Renaissance News Vol. 2 Issue 9

Odds are, as you are reading this you are sick. You are very sick. You are sick in the kind of lung-busting, phlegm-hucking, watery eyes way that is featured in most Dickens novels. I base this solely on the control group that is my workplace where everyone is hacking and wheezing like some kind of truly awful scat choral group. Here be bits of tid to cheer thee up:

  • Thanks to the magic of voice actors with Twitter accounts, we know that three of the villains in Batman Arkham Asylum 2 (the sequel to my 2009 Game of the Year) will be Two Face, Mr. Freeze, and Talia ‘al Ghul.
  • The rumor is that Nintendo is looking at October to release it’s 3D hand held system: the 3DS.
  • There will be NO 3D for Batman 3. Let the people rejoice! The fad has escaped at least one franchise.
  • This is not the case for Men in Black3D (yes that’s the title). Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, and director Barry Sonnenfeld will all return.
  • As the biggest film of all-time lands on DVD, early news about Avatar 2 (or Avatwo as they call it on the interwebs). The sequel will focus on the oceans of Pandora and the original film will be re-released in August with six additional minutes of footage before a four disc special edition DVD hits in October.
  • Martin Lawrence says Bad Boys 3 is happening after Michael Bay finishes Transformers 3. Take that source’s veracity as you will.
  • The trailer for Jonah Hex will be attached to A Nightmare on Elm Street.
  • MGM is up for sale and delays in finding a buyer have indefinitely delayed Bond 23 which was to be directed by Sam Mendes.
  • AMC has announced that the fourth season of Mad Men will premiere July 25th.
  • NBC has renewed Parenthood for a second season.
  • HBO has renewed Curb Your Enthusiasm for an eighth season.
  • Among the many Wizard of Oz projects being passed around, Sam Mendes (recently freed up by the Bond delay) is looking at one that would cast Robert Downey Jr. as the Great and Powerful Oz.
  • There will be a new Star Wars animated series focusing on the adventures of the main characters post-Return of the Jedi. No word on if the stories will follow the continuity set up in the novels/comics that take place in that time period.
  • Don’t look for Leonard Nimoy in the next Star Trek movie. The actor has retired officially (this time he swears it will stick) from acting.
  • DVD Release Dates:
    Alice in Wonderland, June 1st
    Crash: The Complete Second Season, July 27th
    Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, June 22nd
    Shutter Island, June 8th
  • Aziz Ansari (Parks & Recreation) will be hosting this year’s MTV Movie Awards.
  • Look for an announcement very soon about Star Wars coming to Blu Ray.
  • Peter Jackson says the second of the two Hobbit scripts is finished and he expects filming to begin in October or November.
  • Box Office
    1. Kick-Ass, $19.8 million
    2. How to Train Your Dragon, $19.6 million
    3. Date Night, $16.7 million
    4. Death at a Funeral, $16.2 million
    5. Clash of the Titans, $15.4 million
  • Best Selling Video Games
    1. Pokemon Heart Gold, DS
    2. Wii Sports, Wii
    3. Wii Fit Plus, Wii
    4. New Super Mario Bros., Wii
    5. Just Dance, Wii
  • Rolling Stones Top 5 Albums
    1. “My World’s 2.0” by Justin Bieber
    2. “Raymond V Rayond” by Usher
    3. “Slash” by Slash
    4. “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum
    5. “Now 33” by Various Artists
  • New York Times Hardcover Fiction Bestsellers
    1. Changes: Book 12 of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher
    2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    3. Caught by Harlan Coben
    4. The Walk by Richard Paul Evans
    5. A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters

Dragon Age: Origins

I don’t really need to wax rhapsodic (how did that even get to be a phrase?) about how outstanding a company Bioware is. If you want to hear me go on and on about their fantabulousness (oh oh, so THAT’s not a word? grammar is so fickle) just look up my Mass Effect 2 review. How they managed to release the two best RPGs in the last three years is completely beyond me. Dragon Age excels in creating an immersive world with a complex history. The extent and detail of the story are so fascinating that a large part of the game is devouring the codex entries you’ll find throughout the world.

There are six, count ’em six, different openings to the game depending on the race you choose (human noble, magi, dwarf commoner, dwarf noble, city elf, wood elf) and each of them lead you to the same story point, but are 2 hour completely unique openings. I played the first one and found it so interesting that I couldn’t choose based on just one. So I played all six on separate saves before finally settling on the human noble based primarily on the fact that he gets to have a war hound (which, yes, I named after my pug). The fantasy world in the game, Ferelden, is under attack by a dark plague of evil beings called Darkspawn. The best hope against them is an ancient order called the Grey Wardens, which your character will join after the opening.

You’ll spend the majority of the game rallying the different races and factions of Ferelden into a massive army to face the Darkspawn threat, gathering to you a diverse and memorable party of compatriots. The dialogue interaction with them is even better than Mass Effect 2. Each conversation has an effect on that relationship with the member and the higher the relationship level, the more skills that member contributes to the party. Combat is satsifying and leaves the party blood spattered afterward (in a realistic turn you stay blood spattered for a bit after a battle). There’s a lot to do and tons of sidequests that will take to 50-60 hours to complete and it’s worth it to take in the fantastic story and interact with your party (in a nice turn, party members will talk to each other as you’re wandering the land and those conversations are not just entertaining, but offer insight into how you should converse with them yourself).

Dragon Age completely consumed me. I played it for 10 hour plus at a time. It ate whole weekends. I read both tie-in novels. It’s my screensaver at work. It’s not perfect; however. The problem-really the only problem-is that the graphics are not outstanding and are downright buggy in places. Compared to Mass Effect 2, the game looks two or three years old. Dragon Age 2 has already been announced for Feb. 2011 and if they can maintain the level of story and gameplay while updating the graphics engine, this could be Bioware’s best franchise to date.


Renaissance News Vol. 2 Issue 8

Thursday is the new Wednesday, people. Mark it down. I’m starting a trend with missing my own self-imposed deadlines. To the news!

  • Support for online play for the original XBOX ends tonight at midnight. No more Halo 2 online, people. Time to move on.
  • Gears of War 3 was announced on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (a sign of how mainstream gaming is becoming). The third in the series will feature four player co-op and, as always, machine guns with chainsaw bayonets. I want one just to trim hedges. Release date is set for April 5, 2011, and the trailer can be found at
  • Can’t have an issue without Captain America casting news. Newcomer Hayley Atwell has been cast as Cap’s girlfriend, Peggy Carter.
  • That sound you hear is geeks everywhere screaming “hallelujah”. Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Angel) has been tapped to direct The Avengers movie that will unite Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Nick Fury, and possibly the Hulk. It will be the biggest Marvel movie of all time, and if you doubt his chops with the material, check out his X-Men run. Rumor is that Whedon will be rewriting the scripts for Capt. America and The Avengers. Can he do that? He has an Oscar nomination for his work on the first Toy Story‘s script. This is OUTSTANDING news.
  • Rachel Weisz (Constant Gardener) has been cast as Jackie Kennedy in a biopic directed by Darren Arnofsky (The Fountain).
  • Chris Pine (Star Trek) is the new Jack Ryan, following Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. The new Ryan movie will focus on the character’s early years as a financial analyst in Moscow before his recruitment into the CIA.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is in development. My title? I’m so glad you asked. Cloudier with a Damn Fine Chance of Meatballs.
  • If you’re looking on the inter-webs for a picture of Ryan Reynolds in his Green Lantern costume, you’re out of luck. The entire costume will be CGI, which makes sense given its fluid nature.
  • HBO has already renewed ‘Treme for a second season.
  • Think we have enough Law & Order? NBC disagrees as they’ve ordered 13 episodes of Law & Order: Los Angeles (some would argue that title an oxymoron).
  • Conan O’Brien has signed with TBS to bring his talk show there this fall.
  • DVD Release Dates:
    Psych: The Complete Fourth Season, July 13th
    Youth in Revolt, June 15th
  • Director Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition) has left the adaptation of the Vertigo comic Preacher to focus on James Bond 23.
  • Box Office
    1. Clash of the Titans $26.6 million
    2. Date Night $25.2 million
    3. How to Train Your Dragon $24.9 million
    4. Why Did I Get Married, Too? $11 million
    5. The Last Song $9.8 million
  • Rolling Stones Album Charts
    1. “My World’s 2.0” by Justin Bieber
    2. “Raymond V. Raymond” by Usher
    3. “Slash” by Slash
    4. “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum
    5. “NOW 33” by Various Artists
  • Video Game Best Sellers
    1. Pokemon Heart Gold, DS
    2. Wii Sports, Wii
    3. New Super Mario Bros., Wii
    4. Wii Fit Plus, Wii
    5. God of War III, PS3
  • New York Times Hardcover Bestseller Lists
    1. Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs
    2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
    3. Caught by Harlan Coben
    4. Deception by Jonathan Kellerman
    5. House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Irredeemable (Vol. 1-2)

What if Superman went nuts and decided he was coming for us all? That’s the conceit behind Mark Waid’s new series Irredeemable. The Plutonian, the world’s most powerful super hero, has gone mad and is hunting down all his former teammates. Through flashbacks we see the events that broke his mind and loosed him on the world. The first two volumes of Irredeemable collect the series first eight issues, and if you’re a fan of deconstructing the super hero mythos, you have to be reading this. All super hero comics make the simple assumption that the person given great power has the mental capacity to handle that power. Mark Waid, as he says in the intro to the first volume, has rejected that premise. This mentally unstable, godlike being loses his patience with humanity; their ingratitude, their whining, and their inability to live up to his standard. And when The Plutonian goes bad, he goes horribly horribly bad. He knows all the other heroes’ secrets. He knows where they live. And he’s coming for them all. My only criticism of this new series, which was just nominated for a slew of Eisners (comic’s highest awards) is that I don’t see how it can be sustained for very long. It seems like it has to have a finite end. Either they find some way to stop him or he literally kills everyone on the planet. I don’t know how long that can last, but I can’t wait to find out.

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