Monday, January 24, 2011

New Feature! P.M.S Cooks!

Hey guys, just plotting some new content for all of you instead of working on my latest review (which will actually be a new video! yay!).

Now something I've noticed with my Facebook posts is how often I talk about cooking. I love to cook and bake. So, a new feature I am thinking of implementing is recipe reviews, as well as posts of my own various culinary exploits, using the Cynic and myself as guinea pigs lol. This posts will probably not be as frequent as other features here, but might be something different and interesting every now and again.

So for our first feature let's have a look at some homemade pizza. Well, more or less homemade, I started with a Kraft Pizza Kit and went from there. We used to get them sometimes when I was a kid and I've always liked them. So once the dough was on the pan, sauce was added and then the spice packet. After this I added sprinkled on two cloves' worth of garlic, which had been put through a press, and some spinach (which I didn't measure, just cut up enough for our tastes). Parmesan cheese was then sprinkled on, and it looked like this at this point.

Pepperoni came next. Now I had acquired a 1 kg pepperoni and that was WAY more than enough for the two pizzas. In fact, I got about 2 1/2 layers on each, as I wanted to use it all. I think the picture will explain better than I can just how much pepperoni was on these pizzas.

Finally the whole works was cheesed over with mozzarella. I used a whole block for both, but it was one of the smaller, thinner blocks and that was enough.

With my messy table and Def Leppard on the DVD player lol.

I'd say these were about ten minutes or just over in the oven at 400F. Then again, my oven tends to run hot, especially when cooking pizza. Here they are all done and ready to eat. And it was delicious. :D

So, what do you guys think? As I said, these will be sporadic compared to something like the Demo Reviews, but would be something different (as there really haven't been a lot of new demos lately, most of them are games that are already out). Let me know if you like or dislike.

Oh, and one last thing. I just want to share with you the super-aweome, holy shit, jump-up-and-down-squeeing birthday present that I got from the Cynic. Behold!

This is probably my favorite show EVAR, and to have BOTH seasons on DVD is pants-shittingly awesome. And I have already dug into it, and it is so much fun. :D

Well kids, that's all for me this time, I will see about a new demo review soon. Unless something new comes out very soon, though, it will be a game that has already been released. But, we shall see!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Jurassic Park: The Devils In The Desert #1 Review

You're probably wondering why you're reading these words here instead of hearing them on YouTube. Coffee With The Cynic's YouTube schedule is limited to 1-2 videos a month so that I don't burn myself out, so here it is. Be warned: minor to moderate spoilers.

Jurassic Park has had an unfavorable history with comics, whether it be poor artwork, strange/horribly written stories, or a combination of the two. The last good comic of Jurassic Park to be released in my opinion was the comic adaptation of The Lost World: Jurassic Park, where the dinosaurs looked very similar to how they did in the movies (unlike the first film's adaptation) and the characters almost looked spot on to the actors that played them. Sadly, that comic came out almost 14 years ago and the only follow-up we've had since then was the absolutely horrible series Jurassic Park: Redemption, which you can see me tear apart on Coffee With The Cynic's YouTube channel. So rest assured, I was skeptical of the announcement of the next installment, The Devils In The Desert, but since it has that damn logo with the Rex skeleton in it, I shelled out money to read it. How is it?

Redemption haters rejoice!

Well first off, it looks much MUCH nicer this time around and when reading any comic, nice artwork is good to have. However, in the sense of Jurassic Park, it is crucial because the films went out of their way to make sure the dinosaurs LOOKED real. Sure, pencil & Photoshop coloring doesn't quite match life-sized animatronics or computer generated imagery, but dammit, it helps. The humans don't look like horrible pixelated boxes, the vehicles and locales look like some effort was actually put into them and as for the "Devils?" Well, see for yourself...


I honestly was not expecting this...

I love how the Pteranodons have a very similar coloring to how they did in Jurassic Park III, making this feel like a true sequel rather than something trying to cash in on the JP name. I'm still not crazy about them having teeth, but they had teeth in the movie, so it only makes sense they sport them here.

The story of The Devils In The Desert follows Sheriff Tobias as he is called in to investigate cattle mutilations and the disappearance of a farmer. As he and his deputy investigate the details of the scene, they find a footprint and make a cast of it to be analyzed by experts at the state university. The missing farmer's body is discovered across the state line, making it a federal case and two Special Agents are brought in. Another farm gets attacked (preview page earlier) and the three men working there, or rather what's left of them, are discovered by the sheriff and his crew later on. One of the feds goes in a helicopter to scout ahead but the sheriff and other fed lose contact with him, only to find the chopper downed with a strange trail leading away from it, indicating something dragged itself away from the wreck. They however are called back to the airport to meet with the paleontologists the university sent, who are curious to see how they found perfect footprints of an animal that's been extinct for sixty-five million years. The comic closes with a group of hikers happening across a trio of Pteranodons (pictured above) hiding out in the mountains.

So what's good about the debut issue of Devils In The Desert? Obviously, the artwork as mentioned before, but the pacing of the comic is nice too. Building up the appearance of the creatures similar to Alien, Jaws, and many other classic horror films, you do not actually see the Pteranodons until the final 2 page spread of this issue. There's also a lot of dialogue to really get to know the characters and possibly get attached to them so you want to see them make it and not just get offed by InGen's creations. I believe that the Jurassic Park name is in good hands with writer/artist John Byrne, so let's hope he can keep this trend up in future issues. However, I do have a couple of things to nitpick about it:

#1: Pteranodons aren't dinosaurs.
Minor thing, but in the preview art earlier, you see the guy say, "It's a dinosaur! How can it be a dinosaur?!" I would hope that these farmers aren't being portrayed as your stereotypical southern hicks, but we all know that Pteranodons are not dinosaurs, but merely flying reptiles that were related to dinosaurs. I imagine that this line was used to keep the readers guessing as to what was tearing up the countryside and those who inhabit it, but that bugs me every time I hear it.
#2: Again with the insane metabolisms!
So in this issue, we hear about fifteen head of cattle, half of a horse, and four people getting torn apart by these creatures. If you look at the frame of the Pteranodon, you can see there isn't a whole lot to them. Their bones are hollow, their bodies are very thin and they need to be light in order to take flight (Hell, even the largest of pterosaurs such as Quetzalcoatlus only weighed approximately 300lbs.). Where is all that food going?! Are they burning off calories so fast that they need to gorge as much as they do? Are they infected with a zombie-esque virus that they need to consume every living creature in their path? Or have they been around longer picking off cattle and only now their cover's been blown? I hope the latter is the case, otherwise it makes them more like monsters than animals (again) and that was never what JP was about.
#3: The Covers.
I'll go right out and say it, Devils In The Desert #1 has a really nice cover. My gripe is with the next few issues in the series. While they look nice in their own right, they feel too much like copycats to me. Observe.

Cover art for issues #2 & #3

Not a deal breaker, per sey, but it would've been nice to see something other than the "from-the-mouth-perspective" in later issues, but if it works, go with it, I suppose.

Despite these three gripes, Devils In The Desert left me wanting more, whereas Redemption was DOA. You could say that this could very well be the redemption Jurassic Park needed after Redemption. I want to close this review by saying John Byrne has made an interesting choice with the creatures to use. In a franchise dominated by theropods like Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor, it's a very gutsy move to say, "Nah, let's get those Pteranodons from JP3 in here. Let's tell their story." While I am applauding this comic for doing something a little different, the theropod fan in me is a bit let down that they apparently won't be featured in this story, especially after seeing this piece of art in the IDW forums, which I at first thought was done by John Byrne.

He may have been a lame T-Rex wanna-be in JP3, but who wouldn't wanna see this guy tear it up in a comic book?

Check back sometime next month where I'll be putting up a review for The Devils In The Desert #2. There'll probably be some other stuff in the meantime as well.

-The Cynic

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Demo Reviews: Dead Space 2

Well I'll be, I'm reviewing a demo for a game that hasn't actually come out yet! Well that's a first. Anyway, let's look at Dead Space 2.

Let me get it out of the way and say that this is the first time playing a Dead Space game. I haven't played the first game, seen the animated films, or read the comics. But, as I've heard a lot of good things about the franchise, I thought I would give this one a shot. And it sure was something.

The demo starts out by giving you a four minute intro of exposition regarding the setting and the events of the first game. This is good for someone like me who doesn't really know much about it, and for those that do, you can skip it. This intro has some cool imagery and shows you the important stuff you need to know.

After that you go through what I assume is a ship looking for and speaking over radio to a woman named Dana. The set up of this allows you to get accustomed to the controls, the UI, and the various game mechanics, although if you are already familiar with all of this from the first game, it might seem a little dull. Eventually the shit really starts hitting the fan, and after some interesting encounters with some very creepy and disturbing creatures the demo ends just as you go "holy shit!" due to an imminent boss fight. Which was a good thing, because by the time we reached the end (the Cynic and I traded off playing after Roland woke up) we had no ammo and no health to speak of.

So what did I like about this demo? The atmosphere, it was dark, it was creepy, it just oozed the horror aspect of survival horror. The Cynic felt that the beginning of the demo with the frozen pods was very reminiscent of John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). Overall, I felt it had a very Alien x Resident Evil feel, and these comparisons are favorable. We had a lot of fun with this demo, it was creepy with just a few jump-type scares if you weren't paying attention to your surroundings, and it did it well. The ship felt dark, gloomy, and industrial, not a terribly inviting place to begin with. Your character, Isaac Clarke, lumbers heavily in his space suit that covers him head to toe, and you never see his face through his futuristic Crusader Helm. That was all brilliantly done. One other thing we really enjoyed, in kind of a sadistically satisfying way, was the stomping dead enemies in order to make them drop loot. The creatures themselves worked very well with the vibe of the game, as only the pale, mutated, spindly, rotting undead can.

What wasn't I crazy about: lack of ammunition. Now I know that it makes the game more challenging to be sparing with ammo, and it most certainly does, but it was almost impossible to find ammo anywhere, the stuff just did not drop. Although, there was no indication of what difficulty I was playing the game on (most likely a normal/default setting), so I don't know if that had an effect. So be warned, be stingy with your ammo, you won't get much. Same goes for regeneration items.

This game hits store shelves January 25th. So if you want to pick it up, that would be the time to do so. Would I play the full game based on this demo? Yes, I certainly would (although after Roland goes to bed). I would give this demo four stars out of five, for a great atmosphere, interesting story, and good gameplay, but severely short of ammunition and a bit of a slow start (especially if you've already played the first game). Definitely give it a shot, and look for the full game out soon!

** Oh, and if you haven't heard (or seen the post below), Coffee With the Cynic is making a return very soon! The Cynic is currently working on new material as I type this, and will be debuting said new material and a new, more set release schedule in the very, very near future! So stay tuned here, on our YouTube channel, and our Facebook page for updates and new stuff! Huzzah!**

Top 10 Most Acclaimed Films I Haven't Seen (Honorable Mentions)

Hey, everyone! Just writing to let you know that Coffee With The Cynic will be returning to YouTube with new content sometime this week, with a more consistent schedule of 1-2 episodes a month. Now, this list regards a video that you will be seeing next month, but I wanted to share this with you guys before I lost the documentation.

So February's primary video will be The Top 10 Most Acclaimed Films I Haven't Seen or I'm Singing My Death Warrant Because The Internet Will Murder Me For Not Having Seen These Films as I like to think of it. This will be the first list I've done that actually uses some kind of a scoring system and doesn't just consist of my personal picks. Here's how the system works:

-Look up a critically acclaimed film
-Check how it ranks on the Tomato Meter on Rotten
-Check the films grade on Internet Movie Database
-Add the scores together and divide by two, giving you an average score

Altogether, I checked the scores of 45 films, although I was only able to score 43 of them because Momento and Ben Hur do not have ranks on Rotten Tomatoes (Wtf?). The final list you'll see in February on YouTube will consist of 10 entries and 2 honorable mentions. What is listed here are the films that did not make it on to the final list. Enjoy and keep an eye on YouTube for a new CWTC video!

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence - 71.5%
Dreamgirls - 72%
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford - 76%
Snatch - 77.5%
Leon The Professional - 82%
Brokeback Mountain - 82.5%
The Exorcist - 82.5%
Donnie Darko - 83.5%
The Ten Commandments - 84.5%
West Side Story - 85%
Se7en - 86%
The Usual Suspects - 87%
Rebel Without A Cause - 87%
Children Of Men - 87%
Slumdog Millionaire - 88.5%
The Departed - 89%
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind - 89%
No Country For Old Men - 89%
Rosemary's Baby - 89.5%
To Kill A Mockingbird - 90%
The Pianist - 90.5%
Lawrence Of Arabia - 91.5%
Vertigo - 92%
Taxi Driver - 92%
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest - 92.5%
Casablanca - 92.5%
Das Boot - 92.5%
North By Northwest - 93%
Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb - 93%
Seven Samurai - 94%
The Godfather Part 2 - 94%

So what will the final list consist of? All I can tell you is that it consists of films that I feel I'll catch the most flak for not seeing. Stay tuned!

-The Cynic