Hedge Fund – Super Rich Super Heroes in The Great Recession

Guest Written by Mark Gundle

In a global sense, the economy isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders. Massive debt, shrinking job markets, unfair tax brackets, and slow deaths of the middle class in several countries are all contributing to the continuing unrest and discomfort that are plaguing people across the globe. Four years after the US government announced its financial crisis that seemed to take the whole world with it, not much has changed for the common man. Progress, while being made, is being made at a snail’s pace. With all this weighing on the shoulders of those not taking home six-figure paychecks, it’s only natural to want to escape from the world for a bit, which could be part of the reason that summer flicks have been making record amounts of money. In particular, The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises have broken records in record time.

Which brings us to the point of this little article today, children; in a struggling economy, what do we make of heroes whose superpower is basically an infinite money cheat?

The recent trend in comic book films has been to make the characters relatable to the audience. Granted, Marvel has been doing this for far longer a time than DC (since at least the early 1960s, when a young high-school student got bit by a radioactive spider), but DC has definitely tried to pick up on that trend in recent years, and doing so has been one of the reasons for the New 52 relaunch. Yes, this is the company that has the unreachable bastions of cardboard-personality perfection that are Superman, the Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern and the like, but give credit where it is due; at the time they were created, that’s what people wanted (a case could be made against Superman, though, as he was a MUCH less empowered being during his first run in the late 1930s). Relatable characters are a thing now. And as far as movies go – especially recently – they’ve gone the extra mile to ensure that. The Spider-Man movies have always had Peter Parker’s everyman lifestyle at the forefront in some way, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy has examined Batman as being much more like any of us than practically any previous incarnation, and every movie leading up to The Avengers has had their eponymous characters have at least one very vulnerable, very human moment that everyone in the audience could connect to, and helps to build the all-important suspension of disbelief (no, seriously, it’s crucial).

But money? It’s a hit. Take the two most popular characters from the summer’s two most popular franchises. You know who I’m talking about. Don’t play that game.

Tony Stark. Iron Man. He’s a cool exec with a heart of steel, as his 60s theme song puts it, and nobody watching the films would really disagree. We look at Tony Stark and we see one of the common people; someone who would rather be at an AC/DC concert than the opera, and who would spend all day tinkering in his garage if given half a chance. So let’s take a look at his checking account, eh?

Assuming the infographic  is true, this is a guy who has enough personal wealth to trump some national GDPs put together. He’s constantly tinkering with the Iron Man, and such tinkering does not come cheap. He already has a top-of-the-line house, a whole fleet of luxury cars, and the production capital to build one of these suckers in his garage, and that’s BEFORE building the Mk. II prototype. For me, the suspension of disbelief isn’t broken by him having all this. The suspension of disbelief is broken when he continues to build the blasted things, each one an upgrade on the last.

Keep in mind that, prior to this, he sent his company into an economic nosedive by shutting down the weapons division it was famous for. As a board member, it’s likely that he was paid in stock rather than cash, so that would have severely curtailed his income. His stock crashes, and while it could be assumed that it eventually picked back up, we’re still dealing with a guy who is spending MASSIVE amounts of money on one-off suits of powered armor, with costs going from $80,000,000 for an unarmed steel prototype to a jaw-dropping HALF BILLION for the latest model (in fairness, though, War Machine wasn’t really his doing).

For all of his cool and all of his awesome, where the HELL is he getting this kind of money? With any luck, it’ll be explained, but holding out hope is foolish; this is a country where even presidential candidates don’t have to share their tax returns, right Mitt?

Anyway…

Bruce Wayne. Batman. He had an infographic himself for the Dark Knight iteration of the character, and while it’d be SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper to get those wonderful toys, it’s still a heart-attack inducing nine figure sum we’re looking at. Not something your average schlub could scrape together working overtime, that’s for damn sure.

Christopher Nolan’s Batman, however, gets major points for actually addressing Wayne’s wealth in all three movies; he’s head of the company because he bought a majority shareholding, there’s a scene or two dedicated to business upkeep, and the most recent movie has him robbed of his billions and his company on the brink of failure (two seemingly-independent events, mind you). In the most basic sense; this incarnation of Bruce Wayne, while still stupidly rich, does NOT have a limitless bank account, and these movies work harder than any other work before them to prove that. Even using the stuff already on hand is a bit of a double-edged sword; yes, he wasn’t blowing away millions by his lonesome, but the stuff in his storage shed is STILL worth more than any of us will ever make ever. $10,000 for communications? $18,000,000 for a tank? $1,000 for a BULLETPROOF JOCK STRAP?

But hell, compared to other versions of the character, this Batman is SLUMMIN’ it. He didn’t really pay out of pocket for much of his equipment, and generally seems to be a much more bare-bones type of crime fighter. His car’s not as tricked out, his plane’s not as capable, his suit’s not as invincible, and his cave is still VERY much a cave instead of a secret high-tech hideout in comparison to other versions. And while Bruce himself had just about all of it in storage beforehand, his company still suffered. Funds channeled from R&D into a super-secret hedge fund, the CEO putting on the appearance of a careless tool, and using company money to supply an all-out assault on crime has left Wayne Enterprises on the brink of bankruptcy.

And in a world where even juggernauts like Freddie Mac get cast down from their gilded thrones, that’s probably the LEAST responsible thing to do.

But that’s not the point of this article, to debate business sense or to say that either Batman or Iron Man aren’t heroes. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t love them. The idea here is to ask why, given that it’s such a sensitive and yet such an important issue in today’s world, they can still be relatable. Did I answer my own question? Yes and no. Yes, it can make folks rather uncomfortable, and not making mention of the Stark / Wayne / McDuck money pool is probably a good idea from that angle. No, that doesn’t mean that by not addressing the no-limit credit cards means we’re just going to assume that these guys are just regular Joes who got lucky. Remember; many of us are scraping to get by, and rather than use the money to better the lives of people in the simple /obvious / risk of death-free way, they spend untold millions on miniature nuclear reactors and Sound-O-Vision to clean up the streets the hard way. As Alfred points out in The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce could have kept his company afloat by putting his Bat-toys on the civilian market. And while Obadiah Stane was an evil money-grabbing bastard, he did have a point in saying that the miniaturized Arc Reactor could save the company; that thing alone would have pulled up the company’s stock back to par and then some, even if used for the wrong reasons.

I found it funny that the most popular superheroes of 2012 are the ones that are closest to irrelevance, as far as the all-too-precious relatable factor is concerned. And while both companies do bang-up jobs at present their characters as ordinary human beings, they conveniently neglect to address how big a part the silver spoons they were born with played in their ability to transcend the ordinary and place them in the super pack.

Darksiders 2: Death Lives (Update)

Dark Siders II: It’s a game made for gamers by gamers.

With August right around the corner, THQ‘s Marketing Team decided to throw fans of the up and coming game title, Darksiders, a bone. This bone consists of a new trailer and a set of screen shots. I always found Darksiders II to be a promising title, as the franchise already laid out a successful foundation with its predecessor, “Wrath of War”. With a predecessor already in place, the staff of THQ had less to worry about in regards to story, which led to more time working on game mechanics.

For those of you who didn’t read the original article, click here– for those of you that did, I believe you will find this trailer to be quite the treat as it reveals not only completely new faces, but also the return of familiar ones.

The Story

While we know a little bit about the story, I believe that the THQ team has been holding a great deal of info from the fans. I mean, for gamers that played ‘Wrath of War’, I am sure many questions about what goes on between the prologue and the actual game are ripe in your minds. It is in mine. What happens to the humans? What is it like for Death to fight Heaven and Hell when the Apocalypse is still going strong? How did Sammael get imprisoned? When did the Destroyer start running the show?

While I am sure some gamers went through the first game without giving these subtle story details any thought, I am just as sure that many gamers are as curious as I am about the circumstances that made the world what it was in War’s mission.

In the new trailer we see Sammael and Uriel for brief moments, leading us to believe that they do in fact make appearances, which presents the potential of closing holes in the story. We even catch a glimpse of War in the trailers, or at least a specter of him, similar to the shadow War that gamers fight in Eden in the first game.

With the lore already stated for the game, developers had more time to work on the ‘here and now’ aspect of the game’s story, which gives it a more in depth feel, while also satisfying the over all arch.

Game Mechanics

I know that in my previous article I touched on the looting and leveling tree aspects of the game, however there is one aspect that I failed to cover, and that is with specifics to the looting system and weapons. If you watch the trailer below you will see that players gain access to what is known as a possessed weapon.

The inclusion of the possessed weapon feature reminds me of the atrocious game ‘Two Worlds‘ -which had an even worse sequel- which allowed for a similar weapon stacking feature, allowing for a weapon to grow more powerful when fed ‘lesser’ or ‘equal’ weapons. I believe the inclusion of this feature will give Darksiders II an edge in regards to gameplay originality, and allow for the idea of weapon stacking to go further. This, along with the loot system, and skill tree makes me down right giddy to get my hands on the sequel of War’s adventure and test it out. Will these new features help or hinder the game? We can only wait and see.

Anyway, while this trailer teases us, we get a full taste of the main course in less than a month. Are you ready for it?\

Check out Gamerant’s Article on the trailer and screenshots here: http://gamerant.com/darksiders-2-trailer-screenshots-death-brian-160826/

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Playstation All-Star Battle Royale: This will upset Hipsters

Who doesn’t love a good ol’ battle royale?

Super Smash Bros was one of the first games to bring this element to console gaming, allowing for players to take up arms with familiar Nintendo faces. Well, while Super Smash Bros still makes new games, it is clear that Sony wants a slice of the cake.

And so, Playstation All-Star Battle Royale was born!

Taking the concept of Super Smash Bros, playstation is attempting to breath its own influence into the cross-title gaming genre. We saw them do this before with titles like Kingdom Hearts, however taking a page from Nintendo’s gaming book could be the best decision that Sony has made…or the worst one.

Who really cares about originality these days…besides hipsters of course…yet even so, this blatant rip off of Super Smash could be taken as a borderline offensive move on Sony’s behalf. Sure, you can up the graphics, change the characters, and maybe add a little story, but honestly, people will see right through it and know that you guys just want to copy Nintendo’s brain child. Then again, it’s not like Sony tries to hide it, as we can see in their almost carbon copy layout (2D arenas and health bars are token SSM)

With that being said, I still can’t help but be pumped up for this title. With years of gaming in my resume, I personally went into ‘fanboy’ mode when I saw appearances by non-PS3 characters, namely Jak and Daxter, which was the first Playstation 2 game I owned (never played the sequels though).

Along with that dynamic duo (who acts as one character), we also know that Nathan Drake (Uncharted), Big Daddy (Bioshock), Cole MacGrath (Infamous), Heihachi Mishima (Tekken), Toro Inoue (some Japanese thingy), Sly (Twisted metal), Fat Princess (no clue where she is from), Sweet Tooth, Radec (Killzone) and…drum roll please…KRATOS, will all be on the games main roster. Some of these characters fit in while others…well…let’s just compare them to randoms in Super Smash like R.O.B. Even so, they are fan pleasers and thus, play a role in the game.

I hope that we see even more epic PS3 characters (I really really really want some Final Fantasy characters to make appearances; where you at Sephiroth?) And I doubt I will be disappointed; with the benefits of PSN, I am sure we will see downloadable content with new characters and arenas very soon.

What this article leaves me wondering is, will Xbox come up with their own version of the All star battle royale? Or will they pull a hipster and claim that it is too mainstream for them? Because really, who doesn’t want to see Master Chief take on the entire Xbox roster with one hand tied behind his back!

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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.

Halo 4: Forward Onto Dawn

The Story of Halo 4 Begins at Dawn

If there is one thing that Halo does well outside of the realm of gaming, it is marketing through their live action trailers. The makers love teasing fans with clips of what clearly has the potential of a movie worthy feature. With that being said, fans have a lot to look forward to in Halo’s new live-action web series ‘Forward onto Dawn’, which is meant to lead into the newest installment of the Halo series, Halo 4.

Look below for trailer

The Story

Now, I am sure there may be one or two readers who have no idea where Halo 3‘s story left off, but most of you readers will be wondering how Forward onto Dawn leads into Halo 4 since Master Chief should be floating in a derelict ship somewhere. The story of FoD takes place thirty years prior the events of Halo Combat evolved (wow, Master Chief is like Chuck Norris, an old BOSS).

Rather than following Master Chief, this series will follow the story of a young cadet by the name of  Thomas Lasky (Tom Green), and his experience in Corbula Academy, a military school for the higher end of military life. This school trains students like Lasky in fighting rebel forces (known as the Insurrectionists), the major problem of the galaxy which is the reason the Spartan Program was created. While Lasky has clear potential to be a leader, he lacks the military mentality, making the Academy an unpleasant experience for him. However, just before Lasky could leave, the academy came under attack (judging by the scene with the phantom in the puddle, I believe it is safe to assume that it is the Covenant).

Forced to fight for his life, rather than for a simulation, Lasky straightens up and accepts his role as a leader as he and his class mates are pushed to their limits in order to survive the grave new threat. But they are not alone, and will be joined by a familiar face; the golden visor on a green mjolnir helmet is common among spartans, but the 117 imprinted on his breast plate tells us that this is more than just your average Spartan.

With such potential epicness, most fan boys are gripping their seats in anticipation for the show, which is scheduled to be released on October 5th of this year.

All of this information leads us back to my opening sentence. The Story of Halo 4 Begins at Dawn. But how? As the live action series takes place 30 years before the first Halo game, how much of it can really link up to the story of a galaxy that has changed so drastically? It is safe to assume we will probably see cameos, but to what degree will these characters be integrated into Halo 4’s story? There is only one way to find out. Look out for Forward onto Dawn on Machinima Prime and Halo Waypoint on 10.5.12.

For more information on Halo 4, click here.

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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.

Mass Effect: Paragon Lost Trailer

Last week, I posted an article about my thoughts on the Mass Effect movie. I left several issues off of the table since there was no reference material save for a few articles and screen shots. Well, now we have our material! Yesterday at ComicCon San Diego, the first trailer for Mass Effect: Paragon Lost was released for the world to see.

Rather than feeding you my views, I will let you come up with your own opinions on the trailer, and the concept of the movie as a whole. Enjoy.

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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.

Halo 2: Anniversary Edition

In this month’s Official Xbox Magazine, fans and skeptics were tossed a controversial bone. While only a rumor, the possibility of a Halo 2 Anniversary Edition is a topic that can either instigate annoyance, or giddy anticipation. I myself am on the annoyed side of the spectrum. Really? I mean, really? The first I can understand, but why remake Halo 2.

I am a fan of the Halo franchise, and have been playing the games since they made their appearance on the original Xbox with Halo: Combat Evolved. As a fan, I found myself quite happy to hear about 343’s venture to remake Halo 1. I enjoyed playing the original Halo, and would even pick it up from time to time to relive the experience, though I would always be annoyed by the graphics of the game.

When they announced the Anniversary Edition I found myself skeptical, wondering if the game industry was going to turn out to be like the film industry, remaking and corrupting legends of the past. I was pleasantly surprised by 343’s efforts to maintain the integrity and authenticity of the game by simply revamping the graphics and textures rather than actually remaking the game from scratch. It followed the original Halo’s gaming experience to a T, and added a few new features such as terminals which explain the events that led up to the Halo games, as well as foreshadowing the story of Halo 4. The Anniversary Edition did its job, making me happy that I bought it. However, I think it should have ended there.

 

The possibility of a Halo 2 revamp is no where near as pleasing to me as its predecessor was. Unlike Halo 1, which was very primitive in  terms of game play and graphics, Halo 2 was quite advanced, especially for its time. While its graphics are not perfect, they are no where near as painful as the first games. Halo 2 was my personal favorite chapter in the saga, and the only complaint that I had, like most fan boys, was the ending which did not have the same closing effect as the first game, or any of the subsequent games. Even so, I think the game  is awesome, and perfectly fine as it is.

I mean, what more could they add to it? They could touch up the graphics, bringing it to the standard of Xbox 360 graphics, but what else besides that? More terminals added would be pointless, especially since Halo 4 will probably come after it. Maybe 343 intends to give us perks and a taste of the multiplayer system again, but what would be the point in that, since multiplayer would probably just be using the same engine as Halo 4.

No, I can’t see any real purpose in making a Halo 2 anniversary edition besides to suck more money out of fans. It is this cheesy business tactic that upsets me, not the lack of logic around the games production. Why does 343 want to suck more money out of us? They made reach, remade the first game, and are making Halo 4. These are all great business ventures, but remaking Halo 2 is a sham, without even having the decency to hide its intent. I hope you fan boys get enraged by my opinion and comment below because I really would like to know the point in remaking the second chapter of Halo.

And here I thought I had retired…

I am hoping that this is all just a silly rumor, because I believe the creation of this game could spell trouble for 343 industries and the Halo franchise. Check out an article on the rumor from Gamerant’s website.

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Advanced Review: NCAA Football 13

13 is a special number this year. 13; the namesake of this year’s NCAA Football, but also 13 is the number of uniforms that have been digitized for the Oregon Ducks and their high flying offense! That’s right, with 13 different pre-set uniforms for the Ducks they lead their way into a ranked four position atop the preseason charts in NCAA 13. That’s not all that’s changed with this newest edition of the long-standing franchise. There have been various tweaks, pokes, and prods to this years graphics and animations, but it comes also with the addition of a new mode: Heisman Challenge.

This new Heisman Challenge mode lets you step into the shoes of ten different Heisman winners and play as them–on your favorite team–for a whole season to try and best their own candidacy for the Heisman trophy. Armed with a new reaction time feature–in Heisman Challenge and Road to Glory modes–you can set out on your conquest with a plethora of new throwing and catching animations as well as a slightly overhauled control scheme. Now, like never before, you can see your rise to become a College Football Legend impeded by new difficulty settings in Road to Glory.

This additions do not come without consequences. In making the game better and more realistic, now like never before, you actually must learn to play defense. It’s not all about the high powered offenses and scoring 100 points a game. You need to be aware of the offenses and make the receivers be distracted and run the wrong routes if you are to succeed in stopping your opponent with ruthless efficiency. This also makes running the offense harder and more crucial to have good decision-making skills. If you don’t set before you throw you have a large chance to throw it away or–even worse–an interception.

Graphically there isn’t much to differ from last years, or at least not enough to warrant a buy on graphics alone. There are some obvious lighting improvements, and of course there is the addition of new game day traditions from some schools that were snubbed last year. The rosters are still varied enough to have most of the key players on your team have the right stats and numbers from real life, of course EA would never admit to copying people, but they’re there. With a playoff being instated in 2014 this may be one of the last times you’ll get to see the BCS Bowls in their entirety in a video game. Last, but not least, the majority of your favorite features have returned such as the Mascot Mash Up, Online and Offline Dynasties, and Road to Glory. The only reason to really buy this game is the new Heisman Challenge mode, and of course the new rosters and team uniforms. I’ll leave the decision up to you if it’s worth the buy, but I rate this game a solid 3.9/5.

In NCAA 13, on both sides of the ball, you will be tested more than ever before as blitz’s rain down upon you and short, accurate, throws rules the day. Running the ball is essential and turnovers come at a high cost. In order to get the true experience of NCAA 13, and to fill the void of a summer without College Football, you can pick it up on store shelves on July 10th. Until then I’ll keep your seat warm and Win the Day.