Farewell, Mr. Armstrong, and Thank You

61981-neil_armstrong_NASA-thumb-200x236-61980.jpg

Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, has died today at the age of 81 due to complications following heart surgery earlier this month.

Uttering the immortal words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”, Neil Armstrong and his crew became heroes to more than just a nation but to the world.

Armstrong’s self-made accomplishments were many, even before reaching the Moon. He had served as a Navy pilot having paid for flight lessons with a clerk’s job and fought during the Korean War, earned his degree in aeronautical engineering with top marks (and went on after his astronaut days to earn a Masters degree in the same field), became a test pilot, and had even directed a musical for his fraternity. He also holds honorary doctorates from a number of institutions.

Cool under pressure, he demonstrated his knack for doing his best in any situation during a dramatic episode during the Gemini 8 mission when he saved the capsule from an out-of-control spin. Armstrong and his partner, David Scott, guided the Gemini safely back to Earth having survived the ordeal.

After his astronaut days, Armstrong would go on to become a professor at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio teaching for eight years up until 1979. Afterwards, he would be a spokesperson for several companies and would heed the call of his nation when they needed him again at NASA to help investigate the Challenger disaster in 1986.

He quietly took himself away from the public spectacle in the last few years, but the impact of his life and that of his contributions to science won’t be forgotten. He once said “”As a boy, because I was born and raised in Ohio, about 60 miles north of Dayton, the legends of the Wrights have been in my memories as long as I can remember.”

I’ve little doubt that many others will continue to go on in being inspired by his life, and those of his fellow astronauts, in much the same way. Thank you, and good journey, Mr. Armstrong.

Review: Sleeping Dogs (X360)

61964-SleepingDogs_1-thumb-480x269-61963.jpg

Sleeping Dogs might never have come out if Square-Enix hadn’t snagged United Front Games’ latest project after Activision axed it. It was a bold move. The relatively young development house had only ModNation Racers to their name and they were working in territory urban sandbox specialists Rockstar and Volition called home. It wasn’t hard to see why Activision suddenly developed a case of cold feet over its prospects -  even when some of UFG’s members had cut their teeth within those same studios. But then again, no one thought that Rocksteady could pull off as legendary a take on the Dark Knight not once – but twice – with about as much on their resume, either.

UFG’s crime drama takes players to Hong Kong as Wei Chen, an undercover cop on loan from the States working to bring down the Sun On Yee triad. Having grown up along the city’s rough and tumble side streets before his family moved to America, his early education with the swagger and bark of its worst before graduating grade school make him a valuable weapon to his new HKPD boss. 
Continue reading

Review: Darksiders II (X360)

61854-Darksiders_II_8-thumb-480x270-61853.jpg

In 2010, the first thing that Darksiders did was to destroy the world. It brought on the Apocalypse reserving players a front row seat as one of the Four Horsemen. Humanity was dead, and War was on the march.

Fueled by the vision of comics industry veteran, Joe Madureira, and his team at Vigil Games, it took the charred building blocks of a Biblical end and gleefully twisted them into a vast adventure battling through the aftermath as angels and demons fought over the bones of what was left. But like any good story, there’s always more to tell. And like any good sequel, there’s always more than one way to improve on the original.

Continue reading

Oppa Gangnam Style

You might not have heard of Korean pop artist, Psy, but his video on Youtube has gone mega-viral with over 40+ million views in the past month and a half alone prompting quite a few people to sit up and take notice such as CNN.

Even though this isn’t the first time he’s performed, his comeback after a short hiatus has been nothing short of incredible. Thanks to the social buzz chasing after his catchy tune, and the total wackiness of the video, he’s reached members of an audience that might never have bothered to know who he was. It’s par for the course for an increasingly digital world used to minting stars like Justin Bieber in the same way.

So in in this latest hit from the ‘net, Psy demonstrates his horse-like dance moves while singing on about “Gangnam Style” from parking lot decks to the inside of a bus. Surreal comedy? Certified music video genius? Or just something that only K-pop can deliver? You decide. In the meantime, I’m going to hit it up again.

Gamescom 2012: Remember Me game footage

Over in Germany, Europe’s own version of E3 is being held in Cologne where a number of announcements have revealed a slew of new titles. Capcom was up with their reveal of Remember Me by Dontnod Entertainment, a game that takes place in the future where memories can be traded, sold, stolen, and even remixed. According to the backstory, in exchange for the loss of privacy, people have accepted the security that this kind of social society has given them in exchange.

Neo-Paris is the setting and you play as Niln, a “memory hunter” who casually pockets stolen memories as easily as we do loose change. It’s slated for May 2013, but no word yet on what platforms. Still, it looks like it could be another great title for cyberpunk fans.

The trailer below takes you through a typical job for Niln as she’s asked to “remix” someone’s memory. There’s some language, definitely some violence, but it’s slick sci-fi for the eyes. Could be good.

Review: LEGO Batman 2 (PS3)

60886-legobatman2_1-thumb-480x271-60885.jpg

Lego Batman 2 is Traveller’s Tales’ sequel to 2008′s Lego Batman. This time, Traveller’s has opted for an open-world approach while maintaining the mission-oriented focus of the previous title. And it even features spoken dialogue. But while it does a number of new things for the franchise, it also arrives with a host of annoying bugs that drag the experience down.
Continue reading

Review: Lollipop Chainsaw (X360)

60827-lollipop_1-thumb-480x267-60826.jpg

Suda 51 doesn’t just design games. He and his crew at Grasshopper Manufacture lovingly drip the paint from their imaginations onto a digital drop cloth to create some of the most unusual settings, characters, and storylines to be pressed onto plastic. In as much as their ideas ooze crazy atmospherics, the gameplay has also lived up to the technicolor rain around it.

Lollipop Chainsaw is the latest from the eclectic designer and features everything that you might expect from a high school cheerleader ripping through hordes of zombies with the decapititated head of her boyfriend talking occasional smack. Most everything, anyway, but I’ll get to that later.
Continue reading

E3 Video: Madden NFL 13

This clip from EA talks up the Infinity Engine running underneath the hood of the new Madden NFL 13 and how it’s going to change the experience. Things like balance, tripping over the legs of other players, and how it affects handling how well you can break tackles during and after getting tagged. It will be interesting to see just how long time franchise fans will like what the engine brings to the table when it is arrives August 28th.

E3 Video: Beyond – Two Souls

Quantic Dream, the makers of Heavy Rain, had also unveiled their next PS3 exclusive at E3 called Beyond: Two Souls starring a young woman named Jodie and asks the question of whether there is something else after death.

It also sports Quantic Dream’s improved engine which brings even more creepy realism to their CG actors. Ellen Paige (X-Men, Juno) is also the main actress, loaning her likeness and voice talents to star in the title. After seeing this the first time, it immediately hit my “must have” list.

This clip is adult stuff meaning that there’s frank language in there along with a little violence, but it’s also as eye catching as anything that you might have seen on the big screen. So heed the warning at the start.

E3 Video: Agni’s Philosophy – Final Fantasy Realtime Tech Demo

Square Enix had this to show at E3 to wow audiences with. It’s new tech, not necessarily a game, that this bit of footage shows off in realtime. In other words, none of this is pre-rendered.

Servers didn’t slave over hours to push out pixels frozen in film. Everything in this clip was happening, as the title says, in realtime until someone captured the demo to post on the ‘net. Which means that one day, possibly very soon, you might be playing a game that looks as good as this.