Skewed 'n Reviewed Movie News and Reviews 2015-01-28T19:31:39Z http://sknr.net/feed/atom/ gareth <![CDATA[The Art Of EVOLVE Images]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76847 2015-01-28T19:31:39Z 2015-01-28T19:31:39Z I have really liked our time in the Big Alpha, Beta, and Demo of the game and now you can have the amazing art of the game in this great book.

 

An exclusive look at the highly-anticipated game from 2K and Turtle Rock Studios

The Art of Evolve

By 2K and Turtle Rock Studios

Introduction by Phil Robb and Chris Ashton

 

Due out February 10, 2015, the video game Evolve promises to be a groundbreaking experience of epic proportions. A thrilling monster-hunting video game unlike any other, the competitive shooter features a team of four human players hunting down a fearsome player-controlled beast.

 

Set to coincide with its highly-anticipated release, The Art of Evolve (Insight Editions / $45.00 / February 2015) offers a comprehensive behind-the-scenes look at Turtle Rock Studios and 2K’s bold new game. Featuring never-before-seen developmental art—including monster designs and character concepts—the stunning book takes readers through the creation of Evolve, every step of the way.

 

The Art of Evolve is packed with hundreds of sketches, character illustrations, environment art, and more, along with insightful commentary from key artists and developers, providing a unique glimpse into the video game development process.

 

A must-have, in-depth exploration of the multiplayer shooter, The Art of Evolve is the essential companion to the exhilarating monster-hunting adventure bound to ensnare gamers worldwide.

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gareth <![CDATA[Hot Tub Time Machine 2: Big Game Spot]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76843 2015-01-28T19:08:25Z 2015-01-28T19:08:25Z I think we all know what is coming on Sunday and there will be tons of commercials that will go with it. Here is a look at one of the movie ads that you can look forward to., The first one was such silly fun, I hope the sequel holds up.

 



 

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Justin Giza <![CDATA[Blackguards 2]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76838 2015-01-28T19:23:31Z 2015-01-28T12:20:08Z The latest installment of the Blackguards series, based on The Dark Eye role-playing series from Germany, has graced my computer screen for many an hour as I crawled through dungeons and hucked fireballs, one turn at a time. The follow-up to the original turn-based RPG is brings along some of the darkness that fans of the first game have grown to enjoy.
Blackguards 2 begins with the imprisonment of the noblewoman Cassia. Cruelly kept in the castle’s dungeon labyrinths for four years, her mind slowly falls into madness, she befriends giant spiders and soon begins plotting her revenge on those who wronged her. Her initial escape from the dungeon works as a tutorial, ultimately offering more atmosphere and story than a how-to for gameplay mechanics.

The game is a revenge story played out through mix of depressing dialogue and strategic RPG action. Things are dark straight the gate, and you are asked to grab the reins and bring the kingdom to Cassia’s justice along with her group of newly-recruited misfits.

The game alternates between battle screens where the party fights in a turn-based format on a hex-grid, towns where a player can purchase new gear or upgrade skills, and voice-acted cut scenes that push the story along.

The developers at Daedalic Entertainment seem intent on letting you figure out the ins and outs of many aspects of the game on your own. Pop-up tooltips assist you in your first few dungeon crawls, but some of the UI just feels a touch sloppy to navigate.

Combat takes place along a hex-grid, with each friend and foe on the field taking turns based on their initiative to sling spells or club each other in the head. A full ring of skills/commands can be called up on each character’s turn, but the user needs to mouse-over each skill set and then select the specific skill they’re looking for which can feel sloppy at times.

Character customization in Blackguards 2 is actually quite nice, and there’s a lot of it to be had. Numerous skill and talent trees are spread across multiple tabs, allowing you to build out your characters with spells or weapon skills as you see fit. Levels are eschewed in favor of skill tree upgrades which can be performed any time you’re in a town or area of rest. Since almost every basic skill or spell is open for upgrade at the start of the game with a small experience point investment, you can play around and learn what kind of style you’d prefer.
Towns are a welcome reprieve between battles, but aren’t much to look at. In each resting spot, you’re presented with a single screen with options for upgrading, buying from merchants, or simply talking to the townsfolk. You won’t be doing very much exploring here, but the atmospheres are varied and nice to look at.

I hesitate to use the phrase “fun fantasy adventure,” because the game is so largely depressing. You feel awful for Cassia’s plight in the intro, but none of the other characters you encounter are particularly charming. In the time I spent with the game, I found myself not really caring for most of the characters I had under my control. Storywise, I really couldn’t have cared about the fate of half of them. The combat is entertaining, but the difficulty ramps from nonexistent to moderately stressful in a matter of only a few fights.
This game’s a great match for fans of grid-based or turn-based RPGs, tactical mayhem, and those looking for a dark fantasy story. If you’re looking for fast action, Blackguards 2 likely isn’t your match.

 

2.5/5

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gareth <![CDATA[Is The Empire In Star Wars: The Force Awakens Closer In Style To The Klingon Empire]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76836 2015-01-28T12:13:36Z 2015-01-28T12:13:36Z Like many people who grew up with “Star Wars” I analyzed the new trailer for “The Force Unleashed” with great interest and look forward to seeing the film this coming December.
Like many I have gone over my thoughts for what the images in the trailer and set photos indicate as well as potential avenues for the story to take as this is the nature of fans with any high-profile release.

For me I keep coming back to the obvious inclusion of the Empire. I have asked if the title could possibly point to a return of the Dark Side of The Force or if the Empire never really went away following the death of Vader and Emperor Palpatine.

Politics have been a large part of the Star Wars universe, especially in the Prequels as we saw how corruption and infighting weakened the Republic to the point that Palpatine and his allies were able to manipulate systems into fighting amongst one another which in turn allowed him to gain and maintain a stranglehold on the galaxy.
For me the Empire either never went away or was biding their time pinned into their section of the galaxy, while Leia, Luke, Han, and the Rebel Alliance worked to restore democracy to the Republic.

As in the Expanded Universe, I figured that the Empire would have their section of space where the remaining military forces rule and operate under a sort of cease fire with the Republic as long as they keep their activity largely confined to their assigned territory.

World War II has always been a template for me when analyzing “Star Wars” as one can draw numerous connections to The Empire and Nazi Germany as well as Hitler and Palpatine.
For the sake of this article, I will call the Empire The “New Empire” as it is possibly different in form and scope from what we have seen and experienced previously.

Looking at the economic situation facing the Empire and I would say that unless they are doing an open trade with the New Republic or independent planets, then they would most likely not be able to support nor sustain their military forces. Perhaps it is like Germany between WWI and WWII where they quietly built up their forces in secret and by the time of Episode VII they are preparing to emerge and take back what was lost.

In some ways I see them very much like the Klingons in the original Star Trek in that they take the resources they need through military conquests and expansion, and that they are allowed to do this as a form of appeasement as long as they keep their activities on their side of the galactic map and do not involve planets that are aligned with or part of The Republic.

The cost of maintaining a standing army is vast to say nothing of research and construction costs, so someone or something has to be funding this massive effort. Even if the troops are made up of clones and conscripts, food, housing, and weaponry all cost money, lots of it.

Count Dooku as vast as his family fortune was needed the resources of The Trade Federation, The Techno Union, The Banking Clan, Geonosis, and other guilds to fund his movement so I have to wonder who is eager to side with and support the Empire knowing their past history, especially when doing so will likely draw the attention of the New Republic as well.

The most likely scenario is that the Republic is such a mess that even after decades, the heroes of the original trilogy are trying to keep order and put things right amongst the natural corruption and infighting that likely would result.

Removing the Empire would not magically make all the old issues vanish and for some they may see the former Rebel Alliance as a new form of military control and would naturally lead to mistrust of rule backed by military as remember, the Republic of the Prequel Era did not have a standing army and had not for a long time. They relied on the 10,000 Jedi to keep the peace.
Regardless of what the final answers will be, I think we are likely going to see an Empire that has all the nasty elements of old, but with a few new wrinkles as they did not survive the galactic turmoil that undoubtedly occurred in the 30+ years since the fall of Palpatine and Vader without some adaptation.

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gareth <![CDATA[The Fantastic 4 Trailer Is Here.]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76833 2015-01-27T14:13:27Z 2015-01-27T14:13:27Z Not sure I like what they have done with this. I had issues with the casting from the start but this looks like a slap to the face of Stan Lee.

 

 

 

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gareth <![CDATA[Dying Light Launch Trailer]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76831 2015-01-27T12:16:32Z 2015-01-27T12:16:32Z It is D Day folks or more accurately Z Day. Dying Light is here with all the weapon crafting, Undead bashing, Parkour climbing fun you can have.

Developed by Techland, Dying Light is an all-new story of survival set in a city devastated by a mysterious infection. Kyle Crane, an undercover operative, is sent to the quarantine zone with the mission to locate a high-ranking military officer gone missing. Soon his mission goes sour and Crane is caught in the midst of a desperate fight for survival.

 

Key Features:

Go Anywhere, Climb Anything – Whether you jump between rooftops, climb walls or attack foes from above, you can move around the city with ease and speed.

Creative Brutality – Fight using a diverse selection of melee weapons: knives, bats, axes, as well as loud but powerful firearms. Make use of unusual weapon upgrades and construct your own tools of combat.

Hunter by Day, Prey by Night – In daylight you can explore the city and search for supplies with relative ease. After nightfall, though, the zombies become much more agile and dangerous, so you have to use all available means to survive till sunrise.

Watch the developers play ‘Be the Zombie’ in the latest gameplay video: http://youtu.be/u2ai_WcnZ7Q

Dying Light will have a worldwide digital release for PC on January 27th, 2015. Physical disks will be available in North and South America for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC on the same day. In Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa and Australia, Dying Light will have a digital release for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 28th, 2015 with the physical disks set to be released on February 27th, 2015.



 

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gareth <![CDATA[Are Warner And DC Destined To Fail In Their Efforts To Be Like Marvel And Disney]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76828 2015-01-27T11:34:49Z 2015-01-27T11:34:49Z I think most people would agree that Marvel Studios has had a very successful run since they started to control the film production of the cinematic versions of their characters.

With over 7000 characters that are not currently under rival studios control for films, Marvel and Disney have been able to take lesser known characters and drive them to star status by smart marketing and films that allow their characters to be portrayed in the best possible way by the people and company who knows them best.

Warner and DC are attempting to create their own massive franchise but are still stinging over the costly disappointment that was “The Green Lantern” as well as the backlash from fans which effectively killed any future outings for Ryan Reynolds.

With multiple characters such as Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and the entire Justice League up for future group and stand alone films, one has to wonder if the company will be up for the task as aside from “Batman” the cinematic history of Warner Bros and DC heroes does have a few clunkers in their history.

I like many fans have questioned some of the casting and directorial choices especially that of Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Cyborg and have wondered if DC and Marvel are so bent on creating new franchises to rival Marvel that they are not putting the proper amount of thought into the casting and scripting of the films to ensure success.

The casting of heroes has always been hotly debated as Michael Keaton created a huge uproar with his casting yet turned in one of the best portrayals of the character to date. It is common to take up and coming actors as many of them do not want to run the risk of being typecast especially when locked into a role for the better part of a decade in some cases, but ask Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, or Robert Downey JR if they have been typecast as a result of their Marvel films.

To me some of the DC characters are not interesting or strong enough to support a film on their own. Take Cyborg and Aquaman as an example. They would work fine as part of an ensemble but I just do not think that there is enough to the characters to base a big budget film franchise around a solo outing unless the plan is to ensure multiple characters appear in each film.

Another issue facing the films is being in direct competition with their small screen counterparts. Ask Brandon Routh how competing with Smallville and a less than stellar script worked for his outing in “Superman Returns”.

Both Arrow and The Flash are doing well on the WB network and Stephen Amell has reportedly already spoke out about confusing the audience with a cinematic version of the Green Arrow while he is portraying the character successfully on the small screen.

Marvel has the advantage that in being owned by Disney they have their own network in ABC which allows them greater freedom and control with their projects and does help ensure that cinematic versions of the character appear on the small screen as well as we have seen several times in Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

In the end it will come down to a good script executed by a good director and cast, but for now, I would say that there are a lot of questions with the upcoming slate of DC films and based on Marvels established success and announced slate of films, Warner may be facing an uphill climb.

 

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gareth <![CDATA[How Should Sega Follow Up Alien Isolation]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76826 2015-01-26T14:27:21Z 2015-01-26T14:27:21Z With the recent news that Alien Isolation has sold over one million copies, Sega can start to put the disappointments of Aliens: Colonial Marines and past Alien themed games behind them secure in the knowledge that they not only have a hit game for the franchise, but have shown that there is still a strong audience for the series if it is done well.

Now comes the difficult part, the so called Sophomore Jinx that has doomed so many athletes and musicians who were not able to repeat their initial success and struggled to follow up.

Now I know this was not the first Alien game for Sega and as such the term “sophomore” is not the most accurate description but it does help underscore the issue.

Sega now has viable proof that if an Alien game is done well that not only can it make fans happy, but it can also make money for the company. The issue is where do they go from here once they have exhausted all possible DLC offerings for Alien Isolation?

It would be naïve to think that Sega does not have ideas for future games or perhaps even some in progress at this point, but if reports are true, the only thing that saved Alien Isolation was the fact that it was so deep in development that the company opted to complete their investment rather than cut and run after Colonial Marines.

It would be a safe thing to do an Alien Isolation 2 or some type of Survival Horror game for the franchise as that does seem to be the genre that is best suited for it but that comes with the risk of trying to capture lightning in a bottle twice.

Creative Assembly have said that they have “Daily Discussions” about the plot for a potential sequel so it is a good bet that based on their success they will be given another outing in the Alien Universe.

One has to wonder if we have seen the last of shooters in the series for a while as this was the genre that was most often used. I would love to see what could be done with a mix of RPG and Shooter ala Planetside 2, Evolve, and Titanfall in terms of characters forming a massive squad and having to cleanse the Alien infestation on several planets. Imagine being able to start as a lowly grunt and work your way up the ranks, fighting battles with everything from ship and vehicle mounted weapons, to the up close and personal types.

Sure there would be logistical issues to sort out but I think having to pacify and maintain locales and advance your character would be good and if the RPG element was done correctly players would have a connection to other characters and have reason to keep them alive.

I also think that a game from the perspective of The Engineers might be interesting as a dual campaign where players play as Engineer or Alien could be fun as long as the backstory was developed properly.

Alien has given fans a very rich cinematic universe and sadly like Star Wars, Marvel, and other universes, that have not resulted well in many video games in which they are portrayed.

Alien VS Predator, Alien Vs Predator 2, and Alien Isolation have to date been the best examples in the series so let us hope that better things are ahead for the series and that Alien Isolation was not the exception.

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Ryan Guerra <![CDATA[PAX South Images: Set 2]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76821 2015-01-26T11:36:14Z 2015-01-26T11:34:16Z Ryan sent in some more images from his time at PAX South. He will have a new set of images and a write up coming in for us very soon.

 

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Sasha Glenn <![CDATA[Fashion Meets Philanthropy in Seattle]]> http://sknr.net/?p=76817 2015-01-25T19:25:46Z 2015-01-25T19:24:34Z January 17, 2015 the charity fashion show and auction, Strut To End Alz, was held at Hotel Monaco in Seattle. The event, which was organized by Monica Razniewski and David M. Bailey, delivered class and style to the runway all while giving to a great cause.

The majority of the ticket proceeds were donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Alzheimer’s disease effects 36 million people worldwide and is the third leading cause of death in Washington State, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

A silent auction was also held at the event to raise additional funds. The auction items consisted of donated art pieces, and handcrafted accessories, as well as two beautiful Karen Ashley dresses from the show.

Hotel Monaco’s Paris Ballroom was a small and cozy setting. The room buzzed with high energy conversations against the lovely musical backdrop put forth by Dj Martini.

The show consisted of looks by three designers, each one with their own unique style.

The models were edgy, some adorned with elegant tattoos. They were classy, polished, and very professional with hair and makeup that was gorgeously matched to the designs they wore.

Designer Karen Ashley presented quite a few very wearable looks. These were fitted dresses with floral and black patterns. The line also had some very stunning pieces. A gold and black floral print dress-coat with black fur trim around the collar and a silver dress that floated down the runway like liquid, were two of her most attention grabbing looks. The two gorgeous soft-blue dresses, which she donated to the show, were a combination of wearable and stunning.

Couture Papillon, was the second line to hit the runway. It was an absolute pleasure to watch. Quite fittingly, a bit of Lana Del Rey was played as the models strutted down the runway in sultry, vintage-looking designs. Mostly these were mid length dresses with tight fitted bodices and flatteringly flowing skirts. Silky gloves added the perfect touch of old-fashioned class to many of the pieces. Though the looks were elegantly old-fashioned, many of them were paired with a rockstar-pinup edge through the choice in accompanying makeup and hairstyle. One elegant dress even came with a very edgy black crop jacket that screamed Lana!

The final designer, Juleano, brought a more modern twist to the show. The line was darker, more dramatic, and at times shocking (but in a good way). One of these moments struck the audience when a tall blonde model slunk down the runway in a shimmering, tight-fitted black gown with a loose fitting skirt. At the end of the runway, she tore away the skirt piece to reveal a gorgeous one piece. Leaving many in the audience with pleasantly surprised looks as their jaws dropped.

Overall the designs were consistently impressive. There were only one or two pieces that were not as polished as the rest. However, as you can see from the pictures, the show did nothing short of whisking the audience away to a land of high fashion perfection.

For those who haven’t heard, Seattle actually has a booming fashion scene with numerous events throughout the year. The shows are usually very fun and won’t disappoint anyone who is a lover of art and style.

For those interested, a big future event to stay tuned into will be Seattle Fashion Week March 4-8, 2015.

 

Design: Karen Ashley, Photo credit:  Anastasia Mikhanoshina

 

#1 Karen Ashley

Design: Couture Papillon, Photo credit: 
#2 Couture Papillon
Design: Juleano, Photo credit: Danielle Bortone-Holt

 

 #3 Juleano

 

 

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