Sunday, December 21, 2008

This week's video game releases

If THIS isn't the most under-whelming list you've ever seen...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This week's comic book expectations

It's a bit of an unspectacular week, which is surprising, since the next two weeks (Christmas eve and New Year's eve) are historically slow weeks as well. You can be the judge yourself by clicking on THIS LINK to the whole list.

The main storyline of the week is "Secret Invasion" cleanup. If you were like me wondering "Earth won the battle in New York so they won the war? Really?" then you should pickup Avengers: The Initiative #19, where the assembled "Kill Krew" takes on the Skrulls across the nation. Personally, I feel like this issue would have been better off two weeks ago alongside "Secret Invasion #8," but whatayagonna do?

Next, Dark Reign: New Nation #1 updates us on the status of storylines following the Invasion, including the Secret Warriors, the Agents of Atlas, Ronin, Mockingbird and the Skrull Kill Krew. Mighty Avengers #20 does the same for the more recognizable Marvel heroes, with a guest appearance by a Thor who was quite peeved last we saw him two weeks ago.

Lastly, Invincible Iron Man #8 covers the change in status quo for Tony Stark. The man has sure dropped a long way in recent weeks, from commander of S.H.I.E.L.D. to... "most wanted" (according to the title of the story arc). Personally, I could give a damn about Stark since all he's been completely out of character for a couple of years now, but if you've been a fan of the Golden Avenger, this is must-read stuff.

It's also a pretty big week for the X-Universe, highlighted by X-Men: Kingbreaker #1, a book I've been eagerly awaiting since Vulcan took Havok and Lorna hostage. Frankly, think over the crap we've read in "Uncanny X-Men" over the past few months. Wouldn't it have been much better to get this space sequel faster than this? Vulcan, and the Shi'ar storyline is just about the most under-used plot thread in comics, especially since we've been mucking through this Madelyn Prior/Helfire Cult junk on the mothership. I'm looking for "Kingbreaker" to be the X-event of the year.

X-Men Legacy #219 should also be pretty strong, featuring Xavier's reunion with his "Dead Old Stepbrother" (quote taken from the 1989 X-Men cartoon "Pryde of the X-Men").

Over at DC, Supergirl #36 should be the issue of the week. Yes, Supergirl #36! Who would have thunk it a couple of months ago? With the Brainiacbots attacking in Kandor and Kara's Mom acting like Momma Petrelli, the Girl of Steel has a whole lot of stuff going down. If she were in a Will Smith movie, Will would have came in about now, taken off his sunglasses and said "This shit just got real." This issue promises to feature a rampaging Kara, something we haven't seen done well in a long time.

I'm also pretty excited for Robin #181. We still don't know what Spoiler has been up to, we still don't know the fate of Red Robin, we still don't know how the Gotham Police Department is going to resolve it's inner problems -- and did I mention Robin might have been blown up? Robin's latest arc has been fantastic, and a fantastic precursor to the "Battle for the Cowl," and it seems like this issue will be required reading for fans of the Bat-Universe.

Heroes Report: Volume III Finale

So, the third "Volume" of "Heroes" came to an end last night. And I put "Volume" in quotation marks because, it hit me while watching these storylines "climax" last night that this whole season has just felt like one disjointed episode after another, not a cohesive story.

True to form, "Heroes" ended this first half of season three in sea of nonsensical events, not the least of which was technically the beginning of Volume Four: "Fugitives."

(Spoiler Warning)

Let me get this straight. At the end of Season Two, Nathan is all set to tell the world about abilities. He then saw the error of his ways to the point where he technically became the leader of a group trying to give thousands of people abilities. Now, after being thwarted, he wants everyone with abilities to be hunted down. That's a logical character arc. Almost as logical as Peter and Nathan's new relationship.

Speaking of Peter, very convenient that he regained his powers at the last minute, huh? That fit nicely before 10 p.m., eh?

I think the bigger problem, though, is I feel like the writers are so strapped for good ideas that they've decided to bring back one of their alternate future stories and go the route of "Nathan is evil President, Peter leads the resistance, HRG helps kids stay covered, blah blah blah." Why else would they have Nathan positioning himself like he was at the end of this episode?

And, not to get overly geeky here, but I am a firm believer that Sci-Fi needs to adhere to its own set rules in order to make sense. "Heroes" established a rule that the future is very uncertain and can always be shaped, which is where the whole "seeing the future, change the future" recurring storyline comes from. Why, then, do we keep on getting these HORRIBLE stories with Hiro in which he goes into important parts of his past, screws everything up, and somehow everything is still hunky-doory? Again, not to get overly geeky, but Hiro splitting that formula in two is a MAJOR rift in reality.

P.S. Amazing how Daphne learned how to precisely find someone 16 years in the past so quickly, eh? That wrapped up very conveniently before 10 p.m., huh?

And I guess that brings us to "Saw VII." Oh, wait, I mean, that brings us to Sylar in the Company House. I know the fanboys out there probably loved this crap. But come on. Every aspect of this story was directed like a cheesy action flick:

Claire has just six bullets but she wastes one on the phone.
Bennett decides to split the quartet up just to better protect an evil old hag he has no true connection to.
They are held in the building by bars on the windows, and they have someone who could have just MELTED the bars away.
Bennett thinks of melting/shooting the bullet-proof glass only after Claire shows up.
Somehow, a fire in the supposedly impenetrable cells causes the building to explode.
When the building is exploding, Claire and HRG do the running down a hallway with the explosion behind them thing... but there was no easy exit at the end of that hallway, they showed the hallway earlier in the episode. And I like that they did have an easy exit only after Sylar was "dead."

But, of course, Sylar is not dead, since we already have heard all about how Sylar will be meeting his true father in Volume IV.

What made the first season fantastic were two things:

1) Though these characters were "Special," for the most part, their problems were not only realistic, but within the realm of what us normal people could say "we could do that if ...."

2) The writers had a clear vision of the story they wanted to tell. They told it, took their time, and didn't worry about what the Internet had to say since most of the episodes were done already.

Lately, we've gotten nothing but confusing out of reach stories, breaking the set rules of the "Heroes" universe, and overly dramatic (not in a good way) episodes that are clearly pandering to what the Internet "wants" (if it's possible for the Internet to have one cohesive opinion).

And did I mention almost ALL of the new character we met this season were not just dispatched, but they were Killed? Way to ruin potential future stories, boys. When people say they want more death on "Heroes," they're talking about the characters that constantly come back from the dead, not the characters you could easily jettison from the storyline to use another day.

Frankly, I've said it before, I'll say it again, this show is almost beyond saving, as long as there are so few genuine stories and so little tension. What a disappointment.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Johns leaving 'Justice Society'

You've likely heard by now, but it does bear repeating, Geoff Johns is leaving "Justice Society" after issue #26. I just read a good blog post on Newsarama's site basically eulogizing Johns' time with the team and his career as a whole. HERE'S A LINK TO IT.

I'm actually pretty broken up about the change, and yes, I do feel like a fanboy for admitting it. Since I was little, the Justice Society has always been my favorite DC team. I think it began with me thinking Jay Garrick's helmet was hilarious, but as my maturity as a reader evolved, so did my understanding of exactly what the JSA means to the DC Universe, and what it means in the mainstream world. Because, just as the team's role is to help along young heroes in the DCU, I cannot think of a team better suited for teaching a young reader about human heroism than the JSA.

No writer has ever understood that purpose like Johns, and because of it, no writer has understood how to best put all their pieces together and create heartfelt stories for the team like Johns. I'm just hoping Johns' time with the team has taught whoever is taking over writing duties what the JSA is all about, because we all need a team like the JSA to brighten the endless sea of "Anti-Life"/"Who can you trust?"/"Who raped Sue Dibney?" flooding the market.

Anyway, that's enough fanboy ranting from me. As always, we'll see what happens and go from there. Here's hoping this isn't another Warren Ellis/Simone Bianchi/"Astonishing X-Men" situation.

Kryptonian Blankets

Get a load of THIS COMMERCIAL on Youtube... is it just me, or does this make people look like they're wearing Kryptonian Clothing?

(and yes, I realize what a dork I am for immediately thinking this)

Buy Pile Report: Final Crisis

I think the most remarkable thing about this week's Final Crisis #5 is that it will thrill fans of the series like no issue before it, and yet it will do nothing to silence the naysayers.

By far, this is the best issue Morrison has produced yet, with progress on several different fronts, like Hal Jordan's trial, Nix Uotoan's exile, Mister Miracle's plan and, oh yeah, Darkseid's rebirth, all of which is being stated in a much clearer manner than Morrison has employed in the past (a product of the delays and possible editorial influence?). And with all those story points, Morrison still managed to fit a good deal of action into the pages, just as much if not more than any issue yet.

The best part is — and it's the answer to the prayers of many of us readers — despite the fact that Morrison is a little more transparent than in the past, he still was able to hold his cards close to the vest when it comes to major story beats. Sure, we may have had a few New-Gods-in-humans identities hit us square in the face this issue, but we still don't know what Mister Miracle's plan is and we even don't really know what is next in Darkseid's plan.

By the way, 17! You'll get it when you read it.

The problem, though, and this is the reason why this issue will not change readers' opinions of the series too much, is this felt a lot more like a fourth issue of seven or maybe even a third issue of seven. It still took Morrison entirely too long to reach this point, and it still feels like there is no way he will be able to adequately pull all his strings together in just the two issues he has left. (and all those delays certainly turned a good deal of readers off, I am sure).

In fact, I spent the entire morning re-reading ALL of the "Final Crisis" books and the tie-in series, just because I had felt like I forgot so much in the interim of the delays. And the fact is, it did read MUCH MUCH better as a complete work... or at least half of a complete work. I think part of the reason for that is "Countdown" is very far away in the rear view mirror. But, that doesn't really matter because if I wasn't such a hardcore DC fan, I'm pretty sure I would have dropped this series pretty quickly, or at least wouldn't have come back after this long break.

Anyway, I do encourage any of you naysayers to give Final Crisis #5 a look, since it was as strong as we all hoped each issue would be. I just fear this is too little, too late.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This week's comic book expectations

CLICK HERE for the full list of comic releases for the week.

When you think about DC crossovers of the past, you think "Crisis on Infinite Earths," and "Legends," and "Zero Hour," and "Final Crisis," and... wait a minute. "Final Crisis" is still going.

Contrary to the popular rumor started by DC's HORRIBLE shipping schedule, "Final Crisis" and all its bi-products is still going on, as the series (finally) makes its return on Wednesday. And if you think I'm exaggerating, I just looked it up -- the last "Final Crisis" book to hit the stands was "Final Crisis: Resist" on NOVEMBER 5!

Still, this week we're treated to the series' big return, making the book I am most looking forward to on Wednesday Final Crisis #5. Just as a quick recap: Humanity is screwed, Darkseid took over for Dan Turpin, Batman is captured, Superman off in the Multiverse -- and they're still printing the Daily Planet. Who said Newspapers were outdated?

So what are we looking for here? Well, Barry Allen still has that plan of his, Mr. Terrific and Alan Scott are still holding down the fort, and we've still yet to see who the biggest bad guy of all is (it's supposedly not Darkseid!).

Final Crisis: Revelations #4 is also scheduled to hit stands, and frankly I think this tie-in series has been stronger than the main book. Cain has risen in the form of Vandal Savage, and he's coming after a little revenge on the Spectre. But more than the action, this series has excelled in putting a few very biblical figures into uncertain, even human, conditions, to the point where they are questioning what they know... and that's always fun to read! Greg Rucka has also succeeded in showing off more of a cross section of what this post-Anti-Life world has been like.

DC is far from finished with their big books this week, though. Justice League #27 marks the return of the Milestone characters to the DC universe, and the JLA is going to meet Icon and Hardware first-hand. Unfortunately, this is also (eventually) going to mean Milestone characters on the JLA roster. And while I know there are plenty of Milestone fans out there, as far as I am concerned there are more than enough good DC characters going unused that we don't need these guys on the JLA. Oh well, I guess.

Booster Gold #15 is Dan Jurgens first issue at the helm since his original series was canceled at issue #25. I am very excited about this, only because I'm always worried when one of my favorite series loses its writer (in this case, Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz left after the 12th issue), so the fact that Jurgens, the series artist and the character's creator, is taking over is just about as good as it could get. On top of that, this issue features a fan-favorite character, which shows off the value of time-traveling stories, Ralph "Elongated Man" Dibney. Gotta love the old JLI connection.

Speaking of old creators coming back, Detective Comics #851 is the first of a two-part story (part two is "Batman #683") written by Denny O'Neil! The story, called "Last Days of Gotham" under the "Last Rites" banner, promises to look at how Gotham City has changed in the absence of Batman... who we still aren't sure of his fate... should be a good read, nonetheless.

And all that doesn't even mention Action Comics #872, part seven of "New Krypton," which will feature Kal freeing other cities from Brainiac's ship and Lex Luthor experimenting on Brainiac himself... which is just never a smart idea.

There isn't NEARLY as much from Marvel this week, although there is one issue I am guessing just about every mainstream comic fan is going to have to pick up, Secret Invasion: Dark Reign #1. Brian Bendis promised this issue would better explain what each member of this dark Illuminati (I am sick of that word) has to gain, which is good, since I don't see what Emma Frost or Doctor Doom are doing there (since Emma is supposed to be a good guy and Doom shouldn't be lowering himself to their level), but it should still be an interesting explanation. Of course, we won't get the explanation I really want from Bendis, which is how he could possibly screw up a great idea like "Secret Invasion" so royally.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

This week's video game releases

The just-before-the-holidays slow period begins. CLICK THIS LINK for the list of video games out this week.


CLICK THIS LINK to go to and see the new upcoming innovative game from 5th Cell (the company where, to my knowledge, Our Lady of Lourdes graduate Steve Chiavelli works).

It's called "Scribblenauts," and where 5th Cell's previous title "Drawn to Life" invites players to drawn their own characters and vehicles, this game supposedly will let us write down any tool we can think of to solve a problem, and the tool will come to our player.

In the trailer, the examples shown range from using a ladder to get a star out of a tree to using a Beaver to cut the tree down to using a donut to lure a cop to get the star down for you.

How cool does this sound (in theory)? The game is set for a Fall 2009 release.

I e-mailed Chiavelli tonight and I'm hoping that he A) Is working on this game and B) can give us an inside interview. We'll see!

Buy Pile Report: Secret Invasion

Again, I apologize for the tardiness, but I did want to make sure to get on here and weigh in on Secret Invasion #8.

Coming into this event, I was burnt toast when it came to Marvel's events. "House of M" was a miserable failure that took entirely too long. "Civil War" felt rushed, overly theatrical and miniscule in scope. And could "World War Hulk" be anymore anti-climactic? All the while, Marvel has pumped tie-in issue after tie-in issue onto the market.

And my biggest problem with all of these tie-ins was that while the stories took 10 minutes to read, all told, none of them had a true ending, opting instead of roll the end of the story into the upcoming Marvel books — which I would be OK with, if Marvel then took some time to explore the world those consequences had created.

After "Civil War," Marvel only took a year or so (which is about two weeks in comic time nowadays) to explore this Registered World. After "World War Hulk," just about nothing was changed.

Which brings us to "Secret Invasion," a tie-in which I simply could not resist, despite how burned-out I was, just because the potential of this Skrull inserection was endless.

Eight issues and countless tie-ins later, I am more then underwhelmed. Brian Bendis successfully established a tone of mistrust (I refuse to use the tagline Marvel shoved down our throats) and, in the first couple of issues and tie-ins, established a tone of hopelessness.

But then Marvel refused to live in that world. Suddenly Reed Richards showed up, fresh off of his torture, with a magic gun to show who is a skrull and who is a human. What luck! Suddenly Tony Stark, fresh off being drugged and sick as a dog, had a backup suit and he was magically cured of his ills.

It all just wrapped up way too easily. And instead of being wrapped up in a blaze of glory, all of this issue was a setup for Marvel's next big thing "Dark Reign." The whole issue was narrated past-tense in order to set up the "Dark Reign" reveal.

Is it too much to ask for a contained story that actually fulfills its promise?

All this series was was a good setup and one good battle, followed by a promotion to spend more money. Say what you will about DC's events, but at least they FEEL over, even if plotlines carry over from one event to the next. Marvel just refuses to pay anything off, even when it has a GREAT idea.

No, check that, Brian Bendis refuses to pay anything off. No wonder the only thing he writes that I can stomach is "Ultimate Spider-man." The man has milked more money out of comic book readers and has given less in return than any writer in history.

Heroes Report (finally): The Eclipse Part 2

I haven't had very much time this week (as the tardiness of this post shows), but what I really wanted to do for this post is go into Microsoft Paint and put together a little image of Hiro on a motorcycle jumping over a shark tank.

You get what I mean.

As if this third season has not been shaky enough, I believe television historians (yes, they exist) will look back on this past Monday's episode of "Heroes" as the classic "Jump the Shark" moment.

Honestly, folks, Seth Green and Brecken Meyer as comic book geeks guiding Hiro on his way? Is this honestly what we've come to? Two comic book shop workers reading "9th Wonders" to tell the audience that powers will return at the end of the eclipse? Really?

I mean, it's bad enough that these plot-device issues of "9th Wonders" should not exist, and it's even worse that somehow This Issue is suddenly the new last issue of the series and there's this ridiculous storyline of finding this bike messenger, that's bad enough, but did these writers honestly felt the need to pander to the fanboys out there with this comic book shop meta-moment instead of moving the plot along in a meaningful manner?

Look down, Hiro, there's a shark below!

And on the topic of bad writing, for the sake of argument, let's go along with the idea that eclipses cause powers, and let's go along with the idea eclipses can likewise take away powers, and let's even go along with the idea that an eclipse can happen simultaneously everywhere on the planet... you're trying to tell me in all these years of people having powers, they've never noticed they are powerless during eclipses? What about Adam Monroe? The guy shriveled to dust as soon as Daddy Petrelli took his powers... shouldn't Monroe have turned to dust at the first eclipse after he turned the age of, oh, 200 or so?

If you shut your brain off this week, there were certainly some fun moments. Unfortunately, upon ANY examination, these moments don't hold up.

1) Bennett had a kill shot on Sylar at the end of last episode, and instead he apparently watched Sylar and Elle do the deed before taking his shot? And when Bennett finally did kill Sylar, he didn't cut out the back of his head (the only truly vulnerable part on a healer)?

2) The whole Sylar killing his girlfriend Elle bit was cool and all, but she had YET ANOTHER change of personality right before that, trying to tell him he could be a good guy again. Wasn't she just encouraging him to be bad?

3) Sure, the idea of Claire having no immune system is cool, but since she supposedly got her powers from the eclipse, shouldn't she have built up like 17 years of an immune system before the eclipse?

4) Peter takes a gun and looks like a pro... with what experience, exactly? Isn't he a nurse?

5) Nathan watches a man with powers turn a country into slaves... he then decides the only answer to the world's problems is giving more people powers. I like the whole idea of him being used by people left and right, but he's not THAT STUPID.

And now this coming Monday's episode is being touted as the major climax. Of What? If anybody would like to give me an answer, be my guest, because right now I feel like there has been absolutely no cohesive build up to anything worth paying off in this supposed big important episode.

I may be done with this show very very soon, and I don't think I'm the only one, if my Shark friend has anything to say about it.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

This week's comic book release list

OK, it's been another monster week for me, so I apologize again for being tardy and uninformative. I promise, starting tomorrow (it's Wednesday night at 3 a.m. right now), I will get back on the ball with not only the Buy Pile Report, but also the tardy Heroes Report (come on, with as horrible an episode as we got on Monday, could I not weigh in?).

For now, check on THIS LINK to the list of this week's comic book releases.

Here are the Highlights:

1) Batman #682: The Beginning of "Batman Last Rites" ... don't you need an explanation as much as I do?

2) Justice Society #21: The penultimate issue of the "Kingdom Come" sequel. Will the JSA worship GOG?!?

3) Secret Invasion #8: The big throwdown finishes, but who will survive? And, will the skrulls stay on Earth for the foreseeable future?

4) X-Infernus #1: My favorite crossover of all-time gets the sequel treatment 20 years later. I didn't need to read the horrible 14-page preview online a few days ago to know I am VERY uncertain about this one ... still can't turn away, though.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Funeral for a Friend

CLICK THIS LINK for the full epic tale of one fan's Xbox 360 funeral service, one of the funnier bi-products of the Three Red Lights plague sweeping the world. Here's one of the pics, to give you a taste:

I think my favorite part of all of this are the captions. "Master Chief was strong and supportive the entire funeral, but when all systems said their final goodbyes and left, Master Chief couldn't keep his composure any longer."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

This week's video game releases

THIS LINK is your list of this week's new video game releases.



NBA teams using 'NBA Live' for scouting

Get a load of THIS LINK!

It's an LA Times story that says NBA general managers and scouts are using "NBA Live 09" and the "Dynamic DNA" feature to accurately research a player's tendencies and a team's strategy.

The only thing more remarkable than the story itself is that NOBODY at the LA Times realizes "NBA Live 08" is NOT the latest edition of the series. In fact, "09" is the first game in the series to feature the story's topic, "Dynamic DNA." Silly Rabbits.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Recent Gaming in the Journal

If you haven't been reading the Poughkeepsie Journal in the last couple of days, you've missed A LOT! We not only ran our normal Saturday Gaming page today, we also ran one yesterday special for Friday's paper.

Two Gaming pages in Two Days! KA-KOW!

If you head over to you can see all the stories we ran in the last couple of days:

1) A review of "Sonic Unleashed," half of a great game.

2) A review of "Shaun White Snowboarding," which I didn't play, mostly because Shaun White grates on me, but another writer in the Gannett Family did play it, so I got his review on our special super-duper Gannett Wire.

3) A column on how game publishers are trying to curb used-game sales.

4) A column on how the Wii really needs more hardcore games.

5) The weekly Fantasy Football column.


Friday, November 28, 2008

DC Without Superman and Batman

I don't know where I've been that I missed this, but apparently it's already common knowledge that 2009 in DC will feature a World Without a Superman. Apparently, that will be the title of James Robinson's stories in "Superman," while Geoff Johns is off of "Action Comics," which will feature Flamebird and Nightwing. It's all HERE in this Newsarama interview.

And remember, with the happenings of "Batman R.I.P." and "Final Crisis," DC is also going to be without Bruce Wayne for some time.

Here's my question: Is DC happy with being second in sales?

The Superman world had just become relevant — and even good — again. Johns' "Action" was a must-read book every month, James Robinson brought another big name to "Superman," and the inclusion of "Supergirl" into that world had even made Kara relevant for really the first time. And now DC is turning the world on its ear.

The Batman world shakeup felt organic. Granted, I wasn't the biggest fan of "R.I.P.," but Robin, Nightwing and Spoiler were all put into the necessary places for the next steps, and I find myself excited for the "Battle of the Cowl" story. I don't know, maybe when "New Krypton" is over, Clark Kent's absence will feel organic as well, but for now, it feels out of left field.

But the bigger problem here is, does DC really want two of their three heavy hitters out of the picture while the company trails Marvel by such a margin? These upcoming tales of the DC Universe without Supes and Bats may be fantastic, I'm all for going along for a ride, but from a sales standpoint, how many casual fans are going to pickup a Superman book without Superman, or a Batman book without Bruce Wayne?

I give DC credit for pursuing good stories, I just don't think DC necessarily needed these changes to tell good stories, and I don't think it will translate to sales.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Buy Pile Report

Well, I didn't get a chance to go to my normal place to pick up comics, so I had to settle for somewhere a little closer to home, which orders mostly for their regulars and only has a small number of titles ordered in abundance... but, I still managed to get my mitts on both of the issues I was really itching for, Batman #681 and JSA: The Kingdom.

And I've just got to say, while I thought this conclusion to "Batman R.I.P." was effective in painting Bruce Wayne in an almost indomitable light (even where Joker is concerned), with plenty of good scenes for every member of the supporting cast, what it doesn't do is Conclude "Batman R.I.P.!" What, exactly was ended by the issue? In hindsight, knowing Grant Morrison, this shouldn't be a surprise. But still, do we know Dr. Hurt is not Thomas Wayne? Do we know where the organization started or where Dr. Hurt first felt the need to break the bat? Do we even know if Batman is still alive? Morrison has said the Batman we see in "Final Crisis" is Bruce, and that "Final Crisis" takes place after "R.I.P.," but still, why the lack of a resolution? Why the lack of an epilogue? And if he still is alive, then why do we flash forward six months at the end?

Later on tonight, if I have time, I am actually going to go back and re-read this whole set in hopes of gaining some insight... but I kind of doubt it. If anyone would like to help explain what I'm missing, I'd be happy to learn. Otherwise, I guess I'll just have to keep reading.

JSA was a much stronger read, meaning all three of the JSA specials this month failed to disappoint, something you don't normally see from one special, let alone a string of them. This issue centers around the question of the nature of Gog's Miracles, spending a good deal of time on Damage and his new face. The kid has quickly lost sight of all he learned with Liberty Bell and Hourman, and that's especially evident in his actions here. The issue also slightly advances Starman's storyline, something I am eagerly learning more about.

All in all, these specials were a great idea. Where they altogether necessary? No, but in every issue, more was fleshed out about a key player in this game, first Supes, then Magog, and now Damage. More importantly, I feel like Geoff Johns finally has the JSA back up to the momentum he established in the opening months of this series. In two issues, this whole "Kingdom Come" business will be behind us, and while I am just as excited as anyone to move on from the lengthy storyline, I have a feeling history will look back favorably on this dozen-plus issue run.

This week's comic book expectations

I'm likely not going to have time tonight to get the weekly expectations written up tonight, but HERE IS THE LINK to the release list.

Heroes Report on 'The Eclipse: Part 1'

I am back from quite the busy week. I apologize for neglecting this blog so much, but I figured it would be a good time to get back into the groove of things now that I just got a chance to watch Monday night's new episode of "Heroes."

Unfortunately, though, I am getting to the point where I don't know if anyone or anything can save this show. I say this because there was definitely excitement to be had here. Parts of it were downright entertaining. But, it was all wrapped in a grossly ill-conceived package.

For starters, since I haven't had a chance to get on here and rant about it, since when did the Eclipse give these people their powers? I'll tell you when -- when they PROMOTED IT on a COMMERCIAL. Now, for a while now I've felt that was bad enough, to spoil a MAJOR plot point with a commercial, but I've since realized there is a worse infraction to be seen here... how, exactly would an eclipse do this? And how can an eclipse magically take away something it magically granted? Even if you buy that "eclipse as a catalyst" stuff, how can a catalyst also be a cure?

And I'm not the only one wondering this. Get a load of THIS BLOG POST from director/producer Greg Beeman's official blog:

In real life there would never be a full eclipse visible from all these places on Earth at the same time. Eclipses also never last for this kind of duration. (Hey – I’m dubious about the whole premise that the eclipse would take our Heroes powers away at all. I don’t think the Pilot’s eclipse gave powers… But others disagreed and that ship had sailed.)

Even he realizes his show isn't making sense anymore!!!

Frankly, I'm just starting to think this whole "taking away powers" thing was just an elaborate way to remove Mohinder's scales. He's in a cocoon one minute, naked the next, and -- BAM -- he's a pretty boy again! Does anything set up in the first episode make sense anymore?

That doesn't even begin to go into how LAZY this whole Elle/Sylar pairing is. "Oh no, they've always had this connection, since we just showed you the past. See, that's the past, there they are together, it makes sense." And what the hell is up with her trying to make him good, then she's making him bad, then she's begging his forgiveness, now she wants to be Bonnie to his Clyde? Way to RUIN Elle, a great character set up in season two as actually being three-dimensional. And now Sylar is back to being Mr. Bad Guy? After he was a Momma's boy and Daddy's little man he's neither again? What the hell is going on from week to week???

That said, I did enjoy the Parkman/Daphne segments this week. It was nice to see him first overuse his powers to go into her head for info, and then struggle to do a basic human thing like fight for a girl without the use of his powers. And her past is one of the best ideas this show has had this year. It was almost made up for the fact that she just met this guy and she's acting like he's the most pivotal part of her life.

And while that great writing was being acted out, we go back to crap with Ando and Hiro. While I've kind of liked this whole "Hiro as a child" thing, I really want to know where they are finding these new issues of "9th Wonders." Since when is Issac alive? The writers couldn't have thought of a better way for Hiro and Ando to see the future? Oh, and did we really need cameos from Seth Green and Brecken Meyer? (Though I did love the "Freshmen" T-Shirt on Meyer...)

Meanwhile, Peter and Nathan were off in the jungle acting like they aren't constantly sacrificing themselves for each other... why? And if that idea wasn't annoying enough, I just want to know how Nathan planned on getting the Haitian back to New York...

And was I the only one who felt like that scene between Claire and HRG just fell flat seeing as all us fans have been wondering why the hell Claire, who was so close with HRG in Season One, kept acting like an irrational brat? It was a nice scene and all, but I never felt like she should have been mad at him, so I didn't feel a need for their reconciliation.

It all led up to that final cliff-hanging scene, which would have been awesome if anything was actually going to come of it. But, "Heroes" has a HORRIBLE track record for killing off popular characters, so I sincerely doubt Sylar is going to die there. More likely, I'd guess HRG fails to pull the trigger.

Either way, I'm starting to lose any hope this show will get any better, ever. Even in this episode with so much excitement, there were just TOO MANY problems to get around.

Monday, November 17, 2008

This week's video game release list

Believe it or not, folks, we've reached the beginning of the end of the busiest time of the year. The "Holiday" video game season is actually October to mid-November, and if you take a look at the week's releases at THIS LINK, you'll see this isn't exactly the jam-packed week we've been growing accustomed to.

Still, some good stuff to choose from, including "Mortal Kombat vs. DC" and "NCAA Basketball."

Friday, November 14, 2008

No Gaming Saturday in the Journal

So, if you read the previous post, you know there is no Gaming page in Saturday's Poughkeepsie Journal. It's a space issue, my hands are tied.

To make up for it, I've uploaded a fresh review of "FIFA Soccer 09" for Wii, which is just finished writing. Look for the Review on Saturday at

(I know, I know, that "Spider-man: Web of Shadows" review is long overdue, it will be online by Monday, I promise!)

Hopefully next week we'll have more space in the paper to get a full page in.

"Resistance 2" review

I was planning on running this in Saturday's Journal Gaming page, but since we have no room for Gaming this week, here's the Associated Press' quick review of "Resistance 2":

“Resistance 2,” U.S. Army Ranger Nathan Hale helped England fight off the Chimera, whose most effective weapon is a virus that can turn humans into monsters. As “Resistance 2” begins, the Chimera have crossed the pond, so Hale returns home to resume the battle — even though he shows symptoms of a Chimera infection himself.

Insomniac, the studio behind this series, has also greatly expanded its size and scale, leaping from the urban crush of London to more wide-open American spaces. (The devastated Chicago here is almost as jaw-dropping as the ruined Washington in “Fallout 3.”) The enemies are bigger and smarter; fortunately, your computer-controlled squadmates are more helpful as well. And a major twist — Hale has just 19 hours to live — adds breakneck momentum to the plot.

Naturally, you get some powerful new weapons, most of which have two uses; for example, the Magnum can fire normal bullets or remote-controlled explosives. A healthy multiplayer menu includes the manic Skirmish mode, in which as many as 60 players can battle to complete ever-changing objectives. Add in its satisfying cooperative play and you have one of the most full-bodied adventures on the PS3.

Three-and-a-half stars out of four.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Get your "FIFA Soccer" in 14 languages FREE

Get a load of this press release from EA Sports. Am I the only one who wants to play in Russian?

EA SPORTS announced today that all 14 international commentary packs in FIFA Soccer 09 will be available to download free on both the PlayStation Network for PLAYSTATION 3 and on Xbox Live for Xbox 360. For the first time, fans worldwide can now download and experience all language commentary packs featuring different commentators from all over the world while playing FIFA Soccer 09.

FIFA Soccer 09 currently features specific languages by region but beginning today gamers can download and experience play-by-play commentary from other regions of the world. This will deliver a new international experience to FIFA Soccer 09 fans.

The following commentary packs will be available beginning today:

Language — Commentator's Names
English — Andy Gray, Martin Tyler
French — Herve Mathoux, Franck Sauzée
Italian — Giuseppe Bergomi, Fabio Caressa
German — Tom Bayer, Sebastian Hellman
Spanish — Paco González, Manolo Lama
Mexico — Perro Bermúdez, Ricardo Pelaez
Dutch — Youri Mulder, Evert Ten Napel
European Portuguese — David Carvalho, Hélder Conduto
Hungarian — Richard Faragó, István B. Hajú
Russian — Yuri Rozanov, Vasily Solojov
Swedish — Glenn Hysén, Henrik Strömblad
Czech — Bosák Jaromír, Petr Svěcený
Polish — Włodzimierz Szaranowicz, Dariusz Szpakowski
Brazilian Portugese — Paulo Vinícius Coelho, Nivaldo Prieto

Additionally, FIFA Soccer 09 offers a whole new commentary pack for download on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Marketplace. An additional English commentary pack featuring Andy Townsend and Clive Tyldesley previously unavailable on any version of FIFA Soccer 09 is available for download for only $4.99 US.

Buy Pile Report: Kingdom Come Superman

I'm not through my complete Buy Pile yet, and I don't know if I am going to have time tonight, but I wanted to make sure to get on here and say my piece on JSA: Kingdom Come Special: Superman.

If you read the original "Kingdom Come," it doesn't get any better than this, and you better make sure to pick this up, even if you haven't been reading the current "Justice Society" arc.

The issue reads like another epilogue to the original "Kingdom Come," and looks the part to boot, since Alex Ross handled every last bit of the art, from drawing to inking to coloring, painting the scenes from Earth-22 and drawing the scenes from our Earth.

(By the way, on an unrelated note, the movie "Weird Science," which is on HBO right now, includes a scene with a Mohawk-wearing Native American Biker saying the sentence "You can't even take a shower with a beautiful woman without taking off your jeans!" How awesome was that movie?!?)

Where was I? Oh yeah, understated grace and art. Ross crafted more than a few classic scenes here. Superman fans are going to love the look on KC Superman's face when he realizes he's in a room full of Kryptonite. "Kingdom Come" fans are going to love the reunion with Norman McCray. And, comics do not get any closer to art than those final scenes with Lois.

Most of all, I just really loved reading KC Superman as written by the man who knows him best, once again. At heart, this epilogue was the story of how this Superman is able to handle his second chance. It's one thing to put a tortured character into a bright new world with a fresh chance at happiness, but that character has still been through all sorts of hell. This is the story of a survivor who didn't necessarily want to survive, given all he's seen, and we get to see here how those experience taint his actions.

This is a story anyone who's survived a traumatic experience can relate to, and I could not recommend this issue highly enough to anyone who read "Kingdom Come."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Town of Batman suing "Batman"

So... apparently there's a town in Turkey named Batman. Who knew?

This town has decided to sue Warner Bros. and director Christopher Nolan over recent film "The Dark Knight." Believe it or not, this is not a prank. Check THIS LINK to Variety to see the whole story.

I think the part I like most about this story isn't the fact that this town could have been suing Bob Kane for the last 70 years, or the fact that this town could have been suing DC at any point during that time, it's the fact that "The Dark Knight" is a SEQUEL! They're not suing over "Batman Begins," a movie that actually uses the word "Batman" in the title, they're suing over the ultra-successful sequel. Money hungry any?

And the part I like second most about this story is, apparently the King of Turkey (or President or Premiere or Emperor, or Grand Pooba, or whatever Turkey has), apparently let his eight-year-old son name a city. Were my Dad to let me name a city when I was eight, the city would have been named Grimlock — you know, the King of the Dinobots?

Learn more about the Turkish City of Batman HERE.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This week's comic book expectations

It's an unusually light week this week, with just a few choice DC comics to carry the week, depending on which of DC's top titles you read. HERE'S THE LINK to the full list.

The book I'm most looking forward to this week is JSA Special: Kingdom Come Superman #1, for a few reasons. For one, I love the character, and I'm digging the second half of this unwieldy JSA/Kingdom Come story. I'm also just thrilled by the fact that all these tie-ins exist this month, helping the storyline along to its December finish. And, finally, have you seen this cover? I'm guessing this is just an Alex Ross omage to himself, but if this is actually part of the storyline, what, exactly, is going on in KC Supes' head that he and Our Superman are fighting? This storyline has dragged on for much too long, but with the first of these three tie-ins, I'm still optimistic Geoff Johns is making it worth our while.

Speaking of Johns, Action Comics #871 continues the "New Krypton" storyline, and if you haven't been reading and you're a DC fan, then you are making a big mistake. It's obvious this infusion of so many Kryptonians onto Earth will have far greater implications than simply Superman's feelings.

There are two "Batman R.I.P." tie-ins this week (if you can call them that) in Detective Comics #850 and Nightwing #150, but I am actually more interested in Batman Cacophony #1, the first part in a three-part mini-series written by Kevin Smith. When Mr. Smith can get his stuff out on time, I think he's a pretty darn good comic writer, and I'm hoping the fact that this is a set three-issue job will get him to finish his job in a timely manner. Mostly, though, I am just kind of excited about a plain-old Bruce Wayne Batman story with an interesting sounding (no pun intended) villain in Onomatopoeia.

Out in space, Green Lantern Corps. #30 features the Purple Lanterns, when Guy, Kyle and co. travel to Zameron. I don't know about any of you, but I am loving how Johns and Peter Tomasi have divided up and conquered all the background info leading up to "Blackest Night." Between the two, we've learned all about the Red, Blue, and now Purple Lanterns, in addition to the Yellow and Green we all know and love. I'm eager to read what the Purples are up to here.

Also this week, keep an eye out for Black Terror #1, the first spin-off from the "Project Superpowers" universe. Frankly, I love the character and really think this universe created by Dynamite Comics has a shot at becoming a force in Superhero Comics. However, it's going to take all our support to happen. So, if you enjoyed "Project Superpowers," maybe add this to your pull list this week.

That's all, folks. I'm off to play some "FIFA Soccer 09: All-Play" on the Wii. Who knows? It could be good. I'll let you all know when I know!

'Fable II' DLC Soon?

Get a load of THIS LINK saying there's a big "Fable II" announcement due next week.

We can only hope the downloadable content is an actual ending. Please, please, please, give us an ending!

Heroes Report: Villains

OK, so apparently I was pretty zonked out from a severe lack of sleep over the past week, because I fell asleep not long after last night's "Heroes" finished and didn't wake up until noon.

But, I'm here now to offer a few thoughts on last night's episode, "Villains." And the most predominant thought was What was the Point?!?

We've seen this formula before, at least a couple of times. "Heroes" likes to set up grand ideas, only to take a week off to show a little bit of the past to better inform viewers of current situations. Well, does anyone feel better informed?

Here's what we learned:

1) Elle apparently has had the hots for Sylar, and had a hand in his creation. But how believable is that given the interactions we've seen between the two characters? And how believable was her character here, given how much of a freaky, sheltered, unfeeling badass she was before the end of season two?

2) HRG apparently is a major reason for him becoming a monster... have we ever seen him guilty for this in the least while Sylar stalked his daughter? If anything, this only painted HRG, the Batman of the show, as an unfeeling monster.

3) And by the way, could we make Sylar look anymore innocent?!? What good is his redemption anymore? Suddenly, the most imposing force on the show for over two seasons has become nothing but a mindless pawn. Let him keep one of his balls, please!

4) Meredith is apparently the sister of Mr. Blue Hands Flint, and apparently Eric Roberts tried to make her an agent. First off, why would the agent want someone who can set fires? Second, how ineffective was Eric Roberts as an agent? He was just running around with that craptastic collar of his making a mess of things. And Third, Did we learn ANYTHING worthwhile about any of these characters?

5) Finally, we have the Petrellis. And yes, I suppose we did learn a couple of interesting tidbits here: Linderman was never manipulating Daddy Petrelli. Daddy Petrelli tried to kill Nathan, not Linderman. Linderman had the hots for Mommy Petrelli. Mommy Petrelli was the one who "killed" Daddy Petrelli.

That about do it? Yeah? Did we need AN HOUR to tell all that?

And all the while, these minuscule scenes were padded by other scenes that tied into the pilot. Had we been given more revelations in this episode, I'm sure this would have come off as slick and creative. Instead, it just felt cheap and lazy.

In the past (no pun intended) when "Heroes" has flashed back to show details of the past, it's been informative and felt genuine. Here, I felt like (once again) these writers were scrambling to reshape the past to better fit their half-assed new plans.

Meaning, once again, instead of getting creative, unique storylines in the future, we're going to get the same forced drivel we've been dealing with for some time.

And if you think this is harsh, I just slept for 12 hours. I'm in a great mood!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

This week's video game releases

Have you over-dosed on great new video games yet? Well, get ready for another helping this week. Honestly, it's been four or five weeks straight now, and who has the time?

HERE'S THE LINK to the full list of this week's games.

So what are you playing? I'm pumped to play "Mirror's Edge," but there's plenty for everyone this week.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

Saturday's Gaming in the Journal

Well, at 7:30 in the morning I was riding a __________ (censored by Epic Games) into a ______ (censored by Epic Games) in order to ________ (censored by Epic Games), and I finished "Gears of War 2."

Confused? So was my boss today, when I send him that sentence un-edited, with all the "Gears" jargon in it.

"What's a _______ (edited by you know who)? Is that like an SUV?"

It's amazing how much I am not allowed to talk about. But, in a couple of days, when everyone has had a fair chance to play the game, I will start blabbing.

For now, I just finished my review of "Gears of War 2," so look for it in the Poughkeepsie Journal's Gaming page (Page 3C on Saturday!)

Also on the Gaming page (Page 3C on Saturday), we have a feature on the World Series of Poker's Final Table (which begins on Sunday), and a fantasy football column.

But mostly GEARS! (Sorry "Resistance" fans, I only had time to play one this week, and the wire didn't send me reviews of either, so I had to choose).

Check out the Poughkeepsie Journal's Gaming page on Saturday (Page 3C), or check for the stories on Saturday.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

'Gears of War 2' launching tonight

Is everybody counting down the hours? Well, as least Xbox 360 owners? "Gears of War 2" is out tonight at midnight.

I spent seven hours playing the game last night, and all I can say is, you won't be disappointed. The story is bigger, the battles are bigger and, well, some of the enemies are bigger. The Predator even makes an appearance!

And as soon as I get out of the office tonight, I'll be going right back to Sera, since this is one of the (if not the) best shooters I've ever played. Oh, and if you want more details, look for my review in Saturday's Poughkeepsie Journal.

Sorry, I'm under strict orders not to spoil... pretty much anything... but, once the game is out I'm going to post the full list of EVERYTHING Epic Games didn't want me mentioning in the review. You need to see the lengthy list I got sent, it's like government censorship!

(and keep waiting for that "Spider-man: Web of Shadows" review... it's coming, I promise!)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

'Mirror's Edge' preview video

This video was sent to me yesterday and since I'm so high on EA's upcoming "Mirror's Edge" I figured I'd share it with you all. By the way, I have no idea what's up with this guy's hair, he doesn't work for me. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This week's comic expectations

I don't think I'm going to have time to post any expectations for the week until at least 1 a.m. tonight, if at all, so in the meantime, HERE'S THE LINK to the list of this week's releases.

Impressions of 'Mirror's Edge' and 'Spider-man: Web of Shadows'

Well, I spent the last nine hours playing my Xbox, namely two games:

1) I finally downloaded the demo of "Mirror's Edge," and I was floored. If you haven't seen the game yet, this is a one-of-a-kind experience, a first-person adventure game in which you're basically a free runner (in fact, your character is called a "Runner" in the game). Anyway, the world is your monkey bars in this game, kinda like buildings and stairwells are one big "Ninja Warrior" course. And while, yes, there were several many kinks here, and while there were a couple of instances of oblivious frustration in the demo alone, the game was so exciting and unique that I would say everyone should at least download the demo and give it a try.

(In case you're wondering, yes, I did immediately contact Electronic Arts in hopes of getting myself a press review copy).

2) The better part of that nine hours was spent with "Spider-man: Web of Shadows." A full review on this one will be posted to the Gaming Web site in a few days, but for now, I'll give some impressions on what I have played so far, the first two acts. Spider-man fans are going to love this game, pretty much just because of the fluidity of the web-slinging and wall-crawling. The storyline is also, at heart, pretty good... the only problem is that it's non-existent for the entire first act. For the most part, all you do in the first two acts is swing around beating up generic henchmen to meet quotas and earn XP. Not the most exciting stuff, especially after the unexpected thrill that was "Mirror's Edge." Still, the game has some humor, and a lot of promise, so don't take this as a full judgement by any means. I'm hoping the second half of this tale is the stronger of the two.

Monday, November 3, 2008

'Heroes' creative team shakeup

Well, there is no new episode of "Heroes" tonight, but there is big news out of the creative team for the show. Hit THIS LINK and see two executive producers, Jeph Loeb and Jesse Alexander have both been fired from the show.

Personally, I love this move, and not only because I have not been able to stand Loeb's recent work in any medium. I love the move because it is clear the writers are trying WAY TOO HARD to pander to every single criticism they heard over Season Two, and the result is stories written with the attention span of a five-year-old boy in mind. On top of that, there have been far too many wink-wink comic book jokes this season, and while I am sure Loeb is not the only reason for these, his spot in the executive producer chair leaves him as the figurehead for the problem.

As I said in past "Heroes Reports," the show is still entertaining, but the writing is some of the most under developed drivel you're going to find this side of "Spider-man 3." Maybe a little shakeup of the head writers is just what the show needed to remember to develop its ideas before putting them on screen.

From what I can discern, by the way, the show should be shooting around episodes 13 or 14 right now, which means we're still a good two months away from seeing if this change equates to success.

This week's video game release list

Check out the list of new video game releases at THIS LINK, where the question is: Are you going to be playing "Gears of War 2" this week or "Resistance 2"?!? Big week for the FPS fans out there, eh?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

'Celebrity Sports Showdown'

I spent last night playing "Celebrity Sports Showdown" because, well, sometimes us game reviewers have to bite the bullet. I didn't have enough time to play "Spider-man: Web of Shadows" in time to write something up for Saturday's Gaming page, so I played another game I was sent to review, EA Sports' "Star" filled mini-game fest.

I put "Star" in quotes since, well, I don't really consider Avril Lavigne, Fergie or Keith Urban celebrities. I consider them annoyances I notice when I'm flipping between Comedy Central and G4 on my TV. Above, you can see one of these "Stars," LeAnn Rimes... skating in capris and a tube top. Who knew she was still alive? Last thing I remember her doing is singing that duet with Elton John and then fading into obscurity. Well, she's back, along with... Kristi Yamaguchi? But Figure Skating isn't even in this game!

Honestly, the biggest question I have with this game is, who picked which people would take part in this game? I picture a big board room full or executives debating if Gary Coleman is still considered a celebrity. The group of "Stars" in this game does give off a definite Danny Bonaduce feel.

To be perfectly honest, I mocked this game up and down... right up until EA told me I'd be getting a copy in the mail. That said, I was Pleasantly Surprised by this game. The celebrity aspect was the worst part of this game. Read my full review in Saturday's Poughkeepsie Journal Gaming page.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This week's comic expectations

We've one of those "Something for Everyone" weeks ahead of us, with big news for Superman, Green Lantern, X-Men, Skrulls and the Project Superpowers world, among others. Click THIS LINK for the full list.

The titles I'm most looking forward to this week is Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1. And don't let the name fool you, this is hardly a "Final Crisis" tie-in. Instead, think back to that "Sinestro Corps. Special" Geoff Johns put out before the big Green vs. Yellow war really kicked off. That's the type of issue we're looking at here. Lots of future threads being built up, lots of explanation over what a Red Lantern is (you won't believe what that blood they spit out at their initiation is), and lots of looking forward to the DC event most people are looking forward to, "Blackest Night."

Speaking of DC events, Superman #681 marks the second installment of the "New Krypton" storyline, which promises to continue to answer the question of who was being "Atlas' " actions. But personally, I could care less right now about that thread, since the whole Kryptonians on Earth thing is so rich. We still haven't seen Kara's loyalties tested, we haven't seen if the group will listen to Kal El's teachings, and did you see that Whale last issue?!? Oh well, I guess that's what a nine-part story is for, right?

Finally from DC, while I'm not so excited for the supporting-star-filled Justice League of America #26 this week, I do find myself anticipating similarly supporting-player-staring Trinity #22. I know, pigs are flying. This must be why I saw snow driving to work today, the world has gone mad. I really am interested in Firestorm's foray into this new world, and I am curious as to what happened to the only semi-transformed villains of this series, now that Kanjar Ro has shown his face. "Trinity" has really proven to be a worthwhile read, against all odds.

Marvel has a couple of big issues of its own on the shelves this week, beginning with Avengers: The Initiative #18, which features the Skull Kill Krew and the true secret of why the Skrulls wanted to implement the 50-states initiative in the first place. The supporting "Avengers" tie-in issues have been the best part of "Secret Invasion," and this seems to be another example of it. Personally, I'm just eager to see if this issue dismantles the 50-state plan, which would be just another example of Marvel setting things up only to knock them down, without giving any room to live in the world they created.

Other "Secret Invasion" titles this week include Secret Invasion Thor #3, Nova #18 and Secret Invasion X-Men #3.

Speaking of X-Men, Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes #1 is out this week. And, regardless of the problems I've had with this series since Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi took over a couple of months ago, I really just want to know why we need this two-part story, each story being 48 pages? How does this information, describing what Subject X has been up to before his suicide and what a Ghost Box is, NOT fit into the main "Astonishing X-Men" book? why couldn't Ellis just make the main story eight installments instead of six, and let a fill-in artist handle two of the issues? Bianchi's work is not so iconic we can't handle a fill-in artist now and then. Hell, I would prefer most any other artist on this book, and I would DEFINITELY take the particular fill-in artist handling duties on this special, Alan Davis. We'll see how this two-parter differentiates itself (although I'm not optimistic, if you couldn't tell).

Finally, I wanted to make special mention of the world of Dynamite Comics' "Project Superpowers." The first series for the title wraps up with Project Superpowers #7, and if you haven't been reading this story, buy the freakin' trade! This story, while confusing from time to time (what good story isn't?), has been a masterpiece. Watching these characters come back together as a team after the tragedy the Fighting Yank put them through has been a fun ride, while the underlying story of "green" vs. technology has been a unique and original way of telling a tale of the future. In a very short amount of time, I've not only gotten to know these characters but am cheering them along, something that doesn't regularly happen so soon into a comic series in today's world. Dynamite is also doing something genius, in my opinion. This week, in addition to the final issue of the first series of "Superpowers," Dynamite is also putting out Project Superpowers 2: The Supremacy #0, the first installment of the sequel series. This is a fantastic way to keep the momentum rolling, as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, that's it, enjoy the strong week.

Heroes Review: Eris Quod Sum

OK, I know I am late with this, and I have a confession to make. I found myself giving "Heroes" only a passing interest last night. I didn't plan on it, it just, sort of, happened. I was re-reading "The Watchmen" for the first time in years yesterday, and I found myself giving Chapter X of the story just as much attention as the brand new episode of "Heroes."

But, in my defense, this latest episode didn't do too much to keep my attention. There were entertaining parts, of course, but it all just didn't click together.

Mohinder, with the strength and agility of a super-human, flees from a man who can fly and a power-newbie, when he had already shown no compunction against violence to keep his plans hidden. And by the way, Mohinder, you put Maya in a cocoon, she's not taking you back!

Clare went off on her own again without calling her father, which has been the stupidest aspect of the last two seasons. Your Dad is Batman, start using him!

Elle decides to run into a building from which Peter had just been ejected from. It's not like these two don't know each other, Elle should know if Peter, of all people, is being attacked in a building, don't go in the freakin' building! I was really interested in Elle at the end of last season, loving how they went into her own emotional needs and issues with her father and getting used. This year, I first hoped she would get paired with HRG, where those issues could continue, but no. Then, tonight, when I saw her and Clare together, I thought "what a great alternative!" But no.

Oh, and, first Daddy Petrelli wants Peter alive to test on him, then he's all too eager to throw Peter out a window after one little escape? How is he any less viable a test subject now?

And, by the way, I love a good emotionally unstable character as much as the next guy, but is Sylar the dumbest sonofabitch in the history of television? Oh, I'm listening to my Mommy now, who I just met. Oh, I'm listening to my Daddy now, who I've known for even less time. This is NOT the same character we saw in the first season.

I know there is supposed to be an air of danger to these last two episodes, but I'm just not feeling it, and I'm feeling no emotional connection to ANYONE yet, save for probably Matt Parkman, because they're all just so freakin' stupid! Someone grow a set and a brain already!

For God sakes, writers, pick a story and go with it! Sylar's with HRG, Sylar's with Peter, Sylar's with Daddy. Clare's on her own, Clare's with Fire Lady, Clare's with Elle, Clare's with Peter. Peter's trapped in another dude, Peter's in the future, Peter's on his own, Peter's with Clare.

It's like a little bit of criticism over pacing last season has made these writers completely forget anything they've ever learned about story development.

Listen, these stories are still kind of entertaining, when you can follow them. The idea of the team of villains is still intriguing, and Robert Forster's Daddy Petrelli makes for a good head baddie. But there is very little linking week to week, episode to episode and character to character.

Last night, reading a 23-year old comic book while watching this show I formerly really cared about, it hit me just how far "Heroes" has fallen. Here's hoping it improves soon.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

This week's video game releases

"LittleBigPlanet!" "Fallout 3!" "Guitar Hero: World Tour!"

I guess this is the big week last week was supposed to be before the postponements!

Click THIS LINK for the full list.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Much more on "Fable II"

My full review of "Fable II" is available at THIS LINK... (and, if you're interested, my annual Halloween column is at THIS LINK), but I didn't get to say everything I wanted to in the review because I didn't want to drop spoiler after spoiler on an unexpecting audience.

So, you're going to read some spoilers right here. If you don't want to hear about the storyline, DON'T READ.

OK, ready? Spoilers starting NOW:

I don't know if it properly came across in my review, but this was the toughest, most conflicted review I've ever written. I love this game. I'm on my second tour of duty through the game right now, I would recommend this game to anyone of the proper age to play it. BUT, the ending to the game got me awfully pissed.

Let me set the stage for you: I had been playing for 14 hours already on Tuesday, after playing Saturday from 1-7 a.m., Sunday from 2-7 a.m. and a whole bunch on Monday, and it was about 8 a.m. on Wednesday. Still, I had just gathered the third mythic hero and I wanted to tackle this last dungeon, even if it meant being up until 10 or 11 a.m., since I wanted to clear my Wednesday night.

Then Lucien appeared. I thought "OK, no final dungeon, just a final fight."

Lucien tells me "By now my men have killed your wife and daughter," and my jaw drops.... my hero, however, no reaction. And no cutscene or anything documenting the atrocity. Since there was no cutscene, I thought to myself, "OK, so I'm going to have a chance to run by my house and save them, right?" BUT NO.

If you're reading the spoilers right now, you likely know the next parts, with that ridiculously out-of-place scene with the sister (or brother if you were a female hero) and the music box, and suddenly, you and the music box are in front of Lucien. Again, I thought "OK, at least this should be a good fight!"

After freeing the three heroes and Lucien was defenseless, I pressed "X" for my bigass Hammer... nothing doing. I pressed "B" for my awesome Force Push move... nothing again. So, again I thought "awesome, here comes the fight!" ... but then I pressed "Y," shot Lucien with one bullet, and Hammer tells me "You killed Lucien!"

I did? Seriously? That was it? Seriously? I've never been so unsatisfied in my life. If all I had to do was shoot him once to kill him, what did I need the three other heroes for?!?

Here's how that scene should have gone: You wake up from that sibling dream on your back in Theresa's home base. You then have your one last chance to level up and handle business before storming the spire. During that time, if you go back to your house, you find your kid trying to fight off Lucien's men (after all, the kid always said she wanted to be a hero), and you can help defeat the men and save your family. Once in the Spire, you have that one last dungeon, followed by an ACTUAL FIGHT with Lucien, not a simple bullet.

I know there is the option to wish your loved ones back to life, but come on! Show a little emotion, the whole rest of the game had it in spades! (That's right, I just used the phrase "in spades").

And for God Sakes, what was with Theresa at the end there? "The Spire is Mine!" Is there something I'm missing that I should know? One of the main reasons why I am playing again so quickly is simply to find out if I'm missing the boat on her.

All game, I was wondering what angle Theresa had in all this and how she knew so much. Was it something from the first "Fable" that I'm just not connecting? I don't remember that game too well, anyway.

BUT, I did love this game. Which is why I was so conflicted writing the review. And here's ten of my favorite moments from the game:

1) Nothing was better or more shocking in this game than the slavery sequence. Was I the only one willing to sacrifice XP for my principles? And I think "Final Crisis" made this sequence all the better. Anti-Life justifies my pain!

2) An off-shoot of that scene, the best part of it, was the execution of your fellow slave buddy. I mean, this game is dark, what with the killing of every one of your family members and your dog, but trying to coerce players to execute friends? Intense!

3) I thought the ghost/seducing Alex part of the story was also fantastic, and it was one of the few tasks when I didn't know what the right move to make was. I opted to keep Alex for myself and she eventually became the mother of my little girl, but at the time I thought I was doing the "evil" thing by stealing the ghost's girl.

4) In order to open one of the Demon Doors, you need to propose to a girl in front of it. So I did, and the lady sure was happy. We went into the Demon Door secret area, found the house, and I made sweet sweet digital love to that dame. Then, I left her in the secret Demon Door area, where she would never be able to escape.

5) My spell of choice was the Force Push spell. At first, it was because the quick one-on-one bursts provided a fun Jedi/Dragonball/Peter Petrelli feeling, but later I abused the wide-ranging circular spell like a madman, having leveled it to it's pinnacle, using it to dominate The Crucible, banshees, and (in what turned out to be the final battle) the monsters conjured by the floating Shard. I highly recommend using the spell.

6) One of my hobbies became seducing girls in strange places hoping to get Xbox Achievements. I really wanted to seduce a girl to come have relations with me on one of those dingy beds in Wraithmarsh, but a zombie killed her on the way to the shack. Oh well. I took the next girl to whats-his-name-rich-guy's mansion in Bloodstone. Much better ambiance. I also wanted to bring a girl to the sunken pirate's bedroom, but when I raised the water level, I lost my chance for love.

7) By the way, I loved the insane people in Bloodstone. A little breaking and entering, and those people got vicious! Amazingly, after killing three of them, I still had that halo on top of my head.

8) And who could forget the torture club? I think even better than the actual torture was the initiation (who thinks of this baby chicks stuff?!?) and the spiel the guy at the door says about the different tortures for different nights of the week, ending in "Friday is poker night, of course."

9) As far as choice of weapons, I loved my bigass mythical hammer, which was seemingly made out of a purple meteor. I picked it up in the same place where I left that poor sap of a girl I proposed to. It may have been slow to wield for the better part of the game, but later on when you buy the ability to charge your "X" attack, bashing in foes with the hammer is the most satisfying attack in the game.

10) I think my favorite part of the game, for only comedy purposes, was the characters' reactions to you after your 10-year slavery absence. Hammer has just been waiting around in the bar for you. Woulda been nice if you came in looking for me, huh? Your wife acts like you've only been gone for a week, but , oh yeah, your baby is a toddler. Thanks a bunch, folks, I'm going to go save your sorry asses now!

Anyway, I did love this game... and hated it at the same time. We'll see how things go on my second tour of duty in Albion.

Saturday's Gaming in the Journal

For the second time in three weeks, we have MORE THAN ONE Gaming page in the Poughkeepsie Journal in Saturday's Sports section (Pages 5C and 6C).

First, on page 5C, we have my FULL Review of "Fable II," and I'll have even more info on the game, including spoilers, right here on the blog on Saturday.

On page 5C we also have my annual Halloween Costumes column, a tradition here on the Gaming page, as well as the weekly fantasy football advice column.

Then on page 6C there is a full review of "Wii Music," written by the Associated Press.

So, if you love apple pie, the American Flag and your mother, you'd better pick up the Gaming page(s) in Saturday's Poughkeepsie Journal.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This week's comic book expectations

I'm waist deep in "Fable II," approaching (what I think is) the end, but since I'm giving the borrowed Xbox a real workout today, I decided to let it cool down a bit while I got on here and (quickly) went through what to look for on the shelves this week.

CLICK HERE to see the full list, Jam-Packed with great titles. And, once again, it's DC delivering a good portion of those top titles. Marvel really blew their load over the summer with the "Secret Invasion" tie-ins and DC (partially because its own "Final Crisis" titles were all late) is reaping the benefits lately. Heck, everyone wins, right?

As I said, this is going to be quick, since I need to get back to my dog, wife and kid in Albion so I can get down to writing that review, so we're going to go full-on lightning round here:

Captain America #43: With the 18-part Steve Rogers Death/Bucky Ascension storyline over, we're going to see how Ed Brubaker handles writing Bucky on a month-in and month-out basis, beginning here with this story that looks back on Both of Captain Bucky's pasts (as Bucky and as the Winter Soldier). I'm predicting this book to stay VERY strong, with so many loose ends from the last 42 issues still going.

Final Crisis #4: Your guess as to what happens here is as good as mine, all I know is the Anti-Life Equation has been loose on the world for a month and all hell has broken loose. Personally, I am just looking for two things from this issue -- 1) I want to see Darkseid get his hands a little dirty, 2) I want to see a little of the lost month, and how things got so bad so fast.

Final Crisis: Submit #1: Maybe this is where I get to see that lost month. "Submit" is supposed to focus on Black Lightning teaming up with C-list villain Tattoo Man, as they try to keep their wits about them in a crazy world. Unlike the tie-in series, this one-shot does look very pertinent to the main story.

New Avengers #46: The Villains take center stage in this "Secret Invasion" tie-in issue, namely The Hood. Personally, I think it's taken Bendis FAR too long to bring the villains in on this. After all, if the Skrulls take over Earth, I think that would put a crimp in Doctor Doom's plans, wouldn't it?

Secret Invasion #7: And then there's the mothership, where we can expect a whole lot of knock-down, drag-out brawling between the wrinkle-chins and non-wrinkle chins. For as cool as this issue is probably going to look (deep down, we all love watching the biggest brawls, right?), if these final two issues is only this final big fight, "Secret Invasion" fell FAR FAR below expectations.

Superman: New Krypton Special #1: This is one no DC fan should miss. If you think 100,000 Kryptonians loose on Earth isn't going to DRASTICALLY impact all the DC Universe, you're insane, brotha'. How will Clark react, especially given his recent tragedy? How will Kara, who still remembers Krypton, react? And, um, not to mention the rest of the world suddenly dealing with "Kingdom Come" happening. Somebody call Future Peter Petrelli! We can't have a planet full of special people!

Thunderbolts #125: "Secret Invasion" plus a kind-of anniversary issue equals a BIG change for the "Thunderbolts" world, I'd put money on it. This issue will close the Thunderbolts' role in the war in a big way.

X-Men Legacy #217: This is the second part of the "Original Sin" crossover with "Wolverine Origins," and while I was far from floored with the first issue, both in the content and the characterizations, we'll see how this story of Professor X and Logan helping Logan's long-lost illegitimate son plays out.

Three Red Lights (Shipping) Update

Finally with a shipping slip, I went to Mailboxes Etc. today and learned two horrible facts:

1) This particular Mailboxes Etc. has packed and shipped so many Xboxes to the service center that they've established a flat formula and rate for shipping them. $15 bucks. Sure, a little pricey, but I just wanted it done with.

2) This particular Mailboxes Etc. HAS Shipping Xboxes overnight, supplied free from Microsoft. Remember, Supervisor "Jay" at Microsoft said they DON'T Ship Overnight, but did say she would send a note to the technicians to expedite my repairs.

So, unfortunately, this meant I had to call back Microsoft hunting for "Jay."

While the agent who picked up the phone, "Lindsay," said she wouldn't be able to get me "Jay," she seemed very sympathetic listening to my Sob Story, and told me that yes, they have shipped overnight on occasion, before putting me into contact with a new Supervisor, "Chris."

"Chris" told me two more interesting things: 1) He could've authorized the overnight shipping had I not just shipped my Xbox today. 2) He was SHOCKED that "Jay" told me she would send a note to the technicians asking for my repair to be expedited, since THEY CAN'T DO THAT!

So, basically, this woman "Jay" is just a dirty dirty liar. Thank you, Microsoft!

But, "Chris," on his first day back from vacation, apparently, said he would help me out by assigning me to a Special Repair Supervisor, who is, apparently, going to be calling me tomorrow and calling me on a daily basis to update me on the status of my repairs. Personally, this sounds like a bit of overkill if it's true, but after how I've been treated, I deserve overkill.

So, to make a long aggravating story short: I sent my Xbox in today and tomorrow, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. I'm going to be hearing from my special agent. We'll see how that goes.

Heroes Report: Dying of the Light

Well, it's official. "Heroes" has become the most schizophrenic show in the history of Prime Time Television. By the way, I spelled "schizophrenic" correctly on the first try. I know, I'm awesome.

This episode was pulled in so many different directions, and in so many different directions from past episodes which were also pulled in several directions, that I'm finding it really tough to care about the over-arching season plot, or even keep in mind how each event is playing into it.

Despite that schizophrenia, for the second week in a row, I enjoyed what I watched. Just like last week, I'm wondering if I'm just in an above average mood. After all, I'm listening to a fantastic bootleg of a Billy Joel concert in Montauk from 1991 I just downloaded (which has an incredible version of "Everybody has a Dream" on it), and I've spent more time playing "Fable II" in the last three nights than I have spent sleeping.

But no, this time I'm sure it's the show that's just better than average, not simply my mood coming into it.

Because, again, despite the logical fallacies, this week's show not only entertained, but it helped return a tension the series has been SORELY lacking.

The first place that tension showed up was in the Puppet Master's little game of Russian Roulette (which, by the way, in Russia is it simply called Roulette? And if so, what are the Russian Casinos like?). With HRG far away from the action and since we've seen a much Darker Clare in the future, I really thought one of Clare's two Moms (remember "My Two Dads?" what a show...) was going to eat a lead sandwich. For the amount of whining Clare does, she sure could use a little tragedy to justify the whining, right? Oh, wait, I forgot, she lost the ability to feel pain, a tragedy the writers are sorely ignoring... anyway, I digress.

I'm a bit schizophrenic myself tonight, I guess. Yes, I really thought that either Clare was going to have to pull the trigger on one of her Mommies, OR, I thought Mrs. Bennett was going to kill Meredith. And since the Puppet Master's control was pretty omnipotent, I didn't see the way out of the situation.

That said, there were a good deal of logical problems with this situation. 1) If Clare has her Dad's files, should she have known to just shoot the Stun Gun before giving Puppet Boy a chance? 2) Isn't Meredith only there to protect Clare? Why is HRG now taking Meredith on his little adventures?

Anyway, that tension showed up again for the very end of the episode, when Daddy Petrelli did something that I hope hope hope becomes a permanent change ----- spoilers coming ------ he stole Peter's powers. Cue the music! Oh happy Day! Oh happy Day! Finally, something has been done about the fact that Peter was WAAAAAAAY too powerful. First Sylar was, sort of, de-powered, and now Peter, I love it.

This move also creates the first truly dangerous threat of the season. We've had a lot of evil guys running around, but none stood out among the rest. We've had this whole apocalyptic future thing going, but that hasn't really been a threat as much as it is a plot point. Daddy Petrelli, who can suck a power right out of you and now has ALL of Peter's powers, is the biggest threat this show has ever seen. And, again, I need to praise the casting department for getting Robert Forster.

Oh, and great casting on Mr. Puppeteer, too. After last year's horrible casting for Bob and Maury, both these roles were great to see this episode.

Now, the disappointing part of the show was Hiro and Ando. It didn't take much to see how Hiro avoided killing his friend, and then their bumbling adventures in Africa just made no sense. The writers' biggest sin this season has been not fully understanding how to make the characters utilize their own powers, and there is no bigger example of this than Hiro. All the little guy had to do in Africa was stop time and search the surrounding area while Mr. Precog was frozen in time. Instead, he left himself wide open to get hit in the noggin -- twice.

Oh well, I'm probably forgetting something big, but it's 4:30 a.m. so I'm going to wrap this up with the Random Thoughts:

1) Mohinder's turn to the dark side happened WAY WAY WAY too fast!

2) I'm kind of bummed Adam Monroe is dead. The writers really should have kept him in the ground for a couple of seasons instead of offing him so quickly.

3) I like how the writers are, so far, playing Daphne's backstory close to the vest. In fact, that actress has been pretty darn great all year.

4) And speaking of characters I want to see more of, Where is Micah's Cousin?

5) I love having Maya up on that wall. This episode was her best ever.

6) Peter and Sylar actually fought each other a little!!! It was like as if we were watching a show featuring powered-people!

7) By the way, I'm with Peter on this one -- Sylar has jumped on this "Mother" thing WAY too fast.

8) Where did this Pinehurst company come from, anyway? Who built it while Daddy Petrelli was napping?

9) Who wants to see Hiro, Ando and Parkman fight over Daphne?

10) I like how Tracy decided the only way to show Mohinder what she could do was to freeze an expensive and specialized piece of a equipment. How 'bout just freezing a pen, huh?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

This week's video game releases

OK, before you click THIS LINK to the week's video game releases, put on a bib for the drool.

Even without "LittleBigPlanet," this week is stacked, with "Fable II," "Legendary," "Wii Music," "Spider-Man: Web of Shadows," and "Rock Band 2" for PS3.

I'll have reviews of several of those games this week, so keep your peepers peeled.

Three Red Lights (yet another) Update

So... another two days passed, and STILL NO SHIPPING LABEL.

So, I called Microsoft again today, this time talking to a man named "Rudy." Together, we learned that my e-mail address was once again typed in wrong (despite the fact that I verified the spelling with BOTH "Ben" and "Jay" two days ago). Apparently, in Microsoft Land, the word "Cow" is spelled "Kow," no matter how many times the letter "C" is mentioned.


So, Rudy once again set me up for a new shipping label e-mail, only this time he assured me it would only take 3-4 hours (HOW THE HELL DOES IT KEEP CHANGING, BOYS?).

I checked my e-mail just now, and, yes, there is an e-mail in there with instructions on how to ship my Xbox, but it also says I will be getting TWO MORE E-MAILS, one of which will have my shipping label. Why this first e-mail didn't include my shipping label, I don't know.

What I do know is my blood is boiling just thinking about all this. Unless I get my next of three e-mails by tomorrow morning, I have to call up a FOURTH time and talk to a SIXTH PERSON.


If this has taught us all anything is, I really think I wouldn't buy another Xbox instead of a PS3 if I had to do it over again (and I will have to when the next generation rolls around!)

The good news is, I successfully borrowed my brother-in-law's Xbox 360 and already put Seven Hours into "Fable II" last night, so look for that review next week! I'm liking the game so far, even if it isn't exactly as advertised just yet... but I hold off on final opinions, of course.

Friday, October 17, 2008

'Fable II' in the house

The first of the many games I'll be reviewing next week has found its way to my mailbox... actually, it was put in someone else's mailbox in the office, so I just sort of committed a felony by taking the package out of their mailbox and getting our local Graphics Queen Sten Miller to assist my conscience and open it up... either way, "Fable II" is officially here.

So, look out for a full review next week.

Three Red Lights (another) Update

Another day, and still no overnight shipping slip in my e-mail. So, I had to call Microsoft. Again.

This time, I talked to Ben, who liked to repeat the phrase "Thank You." As in, "Thank you, Thank you." Ben helped me find out that Bob never took down my e-mail address properly, even though I double-checked the spelling with him three times. So I gave Ben a different e-mail address, only to be told that, again, I was going to have to wait 24-48 hours for my overnight shipping slip.

Obviously this was ridiculous, so I got him to go ask his supervisor if there was any way the e-mailing time could be expedited (my favorite word of the week). When he got back on the line, he told me I would be getting my e-mail between 20 minutes and 24 hours from now. And I double-checked again that it would be overnight shipping... only this time, unlike earlier in our conversation, he told me it would not be overnight.

Dumbfounded, I demanded to talk to his supervisor. So a woman named "Jay" got on the phone, only to tell me despite the fact that THREE DIFFERENT Microsoft customer service people promised it to me, she said there is No Such Thing as them giving free overnight shipping. I thought I was going to blow a gasket.

So I asked her if she would be able to just pick up a phone and call the shipping department to have this done immediately. She told me they have NO INTER-DEPARTMENT PHONE NUMBERS. That's Right, she expected me to believe she had no way to contact other departments in her company. She also told me I would be getting my e-mail between 24-48 hours. I said "Ben just promised me 20 minutes to 24 hours," and Jay said "Ben shouldn't have promised that." What the hell, man?!?

So, after waiting three days, I no longer have overnight shipping (like I ever did), I am still waiting at least another day for my shipping slip (if they got my e-mail right this time), and all I have is lip service from this supervisor "Jay" that apparently she is going to send a note to the technicians to handle my Xbox immediately. Somehow, I doubt that will happen.

Needless to say, I'm fuming. No wonder these people get sued so often, the customer service is the only thing worse than the construction of the Xboxes in the first place.

My silver lining in all this, though, is my brother-in-law was happy to help me out and lend me his Xbox, so I can get back to my hard-hitting job as a game reviewer. After all, "Fable II," "Legendary" and "Spider-Man: Web of Shadows" are all on my plate for the coming week.

But I swear, Microsoft, how horrible can your customer service get?!?