2010-12-18

Seasons Greeting From the City of Heroes

The Holiday Season has officially reached the City of Heroes!



Father Time's Ski Chalet has opened next to Pocket D. Baby New Year needs rescuing. Mystery presents are scattered about, and there are Winter Hoarde snowmen sightings. Oh, and Lord Winter is back and he brought a DATE!

Yes, it's THAT TIME again!

Ho-Ho-Hope you stocked up on some inspirations, because you're gonna need them! But don't worry... Pocket D has plenty of infirmary teleporters and your local bartender will help with the right boosters to make your days merry and bright.

Heroes, Villains, Rogues, Vigilantes, and Praetorians that take part at any time between Friday, December 17th 2010 and Monday, January 3rd, 2011 will get special fuzzy earmuffs to get in the spirit of the season. Just head to your local tailor shop to get them fitted.

And we were told there will be a special announcement concerning a certain scandal reported last year in the "Guardians of the Dawn" series. Please visit their site for the special announcement.

Enjoy the season!

2010-11-30

Presenting... Issue 19... AND Issue 19!

This week is a double-shot of Issue 19 releases!

Yes, that's right, a DOUBLE-SHOT!

First out of the gate, released on November 29th, was "Guardians of the Dawn Spotlight" Issue #19...

This is the continuation of the "Time and Changes" storyline, this time featuring the history of Icon Powers, the older "Powers" family member that came to Paragon City from another universe. He's been on the sidelines for a while now, and if you read Issue #0 then you'd know PART of the reason why. But there is another part to the story that explains why he needs a tech-based suit to augment his abilities, and it ties into events shown as far back as Issue #1!

Then the next day, November 30th, Paragon Studios unleashed their own Issue #19... ALPHA STRIKE!

And boy did they come up with some SERIOUS changes!

First, we have the start of the Incarnate System, the FINAL evolution of a hero or villain (or those in between). This is a ten-level journey (with the first being ALPHA) that will expand on ALL of your powers to a level unheard of before. You will eventually be on the same level as Statesman or Lord Recluse.

Then there is the merging of all transport systems. The Paragon Transportation Authority has merged its Green and Yellow monorail lines to create ONE transportation system that takes you anywhere you have an active monorail service. Likewise, the Ferry system is merged so you can go to any ferry port and go to anyplace that has such a port.

The same applies to the Rogue Isles, including the Black Helicopter system provided by Arachnos.

Also anyone that can create Praetorians

We have more power customization, with alternate animations for more abilities. We have free auras (snowflakes and fireflies). A rather significant change is that the "Fitness" Power Pool is now an inherent power at Level 2. (You will be given TWO power respec tokens so you can fix this if you have already slotted Fitness powers. The first was given with I19's release, the second will be given on December 8th, so don't delay in re-doing your abilities!) Also, Kheldians will now have access to the Fitness power even in their alternate cosmic forms. (This was something not possible when it was a Power Pool.)

This is just SOME of the various changes being made, and I haven't even mentioned the changes in Praetoria! The only thing really missing here is Quality-of-Life changes for supergroup bases, but I hope that will be sooner rather than later down the line.



So be sure to check out Issue 19 of "Guardians of the Dawn", and then log in and take part in all of the fun stuff for Issue 19: Alpha Strike!

2010-11-13

Paragon Pundit Hero Movie Review #22


Paragon Pundit Hero Movie Review
#22: Fantastic Four

In the world of comic, the “Fantastic Four” are dubbed “The First Superhero Family”, although in many instances they are the “First Dysfunctional Superhero Family”. Created in 1961 by comic legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the “Fantastic Four” focus on the quartet team of Reed “Mister Fantastic” Richards, Susan “Invisible Girl” Storm, Johnny “Human Torch” Storm, and Ben “The Ever-Loving Blue-Eyed Thing” Grimm. It was the first team series published by Marvel Comics, and it would also be the series that would introduce some of Marvel’s signature villain, including Victor Von Doom (aka “Doctor Doom”) and Galactus. It would also introduce notable cosmic beings The Watcher and Silver Surfer.

The quartet roster would change over the decades as Reed and Susan got married and had children. Temporary members include She-Hulk, Storm (from the X-Men), the Hulk, Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, and Wolverine. This was also a rare superhero team that did not have secret identities, as their lives were as about as public as Hollywood celebrities, and even their Baxter Building stood out in the New York City skyline.

Needless to say, Marvel Comics desperately wanted to do a movie featuring this team, and in the 1980’s they gave the rights to Constatin Film.

Unfortunately those rights were set to expire in 1992 unless filming began before then. Determined to keep the film rights, the studio hired famed B-movie director Roger Corman (of “Battle Beyond the Stars”, “Death Race 2000” and “Galaxy of Terror”) to direct this on the cheap. Production was finished in 1993 and was given an “official” release date for 1994. The cast and crew were all supposedly led to believe that even if the movie would not be released, their work would be used at some point as a pilot for a TV series. The studio then announced that the movie would never be released EVER, all copies were destroyed, any mention of the movie was purged from the books, and all participants were then shipped to undisclosed locations to have their memories wiped by Charles Xavier. (Okay, I’m kidding about the last two parts.)

Bear in mind that the first rule of denying the existence of a movie means that it WILL show up as bootleg releases at comic and fantasy conventions, which is how THIS reviewer knows that the original movie exists!

But with Constatin Film keeping the rights of the film, they were eventually able to raise the money needed to come up with a proper major studio production and release of the “Fantastic Four” movie.

“Fantastic Four” (or “Fantastic 4” as it was alternatively titled) was released by 20th Century Fox for Constantin Film in 2005, directed by Tim Story. It stars Ioan Gruffuld, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, Chris Evans, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington, and Laurie Holden, with special cameo appearance by Stan Lee.

The film starts with Reed Richards (Gruffuld) and Ben Grimm (Chicklis) arriving at the door of Von Doom Industries to convince Reed’s old MIT classmate Victor Von Doom (McMahon) to finance his experiment. Reed believed that life on Earth came from a wave of cosmic energy that was set to make its return, and he planned on measuring its effects in space. But when NASA said no to the idea, Reed turned to Victor for help. Victor agrees to the project, provided he goes up to the station with them along with his girlfriend, Dr. Susan Storm (Alba), and her brother, thrill-seeking pilot Johnny (Evans). Reed looks forward to working with Susan again, although Ben objects both to Victor’s presence and to Johnny piloting the shuttle.

In the private space station, Reed discovers that the cosmic wave would reach them sooner than earlier predicted, and it sweeps the station before they could retreat to join Victor in the safety of the shielded sections. They find themselves back on Earth in quarantine, unsure of what the cosmic radiation would do to them.

Sure enough, they each discover the radiation had changed their bodies. Johnny found out his body could generate heat and fire without burning him. Susan’s body could turn invisible and project invisible waves outward. Reed could stretch any part of his body to seemingly infinite lengths. Ben, however, suffers the worst of the changes as he becomes a rock-skinned creature with a deep gravely voice. His changes are so dramatic that his fiancée Debbie (Holden) wants nothing to do with him. Depressed, Ben finds himself on the Brooklyn Bridge and inadvertently causes a scene which has the police and fire department rushing over. When a traffic accident knocks a responding ladder truck over the bridge, the others quickly move to contain the damage and save lives, with their actions being broadcast on TV around the world. The media dubs them the “Fantastic Four”, and Reed takes control of the team and announces they would retreat to the Baxter Building for further study. The change of scenery allow Reed and Susan to get closer, and Ben even ends up with a new girlfriend, in the form of blind artist Alicia Masters (Washington).

The news of the “Fantastic Four” along with the disaster of the space station bankrupts Doom’s business and his investors quickly abandon him. But Doom was also changed from the cosmic wave, and soon he develops electro-magnetic powers as well as taking on a metallic appearance. Reaching for a metallic mask that was once a gift, Doom vows revenge on Reed Richards and his new “family”.

I’m going to leave the rest for you to discover, but sufficient to say the rest of the film does both the characters and their creators justice.

The movie is a welcomed break from the original comic origins, which involved the Mole Man and one of his giant creatures. It provides an easier explanation for their powers, as well as the “unstable molecules” idea that would become key to explain how they could use their powers without ending up naked (something that Alba’s Susan Storm found out the hard way on more than one occasion). I do, however, have to balk at it used to justify Reed’s sudden “touch of grey”.

The casting was top-notch, especially with Chicklis and Evans. Chicklis lived up to the character both as Ben Grimm and as The Thing. Sadly, McMahon’s character of Doom, although narcissistic and sociopathic in nature, was a little wooden… or, in this case, mechanical. Overall the story jumped a few places, but not in crucial ones. I’m surprised that for someone who couldn’t afford to pay his bills, Reed could somehow get funding for the equipment they used when they moved into the Baxter Building. Where was all this equipment at Von Doom’s undisclosed hospital? Or did they blow the money on restaurant settings, helipads, and hot escorts doubling as nurses?

There are multiple versions of the DVD release, including an expanded version that incorporated some of the deleted or alternate scenes. Get them if you wish, but the movie enough is worth the purchase.

Having seen both this version and the original Corman incarnation, I have to say that the executives at Constatin Film redeemed themselves with this release, although it still does not justify the level of duplicity they used surrounding the 1993 production.

Capes: The heroic qualities of the film gave it four capes out of five.
Cheese:

Sadly, a lot of sharp cheddar (3) cheese, mostly by Evans’ hammy performance and the montage of Johnny’s various pranks and jokes at the expense of Ben.

Books: Good story, but lacking in a few areas. It only gets four out of five books.

2010-11-10

City of Heroes Origins Pack

Once again, Paragon Studios has released a "goody" package. This time around, instead of lame dance moves and "sports" poses, we have tangible goodies. COSTUME PIECES!
This is the ORIGINS PACK.



Looks nice, huh? Capes and auras... each based on a character's power origin. And supposedly you can access these at Level 1 - which is important, because normally you can't access capes until you pass a special trial at Level 20, and you can't do auras until you pass that special trial at Level 30! Also, just because the costumes and auras are designed for specific origins, that doesn't mean you're restricted to those origins.


Okay, they look nice, and I would even be interested in getting them... except for one thing.

The price.

They want $9.95 for this goody pack! That's about two-to-three dollars too much.

That's the same price as a Super Booster pack. Those packs have costume pieces, auras, and special features. This is just capes and auras. No additional features.

As I mentioned in an earlier review, the "Party Pack" costs $7.95, and that was far too much for a bunch of lame emotes.

I won't go so far as to say that NCSoft/Paragon Studios dropped the ball like they did with the Party Pack, but I will say they're asking more for this kind of pack than what they should be worth. I think I'll probably wait until the price on these go down before I consider it.

2010-11-09

Issue 19 pre-loading now

Okay CoH/CoV/GR operatives... you may have noticed a little "update" slipped in after you logged off of the system.

Yes, Issue 19 is pre-loading.

Which is strange for me because when I think "Issue 19", I'm not thinking "Alpha Strike". I'm thinking "Guardians of the Dawn Spotlight". Both of these WILL be out this month!

Oh, and don't tell anyone this (*wink-wink*) but here's the cover to the GotD Issue 19...


Looks good, huh? Yeah, it's "Phase 2" of the "Time and Changes" storyline, and this one will have some surprises you won't expect! Some names and faces from "Issue 0" will be returning.

Anyway, back to "Alpha Strike"...

For those who are not familiar with the pre-load, this is a way for the developers to get most of the big changes put in without being TOO much of an inconvenience.

So, for instance, you have 100mb worth of changes you want to put in. You COULD load them up before the game starts, like all of the other updates... but this would take a lot of time, especially for those who don't have high speed cable access.

OR... you could load the bulk of the changes after the player exits the game. So all of the maps, characters, mission data, sound files, additional features, will all be there prior to launch, and then on the day of the upgrade launch, you just send a small file with what few bug fixes need to be made and a code to switch the data. It saves a lot of time and hassle.

Plus the pre-load lets you know that the developers are REALLY CLOSE to releasing that new update, because they wouldn't be doing this if they weren't confident in about 95% of the material (giving that extra 5% for bug fixes and tweaks).

SO... next time you log off, give the devs those few minutes to pre-load Issue 19. You'll thank yourself later.

AND for the COMIC Issue 19, also due out in the next few weeks, check out the OFFICIAL Guardians website at:

2010-11-05

RIKTI ALERT!

RIKTI ALERT!

This is a public service message brought to you on behalf of Vanguard, the United Nations Defense organization.

From this Thursday, November 4th, 9am ET until Monday, November 8th, 3am ET, all citizens in Paragon City and the Rogue Isles need to be on the lookout for extensive Rikti incursions.

Vanguard operatives believe that this will be the peak period for Rikti forces to attack Earth.

All citizens both powered and non-powered need to be prepared for probable Rikti incursions in their area.

Vanguard will try to give each area five minutes notice before the attack is believed to begin, followed by a warning that an attack has begun in that area. All citizens not engaged in the defense of this planet are urged to seek shelter immediately when they hear these warnings.

The most telltale sign of a Rikti attack will be the change in sky color to a sickly brown-green color, which is the main mothership approaching that area. Do not attempt to engage the main mothership as Vanguard forces will keep that ship from further approaching. Paragon City residents will also see the Rikti War Walls in their area power down. This is a necessary evil as most of the Vanguard resources will be employed to keeping the main mothership from approaching Earth.

Rikti forces attack in two waves. The first wave will consist of drop ships dropping bombs onto the area. Citizens are strongly urged to NOT approach any unexploded Rikti bombs as they are set to detonate later for maximum effect. Leave the bomb disposal to registered operatives and stay as far away as possible from such unexploded devices.

Also, DO NOT ATTEMPT to approach or engage the drop ships directly. Rikti drop ships will attack any being within range of their weapons, no matter if they are provoked. Drop ships can be defeated, however it will take extremely large numbers of experienced operatives to do so, and often at the cost of further damage to the area.

The second wave consists of ground forces being teleported directly from the mothership. These consist of Rikti soldiers, automated drones, and Rikti monkeys, and they will attack anyone they see, civilian or otherwise. Additional forces will be teleported in if they encounter resistance.

All operatives engaging in the defense of our planet are strongly encouraged to seek teams to combat this threat. By working together and utilizing all resources, you will survive. However, if you should succumb to the overbearing force of the Rikti, you will be allowed to use nearby medical services without incurring experience debt for the duration of the incursion.

The Rikti are aware of the time required before Vanguard heavy weapons are able to come to bear against their mothership and they will terminate all attacks and teleport all remaining ground forces prior to that point. Vanguard will notify you when this occurs.

Advance notice has been very helpful in the minimization of casualties, and Vanguard will continue to give the citizens of Earth as much advance notice as possible.

The Rikti may have advance technology and superior numbers, but they do not have our heart or our determination. We HAVE survived their assaults and with the help of brave operatives, we WILL continue to survive their assaults.

2010-10-28

Paragon Pundit Hero Movie Review #21


Paragon Pundit Hero Movie Review
#(21): Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

Before I go into the actual review I feel compelled to give you a complete understanding of one of the key characters in this movie. One of the most troublesome characters for DC Comics of late was one that they had pretty much written off for several years before finally killing her.

Supergirl really didn’t have too much of an appeal as her cousin Superman did. She was sexy and powerful, but not as much as Wonder Woman. Superman could save the world three times a day and in five different comic series, while Supergirl mostly worried about her love life, her friendship with Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), her parents in the bottled Kandor City, and keeping her identity secret.

Her greatest hurrah came during the Crisis on Infinite Earths series, where whole multiple universes were eliminated, and Kara Zor-El dramatically gave her life to save her world and deal a mortal blow to the Anti-Monitor. The event was a shocking turn in the story that would galvanize Superman’s resolve to see the Anti-Monitor destroyed by any means necessary.

And then… she was forgotten. She was written out of the DC Universe, because the new One Earth Only canon dictated that Kal-El of Krypton was the ONLY survivor of that planet.

There were a few attempts to fill the gap, though. Fan-favorite Power Girl still existed as a member of the Justice Society, but her history was retconned a few times so she wouldn’t be an Earth-2 refugee and alternate-universe cousin to Superman, but rather she was a time-lost survivor of Atlantis. She became a Justice League member, and sadly reduced to being an emotional time bomb. She was the foul-tempered “Hot Lips Houlihan” to the “Hawkeye and Trapper” comedy team of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold. She would finally get her respect, and her history, but not before leaving the Justice League and going back to the Justice Society. But even then she could not fill the gap of Supergirl. She was her own woman - with the emphasis on WOMAN - and with the cleavage-showing costume to prove it.

DC tried to bring Supergirl back as an alternate-universe creation using the same plot hole they used to justify having Superboy (another casualty of the Crisis retcon) still serve as the inspiration to the Legion of Super-Heroes. This Supergirl existed in a “pocket universe” in which their Superboy was killed. Soon after, that universe’s Lex Luthor (who didn’t go bald or bad) accidentally released three criminals from the Phantom Zone… yes, Zod, Ursa, and Non… who take over the world. Grief-stricken, Lex creates a “protomater matrix” being (later known as “Matrix”) first to replace Lana Lang (one of the first victims of the Kryptonians) and then later gives her powers so she could become a symbol of the resistance. She would end up being the last survivor of that universe, rescued only by Superman of the “normal” universe. DC allowed her to mature into her own character as Supergirl and played a key role in the “Doomsday” and “World Without A Superman” storylines. Eventually, though, the writers decided to mess with her some more, merging her with a human named Linda Danvers so she could have a human family, giving her a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse hooker costume (to match the one in the animated TV series) making her a fire-powered angel, and eventually really messing things up by switching places with the Pre-Crisis Supergirl, falling in love with Pre-Crisis Superman and having their lovechild, and then finally just becoming a full-blown fallen angel before falling into storyline limbo never to be seen again.

A second attempt to bring Supergirl back involved a future-born daughter of Superman and Lois Lane sent to the past to stop Brainiac-13 from taking over. The storyline was so badly convoluted that getting rid of her was actually a godsend.

Finally we get to THIS incarnation of Supergirl, whose origin became the second storyline in the “Superman/Batman” comic series, and the basis for this current review.

“Superman/Batman: Apocalypse” was released by Warner Brothers as a direct-to-video movie in 2010 and serves as the follow-up to Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. The movie features returning voice actors Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy playing Superman and Batman, along with “Justice League” actress Susan Eisenberg returning as Wonder Woman, “Serenity/Firefly” actress Summer Glau, Andre Braugher, and Ed Asner returning from “Superman: The Animated Series” and “Justice League Unlimited” to play Granny Goodness (and, no, that is NOT a mistake).

We start the movie with a quick reference to the events in “Public Enemies”, how ex-President Lex Luthor was awaiting his criminal trial, and that the last remnants of the monstrous Kryptonite meteor were falling but thankfully the world was saved by Superman and Batman. As we hear that, a large chunk of K-rock falls into Gotham Harbor.

Batman (Conroy) investigates the impact to discover there was a spaceship in the meteor, and that it was already opened. Meanwhile, a nude woman (conveniently hidden in shadows of course) steals the Bat-Boat and crashes it on shore. She walks into the streets of Gotham, getting an overcoat from a dock worker to cover herself up before encountering Gotham police officers. She (Glau) speaks a strange language before being whisked skyward by her own uncontrolled power. She encounters Batman, who subdues her with a piece of the Kryptonite rock he fished from the harbor. Taken to the Bat-cave, she meets Superman (Daly) and discovers that he is her cousin from Krypton.

She is taken to the Fortress of Solitude, where Batman still has his suspicions of her. Even Krypto doesn’t like Kara Zor-El, wherein Batman comments that the dog is a good judge of character. Superman takes Kara shopping in his disguise as Clark Kent (BIIIIIG mistake, Clark - you should have let Lois do it) and enjoys a hot dog (yes with all of the usual jokes about the food). But this time together is short-lived as Wonder Woman (Eisenberg) and a team of Amazon warriors kidnap Kara and bring her to Paradise Island for training. This was Batman’s idea, of course, as it would teach Kara to fight and to control her abilities. Superman, of course, doesn’t approve.

Meanwhile, Granny Goodness (Asner) oversees the training of her Female Furies when she is interrupted by Darkseid (Braugher). Darkseid knows that Kal-El’s cousin has appeared and he wants Granny’s furies to bring her to him.

Kara makes friends with Lyla - whom comic fans will remember as Harbinger from “Crisis on Infinite Earths” - although Lyla is plagued with visions of Superman fishing out a blond girl’s dead body from the water. She keeps the visions to herself… and to Batman and Wonder Woman… as she enjoys her time with Kara.

Suddenly, a Boom Tube from Apocalypse appears, bringing forth… Doomsday, the only creature that could (and once did) kill Superman. Then we see a whole ARMY of Doomsday clones. Wonder Woman rallies the Amazons together to fight the monsters, but they are clearly overpowered until Superman unleashed his heat vision and vaporizes the clones. Batman realizes that this was only a diversion, and we find that Lyla’s vision has come true.

At this point I’m going to have to stop the recap because I don’t want to give too much away. Sufficient to say we see the “Big Trinity” of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman recruiting Big Barda so they could travel to Apocalypse to face Darkseid, but saying anything more would be too much of a spoiler.

The overall story suffers on a few points, and - as usual - the biggest ones are at the end. This is another movie where the story starts off GREAT and then they have to struggle to keep it going to the end. The story fails to fully use the cast of characters seen in “Public Enemies” and instead only gives lip service to the previous movie at the very beginning and then forgetting about it completely. Introducing Barda into the mix was another refreshing step, especially seeing her team up with Wonder Woman in the big battle on Apocalypse. And while the final battle was somewhat refreshing, even the ending came up short.

The animation falls flat in several areas. Where “Public Enemies” had hints of anime (especially with Power Girl), “Apocalypse” goes all-out, with a look that is more “Cowboy Bebop” and “Samurai Champloo” than anything resembling a Bruce Timm production. Here’s a hint for DC producers: next time you want to emulate anime, think more Kenichi Sonoda than Shinichirō Watanabe. This is especially true with the portrayal of Darkseid.

The only positive point here is the vocal talent, and even that has one sore spot. I’m sorry, but Andre Braugher does NOT do a good Darkeid. Just like only Mark Hamill can do the voice of Joker, only Michael Ironside can do the voice of Darkseid. On the other hand, Summer Glau does an excellent Kara, and the vocal combination of Daley, Conroy, and Eisenberg did not fail. And Ed Asner does Granny so well you really wouldn’t know it was a man until you saw the credits.

The follow-up to this movie is a DC Spotlight mini-movie featuring Green Arrow. As with the “Spectre” mini-movie, this story works within the DC Universe and stars Neil McDonough as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow and Malcom McDowell as Merlyn. The movie has a look and feel of “Die Hard 2”, with Oliver trying to save a young visiting queen from being taken by Merlyn and Count Vertigo in the middle of a busy airport. This was actually a much better production than the main feature, both in story and quality. In fact the people behind this mini-movie should be the ones in charge of future productions provided they can carry the same quality on through.

Bonus features (if you spring for the $19 2-disc special edition) include the “Little Girl Lost” story from “Superman: The Animated Series” and a look back at the history of Supergirl, but if you aren’t interested in either, you can always get the regular DVD.

In short, “Apocalypse” was not necessarily a “Superman/Batman” story as it was a “Superman” story, and that pretty much summed up the rest of the main feature. It has potential, but it still fell short in too many ways.

Capes: Despite having the “DC Trinity”, it only gets four out of five capes.
Cheese: Thankfully just Swiss Cheese (1).

Books: Unlike “Public Enemies”, which started strong and ended weak, there was weakness all around, which kept the story only at three out of five books.

2010-10-23

Important News from Vanguard!

The following message was sent to the Chronicles from the Herald division of Vanguard:

Vanguard intelligence warns that the Rikti high command is preparing to unleash a new wave of attacks on Earth. Dark Watcher believes the new wave of incursions should start on Thursday, November 4th, and last until Sunday, November 7th.

Residents of Paragon City and the Rogue Isles should be on alert for the warning signs and take shelter when they hear the sirens.

There is no word as to whether or not this also applies to Praetoria, as it is not known if the Rikti are aware of that universe.

Halloween Event 2010

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

While that may seem a bit premature, it's actually a little late for Paragon City and the Rogue Isles.

The 2010 Halloween Event is now upon us, and for the first time it affects the Praetorian Universe.

From October 21st until early November 1st, Paragon City, the Rogue Isles, and Praetoria will be in 24-hour darkness. Mystical forces will keep all three areas in perpetual night (except for Cimerora, The Hive and The Abyss), allowing heroes, villains, rogues, and vigilantes to take part in all of the strange and mysterious things that will occur.

Trick-Or-Treating: This is one of the most popular features. Knock on any door... ANY door... and you can either get a treat (random rare goodies) or tricks (Halloween-themed monsters that will kick your butt). You can also get special costumes (for a limited period only) and if you collect enough of them you get special badges.

Zombie Apocalypse: At random times during this period, you will have to deal with a Zombie Apocalypse... which means the skies turn blood red (which is more profound since we're dealing with 24-hour night) and the dead crawl up from the ground and go after anyone living. This is NOT a time to be standing around, unless you're next to an automated sentry unit. The longer you still live, the more zombies that will come after you. And they WILL get stronger and tougher and more powerful as time goes by. Like dealing with the Rikti, you need to team up, and preferably the maximum size possible. Kick enough undead butt and you'll get a special Pumpkinhead helmet that you can use at any time of the year.

Deadly Apocalypse: Think the zombies were bad enough? At random times during this period, you will also have to deal with the Deadly Apocalypse, which means the sky gets foggy (which doesn't mean much since you're already in darkness) and four mystical banners appear in your zone. Each banner is defended by different monsters based on the nature of the banner (and you can see where these banners are on the map). The hard part is that you have to defeat the monsters watching the banner before you can attack the banner, and you have to destroy ALL FOUR BANNERS in order to win. Note: this is impossible to do! Several members of the Guardians of the Dawn have tried repeatedly last year to take part in this challenge and no matter how many people take part in this challenge, they have been unable to destroy ALL FOUR banners in the time allowed. Good luck for those of you who want to try.

Giant Monsters: Oh, you think we're done with the misery? THINK AGAIN! Eochi and Jack-in-Irons are back to randomly terrorize the zones, and they don't show up alone. If you decide to take them on (like Galatea Powers and Lyon Powers did last year) make sure you're not alone either.

And now with the launch of Going Rogue and the new Tip Mission system, we have a special Whispered Rumored Tip Mission which will give you an opportunity to get different badges depending on how you handle this mission. (It's a little complicated, so please take advantage of these hyperlinks to give you more information.)

That's a lot of stuff to deal with. Oh, and Praetoria will have a new witch that will help you with the BEST part of Halloween Event... the Halloween Masks! Unlock that extra costume slot if you can get four Halloween Masks! Just be aware that doing so WILL trigger a new Zombie Apocalypse. The good news is that this feature carries through even when the Halloween Event ends, so you don't have to panic if you don't have all four masks right away. (And FORGET trying to buy one unless you literally have MILLIONS of Inf in your account. Wait until after the event if you want to go that route.)

And just think... once this is through, the Winter Event is just a few weeks away.

2010-10-13

Is THIS The Coming Storm?

City of Heroes is getting ready to release Issue 19: Alpha Strike, the first post-Going Rogue update in the City of Heroes universe.

With it, we see the debut of a character that was previously only seen in the comics: Apex.

Yes, the star of the original "City of Heroes" comic series is back, and just in time as Tyrant has launched his new campaign to take over the Paraverse!



Will the evil version of Statesman succeed? That's up to the heroes. And is THIS what Mender Silos warned was the "Coming Storm"? We'll just have to find out.

There will be a few more things with the update... such as the merging of transport systems, so you can use one subway or one ferry to go anywhere. Speaking of transports, if you have Going Rogue, your non-Praetorian characters WILL be able to access that universe through Pocket D.

Plus, the Fitness Power Pool will now become an inherent power pool. SO if you've already loaded up on heath, stamina, speed, and leaping, you'll probably have to shuffle things around again. Good thing you have those Respecs, right?

AND Issue 19 will be the start of a new level of play... with the first step in becoming an INCARNATE!

Oh, and should I also mention that Halloween is approaching? Get your days in the sun out of the way, because on October 21st, it'll go dark and stay dark until November 1st.

2010-09-19

New Party Pack

Normally I'm pretty excited about new add-ons for City of Heroes/Villains/Going Rogue.

Normally I am... but not this time.

Okay, here's the skinny... NCSoft/Paragon Studios/the people behind City of Heroes/Villains/Going Rogue have released a special add-on pack called the PARTY PACK.

Here's the trailer.



Now with previous add-ons, there are a few additional features such as costume pieces, emotes, special weapons or objects, transformation sequences, and then that little "extra" feature that really makes it worth the purchase.

But... what you see in the trailer is really what you get with this add-on. Eight emotion (emote) commands; three involving dancing, three dealing with sports, one that involves opening an exploding gift box (which is the same as the holiday gifts you get), and one where you're doing air guitar. THAT'S IT!

No additional costumes, no extra items... just eight emotes that can keep you busy.

Not too much of a quality of life improvement there, guys.

Oh, and by sports, I don't mean your characters actually PLAY the sports in question. Sure you can dribble the basketball, but you're not PLAYING basketball. You can kick the soccer ball, but you're not PLAYING soccer. You're chalking the pool cue, but you're not PLAYING pool, even if you're in front of the pool table.

And then there's the price... $7.99. When normal booster packs with even MORE stuff to use costs $9.99, charging $7.99 is just way too much. $3.99 maybe. Or better still they should have just included it in Issue 18 that was just released to coincide with Going Rogue, or held off until Issue 19.

In fact it would have been BETTER to include it in Issue 18 because as a standalone upgrade without Going Rogue, it was pretty weak.

In short, folks, I really can't say that you should get this feature. It's just not worth the price they want for eight idle emotes. If you have the money to spend and if you REALLY NEED those emotes, then maybe. But it's not really an earth-shattering gimme feature like other add-ons.

Sorry NCSoft/Paragon Studios, but you dropped the ball on this one.

I HATE CAVES!

Okay, I have to say it...

I
HATE
CAVE
MISSIONS!

I don't just mean dislike... I mean HATE, with all of the passion and fury that the word is connected to.

I DREAD getting a mission that requires me to go into a cave. As soon as I see that cavern entrance or mineshaft door, I have to cringe because that means going into a hell that I would just as soon eliminate.

Now bear in mind there are all sorts of different underground missions to deal with. There are snake holes, there are caverns that lead into Rikti bases, there are sewers, and there are the various caverns of Oranbega. There are even SNOW caves during the holidays. But even those don't compare to the overall frustration of a regular straightforward mineshaft CAVE mission.

So why do I hate them? I have five ways right off-the-bat.

5. Much like Chickenman, THEY'RE EVERYWHERE, THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!

I can understand the reason for Oranbega caverns... Paragon City is supposed to be built on top of the remains of this very ancient city. But why come up with all sort of mineshaft caves on top of that? At least Sharkhead Isle has a reason for all those mineshafts. They have an actual MINE. Why waste our time with mineshafts in Perez Park, Steel Canyon, Atlas Park, Galaxy City, and anyplace that are clearly CITY settings?

4. They're the WORST places for gang activity!

Who was the genius who came up with the idea that street gangs would be having a turf war in a mineshaft? You don't have turf wars or make drug deals or weapon deals in caves. You make them in alleyways and abandoned warehouses, and you battle in the STREETS so everyone knows there's a power play going on! If the Trolls can go on a rave in the middle of Skyway City, then the Skulls and Hellions should be able to have shoot-outs in the middle of the street as well.

3. They're structurally UNSOUND!

Okay, it's bad enough that Paragon City has Oranbega and the Rikti AND the Minions of Igneous AND the Trolls AND Devouring Earth... but do they really have to have even MORE mineshaft caves on top of all of that? What is keeping the rest of Paragon City from sinking into the ground? Fairy dust?

Forget the Trolls, I think what REALLY hollowed out Eastgate were the geniuses with a cave fetish.

2. They're easy to get STUCK in!

With all of the crevices and corners in a standard mineshaft cave, it's hard to maneuver around in, even IF you have flight, and that's BEFORE they throw in crystalline formations and little pockets of nowhere that you have to backtrack to get out of.

And finally...

1. They are the WORST PLACES EVER for a rescue or "defeat all" mission!

Whoever came up with the idea that you should have a "defeat all" mission in a mineshaft cave needs to be keel-hauled repeatedly and then have salt poured over their wounds. There is nothing more frustrating than having to go through an ENTIRE mineshaft cave, complete with dead-ends, pitfalls, rock platforms, to find that ONE bad guy that is hiding in a corner just so you can complete your mission.

And while a rescue mission would be okay if your objective was to just REACH that person, having to then LEAD that person back out is made even more problematic when you're in a mineshaft cave, where you have a hard enough time getting TO that person, never mind getting them back out. At least a snake cave or a Rikti cavern or even some Oranbega caverns are all on the same level. Oh, and guess what happens if the person you're leading out is stuck in a corner? Yeah, you have to try to backtrack to find them.

I know some of the newer missions have more realistic goals, such as "eliminate five baddies" and then completing the main objective instead of the burdensome "eliminate all". That's a start, but a better way to make these missions tolerable would be to simply get rid of at least half (and I'd even say ninety percent) of the mineshaft cave entrances. This is supposed to be "City of Heroes" and "City of Villains"... not "City of Lara Croft" or "City of Mineshafts".

Let's leave the caves for something that would be really NEED one! I, for one, am SICK TO DEATH of them!

2010-08-22

Paragon Pundit Hero Movie Review #20


Paragon Pundit Hero Movie Review
#20: The Justice League of America TV Movie

A hero in Paragon City recently wondered what my review would be of the live-action Justice League movie.

Well, you asked for it…

I’m sure some of you are scratching your heads when the words “live-action” and “Justice League” come about. Most people know of the Justice League - the all-star superhero team of DC Comics - only through the animated groups, either in the “Justice League” animated series, the direct-to-video movies (which I will get to later), “Super Friends”, or the 1967 episodes of “The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure”. But, yes, there WERE live-action incarnations as well, much to the regret and overall embarrassment of the hero community.

The first live-action incarnation of the “Justice League” was the “Legends of the Superheroes” specials that were known best for reuniting the campy “Batman” characters headed by Adam West, Burt Ward, and Frank Gorshin. It was super-campy and super-lame, and it made you want to burn your Spandex outfit just for even knowing it exists.

The second incarnation was a 1997 TV movie that was supposed to be a back-door pilot to a future TV series, but thankfully that series never materialized, and the TV movie never EVER aired on American television.

So how did anyone know it even existed? Well, it never aired on any AMERICAN television station. But it aired in a few countries, and a few of those folks taped it and sold the footage in bootleg markets along with the X-rated “Supergirl” parody, the pre-released Roger Corman “Fantastic Four” movie, and a few others.

This movie starred Kimberly Oja, John Kassir, Matthew Settle, Michelle Hurd, Kenny Johnston, David Ogden Stiers, and Miguel Ferrer. It takes place in the fictional city of New Metro. Why they chose to make up a name like “New Metro” instead of taking from already-established cities in the DC Comics universe like Star City, Keystone City, Coast City, Empire City, Gateway City, Happy Harbor, Park City, or even Dairyland (that’s an old “Super Friends” reference), is probably one of a million things that shouldn’t matter.

We start with a bunch of heroes in their civilian attire struggling to live day-by-day. Shy and awkward Tori Olafsdotter (Oja) works at the local weather institute, who, along with her boss, Dr. Eno (Ferrer) observes a huge storm spawning in the middle of the city. Barry Allen (Johnston) is a slacker who got kicked out of his apartment but was called away while his now-ex-landlord was trashing his stuff. Guy Gardner (Settle) is trying to impress his girlfriend, but obviously his plans are ruined by the developing storm. B.B. Da Costa (Hurd) is auditioning for a fruit-themed commercial when the storm forces her to leave. Ray Palmer’s (Kassir) class is interrupted by a mysterious call as well as the sudden storm. Tori and Eno watch as a tornado appears in the city after watching video footage of “The Weatherman” laying claim to the damage and destruction that was to come.

As the city is trashed, we see the heroes save the day in their own unique ways. Guy, as Green Lantern, saves a boy from a downed power line. B.B., as Fire, cuts through a metal wall with her flames to save trapped construction workers. Barry, as The Flash, uses his super-speed to counter the winds and bring the storm to a quick end. And Ray, as The Atom, shrinks down… to rescue a trapped cat. Yes, that is his great contribution to this crisis.

Crisis averted, and later on Tori discovers a mysterious machine in a locked room at the institute, which she spills some water on and it hits her with some strange electricity. She seems okay, but afterward random things around her just freeze. She tries to rescue a drowning man, but the water freezes around him when she comes in contact with it. Later she is abducted and interrogated by the heroes about what she knows of The Weatherman. She’s released and is convinced that the whole abduction and interrogation thing was just a bad dream.

The Weatherman soon strikes again, this time with a hailstorm in the heart of New Metro, and a threat to the city to pay him $20 million “or else”. The hail ruins Guy’s date (again) and this time around he has to save his girlfriend as Green Lantern long enough for Fire to melt the hailstones above them.

Later at the institute’s fundraiser, the League members infiltrate themsevles in the crowd, allowing Ray to befriend Tori in his civilian guise. Ray then sneaks himself into the computer system (with a really BAD version of laser limbo) to discover the devices that The Weatherman used to manipulate the weather. Tori finds out that her boss is really The Weatherman and goes to Ray looking for help. The League takes her (blindfolded) to their underwater headquarters, which is a crashed alien ship. There Tori meets J’onn J’onzz (Stiers). J’onn asks Tori to join the League, promising to help train her in using her powers, which mostly consists of the Leaguers walking around shivering as Tori tries to freeze a simple drop of water in front of her.

Eno tricks Tori into bringing a tracking device to the League’s headquarters, and then Eno threatens to destroy New Metro with a tidal wave and sends a heat ray to the underwater ship. The League (except for J’onn, who thinks that 300 degrees is a “summer day”) escape to “deal” with the impending disaster, which consists of Flash running around scurrying abandoned children to safety, Atom riding on Fire’s shoulders looking around like idiots, and Lantern finding Eno and not being able to stop the tidal wave even though HE HAS A POWER RING! That leaves dazed-and-confused Tori, who somehow manages to stop the tidal wave by freezing it solid, even though she couldn’t freeze a drop of water earlier.

Later, Tori ponders over joining the League, and is finally convinced to join when Atom removes his mask and reveals himself to her as Ray Palmer. At that point she takes the unspoken pledge and J’onn welcomes her to the Justice League. We end the movie with a quick recap cast list of the “public” heroes, followed by them doing the “Buckaroo Banzai Strut” down the city. If you don’t know what that is, you need to see the end credits to “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension”, or the opening credits to Joss Wheaton’s “Angel” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, or the opening to the “Justice League” animated series. I just think of it as the “Buckaroo Banzai Strut” and start whistling the theme song.

There… I just saved you guys some bootleg video money.

Of course, all through this movie are little “human” troubles… such as Barry not being able to keep a job, Guy losing his girlfriend, Ray not being able to fix anything, and B.B. with a stalker-like suitor who accidentally discovers her secret identity. Oh, and did I mention they all (except for Tori) live in the same house? Well they have to now because Barry lost his apartment.

Let’s see… where do I begin with this abomination?

Right off the bat… a Justice League WITHOUT “The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes” sucks. No Batman, no Superman, and no Wonder Woman means that it SUCKS. There is no way around it. It SUCKS. Period.

Of course I can understand why they wouldn’t want to include Superman after the whole Nuclear Man shtick. And the Batman franchise had JUST tanked with “Batman and Robin”. Bringing in Wonder Woman at that point would… well it would result in plenty of Freudian jokes and references about her chest. Plus it would be hard to see anyone play the most famous star-spangled Amazon after Lynda Carter did it so well.

About the only things missing from this “Super-Buddies” group are Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Oberon, and either Doctor Light or Power Girl, although with the latter you would again deal with Freudian jokes about chests. But even that would be a step above the banter they do give.

With the exception of Guy Gardner, the costumes SUCK. Atom and Flash both have masks that look like the ridges of J’onn’s brow. Atom looks like a linebacker in his costume. And Flash… I’m sorry, but for a man with supposedly a hyper-accelerated metabolism, he looks like he wolfed down fifty pizzas before squeezing into his Spandex. Fire and Tori (who is only referred to as “Ice” in the credits and is only seen in-costume then) use colored mascara and a shock of color in their hair as their disguise. And people aren’t supposed to know who they are? And for a shape-shifter, J’onn seems to emulate less like a hero and more like Orson Wells, but I suppose that is understandable given the casting.

That brings us to the characters… which also SUCK. Guy Gardner as a sensitive and understanding software salesman? Guy Gardner is a special needs coach and a major league d-bag who wanted EVERYONE from day one to know that he was a Green Lantern. Barry Allen is a police scientist… not to mention - at that time - very, very DEAD. Wally West would have been a better fit for the comedic slacker role. Ray Palmer is a physicist and noted expert in nanotechnology, not a goofy high school teacher who can’t even fix a TV set. Fire and Ice are international fashion models who used their hero status to further their careers. The people seen in this movie are NOTHING AT ALL like the comic book characters they are supposed to be. It’s almost as though the producers told a bunch of clueless writers who have never read a comic book in their lives “Here are a bunch of names and costumes - go make something up that doesn’t look too much like a rip-off of a certain popular NBC sitcom.”

The story… or what little there is of it… also SUCKS. We’re talking “Justice League Antarctica” sucks. We’re talking Bat-Credit-Card SUCKS. We’re talking Superman God-Gaze with amnesia kiss SUCKS.

Guy Gardner has the most powerful ring in the universe, capable of moving whole planets, and he can’t save the Weather Device from being thrown off a tower, block a heat ray, open an elevator door, or stop a tidal wave? Fire couldn’t evaporate the rushing water? Flash couldn’t set up a counter-wave with his vibrations? No it’s all up to Tori, who couldn’t even freeze a drop of water in a Petri dish, who somehow manages to freeze the WHOLE wave right before it falls on her head.

I haven’t been this disappointed with a hero-themed movie since Cathy Lee Crosby did a blonde non-powered flat-chested covered-up Wonder Woman in 1974. CBS actually did their viewers a huge favor by not airing it on US networks. It’s just a pity that SOMEONE still saw it and started spreading it around for the rest of us to watch, much to our later regret.

I’d say that this was all a Nemesis plot, but I doubt even Nemesis would want to put his name on something as miserable as this.

Capes: One out of five, and I’m being generous.
Cheese: Full-bore smelly rotted limburger (5) cheese all around.
Books: One out of five, and, again, I’m being generous.

2010-08-17

Going Rogue IS LIVE!

After all of the hype, it's finally here...

CITY OF HEROES: GOING ROGUE



The world of online gaming has now gone beyond "good" and "evil". The lines from here on in become blurred as a whole new universe is opened up for you to explore!

No more will good guys stay in Paragon City and bad guys stay in the Rogue Isles. Now good guys can go bad, and bad guys can redeem themselves.

Be a hero, be a villain, or be a PRAETORIAN!

2010-07-20

Paragon Pundit Hero Movie Review #19


Paragon Pundit Hero Movie Review
#19: Superman Returns

After the abysmal failure that was “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace”, the whole Superman franchise was thankfully sent to movie limbo. Superman was relegated to the “Superboy” TV series, a brief Saturday Morning cartoon series on CBS, a romantic comedy series “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” on ABC, and back to the world of cartoons with “Superman: The Animated Series” and “Justice League”, and then in the anti-Superboy series “Smallville”. In the comics, he was killed by Doomsday, he came back to life, he finally married Lois Lane, and he finally brought down Lex Luthor.

The call went out to bring Superman back to the big screens, especially after Marvel proved with “Spider-Man” and “X-Men” that big-budget superhero movies still worked.

Warner Brothers considered several approaches. Directors Tim Burton, McG, Kevin Smith, and JJ Abrams each took a shot at trying to come up with something. Superman was going to be played by Ben Affleck, Nicholas Cage, Tom Welling (who already plays anti-Superman Clark in “Smallville”), Ashton Kutcher, Brendan Fraser… well pretty much anyone who was young and had a leading role someplace was approached to play Superman. The “Doomsday” story was going to be re-created. Then it was “Batman vs. Superman”. Then it was Superman versus Brainiac.

Finally it fell to “X-Men” director Bryan Singer, who said that he was a huge fan of the original Richard Donner movie, and he managed to bring Superman back to the big screen.

“Superman Returns” was released by Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures in 2006, and it starred Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey, Parker Posey, James Marsden, Frank Langella, Sam Huntingon, Eva Marie Saint, Tristian Lake Leabu, and - thanks to the magic of modern technology - the late Marlon Brando. The film also brings back brief appearances by Noel Neill and Jack Larson.

The film starts with a text introduction of Superman’s brief origin and mentions that scientists had discovered the possible remains of the Planet Krypton. We then see Krypton as the voice of Jor-El (Brando) gives an important speech from father-to-son. This is the same speech made in the original “Superman” film. As we pull away from Krypton, we see the massive red sun as it collapses into a nova. The shockwave of the destroyed sun then tears Krypton apart, scattering its remains outward. (This is similar to way Krypton was destroyed in the original movie, albeit not as realistic-looking.)

As the credits roll in the same manner as the original film, we travel through space seeing all sorts of cosmic wonders. We finally arrive on Earth, where Martha Kent (Saint) is cleaning up after a night of Scrabble. Suddenly a huge object crashes into the field. She drives out to find a crashed Kryptonian ship, and Clark Kent/Superman (Routh) wearing a grey-and-black Kryptonian bodysuit.

Elsewhere, an elderly woman (Neill) is on her last breath as she praises the man she loved and helped to make her last days special. As her relatives pound on the door begging to be let in, she uses the last of her strength to sign away everything she has to Lex Luthor (Spacey). Luthor pulls off his toupee and tells the family he owns everything, and then leaves with the maid (Posey) who was working for him all along.

The next morning, Clark reflects on his childhood in Kansas, remembering when he could first fly and no longer needing glasses. He tells his adopted mother that he buried the crashed ship so nobody would find it, and that, despite what the scientists originally suggested, there was nothing left of Krypton. He notes that the world had gotten worse since he left and wonders if there is a place for him as well.

Luthor and Kitty travel by yacht north as he lectures her on the story of Prometheus, the god who shared fire with the humans. Kitty says that he’s no god, to which Luthor says that gods are people in capes (Superman) who fly around and don’t “share” their power with the people. He doesn’t want to be a god, he just wants to share “the fire”… and get his cut. Wait, I thought he wanted LAND.

We discover that Luthor has found Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, and activated the crystal control panel, where the spirit of Jor-El (using footage from the first movie digitally remastered) mistakes him for Kal-El. Kitty comments that Lex acts like he’s been there before (a subtle hint to “Superman II”). Then Lex asks the spirit of Jor-El to tell him everything, starting with the crystals.

Clark returns to the Daily Planet, where his return is largely ignored by everyone except Jimmy Olson (Huntington). Perry White (Langella) comments that he only got his job back because another reporter had the audacity to die. Jimmy gets Clark caught up on what had happened, including how Lois Lane is engaged, has a son, and has finally won her much-sought Pulitzer Prize… for an article entitled “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman”. How’s that for a kick in the codpiece?

Back at Lex’s new home (which is now missing one pet dog), his henchmen shave off a sliver of one of the Fortress crystals and then drops it into the miniature lake of a railroad set. At first nothing happens. Then the ground beings to shake and all electricity is shut off.

As Clark and Jimmy have a lunchtime drink and tell their sorrows to the bartender (Larson), they watch Lois Lane (Bosworth) on board the launch jet of an experimental shuttle as it ascends. Suddenly the power goes out in the bar. This is followed by the power going out at NASA. This is followed by the power going out on the shuttle and the jet. Power is quickly restored, but both the jet and the space plane are locked in launch mode, hurling into the upper reaches of space.

News of the runaway space plane and airline cuts across all networks. Clark runs into a nearby alley and rips open his shirt to show the legendary “S” shield. Superman is then seen racing into space to catch up with the jet and the shuttle. He uses his heat vision to separate the shuttle from the jet and guides it into a safe orbit, then races down to catch the jet, which is now in a free-fall. He catches the jet and brings it safely down in the middle of a ballfield. Lois is shocked to discover he has returned and, in a scene reminiscent of the first movie, tells everyone flying is still the safest way to travel. As he leaves the plane, his face is shown on cameras all around the world and everyone cheers at his return as he flies off into the skies… and as Lois faints down the emergency slide.

Later Clark catches up with Lois, who is also introduced to her fiancé Richard White (Marsten) and their son Jason (Leabu), who suffers from asthma. Richard is Perry’s nephew, which probably explains how he somehow managed to get an editor’s position. Clark is also shocked to learn that Luthor was acquitted of all charges after Superman wasn’t on Earth to testify in the appeal of his conviction. Feeling rejected after peeping into the White Family life, Superman spends his time saving the world from all sorts of problems, and Lex is busy getting his new master plan in motion.

I don’t want to ruin the whole story for those who haven’t seen it, so I’m going to leave it there. Sufficient to say, Lex’s old ambitions from the first movie will come back to the forefront, and we discover another reason for us to hear Jor-El’s speech from father-to-son.

First, this hero reviewer has to thank Director Singer for doing what twenty years could not… and that is to get us to FORGET about “Superman III”, “Supergirl”, and especially “Superman IV”. And it did it from the first few minutes on in by bringing us back to the original movie, with Jor-El and the score from John Williams.

Brandon Routh looks like he was born to inherit the cape from the late Christopher Reeve. He plays both Superman and Clark Kent in the same way as Reeve once did, and I would dare say that at times he does Clark one step better than Reeve did. This Clark Kent isn’t a total bumbling buffoon. The only disturbing part about his Superman character is when he uses his powers to peep into the White household. Understandable, given his abilities, but still somewhat disturbing.

Kate Bosworth did an okay job as Lois Lane, although somewhat detached. She looks great as a brunette… far better than her natural blonde color… but she doesn’t really fit into the role as did Margot Kidder, or even as Erica Durance does in “Smallville”.

On the other hand, Kevin Spacey does an EXCELLENT Lex Luthor, and he outdoes Gene Hackman’s comedic approach to the character from the original movie. He does make wisecracks, but he is also very, VERY dangerous, and he lets the audience know just how dangerous he really is after getting out of prison.

Parker Posey as Kitty, Luthor’s girl-of-the-moment, is also one step above Valerie Perrine’s Eve Tessmacher. She’s not there to be eye candy. She’s there to be Luthor’s assistant, and she’s not an idiot, even though she is often treated as one.

And then there’s Eva Marie Saint as Martha Kent. Though she only has a limited role in this movie, she still lives up the part of Clark’s adopted mother in both the beginning and near the end of the film.

As for the movie itself, the special effects are mind-blowing! From Krypton’s destruction, to Superman catching the falling plane, to the various ways he stops bullets and saves Metropolis, to just watching him hover over Metropolis listening in for problems, they all make you feel like he’s really doing these things.

Sadly, though, the story is just a bit off in a few places. Superman blowing out a natural gas fire like it was a candle is one of them. A sonic wave by clapping his hands would have resolved that. The effect of the Kryptonian crystals shutting down power EVERYWHERE, even in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, didn’t make sense either. On land, okay. But in the air too? And how is it that the SLIVER of the crystal could cause far more of an effect EVERYWHERE opposed to the whole crystal itself?

Although this movie doesn’t really fit in with the whole Superman series (and I’ll have more on that in a future special comment), it certainly should have been. Singer, Routh, and company brought the Superman series back from cinema limbo. Now it is up to Warner Brothers to make sure they don’t squander the second chance they were given.

Capes: Clearly earned all five capes.
Cheese: Although there is some cheese, it’s only Swiss (1), and a far improvement from the full-blown limburger of the previous films.
Books:

Sadly, I could only give it four books out of five. There’s a good story in there, but not a GREAT story.

2010-07-19

Ask Captain Catastrophe #15: Influence



The legendary team-killer is BACK with a new YouTube video! And stay tuned to the very end for the special announcement regarding the Captain!

2010-07-09

NEW COMIC! "Tales from Paragon City" #1

It's HERE!


"Tales from Paragon City" takes a look at some of the heroes (and even villains) in the City of Heroes universe.

The first issue focuses on KDave, a member of Battlerock X's Omega 2 supergroup. Other members of Omega 2, including Battlerock X, and some of the other groups seen here in the Chronicles will be featured in future issues.

Due to the author's work with his other project ("Guardians of the Dawn Spotlight"), this will be an infrequent series, so stay tuned to the Chronicles for details of when the next issue will be available. In the meantime, feel free to leave your comments and feedback here.

City of Heroes Issue 18 Details

NCSoft/Paragon Studios have just released the details about the next update issue for the City of Heroes MMO.

Issue 18: Shades of Gray is the issue that will not only herald the launch of the Going Rogue expansion but will also bring back a much-requested challenge and an old supervillain.

The Cathedral of Pain was the one and only mission that supergroups could take part in together. Located in the Shadow Shard universe, this was the dimensional prison of the demigod Rularuu the Ravager and his minions. Rularuu had attempted to pierce the barriers and enter our universe, but had been turned back first by the Midnight Squad, and then in 2006 by various hero groups that could have the devices needed to pierce the dimensions.

Paragon City may have forgotten about the threat of Rularuu... but Rularuu hasn't forgotten.

In Issue 18, Rularuu tries once again to cross over. And if he succeeds, then our world is destroyed!

But that's not all going on.

Previously the merchant accounts of Wentworth's Fine Consignment and the Black Markets were completely separate, even though the same items were for sale. What could be considered cheap in Paragon City could be expensive in the Rogue Isles. With Issue 18, that ends. Both marketplace systems will be merged into one, so you will get a fair market value ANYPLACE in the City of Heroes Universe. Plus, you know how bad guys and good guys can get together in places like the Shadow Shard, Pocket D, Ouroboros, and the PvP zones? Well, now you will be able to TRADE with them. You may not be able to trust them, but you WILL be able to trade inspirations

What else is in store? A new Tip System will be created. When you take on adversaries that are at a threat level 20 or higher, they will give you certain tips for other storylines and contacts. This will allow you to take on new challenges, and will set the stage (for those with Going Rogue expansion) to change their alignment. More and more "morally challenging" opportunities will be presented, which means a hero could fall into a vigilante, or a villain could become a rogue.

Shades of Gray indeed.

That's only just skimming the surface, and of course that isn't covering all of the things that will be going live with Going Rogue, including four new powersets and a whole UNIVERSE where the heroes you THOUGHT you knew are the RULERS of the world.

Got your interest yet? You'll just have to wait until August to see it all plays out.

2010-06-03

Comic updates

Things have been progressing pretty fast here at the Chronicles.

First, from the Guardians of the Dawn... we have the release of Issue 13, which concludes the storyline from the previous issue. It also includes a custom cover by "He Who Chronicles", also based on the previous issue.



Second, we have the release of City of Comics Compendium #5, featuring a custom cover by "He Who Chronicles" and an exclusive story also featuring the Guardians of the Dawn. We've also had ads running on EU-based Rogues Radio.


Third, there is a NEW comic series being developed called "Tales from Paragon City", which will be an infrequent series dedicated to the lives of heroes in Paragon City (and a few villains from the Rogue Isles). The first issue will features KDave, one of the members of the Omega 2 supergroup.

Details on that new series will be forthcoming. Future issues will highlight other Omega 2 members, including Battlerock X.

Plus there are some more tactical files to release as well as hero reviews.

Oh, and you can get regular updates courtesy of the Get Brutal Productions page on Facebook! Be sure to "Like" so you can get the updates when they are available.

2010-05-26

And now a word from our producer...

Please click here to read a quick message about the new GBP seal that has appeared on the website...

2010-05-05

The MONSTER 6th Anniversary Post!

Hard to believe the City of Heroes is now in its SIXTH year.

And they started it with the release of Issue 17: Dark Mirror on the same day as the original MMO was released six years earlier. And even if users do not have a powerful enough system to handle Ultra Mode, the graphics are now distinctly sharper than ever before. And that is just the TIP of the iceberg of updates and new features, including access to the Epic Archetypes at level 20 instead of 50, simplified Market interface, easier invention interface, animated tails (and where they should be - as a separate category instead of in lieu of a belt), more Mission Architect locations, and the ability to create missions using GIANT MONSTERS! And again, that's not ALL...

War Witch (the developer) gave the anniversary message this year, and everyone in Paragon Studios is eager to see the start of Going Rogue, which should be sometime this summer. People who have pre-ordered GR will already have access to the two new powersets - Dual Pistols and Demon Summoning. (Inside word is that Demon Summoners are already the new troublemakers for players.) They are also powerset options for Mission Architect so even if YOU don't have the powersets, you can still create characters in missions that will use them.

One annual feature is that through the month of May ALL Paragon Heroes and Rogue Isles operatives will be given a special 6th Anniversary badge. But this is ONLY for those who make an appearance during the month of May.

Here are some videos...

Samuraiko's Mirror Mirror

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Paragon Studio's Trailer

Samuraiko's 6th Anniversary Music Video

And that's STILL not all!

City of Comic Creators is putting the finishing touches on CCC Compendium #5, featuring a flashback story from the Guardians of the Dawn, a special VIP guest appearance, and with a cover designed by David 2. This should be released SOON. REALLY FRAGGING SOON!

Speaking of which...

CCC Promo

Plus there are more commercials on the way.

But I CAN say that Guardians of the Dawn Spotlight #11 WILL be released on Friday - May 7th! I've gotten good feedback from the people who have read it, so hopefully we'll get more readers soon, especially after the City of Heroes forum admins announce it like they did with Issue #10. Oh, and can you believe I'm ALREADY getting work started on Issue #12? I'm sure after the teaser I leave in... ah, but I better wait until AFTER Issue #11 is released before going any further.

Hey, this is a HUGE celebration this month!

2010-04-21

Recognition and a Villain Video

Thanks to the persistence of yours truly and the leader of the City of Comic Creators, the administrators (aka "Red Names") of the City of Heroes forums have started a new announcement thread for all C.C.C. releases.

First comic announced... "Guardians of the Dawn Spotlight" Issue #10!

It's good to see the comic series finally get some recognition!

Meanwhile, I came across this great video from Powerman 5000 that I wish they came out earlier with so it could have been included in the City of Heroes & Villains Soundtrack on iTunes. Enjoy!

2010-04-14

Trailer for Issue 17

Okay, actually this isn't from Paragon Studios. Even better... it comes from Samuraiko. And it shows the GREAT features in Issue 17.

2010-04-10

Issue 17 is Pre-Loading NOW

Players for City of Heroes will probably notice a HUGE download after closing their game engines.

Issue 17: Dark Mirror is pre-loading.

"Dark Mirror" sets the foundation for the new "Going Rogue" expansion (which should be released at the same time as Issue 18).

What this means is that GR's new "Ultra Mode" is being installed into the City of Heroes universe. This is a new graphics system that will make the layout of ALL "City of Heroes" locations look more realistic. Reflections, light shadows, textures, will all take on a new vibrant appearance.

Atlas Park

Port Oaks

Wentworth's Fine Consignment in Atlas Park

Cimerora (Ancient Rome)

The good news is if you are using a low-end graphics card, you can turn this feature off.

But that's not all!

All epic archetypes (Kheldians and Arachnos Soldiers) will now be accessible at level 20 instead of 50! That means if you're struggling just to get a character up to the cape mission, you can now enjoy the FULL range of archetypes instead of having to get all the way up to 50. (By the way, if you're using a trial version of the game, you're still screwed, because you can only get up to level 14 without getting the full subscription.)

"Dark Mirror" will also introduce a brand new enemy to the Paraverse, and it's one that you'll face AT level 20! Good thing you got that new help, huh?

Also the Positron Task Force will be split in TWO! Finally! That's the hardest of task forces for anyone to complete, and Battlerock Babe should know! Over on the Villains side, the Silver Mantis Task Force will be available for ALL villains, not just for supergroups.

Plus, new emotes, new TAIL emotes (for those of you with tails), new badges, new Mission Architect options, in-game emails to other players (or other characters), and much, much more.

And that is SOON! The pre-load means the countdown is on!

Get ready for DARK MIRROR!

2010-03-23

CCC & Guardians news

Fellow CCC artist Sin Stalker has released the latest issue of "The Justice-Knights".

Take note at what is on page 2... a full-page ad for the Guardians of the Dawn. But there is also an ad for the CCC itself featuring PNN host Garry Becker. He'll be showing back up in a few comic issues soon... even a few for the Guardians.

By the way, Issue 10 of the Guardians of the Dawn Spotlight series will be finished shortly, and this one will have PLENTY of twists. Here's the preview cover...



Fun stuff ahead!

2010-03-20

Best Superhero MMO of 2009!

Yes, congratulations go to City of Heroes for being picked BEST SCI-Fi/SUPERHERO MMO of 2009 by the readers of Beckett Massive Online Gamer magazine!!

New rival "Champions Online" didn't even rate in this category, with a distant second going to "Star Wars Galaxies".

Sister MMO Aion also was the clear winner in the category of Best New MMO of 2009.

Be warned, Warcraft. Between Aion and the forthcoming Going Rogue release, we're coming for your "Best MMO" title next!

2010-03-07

Issue 9 is now online!

Issue 9 of the "Guardians of the Dawn Spotlight" comic is now online!

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned…