Styx: Shards of Darkness: Update

     After playing Styx: Master of Shadows back in 2014 I was quite impressed by the goblin assassin's story and the stealth gameplay.  It wasn't amazing and few other people I knew played it, but it held something interesting with its fantasy setting and story.  And I was more surprised that even fewer people knew that it was also actually a game with ties to 2012's Of Orcs and Men, as it is a sort of prequel.
     I even forgot to post my draft about the Cyanide Studio's announcement of Styx: Shards of Darkness back in October last year.  Styx must've been up to his supernaturally stealthy tricks again to have slipped out of my mind so well.  Well played goblin, well played.  Luckily, this update has reminded me I need to replay both the earlier games and review them to build hype and refresh my knowledge of this wonderful world for the new game.

     The official site's rundown:
Following the fall of Akenash tower, an extraordinary matter has forced Styx out of hiding to infiltrate Körangar, the city of the Dark Elves. Supposedly impregnable, a diplomatic summit offers Styx a chance at slipping in unnoticed, as he learns that the event is nothing but a mere façade… Moreover, the Elves have joined forces with the Dwarves, and the only thing both races have in common is a mutual hatred of the Goblins…
     Cyanide Studio's have rebuilt the entire game in the newer Unreal 4 engine allowing for larger and lusher environments for us to play in.  There's supposed to be new mechanics, abilities, and a bunch of new enemies all in an effort to refine and improve upon the precedent that Master of Shadows set.

     Styx: Shards of Darkness is set to release in 2016.

     Source [ PushSquare ]

     The official site [ Styx: The Game ]


Marvel Future Fight: Another New Update! Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan, Carnage, Jane Foster Thor, and One Large Problem

     As easily the best Marvel game, and one of the best free-to-play mobile games, Future Fight recently received yet another great update.  This time they've added Carnage as a playable character, although he's locked behind a sort of paywall to obtain, the Jane Foster Thor, and Kamala "Ms. Marvel" Khan.

     In addition to this there are new costumes for Luke Cage, Green Goblin, and Star Lord.  Intriguingly, the Goblin costume changes the way the character plays to feel more like Hulk.

     There's also been a lot of visual overhauls to buttons and menus, and honestly one huge change that is very infuriating- the Timeline Battles (versus mode against other players' characters).
     They took the mode and made the matchmaking downright horrendous.  It is so absurdly imbalanced now that it isn't even funny.  It is irritating and a giant annoyance, because one of the daily missions to complete requires you to play 5 rounds of Timeline Battles.
     I am consistently put against people 20 levels above mine, making it quite literally impossible to win, and the only way to find a new opponent is to pay in game gold- meaning they encourage changing to get people to buy more gold.

     I mean check out the 3 fights I did (in order):

     So in the first round my three level 43 characters were pitted against three level 60s.  There is absolutely no way I even had a chance in that fight.  Even a few levels can be an impossible battle depending on the characters because some of them are greatly overpowered like Hulk or many of the Spider-Man characters.

     In the second, they put me with my same three against two level 13s and a level 1 character?!?  Seriously, what the hell?  How is anyone supposed to enjoy this?  

     Then the match right after that I was back to fighting a level 58 and two 59s.  It's either a guaranteed win or loss, there's almost no close matches.  I've had maybe a 10% chance of a somewhat balanced match, and the other 90% are like this- and nearly always on the low end so I'm losing constantly.

     What I wonder is why they don't just make the levels EVENLY matched?  Because the odds are we are fighting proxy players and not actually the other person (I don't know this for sure, maybe we are), but if we aren't fighting another person, why isn't there a feature that scales their gear to your level to offer a fair and decent balance?

     Other than this problem the game has been maintaining it's awesomeness.  

     Many of us though are still a bit peeved that there aren't any X-Men characters to play in the game.  I wasn't a fan of Marvel's Contest of Champions, and they at least had the option to play as many of my favorite comics characters.  Come on Marvel, loosen up with the tie ins.  You're still making shit loads of money off of all the other merchandise, just not from the X-films.  


Deadpool: Movie Review, The Review's Review & Thoughts


     Deadpool is the turning point for superhero movies.  After the abominable X-Men Origins: Wolverine film I was genuinely surprised that anyone would bother to make a Deadpool film test footage.  Well, it happened, it then leaked, and it garnered insane amounts of fan backing.  It looked like the people that made the test footage knew the character.  The studio finally greenlit it and things progressed.  To make things even better, the marketing campaign for the film took the film to new heights.  It is absolutely brilliant in the way it's been handled.


     Overall, the film itself is pure genius.  It is not perfect by any means.  It drags on for a while, gets really flashback overloaded, and really pushes the bounds of comedy and superhero violence, but it was spot on for the character.  It was perfect for the fans of the series.  We fans have finally gotten exactly the kind of film we've been asking for after all these years!  Just as the Deadpool game was such a perfectly tailored game for fans, the movie is made specially for the fans.  Note, they did alter some of the history, and tried hilariously to make it fit into current film canon and continuity, but it's done in a way the both makes sense here, and fits for the film.
     They've utilized so many things that make Deadpool so unique, such as his blatant 4th wall breaking, that it is truly unbelievable.  Ryan Reynolds is the only person that could've pulled this off.  In fact pretty much everyone in the movie is cast so well.  And I must say, in my opinion, it holds the best Hugh Jackman cameo of any of the X-Men related films to date!  Plus we now have a Colossus that we want to see so much more of.
Post Review:

     Now that the film has been released and is killing it at the box office, Deadpool has shown the studios that my long time complaint that superhero movies need to grow up, has finally been proven to work.  The kiddie gloves can now come off, and we can potentially get a Wolverine worthy of being the "best there is."  Maybe we can see a Ghost Rider by some real horror creators.  I don't mean all comic movies need to be R rated, some however, need this extra grit and violence.

     Deadpool has already gotten a sequel greenlit and on track for a 2018 release, X-Force is on the way, a Legion series, and I've heard rumors (and we've seen Negasonic Teenage Warhead's suit) of a New Mutants series.

     Since Deadpool has done so well, I'll paste this chunk I wrote on 11.05.2013:
     Fox, why can't you get a Wolverine done by a decent writer and director?  Where's the team that can compete with Nolan's on The Dark Knight level?  I've written enough on the subject of handling this character so poorly plenty of times.  About teen angsty Logan mopery, bemoaning his past, and the need for real grit in the series.  If Marvel wants to create a series worthy of a man who is the best hunter/killer they need to really hunker down and focus.  We do NOT need another one-note-Wolverine film.  He needs to grow as a character, and that still hasn't happened in the X-Men film franchise.  Fans are sick of watching him cry into his beer.
     This is something we've needed for a long time.  A movie that proves we need superhero films for more than just kids.  Deadpool is showing studios that we want dark and gritty anti-heroes, not just Avengers goodie-goodie types.  More mature heroes and villains are an avenue that needs to be pursued cinematically.

Review of this Review:

     This review really got away from me and is pretty bad.  Sorry about that.  So, I'd recommend you just go see the film for yourself and make some judgements.  In the end, if you are a fan of Deadpool, action, lewd humor, and absurd violence, and yes, even a surprisingly good love story- go see Deadpool, you'll probably enjoy it.

Josh News Update: President's Day 2016 Edition

     Just a short update for all my readers out there.  I've been lax on posting lately due to some serious health issues, and after finishing this post I'll be heading off to yet another clinic appointment to see if we can get this crap fixed.

     So the Lady put my picture into that which dog are you thing and got the image I used here.  [ Update: it's what-dog.net ]  She thought it was super hilarious, and it kind of is.  But why she used such an awful picture of me is anyone's guess?  Perhaps to get a funnier result?  I don't know.

     In better news, I've got a Deadpool review post in the work, some really awesome comic reviews, some video reviews in the works, and so on.  Plus a whole series of posts for the Heroes universe, including both games, the ebook tie-in series, and the Reborn miniseries.  It feels good to return to something that I spent so much time with in the early days of this blog.  Granted, most of those posts were poorly formatted, and very rambling, but it's been years of learning since then and I've gotten much better.

     Aside from this, I've got some real work in progress.  I can't talk much about it other than saying there should be a set of short works available by the end of the year.  Yay!

     Hopefully I can get these health problems dealt with so I can get back on track to actually producing plenty of entertainment for you readers.

Daredevil Season 2: NEW Full Trailer! The Punisher has Arrived... and so has Elektra.

     After yesterdays small tease, "You're one bad day away from being me," the full trailer brings us a Punisher worthy of the wait.  He's every bit as driven, gritty, and able as I'd hoped he'd be.

     And that one last teaser at the end?  Absolutely Perfect.

     Interestingly, the trailer gives us a date for a "Trailer Part Two" coming Feb 25th.

     Daredevil season 2 hits Netflix on March 18th.


Deadpool 2: Stephen Lang Campaigning for Cable

     This is something that makes me very happy.  In fact, I've mentioned it time and again in 2013!- Stephen Lang would make a perfect Cable for the Deadpool sequel we all know has already been confirmed, and because it is currently slaying the box office this weekend.  Plus we also know there's an X-Force film in the works as well.  What makes this so much better is Lang himself is now campaigning for the role!

     I really, REALLY hope this happens.  Lang is an amazing actor, both for his military hardass characterization (Avatar) and his comedic roles (The Men Who Stare at Goats), and he'd bring a tremendous range to this fan-favorite character.  My only wish after this is to have him look more like the Ultimate X-Men version (despite that Cable not really being Nathan Summers), as he has the looks of a very balanced fighter that'd work very well with Lang's build.

    Seeing how Deadpool pretty much got pushed through into production due to mass fan backing, this is another campaign I'll get behind.



Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Final Trailer & Quick Thoughts

     The final trailer for the highly anticipated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has dropped, conveniently timed to coincide with the release of so many other films, notably Deadpool.  Regardless, the hype for this is getting pretty high.  Even I am super excited for this, although I still have plenty of reservations.

     The trailer definitely looks to be building us up for one hell of a final battle.  We'll probably get a Batman v Superman v Wonder Woman v Dungeon Troll Doomsday v ... and so on.  I mean we still haven't gotten footage of Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, or Green Lantern.  Though, to be fair, they'll probably be minor cameos at best- maybe even a just a small post credits sequence.

     I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this turns out to be much more well written than Man of Steel, which was good despite it's flaws.  It already looks better, but trailers aren't always indicative of substance- take Snyder's Sucker Punch.  It was a brilliant trailer and a downright horrendous film.  He tends to put style over substance.  Though, in this case David Goyer is helping with the writing...
     ...then again, while Goyer did write the Nolan Batman Dark Knight films, he also did Man of Steel and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and we all know how that last one turned out.

     Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters March 25th.


451 Comics: Sunflower: Issue 4 Review

     A decade of living as a hermit after her husband and daughter were murdered, CJ receives a mysterious postcard in the mail with only a single word written on it: Sunflower.  Her husband's body was found, her daughter's was not.  The perpetrator's were never found, and now this message has arrived on her doorstep with her name on it.  That is how the series, written by Mark Mallouk (and adapted by Andi Ewington), begins.  This new possibility that her daughter might actually still be alive starts CJ on one hell of a journey.

     Now, in the fourth issue, CJ has trekked through some troublesome places, and followed clues relentlessly, to find out where her daughter may be.  What began as a simple murder mystery has transformed into something much more ominous when CJ trails the leads to an Egyptian cult that has the locals fearful, and after initiation they bring her face to face with someone from her past.
     This issue shows exactly how far a determined parent will go to find their child.  Nothing will stop her until she finds the end of the story, and this issue provides a startling revelation on that path.  Nothing will keep her from finding the answers she's looking for.

     Every single issue has left me wanting more.  All the proper mystery/crime staples are here- murder, mystery, intrigue, shady police refusing new evidence on a cold case, and even the hesitant to assist townsfolk.  Each beat of the story is perfectly placed.  Each step is better than the last.  All leading us to an end that we won't want to miss.

     Aside from the awesome story and writing, it'd be foolish not to mention the art.  Sunflower artist Lee Carter has balanced the action with long scenes that give readers a true sense of build up.  It isn't mere run-and-gun non-stop action, though the action that is here is top notch realism with all the grit of modern crime novels.  Scenic vistas are interspersed throughout CJ's journey to give us a real sense of atmosphere and an even more real sense of the world around her.  Some of the landscapes generate a sense of foreboding, some have an eerie loneliness- a beautiful contrast from the bright and welcoming sunny-glow of the sunflower fields surrounding CJ's rural home.  This is undoubtedly what I imagine True Detective would be if it were a comic book.  An irresistible story that draws me ever closer with each issue.

     If you haven't begun reading Sunflower, I cannot recommend it enough.  And not just this series, but all of 451's titles that I've read are damn good.  I've read all the Self Storage, Sunflower, and Six issues* up to date and they are all tremendously well done.  Check them all out.

     Official [ 451 ]

     Previous reviews [ Sunflower & Self Storage ]

*Review copy of Sunflower #4 provided by 451 Media. Thank you and keep up the amazing work!


X-Men: Apocalypse: Super Bowl TV Spot & Thoughts

     Super Bowl 50 has featured commercials for pretty much everything, and X-Men: Apocalypse was no different.  Getting a new TV spot instead of a full new trailer, it shows off a little new footage and that's about it.  Well, aside from a whole lot of destruction, that is.

     X-Men: Apocalypse still looks really good, but I'm a bit worried for all the preposterous shots like the Storm and Psylocke ones (Archangel in a previous trailer also) look like television show shots with the way they are filmed.  It appears amateurish, so unless it is from a dream sequence- one of Jean Grey's visions- I'll be very displeased.  The Quicksilver scene looks off as well, maybe it's because his arms don't seem to be moving while he's running.
     The film is still shaping up to look pretty damn good, but once again, why does the whole world have to be at stake?  Days of Future Past was great because it had mutant-kind in the cross-hair, not the doom of the planet.  They were trying to change the mind of one person- President Nixon- into altering the path of history.  It's getting to be truly bothersome that Hollywood thinks the stakes always have to be maximum.  I even complained a ton of times about the poor way Fox has handled the Wolverine films.  Seriously, give him a dark, R-rated film and show us that "He's the best there is."  We want a Weapon X by Darren Aronofsky (just literally adapt Barry Windsor-Smith's Weapon X comic run- short and sweet), or a crime-noir Wolverine in Madripoor by Martin Scorsese (who I'd really like to see a Punisher film from!).

     If Deadpool can be an indicator, these types of films can grow up and still be great.  I don't mean Wolverine or X-Men need to be bloody as hell, as action and violence can be implied through proper editing and made to work even better than just shooting for gore-porn that many action films tend towards, but they do need to get tougher.  We're sick of seeing Wolverine cry into his beard and pine after Jean Grey, lose the angst Logan.  We want to see a Black Ops Wolverine take charge and show us why he really is the only right choice for grim and gritty anti-hero fans everywhere.

     X-Men: Apocalypse hits theaters May 27th.


10 Cloverfield Lane: A Quiet Sequel (Spin-off) Arriving in March

     Despite my distaste for found footage films, 2008's Cloverfield struck a chord.  Along with it came a neat tie-in campaign for Slusho! products before the film.  Now we are getting a pseudo-sequel, or rather a loose spin-off film titled 10 Cloverfield Lane.  This film is also produced by J.J. Abrams, and he tends to have a lot of brilliant marketing with everything he has his finger on.

     Granted, I've seen a couple articles, including this good Black Gate one, stating that the film may have actually been retro-fitted with additional reshoots to make it align with the Cloverfield movie in a way and altering the original movie drastically.
     The new Big Game trailer definitely makes it seem like another possible alien entity is wreaking havoc, only this time in an area that does not appear to be quite as metropolitan as the New York setting of the previous film.  This has me really considering what the possible connections could be and I may have to start swinging through the Slusho! drink site, and its fake creator's site the Tagruto Corp., to check for possible updates and marketing hints.
     Plus, all these people are hiding out in a fallout shelter, which could be tied to the bombing at the end of Cloverfield.  I mean the we don't know how large an area was covered when the bomb dropped.  I honestly haven't been this curious about a movie in quite some time which is a very good thing.

     Personally, I'm quite interested to see the film either way.  If it is done well enough, and that looks to be the case, it'll be entertaining regardless of whether they changed the movie into a tie-in or not.  If it was planned as a spin off, that be very cool.  If not, we'll have to wait and see.  So far, it appears to contain a healthy dose of paranoia and some serious physchological horror in a nicely confined space.  I am definitely intrigued.

     10 Cloverfield Lane hits theaters March 11th.

Captain America: Civil War: Big Game Spot: Line Ups in full and Ant-Man's Suit

     With the Big Game Spot, Marvel's Captain America: Civil War gives us the line ups for both sides in a couple shots, with our first view of the new Ant-Man costume and Vision appears as well.

     There really isn't much in the way of new clues from the material, but it is a bit exciting anyways!  I've got a feeling some sides will shift through out the film.  As things are probably not as they seem.  Besides, Nick Fury hasn't been spotted yet, nor have we heard from Maria Hill or Sharon Carter yet either.  This is shaping up to really build off of the political intrigue that Captain America: The Winter Soldier has built.

     Captain America: Civil War hits theaters

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: 2nd Trailer: Big Game Spot: First Krang Footage! (Out of the Shadows)

     The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 film's newest TV Spot from the Big Game (Superbowl) shows off some great new footage including some shots of Krang.  It's short and sweet, looking like it'll be better than the previous installment.

     Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows hits theaters June 3rd.


Gotham: Mr. Freeze in the NEW Mid-season Promo Trailer

     While I have a ton of qualms with the way Gotham has been handling the Batman universe, I am both very happy and at the same time very displeased that they are bringing in my favorite Bat-villain Mr. Freeze.

     On one hand, it's awesome that they are using one of the most tragic origin stories possible and it could potentially wind up being quite amazing.  There's been some interesting developments through the show, but in general, they've turned what should rightfully be a badass, dark and gritty crime and detective show into an angst-ridden teen-focused drama, and my hopes for it are bleak.

     On the other hand, the creators are really shoe-horning every last person they can into a continuity that most of them don't even need to be in yet.  Seriously, not every damn villain had to be from the Gotham area and they certainly do not have to be all interconnected before Batman arrives on the scene.  It's ridiculous and it's been a complaint I've had with the series since the first episodes.  It's something I feared would be done even before the show began, and it definitely has.
     When it was announced I thought it was going to be a show about Jim Gordon's rise through the ranks tackling the locale crime lords and that would be it with maybe some small cameos.  Such as Victor Fries as a consulting specialist during a single crime.  Or maybe Gordon chases away a teenager spray painting a wall, and it would've been a question mark.  Little things that serve as nods to the future of Gotham as opposed to the giant flashing neon signs pointing and screaming, "Look at who this is!"

     It shouldn't be too much of a surprise, Marvel is doing the same damn thing with their movies.  It's nice to have a bunch of little nods here and there for long time fans, but when it's so overt it loses its magic and the effect it should have is wasted.  At least the Marvel's Netflix shows are keeping it low key and done well.

     Regardless, I'll be returning to Gotham when it begins again on Feb. 29th at 8pm so I can see what they do with Mr. Freeze.  There's absolutely no way it can be worse than what DC Comics did with him for the New 52 comics.  God was it ever awful.  They took Paul Dini's masterpiece of origin story writing and tossed it in the garbage making Freeze just another forgettable super-powered crazy.  I'll be crossing my fingers for this to turn out well.


Stranded: Mars One: Short Review

     Stranded: Mars One is an interesting endless runner with a nice pixelated art style.  The game's purpose is to have your astronaut gain momentum through levels, collecting as many bolts and oxygen canisters as possible and get to your moon buggy.

     It is very simple game to begin with and has a very gentle learning curve adding slides, air boosts, a rolling landing skill from very high places, and even reversing direction to your astronaut's repertoire.  The change is slow enough to offer a fair amount of fun from the free-to-play game, giving players a good idea of what the rest of the game offers...
     ...but that entertainment value leaks out as fast as the supply of O2 you are constantly losing over time.  The rate is quite high, and any boosted jumps eat that commodity up even more rapidly.  The player is encouraged to explore alternative pathways to get higher bolt and O2 collection scores, but many of the paths can lead to imminent doom with no way out- leaving the player frustrated with being penalized for the exploration that is supposedly encouraged, adding to the problem of draining O2 cutting your potential time to roam the landscape.  There needs to be a balance in place to make the risk worth the reward, and when it isn't there, issues arise.

     The Martian nature of the floaty jumps is both entertaining and highly irritating.  It's a nice feature to put you in the exploring a cool space locale mindset, but is an extreme irritation when the astronaut gets hung up on things or turned around and your oxygen level bleeds out at the absurd rate causing you many unwarranted deaths.  Even with the shop allowing for enhancing your suit's abilities, there is much to be desired with the feature.  Even a single wrong jump can lose valuable seconds which lead to a swift demise.  There's something with the O2 diminishment in combination with the slow floaty jumps that adds up to a pretty large problem.

     Personally, I believe this game would've benefited greatly if they would've made it a simple exploration game instead of an endless runner and were just a little more lenient with the oxygen depletion rates.  That being said, Stranded: Mars One is free-to-play with some IAPs, so it's still definitely worth playing.  It's a good 2 to 4 hours of entertainment.

Pug's Quest: Ravenous Games' Upcoming Puzzle Platformer

     Ravenous Games, creators of great games such as Devious Dungeon, Gravity Duck, their respective sequels, and the more recent Infestor, have announced their newest title Pug's Quest.

A Cute Pixelated, Puppy Puzzle Platformer. This Pug Deserves a Treat!
     Here's what Ravenous has said about the game:
Hey everyone! We have a new game in development called Pug's Quest. It's a semi turn-based puzzle platformer. You control a pug that hops one tile at a time trying to navigate the world. 
We have some fun new additions to our game engine that should add some fresh new level designs. We've added collapsing tile platforms, slippery (ice) tiles, switches, puzzle mechanics (lights, numbers and word puzzles). There will also be some hedgemazes in the game you will have to navigate through.
     Also, according to their post on the Touch Arcade forums, the game is expected to be finished by the end of February.  Ravenous always make solid games that are very well made.  Simple art, great controls and sound, and much more importantly, they are always fun.
     Pug's Quest sounds no different and I am looking forward to buying it.

     Source [ Touch Arcade ]


LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Announcement Trailer & Thoughts

The Brick Awakens

     In a completely unsurprising announcement, Warner Bros. Interactive, TT Interactive, The LEGO Group and Lucasfilm announced jointly this morning that LEGO video games are returning to it's foundation with the Star Wars canon with LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens would be available on June 28.

     Honestly, this shouldn't be a shock to anyone.  If ever there was a series to milk for money it's Star Wars.  LEGO sells well, the games always sell well despite the bugs, flaws, and and all the other myriad problems that still haven't been remedied since LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game way back in 2005 ( I think I still have my original copy!).
     All their games are fundamentally fun, but the little nagging issues that linger really put a damper on that fun factor.  I mean seriously, they haven't figured out the twin-stick flight is better than the single-stick and two buttons to control the ascent and descent they've been using?!?
     Even the most recent release was a bit lackluster, LEGO Marvel's Avengers, which is essentially an updated LEGO Marvel Super Heroes with all the X-Men and awesome other characters cut out.  I'm not kidding, the open world New York City and S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier are pretty much exactly the same as the last game.  It's still fun, and they've improved the flight controls just a little, but the levels are every bit as unclear as ever.  The story jumps all over the place and doesn't follow the movies in any particular order.  Clunky combat and the very wonky object action detection is very frustrating.  There's also some issues with unresponsive controls and a problem (at least on PS4) with preventing players from swapping characters in a level when you absolutely have to do so to proceed that I've encountered numerous times.  In my opinion, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes still stands as a much better game than LEGO Marvel's Avengers, though they are both worth playing for fans.

     Other than that LEGO Jurassic World was very fun and I am super excited to play the Ant-Man DLC pack for the Avengers in a few months as well- and of course, being the sucker that I am, I'll be once more coming back to the LEGO Star Wars games with The Force Awakens set in June.