Monday, January 31, 2011

Hunkering down for the "storm of the decade"

Indianapolis has been a pretty darned lucky city this winter, so far. We've had more snow than we usually get, but we haven't been socked with truly horrible winter, like other parts of the USA. However, it appears that our luck is about to change. There's a massive ice storm headed our way, and everyone is calling it the "storm of the decade." SO, I've been stacking firewood in the house, making sure plenty water, milk, bread, batteries, icemelt, candles, and flashlights are available, etc., etc. Our house doesn't usually lose power during storms, but I'm trying to be ready for anything.

Everyone stay safe out there!

Friday, January 21, 2011

DC Universe Online IS pretty darned addictive

I repeat -- I really didn't expect to like this game as much as I do. Yes, I did pick up the full PS3 version once the game was released -- and I think I've mostly been "living" in the DC Universe since then. It doesn't help that my brother and several friends ALSO have the game and we've been getting together online to go beat up bad guys -- or beat up good guys. Gosh darn it, I am HOOKED.

The game is still kinda glitchey and has been experiencing a few "growing pains," resulting in some downtime. So far, these are merely minor annoyances, and the game environment has been sailing right along without too much trouble, at least from a player perspective. I have to say, design-wise, this is one of the better MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online game) that I've seen. I recognize a lot of functional elements from other EA games, like the James Bond and Harry Potter games. Flying is still my favorite thing to do -- but, oh, the powers you can assign your characters are FUN.

Take Alligator, for example. Alligator is a lovely thing -- a villain I created. She's essentially a big female version of Killer Croc -- except she can turn into a pterodactyl. Now THAT's fun.

My favorite character so far, however, is a hero. I couldn't resist recreating my favorite public domain character from the Golden Age -- the Green Lama. He's been running around the DCUO Countdown world, and I've gotten him up to level 22 so far. My version looks a bit more blantantly superhero-ish than other versions (including even Alex Ross's interpretation), but I think he's still recognizable as the Green Lama.

Actually, for an obscure public domain character, the Green Lama has been a busy boy of late -- what with being an active superhero in Dynamite Comics' lineup , and starring in a pulp novel by Adam Lance Garcia. I haven't read that novel yet -- I really need to pick it up. For now, though, I'm gonna continue to have fun putting Jet through his paces in the DCU.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Superman's wardrobe is going up for auction

Here in the Indianapolis area is a man who owns a great deal of Superman live-action film memomorabilia. After trying unsuccessfully to showcase his collection in a local "superhero museum," Dane Nash has run into a bit of misfortune. Financial problems have forced him to liquidate his collection in a court-ordered auction, to be held January 22.

There are some impressive items in this collection, especially if you're a Superman fan. In particular, it includes Superman costumes going all the way back to George Reeves.

It's sad that the guy has to give these things up -- but if he's in financial dire straits, it's probably a good thing that he DOES have these items available, to help bail him out!

I wonder if this is the same man who used to own the Batboat from the old 1960s Batman TV show? It did used to be here in Indy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Oh, I DO love to fly!


I really didn't intend to get hooked on this game. I curse my brother every day, because if not for him, I wouldn't even OWN a PlayStation 3 (PS3). But, darn it, over the holidays, he downloaded the Beta version of DC Universe Online -- and I got hopelessly hooked. The Beta is down now -- it was pulled off the network the other night in preparation for the official finished game release, which is next Tuesday. YES, I went out and reserved a copy, so I can pick it up and install it on Tuesday. I miss the Beta, and must have the game -- which is probably EXACTLY what Sony, Warner Brothers, and DC hoped would happen to a great many gamers. CURSE THEM!

Oh, but it's FUN. The premise is this, and it's an old JLA chestnut with a twist: Lex Luthor drops in from the future to inform Supes, Bats, and Wondy that Brainiac took over the earth because all of the heroes and villains were too busy wiping each other out to stop him. SO, Luthor came to the past to warn everyone -- and also to infect the earth with Brainiac-created nano technology that enables ordinary folks from earth to become super-powered, so they can join in the fight. THAT's where the players come in.

As a player, I got to create my own character, with my own powers, choose a mentor (Supes, Bats, or Wondy for heroes; Luthor, Joker, or Circe for villains), and go kick butt. I chose the hero side and Wonder Woman as my mentor -- and created a character based on my favorite ol' public domain GREEN hero (more on that some other time). THEN I got to run around. OH, it was fun. My character can fly, and flying is wonderful. I hadn't expected it to be as much fun as it is. I could have been a speedster, or an acrobat -- but, really, nothing beats flying.

Game environments so far are split between fully-realized versions of Gotham and Metropolis. It's downright surreal to be able to run around these two cities and go pretty much wherever I want. My character was based in Metropolis, so that's where I did the most exploring. Some details still need to be hammered out by the game creators, but I had a heck of a lot of fun running around the city. Nabbed a few muggers, too!

There's too much to explain about this game, so I'm just going to touch on a few things I did and/or noticed. (Anyone who wants to know more can visit the game's official site at http://www.dcuniverseonline.com/) -->

- The JLA satellite is HUGE, but well worth exploring. The funniest thing I encountered early in the Beta launch was Supergirl hanging around in the Meta wing, dressed in a skankier-than-usual version of her costume, with bikini briefs in place of her skirt, and no cape. I went up to her to talk to her and she said, "Cool costume! Wonder if I should change mine? Maybe later." Several days later, I met up with her in the same place, and she was back to wearing her skirt and cape -- and looking a LOT less skanky. Too funny.

- The villains do have a Hall of Doom, but I didn't explore it too much.

- Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill DO voice Batman and the Joker. Hooray!

- Oracle provides remote assistance to hero players, and Calculator assists villain players. It's a really nice setup.

- Players can choose to engage in PVP (player-vs-player) mode or not. You don't HAVE to interact with other players, though it is encouraged. You can also form teams and what not. Teams can pool their resources and create their own online virtual group bank accounts and make group equipment purchases. (They can also host dance parties.)

- I got to team up with Zatanna to fight Felix Faust. It was FUN. I also got to take on ALL of the Titans at the same time, who had been possessed by Trigon. That WASN'T so fun. I got my butt kicked several times before I figured out how to stop 'em all.

- Players start off at level 1 and can progress all the way to level 30. I got up to Level 15 -- and STILL managed to get my butt kicked by Bane, who was a measely Level 10. Grrrrrr.

- Did I mention that I love flying? I love being able to fly away from a battle when I'm getting too close to getting knocked out, and then just hovering somewhere until I regain enough health to rejoin the battle. It's also so PEACEFUL to be able to fly high above the city, or the water, and just -- fly. There's something very, well, ZEN about it for lack of a better word. I just love it.

- The cities are full of kiosks containing tour information by Booster Gold, in the best Booster Gold fashion. The recordings are a hoot.

- Every player starts off in a Brainiac ship, where Brainiac is supposedly keeping captured humans to try to remove his nano technology from them. Every player "wakes up" on the ship and has to escape -- every single time a new character is created. It's kinda monotonous if you want to create a bunch of different characters (a hero AND a villain, say). EXCEPT, one time I was shocked to encounter Ambush Bug up there! Yes, Ambush Bug is present in the game, and he seems to pop up wherever and whenever he pleases.

- I DID encounter several Green Lanterns, including Hal. Actually, my encounter with Hal was kinda weird. I was exploring Metropolis and found the Daily Planet building, which had been "bottled" by Brainiac. Hal was there standing on the sidewalk and apparently just looking at the building. I walked up to him -- and if it's possible for a virtual gaming character to look startled, he came awfully darned close. He responded with a sort-of "welcome-aboard-and-thanks-for-fighting-the-good-fight" and then flew away. It was WEIRD.

- While exploring the Metropolis energy plant, I ran into a full-blown Sinestro Corps War. There were Green Lantern and Sinestro Corp members all over the place, beating the tar out of each other. They were all Level 22, so there was no WAY I was wading into THAT battle. However, a Sinestro Corps member came after me and I had no choice but to fight him off. I actually beat him! And then I immediately got the paint kicked out of me by a whole bunch of Sinestro Corps members who jumped me in retaliation. When I came to, there was a Green Lantern chick standing over me, offering to buy or sell equipment or fix anything of mine that was broken. I just took the opportunity to get outta Dodge, so to speak.

- I wasn't TOO surprised to see a LOT of Marvel fans running around, with Marvel-based creations. One player I talked to said, yes, he WAS a Marvel fan, but the game looked so cool that he just HAD to try it. He loved it and said he wished Marvel had something like it. I had to explain to him who Booster Gold and Oracle were. He was a bit shocked by the whole Barbara Gordon tale.

So, that's it. I'm HOOKED. I'm DOOMED. Soooooo DOOMED.