Month: November 2012

X-23 Vol. 3: Don’t Look Back Review 1

X-23 Vol. 3: Don’t Look Back Review

As a female clone of Wolverine trained since birth to kill, X-23 could quickly have become a cliché. Created for an episode of the X-Men Evolution animated series, her comic debut was in the NYX series that featured some very dynamic teenaged characters. Her origin was only revealed in a later miniseries and from there, she was part of the X-Men books; most recently with X-Force before getting her own appropriately named X-23 series. The X-23 Vol. 3: Don’t Look Back TPB collected the last issues in her solo sojourn. Marjorie M. Liu has consistently done a great job writing Laura Kinney as X-23 and this final chapter is no different. Based shortly after the events that split Wolverine and Cyclops into different camps, X-23 has been faced with a choice: follow the man who’s helped her come to terms with who and what she is or follow the man trying to prevent kids like her from fighting in battles beyond their experience. What better to do while mulling over such a life impacting choice than babysit Valerie and Franklin Richards. Because those two never get up to trouble and I’m sure Sue Storm and Mr. Fantastic will be very understanding if their children vanish through an inter-dimensional portal while she’s watching them. No pressure!

It’s interesting to see how Laura interacts with the kids. Already more brilliant than most of us could ever hope to be, they are still very much children with innocent hopes and dreams. They’ve seen their fair share of excitement, it’s true, but compared to Laura’s childhood, they’re relatively free of anguish, internal struggle and the self-loathing that comes with being bred as a killer. It’s a really fascinating scenario to put them all in and makes for a great read. Following that adventure are two single issues that finish off the series and really tie everything together. One includes Jubilee taking X-23 out on a Girl’s Night. The theme certainly seems to be putting this character that has never really had a normal life in stereotypically “normal” situations. It’s a technique that could easily backfire and become a cheap trick to show how “weird” someone is but through these normal circumstances Laura is able to learn more about who she truly is and what she really wants to do with her life, instead of who she’s been bred to be. Liu has done justice to X-23 in this series—a character I’m sure some still considered to be a cheap clone of Wolverine—and brought it to an end that felt natural and still full of possibility for Laura.


Sana Takeda beautifully illustrates the FF story arc and Phil Noto steps in for the last two issues. Takeda’s art is more Manga style than I usually prefer but feels like a throwback to X-23’s first appearance in comics so it works for the character. Phil Noto is an artistic virtuoso whose characters manifest as lavishly beautiful versions of themselves, without sacrificing what makes them unique or recognizable. Many other artists struggle with portraying characters in this way and end up recreating the same handsome person over and over instead of taking simplicity to greatness like Noto can. Kalman Andrasofszky’s covers for this series are spectacular, with unique compositions and interactions in every one. Overall, this is a great TPB but it needs the first two so readers can really understand the choices and struggle X-23 faces in this collection.


Nokia Lumia 920 Review

Nokia Lumia 920 Review

This holiday season with such a wide array of phones to pick from the Lumia 920 can be a great pick. Sitting at just 99.99 on contract the phone packs top level features that on paper blow much of the competition out of the water. The Xbox integration and build quality make this a perfect addition for anyone in your family that loves gaming and needs a phone.

Nokia has crafted a fantastic package for the contract price. Packed with a 4.5 inch touch screen, 1.5 GHz processor, 8.7 MP Camera, unibody polycarbonate body and 32GB of storage it is the most capable smartphone in the market today. All these features push the 920 to the head of the pack in features and overall performance for the money.

The camera on the 920 is best in class, good low light and fantastic colour representation make this a good point and shoot when a camera is needed. The build quality is also second to none, made with a polycarbonate, the phone can withstand an impact and leave little to no damage to the body. The gaming features are great as well, allowing achievements to be earned as games are played. For the XBox gamer these are a welcome addition, and a selection of free games with this ability makes it easy to jump right in.

Nokia-Lumia-920.JpgAll is not perfect on the 920 though, the simple fact it is stuck with Windows Phone 8 means the app selection is not near what it is on Android or iOS. There are most of the major apps we all know and love but with some glaring omissions it is hard to recomend if you are already heavily invested in another ecosystem. Beyond the app issue, the weight of the phone could be a turnoff to some people. Weighing in at 185 grams the 920 is a very heavy phone when compared to the competition.

The Lumia 920 is a great phone that does stand to be one of the best Windows phones on the market. The camera is amazing and the overall build quality is second to none. Once Windows Phone grows the app library it will be a must for all people looking for an upgrade. Right now it makes a great gift for someone looking to enter the smartphone world and at just under $100 it is a top of the line phone at a killer price. Ensure you go in knowing the flaws and it will make someone very happy.


CGPodcast November 30, 2012

This weeks CGPodcast is all about games and the games the CG crew have been playing. Tim talks about how Lego Lord of the Rings has the biggest scope he has ever seen in lego games and looks at why the online of Black Ops 2 is more fun than the single Player. Wayne talks all about his experiences with Epic Mickey 2 and how it lets him down in some significant ways. Brendan looks at Far Cry 3 and Hitman Absolution. The crew also discuss the big stories of the week such as The Wii Mini, THQ Humble Bundle and the leaked images from Destiny.

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ESPN Sports Connection (Wii U) Review 1

ESPN Sports Connection (Wii U) Review

Get Back On That Couch

Wii Sports will go down in history as the game that got gamers—and everyone else—off the couch and jumping, swinging and throwing their way to actual exercise during gameplay. ESPN Sports Connection, by taking advantage of the new GamePad controller, nullifies that noble intention and puts players right back on the couch for some tablet swipin’ action that won’t make you sweat, but if you’re lucky you’ll have some rug burn on your finger as proof of your exertions.

Swipe Your Way To Victory

Espnsportsconnection_Avatar4.JpgAs with the Wii, Ubisoft is now inundating the Wii U with an overdose of games in every genre imaginable, taking the less surgical but more encompassing “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” approach to capitalism. In the now mandatory party mini-game department, Ubisoft Barcelona brings in the ESPN license with a mini-game collection that lets players participate in six sports; Baseball, Football, Tennis, Golf, Soccer and Karting.

Even though the Wii U is now firmly in the high definition camp,ESPN Sports Connection still thinks it’s a Wii title. The use of Miis and the now signature low poly, simplified visuals of so many Wii party games are still in full effect here, as is a lacklustre sound presentation. It’s pretty obvious that the brunt of Ubisoft Barcelona’s efforts was put into designing around the new controller, not taking advantage of the new processing power the Wii U offers. On the other hand, this means absolute rock solid performance that doesn’t suffer from Unreal Engine glitches or any of the other numerous technical gaffes we’ve come to expect from games with AAA production values. So it doesn’t look great, but how does it play?

This is where things start to feel at odds with Wii Sports. Ubisoft Barcelona was given the understandable goal of showing off various applications of the GamePad as a tablet enhanced interface. So for baseball, swiping the screen determines the direction of your pitches, while for tennis, swiping the screen at correctly timed intervals determines your success at returning lobs. Football has you using the screen to pick defensive plays or—what a surprise!—swipe at the screen to throw the ball and so on and so forth.

In essence, all of these games take the simple joy of mimicking actual physical movement that the original Wii-mote control system popularized and turns most of these sports into variations of Angry Birds. There’s still some physical activity that can be done, if you so choose; golf for example, still lets you perform a swing with a Wii-mote if you want, while football also lets you emulate the physical act of throwing if you don’t’ want to do everything on the GamePad.

The end result is a hybrid game that tries to bridge the gap between the new Age of Swiping that the Wii U heralds with the old Age of Waggling that senior citizens and non-gamer family members got on board with back in 2006. Unfortunately it’s an uneven alliance. The single-touch, pressure sensitive nature of the Wii U doesn’t lend itself well to the precision that swiping occasionally demands, and it’s easy to mess up pitches in baseball or even simple returns in tennis because the tablet is incorrectly reading your swipes due to insufficient pressure, inaccurate reading of finger placement and other issues.


As it stands, ESPN Sports Connection fills a mandatory space in the expected collection of party games for a console of the Wii persuasion. That doesn’t mean it’s a good collection, but at this early juncture, beggars can’t be choosers. If you need something to show off your new system other than Nintendoland, you don’t have a lot of options. This is one of them.

Borderlands 2: Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage (PS3) Review 1

Borderlands 2: Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage (PS3) Review

Another One Already?

Gearbox continues their insane release schedule with their second bit of DLC to drop for Borderlands 2. Our first round of Borderlands 2 DLC put us in a region of Pandora that was half Tatooine, half Pirates of the Caribbean. This new expansion takes us to a world that normally belongs to THQ; the “badass crater of badassitude” and the testosterone soap opera of WWF/WWE antics courtesy of Mr. Torgue, one of the manufacturers of weapons used in the Borderlands universe. As you might expect, this is loud, obnoxious and ludicrous, which is pretty much what everyone was hoping for.

Loot, Pecs& Explosions

Borderlands-2-Mr-Torgue-Dlc_1811.JpgAccording to everyone’s favorite lunatic scientist Dr. Tannis, a new vault has been discovered that will only open when the blood of the ultimate coward has been spilled. According to Mr. Torgue, CEO of Torgue weapons, this means it’s time for a tournament to determine who will win and who will bleed. Mr. Torgue has obviously done a lot steroids over the years and this has turned him your schizophrenic overseer of the tournament and commentator of your activities similar to WWF/WWE greats like Jim Ross and Vince McMahon; he’s obsessed with action, wildly excitable and is willing to aid you or make your life difficult based on whatever makes good TV watchin’ at the time. Thus vault hunters are thrown in Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage which follows the same pattern as the original Borderland’s second DLC, Moxxie’s Underdome Riot which was also based around arena fighting.

There is one big, critical difference between this DLC and the Underdome. Where’s Moxxie’s adventures locked you into a small space with an ever escalating series of arena fights, the Badass Crater of Baddassitude is a large, fully developed and populated region that also happens to have a massive arena in it. This means that in addition to Mr. Torgue’s jubilant excesses and elimination round mass murder, there are actual sidequests in and around the area. Both Moxxie and Tiny Tina will put in appearances to give you something to do when you’re not climbing the ranks of Mr. Torgue’s psychotic leaderboard. In addition to the sidequests and arena fighting, this new DLC also brings back a Seraph Crystal dealer, a concept introduced in the last DLC, who accepts the rare seraph crystals dropped from the new raid boss in exchange for high level, rare loot. There’s also yet another new currency introduced into the game, in form of Torgue Dollars, which are largely gained by competing in the arena—the end level fights are repeatable—and which can only be used at the Torgue weapon vendors which (of course) only sell Torgue weapons. Those deals of the day on the Torgue vendors are pretty high value weapons though, so for people already maxed out to level 50, this is one more way to keep tweaking your weapon loadout.

Sadly, all is not perfect at the crater of badassitude. Although there’s nothing gamebreaking, the DLC seems to have had less quality assurance testing than the previous expansion, with obvious bugs like containers floating in the middle of the air without explanation. Perhaps most disappointing of all for veteran gamers, this DLC still doesn’t raise the level cap either. If Gearbox holds true to past history, that raise of the level cap will come with the third expansion, as it did with the first Borderlands.

All that aside, what you get with Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage is a much more diverse take on the arena-combat based DLC. It’s a little buggy, and shorter than Captain Scarlett & Her Pirate’s Booty, but it can still run about four hours even for people in a hurry, and considerably longer for people trying to do everything. It’s definitely another worthy purchase for the curious, and a very safe download for those with a season pa ss.

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