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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LeakyCon 2013 — Portland And London

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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).

5 Must-See Doctor Who Episodes

The madman with a box has stolen the hearts of people worldwide.  Doctor Who, now nearing it’s 50th anniversary, has grown from being a cult British sci-fi show, to being a global fandom phenomenon.

So, how, exactly, does a new fan get started on their own adventures in the TARDIS?  What episodes should a new fan watch first?

Here, a ranking of the five must-see episodes for any new Whovian!

5 Must-See Doctor Who Episodes

5.  Blink

Of course, this countdown is not complete without the most famous episode of the relaunched (2005-present) Doctor Who.  Blink gives us our first look at the Weeping Angels, one of the most terrifying, memorable monsters in the show’s history.  While the Doctor is not featured very prominently in this episode, it is still a fan favorite (and, actually, it has been many a fan’s first episode.)

So why should a new Whovian see it?

“Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff.”  Need more be said?  Blink is, without a doubt, one of the most quoted episodes.  It has been ingrained into the show’s folklore, becoming one of the most recognized and referenced episodes, and, essentially, a must-watch for those new to the show.

This episode also features the adorable and talented Carey Mulligan as Sally Sparrow (who, sadly, has not made a second appearance on the show.)  She alone makes this one worth the watch.

4.  Army Of Ghosts/Doomsday (two-part story)

Rose Tyler was the first companion of the relaunch era, and is, inarguably, one of the most beloved.  Doomsday marks the character’s (unwilling) departure, marking one of the most pivotal moments in the series.  Also, this two-episode story pits two of the Doctor’s most famous foes against each other — the Daleks and the Cybermen.

So why should a new Whovian see it?

This is definitely one of the most emotional stories of the relaunch era.  Among the most memorable moments is the goodbye between Rose and Ten at Bad Wolf Bay, a scene that has moved many a Whovian to tears.  David Tennant and Billie Piper deliver, their performances in this episode are brilliant (yes, pun intended, fellow Ten fanatics.)  Just keep the box of Kleenex nearby.

Also, watch for the verbal battle of wits between the Daleks and Cybermen, another must-see moment.

3.  Turn Left

Turn Left is the “Butterfly Effect” episode, exploring the concept of a small decision’s ability to drastically alter one’s life.  A Time Beetle attaches itself to Donna, reversing her decision of where to turn at an intersection one morning, causing her, thus, to never meet the Doctor.  Chaos ensues as Donna’s life — and the entire world — spiral out of control, with no Doctor to help.

So why should a new Whovian see it?

This episode really showcases Donna Noble — and it’s a wonderful episode.  Catherine Tate steps up to the plate and brings her A-Game to this one, and Donna really shines as a character.  It’s also worth it to see how Doctor Who handles the somewhat-cliche “Butterfly Effect” plot.

Another thing that is often overlooked about this episode, is the fact that it sheds some light on the importance of the companions, as it shows what would become of the Doctor if he traveled alone (spoiler — it’s not good!)

2.  Silence In The Library

An immense library containing every book ever written, a little girl with a huge imagination — and a thrilling episode that will leave anyone who watches it counting shadows for a long while.  This is what Silence In The Library offers us.   This episode also marks the first appearance of River Song,  a character that will be of extreme importance later on (though, if you ask why or how that happens, well… spoilers!)

So why should a new Whovian see it?

River Song.  There really is no bigger reason to watch this episode.  Fated to become the Doctor’s “equal”, River is one of the most mysterious characters in recent Who history.  Love her or hate her (the fandom seems to be very polar about her), this is a crucial River episode.

1.  Vincent And The Doctor

While most episodes of the show go for more towards the sci-fi route, Vincent And The Doctor is one of those rare treat episodes, where, instead, the focus is on a “real life” historic person or event.  In this episode, the Doctor, along with Amy Pond, visit famous painter Vincent van Gohg.  This episode explores the meaning of art, the impact of it, and a process that many an artist will be familiar with — dealing with pain and suffering through their craft.

So why should a new Whovian see it?

Simply put, this is one of the most beautiful episodes of the relaunch era.  Even for those who are not fans of van Gohg (or not even art appreciators in general), this episode is a must-see.  It showcases the emotional depth Doctor Who is capable of, not to mention this one gorgeous special effects sequence with The Starry Night.

Of course, the humble opinion of every Whovian is that all the episodes are worth watching.  But, for those wanting to get a small taste before deciding if a marathon is worth their time, these five stories should serve as a good starting point.  So, if you are looking to hook a new friend on Doctor Who, or you are curious about it and wondering where to start, these are definitely five to watch.


Andie is the resident Doctor Who expert (read; “obsessed fan”) 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).

Grand Theft Auto V Leaks: Moving forward, or stepping back?

GTA V‘s viral marketing campaign has begun, sparking gamers’ interest in Rockstar’s newest edition to the Grand Theft Auto family. GTA V, as we know from the commercial, takes place in San Andreas, which was considered as one of the most entertaining GTA games by many fans. As a complete opposite to GTA IV’s liberty city, San Andreas is a sprawling map offering numerous environments, ranging from city centers to beaches to forests.

Anyway, while reading up on GTA V I stumbled upon a youtube video which led me to an article from Gameranx.com. This article states the following.

“A poster claiming to be a games journalist for “a Playstation magazine in the UK” (presumably PSM3) has professed, on the GTA Forums, to having privileged information about the game. He says that magazine staff experienced 30 minutes of Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V at the developer’s Scotland offices.

It should be noted that everything below is rumor, subject to absolutely no validation whatsoever. Some of the things he writes do make sense, however, and should make for interesting discussion.” (Gameranx- Rumor: Exclusive GTA 5 Info leaked by Rogue Games journalist).

I would like to state the same thing as the Gameranx author. This leak is not confirmed. It has not been acknowledged by GTA V’s production team, and as such, should be taken with a grain of salt. Even so, the potential perks of GTA 5 are too tantalizing to ignore, so here you have it.

Leaked information on Grand Theft Auto V

1: The game world is absolutely massive and will push both xbox and PS3 to the very limit in terms of what it has accomplished. Yes, the main city is simply Los Santos however is it AT LEAST 4 times bigger than Liberty City in GTA 4 and that is just Los Santos. The surrounding country side, beaches, etc are massive. For instance, we saw the main character ( an African/American, early 30’s) travel by car from the center of Los Santos into the wildnerness and it took over 15 minutes. The views were incredible from farmhouses with cattle, huge wind farms, an oil refinery which appeared to be living and breathing with nearly 100 NPCs working on machinery, operating vehicles, lifting and loaded, etc, unlike the gas works in GTA 4 which seemed to only house a few NPC at a time. The forests are more beautiful than those in RDR and featured people camping, young NPC drinking and dancing around campfires, people riding dirt bikes and jumping over logs, streams, etc. The water effects, forna, plants, trees all looked beautiful.

2: The shooting mechanics have been greatly improved with animations for diving, climbing, rolling and crawling all added for better realism. The re-loading animations for new ammo also look cooler, less static.

3: There is much more climbable elements in the world such as ladders, overhand climbing, etc.

4: There are animals in the game from dogs to cattle but at this time it is not confirmed if you will be able to harm the animals. Rockstar were able to get away with it in RDR as it was a true depiction of the world in which the game was set. Allowing dogs/cattle to die in a game sent in current times may cause headaches with PETA. Its unclear if Rockstar were joking here.

5: There are planes to pilot and they can be crashed into buildings if you choose to do so….

6: Rockstar have included many, many more interior locations such as a shopping mall, college campus, police station, a huge hospital and there is also a vast underground sewer network which one mission later in the game involves a jet ski chase that culminates in a Fugitive-esque waterfall jump ( there are nods to the ridiculous but awesome Ballad Of Gay Tony missions)

7: The city is full of NPCs jogging, weight-lifting, hitting on women, being chased on foot by cops, shopping, washing cars, fixing fences, moving home, filling up their cars, etc.

REAL JUICY INFO:

1: Cars can be upgraded/repaired and it has been considered to have a car have fuel forcing the player to fill her up.

2: The dating aspect of the game is gone. You still have a cell-phone but only people you will meet in the game will call you to ask you to do a mission or to ask you to do something else before the mission.

3: Weapons include the usual arsenal you’d aspect but the flamethrowers, remote mines, laxer trip mines and claymores are included. It is possible now to pick up random objects in a street/buidling to use as a weapon. There is also a museam where it is possible to steal old age swords, axes, etc.

4: it is possible to rupture a fuel line and if you shot at the trail of gasoline it will lead straight back to the car blowing it up.

5: mini games such as bowling, darts, etc have all gone. You can play basketball, weight train, arm wrestle, gamble and cage fight, enter triatholons, water races, cannoing, ab-saling, rock climbing, base jumping, ski diving. More to be confirmed.

6: Character customisation is back but only in terms of clothing, body weight, etc. The player you start off which, much like CJ, can’t be altered by race, age, height, etc.

7: Rockstar said burglary missions may return but only as part of missions and not on neigbourhood houses.

8: No children NPC at all. Ever.

9: There is now an ability to grab people and use as sheilds or in “hostage” situations.

10: The cops are much, much, much more realistic. If you kill somebody when you know there are no cops around you will not run the risk of a one star as often as you would in GTA4. The cops will use smoke and tear gas, dogs, riot gear and rams to knock down the doors of buildings you are hiding in.

11: You can enter some buildings and lock doors, push objects in the way to barricade.

12: You become better at things as the game progresses. If you only ride motorbikes then you will increase your skills, same as individual weapons.

13: Certain weapons can be customisable and some even home-made.

14: One mission involves breaking out a very familiar GTA icon from a previous game…

15: Torrential rain fall and sunshine and even tremors will appear in the game.

Concerns

While a lot of these leaks simply remind us of the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, I look forward to seeing what the game will look like with a PS3 engine. The potential of bring San Andreas back on great graphics makes this a promising game, yet that does not mean that I don’t have any reservations about it.

One thing that stuck out to me in these leaks is the claim that the character is black. Looking in the preview, the character who we see driving in the car is clearly white, however that could merely be a screen capture, so I won’t be totally shocked if the protagonist is black.

Another thing that bothers me is the claim that they are bringing back the skill leveling system. While the concept was cool back in San Andreas, it was mostly useless in my opinion. While it gave the game a new dynamic, it didn’t truly effect game play, which is why I believed they scrapped it in Grand Theft Auto IV.

My final concern, and possibly largest one, is the fact that by the looks of it, GTA is attempting to step back into the fun game that it used to be, rather than continuing with the rich, gritty criminal story that Niko Bellic’s tale made it into. While I love San Andreas, nothing stops me from ordering it online and playing it. I don’t want old, I want new. Niko’s heart wrenching life brought a breath of fresh air to Grand Theft Auto, leaving the ‘fun/silly’ mantle to be taken over by Saints Row. If Grand Theft Auto backtracks, it will find itself in a competition with Saints Row in terms of delivering entertainment- a competition that San Andreas has an advantage in.

Even with these concerns, the leaks are appealing, and encourage me to buy the new game, just to see what it’s like. Did it do the same for you?

Links

http://www.gameranx.com/updates/id/3553/article/rumor-exclusive-gta-5-info-leaked-by-rogue-games-journalist/ (Original Article)

http://gta.wikia.com (GTA Wiki)

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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.

The Geek had to be Released! (An Analysis on the Tesseract in Marvel’s Films)

Guest written by Mark Gundle

 

It’s okay, Marvel. We’re smart. We’ve pieced it together. And we know that there are a boatload of reasons (namely; timing, good storytelling, lack of space, leaving room for expansion, discussion among the fanbase that led exactly to this sort of thing being written, etc..) for not expanding on a plot point that has had several geek friends and I chomping at the bit since the double-whammy of Thor and Captain America when seen in the context of the Iron Man films. But at this point, it’s less a titillating plot point and is quickly becoming an elephant in the room; eventually, keeping it in the dark is going to be counter-productive.

Just outright say it in one of the next films so some of your more dedicated fans can finally have a good night’s sleep; the finished Arc Reactor and the Tesseract are the same blasted technology.

Now, why does this bug the crap out of some people? For some, it’s an issue akin to one a detective would face; all the evidence is there and the hypothesis is just begging to be proven, and we just have to know if we’re right or wrong. For some, it’s a matter of personal pride; what, does Marvel think the audience won’t get it, so they’re not telling us? And for others, it simply bugs them because at this point- now that the Avengers have assembled and the idea has its roots in at least two of the preceding films – they really might as well just out and say it, like it’s a playground super-secret that Boy X likes Girl Y but just can’t spit it out despite half of the jungle gym kids knowing already.

The discussions pertaining to the topic have been happening since movie-goers first started to piece it together, and from what this humble writer has started to gather, such speculation is starting to get a little old (even though it couldn’t possibly have been addressed yet, we know, we geeks are flawed creatures).

But some of you reading this probably haven’t the faintest idea what I’m smoking. As with any trial, let me present my evidence to you, the jury.

The second scene in Captain America had Hugo Weaving’s deliciously over-the-top Red Skull find the Tesseract, which he describes as being part of Odin’s treasure room (often considered to be where he kept the Infinity Gauntlet, the Destroyer, the Casket of Ancient Winters, and of course the mighty Mjolnir in Thor). For bonus nerd points, the place it’s kept was also used as the setting for a battle between Frost Giants and Asgardians in Thor’s prologue, but that’s for another day.

No, we’re introduced to a blue, glowing thing that holds the untapped potential for unlimited power. The Tesseract was used to develop new weaponry, which was itself used to great effect; imagine playing Halo or Call of Duty with a pistol that shot through walls, shot in a straight line, had no real need to reload, and turned every enemy you’ve faced thus far into blue goo / ash, and that’s more or less what we’re dealing with. One can imagine what fun a megalomaniac like the Red Skull would have with such toys in his chest.

Right off the bat, we get two movies that provide an explanation for what the Tesseract is; a treasure of Asgard that somehow found its way into human custody and protection, glows with an obnoxious blue light, and has enormous civilian and military application.

So that’s the Tesseract. What about the first piece of awesome that the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduced us to? Built in a cave (yes, yes, with a box of scraps, we know it’s funny) to replace a car battery, the Arc Reactor’s humble beginning skyrocketed to being the battery equivalent of a rock star when it was used to power Tony Stark’s Iron Man weapon / tool / hi-tech prosthesis. Using palladium in some fashion, it’s noted that the Arc Reactor supplies clean energy – and a lot of it, let’s face it, three gigajoules per second on the first attempt can’t be wrong – but isn’t particularly cost-effective. So, we have a blue glowing thing that has enormous civilian and military potential (hence Obadiah Stane’s willingness to just pluck the damn thing out of Tony’s chest).

But here’s where the plot thickens, children.

As Nick Fury tells Tony in one of Iron Man 2’s quieter scenes, the Arc Reactor was unfinished and that, when it finally was completed, it would be the be-all end-all of energy. His father, Howard Stark, had originated the idea and also served in WWII alongside Captain America himself (if strictly in a technological capacity). After the good Captain liberates a camp and acquires a sample of the enemy’s tech – itself based on the Tesseract guns that Skull’s been making – he has Howard experiment with it. And towards the film’s end, Howard recovers the Tesseract after it fell from the site of Cap and Skull’s final brawl.

Leading American genius recovers an obnoxious blue glowing power source and develops an obnoxious blue glowing power source. Hmmm…

Now, as Iron Man 2 goes on to say, Howard died before he could perfect the Arc Reactor, though he left a clue behind for his son to complete it (for the truly nerdy among us, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot shows a drawing of a hypercube in Howard’s notes, Google it for a rather telling synonym). Tony being Tony, he does so, and assuming we didn’t remember that tidbit about the completed Arc Reactor being significantly more powerful, we have the lovely Black Widow’s analysis that Iron Man’s repulsor output reads significantly higher. What’s more, this seems to completely cure his palladium poisoning, which should be impossible even with Tony’s genius; remember that this is a guy who – by his own admission – has tried literally everything else.

Obnoxious blue power source seems to inspire a knock-off obnoxious blue power source which in turn is perfected into the original obnoxious blue power source. As the still-fanon theory goes, Tony Stark, using clues from his father, successfully recreated the Tesseract.

And that has some of the more ardent geeks in an absolute uproar over its lack of acknowledgement.

Now, before this ends, I should say that there are two clinchers to the theory that all but confirm it, which certainly doesn’t help the case. For one, watch the breakout scene from Captain America again, where everybody’s running amok and the big damn factory’s being blown up. Some of the Allied troops start fiddling with one of the Hydra guns in the middle of the battlefield, and it makes an odd noise before firing its blue ray of destruction. Watch it. Listen to it. Sound familiar? It should; you’ve had two movies to listen to it. That sound is the exact same noise made by Iron Man’s repulsor blasts just before they fire.

Tesseract-based weaponry making the exact same sounds as Arc Reactor- based weaponry? The House of Ardent Geeks agree; there’s no way that’s a coincidence. The other allusion to the connection between the two technologies comes in The Avengers; during the typical misunderstanding fight between Thor and Tony, Thor opts to summon up the lightning and uses it to try and fry the Iron Man suit. It backfires; JARVIS helpfully states that the attack not only did nothing to damage the suit, it actually ramped up the Arc Reactor to four times its capacity. Not something that one typically thinks when the weapon of one world discharges itself onto the weapon of another. Hell, that scene alone probably could have made the argument itself.

Yes, it’s all there. Yes, we’ve pieced it together. Yes, it’s an incredibly clever piece of world-building. But it’s okay, Marvel, you can tell us now.

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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.

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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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.