Friday, December 16

The Best Games of 2005

The past year was a cool time for videogaming- even though I don't remember having any gaming marathons quite like the PS1 days, I had my share of quality gaming time in the past months. Here are some of my favorite games played this year.

Haunting Ground
An unusual but compelling twist to the Survival-Horror genre. This time around, you played not as a macho monster-hunter or even a sultry femme fatale. You play Fiona Belli, a teenage girl whose only real defense against the hostile denizens of a spooky castle are her coltish legs... and they're used more for RUNNING than actually fighting (low shin kicks are her best bet). That, and her friendship with a mysterious dog. With a good story, gorgeous graphics and some interesting new gameplay mechanics make this game a must for scare-fans wanting a new take on the genre.

Killer 7
You play as a wheelchair-bound assassin with a multiple-personality disorder, unleashing various sides of your psyche to carry out missions against a cult of smiling mutant time bombs. Sound outrageous? You haven't a clue how wild this game can get unless you shoot it out with the Killer 7 yourself. With wild character designs (from luchadore wrestler to blood-spattered femme fatales), a confounding but always-gripping story and some of the most mature language you'll ever hear in a videogame, Killer 7 is sa unique experience for the grown gamer.

Tekken 5
A refreshing of a beloved series that had sadly gone stale in the past couple of installments, Tekken 5 brings back most of the old guard with a couple of cool newcomers, great CG cinematics and the rock-solid fighting action I remember from the best of the Iron Fist tournaments. Not even the CHEAPEST end boss in gaming can spoil this winner.

Soul Calibur III
I have to admit- I wasted away hours and hours just playing with Soul Calibur III's awesome Character Creation mode, and seeing my CAS babes (yeah, who cares about making male CAS? Heh) slash it out. The enhanced 'choose your own adventure' story mode is cool, the unlockables are plentiful, the graphics darn beautiful and sexy, and the fighting action addictive as hell. This is the finest game in the series and simply the most satisfying fighting game package you can find on any console, anywhere. Bar None. Yep, even better than the DOA games. And you can quote me. Who can't love a game where cotton panties make you EVIL? Hehehe...

Shadow of Rome
Yeah, it throws history out the window but darn, this tale of two would-be heroes in ancient Rome battling intrigue and danger in and out of the gladiatorial arena is one long, satisfying trek. Some of the most satisfyingly brutal and bloody combat ever seen in a game (with moves like The Meat Grinder) and some monumental battles make this a gore-drenched classic.

I'm looking forward to 2006. Xbox 360? Dead or Alive 4? PS3? The possibilities are tantalizing. For now, I'll settle for confirmation of Soul Calibur III for the 360. WOOHOO!!! Next-gen hotties, here we come! Heh.

Wednesday, December 14

The Voyage Home

Today, Jeremy headed off on a jet plane bound for home, back to the US. While he was here I chewed him up endlessly about being a 'surly New Yorker' and having a 'marine's body with a glass stomach'. He made several anime and toy shops very happy, belted out an incredible rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody in the karaoke bar, watched Chicken Little and had his first full-color comic book launch. Five days really isn't enough of a stay to really do a lot of stuff, but I hope we crammed in enough fun to make your short visit something to remember.
You're always welcome back in The Sanctum, Jeremy! Let's work on some comics so you'll have another excuse to visit soon. Heh. Later!

Oh, and I FINALLY got to read The Astonishing X-men. As you said, EXCELLENT stuff, and I am hooked. Wow! Whedon and Cassaday really know their stuff.
First Filipino Cyborg?

She loves a certain Filipino dessert...

It's already pretty well-known that a character from the Halo universe will be making an appearance in the upcoming Dead or Alive 4 fighting game for the Xbox 360. That character is Spartan 458 AKA 'Nicole', a female Spartan cyborg super-soldier. What has been revealed today by Halo creators Bungie is 458's bio and backstory.
Apparenlty, Nicole is a 21-year old young woman born in the year 2531 in a city called New Legaspi, where she was abducted at age six and conscripted into the military.
According to Bungie, Spartan 458's unit was preparing for a classified mission on Nassau Station when the ONI stealth ship Apocalypso tumbled into real-space – being carried along in the wake of a freak slipspace anomaly. The anomaly intersected Nassau Station; creating a semi-stable "bubble" in the space/time continuum on its way back to the 21st Century.
For the time being Nicole-458 is trapped in the 21st century; guarding Nassau Station's secrets with all but lethal force (she realizes killing someone in the past could have dire consequences), waiting for the "bubble" to collapse and hopefully returning her to the year 2552.

Anyway, in Nicole's bio it says that she likes watching anime and competition shooting, and she LOVES the Filipino dessert Halo-Halo (which is basically a mix of various sweet stuff with crushed ice, milk and sugar). Could Nicole be a Filipina? Wow! It's amazing to learn that Halo-Halo still exists in the far-flung future. Filipino characters exist in other sci-fi stuff (like Ibanez and Rico in Starship Troopers), and in another videogame (Talim in Soul Calibur)... it's pretty cool that a Filipina may be a DOA girl (technically). Too bad we can't see Nicole without her armor... or can we? Oh well. We'll see when DOA4 comes out... when it comes out. Sigh.

Oh, on a side note, I've found an Xbox 360 being sold locally... at the astronomical price of 57 thousand pesos. MY GOD! Inevitably this should go down to more acceptable prices when more stocks are available and the games become more popular... for now though, only the very rich and the very hardcore gamer need apply. Woo.

Monday, December 12

Our Passions

The men and women of Siglo: Passion, Project HERO and Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 1.

Saturday saw loads of today's most PASSIONATE writers and artists in local comics and publishing meeting at Fully Booked in the Promenade Mall at Greenhills. The occasion- the triple launch of Siglo: Passion, Project HERO and Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 1.
Despite drizzling rain and traffic thanks to the La Salle lantern parade held in Ortigas, me, Jeremy and my brother Jun arrived at the venue pretty much on time. We arrived to find the precedings well on the way on the second floor, complete with seats for the many guests, a couple of tables for autograph signings of the books and food for the starving (GREAT brownies and other eats thanks to the mom of Camy Francisco).
With Jun happily snapping away with his 8-megapixel monster camera as if he was being paid to chronicle the event, Jeremy and I mingled with friends both old and new in the local comic biz, signing books as they came while trying to complete our own collections of inscriptions.
Dean, Vinnie, Andrew and Jamie said some words, introducing the books and enjoining all to partake of our group's latest offerings in grafiction and literature. I'd like to thank everyone who came through the rain and traffic to support us with their presence, their words of encouragement and their hard-earned pesos for our books. Thanks, everyone!

This truly gives me lots of incentive to renew my work in comics with even more vigor. With 2005 ending with such a great event, 2006 must surely be an even brighter time to look forward to. So come and see our works and tell us what you think! We live for your praise (or your criticisms)! WOOHOO!!!!

The books on offer. Available in Fully Booked, Comic Quest and other good bookstores.