All posts by Michael Madison

Marvel’s Rocket and Groot shorts on DisneyXD are excellent

DisneyXD has announced and been airing these new Rocket and Groot shorts on their channel. The artwork is based on the super-stylized works of Skottie Young and it’s easy to see the likeness. Their movements are also exactly how I imagine his art would be. They might be aimed a younger age than myself but I don’t care; I just love the idea that they exist.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice Ultimate Ticket from Regal Cinemas

With Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice coming in theaters very soon, Regal Cinemas has announced their Ultimate Ticket for the film. It is a $100 and here is the description of the ticket:

This one-of-akind collectible card features the Bat Symbol laser cut through high-grade 0.5 mm anodized black stainless steel. Superman’s iconic glyph is etched on both sides and colorized on the front. The wallet-sized cards will be personalized with each recipient’s name inscribed permanently on the back.

But the personalization isn’t the coolest thing about the ticket. The owner can also see the film every day for the run of it, including the RPX and IMAX formats. So, if the movie is good, you make out…if not…

Check out the official site for the card here

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is getting a revamp…

Bioware’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is being remade and it looks beautiful. It’s being called “Apeiron” and the studio revamping it is Poem Studios. They are using the Unreal Engine 4 and this will be a real treat for both fans and newcomers to the game. Let me tell you the best part…it will be 100% free! Turns out, that was the only way to get the license to Poem and I can’t wait to replay this classic.

Don’t Discount the Discount – THIEF from Square Enix

This time around, I’m writing a review about the Square Enix title Thief. I have played it for both the Xbox One and Xbox 360 but you can get it for the PS4 & PS3. It is the 4th installment in the awesome series that games like Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell have taken a few cues from. As you have probably figure out, the game requires a lot of sneaking through levels and stealing expansive objects from the home you end up robbing.

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The game has a fairly simple rule: LET NO ONE SEE YOU. The game has you slinking through the shadows and avoiding the guards at every turn. If you do happen to get caught, you can try to fight your way out of the situation but most likely you’ll have run and hide. What makes the game entertaining is also the biggest frustration. There were times that I thought it was unfair that a guard saw me in my hiding spot or heard me when I didn’t make a sound but these things are few & far between. There weren’t any gameplay issues or glitches that stopped me from having fun.

Graphically, the game is beautiful. It has a very rich environment that is shadowy and highly detailed. Now, because of its release, I said I played it for Xbox systems. Don’t get me wrong, it looks great on the 360 but there is so much added depth to the Xbox One version. There is more detail, shadowing, and the pixels are cleaner. I also feel like the Xbox One controls are much more responsive due to it being the better paddle (yeah, I said paddle). I play all of my games on surround sound headphones to make sure that I hear every little thing that is possible. Between the two versions, I couldn’t hear anything that puts one over the other.

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If is you haven’t heard about it, THEIF is a series that has been around for a while. I’m really glad to see it hit the newer systems and the PC because I feel like its a game everyone should at least give a shot. The bottom line is that its a fun game and can be found for under $20 on any system. At that price, it’s a bargain and one not to pass up.

Have you played it? Have any questions? Let us know in the comment section below:

Nostalgia Corner Presents: A Look at the Marvel Color Books

For years, I have loved the collaboration of 2 of the great names in comics: Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.  They have worked together on so many great titles such as BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN, BATMAN: HAUNTED KNIGHT, BATMAN: DARK VICTORY, and CATWOMAN: WHEN IN ROME…  These are obviously for DC Comics but they have also made books together with Marvel Comics that I like to call the “color books.”  No, it doesn’t mean that you can get some crayons or markers and stay between the lines.  The premise is that they take classic heroes and well-known stories and fill in the details of the events.  Confusing?  I’ll explain with each title in a bit.  With Marvel, Loeb and Sale have done such titles as DAREDEVIL: YELLOW, SPIDER-MAN: BLUE, HULK: GREY, and the upcoming CAPTAIN AMERICA: WHITE.  These are some of the most well-known and best stories about these characters that have ever been written.

Loeb’s words and Sale’s art are a beautiful match.  The art reminds me a bit of memories and it makes the books feel like you’re seeing the stories the way the characters remember it.  I have been a fan of Tim Sale’s since I came across it well over a decade ago.  There is a simple-complexity in his art that lets you focus on the panel but not pull you out of the story.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: WHITE
I’ll start with CAPTAIN AMERICA: WHITE because, well, it hasn’t been released yet.  Only the “0” issue had been released back in 2008 as a preview issue of the series before the actual run.  It was to be based on a time when Cap and Bucky were fighting ze Nazis in WWII before he became a cap-sicle.  The book was listed as being “worked on” and it seemed like it was going well until suddenly…it was canceled.  There was no real reason as to why Marvel scrapped it but I think it may have been when comic sales and Captain America especially was in a lull.  The film IRON MAN was releasing in the same year and this is when Marvel Studios blew up.  Fast forward some years later and now Cap is everywhere.  So this series will be released in September 2015 and we shall see how it happens.

DAREDEVIL: YELLOW
This is my second favorite out of these books.  It’s about Matt Murdock in the red Daredevil costume, swinging around New York and reminiscing about Karen Page.  She was one of his great loves and had such strong feelings for her.  In his memories, it was back to when he was in the classic yellow outfit, still a little green but making a name for himself.  It’s a sweet story and shows a side of how Matt was struggling with having feelings for Karen, being a hero, and also being a civilian.

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HULK: GREY
This is a great story but when it was released, I didn’t know how it fit in with these books.  It was the only one that wasn’t a story about tough emotions and focused on Bruce telling Doc Samson how he felt right after the gamma bomb incident.  The only part that was superb was when they threw Iron Man in the mix but in the original suit or maybe the second because it was a gold color.  There were no gadgets and just Hulk and Iron Man going toe-to-toe.  I don’t dislike the book in the slightest but it is probably my least favorite.

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SPIDER-MAN: BLUE
And now to my favorite book in the “series” and maybe my favorite Spider-Man story ever.  This is a beautifully written and illustrated story about how once a year Peter Parker/Spider-Man feels “blue” in his sadness.  It’s the day that the Green Goblin killed Gwen Stacy and Peter’s heart still has a void for the girl.  While rummaging through some things in the attic, he finds a tape recorder and begins to tell the story between defeating Norman Osbourne/Green Goblin and right before Gwen died.  This isn’t just some sappy kissing book but a very heartfelt telling about the details between the lines in the existing comics.  I won’t go into too much detail because I think it’s too good to spoil.

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The bottom line is that these are some of the best books that Marvel has to offer.  Classic heroes in classic stories that hold up as if they were written last month.  These books are well-written and have beautiful artwork that makes them real page-turners.  I can highly recommend the Marvel Color books without hesitation.

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Look Out Kids! Fallout 4 is Coming in November!

So E3 is happening on June 15th and Bethesda has announced that Fallout 4 is releasing on November 15th November 10th, 2015! It is the first time that the game will be available on the Xbox One and PS4 and it will also be on the PC. The game doesn’t just look like a smoother version of Fallout 3 or New Vegas but it looks like the upgrade to this Gen will be totally worth it. Environments are smoother, the faces are more realistic, and everything is more detailed. I mean the Nuke-a-Cola bottles look like nuclear missiles now, how effing cool is that?

For those who have heard me rave about the games on the podcast, you can tell that I’m stoked about everything that has to do with this franchise. Its one of those games that you completely lose yourself in not only the story but also the world, characters, imagery, and gameplay. Take a look at the video below and we will keep you up to date with news!

Don’t Discount the Discount – Watch Dogs from Ubisoft

Why did I call this article what I did? Well, the game is about $15 USD and this is just because it has dropped in price, not because it isn’t an excellent game. My plan is to review the inexpensive gems that are more than worth the money.

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Ubisoft is a game company that tends to release staples in any gamer’s collection. Their most popular franchises include the Rainbow SIX series and the Assassin’s Creed games. Watch Dogs was promoted as “Assassin’s Creed meets the future” and I really feel like they delivered what they promised.

NOTE: I played this on the Xbox One console.

Gameplay
This game is one of those that you can’t really nail it down to only one genre. There is a tech, stealth, driving, shooting, and small puzzles. All of them work well but I o have one gripe: the driving. It is very loose and takes some time to adjust to the handling of the vehicles. Sometimes in a game, there is at least one vehicle that is the best to use but in this game, they’re all pretty terrible. I think a lot of the problem is that I own GTA V and Forza Motorsport 5 for the X-box One. Both of them have excellent car mechanics so having gone from them to this game is kinda unfair. That being said, everything else has been finely tuned to create a great experience. The game doesn’t exactly start of as a shooter but the further in to the story you get, the more puzzle-like obstacles and gunning you end up doing. Chicago is not only the backdrop for the game but it is also your weapon. You can control stop lights, car carriers, billboards….pretty much anything that can be connected to by your phone. Using these elements can help take out people chasing you or a security guard walking past a breaker box can be taken out with a well-timed electrical explosion.

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Graphics and Sound
The game is busy with visuals but not to the point where it may seem overwhelming. You just get a feel that you are running around the bustling streets of Chicago. And there is no shortage of content. You end up stealing someone’s information and the next phone that you hack, you might be reading their text messages or hearing their phone conversations. I have been playing this for a while now and I haven’t come across info that has been redundant or repetitive. The images are clean and look like you’re are playing on a next-gem system. The signals coming from your phones to the Wi-Fi systems are a little pixelated but I thin that’s so it doesn’t look like Spider-man’s webbing is shooting from the top of your phone.

Audio has a lot going on too with all of the city sounds. I typically play with 5.1 surround sound headphones and there is so much going on. There is also an mp3 player that you can play while driving or exploring the city with music that you download from the NPCs (non-player characters) in the game. Like most games, the use of the surround sound is excellent so as you move, the sound moves with you.

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My Take
Watch Dogs is a fun game with a lot of extra things to do aside form the campaign. The story is a little predictable but the characters that you encounter are pretty cool. The game mechanics are fun with you running around, hacking people and cameras on the fly, and using the city as a weapon. You can pick this up for around $20 or less and it is totally worth it.

My take AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON…a mini review

When it comes to my style of review, I’m pretty much a spoiler-free writer because I want people to get out there and see things for themselves. Don’t worry, as much as I’d like to, I’m not going to ruin a movie for people who haven’t seen it yet. I will however discuss how the movies leading up to this have had some meaning or impact.

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (AOU) didn’t just focus on the movies in phase 2, every movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is relevant, even in Marvel’s AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. You aren’t expected to know every little thing about each character but having that knowledge does give you a leg up.

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Let me say that this movie completely surpassed my expectations. Typically sequels never hold up to the original but I think that AOU is in the minority. There are a lot of references and little knows to things in Marvel comics that AOU does great in getting out there. There is action, suspense, love, comic relief, but never done in an unbelievable way. The new characters were well developed in the time period they have. The 3D was amazing and, in my opinion, very necessary. I saw it in both the Cinemark XD and IMAX 3D…hands down, IMAX was the superior version. The 3D was a little more natural and on point. Audio wise, I think they were about equal but some of the bass felt a stronger in the IMAX. I’m thinking this is because the IMAX has speakers and subs that are broken in.

James Spader did a tremendous job as Ultron. He has a cold cynicism that flows within the character. When I first heard that they were looking to add some of Spader’s mannerisms into the movements of the machine, I wasn’t sure this could be pulled off. Man, was I ever wrong. Spader sometimes does these little head flicks when he gets intense and they make perfect sense for a character learning to fit in. My standout character is definitely Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch. She brought the character to life from page to screen. You can see her passion in trying not to disappoint the fans and no one can be mad at her take on Wanda. She is possibly my favorite character from the film.

Many times in comic book movie you’ll find that the director or creative team involved may say they have comic book knowledge but that could be the extent of seeing it on a spinner rack as a kid. Joss Whedon is not one of those kids. He took the team and the audience on a thrill ride that was perfectly executed and ,like I said, it is dripping with comic book jabs. He and the folks at Marvel Studios have created a universe that is not only true to form but feels very lived in with the films and TV series. Marvel Studios movies work something like a game of tetherball. Now…stay with me here… They hit the ball as hard as possible and that tether line getting shorter and shorter. The pole is like the Avengers movies. All that spinning was planned to make it to the end result of each phase. Make sense? I hope so because this is the way I see it.

The movie ran at 2 hours and 21 mins. I could’ve have easily done another 2 hours with all of the awesomeness that was thrown at me. Being a huge comic book nerd and following these characters for years, I can easily say that this is a movie that you shouldn’t miss. Get up….right now…and get your ass to the theater!

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A look back at Batman HUSH

This week, I went back and read one of my favorite batman stories ever: HUSH. It is written by Jeph Loeb and the art is by Jim Lee. Loeb has written a number of amazing stories like BATMAN: DARK VICTORY and LONG HALLOWEEN. HUSH is Lee’s first work with DC and it was definitely a success. You can pick up the trades or the individual issues are Batman #608-619 in 2002-2003.

It starts out with a prologue by Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne/Batman’s butler that reads like an origin story. It quickly moves to the main story where Batman is trying to rescue a young kid who has been kidnapped by Killer Croc. When he finally subdues Croc, the money is stolen by Catwoman but she isn’t working alone.

While Batman is in pursuit, his bat rope is cut mid-air and he falls into crime alley. His body is badly injured and skull is fractured. He taps his fingers and through morse code, Batman suggests Alfred gets in tough with Bruce’s childhood friend and renowned surgeon Tommy Elliot to save his life.

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That’s about as deep into the story as I should go because I could easily sit here and go over every single detail but I don’t want to ruin it for people who have not read it before. HUSH is one of the most complex stories with a hefty cast of characters from Batman/Bruce’s past. Loeb explored the long history that the Batman universe has to offer and it is packed with “wow” moments in every issue. That being said, you don’t need to be a Batman junkie like me to follow the story. I’m not saying that it spoon-feeds everything to you but there isn’t an assumption that you are well versed in the Bat. Loeb makes sure to explain the intricacies without derailing the story and I dig that.

The art is…just..wow. I have been a fan of Jim Lee since he hit the scene in Marvel’s X-men books and I was hooked. I even own the X-men series trading cards they released from the popular book. When I heard that he was going to do a story arc of Batman, I thought my head was going to explode. He puts so his much detail into his art and it does what good comic should do: bring the images to life. It isn’t just his Batman that I’m a fan of but almost all of his other characters as well. Of course being a Batman addict, I’m a big fan of his arch nemesis: The Joker. Lee’s Joker is as distorted as the character’s mind with a twisted face and pointy attributes.

So if you haven’t figured it out, I highly recommend getting out there and picking this up. It has superb wiring with excellent development for characters both the known and the obscure. Like I said, the artwork is detailed, sharp, clean and engaging. Lee’s Batman is now one of the fan favorite’s in both the costume and, specifically, the emblem. I can promise that this book will not disappoint. I have read HUSH countless times and I know I’ll read it again and again.

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Star Wars Battlefront 3 has a trailer and release date!

This week, the Star Wars celebration is in full effect and with that, they have released game footage from one of my favorite video game series ever, Battlefront. It is a game where you choose a side from the Star Wars universe and battle in the famous fight scenes from the movies or the expanded universe. The trailer shows us that they are definitely going back to Hoth and Endor. It hits retailers on 11/17/15 and will be available for the Xbox One, PS4, and PC in both a regular & Deluxe edition.

The Deluxe Edition includes:
-Han Solo’s Blaster (instant access)
-Ion Detonator (instant access)
-MPL Ion Torpedo (instant access)
-Ion Shock (exclusive emote)
-Victory (exclusive emote)

So get out there and pre-order your copy, you won’t regret it!