Archive for May, 2013
When I review a game that focuses on story as much as gameplay, I feel strongly that I must finish the game in order to best review it. Unfortunately, I can’t finish Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. Two separate bosses took over an hour of my time-and I couldn’t defeat the second one, three missions away from the end. So I gave up.
But games like Revengeance aren’t ones I’m typically interested in-mainly because I’m fairly terrible at them. And while I couldn’t complete the game, and it angered me to no end (just ask my poor Xbox controller that got tossed across the room a few times), I know a good game when I see it, and Revengeance, at times, is quite a good game.
It’s also quite a departure from other Metal Gear games. While I haven’t played one since the second one, it was still a shock to katana my way through enemies as opposed to knocking them out silently.
In Revengeance, you star as Raiden, a child soldier transformed into half-man, half-machine cyborg ninja. You’ll remember him from the second game (where he was mostly hated) and the fourth game (I don’t know how fans felt about him then.)
The game takes place in 2018, three years since the collapse of the Patriots, who controlled the entire world from the shadows. Private military companies (PMCs) are now springing up to bring order and Raiden belongs to a peace-keeping one called Maverick Security. The main antagonists of the game are from a rival PMC called Desperado Enterprises and a particularly nasty operative named Samuel Rodriguez.
The gameplay is action-based and you can cut through nearly anything. Yes, anything. By holding down the right trigger, you can enter into a Ninja Run which lets you easily jump over obstacles or duck under them. You can also run around your enemies cutting them while they struggle to hit you because of your speed-though many later enemies will parry those attacks.
You can use the left trigger to enter Blade Mode where you control the camera with the left stick and the direction of your blade with the right. It takes a bit to get used to (basically, don’t touch the left stick) but it’s incredible useful as you can precisely slash enemies and objects.
For instance, cut off a giants’ arms so he can’t hit you-but he will then start to kick you. Later in the game, you’ll want to cut around an on-screen virtual box located on enemies so you can pull out the energy core to take and heal yourself with. This is called a zan-datsu attack.
You can also use Blade Mode for a certain amount of time before you need to earn more energy to enter it again. More importantly, you can be hit in Blade Mode, even though you’re in a bullet time state, so watch an enemies’ incoming attacks carefully.
Raiden can also carry a variety of “sub-weapons” such as a dagger or rocket launcher. You can even carry cardboard boxes to hide in. They’re scattered throughout the levels and are often easy to spot.
Parrying is very important in this game, and because I was terrible at it, it’s likely why I had difficulty with some of the bosses, including the one that got so impossible I couldn’t proceed. You’ll need to aim the direction of your blade on normal to parry correctly, whereas I’m told on easy by other reviewers, you just need to hit a button.
Like other games of this type, you’ll often need to kill all enemies within a room before proceeding. At the end, you’ll be rewarded with points and graded on your performance. Use these points to buy upgrades such as new equipment, moves or additional health.
While it sounds like there isn’t an option to play this game stealthily like other Metal Gear games, there are certain sections where you can avoid all enemies-which I happily did a few times throughout the game.
The story and gameplay borders on the insane-nothing new for a Metal Gear game. You’ll race along missiles while in Ninja Run or struggle to keep tabs on your “Jack the Ripper” persona. It’s all over the top and yet it’s quite a lot of fun.
How does the storyline pay off? It’ll be news to me when I learn, because as I said, I can’t finish the game. If Revengeance has one unforgivable flaw, it’s not allowing the player to switch difficulty midway through the game.
But if you start the game on Easy, I have a feeling you’re going to have a blast hacking and slashing your way through the world.
* Disclosure: A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review. *
Photo Credits: Konami
Legendary record executive Clive Davis has ‘come out’ as bisexual in his new memoir.
The music mogul, who launched the careers of stars including Whitney Houston and Janis Joplin, opens up about his sexual orientation in his latest book The Soundtrack of My Life.
Davis, who has married and divorced twice, writes candidly about his first same-sex encounter with a man he met at the famous New York City club Studio 54 some 30 years ago.
He recalls, “On this night, after imbibing enough alcohol, I was open to responding to his sexual overtures… Was I nervous? Absolutely. Did the heavens open up? No. But it was satisfying.”
The 80-year-old music veteran also reveals he was in a “monogamous relationship” with an unnamed male doctor from 1990 to 2004, and he has been dating another man for the past several years.
He writes, “Bisexuality is misunderstood; the adage is that you’re either straight or gay or lying, but that’s not my experience. To call me anything other than bisexual would be inaccurate.”
Davis has also discussed his bisexuality in an interview on talk show Katie, which is due to air on Tuesday – the same day his autobiography is released.
He tells host Katie Couric, “I’m still attracted to women… You don’t have to be only one thing or another (straight or gay). For me, it’s the person.”
Photo Credits: PR Photos
, Kika Press, PacificCoastNews.com
J.K. Rowling has some Olympic and Royal contemporaries when it comes to inspiring British women.
The Harry Potter author was voted third in a survey conducted by Oxfam, a charity with several celebrity supporters. She is topped only by Queen Elizabeth II and Olympic gold medalist Jessica Ennis.
Helen Mirren tied Rowling and Joanna Lumley was close behind. The survey was conducted in Manchester, Rowling’s hometown – so maybe she got a bit of a push from her proud neighbors.
Samantha Scott, Get Together fundraising manager for Oxfam said: “It is hugely positive to see other women such as Jessica Ennis so highly rated, showing how strongly women value personal dedication and achievement. This is further reinforced by women also placing an emphasis on drawing inspiration from real women they know closer to home.
“Oxfam’s Get Together is all about celebrating inspiring women from all walks of life around International Women’s Day by doing something you enjoy with friends or family to raise money for Oxfam’s work with women living in poverty worldwide. Whether it’s an Ennis-inspired sports quiz in the local pub or right Royal knees up at home, we hope the UK will be marking the occasion in style.”
Just days before her apparent suicide, Mindy McCready was ready to release a suicide-prevention video dedicated to her deceased boyfriend David Wilson.
As she sings “I’ll See You Yesterday,” a song intended for her next album, a photo of a rural scene transitions to pictures of McCready and Wilson, followed by contact information for suicideispreventable.org. It had been intended to be used as a PSA.
“She told me that it was beautiful, it made her cry and was exactly what she wanted,” says Dan “Danno” Hanks, a private investigator friend who produced the video. “I asked her if I could post it and Mindy’s answer was, ‘You’ll know when it’s right.’ In hindsight she was having me produce her suicide video.”
PHOTOS: Mindy McCready’s Troubled Life in 5 Clicks
Hanks posted the video on YouTube on Sunday after McCready was found dead on the porch of her Arkansas home after apparently shooting herself. Last month, Wilson was found dead in the same house, also with a gunshot wound to the head.
The song, written by McCready pal Courtney Dashe and co-writer Jason Walker, is about remembering the good in relationships that had gone sour.
“We know she has been through a lot and the song clearly resonated with her,” says Dashe, who watched McCready cry after hearing the song for the first time in 2009. “[Danno] said the song had been really helping her cope with the loss of her boyfriend.”
You probably saw the nightmarish Pioneer Press story a few months back about the woman who got assaulted on the Blue Line with a sock full of feces. “It was everywhere,” said the 21-year-old college student, who understandably chose to remain anonymous. “On my face, my hair, my clothes. . . . The worst part is nobody had anything to wipe my face with.”
Maybe you retched, or maybe you laughed. As the unknown assailant’s fecal high jinks went viral, jokes began stacking up on message boards. (“If more people on that train had been carrying socks full of poop, this never would have happened,” quipped a commenter on Deadspin.) But for commuters who have witnessed all manner of el-related depravity, the attack was just another brick in the wall: Good Lord, now I have to pack a change of clothes in case I get hit by a random shitsock?
The whole filthy skirmish could be seen as a good-night kiss to the old CTA, which has begun rolling out its brand-new 5000 series railcars. The first beneficiaries were the Green and Pink Lines; recently, even the beleaguered Red Line started to get a few of its own. Each of the new cars—eventually there will be 706 of them, at a cost of $1.37 billion—features hydraulic suspension, LED displays, and seven live security cameras, which will finally provide conductors with multiple angles from which to spectate excrement hurling.
The new interior represents the most notable change, with its long rows of center-facing perimeter seats, a wider aisle, and more standing space near the doors. “New aisle-facing-seating floor plans provide a roomier interior designed to allow passengers easy ingress and egress through the exits of the car doors,” said CTA president Forrest Claypool at a November 2011 press conference, mouthing what sounded like a computer-generated sound bite. Indeed, the 5000s, the CTA’s first train upgrade in 20 years, are cleaner, greener, smoother, safer, and more economical than the old cars. And riders hate them.
Common laments include motion sickness, lack of privacy, door crowding, badly placed poles, feet in the aisle, compulsory crotch gazing, and a sense of being herded like cattle. Even those who prefer the new cars—manufactured by Montreal-based Bombardier Transportation—might focus on the fact that the 17.5-inch bucket seats don’t come close to containing your average Chicago tuchis.
We could debate ad nauseam whether your $2.25 entitles you to a foot of personal space, a window view, or the right to not get clocked by a stranger’s backpack while you play with your iPhone. Let’s not. More germane is that the CTA has obliterated generations of unspoken el protocol. The rider’s code of conduct, once as ingrained in us as our contempt for Wisconsin drivers, is suddenly irrelevant. That’s why commuters hate the 5000s. Bombardier says they will last for 40 years, and it may take half that time to unlearn our habits.
When we boarded the old cars, our limbs acted on impulse. Within milliseconds, we could scan the entire car, with all its familiar nooks and crannies, and immediately understand where the most desirable spot was and how likely we were to get it—and what our next best option was if we didn’t. If that plum seat over there was open only because it had some mysterious stain or the guy beside it smelled like a gibbon’s armpit, we knew before looking and/or sniffing. With a quick glance, we sensed who was pregnant and who simply obese. We stood if we had to and sat if we could. We moved to the middle of the car and got up for seniors not because we were kind, but because it was the el and that’s just what you did.
Everyone knew how the game was played—even the riders who refused to play along: the pole huggers, the door whores, and the individuals who used bags to save seats for imaginary friends. And the rule followers instinctively knew which of their fellow riders could not be counted on to follow the rules. Our heads did all the social geometry; our bodies responded accordingly.
Now? We look at those little seats, 17.5 inches of flimsy molded plastic, and do unproductive mental calculations regarding the dimensions of all adjacent shoulders and asses. Our inner monologue involves unanswerable questions: How badly do I want to sit? Am I willing to compress my own testicles to fit into that tiny space? Is it worth risking that skeezy dude dry-humping my leg?
If we sit, the new train configuration forces us to confront something far worse: the possibility that we’re not cut out for urban life after all. The old rows of two-seaters gave Chicagoans the illusion of privacy. Now we’re thrust into a community that doesn’t embrace us any more than we embrace it, face to face and thigh to thigh with the same hucksters, drunks, and maniacs we could once ignore, trying to decide whether to suppress every territorial impulse or punch someone in the throat.
Our brains, saddled with outdated operating systems, can only crash when presented with a new layout and rules we don’t understand. So we end up doing the easiest thing, which also happens to be the most selfish thing: We stand by the door. Or we grab a pole because they’re familiar and something deep in our core doesn’t trust those straps hanging overhead. (Most of us forget the straps entirely until one smacks us in the face on the way out.) “Passengers still need to learn how to use these cars most efficiently,” Kevin O’Neil, a.k.a. the CTA Tattler, wrote recently on his blog—a nice way of saying people don’t know what the hell they’re doing.
Once upon a time, we could live a fantasy that we were protected from the city’s germs and odors and inconveniences. We could disregard Poopsock Man. But he’s still out there. And if he strikes on the new el, the shit will hit us all.
Earth + Ocean’s chicken and rice (left) and bagels from Reno (right)
New: Earth + Ocean
In his 18 years on the culinary road, Filipino native Rodelio Aglibot has cooked Japanese at Koi and New Asian at Yi Cuisine (both in Southern California) and consulted in Pan-Asian at Sunda, Italian at the Florentine, and in American at Argent (all in Chicago). Now, with his feet planted firmly in Mount Prospect, Aglibot takes on New American cuisine. To him, that means from-scratch pizzas and pastas, Malay-style sea bass, Filipino adobo pork belly, and Argentine gaucho steak. And his signature dish—crispy “confited” chicken thighs with rice, fresh shelled peas, and a runny egg—is a spin on the comfort food he ate growing up in Honolulu (a.k.a. heaven on earth surrounded by an ocean). 125 Randhurst Village Dr., Mount Prospect, 847-388-3636.
New: Kuma’s Too
In mid-February, the underworld-themed burger bar Kuma’s Corner spun off a 73-seater at the most appropriate address (none other than 666) in the least likely neighborhood (decidedly nonmetalhead Lincoln Park). Tony Lomanto transferred from the Avondale location—where the hallowed Kuma Burger, with bacon, cheddar, and a fried egg, keeps ’em queuing up for hours—to man the grills, cooking identical offerings. The music-focused decor is also similar, but owner Michael Cain calls the Kuma’s Too building “nicer and more Lincoln Park–y.” As for the new neighbors: “Everybody likes burgers, and everybody could stand to lose some political correctness, so we’ll be good.” 666 W. Diversey Pkwy., 773-472-2666.
It may not have occurred to many people to want a bagel baked in a wood-fired oven, much less to seek out such a thing. But this smart sibling (and next-door neighbor) of Logan Square’s Telegraph wine bar makes a convincing case for that idea. Bagels ($2.25) customized with egg, lox, and other proteins ($1 to $3) and tomatoes, radishes, and assorted extras (50 cents to $1) are the focus of the breakfast menu. At lunchtime, sandwiches ($7.50) take center stage. Don’t miss the Cowboy Killer: maple fennel sausage, a fried egg, béchamel, bacon, and rajas (sautéed peppers and onions) on a toasted bun.
After 5 p.m., table service kicks in, and housemade pastas, such as rigatoni carbonara ($14), shine. Want wood-fired pizza? Choose your toppings or try one of the bold combos, which include everything from pepperoni with jalapeño pesto ($12) to a mellow layering of butternut squash, sage, and Gruyère ($11). Desserts are lovely; keep an eye out for malted chocolate mousse pie topped with coffee toffee. Nice wines, beers, and juices, as well as Stumptown coffee. Cash only. 2607 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-697-4234.
According to the Mail Online, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has been offered the opportunity to become BT Sport’s lead football pundit.
Rio Ferdinand, 34, has less than six months left on his Manchester United contract and with him being shunned by England manager Roy Hodgson, he could well hand up his boots at the end of this season.
BT have secured the rights to 38 Premier League games in each of the next three seasons and with Sky having former Red Devil Gary Neville on their books, the broadcaster are keen to bring in big names. BT have already signed up Dame Clare Balding and given her own flagship show, which she is delighted with:
“I’d like to thank BT for giving me the opportunity to present my own magazine-style programme in which I can interview iconic sports stars and discuss newsworthy and stimulating topics.”
Ferdinand isn’t the first footballer to be approached by a media outlet towards the end of their career, with Gary Neville, mentioned above as well as Alan Shearer and Gary Lineker all involved in the presenting side of football.
Alan Shearer did have a brief spell in management with Newcastle United back in 2009 but him along with several others seem to think that a career in media is a better choice than managerial one.
It’s unclear whether Rio is even considering retiring at the end of the season, but with Frank Lampard, Jamie Carragher John Terry, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs all coming to the end of their footballing career, we could potentially see a lot of new footballing pundits in the next few years.
Jamie Carragher is also another possible pundit that BSkyB and BT are fighting over, but England coach Roy Hodgson believes the Liverpool faithful will turn down the media and continue in football:
“After retirement, I am sure he will march quickly up the coaching ladder and become one of the country’s top young coaches.”
Will Rio make a good pundit? Share your thoughts below.
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