Friday, October 23, 2009

Patch Note Previews (For October 25 – October 31)

Patch Note Previews (For October 25 – October 31)
Variety is what everyone gets next week in the final week of October, especially with a fighting game looking to take back the crown, some turntables, and as real as it gets racing. The video game world says Happy Halloween to everyone! If you’re a person who likes plastic peripherals, then it’ll definitely be a happy Halloween filled with treats rather than tricks.

DJ Hero (360/PS3/Wii/PS2) (October 27th) Activision

Have you ever wanted to be DJ? Trying to continue with the major success of the “Guitar Hero” series, Activision is releasing “DJ Hero”. The focus of “DJ” is on turntablism and many artists contributed to the development of the game with music, mixes, and their likeness to be used in-game like Eminem, the DJ AM, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Daft Punk and many others. It’s played similarly to “Guitar Hero” with the racking up of scores by keeping the beat alive and scratching the turntable controller that comes with the game for a pretty penny. “DJ” is a nice change of pace from all of the rock band and guitar hero games that seem to come out every month. Will it be as successful? That remains to be seen.

Tekken 6 (360/PS3) (October 27th) Namco Bandai Games America

The next iteration of Tekken is finally upon us, but the wait is well worth it. New characters, new moves, new customizations accompany this release of “Tekken 6”. The most unique upgrade to “6” is the rage system that grants the player more power when their character is on the brink of defeat. A wireless arcade stick is the main attraction to the collector’s edition, but the price is pretty steep and the stick isn’t a requirement. “6” looks to bring most of the old back with a few new elements to the table. Can this compete with “Street Fighter IV” for who’s playing what online? It has the tools, so it’s definitely a possibility.

Forza Motorsport 3 (360) (October 27th) Microsoft

Microsoft’s realistic racing simulator is back with the third version in “Forza Motorsport 3”. “Forza 2” was already an amazing racing sim and “Forza 3” looks to bring it all back and then some. Players thought there were a lot of cars in “Forza 2”, then they’ll be blown away by the 400+ cars in “Forza 3”. If that’s not enough cars, there will be 100+ cars on the second disc. Also, in this iteration, trucks and SUVs are introduced for the first time in a forza game. “Forza 3” is looking to be better than ever in customization and graphics when it was already a beautiful game to begin with.

“Law Abiding Citizen”, Overture Films

The majority of people would go to the ends of the earth for their families and do absolutely anything for them. Our families are the people we see and interact with everyday. We love them, but what happens when they’re taken away in one fell swoop? Just like that in the blink of an eye, the ones we love the most are gone forever. In normal cases, a period of mourning will take place, followed by a period of trying to move on. Tell that to Clyde Shelton (Gerard Butler).

Then there’s the extreme case in “Law Abiding Citizen” where Shelton, a father and husband, loses his wife and daughter. In the very first scene, the Shelton residence is invaded by a couple of low-life goons who kept pressing the doorbell (more of an annoyance than anything). Shelton neglecting the door peephole and answering the door is beyond me, since he’s a genius (more on this later). Shelton is tied up and completely helpless, while his wife and little girl are murdered.

Jamie Foxx plays Nick Rice, a hotshot prosecutor, doing his best to keep bad guys off the streets, even if that means striking plea bargains to get what he wants. Rice reaches a deal with one of the cooperative murderers, who testifies against his assistant, to receive a shorter sentence. This infuriates Shelton to no end because it seems like Rice isn’t even willing to try the case because of his precious 96% conviction rate. Rice coyly replies, “Some justice is better than no justice”.
What follows 10 years later is the calculated vengeance Shelton has conjured up to the precise detail. No one is safe and “If Clyde wants you dead, you’re dead”. Shelton wants revenge on everyone and Rice has to stop him before it’s too late.

Throughout the movie, we’re questioning ourselves along with Rice because, well, we’re perplexed. How the hell is Shelton doing all of this? Shelton’s in prison, is it magic? No, it can’t be magic. Is he even the one doing this? Does he have an accomplice(s)? We learn quickly that Shelton is a genius who can do anything, outthink anyone and everyone in the city of brotherly love, kill anyone in a assortment of ways, and he’s going “to bring the whole [judicial] system down on [Rice’s] head”.

The many interactions between Shelton and Rice are adequate with some one-liners thrown in as comic relieving points, especially with Rice dropping the f-bomb over and over.

The suspenseful buildup towards the ending is monumental and almost “biblical” with explosions galore, variety of kills, and viewers constantly asking, “How?!”, but the ending just leaves you asking yourself, “Did that really work?” and “What the hell?”

“Law” is a decent suspense/action movie with star power enlisted, but the ending kind of makes the movie fall flat on its face. What’s the word I’m looking for? Oh yes, underwhelming.

Grade: C-

Crazy Love by Michael Bublé, 143 Records/Reprise

It isn’t a necessity to be familiar with Bublé’s music and style to take a listen because his music is effortless to delve into. Doesn’t matter if your preferred genre is rock, hip hop, pop, or whatever it may be because Bublé provides comforting lyrics for the soul about the romances of the heart or lack thereof.

Okay fine, it’s not for everyone, but it can be easily listened to by anyone.

“Crazy Love” is the 4th album from Michael Bublé. The title track stands out, not only because it’s named after Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love”, but also because Bublé provides a great cover version. It’s about love (surprise, surprise) and how we act with that special significant other. We can get a little crazy; I guess love can do that to you.

The first single off the album, “Haven’t Met You Yet”, is a playful, upbeat song about meeting that special someone in the future.

If you’re in the market for something simple to listen to with a nice balance of piano-based songs and big band based songs about love, then give Mr. Bublé a call or just pick up his CD. If you’re not into any of the above, then this is obviously not for you, but giving it a listen wouldn’t hurt one bit. Maybe, just maybe you might like it.

Grade: 4/5

Sorry For Partyin' by Bowling for Soup, Jive

Bowling for Soup is back! Wait a second here. Back from what? It’s been three years since their last album and five years since their only relevant hit. Honestly, who knew they were still making music? Before you pause “1985” to buy their seventh album, let’s take a listen.

You get what you get from Bowling for Soup. Their recipe is still the same, but maybe this time their whole CD will be popular? The funny lyrics are still there (depends on the person and grade level?) along with the occasional song about love with “Love Goes Boom” or “Me With No You”. Don’t forget the pop culture references because it wouldn’t be a Bowling for Soup album without them. Some of the references range from Aunt Jemima to The Jonas Brothers to speaking Spanish to not liking Los Angeles.

One of their songs is called “My Wena”. Really? Yes, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, “my wena”. I can’t make this up. Actually, I can and so could a bunch of grade school kids. Yes, it’s funny, but only for less than a play through of the song. It gets old quick, real quick. Apparently others find it hilarious with this song alone having 158, 205 hits on their site.

“Sorry For Partyin’” is the same old stuff from Bowling for Soup with them trying to reach “1985” glory once again, but I’m afraid it won’t be on this album.
The songs about love are decent, and the one-liners are exactly that. If you’re that curious for a new Bowling for Soup album, go ahead, but it better be for nostalgic purposes. I’d suggest just listening to “1985” or “Girl All The Bad Guys Want”.

Grade: 2.5/5

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Patch Note Previews (For October 11 – October 17)

We’re all in for a treat next week with a couple of blockbusters and a pair of marquee heroes joining forces once again. It’s time to pick up your winter gear or uncover and solve new mysteries or rock out ‘til everyone’s socks come off. Which will you choose? Here are the releases for the 2nd week of October.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3) (October 13th) Sony Computer Entertainment

The highly anticipated sequel to the blockbuster video game, “Uncharted”, finally hits store shelves. Players reassume the role of Nathan Drake as he shoots and brawls with new enemies, while he traverses various lands in Asia like China, Nepal, Borneo, and others. Drake is looking for adventure and a little treasure again, but this time it revolves around Marco Polo and his mysteries. “Thieves” introduces multiplayer modes including competitive play with up to 10 players and cooperative play with up to 3 players. Players looking for a sequel to continue the excellence “Uncharted” started need to wait no longer. A demo is available for download via PlayStation Network. Make your way to a local store on Tuesday to find the secret behind “Among Thieves” for $59.99.

Brutal Legend (360/PS3) (October 13th) Electronic Arts

In “Brutal Legend”, gamers control Eddie Riggs, voiced by Jack Black, a roadie to one of the worst bands ever, Kabbage Boy. Along with Black, Lemmy Kilmister, Rob Halford, Ozzy Osbourne, and others lent their voices as well. Riggs starts by being teleported from the real world to an alternate dimension where humanity is enslaved. He is viewed as chosen, but is he good or evil? “Brutal Legend” looks to mix action/adventure, hack and slash, and more than enough heavy metal music with lots of comedic moments scattered throughout. You can download a demo from the Live Marketplace or PlayStation Network. Rock and roll while you drive to stores so you can purchase “Brutal Legend” on Tuesday for $59.99.

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (DS/Wii) (October 13th) Sega

Mario, Sonic, and all their buddies battle each other once again, but the season has been altered in this sequel. Instead of the summer Olympics, it’s the winter Olympics this time around. Join Mario, Sonic, Yoshi, Knuckles, and more with a few new characters like Donkey Kong and Metal Sonic in winter-themed games. People can grab up to 3 buddies to partake in events like snowboarding, ice hockey, bobsledding, speed skating, and other events. If you and your friends are in the market for winter Olympics with your lovable heroes as the main characters, then this could be the game for you. Bobsled with “Mario and Sonic” to stores to pick up the game on Tuesday for $34.99 for the Nintendo DS and $49.99 for the Nintendo Wii.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

"I want you to be better"

Is this going to work? Is it too early? I'm in that phase again where I tend to overthink and overanalyze every single detail that floats around. Everything. Did he hit a flush? Straight? Am I even capable of doing this? These thoughts swim around in my mind and it's bothering me. I'm thinking way TOO much. It's not beneficial because the more and more I think about it, more questions arise. Will I fail? Is it even worthwhile? My head will probably explode soon, and I'd still have no answers to any of these questions. The only answer I'd have is that my head obviously couldn't handle any/all of the questions, ha.

The future is scary as hell, man, scary as hell. I always come to the same conclusion and patience plays an integral role in all of this. What I realize time after time is that you have to just live in the moments that life gives you. Just live life to the fullest. "I'm not going to be better than you. I'm going to be better than me. Just wait and see, it's only a matter of time."

It's not a big deal, is it?

Note: This is fairly old, but I decided to post it now, ha.

Why do you care what other people do? You shouldn't be bothered by their issues, it's none of your business. So, you want me to stop caring about others? I know it isn't my business, but they're my friends and it affects me. Grow some thicker skin or turn a blind eye. I do have thick skin, but my armor can only endure so many attacks. I don't want to ignore what's going on, but it's taking its toll on me. I don't want to waver, but one can only bide for a certain amount of time. See, I'm breaking you down bit by bit, you're about to fall off the cliff to your inevitable demise. No, I'm not, I will not succumb to the pressure, but I don't know what to do. Have any ideas? Hah! Advice from me? I think not. If you don't know what to do, why do you continue? Why do you keep on fighting? Leave them alone! People shouldn't say bad things about people, and if they do, it should be face-to-face. Then, and only then will the relationship be "real." It'll be exposed as a non-relationship or the two parties will try to make an effort to form something real. Fake friendships are just as bad as being enemies. You're pretending to be someone you're not, and that is the definition of being fake. I'm sorry, did you have anything to ask or say? Uhm, nope, nothing to add, but you should take a look at your armor. Other note: I could not find a picture, so this one should suffice. It offsets the mood anyways.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sunday, July 5, 2009

No, I'm not a ghost!

It's been a good hiatus not the bad kind, but I promise that I'll be back very shortly. The other blog I write on will be infused with new talent pretty soon, so look forward to that.

Rest In Peace to all the famous people that have died quite recently. My thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of Billy Mays, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, David Carradine, Steve McNair, Ed McMahon and many others.

Iran has seen quite a roller coaster in recent weeks as well with the joke of an election that was held. Protests and riots ensued, but hopefully better times will follow.

The Lakers got Artest bolstering our already championship-caliber team, so watch out NBA in 2010!

Congratulations to Roger Federer on surpassing Pete Sampras as the man with the most grand slam singles championships! Too bad, I still prefer Pistol Pete, haha. Way to put up a great fight, Andy Roddick. USA!

I'll leave everyone with this to brighten the spirit and mood around here. Happy Belated 4th of July, everyone! I hope no one played with fire, like this kid!
Crotch-Stomp Pictures, Images and Photos

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Hiatus..

I'm taking a break for finals week, so there won't be any previews for June 14-20, sorry everyone! I'll hit the ground running next week when there's no finals to study for. Take care all.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Patch Note Previews (For June 7 – June 13)

This week is sports week in the video game world, but not your typical sports ala basketball, football or baseball. We have tennis, golf, and shape-shifting? Tennis and golf introduce “Wii MotionPlus” into its family with finer control and another peripheral to purchase. Thanks Nintendo. Here’s the 2nd week of June featuring MotionPlus excluding “Prototype”!

Virtua Tennis 2009 (360, PS3, Wii) (June 9th) Sega

It’s been quite some time since we last heard from the “Virtua Tennis” series (2007), but they’re finally back. “Virtua” looks to be “Virtua Tennis 3” with slightly better graphics and some different tennis players like Novak Djokovic, Ana Ivanovic, and others. There will also be new mini-games like Pirate Wars and Block Buster. This could easily of been downloadable content with new mini games, players, and tennis courts, but maybe that’s why it’s not full-priced? Serve, volley, and slam your way to the stores on Tuesday for 360/PS3 for $49.99 and for Wii for $39.99. In the Wii version, “Wii Motion Plus” is enabled (sold separately), where players have better control when directing their shots using the wiimote.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010 (360, PS3, Wii, PSP, PS2) (June 8th) Electronic Arts

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010” is back with its annual release for the golfing savants and people who don’t ever watch golf, but play this game. “Tiger Woods” has this mystical spell that entices us towards it, but most EA games do (Madden, that means you). This iteration introduces some new events like the U.S. Open and new courses like Torrey Pines. This isn’t “Hot Shots Golf”, so if this is your first time with “Tiger”, well, it’s pure golf. Check out the demo available on PSN and XBLA for your downloading pleasure. Drive those golf carts to stores on Monday for $59.99 on 360/PS3, $49.99 on Wii, $39.99 on PSP, and $29.99 on PS2. There’s also a Wii bundle including the “Wii MotionPlus” add-on for $59.99 which provides better control and a more “realistic” feel when swinging.

Prototype (360, PS3, PC) (June 9th) Activision

In Radical’s “Prototype”, players assume the role of Alex Mercer as he wakes up with no recollection of why the military is inspecting his body and why he has certain powers in mutant freak capital of the world, New York. Your main abilities are shape-shifting and consuming enemies. With shape-shifting, players can transform appendages into searing blades, fortress-like shields, or whatever to aid in the fight against the military and the infected. With enemy consuming, Alex absorbs downed enemies to access memories, powers, and the ability to “become” them. “Prototype” looks enjoyable with its devastating combos and sheer chaos on New York streets, but it reminds some of Radical’s “The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction”, which can be construed as good or bad. Alex can also run at 100 mph on command, so beg him to pick up a copy on Tuesday for $59.99 on PS3/360 and $49.99 on the PC.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Patch Note Previews (For May 31 – June 6)

This week reminds us of the great games that we still might play to this day with new sequels the best-selling PC game in history and a sprinkle of guerrilla warfare. The first week of June provides second life goodness and warfare? Varied combinations, no?

The Sims 3 (PC) (June 2nd) Electronic Arts

The super successful Sims are finally back after a lengthy anticipated release with EA’s “The Sims 3”. In “Sims 3” a lot of the additions from “Sims 2” expansion packs are already added like restaurants, fishing, jewelry, mobile phones, and many others. The create-a-sim mode is extremely robust with Obama and McCain sims being made earlier in the year. Get your time sinks ready because “Sims 3” looks to suck away all of our time, again, which isn’t bad (just don’t let it vacuum too much time). Order your sim to drive you to the store to pick up this game for $49.99 or $69.99 for the collector’s edition on Tuesday. In the collector’s edition of the game, there will be a free sports car download (in-game), a sticker sheet, and a 2GB Plumbob-shaped USB drive ($20 more? you be the judge).

Red Faction: Guerrilla (360, PS3) (June 2nd) THQ

“Red Faction” is back with its destruction of everything one can see and think of mantra. “Guerrilla” is played in third person perspective this time around. The exploding of anything you want looks amazing with its lush graphics (bases, bad guys, and tons more). Weapons such as an exploding hammer, remote mines, and vehicles being present provide more detonating goodness. “Guerrilla” looks very pretty with well-done explosions and graphics, but the demo will either sell or deter you from it, which is available on XBLA and PSN for test drive goodness, but be forewarned, there is a 15-minute playing time cap. Slowly, use your tactical guerrilla warfare to commandeer this game for the 360/PS3 $59.99 on Tuesday.

Freedom of the Mind (Final Edition)

Talent Show with Beau Sia Stealing the Show
Asian Pacific Islander (API) Heritage month continued with the final installment of “Freedom of the Mind” with spoken word artist, Beau Sia, headlining the event on Thursday, May 21st from7-10 p.m. at the Belltower.

A delay began the night with the show getting underway at around 7:15 p.m., but the “Bboy Club” provided their moves and they got the crowd involved.

The stage provided an opportune place for UCR students to showcase their respective talents, whether it be spoken word, poetry, musical talent, or just about anything one could imagine. Sia would commend everyone, during his act, for their displays of talent and advised us to nurture these said talents.

The night was littered with about 11-12 acts taking the stage with a few unique performances. The majority of acts refreshed our musical radars with popular cover songs featuring Ne-Yo, Rihanna, Lauryn Hill, Jason Mraz, and others. The unique acts stood out with David Torres’ musical poetry concerning Bio 30 (Dirty 30, anyone?) and poems by Leia concerning a dark past and “2 cheeseburgers and freaken french fries”. They were easily remembered because basically everything else was a cover song with group(s) showcasing their singing range and guitar-playing ability. That’s not to say these acts weren’t good because they were (just not much distinguishing between groups), with the duo of Geminele (singing) and Jaron (guitar) performing “Nothing Even Matters” by Lauryn Hill and DeAngelo to start strong, while the grouping of Joe, Casey, Emily, and Scott finishing strong with a medley including Mraz’s “I’m Yours”.

With the lights still shining and the stage all warmed-up, Sia took center stage with his witty, yet powerful set of performances to end the night. He was seen pacing across the whole stage during some performances to remaining motionless while reciting pieces with his eyes closed. He ended his first piece with “Our heritage is in everyday of the year!” which couldn’t have been a better jumping off point. Other acts included “chasing Bruce Lee!” which was about “self [being] possible”, “A Love of Unicorns” in list form (ridiculously comical), and “memory suck[ing]”, especially concerning heartbreak. Some other topics included him becoming Jesus in an MC battle and a piece written by his mother to end it. He was serious and funny, humorous and articulate, but throughout all of it, he was convicted and passionate. Sia even gave mini-speeches (that he hated because he sounded preachy) about life, why he does what he does, and why we should continue doing what we love (thank you very much, Beau, thank you).

The talent show winners were announced at the conclusion of Sia’s performance with first place receiving a $75 gift card to the campus bookstore, second receiving $50, and third receiving $25. Third place went to Geminele and Jaron, second place went to David Torres, and first place went to the quartet of Joe, Casey, Emily, and Scott. Who were the real winners? All of us for the night filled with various acts from UCR students and Sia providing the concluding explosion of knowledge and laughter.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Patch Note Previews (For May 24 – May 30)

The variety of genres for this week are mind-boggling with a sandbox-type game, five developers combining their genius, and a racing game that could possibly bring up memories of the recent “MotorStorm”. Pick between good and evil, a barrel load of Japanese game characters, and chasing a chopper on a motorbike? It’s your choice, here’s the 4th week of May.

inFAMOUS (PS3) (May 26th) Sony Computer Entertainment

The makers of “Sly Cooper”, “Sucker Punch”, go next-generation with “inFAMOUS”. Every time this game is shown, it gets more and more appreciation and rave. “inFAMOUS” is finally upon us, and it’s about the world being a dark, dark place as the Reapers try to take over, but it’s your chance to save the world. Do you choose to be a demon of evil or a boy scout of righteousness? The karma system keeps track of good/bad tasks completed, and it also provides different powers upon path chosen (more explosion and fear when evil, while you’re viewed as a hero when good). “inFAMOUS” looks to provide one of the triple-A releases of the year with its unique take on sandbox gameplay plus karma affecting a player’s decisions. Align with your side on Tuesday for $59.99 only on the PS3.

Cross Edge (PS3) (May 26th) NIS America

Described as the perfect collection of five developers, with the five being “Gust” (Marie of Atelier Marie), “Capcom” (Morrigan of Darkstalkers), “Nippon Ichi” (Prinny of Disagea), “Namco Bandai” (Aurica of Ar Tonelico), and “Idea Factory” (Zelos of Soul series) as they bring “Cross Edge”. “Cross” is a pick your favorite character turn-based RPG with grid-based strategy elements of movement. The graphics of the main characters are in 2D with some environments and enemies varying from 2D to 3D. This game reminds some of the “Namco X Capcom” game that released sometime ago. Difference is that this one will make it to U.S. shores, and there are more developers on this project. Mix ‘em ups tend to be fun with all the different characters at one’s disposal with the many moves, super combos, and chain links as well. On Tuesday, you can pick your favorite Japanese videogame characters for $49.99.

Fuel (360, PS3, PC) (May 26th) Codemasters

Fuel” is an off-road, racing game with various automobiles at one’s fingertips, including cars, trucks, motorbikes, and others. Picture “MotorStorm: Pacific Rift” (PS3), but this game has some different modes to try to differentiate. It has the traditional timed circuit race and others, but chopper chase and seek and destroy look to be selling points. The graphics are solid, but the slightly different modes don’t offer a purchase first day grade (not many games do) unless one doesn’t have a PS3/”MotorStorm”. Make sure those gas tanks are filled up on Tuesday, so you can pick up this for $59.99 on 360 and PS3 and for $39.99 on PC.

Side by Side

Musical collective display of talent/skill at Belltower
On Thursday, May 14th, Asian Pacific Islander (API) Heritage Month continued with “Side by Side”, a “unique collaboration of musical talents” featuring indie singer/songwriter, Jane Lui on the keyboard; pop songwriter/singer, David Choi on the acoustic guitar; acoustic pop singer, Kina Grannis on the acoustic guitar; and hip-hop violinist/singer, Paul Dateh, accompanied by his friend, Ken.

The night began at 5:50 p.m. with sound check as the sun shined intensely on the audience and artists. Technical difficulties would slow down the sound check and linger throughout the performances, but they would die down soon enough.

The set of performances was played in a roundtable jam session style. Around and around we went with each artist taking turns stepping up to the imaginary plate and hitting respective home runs with their songs. It was a music appreciation of sorts when one artist played, the other artists and audience would listen quietly as they bobbed their heads to the rhythm and tapped their feet to the beats. One song in particular, “Delicate” by Grannis, saw Lui and Dateh provide their musical talents to the song. Grannis exclaimed at the end, “Thank you for making that pretty.” It was pretty before, but their help made it a beautiful sight.

Song topics varied from college days and “growing up” (Lui), to falling for a girl and “Always [getting] Hurt” (Choi), to losing someone with “Cambridge” (Grannis), and to life not being fun anymore because of lost passion (Dateh). After Dateh’s song about lost passion, Lui claimed smoke came off of Dateh’s violin. It wouldn’t have been shocking, considering Dateh’s intensity and ferocity when singing and hitting the violin. They each displayed their passion in different ways, but they all share the same passion for music. Lui showed her passion with her little introductions to each of her songs, Choi and Grannis with their beautiful smiles throughout playing/singing, and Dateh’s intensity. Sometimes, passion is all you need. All in all, there was approximately 20+ songs with each having different stories and each artist offering their individual voice and musical prowess.

A random side note: Everyone got rickrolled with Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” during intermission, but no one really noticed. “We’re no strangers to love!” Haha, but moving on..

The ensemble of artists finished off the night with “One Time with You”, where each performer played their particular instruments and sang together as one. The song was happy and upbeat, especially with lyrics advising everyone to “mak[e] the best of everything we do”. It was a fitting end to a great night of performances from four amazing talents. All the performers stayed for the meet and greet with the crowd by signing autographs, taking pictures, and just hanging out.

"Divided by Night" Review

"Divided by Night" by The Crystal Method, Tiny e Records

The Crystal Method’s fourth album “Divided by Night” is said to be of a darker feel than past albums. The music is of the electronic and dance genre, and will conjure up memories of techno, but at the same time, it’s not considered techno/trance (go figure?).

The songs can be quite slow and drawn out, but are extremely well calculated. Other songs are of the upbeat nature and provide a bang, bang, bang feeling. A calming effect is generated with some songs even though there’s distortion, but on the flipside, lots of chaos can be found in the backdrop.
Lyrics are solely present when the song features an artist, but the music alone can easily manipulate our imaginations, especially in songs like “Smile?”. Just when the journey is presumed to be finished, the beat picks up and we’re off again. To where? That’s up to the imagination.

Come Back Clean” features Emily Haines (Broken Social Scene, etc) on the microphone heeding advice pertaining to, well, coming back clean from drugs. Lines like “don’t play with drugs in your bloodstream” are vital to begin the process, and Emily threatens, in a soft voice, to “hold my breath ‘til you come back clean”.

The final song, “Falling Hard” features Meiko singing about not wanting to be by herself and pleading heaven to help her now. Loneliness is a fear that seeps through our minds every once in awhile, so this has hit or miss power.

Other artists featured include the likes of Peter Hook, Justin Warfield (She Wants Revenge), and Warfield’s wife, Stefanie, and Matisyahu. The Crystal Method incorporated a variety of feature artists to sing vocals on their tracks, and these were the most pleasing to the ears. The album as a whole is exceptionally solid with its range in lyrical topics and sluggish, but also hasty music for variety.

Grade: 3.5/5

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A musical journey through history

Rising stars put on a show at UCR Performance Lab
On Wednesday, May 6th, the UCR Department of Music presented a vocal recital performance by Randy Lee, accompanied by pianist, Tina Whitley. Both are very talented in their respective mediums and displayed their skills for an hour filled with solos, melodies, vocal ranges, etc.
The performance lab provides a decent-sized stage with the audience sitting in close proximity. Lights were dimmed with a mix of blue and white colors to provide more intimacy among the audience members and performers. The one hour set of performances flew by rapidly sans the 10-minute intermission, but every single minute was used exceptionally. In total, twelve songs were performed ranging from Baroque to Foster in a musical trip through history with some other standouts being Mozart and Schubert. At the beginning, it was foreshadowed that the songs would be a “challenging repertoire”, and that assessment was spot on, but Randy was amazing stepping up to the test.

Randy started off nervous, as most performers do, but nerves push people through. The jitters were quickly shaken off as more songs went by. The variety of songs toyed with our emotions as cheerfulness, sadness, agony, etc. were experienced as if we were on a rollercoaster.
Not everyone understood the languages being vocalized, but the pamphlets handed out pre-show provided translations to each song, which was quite helpful. Though, the words didn’t need to be understood to know that they were beautiful in magnitude because emotion seeped through the music provided by Tina and expressions shown by Randy.

One performance in particular stood out and held up throughout the night as the finest piece, which was the duet Randy performed with his stepmother, Hyun Mee Lee, as they sang “La Ci Darem La Mano” by Mozart together. The chemistry between the two shined through as they communicated with one another through song, but at the same time, they included the audience. At song’s end, Randy’s stepmother smiled with pride and her eyes lit up with joy because of the amazing duet performance with her son.

The night ended magnificently with “The Prayer”, which was a duet including Abigail Villalta as the other singer and Justin Myers playing the flute, and “Nella Fantasia” minus Abigail. “The Prayer” was the sole song that included English lyrics, so people didn’t have to worry about translations. In “Nella Fantasia”, Randy and Justin took turns with their respective solos as if it were a battle between vocals and flute. The crowd erupted to a standing ovation at the final performance’s end, as the musicians bowed and issued their thanks, because it was truly well-deserved. We were treated with an outstanding ride through history with Randy leading the way accompanied by Tina sitting passenger side and providing the musical selection.

Who’s the best street fighter?

Aspiring fighters participate in a tournament held at Latitude 55
Blood, sweat, and tears were shed. Okay, not real blood (no tears either), but you’re getting the picture, correct? Picture the NCAA tourney, but instead of college basketball teams, it’s a bunch of college students vying for the right to be crowned number one. You feel the intensity, no? The prize was a $25 gift card to the bookstore, but there’s more to it than just prize money (unless you’re Balrog, who only wants ‘fight money’). Respect, pride, glory, and bragging rights were on the line.

Anticipation built up for this event in the week leading up to 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 7th. The organization and execution lacked and could use a little work, but it was to be expected, since it was only the first tournament event. Latitude 55 was swarming with people at 4:30-5 p.m. with players practicing and honing their skills before the event commenced.

Hadoukens, shoryukens, supers, and ultras, oh my! The tournament was played in 64-player, best of three rounds, single elimination style. Most players chose Ryu, Balrog, and Sagat (top tiers) as their respective hero to enter combat with. There were also the occasional rare characters used like Fei-Long, Vega, and El Fuerte (lower to mid-tiers).

As the playing field whittled down fast and furiously, more anxiousness built for the semi-finals and the championship round. Time slowed down as well because the semi-finals and finals were played in a best two out of three format providing players with a fighter switch if need be. In the semis, there were two Ryu players, a Sagat player, and a Blanka player (only one to use him). The Ryu players duked it out in dramatic fashion with only one Ryu progressing to the championship round. On the other side of the bracket, Sagat and Blanka shared great duels, but Sagat prevailed to set up a meeting with his rival, Ryu. It’s fitting that these two characters meet in the finals because of their street fighter history, but Sagat prevailed even when the other player switched from Ryu to Sagat to set up a mirror match. Same result, though. Sagat wins.

It was a sight to see with Latitude 55 bustling with videogame aficionados rather than the regular billiards players or poker players. Hopefully, the next tournament is sooner rather than later and more players come out with different characters (I’m talking to you, Rufus, Gen, and others).

Patch Note Previews (For May 17 – May 23)

This week is chock full of games that people marked on their calendars for quite some time now. The time is upon us, finally. You ready to punch some people? How about running and squats? If none of those is your thing, there’s claw-grabbing and superman punches! Here’s the 3rd week of May.

Punch-Out!! (Wii) (May 18th) Nintendo

What’s popular nowadays? Reviving old franchises on next-gen systems, right? “Punch-Out!!” is back with prettier cell-shaded graphics and multiplayer action for the first time ever. Mac returns as the main character and we also have our lovable trainer riding (or stealing) the bike as Mac trains. Mac’s rivals return, some old and some new, with fan favorite King Hippo coming back. Multiplayer and motion control are featured in this iteration of “Punch” which should serve friends with countless hours of punching each other in the face (literally and physically, probably). Also, it conjures up nostalgic memories of the great Nintendo days, what’s not to like? Don’t let your trainer steal your bike and steal this before you do on Monday for $49.99.

EA Sports Active Bundle (Wii) (May 19th) Electronic Arts

Is it finally time to dust off those Wiis? Probably not. “EA Sports Active Bundle” looks to capitalize on the jillions of households with purchased Wiis and the people still holding out hope that Wiis can keep people active (“WiiFit” people, you know who you are). In the bundle, EA has provided a leg strap for the nunchuk to be placed while workouts take place. Activities include jogging, squats, softball, and many others (basically activities you could do outside for full effect). The Wii balance board can be used, but is not a necessity. This game will probably sell a lot regardless because of the sheer number of people who own Wiis. This won’t keep people being active because it’ll probably be a casualty to dust ala “WiiFit”. Actively pursue your way to the store to obtain this game on Tuesday for $59.99.

Bionic Commando (360, PS3) (May 19th) Capcom

Capcom released a heavily upgraded and prettier remake of 2D “Bionic Commando” in the form of “Rearmed” earlier this year, but this “Bionic Commando” is an entirely, brand new game and in 3D. Think “Spiderman 2” with main character, Spencer, swinging from building to building, but he has guns and a gigantic claw arm instead of web. Instead of claw-grabbing barrels to throw at enemies, players can grab burning cars and an assortment of other goodies to hurl as weapons. The revival of “Bionic” looks to be heading in the right direction, but time will tell if this one is worth the full 60 bucks. For now, check out the multiplayer demo that is available on XBLA for claw-grabbing mayhem of all sorts. You can claw grab your way to stores on Tuesday to procure your copy for $59.99.

UFC 2009 Undisputed (360, PS3) (May 19th) THQ

With the meteoric rise in popularity of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) comes “UFC 2009 Undisputed”. Complexity is the main them in “UFC” because of the plethora of fighting styles, grapple moves, and takedown abilities. The graphical likenesses of each MMA fighter is something to behold, especially their in-ring mannerisms are captured. “UFC” is an enjoyable beat-em-up that can be played on the fly, but also has complexity attached if searched for.A demo is available online on PSN and XBLA with playable fighters being Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell. Grapple, takedown, and superman punch your way to stores on Tuesday to purchase this for $59.99.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Patch Note Previews (For May 10 – May 16)

Nintendo dominates this week with compact, but appealing and diverse releases for the Wii and DS. With virus game play compacted with dream jobs galore and an age old debate, the 2nd week of May is shaping up quite nicely.

Puchi Puchi Virus (DS) (May 12th) Jaleco

“Puchi Puchi Virus” brings virus-battling puzzle game play to our fingertips. It’s quite frenetic and fast-paced with all the colorful, vibrant viruses being zapped and eliminated with stylus control. “Puchi” seems to be interesting to you puzzle-savants, but not much is known about this game, since it’s not your typical household title and not much video was found. You can try to save everyone from viruses on Tuesday for $19.99 on the Nintendo DS.

Help Wanted (Wii) (May 12th) Konami

Help! Did you hear that? Someone needs us! In “Help Wanted”, the tagline is “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and you can play as whoever you imagine in it. Bodybuilder, astronaut, goalkeeper, security guard, and newscaster are just a few of up to 50 jobs the player can assume. Multiplayer action is also available with players being pitted against one another in firefighter showdowns and muscle building fiascos and much more. “Help” looks to provide fun with its variety of jobs and multiplayer action, which means lots of different mini-games. Assume your dream job on Tuesday for $29.99 on the Nintendo Wii.

Pirates v. Ninja Dodgeball (Wii) (May 12th) SouthPeak Interactive

The age old debate of pirates versus ninja might finally be settled in “Pirates v. Ninja Dodgeball”. The teams that can be selected include pirates, ninja, robots, and zombies each complete with team specific special abilities like parrots, stealth, lasers, and burrowing. Game play is very fast with dodge balls not being the only weapon because players can beat up on their opponents with fists and said special abilities. Grab some friends to help you settle the debate either on the same team or against each other. “Pirates” looks to be different, but it’s also already on “XBLA”.Whose side will you align with on Tuesday for $29.99 on the Nintendo Wii?

"Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" Review

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” stars Matthew McConaughey (“Failure to Launch”) and Jennifer Garner (“Elektra” and “Alias”) in a modern day, romantic comedy take on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”.

McConaughey plays charismatic playboy/womanizer and scrooge, Connor Mead, who is a professional photographer capturing photos of scantily-clad models, pop divas, and basically whoever he wants for his magazines (dream job, right?). This is all evidenced in the first scene with beautiful ladies in lingerie scampering around Mead’s photo shoot galleria, while pop superstar, Christina Milian, is stripped down to her lingerie for the magazine cover. The magazine cover is achieved as an apple is placed on Milian’s head by Connor for an Olympic archer to shoot off. Ridiculousness ensues when Connor shows his true colors as he’s seducing Christina Milian, when he breaks up with three of his girlfriends via conference call because they had fallen in love with him (jacked up, much?).

The movie mainly takes place at Uncle Wayne Mead’s mansion (Michael Douglas) during Paul (Breckin Meyer), Connor’s brother, and Sandra’s (Lacey Chabert) wedding where Connor is the best man and Jenny Perotti (Garner) is the maid of honor (this is perfect alignment, no?). Connor is completely opposed to love and marriage and thinks it’s “comfort food for the weak”, and he slowly begins to tear everything apart with a little alcohol mixed in. Jenny plays anti-Connor because she’s the wedding coordinator, but she can only do so much.

During Connor’s trip to the restroom, Uncle Wayne, who is no longer with the Mead family, visits Connor as a ghost foreshadowing that three ghosts from Connor’s past, present, and future will visit to show him what went wrong in his life (this is hypocritical, considering Uncle Wayne’s lifestyle). It’s somewhat strange seeing Douglas as a playboy, Hugh Hefner-type with designer shades warning Connor about the playboy lifestyle leading to a lonely, bitter end. Connor is taken aback because of all the alcohol he previously consumed.

What follows is a roller coaster ride through Connor’s past, present, and future with each respective ghost. We discover that Jenny broke Connor’s heart at a middle school dance by dancing with an older boy, so Connor never wants to feel heartbreak again. Uncle Wayne takes him under his wing as he shapes young Connor into a playboy douche bag. The present shows Jenny still loves Connor, but she doesn’t want to fall for him again. Connor begins his turn from douche bag into the good guy he used to be, but what pushes him over the edge is his funeral brought to you by the future (it’s a very lonely site to say the least). At least Connor realizes his fate because it’s never too late to change.

“Ghosts” is a cute, “date” movie with its laughing moments and a character turn, but the ending was predictable at best. It was a happy ending with its ups and downs with Connor ruining the day, and then saving the day and ending with the girl that he always loved (surprise, surprise).

Grade: C-

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Fighting" Review

“Fighting” co-stars Channing Tatum of “Step Up” and “Stop-Loss” fame with ex-War Machine, Terrence Howard. A tale of a businessman and a street vendor/fighter willing to do anything it takes to achieve pride, glory, and money.

Tatum plays Shawn MacArthur, a travelling street vendor of an assortment of items, who is new to the streets of New York. Tatum encounters Harvey Boarden (Howard) and his band of ragtag teens in the first scene. Howard’s accomplices ambush Tatum’s curio stand of “Harry Hippopotamus” books. Tatum fights them all back, but they outnumber him and steal his earnings. Tatum finds Howard soon after to collect his previously stolen earnings, and this is where Howard introduces the premise of the movie. Tatum’s eyes light up at the thought of acquiring money in any way possible (Who didn’t see this coming?), and it turns out that he’ll have to fight (and this?).

When Tatum isn’t fighting, he speaks (more on this later) and the weak back story is sort of developed with a love story intertwined. The love interest, Zulay Valez (Zulay Henao), works at a club as a bartender. Tatum stalks her until she finally shows interest, and she ends up stalking him back through Google (who hasn’t done this?). She discovers that Tatum beat up his father in high school because his father tried to impede a fight between Tatum and his rival, Evan Hailey (Brian White). This information connects the showdown at the end.

We’re treated to what seems like speech impediment riddled dialogue delivered from Tatum (it got annoying swiftly). At first, it’s thought to be due to his Birmingham roots (and the way he acts), but people in Alabama don’t speak with long pauses. Tatum did an okay job for not talking much and swinging his fists. Women can rejoice that he’s shirtless half the time, since many women swoon at the mention of his name alone. Tatum’s partner in crime, Howard, delivers a passing grade of a job, but better acting is expected from a star of his caliber (why’d he take this role?). Howard’s character isn’t truly required because his only job is to book fights for Tatum. No teachings, no fighting moves, and just a housing arrangement are shared between the two.

In total, four fights occurred, pitting Tatum against various opponents in bizarre locations. The locations fluctuate from the upstairs of a church to the backyard of a mini-mart to an upstate New York rooftop. For the most part, the fight sequences were lacking, especially because of the fidgety, in your face camera angle. It was difficult deciphering what was going on during fights, and every fight with Tatum was more or less an exact replica. He starts off by losing, but then turns the tide with some amazing move or stroke of luck. Maybe the prize money willed him on?

One of the only bright spots in the movie was the musical score with such songs as “Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City” by Bobby 'Blue' Bland, “Magic” by Robin Thicke, “Hustlin” by Rick Ross, and many others. Songs were played at the perfect times during fight scenes, panoramic shots of the city, and others. The other bright spots are the eye candy that Tatum and Valez provide to their audiences. Both were easy on the eyes throughout the movie, but these two to three bright spots aren’t enough to save an otherwise meaningless plot.

Grade: D

Patch Note Previews (For May 3 – May 9)

It’s a better week than week’s past with cheap games, but some good ones sprinkled in. This week brings us another movie-based video game (surprise, surprise), a Harry Potter game (nope, but almost), and the return of our little friend, the Patapon. Here is the 1st full week of May!

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (360, Wii, DS) (May 5th) Majesco

Movie-based video games come out like clockwork no matter if they sell well or not (they don’t). Ben Stiller returns in “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” with the video game releasing before the movie. Some of the historic figures that will be encountered include: Al Capone, Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon Bonaparte, and George Custard. It’s a star-studded cast of the ages! Look for puzzle solving, mazes, and running away from enemies (stone soldiers are one of the many). Movie-based games more often than not, flop badly, but if you’re a diehard fan of the movie, why not check it out? Help Ben Stiller combat the forces of evil at the museum on Tuesday for $39.99 on the 360 and Wii and for $29.99 for the DS.

Patapon 2 (PSP) (May 5th) Pyramid/Japan Studio

Pan-Pan-Patapon! The little villager armies are back with their addictive and rhythmic chants of war, battle, and victory in “Patapon 2”! Two huge additions to this game are the introduction of the hero class, Heropon, a unit who can shape-shift into any Patapon class and revive, and multiplayer game play, which involves cooperation among friends to achieve the desired goals.
“Patapon” was a gem, and not just because of the amazing price point, but because of addictive beats, different art style, and mini-games before and after battles. “Patapon 2” looks to offer more of the same with a continuation of the story and the same price.You can move to the beat of the war drum to purchase this for $19.99 in stores on Tuesday. Another option, if one doesn’t want to leave the house, is to digitally download this from the PlayStation Network for the same price.

Magician's Quest: Mysterious Times (DS) (May 5th) Konami

“Magician’s Quest: Mysterious Times” is an adventure game, where the character goes through various places to complete a multitude of tasks as a magician. There’s customization of the character’s clothes, fishing, reading, magic battling, and much more! Think Harry Potter with “Animal Crossing” like graphics. This one looks interesting enough to take a look at because of it’s take on wizards and sorceresses with simple, but effective graphics. There’s up to 52 series of adventures one can take place in which is a plethora of adventuring. Magicians can ride their broom sticks all the way to stores on Tuesday to buy “Mysterious Times” for $29.99.

Patch Note Previews (For April 26 – May 2)

This week varies from an unknown tongue twister of a game, some more hack and slash action, and a movie video game based on our favorite superhero, Wolverine. What more can one ask for? Maybe another Hannah Montana video game? Wolverine wouldn’t be too fond of that idea. Without further ado, here’s the last week of April and the first days of May.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (PS3, 360, Wii, PC, PSP, PS2, DS) (May 1st)

The long anticipated release of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (XOW) hits theatres Friday, May 1st with the video game getting the same day release. XOW looks promising with its countless number of moves under Wolverine’s command. The movie storyline is followed through Wolverine’s eyes as he goes through his pre-X-Men days. The game play is centered around what Wolverine does best and that’s slashing first and taking names later. Players have Wolverine’s adamantium claws, healing ability, and this “lunge” ability, where he jumps huge distances ala Hulk. Movie video games tend to be steered away from because of their low percentage of success, but giving things a rent never hurts anyone. You can claw a path to stores to purchase your copy on Friday for the PS3/360 for $59.99, Wii for $49.99, PSP/PC for $39.99, and PS2/DS for $29.99.
Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce (PSP) (April 28th)

KOEI brings “Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce” (DWS) to our portable fingertips, so our hack and slash adventures can be brought on the go. Now, the tides of war can be controlled in our homes and on the bus, train, or airplane. This iteration of Dynasty Warriors brings 4-player co-op play along with our main characters possessing the ability to “awaken” (think Dragon Ball super saiyan status) to a different look and a significant increase in stats. DWS seems like the perfect game for you and 3 buddies to pick up to wreak havoc on army after army standing in opposition. The price point will be $39.99 on Tuesday for the Sony PSP, but $40 each for 4 people? You do the math. For those willing to try this game, there is a demo available on Sony’s
“PlayStationNetwork” or “PSN”.

Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier (DS) (April 28th)

“Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier” (SRT) is more of a tongue twister than a video game title, correct? Nope, it’s a video game licensed by Atlus. SRT is a turn-based action game that has your team take turns swiping or shooting at the enemy during battles. Each battle sequence displays its individual, unique flavor with each character and their different move sets and weapons. Story in SRT is depicted through still anime drawings showing emotion with their corresponding lines of dialogue. The characters are drawn quite well in both battles and character interaction which is always a treat. SRT has the potential to be one of those solid DS titles, but this game could be a rare find since it’s not well known here in the states. Tongue twister extraordinaires can find this on Tuesday for $34.99 on the Nintendo DS.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Patch Note Previews (For April 19 – April 25)

It’s weeks like these where writing about video games can be extremely fun because of the wide range in game titles. Oh sure, it’s not Zelda or Mario every week, but these weeks can have that amazing kind of flavor. This week in video games is littered with a triumvirate of games ranging from a portable gem to Russians and Martians fighting it out to flying robots destroying wave upon wave of enemies.

Stalin vs. Martians (PC) (April 20th)

Before you get on the phone with your optometrist, that title isn’t a misprint. Double takes were done with this preview, especially after viewing videos consisting of Stalin commanding dancing, a random girl dancing, and sprinkles of game play, all while Russian techno played (what the heck?). The title gives everything needed to be known about the game with “Stalin vs. Martians” (SM) pitting Stalin of Russia versus Martians of Mars. SM is played in Real Time Strategy (RTS) fashion ala “Command and Conquer” with Russian tanks and footmen clashing forces with a variety of Martians (picture elephants/spaceships). The game looks like quirky fun with over the top battles, and it doesn’t seem to be serious, but how can it? It’s Stalin and Martians in one game! The game will be digitally distributed on Monday for a price that couldn’t be located.

Dynasty Warriors: GUNDAM 2 (PS2, PS3, 360) (April 21st)

KOEI brings the long-awaited sequel (not really) to “Dynasty Warriors: GUNDAM” with the release of “Dynasty Warriors: GUNDAM 2” (DWG2). All of the Dynasty Warrior iterations have followed the exact format of players controlling their selected character and destroying multitudes of army after army after army. In DWG2, gundams (flying robots!) are the characters being used. DWG2 is no different to KOEI’s formula, but that’s not to say these games aren’t fun. Hours upon hours vanish with the DW series of games because there’s that sense of empowerment initiated in players for changing the tides of war and being the difference between winning and losing. Not much difference will be seen between the PS2 version and the other versions except for high-res graphics. Are high-res graphics worth 30 bucks? DWG2 will be on store shelves on Tuesday for $29.99 on PS2 and for $59.99 on the PS3 and 360.

Steal Princess (DS) (April 21st)

Whenever Atlus releases a game, everybody takes note because of their past successes with other hidden gems like “Persona” and “Trauma Center”. “Steal Princess” (SP) has the makings of one of these gems with its nice graphics, catchy music and songs, and well-drawn and animated cut scenes. SP is a puzzle-based platform game where the player takes control of Anise, the thief, who is asked to save the prince (this is a nice change from the usual saving the princesses). Anise sets foot in each level with certain objectives like defeating all the enemies or solving a puzzle to trigger the end of the level. Players can also create their own puzzles and share them on the “Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection” network, so puzzle fanatics can rejoice. Will SP succeed like other Atlus titles? SP hits stores on Tuesday for $34.99 on the DS.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Patch Note Previews (For April 12 – April 18)

This week in video games isn’t peppered with household names that capture everyone’s attention. It’s one of those dead weeks where no one knows the video games, but that’s one of the reasons this page exists. Previews are provided for video games that may or may not be known, so without further ado. The games that comprise the 3rd week of April range from a portable shooter to a stealth-based game to a classic drifter.

Velvet Assassin (360, PC) (April 14th)

Replay Studios is releasing “Velvet Assassin” (VA) where players assume the role of Violette Summer, whose character was inspired by real life spy, Violette Szabo. VA plays like the typical stealth/action game (think “Splinter Cell”) with the player biding their time until it’s time to kill off enemies. A great deal of patience is needed with these types of games because if one makes the wrong move, it could spell game over. A fresh added feature is the “Morphine mode” which lets Violette slow down time of everything in her surroundings. While a great mode, the uses of morphine are quite limited. VA looks to be different, especially with not many games on the horizon, but $59.99 is steep for any game during these times. Patient, methodical players can purchase VA for $59.99 for the 360 and $49.99 for PC on Tuesday.

C.O.R.E. (DS) (April 14th)

At first glance, “C.O.R.E.” (C) conjures up nostalgic memories of “Doom” which isn’t a terrible thing at all. C impressed with its graphics and the frame rate it was moving at, especially since it’s on the DS. Long corridors, killing rooms, and dimly lit environments scatter the setting of C. The killing rooms stand no chance with the shotguns and machine guns the player has at their disposal. C looks to detach itself from the current DS library of games. With the price point and the power of the DS’ graphics being pushed, this could possibly be a hidden gem. C will be available for $29.99 on Tuesday.

OutRun Online Arcade (360, PS3) (April 15th, April 16th)

SEGA brings “OutRun Online Arcade” (OR) to the “Xbox LIVE Marketplace” and the “PlayStation Network”. OR takes us back into time with its classic drifting timed race game play, but adds an infusion of the present with pretty cars and lush backgrounds. Players can play with up to 5 players online (6 total). This might not be for the “Gran Turismo” simulation racers because players are drifting whole race tracks which, well, isn’t real. It provides a separation from those realistic racing games with a great blend of retro (timed-races and non-stop drifting) and new school (overhaul on graphics and online play). OR will be digitally distributed on Wednesday and Thursday on the “XBLA” and the “PSN” respectively. Price couldn’t be found, but it’ll most likely be $9.99 or $5.99.

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College student trying to live out the Videogame/Sports writer's dream of making IT. It's a work in progress, haha.