Apollo pondering

Desk from the Past: Dragon Age: Origins

So this comes a bit late (okay, more than a bit) perhaps, but in light of finishing Dragon Age II I've decided to give its predecessor Dragon Age: Origins a retrospective for the sake of comparison. Under normal circumstances I might not have even bothered, but there's been so much fuss over the sequel that I felt a little bit obliged to review both games (along with Awakening) in order to provide some full context for my thoughts on the sequel.


Not that I'm not sure most of you have already played the game anyway. But just in case.

Collapse )
Apollo pondering

Nivenus at the Desk: X-Men: First Class

I've never been a big comic book reader. So like many people, my introduction to the superhero genre largely came from two sources: animation and movies. From the former we got any number of attempts, many excellent like Paul Dini's Batman series, others not so good, but in the medium of film our pickings were fairly slim until the last decade. Sure, we had Tim Burton's good if poorly aged Batman movies and Richard Donner's Superman movies, but beyond that, pretty much everything else was crap.

It might be difficult to imagine but there was a time when the announcement of a superhero movie was treated with the same amount of repulsion and skepticism as video game movies are today. Outside of Burton and Donner, no one had figured out how to do the genre well. Two films broke that stereotype at the dawn of the new millennium, ushering in a decade filled to the brim with superhero movies – many of them (though not all) good, simultaneously converting many who'd never touched a comic book in their life into fans. One was Sam Raimi's Spider-Man. The other was Bryan Singer's X-Men.

Unfortunately, while 2000's X-Men arguably launched the decade's superhero craze, particularly that surrounding Marvel, the franchise it spawned has not fared so well. Although the first film and its highly anticipated sequel, X2 were both box office wonders and critically acclaimed, the third entry in the series, X-Men: The Last Stand, was met with near-universal disappointment, both by critics and audiences. While the most commercially successful of the films, the backlash from The Last Stand hurt the next film, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which was itself something of a dud.

As such, Fox has a lot riding on X-Men: First Class, the latest entry in the franchise. If the film does poorly, Fox may be tempted to kill the other X-Men films it has in the works, such as The Wolverine and Deadpool. On the other hand, if it's successful, we may see a franchise resurgence the likes of the Nolan Batman films.

Collapse )

Beat Mass Effect 2 - Huzzah!

Well, it's done. I saved the galaxy... again. Somehow, it doesn't get old.

A full review will be forthcoming, though I have some other things on my plate I'm getting out of the way first.

First, a few things, as they come to mind.

Collapse )

Well, that's it for now. Now it's time to go get lost in the BioWare forums.
Apollo pondering

First Impressions: Mass Effect 2

Okay, so I've been playing Mass Effect 2 for about a little over a month now (it actually arrived on the release date but due to technical issues with the Xbox 360 I was unable to play it immediately). And I've been able to form some impressions of it.

And yeah, I haven't finished it yet (if anyone's curious I've picked up every party member except for Samara and the one I presume is the much-hyped but still completely unseen Legion). When you have Dragon Age, school, friends, D&D, family, and work (both professional and amature) distracting you that tends to get in the way of finishing things quickly. Rest assured though that I'll write up a review as soon as I'm finished (I'm already working on a Desk From the Past for the first game).

In the meantime, here are my thoughts on the game so far (warning: minor spoilers!). Let's see how many of my suggestions a year ago made it in.

Collapse )
Apollo pondering

First Impressions: Caprica

Caprica is airing tomorrow (or later today if you're across the Pond). I encourage you to check it out.

Anyone who's been following me knows by I now that I'm a big fan of the new Battlestar Galactica, even if the final hour was more than a little disappointing. So it was only natural that I was looking forward to the Battlestar prequel Caprica, featuring the origin of the cylons and, oddly enough, William Adama, one of BSG's mainstay characters (in case you're completely unfamiliar with the show).

That being said, I approached the show with a little bit of skepticism. And no, it wasn't because, unlike BSG it was set in a quasi-semi-kind-of modern setting without spaceships; shows like The X-Files and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex have shown that it's perfectly possible to do a rich and captivating science fiction show that is set on plain old Earth (or its equivalent in any case). Rather, my primary worry was that Caprica would become the soap opera that so many accused BSG of being, giving in too much to personal drama over ideas (not that I mind personal drama – I relish it – but it can get over the top) and that it would accentuate the problems with BSG in its last season.

You may notice I'm using the past tense quite a bit. That's because those worries have now abated. Caprica has yet to prove itself BSG's equal, but it's well on its way to being an entertaining series in of itself.

Collapse )
Apollo pondering

Nivenus at the Desk XVI: Fallout 3, Gone for Soldiers, and The Witcher

I'm beginning to think I should set myself a schedule. At least then I'll have something to be tardy about.

Well, the holidays are almost over and it's time once again for me to delve into the realm of reviews. This has actually been in the works for sometime - and I in fact wrote it concurrently with my last batch of reviews. Unfortunately, various elements have conspired to keep it in limbo until today, when I have at last finished it.

This time I'll be taking a look at two CRPGs and one novel - Fallout 3, Gone for Soldiers, and The Witcher. The former I've actually been meaning to review for some time now, as I finished it early this summer and Prisoner herself gave it a review nearly a year ago (so I'm more than a bit late here). The latter two are more recent additions, which I finished early this fall. I hope you enjoy.
Collapse )

Coming Up Next
Next up, I'll be covering, among other things, Avatar. Cameron's greatest masterpiece or an overrated remake of Dances With Wolves? I'll let you know what I think in time.

A War We Can Win

A War We Can Win
And One That We Should

In a letter to the editor of the Aspen Times, concerned citizen Tom Daly put forward an opinion expressed by many Americans: that the current strategy in Afghanistan is not working, that we are bleeding men, and that neither the previous administration nor the current one really knows what it is doing in Afghanistan. Like many Americans, he talks about how the US is one of several powers who have “tried to control Afghanistan” - all of whom have failed. He compares our current situation to the Crusades of Medieval Europe, all of which failed and which will certainly serve as our model of failure. As he points out, “we have not won a single war since World War II, 65 years ago.”1

He's not alone, as Michael White points out as well the consistent failure of foreign powers to exert their influence on Afghanistan. White also points out the increasing costs of the war, the political corruption of the Karzai regime, and the recent reversal in some of the political reforms instituted during the early war.2 To many eyes, it seems clear that Afghanistan is becoming the new Iraq, our new Vietnam.

But there's a few problems with this worldview.Collapse )

Apollo pondering

First Impresions: Stargate Universe

I watched Stargate: Universe last Saturday on Hulu.

I never really watched any of the old shows, Stargate: SG-1 or Stargate Atlantis and I had only the barest memories of the original film, Stargate, so I really had little idea of what to expect. I knew enough though to know that, no matter how hard the advertising campaign seemed to want me to believe otherwise, it wasn't going to be Battlestar Galactica II. But I decided that would be okay. After all, at this point, with Dollhouse alternating between brilliant and boring in a frustratingly erratic manner, I was just looking for something I could tune in to regularly while knowing what to expect quality-wise.

Turned out, I liked it. That doesn't mean I'm not going to nitpick though ;).

Collapse )