Is the Third Time the Charm for Max Payne?


Max Payne 3 is obviously the third game in the Max Payne series, but it comes nine years after Max Payne 2.  Does the old boy still have some punch, or have new game play improvements passed him by?  Lets just say that it is good to have him back, and I hope we don’t have to wait another nine years for Max Payne 4.

If you have never played a Max Payne game before, then what you need to know is that Max Payne brought bullet time to video games.  It is a technique that slows down time and lets you aim in real time, making you feel like you are playing an action movie.  Also there is no regenerating health in this game, you have to find pill bottles to ease your pain if you are injured.  They did add cover to this game to try and keep the action fresh, and because every third person action game needs it now, but with destructible environments you shouldn’t stay in one place too long.  Max can’t take a ton of damage so walking out in to the middle of a firefight will get you killed pretty quick, and you will die a lot if you are like me, but it is still a ton of fun.

The last nine years have not been good to Max, loosing loved ones, drinking, and pill popping have left him a mess. The story recounts how Max ended up in Brazil as a personal body guard to some rich folks, and what he does when they come under attack: he pretty much kills everything that gets in his way, and talks about it.  Like all Max Payne games it has that noir moody retelling, and James McCaffrey’s voice is once again spot on.

I got this game during the Xbox Live supper sale, but it is worthy of your purchase at any price, and there is multiplayer that I have not tried, but I hear is okay, and it adds to the value of the game, but it doesn’t need it.  The single player is what you buy this game for, and I can’t wait to see what trouble the old man gets in to next.

Is Teatro ZinZanni worth the Money?


Teatro ZinZanni is dinner and show theater in downtown Seattle on Mercer St.  My wife won tickets to the show, so we decided to give it a try.

The show is a five course meal spread out over three and half hours.  The acts consist of a comedian, singers, and acrobats, all based around the story that we are witnessing the big party before Ragnarök, or the end of the word.  It is like a rock opera/Cirque Du Soleil/dinner deal.

The food and the music were good, but the acrobats stole the show.  They did an amazing job.  I did tend to get a little hungry waiting for the next course to be served since they serve the food as part of the show, and the servings aren’t that big.

All in all, it was a lot of fun, but it is pricey.  I got in for free and still ended up paying a bit of coin, and I am not sure I would have paid the full hundred or so dollars a person, if we hadn’t got the tickets free, but if you do get to go, or are looking for something different, then you will have a good time at Teatro ZinZanni.

Is Oz Great and Powerful?


Oz: The Great and Powerful is the prequel to The Wizard Oz, and is directed by Sam Raimi.  It never lives up to the original film, but he still made a pretty decent movie, and if you have seen Raimi’s earlier work then you might notice that this seems a lot like Army of Darkness for kids.

Army of Darkness features a jerk that comes from the future and he saves a kingdom with his knowledge of basic science. Oz: The Great and Powerful features a conman/magician, Oz (James Franco), that goes over the rainbow in a balloon and saves a kingdom with his knowledge of science and theatricality.  He even has some scenes at the end of the film to confirm that he knows they similar too, but unlike his previous movie, Oz learns his lessons and becomes a better man.

You can tell Raimi is having fun with the visuals in this movie.  Since it is a fantasy land he goes over the top with color and the detail, and it looks fantastic.  He also gets to use his horror chops because the flying baboons are quit scary, and he has a few startling scares too.  He also peppers things from the original Oz all over the place so you know it is the same land.

The actors, especially the witches, Mila Kunis (Theodora), Rachel Wiesz (Evanora), and Michelle Williams (Glinda), do a great job, and they are really the stars of this movie, but if you are not a fan of James Franco, then this movie will not change your mind because he is pretty much James Franco.  Oz’s computer animated compatriots, played by Joey King (China Girl) and Zach Braff (Flying Monkey), do a great job of playing the characters sweet and keeping Oz on the straight and narrow.

Raimi did what he could to make a worthy prequel to the classic film, but he falls a little short.  It is still an entertaining film, and since he kept it PG, you can take your whole family, which is a rarity these days.  It does make me want to watch Army of Darkness again though.

Second Run in Shadowrun!


The boys and I got together for another shot at the Table Top RPG Shadowrun.  The good news is that we are getting better at it; the bad news is there is still a lot to learn.  As we play we are still digging through the rule books quit a bit, but I think we are finally getting the hang of things.  As the GM (Game Master) it is my job to know the rules backward and forward but I seem to lack the ability to keep everything straight.

Shadowrun has so many ways to solve issues due to the verity of skills the players can have, half of the GMs job is just to roll with the punches, and work with the ideas that your players are throwing at you, and not punishing them for their creativity.  Thankfully Daniel, Andy, and Shawn always kept me on my toes and are forgiving of my errors.

I do want to give a shoot out to the store DriveThruPRG.  They have some great tools and campaigns that make running any table top game, let alone Shadowrun, much easier.  I got my campaign On the Run there and it really helped having pre-made NPCs (non player characters) and bad guys ready to go.

If you have never played a table top RPG you should give it a shot.  They are a lot of fun, and it is a great way to hang out with your friends, provided they have an active imagination.

Is the Shadow of Freedom worth reading?

Shadow of Freedom

Shardow of Freedom is book written by David Webber, and is the fourteenth of series (or third or twentieth depending on how you look at it), so if you haven’t read the previous thirteen there probably isn’t a lot of this review you will understand.  The only reason I am writing this review is to vent on the internet.

This book was originally part of A Rising Thunder, but because of length they made it its own book, and because of that I was hoping it would make a good second half to A Rising Thunder.  It does not. It turns out is more like the third Saganami Island book about Admiral Michelle Henke and the Talbott Cluster. It does have a better ending then A Rising Thunder, but that is not difficult.

This book commits the same sins as a lot of the more resent Honorverse books in that it introduces a lot more new characters that you don’t care about, and most of the action takes place around a conference table then in giant space battles, and I am a big fan of giant space battles, less so conference tables.  The bad guys in this book are also uninteresting, they are either evil and dumb,  The Solarian League, or evil and twirling their mustaches in the background, The Mesan Alignment.  Plus the Solarians are so out classed as far as tech and firepower goes, that the strategy is how to win with killing the least amount of bad guys, so The Star Empire of Maticore isn’t even threatened in this book, so there is nothing to get worried about except that maybe the Mesan’s will do something, they don’t, but I assume they have a great maniacal laugh.

I keep reading these books hoping they will get back to what made them great in the first eight books.  With exciting action and Machiavellian strategy, but instead they have taken a turn for more characters and more conference tables then I can count.  I would like to say this is the last Honor Harrington book that I am going to read, but they used to be so good that I know I will keep reading and hoping for their return to glory.