Saturday, September 3

Wild Week

Yet again this week was pretty hectic. And not without a hiccup or two. Well, there's nothing else to do about it but learn from the experience, take it all in stride and move on. All in all though I still count this week as being pretty good, and myself still pretty lucky.
Maybe next week won't be as hectic as this one was, maybe not. I remember a week or two ago, Vin asked me why I was still looking blasted after coming off a hard week of work. It's really not like after a straight run of overtime and finishing a week's worth of Job Orders that your boss will come to you and say, "Marc, you did a great job. Here's a ton of cash. Take a month's off and enjoy yourself!" It's really more to the tune of, "Marc, you did a great job. Here's some more work."

It's not like back in school when you knew when breaks came, and you could look forward to long, long periods of vacation and relaxing. I kinda miss those days, but I'm not the kind of guy who'd like to go back to school. I love working and earning my own money. I like being the master of my ship. I like not having periodical exams. I like not having to answer to some crummy professor who's more bark than real bite. Ooh.

But whatever... I'm still thankful for weekends. Those lovely oasis of calm between these hectic weeks. Without weekends, I surely would go mad. But then again... I'm already MAD aren't I? MAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!

Thursday, September 1


My mom had her operation today, and it went well. Thanks to everyone who gave in their prayers and well wishes. I'm sure they all helped a lot.

Wednesday, August 31

Things they didn't teach in Roman History

Agrippa knows how to handle the ladies.

Another of the PS2 games I've been playing recently is Shadow of Rome by Capcom (hey... Capcom's been putting a lot of games out recently. Where's Streetfighter 4??!). It's loosely based on the history of the Roman Empire. I say loosely because most probably any history professor who watches the stuff happening onscreen will most likely throw up his hands in dismay at how this game pretty much cuts up historical fact with abandon.

But then again, SOR is all about cutting up stuff- particularly people. Well, mostly enemy gladiators, at least. Set in an alternate Rome which is without a doubt greatly influenced by Ridley Scott's Gladiator movie, the game puts you in the leather sandals of two individuals and friends. Agrippa is a centurion who, after finishing a major campaign against the Germanic tribes, finds his world tumbling into a nightmare when his father is accused of assassinating Julius Caesar.
Yeah, Julius Caesar gets assassinated in Shadow of Rome. But taking a big historical flip, in the game the Roman emperor is killed not by a bunch of senators but by apparently a lone assassin in the shadows of a hallway in Caesar's house. Agrippa only learns of his father's plight after he races home. Prior to that, his friend and the game's other playable character Octavianus (who looks all the world like a Roman version of Metal Gear's Raiden) starts his own investigation into the great lord's murder.

About two thirds of the game is all about gory arena fighting- Soon after he comes home, fate throws Agrippa into the role of a gladiator, in order to somehow save his father. You then take command of the burly Roman warrior as he tries to survive waves of deadly fighters, mainly by turning the opposition into tiny bloody chunks with various weapons and tools of death. Suffice to say that SOR is probably one of the goriest and bloodiest games you'll see; decapitations, dismemberments and severing of limbs is pretty commonplace, and you get high scores for the more stylish kills. Ouch. Well, it's all in good fun (?) and desensitized kids will probably get a laugh out of this... for responsible parents though, keep this out of youngsters' hands.
If SOR was just all about fighting, this would be a solid title. But then, a third of the game consists of sneak-and-hide missions with the fey, effete Octavianus as he tries to uncover the conspiracy behind Caesar's murder. You spend several chapters infiltrating mansions and buildings guarded by patrols of careless legionnaires, occasionally conking some poor buster on the head with a pot or choking them unconscious so you can grab their toga. These missions aren't all that bad, though it kinda sucks that if you're ever seen, all it takes is one hit from any enemy to kill you and end the mission- throwing you back to the start of the round. If you know what to do it's all about getting from point A to point B, but still the action just grinds to a bit of a stop when Octavianus answers the curtain.

It's much better to just kick butt with Agrippa, sometimes fighting sexy gladiator babes, most of whom sport thongs and a couple, high heeled shoes which are probably years ahead of their time. It could easily turn into a mindless button masher (which has good points), but there are techniques to master which will turn you from a simple killler to a virtuoso of gore.

Historical blunders aside, Shadow of Rome is a fun, mature action title for the PS2 that those looking for some bloody stress relief would do well to check out. Et tu, Brute?
Superhero Students and Fanservice-laden Car Chases

I just said in a recent post that there seemed to be a shortage of nice films to watch in recent weeks. Well, that may change this week. Just opening today are a couple of fun-looking flicks: Sky High and The Dukes of Hazzard.

Sky High is about a high school for would-be superheroes, and has the cool casting of Kurt Russell as a superheroic dad and Linda 'Wonder Woman' Carter as the school's principal. The main plot is about Kurt's son who is still trying to find his niche either as the next big superhero or as a second-class sidekick. Though this is released by Disney, it looks pretty slick with cool special effects and a storyline that just oozes comic book appeal.

The Dukes of Hazzard is a movie remake of the old 80s TV series about some car-riding outlaw brothers (this time around played by Sean William Scott and Johnny Knoxville), their hot sister in cut-off jeans (this time played by Jessica Simpson, who looks DAMN fine) and their continuing tussles with the local sheriff and his evil boss, Hogg (now played by Burt Reynolds). Lots of car chases, Miss Simpson showing off skin and white trash humor.

Hoho! I'll try to catch Sky High soon. As for the Dukes... maybe the DVD's out already?

The Sony Ericsson W800i.

A friend at The Salt Mines just got herself a spiffy new Sony Ericsson W800i, more popularly known as The Walkman Phone. I got to see it (after grabbing it from her with grasping hands like claws) and it’s pretty neat.

The gadget can’t be any larger than the older, classic T610 but darn, it’s got tons of goodies and functions up the wazoo- a great camera (2 megapixels make for great shots) with video and of course the much-touted musical functions. Unfortunately, while the phone is supposed to play great through earphones, sound through the phone itself isn’t too loud (‘cept when there are rings or text tones… pretty cool) for music. I expect though that, like an I-pod, it would suffice as a pretty decent music source if you plug it into a good sound system. And with about 15 or so hours of playtime, that’s a lot of music to enjoy.

Anyway, the reviews have said that the W800’s good enough as a music player against real, stand-alone mp3 players, and that I can believe. It’s compact, gives you a really nice camera, videocam, gaming device (though the two pre-loaded titles are pretty blah) and music jukebox. And the 512mb Memory Stick (included) is pretty cool.
Still, I’m not budging a centimeter from my lovely O2 Mini (hehe). The screen’s far too small, there’s no OS for me to run my apps and Betaplayer videos, and no phone Java game beats 32-bit Playstation 1 games. HOHO. As for music, I have Windows Media Player and ultra-small WMAs. It was nice to see the new device, and feel a bit of the giddiness of something new. But, well… it’s beneath me.

To anyone else not into smartphones though, the Walkman phone’s highly recommended. Run, don’t walk… to your nearest store for your own.
Interesting Times in the DC Univers

I FINALLY got to read a good-sized chunk of the new comics I’ve been purchasing. The stuff consists of DC Comics, particularly those in the direct OMAC Project and build-up to the Infinite Crisis storyline. Now, Vin and Dean have been raving about this, and I guess I have to agree.

The more dangerous atmosphere of the DC universe these days makes for gripping reads, what with villains coming together to form super-syndicates, heroes learning dirty secrets that lead them to mistrust each other and an army of secret anti-superhuman agents ready to pop up anytime to zap anyone, bad or good. Dangerous times make for great comics.

Though I have to say I’m not totally convinced by some of the story elements- such as the whole issue with (SPOILERS) Dr. Light and the big SIN the JLA members did to him and in the course, Batman. Yeah, it makes it all more human and gritty and raises issues of morality but come on… they’re villains. Expect bad things to happen when you call yourself a baddie. Anyway, I like it, and I guess I’m in for the ride. I’ve been a DC fan ever since the original Crisis (on Infinite Earths), and this new hullabaloo coming for Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and their ilk looks to be a humdinger.

Anyway, I don’t want to be the only one out of the loop when the gang starts talking about the latest Infinite Crisis buzz. Heh.

Tuesday, August 30

Dead Air

Is it just me, or there just no good movies anywhere right now? I mean, after watching Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Fantastic Four, things just kinda... stopped. There's nothing much to look forward to in the next couple of months, I think. Perhaps everyone is saving their eggs for the holiday season. That's when stuff like King Kong and Chronicles of Narnia come out. Still, they're nowhere in the league of a LOTR or any similar movie event. The only things that tempted me to even consider watching recently was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Great Raid. I guess it's just as well... don't have much time to go to a theater these days. Hopefully that, and the fare in cinemas, will change soon. Sigh.

Monday, August 29

New Challengers

Singer/martial artist Lili joins the Tekken crew.

More info on Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection. The two new playable characters are named Dragunov and Lili. Dragunov is a decidedly evil-looking man in a militaristic uniform who is described as a 'human weapon'. Lili is a singer who uses her dance moves to fight. Meanwhile, aside from the newbies, all of the characters will be getting more costumes and accessories. Now, if we'll be getting bikinis for Nina and Asuka, I'm sold. Heh.

Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection is set for a late 2005 release in Japan arcades. No telling on a home version yet, but we'll just have to see first whether it's worth taking home or not.