The Best of 2011

This is the same post that I posted in “Jake In A Box.”

Another year has gone by and we are left to reflect on the things of 2011. We had lots a great music, films, books and video games and a lot of stinkers. I will be going over what I felt was the best of the year.

Music

This was the year where I discovered a lot of great bands. I found some really good Indie rock bands that I liked such as Death Cab For Cutie, Real Estate, Band of Horses , and Bon Iver. There were a lot of good bands that put out another great album to add to their collections of great music such as Switchfoot, Owl City, MuteMath, Falling Up and Metallica. All of them had some great music this year but I would say my favorite album of the year goes to Puscifer with their album “Conditions of My Parole.”

First things first, I am a huge Maynard James Keenan fan. I may not agree with all of his ideals but he is a genius when it comes to music. Tool and A Perfect Circle rank high in my favorite artist lists. A Perfect Circle is in my top five. By saying that, When I first listened to Puscifer, I was not impressed. It just sounded like he was goofing off with other musicians and doing something different from Tool and A Perfect Circle. After that, I didn’t give much thought to listening to Puscifer ever again. A guy I knew who went to my church had told me that Puscifer had come out with a new album and that it was really good. I told him I would check it out but I didn’t until last month and I was really impressed. It had that Tool/A Perfect Circle sound to it while going off doing something different.

The five runners up are:

Switchfoot – Vice Verses

MuteMath – Odd Soul

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Owl City –  All Thing Bright and Beautiful

Falling Up – Your Sparkling Death Cometh

Films

I didn’t see as many movies this year. I usually see a lot of movies but this year, I really didn’t have the money to go out and see a lot of them but the ones I did see were excellent. I think my favorite of the year would have to be “X-Men: First Class.”

After being plagued with two terrible X-Men movies ( The Last Stand and Wolverine), I had very little hope for First Class. I thought it was going down the same road as Wolverine of having awful special effects, characters we wouldn’t care for and end up being a stupid summer action flick (like Wolverine was). I can honestly say now that I was wrong. X-Men: First Class was excellent. It dived deep into the relationship between Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender gave excellent and believable performances that took us into the complicated relationship of these two friends that eventually turn into enemies. It not only is a great comic book movie, its a great drama and time piece film since it takes place in the 1960’s and gives us a look of how the 60’s were. This was by far the best X-Men film I’ve seen. Yes, I’m saying it’s better than X2: X-Men United and I loved that film.

Runners up are:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow Pt. 2

Thor

Immortals

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

I Am Number Four

Television

I didn’t watch too much television this year but what I did watch was excellent. There were a lot of great shows. Some of them were new such as New Girl and An American Horror Story and some returning with another strong season such as Community, How I Met Your Mother, The Walking Dead, Entourage and The Big Bang Theory but one show stood out among them all and that would be HBO’s A Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones is about the violent struggle to control the iron throne by the kingdom’s noble families. While this is happening, a new threat arises from the northern snow and ice covered region and from the eastern continent. The show has multiple storylines following certain characters from different families. The show is an excellent drama with a great, complicated plot. The show also follows the book really well (which I’m only halfway through but i’m getting there. I want to start the second one before season two starts). I don’t want to say too much about the show because I think everyone should give it and try and if you get into it, it has some nice surprises.

Runners up:

New Girl

Community

An American Horror Story

Entourage

Mad Men (I’ve only seen seasons 1-3)

Books

Well, I didn’t do too much reading this year. I started reading A Game of Thrones this year but since that came out quite a few years ago, I won’t count that towards this list. Same goes with graphic novels. I read some Thor and Amazing Spider-Man Collections. The one thing I read that came out this year was Locke & Keys Vol. 4: Keys to the Kingdom.

This was recommended to me by a friend so I started reading volume one and it was amazing. I went through all four volumes this year and I can say that this is one you don’t want to miss. It’s about a family the Locke family that moves into their Uncles place, called the “Key House,” after the rape of their mother and murder of their father. They are trying to move on with their lives but are unaware that the evil behind it all is located in the Key House and wants the location of special keys that allows strange things to happen such as removing memories from ones head and having your soul leave your body. Again, I will not say to much about this story because I don’t want to ruin the story for anyone who is going to read it.

Video Games

This section was quite difficult for me. I had my favorite game picked out but then another one came out at the end of the year that made me question my choice but I stood strong. My favorite game of the year is “Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.”

I loved almost everything about this game. It did almost everything right (except for one or two hiccups here and there). The thing I liked best about Uncharted 3 was the relationship between Drake and Sully (don’t get me wrong, the action and set pieces are awesome too). There story is told very well and executed very well. If you want all my thoughts on Uncharted 3, check out my review which can be found in a previous post. The game that almost changed my mind was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The only reason I didn’t pick Skyrim is because the large number of bugs and glitches that sometimes ruins the experience for me.

Runners up:

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Batman: Arkham City

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

Battlefield 3 (Multiplayer Only)

That conclude my list of The Best of 2011. So now i’m curious, what is your Best of 2011? Comment below and let us know what was your favorite book, album, film or video game of the 2011. Now I leave you with a few of my favorite songs of 2011.

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Uncharted 3: Naughty Dog’s Masterpiece

Naughty Dog had big shoes to fill after Uncharted 2 and they did a pretty good job at filling them. Uncharted 3 my most anticipated game of 2012. I was counting down the days till it’s released. When I finally got my hands on it, I beat the campaign rather quickly and I was not disappointed.

In the third installment in the Uncharted series, we follow Nathan, Sully, Chloe and Cutter as they try to stop Katherine Marlowe (probably one of the best bad guys in recent games) and Talbot from discovering the lost city of Ubar discovering a weapon that will gain them control over the world. The plot, as good as it is, is the most forgettable aspect of the game (just like in the previous games). The game stands out with its characters. I was more wrapped up in the relationship between Nathan and Sully. The game focus’ on their relationship, how they met (there is a whole level devoted to that) and how far they would go for each other. The scenes with Nathan and Sully are just heart warming and at the end heart breaking especially when (**SPOILER**) Sully gets shot. My heart sank at that moment and I wanted to join Nate as he hunted down Katherine and Talbot to get revenge. We also get more story between Nathan and Elena which was really good. Reminded me a little bit of National Treasure 2 (with the whole married but separated thing) but better because we actually like Nathan and Elena.

The graphics in Uncharted 3 are breathtaking. The character models and facial expressions  are so realistic that its not funny. There were times where I sat watching the game when I actually should of been playing the game. The environments are beautiful. We are taken to many different locations in the game. From deserts to ancient cities to ship yards, they all look beautiful. If its water dripping from Nathans hairs or sand blowing off of his shirt and out of his hair, it all looks amazing  no matter what. The lighting effects are gorgeous too especially in the shipyard level. The voice acting is also fantastic. Nolan North, Richard McGonagle, Emily Rose, Claudia Black and Graham McTavish do a great job as our four favorite main characters. Rosalind Ayres does an amazing job as Katherine. They give excellent and believable performances.

Just like the previous Uncharted games, Uncharted 3 is full of well done set pieces. You’ll find yourself escaping from a burning chateau, escaping from a sinking ship, taking part in a horseback firefight and getting sucked out of an airplane. No matter which one you are in, you are on the edge of your seat, trying to survive and having a blast. The level design is also really good. The way the game is set up, you can either play the levels like their stealth levels (like Uncharted 2 but better) or shoot your way through them. The best way to play would be taking out as many enemies as you can with stealth then go through the levels shooting them up. The one level I felt Naughty Dog kinda just threw in just to add another level was the shipyard level. It’s not a bad level, its still fun but it was just difficult to play through it the way the game was designed. You couldn’t really use stealth very well and the shooter aspects were a pain in it.

I can’t really say anything about the multiplayer. I played the beta but never got around to playing the finished product.

My final thoughts:

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is a masterpiece. It may have a few flaws but they can easily be overlooked. Naughty Dog created an amazing game and many game companies need to follow what Naughty Dog did with Uncharted, create a great cast of believable characters and go from game to game building on their relationships. This is truly a great experience that all gamers should experience. I wish I still had my PS3 so I can play next installment in the series or Naughty Dog should release the games for the xbox 360. That would be nice. And one final thing, Uncharted 3 should of won Game of the Year on Spike’s Video Game  Awards tonight.

What did you think of Uncharted 3? Is it game of the year material or not? Tell me what you think by commenting below.

Breaking Dawn Part 1, Is It Worth It?

Hello everyone. I’m going to be dedicating this blog to video game and movie reviews. I know, the title is “An Recreational Gamer’s Critique” so why am I going to reviewing movies? This blog is for anything geeky so I’ll be reviews movies, video games, music, and comics. I wanted to start out by reviewing “Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception” but sadly i’m still working on it. So i decided to review “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1.”

I’m not a big Twilight fan. I read the books, well, most of them. After reading the first three, I couldn’t stomach to read another. The only reason I read the books was because I needed something to read after the final Harry Potter book. The problem I have with Twilight is that I don’t like the main characters. Bella is very manipulative and immature and Edward is a creep that likes to watch her sleep, they are wreckless and they both make stupid decisions that brings danger in their lives. The books are poorly written and the main character developed well, they are just not likable. The supporting characters are more likable than the main characters and that is where the series shines. Now that I have said that, onto the movie.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 is probably the best in the film series so far but that’s not saying much. The film is still plagued by cheesy dialogue between the two loves that would only make teen girls say “aww” and bad acting but their are improvements in that area. Robert Pattinson actually shows emotion in this film and it’s enough that you actually believe he cares for Bella. Kristen Stewart fails to deliver in this area for most of the movie. I think the movie would be better if Anna Kendrick (Image to the right) had been given the part of Bella Swan. She is a much better actress than Kristen Stewart and I honestly feel she could add some nice depth to Bella’s character and make her interesting and likable. Anyways, the love the two characters have for each other feels genuine mainly through the wedding and part of the honeymoon but then it just kinda fades. It’s like Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson got bored with their characters. Now lets get to Taylor Lautner. I feel he is the male version of Megan Fox. He only got the part because of his looks. Well, I believed that as the film started. First scene is Taylor Lautner running out of his house and ripping off his shirt in the rain then turning into a wolf and running to the forest. Well, as the film goes on, he proves me wrong. Taylor Lautner has made a lot of improvements in this film. He actually shows emotion a doesn’t make the same stupid face he always does. It’s like he took acting lessons or something. I’m not saying his acting is great but he does a decent job in this film. Enough to make me feel sorry for Jacob’s character in the film.

The supporting cast is excellent. Ashely Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Raser, Billy Burke, Sarah Clarke, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Anna Kenreick, Justin Chon, Michael Welch, Booboo Stewart and Julia Jones do an excellent job at making their characters funny and believable. Whether its the Cullen family, Bella’s parents,  Bella’s high school or exiled wolfs, they do an excellent job. Especially Billy Burke and Sarah Clarke as Bella’s parents. Their speeches during the wedding reception are both believable and hysterical. Booboo Stewart and Julia Jones do a good job as Seth and Leah. Booboo ( I can’t believe that is his real name) brings his childish charm to Seth’s character and helps make certain seens lighthearted. Julia brings a plot line that most people my age can relate to and it’s nice. She leaves the pack to follow Jacob because she can’t stand being Sam’s ex-girlfriend who is always around because she is a part of Sams pack. She also has this weird, wild, beastly woman beauty to her which is nice.

The special effects in Breaking Dawn is a hit or miss. The effects used to make Bella look sick during her pregnancy are excellent. They made an unattractive actress look even more unattractive and they did it well. The constant special effects used on the Cullen family to give them the pale, shiny look gets tiresome and looks unnatural at times. By the end the of the movie, I annoyed with it. The special effects used for the wolfs were just silly. Especially the scene when they all gather for their pack meeting where they all talk in wolf form. It wasn’t very well done, there isn’t much difference between the way the wolfs look (except for a few of them) so its hard to tell who is who. The fight scene at the end wasn’t well done at all. The camera was shaky and everything happened so far that I had no idea what was going on. It was like there was no choreography used to plan out the scene at all. You can’t film a fight scene with no choreography. It makes a scene look tacky.

Now onto the plot. *This part contains spoilers.* The plot isn’t very good. Their are some holes in the plot here and there (mainly because something wasn’t explained or someone knew something that is not said how they knew. Mainly Edward knowing that Jacob had imprinted on someone and how Edward knew everything about Wolf law) and it just isn’t very interesting. I’ll sum it up for you. Edward and Bella get married, they go on their honeymoon, Bella becomes pregnant, wolfs find out and are going to break the truce and kill Bella and the abomination of a child, Jacob, Leah and Seth leave the wolf pack to defend Bella, Bella goes into labor and dies giving childbirth, Edward injects his venom into Bella and nothing happens, Jacob goes to see the baby and imprints (find his soul mate) on the child (can someone say pedophilia?), wolfs attack the Cullens, Edward reveals that Jacob imprinted on his child so the wolfs can’t attack ( it’s only explained as “wolf law”) and Bella ends up surviving and becoming a vamprie herself. I just saved you two hours of your time.

Final Thoughts:

The film has a weak plot and graphics are a hit or miss. There is a huge improvement in acting with the main characters but it’s not enough. The supporting cast brings the most life to this movie and they are in it enough to make it worth watching. I wouldn’t recommend seeing this film in theaters (unless your a huge Twilight fan and they you’ll see it no matter what or you’ve already seen it multiple times) but it’s worth seeing at least once for the supporting cast.

What do you think of Breaking Dawn Part One? I would love to get all of your opinions.