Ben Rhodes

Ben Rhodes (240)

Favorite Book:  Cryptonomicon
Favorite MovieYoung Frankenstein
Favorite Absolutely Everything:  Monty Python

This is a rough time to be a nerd. The DCU is rebooting, the big summer blockbusters are starting to come out on VHS and other home video formats, and videogamageddon is upon us. For some reason (ed: holiday sales), most of the big video game releases happen in the last three months of the year. In protest, I will be playing Mass Effect 2, which was released in January of 2010, and this has nothing to do with the fact that I cannot afford to buy all the new hotness. I promise.

The DC reboot is upon us, comic book sniffers! Welcome to the new DC universe! In an effort to help bring new readers into the world of comics, the Fanboy Comics staff has decided to review at least five new #1 issues each week of September, DC’s reboot launch month.


So, in celebration of DC’s relaunch, I thought I would read something I was interested in, but had never read, so I picked up Green Arrow #1.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution opens in the year 2027, in the glistening metropolis of Detroit. Adam Jensen, security chief for Serif Industries, the industry leader in human augmentation, is nearly killed in an attack and augmented against his will. As the game progresses, a vast conspiracy is uncovered, and Jensen probably does something about it. Right, I forgot to mention that I haven’t finished the game, but the story is fantastic so far, with interesting hints and threads of many intersecting forces. I am thoroughly intrigued.

About ten minutes ago, I finished the first season of Twin Peaks. I had seen the show several years ago, but I can’t remember if I watched it on VHS or DVD, if that gives any idea about how long ago that was. I can say that I saw Twin Peaks before Bryan Singer’s X-Men was released in 2000. Wow, I’m old. So, this is the part of the piece where I give a brief overview of the show.

What if Willy Wonka created video games and was obsessed with the 80s? That seems to be the question asked by Ernest Cline’s first novel, Ready Player One. In this novel, James Halliday, creator of the most popular video game in the world, the OASIS, has died with no heirs. Rather than allow the company to be broken up or sold, Halliday created a contest within the virtual reality of the OASIS, with the winner becoming sole heir to Halliday’s billions of dollars and the most successful video game company in history. This contest takes the form of an easter egg hunt, with the participants, known as gunters (short for egg hunters), searching for puzzles within the simulation. After a brief and entertaining exposition (ed. Like this one?), our story picks up with a gunter named Wade Watts, better known by his online handle, Parzival, five years after Halliday’s death. No one has beaten the contest; in fact, no one has found the first piece of the puzzle. Parzival and a small group of friends (if not quite allies) each try to outwit each other and stay ahead of the evil corporation, IOI, an oligarchical media company, which aims to win Halliday’s hunt by any means necessary.


In the past few years, we have been given two reinterpretations of Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous character. The first, by Guy Ritchie, was a modern retelling of Sherlock Holmes in the Victorian Era. The second, by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, was a sort of classic BBC detective series set in modern times. Each of these versions approached the problem of introducing a Victorian hero to a modern audience, but they approached the issue in completely different ways.

For those of you who have not heard, or tried, Minecraft is crack. Beautiful, delicious crack. The basic premise of the game is that you are a guy who can build stuff in a hostile world. That’s it. The game is an unfinished product and is constantly being updated. This is both a good and bad thing. The bad news is pretty obvious. The game is not as good as it should be yet. There are fairly steady improvements being made, but this is one of the great bits. The game is constantly changing as you play it. There is something incredibly fascinating about watching the evolution of a game as it is happening. The other great thing about the game being a work-in-progress is that it is cheaper. When Minecraft is finished, it will cost €20, or about $28.75. Right now, while the game is in Beta, you can buy a copy of the game, and all updates, for €15, or $21.54.

Split/Second: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bombs Strategically Placed Around the Racetrack

May 18, 2010, might as well be called Red Deadmageddon. On this date, Red Dead Redemption was released and sold three copies for every living person on the planet. Unfortunately, two other great games were released the same day. Now, if three great movies are released on DVD on the same day, there are a few things that fans might do. They might buy them both today, or pick one up in a week or so. Video games are different for two very big reasons. One, games cost $60, and it is really hard to buy two in a week. Two, games take more than two hours to play. Red Dead clocked in at over 40 hours. That is a regular work week. I have already discussed one of the casualties of Red Deadmageddon, the criminally underplayed Alan Wake. Today, I would like to discuss the other.

This was initially supposed to be a review. Well, I’m sorry, but it will be nothing of the sort.

In general, while I am appreciative of the past, I have no patience for old video games. I loathe health pickups in a shooter, I can’t stand half-hour cut-scenes, and I hate random battles. These conventions were something we dealt with in video games for time untold, and, often, for good reason. Health pickups limited the amount of health available in a certain level, which increased the difficulty and stretched the length of a game. In the era where graphics weren’t great, cut scenes were a graphical reward for an accomplishment such as beating a difficult boss. Honestly, I never understood random battles. The inclusion of these tropes in a game today sometimes, but not often, adds to the experience. Well, not the cut scenes. I’m looking at you, Metal Gear Solid 4. While I do have an appreciation for the games that came before, I have little desire to play them again, with one exception.

I really want to like Brink. Everything from the art style to the world it portrays is fresh and interesting. Brink also incorporates elements of parkour into the shooting genre. Now, there might be one or two of you (I’m not kidding, probably just one or two) who are thinking, “But, what about Mirror’s Edge?” First of all, I love you both. Mirror’s Edge was a phenomenal game, but it wasn’t a shooter. It was a first-person parkour game. Brink is absolutely a shooter, and that’s too bad, because it would have been more interesting the other way.

First, we should discuss the positives of the game. The art style is unbelievably cool. The art is a combination of realism and cartoony that I haven’t seen before. Everybody’s face is stretched out and exaggerated, but the textures are almost hyper-detailed. The result is something awesomely unique.

Another thing I really enjoyed about the game is the setting. Every bit of the environment helps reinforce the story the game is telling. This tiny civil war on the floating city called the Ark is something that really works. Every detail of the environment seems to be there, because of the rebellion on this ship. I won’t get too far into it, but I can tell you that it works.

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