Tearaway

I’ve had the Vita since launch, but only recently has it really come into its own.  Between the PS4 coming out and opening the door to crossplay and a lot more games being pushed to it, it really has started to blip on the radars of gamers everywhere.

I have loved the Vita because it did everything I wanted it to do plus a bit more.  I could through music on it, connect with PSN friends even when away or traveling, and having an awesome touch screen really helped.  For that first year, though, the games were a bit lacking.  We had Katamari, Ragnarok, P4: Golden, and Gravity Rush eventually.  These were all awesome and kept me occupied, but were either finished to early or never really had an end point.

Trevor got me Tearaway for Christmas since it was something I had been raving about for a few months now.  I put it in my Vita immediately and started to play and quite simply wondered where this game was at launch.  It was perfect for the little system.  It used all the features for combat or puzzles and really immersed you in the game. Like literally put you in there.  ‘You’ are the sun.  Every time you see the sun, you see your face in the middle of it.

The way that this is used to craft a story is so friendly and welcoming it is brilliant.  It reminds you very much of the narration in Little Big Planet, but with a wider range and more depth.  Being able to customize your character, called Atoi for the female version or Iota for the male, is fun and something you can waste hours doing.  Customizing the environment is equally engrossing.  

I’m about 5 hours into the game and while it is a big improvement over Little Big Planet, it still has issues with occasionally weird directions.  I come to this section where there is a log blocking Atoi’s path.  Under the log are the symbols for poking the rear touch pad in order to break through and move things.  I try getting through to move the log.  I try lifting the log.  The instruction on what to do with these symbols keeps appearing, but no farther assistance to do with the log.  I continue to fiddle with it for 30 minutes before I get my fingers in just the right spot where it lifts the log.  So then I try tossing it aside and it just falls back down.  I spend another 10 minutes trying to get that spot again, finally do and then figure I need to finagle Atoi with the joystick to walk under the log while I’m still holding it up vita the rear touchpad.

I’m in my 20s and my coordination was just not liking this.  I can’t imagine giving it to a kid.  Then again, maybe kid hands would be better on the touch screen.

Overall, the game is great.  It really shows off all the Vita’s capabilities while being creative and colorful.  There are a few glitches and finicky items, but with some patience you can get through it.  It is worth a pick up with your gift cards from family who didn’t know what to get you or picking up for yourself as an after holiday’s gift.

Comic Review: Hawkeye #1-5

Hey!  Finally getting around to this!  I think I just haven’t wanted to share it with you all.  I wanted to keep the goodness all to myself.  That must have been it.

I’m sorry, I am an absolutely horrid person.

Please forgive me.

*Ahem* Moving on, I think the best way to split this is going to be 1-3 and then 4 & 5, considering that is where the artists cycle out.  So, on our journey we go!

Volume 1 was quite the adventure to get.  It was sold out by the time I asked for it, so my comic shop went and ordered it again, but I still didn’t get it until after 2 had come out.  Either way, it is a great introduction to Clint Barton.  Not Hawkeye, but Clint Barton.  For ultimately, this isn’t a comic about Hawkeye, but instead the man who is Hawkeye.  It is a great look at how a hero with no powers just tries to live.

Volume 1 opens up with Clint falling, and then in a hospital, and then out of a hospital and leaving and kicking away a wheelchair.  If there was any doubt that Clint was badass before, it is gone by now.

Then wham!  We are thrown to present time!  Apparently what we saw in the first three pages was a flashback.  Well…that was neat!  Normally these things are jarring, whose mind made this flow?  Matt Fraction’s I can assume.  And he has no issue with throwing us beautifully right back into that flashback one page later.  David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth get a lot of credit here for making the art distinct enough that you can easily catch on as to what happens without using the normal ways of communicating this too you.

Lot's of motion in these panels.

Lot’s of motion in these panels.

From then on, the first volume continues through what happened the day Clint got out of the hospital and took this poor dog to the vet, introduces you to this person who seemingly doesn’t care for authority, but cares about his neighbors.  Very Robin Hood-esque.

This volume gets a 5/5 from me…it is that good…I’m constantly going back to look at the art, reading the story, or showing it to friends.  My mother rather enjoyed it and she doesn’t read comics…she only knew of Hawkeye from the Avengers Movie.

Volumen 2 wound up getting another variant cover, sadly.  That is cool though, I guess I can live without the pretty arrows.  This is another book where we wind up in a weird place, but at the same time I feel that it is a bigger adventure and exploration of Aja’s style overall.  From the first volume, this one starts off with a very noir feeling, only with purple tones.

Then we get Kate! *SQUEAL* I love that Kate is so, well, human and female here, without being annoying.  She realizes that she still has training to do, but that doesn’t take away her abilities or independence.  Where as Clint is very much so a Man’s Man type of fellow…Kate is more flexible, being able to adapt her reactions to the situation at hand.

It is really awesome how it really spells out what Kate is saying.

It is really awesome how it really spells out what Kate is saying.

The go to the circus to fight their enemy here, which is done in shades of black and purple, still keeping with the art in the beginning.  What else is interesting is while this volume has a lot to do with Kate and how she is learning from Clint while still being great in her own right, the whole circus feel is a throwback to Clint’s past.  Yay tidbits like that!

Still 5/5 for me.  Still loved it…wanted more…was sad there wasn’t yet.

Volume 3(titled Cherry) went completely different yet again!  Rather than the noir type art style Aja did in 2, this one had almost a Duke’s of Hazard feel, which was totally cool too.  It is another flash back type thing where we start at one point and then wind up at a point in the past where Clint and Kate going through all the types of arrows he has to try and organize them because….Boomerangs.

Then we go back and forth a lot.  It is a little more jarring in this volume then it has been in others. It is still good, but it took me a few times to really figure out where we were.  Really, the best way to figure it out was to see how much damage had been done to the car.

There are some great moments in this volume though.  And this interesting character that reminds me a lot of Black Widow, but we aren’t told her name.  However we know that her and Clint did it in some dingy hotel.  And that panels were redrawn in order to reduce the risque-ness  while we get an awesomely Hawkblocked Clint.  And then the classic brawl in a hotel room which is awesome.  It eventually ties up in the end with Kate saving the day, in my opinion, and we  still don’t know who this women is.  I hope she shows up again and that Cherry is not her name.

I give this one a 4.5 just because of the difficulty I had reading it.  It is still great and lends a lot to the story all over, just not my fav.

Volume 4 we move away from Aja doing the art and move over to Javier Pulido. Hollingsworth still does the coloring, which give it a great continuos feel, despite the art style being completely different. In fact, I wasn’t sure if I even liked it at first.  It was much more static when I compared it to Aja.  Where previous issues had small panels that read like a motion real almost, these are much larger panels that have to convey much more in one drawing.

This volume is also a much more dramatic type of arc.  There is a serious issue at hand, and Clint needs to fix it.  He tells Kate not to get involved, but that doesn’t happen, in a way she becomes the saving grace of this issue.  I enjoyed the story line overall.  It was tense and had you on the edge of your seat.  I was constantly wondering what was going to happen next.  The writing was superb and really made me a part of the comic, wanting to know what was about to happen.

Also, quizzical looks from people about a VHS tape, how awesome?

This one gets a 4.5/5 just because I’m not a big fan of Pulido’s art style…but I adore the writing and story line, so I love it anyway.

Issue 5 is the conclusion to Issue 4 and is quite simply called ‘The Tape: Part 2’.  The art is still done by Pulido, but I feel like this issue had a much better flow.  Perhaps it is because there is more action?  Not sure.  The panels are still incredibly large for the most part which makes me feel like I’m occasionally missing a frame, but Fractions and Pulido are able to pace the story and art well together.  Something else I started to notice here is that Hollingsworth’s color are much bolder in these issues.

There are some great gems here, much like issue 3, that are just hysterical and remind you how non-serious of a superhero Hawkeye actually is.  These moments, I feel, are key to the series success.  We have all read superhero stories, so for right now it is nice to read a non-superhero superhero story.  Things are all resolved awesomely in the end and you know that the good guys are still the good guys while having a better idea of who some of the bad guys may be.

Just falling through the sky...nothing to see here.

Just falling through the sky…nothing to see here.

This one goes back to a 5/5 as it did really show me that they are interested in providing the same experience all around for the reader, no matter which artist is at the helm.

So that is it, the first 5 issues of Hawkeye…finally…

I think next up is 6 through 12 of Winter Solider…I was a bit late on that one, my bad.  I don’t have the first 5.

Review: Captain Marvel 3-6

So in reading the rest of this arc I have solidified my enjoyment of the series.  There seem to be a few growing pains, but I think that comes with any new comic trying to get everything on the same page and pace.  At the same time, I feel that Carol Danvers is one of the strongest characters we have seen in comics in a while and it is only further backed by the strong secondary characters.

That is not to say she doesn’t have flaws.  She has lots of them.  She is proud, a bit of a show off, and a bit of a worry wort about others.  That is what makes her strong, I feel.  The fact that they acknowledge these and use them to the best of her abilities without it feeling contrived and forced.

In issue three I grew quite attached to the members of Banshee Squad.  They each had a story that we got to explore a bit of their character.   I enjoyed the idea of this all female band of World War II Misfits that got together and were fighting for survival while still keeping their honor and idea of their country.  It was also a great way for us to get more back story on Carol.

Action scene like this one in Issue 3 really make the story very dynamic for me.

What I did not like was that they pretty much vanished.  Slowly they started to get phased out until they pretty much just vanish.  Carol goes to meet Helen Cobb, her hero, but the Banshee’s just are no longer a part of the story.  It was my biggest complaint. I wanted to know what happened to them further, but all I can hope for now it some mention of their outcome at a later issue.

Issue 5 I found fascinating to see the ideas that were wrapped up into females opposing the male status quo and how they wanted to be pilots.  I also found it great to see the interaction between Carol and Helen develop.  Other than that, the writing was great and the art was fantastic, but the book was that obligatory slow book.

The dialogue is sharp and witty, not exactly something that I would expect from this time frame, but at the same time, it is something very much fits the characters.

Issue 6 is where everything happens.  We see how Carol first become Ms. Marvel and then later Captain Marvel.  The action is intense and has you very much on the end of your seat.  The other nice thing is that there were no awkward poses during these high action scenes.  Nothing that is deliberately trying to break spines or shift how people are looking.  The challenge of Carol versus Helen is great, and I feel it gives a great amount of satisfaction to the reader after you hear about the rivalry and mentorship the   I love the crisp colors and the slight change from the art style in the past to the present.

This panel is part of a race type sequence, that I found really well done and very tense.

The ending is perhaps my favorite part of this, despite it leaving out the Banshees.  I don’t want to ruin it, but it is a very heartfelt way to tie it up.

This is certainly a comic that I want to read more of and I am enjoying the team that is working on it.  The art and story all come together very nicely and fit together.  I think it is great to have a comic book that I enjoy reading on so many levels, and seeing these times shifts through a women’s eyes and as a women’s writer.  I certainly give this a 5/5.

 

Captain Marvel #1-2 Review

First Look: Borderlands 2

Since the day Borderlands 2 came out I had a case of the Con Crud, I took off from work and played it with Trev in between naps and doses of dayquil.  Yay con crud!

Image

In any case, I feel that Gearbox really out did themselves with this game.  Where they were restricted in the first due to money and an industry who isn’t to accommodating to new things anyway, for this one they sem to have really been given full reign.  Also, little to no tutorial!  YUSH!  Although I am guilty of switching back to Borderlands 1 controls.  I LIKE FAMILIAR!

I decided to start the game at Axton since everyone else seemed to be going as Zer0 and Trev was determined to do Maya.  I happily do not regret my choice.  Where I could not get into Roland’s character, I am loving the little tidbits of Axton that we have gotten, I love how he talks to his turret, and so far I’m enjoying the tank type roll.

Not to mention that turret is so much more bad ass then the previous one.

The environments are much more varied and crisp and the people are vastly more interactive.  I have been in some cities, deserted towns, bandit camps, ice areas, and desert like areas.  It is certainly a change from the all brown out look of the Pandora from Borderlands 1. It is a very nice change.  So far I have encountered Nomads, Rakks, Skaggs, Bullymogs, and bandits.  One top of three boses.  Fast paced game is also fast.

Even farther than all this, I’m loving the background you are getting on all the characters.  That was something with 1 I felt we were missing was a real connection to the characters.  SPOILER ALERT BELOW

SERIOUSLY DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILS!

LAST CHANCE!

(c)Gearbox

Look! I even put in a big picture to really drive home the point of spoiler!

Too late now, I’m going for it.

Axton has this rather intense backstory where we found out he was going to be killed by firing squad for being a bit of a rouge solider.  His commanding officer warns him so that he can go AWOL the night before and warns him to escape to the border planets.  She also leaves him her wedding ring, telling him that she never really like diamonds anyway.  I felt for him at this moment!  This woman that he loved was telling him to leave, presumably because at some level she still loved him as well.

We can end that spoiler now.

But no really…I have a few little qualms with this game, but I’m going to give it time until full review to see if they still sit.  Definitely worth the pick up and play, particularly if you have friends to play with either online or sitting next to you.

Now go, have fun, and get you some loot!

(c)Gearbox

I cannot wait for the swath of destruction!

Persona 4: Arena: A Deeper Look

I still very much love this game after playing it both with people and a bit more through the story line.  The controls are tight and responsive and animation really cool.  There is occasionally a little too much talking…where you will have a conversation with someone and then the character has an internal monologue about what just happened.  I just kinda sit there and am like, I just heard that, I don’t need to hear it again.  But the storyline, at the same time, is really cool since it ties both Persona 3 and Persona 4 more together, beyond what they had done in Persona 4 already.

Playing PvP is really fun, particularly when you have two people who don’t quite know what they are doing.  The button mashing that ensues results in some really neat combos along with some missed opportunities.  But you see something and then you become determined to master it.  Then it never wants to work against the computer!  Is that not always the way, though?  It was also a little bit more of a social fighting game then I normally see.  When you go and play people want to talk about their favorite characters.  Not in the way you hear during Street Fighter or Tekken…but in a much deeper way.  In most cases, these are characters that you have played hours upon hours of story line with and have a deep vested interest in their lives and personalities.  You speak of them more like old friends then characters.  And you don’t get into fights over which character has the better move set, but over who has the deeper story and how they interacted with that other persons favorite character.  It creates a much different social dynamic that I enjoy to no end.

Now into the single player story mode.  I’m not sure what the point of the bookmarks are.  I stopped the game one night, went to go pick Yukiko’s story back up…and had to start from scratch.  Despite having bookmark 6.  I went back to the title screen and looked for what I was missing.  Didn’t see anything.  Looked in the guide.  Nothing.  Checked the internet and there are very few discussion on the bookmark method at all.  Am I the only person who just doesn’t have the time to sit there and marathon through these thing?  Anyone have any tips or is it really a rather useless feature that just allows me to fast forward(not skip) some of the talking?

I did complete Main Character’s story mode, which then unlocked two new characters for me to use.  Not sure why I got two characters I did not encounter at all throughout the story, but sure.  The biggest disappoint was the lack of a final boss.  I’m not sure if I have to clear all the characters to get to that final boss.  You see this epic cut scene with Labrys and Shadow Labrys and the character prepares to fight, but then nothing, you just go back to character select.  I’ll be following up on this in future posts probably.

Copyright Atlus

Labrys is pretty cool looking…although it maybe my love for blue haired girls talking.

Other than that, it is an awesome game.  I played with the extra pictures that were included and the sound effects and while nothing new from a fighting game, it is still nice to see the characters in such great detail.  If you are a fan of fighting games like BlazBlue or Guilty Gear pick this up.  If you love Atlus, pick this up.  If you love complex stories with questions abound, pick this up.  If you just want to see your favorite characters in a new light, pick this up as well.

 

Okay…so I have to get back to prepping for the wedding and writing a paper…Talk to you all later!

Comic Book Review: X-23 Target X

I have been hunting down the X-23 trade paperbacks for a while.  I was always interested in the X-23 character, but never really knew that she had her own little comic run until recently, so finding the issues has been rather difficult.  Last weekend I picked up the first trade, which covers issues 1-6 and I found my that the time I spent browsing various stores at various times was worth it.

First off, I find all of Choi Oback’s work to be beautiful.  It is nice that he doesn’t always put the characters in impossible positions(a rather big pet peeve of mine) and the lines are well defined without being gaudy.  With X-23, he is able to show her more human side and then also clearly describe the killer in merely a change of panel, not over a few different ones.  The change of emotion was very intense and while for some characters if is a little jarring, for X-23 it is very fitting.  I also think it is neat that they make her slightly different from Wolverine in the fact that she has the single claw from either foot and only two from her hands.

Second the story is very well crafted I feel.  Sometimes the whole flashback thing can bog you down, and while it does in some places, for the most part it is easy to follow.  It is also really neat to see the Captain America and DareDevil interaction as she is recalling her story.  While it isn’t much, you can see the tension build between the two of them as their opinions begin to differ.  You learn about Laura as the normal girl and X-23 as the killer.  You see how much some people cared for her and how she impacted their lives while also seeing the death and destruction she caused for many others.

The story is solid, filling in many of the holes that were left when she was introduced into X-Men: Evolution and leaving you to want more of what is coming after.  I feel that she is a character that is starting to gain traction considering her appearance in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and multiple different story lines within the Marvel Universe, but it also feels that they don’t quite know where to put her or how to use her.  My biggest gripe with this is that it is, indeed, only a mini-series.  I plan on picking up the other X-23 series that is out there, but I feel that this could have gone so much farther then it did.  I suppose all I can do is sit back, read the stories, and enjoy the ride!

RATING: 3.5/5