Monday, November 30, 2009

Tech Predictions for 2010

Instead of having a Best Game of The Year or a List of 10 Things in 2009 That Were Hella Cool, I shall now gaze into the all-seeing crystal ball and look into the future. Let's just hope that I don't look in the wrong place and see my roommate naked or something. Ugh. Anyways, without further ado, Justin's Totally Thought-out Predictions for 2010.
  1. 2010 will be a year dominated by gaming sequels - Sequels to Gears of War, Resistance, Halo (ok maybe not a sequel, but it's close), Gran Turismo, Mass Effect, Bioshock, Splinter Cell, and Call of Duty will almost certainly coming out next year. And there isn't an original IP that looks like it will stand out from the crowd.
  2. The Wii will see a gajillion consoles - Duh.
  3. Google will release their much hyped 'Google' phone - Because they can. Headline in 2012: Google takes over the World, Bill Gates sobs.
  4. Speaking of Google, Chrome OS will not be released - Official word says late 2010, but I personally doubt it. There's some tech hurdles that need to be jumped, a highly skeptical public that needs to be convinced, and more solid-state netbooks that need to be released.
  5. Japan will make another robot for...something weird - Another duh. But I gotta have these freebies in here so this list sounds somewhat legit.
  6. The Xbox 360 will continue to be in 3rd place behind the PS3 in monthly sales - This might seem like blasphemy coming from me, but the future for the 360 isn't bright. Of course, I have a very good chance of being wrong, especially if Natal comes out in 2010. But otherwise, Halo: Reach and Gears of War 3 won't guarantee sustained dominance over the PS3 for 2010.
  7. Apple tablet announced - Cupertino has been playing around with us for so long that it's impossible to deny the existence of one without angering legions of Apple fanboys. Plus, it's guaranteed to sell like hotcakes, and it does make sense, so it's a win-win situation.
  8. More torrent trackers will bite the dust - With the departure of Mininova and Pirate Bay to more legitimate shores, it's only a matter of time before unregulated torrent trackers die off. But hey, someone can always place a tracker in Russia or China...
  9. Yahoo will be bought by someone - Yahoo's sucking right now, and they're overdue for a change in direction and focus. Either someone's going to shake up the leadership over there, or Yahoo will go the way of Earthlink into irrelevance.
  10. I will continue to make a fool out of myself on this blog - Guaranteed.
And yes, I did say hella.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

DEM SPARKLIES: Kimi ni Todoke Impressions

I might as well turn this blog into a play-by-play death of my masculinity. Kimi ni Todoke is a comedy/romance unabashedly aimed at aimed all the overly romantic girls out there. And it's pretty darn good at doing that too. I lost count of how many love-struck, glassy-eyed stares there were in the first episode.

And I didn't even bother to count how many sparkle-effects I saw. They are EVERYWHERE.

It's a guilty pleasure watch for me, since I'm kind of a hopeless romantic. The story and characters so far are pretty cut and paste, but the charm is there if you can stomach some overly sugary-sweet moments. The first two episodes aren't the best, but it does seem to pick up from the third episode onwards. Overall though, not really recommendable so far unless you like shōjo stuff.

What is worth mentioning though is the scenery. Once the characters go outside, there's some real magic in the scenery. And there's some moments that look really beautiful. But being a high-school romance, almost all the action takes place in the school, which is rather depressing. Artistically that is.

That's all I got. I really just wanted to write this so I could say DEM SPARKLIES and not sound totally crazy. DEM SPARKLIES.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How CLAMP Killed My Childhood Memories

I'm going to admit that I liked watching Card Captor Sakura when I was little. No, I loved it. Compared to the other stuff in the weekday cartoon lineup back then, it wasn't mindless like Pokemon, nor was it hopelessly weird like Ultraman. For a magical girl show, it was surprisingly addicting for a 14 year old. It is one of CLAMP's well-beloved classics.

Now that I have effectively emasculated any pretensions to having an average childhood, let's get down to this; Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles has destroyed my fond childhood memories of CCS. Let this be a lesson for all media across all cultures. Don't toy with beloved old franchises. The latest Star Trek movie was superb because it didn't deface or change what made the original Star Trek stuff so popular. It simply admitted; Hey, I'm a movie. Let's pretend this all happens in a parallel universe! And nobody was the wiser.

Here comes one of my famed analogies. Buckle up. No spoilers about the ending, promise.

The ending of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles (the manga, though I'm sure the anime will have a similar ending) can best be described as the product of a thousand CCS fanfics melted together with Issac Asmiov's wildest dreams about time travel. Does that analogy make any sense? That's the point. CLAMP took several chapters to end the story, and in the end nobody knows what exactly went on, other than Sakura and Syaoran we loved in CCS have led lives after the end of CCS storyline.

And by 'interesting', I mean that in the most negative way possible. 'Disturbing' might describe it, but even that fails to describe how much logic was thrown out the window in the ending of the manga (literally). Unfortunately, CLAMP wasn't happy with a simple cameo of the CCS characters, they wanted to essentially ruin the happy, carefree, and inspiring theme of CCS. And they succeeded.

That said, the manga itself isn't bad, but you will need decent knowledge of CLAMP's other works (like CCS and xXXholic) to appreciate it. If you don't particularly care for CCS, then this is still a very good manga, especially towards the end. The art style is gorgeous, attention to detail is superb, and the plot is definitely unique and gripping. Just don't expect a clear-cut ending.

But if you loved CCS like I did, stay far away. Ignorance is bliss in this case.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quick Look: Forza 3 vs Gran Turismo 5

Forza 3 > Gran Turismo 5. There, end of quick look.

Fine, I'll do a proper look at it. Thank Sahil for this post, since I didn't want to bother writing something up on this game. Honestly, it's everything in Forza 2, but better. From the much-improved single player racing season to the multiplayer, if you're a car fanatic who likes to customize and race cars, this game will be the end of your productive life.

That said, how will it compare to GT5? Well, GT5 will sell more thanks to the fact thanks to the nostalgia factor plus the cool $60 million and 5 years of development that Polyphony Digital spent making the car models spotless. GT5 also has a leg up on the diversity of racing events, from dirt rallying to NASCAR racing, not to mention the much-trumpeted Gran Turismo TV, which will supposedly bring the wet dreams of car nerds to life.

Ugh. Horrible mental image there. Anyways, moving on.

On the other hand, Forza 3 has a community aspect that definitely won't be in GT5, with the community interface built-in from the get go in the form of the Auction House, where you can get anything from custom car liveries to replays of crazy dudes drifting down Fujimi Kaido. Plus, the physics and the tech behind the car gameplay is second to none, making racing in Forza 3 a experience. This is in stark contrast to feel of the cars in GT5, which feel a bit awkward in comparison (judging from GT Prologue).

It'll all fall down to your personal preferences in the end. I personally prefer the ability to fully customize and tune my Evo X MR, and the improved physics in Forza 3 really makes racing in that game so freaking awesome with a racing wheel. Forza 3 is a game for people who love to racing cars. Gran Turismo 5 will be a game for people who love collecting cars. Choose accordingly.

Monday, November 16, 2009

An Epic Aria Wallpaper For Your Desktop

Damn you blogspot. Ah well. A bigger thumbnail wouldn't do this ARIA wallpaper justice anyways. I made this with a friend over @ AnimePaper, and it's a pretty epic wall in my opinion. Go ahead and click on the thumbnail (or this link) to see the wallpaper in its full glory.

I did the background with the buildings, and my friend did the character and bird vectors. This is going to be my last wall until I finish my graduation thesis, so don't wait up for another wallpaper anytime soon. Enjoy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Quick Look: Modern Warfare 2

Maybe you're heard about this game, especially if you're one of the 4.7 million Americans who have bought this piece of digital testosterone on the first day of sale. They could seriously melt down the disc, bottle it, sell it as a energy drink, and nobody would be the wiser.

So is it the Video Game Masterpiece of 2009? Not quite. The single player is functionally good, but the story sucks. The ending is a huge cop-out, the controversial scene where you kill civilians is rather pointless, and the action lacks any ebb and flow.

And oh god, don't get me started on the fucking plot holes. Is this really the best you can do Infinity Ward? If Tom Clancy and Michael Bay both overdosed on LSD and had a bastardized child, it would be Modern Warfare 2's plot. Unlike the first game's story, which was compelling and exciting, it feels as if the writers were trying too hard to make something awesome happen all the time. The end result is a steaming pile of shit that is only saved by the game's superb gameplay sections.

There, rant over. Moving on, the changes that they added for multiplayer add a surprisingly pleasant amount of depth, and the co-op Spec-Ops levels a blast to play with a friend. Just for these reasons alone, it's well worth the hype. I can easily envision spending way too much time playing online, which the same can't be said for Halo 3: ODST.

There's a reason why this is the one of the two video games that I bought this year (the other being Forza 3). There's a lot of value behind the dirt-splattered box art, and if you can stand being stabbed repeatedly in your mind, the single player is somewhat fun.