Anime Review: Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis (Rage of Bahamut: Genesis)

Details: Fantasy show. Twelve episodes, about twenty four minutes per episode.

This is easily the anime with the best animation in Fall 2014.

That alone should warrant a watch, but the story itself is magical. Literally. It is of the fantasy genre. Demons, angels, dragons, zombies, and magic and stuff.

The story centers on a bounty hunter who has a chance meeting with a demon girl. Together they go off to search for the demon girl’s mother and get into shenanigans along the way.

It’s a fun story, with some sad moments. It definitely feels like something of the fantasy genre; a small party of people going on an adventure.

The most noteworthy aspect of this show is the animation. If you combined all the episodes, this could easily be a feature length movie you could watch in a theater. Once again, best animation of any Fall 2014 anime.

Score: 8/10 Funny and a feast for the eyes. Bravo, Geneon.

Comic Book Review: Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #12

Details: Published by Marvel. Official site: http://marvel.com/comics/issue/45811/amazing_spider-man_2014_12

I LOVE this event. It’s fun, and funny, even though there is a bunch of dying.

This is the most recent comic in the big Spider-Verse Marvel Comics event. The story isn’t worth talking about too much. Spider-Man is under attack from Morlun (an old enemy from one of my favorite Spider-Man stories), and Spider-Man must team up with the Spider-Men of all the parallel universes in order to stop him.

The main reason you read this comic is for the art and for the funny. It’s just awesome to see every conceivable variation of Spider-Man, from Japanese Spider-Man and pornstar Spider-Woman, to Cowboy Spider-Man and Spider-Pig, all engage in big action scenes.

A lot of the fun is just waiting to see what Spider-Man they’ll think up next, or make a reference to. Personally, I enjoy the Spider-Men who have mechas.

Score: 7/10 Fun story. Great art. What else do you want from a comic book?

Oh, and while this wasn’t drawn by Coipel, some issues in this event are, and I will read anything drawn by Coipel. Link to the preview site below. The image above was drawn by Coipel.

Video Game Review: Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut (2013)

Details: Science fiction, action-adventure, first person shooting game. Played for about fifty hours on the PC.

It’s clear that the developers tried their best to create a game which can be played through in its entirety multiple ways, with the goal being that a player can play however they choose. For example, you can go through this game without killing anyone or you can kill everyone. You can also specialize in stealth and avoiding detection, or you can specialize in hacking. Choices made during dialogues also have some weight and repercussions later on. For the most part, the game succeeds in this goal and you really can play mostly how you choose. Some methods are more difficult than others though.

Personally, I chose a combination. Sometimes I wanted to go guns blazing, sometimes I wanted stealth.

The first person shooting isn’t bad, but it’s not as refined as Battlefield 4 or whichever iteration of Call of Duty we’re in. It’s still fun though.

The stealth is fun as well, and gives a Batman: Arkham Asylum/ Metal Gear Solid feeling, though not as in depth as either games.

The pros easily out way the cons and I can easily recommend this game to people who enjoyed Metal Gear Solid, Mass Effect, and even fans of the Elder Scrolls series.

The only noteworthy negative is that the game relies heavily on hacking. In this game, you will often see a locked door or safe which can be opened by hacking, which consists of a simple, fairly boring mini-game. You don’t need to hack everything and the developers have created ways to progress and maneuver around hacking, but the benefits conferred by hacking almost force a player to hack everything they see. By the end of the game, I must have hacked over a hundred consoles. It was very, very boring.

Also of note, are the differences between the original game and the Director’s Cut version. The two major additions are the inclusion of the Missing Link DLC, which is now part of the main story and inserted chronologically, and the altered boss fights. Personally, the changes to the boss fights didn’t change me blowing them to smithereens, but the effort from the game developers is appreciated.

Score: 8/10 This was a like a toned down Mass Effect. Still fun. Ending reminded me of Mass Effect 3. Yes, Mass Effect THREE. Take that how you will.

Movie Review: Fury (2014)

Details: War drama starring Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, and Logan Lerman. Run time is two hours and fourteen minutes.

The movie was okay, but not worth its ticket price.

I’m not a fan of Brad Pitt or Shia Labeouf. Shia Labeouf’s public image is odd and makes his characters unconvincing. Brad Pitt has no range. People may enjoy looking at him, but he is the same character in every movie. He had no business being in Twelve Years A Slave. He was tolerable in this movie.

I will say Jon Bernthal was great. Actually, all the performances I’ve ever seen from him have been great. Walking Dead, Wolf of Wall Street, Bernthal adds credibility to a film and he does so here.

There are a number of ways to view this film.

It can be viewed as a poorly executed attempt at a historically accurate World War Two movie that tries to show the horrors of war.

It can be viewed as tank porn for tank-o-philes.

It can be viewed as an action B-movie with an excessive amount of violence.

If any of these appeal to you, then watch the movie. Otherwise, avoid wasting your time here.

Score: 4/10 Some of my friends enjoyed the movie after I told them it was bad. They likely enjoyed it because I set their expectations so low.

Discussion: My Thoughts On DOTA 2 – Not a Review, Just a Recommendation

There are few things as painful as playing an hours-long game of Dota only to lose at the very end.

For those who don’t know what Dota is, it is a video game that is free to play on the PC. The only things that require money in this game are vanity costumes which serve no purpose other than to look cool.

The game centers on two teams of five players trying to destroy the bases of the enemy team. Each player controls a character, known as a “hero,” and pushes lanes with waves of computer controlled units, known as “creeps.”

Here’s IGN’s review which may better explain the concept.

Over the last couple of years, Dota 2 (and games that belong to the MOBA genre generally) have skyrocketed in popularity and are played by millions of players in almost every time zone at all times. More recently, Dota 2 hosted the highest paying video game tournament of all time with a first place prize pool of ten million dollars (USD), largely funded by fans. It was an impressive feat.

In regards to my personal experience with the game…

If I include the very first iteration of Dota, which came out around a decade ago, I have played some form of Dota for over the last ten years. Countries rise and fall, as do buildings, corporations, and relationships, but this game has remained constant. Actually, this game has grown ever stronger.

In my opinion, the appeal of Dota 2 can be expressed in two main points.

First, this game is hella’ deep. There are so many damn aspects to this game that it is overwhelming for most new players, and likely what turns them away. After ten years of playing this game, there are still things for me to master and things at which I suck at. Even now, professional gamers (people who make their living winning video game tournaments) are still constantly learning and adapting, especially considering that new rules and characters are periodically implemented.

Secondly, this game is free. The only cost of entry is owning a computer that can run the game, which most computers are capable of. In contrast to Dota, League of Legends (the most popular MOBA game currently) requires money or an inordinate amount of time playing the game to unlock characters to play, among other things. Dota drops all of the game on you from the beginning, resisting the urge to construct artificial roadblocks to try and squeeze money out of the player.

Furthermore, there is a third reason. I don’t consider this reason as one of the main two reasons because it is irrational. It is irrational… how incredibly fun this game can be.

The reason this is irrational is because there are few games as painful as this game. I’ve screamed racial epitaphs because of this game. I’ve lost FRIENDS because of this game. This game has taught me a kind of anger I have not felt in any other situation. The closest feeling of anger akin to what I’ve felt in Dota would probably be the feeling of anger I’ve felt driving through bad traffic.

But I keep playing. I keep playing this game because when it is fun, it is so. Damn. FUN.

It is SO damn fun during those moments, those few fleeting moments, when you’re dominating the other team, and they are angry and yelling at you worse than an angry Samuel L. Jackson, but it doesn’t matter, because you are so powerful they have no chance whatsoever. And you crush them.

Or when you’re getting slaughtered by the other team for the last hour, and somehow, by some miracle, you and your team turn the game around and make the comeback to end all comebacks!

Or when you are playing with some people and… you just mesh. You all just understand each other and this game. You think it, they do it. They need it, you provide it. And you understand the magnificent miracle that is… teamwork. You realize that there are some things in life you can’t do yourself and you learn how great it is to have someone reliable in your life when you need them… to win at Dota.

Dota… a true microcosm of life. Fierce competition. Cooperation. Joy. Malice. Hatred. All of these things are present. However, there is one more thing I want to communicate.

For the most part, I do not recommend anyone play this game. I do not recommend anyone play games of this genre. And more specifically, I do not recommend anyone play this game with ME.

Because no matter how fun this game is, no matter how great those great moments are, they are buried under an even greater number of shitty moments that torture the mind and soul.

It is said that human beings define the world based on what something isn’t. For example, something is hot based on how not cold it is, and vice versa.

I only know the joys of Dota because of how mind-fuckingly awful this game can be. I know the true joys of cooperation and team work because Dota has taught me the true pain of relying on someone who fails you. Someone who then curses at you. Someone who is an incompetent idiot.

Dota is joy. Dota is pain.

And while I would not recommend this game to 99.99999% of people, there is a small minority to whom I would recommend this game.

I would recommend this game to those who are willing to try their best. And by “best,” I mean their absolute, play-dota-or-kill-yourself best.

I’m referring to people who have the time and energy to invest all they are into this game and its mechanics. People who can spend hours watching professionals play in hopes of gleaning some strategy or method to improve their own tactics. People of tenacity and grit. People who will not give up no matter how much the other players start to resemble pieces of shit.

In conclusion, Dota 2 is a game whose fun is only meant for the chosen few. The few who can push past the racial slurs, name calling, and verbal hurt inflicted by the toxic Dota 2 community. The few who can learn and memorize the characters and the many tactics associated with the game. The few who can and do sacrifice time spent in the real world for time in this cruel, violent, and harsh game.

Dota 2 is difficult. If you are strong, if you are smart, then I recommend you play this game. If you are weak, if you are stupid, then walk away.

Walk away and live your life, because there is no place for you in Dota 2.

Video Game Review: Tomb Raider (2013)

Details: Played on PC for about sixteen hours. Mature rated action adventure game.

What a brutal game.

I must have watched Lara Croft die around a hundred times, each time more horrific than the last. Below is a video of some of those painful moments.

It was awful. But it was also the main motivator of doing well in the game. The fear of having to watch Lara go through anymore of this horrific nonsense was terrifying. I felt the uncontrollable urge to protect her. Which I failed at. Excessively.

In regards to gameplay, the game was surprisingly fun. I went into the game not knowing what to expect, but was surprisingly entertained. There’s stealth portions, platforming, lots of shooting, puzzles, and lots of collecting for the obsessive compulsive of us.

I should also take note of Lara’s appearance. Historically, Lara was really a tomb raiding stripper. She had breasts that defied the laws of physics. In this game however, the design of Lara Croft is refreshingly practical. There can be some elements of sexiness if you want to read that into the character, but the story and design of her character set her up more as a survivor and a fighter. It’s a nice change from the Lara Croft of yesteryear who was essentially a porn star with guns.

Score: 7/10 Fun game. Lara Croft’s deaths made this game more horror than action adventure.

TV Show Review: The Legend of Korra – All Seasons (2012-2014)

Details: Four seasons that aired on Nickelodeon. Starring Janet Varney, P.J. Byrne, and David Faustino. An animated, action adventure show.

Spoilers ahead.

So… how about that ending?

Overall the Legend of Korra was a great watch. Some of my friends think it was the best show on television… I respectfully disagree. It was a fun ride.

But the one thing that needs to be discussed is that ending… that ending. LESBIhonest… that ending was disappointing. At first, I wondered if it was my own prejudice or discrimination, or my perspective through the “hetero lens (thanks Bryce),” but after more thought, it wasn’t that. It was that it was such a half-assed relationship that was barely developed before being dropped on us. My problem wasn’t that there was some ambiguous sexuality suggested in a kid’s show (although that may be something to think about). It was the lazy writing that did not develop the relationship further.

Part of the blame goes to Nickelodeon, because… well they probably don’t allow that kind of thing on shows aimed at kids aged four through ten. Still, it’s lazy writing.

Additionally, I hate when writers use what I call the “Dawson’s Creek Effect.” This is essentially (because there are a limited number of characters and writers/producers do not want to introduce more characters) when every conceivable combination of romantic relationship is explored between every character because… people like romance. First Bolin, then Mako, then Asami. Tenzin was probably next. In my opinion, it’s cheap, lazy writing.

In any case. I enjoyed the series and as much as I disliked the ending, it was a beautiful image. If nothing else, this show caused me to google and learn what a “ship” is (it’s short for relationship).

Score: 7/10 Good show. Nothing else like it on (American) television. Great art. Could do with less Dawson’s Creek Effect, but that’s true of most teen/kid’s shows.

Restaurant Review: Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare

 

Details: Located at 200 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201. The food is a combination of French, American, and Asian influences.

After reading an article on how incredibly racist Cesar Ramirez at Chef’s table is toward Chinese people, I thought to offer testimony as to my experience at the restaurant.

For those unfamiliar, Chef’s Table is (at the time I wrote this) one of only a handful of three-starred Michelin restaurants in the United States (there are around ten in the country), one of seven of such restaurants in New York City, and the only one in Brooklyn. The Michelin star is currently the gold standard in restaurant reviews and three stars is the most anyone can get.

Of note is the set up. The restaurant only seats around eighteen people with nine people per serving (Momofuku Ko has a similar set up, but has since lost its three star rating). Reservations are taken at least thirty days in advance (and only on Mondays) unless there are vacancies. The reservation system is somewhat standard for restaurants of this type and cost. Speaking of costs, everything is paid before the meal with total costs being around 300 US dollars (at the time of my meal).

The food is a combination of French haute and Japanese, a fusion. Dishes range from roast squab and truffles to sea urchin and Wagyu beef. They only serve dinner ( and only a couple of servings per  night). Dinner consists of fifteen to twenty relatively small dishes meant to showcase the Chef’s ability. The menu changes periodically depending on what chef Ramirez wants to do.

Now for my experience.

Arrival was fine and the staff was nice. The setting is intimate as you can see the kitchen and all food being prepared. What was disheartening was the rule against note taking and pictures. Afterwards, chef Ramirez would tell us that pictures were banned because of an unfavorable article written about him using a picture. I read somewhere else that note taking was to prevent people stealing his recipes. It sort of felt like being in kindergarten.

The food was very good, and may be the best meal I’ve ever had. Everything was delicious, but a few dishes were especially noteworthy.

The imported uni on toasted brioche with truffle sauce and a slice of truffle on top is something I will never forget. It was my favorite thing on the menu. I could have eaten twenty of those. Maybe more.

The chawanmushi with foie gras was interesting. The soup was almost entirely clarified butter.

The truffle cream risotto was the most comforting dish I’ve ever had.

The shiso sorbet was refreshing.

The wagyu beef… tasted like a very tasty sponge. With citrus.

In regards to who our fellow eaters were, seven out of the nine people on my side of the table were of Asian descent, likely Chinese. Two seemed to be fellow chef friends. Two others were regulars who were on their fifth visit to Chef’s Table. If Chef Ramirez hates the Chinese, he certainly didn’t show it then. He was reserved, but courteous.

Even more surprising, treatment of another class of individual was also  fairly respectful: VEGETARIANS. From what I observed, their food was also delicious (Chef’s Table accommodates vegetarians; don’t know about complete vegans) and they were treated no different from other customers.

Score: 8.8/10 Great meal, but I doubt I will ever return. There are other Michelin starred restaurants to visit.

Edit: Here’s a fast and dirty list of dishes, not in any order. It was written down from memory.

Uni with black truffle on brioche, chawanmushi with foie gras and seafood, oyster with truffle (mushroom gravy), Shiso ice cream, wagyu with daikon, turbo with green pea, koti kashi (rice) with black truffle, two sashimi dishes, two cooked dishes, caviar with cauliflower, lobster (not so good), soba tea ice cream, spiced iced cream with sugar globe, petite fours, and squab.

Movie Review: Lucy (2014)

Details: Action, science fiction film that runs for an hour and a half. Stars Scarlett Johansson.

Interesting concept. The execution needed a little work. Overall an interesting film with some action but is mostly science fiction.

Directed by Luc Besson, it certainly shows his style. I also enjoyed watching the guy from Old Boy shout in Korean.

The biggest negative is that there is no real point or theme to the story. It’s just an hour and a half long ride where you get to see some sites in Taiwan and Paris, with some special effects thrown in. Plus, there’s Scarlett Johansson for those who enjoy her.

Score: 6/10 Somewhat enjoyable, but I would not buy the DVD.

Video Game Review: Sleeping Dogs (2012)

Details: Played on PC for approximately twenty hours. A mature rated open world, action-adventure game.

To my surprise, I greatly enjoyed Sleeping Dogs. Though not as long as a Grand Theft Auto game, this works in favor towards creating a digestible length game that’s a lot of fun and accomplishes what it sets out to do.

To summarize the game in one line, Sleeping Dogs is a homage to Cantonese, crime, film making merged together with Grand Theft Auto’s gameplay.

As a homage to Cantonese film making, the game succeeds wonderfully. The set up of the story, though predictable, heavily refers to movies like Infernal Affairs. Considering how much I loved Infernal Affairs and the Departed (which is based on Infernal Affairs), this is not a bad thing.

I also enjoyed the constant insults and cursing in Cantonese being used. Hilarious and convincing, it adds authenticity and helps set the tone to the overall game. It was actually surprising to hear so much Cantonese being used since this was a very Western game using Cantonese films as source material.

Overall, it was a fun game that didn’t waste my time and had an engaging enough story to motivate me through the missions. By the end I was sufficiently motivated to beat the crap out of the bad guys and dispose of them in gruesome ways that may or may not have involved an ice chipper.

Score: 7/10 Would play again.