I Fall, You Fall, We All Fall for Titanfall (Or Something Like That…)

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I’m not a big fan of first person shooters. There, I said it!

It’s heresy, I know. How could someone from my generation not be into super repetitive gameplay, short and unoriginal single player campaigns, and cowardly camping a-holes who do their darnedest to make online multiplayer as un-fun as possible? Maybe I’m being a little too harsh. Then again, I really don’t think I am. I’m truly in the minority, I guess.

So, when I heard about Titanfall, I just shrugged it off as another boring and unoriginal first person shooter. And when I heard it wasn’t going to even have a single player campaign, I literally laughed out loud. I couldn’t help but think it was just a cheap cash-in on the genre.

Nevertheless, the hype for the game was otherworldly, so when the beta was opened for all Xbox One owners (and yes, I was one of the poor saps who bought the system on launch day thinking that there would actually be a good number of games to play on it right out of the gate), I thought I might as well give the game a shot. Turns out, I was blown away.

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The first thing I noticed was the graphics. Now, I’ll admit, I am a bit of a graphics nut. It’s not anywhere close to the determining factor in how much I like a game, but I definitely appreciate it when it’s there. Titanfall is beautiful. The colors are vibrant, the lighting is realistic, and the textures are crisp. This is truly a next-gen game. I haven’t seen any screenshots of the Xbox 360 version, but I can imagine it will look pretty good on that system, too.

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The next thing that stood out, and probably the most important thing for any shooter, is the controls. They are as smooth as silk. The default controls are mostly the same as Call of Duty (aka: the most overhyped franchise ever – sorry CoD fans), and other elements like wall running and double jumping are as easy and intuitive as they could probably ever be.

And seriously, the new gameplay mechanics are really what make this game shine. Wall running in a first person shooter is sheer brilliance. And don’t even get me started on the mechs, or Titans, as they’re called. They completely change how the genre is played. There’s no more just blindly sprinting around corners and through the streets on a multiplayer map. The Titans can kill you in an instant. Players can kill them too, but if they take one on alone, they have to be either extremely good, or extremely lucky. And once you get your Titan, other players better run for cover.

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And how do you get your Titan, you ask? After a match begins, a two minute timer counts down. Once it reaches zero, you will have the option of calling your Titan down, hence the name Titanfall. You can call your Titan sooner, however, by racking up kills.

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What’s more, concept art for the game was recently released, showcasing – get ready for it – giant monsters! Now, at this point, it’s not known if the monsters will interact with combatants on the map, but here’s to hoping they will. Seriously, as awesome as this game is, having giant monsters interrupt a firefight would be just amazing. Then again, they might just be a part of the background, or not even in the game at all, but honestly, why tease us with them if they aren’t part of the gameplay?

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Now, so far I’ve told you everything about the game except how it’s actually played. Matches are played with two teams of six, and there are three game modes in the beta: Attrition, Hardpoint, and Last Titan Standing.

Attrition is a point match. Teams have 10 minutes to earn 250 Attrition points, or XP. If no team has 250 XP by the end of the match, the team with the highest number wins. There is also an epilogue after a match, where the losing team has the opportunity to evacuate the map via an extraction point to earn some extra XP before the match truly ends. The catch here is that respawns are turned off during this epilogue portion of the match, so it is much more difficult to get that bonus.

Hardpoint Domination is a bit like capture the flag, or more appropriately, capture the bases. There are three neutral spots on the map that the two teams must fight over. When a team controls a spot, or Hardpoint, they begin accruing XP. The more hardpoints that are controlled by a single team, the faster XP is built up. Whichever team reaches 400 XP first wins. There is a 15 minute time limit, however, and if that time is reached before a team has 400 points, whichever team has the most points wins. Like Attrition, there is an epilogue to the match where the losing team has to try to escape. The rules are also the same.

Last Titan Standing is the final game mode in the beta. In it, players are placed in their Titans at the beginning of the match, and they must work together with their team to destroy the other team’s Titans. The catch? There are no respawns, so once a player dies, it’s up to the teammates to pick up the slack. Like the title of the mode suggests, once a team is completely wiped out, it is game over.

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To sum it all up, I can honestly say that I haven’t felt this way about a shooter since Halo 2 on the original Xbox, and that is a very very good thing! My only wish is that they would have put in a campaign mode for single player or co-op. With this much potential for sci-fi mayhem, it’s really hard to believe that there’s not one.

So, what do you guys think? Will Titanfall be the shooter we’ve all been waiting for, or is it just another addition to an overdone genre? Comment below!

Movies From Our Childhood

Movies are such a big part of our lives. We watch them when we’re bored, when we go out on dates, and thanks to netflix and the internet, we even play them when we’re doing other things, just to keep our world from getting too quiet. As entrenched in our lives as movies really are, it’s hard to believe that they didn’t even exist barely a century ago!

Growing up as an only child, movies were especially important to me. When none of my friends were around and I had no one to play with, I could escape to other worlds through my television screen. Between the ages of 3 and 7, I had three favorites.

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First and foremost was the Lion King. I must have seen that movie at least 3 times while it was still in theaters, and 200 times more (only a slight exaggeration) when it came out on video. I would sing and dance to the songs when they played, and even keep singing them after the movie ended. Heck, I still know all the words!

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I also spent a lot of time watching Winnie the Pooh (the original). My dad would often take me to his law office when school was out and leave me in the conference room. I had plenty of things to keep me entertained, including puzzles, drawing pads, wooden building blocks, a Sega Genesis, and most importantly, my Winnie the Pooh movie. Nearly everyday, I would pop that in the VCR, turn on the little 15-inch tube television, grab a Sprite, and kick back in the office chair and enjoy. I loved that movie so much, I even named my first favorite stuffed animal Pooh Bear.

Recently, I noticed that the movie is now on Netflix, so if you have any young kids, play it for them. They will love you for it!

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The third movie was Jurassic Park. This movie TERRIFIED me, and I loved it for that! During the scene where (spoiler alert, for those who haven’t seen it) the T-Rex breaks out of his pen, I would run off, hide under my coffee table, and watch the ensuing mayhem from there. It was incredible to me. After finishing the movie, I would, much to the amusement of the adults around me, run around and roar like a dinosaur. Honestly, my parents probably should have never let me see it so young, but I’m glad they did. This movie shaped quite a bit of my childhood. After all, what little boy doesn’t like dinosaurs?

What about you guys? What movies do you remember from your childhood? Post below!

Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I hope you all are enjoying your live action Disney movies (see previous post).

The Top-10 Greatest Live-Action Disney Movies of All Time

Valentine’s Day is only a week away, and what better way to celebrate it than to read a top-10 list about a movie studio that makes films for kids. Okay, maybe I’m just trying to find an excuse to tie the holiday to my post so I can get more views. What’s so wrong with that? Absolutely nothing, I say. Then again, maybe family oriented movies really are your thing on Valentine’s Day. Either way, this post is about Disney, or more specifically, what I think are the top-10 live-action Disney movies.

Now, to be honest, I really wanted to make this list on the top-10 animated Disney movies, because, you know, that’s what Disney does best. But, unfortunately, I have yet to see Frozen, and after hearing over and over again about how good it is, I feel like I can’t make it a very fair list without seeing it first. Fortunately, the movie is coming out in a few weeks on Blu-Ray, so I’ll pick it up then. In the meantime, though, you’ll have to make do with the top-10 live-action Disney movies. Heck, it might even give you a few ideas for what to watch with your date on Valentine’s Day, after all.

In order to be on this list, the movies must first feature real actors moving in front of a real camera. Second, be in some way related to Disney, whether it’s through production or distribution. And third, be the best movies ever that meet the above criteria.

So, without further ado, let’s get on to the list!

#10 – Holes

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Holes is a great book, it was written by a great children’s author, and it was a pretty good movie. In a nutshell, it is the story of a boy, played by a young Shia LaBeouf, who is framed for stealing a pair of valuable sneakers. He is then sent to a camp where he is forced to dig holes every day for an entire year as punishment. The story features cowboys, bandits, forbidden love, and curses, and at the end of it all, Shia’s character is proven innocent. His celebration is short lived, however, as he ends up getting caught in a war between giant transforming robots (I wish).

#9 – Cool Runnings

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The ‘90s was a time when Disney seemed to be a little obsessed with sports movies. Not to say that they were bad movies, though. In fact, many of them were great movies. Cool Runnings was definitely one of the better ones. The movie’s premise is the same as most sports movies. In this one, a ragtag group of unruly Jamaicans decide to compete in the Winter Olympics. As you would expect with a synopsis like that, the movie is hilarious. And, as it just so happens, the Winter Olympics in Sochi just started. Coincidence? I think yes. In any case, it’s a good excuse to give it a watch.

#8 – Alice in Wonderland

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Disney has been in a bit of a remake frenzy lately, and Alice in Wonderland, which grossed over $1 Billion worldwide, is probably the reason for that. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp took some twisted liberties with an already twisted tale, and people couldn’t get enough of it. That’s not to say that it is a spectacular movie. It’s not. But it is a lot of fun, and if you haven’t seen it yet, you’re seriously doing yourself a disservice.

#7 – National Treasure

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Oh, Nicholas Cage, whatever happened to you? When he made this movie, he was on top of the world, and now, well, let’s just say he’s not. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t take away from the fact that he was great in this. Seriously, how do you beat a movie that features a map on the back of the Declaration of Independence? Answer: you can’t!

#6 – Tron/Tron Legacy

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Number six is definitely a twofer (that’s an actual word, believe it or not). Both movies are about equal in my mind, overall, but I have to give kudos to the original because, for 1982, it was seriously innovative. CGI was a brand new thing at that time, and that movie used a ton of it. The sequel, made nearly 30 years later, didn’t have the same cool factor, but it was a fun watch, nonetheless. That, and Daft Punk wrote the musical score for the whole movie. If you don’t know what these movies are about, basically, they center around Kevin Flynn, who accidentally discovers a way to transport himself into a video game that he created. If you’re a fan of massive amounts of CGI and, in the second movie’s case, electronic music, then you’ll enjoy Tron.

#5 – Remember the Titans

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We’ve made it to the top five, woot, woot! This is where the movies start getting good. Remember the Titans was an excellent movie, and happened to be one of the last big sports movies Disney had a hand in. And, it was also their best. At its heart, it’s a movie about friendship, trust, and, of course, football! It’s definitely worth watching if you haven’t seen it.

#4 – Who Framed Roger Rabbit

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A lot of people think that this isn’t a Disney movie. In a way, they’re right. They’re also wrong. Several big studios were involved in this one, and by the criteria noted above this list, it counts as a Disney movie. And good thing, too, because it’s actually a really good flick, and it would be a shame not to be able to list it. I seriously can’t imagine who thought combining a live action, noir style detective story with cartoons would be a good idea, but they were geniuses (especially the one who came up with Jessica Rabbit).

#3 – Mary Poppins

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This is by far the oldest movie on this list, being made in 1964, so it’s all the more amazing that it’s ranked so high. Mary Poppins is a classic in every sense of the word, and if you didn’t see this growing up, then you were seriously deprived as a child (just kidding). This film features some of the most memorable Disney songs ever made, a great plot, and of course, a magical nanny who travels around via an inconspicuous black umbrella. It’s definitely hard to top a combination like that.

#2 – The Avengers

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This is the first Marvel movie to carry the Disney stamp after the comic book company was purchased by the Mouse House in 2009. This is the highest grossing Disney movie of all time, and the third highest grossing film, in general. If you haven’t seen it (and with the above stats, I’d be seriously shocked if you haven’t), the movie is about a team of superheroes, including Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, and the Hulk, who have to save the world from an alien invasion. It’s a simple premise, but it was executed brilliantly! This is one of the few movies you can leave on repeat and not get bored with. It’s that good!

#1 – Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

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Does Pirates deserve to be number one? The short answer: duh! It’s my list. I can put it wherever I want. The long answer: see short answer.

Seriously, this movie “has got to be the best pirate (movie) I’ve ever heard of.” In fact, it’s one of my favorite movies ever. It’s quotable, it’s funny, it’s serious, it’s a love story, it’s an adventure story, it has pirates in it, it has undead pirates in it, it’s shot in one of the most beautiful locales in the world, it’s incredibly original, and above all, it spawned Jack Sparrow. Er, I mean, Captain Jack Sparrow. He most definitely ranks up there with the most memorable movie characters of all time, right alongside Darth Vader. The only thing that disappointed me about this movie was its sequels.

 
So, what did you think? Did I leave anything out? Should these be in a different order? Make your voice heard. Comment below!

Who is Daft Punk?

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Metal-heads have taken over the Grammys, and no, I’m not talking about Metallica and Lang Lang.

Daft Punk, in all their robo-themed glory, won every category they were nominated in, which is no small feat, considering they were up for 5. Their album Random Access Memories won Album of the Year, Best Dance/Electronica Album, and Best Engineered Album. Their Song “Get Lucky” also won Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.

After being on the music scene for nearly 20 years and dishing out masterpieces like “Around the World,” “One More Time,” and “Technologic,” Daft Punk finally succeeded in showing the Grammy community the light (which gleams oh so majestically off their futuristic metallic helmets).

And there’s really no denying that “Get Lucky” and Random Access Memories were some of the most refreshing bits of music to come out in 2013. It’s a shame then that most people had never heard of Daft Punk until just this year. In light of their recent success, many are asking, just who exactly is Daft Punk, and why are they dressed like space men.

Allow me to enlighten you.

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Daft Punk is a French electronic/house (techno for those of you not familiar with the genre) Duo, and have been around since the mid ’90s. They are composed of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.

Their first album Homework was released in 1997, and is largely credited for bringing electronic music closer to the mainstream.

Their second album, Discovery, was released in 2001, and was met with enormous critical success. The song “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” from that album also won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording, and was sampled on Kanye West’s hit, “Stronger.”

In 2005, Daft Punk released their third album Human After All. Despite some success with singles like “Technologic,” it was met with mixed reviews, and was the last studio album Daft Punk made until the release of Random Access Memories in 2013.

Daft Punk released a live concert album in 2007 called Alive 2007, which received a Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance Album. They also did the score for Disney’s Tron: Legacy, which came out in 2010.

As to why they wear the helmets, the taller Daft Punk member, Thomas Bangalter, said that “nobody cared who I was until I put on the mask.” Er, wait… that was actually a quote from Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (Sorry. I couldn’t resist).

Actually, Daft Punk has stated on several occasions that they wear the masks to conceal their identities. When they wear their helmets, everybody sees them as Daft Punk, but whenever they take them off, they become just like anybody else. They can go out in public without being ambushed by fans and paparazzi, and enjoy absolutely normal lives. In a way, they’re like real life superheroes, minus the crime fighting part.

They can enjoy being famous without having to deal with the problems of being famous! Plus, those helmets make for some seriously good branding. How brilliant is that?!

Anyway, to celebrate Daft Punk’s winning night at the Grammys, I thought I’d link a few of their more memorable music videos. Check it out!

This is their first big hit from Homework, “Around the World.” Don’t let the repetitive lyrics stop you from watching this video. The vid is probably one of the better ones from the ’90s.

Instead of making a music videos for individual songs, Daft Punk decided to make an Anime movie for the whole album, Discovery, called Interstella 5555. This is the part of the movie that features the song “One More Time.” I’m not a huge fan of the movie (although I might like it better if the mouths matched the lyrics), but the song itself is great!

This video for “Technologic” is downright creepy! Rumor has it, the robot doll is actually Chucky from Child’s Play without his skin.

This is a snippet of the Alive 2007 concert. The Songs featured are “Around The World,” “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” and “Television Rules The Nation.”

This is Kanye West’s “Stronger.” Cool vid. Cool song. Really cool Daft Punk Cameos.

This is the a cappella group, Pentatonix’s, tribute to Daft Punk. Every sound, from the bass to the synth noises, are made with their mouths. It is really pretty cool, and whether you’re a Daft Punk fan or not, it is worth watching.

Looking Ahead to the Grammys – for Better or for Worse

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Everyone has their own taste in music, so it’s no wonder that when the Grammys are brought up in a conversation, the topic is met with either enthusiastic excitement or unapologetic disdain.

Over the years, the Grammys has propped up the most successful artists and bands in music. The show usually only awards the most popular acts and has live performances given by, again, the most popular acts. Indie artists and artists who are on smaller labels are almost always snubbed entirely, regardless of how good their actual music is. Look at Capital Cities’ hit “Safe and Sound.” It was released independently in 2011 – that’s right, almost 3 YEARS AGO!!! – and only now that the band has ties to a bigger marketer, has the song gotten any recognition.

It’s no surprise, though. If the Grammys actually gave awards to the very best, odds are that they would go to a lot of acts that no one has ever heard of. That would be bad for the show’s ratings, because, you know, why would anybody watch a show about people and things they don’t care about? The show wouldn’t be able to sustain itself.

That being said (and really, it does need to be said, doesn’t it?), I love popular music! And I love the Grammys! There really isn’t anything wrong with the fact it’s just a popularity contest. It’s just entertainment, after all. And it’s all just opinion, too. In 2009, for example, both the Record of the Year, and Album of the Year awards went to the collaboration between Robert Plant (the lead singer from Led Zeppelin, for those who don’t know) and Alison Krauss. It was a great album, don’t get me wrong, but I doubt every single person who ever heard it would have picked it to be best of the year. The same goes for the 2010 Album of the Year winner, Taylor Swift, and all the other winners in all categories in every award show ever, for that matter.

So, seeing as the 2014 Grammys are only a little over 24 hours away, I thought it would only be fitting that I list my own winners for the top categories, based on the Grammy selected nominees. Bold entries are winners.

Record of the Year: 

“Get Lucky” – Daft Punk

“Radioactive” – Imagine Dragons

“Royals” – Lorde

“Locked Out of Heaven” – Bruno Mars

“Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke

This was a close one. My brain said “Royals,” but my heart said “Get Lucky.” Both songs are fantastic, but I just can’t help but dance when I hear “Get Lucky,” which pushes it over the edge here.

Album of the Year:

The Blessed Unrest – Sara Bareilles

Random Access Memories – Daft Punk

Good Kid, M.A.A.D City – Kendrick Lamar

The Heist – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Red – Taylor Swift

This one is seriously tough! It is about tied between Kendrick, Macklemore, and Daft Punk. Random Access Memories was great in how bold and different it was. The Heist is just a fun album, from start to finish. Macklemore also touches on some sensitive issues in a few songs, which definitely deserves recognition. Good Kid, M.A.A.D City is a serious stylistic throwback to the ’90s. Kendrick Lamar brings a lot of dark themes to the album, and it really adds a genuine quality to it. Plus, a lot of the beats are just plain awesome. Overall, Lamar’s album stands out the most for me at this point, but who knows, this choice is so close, I might change my mind by tomorrow.

Song of the Year:

“Just Give Me a Reason” – Pink, Jeff Bhasker, and Nate Ruess

“Locked Out of Heaven” – Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, and Ari Levine

“Roar” – Katy Perry, Lukasz Gottwald, Max Martin, Bonnie McKee, and Henry Walter

“Royals” – Ella Yelich O’Connor and Joel Little

“Same Love” – Ben Haggerty, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, and Curtis Mayfield

This one is no contest. It’s “Royals,” hands down out of this selection.

That’s my 2 cents, anyway. What do you think? Who should win? Who shouldn’t even be up there? Were there any snubs for the major categories (*cough* Justin Timberlake *cough*)? Fill out the poll and comment below!

Do My Opinions Even Matter?

Hi all, and welcome to my first post!

As my blog title and description might suggest, this blog will be dedicated to my thoughts, opinions, and insights on popular music, movies, video games, and television. I’ll also give my views on important current events and other things that might be worth mentioning.

But the real question is, do my opinions really even matter? I was raised hearing, over and over again, that opinions are like butts – everybody’s got one. And you know, it really is true. But, the thing is, are opinions really just as worthless as a person’s posterior?

Maybe. Maybe not. My view is that a person’s opinion is worth as much as that person’s life itself. After all, our opinions are really what makes us unique, aren’t they? Then again, that’s just my opinion…

In any case, I’m not trying to make an argument for why you should read my blog. Honestly, I’m just trying to write an interesting introduction! Read my blog if you want, or don’t if you don’t want (to). If you choose to do the former, however, I promise that I’ll do my very best to keep you entertained with my opinions on things that keep you entertained.

Stay tuned!