Saturday, December 3, 2011

'Total War: Shogun 2' Features 'Fall of the Samurai' in Future DLC

Creative Assembly gave us the pretty fantastic Total War: Shogun 2, allowing players to take control of a clan during 16th-century Japan and vie for supremacy over the entire island. Then, they followed through with a sizable expansion, Rise of the Samurai, which rolled the clocks back to the Gempei War, set 400 years before the events in the game.

Now, they take us forward to the time period leading up to the Boshin War, which saw the end of the feudal samurai and the beginnings of modern Japan. Enter Fall of the Samurai, a massive standalone expansion to be released in March 2012.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Notebook: The Squire, Part One

The Squire
By Blake Gabriel

Death’s stench filled his nostrils with the sickly sweet smell of blood, gore, and shit mixing together in the mud and rain. It clung to him like a desperate lover, its cloying scent overcoming all others.

“Hush now,” the knight whispered to the man dying in his lap. “All is well. The battle is over.”

Even in the hands of the realm’s most skilled surgeon, Ser Hewes knew that the soldier was doomed. The blade that had torn his stomach open like a slashed sack of grain lay nearby, as well as the corpse of the man who had borne it. All Hewes could do now was comfort the soldier as the goddess took him from the world.

“You fought bravely, Hollis,” Hewes said, holding the soldier’s hand. “You saved my life.”

Hollis gave him a shuddering smile. The soldier’s weathered face was caked in bloodied mud, but his eyes still gleamed brightly beneath the grime.

“Was just – doing my part, ser,” Hollis grunted, his eyes closing for a moment. “I didn’t think the bastard would get me so good.”

“I am proud to have called you one of my own,” Hewes said. “Any lord would pay many gold crowns to have an armsman such as you in their service.”

The soldier nodded, his blood staining the ground around him and soaking into Hewes’ arms, but the knight didn’t pay any attention to it. He could have a new surcoat made, but he could not buy a soldier as loyal and brave as the man in his arms.

“You’ll be given an honored burial, my friend,” Hewes promised.

Suddenly, with renewed strength, Hollis gripped his master’s arm. His eyes opened wide, searching the gray curtains of cloud above.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

HvZ Fall 2011: Da Bears Zombat Diary

Humans vs. Zombies is well under way in Athens, Ohio, and I'm knee deep in the bodies! Maybe not knee deep, but the game has been incredibly exciting. And it's only the third day! I figure, while I'm human at least, I'd keep a record of how I and my strike team are doing during this year's fall game.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Robin as a Playable Character in 'Arkham City'

If you're not excited for Batman: Arkham City, you should be. And if you've already decided to get it, then you should definitely preorder it -- At Best Buy. Normally, I like getting my games at GameStop or online (either through Steam, Amazon, or other more nefarious methods), but if you preorder Arkham City at Best Buy, you'll be able to play as Robin the Boy Wonder.

Read more and see the trailer of playable Robin after the jump.

Friday, September 16, 2011

'Mark of the Assassin' Looks Just Like 'Stolen Memory'

After playing three generations of BioWare games (Baldur's Gate II, Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, etc.) I've started to fear that their creative juice-boxes are beginning to run empty. Then, I saw the trailer for "Mark of the Assassin," which is the newly-announced DLC for Dragon Age II, and my fear was confirmed.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Japan Gets a New Pokemon Game for the Wii

Apparently, this game exists.
Earlier this week, Nintendo let slip that there was a giant Pokemon announcement on the horizon. Needless to say, Poke-Freaks everywhere had to change their pants. Pokemon Black/White only released earlier this year, so another announcement has set the Poke-Waters into a feeding frenzy of Poke-Sharks!

Alright, enough forced Poke-words. I might just Poke-barf. Nintendo and Creatures Inc. have announced PokePark 2: Beyond the World for the Wii. But Pokemon fans who don't live in Japan, you can probably go back to crying into your Pikachu plush because there is no announced American or European release.

Friday, September 9, 2011

'Battlefield 3' Trailer Makes War Look Frighteningly Real

DICE is throwing down the gauntlet for Battlefield 3, which is looking to become the FPS games to end all FPS games. The new trailer, titled "Operation Guillotine," showcases fighting in Tehran, with hyper-realistic sights and sounds of all-out war. The attention to detail, from the faces of the soldiers to the graffiti on the walls in the background, will probably be how Battlefield 3 will steal the title of FPS champion from Call of Duty.

Watch the trailer after the jump.

Redesigning the Site

Click on her. I dare you.

Dear reader,

As you may already have noticed, Half-Blaked has gone through a bit of a visual redesign. It's crazy, I know, but I've been blogging here for more than a year now and I thought it'd be nice to spruce the place up. Give the old girl a little bit more pizzazz.

Don't worry. You'll still be seeing the same kind of content you've been finding here before: video game news, my own creative works, and, of course, posts related to Zooey Deschanel. However, if you have noticed the amount of content recently declining, that is because a fair amount of my attention has migrated to my Tumblr. I encourage you to check it out!

This doesn't mean that this blog will be neglected (though it may seem like it now). Tumblr is my Internet playground, but any serious posts will still be posted here at Half-Blaked.

I hope you will keep following me! Tell me what you think of the redesign!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Character Study: Tom Hansen

A year ago I wrote my first Character Study about Summer Finn. So, I find it terribly fitting that I post this one about her counterpart, Tom Hansen. This was another essay I had written for my Lit class last year (my final, actually) and was originally titled, "The Story of a Boy" (which is also the title of a beautiful Between the Trees song).

Love – some people say that it doesn’t really exist, that love is just the combination of chemicals in the brain and the natural instinct to reproduce. They point to the rising statistic of failed marriages and divorces and proclaim that love is a fairy tale. (500) Days of Summer’s Tom Hansen, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is not one of those people.

He is an unabashed romantic who still believes in fate and that it will lead him to the girl he is destined to be with. Then, Tom falls head-over-heels for Summer Finn, a lovely girl who doesn’t believe in love. And when she dumps him, his whole world is destroyed. However, Tom succeeds in piecing himself back together and thus growing in the process. Being with Summer sets Tom on a course of self-development and, though he doesn’t end up with her, he ultimately becomes a better person.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Notebook: We Are Knights

I read A Dance With Dragons and George R.R. Martin once again proves  that his fantasy isn't about good triumphing over evil; it's about the violence and brutality that plagues Westeros and the people that live in that world. After reading the latest entry to A Song of Ice and Fire, however, I realized that I haven't really written anything that could match the gritty, dark reality of Martin's work. So I sat down tonight and just started typing and at 4:48 AM, this is what I got.

We Are Knights
By Blake Gabriel

The quiet fell among them like an ashen snow. Beneath the breathing, the clink of mail, and the crunching of the white-dusted grass, there was no other sound. Through the silence, Ser Karlton spoke, his voice joyless and grim.

“They are not here.”

Around him, the green-cloaked soldiers turned over the bodies of the dead. Most of their faces were ruined and rimed with frost, their bodies leaving pink spots in the gray-flecked snow. The corpses bore the chained bear sigil on their coats, though whatever armor and weapons they bore had been looted.

“These are Dace armsmen,” Ser Henrik said, rubbing his fur-gloved hands together for warmth. “Surely these were Lord Thorys’ children among them.”

“They are not,” Karlton replied, “else these men would have fought harder. They died much too quickly.”

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Character Study: Nina Sayers

In my continuing series of Character Study posts, here is an essay I wrote on Black Swan, titled "The Transfiguration of Nina Sayers," wherein I chart the rise and fall of Nina Sayers throughout the film.

Perfection is a dream chased by many, but only a few ever achieve it. More often than not, reaching that level of flawlessness requires a great sacrifice. In Black Swan, Nina Sayers, played by Natalie Portman, is a ballet dancer who strives for perfection. Her greatest desire is to be the prima ballerina and dance the part of the Swan Queen. However, realizing this dream requires Nina to transform herself from innocent girl-child to a sensual woman, and to make her own awful sacrifice to achieve perfection. This metamorphosis is completed in three stages: self-discovery, awakening, and transfiguration.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Character Study: Hannibal Lecter

It's been quite some time since there's been new material on this blog, but with summer cooking like it has been, I'm afraid I've been too busy to post! However, I don't want to leave my blog a dusty corner of the Web so in the next week or two I will be posting some material that's just been sitting around on my computer. The following is from an essay originally titled "Human Beast: Analysis of Dr. Lecter" which I wrote for my Textual Analysis class last year.

Man is the world’s most dangerous animal. Though we do not possess sharp teeth, claws, poisonous stingers, or the ability to perceive heat radiated by other creatures, we do possess an unsurpassed ability to reason and think. Man has intelligence, the deadliest natural weapon of all. In Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs, readers are introduced to Hannibal Lecter, the cannibalistic psychiatrist, who fuses a razor-honed intellect with the savage qualities of a beast. He is both man and monster, but it is the balance of these two aspects that gives him the depth that still fascinates and horrifies to this day.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

How D&D Made Me a Better Storyteller

When someone mentions Dungeons & Dragons, it conjures images of the deepest, darkest depths of nerd-dom: a bunch of guys sitting around a table, rolling dice and moving miniatures across a grid while play-acting as fantastical heroes. And, for the most part, those portrayals are accurate.

Playing D&D does involve plenty of what some people may perceive as silly behavior best reserved for children under 10. Yes, we are playing toys and having "imagination time" while we chug Mountain Dew and eat corn chips. But we are also doing so much more.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

'Age of Empires Online' Looks Mildly Intriguing

Age of Empires, the universally beloved RTS franchise, is joining the MMO universe. Developed by Gas Powered Games, Age of Empires Online adds MMORPG elements to the age-old RTS formula. And the best part? It's free!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Commander Shepard to Kick Even More Ass in 'Mass Effect 3'

The Reapers have taken Earth, burning and killing with a rampancy and scale that would make even Halo's Covenant blush. As Commander Shepard, you are Earth's last hope. You must rally the rest of the galaxy to defeat the ultimate threat -- ancient machines hell-bent on the total annihilation of all life.

Read more and check out the new trailer, "Fall of Earth," and the E3 gameplay video after the jump.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The 'Return' of the Sith Empire

I know I just posted about The Old Republic yesterday, but this new trailer, released via EA's new online store, Origin, is perhaps one of the most exciting things I've seen today. I just had to share it. Like the previous "Betrayed" and "Hope" trailers, this one is done by the incredibly talented Blur Studios.

The trailer has everything that makes Star Wars what it is: snarky smugglers, valiant Jedi Knights, space battles, spunky droids, and evil Sith Lords. Honestly, I haven't watched anything like this that has had me so filled with Star Wars fanboy glee since the original trilogy. These teasers by Blur may single-handedly convince me to play the game.

Watch the trailer after the jump.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

E3 Trailer Shows Off 'The Old Republic'

Admittedly, I have been hesitant to jump on the Star Wars: The Old Republic hype train, because, despite BioWare's claims to the contrary, the game doesn't look like it's doing much to differentiate itself from industry giant, World of Warcraft.

You still have two opposing factions, the "holy" trinity of MMOs (tank, DPS, healer), raids, and everything else that has made me weary of the MMO genre. Sure, there are the claims that "story" will change everything -- that BioWare's mastery of cinematic storytelling will give The Old Republic the edge to come out on top.

I wasn't convinced.

Friday, June 3, 2011

'Prey 2' Cinematic Trailer Is Awesome

I will be honest. I wasn't that interested in Prey 2, despite some friends' glowing recommendations for Prey, but the newest trailer out of E3 may change my mind. The game abandons the horror movie atmosphere and Native American themes of the first game for an edgy sci-fi, "alien noir" in a setting that reminds me of Blade Runner.

Human Head puts you in the shoes of Killian, an Air Marshal-turned-bounty hunter, who must navigate the alien city and recover his memories. Yes, Killian has amnesia. As cliched as amnesiac protagonists are, this might actually be pretty cool.

Check out the trailer after the jump.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

'Portal' Short Film Shows Chell's Life 'Outside Aperture'

Love Portal and Portal 2? Have you ever wondered what happened to Chell, the game's silent protagonist, after escaping the Aperture Science facility? A fan film, created by studio Eisen Feur, explores this interesting scenario. This film is based off the ending of the original Portal.

Check out the video after the jump.

"Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm" Trailer Is Short, Sweet

The first trailer for Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm was released May 31. Sarah Kerrigan, the Queen of Blades, was last seen in Wings of Liberty, where her former lover, Jim Raynor, turned her human again by assaulting Char and using a Xel'Naga artifact. He carried her off the in the final epic cinematic.

This is our first look at the single-player storyline, which has been stunningly good so far. How Kerrigan goes from being in Raynor's care to leading her own Zerg swarm is still a mystery, though this trailer leaves a few clues. Mengsk's pet Ghost, Nova, shows up briefly, along with a few marines and a Ghost. 

Check out the trailer after the jump.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Next 'Guild Wars 2' Profession Announced

Behold! The Engineer, Guild Wars 2's second-to-last profession. He is a medium armor profession, like the Ranger and the Thief. According to the official Guild Wars 2 site, the Engineer is
Masters of mechanical mayhem, engineers tinker with explosives, gadgets, elixirs, and all manner of deployable devices. They can take control of an area by placing turrets, support their allies with alchemic weaponry, or lay waste to foes with a wide array of mines, bombs, and grenades.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Notebook: Her Laugh is Like the Bells

I don't often write poetry, but I don't avoid it. Sometimes the pen moves with a will of its own, a need to put something down on paper, short and soulful. I like to think of poems as the equivalent of doodles for writers. So, here's something right out of my pocketbook. Enjoy!

Her laugh is like the bells
Her eyes like twinkling stars
To be beside her is to be breathless
To kiss her is to be deathless

My heart jumps
My stomach falls
And my head is like a mirage
Hazy and obscure

To see her smile gives me shivers
To see her sleep makes me quiver
Her hair like a soft pillow
Her neck a heavenly arch

B.G. Tan

Sunday, April 17, 2011

'Game of Thrones' Premieres Tonight

HBO's new series, based on the books by George R. R. Martin, is showing tonight at 9 EST. Sean Bean takes the role of Eddard Stark, the Lord of Winterfell and patriarch of House Stark, as he and his family is pulled into the deadly cloak-and-dagger politics of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

See past the cut to see the trailers. And join me on Twitter @therealblaketan as I livetweet (#letthegamesbegin) the show.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

14 Days of EVE Online: Days 1-4

The universe of New Eden beckoned to me from the EVE Online's login screen. It looked glorious. Little ships, like stars in their own right, glittering against the blackness of space, dwarfed by celestial bodies more than ten times their size. It was breath-taking.

Unfortunately, the first message I was greeted with was a window telling me that I couldn't connect to the server because "The socket was closed." Multiple attempts were fruitless, so I ventured onto Google to try to find a solution. Apparently, because EVE is a single-shard game (that is, it has one server), any sort of latency can disrupt your connection to the server. Or, at least, that's what I gathered from the forums.

And since my university's wonderful Internet infrastructure is so advanced, I had the great luck of having 100% packet loss when I plotted my ping. So, quite disappointed, I turned EVE off and resigned myself to a couple hours of Guild Wars.

Monday, April 4, 2011

14 Days of EVE Online: Prologue

I have always had a deep, abiding love for science-fiction. I grew up watching Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, and a myriad of space operas. I've almost finished my marathon run of Battlestar Galactica. That's why EVE Online has always called to me.

For the longest time, I was always deterred by the thought that EVE was too hard. I believe I tried it once before, a long time ago, and an hour in my mining ship was ganked by pirates and my capsuleer spaced. But still, the game calls to me. I love reading about the exploits of the cutthroat corporations, the dirty (but perfectly legal) scamming of players, and other adventures that set EVE apart.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Little Bit of Cheerfulness Goes a Long Way

Rough times are a fact of life. Whether we see the burden of poverty, the destruction of natural disasters, or the horrors of war on the television, we are constantly bombarded by negativity and all-around bad. 

Sometimes, it can strike closer to home. Though personal problems may seem to pale in comparison to global issues, it doesn't mean they are any less important. You may have lost a loved one, gone through a difficult break-up, or are suffering from ennui or depression.

Life isn't about what we go through, but how we decide to go through it. The bad stuff will come, but it will only rule us if we allow it to rule us. I'm not saying to ignore the bad stuff that happens -- I'm saying accept that bad stuff will happen, but move on. Don't let it control you and the way your life will go.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Help Us Bring the World Premiere of 'Your Highness' to Ohio University

The world premiere of Your Highness is coming to a college in the United States. The cast of this movie includes heavy-hitters James Franco, Natalie Portman, and Zooey Deschanel. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance! If you're a consistent reader of this blog, you know how much I love Zooey Deschanel.

Here's the deal, though. The first place viewing is only coming to one college. The first place viewing includes appearances by the cast and an after party. However, Ohio University (my college) is slightly disadvantaged by our relatively small size.

This is why, dear reader, I am asking you to help us even the odds. Click on the link below and it will take you to the voting site. On the dropdown menu, select "Ohio" and then "Ohio University." If you do this, all of us here at OU will be so grateful that -- well, I don't even know what we would do. Perhaps rain rose petals on you and drape you with the clothing of royalty, then carry you around Athens in a comfy chair!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Miss, Can I Marry You, Please?

I have to confess something. I've recently become enthralled by the very talented and beautiful Yvonne Strahovski. In fact, I'm 100% sure that this is a full-blown celebrity crush. She is amazing. If you don't know who Strahovski is, her most prominent role is the slick and sexy spy for the CIA, Sarah Walker, in the TV show, Chuck. She also provided the voice and face for the genetically perfect Miranda Lawson for Mass Effect 2.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

D&D 4th Edition Coming to Consoles

I love the 4th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. I know there are some old-school D&Ders who absolutely abhor it, but I think it's a fantastic evolution of the franchise. It brought me and my friends into the fold when D&D 3.5 seemed overly complex and unapproachable. So why am I excited for Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Discussing the Guardian and 'Guild Wars 2'

If you haven't been paying attention to latest Guild Wars 2 news, another profession has been revealed. This is the Guardian, a heavily-armored soldier specializing in both frontline combat and party support. There's been a lot of speculation across the Web that the second soldier profession would be a reincarnation of the Paragon from Guild Wars Nightfall, or some sort of holy warrior, like the Dervish, or a re-imagining of the Monk. 

However, it seems that ArenaNet has done something a little better: they took all of those ideas and synthesized them into something new. Though the Guardian has some very distinct similarities to World of Warcraft's Paladin, there's also a lot that sets it apart.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Notebook: Beneath Emerald Eaves

Another oldie of mine, originally written in 2009. I submitted it to the weekly reading at The Greater Canton Writers' Guild, of which I was a part of, and won some money for it. "Beneath Emerald Eaves" is a flash fiction piece about the beginning and the end of a relationship. I thought that people could enjoy it again and so, re-posted it here at my blog. Enjoy!

Beneath Emerald Eaves
By Blake Gabriel

I remember the day well, every detail frozen, crystal-clear in my memory. I was kneeling, not caring if the grass would stain my jeans; eyes focused on the bluejay perched in the highest branches of the tree. My camera clicked three times in rapid succession.

I rose to my feet and thoughts of the bird were banished by the sight of the woman before me. I never believed in "love at first sight," but if irony could have clubbed me over the head, it would have.

She was tall, maybe to my nose, and slender as a sapling, unbowed by age or the weight of care. She glided with a dancer’s grace, stepping from pedestrian to pedestrian. People that passed her did not walk away without a flyer pressed into their hands.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Notebook: Scarlet Was Her Hair

I wrote this short story two years ago and submitted it to my high school's literary magazine. I believe it got published there too. It's also been on my Scribophile page for the longest time, and since I'm taking it down from that site, I thought it could find a home here. Please, if you haven't read it yet, enjoy! If you have read it already, read it and enjoy it all over again!

Scarlet Was Her Hair
By Blake Gabriel

A soft, delicate hand traced across the small of my back and a gentle voice whispered in my ear.

“Bobby, shh… shh… it’s okay, baby,” Amy cooed. “What’s wrong? Why are you crying?”

Muffling my sobs, I rolled over to face her, drinking in the beauty of her pale skin. She was radiant in the moonlight shining through the crack in the curtain. I smiled weakly, brushing a strand of dark brown hair from her almond eyes. Her gaze seemed to beckon to me, urging me to lose myself in its depths.

Amy wiped the tears from my cheek with the intimacy only lovers could share. We’d been together for eleven months now; there was little we didn’t share.

“What’s wrong, baby?” she asked again in a whisper, her cool breath tickling my ear.

“I was just remembering someone,” I said through long, shaking breaths. “Someone close.”

'Don't Look Back' Music Video, Courtesy of She & Him

She & Him released a new music video for their song, "Don't Look Back," from their album, "Volume Two." Though I personally don't like it as much as the music video for "Thieves", it's still a charming little ditty worth your five minutes. It oozes the adorable, undeniable cuteness that could only be Zooey Deschanel.

Also, she turned 31 on Monday! Happy belated birthday, Zooey! See past the cut to watch the video!

Monday, January 17, 2011

What About Guilds?

We haven't heard much from the folks at ArenaNet lately (other than the blog post about the Kodan), but, if you take into account their commitment to polish, you can't really blame them. I'm all for developers not releasing information if it means a high level of polish and completeness. But, the patience of the fan community isn't infinite.

Guild Wars 2 fans are still anxiously awaiting for the reveal of the last four professions. If you haven't kept up to date, the professions we know of so far are the Warrior, the Elementalist, the Ranger, and the Necromancer. As Guild Wars' unique (and arguably signature) profession, Mesmer is a shoe-in for the fifth profession slot. That leaves three more slots still left unfilled.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Vlog: Making of 'Honor': Beginnings

I made a video that's sort of a faux-interview of myself, as if I was making a "Behind the Scenes" special featurette. This is the first part of the video series where I talk about how I got started writing a medieval fantasy drama like The War of Succession. Watch the video below!