A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away…again

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday Disney dropped an atomic bomb right on the heads of the nerd community when they announced their purchase of Lucas Films and their plans to produce Star Wars Ep. VII. That’s right, you read correctly. Disney is making a new Star Wars movie, scheduled for release in 2015.

While no information on the film itself has been released, Disney execs claim that the film is ALREADY in early production stages.

Hordes of Fan Boys and Girls around the globe are speaking out against the a new addition to the 30 year old legendary saga. Some complain about the fact that making an addition to such a classic film is almost Taboo, while others believe that a mega-conglomorate like Disney will fail to give Star Wars the authentic care and attention that is required for such a pivotal new sequel. I myself am on the fence about this new movie. Even though I am a die hard star wars fan who believes that the series is perfect the way it is, I can’t help but be curious of what Disney can bring to the table.

Let me make one thing clear to those who don’t know (though judging by my audience, I doubt there are many), while the name Disney is associated with legendary children’s movies, the company is by no means limited to that tone of film. In recent years Disney has purchased several companies such as Marvel and Pixar, and as such, they have professionals who have created some of the most gripping recent hits (the Avengers, Iron Man etc). With a powerful company like Disney at the head of a potential billion dollar movie, it is a safe bet to say that the company will not be frugal in their use of resources at their disposal. As a result, if there was a company to give a Star Wars sequel its due diligence, I believe it would be Disney.

Now that the company aspect of this article is out of the way, I would like to touch upon what I am most curious to see. Story. We have seen the tale of Anakin Skywalker’s rise to power, fall to darkness, and ascension to redemption; we have seen the story of Luke Skywalker ending the reign of the Galactic Empire’s tyranny; we have seen the death and rebirth of the jedi order (at least in it’s initial stages). What are we going to see next? With such an expansive EU section, covered in books, comics and video games, the possibilities are nearly endless.

In a discussion with fellow nerd friend and co-author of the site, we came upon a theory of what the next segment of the Star Wars  saga will be. The Yuuzhan Vong War.

Now, some of you fellow Star Wars fans may be shaking your heads. Why would they skip such a crucial era, the birth of the New Republic and the New Jedi Order. Surely they will show Luke going back to Yavin IV to start the Jedi Praxeum. Well, while that is indeed an important chapter of the Star Wars saga, it would mean the recasting of legendary figures, Luke, Leia, and Han. Perhaps Disney would think of this as a wise choice, but I am sure the fans will agree that recasting will lead to nothing but disaster.  That issue would not arise with the Yuuzhan Vong war.

There is about 20 years between the end of Return of the Jedi and the Yuuzhan Vong invasion (25 ABY [After Battle of Yavin]). However, there was nearly the same amount of time between the end of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope (The Empire was formed in 19BBY [Before Battle of Yavin]). Because of this, the roles of Luke, Leia and Han will not have to be recast and while the actors are a little older than their character counter parts, Hollywood make up can hide it. Star Wars is clearly no stranger to time skips, and I believe that with the two gaps being nearly equal, it would provide for a more consistent flow between the trilogies (prequels-originals-sequels).

Along with that, the reconstruction of the Republic and Jedi order fails to convey the same sense of impending conflict as the YV war. Sure, there was the whole Dark Empire crisis with Palpatine’s clones but comparing that to the great YV war that brought the galaxy to the brink of Destruction makes Palpatine look like a Storm Trooper standing next to Death Star. It’s nothing.

So maybe the timing is perfect, but why should the Yuuzhan Vong be the enemy? What makes them so special? Well, if you haven’t read the book series revolving around the wars I suggest you hop to it. Seriously, it is one of the most gripping wars in the history of Star Wars. While the jedi and sith have been going head to head for thousands of years, they did not wreak nearly as much destruction as the Yuuzhan Vong did in their 4 year campaign across the galaxy. This war would successfully convey the intense conflict that we are familiar with in the previous films, and amplify it, as all of the beings in the galaxy (Jedi, Sith, Mando and Wookie) are forced to unite against this grave threat. During the wars we would see the introduction of new great characters, the death of old favorites, the revival of an anicent culture, and the war against the current one.

Master Skywalker vs the Vong

While I will not out right condemn Disney if they chose to cover a different portion of Star Wars history, I highly doubt they will make a movie that can be nearly as successful. One of my worst fears is a new Star Wars movie being nothing more than a sequel to the other films. We don’t need another sequel, we need a stand alone trilogy, one that does not alienate fans, but also brings in new elements to the story. The Great War of the Yuuzhan Vong can do that.

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Anyway, there’s my two-cents about the new Star Wars movie. If you think that there is a better era to cover, please leave your opinion in the comment section below. I hope you enjoyed this article, and remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @TheNerdNexus.

Castlevania: The Saga Continues

“Eu sunt Dracul!” – Dracula (Gabriel Belmont) at the end of Castlevania: Lord of Shadows

These words, while cloaked in a foreign tongue, successfully shocked most fans of the Castlevania saga, as they watched the last clip in the hit game Castlevania: Lord of Shadows. This statement revealed the exact nature of the bond between Clan Belmonte and the legendary vampiric lord, Dracula. While gamers had to buy a DLC to find out precisely how Gabriel took up the way of the vampire, the producers of the Lord of Shadows saga were nice enough to have a video at the end of the castlevania credits, foreshadowing what gamers could expect in the future.

Now I personally loved the Lord of Shadows game, though prior to that, I never played any Castlevania games. I thought the graphics were sweet, the story was compelling and the game play was balling, though after I beat it I was curious about the background of the game. When I found out how many previous Castlevanias there were, and how the new one basically had nothing to do with the predecessors, save for using the Belmont name and the Brotherhood of Light, I was all like “WTF”…at least until they released the DLC and I connected the dots, though I still wanted more- the lack of continuity bugged me, and I was hoping for a game to make the connection clearer in the future…

Well…that future has come, as Castlevania Lord of Shadows 2 was revealed at E3 2012.

“In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, the origin of Dracula and his legendary connection with the Belmonts was revealed. In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, fans can expect thrilling new twists and challenges. In this shocking conclusion to the Lords of Shadow saga, Dracula returns once again, weakened and yearning for release from his immortal bonds. Facing a new and powerful threat, the vampire lord must reacquire his old powers – and only his castle holds the key. However, the famed Belmont clan also seek his ultimate destruction.” – Castlevania Lord of Shadows Website

There was initially some skepticism about the validity of the first game when run across the fan-lore of the long established Castlevania series, however with the twisting revelation of Gabriel’s ascension/fall to the form of Dracula has closed the gap that bridged the fans of the original saga and the newer Lord of Shadows series. Accompanied with the Nintendo DS sister game Castlevania Lord of Shadows: Mirror of Fate, which tells the story of Gabriel’s battle against his son, Trevor, and the beginning of the war between Dracula and the Brotherhood of Light, Konami has given the Castlevania series the potential for a successful revitalization.

But I try not to count my chickens before they hatch, and I am tentative on how good the second game may be. It has a flashy trailer, I will give it that.

Now, if I get to play with Gab-I mean Dracula, using those sick powers, count me in. The fire whip is sweet! Will the game be as awesome as its predecessors? Only time will tell…but one thing is for sure…

I want that fire whip…NOW!

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Hey guys and gals, I hope that you enjoyed this article; sorry about the gap between this one and the last one. Things have been hectic but I hope to be able to post more in the future.  Feel free to leave comments of your thoughts below and remember to like the post, follow the blog and our twitter (@TheNerdNexus) for further updates. And remember to Like us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TheNerdNexus)

Blu-Bin 3D printing

Poultney, VT September 28th, 2012–

Blu – Bin, Inc will be opening the doors of its first 3D printshop this Saturday the 29th. Blu – Bin is the first company to offer retail 3D printing design and creation services, and is excited to be introducing this new business model in Vermont. Working against the grain, Blu – Bin employees see 3D printing as a service that can benefit everyone even if they can’t afford the printer itself. Founded by Daniel Riley, alumni of Green Mountain College, the business seeks to fill the void left by larger 3D printing companies that have entirely ignored offering retail 3D printing design and creation services.

Customers will be able to order items designed and made in store, as well as providing their own designs for creation as part of a growing catalogue of designs the company has access too. Using a range of rapid manufacturing techniques, Blu – Bin creates a friendly environment for rapid design and creation of what it’s customers want. Through these services Blu-Bin seeks to advance the field of 3D printing, bringing it to the forefront in manufacturing and into mainstream American life.

With the first store being opened in Poultney, VT, Blu – Bin inc will be working with students and professors of Green Mountain College to demonstrate and test the capabilities of 3D printing through various unique projects.

Effectively creating an entirely new industry, Blu-Bin predicts a successful future, which will lead to expansion of the company into other cities and towns. Saturday will be the start of what the company hopes to be a bright and successful path towards a future filled with this innovative technology.

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Build your own home! Skyrim DLC: Hearthfire Announced

FUS RO DAH!

Elderscrolls V: Skyrim has torn through gaming competition with unrelenting force (see what I did there?), raising through the ranks to the top games of the year. While successful on both the console and PC systems, most gamers will attest to the benefits of the PC version, as it has the advantage of cool mods. Well the developers of Bethesda decided to throw a treat for us console gamers, and took a few notes from the books of PC modders.

Prior to the release of ‘Dawnguard‘, the first major downloadable content (DLC) package of Skyrim, the brains of Bethesda told the press that they were watching the developement of unique mods in the public gaming sphere, and implementing particularly special ones in their new DLCs. With Dawnguard was saw a mounted combat system implemented along with some other goodies. Not soon there after, the gaming community caught wind of the title of Skyrim’s next DLC- ‘Hearthfire’.

Many assumptions emerged on the internet about the exact nature of this DLC. Some thought that it was about the month Heart Fire, which has an annual Necromancy festival known as the Tales and Tallows holiday. While these rumors have not been disproved, an official trailer has been released which doesn’t deal with zombies.

So I present to you the Hearthfire Trailer:

No zombies to be seen there…nope. Instead, we get to build a house…YAY!

Now I will admit, compared to the epicness of Dawnguard’s vampiric quests, Hearthfire seems rather anti-climactic, but I believe the add on has some merits to it. I can’t be the only player that wants to build his own fortress of solitute (Not to be mistaken with the Blue Palace of Solitude). I have always enjoyed the opportunity to build something that is unique to the character, and this mod gives players the ability to do so. Along with expanding the obvious, the mod also expands the social functions of skyrim, allowing our Dovakiin to build his own family, some what akin to Fable 2‘s implementation of families with children.

To bring it back to my previous statement of Bethesda creeping on mods, I believe Hearthfire is based on the mod ‘Build your own Home‘ by ‘SuperNastyPants’ made a few months back, allowing players to build their own house (with less customization options). Bethesda even uses the systems established by SNP with the work bench to convert raw materials.

Taking this already awesome idea, and molding it with the expertise of the Skyrim team gives it that much more appeal and potential. What kind of home will you make? A rustic cabin in the woods? A palace in the plains? A dungeon in the marshes? That is up to you! Look out for the DLC on September 4th.

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Hey guys and gals, I hope that you enjoyed this article; feel free to leave comments of your thoughts below and remember to like the post, follow the blog and our twitter (@TheNerdNexus) for further updates. And remember to Like us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TheNerdNexus)

Batman over the years: Kane to Noland

The Batman series has had its ups and downs through out the years. Because of this, I have decided to acknowledge how far the series has come since its creation from Bob Kane. Rather than telling the story of the Dark Knight of Gotham from start to finish, I have decided to just post a picture that I found on http://www.geektyrant.com. You’re welcome.

Click image to enlarge!

Which was your favorite era of Batman? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Hey guys and gals, I hope that you enjoyed this article; feel free to leave comments of your thoughts below and remember to like the post, follow the blog and our twitter (@TheNerdNexus) for further updates. And remember to Like us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TheNerdNexus)

Games that Need More Credit- Predator: Concrete Jungle

It’s time for change! A breath of fresh air. A breath that involves inhaling the nostalgic scents of burning metal, smoke, and blood. Rather than following what has become my regular routine of finding a new story and writing an article, I have decided to write about a game that has been out for a while, putting my own little twist on one of my cowriters’ (Dylan) “Better Late than Never” segment. Today I am going to talk about a game which I think did not get the credit which it was due. While this game could possibly have gone by without you knowing of its existence, you probably know about the franchise which birthed it: Predator.

Predator: Concrete Jungle was a game for the original Xbox which hit shelves in early 2005. Created to ride the fan wave made by the film Alien vs Predator (AVP). Naturally, as all video gamers do, I presumed that this game was going to be horrible- a simple attempt to gain more money from the fan base- however, when I bought it, I was surprised. While this game was no Skyrim (clearly, as it came on the original xbox, in a time when gaming was still adjusting to more advanced consoles), it still had its merits.

The Game’s Story

In the summer of 1930, a Yautja (Predator) hunter came to ‘New  Way City’ to hunt the greatest of prey- man. According to the introductory narration, we can assume that the creature had been there for some time, earning the nick name “the New Way Devil”. The Devil had taken to hunting and killing gangsters and mob bosses, and his hunt was coming to an end. However, the devil slipped up, and on the night where he killed Bruno Borgia, the God of Gansters, he sustained serious injury (you find out how later in the game). Dropping his advanced equipment, the Devil fled, making for his final target before leaving the planet. This is where the player is given control of the Predator.

Players must carve a path through a mob of rioting prohibition-era gangsters. When the last of his victims dies, the player must return to their ship, however the floor collapses beneath you en route, trapping you underground. Predator fans can probably predict what happens next. Bound by the ways of the Yautja, who do not want the population to know of their existence, the New Way Devil activates his ships self-destruction sequence, hoping to wipe its error and existence from the Earth.

The predator had the misfortune of surviving the explosion, and was forced to face the harsh judgement of his kin who arrived shortly after the explosion. Exiled to a desolate planet, the predator had to fight and survive to live his life of shame, atoning for the sins and consequences of his grievous error in judgement. However, we soon discover that the predator must atone for that and more, as his actions on Earth sent ripples through time, effecting the world in a way that was never meant to be.

One hundred years pass, and the New Way Devil has survived his exile. When his kinsmen arrive, he presumes that it is time for him to return to his people- but he is wrong. After watching a recording aboard the ship, he sees that humans found his hunting technology and adapted it into their own machinery, which was used in turn against his kin. As a result of this, he is sent back to earth, where he must atone for the sins of his past, and avoid further damaging the future.

Game Mechanics

Now, as this is an Original Xbox game, it is not surprising that the game will have its bugs and faults, however Predator: Concrete Jungle’s gaming mechanics have more negative aspects than positives. Most of these aspects can be blamed on poor programming and the game engine.

Let us start with one of the largest problems, which is a source for many other issues. The developers could not decide on it’s genre of game play. Instead of focusing on a certain specific genre (such as a stealth adventure, Action RPG, etc) and building on it, the game slapped a general ‘adventure’ genre sticker on the product, which resulted in it having numerous but unrefined game features and playing styles, which result in awkward mechanics for the gamer.

For instance, there are some platforming elements in the game, as players are forced to scale buildings and leap from roof to roof, however it feels as though the developers took the mechanics of Super Mario and made it into 3D. The jumping system is primitive at best, and the mobility lacks any particular vigor that you would hope for while being in control of a massive Yautja warrior.  The game lacks a ‘recharge’ system for health/shields/energy (though it was not as prominent when the game was designed), which means players have to go on a wild goose chase to find health packs and power sources. While this is a negative feature to some gamers, others would find this to be appealing, as it forces them to be more conservative with their tactics and use of powers.

As with most adventure genres, this game comes with several different environments, though most are urban and seem to be similar in regards to the tactics used around them- the environment diversity really just boils down to industrial indoor, dense urban outdoor and industrial outdoor. The world itself is set in numerous non-linear stages that allow players to roam freely within the confines of the environment. These environments were cast in low res X-box graphics, which gave them a boring appearance after a while. The game fails to captivate players visually, though it does have ample amounts of gore to entertain more sadistic gamers.

The game has an interesting variety of weapons (which fell under two groups: thrown/projectile/Special and main weapons- which consisted of your Glaives and Combisticks). While some were the generic swinging blades of death that had a hand full of unique animations, others were very fun to use, such as the Smart Disk, and the Helmet HUD, which allowed for voice recording and mimicking as well as a whole boat load of different vision modes. These weapons, which usually could be upgraded, made for some entertaining and gruesome in game kills.

But what point is a weapon if you have nothing fun to use it on? Well, if there is one thing that Predator Concrete Jungle does right, it is allowing for a diverse array of enemies. While this doesn’t hold a candle to massive modern games in terms of the unique enemy collection, it was one of the few games that did it at an interesting extent in it’s time. We got to fight foes, old and new, including humans, cyborgs, weaponized mechs, the notorious black serpent like ‘Xenomorphs‘ (From the ‘Alien’ films) and even other Yautja. This put the numerous weapons to use, as some weapons worked better on certain enemies than others, which would prevent a player from obtaining a super weapon and using it for the entire game.

All in all, the mechanics of the game weren’t all that impressive, which is why it was not noticed by many gamers, as most reviewers were turned off by this factor.

Conclusion

All in all, while the game was low end in terms of graphics and general gaming mechanics, I do not believe it to be to the point where the game should automatically be written off. Its story and fun factor makes it worth a short term rental. After all, how many chances do you get to play as a Yautja in a large open world environment? If game developers decided to revamp the title, I believe it could be profoundly successful, since we have the technology to make the game visually captivating, and refined game engines to allow for smoother mechanics.

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Hey guys and gals, I hope that you enjoyed this article; feel free to leave comments of your thoughts below and remember to like the post, follow the blog and our twitter (@TheNerdNexus) for further updates. And remember to Like us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TheNerdNexus)

 

LeakyCon 2013 — Portland And London

leakycon_logo1
LeakyCon — the biggest Harry Potter convention around — has just wrapped up their 2012 event.  And, already, news are coming in about their plans for 2013.

We have heard from very reliable sources that, next year, LeakyCon will have two homes.  One event will in the USA (in Portland, Oregon), taking place on June 27th-30th 2013.

The other — in London, UK; taking place on August 8th-11th 2013.  This marks the first year that LeakyCon will be held at the heart of the Potterverse, and comes as great news for the British fans, who have been clamoring for their own convention for the past few years.  Finally, LeakyCon and Alohamora have joined forces to bring us London LeakyCon 2013.

Registration for both conventions opens September 1st, so get ready, Potter fans in the USA and UK!


Andie is the resident Doctor Who expert of The Nerd Nexus. Other notable fandoms of hers include Resident Evil and Harry Potter — expect plenty of blogging about all three from her. You can also catch her on Twitter (@OhHiAndie).