LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite

The Paley Center in NYC hosted to the world premier for LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite last night. The Paley Center regularly hosts great events and is full of the nicest people, I recommended checking it out if you haven’t yet I was there with my friend Amanda to shoot some interviews for her and MetalMachine.net. We got a chance to interview Troy Baker and Clancy Brown, both of whom I am a huge fan. I was super excited to meet them and they could not be cooler, seriously great guys.Travis Willingham, Jon Burton,  and Jeremy Pardon were also in attendance but we didn’t get an chance to get them on camera(see: Amanda is a nervous wreck). Following the screening of the movie (it’s great and really funny, go buy it in May)  there was a casual and  hilariously entertaining panel moderated by Gary Miereanu. Along with the interviews that will posted on MetalMachine at some point, I snapped a couple pics. Check em out.

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2014 Corvette Stingray New York Premeir

Chevrolet unveiled the new 2014 Corvette Stingray at the Detroit Autoshow, earlier this week. A few days later they took it, and a few other Corvettes, to NYC to celebrate Corvette’s 60th Anniversary. Among the timeline of Corvettes on display was the very first Corvette, unveiled at Motorama in 1953. Personally, I think it was just as fascinating as the new Stingray. I checked out the event and took some pics.

The whole write up is on our site: http://auto-kinesis.com/2013/01/2014-corvette-stingray-comes-to-new-york-to-celebrate-its-60th-anniversary/

IMPA Test Day at Bear Mountain

The International Motor Press Association (IMPA) hosted a pretty awesome test day yesterday at Bear Mountain, in upstate New York. Alex, Hari and I went to cover the day for Auto-Kinesis (and play with some fucking beautiful cars). As Alex is the only IMPA member of the three of use, only he got to drive, but we had a blast none-the-less. Hari, and his professional lavender shirt, enjoyed the cars, meeting the IMPA regulars and getting a feel for events (this being his second) and I was all about taking pics of the cars and chatting up the occasional cute brunette (both are in my official AK job description.) The weather was gorgeous, everyone was awesome, as usual, and best of all, the cars were fantastic. It was super sunny and bright so I was fighting with exposure and such all day, so some pics could be better, but it was all pretty guerrilla style since we had a limited time with each car. All in all, it was a great, long and tiring, day of a lot of things that I love. Keep an eye out for upcoming articles on Auto-Kinesis.com and in the mean time, check out some of the pics below for a sneak peek. Cheers.

-V

Ford Focus Electric Article

The article is up on AK. With Hari’s words, my pics, and an electric car, we can save the world. Or at least piss off cabbies in the city. Check it! http://auto-kinesis.com/2012/04/first-drive-ford-focus-electric/

Ford Focus Electirc Event

Ford had an event in the city yesterday and today, for their new Focus Electric. Hari (our newest writer for AK) and I went checked out what the dealio was. I think we both had our preconceived notions about fully electric cars going in, on purpose or not, but this might turn some heads and convert some nonbelievers.

Here is the brass tax: I actually really enjoyed the car. The steering is very tight and responsive, the torque and power/pick up and ability to zip around town and weave through traffic (we test drove it on the west side of NYC) is impressive for any economic car of that size, especially for a pure electric. Sitting in the floor model before out test drive felt awkward, but any such thoughts were totally nonexistent while I was driving. The seats feel great in my opinion and I think it was a matter of a show floor car (in which no one has toyed with the seating or mirrors and the like ) vs. a car that is actively driven. I drive in the the city a lot for various PA and film work, and have had to adapt to many different cars, vans and trucks of varying manufacturers, and this Ford was super easy to learn and get comfortable in, even while dealing with typical NYC craziness.

With that said, I am still not totally sold on a pure, 100% electric vehicle. Using the standard touch screen and nav features on the dash, it was very easy to find a potentially shocking number of charge stations both in our immediate vicinity and Manhattan in general. However, I am curious about the rest of the country, and specifically any city or state beyond the New York Cities, Chicagos or L.A’s. I understand, as a concept and implementation, electric cars are very much in an infant or very early stage and are expanding in an increasing and impressive rate, with plenty of room to grow, but I am not running out the door, tossing my wallet at a dealership just yet.  However, I really think Ford has something interesting on their hands here and they are moving in the right direction and putting their best efforts towards the future of electric powered vehicles. They are even using a “score” and “achievement” system to encourage more efficient economic driving methods, by way of friendly competition, bragging rights, and subconscious personal goals. The My Ford Mobile App was some pretty fun shit along the same lines. I like the idea of starting/charging/temp controlling my car from my phone anywhere and at any time. That may be some pure geekishness, but with some more advanced updates, imagine the possibilities.

Anyway, that is my haphazard rant about the event. It was great, Ford always puts on a very elegant and enjoyable event, in my experience, and Hari (a better writer than I) will have an article up on auto-kinesis.com very shortly. I did photo for this and you can see my pics on the article but here are some more for your viewing pleasure:

Do you like seafood?

Nina has had a craving for fresh seafood. Our adventure to Caumsett park, and finding mussels, could be a contributing factor. Either way, as per her suggestion (of which I was absolutely on board) we, along with our friend Jason, made another adventure to Caumsett with the primary goal of wading through water and fishing (does that term apply to  picking mussels?) for some delicious dinner. From picking the mussels to cooking in a red wine sauce over pasta, it was a team effort and overall,  I personally think it turned out petty well (crazy Mom rant about mercury poisoning, not withstanding.) Here re my pics:

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PAX East 2012 Write-Up

PAX East 2012 in the books!

My second PAX was everything I expected it to be. The weekend was a great combination of games, events, trains, buses, sleep deprivation, panels, drinks, and pictures.  The whole trip seemed to move in slow motion and fly by at the same time, if that makes any sense. I saw a lot of great stuff on the show floor, (which was a little bigger than last year) met some cool people and even got to hang around a bit with the Giantbomb crew as well as Mike and Jerry. I took a pretty solid pic of Mike and Jerry that I am particularly proud of. I’ll throw some pics on here but check out my previous post for all of my pics from the show.  Jordan Mechner gave a nice keynote to kick off the weekend, he seemed a bit nervous at first but slowly loosened up a bit. He had a few subtle and dry, but humorous and quick witted remarks in his speech and in response to some questions, that gave some insight to his more casual and relaxed side. I wouldn’t mind grabbing a beer with him.

Driving games were essentially non existent this year, but Chevy did have there own booth, along with a couple extra efforts for PAX:

I did get to check out a ton of games, both hands-on and off, and even still missed a good chunk of them. Here’s my run down:

Borderlands 2

I was a big fan of the first one. A little disappointed by the lack of gun customization that I was inexplicably expecting, but got over that pretty quick. The game was a blast to play with friends and the always enticing better loot added to the addiction, but the game wasn’t without its flaws. The sequel aims to build upon what made the first game a blockbuster, and address the cracks in the wall. The first thing that stands out to me as I start my 15 min or so hands-on demo, is the improved UI and frame rate. The signature art style looks slick and the gameplay seems to run much smoother. The UI is cleaned up a presented in the similar vein of Dead Space.

The Gunzerker and the Siren classes were the only choices for the demo. I chose Maya the siren to see how she differs from Lilith in the first game. There was a lot of negative criticism regarding Lilth’s character power in the first game. Gearbox listened. Maya’s Phaselock power traps and suspends enemies in the air, halting any attacks and leaving them vulnerable. Passive abilities can be added to her Phaselock such as rewarding a player for killing an enemy in Phaselock, or eventually recruiting them to fight alongside Maya and friends. I enjoyed my time with the game and really look forward to when it releases in September. I can easily see people spending over 100 hours into this. And yes, there were more guns.

Spec Ops: The Line

Another hands-on demo, a pretty long one too. The game looks great, the sand effects most notably. The environment was always one Yager Development and 2K’s main bullet points, giving players combat options to break a window and smother enemies in an avalanche of sand, and the like. For the most part the combat is pretty solid, straight forward 3rd person cover based shooter. Some of the cover mechanics feel a bit wonky though. On several occasions I had issues running into cover or trying to snap into cover. There was something off with knowing how far away cover is, and when your character is close enough to get into cover. This caused some problems. The lack of a roll was increasingly an issue when getting shot at as well  Otherwise the game looks like it could have some promise. The AI seemed pretty competent, and he voice acting was solid (Nolan North will do that.) Even the story seems like it could be interesting; It’s not your typical “the Russians/Chinese are attacking!” action story line. This is set up to be more about betrayal, rogue agents, and government cover ups. It has some potential

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

I was more of a Laser Squad man (or kid) myself, but XCOM pretty much the granddaddy of that specific strategy genre and the upcoming title looks to be just as great. Visually, the game looks nice and smooth. Nothing mind blowing but the nice almost cartoonish or cell shady looking art style is a good fit, with a decent range of prominent colors. Firaxis is keeping everything that made the original great, while adding some necessary modern tweaks. They are very focused on the relationship between the player and the squad members. Naming squadmembers, a fairly deep looking customization system, and perma death should help out in that player thinking twice before purposely sending “Mom” the assault trooper to her death. Or just the opposite, people deal with things in different ways. The classes all seem unique and valuable, so you won’t just load up a team of 4 heavys and call it a day. The destructible walls play a big part in creating a unique experience for each player and play through, there are at least a half dozen different ways to tackle any obstacle or encounter. There are apparently so many different maps created, that it is impossible to see each one within two full playthroughs, so that shouldn’t hurt replay value either. Any turn based strategy shooter fan should keep an on eye on this one. I briefly spoke to Jerry about it as well. He has no idea it was even on the show floor, his eye lit up when I mentioned it. That’s always a good sign in my book.

Those are a few of the games I had the most time or exposure to, but there were plenty more on the floor that I watched or briefly played. Time for a lightning round!

Civilization V: Gods & Kings – Upcoming expansion. Adds religion system, fixes econmy, adds deeper combat and political options. 30 min demonstration has me pretty interested in this.

Deadlight – 2D puzzle platformer along the lines of Out of This World (Another World for anyone outside North America) made by one guy. This really looks fantastic. The art, lighting, gameplay and animation all look so good that you would never guess this was a solo project at first glance.

Guacamelee – Do you like Metroid but wished Samus was more into luchador wrestling fashion sense and humor? This is the game for you. Progression system, upgrades, 2 player co-op, back tracking and turning into a chicken instead of a ball. If this game isn’t good, I will be very upset.

Super T.I.M.E. Force – 2D platformer/shooter that many are calling the game of the show, not limited to just Indies.

Penny Arcade Adventures: Episode 3 – The next chapter in the PAA series. Zeboyd replacing Hothead. 8-bit and 16-bit classic RPG style. Need  I say more?

Dust: An Elysian Tail – Seriously beautiful looking game. Another one man dealio. From my understanding, Dean Dodril just made his dream game, tossing in everything he ever wanted in a single game. This is a much deeper rabbit hole than meets the eye at first glance.

Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor – Didn’t get my hands on it, not for lack of effort, but I am still cautiously intrigued. If From Software can pull off a solid mech/tank game with interesting and functional Kinect support, I think this would be a great step in the “Controller first, but with added Kinect gestures” style of gameplay. Granted that style of gameplay will only be suited for certain games, but I still have don’t really have any desire to spend money on a Kinect since I’m not a dancer or a 12 year old.

Monaco – I have been excited about this game for a while, and it doesn’t look like it will disappoint. If you can picture a Pac-Man meets Ocean’s 11 kind of heist game, you’re on the right track. Through in some nice gameplay and level design and a great use of color to represent field of view and I am on board. Follow this one.

Containment: The Zombie Puzzler – This is another reason I love PAX. I randomly stumbled upon this game and got into a conversation with the developers. It’s a puzzler in line with Bejeweled, that changes up the gamplay in some great ways. Zombies are invading your puzzle grid and you must surround each zombie with 4 of the same character types to kill them.A little more complicated and engaging than just simply match colors in a row. The game goes deeper; different character types yield different results and upgrades, zombies begin infecting other characters on your puzzle grid, and the story is all in game and constantly moving. If you are looking to mix up your puzzle game library with some unique and well executed ideas, check this game out, it’s available now on Steam.

This is really only a small collection of the games on display. Check out the Indie Megabooth site (http://marctenbosch.com/megabooth/index.html) for more games and info. Even that doesn’t cover every game on the floor.

Gabe and Tycho! ( I had to throw this in)

The show was packed with a ton of other interesting things to see. Fitting all of this into a 3 day show is pretty absurd. Memorable moments off the top of my head: Giantbomb podcast, all the Mike and Jerry Q & A’s, The Gearbox panel,  watching Sub-Zero play Kinect, Monty Oum from Rooster teeth punching a lemon back at someone, seeing the Minibosses live, the list goes on. If any of this is up your alley, I highly encourage checking it out.

Pax East 2012!

Made it back from Boston in one piece. Took a crap ton of pics, sifted through them, tweaked some colors (lighting and color temp in a convention center is a fucking pain in the ass) and here is a good chunk of everything. PAX was a ton of fun, as always. Had a blast getting to see a bunch of games, awesome panels, and hanging around (sticking a camera in the faces of) the GiantBomb crew. I am actually really proud of the pic of Mike and Jerry towards the end. It was on the fly with a giant wall of windows, blasting in sunlight, and it ended up looking really good. It’s one pic, but I’m proud of it. I plan on writing up a little something about my PAX experience for AK (auto-kinesis.com) that should be up soon, if Alex OK’s it. Enjoy the pics, feedback is always welcome.

-V

Off to PAX!

Headed off to Boston in a few hours, for PAX East, bitches! Plenty of pictures to come soon.

Police Interceptor Review

AK’s Police interceptor review is up. Turns out police cars are really fun to fuck around with. Especially when I figured out how to work the siren and lights.

Check it out:

http://auto-kinesis.com/2012/03/sound-of-the-beast-ford-police-interceptor-review/