Review: ‘Manhunt’, one of the most controversial games, is back – 5/14/2013

ManhuntBack in 2003; ‘Manhunt’ broke all the boundaries for what was considered acceptable violence. Now one of the most controversial games is available for the PlayStation 3 via PlayStation Network.

Manhunt was an unorthodox horror game that broke from the traditional worst creations of science or terrors from other worlds for another demon; the evil of humanity. At best it could be described as is a modern retelling of The Most Dangerous Game.

Gamers take on the role of James Earl Cash; a convict who was thought to have been executed only to wake up in an abandon room. He is greeted by film director Lionel Starkweather (aka The Director) who informs Cash that he has been given a second chance and will earn his freedom if he participates in his snuff film. These films will involve Cash murdering people at different locations for Starkweathers amusement or risk getting killed.

At its core Manhunt is a horror game in the traditional sense but the horror the player must over come is that of human nature. It presents a character study of two evil men, one is a death row convict while the other is an artist with a sinister ambition. Its never explained what Cash did, but one can assume his sins are pale compared to the atrocities of Starkweather.

Adding to the grotesque nature of Starkweather is the performance of Brian Cox, well known to horror fans as the first actor to portray Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter.

Manhunt success was overshadowed by the storm of controversy that followed after its release. The game has been banned in multiple countries while some had to rewrite their rating the code.

Yet a lot of people overlook the fact that Manhunt was released during the height of the popularity of torture porn. But credit needs to be due for Rockstar’s attempt at actually making a horror game that had a focus on fear rather than solely on grotesque violence.

Final Score: 4/5

Written for Digital Journal
05/14/2013
Original Article: Review: ‘Manhunt’, one of the most controversial games, is back

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Review: ‘Metro: Last Light’ returns to the horror of the Moscow Metro – 5/13/2013

Gamers who have been seeking a horror game that actually is scary will find ‘Metro: Last Light’ that fright fest that so many games have been lacking.

Metro Last Light is lucky to even have been released after its original publisher, THQ went bankrupt in late 2012. Thankfully for gamers, Deep Silver was able acquire the intellectual ­property and release it just in time for the Summer season.

Based on Dmitry Glukhovsky acclaimed novel, Metro: Last Light is a first person horror survival based in a post-apocalyptic setting.

Players will once again take on the role of Artyom, now a soldier in one of the factions struggling for power in the subway society beneath the nuclear wasteland of Moscow. In an act of personal redemption; he must save the last remaining Dark One in the hopes of seeking salvation for society.

Metro: Last Light is a lot like its predecessor or one could think of it as Fallout 3 with a grimmer tone.

The gameplay is less about combat and more about survival. Supplies and resources are rare while pre-war ammunition has become a currency in the post apocalyptic world. There is heavy emphasis on exploration as the player has to loot corpses and explore the environment to find spare ammo along with weapons and items.

The subway setting allows players to explore a limited open environment that belongs to the darkness. Populating the darkness are eerie noises and strange phenomena that the player has to explore without guidance.

4A Games was able to solve a lot of the problems that plagued Metro 2033; but the game still dose suffer from a few minor set backs that keeps it from being a perfect game. However these problems have now become so minor that they will at worst become an itch of a nuisance.

Despite its short comings, Metro: Last Light is both an excellent sequel and a great horror survival game. For gamers who want a grittier version of Fallout 3 should give this game a try.

Final Score: 4/5

Written for Digital Journal
05/13/2013
Original Article: Review: ‘Metro: Last Light’ returns to the horror of the Moscow Metro

Op-Ed: No Multiplayer will put pressure on ‘Wolfenstein’ development – 5/13/2013

Wolfenstein-The-New-Order

Not too long ago; Bethesda Softworks announced that ‘Wolfenstein: The New Order’ was in the works for a late 2013 release on current and next generation consoles.

Following the announcement; Chris Watters of Gamespot.com had an interview with the development team. More details were unveiled but it was also learned that Wolfenstein: The New Order will not have a multiplayer component

It has been confirmed that Bethesada Softworks and MachineGames are planning on developing Wolfenstein: The New Order as a single-player only game. Could this radical choice raise the bar for what gamers will want to expect?

This decision comes as a shock given that Return to Castle Wolfenstein was highly praised for both a single-player campaign that continued the legacy of the classic game and a revolutionary multiplayer component that became the template for today’s games.

In the last several years; few games have been released without a multiplayer component. Fallout: New VegasBioShock: InfiniteDeus Ex: Human Revolution, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim are just a few examples of successful games without multiplayer. These games had a strong and well crafted single player gameplay that it overshadowed the lack of multiplayer.

This means that if Wolfenstein: The New Order is to be a success among critics and gamers then it can not be a simple FPS-game. Gamers will be expecting a game with RPG-style gameplay with a long campaign in a well crafted environment. These games also require a lot of time to develop; so either the game is half finished or gamers could anticipate a delay at some point.

Bethesada Softworks would have to be foolish to try and appeal to the casual gaming market with a Call of Duty-style game. These types of games are popular mostly because of the attention given to the multiplayer aspect.

Yet a simple FPS-game may not even be the worst decisions if they chose to release Wolfenstein: The New Order as a budget title available only through download. An iconic series like Wolfenstein should not ever be degraded in such a manner and to do so could kill the series for a generation of gamers.

In the last several years; many classic games have attempted to reach a new generation only to fail miserably. Hopefully Bethesada Softworks and MachineGames choice of not having a multiplayer dose not lead to the end of the Wolfenstein-series.

Written for Digital Journal
05/13/2013
Original Article: Op-Ed: No Multiplayer will put pressure on ‘Wolfenstein’ development

Review: Umami Palo Alto is a burger joint without the burger experience – 5/12/2013

Located on University Ave., Umami Palo Alto is the newest culinary experience to come to Palo Alto by offering a new take on the classic burger.

I first learned about this place from my friend Refugio Garcia, local freelance writer and avid burger enthusiast. Having opened only a few months ago, we were down for our regular evening of beers and burgers.

For our meal we started with Truffle’em Thin Fries along with Thin Fries while for our main meal we ordered a Manly Burger and a Truffle Burger. All of this enjoyed with a few bottles of Stone Pale Ale and Coke.

Neither one of us are fans of thin fries but we did appreciated how well it was cooked and salted. The burger was exactly to my standards with quality meat that was properly marinated and grilled. Helping the flavor was the bacon, truffle cheese and mix of veggies that took me to burger nirvana.

Despite serving a perfect burger, Umami Palo Alto has a lot of issues with the atmosphere and presentation that keeps it from becoming a good burger joint.

The most obvious would have to be the “fish out of water” decor. Walk in and you will be stumped to see the place decorated with book shelf’s packed with some of the greatest works of literature. This kind of decoration may work if this was a classy coffee shop, not a burger joint.

Its understandable that they have an urge to be original and attract the Palo Alto crowd; but there is a major difference between cliche and traditional. So obviously who ever planned the theme could not tell two apart.

With its unusual choice of decorations resulted in attracting a crowd that is out of place at a real burger joint. The crowd was mostly made up of either obnoxious vegetarians or food snobs whose idea of a “good burger” can be described as blasphemous.

The next issues has to do with the poor presentation of the meal. When our burgers were served it was just a burger on an empty plate – that is it! For restaurants in Palo Alto, presentation is everything and so it comes as a total shock when such a good burger is given a very bland presentation.

Finally to top-off all that is wrong with the setting; the final nail on the coffin is the moment when you realize this burger establishment has no bar. Sure they have an good selection of beers (like every restaurant in Palo Alto) but no bar. Also fountain drinks was not an option and we were forced to pony-up $3 per soda bottle.

The service at best was mediocre as our waitress only attended to us just to take our order and to bring out our order. Also most the waiting staff gave a vibe that feels like they are Stanford students who are upset that their parents forced them to get a job and they lacked the tech skills to join a start-up.

With great burgers but an empty meal presentation and an out of touch atmosphere makes Umami Palo Alto only good for an exploration by burger enthusiast. After that its back to the many other burger joints in the area that actually have a burger atmosphere.

Final Score: 2/5

Written for Digital Journal
02/13/2013
Original Article: Review: Umami Palo Alto is a burger joint without the burger experience

Review: ‘Hannibal’ recreates a classic story – 5/8/2013

‘Hannibal’ is a recreation of the classic Thomas Harris story by taking audiences on a thrill set before the events of ‘Red Dragon’.

The series focus on the developing relationship between FBI Special Agent Will Graham and Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the aftermath of ending Garrett Jacob Hobbs, (aka “The Minnesota Shrike”) killing spree while slowly beginning the hunt for the “Chesapeake Ripper”.

Bryan Fuller really did make good use of the source material while taking some creative liberties to expand upon the story. Each episode either focus on the Hobbs / Chesapeake Ripper case or a disturbing killer whose actions keeps pushing Graham to the edge (with a little pressurization from Hannibal).

Known for his role as Le Chiffre in Casino RoyaleMads Mikkelsen performance as Dr. Hannibal Lecter is the biggest driving force behind the series. Already familiar with one of literature most iconic villains has allowed him to develop a performance that would be unjust to compare with Sir. Anthony Hopkins take on the character.

Another cast member who is all to familiar with his role is Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford, head of Behavioral Sciences at the FBI. Already having made a mark on crime drama with his role as Dr. Raymond Langston on CSI, Fishburne brings a fresh take on the Crawford role.

CSI fans could also recall that Fishburne replaced William Peterse who had played Will Graham in Manhunter.

Also among the cast is Lara Jean Chorostecki as the tabloid blogger, Fredricka “Freddie” Lounds. Her character is your typical tabloid writer who is so obnoxious that you can’t wait until the Tooth Fairy burns her alive.

Unfortunately there is nothing really impressive about the performance of Hugh Dancy as Will Graham. Its not that his performance is being compared to Peterse or Edward Norton but that this version of Will Graham is very cliche.

He is just your stereotypical brilliantine detective who has some kind of social issues; just like in MonkThe Mentalist, and Elementary. But what makes Graham difference is that he could mentally recreate the crime using “magic vision”, a ridiculousness trait that anyone who played Hitman: Absolution is familiar with.

Despite its shortcomings regarding its main character, Hannibal is an excellent recreation of the classic series that both horror and crime drama fans will enjoy. Hopefully you have the stomach for it.

Written for Digital Journal
05/8/2013
Original Article: Review: ‘Hannibal’ recreates a classic story

Review: The AVO Dominant 13th 2013 LE – 5/5/2013

Bass takes pride in looking for premium cigars of the highest quality and as it happens he acquired a special treat over the weekend just in time for Mayweather vs. Guerrero.

Campbell Cigar Club is happy to announce that it has added The AVO Dominant 13th 2013 LE to its top shelf selection.

The AVO Dominant 13th 2013 LE is the newest addition to the Limited Edition series of cigars that is released once a year from Avo Uvezian. The cigar is limited to 9000 boxes and was released on March 22, 2013 in honor of Avo Uvezian’s 87th birthday.

The AVO Dominant 13th 2013 LE has a filler that mixes four types of Dominican tobacco (Piloto Viso, Habano Viso, San Vicente Ligero, and Corojo/Olor Ligero) along with a Peruvian Viso. The filler is held together with a Yamasa binder and wrapped with a Habano 2000 Ecuador.

Its appearance will easily get anyone’s attention with its dark brown and oily texture while decorated with two eye attracting band. The first band presents the AVO logo while decorated in brown, gold, black, and white. The second band is decorated it brown with The Dominant 13th written in white over a gold silhouette.

Any cigar from Zino Davidoff will always be of exceptional quality and The AVO Dominant 13th 2013 LE is no exception. This was our final verdict:
Bass: 910
Stan: 8/10
Customer #1: 8.5/10
Customer #2: 8.5/10

It was obvious that such a well crafted cigar will get our attention but after the first puff it became a favorite among some of the guys. The Dominant 13th has relaxing smooth draw that will allows you to really feel the medium to full body flavor. It starts with a dark chocolate and nutmeg flavor but as it progresses it a spicy ceder flavor.

This was truly the perfect cigar to smoke while enjoying Mayweather vs. Guerrero as everyone had the chance to smoke at least one Dominant 13th during the night.

The box was half empty by the end of the fight and Bass is expecting to be sold out before the week is over. Campbell Cigar will be selling the The AVO Dominant 13th 2013 LE for $28 (not including tax) per cigar and supply is very limited.

Written for Campbell Cigar Club
05/5/2013
Original Article: Review: The AVO Dominant 13th 2013 LE

‘Call of Duty: Ghosts’ officially announced – 5/1/2013

Call_of_duty_ghosts_box_artActivision and Infinity Ward have officially announced that ‘Call of Duty: Ghosts’ is in the works and will be released Holiday 2013. This comes a few days after the online retailer, Tesco Direct, leaked the news.

A teaser trailer was released that gives little details but confirms some of the rumors but an offical trailer will be released on May 21. Activision has also launched the official website and an official Facebook page has been set up.

Call of Duty: Ghosts became officially available for pre-order on Wednesday. Gamestop is offering a promotional poster along with Ghosts-themed content for Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

News about an upcoming Call of Duty-game was first announced by Activision on February 7 during a Q4 conference call. Little information was given at the time except that it would be released sometime in 2013

News and rumors began to buzz when Tesco Direct leaked information about the game when they had it available for pre-order. The ad was taken down but the little details revealed was enough to cause a major buzz online.

Then a day before the official unveiling, IGN.com revealed that it had obtained official promotional material that confirmed that the next game will be titled Call of Duty: Ghost and will be released on November 5, 2013.

Call of Duty: Ghosts will be the tenth game in the popular series that has sold over 100 million copies and on average has 40 million active players a month. Back in 2011, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 hit the $1 billion mark in 16 days, beating James Cameron’s Avatar by only 1 day.

Written for Digital Journal 
05/1/2013
Original Article: Call of Duty: Ghosts’ officially announced