Halloween Musings: What Makes a Scary Game?

Posted in Game-related Events, Gaming, Movies, My Stuff, Survival Horror on October 30th, 2013 by thelonegamer

Important rule in surviving horror. Don’t. Look. Back.

Horror is a tricky thing to do, whether it be in movies, books or, yes, games. It’s very easy to go overboard with buckets of gore, slime and layers of prosthetics before you realize in the end, you’ve created not a scary game but a monster-action adventure. Nope, HORROR and scares, suspense, I believe, is not limited to just simple ugly monstrosities going RAAAR… there are things that make horror more effective and deeper. Particularly now, in games, where we’ve pretty much probably seen it all when it comes to monsters- scaring gamers desensitized by years of splatting beasties with plasma guns and rocket launchers is going to take more than the usual.

I think one big mistake games (and their producers, marketers and designers) make is by showing their cards much too early. Almost always in the weeks, months and even years before a game hits shelves, articles in magazines or online have already revealed or shown in detail the opposition they’re going to face. Yeah, it’s different to stare at a zombie sketch or render in a magazine, and when you actually face it in-game… but still, you know what to expect, and you’re kinda prepared.
How about a scary game where the marketing never really shows the enemies you will face? It’s not new, but not often this is done- I think keeping things in suspense in this way is a very important aspect that can keep a scary game’s frights fresh till the time is right. No peeking at the gifts under the tree, after all.

The best scary games know how to set the stage. It’s like cinema, only with the gamers as the stars. Remember in Aliens, where the marines arrive on the stricken colony, where everything has gone Mary Celeste on them. There are signs of struggle, tables and food left in a hurry, menacing messages left by the vanished. Of course, games can’t always take an hour or two with nothing happening before the monsters show, so pacing has to be far faster but doubly effective. In such scenes, music or perhaps the absence of it may be key as well to putting gamers in suspense and expecting the worst.

Perhaps the most tried-and-true scare in any media is the Jump Scare- literally something will pop out in front of you, from out of some crates, behind a door, throw up its three hands and go, BOO! This may also be seen as a pretty lazy or cheap way to get scares, and it’s really more surprise than anything else (unless the gamer has already been creeped out beforehand). The best jump scares will still get you even if you know they’re coming.
Perhaps the most effective Jump Scare for me in film is the scene from the original Alien, where Captain Dallas meets his end. That final bit still makes me go GAH every time- even if it’s the textbook BOO scene.

Man, I refer to the Alien movies so much, don’t I? Perhaps because it’s pretty much a perfect example of atmosphere, buildup and reveal in scares- well, more the first film than any one else- forget everything after Aliens.

Asian Horror and films like The Ring and Ju-On showed the world a new kind of scare- not necessarily the jump scare with gory monsters, but the creep out slow burn scare, the disturbing and the off-kilter.
Yeah, the Grudge didn’t really translate well into games (the Wii Game was laughably horrible but great for laughs) but granted, it did have some good jump scares. Psychological horror it was not though. That’s because Asian horror relies a lot on the victim having a history that ties them to the scares- not something you can easily do with games, not without a bit of backstory or establishment.
I think a good Asian Horror-style game can be done and done well- such as with the very scary old Siren and Fatal Frame games on the old PS2.

Games like The Evil Within and anything coming down the line have a challenge on them- how to scare the gamers in this day and age. Still, it can be done, as games like Amnesia and Outlast have shown they can capably do (haven’t played these games though). Though I feel TEW relies a bit too much on fantastic situations and monsters to be completely scary. PC games have a lot more potential for really creepy games to come, given the menagerie of horror titles already available. But we’ll see. For someone like me, who loves to get creeped out, the best scary game is the one that keeps me awake until the wee hours- ’cause I’m too scared to go to sleep. Heheh.

Happy Halloween, Gamers!

So Many Zombies! The Lone Gamer’s Dead Trigger 2 Review (iOS, Android)

Posted in Android, Dead Trigger 2, DLC, Gadgets, Game Advertising, Gaming, iGaming, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Mobile Games, My Stuff, Shooters, Zombie Games on October 28th, 2013 by thelonegamer

Get your Trigger Finger ready, friend. The Hero from the first Dead Trigger is back for more killing.

More than a year ago, MadFinger Games released the first Dead Trigger, and it was suitably controversial among iOS gamers. For the most part, the game looked amazing- perhaps one of the best-looking games on the platform at the time. It succeeded in making its zombies look amazingly horrible, evil-looking and chunky-bloody fun to kill. On the other hand, the gameplay was repetitive (although satisfying) and there was little depth of nuance other than upgrading guns and your character to be a better zombie killer. Once you reached a certain point, you will most probably be plowing through the undead like a snowplow.

Upgrading your guns is key to surviving in Dead Trigger 2. Of course, more powerful guns means more cash to build (and more time as well- dammit, MadFinger!). So far, my winning combo is the M1 Garand and Dual Glocks.

For the record, I enjoyed DT from day one up to today- as a simple shooter it wasn’t perfect; but as a mobile game you can just pull out and play for short bursts (of machine gun fire and zombie flesh), it’s quite a value. I bought my copy (99 cents) before it became F2P, and spent quite a bit on IAP funds to get a big and freakin’ cool arsenal- which I am still enjoying today.

Now, Dead Trigger 2 is out. How does the sequel stack up, and what changes have accompanied this latest portable plague of the hungry dead?

Your Zombie Fighting Cell is a smooth, cozy operation, complete with NPCs to keep you armed and ready for every mission- is that a chicken..?

WHOA! Yeah, there’s actually a narrative. It’s no World War Z, but it’s there at least to give sense to all the senseless action. This is a step up from the interstitial text pages of the first Dead Trigger, whose storyline was little more than tongue-in-cheek nonsense (they had a character named Dr. McGuffin, for crying out loud).

You still play as The Hero, that square-jawed male who battles zombies with gusto while mouthing one-liners like a cross between Duke Nukem and Christian Bale Batman. This time though, instead of being just a soldier working for a faction of survivors, the Hero is running his own little zombie-fighting cell- alongside a few NPC workers/shopkeepers, he’s running a cozy little hideout where he can rest between missions and upgrade his gear as they fight a war to retake the world from the zombies.

Listen to Dead Trigger 2′s Radio for the first time and get a John Connor-esque speech. Kinda neat though.

Really, it’s not that deep but it’s appreciated that they took the effort. It’s not so much a story as it is a setting though, and it’s not half bad- kinda like the storyline in Terminator, except with zombies instead of robots… heck, they even stole John Connor’s radio speech. Heheh.

Your missions start off establishing your base in the US, to battling zombies and trying to survive. Eventually though the fight will take you and your crew overseas…

Dead Trigger was already an awesome-looking game; it would follow that DT2 would look even, um, awesomer. But well, not really. There’s not as much a step up in quality as there is in variety though. The zombies still look great, and the new look to the rank-and-file walkers plus the addition of new sub-boss zombies makes for a game that’s much more enjoyable to look at. There are several settings and two different campaign worlds/areas to run around in, which is great instead of having to slog around in greenish urban areas all the time. Still, this is one of the most pretty games on the appstore, and it will look better the more upscale your device is. Zombies still look gross and evil and fun to kill, and that’s numero uno on the list of need be’s.

DT2′s zombies are properly hideous and consequently quite fun to kill. Man, check out those glowing peepers.

I find myself kinda missing the somber repetitve score of the original game, now replaced by the kinda-jazzy music in your hideout. The music is pretty good, but the sound effects are noticeably not as good as the first game. For the most part, zombies still sound damn scary, and the distinct screeches or screams of the special zombies will surely raise the hair on the back of your neck when they announce the coming big bad.

But it’s with the guns that DT2 falls a bit flat. Your arsenal just doesn’t seem to pack as much punch as before- they really sounded darn awesome in the first game, and here they’re a bit restrained. Not terrible but could have been better. Maybe I just miss the roar of my Upgraded M4A1. Sigh.

As with the first game, the game controls like a dual stick shooter, with one thumb moving your Hero around, the other aiming your reticle/camera. The big change being that the game by default gives you an Autofire scheme- you no longer have to press a fire button to shoot, you simply have to run your crosshair over a target, and if it’s in range you’ll shoot.

On the one hand, this may seem to veteran shoot ‘em up gamers as a dumbing-down of the game, taking away a crucial bit of control from the player. In practice though, I found Autofire to be a boon, letting me concentrate on movement and situational awareness- invaluable when zombies are coming at you from all sides.
The game can get so fast-paced, you will welcome the help having an Aliens-like smartgun functionality. It also conserves your ammo since you only shoot when you’re on target. Another bit of added gameplay is that your character’s melee attack is a LOT more effective and very viable- I suggest you upgrade your hand-to-hand tool as much as you can.

Wait for the crowbar.

Mixing up the gameplay is the addition of Special or Boss Zombies. These each have their own trait, attack style and weakness, which you will have to deal with as they appear. Early on you may be frustrated as your dinky gun won’t do much against them, but as you upgrade the fight against these monsters will get easier. Really. Still, I suspect these creeps are just a wee bit unfair. But then, all the more easier to hate them.

Aside from a somewhat brief Story Mode campaign set of missions, you can also do side missions which can be replayed as you want. And you WILL, since you will need to grind for the tons and tons of cash needed to upgrade your weapons and the experience to make your Hero tougher. It will take hours and hours, but if you’re okay with grinding and are one of those gamers who love upgrading this will just mean a lot of replay value and gameplay time.

Dead Trigger 2 is one of the better Free-to-Play (F2P) games. Once you download and install it, you can play it to your heart’s content. You can even grind as you want to earn your cash and buy your upgrades with your own sweat. IAP is limited to gold which can either be used to buy bonus and temporary upgrades (double firepower, double money earned, etc) or used to cut down on waiting times for upgrading items/technology. Basically, it’s there for impatient but monied gamers to use. Otherwise you’re perfectly welcome to not pay anything and just play and play. Me? I have since paid for a ten dollar gold pile to hurry up upgrading. I want my gear. Sadly the permanent character upgrades from the first game are nowhere to be seen- man, I miss my Speed Boost and Health Regen…

Just like before- nay, even more so- I am enjoying Dead Trigger 2. Killing zombies this meaty and chunky never gets old, and the way you get better and upgrade your tools of destruction is satisfying. I like the ‘Global Resistance’ storyline and how your Hero and his chums move from country to country, battling zombies. Supposedly MadFinger will update the game with additional territories to fight in after release, so that should add more variety in locales, zombie skins and perhaps added new guns and equipment.

The Special Zombies have both good and bad aspects- I love the fact that they add quite a bit of challenge given how much more dangerous and deadly they are, however it is grossly unfair of the game to throw these things at you at times where it is basically a sure death. Early on you will simply have NO WAY to kill or defeat these things, and if they get too close you are almost surely dead meat.
The most annoying thing that I’ve experienced was during a Defense mission, where you’re basically waiting out a timer while limited to a small area to move in. The game waited till a couple of seconds left before throwing a Rager at me- the muscle-bound bruiser jumps into my little nest, where I was trapped, and proceeds to kill my ass a second from me finishing the mission. WHAT THE EFF? REALLY? In actuality, this happened TWICE.
I just thirst for the day when my upgraded guns can off these bastards in a few bursts. I THIRST.

Lastly though, I do NOT like how Dead Trigger 2 is ONLINE-ONLY. Yep, that’s the one big caveat; you WILL need an internet connection to play the game, as if missions were streamed in from MadFinger’s servers to play; it kinda feels like a single-player MMO. Ordinarily this would mean me turning away immediately, but damn- I’m already hooked. This is the reason why, however, that I keep the original Dead Trigger (which can be played offline) on my devices even now. Plus my guns and Hero in that game kick ass more.

For the most part, this is yet again an awesome zombie-themed shooter, and the online-only aspect aside, it is well worth looking at for iOS gamers who enjoy quite a bit of blood and gore. It’s up to you if you want or need to spend on the IAP, but even without it the game is a solid shooter and well worth checking out. If you don’t mind the grind, this is a keeper.

• Still the slickest, prettiest-looking zombie shooter you can bring on your mobile device (iOS or Android).

• Free and playable as much as you want from the get-go; IAP is not necessary (but makes the game’s best gear easier to get) so if you don’t wanna pay, you don’t have to. But I recommend paying a bit for good stuff. And support the game makers, really!

• Auto-fire is pretty good and overall gameplay is fast-paced and exciting. New Boss Zombies are challenging and fun to fight, even if they can be damn cheap.

• Requires an Internet Connection to play

• Waiting time can take DAYS. Like, WHAT THE HELL? I paid real money and I can’t even play until after two days???

• If you didn’t like the first game, you probably won’t like this one.


Ultra Streetfighter New Mechanics Revealed

Posted in Arcade, Fan Service, Fighting Games, Game Advertising, Game-related Events, Gaming, PC Gaming, PS3, Street Fighter IV, Streetfighter, Super Streetfighter IV, Super Streetfighter IV AE, Ultra Streetfighter IV, Xbox360 on October 25th, 2013 by thelonegamer

Capcom adds a bit more to their current fighter’s build.

It was leaked quite recently, but now the info dump has been confirmed as true. Capcom’s upcoming new version of Streetfighter IV, named Ultra Streetfighter IV, will have a couple of new gameplay mechanics. Red Focus is a super-charged Focus attack that will absorb more than one attack at the cost of meter, while the Ultra Double option gives your fighter access to both of their Ultras in a fight but with lowered damage.
Both of these new gameplay tweaks will still be tested out and subject to fan feedback in upcoming location tests for the game.

A minor bit, but cool- Yoshinori Ono tweeted some time ago that they are currently looking for a designer and producer for a NEW fighting game. This unknown new beat ‘em up will still be on current consoles, as Capcom seems apparently still reluctant (or unable?) to jump into Next Gen. Kinda sad, but also kinda cool bit, I think.

I’ll keep on the lookout for this. Ultra SFIV is set to come out on PS3, XBox360 and PC sometime next year.

The Life and Times of Playstation

Posted in Game Advertising, Game-related Events, Gaming, PS2, PS3, PS4, PSOne on October 22nd, 2013 by thelonegamer

When did You jump onto the PS Wagon?

I saw this video on Youtube and well, I can just identify so much. I have to admit, with some pride I must say, I’m an Old Timer. I’ve been around since the PSX or PSOne days, and stuck with them ever since. I bought my first Playstation with my own money, on a trip to Hong Kong, and never replaced it until the PS2 came. I went through the days of awesomeness, when the PSX was busted open by bootleggers and it seemed that games came EVERY WEEK. Those were the days of true gaming bliss.

Playstation 2 came and still I played games which lasted hours on hours. I probably went through two PS2′s in that era. Some of the best games I ever experienced were on that console.

Playstation 3 was a mixed bag. On the one hand, this 3rd era was a long, prolonged life for the console, and it’s still going. I still expect to enjoy PS3 games (I did just buy my current PS3 a few months ago) well into the next few years.

Now we’re on the cusp of the ‘Next Gen’. Playstation 4 is just around the corner, although I have not yet seen any game that justifies buying one (Come on, Harada- announce that new Tekken already), but it’s pretty much a done deal I’ll be getting one. Looking forward to sitting in front of my HDTV, spending nights once again with this or that awesome world the new console will open up for us.

Man, I love being a gamer.

Dead Trigger 2 Hands-On, Release Imminent!

Posted in Android, Dead Trigger 2, DLC, Gadgets, Game Advertising, Game-related Events, Gaming, iGaming, iPad, iPhone, Mobile Games, Shooters on October 21st, 2013 by thelonegamer

AppSpy shows off a lengthy demo of this F2P Shooter.

About a year or so ago, the mobile shooter Dead Trigger wowed me on mobile. It was easily the best-looking FPS you could plan on a phone, with chunky and oozy zombies just aching to be dismembered by your arsenal of meaty guns. Yeah, it had its flaws- missions were repetitive and the story about as bare-bones as you could get. Still, as a mobile game you could just jump into for some satisfying (if repetitive) zombie shooting, this was as good as you can get on the go. It was good enough for me to sink in some change to purchase IAP gold for the more advanced guns, so suffice to say I am a fan. Now, in but a couple of days Dead Trigger 2 is about to be released, so I am suitably stoked.

After seeing the demo vid above I have mixed feelings. The game’s visuals certainly look great and the new settings look promising. The missions still look similar as before, but the promise of new things to do is interesting. My biggest gripe for now has to do with the new ‘auto-fire’ control scheme. As the vid reveals, you no longer have to press a button to fire your gun- just move the crosshair into a zombie, and if a deadite is in range, your gun will expel firepower like a Colonial Marine Smartgun.
On the one hand, this kinda takes away a measure of control I enjoy- I loved being able to leisurely aim and pick off zombie body parts, or at least hit them where I want, when I want. That being taken away irks me, I will not lie.

On a practical side, this auto-fire system I guess is more suitable to a running battle sort of game, where you have to keep moving and stay one step ahead of the slavering, nigh-unstoppable hordes. Also, I assume you no longer have to worry about ammunition much- I don’t think you have limitless ammo, but enemies seem to drop gear with great abundance.

That said, I am still pretty excited. I wanna see the infusion of friendly NPCs to interact with (though I have no illusions about them having any AI more than being just scripted companions), new zombies to fight and anything new to offer. Anyone interested should check out AppSpy’s vid preview above. Just two more days, and we’ll have gorgeous undead killing fun again for the DL.

The Lone Gamer’s Pre-Trip Rituals…

Posted in My Stuff, Uncategorized on October 16th, 2013 by thelonegamer

Earlier this week some stuff happened and as a result I am taking a surprise trip abroad. It’s a working trip, like most of my sojourns overseas, but still I’ll be spending a couple of days in a country I’ve never been to and that’s always a good thing. Still, it never fails. Always, ALWAYS on the even of a trip I go through the same gauntlet of things and in a way it’s hilarious that I am so structured, like a Japanese anime giant robot squad.

For starters, I almost never sleep the night before. I spend the whole time pacing, looking at my luggage, troubling over what to bring and what not, if I have enough underwear, do I bring soap or what. Perhaps by three o’ clock in the morning or so I finally hit the sack. And then wake up about two hours later.

Next, my digital luggage. Conceivably more important than my physical baggage and a sign of the times now, I MUST pack more gadgets and media files than Batman when I go on a trip, in my mind thinking that I will need something to watch or play on my tiny mobile device during downtimes, terminal waiting and nights at the hotel when I cannot sleep and there’s nothing to watch on the TV (that I can understand).
Case in point, I am bringing my iPad along (my constant companion on trips abroad ever since my laptop finally stopped being portable and presentable) filled with a lion’s share of apps and games installed, with most of my video files packed into my mobile phone (a Samsung Galaxy Note 2). Between the iPad, the Note and my PS Vita, any hours of boredom should be defeated handily. In the event that I do have such downtime.

To be honest, the work I expect to do is one meeting, one presentation and that’s it. The rest of the time before the meeting I expect to be prepping, then afterwards it’s just a matter of buying stuff for the folks back at the salt mines and some errands.

When all’s said and done, I hope to be exhausted and raring for a weekend once we come back to Manila shores on Friday. Hope to be back then without any unwanted baggage. Later then!

DOA5 Ultimate Halloween Update, Part Deux!

Posted in Dead or Alive 5, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate, DLC, Extra Costumes, Fan Service, Fighting Games, Game Advertising, Game-related Events, Gaming, PS3, Xbox360 on October 10th, 2013 by thelonegamer

The eerie new battlefield is just aching for some creepy combatants.

Here’s a bit more of the upcoming Halloween update for Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate. There’s still no word of pricing or exact date of release for the new content, which will include a Halloween costume for each fighter in the roster (except for Alpha 152, it seems) and a Halloween-themed stage.

As for the costumes themselves, Youtuber Splitplaythru has posted a lengthy video that does an excellent job of showing off all the outfits, from the couple of familiar costumes (Kasumi’s Princess outfit and Bass’s Viking) and the rest, which I think are mostly new (though Rachel’s Fiend Form is from Ninja Gaiden).
The costumes are quite varied, though some I feel could have been more exciting and more Halloweeny (Pai’s outfit is a maid’s uniform… eh?). Most of the girls’ costumes are definite fan-service and fanboy fap-worthy (Helena’s Succubus is sure to be a favorite), though I have to say that Mila gets a bad roll with probably the silliest (and in a bad way too) costume since Hitomi’s clown outfit.

Of the others, I have to give it up to Momiji’s Yummy Mummy outfit as my favorite (simple yet sexy!), plus she and Ryu make a very cute couple, er, tag team.

All the Halloween outfits shown off in the vid above.

Apparently there have been some leaks notably from the Xbox360 version, which explains why there are pics online showing off the outfits, as well as vids. I don’t think this will hurt the DLC’s prospects for selling well- if anything, the early look should make the fans even more excited.
Question is, when is the update being released, and for how much (if it’s paid)? I’m hoping sooner rather than later- hoping Team Ninja doesn’t wait for Halloween Night itself for the drop date- I’m going trick or treating! Heheh.

Team Ninja Teases DOA5 Ultimate Halloween… STUFF

Posted in Dead or Alive, Dead or Alive 5, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate, DLC, Extra Costumes, Fan Service, Fighting Games, Game Advertising, Game-related Events, Gaming, PS3, Xbox360 on October 8th, 2013 by thelonegamer

Spooky and sexy!

For the past couple of weeks, Team Ninja has been posting teasing pics on Twitter and Facebook- pics of costumes, or to be more exact- glimpses of costumes. The first two were kinda obvious to whom they belonged- such as Bass’s classic Viking outfit way back from Dead or Alive 3.1, and Kasumi’s beloved ‘Princess’ costume. But since those two, we’ve headed into unknown territory.
Since then hints of a Red Riding Hood outfit, a Frankenstein getup, a gladiator, angels, vampires, temptresses and more have been posted. You can check them all out over at Tecmo Europe’s Facebook Page.

It’s all apparently part of somethign called ‘Fighter Style’, which is the hashtag TN is using for the pics and this whole shebang. It’s all pointing to a big treat for Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate, assumedly for release sometime this month- most probably on Halloween given all the costume conundrums. Oh, and aside from new duds, apparently there will be a new Halloween-themed stage as well.

No word yet if the update is free or paid, but if it’s good I’ll gladly pay the pittance. THIS is what I am talking about in terms of DLC and paid DLC. I’ve got no problem paying for good stuff, new stuff that is worthy my money. Give me characters, outfits, customizations- just NEW stuff. Do not try to make me pay to play AKA keep paying for a game I already BOUGHT (like some game called TEKKEN REVOLUTION) and trying to make me buy “New” Costumes that were regurgitated from Tekken Tag 2. MAKE NEW STUFF. Team Ninja is doing great in keeping interest high for their game. I love this stuff.

Anyways, we’ll see how much of this is trick or treat soon, hopefully.

Mortal Kombat Legacy II: Second Season Review

Posted in Action Adventure, Arcade, DLC, Fan Service, Fantasy, Fighting Games, Game Advertising, Game to Movies, Game-related Events, Gaming, Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat Legacy, TV on October 5th, 2013 by thelonegamer

Behind the scenes with MK Legacy 2.

And here it is. When Kevin Tancharoen first burst onto the MK scene with his revolutionary short, MK Rebirth, fans all over were hopeful that there would be a great resurgence in the franchise’s storytelling. In a way, that has certainly come to pass- the first web-series was well-received… at least, well enough to spawn a second season. Eventually, we expect a full movie, which hopefully will come within sight of the next actual GAME. Anyway, that’s still far into the future; the Second Season of Mortal Kombat Legacy, named Mortal Kombat Legacy II, is here now, released in its entirety online (at Machinima) on the first day of release. What can one expect from the sophomore outing of this subset of the MK mythos?

The first season was ten episodes long, and was composed mainly of single or two-episode character arcs, each one taking on one or two characters’ stories- such as Sonya and Jax, Raiden, Kitana and Mileena, Johnny Cage and so son. Each character arc was more or less a complete story, making the first season an anthology. The quality was overall good, in terms of production value it all looked slick and above your usual live-action fan flick. I even found myself really into the unusual treatment of some of the episodes, such as the quite disturbing episode starring Raiden, which put the thunder god in a mental institution where we all questioned his sanity. Some were by the numbers or expected, but it all came off as a good-natured, well-meaning MK romp. They were all prequels and served to enrich the existing mythology.

Now, MK Legacy II. The schtick here is, the second season is not an anthology anymore- all 10 episodes tell one linear story, and is set in the time of an actual, or in this series, the current MK Tournament. This IS the game, within this corner of the MK universe.
As expected, both the champions of Earth Realm and Outworld are being gathered- by Raiden (David Lee McInnis) and Shang Tsung (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) respectively. Of the fighters, there are changes to the casting from Season 1, with key characters Sonya and Jax missing in action during the actual Tournament. The good guys include Johnny Cage (newly-casted Casper Van Diem), Kurtis Stryker, the New Sub-Zero and Kung Lao (Mark Dacascos). On the Outworld side are Kitana and Mileena, a demonic and feral Ermac, Scorpion (returning Ian Anthony Dale) and Lui Kang (Brian Tee).

More on MK Legacy 2′s Behind-the-scenes.

Yep, Lui Kang. Perhaps following the events in the game, MKL2′s Champion of Earth Realm is a disillusioned, bitter and violent, given to drinking and brawling. Oh, and he apparently works as a paid assassin. Not quite the thing expected of a supposed Hero and former member of the White Lotus. Well, having your fiancee murdered can expectedly change you. The scene though where the fiancee is apparently killed is pretty vague (how did it happen and why couldn’t Lui Kang stop it?). Given as well that Kung Lao and the White Lotus have become Jedi-like in their intolerance of human love and relationships, you perhaps can’t blame him totally.

There are sadly glaring problems in MKL2. The first being the cast seems full of holes and ragtag, with no one to really root for. Lui Kang has turned evil, while Kung Lao is so vapid and cold in his purity that he is borderline unlikable. Johnny Cage remains clueless until it’s too late, and Stryker is… well, Stryker and Sub-Zero… well, he’s spineless. Heheh.

Aside from that, it’s readily apparent that each of the episodes is short on content. At about eight or so minutes for most, an episode seems to contain one main scene, a tease of the next scene and that’s it. Add to this padding of recap footage from the previous episode, or one of the various pace-slowing flashbacks and the final ‘Next Episode’ teaser footage at the end and you have just a very bit of actual real time action to chew on per ep. I think that’s the main reason why they released every episode of Season 2 all at once- watching just one episode a week is too lacking in content and oomph. There’s actually basically just barely enough for a feature film before us, and even then, it finishes with the main fight that was being built up for the whole time STILL not happening. On the bright side, at least we get quite a few fatalities, even if the fights themselves (and the tournament as a whole) seemingly feeling and looking… small.

Still, the series looks great, with good fight scenes and decent to very good performances from most of the onscreen performers. At no point is it ever too slow or boring. But I just want more.

On the one side, I guess it’s good that the season leaves us wanting more and expectant of the next installment. Do we have to wait another year till Season 3? MAN. On the other, I hope that director Kevin T. returns to making the eps. each more substantial and perhaps less seemingly by the numbers. I’ve seen better from this franchise, and I hope it gets even better from here.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Episode One Review

Posted in Agents of SHIELD, Fan Service, My Stuff, TV on October 3rd, 2013 by thelonegamer

Marvel’s got a new Team Supreme.

The Avengers movie was awesome. I still think it’s one of the best superhero films ever, and to have something in that vein- even a sliver of it, more often, would be great. I guess you can consider Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as something of this sort. Oh, and from here on, I will NOT be typing that title in full again, instead resorting to AoS to refer to the show. Periods.

Set sometime after the events in the Avengers movie, AoS throws us back into the game alongside Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) as he investigates strange, superhuman-based cases for SHIELD with a rag-tag team of exceptional but quirky agents. You’ve got Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), a field agent and lone wolf who’s more at home with assassinations than assisting. Melinda May (Ming Na Wen) is the team’s designated pilot though she apparently has the skills rivaling the Black Widow. Agents Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) are the resident eggheads. Finally there’s Skye (Chloe Bennet), who aside from being monstrously cute is an off-the-grid renegade hacker determined to ‘expose’ SHIELD to the world.

Oh, and you may ask as well- didn’t Coulson DIE in the Avengers movie? Well, he did… or did he? Or didn’t he? The answer to this is a bit murky at the start, even though to Phil himself it seems to be cut and dried- a near-death experience. But a short scene and ominous dialogue between Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and SHIELD physician Doctor Streiten (Ron Glass) point to there being much more to Coulson’s return than even he knows… perhaps something to ponder for the future. Suffice to say, the man’s back and hopefully whatever happens he’s here to stay.

The first episode does a quick and brisk job of introducing the cast, starting with Ward, throwing in Phil and then running through the rest as they race to get to a newly-discovered ‘superhuman’ (played by J. August Richards) before ‘other elements’ get to them. As you’d expect with a script by Joss Whedon, there are fast quips, nods to the film and other Marvel franchises, a healthy bit of sexual attraction and an issue’s worth of clever banter to keep you chuckling and going ‘ooh’ or ‘oh’ or ‘ah’ throughout.

Other than that, the production quality is very good for a TV series, with liberal special effects giving the SHIELD good guys a good bit of super-tech. Other nice things, girls will surely like stoic action man Ward, while Ming Na hardly looks like she has aged since the Streetfighter movie. Oh, and man is it cool to have not one but two people with English accents cutely bickering to fill the space? And did I say that Chloe Bennet is monstrously cute? Monster.

Anyway, the pilot is fast paced and very tight, and there is a red herring or two which surprised, even if the ending was a bit- well, comic book. Or was that intended?
Pilot was very much an enjoyable watch and a very promising start to a series that will be battling for the attention of fans of Marvel Comics, the movies and TV shows in general. Anyways, it’s good to see Phil back in action and the team is cute and cool as hell. Hope the scripts are always as snappy as this one, but from just this start, I’m keeping my seat on Lola and heading off with the gang for their next mission.