Yes please

Yes please

O, Zombieland. You inject not only life into the well worn zombie genre, but into this blogger’s fingertips as well. Shaun of the Dead this isn’t, but that’s a good thing.

Zombieland is about a group of people played by Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin who survived the zombie apocalypse. Woody Harrelson in particular shines as a macho, zombie slaying warrior and he nails his part perfectly. The rest of the cast does a good job, but the funniest performance of the entire movie comes from a surprise star cameo that I won’t spoil for those of us that haven’t seen it. Jesse Eisenberg plays the awkward teenager character perfected by Michael Cera in every role he’s ever been in, and Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin are believable in their roles as the female con artists.

This movie is a lot of fun. There isn’t a whole lot of downtime or wasted scenes. The constant stream of character beats, humor, and zombies keeps the movie fresh from start to finish. Occasionally the movie steps back from all the humor and absurdity to reveal something about one of the main characters and their lives before everything went to hell. These small scenes never take you out of the movie and are believable, a sign that this is more than just mindless entertainment. I know, a good movie hidden under a zombie movie. Whoda thunk it? This focus on characters and character interaction elevate the movie to a higher level than similar movies that focus on sex and shock kills. Not that there aren’t any gruesome deaths in this movie. There are. Plenty.

If you’re looking for a good movie to kick off the fall season, this one. Right here. More than just zombies, Zombieland is the best romantic horror comedy of the year. Even if it is the only horror romantic comedy of the year.

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Hooooooooooooo boy this is an exciting announcement folks. AMC, the same network that puts out Mad Men, picked up the rights to Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. Easily one of my favorite comic books, and not just because it has zombies. This is human drama at its finest. And who, you may ask, is attached to write, direct, and executive produce? Why, it’s Frank Darabont! Famed adaptor of The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist to the big screen! His film adaptation of The Mist in particular leads me to believe he is the perfect man for the job.

Full story at The Hollywood Reporter. Try to keep the squeels of joy to a minimum.

Just a couple of badasses

This is how you do it

DoubleBear Productions made an announcement that has my mouth watering. An RPG set during a zombie apocalypse. Here are some of the details straight from DoubleBear founder Brian Mitsoda:

-Set during the breakdown of society as emergence of zombies causes widespread panic and disorder.

-Slow, shambling zombies. Spreads like a virus/bite transmission. No, you are not a zombie, that would be stupid.

-Serious examination of a national crisis or natural disaster. Humans and a lack of order are a bigger threat than the undead. Think Hurricane Katrina, Children of Men, Dawn of the Dead NOT Resident Evil, Return of the Living Dead, zombie shooter-type games.

-Game is about survival. Scavenging resources, exploring the area, dealing with other survivors, and managing a “shelter” of sorts are the main focus of the game. More on this later.

-Game is open-ended. There are characters and events that could happen, but the story depends on where you go, what you do, and who you meet.  Of course, there’s a lot more to this and we’ll go into more details as time goes on.

Did he…did he name drop Children of Men? Shelter management? And did I mention this guy worked on Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines? If you can’t tell my excitement gauge is set firmly to “Giddy”. Expect me to post any updates about their game on this site. Because I think I’m in love.

Dragon Age: Origins is the newest RPG from Bioware, makers of Mass Effect and Knights of the Old Republic. It’s their self titled “spiritual successor” to the beloved Baldur’s Gate, and it shows. I managed to get some hands on time with the Xbox 360 version at Comic Con and I enjoyed the time I spent with it. The character customization, the dialog, and the combat system all seemed up to par. I got some loot, which is always a video game favorite of mine. This all seems good, and it is. However, there’s just something about this game that nags at me in the back of my mind. The violence.

Here is the old logo when the game was known simply as Dragon Age:

Classy, right?

Classy, right?

And here is the logo when it became Dragon Age: Origins:

Not so much

Not so much

You’ll notice that someone wrote Origins in a blood smear beneath the original logo, and that Dragon Age became dingy and speckled with blood. But it doesn’t stop there, no sir!

Here’s the box art for the game:

I just want to rinse it off

I just want to rinse it off

That is a dragon shaped pool of blood. Even the EA logo is made out of blood.

This theme keeps going. While playing as my wood elf, I came upon some ancient ruins, and inside were some giant spiders. As soon as I killed one of the mangy beasts in hand to hand combat, my character was covered in gore from head to toe. It was especially bad when I went into a conversation with my elf buddy because it zoomed in on his blood covered face. You think these guys would bring a wet nap or something with them.

This is what I'm talking about

This is what I'm talking about

None of this makes me think this game is going to be less than fantastic. It just seems to me like Bioware knows that they already have the RPG fan in their pocket, and now they’re trying to appeal to the Halo crowd by making their game look as gritty and violent as possible. Honestly, it just feels a little weird to me. And in case you were wondering, I’ve never had a problem with violence in video games before.

Dragon Age: Origins is being released this fall on the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3, and is a serious conteneder for the game I buy next semester.

I don’t often bother with news around here, so you know that when I do it’s something to get excited about. Valve announced today that a new downloadable campaign is being released for the original Left 4 Dead in September on PC and Xbox 360.

The best part for me is, and this is something that I’m really excited about in Left 4 Dead 2, is that this level bridges Mercy Hospital and Death Toll. Narrative! And here’s the obligitory movie poster in all its glory:

O Hell yea

O Hell yea

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be downloading this bad boy the day it’s released on Xbox Live. (for 560 Microsoft points of course)

There were two quotes at Comic Con that made me laugh quite a bit. The first is from Brad Guigar of Evil Inc fame. He was drawing a sketch in the Evil Inc volume 4 I had just purchased from him when Fred commented on what a good job he was doing.

Brad then replied with: “This isn’t a dime store phoney.”

Hahaha DELIGHTFUL. Number one quote of the con. When I told him this on Sunday I also mentioned how I thought he was the funniest guy on their Webcomics Weekly podcast and he thought so too, when the other guys let him get a word in edgewise. That’s when Dave Kellett of Sheldon scooted Brad out of the way, cut him off, and launched into a Sheldon sales pitch. These guys. Laugh a minute over at the Halfpixel booth.

Dave Kellett as Captain Crunch. Awesome

Dave Kellett as Captain Crunch. Awesome

The second comes from our very own Fred Pelzar while we were standing in line for the Mystery Team movie screening. I saw a movie poster for The Goods and this is what went down:

Me: “What do you think of The Goods?”

Fred: “I don’t think it looks that good.”

Wordplay folks, wordplay.

I mean seriously, look at the size of that thing

I mean seriously, look at the size of that thing

He look, it’s another game I got some hands on time with at Comic Con! This time we’re lookin at Darksiders and the lookin is good.

In Darksiders, you play as War, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. I’m not really sure what the story for this game is since i skipped the opening cut scene. There was a line behind me and I couldn’t really hear what they were saying anyway. Not the optimal conditions for a preview.

Anyway, Darksiders is an action platformer. You kill things with sword combos, and traverse the environment with jumping and climbing and even a tad bit of shimmying. For the most part I was combating apocalypse zombies, and they didn’t stand a chance against my big ass sword and the occasional punch thrown in there for good measure. Combat is easy and fun, with some pretty devastating combos. War does work.

A mini-boss reared its ugly head and I killed him too. It was some kind of bigger than me demon that I dispatched without too much effort, and once I wore its health down enough I was rewarded with a brutal quick time even a la God of War.

At this point I had been playing for about ten minutes and decided it was time to give someone else a turn with the game. I had fun with it. I feel like this game does a better job of separating itself from God of War than the similar Dante’s Inferno. The sword felt very different from Kratos’ signature Blades of Chaos, and the art style was flashier and more brightly colored (always a plus in these grim and gritty times). It still had quick time events, but at least the only time I had to do one was to stab a giant demon in the face, as opposed to opening a door.

Even though I had fun with this game, I’m still on the fence about buying it. There are a lot of good games coming out this fall (Brutal Legend, Left 4 Dead 2, Alpha Protocol) and I’m unsure whether this game will rise above to earn my purchase. That’s not to say I think it will be bad, other releases just have more of my attention. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one as it comes closer to its January release.