Review: Ultimate Avengers DVD

An odd title that will get many people confused. Is it The Avengers? Is it The Ultimates? It ends up being the latter - the title was most likely changed to draw more "old-school" comic book readers in... or did I miss the memo that stated Ultimates was shorthand for Ultimate Avengers?

Any who, this DVD promises to be the first of many for Marvel (The second Ultimate Avengers is pretty much finished and ships in June, I believe). They even have a Dr. Strange movie in the works for next February. Pretty sweet. On with the review! (Review System)

Cinematography, Packaging: Cartoons featuring combat between characters can always be hit or miss. However, these guys draw comics that portray battle all of the time and it really shows in the animation for Ultimate Avengers. Over three quarters of the movie is hand-to-hand fighting and all of it looks great, although sometimes the video quality skipped out and showed some frozen blocks for a moment after a quick cut from one character to another. There's also some odd-looking CG used for alien ships that feels entirely out of place. They would have been fine make the entire movie 2-D cel animation. 7/10

Sound: Most of the voices are spot-on. Marvel obviously worked with some of the writers to get their opinions on how each character should talk. If you have a surround sound system, definitely pump it up for this title. 9/10

Value: There are some pretty good extras on the DVD. An entire history of The Avengers told by some of the original artists and writers is pretty neat if you're a fan of the material. There's also a feature compiling some of the best entrees into "The Ultimate Voice Talent Search." Some of them are hilariously bad or poorly shot with digital cameras. One guy spouts off a bunch of lines in various impressions, from Christopher Walken to Sean Connery - definitely the most memorable nerd of the bunch. There's a first-look at Ultimate Avengers 2 which is short and barely whets the whistle and a pretty cool "What Avenger Are You?" feature if you put the disc in a PC. The possibilities are unlimited, too - apparently every single hero that was ever an Avenger is an outcome. The price is right for a rather short movie (about 70 minutes), at below $15. 7/10

Enjoyability: The movie itself was pretty good in terms of a short, animated action flick. Those that read Ultimates Vol. 1 will find nothing new in terms of story, although it's always nice to have voices added to each hero and see each fight translated into motion. It's best to watch with others that read the book or are aware of the characters in it, as well as a kick-ass sound system. 7/10

Overall Score: 7 out of 10 (Good)



Shadow Hearts and Pokemon Trozei Impressions

Just started playing both of these games today. One of the first things that struck me about Trozei is that it has a fantastic music selection. Usually these action-puzzle games have a heart-thumping track list, and Trozei is no different. However, each track is substantially different (they change every time you start a new level, and since it's techno music, you can just loop it over and over for longer periods of play).

It's also rather hard to get the rare Pokemon that show up from time to time. Perhaps more practice is in order, but I've beaten two bosses already and have only managed to capture one rare Pokemon. So while the adventure may finish quickly (there are 6 bosses, I believe), the value from the title will come from trying to snag these smirking critters and then boast to anyoen else you know with the game.

Inbetween fast-paced Trozei sessions, I took some time to play Shadow Hearts. The attitude of the series is definitely back - dark storylines interlaced some rediculously funny moments. The female lead is also voluptously-stacked and wears a simple Natice American outfit, so that's always nice. When she changes into demons it flashes into a Final Fantasy X-2-esque scene with her undressing and a bright light blinding you before you see anything. Then she's a kick-ass demon. I just got the wierd guy that leanred Ninjitsu from South America, which bloats my current party to 4. There was a save point right after, so I tried him out in one battle and stopped for the night. His character model is rediculously-detailed, right down to the demon chest plate he wears. More on these two games as I play 'em.



52 Pick Up - What I'm Buying Today

Figure I should let all three of my readers know what I'm buying today. Tuesday is the shipping day for EVERYTHING. 52 weeks in a year, 52 cards in a deck. Picking up games/movies/music/comics/etc. Hahah, I'm hilarious.

Lesse, Shadow Hearts: From the New World should be shipping today. Hopefully my pals will get it so I can pick my copy up. I ordered The Academy Is... 'Almost Here' from the local music store because no one has it in stock. I'm also gonna pre-order Guild Wars: Factions, because that's the best MMORPG out there right now... I'd say WoW, but it costs money to play that.

I'll let you know if I pick anything else up. Because you are very interested.


Tomb Raider Bad Girl Playable in New Game

Release has an entire bio... mostly background crap... so let's skip to the good part.

"Then one day in Peru, while excavating a tomb Lara believed contained the last queen of Tiwanaku, her team of graduate students breeched a new room and all hell broke loose. Lara was the only one to return to the surface, where the team's structural engineer, Anaya Imanu, listened in horror to Lara's story of how a malevolent entity of some kind slaughtered everyone in the tomb, except for Lara and Amanda. But as the two tried to escape, Amanda set off a trap that sealed the room, brought down the roof, and drowned Amanda.

"Bonus tidbit for fans.....(Easter Egg reveal) When you complete the game you'll be able to play through the game using the Amanda model!"

Oh boy! Now I can play two rail-thin, inflated women.


Family Guy Video Game Announced by 2K Games

From the release:

"Developed by High Voltage Software, Family Guy will feature the offbeat humour of the show's writers in an action/adventure game focusing on the lovable oaf Peter Griffin, his world domination-obsessed son Stewie and their talking, martini-drinking dog, Brian. Throughout the game, these popular characters wreak havoc in many of the same locations depicted in the animated series."

Hopefully it will sell better than Futurama. And perhaps 2K Games will do a better job with this than they did with 24. Almost as bad as Jesus Jones. Peee-yewww!



Fight Night Round 3 Review

This is gonna be good...

Fight Night used to be known as Knockout Kings - the series started in '98. Then in 2004 they decided a name change would bring more attention to the revolution of the controls - the Total Punch Control System. Fight Night uses the right analog stick for all punches. Depending on your handedness, a diagonal upwards movement to either side is either a straight (same side has your main hand) or jab (opposite). Crosses are preformed by pushing straight out to either side than rolling the sitck up to the top. An uppercut is right or left downwards and then rolling the stick upwards to the top, much like the actual movement of the arm.

You also use a button modifier to lean. Leaning forward will have all of your bunches targeting the body, while away and to the sides will allow you to dodge punches. Each punch takes away stamina, a bar that slowly regrows. However, over time the bar's maximum while become smaller to cub those who let their "hands go" too frequently. Above your stamina bar is your health. Once this goes all the way down, you enter a KO situation where any power shot will bring you to the floor. If you can stay out of the way or clinch your opponent you gain some health back and get out of the situation. Like the stamina bar, the maximum for health goes down as you take more damage, making you suspectible to knock downs later in the fight. Cuts and swelling will weaken your defenses, so if you cut open your opponent's left eyes. Any punches that hit it will take away much more health than usual.

Got it? On with the review!
(Review system)

Graphics: As usual, EA has some of the best graphical artists around. While not a great upgrade from last year, some of the animations seem smoother and the collision detection is accurate, making most of the superfluous replays realistic. There's still that odd reaction to knockdowns from the virtual boxers - basically they become ragdoll models and fall in very unrealstic ways. They fall backwards in two, something that should break their spines. They also try vigorously to fall totalyl flat, so legs and arms flail to try to touch the mat while they hump at the gorund. Usually good for a laugh but ultimately dissapointing. 6/10

Sound: Sure, half of the crap the commentating team is some sort of commercial (more on that later), but they do a solid job of keeping up with the fight. Most players throw four hundred punches in any given fight and the guys in the booth manage to talk about the heavy-hitting combos. Still, there are hiccups - this year refs can stop fights if one of the combatants aren't defending themselves enough, and the commentators will say "He's threatening to stop the fight..." about eight times in a row as the round goes on. It's really, really annoying. 6/10

Enjoyability: Why are there commercials in this game. I mentioned this earlier in the week. The fact that you can hire the Burger King to be your trainer is surprisingly nauseating. Most of the title fights have a real sponser - the UnderArmor "We must protect his house!" guy opens that particular fight. It just feels cheap that I spent $40 for a minimal upgrade and have to sit through advertisements so EA can make even more money. I hope this doesn't become more of a trend in the future. 1/10

Value: The career mode is pretty much a bunch of fights strung together to get you money and unlock more stuff to use. There are no storylines other than fights with your rivals, who are randomly determined. Still, EA added new punching and defending styles for you to unlock, so there is a bit to do. Still, it's all done through fights, which can become boring once you get your tactics in place. 2/10

As usual, EA presents their product well with sounds and sights. But even a box of crap that says "Roses" on the front and smells like roses is still a box of crap. 3/10 (Playable)



MLB '06: The Show First Impressions

MLB 2006 was the best baseball simulation last year, so I have high hopes for MLB '06: The Show. Sure, it's the same title year of last year - and they finally got it right, because it's stupid to put next year on your baseball games cover. They do that for football games because the season actually ends in another year. Baseball obviously takes place during one - April to October.

So far, the graphics and overall aesthetics are nice - the menus are faster, players don't look like blocky torsos with arms attached and the animations are as smooth as ever. Plus, it doesn't freeze like the last year's game did.

King of the Diamond mode is a fun time and offers a ladder of difficulty - I recommend most newcomers play this mode first to get the swing mechanics and speed down. I still don't know if it will be the best game of the season, as 2K6 has yet to release. Unfortunately, S2K Sports' game doesn't hit selves until late march. Still, it'll be hard for 2K to improve their game drastically enough to overcome Sony's offering.

As for my AoE review, let me add an ammendment: I like games that gradually introduce you to features, especially when they fall into the RTS-esque genre. The AoE series didn't throw every unit and upgrade at you once - it was saved for later on in each campaign. And it works well because gamers are elated to get an awesome new unit just in time to defeat the enemy. However, Age of Kings on the DS allows you to see everything in the beginning levels in most situations. This is due to the fact that it takes over 100 turns to finish some of the earlier levels - this allows you to get every single upgrade an unlock every unit - "spoiling" the surprises, if you will.

That's it for today - I have some sidewalks to shovel (literally).



IGN Awards BLACK Game of the Month on PS2

Zuh? Apparently February was a crapfest for games or EA Games has a lot of pullable weight in the IGN offices. Oh yes, a FPS with no multiplayer and only six hours of gameplay is better than one of the best soccer sims in the past few years - Winning Eleven 9.

Yes, I'm being sarcastic.

Sure, I've played Winning and have only read things about BLACK - but I think my experience with the title will be on average with everyone else's. Hopefully it's at the local rental place soon so I can finally get my hands on it, since I won't be buying it.

I might write a review for Winning Eleven 9 today since I have played what there is to play on the disc. It was a good experience, to say the least. Although it was very similar to last year's title, which was amazing, the integration of online play makes a big difference. We'll see how the review pans out.