Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Potential PanterA Reunion Tour & The Obstacles To Overcome

If you are reading this, I assume you are familiar with PanterA and what they meant to heavy metal and the community within. I'm also going to assume that you are well aware of the drama and infighting that eventually dissolved PanterA and the tragic events of Dec. 8, 2004 that seemed to destroy any possible hope of a PanterA reunion. Yet that hasn't deterred the Facebook community any and there is a cause you can join and donate to to get the surviving members of PanterA with a stand-in guitarist to do a reunion tour to keep the PanterA community happy. When the local radio station first announced this, my gears immediately started whirring and contemplating the concept of my favorite band, albeit with a different guitarist, hitting the road for the first time in 10 years. I'm not entirely sure the person who started this cause, nor the people who have joined it, knows exactly how lenghty of a fight is ahead of them. There are many blocks in the road that make up a colossal beast of improbability that one needs to take into consideration, such as:

Who Stands In For "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott?

Sure, one can learn songs written and performed by a guitarist, but can you truly replicate one's style? This is quite possibly the biggest complaint that people have with the idea of a PanterA reunion, co-founding member and drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott included. PanterA is remembered most notably for the guitar work from Dime even before his death, and much like Hulk Hogan to wrestling, there'll never be another guitarist like Dime, so this presents any guitarist with the task of taking his place (even temporarily) with almost impossibly large shoes to fill, even with the two likely candidates Zakk Wylde of Black Label Society or Slayer's Kerry King. Both are great guitarists in their own right and were good friends with Dime, but they also have styles that don't replicate Dime's sound enough to do it justice. If you're going to have a PanterA reunion tour, shouldn't it sound like PanterA and not three of the original members ft. a guest guitarist trying to sound like PanterA?

Will Phil Anselmo's Old Habits Stay Buried?

The parties thrown by PanterA were the stuff of legend, but unfortunately, so were the personal habits of frontman Phil Anselmo. The drinking, the drug trips, OD'ing on heroin which left him dead for four to five minutes, Phil was truly living the life of a rock star with the amount of contraband around him, but he wasn't just doing this because he was on top of the world but because of his back pain and couldn't afford to take time off touring for the surgery. He admitted in the VH1 Behind The Music episode on PanterA that this was about as effective as "putting a band-aid on cancer" and from reading interviews from him as well as record executives who have spoken to him in recent years, Phil Anselmo has cleaned up his act from the hellion he was back in the PanterA days. However, one cannot help but wonder if a reunion tour were to happen if the old temptation of reliving the glory days offstage would arise in Phil and the hard drugs would begin flowing through his veins again. The effects of the drugs and alcohol Phil abused were seen onstage in PanterA's later years as well as in Phil's side projects before he cleaned up, and it would be heartbreaking to see him fall apart like that again.

Can Everyone Maintain A Professional Relationship Throughout The Tour?

Ever since PanterA crumbled, most of the press interviews and news stories were, as bassist Rex Brown so eloquently put it, "A bunch of 'he said she said' nonsense." Dime and Vinnie would give their side of the story as to why things with PanterA weren't working out and then Phil would come around and say something that didn't match Dime & Vinnie's story. Sadly, this continues to this day as Phil Anselmo offers Vinnie Paul a chance to come back into his life but Vinnie is not interested, sticking to his guns that if they had been able to work out their differences back in the day, PanterA would still be around and Darrell Abbott would still be alive (in my stubborn nature, I'd probably be doing the same thing if I were in a similar situation). Let's say for argument's sake that Vinnie and Phil call a truce so that the fans can see some incarnation of PanterA one last time, could they truly maintain that peace for the duration of a world tour? Furthermore, what if the stand-in guitarist has some sort of beef with either Phil or Vinnie because of this media war of words? This reunion tour would require more counseling than when Metallica recorded St. Anger.

What About Naysayer Fans?

Regardless of what you do and where, there's always going to be the group of people that will stand up and proclaim, "This is a REALLY bad idea!" From the research I conducted for this blog, it seems that for every person who is all for a PanterA reunion tour, there is at least one person who thinks that for one reason or another it's a horrible idea. I've read reasons that range from "Phil's a tool," "Zakk Wylde is overrated," to "Vinnie's a sellout and would only do this for money," or "PanterA died when Dime did." If someone is starting a cause for a PanterA reunion on Facebook, perhaps someone in charge of putting a tour like this together should put it to a vote on various social networking sites and let the fans decide whether or not PanterA should attempt to reunite, this way anyone who is against the idea has a chance to plea their case against it and it would be a fair decision in the end because each side has had their input and it would just be up to the numbers to decide.

Now, like I mentioned earlier in this blog, I LOVE PanterA and I am not writing this blog to try and persuade anyone's thoughts on it. I included the link at the beginning of the article if you wish to support this cause and if you do, great. For the sake of anyone who does support the cause, I hope something comes out of this because it would just go to show you (again) how powerful a tool Facebook can be. Me? I want to support this cause, but I think there's too many variables involved that makes the idea of a PanterA reunion more trouble than its worth. It's not like their legacy has weakened where it matters. As long as fans wear the shirts, sport the tatts and crank the tunes, PanterA's spirit lives and will continue to do so for years to come. Why spoil that with a reunion that could turn really ugly really quick?

However, if this tour does happen and is well received, I will record and post a video apology to all parties involved on my YouTube account.

-The Cynic

Just a Quick Note

As you may or may not know, the Dragon Age II Demo was out Tuesday. Unfortunately, given our current non-Gold status, I can't play it until next week. So sadly, the Demo Review has been pushed back until then. However, I will have it done as soon as I can once I have played through at least once. If you desperately need a look RIGHT NOW then head over to Blistered Thumbs where Angry Joe has a Let's Play up for the demo. I haven't watched it myself yet as I want to play the demo first, but I find his reviews to be very fair and would recommend you check it out.
I will likely do a review for the game itself, since I have been so stoked and hyped this game up a lot. Expect that in March sometime.
Cheers all.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Demo Reviews: Bulletstorm

First off, sorry this has taken so long. Things got really busy after putting up my last video. So, let's jump right into Bulletstorm.

Now we actually downloaded this demo a couple of weeks ago now, so it's had plenty of time to sink in and for me to play through a few times (and for the Cynic to as well, of course). So what did I think of it? Two words: RIDICULOUS FUN.

Now Bulletstorm would just be an average, run-of-the-mill, and likely forgettable sci-fi FPS, if not for the implementation of skillshots. This basically rewards you with tons of extra points for being creative with your kills (not to mention personal satisfaction and amusement!) , with tongue-in cheek-names such as voodoo doll, shocker, flyswatter, one hit wonder, and many more. These skillshots utilize not only your weapons, which all but the energy leash have various secondary fire modes, but also the environment of the planet Stygia. The demo itself takes place
in a toppled skyscraper hotel that is crawling with mutants and marauders alike. It's not an overly long demo, in fact, it's quite short (especially if you want the time bonuses), but it emphasizes replay to discover more creative kills and thus more points.

What else did I like about this? The cast, from what we saw of it at least. The moment the player character, voiced by Steve Blum, starts narrating the first part of the demo, I realized this was going to be a hell of a lot of fun. He voices your character (a pirate named Grayson Hunt) almost as a cross between Wolverine and Oghren from Dragon Age. And you can just tell he is having a lot of fun with it, which is really cool.

Sounds like a good combo to me :D

Joining Grayson is a cyborg named Ishi Sato, who gets about one line, so I can't tell you much about him. Last, but certainly not least is Trishka Novak, voiced by Jennifer Hale, who, from what we hear, sounds something like this:

FemShep + Ophelia = Win in my books (interestingly enough, my first Shep looked almost exactly like this one :D).

Of course, as with many games, certain types of people are getting their panties in a twist about the violent nature of the game, especially the names of some of the skillshots. I'm not going to get into that here or this will turn into a massive rant against certain types of people, for which this review is not the place. I'll just direct you to this video, courtesy of Blistered Thumbs and The Game Heroes, as they sum it up quite nicely. *Goes off to grumble about people bitching about my M-rated games*

So what are my final thoughts? Download this bad boy and try it! Now! It is a ridiculous amount of fun, if not a little short. You will want to replay it just to see what new combos and kills you can come up with. It is well worth your time. The game itself comes out next Tuesday (Feb. 22), and I will most likely at least give this one a rent. Maybe I can squeeze it in between the Dragon Age 2 Demo and release. Anyhow, definitely give this one a look if you are looking for a great way to have some fun and discover some really sweet and creative methods of dispatching your enemies.

Final score: 4.5 headshots out of 5

**Oh, and if you're interested, check out my other blog: Dungeons& Diapers. It will be the new home of PMS Cooks!, as well as other non-CWTC stuff, although everything posted here will be cross-posted there. **

Friday, February 11, 2011

Jurassic Park: The Devils In The Desert #2 Review

Yup, it's time again to look at IDW's latest arc in the Jurassic Park franchise, The Devils In The Desert. Now, assuming you read my review of the first issue, you know that this series has taken an interesting and ballsy move in their choice of "villain." In regards to the JP series, I try not to use that term very often (if it all) because usually the island's inhabitants are labeled with said term, but the fact is that the dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures created by InGen are just animals doing what they do in order to survive and not making things difficult for the humans in order to take over the world. However, Devils In The Desert #2 brings up an interesting point that had been mentioned but somewhat brushed aside in Jurassic Park III: the creatures are not actually dinosaurs or Pteranodons but rather genetic replicas of them with imperfections throughout...which of course is a nice way of saying, "Genetically engineered theme park monsters." With that said, SPOILER ALERT.

The comic opens with a trucker almost running over one of the hikers from the end of the first issue and then taking her to a hospital. While Sheriff Tobias and his party come to the conclusion that the Pteranodons did in fact come from Site B, Tyler Franklin runs off to find his father (who was found dead in the first issue) and he & his horse are attacked by the Pteranodons. As the Pteras rip Buttercup apart, Tyler falls into a crevice and twists his ankle. Agent Harding gets a call from one of his colleagues saying that the survivor of the hiking crew said she was attacked at Morton Ridge so the group heads over and while on his way, Tobias gets somewhat lectured by Liz the secretary about how he let Sara, Tyler's mother, get away all those years ago but Tobias tells her to mind her own business. When they get there, Harding hands out some guns stowed in the back of his humvee but they do agree with Monica, one of the scientists from the university, that they should try and take some of the Pteranodons alive. However, when the Pteras attack and cause their truck to flip over down the side of the hill, that idea gets abandoned and Agent Harding begins blowing holes into them. They rescue Tyler from the crevice (I swear, Tyler is eying Monica's ass in this panel) and the last wound Ptera lunges at Harding's leg, injuring him before he blasts its head apart. Monica investigates the top of the ridge and finds that their problems are just starting...

Honestly, there isn't a whole lot to say about issue #2 of this series that wouldn't sound like a rehash of my feelings on issue #1. The artwork looks just as good this time around as it did with the first issue and the writing is well done...mostly. My only gripe this time around seems to be with how Liz and even Sara's parents are nudging Will's shoulder going, "Hey, hey, she's single, hey, hey, you should get on that, hey, hey." There are fucking Pteranodons killing livestock and people alike, not to mention the woman just lost her fucking husband and the father of her son, even if he was something of a douche. This is not the time nor the place. I'm glad Will is focusing on the task at hand instead of humming and hawing over hooking up with his now back-on-the-market-due-to-unforeseen-and-tragic-circumstances-former-high-school-sweetheart. Looking forward to issue #3, which should hopefully ship at the same time as this.

Also, expect a new video sometime within the next week or so.

-The Cynic