Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Weekly Word #6

Oh ye of little faith, here comes the Weekly Word number 6!

My slow writing aside, due to school and other things out there, I have got some wonderful tidbits in store for everyone this week. After two weeks of rather depressing news going around this time I have some great pop-culture links to share!

First and fore mostly I would like to again (if you followed me on Facebook you would already know) share the news that Firefly will be continued in comic format by Dark Horse comics! Yes over a decade of waiting has paid off for the erstwhile Browncoat fans who have eagerly awaited the day when the series would continue in some form or another, but now the wait is over!

Here is an article detailing this wonderful new turn of events.

Now of course some will be disappointed since it is not live action, and of course that the film Serenity is canon so some of your favorite characters are still six feet under. I for one am tentatively excited by this turn of events, mostly because numerous fan fics and fan theories have been floating around for years! Finally though we may get some long awaited closure from our favorite sci-fi series.

Though speaking of Firefly, and of course one of my favorite actors Nathan Fillion, I am also happy to say that the sixth season of Castle premiered last night and we finally found out the answer to the burning cliff hanger we were left with over the summer months! Only to be given a new burning cliff hanger to start the series off! We will have to find out what happens next Monday and how the saga of one of the best police partnerships on TV continues!

In other news the new trailer for Robocop is out. We are seeing a whole new version of the franchise with this re-boot and one this is extraordinary in its look at the Robocop world, though according to Cracked it seems to be a little simplistic in it's set up.

Though of course we'll just have to wait and see won't we?

But here is the new trailer for your viewing pleasure!

In other, just as cheery news, it seems the horrible sensation which has been the Atlas Shrugged film trilogy is so desperate they have been forced to go to Kickstarter in order to obtain the funds to finish off a trilogy so bad the books fans don't even like it! Last year I talked about Part II of the terrible trilogy and commented on how this part seemed competently strung together, unlike the first film.

However, many people who have seen the film (well the two I know of) have panned it as being awful, just awful. In a delicious irony the free market agrees and finds the disgusting ideology the film champions unpalatable. This of course sticks in the craw of many of the ideologies most ardent defenders who insist it is a good film and is a wonderful parable of our times.

The remaining 99.99 percent of humanity disagrees.

In their effort to keep ideological purity alive for this sad series the producers have gone to kickstarters with a modest goal to reach of a quarter of a million dollars, and has made a respectable 96,000 so far. Seems to have some rich backers with plenty of cash to throw around for sure. Though I'm sure that like the rest of the films it will flop spectacularly, and it may even end up driving the makers into debt.

It seems the film is to be recast, again, as they have either let the actors go, or the actors have quit. It is admirable that the producers decide to keep going really. The producers have also thanked those who have hated on the movie for helping generate publicity, firmly believing that even bad publicity is good publicity. Unless it of course means that no one will watch your movie of course!

While I salute their commitment to their ideological goal I will of course disparage the series and ideology until the day I die.

On the plus side if the world ends the 1000+ page book makes great kindling or toilet paper!

Well that's my rant for this week readers! Until next time!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The Weekly Word #5

Well readers I'm afraid this will be an unusually quick weekly word. I will be off from making blog posts this week, but once I return I have two blog posts to make. Then of course more following.

Well of course the biggest news so far this week comes as President Obama promises firm action on the Syria issue. However, only today he has put that military strike on hold. This will of course lead to anger on both sides of the aisle as people blame him for being to wishy washy when it comes to dealing with a regime which has blatantly used chemical weapons to slaughter people.

Of course this also comes after a Russian initiative to get Syria's weapons turned over for safe-keeping seems to be gaining ground though. How much do I buy the idea of Syria turning over its weapons? I can actually see them allowing most of their stockpile to be taken into (most likely Russian) custody. However, I sincerely doubt they will actually allow their facilities which make chemical weapons to be destroyed.

Only time will tell.

Of course today we commemorate today another great tragedy and atrocity, that of the 9/11 Attacks on the United States.

Twelve years ago today, over 2,000 people lost their lives in a senseless act of violence perpetrated by villains in an attempt to terrorize the people of America and the world. It didn't work of course, and now all the men who perpetrated it, planned it, and their ringleader lay slain from the ensuing conflict.

Argue about the outcome if you will, but never forget the people who died. May they rest in peace.

In more local news I have recently been reading about the Quebec Charter of Values. It seems the government of Quebec would like to see what they can get away with, or flagrantly violate my countries constitution.

The Quebec 'Charter of Values' to quote the CTV article:

The so-called "values charter" announced by the government would impose broad restrictions, unique in North America, on religious clothing for employees in all public sector institutions including schools, hospitals and courts.
While the cross above Montreal's Mount Royal and the crucifix in the legislature are OK because they are considered part of the province's heritage, government employees wearing a crucifix would have to conceal it. Religious headgear such as hijabs, burkas, kippas, veils and turbans would also be forbidden.

This is of course something that outrages many religious minorities, who rightly view it as discrimination against themselves. They see the Charter as nothing less than an attack on their identity and as a series of laws designed to forcefully secularize them where they work.

The Quebec government for its part views it as a good thing as it would 'defuse religious tensions' and of course forbid the wearing of certain items in government and public buildings.

The items in question
Speaking as someone who normally doesn't wear religious iconography on his person, I still find this offensive. It is offensive to think that people aren't reasonable enough, after having lived for years now beside people who routinely wear these types of items, to stand seeing them in plain view. It is offensive to think that you can just forcefully secularize people against their will for no good reason. It is finally offensive to infringe on someones religious beliefs due to the chance that some intolerant person might be dismayed by seeing a woman in a hijab.

I did an article a while ago about 'freedom from religion' and that seems to be just what the current government of Quebec is trying to do. I'm sorry Quebec but a secular society simply keeps government and religion from mixing, not actively trying to subtly force everyone with religious ideas from the government.

My sincere hope is that the supreme court will strike this down for the lunacy that it is. God help Canada, God help Quebec.

Until next time readers, until next time!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Weekly Word #4

Despite the again erroneous title I again bring you my weekly word!

First off I address the issue on everyone's mind, Syria. Well ladies and gentlemen it seems like things are getting worse in the region, with the civil war spiraling out of control and foreign intervention being either a pipe dream or a terrifying possibility according to the pundits.

The idea of intervention though is something that must weight heavily on the consciences of world leaders in the West. They missed their chance to support the only secular, and non-terrorist affiliated group in the region back in 2011, only to watch as the revolution was hijacked by a better armed and better funded Al-Qaeda offshoot with ties to our supposed allies in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Now though, Assad has crossed the line which was set by using chemical weapons. The time has (theoretically) come for the Western world to intervene and say loud and clear that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.

However, Western opinion seems divided on that, and I can understand why. Let us take a look at what the possible outcomes are in Syria. The first is for the Assad regime to completely win the civil war and stay in power. There will of course be reprisals, crackdowns, and a tightened security state. However, the balance of power in the region will not be adversely affected (save Russia's growing influence) and another dictator will have stood up to the West. A terrible option for the Syrian people, but no worse than that they face right now.

In the next scenario we have a definite victory by the Al-Nursa Front and its allies. Then we have a secure base of operations for militants which could further destabilize the region, give a foreign terrorist organization access to chemical weapons, reach in the Mediterranean, and a major source of arms and supplies. This would most likely come back to bite the West in the behind in a big way.

The Third scenario is for the Free Syrian Army to win and establish a semi-stable state which could be a boon or a hindrance to the region. It would probably end up like Libya with internal difficulties, and many religious militias refusing to answer to the government (as well as the unsettling question of the Kurdish population). The worst case scenario for an FSA victory is for the fighting to merely continue and devastate the region further still in an Afghanistan style civil war.

Now these are all merely speculations, and if the war goes on much longer it may begin to seriously unsettle the entire region. However, how the West reacts will determine how the conflict is played out. If the West strikes at Assad's military power bases and weakens him it will prolong the war, if it directly helps the rebels (who may or may not be friendly to the US) it invites the victory of a potential enemy, and if it does nothing, then it is still up in the air.

The West is also limited in its ability to respond by Assad's threats to unleash chemical weapons on the region if he suspects regime change is the attempted American goal. This leads merely to a number of bad and worse decisions which will probably not give the West an edge in the conflict. Meanwhile it grinds inexorably on.

Meanwhile in the news we have two bright spots with a pair of infamous mass murderers getting their sentences passed down recently. Nidal Malik Hassan and Robert Bales were sentenced to death and life in prison respectively.

Hassan was the perpetrator of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting where he gunned down 12 soldiers and one civilian in a Jihadist influenced rampage in order to 'stop US soldiers from going to Afghanistan and killing Muslims'. Hassan became sadly proficient with his weapon and got the drop on dozens of unarmed soldiers who were lining up for medical treatment. He was just recently sentenced to death by a military tribunal.

Robert Bales whose crimes I covered here, was also finally justly sentenced for the obvious war crime he committed. I am thankful the American government has seen fit to give him such a harsh sentence (though the death penalty would have been more appropriate) and I am pleased he has been sent to prison for the remainder of his life.

While justice has been served and this weekly word is a bit more gloomy than most I hope that we can see some good news over the horizon in the future readers!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

A Review of Space Marine

Well for the first time on this blog dear readers I will be reviewing a video game! This time I am going to be reviewing the video game, Space Marine!

Now I have written about the idea of Space Marine's and the Games Workshop franchise of Space Marine. Here I'm going to be reviewing the 2011 game of similar name, Space Marine! Set in the grim darkness of the 41st millennium, where there is only war, we are thrust into the hellish landscape that is the Imperium of Man playing as its premier super soldier, the titular space marine. You play as Captain Titus of the Ultramarines Chapter (the poster boys of 40k) following him as he attempts to unleash hell on the xenos enemies of mankind.

The Orks have invaded Forge World Graia, a planet devoted to military production, especially that of the massive war titans which protect mankind. Titus must stop the Ork invasion by any means necessary, even if it means teaming up with some of mankind's more brutal agents in order to do so.

The game is fairly well written plot wise, if pretty simple. You learn to love the dry wit of Sergeant Sidonus, not want to slap young Leandros and hope that poor Lt. Mira and her Guardsmen aren't overrun by the greenskin hordes. There are enough twists and turns in the plot to keep you guessing but it is straightforward with the whole theme of the grim future.

Now on to the important aspect, the game play!

The game is not your average third person shooter game. It instead devotes much of its time to close combat and amply rewards the player for doing so. For instance, the only way to regain lost health in game is to go in and execute an enemy. That really made me want to just wade in and start slaughtering the green menace.

It also gives you lots of wonderful weapons in order to do this. From the simple combat knife to the gargantuan Thunder Hammer you have a vast variety of ways to slice up Orks. You also get coated in gore while doing so and many times Titus's nice blue armor was just covered in a new layer of red!

Each weapon has advantages and disadvantages. The regular weapons allow you to fire your bolter and other weapons in accord or to quickly switch back to larger weapons for long range combat. The large weapons like the Thunder Hammer only allow you to use your bolt pistol since the Thunder Hammer requires two hands to wield and one to hold aside otherwise.

The trade off is fair though since the bolt pistol works just as well as a bolter (with a slower rate of fire) and the Thunder Hammer simply devastates anything in its path from the lowliest boy to the meanest Nob.

That's not to say that shooting is lacking either. The guns you are given are an impressive arsenal of closer quarters weapons, and long range firepower. Each can cut a swathe through Ork hordes with either masses of fire or with sheer explosive power. None of them are lacking but the way the game implements them is.

For a game with focuses so much on close quarters battle, the idea of having enemies who can stand off and blast you is a little jarring. You can answer in kind but I found that longer ranged enemies when employed in great numbers, were a slight game breaker. I could defeat them after one or two tries but being mauled by Orks with cleavers while being ventilated by Orks with guns (or rockets) became a serious issue. The worst part was of course the bomb squigs, which were an instant kill no matter the circumstances. Trust me I haven't let such profanity loose at fictional characters since watching Twilight.

While this doesn't diminish the game in itself, it does present a unique and irritating challenge to the pure flow of game play. While switching between weapons is generally flawless, the sections where one has to use a two handed weapons (or one forgets to switch and has no option of changing it) get absurdly difficult rather quickly and it becomes a series of innovative 'stay alive' ideas until you manage to kill everything in sight.

This doesn't ruin the game, but makes it just a bit more challenging and is hopefully a balance issue they will work out in the sequel.

The fun parts though are when you get to run around with a jump pack and smite your enemies from above. These are well place throughout the game and happily break up the tedium of run, hack/slash, and shoot. A number of other sections with vehicles and fun objects serve the games purpose well.

There are only two moments which could really be called boss fights. They tend to be wave attacks until you can smash at the tougher than normal boss. They're pretty fun but I have to say the final boss battle is rather anti-climactic.

That aside though this really is a wonderful game! It's well balanced, has no bug issues, and plays really well. Though many hardcore 40k fans disliked it I have to say they have no clue what they're missing! It plays well and is a barrel of fun, its also reasonable short with a campaign that can't be over a good 20 hours of game play.

All in all I say you ought to pick it up and try it out. So go, enjoy a romp in the grim darkness of the 41st Millennium!