Saturday, June 2

Soulful Anticipation

As if my post about Soul Calibur was kind of a prophetic sign, it has been announced by 1Up that their magazine counterpart, Electronic Gaming Monthly, will be revealing news about the latest sequel in the Tales of Souls and Swords in their upcoming July issue.

First news of a new Soul Calibur game was that of a Wii action-adventure spinoff. At the time though, word of a true sequel to Soul Calibur III was already well-known. Here's another slash into the right direction. It's been a while since the last game, and I'm just really giddy with glee at the prospects of PS3 or Xbox360-quality graphics and gameplay with the SC cast. Character Creation, new warriors, weapons and lavish CG cinematics are just a few of the goodies expected in this coming hit. Hopefully we'll all be sticking each other with our beloved blades in the next few months.

Friday, June 1

Proudly Pinoy

I went over to Comic Quest yesterday to pick up my stuff, like the latest issue of DC's Countdown and Amazons Attack. To my surprise, a little package was waiting for me, addressed to simply 'Marco-san'. Well, I was the only Marco around so the CQ ladies gave the the gift, which was an issue of ABS-CBN's comic adaptation or version of the local superkid teledrama/telefiction series, Super Inggo. I looked at the art and it was kind of familiar. Looking at the credits confirmed it- the comic features the work of fellow komikero and K.I.A. comrade Michael Banting. Thanks for the sample, Mike! And good work! Congrats on landing the gig. Here's to more issues for you and Inggo!
The Soul Still Burns

Even with the PS3 at The Sanctum, I still find myself playing some retro classics from the old PS2 (and even PS1 on occasion). One of my favorite fighters in the Last Gen of fighting games is Soul Calibur III, a complete package of sword-fighting fun, adventure and fantasy from Namco Bandai. Continuing the 'Tale of Souls and Swords', SCIII saw the return of pretty much every character that has appeared in the title, as well as the debut of three new fighters- Setsuka the Geisha Assassin, Zasalamel the scythe-wielding mystery man and Tira, the circular blade-twirling psycho-girl. The battle for the elusive and evil sword Soul Edge and it's good mirror image Soul Calibur continued in earnest.

The graphics, animation and sounds of Soul Calibur III are top-notch, the best of the series. A lavish CG intro gets you into the mood, while a long-winded choose-your-own-adventure Tales of Souls Story Mode details every character's search for the sword, complete with realtime cutscenes that often involve an interactive element. The flaw though was that most characters share the same scenes, and you can't skip these parts... so after a while of playing you'll probably find yourself droning the charaters' lines of dialogue along with them hypnotically.

Then there's Chronicles of the Sword, an enhanced Quest mode with delusions of RTS grandeur. You basically create and take the role of a young cadet-turned commander in the military forces of the Grandall Empire, which is locked in war with several other countries. Divided into about 20 chapters, you have to battle your way through conspiracies, betrayals, plots and counter plots in this high-stakes war of empires. If that sounds epic and awesome, then scale your expectations down. It really just boils down to you sending your 'army' of four or five units all across a map, capturing enemy strongholds by first hacking these buildings to rubble and then fighting any enemy soldiers stationed inside. Even if a station is unmanned, you still have to hack the place down, which makes your characters more demolitionists than actual warriors. Though the story is told through a few pivotal realtime cutscenes and talking heads with text, your success is really based on your fighting skills. Still, even with all the tedious bits, it's an interesting way of unlocking tons of stuff, and does get involving after a while. You just have to be a little bit OC and patient to enjoy it.

If just the main fighting modes aren't enough for you, you can try your hand at various mini-games in the Soul Arena mode. These range from Fighting the End Boss or a Giant Statue to Sudden Death or Survival matches. It's pretty convenient and fun to have these in a single place. Some of the modes are fun, some are good for a try or two- but all are appreciated.

Finally, there's the Character Creation mode, which was much touted by the producers. To be fair, the mode is pretty awesome, and you'd wish that every fighting game from here on in has this feature. You create your new warrior from scratch, selecting sex, occupation and outfitting them with armor from head to toe. Aside from the skill-sets of the main cast, there are about ten or so new occupations like assassins, gladiators and samurai to assign to your new creation. While some are similar to already-existing styles, all are different and new in a way, so it's interesting to see them in action- even though some are quite overpowered and broken, and even bordering on ridiculous (yeah, tambourine-carrying dancers wreaking havoc is a bit wild). My only wish is that the mode had even more stuff to use- more variety of clothing, armor and accessories. You just can't have too much stuff in something like this. Even so, it's a pretty robust offering and the best one of it's kind so far in a major fighting game. I can't wait to see how Character Creation will turn out in the next game.

With all these stuffings, Soul Calibur III is one fighting package loaded to the rafters with modes, secrets, unlockables and stuff to do and find. It's great to be able to play this in an upscaled, smoother look in widescreen via the PS3- and with what may be a long wait till Soul Calibur IV, it looks like I'll be playing this for a while yet.

Monday, May 28

Divine Divinity

Goddess Llyra takes flight.

I love action figures- particularly action figures of sexy action heroines and anime/videogame babes. I've already got a small army of these protecting The Sanctum and my workstation at The Salt Mines, and that family just got a little bit bigger. My latest acquisition is Goddess Llyra, part of the Spawn Series 31 action figures. This figure is inspired by the character of the same name that appears in the one-shot comic Spawn: Godslayer, a warrior goddess who protects the island of Endra-La from invaders. This brings her into conflict with a mysterious ravager known as Marauder Spawn, who has come to, well, slay gods.

Now, while I am usually impressed by the quality of McFarlane figures, I haven't been particularly pleased by the actual designs of their warrior women series- I dislike the generic look of a lot of them, with their face-paints, bondage-style outfits and big, bulky boots that make them look like elephant half-breeds. Llyra however, is quite different. She doesn't have much in the way of gaudy decor with her pretty minimal metallic costume and ornaments; her face is gorgeous and devoid of face paint or any angsty scars or prosthetic crap, and her pleasantly bare legs and feet are finely sculpted.

She's a pretty glorious and fantastic representation of the female form (albeit a four-armed female form), in a magnificent pose that has her taking off into the air, flaming sword raised for battle. From head to toe, the detail in the figure is amazing. She doesn't have much in the way of articulation aside from her arms and waist, but the pose is pretty much perfect as it is. The flowing cloth around her waist extends downward to form into the figure's base, which is supposed to carry the figure and hold it aloft in 'flight'. She comes with a couple of black metal rods that you attach for support and prevent sagging over time. Not too obtrusive, thankfully. It does take a bit of assembly (getting on the wings is particularly stiff), and her sword tends to come apart easily, but once she's put together, she's a vision.
I'm also happy as well since Llyra's overall look and pose is so similar to an Aspen Studios' Kiani statue that I've been ogling online but will probably never get since it's priced at over three hundred dollars (AAARHHH). In any case, Llyra is simply divine (saw that coming, didn't ya?). I like her so much that I also got the comic in which she appears, and really, the figure is far more beautiful than Jay Anacleto's artworks of the character.

I'm also now actively looking for more femme fatales from McFarlane (the goddess needs some underlings to serve her, after all) despite the fact that I am fast running out of space to put these beauties. I'll just worry about crossing that bridge when I get there. Heh.

Sunday, May 27

I got tagged by Carl and Budjette: “Each player of this game starts with 6 weird things about himself or herself. People who get tagged need to write a blog entry of their own as well as state the rule clearly. In the end, you need to tag 6 people as well and list their names. Don’t forget to let them know they’ve been tagged!”

Six Weird Things About Me

I am incredibly OC concerning two very specific things. One, The Sanctum AKA My Room. I can spend hours just rearranging magazine piles, boxes, books, action figures, DVD libraries and what have you from one corner to another. I get into it so much that afterwards, I just stand back and feel strangely like having a cigarette.
The other thing is my Pocket PC Phone's wallpapers. I can spend whole nights just finding visuals to lay out on the 320 x 240 screen, fixing up multiple layers of images, text and effects until it's just right, factoring down to to the millimeters between text and the main visual, to the colors of the borders. Then I just stash it away in the phone and use something else. Yeah, weird.

I can eat the same thing over and over and over. One time I spend a couple of weeks eating at McDonald's every night with the same meal- 2 piece McChicken Meal with extra rice and a Burger McDo on the side. Every night for two weeks. Then I shifted over to the next-door KFC and ate there every night for a week. These days, my main meal at home is several deep-fried chicken wings, rice and soup. Again. And Again. And Again. And I love it.

I enjoy speaking english in a (supposed) Russian accent.

I don't see myself ever driving my own car. My primary reason is my perceived propensity for Road Rage- I might lose my temper and smash into the first car that overtakes me or honks his horn at me the wrong way, or run over pedestrians who don't cross at the proper lane. To ensure the safety of countless people, I think I must remain a commuter.

Based on an incident that happened a long time ago during a high school excursion, my immediate reaction to anything that genuinely startles me won't be to scream or yell in terror but to do a comical "HIYAAA" complete with a Karate Kid Crane Stance.

While a lot of people often experience LSS or Last Song Syndrome (where you keep hearing the last song you've heard in your head over and over), I have what may be a more specialized version called LQS or Last Quote Syndrome. One time on the way to work, I suddenly remembered this joke about lawyers and rats told by Robin Williams in the movie Hook, and it kept repeating in my head over and over and over until I finally got to work and was able to focus on something else.

I hereby TAG anyone who reads this blog entry.