About Me

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Greetings. I am the Illusive One. For many years now I have been a huge video game player, movie viewer, and book reader. For almost as long, I have been a critic of these things and many people respect my opinions of these things and have often said I belong on G4 doing reviews on X-Play or a similar show. Sadly that is not likely to happen. So instead I shall do reviews for you, uninfluenced by other reviewers, of video games books, movies, and, occasionally, music and political actions. I hope you find this informative and helpful. Thank you for your time.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Final Crisis

I really don’t know what to say about this one.  It’s just….wired.  I mean, just wired.  And this is the final part of my Final Crisis Trilogy but just…what the hell did I just read?  Immediately after reading this comic I looked at the reaction other people had and found that I was far from the only one who thought this comic was strange.  I mean it’s an odd, wired and messy story that defies description at some points.  So where do I even begin with this mess?
            Well, I guess I would start with the plot but to be perfectly honest, I’m not even sure what the plot of this story is, as it takes so many different turns.  At first it seems like it’s a battle against Darkseid as he starts implementing the Anti-Life Equation on Earth but then turns into some kind of cosmic battle where the fates of all the universes are linked and I honestly have no idea.  This book was just confusing as hell.
            Before I actually get into what’s wrong with it let me go into the pros of the story.  For one thing I read it from the hard cover edition so some of the stuff is actually is filled in in this version.  But sense I never read the paperback version this was inconsequential to me and the stuff that was added only further confused me.  But as far as pros go, the dialog is still pretty well written and believable.  The drawing style is also pretty good and like the last two comics I mentioned, between it and the coloring everything look the way it should. 
The first fourth of the story was actually really good.  While I’m still not entirely sure what happened, it starts off when the New God of Genesis, Orion is killed and starts off the whole event and the buildup to a certain point is really good and the concepts were actually fantastic and incredible.
Things, however, really start to get wired the moment Barry Allen comes back from the dead and the series starts to bring in all these contrived elements that make next to no sense and various things that are ultimately inconsequential to the plot. 
From what I gathered, the general consensus of the story is this: when reading this story most people tend to think that they keep flipping over pages.  And that’s pretty damn accurate.  Everything seems like it was glanced over and there were more details that were supposed to be included but weren’t.  To put it simply the story needed a lot more exposition then it was willing to give and it just confused the hell out of readers including myself.
            Right alongside this is the way things were put together.  For one thing, it seemed like entire issues were missing from the story and again it had me flipping back to make sure I hadn’t missed something.  Then there was the way the panels were actually arranged and, my God was it off.  At times it seemed like entire panels were missing or that they were out of order.  There were also a lot of events, particularly towards the end where events just seemed to be thrown in together out of order, especially dealing with the “solution”, (which I’m still trying to figure out and was the weirdest part of the book). 
Then there were the action panels.  While much of the last two thirds of this book were dealt with the superheroes of Earth fighting back the people who had fallen to the Anti-Life Equation the action was very poorly managed.  I guess the best comparison I can think of is comparing it to the action of the Lord of the Rings films, mainly the way you would see a few minutes of the fight and then it would cut to something else entirely.  With Lord of the Rings however, it worked.  Here, it just pisses you off and by the time you cut back to the fight, it is, for all intents and purposes, over.
Spoiler alerts for those who haven’t read it on this paragraph and the next but there are also two other plot elements that I just found completely unnecessary and feel that I have to mention.  For starters, is the death of Batman which came completely out of nowhere.  Throughout most of the event, he had been Darkseid’s captive and then just appears and fatally shoots him, before being zapped with Darkseid’s eye beams.  I mean what the hell?!  He was in the series for maybe a total of ten pages and is then quickly killed off at the end.  What a bullshit way to end one of the greatest superheroes of all time, (yes I know he comes back but it still came completely out of nowhere and it’s still irritating).
The second is the “true” villain, apparently some creature known as Mandrakk.  Why does this irritate me?  Well, mainly because he wasn’t a necessary villain.  Darkseid was really all this comic needed and if it wasn’t for all the wired crap that happened throughout the event he would have been a more then suitable villain and bringing this guy in just seemed to downplay Darkseid as a villain.  And even after he’s revealed, we still have no idea what he was after or know anything about him or his motivations so he just seems to come out of nowhere.  Not to mention we have no idea what his role in all of this was.  Was he manipulating Darkseid?  Was he commanding him?  Was he just waiting for everyone to kill each other?  Explanation please!!!!
Finally, we have the resolution.   Again I still have no idea what the hell happened and I’m not sure if was something that was supposed to be Deus Ex Machina or something that was supposed to have a deeper meaning.  Either way, it was just beyond confusing and even after reading the Wikipedia Article on it I’m still not sure just what the hell happened.

All around this book was just a mess.  It had good ideas for sure but the way things were ordered, explained and executed you’ll just find yourself wondering just what the hell happened.  I may like Grant Morrison’s other work but this one was just bad.  It is the definition of a story with great ideas but was ultimately too big and too complex for its own good.  It is not one that I would recommend and the only purpose it should have in any one’s house is as kindling.

All Around

And those are my thoughts on Final Crisis.  I actually went into this thing knowing next to nothing about the event and boy was it a shock to find what I found.  In a nutshell, I would recommend The Injustice League and say to go ahead and read Sanctuary if you care, but this story?  Save yourself and keep as far away from it as possible.  You have been warned.
So until next time, this is The Illusive One saying,


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Justice League of America: Sanctuary

            Well, it's time for part two of my Final Crisis Trilogy.  Last time I look at The Injustice League and stated that it was a decent but flawed story and just seemed like an excuse to get a bunch of villains and heroes in one room for a brawl.  Spoiler alert for those who haven't read The Injustice League, the comic seems to take place not long after the end of The Injustice League and seems to be a direct sequel to it.  To make a long story short, Task Force X, a.k.a. The Suicide Squad has been rounding up all the super criminals across the planet and transporting them to some off world prison.  The few that remain surrender to the Justice League for sanctuary and this in turn puts them at odds with The Suicide Squad.  Other than that there really isn’t a whole lot to say about this comic so I’ll keep this review short.

            On the positive side the comic is, for the most part, very well drawn with all the characters looking exactly the way they should.  The action scenes are once again very well depicted and I could tell what was going on.  The dialog is once again very good and seemed natural to the situations and had some scenes that were well used for character development.
            The biggest problem with it, however, is the way the story is told as it just seemed all over the place.  One moment you have the characters dealing with the supervillains and the Suicide Squad and the next they're giving exposition on the events of pervious comics.  I feel like they're trying to build up to something with these expositions but they don't follow up on it within the comics.  As a result a lot of the events just feel like events that didn't have any place in the comic.

            And that's all I really have to say on this one.  I just don't have too many feeling on it so I just don't have much to say on it either.  It had a great premise, was drawn well, with good action panels, but suffered from poor execution in terms of storytelling.

All Around

            That's it for part two and next time I'll wrap this up with my thoughts on Final Crisis.  So until then this is The Illusive One signing off.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Justice League of America: The Injustice League

            Around the same time I was reading The Killing Joke and Across The Universe: The D.C. Stories of Alan Moore I came across a more modern comic, revolving around The Justice League entitled Justice League of America: Sanctuary.  The premise of the story was that most of the supervillains in the D.C. Universe had been abducted by Task Force X, a.k.a. The Suicide Squad and the few that remain go to The Justice League for protection which put them at odds with Task Force X.  While the premise was good, the comic just left me confused and I only later found out that it was actually a continuation of another comic called The Injustice League and seemed only to be a bridge between it and the Final Crisis crossover event. 
            Now, I'm just going to be very honest about this.  Story ordering with comics confuses the hell out of me.  With this, I wasn't sure if this comic was supposed to be a direct predecessor to Final Crisis, if it took place before Countdown to Final Crisis, or in a parallel dimension to Countdown Final Crisis, at the same time, or if the writers were just flat out lying to me by ending Sanctuary with it's To Be Continued in Final Crisis bit.  It was just a nightmare trying to figure this out. 
            On top of that, just trying to figure out which Crisis they were talking about was a bit of a challenge.  When they said Final Crisis I honestly wasn’t sure at the time which Crisis event they were talking about.  Was it Crisis on Infinite Earths?  Was it Infinite Crisis?  Crisis on Earth-Two?  Identity Crisis?  I just couldn't figure it out because there were so many damn spins on the Crisis title that it made it difficult to figure out just which one they were talking about.  Finally I did the logical thing and looked on the last page of Sanctuary where it said To Be Continued in Final Crisis which sort of cleared it up for me but the brought about the questions stated above.  To put it simply there are just to many events with Crisis in the title and it's annoying and confusing and everything mentioned above are more or less the reasons I've had such a hard time getting into comics.

            So now that I've gotten all that out of my system, you’re probably wondering what the hell am I trying to get at.  Well, I just wanted to state how confusing comics can be for me before I actually get into today's review and why I do so few of them.  So what shall I be reviewing today?  Well, the comic Justice League of America: The Injustice League, the first in what I would like to call, The Illusive One's Final Crisis Trilogy.  Over the next few days I shall be reviewing this comic, Sanctuary, and finally Final Crisis.  I'm not going to get into Countdown or any of the other Final Crisis buildup because again, that would just be way too confusing for me and Linkara has already made it clear that I should stay as far away from that crap as humanly possible.  So for now it’s time for part one of The Final Crisis Trilogy.  This is the Illusive One's Review of Justice League of America: The Injustice League.
            The plot involves Lex Luthor, The Joker and Cheetah as they form an alliance of supervillains with the purpose of taking down the Justice League and, you guessed it, take over the world. 
Couldn't Resist

            And that's all you really need to know about the story so let’s start digging into the pros and cons.
            On the positive side, there was a lot of great dialog.  Most of it consisted of simple exchanges between the characters but the conversations were extremely enjoyable and there were a lot of really cleaver moments that really stuck out.  The most notable of which was a lot of Batman's dialog and an exchange between Hal Jordan and John Stewart, where they directly address the issue of having two Green Lanterns on Earth.  It was also interesting to see just how Lex Luthor controlled all these villains.  Usually alliances like these rarely work out but it was interesting to see how he kept it all together.  On the same note, I also really liked the traps Luthor set up for the Justice League and how the heroes keep falling into them.  Most of them were really clever and kept the reader on his or her toes and wondering just how they would escape said traps or how Luthor would trap them.
I also really liked the general drawing style of this comic.  To put it simply, I thought everything was really well drawn, colored and looked the way it should look.  Right alongside that, I felt that the action panels were well done as well and did a good job depicting the action.
            On the negative side, it didn't really seem like much more than an excuse then to get a lot of the super heroes and villains in one room to beat the crap out of one another.  There were a few moments that had a lot of depth at the beginning but after that it became pretty shallow and just a typical hero verses villain type story.  I also felt that the climax was a tad underwhelming and there were a couple of plot holes at this point that you could drive a truck through.  Not to mention a lot of the villains you see in the Injustice League never actually fight or have any dialog and that might irritate some people.
            All around, I'd say this was a comic definitely worth reading.  The dialog was enjoyable, the writing was all around good, the action was well depicted and it was just cool to see the way the villains all worked off one another.  If you're a comic book reader, then definitely check it out because it's worth your time.

All Around

            So that's it for part one.  Check in next time my thoughts on the follow-up to this story, Sanctuary.  So until next time this is The Illusive One signing off.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Illusive One’s Top Five Games of 2011

            Well, everyone 2011 is over, my vacation has come to a close and I’m ready to get back to work.  First off, let me say, Happy New Year to you all and I hope you all have a great 2012, (provided the world doesn’t end but I’m not holding my breath for that), and I hope it proves better than 2011.  For me, 2011 was kind of a mixed year.  In the movie department, the big screen was full of…well…unimpressive pieces.  I mean, nothing really screamed terrible but nothing really screamed great either, especially compared to all the great films that were released in between 2008-2010. 
In the television department we saw a bit more success.  We saw the release of excellent series like Game of Thrones and Hell on Wheels, the surprisingly entertaining Terra Nova, surprisingly successful changes in lead roles on shows like Two and a Half Men and CSI, and decent continuations of other series such as House and The Walking Dead.
But more on all this another time.  Today, I want to talk about video games and like films, it’s been a below average year all around.  The vast majority of the games released this year seem to have been made up of games that should have been better than they were, (L.A. Noire), or mediocre sequels, (Dragon Age 2, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations).  However, there have been a few games that really stood out but sadly there were many that I was unable to play, (my local rental store closed last year and it’s been making games harder to come by).  But because I want to put 2011 behind me as fast as I can, I decided to put together what I consider to be the Top Five Games of 2011.  Again, keep in mind that there are many games that I was unable to play like Skyward Sword or Witcher 2.  And also, keep in mind that this is my personal opinion and you are welcome to agree or disagree with me on my picks and their placements.  So with that in mind I present to you, The Illusive One’s Top Five Games of 2011.

Number 5
Gears of War 3

I’ve stated many times that finales inevitable disappoint people and if you look a little too deeply into this game it will as well.  However, in a year full of relativity disappointing shooters, Gears 3 really stood out.  In terms of plot it offered a very satisfying conclusion to the series, and while not answering all questions, it implied and hinted at enough to let the player draw his or own conclusions.  The characters were a bit of a mixed bag but any game that can make a causal fan of the games cry when the characters die, (and die they will), the writers and developers have done something right.  And again it has all the great third person shooter controls that the developers mastered, fun gameplay and great multiplayer that was able stay true to the original but also able to expand on it.  Certainly one of the better shooters of the year so if you haven’t played it, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Number 4
Mortal Kombat

HOLY SHIT!  This one was good.  It’s easily one of, if not the, best tournament fighter games I’ve ever played.  I’ve already gone in depth to this game in my review of it and why it’s so good so I’ll keep this brief.  In a nutshell, it actually had a storyline that was both compelling and interesting, graphics and gameplay that keep me coming back for more, and characters that were complicated, interesting and surprisingly fleshed out for the genera.  With any luck this will be the standard by which tournament fighters will be made from now on and will hopefully bring in a new era for the genera.  If you haven’t played it already, PLAY IT!  IT MUST BE PLAYED!!!!!!

Number 3
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

To be perfectly honest I’m not really sure if I prefer this game over Mortal Kombat, but I’ve been getting death threats over my opinion of this game so I decided to give it the number three spot, (again you people are worse than Twilight fans!).  But what makes the devoted fan base so radical can be summed up in three words:  Open World Gameplay.  And even though I felt this game was very overrated, (I’ll go more into that another day), even I can’t deny that it’s great in that department.  The sheer number of missions is impressive, the graphics are great, the look of the world is fantastic, the music, the atmosphere, the leveling system, and combat are all great and the sheer number of things you can do is incredible.  If you decide to buy this game I guarantee you’ll get every penny’s worth out of this game.  

Number 2
Batman: Arkham City

I know in advance that I’m going to get crap for placing this above Skyrim, but again keep in mind that this is my list, and my personal opinion and I don’t really expect anyone to go along with me on this one.  But, I still think it’s better than Skyrim.  In a nutshell, this game KICKS ASS!!!  The storyline was solid, it had great environments, fantastic gameplay, great characters and improved on its predecessor in nearly every way.  If you want more details as to why this game is so good, just read my review of it or, better yet, buy it and play it.  You will not be disappointed.  

And Thus Far My Favorite Game of the Year is………

Star Wars:  The Old Republic

While the verdict of this game still isn’t in from a lot of review outlets and a lot of people complaining that it’s a World of Warcraft rip-off, (one that isn’t completely unfounded), it’s proven to be what all these other games have not.  Unlike Skyrim, it does have a decent storyline, well-made missions, and enjoyable characters.  And unlike Arkham City, it has hundreds of hours’ worth of gameplay time and enables you to customize the look and race of your character and go to many other worlds with several interesting story lines.  Along with it, it has the morality decisions that have become something of a staple in BioWare’s games.  That and it has all the things that make MMORPGS great; the social aspects of team that mmo’s require, and all the other things that make mmo’s so good that I can’t think of right this moment.

And those are my favorite games of the year.  Again, keep in mind that I don’t really consider this an official list and it’s just my opinion thus far and is subject to change as time goes on.  All around I have to say, this year proved to be a little lack luster and I hope 2012 brings us some better ones.  And, that’s all I have to say on this matter.  So until next time, this is The Illusive One Signing off.