Gamer culture has been more progressive about the depiction of LGBT characters – 3/2/2014

Volgin_Crockett

Is the gaming community ready for an LGBT protagonist? This is the discussion that Lucien Soulban, head writer of Far Cry 3 and one of the most influential openly gay figures in the gaming industry, opened up when he stated that gamers were not ready for such a protagonist.

With all due respect to Soulban, he underestimates how progressive gaming culture has been regarding the depiction of LGBT characters. That statement may appear out of place given how the gaming community has often been stigmatized for being homophobic. Sadly its a shame that the antics of brats who play Call of Duty has been allowed to be a representation of the culture.

When a gamer takes the time to look back at the history of video games, they will realize that the culture has been more progressive about the portrayal of LGBT then Hollywood. Probably unbeknownst to Soulban, there have been games that have given players the option of being an LGBT character.

Most recently Saints Row IV gave players the option of having an LGBT character based on their interactions with a homie. Among the interactive choices, players could engage in sexual relationships with each homie regardless of gender (except for Keith David).

Several years earlier; Mass Effect 3 also allowed players to have the option of having an LGBT character based on their interaction with the game world (regardless of gender). Fallout: New Vegas also gave players same the choice while also encountering a verity of LGBT characters that are in the service of the NCR Military or trying to survive in the Wasteland.

The crowning achievement to the advancement of the depiction of LGBT characters in video games goes to Colonel Yevgeny Volgin in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. He is one of the most significant gay figures in pop-culture who broke from the stereotypical images in-favor of a strong willed character.

Metal Gear Solid has always been very progressive regarding the depiction of LGBT characters by giving them strong traits and a significant role. Gamers have encountered characters like Vamp and Dr. Strangelove, but Colonel Volgan may be the most significant of them all.

In the game; Colonel Volgan was the most powerful military figure in the Soviet Union who also lead the hawkish-faction that is plotting to replace Nikita Khrushchev with Leonid Brezhnev. His actions brought America and the USSR on the brink of war only to be defeated by Snake. However actions lead to the downfall of Khrushchev while setting the stage for the conflict between Big Boss and Major Zero.

Despite claims that he is bisexual, there are a lot characteristic traits that support the notion that he prefers the companionship of men. Most of his sadistic interactions with women have been based on a misogynistic outlook that women are inferior (with The Boss being an exception) and are not worthy of his respect. Hence he prefers to have a proper emotional relationship with a male companion who he can see as an equal (like Major Raikov).

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was released a year before the media was over-hyping the  socially progressive significance of Brokeback Mountain (because apparently everyone forgot about Midnight Cowboy). Despite the social changes achieved, Hollywood and has failed to create a strong and powerful character like Colonel Volgan.

Soulban remarks came from a position of misunderstanding his culture and was a disservice to the social progression it has made. However his remarks could only encourage the industry to continue this social progression that has put Hollywood’s slow acceptance to shame.

Written for The Gamers Progress
03/2/2014
Original Article: Gamer culture has been more progressive about the depiction of LGBT characters

‘Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition’ is a reminder that Capcom once made a good game – 2/28/2014

Nine years after its original release followed by several decent and terrible sequels, Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition is the sixth time the iconic game has been ported and now its a reminder that Capcom once released a good Resident Evil game.

A recap of the story; six years has passed since the incident in Raccoon City and Umbrella has been shutdown. Leon Kennedy is now an agent of the government and is tasked with rescuing Ashely Graham, the Presidents daughter. Upon his arrival to an isolated village, he is attacked by locals infected by a parasite while uncovering a sinister plot to infect the world. Oh and Ada Wong is back!

Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition brings everything fans loved about the original game only with high definition graphics that improves its visual quality. The  controls setup has been tweaked moderately to give players a better playing experience.

Everything about Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition looks great until you’re reminded that it’s a game that is nine years old while having been updated and re-released for the sixth time. Hence making this HD update a complete waste of time for Capcom.

Now one has to ask if this was a PR stunt to make angry fans forget about how Capcom insulted them not too long ago, a diversion in the hopes of buying more time until they could release a new game or an attempt to remind everyone that they once made a good game?

This makes one wonder rather then wasting resources on another HD port, why couldn’t they just remake Resident Evil 2 and 3? It would have been better had they give these classics the same update as Resident Evil for the GameCube. Plus such a move would have been more popular among the fan base who have wanted such a remake for sometime.

Being a PC re-release; chances are a gamer might have one of the several console ports that was released in the last few years. At best this will only appeal to the most fanatical fans who feel that the series has done no wrong.

Resident Evil 4 was an amazing game that redefined the horror genre when it came out back in 2005. But after nine years and several re-releases makes Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition very unnecessary.

Final Score: 3/5

Written for The Gamers Progress
02/28/2014
Original Article: ‘Resident Evil 4 Ultimate HD Edition’ is a reminder that Capcom once made a good game

‘Modern Warfare 4′ rumors have been resurrected – 02/14/2014

Last weeks announcement by Activision of releasing a Call of Duty game on a three year rotation has reignited rumors regarding Modern Warfare 4 being developed by Sledgehammer Games.

Most of this is due to Activision referring to Modern Warfare, Black Ops and Ghosts as their flagship series during the conference call. This has lead to speculation that Sledgehammer games will be developing a new Modern Warfare title.

Already several articles have been published regarding alleged leaks or reasons why the next game is going to be part of the Modern Warfare series. However most of the details have been submitted by anonymous sources and can not officially be confirmed.

Rumors regarding Modern Warfare 4 are not new as there was a great amount of them back in 2013 during the build up to the official announcement of Call of Duty: Ghosts. Those alleged leaks also came from anonymous sources and could not officially be confirmed.

Gamers are better waiting until Activsion makes an official announcement or hope that Tesco Direct leaks it again.

Written for The Gamers Progress
02/12/2014
Original Article: ‘Modern Warfare 4′ rumors have been resurrected

Critics encourage gamers to give ‘Alien: Isolation’ a chance – 1/14/2014

Back on January 7, Sega officially confirmed that Alien: Isolation was in the works and is set to be released sometime in late 2014. However the gaming community was a little weary of the announcement with most of them expecting the game to be a failure.

Gamers were quick to vent their lack of enthusiasm on game outlets like N4G or the comment section of respected publications.

Most of the frustration comes from the failures of the highly-anticipated Aliens: Colonial Marines and Aliens Vs Predator. Gamers had high hopes for both games, only they were panned for the weak gameplay content, repetitive action and technical flaws.

In response to the negative feedback and concerns by the gaming community, several game pundits are trying assure their readers that Alien: Isolation will not be a train wreck of a disaster. They are encouraging their readers to give the game a chance and don’t dismiss it so fast.

Many critics and all reports of the announcement have pointed out that Alien: Isolation will be inspired by the Ridley Scott vision of the series, not the James Cameron vision. Mark Walton of GameSpot described his experience as, “After years of battling endless streams of aliens with a pulse rifle, it’s nice to be reminded exactly how scary they can be.

This outlook was also supported by Jane Douglas, Co-Editor of Outside Xbox, who also made note of the difference between the Scott vision and Cameron vision of the series. She described the game as, “This game is based on the first Alien film, not the sequels, so you’ll be being stalked by a relentless, nightmarish creature in an abandoned space station. What’s more as Amanda Ripley – an engineer rather than a marine – you’ll be almost completely defenseless if it spots you. This is survival horror, not Call of Duty with bugs.

David Houghton, Editor at GameRadar, wrote an Op-Ed trying to address the concern of his readers. He stated: “Colonial Marines is a different game, based on a different Alien film, made by a different developer for a different set of hardware. The only elements shared between the two games are their publisher, Sega–which seems to be actively distancing itself from CM and pushing hard towards a dark new future with A:I–and the use of the overall Alien franchise license. 

Gamers will have to wait for more info at E3 2014 to get a better understanding of the game, until then they are encouraged to keep an open mind. Alien: Isolation will be the fourth game in the franchise that is published by Sega and it is set for release sometime in late 2014 for all major consoles.

Written for The Gamers Progress
1/14/2014
Original Article: Critics encourage gamers to give ‘Alien: Isolation’ a chance

Review: Raices Cubanas 1941 by Alec Bradley – 11/30/2013

Raices Cubanas 1941 by Alec Bradley

By Stan Rezaee

Several weeks ago; Bass acquired several new Alec Bradley cigars for the store. Bass was at first hesitant to add Alec Bradley to his inventory (due to the negative feedback from his customers) but the guys at JMG International highly recommended theses cigars.

Among the selection was Raices Cubanas 1941, a new cigar that was introduced at International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association 2013 Convention in Las Vegas.

Raices Cubanas 1941 is a mild cigar crafted with a mix of Honduras and Nicaragua filler while using a Nicaragua binder and a Honduras wrapper. The cigar is presented with a colorful cigar ring that is decorated with a design that pays homage to the first half of the 20th Century .

In the past we have not been too impressed with Alec Bradley cigars as at best they felt like “give-away” cigars. Raices Cubanas 1941 however really surprised us and this was our final verdict:
Bass: 7.5/10
Stan: 7/10
Charlie: 7/10
Customer #1: 7.5/10
Customer #2: 8/10

Raices Cubanas 1941 starts with a nutmeg flavor that has a hint of pepper. As the cigar progresses it develops a rich ceder flavor that still has the scent of pepper. By the end it has developed an earth flavor but it still has that pepper scent. During the smoke; the cigar has a smooth and relaxing draw that allows you to really enjoy the flavor.

Our final verdict is that the Raices Cubanas 1941 is a great everyday cigar that anyone could enjoy with their buddies after a long work week. It has also encourage us to give the other Alec Bradley cigars that Bass got a chance.

For more info about upcoming events and new products, please checkout our Facebook and Twitter page. 

Written for Campbell Cigar Club
11/30/2013
Original ArticleReview: Raices Cubanas 1941 by Alec Bradley

Call of Duty: Ghosts is a rip-off of the game Homefront and film Red Dawn – 11/26/2013

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Acclaimed screenwriter Stephen Gaghan created a story for Call of Duty: Ghosts that breaks from the typical “America’s the best” bravado and instead takes players to a vulnerable America that is fighting to protect its sovereignty.

You may feel like you’ve played this game before (besides the fact that every Call of Duty game is the same), and that’s because Gaghan has ripped off Homefront, the 2011 first-person shooter written by John Milius and inspired by his classic film Red Dawn.

This makes me wonder what the point is of working with an accomplished screenwriter if he’s just going to copy from the plot of another video game. Here are five examples of how Call of Duty: Ghosts is nothing but a piss-poor remake of Homefront.

The Middle Eastern war

Both Homefront and Call of Duty: Ghosts are set in a world where a war in the Middle East has crippled the world’s oil supply, which ushers in an age of global instability.

In Homefront, the conflict is known as the Oil War, and it was fought between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Both nations are competing for influence in the region after the U.S. withdraws its military. The U.S. military also participated in the conflict, but its actions were very limited. The end result is that the Middle East is no longer a reliable source of energy, which brings about a global economic crisis.

In Call of Duty: Ghosts, the conflict is known as the Tel Aviv War, and it’s fought between Israel and other Middle Eastern nations. The conflict began with an attempted invasion of Tel Aviv that grew into a major war that destabilized the region. Part of the conflict involved 60 Tier One operatives deployed to protect a civilian hospital from 500 enemy soldiers on the Iranian Border (Operation Sand Viper), in which the legend of the Ghosts is born. The end result of the war is that the Middle East is no longer a reliable source of energy, which brings about a global economic crisis — just like in Homefront.

An unrealistic superstate emerges

The aftermath of the Middle Eastern conflict allows an unrealistic superstate to emerge as a world power that challenges the United States. A superstate is a larger nation that has united its territory under a federalist political structure.

Homefront is set in a future in which the Korean peninsula is unified to establish the Greater Korean Republic under the rule of Kim Jong-un. With a powerful economy and military, the GKR begins to expand its borders by conquering or annexing other countries in the region. Meanwhile, in Call of Duty: Ghosts, South America becomes the world’s dominating producer of energy, which leads to the unification of the region’s nations to establish the Federation of the Americas.

Now this is unrealistic because, given the global political climate and history, it’s not possible for these superstates to be established. North Korea would not have the will power to create such a superstate or maintain it due to its dirt-poor economy and poorly equipped military. Yes, America is too weak to act, but the People’s Republic of China or Russia isn’t going to sit back and let Pyongyang fill the void. Also, South Korea with its political stability and strong economy has a more realistic chance of establishing a united Korea.

Meanwhile, the chances of South America merging to establish a superstate is unlikely because one used to exist. It was called the Spanish Empire. After the South and Central American nations achieved independence, there were many attempts to form a unified republic, which failed. In the modern era, because of the political differences and rivalries between the regional powers, it’s unlikely for the continent to unify and establish a superstate.

America is crippled by an orbital superweapon

After gaining enough influence on the world stage, the superstates aim their ambitions at the United States. Despite all that has happened, America is still a formidable opponent and will not be easy to conquer. Hence, these hostile powers use an orbital superweapon to cripple the U.S. before launching a full-scale invasion.

The Greater Korean Republic (in Homefront) uses an orbital EMP (disguised as a communication satellite) that cripples the western United States. The Federation (in Call of Duty: Ghosts) deploys commandos to hijack ODIN, an orbital-stationed weapon, and uses it to attack major cities in the U.S. The attacks cripple the federal government while bringing about the economical and social collapse of the nation, which results in America no longer being a world power.

That follows with an invasion and occupation

A full-scale invasion is launched after the superweapons have made America vulnerable. The invading forces quickly overwhelm the U.S. military (forcing them into disarray) while parts of America are under enemy occupation. In no time, the occupying army begins to round up civilians to either execute or send to a “re-education” camp.

Players have to infiltrate a re-education camp in Homefront, where they witness horrendous atrocities against civilians and uncover mass graves. In Call of Duty: Ghosts, players witness civilian executions by Federation soldiers and hear horror stories of people being rounded up.

The last battle is a turning point

Both games conclude with a battle that turns the tide of the war in America’s favor. After years of holding the lines, the United States military pools all its resources to launch one massive strike against the enemy.

In Homefront, the American Resistance, along with the United States Armed Forces, unleash a massive military operation on the Korean People’s Army in San Fransisco. The objective is to cripple the GKR command in occupied America and to liberate the Bay Area. The main force takes the Golden Gate Bridge before moving into the city while a SEAL team raids Alcatraz Island. The battle becomes a turning point as San Fransisco is liberated while the European Union begin talks about sending aid to America.

In Call of Duty: Ghosts, a joint Marine and Ghost force-attack a Federation Satellite Array in Chile while the USAF deploys a squad to hijack LOKI, an orbital-stationed weapon based on ODIN, and use it against the Federation (a little payback). The battle becomes a turning point as the Federation’s fleet and several major cities have been decimated by the LOKI attack.

Written for GameBeat
11/26/2013
Original Article: Call of Duty: Ghosts is a rip-off of the game Homefront and film Red Dawn

Op-Ed: NM State Police action against Oriana Ferrell was justified – 11/18/2013

A video has surfaced regarding what started as a routine traffic stop that turned into a hostile confrontation between Oriana Ferrell and her 14 -year old son against officers of the New Mexico State Police.

During the ordeal; Ferrell attempts to flee the scene multiple times and resists arrest while endangering the lives of her children. This confrontation could have all been avoided had Ferrell just complied with the officer instructions and apologized for speeding while accepting full responsibility (like a normal person).

In the end this is a classic example of how a mundane moment could escalate into a hostile confrontation just by failing to use common sense. Oh how some people need to learn from Chris Rock.

Yet a lot of the attention has been focused on the few seconds were one of the officers tried to shootout the tire of the minivan as it fled the scene. The majority of articles that report on the event focus on that trivial moment while burying away what lead to the confrontation or how she resisted arrest.

Its agreed that the officer should not have drawn his gun but that pales to how recklessly Ferrell fled the scene the second time. As obvious most people who have been outrage at how the New Mexico State Police handled the situation probably just read the tittle “Cops Shoot At Minivan Full of Kids” then proceed to the comment section to vent their outrage.

These criticism come from a position of hindsight by those who have no understanding of the daily ordeals a police officer goes through. It looks like it was unnecessary after the facts but the officers have to act on how the situation is presented while keeping unknown factors into consideration.

Of course there will always be those social activists that are also anti-law enforcement who will cry about the “police brutality” while making tasteless comparisons with the Gestapo. These idiots always think they have a right to act hostile towards a police officer and then they are surprised when they are suspected of being involved in some criminal activity.

Critics and activists need to stop crying “police brutality” and just look into the issue form a perspective that involves common sense rather then a quick outrage.

Written for Digital Journal
11/18/2013
Original Article: Op-Ed: NM State Police action against Oriana Ferrell was justified

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