Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Short break for Turkey-related festivities

Hola gang.

Sorry about disappearing there for a little while. Things got real hectic what with the holidays and work and the side job as an ax fighter. Therefore, rather than half-ass my way through this week, we're just going to be taking a whee blogcation.

I know. I know. I will miss you just as much. But I'm sure you'll survive for a week.
staticEchoes should be back up and running semi-normal come Monday.

Until then, play some games, watch some movies and eat lots of turkey. Unless you're a vegetarian. In which case, you do realize this blog is 98-percent chicken, right?...Sinner.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Spike Video Game Awards 2008: Echo calls it

Spike have announced their nominations for the 2008 Video Game Awards and this year’s competition is as steep as everyone knew it would be.

Since I completely spaced on the latest UFC predictions (GF is still a sad panda about Couture losing), I figure I can give my predictions to this instead. There are 20-something categories in all, but I’m just going to cherry pick a few and give my thoughts. Here we go:

Game of the Year:
Fallout 3
Gears of War 2
Grand Theft Auto IV
Metal Gear Solid 4
Little Big Planet

Yowza. Maybe I should have started with an easier one. All of these games are deserving, but Little Big Planet gets my nod. I felt MGS4, for instance, was a better “game,” but LBP is one of those titles that could quite literally change the industry forever. Like the original Mario Bros., Final Fantasy VII and Halo, future gamers could likely divide games into two categories: those that came before LBP, and those that came after.

Best Multi-player:
Call of Duty- World at War
Gears of War 2
Left 4 Dead
Resistance 2
If there’s any justice in this world, the award will go to Left 4 Dead or Res 2. Not knocking the other two nominees, but Left and Resistance went well out of their way to bring something new to the multi-player table.

Best PS3 Game:
Little Big Planet
Metal Gear Solid 4
Resistance 2
It’s short and the online is flawed, but MGS4 got emotional reactions out of me several times. The story is great, the characters are amazing and the gameplay, though quick, is top shelf. I loved this damn game so, so much.

Best Wii Game:
Boom Blox
No More Heroes
Super Smash Brothers Brawl
Wii Fit

Wii Fit? I mean, really? Maybe a win from No More Heroes will turn more gamers onto one of the few quality titles the system has going for it.

Best 360 Game:
Fable 2
Gears of War 2
Fallout 3
Grand Theft Auto IV

Why is this even a category? Gears 2 is going to win. Just give em the thing. (Not griping. The time I’ve spent with the title was pleeeenty of fun.)

Best Graphics:
Fallout 3
Gears of War 2
Little Big Planet
Metal Gear Solid 4
This one is surprisingly tricky. Fallout won’t get it, but Gears 2 looked great. For those who actually pay attention, LBP’s graphics are also ridiculously good. The game that made me drop my jaw the most, though, is MGS4. Visually mind-blowing.

Best Handheld Game:
Castlevania- Order of Ecclesia
God of War: Chains of Olympus
Professor Layton and the Curious Village
Though Prof. Layton might provide a surprise upset (yay Level 5!), God of War on the PSP made me question the limitations of portable gaming. When you can cram all the action, story, sound, graphics and gameplay of a console game into the palm of your hands, you’ve managed to impress me.

Well, that’s it for my predictions. To see the full list of nominees and make some guesses of your own, visit Spike.com and remember to watch the show’s airing on Dec. 14.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday mini-movie: Lucky couple edition

The stupidity of some people amazes me.

You know what I love? Living...Yep. I love living. Aside from maybe skydiving or eating at a Fatso Burger in Las Vegas again, I don't really plan on doing anything that will needlessly put the continuation of said living at risk. Especially not on my morning commute. Especially not when it's me vs. a friggin train.

After covering a rodeo last week, I decided to check youtube for any amazing moments in every one's favorite crazy-person sport. (Speaking of needlessly putting your life at risk.) Turns out, not a lot of folks have posted entertaining rodeo footage.

Look for "extremely lucky people," though, and you're likely to stumble across these two brainiacs doing the death tango with a steaming locomotive.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Movie of the week: Quantum of Solace

Three cheers for emo-Bond!

Call me crazy, but I’ve never really been a huge James Bond fan. Usually a sucker for wildly imaginative characters, crazy gadgets, explosions and martinis, something about the series never quite sat right with me.

Enter 2007’s Casino Royale. Suddenly, I’m a fan.
While still keeping many of the 007 themes intact, Casino managed to present the character in a more realistic setting and somehow made a believer out of me. Perhaps it was the compelling story, top performances or high-flying action. Perhaps it was my love of poker. Who can say?

Daniel Craig is perfect in the lead role and, with this week’s Quantum of Solace serving as the first direct sequel in the series’ history, I’m looking forward to a second helping of everything that made Casino so enjoyable.

If that was somehow too vague for ya, the movie of the week is 007: Quantum of Solace. Five points to anyone who can tell me what the crap a quantum of solace even is…Not sure, but I think I could have ordered one off a late-night infomercial.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

staticEchoes turns one!

Holy crap, staticechoes.com has officially made it past the one year mark.

It's our first birthday. Hooray!

I'm experiencing something of a mixed emotion right now. Part of me feels like the past twelve months have absolutely flown by while the other part of me can't believe it's only been a year since I started posting these random little articles about music, movies, games and more.

To all those who have made dropping by a daily routine, I thank you from the absolute bottom of my heart. I know there are several of you out there (thanks feedburner.com!), so again, thanks for giving me a reason to keep doing this.

To anyone who logs on every now and again, or are perhaps reading this for the very first time, thank you so much as well. You all are why I do this, so thanks for all the support.

Well, that's it for the gushing. Time to get out that next post. Hopefully I'll see you all back here this time next November as we celebrate year number two!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Eagles of Death Metal- Heart On

I was sitting in a pub a couple weeks ago...Okay, so it wasn't really a pub. It was more like an eclecto-bar. There were about five motifs going on, P.O.D. was pumping through the speakers, the waitress was a bit too friendly and creepy, the food was pretty bad and, for a bar this size, they only had like six beers on tap. But I digress.

Anyway, there I was, minding my own business in this bar-pub, trying to flag down our waitress when Pepper (I never call her by the same name twice on this blog due to pending legal issues) slides a burned CD across the table and says, "Echo;" she calls me Echo in real life; "Echo, if you don't review this CD on your blog, I'm going to cut you."

Turns out I was being given a copy of Eagles of Death Metal's latest album "Heart on."

Being a burned CD, I have no idea what the names of the songs are nor do I wish to look them up. Yes, I'm being that lazy. Instead, I'll just give you a few broad statements concerning the album and let you head on over to Peppered Thought to get a more detailed review from the lady herself. I know what you're thinking: If she was going to review it herself, why threaten Echo with bodily harm if he didn't do likewise? This is a gal who fights the air, people. The. Air. It's best not to ask questions...

Moving on.

As for me, I quite liked the sound. In this age of over-produced, remixed, refined, re-refined and re-re-refined music, it's nice to hear something that genuinely sounds like a couple guys got together in a studio and recorded each song in a single take. This hollow, raw sound is present on each track, giving the listener a more intimate experience.

Something between the Rolling Stones and the Doobie Brothers, Eagles of Death Metal nail the classic rock sound with nods to genre greats while still managing to come off sounding mostly original. Can a relatively new group be called classic rock? Discuss that amongst yourselves.

Anyway, pop "Heart On" in the car CD player (where my copy has been for nearly two weeks now), roll down the windows and get ready to feel like your cruising through the 70s. This is, of course, a good thing. Eagles of Death Metal make the old sound new again and, cruising through an ocean full of so many nearly identical rockfish, it's refreshing to sink a hook into something different every now and again.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Movies to miss in November

I’m feeling like a bit of a scrooge this week.
Going over the November movie list, I could only come up with three flicks that made me want to run and hide. Coincidentally, they are all Christmas movies.

This is not to say I am a humbug. I prefer to look at it as nobody knows how to make a decent Christmas movie anymore.

I say go with the classics-A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, Christmas Vacation- and avoid anything new with Fa-la-la-la-laing in it.

Fred Claus: This came out one year ago in theaters, bombed, and is now on DVD. I love Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti, but come on guys. This is what happens when a good idea goes bad.

Shrek the Halls: *cough*sellout*cough* Shrek was awesome. The sequel was pretty decent. The third was god-awful. Let’s just say my expectations are pretty low for a Christmas romp with everyone’s favorite ogre.

Four Christmases: Vince Vaughn, what the hell are you doing? A terrible Christmas movie two years in a row? Was this because of a dare? You’re destroying my love for you, buddy-boy.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Monday mini-movie: Badgers edition

I jumped into the way-back machine for this week's video. I'm sure, by now, you've all heard and/or seen the Badgers song. Even so, I felt like honoring the clip with mention here on Monday mini-movies.

"Why?" you may ask. Because the song has an addictive set of lyrics in it that makes you sing it fortnightly, smaaartaaass. (Extra points for those who can tell me what movie that was from.)

Here I was, minding my own business, when all of a sudden I had the damn song stuck in my head. It's been that way for the past four or so years, man. I can't make the badgers stop.

Any video with that sort of staying power deserves our attention. Whether you're watching for the first time or the one-millionth; enjoy.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Movie of the week: Role Models

It’s been a few weeks since I got out to the movies, but last weekend I got to see Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Expect the review soon.

As for this week, there’s not a whole lot coming out in theaters or on store shelves to get me too excited.
Role Models, however, looks pretty funny. I just checked in on the early ratings and, so far, rottentomatoes.com has it at a rather respectable 70-something score.

Don’t go in expecting Apatow and you should be just fine.

Speaking of Judd Apatow, what’s the deal with this guy and comedies as of late? Sure, I’m guilty of this crime as of one paragraph ago, but why can’t folks go out and see a comedy these days without the obligatory Apatow comparison?

The guy makes great, funny movies, but seriously, his brand of comedy isn’t necessarily what I want to see all the time.

Why am I ranting about this? To draw out the post a little bit, that’s why. I figured I’d give you wonderful readers a little more bang for your buck today. I’m feeling generous, I suppose.

So, yeah, where was I?

Oh yeah! Go see Role Models…Or don’t. Word is, it’s no Apatow.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Games to get in November

Christmas is just around the corner and, well, that means 99.9 percent of the best videogames are coming out here in the last few months leading up to 2009.

November is looking a lot like October in that there is no way humanly possible to take in all this goodness in the next 30 days. Luckily, you’ve got almost another full year before the next unnecessary flood hits, so work at your own pace.

4th- Resistance 2 (PS3)
4th- Valkyria Chronicles (PS3)
7th- Gears of War 2 (360)
11th- Call of Duty: World at War (Everything)
11th- Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars (Wii)
11th- Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World (Wii)
11th- Red Alert 3 (360)
11th- Mirror’s Edge (PS3, 360)
16th- Animal Crossing: City Folk (Wii)
16th- Shaun White Snowboarding (All systems)
17th- Left 4 Dead (360)
18th- Castlevania: Judgment (Wii)
18th- Tomb Raider: Underworld (Every system, ever)
18th- Luminous Arc 2 (DS)
18th- Metal Slug 7 (DS)
18th- Rune Factory 2 (DS)
20th- Last Remnant (360)

Great googa-mooga, I’m spent. Your tastes may differ from mine, but these were my picks for games likely to be worth your money.

Wii surprises with a few titles that look decently entertaining. Way to go N! You gave gamers something to be excited about after only (counts on fingers) six months since your last good game.

It’s no secret Resistance and Gears are the big titles for most folks out there, but with games like Valkyria Chronicles, Call of Duty, Last Remnant and Left 4 Dead hitting shelves this month, the decision on what to buy could become a pretty difficult one.
If nothing else, you’ve got one heck of a Christmas list already started for you. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Nothing "little" about it: Little Big Planet review

Shameless plug: My PSN is eternalecho and the first level I created is called "The wall." Go play it!

I’ve only had Little Big Planet a week, but I’ve sunk 20 or so hours into it already. Having experienced the full spectrum of the title's Share, Play and Create features, I figure it’s time to give my review.

For me, almost everything about LBP is pure, unadulterated fun. The characters are adorable and extremely customizable, the worlds are charming and often astonishing and the soundtrack is catchy. Controls and navigating the game's three levels of depth takes some getting used to, but a little practice solved that problem for me.

At its core, LBP is a platformer. Aside from a few body movements, Sackboys can run, jump and grab onto stuff. That’s it.

Thanks to this simplicity, LBP works well as a pick-up-and-play title for those who are new to gaming. However, with the inclusion of more than 500 pick-ups and some surprisingly deep play mechanics built into many levels, LBP also offers a nice amount of challenge for the seasoned vets. Online or off, alone or with friends, the act of playing the game is a lot of fun.

When it comes to creating, it’s boggling how much players can do. Everything you see in the game was built with the ginormous number of tools at your disposal and figuring out how to use most of them proved quite easy. Plenty of initial mess-ups and obscenities, but after I got the hang of it, building levels became a joy. I think I may even be more addicted to building than playing at this point.

That’s probably the best thing LBP has going for it: imagination. If you want something, just figure out a way to build it. The sky is very nearly the limit.

Even better, once it’s been built, sharing is a snap. You simply post your level online and let the masses have at it. For those who prefer to stick to the running and jumping, this means the amount of new levels (coming out daily, mind you) are infinite. Sure, some player-created content is pretty bad. But the point is that it’s getting people to think, be creative and take part in a sort of community revolving around the game.

Of course, there are also a few missteps with the title. Online is still getting a few kinks worked out, but I’ve played almost problem-free for the past five days of my first week.
While the level select screen is cute (patches stuck all over the world representing player-built levels), the organization leaves much to be desired. I’d give anything for a simple list with various search criteria.

While building, several of the icons are too small to tell what they are. Not a problem if your inventory is small, but it can become a hassle once you start collecting several hundred random bits and pieces.

Finally, LBP uses a keyboard like that of the old PS3 firmware. You know; the cell phone style? I HATE this in a videogame. It makes typing a chore and I don’t understand why a proper board was not included.

Well, look at me going off on a rant yet again. Like I said with my Dead Space review, I only do this when I really, really like a game.

LBP is astounding. Period. The replay value is endless and what comes already on the disc is well worth the 60 bucks. I highly recommend you pick it up.

If you’re online, please be sure to give “The wall” a try.

Don't forget to vote!

Consider this your friendly reminder.

I'm not going to go on some tirade about how important it is to vote or anything like that. But here's the way I look at it--If you are old enough to vote and don't, you have no right to complain about anything political you had the opportunity to vote on. Ever...Ever-ever.

So, yeah. Go do it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday mini-movie: Heli-buzz edition

It's amazing what you find on the internet. Take this week's mini-movie, for instance.

I began my search with something like "hilarious accident" and eventually stumbled upon "guy nearly gets decapitated." Neat, right?

I can't imagine how the guy in the video must have felt when all was said and done. I would have probably cried for a solid week afterwards. Unrestrained, heaving sobs. Non-stop. One week.