Monday, September 28, 2015

Vermintide - A Grim World of Perilous Adventure

Greetings all.

It seems my demented lust for all things Warhammer has reared its head once more. Of the many projects I am tracking, Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide is one that really has sparked my interest in the extreme.

Warhammer Fantasy has long been the neglected child of all Warhammer gaming. Only a few (quite old at this point) strategy games, two failed MMOs and not much else to speak of. However Vermintide, Man O' War and Mordheim are all part of a new generation of Warhammer Fantasy games; each looking promising in their own right... but with this post I shall focus primarily upon the game in development by Fatshark.

Skaven - Delicious Murderable Skaven

Skaven have never been a race in Warhammer Fantasy I hav eliked very much. However their lore and diversity is nothing short of fantastic. Plus the Dark Lord within me has always had a soft spot for the Grey Seers.

In Vermintide you get to brutally massacre endless waves of Skaven, or die in the attempt. The thematic feel of the game is certainly getting Grimdark down right, and it has a very strong, quite proper, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay vibe to it as well.

In the game, expect to murder your way through hordes of lesser Skaven, who will cower in fear if they encounter you all by themselves; and occasionally tougher enemies like Stormvermin and Rat Ogres.

It is particularly thematically appropriate that this game, set in the End Times of the Warhammer Fantasy world, features Skaven as the main threat. While the dark heart within me hopes for additional expansions (Undead and Chaos come to mind), the Skaven were a faction that needed a lot of TLC IMNSHO and I do not begrudge their place first in line for this gore-fest.

Five Good Initial Classes - Characters with Attitude and Personality

A minor grievance I have with the game is that you are playing a pre-made character. However for story (and voice acting) reasons, I am willing to ignore this little quibble. The fine folks at Fatshark have done a good job of picking the first 5 available classes.

Naturally I am highly biased towards the Bright Wizard, being the only spellcaster of the lot, but each of the options has a strong appeal. Part of what makes these pre-made character so good in Vermintide, is that they are voiced and respond to one-another vocally and the ambient situation. A very nice touch, which adds in very nicely to the overall thematic appeal of the game itself.

Also the Dwarf seems well crafted.

I do have high hopes that other fun classes are added at a later date (post-launch of course). I suspect that the pool will only draw from the forces of Order, as having heroes who would be willing to work together to survive is a key element to the story behind the game. Even so, there are a lot of potential choices to contemplate.

A Grim World of Perilous Adventure

The look and feel of the game is quite phenomenal. It is kind of nice that a game like Vermintide is being created now, as PC hardware has finally gotten to the point where we can have a dark and rich environment that properly portrays the setting. I tip my proverbial hat to Fatshark here, they have adhered very closely to the source material, while leaving themselves plenty of room for experimentation and customization.

Ubersreik is rendered in rather wonderful detail. Fans of the artwork of Warhammer Fantasy, especially those works that show the cities of the Empire, should be quite pleased. The other regions shown off thus far are equally wonderful, each having a style, feel and flavor that is just dripping with deliciousness.

Combat in Vermintide looks to be quite visceral and deadly, not just for your enemies. Further commentary on this of course will have to wait till I have put my hands upon the game proper. However a lot may be gleaned from assorted videos on the Tubes.

Final Thoughts

Vermintide looks wonderful. I have pre-ordered a copy (from Steam) for my own future enjoyment. While I personally knew next to nothing about the developer before this game, I think that they have done a good job based on the evidence currently available.

I shall certainly be watching the development of this game very closely from now till launch. I heartily recommend any fellow Warhammer Fantasy fanatics to take a look, if they have not done so already.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Man of Steel: The Superman move we have Long Deserved

Greetings all.

Caught a showing of Man of Steel this weekend. I found the movie to be very enjoyable; far superior to the Superman Returns movie from 2006. Personally I think Man of Steel is even a better Superman movie than the ones done by Christopher Reeves. In my not-so humble opinion, this movie does a excellent job of being an origin film/reboot of the franchise as well as being a superhero action movie.

While some may disagree, I found the splicing of the childhood/backstory bits into select parts of the movie whole to work well. The intro sequence showing the fall of Krypton was also handled very well, setting up the initial mood and tone of the film and preparing the audience for the story and action to come.

On that note, the super-powered action of this movie is very well done. The masterful blend of CG and the actors in-play is something that could never have really been done before; outside of an animated feature of course. It is my opinion that this kind of Superman movie could not have been made prior to this point; a movie that does a good job of showing just how powerful Superman can be, as well as showcasing the kind of foes and challenges he should be pitted against.

Do not look to this movie for petty problems of a simple megalomaniac madman obsessed with economic schemes and land-grabs. An entity such as Superman deserves opponents who can challenge him; if not purely physically then by the scale of their menace or by their intelligence. For this first movie we see a bit of those first two; his strength tested as well as an assortment of foes of near-equal caliber. We will have to wait to see if further movies in this franchise will handle the  intelligence of the character with the same aplomb.

This movie finally gives the DC franchise a better leg to stand upon; matching the bar set by the Nolan Batman movies. One would hope that the tragic mistakes of Green Lantern are learned from (and that movie is ignored and not drawn upon for a sequel). This movie is primed for a sequel, and should be used as a key to unlock the rest of the potential inherent in the DC catalog of characters.

A little more time is needed before Green Lantern is tried again (and do it better next time!) but I think the stage is now set for a few of the other major IP's. In my not-so humble opinion, The Flash should be high up on the list of properties to try again. The super-speed combat demonstrated in Superman would transition well to a new movie about the fastest man alive.

What next for superman? Well this movie has set the bar; as a standalone hero (barring a Justice League movie) there are still threats and enemies to draw upon that are suited to the kind of cinematic storytelling possible. DC may wish to stay away from Darkseid however; as Marvel is already pursuing that goal with Thanatos and the Avengers/Galactic Guardians (I presume). Doomsday would work better for a later movie in the franchise (say the 3rd+) or for the Justice League to handle.

As (far as we know) Kryptonite is not an issue with this current Superman, so Metallo may not be a good choice. Right after Zod Braniac may not be thematically appropriate either. Mongol would only be a good choice if a Lantern reboot is in the cards. Luthor may have to be the villain of choice for the second movie; especially if he tries to match superman not just intellectually but also physically with advanced technology.

Do I recommend this movie? Hell yes. Well worth the price of admission.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

GU Comics: (almost) 13 years of hillarity and going

Greetings all.

It's rare for a Webcomic to last any length of time. Many fall by the wayside; and few of those who have tried to do it professionally have succeeded. One of my all-time favorite webcomics has always been GU comics; as the quality of the run has been good since the very beginning. My largest complaint is how some of the most recent material has diverged from the 'roots' of the comic in my opinion; but one must write (or in this case draw & write) about what one knows, neh?

As of July 10th next month GU Comics will be 13 years old unless I am quite mistaken. Thus far it has been a good run, but of late there have been concerns that Woody would have to call it quits. A professional webcomic artist (and artist, he does commissions) his comic used to be far more popular; but its readership waned... and more importantly the crash of the advertising revenue model really threw a spanner in the works.

Definitely worth a read in my not-so humble opinion. MMO and gaming veteran's may also get some good laughs from the older comics; it makes for a good stroll down memory lane.

Hot Sauce Review: Sriracha from Huy Fong Foods

Greetings all.

No, not a paid advertisement, just a little post about something very delicious. As a lover of spicy food (and sauces to make food better) I have been a user of this brand for quite a while. I do believe I first discovered it thanks to an awesome local Chinese buffet, and have been hooked ever since.

Some hot sauces, to my own tongue, do not really have a discernible flavor beyond the burn. Sure hot can be good, but not at the expense of taste. An ideal hot sauce is one that combines a high heat factor, with a good mouth feel and flavor. I must thus commend the folk at Huy Fong Foods for a good recipe and, more importantly, a quality that has sustained itself over years.

One bottle of hot sauce can be good, but it is even better when the level of quality of the product can endure for many long years.

Outside of restaurants, I have made use of Sriracha in cooking (as an ingredient) as well as an additive right at the table. It goes well with noodles and rice (of many sorts) and mixes well with Chinese, Japanese, Indian and other cuisines as well. Many a cheap microwavable oriental-flavored meal has been saved from mediocrity by a squirt of this red-deliciousness.

Don't expect a numerical rating of this product, as I do not tend towards those sorts of arbitrary numerical reviews. This stuff is good, try a bottle. If they stopped selling it in my area, I would be horrified. I like it, you may not, consider yourself warned as it can be very hot if applied in abundance.

Enjoy the burn.