Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Expectations for "Godzilla"

I'm a bit of a fanboy of Godzilla. Even though he's technically little more than a rampaging monster, he's arguably my favorite movie character of all time. And now he's getting the big screen treatment again for the first time in 10 years ("Final Wars" came out in 2004). As of a few minutes ago of the time of writing, they dropped the second trailer for the upcoming movie. They dropped the first one back in December. Even compared to the first trailer, this one really ups the stakes. Trailer #1 was more of a teaser. This one gave us more glimpses of the titular monster and even more scenes of destruction without giving away too much. Thus far I am very very impressed. The fact that this and "X-Men: Days of Future Past" drop within a week of each other really is making me a happy camper.

Enough of the digression. Here's what it looks like this movie is going to bring to the table.

First of all, it's dark. I mean, during the 1998 movie it was raining the whole time. But that one was somewhat more lighthearted and more of a "summer blockbuster" because it was from the same guys that brought us "Independence Day." The new movie definitely wins in the scenery department because it has more varied locales, but that doesn't mean it's going to be lighthearted. The trailers have shown us that the mood for this movie is very, very dark. As in, the world is actually coming to an end, and there's nothing we can do about it kind of dark. If the opening narrative by Bryan Cranston in the new trailer is any indication, "Godzilla" will have a very lingering sense of helplessness and dread.

Like I said before, this time, the humans don't have the situation under control. In the 1998 film, the monster was killed with a few missiles launched from fighter jets. That in itself is an insult to Godzilla, seeing as the true King of the Monsters would look at fighter jets the same way we look at mosquitoes. The new trailer had shots of fighter jets actually falling from the sky and a monologue by Ken Watanabe talking about how man always feels like it's in charge of nature and not the other way around. Then there's the scenes of destruction that are clearly not limited to one city. Godzilla is a monster who destroys whatever he wants, whenever he wants, wherever he wants this time. That kind of sets the tone.

The acting should also be top notch. It's got Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") and Ken Watanabe ("The Last Samurai," "Inception") in it. That should say enough.

The story also seems to have some kind of continuity with previous films. In the new trailer, Ken Watanabe's character mentioned that a creature was awoken in 1954 with nuclear bomb testing. Reference to the original movie? You don't say!

Finally, Godzilla is returning to his former glory. This will wipe out the bad taste that the 1998 movie brought. It's even a far cry from the campy Showa-era films that made him a protector who was willing to do battle with other monsters. In other words, the spirit of the original film is back. And that's how it should be. Godzilla is an unstoppable force of nature who treats the combined military might of the world with the contempt that humans show to insects. He's angry with us, he wants to destroy us, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.

May 16 can't come fast enough.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Far Cry 3 review

I'm aware that this game came out in late 2012, so I'm extremely late in playing it. Well what can I say? I just get whatever Steam sales can get me at a super low price. I heard good things about "Far Cry 3" back when it came out, but at $60 a pop, games are a bit pricey. Of course, that's where Steam sales come into play. If you happen to be a PC gamer, all you have to do is wait a couple months, even weeks, then you might get a game for sometimes around 90% off its original MSRP. And oftentimes, those games will be a hell of a steal. So yeah, that's how I felt when I purchased "Far Cry 3" a year after release but for a mere $7.

It has been one of the best gaming experiences I've ever had thanks to the open world. The only other comparable free-roam games I've played that can come close are "Sleeping Dogs" and "Batman: Arkham City." The fact that I got it for the incredibly jacked up price of $7 made it even sweeter. And now I get to explain why.

Storywise, "Far Cry 3" is actually pretty original. Well, as far as gaming goes. It starts out when a group of roughly college-age kids go somewhere in the South Pacific for a vacation. And then it all goes to hell. Ok, so maybe it's not all that original after all since that sounds exactly like the kind of B-movie cliche-ridden rubbish that you'd expect in an MTV movie or reality show. That's where I'm partly wrong. Yes, it starts out that way, but then the main character, someone who in my opinion is not all that hard to relate to, out of necessity becomes ... something else. He gets forced to become a killer to save his friends from being sold off as sex slaves or die. In that sense, he's kind of like Oliver Queen from "Arrow." Well, maybe it's not that original, anyway. It's entertaining, though. And unlike Oliver Queen, it becomes clear that although he may embrace his dark side, Jason Brody is never 100% comfortable with it. The villains he goes up against are fairly memorable, too. Especially the batshit-insane first villain Vaas, who may just go down as one of the top villains from the past console generation. Hoyt is a little more one-dimensional, but that doesn't make him any less awful of a person. As for Buck, well ... just play the game. It's definitely a hard R-rated story, without saying too much.

The gameplay is like any first-person shooter, but it feels more realistic than say "Call of Duty." While "Far Cry 3" follows a narrative structure, it's an open-world game. And boy is the world big. Imagine if "Skyrim" was set in a tropical paradise. Well, maybe it's not that big, but still. Both islands in the Rook Island chain easily feel like they're about the size of Boracay (a popular tourist destination in the Philippines that is comparable to the tropical setting of this game). Oh and even when you're not playing any of the story missions, everything on Rook Island wants to kill you. Even the animals. I remember fairly early on in the game, I was still reeling from the shock of being captured by pirates. I decided to take one of the available cars randomly parked on the island for a drive when a jeep full of pirates drove past me. They then started cursing at me and although it took a few seconds to register, my next thought went something like this: "Holy f**k they're actually shooting at me!" That's what "Far Cry 3" is like. You don't start off as a hardened killer, and the game makes that very apparent. Of course, by the end of the game, I was able to take out entire strongholds of enemies with relative ease thanks to the abilities (which you unlock through the campaign and manifest themselves physically in the form of a sick tattoo) and the weapons (unlocked by activating radio towers a la "Batman: Arkham Origins"). If that's not character development, I don't know what is. Those pirates and privateers you face are also genuinely bad people, so there's something of a sick satisfaction when you pick off a lone group just for being there.

That last paragraph was getting too long. There's also the hunting and gathering aspect. As I previously said, even the animals want to kill you. And Rook Island is home to a wide variety of nasty predators ranging from bears to packs of rabid dogs. And the cassowaries. Those things are just evil. Fortunately, you can hunt them and skin them, as you'd be able to in real life. The skins can then be used to craft objects like holsters, bigger rucksacks, ammo pouches, etc. Plants can also be harvested for medicinal purposes. This sort of interaction with the world is what puts "Far Cry 3" heads and shoulders above its competitors.

Graphically, "Far Cry 3" is spectacular. Maybe not getting it on PS3 was a blessing in disguise because I've heard it's far superior on PC if you have a machine advanced enough to run it at max settings (I clearly do). Rook Island is the gorgeous landscape you'd expect it to be, and it would be paradise if it weren't for the drug organization that took over. In a blog post, I noted that it reminded me of a few islands in the Philippines I've been to, namely Boracay and Palawan. Although anyone should be able to appreciate the scenery. The character models are top notch as well, with some of the best textures I've seen yet. Of course, the magic of PC gaming enables us to squeeze that extra little bit that the Xbox 360 and PS3 weren't able to quite produce.

And there we have it. One of the best gaming experiences I've ever had.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Fantastic Four" reboot has been cast. Now what?

We have our official cast for the "Fantastic Four" reboot due out next year. It is supposedly set in the same cinematic universe as "X-Men" as Fox is trying to do the same thing that Disney/Marvel is doing. Normally, I agree with the casting choices. Normally. This time, I'm not sure I do. At least not 100%.

The confirmed casting is Miles Teller as Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic, Kate Mara as Susan Storm/Invisible Woman, Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm/Human Torch and Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm/The Thing. I'll just have to see the movie before I really judge, but here's what I think so far.

Miles Teller: I haven't really seen him in anything. The only thing I know that he was in was "21 and over." My brother noted that he's a fine actor but probably not mature enough as an actor to play Reed Richards. At least not the way Ioan Gruffudd (another actor I've met at a convention) was. Then again, it's based off the Ultimate imprint of the comic, so they're all probably going to have to be younger. We'll see.

Kate Mara: This is probably the only confirmed casting choice I'm supportive of. I haven't seen anything she's in, either, but I've heard she's really good in "House of Cards." She's also quite good looking, and that's a must for anyone playing Invisible Woman.

Michael B. Jordan: This one's been rumored as far back as I can remember. He's also been incredibly controversial because the fans cannot fathom a black Human Torch. I'm not racist. That would be hypocritical of me because I'm an Asian American. I enjoyed Michael B. Jordan's performance in "Chronicle," which was ironically directed by the same dude who's directing this reboot, Josh Trank. He's a good actor, and maybe this will work. They better find a way to make it work. Artistic license is one thing. Changing a 50-year-old, established character's race for the sake of progressiveness is another. The only reason black Nick Fury worked was because when they wrote him in the Ultimate Marvel universe, the creative teams wanted to use Samuel L. Jackson's likeness, which he agreed to on the condition that he star in a Marvel movie. Unfortunately, Human Torch is white in both the Ultimate and Mainstream universes, so it might be a little awkward and unfitting. Of course, we'll all get to have final say when they actually film then release a trailer.

Jamie Bell: I truly don't know how I feel about this one. I remember seeing him as a whiny young member of the ship in "King Kong" back when I was in high school. I also kinda remember him in "Flags of our Fathers" and "Defiance." Bell has been typecast in the past as somewhat more youthful characters. Of course, the most recent of those movies came out 6 years ago, and I'm sure Mr. Bell's matured as an actor. But he's also not Michael Chiklis, arguably the bright spot of the original "Fantastic Four" movies. Again, I'll have to actually see what happens when they film it, but I'll just say this. Jamie Bell doesn't strike me as ... masculine enough to play Ben Grimm. Michael Chiklis was spot on. Of course, if Jamie packs on more muscle and works on a rough-sounding and convincing Brooklyn accent that enables him to say "It's clobberin' time" effectively, I will eat my words.

So yeah, we'll see.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"Guardians of the Galaxy" first impressions

This movie based on one of Marvel's most obscure properties is coming out later this year. And it made my Top 5 most anticipated movies of 2014 list. I may be looking more forward to "X-Men: Days of Future Past," but "Guardians" is not too bar behind as far as my rabid geek anticipation goes. So the trailer dropped last night. Here are my immediate first impressions:

1. It's different, and that's good: The Marvel Cinematic Universe is doing extremely well, but thus far we have not had a Phase 2 movie that's blown everyone out of the water the way "Avengers" and even "Iron Man" did back when it was first released in 2008. The reason? They're not bad, but they're all the same. They all follow the same formula with the heroes picking up the pieces after the Battle of New York. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" looks a little better than its two predecessors, but otherwise, the formula is the same. They're all extremely predictable. "Guardians of the Galaxy" on the other hand is something entirely new. The trailer was extremely action-heavy, but the song it played said a lot about the movie's sarcastic and smart-assed tone. We could use a little light-hearted humor in the months leading up to "Age of Ultron."

2. It's a love-child of Stan Lee and George Lucas, essentially: From what I saw last night, "Guardians" looks to combine the best aspects of Marvel Comics and "Star Wars," which I did a lengthy post about earlier this week. It has the interstellar villains and smart-assed anti-authority protagonist types that made George Lucas' original works so endearing. The smart-ass tone of the Guardians themselves looks to be very reminiscent of the dry, witty humor that Han Solo and Chewbacca provided in the original trilogy, especially with Chris Pratt's Han Solo-esque portrayal of Star-Lord. But then we have characters like Drax, Rocket Raccoon and Groot who are all very much Marvel creations. It has the potential to be a literal match made in nerd heaven.

3. The ragtag band of misfits: We have a smart-assed pilot who's essentially the second coming of Han Solo, Batista as a green alien assassin, Zoe Saldana as a green alien assassin, and a talking tree and raccoon. You can't really ask for a more mismatching group of unlikely heroes. It's even more mismatching than the Avengers before they became the Avengers. And you know what? That's great, because those are the kinds of teams that audiences tend to root for. I know I do.

I couldn't really come up with more, and after that TL;DR post I just made, I thought I'd keep this fairly short and sweet. Only time will tell how "Guardians" will fare at the box office, but like "X-Men," I think it has the chance to utterly dominate and rise to the top of its genre.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Star Wars viewing experience 2.0

With the exception of the piss-awful prequel trilogy and George Lucas constantly micromanaging and changing things in re-releases, "Star Wars" is a franchise that I have nothing but the highest praise for. It's one of those things that can be considered nearly universal for anyone my age; ask almost anyone, I guarantee you they grew up watching the original movies in some way, shape or form. If I had to pick another national anthem for the USA, I might actually pick the theme music of "Star Wars," the one that blares over the opening title crawls that are unique to the series. But why did I revisit this classic series despite having watched the original movies multiple times in my childhood? Well now that I'm older and properly able to critique a movie, I thought it would be nice to watch the entire series back to back. Then there's this other one I call "the viewing experience 2.0," which I actually did not come up with. I came up with the name, not the watching order.

"Star Wars" is an episodic series with six wait for it, wait for it ... episodes. So generally speaking, we're supposed to watch them in order from 1-6. Well, according to a close family friend, who I will identify as "M" for anonymity purposes, that's only one way to do it. See, M actually made me aware of an alternative viewing order while were both at the Dallas Sci Fi Expo last week. He asked me what the proper watching order was. Logically, I just said "1-6." M then suggested starting off with Episode IV and V as George Lucas intended. It's only after we find out that Darth Vader is, in fact, Luke's father that we take a brief flashback to Episodes II and III before concluding with VI. What about I? Well, other than showing how Anakin and Obi-Wan ended up as master and teacher at the very end, "The Phantom Menace" contributed hardly anything of substance to the core storyline as we know it. Of course, this is just one opinion. After all, the only thing we care about is how Anakin became Darth Vader, not Anakin as a little kid who also happened to play Arnold Schwarzenegger's son in "Jingle all the Way" (fun fact there). And for all its wooden, emotionless acting, the events of "Attack of the Clones" got the Darth Vader ball rolling. So essentially, the watching order goes like this: IV --> V --> II --> III --> VI. For the reasons I mentioned above, you can omit I.

And now it's time for a recap. Like I said, this the first time I've ever watched the movies back to back in a fairly short time frame. First time in almost 10 years that I've watched the prequel movies. So let's see what adult me thinks of "Star Wars" now.

A New Hope: Everyone's seen this one more times than they can count. It's arguably the most enduring, beloved tale of this generation. And the most imitated, with varying degrees of success. It still is. The story of Luke Skywalker coming from literally bumf**k nowhere to end up becoming the galaxy's savior is one that has this certain kind of magic, even though the thing that got this ball rolling was the execution of Luke's aunt and uncle at the hands of the empire, which in turn was caused by the not-so-accidental release of two certain droids. Whether you watch it one or 100 times, it won't lose any of that charm. Plus, the performances were all quite solid. And although it wasn't the only time in the series, that first time the Death Star got destroyed is just ... wow.

The Empire Strikes Back: This episode has a reputation as being one of the darkest movies of all time, which incidentally makes it one of the best. When the original trilogy was re-released in the late 90s, I found "Empire" to be quite upsetting to watch. To sum it up, the bad guys won, and all my heroes lost big. Luke lost his hand, Han got frozen in carbonite, and the future wasn't really certain for the rebellion at that point. It's so dark that Joss Whedon is actually using it has an inspiration for the second "Avengers" movie due out in 2015. Revisiting it as a (semi) grown man, that darkness is what arguably makes "Empire" the best movie in the series. All the heroes, especially Luke (after the reveal that turned out to be the greatest plot twist in history), hit their absolute rock bottom and realize that it can't get THAT much worse than how they have it. It's kind of like losing a pivotal sports game. It enabled our heroes to grow as characters and absolutely upped the stakes, which in turn would end up making the conclusion all that more satisfying.

Attack of the Clones: This is where the prequel has its use, as a flashback. We start here after the big "I am your father" reveal because it shows Darth Vader in his youth at roughly Luke's age. First of all, the acting in this movie is just the worst. Although Natalie Portman has gotten better, Hayden Christensen has no emotion or sense of delivery. I've seen more emotion in most action figures, and that ought to say something! The action here is pretty decent, with the big standout being the battles of Geonosis, especially the fight in the arena. Jango Fett is also worthy of honorable mention. The one thing story wise I liked was how the path to the dark side got started. Anakin and Obi-Wan are investigating an assassination attempt on then-Senator Padme Amidala. Obi-Wan ends up playing detective in an attempt to find out who ordered the assassination while Anakin gets left as a bodyguard for Jane Foster/that one chick from "Black Swan." Five guesses as to what happens when a horny 20-year-old who is getting that universe's equivalent to monk training gets left alone with a very attractive and wealthy young lady. Spoiler: it doesn't end well for anyone involved, and you bet he doesn't keep his vows.

Revenge of the Sith: The acting isn't a whole lot better than in its predecessor, but the story and fight scenes more than make up for that. In my opinion, "Sith" might actually be the most action-packed movie in the entire saga. I remember watching it as an eighth-grader and having my entire opinion of Master Yoda change in a millisecond. I mean, I thought the guy was cool before, but he was always this sort of Buddha-like figure. Then we really got to see him kick ass. And if anything, the ending almost makes up the general lackluster quality of the prequel trilogy. Call me corny, but the amount of feels that ending brought, wow. For all his flaws, George Lucas is a hell of a storyteller, and the way he tied "Revenge of the Sith" to "A New Hope" was just perfect.

Return of the Jedi: With our digression/flashback over, we switch back to the present day. The storyline in "Jedi" is a lot more straightforward than the one in "Empire," but I think that may be because of how dark and depressing "Empire" was. By the events of the present, Luke has become a full-fledged Jedi Knight and ass kicker. That in itself is more satisfying and relieving to see after the condition Darth Vader left him in last we saw him. But the thing that makes the last movie in the saga so satisfying is the ultimate triumph of good over evil. The events of "Empire" upped the stakes, and the Rebels definitely fought the good fight here. Only this time they won. Big. As in, the Emperor Palpatine was killed, and the Death Star II was destroyed. And although he spent most of the trilogy as the ultimate embodiment of evil, it was a nice touch to see Vader fulfilling that prophecy they kept talking about in the prequel movies, especially after we saw his origin story. Wow, talk about full circle. Then the final battles on and over Endor and the final duel between Luke and Vader comprised some of my favorite cinematic moments in my childhood. And they still are. Nothing has changed. Nothing at all.

Anything else to say? Not really. I think I've written enough, I really do. And if you're frustrated by how long this post was, well, good. Let the hate flow through you.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dallas Sci Fi Expo after action report

I've been to a few conventions in my time. I've always enjoyed being around people who share the same interests as me, which is the reason I attend conventions in the first place. I'd been to a few Sci Fi Expos as a kid, but it was mostly to shop for action figures. Now that I'm an adult with somewhat of an income, I pay attention to the guest lists. The first Dallas Comic-Con I ever went to as an adult had the most notable guest of all: Stan Lee. The next one I went to had one of my biggest childhood crushes: the lovely Ms. Kelly Hu. That one also had Ioan Gruffudd from "Fantastic Four." However, Sci Fi Expo 2014 has had the most notable guest list of all for me with the appearances from Stephen Amell (Arrow), Karl Urban (Dredd, Almost Human) and Peter Weller (Robocop, The Dark Knight Returns). "Arrow" is my favorite show on TV, and "Almost Human" is a close runner-up. Plus Karl Urban's been one of those actors who's consistently been in movies I've watched starting with "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. And Peter Weller is a sci fi legend because of "Robocop." I just had to meet them.

The morning started with me actually not wanting to get up because of how sore I was from a hard workout the previous night and because of how cold it was. However, once my convention buddy arrived, I knew I had to just bite the bullet and leave my comfort zone (no pun intended). We started the morning by going to the ATM to get more cash, which I knew I would probably need, and then to McDonald's because I knew I was not going to leave the convention center until I'd accomplished all my objectives, no matter how loud my stomach nagged.

Predicatably, there were already people lining up to get in by 9:30, even though they wouldn't let regular guests in until 11. My buddy was lucky enough to have a VIP pass, so he got in early while I had to stand in line for an hour and thirty. It wasn't so bad because most of the line was in a parking garage, and a father and daughter next to me were kind enough to let me watch some anime with them.

That first line went fairly quickly when 11:00 rolled around. As soon as I got in, I made a beeline for the fourth floor where the celebrity guests were. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Stephen Amell's line wasn't a nightmarish mass of humanity, largely because most of the guests were still lining up. You could say that meeting Oliver Queen himself would have been like any one of my female teenage cousins meeting One Direction. It was just unreal. It was also surprisingly pleasant. A lot of celebrities have this diva attitude (like William Shatner from what I've heard), but Stephen has a reputation for being very gracious to and regularly interacting with his fans. When I met him, he looked me in the eye and simply said "Hey, John" as if we were two guys who could have went to college with each other. I then proceeded to tell him things that I'm sure he's heard a million times: "Arrow is my favorite show," "I'm rooting for you to be in the 'Justice League' movie," and "I wish 'Arrow' would run and run and run," to which Stephen simply replied "Let's get to season 3 first." I didn't really plan what to do, but I ended that meet and greet by getting him to say his trademark catchphrase "You have failed this city" while I recorded. He obliged, and I could tell he was slightly amused. About an hour later, I got a picture taken with the man during the photo op. Stephen Amell has officially become one of the most pleasant human beings I've ever met.

Next up was Karl Urban. I don't have as much to say here because I didn't speak to him as long because the line of fans for Karl was a coiling mass of humanity by the time I got to him. I didn't even get a picture with him because they sold out of photo op tickets by the time I got to him (Karl ended up doing a second photo op after we left, and I think that says a lot about his character). When it was my time to meet him, Karl, like Stephen, addressed me by my first name before I told him how big of a fan I was of his work, especially "Almost Human." He said that he had a lot of fun filming that series. I didn't get to talk as long to him, and I could also tell by that time he was quite worn out physically. Then again, I heard rumors that he flew in from New Zealand specifically for the convention. He also wrote a personalized message on the photo of Judge Dredd that I had him autograph. It read "John, I AM THE LAW." Wow.

Finally, I went to meet Peter Weller after debating whether or not I still had the intestinal fortitude to stand in another line. I decided to go the full 10 yards given that I might not get the chance to meet any of these people ever again. Peter's line surprisingly moved the slowest out of all three. Luckily, I started talking to two fellow nerds about various geek topics, mostly the recent and upcoming superhero movies, to pass the time. When I finally got to Peter, I shook his hand and told him it was an honor to meet Robocop and Batman at the same time (he voiced Batman in "The Dark Knight Returns" animated movie). Peter definitely had this grandfatherly quality to him, although he was more along the lines of the kind of old man who probably served in the army and less like my late grandfather who was a jolly old fellow.

All in all, I would sum it up like this: a good 85 percent of the time was spent standing in line. When I go to these things, I am usually more interested in meeting the guests than buying merchandise, simply because I've been buying merchandise my whole life. So yeah, by the end of the day, my feet were worn out. As in, I think that easily could have been the most tired my feet ever were. But by the time the dust settled, I'd met Oliver Queen, Judge Dredd and Robocop. Easily one of the best days I've ever had as a fan of science fiction.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Top 10 games of the last console generation (from a largely PS3 perspective)

The PS3/Xbox 360 generation has come and gone. Personally, I never thought it would, but it did. I guess this means I'm officially old now that I've seen 3 generations come and go. Anyway, as we go into the era of the PS4 and Xbox One, I take a look back at the games from the last generation that I liked the most. Keep in mind, this is only my opinion, and while most of these games have been critically well received, your opinion might differ. Another disclaimer before we start: I had a PS3, so some of these titles are inevitably going to be Sony exclusives. These are also games I've played at the time of writing (so don't be too butthurt that "Sleeping Dogs" is on this list, and "Grand Theft Auto V" isn't). Also, they're not in any particular order from best to worst or vice versa.

1. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves: When it comes to story, I don't think any other game I've ever played has even come close. "Drake's Deception" was pretty darn good, but it didn't have as much of the same emotional oomph as "Among Thieves." The scenery, the sense of scale, and especially the gameplay. Forget Spider-Man, Drake does everything a spider can. Naughty Dog really put themselves at the top of the industry with this title. Not that they were ever shabby, but it's a far cry from the days of "Crash Bandicoot."

2. Call of Duty: Black Ops: "Modern Warfare" was the one that put the series on the map. "Modern Warfare 2" made it even bigger in scale. However, "Black Ops" is the name that most people probably associate most with the franchise. Out of the many many entries in the series, this particular one probably boasts the most balance in its multiplayer, the mainstay of the franchise. It also has the best campaign and story.

3. Far Cry 3: Admittedly, I only picked this one up fairly recently and on PC because of a recent Steam sale. I've been blown away by just about everything. The tropical island setting (which I particularly like a lot because it resembles actual islands I've been to in my family's native Philippines), the hunting aspect and the overall realism. It takes open world games to a new level. Seriously, I just can't get enough. But arguably the thing I like the most is the protagonist. Jason Brody is not that much different from me or you. He's basically a spoiled college kid who ends up becoming a hardened killer because it's literally the only way he'll survive. I'm sure a lot of people can relate to the spoiled or even college kid part. The point is, he's really easy to relate to in the sense that he's not like a faceless run-of-the-mill special forces soldier you see in so many games or any of those other over-the-top action game stereotypes.

4. Batman: Arkham City: If you've read the section of my review of "Arkham Origins" where I give its predecessor a heaping praise, this speaks for itself. No other game has so deftly captured the experience of being the Dark Knight himself. The movie-worthy story didn't hurt, either.

5. Killzone 3: I could easily put "Killzone 2" on this list because that's what put the series on the map. However, 3 took everything that 2 did and made it even better. The graphics on 3 were better, the mutiplayer felt more balanced, and the whole "do or die" feel of the story made it an overall better experience than its predecessor. The brutal melee feature was icing on the cake. Seriously, you can't just swing a knife at someone in real life and hope it KOs them in one hit. Play "Killzone 3" and try the brutal melee. That's more or less what might happen up close.

6. Sleeping Dogs: Arguably more of a sleeper hit that might not be worthy of this list, but I'm putting it on here anyway. Other than "Far Cry 3," this title boasts one of the best stories of any open world games I've ever played. The fact that I played it less than a year after I went to Hong Kong in real life for my cousin's wedding certainly helped me appreciate it. Finally, imagine playing "Grand Theft Auto" with a protagonist who has the skill set of Bruce Lee and a combat engine similar to the "Batman: Arkham" games. And yes, you also get to use a variety of guns. This game is just awesome.

7. Tomb Raider: Although it takes a page out of the "Uncharted" series, this Lara Croft origin story manages to hold its own. The plot twist involving the storms is a bit silly, but this game manages to take one of gaming's biggest icons and make her into a more realistic character who is easier to relate to. It's kind of like Far Cry 3 in that sense, except Lara Croft was already a pop culture icon.

8. Mortal Kombat: I'm only referring to the 2011 reboot. Other than a weird part of my college years in which I consider Scorpion my alter-ego, this game is awesome. It boasts some of the tightest controls of any fighting game I've played, although it caters heavily to people who actually take the time to memorize combos. But where it really shines is the fatalities. Good lord, need I say more. This isn't an exaggeration when I say that it might just be the most violent video game of all time. I'm a bit desensitized, but more sensitive viewers might get nightmares from some of the creative and sick ways that people get killed in this game.

9. Bioshock: Infinite: I should probably include the original game instead of this entry, but seeing as I haven't played it yet, that wouldn't exactly be right. I'll just say that a lot of what made "Infinite" great probably made the first "Bioshock" really awesome when it came out in 2007. The themes and the story are just an acid trip that will make you question a lot of things. The gameplay is just awesome too.

10. God of War 3: This entire series is rage personified. Sometimes you've just had a bad day and want to take your anger out on the world. This series lets you do just that. It's obviously not as ground breaking as the first in the series, but it does bring Kratos from standard definition into high definition. The results are staggering. The only thing I can compare the violence to is "Mortal Kombat." This might not be the cup of tea for some gamers, but let's be honest. Playing as a one-man-army who ends up destroying all of Greek Mythology never gets old.

That's all folks. Let the butthurt begin (unless you read the disclaimers).