiasm than I expected. I also miss the song The Quest for Tanelorn, but hey, you can't have it all, can you?

Still, despite this, these songs are really great, and The Bard's Song is near perfection, so this DVD was worth it.

If you're interested in this DVD or Blind Guardian in general but don't want to waste money without knowing if you're gonna like their music, here are the songs I mentioned:

- Lord of the Rings (not the one present on the DVD, couldn't find that one)

- Somewhere Far Beyond

- The Bard's Song (in the forest)

segunda-feira, 3 de setembro de 2007

Room decoration

Like my God of War 2 poster? :)

(click to see it in it's full glory)

Sorry for the bad picture, but it's the best I can get with my phone. I thought about sharing this magnificent view with you guys, since it's easily one of my best posters. In case you're wondering, yes, it came with the Portuguese edition of the Official PlayStation Magazine, but no, I haven't bought the magazine, I managed to get it some other way..., so I'm not entirely in the dark side of gaming yet xD

By the way, I also have this cute one, from the same magazine, with a Little Big Planet theme. Aren't the little guys so adorable?

But fear not, for my room is not deprived of SEGA-related decoration. Here is just one example of that, my commemorative poster of Sonic's 10th birthday and a Soul Calibur one on the bottom, featuring that big breasted beauty called Ivy.

And by the way, since I'm already in a photo show-off, here's my customized Dreamcast! Ok, it's just a sticker, but I think it fits really well. What do you guys think of it?