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Archive for November, 2008

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It’s a rare thing these days when I can sit down and finish a game in the space of 2 or 3 weeks but with the help of a sick day and a few late nights I was able to beat SW:TFU yesterday and I wanted to take a few moments to comment on the game – particularly in terms of the contribution it makes to the Star Wars canon.

Set between Episode III and Episode IV, the game reveals some of the major happenings that occurred following Vader’s embrace of the Dark Side, and subsequent hunt of the Jedi and anyone else that stood in the way of the Galactic Empire.  Enter a young boy, raised by Vader, following the death of his father to become his secret apprentice.  The personal fist of Vader who’s sole purpose was to dispatch his brand of “justice” to his enemies.  Of course, that’s just the beginning and the player spends the next 7-9 hours unraveling the rest of the rich tale.  I certainly won’t give anything away here as it’s something that every Star Wars fan should probably experience for himself first hand (that sad, if you have no real desire to play it, however, you can check the Wookieepidea for extensive plot details), but needless to say, I was very impressed with the whole experience and would say that it’s definitely one of my favorite chapters in the saga as a whole, and better than any one of the prequels (which I honestly enjoyed in a number of respects).  To go one step further, in the protagonist “Starkiller” (a name associated with early Star Wars drafts) we get one of the greatest characters in the mythos – period.  The title hints of the Force being “unleashed” and here was a character that few, if any, Jedi have been able to match in terms of raw power and ability.  Additionally, he represents some of the greatest aspects of the characters we all know and love so well already.  He was described by the creative team as what Luke might have become if raised by Darth Vader and as we watch things unfold we see (or at least, from perspective) that he was an even greater character andn arguably an even more pivotal one than Luke, himself, was in several respects.  Likewise, I loved the way the developers almost seamlessly provided for the creation of the Rebel Alliance and the way that “organization” would be set up prior to the famous opening of A New Hope. Just great stuff and I’d be glad to go into spoiler territory via e-mail or what not if anyone has any further comments.

And as far as the gameplay goes, I had a blast.  This is probably the most free roaming a Jedi as we’ve ever experience in a Star Wars game and wielding the force powers and the light saber is simply a heck of a lot of fun, and far more complex than some reviews led me to believe (a slasher it is not, unless you determine to make it so).  In fact, I had almost none of the issues that some critics have leveled at the game.  I did experience a few “bugs” here and there, but nothing that broke the experience for me and when I had a question there were plenty of resources available to provide me that “aha” moment.  I would have loved for the game to have been a little longer but given the skins, challenges, and difficulty settings there is a lot of reply value given how much fun I had going through it the first time (kind of want to admister a painful beating to one of those initial Shadow Guards now that I’m nearly fully amped – and yes, you freakin’ get to fight those awesome Royal Guards you always saw protecting the Emporer).  I’ve been itching to spend that much more time in the Star Wars universe lately, thanks in part to the Nancy Traviss novels, and The Clone Wars among other things, and this was a great means by which to accomplish that.  Can’t wait to give those first few levels a try all over again over the next couple of days, particularly with the new unlockables.

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76892_186241_1I just finished up my Navy term paper last night and now that I have a chance to breathe I thought I’d voice my excitement about the  announcement that Radio Spirits recently unearthed [2] additional episodes of The Shadow that have never been released and will be offering them in an upcoming collection anthology.

But I’ll let The Scoop tell you the rest:

Radio Spirits announced the release of The Shadow: Knight of Darkness, a new audio CD collection of classic radio shows. Starring Orson Welles in the title role, the set features the iconic crime fighter, including the first release of two previously lost and newly discovered episodes. New episodes “The Old People and The Voice of the Trumpet” which was first aired in 1938 season of the long running radio series.

The Shadow began as a narrator of Street & Smith’s Detective Story Hour radio program, then became a star of his self-titled pulp fiction magazine and radio show. He captured the imagination of millions of readers and listeners, becoming a pop culture icon.

“We’re thrilled to be able to offer these newly found episodes of the Shadow,” Mark Tepper, General Manager of Radio Spirits said. “The series is one of the most popular and sought after classic ‘Old Time Radio’ shows, particularly the episodes starring Orson Welles. It has been many years since any lost recordings from the series have emerged. It truly is a rare and welcome event.”

The Shadow: Knight of Darkness features 18 digitally remastered episodes of the program on 9 CDs. Two “lost” Orson Welles episodes are included, along with entries on the set that feature Bill Johnstone and Bret Morrison, the other two actors best known for portraying The Shadow. The set also holds three unedited Johnstone episodes from the BF Goodrich sponsored run of the series that were previously unavailable in this format.

According to Radio Spirits, the episodes in this collection include:

CD 1 Hounds in the Hills – 2/20/1938 and The Creeper – 5/29/1938

CD 2 The Old People – 6/26/1938 and The Voice of the Trumpet – 7/3/1938

CD 3 Horror in Wax – 2/26/1939 and Sabotage in the Air – 3/5/1939

CD 4 Appointment with Death – 3/12/1939 and Can the Dead Talk? – 3/19/1939

CD 5 The Return of Carnation Charlie – 2/4/1940 and Death is an Art – 2/11/1940

CD 6 Carnival of Death – 11/10/1940 and Death to the Shadow – 3/12/1944

CD 7 Blood Money – 10/20/1946 and The Ruby of Karvahl – 10/19/1947

CD 8 Terrible Legend of Crownshield Castle – 12/28/1947 and Terror at Wolf’s Head Knoll – 2/15/1948

CD 9 The Man Who Was Death – 2/29/1948 and Stake Out – 3/14/1948

The collection might be a little pricey for some at ~ $35 dollars but I’ve gotten an awful lot of enjoyment out of the last collection I picked up and found it more than worth the price.  That, and you can find it $10 cheaper at Amazon.com.  You can’t lose.

“Ha, ha, Ha, ha…Ha ha ha Ha ha ha…Ha ha Ha ha ha ha…!”

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us_381The Seasons are a’ changin!  I always welcome the Fall after a hot summer here in North Texas and seeing these covers really puts me in the mood for a cup of hot chocolate and a few hours to simply kick back and read about Donald, Scrooge and the gang as they take me through their adventures throughout the holiday season.  I’m not kidding either, I’ve already had two cups of the stuff and now I just need some time with these, as opposed to the history books I’m supposed to be knee deep in already.  Anyhow, remember to keep an eye out for this years Giant-Sized Christmas Parade as well!  In the meantime, here’s the latest on Uncle Scrooge from The Scoop:

Jelly on toast starts a peaceful morning for many of us. But peace is in the mouth of the beholder. For jam companies, your choice of jelly is really the final step in a furious advertising war! Why did you choose their brand? Why didn’t you choose another? As you eat, one plutocrat cheers while another goes ballistic!

Gemstone’s Uncle Scrooge #381, a new $7.99, 64-page Disney trade paperback, lifts the veil on this sticky-sweet corporate battle. Writer Bruno Concina and awesome Italian artist Lara Molinari, a celebrated creator debuting in North America this issue, serve “Breakfast of Champions,” our opening feature length tale. Desperate to outsell John D. Rockerduck’s Vitajam brand, McDuck Marmalade wants a celebrity spokesduck at any cost. Well, maybe not any cost. Scrooge specifically wants a celeb on the cheap, even if it involves creating one from scratch! And that means enlisting Donald Duck to become an extreme sportsman: skiing death defying cliffs, diving into the ocean’s depths, even climbing up the Eiffel Tower. What’s that you say? Donald usually flops at such daring deeds? Alas, you’re right. But Scrooge is in for a twist when Donald becomes more famous as a failure than he could ever be as a success!

Our backup stories this issue are no slouches either. In Mau Heymans’ “Half-Baked Bakers,” Gladstone Gander’s super luck is put to the test when Scrooge gives both Gladstone and Donald parkside donut stands to manage. Gladstone has never worked a day in his life, and expects to succeed without working now, either. But what happens when you succeed too well? Another look at that same question follows, as Scrooge is forced to unload surplus cash in Carl Barks’ “Spending Money,” a delicious comedy making its first ever comic book reprint in twenty years!

Two trials for Donald round out the book with class. In Jens Hansegård’s “Cleaned and Intervened,” our boy must run Scrooge’s businesses while the latter pays a forced visit to a health farm…except that without Donald’s knowledge, mistrustful Scrooge sneaks home in disguise to supervise things in his own absence. Then, in Kari Korhonen’s “Homeward Hound,” Don is put to the test when his infamous St. Bernard, Bolivar, mysteriously runs away. Where is the hungry hound headed? Might Donald have a startling surprise in store? Sit back for a tale revealing previously undisclosed secrets of the Ducks’ much-maligned mutt!

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I wanted to take a moment during my self-imposed exile from the blog (preparing for exams and a term paper) to honor “The March King,” John Philip Sousa, on his birthday. Having written and performed so many of the timeless Marches that have personified the American spirit and that of her armed forces and fighting men and women (among other compositions), I’d be ungrateful if I didn’t take the time to sincerely say “thanks” for all of his hard work, service, and talent which will forever touch so many hearts and minds.

On November 4th, we were able to exercise our freedom in voting for a next President of the United States of America, and whether the result turned out as you had hoped or not (while I try to keep the blog relatively politics free, let’s just say that I’ll have an awful lot to fight for over the next four years) thank God we live in a country where we have the right, even duty, to do what we can on an individual basis to advance the causes of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

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“Gone to Texas!”

Of course, I was born here in Texas but the headline is to let y’all know that I’ll be spending the next few weeks with my face firmly planted in history books as I prepare for 2 exams and a term paper prior to Thanksgiving.  I’m currently cramming for an exam tomorrow on Reconstruction in Texas following the Civil War and following that I’ve got a book on Sam Houston to read (in the course of a few days) prior to 5-6 texts for a term paper in the Navy course.  Needless to say, time is limited and things may be a little slow over the next several weeks.

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