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Barnestorming #6321- Cracked LCD's Fifth Anniversary, SpecOps: The Line, Rocketeer, Erasure

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There Will Be Games

five Five years of total bullshit.

On the Table

I haven’t played jack shit this week in terms of physical games. Not getting paid to write reviews has made me lazy. I don’t even have the new Small World thing yet and that dastardly Ken Bradford is in cahoots with the Days of Wonder press guy so I couldn’t get one.  Still trying to decide if I want to give Descent 2nd edition a chance.

But anyway, I forgot that it was Cracked LCD’s fifth anniversary. Yep, that’s right, half a decade of writing a weekly column with very few off weeks. That’s somewhere around 250 800-1500 word articles, by the numbers. And it’s still going strong, at its NEW home at Nohighscores.com.

And since Gameshark is no more, I’m reclaiming ownership of the articles. I have most of them archived and I’m going to be reprinting them periodically beginning today with a little commentary here and there. I’m taking us all the way back to the very first Cracked LCD so NOOBS like QPCloudy can see why I have more Gamer Cred than they do.

Avery was blabbing about Mage Wars in the forums, I should have a review copy of that on the way. He better not have lead me into a bad review.


On the Consoles

I reviewed Spec Ops: The Line over at NHS. How do you make a military shooter that questions the morality and psychological effect of war? Is it even possible? This game suggests that it isn’t.

I gave up on Lego Batman 2. I loved it, but after a while you start to realize how OCD the game is. I don’t have the patience to grind out studs for hours on end to buy Captain Boomerang. Or to find all of the hidden mini kits to get the Robin submarine or whatever. I think you’ve really got to play it co-op with a kid to get the most out of it, and River’s too little for it yet.

Atlus has a big sale going on in the PSN Store so I picked up Persona 3 for the PSP/Vita. I really have no idea why it suddenly appealed to me. It’s OK, I guess. Pretty standard JRPG stuff but with this obtuse social sim element bolted on to it. I also got Yggdra Union, a port of an old GBA SRPG. It’s pretty interesting, really kind of a board game where you activate units with cards.



Summoner Wars, the end. Has everyone here had a chance to beat me yet?


On Comixology

Won’t somebody stage an intervention?

Another flood of books this week…some great, some terrible.

For some reason, I was drawn to IDW’s Rocketeer Adventures series. Probably because of the incredible roster of talent involved- Dave Gibbons, Darwyn Cooke, Mark Waid, Joe Lansdale, Bruce Timm, and so forth. They’re shorts, so they’re naturally wildly inconsistent. But what’s worse is that reading Rocketeer over four books you start to realize how utterly shallow and uninteresting the character and setting are. It’s strictly a visual thing about a dude in a bronze rocket suit and a Bettie Page look-a-like. There’s not really any great stories to be told, and there’s little to recommend any of the stories beyond some great artwork. I feel like I wasted eight bucks.

I finished off “The Return of Barry Allen”- what an awesome story. It veers into silliness, but that tends to be a DC thing. I really liked how subtly dark it was, and I loved seeing all of the speedsters team up to take down the phony Barry Allen. It made me want to read more Flash, which is something I never thought would happen.

I also finished the Avengers Kree-Skrull War series, at last. It took forever to get through it. There were some great bits- like the “Fantastic Voyage” into the Vision’s body and Rick Jones’ ridiculously dated comments- but by and large it felt stilted and far past its prime. Neal Adams’ pencils are worth the effort alone, but the storyline and writing felt like it was right at that dividing line between the 1960s and 1970s style. Some of it was confusing too, mainly because the continuity at that time wasn’t very accessible. I’m glad I read it and it is definitely an important book, but I can’t say that I enjoyed it that much.

It’s funny though, because I also started on Marvel’s Annihilation storyline and you can see many direct allusions to the Kree-Skrull War, which was pretty cool. So far, I’m digging it- I like Marvel’s sci-fi/cosmic stuff and this is a fun, epic story. I like Dan Abnett’s Guardians of the Galaxy series more, I think. And man, are the Nova Corps ever a rip-off of the Green Lantern Corps. Who are, in turn, a rip-off of the Lensman Corps.

I tried to read Bone again. I can’t believe people love that stuff so much.

On deck this week I’ve got Nightwing Year One, more Immortal Iron Fist, and House of M on tap. Probably Scott Snyder’s Detective Comics run as well.

On the Screen

What an awful week for watching movies. First up, I took a look at Immortals, Tarsem Singh’s latest pretentious pile of pretty horseshit. I honestly can’t believe that anyone would take the time to sit through such a tedious, boring sword-and-sandal movie that looks like an avant garde high school play. Plenty of wannabe Julie Taymor costumes, lots of fancy lighting, and plenty of postproduction tinkering. This is what the success of 300 hath wrought- trash like this. It’s astonishing that Tarsem still gets work after turning in three of the worst movies in recent memory- this, The Fall, and The Cell.

But even worse was Conan the Barbarian, the god-awful Marcus Nispel remake with Jason Momoa as the Cimmerian. What a horrid, horrid movie. Completely joyless, ugly, and dull. Packed with cruelty and violence that serves no purpose other than to titillate- and it’s not all that titillating if you’ve ever watched screen violence before. It’s as classless and base a film as I’ve ever seen, and although you may say that’s appropriate for a movie about Conan, I say that it should still be a good film and have merit. Instead, it’s just lowest common denominator garbage packed with speed-ramped action sequences. It’s completely empty, devoid of any substance. Even Rose McGowan is ugly in it.

I actually regret laying my eyes on it. And this Momoa character is a joke- Conan would’t have manicured, arched eyebrows.  It sucks, after YEARS of hearing about a new Conan film this is what we get? I’d rather watch fucking Red Sonja again.

On Spotify

Mostly listening to Erasure’s “The Innocents” and of course the “Pop” singles collection. As far as big, commercial 1980s pop (and gay dance music) goes, it doesn’t get any better than “A Little Respect” and “Chains of Love”.  Those hooks are just killer, and the production is tremendous. Other than “The Innocents” though, I’ve never really liked Erasure as an album act- they’re at their best in the singles. I’m not too proud to admit that I got into ABBA through “ABBA-Esque”.

There Will Be Games
Michael Barnes (He/Him)
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of FortressAT.com and Nohighscores.com as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

Articles by Michael

Michael Barnes
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Articles by Michael

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