Author - Ripper71

The Domicile Movie Review

I like all kinds of movies, from serious, high-budget productions to the campy, home video quality flick.  The divide between those two kinds of films is closing over time with the rise of professional grade editing programs and consumer video equipment. Add to that mix crowdfunding programs such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe and an independent filmmaker’s dream can come true without their having to mortgage a property. So it’s difficult to say if something is actually a low budget film or video anymore, which is nice because then quality isn’t distracting from the film. This is definitely the case in The Domicile, a new film by Artist View Entertainment.

Entering The Domicile:

Once The Domicile commences, the scene is set with low hanging fog (which can be a bit overused if not careful) and ominous reflections in various glass objects. A very pregnant, redheaded Estella (Katherine Flannery) puts on an Estella’s Baked Goods apron for just a moment then takes it off which kinda makes you wonder why she put it on or if it might be foreshadowing. She talks to her husband Russell (Steve Richard Harris) who is working on a home project and injures himself so responds to his crankiness by saying she is going to sedate Sam (Amanda Ruth Ritchie) so she doesn’t go into the neighbors house again. Then when Brody’s drinking buddy and playwright partner David arrives, the stage is set for a movie of creepy happenings that will make you begin to wonder what might be supernatural and what might be “simple” insanity.

The person telling the story, from whose point of view we are witnessing the events, is not perfect. They have some issues with alcohol, are known by the police as being a troubled individual, and goes from calm to extremely angry in a moment’s notice.  This can make some viewers wonder if he is a “faulty narrator”, that maybe he sees paranormal things because of what he has been through and not because they are actually happening. There’s also the simple possibility that it is a creepy ghost story, you are left to judge for yourself.

The creepy moments are well done and The Domicile features some good makeup effects and lighting design. It looks like a Pepper’s ghost illusion might have been used but it’s also possible the effects were done in post production. When I think about The Domicile, I keep going back to the makeup I liked and the effects – they struck my wife and I as the strongest part of the movie and whoever did it deserves more work!

Russell is an alcoholic, and the movie kinda beats that point a little deeply into the ground. There is a little green bottle in pretty much every scene he is in, most scenes have several.  He is extremely stressed about finishing his latest play and any distraction makes him drink even more. The thing is he never seems to have more than a buzz even though he is constantly drunk, his only side effect is better writing. Or maybe more… but we don’t need more green bottles to go there.

In the way that the drunkenness is under played a lot of the other scenes are a bit overplayed. Acting can be a subtle thing and it was pretty good, just a little off.  I bet their next films they will be even more on spot.

One Last Peek in The Domicile:

The Domicile had some really creepy supernatural effects that kept you glued to the screen to see what would happen next.  The acting was still a little raw but the effects, camera, lighting, and editing are all well done and professional causing this movie to only drop a hair into the realm of “campy”.  I look forward to The Domicile Two or maybe a new venture from the same production company.

Redeemer Review

One of the best things to ever happen to gaming I believe is Steam’s Project Greenlight.  Games that would have failed to be seen or even fully produced found their fans and funding through this way.  This is a hotly debated topic since Project Greenlight is going away, but it is nice that it brought us REDEEMER before it leaves. I’m not taking an editorial stand here on whether moving away from Greenlight is a good or bad thing, I am just happy it managed to bring us this top-down gore filled action title.

In REDEEMER, you play as an elite operative who once worked for one of the biggest arms industry corporations in the world. Officially working in security you was tasked with infiltration, assassination, extortion and even torturing. You managed to escape this life and live a peaceful one among monks who showed you the path to harmony.  Unfortunately his former corporation didn’t look kindly on his retirement and have come to retire him and all the monks permanently…

It starts easy enough, a few guys to fight in each room, some combating you with their fists and some using cattle prods.  You start with only your hands and what the environment provides such as a chair here or a crate there, you can even ram their heads into walls, fires, ornate objects. When you take out an enemy with a weapon you can pick up the weapon but everyone of them have limited durability or armor and you throw them away after their usefulness wears out.  So you are constantly grabbing a weapon, using it up then grabbing another, generally from the merc you just killed.  You also keep track of where more than one weapon dropped in case you have to backtrack and pick up some more.  Another good way of getting a weapon is watching which direction the enemy is facing and coming up behind them and doing a sneak execution.  Then their weapon is at max durability from not being used and gives you a little more fight.

You can only hold one melee weapon at a time and one range weapon, so you generally want to pick up the best durability ax and most ammo pistol for example because once those are done you are fighting with your hands and the environment such as chairs until you get more weapons.  Something I like to do is once I have cleared a couple of room of all the mercs I check and pick up the best weapons then I grab a chair or a crate so that technically I will have three weapons starting off the next fight.  You pick a target, throw that chair and then decide if you want to empty your pistol or start zapping them with the prod.  You can also pick environmental things while you are at it because those tend to have the most beautiful Rorschach blood patterns.

The levels are all varied and have beautiful details scattered throughout.  It would have been easy to make the levels more sparse because a lot of people will probably be plowing through as fast as they can but, for those of us who take the time to notice, the details and sound quality are really well done.  One reason you might see a room a lot is the save points are kinda far apart, especially when it comes to a difficult group to fight, you might be all jazzed you got past a rough spot and you get killed right after that spot, only to have it send you back quite a ways.

After you get past certain levels in the game, it unlocks Arena fights, which are wave based matches on the map you just cleared.  They come from all different directions with increasingly tough weapons but it is a bunch of frenzied fun.

When it comes to the PC there is a decision to make on how to play it: Using a game controller or not.  I think it was initially made with a game controller in mind because all the onscreen hints are for a controller.  Looking into the controls you can find all of them and most of them are fairly obvious and once you get used to them you maneuver and aim just fine.  I played part of the game using each style, game controller and keyboard / mouse. Both were fine but I think I preferred the game controller just a bit more (which is usually not the case).

Last Splat:

REDEEMER is an amazingly fun top-down gore ride into righteous fury. I never got tired of smashing, bashing, and splatting all the mercenaries who have showed up to disturb my chill.  May you have the same road to redemption blast.

REDEEMER Review Score

(4 out of 5 Stars)


John Carpenter’s Tales Of Science Fiction Review – The Vault (Issue One Of Three)

John Carpenter has long been a household name for things that go bump in the night, and his work has had a huge impact on the world of horror entertainment. From video games to films to comics and more, you would be hard-pressed to find a modern piece of horror entertainment that doesn’t somehow borrow something from a John Carpenter film.  From a silent, knife-wielding man wearing a bleached out William Shatner mask to fog-roaming undead pirates to crashed alien organisms which assimilate other life forms. John Carpenter has always been incredible at making horror seem real, no matter the source.  Now, this “Master of Horror” has set his sights on a new medium: comic books. Thanks to the publisher, we have the pleasure of reviewing Tales Of Science Fiction – The Vault (Episode 1 of 3).

Everything Has A Beginning:

We have often looked to the stars to ask if we were alone. Many times in science fiction, once that question gets answered with a close encounter, we find that we might have been better off not asking in the first place. That is kind of the running theme in John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction – The Vault.  It begins with a very Alien kind of vibe, an old helium-3 collecting freighter gets a new set of co-ordinates that take it into the dark side of the moon where a massively large and apparently derelict ship floats, looking much like the smooth dome rim of an HR.Geiger alien with little pieces broken off and afloat, a foreboding sight for a bunch of space miners.  They board the vessel which has an Earth name “Vault” and printed above the entrance is a quote from Dickinson (which is often a bad sign) “The spreading wide my narrow hands to gather paradise”.

What commences is a definite teaser into what can be expected in the other two issues and one could easily conclude it will end with a few less crewman than they started with.  Carpenter is no stranger to the otherworldly “Things” and he makes sure you know this won’t be pure science fiction but rather science fiction with his bread and butter: fear and blood. The comic is drawn wonderfully and features a lot of eye-catching visuals. Its story is great and it really is a John Carpenter film in comic book form.

I only hope that some of these characters will survive this trilogy! With Carpenter’s work, you never really can tell and that makes reading this book an absolute joy for a horror and sci-fi fan such as myself.

Left Wanting More:

It is hard to do a review on a series of movies, games, and especially comics off of the first section.  “John Carpenter’s Tales Of Science Fiction – The Vault” has been added to my box at the local comic book store because the beginning dug hooks into me and I have to see what happens in The Vault and the tales to come. For now, I will say that if you are a fan of John Carpenter, science fiction, or horror you will love this comic book. Dig your heels in and get ready ’cause it’s going to be a great trilogy!

Tales Of Science Fiction – The Vault (Episode 1 of 3) Review Score

(5 out of 5 rocketships)


Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories Review

It’s nearing that time of year again, and if you say “Christmas”, I have a whole lot of creatures of the night I can have crawl out from under your bed to have a *ahem* talk with you.  No, we have started talking about haunted attractions which start in the latter part of September, horror conferences, costume designing, and lots and lots of horror movies. Recently we here at GamingShogun got a screener code to check out a movie called Volumes of Blood which having just the day before having suffered an injury I was more than happy to watch a couple of times into the wee hours of the night.  While my wife set it up she noticed that there was a movie title with the same name streaming free on one of the streaming services.  Since that was easier we snuggled up and watched the blood flow.  It had a wrap around story that were friends chatting in a library trying to create urban legends that were all centered around a library after hours.  It was fun and campy, it looked a lot like a group of college kid’s class project or initial offering into the genre with some very unique takes on trying to create a sustainable urban legend.   The movie had some good twists, some odd ones and both good and purposely bad effects.  Overall a great way to maintain date night despite being bed laden.

So Mrs. Ripper drifted gently off to snoring-like-a-chainsaw land and I went about preparing to watch the movie again.  To make sure I didn’t wake her up I turned off the TV, plugged some headphones into my iPhone 6+ which has a decent enough screen for movie watching and followed the screener link this time instead and started watching… a completely different movie with the same name.  Wait but it wasn’t completely different because it had some of the same cast!  And one of the same masks from the first movie we watched.  What the french toast?  Turned out it was the same group of folks just using a different subheader.  The first was Volumes of Blood: Some Libraries Make A Killing! and this one was Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories!  So now the only one awake in the house and all the lights still turned off I watched the film I was meant to review.

The first thing to note is that the first movie is briefly referenced in the timeline of the second movie so it really is good to see as a double feature to get the full effect.  The second movie allows itself to mostly stay as kinda like dark impressions on one house but doesn’t limit itself to one night, one group or even really one theme.  The only real limitations it gives itself is horror stories which is almost redundant when you consider the film is called Volumes of Blood, but they did need to separate the films some way (I probably would have gone with Part 1, etc. though it is a little less interesting of a title it would help the viewer catch them in order).

With all that behind us this second in the Volumes of Blood series was a great deal of an improvement over the first.  There were some scenes in the first which pulled me out of the picture due to how it was shot or acted.  This one did far better at maintaining my suspension of disbelief and had me wondering what was coming next.  The acting was a bit better as well, with only a few lines or jokes failing in a cringe worthy fashion.  Thankfully, most of those cringes landed on an acceptable point, like a character’s death scene where more than once I said to myself “oh that’s brutal!”  There was a some over the top acting, but it didn’t get too hammy. If you have any issues with this film, they will probably be the same issues you had with the first film. Sometimes it is hard, especially with a mirco-budget, not to be distracted by video quality and product placement to help pay for it.

Just Enjoy The Blood:

I highly suggest you watch the first movie and then the second, it isn’t absolutely necessary but some scenes will make more sense and the way the second one is edited it weaves the first in a bit.  Plus with the quality being similar and some re-occurring cast members you might as well sit back in the dark with some popcorn and watch the campy double feature Volumes of Blood provide.

Volume of Blood: Horror Stories was directed by:

  • Sean Blevins (segment “Trick or Treat”)
  • John William Holt (segment “Feeding Time”)
  • Jon Maynard (segment “Blood Bath”)
  • Nathan Thomas Milliner (segments “Murder Death Killer”, “Fear, For Sinners Here”)
  • Justin Seaman (segment “The Deathday Party”)
  • James Treakle (segment “A Killer House”)

Secret World Legends Review

Several years ago, Funcom’s The Secret World released with amazing depth of storyline and great graphics.  You had to save the world over the course of several chapters in a story that was told throughout various environments. Though it was set in modern day, you could choose to join the ancient organizations of The Illuminati, The Templars, or The Dragon.  You would then find yourself fighting in some expected places like Transylvania but then you also found yourself trying to take double taps to the heads of zombies in Maine.  To find locations for quests you often look in phone books where you will find markings for where your next quest takes you but it also has all kinds of Easter eggs for literary and cult movie fans.  Want to stay at Jack and Wendy’s Bed And Breakfast? Maybe you need meds from Flagg’s Pharmacy.  You might want to chat a bit with fellow Templars about doing some ultra violence.  Besides all the Easter eggs the game draws heavily from cult horror with a particular fondness for Lovecraft.  Since I love all of the above and they even manage some Poe references I was hooked since beta and played the game pretty long and pretty deep.

Being a game reviewer though does make it so that I always have another game I need to play so The Secret World fell a bit to the wayside, I would often stop by when a new chapter was introduced but because I couldn’t keep up with end game weapons (The Secret World relies heavily on your gear which you get through drops then improve through an weapon sacrificing system).  In that sense it made it very straight forward to play and upgrade your weapon enough it just took time that when I am also gaming with my wife and we have a 10 1/2 year old guild on WoW resulted in taking up much of the free time I had when not reviewing.

But time and the Mrs. called me back to other things and The Secret World slid back to the back until news about The Secret World came along in a very startling way.  The Secret World was ending and becoming Secret World Legends, a Free-To-Play with in-game purchases and something called the Patron system. So I decided to give it another try!

Not My First Free-To-Play Rodeo

It was definitely not my first time playing a free-to-play game with micro-transactions. Actually I have been playing them since the first ones came out.  Some made it so you had special looking pets, mounts, even furniture in your in-game house.  Others made a difference in play these were known as Free-To-Play, Pay-To-Win and gave you a distinct advantage in battle by selling you special weapons with higher kill damage that Free-To-Play could manage.  Others might give you a mystery chest, if you can earn the chest in game but you can buy one if you are impatient that is fine, in a sense that is rewarding someone for their patience.  If the only way to get the weapon, or ship or whatever the advantage is is buy spending real life money and no equivalent can be earned that falls into a sketchy ground that eventually winds up just being a bunch of the same players playing each other because they were all the ones who spent real life money when others stuck to the “Free-To-Play” motto.

This was my biggest worry going into Secret World Legends because they had instituted something called the “Patron” system and I didn’t know what other pay system they might have in place.  I was excited jumping in and with the Dark Tower movie causing gunslinger excitement in the air coming out, I started playing a Templar gunslinger.  I was basically like Roland’s old ka-tet, I had a couple of guns that can do neat tricks and I was a defender of the White.  It took a few minutes to get used to things again but once I did I was saying the gunslinger’s mantra outloud while blowing the heads off of zombies.  So before I get too into the paying and the Patron system, I first want to talk a bit about how the game looks and feels, especially after my time away.

As a Templar gunslinger, I was walking in and out of buildings in London and talking to people who sound like they are right out of a Bond movie. Many MMORPGs have you choose between magic or physical damage where this is physical damage that can be supplemented with some magic damage but it really comes down to improving your use of weapons and the weapons you can use.  In a lot of ways it also feels like the movie Wanted as you do outrageous moves and lightning fast reloading. I started my story following the assignment I was given.  When you first play it is very much a game on rails to make sure you learn what you are doing before things open up a bit more and you can take side missions and different story lines. The atmosphere is very everyday normal in your home area but it gets dark as soon as you head out on missions.  You take portals to get to these areas and nicely for the safety sale of the player it won’t let you go into areas higher than your level. Sometimes when you have been weapons crafting and feel you have a bad ass combo and want to go higher this might be frustrating but it really is for your own good.  When you get higher though all kinds of things open up for you such as multiple areas and group battles against bosses.

Something really key to play right now whether you have played or not is that it launched with only part of the previous game intact and with very regular updates, maintenance and hot patches.  They wanted to get this play-for-free model out as quickly as possible (this has been video game convention season) so that new players could start learning the ropes and old players would stop playing characters that were about to become obsolete. I’ve seen it and sadly experienced it more than once when a game is changing format like this and they wait too long, those who planned to give it a try might forget or move onto another title and those who were playing get frustrated and do the same. You just need to be patient and don’t be too surprised if you have a few minutes of patch time most times you log in or have it down for maintenance. Don’t be too surprised if you get some crashed right now too. If you have twitter or Facebook it is a good idea to follow them on there to get the latest information.

So there are two forms of game on Secret World Legends, the first being free-to-play the second being Patron. Basically the reason for the game to have a Patron is pretty much in it’s name, the developers need money to keep the game going, they need servers, coding, equipment, all the things that you are generally paying for when you buy a game outright. Sometimes they put ads in the game, loading screens or matchmaking screens that help with these costs but if they don’t they have to come from somewhere. So much like people who are Patron Of The Arts by donating to museums you are Patrons of Secret World Legends.

Museum Patrons get benefits for the money they provide and it is no different in the game.  As a Patron you get:

Now these are all handy things that help you level faster, stay alive longer and experience more of the game faster but none of them are a Pay-To-Win item, they just speed up gameplay by allowing more access in a shorter time.  You eventually will get all the access you need it just might take a day or two longer than a Patron. This is really key because I am a strong detractor of the Pay-To-Win system and I would be the first to cry foul if I thought it was happening at all here but that really does not appear to be the case or anytime in the future. The Patron is a timed thing, bought in one month increments and when the time runs out you just no longer get the benefits. I’m sure you’ll feel how things are moving slower but you won’t feel like the Patrons had you at a huge disadvantage.

Learn a Few Secrets:

Secret World Legends is now free-to-play and it is actually free-to-play which not all games that claim to be so are.  I highly recommend you give it a try if you like MMORPGs at all, it has a beautiful, modern supernatural flare that makes me think of the gunslinger a lot now that we are in the shadow of the Dark Tower. Give the game a try and if you like it consider becoming a Patron but whatever you do don’t keep your new found love for this game a secret.

Secret World Legends Review Score

(3 out of 5 stars)


Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con Photo Gallery

The Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con is one of the best mid-sized comic-book conventions in the country.  The convention features local artists who get to meet up with loyal fans and as well as develop new readers. At the same time, it brings in huge convention names that cost you some serious money to catch a quick pic or signature with. The real key though is to catch the big names who are just there for the fans and are avoiding charging when they can and take an honest interest in what you have to say. If you want to get up close and personal with those folks, this is the convention for you.

A lot of folks, myself included, were looking forward to seeing Adam West, the man who kept me entertained in my childhood with his campy sense of humor and goofy antics. Unfortunately, the world lost him right before the convention – there he was supposed to sign beside Burt Ward.  It was with this in heart that the folks at the convention arranged to have Lee Meriwether and Julie Newmar come along, Meriwether actually being carried on stage by “henchmen” due to twisting her ankle, and the told their fondest stories of the days, little inside jokes they would slip in for the adults and just what it was like to be on that family set.  It was a truly beautiful tribute to West but also those days in general, that time of Hollywood stars and starlets.

The big draw was the main man of Marvel himself, Stan Lee, who in the past it had been rumored would no longer be doing any cons but his own.  He was being handled as they often have to these days, with high prices for a pic or a signature and even the media told he was a no-fly zone unless you bought your ticket but those who got things signed walked away with an expression like it was worth every penny they spent.

For me the artists that aren’t so heavily handled and just want to meet with the fans are what make this con so …well amazing. Todd McFarlane didn’t realize I was media when he chatted with me and signed my Jaws Movie Mania box while we walked the floor a bit, I think pretty much ever year Rob Liefeld winds up giving stuff out during panels as did Sandy King, John Carpenter’s long-time writing partner.

The Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con is on my calendar every year and I certainly don’t plan to change that. They can bring in the big names to pay tribute to and pay the rent so the undiscovered and the down-to-earth can do their thing which is just show a general love of the work. Can’t ask for much better than that.

GOgroove FlexSMART X2 In-Car FM Transmitter

In our family, we are no strangers to long distance trips. We used to have to make 18 hour round trips just to keep our medical care up and found that books on tape were good but that podcasts were better. To hear our audio during the trip, we would have to plug a cable into to the auxiliary port and try to ignore “The Buzz”. I give it a name because it was akin to a third person in the car, making noise over whatever you listened to from your phone. eventually building to make the podcast indiscernible and the moment we unplugged the phone to use it for a call or a text the stereo volume would come through at the rate you had slowly been working it up to: ear shattering. Thankfully we were able to finally give Buzz the boot when we tested the GOgroove FlexSMART X2 Bluetooth transmitter.

Pump Up The Volume

First off the FlexSMART X2 features Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity, USB port interface, FM tuner, Auxiliary-in port, and DC power surge protection, so it is not just a glorified tuner. That being said, setup only takes seconds and the system has an LED display hub lets you control your music and take calls with ease. You can even pair two devices to the GoGroove at once so you can take calls and stream audio from either.

Once you are wirelessly connected to the your devices, it is hands free all the way. If a call comes in while you are driving it even lowers the volume levels of your music to connect to the the call. It has a built-in microphone with voice detection so the conversation will come through clearly.  You can even charge through the USB port so your device can keep it’s power along with the FlexSMART though, personally, I like having a separate power connection if I can so that I don’t have to worry about loosening the fit in the DC outlet overtime.

Speaking of DC outlet, I found that once I had it in place and my phone connections in place I just left them be until the next big metropolitan area.  Another nice thing about the FlexSMART is that you can tune it more than a few pre-programmed spots, you can fine tune into anywhere you want. They seem to have thought of just about everything since they even set it up so you could use an aux cable if you don’t have Bluetooth.

Moving Right Along

The GOgroove FlexSMART X2 is the perfect solution for any audio system that doesn’t have Bluetooth.  It is a tunable Bluetooth audio system, a DC to USB port, FM tuner, DC surge protector, hands-free phone system and it pairs up in seconds.  I don’t know how I have made it through all these years with out it. Bye Bye auxiliary port buzz!

GoGroove FlexSMART X2 Review Score

5 out of 5


Telltale Games The Walking Dead A New Frontier Review

Few characters in recent years has warmed my heart quite as much as the female protagonist of Telltale Games The Walking Dead series, Clementine.  In the first Telltale Games TWD series you primarily played as Lee Everett, a convict that is freed by an accident on his way to prison.  He had gone to jail for murder after temporarily going insane seeing his wife cheat on him.  Not a bad man at heart, Lee meets Clementine and wants to help her survive in this harsh new world.  Being an eight year old in the new zombie wastes of Atlanta would have it perils, and not all of them the dead.  Lee and Clementine develop a friendship that while their group continues to go about surviving as they can. Lee helps raise Clementine into this new world and his teachings will follow her (and you, as the player) even to this new series.

Without spoilers, which is really hard at this point in The Walking Dead series as if you are playing this season you probably played the earlier ones, a few years have passed at the start of A New Frontier. While it was only a few months between seasons one and two, three takes place a few years later and doesn’t follow Clementine at first.  She is still the moral compass of the groups she has come in contact with but the compass is a bit worn and the rules of the zombie apocalypse have outweighed the bonds of friendships.  As would for most of us in the situation, the closer you get to someone the harder it hurts when you lose them and the less you want to feel that way in the future.

The game controls can be a bit confusing at first on the PC, when the marker on the screen is arrow up you can either use the arrow key or the W.  Basically all arrow directions can be played with WASD which is important and handy since during fighting battles you need to use the mouse as well.  At first I was wishing for a third arm trying to hit the mouse then arrow up then Q or E.  Blargh.

This game also has the option of Crowd Play which is when you tell friends to got to, give them a code for your game and they can vote on what they would do in the situation.  When the votes are tallied or the timer is up to vote it will let you know what the most popular one is so that that is your choice.  If you have some good friends with smart thinking caps this could turn out really good.  If you have friends who fall under the description of “arsehats” you may spend the next two seasons fixing the damage the managed to do in one.

I tend to wait until I get a whole season of a game then play it.  It isn’t intended that way, these games have cliffhangers you are supposed to wait a week to find out but once I start one or sometimes two game I don’t sleep until done.  So here’s the deal: get all three seasons of Telltale Games The Walking Dead series because you will like them all. If you are a fan of the show or a devout reader of the comics, this is your bag baby. These are basically motion comics where you choose your own adventure. I loved it and can’t wait to play their future offerings!

The Walking Dead:The Telltale Series – A New Frontier Review Score

(4 out of 5 stars)


Portal Knights Review

I always love getting a first-look at a game when it is still nice and fresh and people haven’t piled on their opinions yet.  I can’t get to them all the time, I was supposed to review Minecraft when it first came along if I remember right but I definitely had a full plate.  I have only played Minecraft on occasion and that was mainly in short doses, so looking at tons of blocks to be mined didn’t seem that bad to me.  I had a farmhouse that appeared to need repairing. Okay, I can do that. I had chosen to be a Ranger out of the three classes, the other two being Warrior and Mage, so at first I was shooting arrows at stuff.  Then I saw my bow took damage and from the shooting I had done and so I emptied my weapon slot and started punching things.  When enemies showed up I switched back to my bow and started hitting those mobs in the face.  Much like many RPGs, slimes are your first enemy and throughout the game a go-to for collecting crafting ingredients.

The home world being filled with slimes and the occasional bird was worrisome to me… I was enjoying myself but if these were all I fought the whole time it would start to get tiresome.  Luckily it isn’t called Portal Knights for nothing.  I collected the pieces to a portal, assembled them and off I went onto another island.  There were dungeons, creepy creatures that only came out at night, ones that camouflaged until you were on top of them, skeletons, other creepy-crawlies I don’t want to spoil for you.  Just remember what Jake says in The Gunslinger if you find a place to boring “there are other worlds than these.”

The fact that there are only three classes might seem a bit limiting to some players but I bet more classes are on their way and in the meantime you can do some incredible personalization. There are 29 hair styles, 14 beard styles, 20 eye styles, 28 eye colors, and 21 mouths. You can have five different characters so that you can try all the different classes without deleting any to try the next.

If you haven’t played Minecraft or played a FPS or third person MMORPG, the mix of the three genres might take a bit of getting used to. However, this mix is also what makes the game continually interesting and fun.  An example was I needed copper and there was a copper deposit at my feet, so I started mining. Once the copper deposit was taken you were reminded that this is a series of flying islands connected by portals, if you mine your way through it there is nowhere but down to your death.  If you are the kinda person who might find this annoying rather than entertaining, maybe this isn’t the game for you.  The first time you see some enemies is by surprise while you are doing something else.  There is supposed to be some concerns of protecting your lands according to a wise man but I haven’t had a problem with that yet.  I did get the opportunity to loot big chests in dungeons after killing bosses and do quests requested by NPCs.

I don’t have any friends who have the game and didn’t have much luck looking online for someone to kill about with.  I already have plans on moving my home because though I enjoy a farm and castle just feels, I don’t know, safer?

Dig, Dig, Dig, With A Shovel And A Pick:

Portal Knights feels like a sandbox full of blocks for you to start building things in and at the same time a starter/alpha zone for a 3rd person or 1st person shooter.  I had a couple of crashes which I let go to the early stage of the game and they also didn’t deter me from playing the game.  I look forward to updates and to see what will lie beyond future portals.

Portal Knights Review Score

(4 out of 5 Stars)


Shadow Warrior 2 Review

“You got the touch, you got the power!” – Stan Bush, “The Touch” 1986

If the above quote doesn’t immediately fill you with 80’s Machismo, go watch the trailer for the Shadow Warrior 2 on YouTube or something, I will wait.

*Still humming the song* Ah are you back? Good, good, having you watch that really helps set the mood so much quicker than saying that Shadow Warrior 2 is an over the top splatter fest with tons of blood and weapons.  I guess it didn’t take that long but the key to the game is not to take it seriously, it isn’t serious, I mean at it’s beginning they throw a song from the ’80s animated Transformers film (yeah that was where you had heard it before).My first playing was actually by myself and before you start making jokes about no friends or “solo wang gameplay” the game play is first person then even if I played with my friends it is a first person experience.  So if you do find yourselves playing at one house and one system you might be playing hand off with the controller or just have them play on their rig and use headphones.  This is kinda a bummer to me since I think most people are comfortable enough and have large enough screens to accept quartering them for gameplay.  We’ve come a long ways and few people have itty bitty screens these days.

Now for the scary part of the review.  That above was my only complaint.  This game is amazing at everything it tries to do.  You get over 70 weapons and modifiers that drop and can be crafted to easily make a weapon into a whole new kind of flesh-rending beast.  On the subject of beasts, if you ever played the Diablo games and had characters of a different color meaning an immunity and better loot drop, Shadow Warrior 2 has the same game mechanic.  There is a storyline which is a bit simple, but that makes it easier to buy into the jokes being made because Shadow Warrior 2 doesn’t take itself seriously, ever.  They even have fun naming weapons, some of which I have no doubt were lost on younger players.  The “Hauer” shotgun would be a welcome weapon to any hobo, the energy blast from the “dec-ARD” pistol just can’t be replicated, teehee.  If the name isn’t fun to you I still imagine the damage it does, especially when you get a certain chainsaw in you mitts, will be!  I admit I wish they had picked a sexier weapon to name the “ripper” after me but what may have seem simple on that was more than made up for with the King Skeletor machine gun, it would cut any He-Man with it’s grey skull.  Then once you get that weapon you look through gems you can add on to the weapon and maybe you can increase the magazine size or crit damage.  Personally I kept forgetting gems because I was having so much fun with weapon combos and environmental attacks.

The environments are the results of Shadow Warrior which would be a reason to play the first but not necessary.  If you picked the game up as a promo for both games go ahead and play the first.  I never got around to it myself but I have eyes and can see that the world has become one big toxic turd and I stab, shoot or explode my way through it.  A bit of a hint but not too much is that besides the monsters there are parts of the environment that can hurt anyone near you when they take damage and explode.  This adds to the interest because you may wipe out a whole bunch of nasties with one will place round.

There are a couple of reasons for replay: your level cap is pretty high and you probably won’t hit it after one run through, heck maybe not after a couple. Another reason is you probably won’t get all 70 plus weapons on one run and you will probably not be able to modify the weapons the way you want or crafted.

Oh yeah I didn’t really go into that, they have a crafting system like Dead Island or Borderlands, or well any game that lets you take a couple crappy weapons and combine them to improve them.  So not only are you collecting the 70 plus weapons there are and using your favorites you need to keep an eye out for crappy ones that might make more mega hardware.

Back To Playing With Wang:

As I mentioned the only drawback is not having 4 player split screen, otherwise Shadow Warrior 2 is the best hack and slash, spray and pray, wacky and tacky game I have played in recent memory. Definitely worth picking up and playing!

Shadow Warrior 2 Rating:

 (5 out of 5 Swords)