Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions – Initial Impressions [updated with Noir impressions]

September 7, 2010

Here’s my initial impressions:

Graphics: The game looks great! The characters look awesome in their respective art styles and animate really well. So far the framerate has been stable, but I’m really not that far into the game. Love the look of all of them and they incorporate film grain into some of the worlds which make for a nice touch (in Amazing, it almost gives it a printed comic book page look and in Noir they add a scratched film effect when you go into spider-sense mode which is cool)

Sound: Music is pretty good although nothing spectacular at this point. Voice acting for all of the Spider-Men is great so far. Love the quips and one liners.

Spidey 2099’s voice is good although a bit more wimzy than I initially expected.

Gameplay: I honestly haven’t gotten far enough to give detailed opinions, but it plays good from what I played. You have the typical Spidey type of combat that you’ve come to expect with a few new wrinkles added.

I love that standard attacks are automatically blocked if you go into your defensive stance (LT). It just makes the combat look cool when Spidey does a bunch of dodges back and forth when people try to attack you from behind. I honestly haven’t really gotten far enough to comment further, but so far so good.

One thing I should note is that it’s kind of weird playing a Spider-Man game with actual level design. I’m so used to playing open world Spider-Man games that the level design really gives the game a different feel when compared to Spider-Man: Web of Shadows or previous Spider-man games.

Spider-Man Noir basically plays like the stealth rooms in Batman Arkham Asylum….hey if you’re going to rip stuff from a game, might as well be a great one! Still a lot of fun since it gives it a Spider-Man twist to it.  I really love the art style chosen for this universe and the boss fight in the first Noir level was a lot of fun.

I thought the first person fighting would come off as gimmicky but it really doesn’t. It feels fairly visceral and it’s a really fun little bonus while you are fighting a boss. It’s even used as a finisher at times. I loved the way the game plays around with the perspective.

One thing of note is, if you play Spider-Man games for the web slinging, you may be disappointed to hear that there’s no free roaming. Although web slinging is a necessity, it isn’t in the forefront anymore since there is no longer a city to use it in. I really don’t see this as a bad thing though because the game seems to have different strengths.

The one sour point so far is the camera system.  It’s by no means unplayable, but it can get a bit unwieldy at times.  This issue plagues all Spider-Man games.  It’s one of those things that if you want the game to let you do whatever a Spider can, you’ll have to give them some leeway considering how hard it is to track a video game character like Spider-man.  If you’ve played earlier Spider-Man games, it’s no worse than those games and doesn’t take away from the fun I’ve been having with Shattered Dimensions.

Overall: This game is pretty good so far. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but it’s already better than Web of Shadows as far as I’m concerned.


TPB Talkback: Kraven’s Last Hunt

July 12, 2010

Thank god I don’t write for a living.

Why, you ask?  The reasoning is quite simple, when I love something I can gush about it without losing any credibility!

Kraven’s Last Hunt is one of my favorite Spider-Man stories of all time.   I read it recently in order to get in the mood of Amazing Spider-Man’s new story arc, “Grim Hunt” and it was just as entertaining as it was the first time I read it.

First off, the art is amazing.  I’m honestly not sure how recognizable of a name Mike Zeck is, but he’s one of my all-time favorite Spider-Man artists.  Spider-Man is well known for being up beat and humorous but Zeck sets up a very dark and moody story while somehow keeping the Spider-Man feel intact.  His story telling is somber, cinematic, and dark without overwhelming you.

The writing can be easily dismissed as simplistic if you are looking at it on the surface, but there’s so much subtext to read into.  Mike Zeck’s pencils tell just as much of a story as Dematteis’ words, so much so that it’s hard to tell which form is complementing which.  I really don’t want to give away much of the story for those of you who haven’t read it, but the title pretty much says it all.  This story turned Kraven from a hokey comic book villain from the 60’s to the bad ass hunter he always should have been.  The way Dematteis conveys Kraven’s insanity and obsession towards Spider-Man is great, and really prepares you for the chilling end.

“Grim Hunt” is finally calling back to this classic series.  For those of you who are reading “Grim Hunt” without reading KLH first, stop what you are doing and read this classic Spider-Man story.  You won’t be sorry.


Comic Book Roundup, Siege Edition part Deux! *** Spoiler Alert ***

July 7, 2010

Yes this is a long time coming, couple odd circumstances with little time to read and that would explain the long gap between updates.  Sorry folks!  I figured it’s been long enough that I should just make this a new post instead of adding to the old one.

Siege #3: …and Osborn gets clocked in the head with Caps shield.  Awesome moment to be sure, but the question we all want answered is what’s going to happen with the Sentry.  Last time we saw him, he ripped Ares in half and was on his way to becoming full on evil.

Thor decides to give Sentry his best shot and is surprised by how well he takes it while Speed has a package to deliver to a recently reawakened Tony Stark.  Meanwhile the government issued an order to take down H.A.M.M.E.R’s base of operations while Steve Rogers and Osborn duke it out at ground level.  Kind of funny just how quickly the government is ready to turn on Osborn, someone who arguably shouldn’t have been in charge in the first place.  But oh well, that argument is soooo two years ago.  Now that I’ve setup all of the plot points of this issue, let’s break them down.

First of all Sentry vs. Thor.  I still think that considering The Sentry was really brought to the forefront in the pages of New Avengers, Bendis has done a terrible job of keeping him in the forefront on the pages of that very series.  At this point of the character’s life, he’s simply become a vehicle for the kind of destruction that would raise the stakes with everyone involved.  It’s really a shame to see a character that could have had really interesting character development be relegated to “monster super heroes must stop”.  During Thor and Sentry’s battle, a desparate Osborn orders him to stop the heroes by any measures necessary, which apparently involve bringing down all of Asgard in one fell swoop.

Meanwhile, Osborn is falling apart at the seams.  Tony Stark (in a suit of armor brought to him by Speed) does what you would probably expect him to do, he shuts down Osborn’s Iron Patriot armor and everyone else gets to see what we already knew…just how bad of a turn Osborn was taking towards Green Goblin status.  I thought it was apropos to have Spidey finally shut him the hell up with one good right cross to the jaw and what once brought Osborn to power (the media) has also ruined him considering that his fall from grace was televised for all of the world to see.  Osborn tries to explain that he was really saving everyone by keeping The Sentry in check.  We then see a completely voided out Sentry looking to kill everyone.

This is where I have a problem with where this story is headed, it’ll either be very cool or very lame with little left in between.  It’ll either become a brainless slug fest with The Void or a powerful and emotional introspective on just how fragile The Sentry’s mental status was.  Something tells me they aren’t going to go with the brainy choice.

Siege #4: Here we are with the conclusion of this arc and perhaps the end of an era in the Marvel U.  You can pretty much sum this issue up in a few sentences.  Sentry turns into void, kills Loki so in return Iron Man drops H.A.M.M.E.R. HQ on him.  That doesn’t kill him however, it only makes him Robert Reynolds for just a few seconds.  He pleads to everyone to kill him to which everyone refuses.  Robert then turns back into The Void so Thor drops a huge lightning bolt onto him and fries him to the bone.  Sounds kind of “meh” doesn’t it?  Well it reads just like that as well.  The conclusion and death of The Senry rings hollow and you aren’t left with any answers.  It just felt like a character with potential squandered, relegated to mortar status so that the Marvel Universe can once again go back to status quo.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad to see the Marvel Universe go back to the way it used to be.  I’ve actually enjoyed what Civil War brought to the Marvel universe and even if the stories weren’t told exactly how I would have liked them to be told, it’s still been a different Marvel Universe the last few years.   Still, I can’t help but think that some things could have been done better to make this issue more powerful.  The Sentry simply wasn’t given his due.  When you see Robert Reynolds pleading to everyone to kill him, that should have been a gut wrenching moment for the reader, and not nearly as gut wrenching as when Thor finally ends up killing him.  Instead you don’t really care because in the end The Sentry was just one of  Osborn’s lackeys that let their power get the best of them.  Pretty lame send of for a character that’s been groomed for the last 6 or 7 years, in my opinion.

The rest of the issue is one big group hug of “We’re back, bitches!”, very cool and momentous indeed, I just wish the means to the end was handled a bit better.

With that said, there are exciting times headed for the Marvel Universe and I’m looking forward to seeing where everyone will end up now that it seems like a new (old?) era of the Marvel Universe is here.


Comic Book Roundup, Siege Edition! *** Spoiler Alert *** [UPDATED] Now with 50% more Sentry

May 2, 2010

Siege: The Cabal #1: The problem with these types of “set up” books is that they have to strike the odd balance of saying enough to engage you, but not too much since it’s sole purpose is to get you interested in the actual story that’s going to take place.

With that said, I think this book does a fair job of setting things up, especially if you haven’t been keeping up with all of the Norman Osborn shenanigans that have been taking place since after Secret Invasion.  You get to peer into his maniacal Green Goblin/Norman Osborn personality split, and it basically sets the shape of things to come.

The problem with this is that a big portion of the book becomes useless and unnecessary for those that have been keeping current on the status quo of the Marvel Universe.

As far as new things covered, the confrontation between Osborn and Dr. Doom seemed completely forced and unnecessary.  Also, we get Bendis…Asgard is full with a bunch of guys that are complete badasses.  So much so that nobody wants to mess with them.

Who would want to fuck with a god?  It just seems like Bendis spends a whole lot of time trying to convince you that you need to care about Asgard being attacked that it makes you think that perhaps it’s only a big deal because Bendis is telling you that it is.

Another thing that annoyed me is this supposed “secret” person that’s been helping Norman along.  They’ve been hinting at this guy for almost a freaking year, it’s getting to the point that when they do expose him, I will more than likely no longer care.  Then again, Bendis isn’t exactly known for his brevity.

Still, it’s a decent enough setup issue, I suppose.  It gives you all of the pertinent info you need, although in the end it doesn’t feel like anything more than a cash grab tie in.

New Avengers Annual #3: This issue pretty much concludes the “Clint Barton goes after Norman Osborn” sub plot that’s been going on in New Avengers proper.  It was a fun story, but nothing earth shattering really happens until the end when *GASPS* Captain America (no not that Cap, the real one…you know, Steve Rogers) joins up with New Avengers.

This is classic Bendis.  A story that could be summarized in two sentences is stretched out over thirty pages.  The one thing I was really looking forward to was Mayhew on art since I’ve loved a ton of his cover artwork.  I have to say that it was a bit off putting to see an entire comic in that art style.  At times it looked beautiful and other times awkward.  This is basically all fodder and stop gaps before the real event so I’m willing to cut it some slack.

New Avengers 61 & 62: Are you ready for some more setup, because you’re about to get some!  Again more unnecessary set up for Siege.  How two fight scenes takes up two complete issues to resolve is beyond me, but that’s Bendis for ya!

It might sound like I’m hating on this stuff so far, and I suppose that I am to a degree.  If I had to read this stuff month by month I might be tearing my hair out due to the decompression.  Luckily, I have a decent stack of Siege stuff to read through which makes it a whole lot more bearable.

Perhaps bearable is a bit harsh.  As a whole, it was nice to have things fleshed out, but all of these issues could have been easily put together in one deluxe sized issue.  Instead what I got was a whole lot of setup for the same price that it will cost me to read the actual Siege storyline.

Siege #1: The more I think about it, the more I totally buy into this “seven years in the making” business that Bendis and Marvel are trying to sell us about this series.  There are status quos currently in the Marvel Universe that stem from events that took place half a decade ago or more.  So as much as I give Bendis crap about the decompression in his stories, he has to be commended for being in the forefront of most of what shapes the Marvel Universe, even to this day.

So back to the issue at hand, this is more like it!  Although you still have Norman trying to convince us that Asgard is a huge deal to invade initially, he actually does so!  The art really brings things to life between seeing the group shot of the Dark Avengers closing in on Asgard, to Thor finally making an appearance…all good stuff.

One thing that reading all of these Siege tie ins have made painfully obvious is, what the hell happened to The Sentry?  At one point a few years ago, he was a focal point and had a semi-interesting story, at least interesting enough that I wanted it to still be explored.  Now he’s nothing more than Bane in the movie Batman & Robin.  He just does what he’s told and gets about 2-3 panels an issue if any.  I’m hoping that there is more planned with the character as he’s become wafer thin as far as backstory is concerned.

Siege #2: Alright, when we last left off, Iron Patriot had just beat up Thor, Ares was fighting Asgardians, and Captain America was hatching a plan to turn the tables.  All very interesting plots that get furthered along in this issue.

When Ares finds out that Osborn played him, that Asgard wasn’t being ruled by Loki, that Thor wasn’t casted out, he had more than just a bone to pick with Osborn, he was going to kill him.  So it makes sense that Osborn sics The Sentry on Ares.  After a few pages of a one sided ass whooping, Sentry does the unexpected…he literally rips Ares in half, killing him.  I seriously didn’t see that coming, and I’m amazed by the amount of gore and detail that was added to the scene.  Before meeting his gory demise, Ares was able to gouge Sentry on his side with his axe, and you see a Void-like tentacle pop out of his side.  Foreshadowing anyone?

While all of this is happening, Maria Hill takes it upon herself (with the help of a random person) to rescue Thor.  I will say that Maria Hill has come a long way from her Civil War days.  I once found her to be one of the more annoying characters in the Marvel Universe, but between Matt Fraction and Bendis (mostly Fraction), she’s really been an integral part of the Marvel Universe, in Invincible Iron Man in particular.

Anything else that happens in this issue is merely setup for what’s to come.  Captain America says a very inspired speech to rally the super heroes that are about to join the fray,  Winter Soldier convinces Cap to take the shield to battle as an act of symbolism, and Daken tries to search for Thor and ends up getting fried by him (whether or not he’s dead is left ambiguouse), and the issue ends with one a four panel shot of the Iron Patriot looking up while the reflection of Cap’s shield is getting bigger and bigger in each panel as it get closer to clocking Osborn in the head.  The fact  that the issue ends before you see the shield hit him in the face definitely leaves something to look forward to in Siege #3.


LTTP: Ultimate Spider-Man Canceled

July 25, 2009

Perhaps it’s a bit of a misnomer since it’s coming back as Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, but the point still stands…it won’t be quite the same.

USM will always hold a special place in my heart. I’ve enjoyed the series over the years and it’s what got me back into comics in 2001 (I have issues 13-133 in singles) so it’s sad to see it go in its current state.

To me, USM was the equivalent of comfort food. It may not always be the most delicious, but it always made you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of direction they will take with it. I don’t get this whole reboot….they should just end the Ulimate line before it turns completely to crap.


Comic book round up, Dark Reign Edition! *** Spoiler Alert ***

April 16, 2009

I finally got a chance to read some of the comics that I’ve been stockpiling over the last few months.  Here are some of my thoughts.  Keep in mind that spoilers are in effect, so if you don’t want to know what happens in a particular issue, skip what I think about it.  This will be updated as I read, so stay tuned!

 

Dark Avengers #1:  I honestly don’t know how to feel about this series. On one side, I can respect the radical changes that they’ve made because it does take some balls. On the other, they are perverting everything I loved about The Avengers.

First off, I’m not sold on Norman Osborn as the leader of everything.  I don’t see how someone that’s been so publicly branded as a lunatic and a villain be all of a sudden given so much power and freedom.  Just not so long ago, he was basically coerced into being the leader of the Thunderbolts and now it seems like that’s all absolved because Stark is no longer in charge.  That’s the problem with taking the semi-realistic approach that Marvel has taken with this, some of your decisions will be questioned because they seem a bit far-fetched for the reality you are trying to sell the reader on.  Yes, I realize he took “the shot heard around the world” but that still doesn’t excuse all the shit he’s done.  

Then, there’s these New Avengers who are basically the new Thunderbolts since the majority of the group is made up of villains and lunatics.  Now we have a team made up of Venom as Spider-Man, Bullseye as Hawkeye, Logan’s son as Wolverine, and Moonstone as Ms. Marvel just to name a few.  

Something about Venom dressing up as Spider-Man and possibly killing people just rubs me the wrong way.  I don’t know the logistics of this whole thing, but it seems to me like this could cause a lot of confusion.  Will the fact that there are two Spider-Mans running around be addressed or ignored?  This same thought is echoed through each superhero who is being impersonated to make up this Avengers group.  

Then there’s the big reveal…Norman Osborn is the Iron Patriot.  Again, I’m not sure how I feel about all of this.  I didn’t like the fact that Osborn found all of Stark’s suits and is wearing then, using them to his advantage.  Perhaps this is what Marvel is going for though.  They want you to hate Norman.  They want you to hate the very thought of this.  I guess only time will tell whether I like the ideas put in motion or not.  

 

 

Invincible Iron Man #8:  This marks the beginning of the “World’s Most Wanted” arc.  This sets up the premise for the rest of the arc fairly well.  This arc already has one thing going for it;  The fact that no one  reading wants Norman Osborn to win.  Tony Stark pretty much declared war on Osborn so it will be interesting to see what happens.  

I’ll start with the bad news first, I still don’t like the art in this series.  Larroca used to do really good work but that hasn’t been the case so far in Invincible Iron Man.  Sometimes character’s faces will be off and the art looks simplistic.  The coloring looks like everything was colored with spray paint using paint by numbers.  This isn’t the case 100% of the time but it’s noticeable enough that it can be a bit distracting.

I like the fact that he took the SHRA database from Norman and fucked with him in the process by taking out H.A.M.M.E.R’s network.  I’m not sure what this will mean and how Norman Osborn will respond, but I don’t expect anything less than a Iron Patriot/Iron Man fist fight!

As far as the SHRA database, I don’t really know what he has in mind as far as purging the database from his brain.  There are some clues dropped that hint towards Stark not being Iron Man anymore which I hope is not the case.  The only way I can think he’d be able to get rid of the database from his brain is by getting rid of Extremis…not only that, but he stated more than a few times that he was “gone” after Norman took over which could have been posturing for Norman’s sake (I haven’t read Secret Warriors, so I don’t know if Stark is a part of that).

Obviously all questions won’t be answered in one issue so I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

 

Invincible Iron Man #9:  This was more of a setup issue but that’s usual for the second part of a story arc.  Lots of things setup here that will seemingly set the tone for the rest of the arc.  

Norman once again shows how unstable he is and I can’t help but to think that he won’t be in charge for very long if he keeps throwing around his power the way that he is.  There is such a large “paper trail” being left that it’s only a matter of time before it will all spiral out of control.  

In the meantime Stark is feeling pretty sorry for himself and starting to hatch a plan as a last ditch effort to make things right.  Overall, the story is starting to ramp up and my interest is piqued.  I know that there is no way that anything will be completely resolved in this story arc seeing as Dark Reign is knee deep in every Marvel book right now to simply end it after an arc’s worth of stories, but I’m still hoping that there is some kind of satisfying resolution to this arc regardless.