Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Random Thoughts 19

I know it has been a while.... but I got involved in other things for the past few weeks...filming for YouTube videos, a couple of new games for my PS3...among the everyday stuff that prevents me from sitting down and writing stuff for this blog and reviewing my comics here.

I rededicate myself to getting back on a weekly schedule with both this and the reviews.

So here are a few things of interest...

-With the cancellation of Daredevil and the teasers featuring various characters as the new "Man Without Fear" Marvel revealed who will "replace" DD. It's none other than The Black Panther!....?.....

So T'Challa will get a new ongoing comic. That's cool, but given the state of the character these days it's just odd. T'Challa is no longer king of Wakanda and the chief of his tribe (currently held by his [don't get me started] sister) which prevents him from being The Black Panther as it is a TITLE. Okay, so he no longer has the resources, prestige or other trappings that he has had in the past. That makes for a cool how does he make his way in the world story.

It seems that Marvel has forgotten that it has an urban "Panther" character that would fit in better as a protector of Hell's Kitchen...I'm talking about the Kasper Cole Black Panther/White Tiger character. As part of a similar relaunch of the Panther concept a NYPD detective found pieces of the Black Panther costume and masqueraded as the real Panther to clear his name of corruption charges. Later, the original Panther takes him under his tutelage to replace him, but ends up reclaiming the Panther garb for himself. He gives Cole a white version of the Panther suit and names him the White Tiger. This all happened at the tail end of Priest's early 2000's run on Black Panther.

The new series will be written by novelist David Liss who I haven't really heard of (He writes historical fiction focusing on 17th and 18th Century). The art will be handled by Francesco Francovilla whose artwork I have loved on Dynamite's Zorro title. I will probably, at least initially, get this title on the strength of the art alone. My mind wonders what Priest would do with the premise. A deposed T'Challa organizing and leading Cole as White Tiger along with other heroes like Falcon, Iron Fist, Cage, and even having Dakota North and Sgt Tork playing roles in his plans....Wait, he already did that.

-A quick review of the two games that have been occupying my time....

Transformers: War For Cybertron

Basically a third person shoot'em up with the added ability to turn into your own vehicle. The graphics are nice but because of the backgrounds finding enemies can sometimes be difficult as they tend to blend in (but I guess that can be part of the challenge). Gameplay is pretty smooth although I have had a few unwanted transformations because on the PS3 you press down on the joystick to transform. The story is a sort of prequel/reimagining of the events that led the TFs to Earth that fits in with 80's G1 continuity. You get to be various familiar Decepticons and Autobots with own unique armaments and abilities. As a plus Peter Cullen the voice of Optimus in the 80's series, the live action movies and the new cartoon series is Prime here too. A very fun game for Transformer fans and occasional gamers like me. I think that more seasoned gamers might not be too impressed with the gameplay.

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions

This is really a mixed bag. Not just because of the blend of what could have been four different Spider games. The premise here is that Spidey has inadvertently broken a mystical tablet that will breakdown the walls between dimensions. Madame Web contacts Spider-Men in four dimensions to recover the pieces of the tablet. The worlds involved are the "Amazing" (close to 616 MU), "Noir", 2099 and Ultimate. The voice acting is a big draw here. Not only is it narrated by Stan"The Man" Lee, but each Spidey is voiced by an actor that has previously voiced a Spidey on TV. Neil Patrick Harris (MTV series) is the "Amazing", Christopher Daniel Barnes (9o's Animated) is the "Noir", Dan Gilvezan (Amazing Friends) is 2099 and Josh Keaton (Spectacular) is Ultimate. Each Spidey has unique powers as well as shared ones [the Noir Spidey gains the most from his original comic inspiration]. Each universe has its own aesthetic as well. I really like the "comic" look of the Amazing world.

Sadly, play is where this game suffers. The last few Spidey games have had a free roaming feature that I liked, here it's just regular levels. Also the web slinging is not automatic so it takes a while to get the hang of it and can lead to some annoyance. The in level enemies are fairly easy while the bosses are incredibly hard. The levels are formulaic as well. Go through path eliminating bad guys, fight villain, continue on path and fight villain again. The Noir stealth levels and the boss fight close quarters do change it up a bit. I probably would have been wowed more if Batman: Arkham Asylum hadn't come up with some of the features that this game has. [The Spider-Sense mode is exactly like B:AA's Detective mode] Designers could do worse if they all used B:AA as a template for future super-hero games.

So while not as expansive as past Spider-Man games or as groundbreaking it is still a fun game. Most of that fun comes from the different universes' aesthetics and the voice talent. The overly difficult bosses really hurt the game for me. Only Web-Heads need pick up this game.

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