Quake LiveQuake Live

2009

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Quake Live is a free multiplayer FPS that you can play on your browser, and it is pretty fun.  It has a lot of the common game modes that most FPS’s would have, such as Capture the Flag, Team Deathmatch, Clan Arena, and FFA (free for all).  This game also has quite a few good maps, for all kinds of gamers. *Warning, the game is very fast paced and if you can’t focus, like me, then you might wanna play with bots more then online*.  They also have a “Practice” mode, that you play with bots, and change difficulty, most of the time, I play against bots because I am not really good enough to be a mediocre Quake Live player.  Even though it is a very good game, one of the major problems that pisses me off from time to time, and that is PunkBuster.  That doesn’t seem like it really is worth it to me.  It randomly would kick me for PunkBuster.  It is supposed to be an AntiHack program I think, but it kicked me several times in the first week for no reason.  Because if I was hacking, I would be good, but I don’t.

If you have any suggestions for Games/Movies/Music for me to reveiw, Email me at bkatula@project-11.com.

I give this game a 7.5/10

Worms 2 ArmageddonWorms 2 – Armageddon (Xbox Live Arcade)
Turn-Based Strategy

I want to begin my review by saying I have never played a Worms game before the first Worms on Xbox Live Arcade. I really liked that game (if only for the local multiplayer), but Worms 2 took what was already a really fun game and improved it in just about every area.

That being said…if you don’t like multi-player, I really wouldn’t recommend buying this game. It has an alright single-player campaign, but the only reason I went through it was to get coins so I can buy crap from the shop. The real draw here is the multi-player.

I haven’t played online multi-player too much, but from what I’ve played it seems perfectly fine and similar to local multiplayer. However, I’ve played a lot of local multiplayer on Worms 2…and it’s awesome.

There’s a standard mode where your objective is basically just to kill the other worms (up to 4 teams can play)…you can either be in teams for this or just do a free-for-all. There’s also forts, where one team is on a huge fort on one island and the other team is on a fort on the other island…this mode is really fun unless you have a worm holed up in the middle of the fort and he basically just sits there prodding the walls.

The most surprising multiplayer mode to me was Rope Racing. I say that because I hate using the rope in standard play, but here it’s pretty fun. In rope racing, every player gets one worm. They take turns using the rope until you climb the walls/cliffs/etc and reach the exit.

And if the standard modes don’t please you, you can basically create your own by choosing what weapons can be used…for example, nothing but girders/bridge kits and Armageddon (which can only be used after 10 turns). The winner is total luck, but it’s fun thinking you’re preparing yourself pretty well only to have a meteor come down and kill your dudes in one hit.

The original Worms had what I thought was a lot of weapons…I would guess about 20. Worms 2 doubles that, at least…and they don’t just use “filler” weapons either. Many of the new weapons* (concrete donkey, holy hand grenade, and poison strike to name a few) are really interesting and fun to use.

And as you can tell by the weapon names, another thing that I like about Worms is the fact that it doesn’t take itself seriously. There are too many games that are super serious and use nothing but dull colors and Worms is the total opposite. I wish more games could have a sense of humor like Worms does.

If you’re looking for a good 4-player local multiplayer game, you really can’t go wrong with Worms 2…it’s one of the top 5 local multiplayer games on the Xbox 360. And since it is only $10, it might be the best value on the system.

Score = 9.0/10

* = I realize these weapons were available in older worms games on other platforms…I’m talking strictly about the XBLA versions.

ZombielandZombieland – 2009
Comedy/Horror

Before watching Zombieland, I was unsure of whether or not I was going to like it. The only other movie I’ve seen starring Jesse Eisenberg is Adventureland — and that movie was a fraud. The trailers for that made it look like a pretty funny movie, but it’s not — the only funny parts in the whole movie are in the trailer.

Similarly, Zombieland is a movie that ends in “land”, stars Jesse “I only got this role because Michael Cera must’ve been busy” Eisenberg, and it had a funny trailer. Luckily, this trailer wasn’t false advertising; in Adventureland, when it felt like I was watching it for three hours I looked at the time and realized I was only watching it for ten minutes. In Zombieland, it felt like the movie just started a few minutes ago when it was ending.

Zombieland is a fun movie to watch; the 80 minutes just fly by. It doesn’t really feel like it drags at any moment. All four main characters are likable and I wouldn’t consider any of them annoying (which was a pleasant surprise because you’d figure that a 13-year-old girl in a zombie movie would be one of the whiniest, most annoying characters ever) — but the best character is easily Tallahassee, played by Woody Harrelson. Almost everything he does is hilarious (especially all of his interactions with Eisenberg’s character).

Three paragraphs in and I haven’t even talked about the action, which is probably the main part of the movie; it’s bloody, gory, and awesome. I hope that they never make a Dead Rising movie. In a world where Zombieland exists, a Dead Rising movie isn’t necessary at all — this is better than a Dead Rising movie could ever be.

Zombieland is probably the 2nd best movie I’ve seen from 2009 (with the best being The Hurt Locker). Even though it’s not the type of movie to get Oscar nominations, I would love to see it nominated for Best Picture since they upped the number of nominations to 10. That probably won’t happen, but Woody Harrelson should at least be nominated for Best Supporting Actor (if Robert Downey Jr could be nominated for Tropic Thunder, it’s possible).

Zombieland‘s the type of movie I’ll be glad to watch again when I don’t really feel like thinking about a deep meaning or a confusing plot; it is just a movie where you can turn your brain off for an hour and a half and really enjoy it.

Score = 9.5/10

Training DayTraining Day – 2001
Crime

The title of Training Day basically tells you what the movie is about – today is Jake Hoyt’s first day as a narcotics officer and he is being trained by veteran cop Alonzo Harris (played by Denzel Washington). This premise has been done a million times before, but Training Day is so over-the-top that it feels unique.

Hoyt (played by Ethan Hawke) is your typical “good cop”. He wants all criminals to be disciplined appropriately and wants to do everything the way they taught him at the academy. Harris, on the other hand, it the complete opposite…he only wants to go after “important” criminals (and later in the movie, you will see his reasons for doing so).

As soon as you’re introduced to Alonzo Harris, you can tell that he’s a pretty shady cop…and as the movie progresses, it becomes more and more evident that he is completely corrupt. So throughout the movie, Hoyt has to decide whether he wants to do what he thinks is right (and go against what Alonzo thinks) or if he should just go along with Alonzo so he can keep his job.

I really enjoyed Training Day, but honestly this is a below-average movie if Denzel Washington isn’t in it. His character is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting and entertaining chracters in film history. Ethan Hawke does an alright job, but there’s a reason Denzel won Best Actor for his role — he completely stole the show.

Score = 8.5/10

There Will Be BloodThere Will Be Blood – 2007
Drama

I didn’t think I was going to like There Will Be Blood. I figured it would be one of those movies that seem to be very well made, but just aren’t entertaining at all. I thought, “how exciting can a movie about oil in the early 1900s really be?”…luckily, I was surprised at how entertaining it was.

This movie is entertaining for one reason and one reason only: Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays oil tycoon Daniel Plainview. I expected Plainview to be a cliche businessman who doesn’t care about the lives of his workers and only cares about money…and while there is part of him that is like that, he’s a much more complex character. Whenever Plainview is speaking, he is very entertaining — and it’s a good thing that he has a lot of lines in this movie. Daniel Day-Lewis won an Oscar for Best Actor for this role, and it was well deserved.

As much as I liked Daniel Day-Lewis, I hated Paul Dano as Eli (who probably gets the 2nd-most screentime of any character). Eli plays a preacher…but not just any preacher; he plays the most annoying preacher I have ever seen ever. I’m not sure if Eli was supposed to be the “good guy”, but I certainly hope not. Whenever Daniel Plainview said or did something to make Eli look like a moron, I laughed. I could not stand Eli.

One more thing — the music in this film is unique. I feel mixed about it. Sometimes, the music really adds to the drama and it’s used well. Other times, the music does nothing but hurt my ears.

If some of the problems were fixed, this could’ve easily been a 9.5 or 10 from me…but I can’t overlook those problems.

Score = 8/10

Scream

I was prepared to hate Scream. Sure, it was a hugely popular and critically-acclaimed movie when it came out — but it also combines two genres that I hate (horror and “teen” comedy). So, I went into Scream with low expectations but I figured I should watch it since just about everybody else on the planet has seen it already.

One reason I typically don’t like horror films is because many I’ve seen seem shallow. Many either don’t have a good storyline, rely on excessive gore to scare the audience, or are just really cheesy and unrealistic. Scream is the opposite of all three. The storyline gets you interested within the first five minutes and keeps you hooked all the way until the very end (and by the way, this movie has an awesome ending). There is some gore, but if you’ve seen just about any horror film before the gore will seem pretty tame. And as far as horror movies go, this does seem fairly realistic. And this is a scary movie; there are quite a few spots that are really tense (often helped by the music).

The humor in Scream was another pleasant surprise. The main characters are high-schoolers, so I was expecting the “humor” to be raunchy; I’m not a fan of this type of humor because it usually just seems lazy (I’m looking at you, Superbad). There is a little bit of this, but for the most part the humor comes from the combination of irony (in one scene, Neve Campbell is talking about something you should never do in a horror movie…and in the very next scene, that’s exactly what she’s doing) and David Arquette’s chraracter being a wimp.

Even though I’ve done nothing but praise the film so far, Scream does have a few problems. One such problem is all the self-referencing it does. Throughout the movie, characters will say something like “This is like something you’d see in a horror movie!”…it’s kinda funny at first, but it seems like a character says something like that every five minutes. By the end of the movie, this gets annoying.

A slightly larger problem lies with the characters. There are three likable characters in the whole film — played by Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Henry Winkler. Everybody else is really annoying or just boring to watch. Luckily, either Campbell or Arquette are on screen for most of the film so this isn’t as big of a problem as it could have been.

This isn’t the best film you will ever see, but Scream is a fun movie to just put on and enjoy for a couple hours without needing to think too much. Everybody should see this no matter what your favorite film genre is.

Score = 9.0/10

In Bruges

In Bruges – 2008
Comedy/Crime/Drama/Action

I had no idea what In Bruges was about before I watched it. I just heard good things about it so I put it on my Netflix queue and one day I noticed it must’ve been next because they shipped it to me…but now I’m happy that I didn’t look at my queue beforehand and put something above it. This movie is awesome.

If you’re like me and have no idea what this movie about, here’s a quick overview: two hitmen (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) are sent to Bruges, Belgium. Something goes wrong, and one of the hitmen is ordered to kill the other.

In Bruges is definitely a dramatic movie since it has some scenes that are far more dramatic than in 90% of dramas…but it’s also hilarious. Most of the humor is in the dialogue, so if you are kinda just watching the movie in the background you won’t really think it’s funny…In Bruges is a movie you have to pay attention to in order to fully appreciate it.

Before this movie, I never really liked Colin Farrell. I thought he was a crappy actor…but he’s excellent in this movie. I think he should have been nominated for Best Actor (I looked it up and saw that this movie only received one Oscar nomination…that’s a travesty). Just about every time Farrell is on screen he says something hilarious…not only that, but he can actually act well in the dramatic scenes.

There isn’t really anything wrong about In Bruges; the only reason I didn’t give it a 10 is because I reserve 10s for what I think are the best movies ever made…and In Bruges isn’t one of them. That said, it’s a very entertaining movie and I’ll definitely watch it again.

Score = 9.5/10

Final Fantasy X

Final Fantasy X might be my favorite game of all-time. If it isn’t, it’s easily in my top 5 at least.

The main focus of the game is battling with a traditional turn-based system; there are enough unique features in this system that make it unique and actually fun to fight. For example, there’s the bar that shows you the exact order of what character is going to move next. In many turn-based RPGs, you just have to hope “I really really hope my dude attacks before my enemy or else I’m screwed”…in FFX, you can gameplan for that because you pretty much know when each character is going to move (as long as speed-altering moves like haste aren’t used).

Another thing I like about the battle system is how you have 7 characters (though only 3 can fight at a time), and every character is useful in some way. Tidus is well-rounded and fast so he can hit quick enemies; Wakka has range so he can hit flying or far-away enemies; Auron is a typical warrior-type that can deal out a lot of damage and take a lot of damage; Yuna is a white mage who can heal, and she can also summon aeons which probably makes her the most useful person in the game; Lulu is a black mage so she can take out elemental-type enemies that the rest of your party struggles with; Rikku has some special uses since she can steal from enemies and use items the other party members can’t use; and Kimahri…well, he’s blue I guess.

Graphically, the game is awesome for the PS2. The standard graphics in the game are above average, and then there’s “GOOD GRAPHICS” (inside joke) for a lot of the cutscenes, and those graphics are amazing. The music in FFX is just as good, if not better, than the graphics. Some examples:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jcxFiQol_E
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4iwYgd9N3Y

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a game that has better music than Final Fantasy X (not including music/rhythm games like Guitar Hero).

Continuing with sound…this game has voice acting by all of the characters who are at least somewhat important (random citizens in towns don’t). Some of the voice acting is very good, but some of it is really bad (Yuna)…and there’s a scene in the middle of the game where Tidus and Yuna are laughing, and it’s probably one of the worst cutscenes in gaming history. I have to watch it on mute.

Speaking of cutscenes, one thing I didn’t really like is how you couldn’t skip cutscenes. I like the story, but sometimes you just want to skip them. For many bosses you don’t save after the cutscene…you save before it. That means on some of the more difficult bosses, if you die you have to load the game back up and watch the whole cutscene again. I don’t think any of these types of cutscenes are more than 10 minutes long, but it would still be nice to skip.

If you get bored of the turn-based JRPG battle system, Final Fantasy X has plenty of sidequests for you to do…some of these include blitzball (basically an extreme version of water polo), monster arena (where you can “capture” enemies in the wild and then create new, extremely strong enemies to fight), and chocobo racing. Doing well in these side quests allow you to receive new items. I personally like Blitzball the most…if they wanted, they could’ve probably tweaked Blitzball a little bit and sold it as a standalone game for $15 or $20. My only complaint with blitzball is that your team seems to level up more than the other teams, so after a while you basically just blow out every team you face.

I know I complained about some things in the game in this review…but that’s not enough for me to take off half a point. Final Fantasy X is a near-perfect JRPG.

Score = 10/10

district-9District 9 – 2009
Sci-Fi

With unknown actors and an unknown director, I wasn’t sure what to think of District 9 before seeing it. It didn’t help that the trailers were extremely vague. That said, I’m happy I took my chances and saw it.

The trailers really just show what the first 20 minutes of the film are like. After that, there’s a big twist that really changes the rest of the movie and makes it so much more interesting.

Another interesting thing about District 9 is that the aliens aren’t really the antagonists. By the end of the movie, it’s almost like they’re the “good guys” and the humans are evil. Maybe it’s just because I saw Schindler’s List a week before watching District 9…but the way the aliens are treated reminded me a lot of the Holocaust; they were evicted from their homes with no warning, they were shot for virtually no reason, things like that.

There’s a reason this movie is Rated R; characters drop the f-bomb in basically every sentence, and it’s one of the bloodier movies I’ve seen in a while. That said…the action scenes are some of the coolest action scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie…my personal favorite is when an alien literally just rips a human’s head off using its “hands”.

After saying all of that, I admit that District 9 is not perfect. The first half-hour or so of the movie had me a little bored…but I’m glad that I hung in there because the second half of the movie is awesome. My review hasn’t even touched on some of the more minor parts of the plot (such as Nigerian gangs completely taking advantage of the aliens).

The ending of the movie strongly implies that there will be a sequel…and I hope that District 9 is enough of a success so a sequel will be made; I definitely want to see it.

Score = 9/10

dirtyharryDirty Harry – 1971
Crime

I understand that Dirty Harry is highly influential…guys like Jack Bauer wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Dirty Harry. If I was around when this movie first came out, I’d probably give it a 9.5/10. That said…it doesn’t hold up.

The story of Dirty Harry is this, basically: Harry Callahan is a cop who doesn’t like to take orders and he wants to solve crimes his way. But by today’s standards, Harry doesn’t really seem edgy. And for what was one of the most violent movies of its time, by today’s standards Dirty Harry seems relatively tame.

However, Clint Eastwood is Clint Eastwood…he’s great in basically every movie he does. And this scene is still awesome:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maBJzJgYjto

I know I referenced the TV show 24 already, but I’ll do it again. One thing that makes that show so entertaining is that the terrorists (the main ones at least) always look tough and very intelligent. I can’t say the same for Scorpio, Dirty Harry’s antagonist. He’s the wimpiest serial killer I’ve ever seen. He basically does nothing but cry and whine for the whole second half of the movie. I guess that makes him easy to hate, but I would’ve liked to see Dirty Harry try to catch someone who wasn’t such a woman.

So to conclude…Dirty Harry is highly influential and it’s still not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination. But, when you compare it to modern action movies like The Bourne Identity, this doesn’t even come close.

Score = 5.5/10