Spoils of War

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The seas of discount have been churning this holiday season with Steam’s Holiday Sale. So far, the deals have been relentless as has been my spending. I have successfully added the following to my virtual sea chest of games:

  • Knights of the Old Republic ($4.99) – Never could get into it on the Xbox so I thought I’d try again on the good ol’ PC.
  • Indigo Prophecy ($3.88?) – I am enjoying the storyline so far…however weird.
  • Republic Commando ($4.99) – I have always wanted to finish this game.
  • Torchlight ($4.99) – Amazing! Reminds me of late nights of Diablo 1.
  • Prey ($2.25) – Played the demo a long time ago… $2.25 seemed like a steal.
  • BioShock ($4.99) – Have not played yet but thought I was overdue for a decent into madness.

What spoils of war have you managed to obtain this holiday season?

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Shock

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Christians and Christianity never fair well on videogame related sites. Theological and spiritual discussions always seem to devolve into name calling/ hateful discussions. Take for instance a recent post on Joystiq.com. The post speaks of a recent opinion piece posted to the Christian Civic League of Maine’s website, The Record, entitled Ban this Video Game. Instead of analyzing The Record’s opinion piece, Joystiq.com is content to make fun of punctuation and generally mock the Christian group. This is a shame. What Joystiq.com should have done is note the following:

  • The opinion piece is heavily slanted from the opening paragraph.

…participate vicariously in the destruction of their fellow man.

Anyone who has played videogames since their inception knows that not all games lead players down dark paths of violence. Mario, Pacman, and Sonic are great examples of non-destructive games.

  • The Christian Civic League of Maine’s article continues by essentially saying that violence is violence whether virtual or not (real life prize-fighting versus videogames is given as an example).

What do you think of this? Is violence in a videogame like real life violence?

  • The article continues by talking about Modern Warefare 2’s controversial “No Russian” mission.

    In the game, the player becomes a member of a terrorist gang which guns down helpless men, women, and children waiting at an airport.

    While I have not played through Modern Warefare 2, comments on various forums and sites seem to indicate that the scene was placed in the game for shock value. Below is a quote from an article Tom Chick, from over at Fidgit.com, wrote on the controversial scene which seems to pretty much sum everything I’ve read.

    It is unnecessary, cheap, and disgusting… (for full article click here)

    • Logic is thrown out the window as the Civic League’s article draws to a close.

    There is a well-established cause and effect relationship between video games and school shootings…

    Really? While I have read that the shooters in the Columbine incident played videogames, I am also sure that they watched R rated movies.

    • Finally, the article summarizes that Modern Warfare 2 and videogames in general need to be banned.

    Moreover, it may be time for Maine to begin a debate over the advisability of banning these games completely, giving due consideration to both the First Amendment, and the danger these violent games pose to the public.

    Following their logic, anything that runs in conflict to their beliefs should be outright banned from existence. This makes me wonder how this group separates books that conflict with their beliefs. Why aren’t they calling for a ban on books?

    In the end, I wish that more civilized debates were waged on the Internet. Flame wars, articles/ posts written to drive up web traffic, and opinions not thought through help no one. Please post responsibly.

    Common Class Movies: Top 9 of 2009

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    Top 9 of 2009

    (reposted from Jacob’s www.commonclassmovies.com)

    Tis the season to make top X lists of the year and I would be remiss to not add my list of the best movies of 2009.

    #9: The Box
    The latest offering from Richard Kelly, the director of Donnie Darko, did not disappoint for all the people looking for the spiritual son of Donnie Darko. Kelly does an amazing job of creating the other worldly feel that he is most famous for and delivers a serious mind raping by asking the question “Would you let someone die for $1,000,000?”. The acting in The Box is incredibly well done and takes the audience for a very, very weird trip.

    Most reviews have panned this movie, and has a RottenTomatoes score of 45%, but as for the people here at the Common Class we highly recommend seeing it.

    Reviews:
    Screen Rant
    Rolling Stone
    RottenTomatoes

    #8: (500) Days of Summer
    (500) Days of summer is possibly the most unique movie that is on our list, because it is a non-linear movie (see definition) and the movie pulls it off wonderfully. As the viewer we get to see snapshots of the relationship of Tom and Summer as it is being remembered by the narrator. What this movie does well is it follows the thought process of the heart broken Tom as he tries to figure out what went wrong with his love, by jumping around in the story, one scene will be day 42 and the next will be day 208 and so on. Anyone who has every gone through a heart crushing breakup will immediately recognize the pattern that they see on the screen. (500) days of summer, does an incredible job of showing just how much a relationship can go from high to low and back and just how brutal a relationship can be.

    Reviews:
    Rolling Stones
    New York Times
    RottenTomatoes

    #7: Taken
    Number 7 takes us way back to January, and the dusty streets of Europe. There’s a lot that could be said about this movie, but as for my 2 cents, all you really need to know is Liam Neeson is awesome. Taken offers, good action, great pacing and a decent enough story to keep you entertained. Do yourself, go rent this one, pop some popcorn and enjoy

    Reviews:
    MovieBob
    New York Times
    RottenTomatoes

    #6: The Hangover
    The Hangover might also take the prize for “Biggest Surprise Movie” for 2009. I walked into this movie expecting stupid humor that would have funny moments but would be altogether boring and forgettable. I was dead wrong, The Hangover is one the funniest movies of 2009 with so much packed into that you barely have time to catch you breath. The biggest surprise for me is that the movie was pretty intelligent and did not involve too many cheap tricks to get laugh; I did not feel dumber for going to see The Hangover. I generally do not get excited to see a movie a 2nd time, but The Hangover is worth multiple viewings

    Reviews:
    Roger Ebert
    Hollywood Reporter
    RottenTomatoes

    #5: The Blind Side
    The latest offering from Sandra Bullock may be one of her bests, The Blind Side should be near the top of everyone’s feel good movie list. This movie is very well acted, and actually portrays a Christian family, who you know are actually Christians. The Blind Side has generated a lot of buzz, both good and bad. The bad mainly focuses on the race issues and basically states that this is just a way for white people to feel good about themselves. All I can say to that is the only way you see a race thing in this movie is if you are looking for it, the family in this movie genuinely wants to help the character not because he’s black but because it’s the right thing to do. The race bating critics need to get off of themselves and let us move past race and focus on a truly good story of human helping human. This movie is hated by the critics and loved by audiences and by Common Class Movies.

    Reviews:
    MovieBob (disclaimer, does contain profanity. I also generally love MovieBob’s reviews but he was incredibly wrong here)
    Huffington Post
    RottenTomatoes

    #3/4: ZombieLand
    The number 3 and 4 movies where so hard for me to pick that I decided not too. Zombieland is a movie that plays into every cliche’, every gimmick and every must have in a zombie/survival horror movie and it does them all perfectly. Zombieland is pure gold from the opening sequence, to the most amazing surprise I’ve seen in a movie, to the final credits. We enjoyed this movie immensly, and if you haven’t seen it, fix that, tonight.

    Reviews:
    MovieBob
    ScreenRant
    RottenTomaotes

    #3/4: Inglorious Basterds
    To continue me being to lazy to pick an actual a real number 3 and 4 we have the newest picture from Quienten Taritino. Generally, that would be more than enough said about any movie, but with Inglorious there’s much, much more to say. This could be Taritino’s best film since Pulp Fiction, if not better than Pulp Fiction (I can handle the hate mail, bring it on). This movie has everything you come to expect from a Tartino flick; long, amazing dialogue sections, lots and lots of blood, several wonderfully done over the top actors and a big scene where almost everyone dies. The almost 2 and half hour movie seems to fly by because of the amazing pacing and entertainment packed into Inglorious and if you don’t love Brad Pitt’s character you simply have no soul

    Reviews:
    RottenTomatoes

    #2: Up
    Possibly the best Pixar movie ever made. I have grown up with Pixar and have loved all of them and Up is possibly the best that has ever come out of the studio. Up delivers on every level; the deep dark sadness of love, the overwhelming joy of triumph and everything in between. I have never in my life seen an animated, or many other movies in general pull such a wide range of emotions out of me before, if you have a soft heart you will cry your eye’s out in parts and stand up and rejoice in others, if you are heartless creep, you’ll come very close to crying and at least give a fist pump in excitement. This is not just one of the best movies of 2009 it’s easily one of the best of the last 5 years.

    Reviews:
    Roger Ebert
    New York Times
    RottenTomatoes

    And Finally

    #1: Watchmen
    Watchmen is a masterpiece, plain and simple. I could go on and on about how amazing this movie is, and how big the ideas are and just how grand and epic it is, but I won’t. I’ll just say this, it’s the best and if you didn’t see it, you missed out. The only problem with the movie is huge amount of massive smurf wang there is in it, if you don’t know what I’m talking about go see the movie and you’ll understand.

    Reviews:
    Moviebob
    Roger Ebert
    RottenTomatoes

    Thanks for reading

    -Jacob
    jacob@commonclassmovies.com

    The views expressed in the above article are not necessarily shared by JBG. (This mostly includes the use of “massive smurf wang”.)

    Going Forward, Gaming Forward

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    After receiving the prayers and blessings of the local priests and holy men, Tharyn, the elvish warrior, directed his company of soldiers into a long cavernous corridor. In the furthest reaches of that cave lay the fearsome demon-hound, Magmadar. A less-seasoned warrior would easily fall victim to the demon-hound’s mind tricks. He commonly constricted his adversaries with fear and sent them running into a frenzied panic. On this night however, Tharyn would not become Magmadar’s prey but stood defiant as his predator. Really though, this night was not about Magmadar. Tharyn and his guild of fighters were barely prepared to fight when they “accidentally” attacked him (stupid impatient tanks). Some members were still getting home from work, while others were fixing dinner for their families. Really only twenty-some of the recommended forty were present and armed to fight (yours truly the dynamic rogue included), but it didn’t really matter because the fight with Magmadar was trivial content as it had been for the past month. Everyone get your buffs. Everyone to your locations. Tanks in, dps in, backstab backstab backstab, run to your healer, backstab backstab backstab; and so the fight persisted until Magmadar fell and we gotz the uber loot! Very soon everyone else would arrive, and following several hours of mini-boss battles that night’s real conquest would come, Ragnaros.

    It’s been 4 years since I braved the caverns of the Molten Core, or anywhere else in the World of Warcraft for that matter, but my first life marches on even while second life is left behind. Occasionally, I find myself pining for the good ol’ days when I fought alongside my Alliance brethren, but for the most part my “serious” gaming days are behind me. No more all night 16player Halo matches (and we were all in the same house. That’s right kiddos! No wimpy Xbox live in the early days!). No more power-leveling another character to level 20 in WoW. No more super smash bros. gaming tournaments. No more weeks spent just going to school and gaming.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still game. I indulged in a night full of zombie killing in Left For Dead a month ago (splattering zombie guts all over the wall really helps getting over the girlfriend who suddenly decides she wants to become an ex-girlfriend….ahh coping mechanisms), but now I look forward to playing simpler games like Bloons Tower Defense 4 on my computer or some of the arcade-ish games on the PSN like Super Stardust HD.

    I can’t really say for sure what happened. The transformation changed when I arrived at college, and I became a “yo-yo gamer.I guess I suffered from “the grass is always greener” mentality. I owned a Gamecube, Xbox, PS2, and a Mac computer when I went to school. The following summer I sold all my gear (including my classic consoles like NES, SNES, N64, and Genesis) and built myself a sweet gaming pc because obviously if you want to play the really good games you need a PC. Enter the yo-yo effect. My euphoric delusional state lasted all of two months before I yo-yo’d again.

    Time to face the music. I’m a console kind of gamer. I like to sit on my couch that has worn out springs. I like to play games on a big screen, and no I don’t count a 24 inch monitor as a big screen. I like the feel of cheap plastic making my palms sweaty after six hours of intense button-mashing. Like I said, I’m a console kind of gamer. Yadda yadda yadda, fast-forward fastforward, and now when you come visit me you’ll find a PS3 in my living room. I love it! It’s been a great machine. I would even classify it as a prized possession, but now I find myself in grad school and I show pride in my PS3 by allowing it to collect dust in the corner. Feel the love buddy.

    Now by way of Freudian analysis, I have isolated several key factors that are to blame for this recent gaming abstinence. I have no money. I have no time. I have many new important responsibilities. All truthful and possibly accurate answers, but ultimately, I have no desire. So what will become of my long lost hobby? Is my current state of affairs simply a matter of my circumstances or is there another more subliminal transformation occurring?

    What about you? Where does gaming fit into your life now, and how has it changed over the years?

    Surf Report – 12/21/09

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    Welcome to the Monday edition of the Surf Report. Proudly sponsored by no one!

    .: God :

    Christmas, oh how I remember the consumer-driven holiday of my youth. Every year I would come up with the perfect Christmas list. This list would be scientifically engineered upon the foundation of known–I don’t know how–Christmas spending limits of my family. For example, I knew that my Aunt spent roughly a $100 on me each year. In order to maximize my gift receiving, I would specifically structure my list so that I would get everything on it. And received I did. Everything.

    I didn’t realize the impact of my greedy childhood until I became an adult. Christmas was no longer just about presents–although presents are great!–. Christmas, as a Christian, is about the celebration of Christ’s birth. This tiny detail is shadowed by presents, the Christmas tree, and all the lights that illuminate the cold December nights. For me, as a Christ follower, I realize that I need to look beyond all the distractions of the holidays and focus on why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

    1-5About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

    6-7While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel. (The Message, Luke 2:1-7)

    .: Life :

    A spark of imagination + a $300 investment = “Panic Attack!”

    .: Gaming :

    Super Mario Bros. Wii has occupied much of my gaming time as of late. Although I have to admit, I am not very good at Mario games…you? 🙂

    Surf Report – 12/14/09

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    Welcome to a Monday edition of the Surf Report.

    .: God :

    Check out my blog post entitled Intake.

    .: Life :

    Christmas Checklist:

    Is your…

    Tree set up?

    Mistletoe hung?

    Christmas shopping done?

    Or: Are you…

    Tired of the music/ tired of the noise?

    Tired of all the shoppers/ of bratty girls and boys?

    Hang in there!

    .: Gaming :

    The sweet story that is Maple Story is no more. I happened to make it through one play session and then never touch the game again. Ever.

    Positives:

    • Amazing graphics/ fun art design.
    • Low system requirements.
    • Free-to-play.

    Negatives:

    • No compelling storyline to draw the player in.
    • Poor/ non-intuitive control scheme.

    The thought of having to play this game compelled me to renew my World of Warcraft account. I started a new character, Orup (Tauren Hunter), on the Stormscale server. Now at level 7, I am trucking along through Horde territory. Hit me up if you want to play!

    That is it for this weeks Surf Report. Make sure to comment below and have a good week!