5.17.2017

Freeway Fighter #1: Review

     Freeway Fighter began as a Fighting Fantasy gamebook way back in the 80's by renowned creator Ian Livingstone, and has been updated and adapted by writer Andi Ewington (451 Entertainment's Red Dog, Sunflower, and Six, as well as his creator owned series Overrun).  It's illustrated by Simon Coleby (The Authority, Judge Dredd), colored by Len O'Grady, and published by Titan Comics.

MAD MAXINE

     There's no way to avoid a Mad Max reference due to the similarities, but that is not a bad thing.  You can easily tell where the inspiration came from, but Freeway Fighter paves it's own path with a post-apocalyptic dystopia, complete with harsh living conditions and awesome car battles.

     The story begins with De La Rosa as a race car driver trying to match her father's legacy, and shows her to be ruthless in reaching her objective.  It starts fast and keeps the pace as it rockets towards the end.  There's an extremely brief opener setting up her character that brilliantly segues into the "present" (2024) with her demolishing another tricked out and weaponized vehicle, and being chased by others.

     There isn't a lot of story here yet.  We get only the most basic facts- De La Rosa's a badass that gets the job done, and the job here is survival.  We don't know what the virus that killed off most of humanity was, we don't know where De La Rosa is going or what her goals are, and it really doesn't matter.  The sparse story is a commendable thing in Freeway Fighter's case.  We only get what we need in the first issue, leaving us wanting more.

FULL THROTTLE

     Simon Coleby's art is highly dynamic very befitting of the material.  Panels move and flow, creating well thought out, clean transitions that both tie the story elements together, and guide the eye along.  Honestly, it's something that perfectly encapsulates high-tension chase sequences of action movies- but in comic book form.
     Making this effect work even better is the fact that the illustrations are really fleshed out with the Len O’Grady's colors.  They are vivid and vibrant for the past, and in the present are primarily the typical muted palettes of post-apocalyptic tales, but with some splashes of the former world, shining brightly through.  It sets a tremendous tone for the story.

RACE CAR 44

     Overall, the issue is just a bit short in length, but feels much shorter because it is so well done.  It reads so smoothly it's like water slipping through your hands- an effect only the best comic books can claim.  Freeway Fighter is in no way a mere Mad Max knockoff, but rather, it's a glorious homage to the grim and gritty, gasoline-fueled destruction in mankind's fight for survival in a wasted future.  It's a quick, action-packed, car-smashing thrill ride that has a ton of potential and I can't wait to see where the story goes from here.

     Freeway Fighter 1 hit stands today. [ For the issue on Comixology ]

*Review copy provided, thank you!

5.16.2017

Morphite: Upcoming Metroid Prime-like Mobile Game Gets Delayed

     With many mobile gamers anxiously awaiting the release of the amazing looking, Metroid-esque space adventure Morphite, we are in for a small bit of sad news today.  Morphite has been delayed again.


     Originally set to release in late spring, that won't be happening now, and we also don't have a set time period now.  Over on the Touch Arcade forums, one of the developers (from Crescent Moon Games and We're Five Games) have posted the news and the reason why.
     Apparently the delay is so the game can be ported to "other console platforms."  What's even better news is the core development team is not handling it, a completely different group, Blowfish Studios, will be tackling the porting duties- meaning the main team is still focused on making the best mobile game possible. [ Reference ]

     I've been following and covering Morphite for a long time, and I would gladly wait for the game to get a proper work over than a rushed, bug-filled mess.  I'm sure no one wants this game to pull a No Man's Sky, and wind up nothing like the promises the trailers made it out to be.  I trust the developers to get this done, and get it done well at that.

     My previous Morphite coverage [ Here ] and a couple on [ DroidGamers 1 & 2 ]

Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm: First 15nMinutes of Gameplay Trailer!!!

     It's been a few months since I last reported news on Cornfox & Bros.' Oceanhorn sequel, but today they've released a new gameplay video, and it looks every bit as good as we could expect.  The video was captured directly from an iPhone 7 Plus, and is quite stunning.


     Since the first game they've completely overhauled the mechanics making it a 3rd person adventure game instead of the top down previously used.  A very bold and smart move, as there aren't many games like this available on mobile devices- potentially creating an iOS/Android kind of Legend of Zelda analog.

     As of yet, developers Cornfox & Bros. have neither given a release date, nor have they officially announced what systems the game will release on.  We can only hope that Oceanhorn 2: Knights of the Lost Realm will arrive sooner rather than later.

     To follow as the game develops check out their official links [ Oceanhorn ] [ Twitter ]

5.02.2017

Stained Issue 1: Review (451 Entertainment)

HURT THE PEOPLE, 
          PROTECT THE DIAMONDS

     451 Entertainment's newest book, Stained, is a sci fi wonder in the same vein as Masamune Shirow's classic comic Ghost in the Shell.  Stained is brought to us by newcomer artist Yusuf Idris taking care of illustrating it, and David Baron doing double-duty with this being his first foray into writing, while keeping with his memorable coloring talents on the book.

     Stained is the story of Emma London, a bounty hunter with an attitude and lots of skill.  The book itself is hits just the right cyberpunk dystopian future tone, heavy police noir elements, and it's really quite reminiscent of Blade Runner.  It's loaded with action, violence, and cool technology all wrapped in a grim criminal underworld.

     What works well for the book is the simplicity it begins with.  The writing is snappy and quick.  All the characters sound real and the story flows quickly.  Nothing sounds forced, or absurd.  We get to see the Emma London being a regular person (albeit a bionically enhanced one).  She has to worry about day to day things like the high cost of living- she worries about paying the bills, making rent, and exorbitant taxes.  She has emotions and reactions to the people around her.  It feels natural and grounded in a real world.  Even the little actions, like Emma's evening where she makes dinner only to throw it out because she doesn't need it, but still longs for that ritual as it gives her a bit of comfort.  Conversely, she knows what her job is, and she will get it done- hurt the people, save the diamonds.

"STAINED"

     My only real complaint about the book is what isn't explained.  We know something happened in Emma's past, but absolutely no clue as to what it was.  Whatever caused her to get her cybernetic parts, and we know that the term "stained"is a slur, but why that is is not even hinted at.  We neither know what caused Emma's situation, nor why "stained" is such a terrible slur to cause her to react so aggressively to being referred to as that.
     In addition, usually readers can kind of tell where a plot is pointing to for the future, but Stained doesn't give us any hints.  There aren't any leads on what will come next, and though this issue stands well enough on it's own, which does have some good merit, it feels kind of like a stand alone issue.


     I believe 451 did well in pinching Baron from Valiant for his previously untapped writing talents.  We know he could more than pull his weight with coloring with his outstanding work on big titles like Divinity, Doctor Mirage, and Bloodshot Reborn.  So this is one of those cases where utilizing a creative person's other abilities is a good turn.
     As for Idris' illustrations, I'll cut him some slack.  He is a relative rookie, and there's some small things that change appearance, like the looks of a couple faces, but they are small annoyances.  His style fits the book, and as such, it works really well- making him someone to watch.  He actually reminds me a lot of early Bryan Hitch (Marvel's The Ultimates) before his style become ultra cinematic, or even a bit like Travis Charest before he hit his stride with Wildcats.  What I'm trying to say is, Yusef Idris is definitely an artist to keep your eyes on.

     I've said it numerous times before, and I'll say it yet again, 451 has yet to have a bad series.  Stained is no different, it's off to a great start, and I eagerly await what's to come for our rebellious bounty hunter friend and finding out what makes someone "stained."  In a market over-saturated with science fiction bounty hunter stories this book stands out due to the fact the main protagonist is so damned well written.  Emma feels like a real person, and because of that I want to keep reading just to see what she'll end up doing in the next issue, and what new and dangerous cases she'll come across.  Stained is an easy book to recommend, so go check it out.

     Stained #1 will be available this Wednesday, May 3rd.

     Official Sites [ 451 Entertainment ] [ Twitter ] [ Facebook ] [ Youtube ]

     451's Comics on [ Comixology ]

     My 451 comic reviews [ HERE ]

*Review copy provided, thank you!

3.13.2017

RiME Gets a Release Date!

     RiME has had a rocky production since its announcement at the at Sony's Gamescom 2013 Press Conference, but Tequila Works' game has finally received a set release date!


     Rime appears to be an amalgam of Journey, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and the Team Ico games and set on a strange Myst-like island.  The story is of a boy needing to find a way off the island and away from its terrible curse.

     What has me most excited is that it sounds like the game has a few procedurally generated elements, or it may change depending on how you play it.  In an interview with Polygon, the game's creator, Raúl Rubio Munárriz, said, "-"Every time you explore this island or islands you are going to experience it differently."  So not only might there be more than just one island, but it changes.
     Going on he says:
     "The island is a paradise, but that does not mean that what you see at the start is the same as what you see at the end. This is not a game about black and white. It is not about good and evil. We are trying to play with what the player takes for granted. This is a puzzle adventure game but that doesn't mean that you are going to enter houses and start gathering stuff. I see this environment, it is beautiful, but something is wrong. Who built this?"
     RiME will arrive on PC, PS4, and XBox One on May 26th, and at a later date for the Nintendo Switch.

     I also wonder if odd capitalization on the name probably has ties to the tower featured in the game.

     For related posts [ Rime ]

Streets of Rogue: Short Review

     I've had my eye on developer tinyBuild's gem of a game called Streets of Rogue since last September, and this weekend I finally got to it.  Taking a top down rogue-like approach to stealth shooters, the game is a procedurally-generated sandbox world game tasking players with completing a series of missions in each level on a quest as a member of a resistance.


     How you complete those missions is completely up to you.  Need to steal a tooth from a safe? You can set off the alarms, poison the air supply, bribe guards, or just smash your way through the walls.  What amazes me is the sheer absurdity of what you can do in the game.  Considering there's 40 characters (not all unlocked initially) there's a lot of opportunity.
     So a hacker can hack computers to open doors and not rudely read peoples' emails, doctors may tranquilize someone, and soldiers can blast their way through mobs of people, where a scientist might use a shrink ray or a growth serum to get the job done.
     Though each character also suffers a deficit in some area so they aren't all powerful.  As the gorilla, I was really tough and strong, but couldn't speak English and it eliminated the possibility of  talking to any other characters (other gorillas would follow me however).

Nobody expects a gorilla with a hard hat and a wrench to be the bad guy.
     The only negative I've found with Streets of Rogue is the multiplayer is all messed up.  I couldn't get either local co-op, nor the online to work.  Granted it's still in the early release stage so I'd give it time to really get the bugs worked out for the full co-op experience.

     There's a brilliance in the way tinyBuild has somehow reduced a game to basics, but expanded it's depth of experience that is kind of staggering.  I highly recommend giving Streets of Rogue a chance, it's worth every cent.  It's got great gameplay, great music and sound effects, and what I like best is how brief the experience can be.  Once you understand the fundamentals, you can dive in play a few levels, and quit.  Then jump in again at a later time without an issue.  Trying out new characters just to see how the world reacts to your silly antics is a sublime kind of enjoyment.  Streets of Rogue is just loaded with silly humor and crammed with fun gameplay.  I honestly haven't had this much fun with a rogue-like game for a long time.

     Streets of Rogue on STEAM for $14.99 (get 10% until March 17th- $13.39)

3.10.2017

Stained: Awesome New Sci Fi Comic Series from 451 Entertainment Arriving May 3rd!

     David Baron (colorist of Valiant comics' great books Divinity, Doctor Mirage, and Bloodshot Reborn) will show off his considerable writing talents with 451 Entertainment's new sci fi noir title Stained.  He'll be pulling double duty, and will still be coloring the book himself, while Yusuf Idris handles the illustration side of things.

     "Meet Emma London: recovery artist and bounty hunter for hire. She is strong, possibly indomitable, and did we mention...part machine. 
     Emma is the type that dives head first into things that most wouldn’t and shouldn’t. Those dark places that no one else will go to track down the subhuman criminals lurking in the underbelly of society and brings them to justice. STAINED first comes to life with Emma trying to take down a pair of international diamond smugglers. Emma's story explodes forward when initially what was thought to be a hunt for priceless painting with a record high bounty, leads her to something darker and more monstrous than she could have ever imagined."
     Stained looks like it might give Masamune Shirow's classic Ghost in the Shell a run for its money.  The book has definitely nailed the cyberpunk dystopian future tone properly.  It's also got action, its got violence, and its got a whole lot of a Blade Runner feel to it- which is always a good thing.  It means the book is being handled right.

     And it doesn't hurt that the trailer is spectacularly done for a comic book!  Seriously, 451 Entertainment has yet to have a dud of a comic.  Every single series they've published is great, and this is just one more to add to that number.

     Stained #1 hits store shelves on May 3rd.

     Official Sites [ 451 Entertainment ] [ Twitter ] [ Facebook ] [ Youtube ]

     451's Comics on [ Comixology ]

     My 451 comic reviews [ HERE ]

STYX: Shards of Darkness Launch Trailer!

    The highly anticipated follow up to the tremendous Styx: Master of Shadows, Shards of Darkness, is finally arriving next week and we get an all new launch trailer to whet our appetites!


     Cyanide Studios' stealthy goblin assassin returns with a new mission- steal the scepter of an ambassador for a mysterious new human named Helledryn.  The reward for this dangerous task?  An absurd amount of Amber- the highly addictive source of his strange powers.

     Armed with his trusty blade, creative new ways to kill people, some reliable old supernatural skills, and even some new co-op play- Styx will need all the stealth and snark he can muster to achieve his goal to make it through a web of deadly intrigue in this world of dark fantasy cloak-and-dagger.

     Styx: Shards of Darkness launches Tues. Mar. 14th.

     Related posts [ STYX ]

3.08.2017

Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City: New Screenshots Revealed

     With a mere 3 weeks until the release of the final Dark Souls 3 DLC content, The Ringed City, we are sure to get tons of teaser hype.  Today Bandai-Namco and From Software have given us a bunch of new images and snippets of text to whet our appetites.


An ancient city that has sunken under darkness.
 
Many things have sunken, but at the same time, many have arose.

Because there may be spoilers contained in the images and descriptions click to continue:


3.07.2017

Warner Bros.' DC Films: Quick Thoughts About Comics Looking Towards R-Rated Films

     After ignoring what fans have been bitching about for years, the box office numbers of Fox's Deadpool film, and last weekend's Logan raking in huge numbers, have made some studios rethink the ratings on their own films.  Deadpool had over $130 million just for the opening weekend.
     The Wrap reports that an Insider at Warner Bros.' DC Films recently said that, "With the right character(s)" they would definitely make an R-rated film.  A "100% yes," they would consider making a more adult oriented movie.


     Granted there have been previous R-rated superhero films such as Blade, Kickass, and Watchmen, but I worry that the studio goal is to simply make money, without putting in the effort to understand why Deadpool and Logan are doing so damn well at the box office.
     DC Comics in film has generally been handled very poorly.  Zack Snyder doesn't seem to grasp what makes these iconic characters important and lasting, and the result can be clearly seen in the vast difference between the abominable Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Christopher Nolan's tremendous Batman: The Dark Knight.  Would making BvS: Dawn of Justice an R-rated film give it the boost it needed?  Not really, as the extended version showed.  It was a better version than the theatrical cut, but it still fell short of what is should've been.  They need to learn character insight before a rating will make a difference.  Deadpool nailed the character, and Logan got it almost 100% right- it made a giant leap forward and I think the first 2/3 is amazing and then it falters a bit.  What is important with Logan is they learned that they need to make a good film first, then add the R, as I'd been complaining about for years.  It's why X-Men: Apocalypse was garbage, they didn't make a good story.

     Not every comic book movie needs the grittier reboot.  The rating doesn't matter if the writers and directors don't "get it."  Look at how shitty the first two Wolverine films were.  As the Insider mentions, with the right character an R rating could do very well.  Ben Affleck's Batman in the right hands could be an R rated masterpiece.  Think of Casino or Goodfellas with the Batman- a hardcore crime story filled with the mob focused villains, and maybe a very serious take on the Riddler.  It could be absolutely astounding, but I doubt it would work with Snyder a the helm.  He lacks the fundamental knowledge of the underlying significance of these characters.  We need a Scorsese leading the project, something handled by people that understand more than a simple good looking shot.  They have to know what makes the stories and characters matter, and in the end it needs to come down to substance over spectacle.

     Source [ The Wrap ]