The Nightmare is nearly over

WARNING: This post is going to contain spoilers for both Red Dead Redemption and the Undead Nightmare DLC.  Continue at your own risk…

I really enjoyed playing Red Dead Redemption.  The world was really well crafted, and the story of the game was top notch.  I had issues with the game play, or more specifically the game controls, a few times, but it was minor complaints that were far overshadowed by the awesomeness of the rest.  The game even threw me for a loop when (and I’ve already warned you about spoilers, but here is a second warning – stop reading if you don’t want spoilers … ) John Marston died saving his family and then the game picked up a few years later with you playing his son.  One of the biggest complaints I heard about the game from many people is that they didn’t want to play the son, they wanted to keep playing John.  For me, however, it made playing John special.  I can only be him for the duration of the game.  I can’t play him in multi-player, and I can’t play him in the sandbox world that extends after the story is done.  Despite Jack Marston having a few annoying phrases he seems to repeat endlessly, I don’t mind playing as Jack, trying to carry on his father’s name and keep it clean to honor his memory.

Then along comes Undead Nightmare.  This DLC is single player and it puts you back into John Marston.  The story is set after John has gone home to be with his family, but before the government men have him killed.  A zombie plague has fallen across the land, his wife and son have both been bitten and turned, and John sets off to find a cure.  Much like the original game, the story here is extremely well done.  You meet most of the characters from the original game in this new twisted reality and it just works (unless you are the sort of person who simply cannot stand to have zombies in your westerns).  Once you complete the story and set everything back right, John is back where he needs to be to complete the story, as if this whole thing were a true nightmare and it never happened… well, almost.  Because they put in challenges that you might not complete before finishing the story, they decided to do like the original game and allow you to continue playing in the sandbox.  You get a cut scene that explains how a few years later, someone triggers the undead plague again and John Marston rises from the grave, retaining his soul because of a thing you did during the original nightmare.  This is where the game loses me…

In pretty much all my forays into things dealing with the undead, one bit remains constant: I do not want to be a zombie.  As much as I love zombies as a setting and zombies as monsters, I despise zombies as main characters.  And while I found Jack’s whining in the original game to be irritating, Zombie John’s groaning and other noises make me want to play with the sound off.  I hate it.  I really, really hate it.  Zombie John practically ruins the game for me.  I still want to play, do the challenges and whatnot, but I’d really prefer to not do it as a member of the undead.

Anyway, unlike the original game, which I still mess around with now and then, once I’m done with the last couple challenges I doubt I’ll ever fire up single player Undead Nightmare again.  Multi-player, on the other hand… I might be playing this forever…

Here We Remain & What We Become

After the devastation of volume 8 of The Walking Dead, I wondered where exactly the story would turn.  Here We Remain answers that as we follow Rick and his son on their own.  Of course, they don’t stay that way for long, and it turns out that not all of our old friends are dead.  But Rick still lost his wife and baby, and after all he’s been through it isn’t surprising that he might finally be going a little nuts.  We also meet some new people here, one of whom is a scientist who thinks he might be able to do something about all the damn zombies.

What We Become takes our group on the road to Washington D.C. where the new scientist friend says he needs to go.  Everyone is a little more frazzled and rattled having left the prison, left the ranch, and hit the road with many of them riding in the back of a truck.

Hands down, The Walking Dead is the best set of zombie stories I’ve ever read.  I continue looking forward to more.

DC Universe: Inheritance

For the first time ever, I am disappointed in one of the DC line of books based on their comics. Overall, the story wasn’t bad, but it was a case of the background and side stories being far more interesting than the main plot.

DC Universe: Inheritance is mainly about sidekicks. The story starts with the President of Qurac and his son heading to America, Gotham specifically, and then someone tries to kill the President’s son. Turns out the assassin was Deathstroke, and he shouldn’t have missed. Its obvious he’s tried to get Batman involved. Batman goes looking for Arsenal because he needs info on Cheshire (its less confusing if you know the comics, but they do also explain it all in the book too), and to find Arsenal Batman asks Green Arrow, who involves Aquaman, Nightwing and Tempest. Nightwing, of course, is the original Robin; Arsenal is Speedy, Green Arrow’s sidekick from back in the day; and Tempest is Aqualad. Batman and Arsenal head off to Qurac, Green Arrow and Nightwing go searching after Deathstroke, and Aquaman and Tempest are set to protect the Qurac President and son at the harbor/bay where a Qurac oil tanker will be docking in the next day or so.

Within each pairing, as the story follows them, you delve into how each one became a sidekick and their experience. Nightwing deals with the death of his parents, training with Batman, and the eventual realization that his can’t be a sidekick forever. Arsenal shows his life on the reservation as a white man being raised by an indian, his beginning sidekick days, and his collapse into and recovery from heroine addiction. Tempest, the shortest interludes, give glimpses of his growing up under the King of Atlantis and how when the chips were down Aquaman was willing to sacrifice Tempest for the life of his own child.

Some of the trail following and piecing together of who is trying to kill the President’s son is interesting, but the final fight as the truth is unveiled is a let down from the buildup done throughout the book. It was a good read, I just wish it had ended better.

The Rising and City of the Dead

For Christmas this year I asked for a bunch of zombie books and superhero books, and I got some. One of the zombie books I got was The Rising by Brian Keene. Its your traditional “zombies are overrunning everything” story that you see in movies all the time. Or at least so it appears… In this book zombies aren’t the mindless corpses seeking flesh and stumbling around of Night of the Living Dead. They’re not even the beastial “Brains!” zombies of Return of the Living Dead. These are closer to the deadites of the Evil Dead movies (1, 2 and Army of Darkness). They work together, they talk, they plan. They fire guns and drive cars. But they still have only one goal… kill everyone.

The book starts with Jim Thurmond, locked away in the fall out shelter he built in his back yard for Y2K. Jim decides he’s going to head outside and try to get away when his cell phone rings and just before the battery dies he hears his son, who lives with Jim’s ex-wife, plead for help, saying that he’s hiding in the attic, mommy is sick, and Rick (the stepfather) is a monster. This sets Jim off on a journey that takes him from West Virginia to New Jersey to save his son.

Jim isn’t the only character we meet. There is Martin, a reverend, who meets up with Jim fairly early. Frankie, a junky whore, whose trying to survive the living dead and kicking heroine cold turkey. And Baker, a scientist who might just be partly responsible for the whole damn thing. There are a number of other points of view, some very brief, to fill out the tale, and Mr. Keene weave the stories together beautifully (if rather depressingly), and keeps you at the edge of your seat wondering what could possibly happen next.

The book was so good, I ran out and picked up the second (and final) book, City Of The Dead , because I just had to know how it ended.

Now, I’m going to go into alot more detail, so I’ll warn you… ** Spoilers Ahead!! **
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If Real Life Was Like The Movies…

… a 13 year old genius deliquent son of a corporate big wig who is forced to move with his father to the Middle East after his parents’ divorce would take his pre-teen angst out on terrorists and bring Osama Bin Ladin to justice by accident causing his parents to reunite.