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    Interview: The Evil Ink Comics Team

    April 6th, 2011

     

    It’s extremely rare to find a band that has the ability to transcend not only music genres, but physical mediums as well. That reason alone makes Coheed and Cambria something more than “just another band”. The fact that their “Amory Wars” story has spanned a decade through five albums, countless comics, and a rather hefty novel, lends itself to putting them into a category reserved for the likes of legends. In the interest of being one-hundred percent honest with you, I need to confess my love for all things Coheed. Hell for that matter, I love all things Evil Ink; which is the self-owned publishing company that produces the Amory Wars saga, along with another cult hit Kill Audio which Claudio Sanchez (Coheed’s lead singer and idea man) and his extremely talented wife/partner in crime Chondra Echert work on together. Just like the Amory Wars, Kill Audio is nothing short of pure comic book awesome; and Echert’s talent (just like her husband’s) really shines through in each issue.

    For those of you unfamiliar with Coheed and Cambria’s music, take a look at this video for the song “Here We Are Juggernaut” off their most current release “Year of the Black Rainbow”.

    And if you’ve yet to bear witness to the pure awesome that is everything Evil Ink, head over here and take a look at a preview of some of the comics.

    During my time at C2E2 I was lucky enough to snag an interview with Claudio, Chondra and the new Amory Wars artist Aaron Kuder, we chatted about everything from their current and upcoming projects to all things gaming. Take a gander at the transcript below, as I delve into the minds of some of the coolest people in the music/comic/all things nerdy realm.

    (Photo taken by Jess Kilgannon: from L to R: Claudio Sanchez, Chondra Echert, Me, Aaron Kuder)

     

    Kyle: Thanks for taking the time out to do the interview. What are you guys looking forward to seeing here at C2E2?

    Claudio: Right now, there’s no agenda. Nothing really on the top of my list. Just seeing if anything catches my eye. I went over to Artist’s Alley, got a couple of sketches and commissions. That’s about it.

    Chondra: It’s hard when you’re planning to work at a con to actually look at a schedule and make a plan around it. We’re here from 8am to 7:15-7:30 at night, so we can’t see panels and don’t really have time to do cool stuff. It’s a bummer.

    K: Aaron, this question is for you. What’s the hardest part of bringing the Amory Wars story to life on paper?

    Aaron: For myself, it’s making sure I’m bringing something that is worthy of all the fans’ respect and love.

    K: So there’s a little bit of extra pressure then?

    A: A little bit, but… pressure makes the food better… or something like that.

    Ch: In a pressure cooker. (laugh)

    K: Aaron, are you looking forward to anything at the con?

    A: Everything! It’s awesome doing the signing with these guys (Evil Ink, Claudio, Chondra, Tony Moore). No con has anything but fun in it.

    K: Gamer Reaction is a video game website, so obviously I have to ask a video game question or two: Who is the biggest gamer out of the three of you?

    A: Gamer? Video games? Also role-play? Hmm… I don’t do any of it. Hahaha. I’m not a huge gamer, but I’ve done a bit of Role Playing game artwork. I like board games actually.

    Ch: Me too!

    A: Things that create actual interaction with people. I’m all about it.

    K: Favorite board game?

    Ch: Scrabble!

    A: I can’t pick one. It’s way too hard to choose.

    Ch: Wow (Aaron) I didn’t know you were so passionate about board games.

    A: I just play them A LOT.

    Ch: Claudio’s a gamer. He likes to play video games.

    K: Okay then Claudio, favorite console?

    Cl: Right now it would have to be Playstation 3. But, every once in a while a game will come out where I get fixated on it. Like a Halo, or Red Dead Redemption, that I’ll play regardless of the console. Other than that… I’m not on it like 24 hours a day.

    K: Any games you’re playing currently, or anything you’re in the middle of?

    Cl: Not really, I mean MVC 3 but that’s just every once in a while.

    Ch: Basketball.

    Cl: Yeah I do enjoy basketball, playing some NBA 2k recently.

    K: Claudio, you’ve been asked about an Amory Wars movie numerous times, but what about an Amory Wars video game? Any desire to work in that medium?

    Cl: We’ll see. I mean one of the ideas was a Street Fighter style action game with all the characters from the Amory Wars. You know, something easy. Maybe create an application for the iPad/iPhone. I’d love to do it, it seems like a great starting point to strengthen the characters for the people who might not really know the Amory Wars.

    K: Speaking of Evil Ink projects, you’re here to promote both your Amory Wars project, and the project you and Chondra worked on together: Kill Audio. Are there any plans for a Kill Audio sequel?

    Cl: Yeah, we’ve started to outline Kill Audio 2 but then Subway Seriez got in the way. So we’ve outlined it, but we started putting more of our concentration into Subway Seriez which will see the light of day before KA 2 does.

    Ch: Sheldon (who’s also worked on Kill Audio) actually has a book, and has been doing other things so we wanted to give him leeway while we’re working on Subway Seriez to take anything that might come up and work on other projects until we’re all ready to get back together. We’re always ready to work with Sheldon though.

    K: So you guys have a good working relationship then?

    Ch: Absolutely.

    K: Claudio and Chondra, for people reading this who don’t know: you two are married. What’s it like working as a married couple on creative endeavors together?

    Cl: It’s cool. We both have a strong suit. Chondra is very good at communicating in dialogue, whereas I think mine is more describing the panels, and setting the scene. I don’t really spend a whole lot of my time communicating, so some times having to just communicate with myself and work out ideas in my head gets a little chaotic, so I look to Chondra and go “here you do this” (in regards to communicating).

    Ch: Essentially what we do while working on a script is, we talk about the idea, but more so we spend A LOT of time working on the outline. I mean, it ends up looking like a novel. We don’t panel it out first, we develop the concept first, figure out what’s happening and then I’ll take that issue and break it into what I think panels at a starting off point should be. Then Claudio delves into it and he’ll change things, tweak things and add things. It’s sort of a give and take until we have something we both are happy with. But of course there are times when both of us are kind of gridlocked. It’s like here, we’re going to take a few minutes, I’m going to go in this room, you’re going to go in that room, we’ll reconvene later and speak like big people again. I think working on anything as a couple, makes working on your job together that much easier. Because at the end of the day, most people don’t have to live with their bosses.

    K: So you would say it’s easier to work as a couple and handle creative differences?

    Ch: Yeah it’s great! I wouldn’t want to work with anyone else.

    K: Aaron, you’re the “3rd wheel” in the group. (haha) What’s it like working with a married couple?

    A: It’s like being a redheaded stepchild again. HAHAHA. No, everyone’s been supremely awesome about welcoming me and my art. It’s been a wonderful experience.

    (Noticing that it was time for the show floor to close, I decided to wrap up the interview early)

    K: Well guys, I know you have a lot more work to do before the floor closes for the night, so I’ll let you go. Thanks again for taking the time out sit down with Gamer Reaction! I personally look forward to seeing what’s in store for the whole Evil Ink crew in the future!

    There you have it folks, it’s not often people get a chance to interview their heroes, I just happened to be one of the lucky ones. On a personal note, I’d like to encourage all of you to give Coheed and Cambria, the Amory Wars comics and story, and Kill Audio a look/listen; they’re worth the time and effort. Also, a big thanks again to Claudio, Chondra, and Aaron for taking the time to answer my questions, a huge thank-you to Blaze James (Coheed’s manager) for helping facilitate the interview; and of course a big thanks to Gamer Reaction for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity!

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    Gamer Reaction at C2E2 2011

    April 4th, 2011

    There’s something about attending a convention with a bunch of like minded (see: nerdy) folks, and knowing we’re all there for a set of reasons that any comic book nerd/gamer/artist would be proud of. C2E2 was no exception to the “cons bring awesome people together” rule, and over the weekend I got to experience one of the most fun/exciting times of my life.

    For those of you unfamiliar with the con, C2E2 is a convention spanning the latest and greatest from the worlds of comics, movies, television, toys, anime, manga and video games. From a show floor packed with hundreds of exhibitors, to panels and autograph sessions giving fans a chance to interact with their favorite creators, to screening rooms featuring sneak peeks at films and television shows months before they hit either the big or small screen, C2E2 brings the best of popular culture to downtown Chicago.

    I was quite surprised by the presence video games had at a predominantly comic book based convention. There were previews for the Thor game, Battlefield 3, and an entire IGN sponsored gaming pavilion/stage. As the weekend continued, I began to spot a ton of video game cosplayers as well. It was refreshing to see our mediums of choice intermixing without any sort of disconnect. That being said, I hope as this convention grows; more developers will showcase upcoming games/products.

    On the comic side of things, C2E2 was a literal mecca for all things print based, with a special spot for indie and web based comics as well. You had everything from Marvel and DC to publishers no one had ever heard of, and yet everyone was treated as equals. Beyond the actual comics themselves, the amount of merchandise for sale was jaw-droppingly huge! You name it, and you could probably buy it, or meet someone who sells it online.

    Probably one of the COOLEST comic related things I experienced at C2E2 was the Evil Ink booth, which was conveniently staffed by their lead talent Claudio Sanchez (lead singer of Coheed and Cambria) and Chondra Echert. For those unfamiliar, Evil Ink produces the Amory Wars which is the comic-book portion of the Coheed and Cambria saga, and another cult hit Kill Audio which Sanchez and his wife Echert work on together. I was lucky enough to snag an interview with Claudio, Chondra, and the new Amory Wars artist Aaron Kuder. Look for a transcript and pictures of the interview in an  upcoming post!

    C2E2 was definitely a great time, and I encourage any of you who can make the trip to attend next year; it really is a spectacle to witness in person! That being said, for all of you who didn’t make it, feast your eyes on the C2E2 picture gallery (photos taken by James Kamrowski) and get a glimpse of just how awesome C2E2 was! And again, stay glued to Gamer Reaction for the exclusive Claudio Sanchez, Chondra Echert, and Aaron Kuder interview coming soon!

    C2E2 (photos taken by James Kamrowski)

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    Bulletstorm Demo: Impressions

    January 25th, 2011

    The demo for the highly anticipated Epic Games/People Can Fly title Bulletstorm was released today, giving players the chance to run through one of the levels and get a feel for the game. With a release date set for February 22nd, 2011 for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, this demo came at just the right time and should create even more buzz for Bulletstorm. Read on as I take a look at this ball-busting, blood-spewing, trick-shooting demo.

    Let me get the only negative thing about the Bulletstorm demo out of the way right now: it’s REALLY short. I’m aware that it’s just a demo, and most demos are short; but this game is so mindblowingly crap-your-pants-amazing that it left me wanting more. To truly get a feel for the game, I ended up running through the single available level quite a few times. That being said, the time I’ve spent with the demo so far was some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing an FPS. ‘The game mechanics and encouraged creativity promote a sense of replayability, even in the demo. Repeating the one level numerous times wasn’t the least bit annoying or repetitive, and I found myself forgetting the fact I was seeing the same enemies and scenery over and over again. If the demo is at all indicative of what to expect in the full game, I’ve got a feeling Bulletstorm is going to stay in heavy rotation for most gamers, if for no other reason than it never gets old.

    The Gears of War series has already proven that Epic Games has a knack for developing visually stunning titles, and Bulletstorm is no different. In the demo, players are introduced to the slick, high definition visual mastery that has come to be an Epic standard. The level is gorgeous, with a serious dose of stylized environmental effects. At times throughout the level, I’d stop and just marvel at the overly detailed piles of rubble, broken doors, and running water. On top of the level looking mighty fine, the ammunition and explosion effects are just as eye-poppingly awesome. As long as the rest of the levels in Bulletstorm look this good, the game is worth a purchase just to sit and stare at it.

    While pretty visuals are important, they don’t make or break a game; the gameplay does. Thankfully, the gameplay in Bulletstorm is top notch, and quite frankly some of the most entertaining I’ve ever come across. I never thought I’d find a game where creatively killing your enemies was so highly encouraged, and so fun to do. Bulletsorm calls this “killing with skill” and as you progress through the level, you get rewarded with points for how much skill you  kill with. So as not to spoil the surprise for those who haven’t played the demo yet, I won’t go into too much detail as to what the skill killing entails, all I will say is that my first kill in the game had me lifting an enemy into the air with a “leash” type attack, pulling him towards me, kicking him in the face, and then shooting him in the family jewels all while he remained in the air. Now imagine that type of creative, over the top, sometimes hilarious, killing for an entire level; you’re bound to find creative ways to do it. There were times during the demo that I would stop and purposefully try and maim my currently targeted enemy without killing him, just so I could figure out new ways of inflicting damage. As messed up as that sounds, torturing nameless characters in Bulletstorm is one hell of a good time and I can’t wait to see what other “skill kills” will be at my disposal in the full game.

    While it’s a bit unusual, I’d like to take a minute to focus on the opening tutorial/cut-scene of the Bulletstorm demo. There were a few things that really stood out to me, like the game breaking the fourth wall and addressing the fact you would be playing as the character who’s walking you through said tutorial (Grayson Hunt). On top of letting you know that they know you’re playing a game, the opening scene also informs you about kicking someone in the “poop passage”, and manages to call you “dick-tits” all in the same breath. On top of the juvenile and incredibly hilarious name-calling, the tutorial shows you that shooting someone in the ass or crotch gives you extra points. Yeah you read that right, one of the key features is shooting people in the ass or naughty bits. How awesome is that?  One last note, as the tutorial finishes, Grayson says to you the player “the game isn’t going to pre-order itself”.

    I suggest you follow Mr. Hunt’s advice and pre-order your copy of Bulletstorm today, because if the demo is any indication of this games level of awesomeness; Bulletstorm is going to be one hell of a game when it’s released on February 22nd. Also, make sure you download the demo, so you too can be called “dick tits” and be told to kick someone in the “poop passage” …oh and you know, enjoy the crap out of it.

    Author

    Kyle joins us from Minnesota, where he has been gaming almost his entire life. He is awesome and will be regarded as such.

    Twitter – @Kmanchester

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    Duke Nukem Forever GETS A RELEASE DATE

    January 21st, 2011

    2K Games and Gearbox Software announced today that legendary hero Duke Nukem will make his return in Duke Nukem Forever on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on May 3, 2011 in North America and May 6, 2011 internationally! That’s right folks, barring any sort of crazy, end-of-the-world type apocalyptic mishap, Sir Duke of Nukem is finally going to get a proper release and the subsequent adoration he deserves. Duke Nukem Forever has been in the making for upwards of thirteen years, and the world has sorely missed it’s crass, un-pc hero.

    Mr. Nukem is a man of many principles, which just so happen to involve: sheer badassery, a love of strippers, and an ever burning desire to “save the babes” and planet Earth from those lame ass aliens. I for one am already stocking up on gum, polishing my ass kicking boots,  and making sure I have a wad of singles in my wallet. It’s high time we welcome back a hero with some BALLS into the gaming world! Judging by the looks of the following trailer, Duke Nukem Forever has put other first-person shooters on notice, and that notice is: YOU’RE FUCKED. See for yourself.

    For those unfamiliar with the newest chapter in the Duke Nukem saga, here’s a brief run-down:  The alien hordes are invading and only Duke can save the world. Pig cops, alien shrink rays and enormous alien bosses can’t stop our hero from accomplishing his one and only goal: to save the world, save the babes and to be a badass while doing it. Duke Nukem Forever puts the pedal to the metal, boot firmly to ass and tongue directly in cheek. Players will be able to shoot hoops, lift weights, read adult magazines, draw crude messages on whiteboards or ogle the many hot women that occupy Duke’s life – that is if you can pull yourself away long enough from destroying alien invaders.

    Anyone looking to get early access to the Duke Nukem Forever playable demo, can join the Duke Nukem Forever First Access Club. A membership certificate for the Duke Nukem Forever First Access Club is included within the Borderlands GOTY edition. For the rest of us who purchased Borderlands before the GOTY edition was released, we’ll have to wait our turn, but should expect the demo to be made available to us shortly. If you’re like me, you’ll be counting down the days and checking the internet for that first little morsel of pure awesomesauce aka the DNF demo.

    Keep your eyes glued to Gamer Reaction, as we promise to keep you as up to date as humanly possible on Duke’s triumphant return. HAIL TO THE KING, BABY!

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    Two Worlds II: All You Need To Know

    January 21st, 2011

    The folks at Topware Interactive have been kind enough to keep Gamer Reaction up to date on all of the goings on with Two Worlds II, and we would be doing a disservice to you the reader if we didn’t pass said information along. Our European readers can already find the game on store shelves, while North America can expect the game January 25th. Two Worlds II is being released for the PC, Mac, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and OnLive systems. For those unfamiliar with the game and it’s predecessor, here’s a brief synopsis to bring you up to speed.

    In the original Two Worlds, players find themselves taking on the role of “the hero” who’s a wandering bounty hunter looking for clues and information about his missing sister. After recieving vital information in regards to her whereabouts, you (the hero) join the “Dark Brotherhood” in hopes of gaining enough skill and power to get the rest of the clues needed to find your sister. The game takes you through the very open and Oblivionesque world, ever searching for the information needed to find your sister. Two Worlds II picks up five years after the original game, with you (still the hero) a prisoner in the dungeons of Gandohar’s castle. Through certain means which are too spoiler ladened to publish, you escape the dungeon and again begin the quest to find your sister; picking up new skills and powers along the way.

    One of the new improvements Two World II features is the new GRACE engine, that Topware Interactive folks have implemented for better graphics and performance. Besides a better looking game, players have access to a new weapon and spell crafting system, and gain the ability to make a vast assortment of potions to aid them in their quests. Topware’s Creative Director Scott Cromie took some time out to walk us through the aforementioned new features in this handy video. Take a look:

    Now for us North American folks, we still have time to pre-order Two Worlds II and its 320 page strategy guide which covers just about everything under the Two Worlds sun. If you do happen to head on down to your local Gamestop and pre-order, you’ll get a shiny Luciendar sword and have access to the Labyrinth content which gives players an extra space to gain XP, money, and items. Take a peek at just what exactly you’ll be getting:


    There you have it; all of the information, shiny-things, and whatnot for you to hopefully go out and pick up a copy of Two Worlds II either now, or on the 25th of this month.

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    Three Dimensional Highway Robbery

    January 19th, 2011

    Hello there reader, you don’t know me, but I’d like to talk to you about the Nintendo 3DS today. As you’ve probably been made aware by the gaming community creaming its collective internet pants this morning, Nintendo held a press event to cover the “features” of their new 3D handheld device. While I could list out all of those “features” for you I’m pretty sure you’ve either already looked at them, or are going to be doing so between now and the 3DS’s March 27th release date; so I’ll spare you all but one detail.

    I’d like to discuss the one feature that a had me doing a spit-take of Cinnamon Toast Crunch all over my monitor this morning, and that is the 3DS’s $249 price point. Think about that for a second, let it soak in and stomp around your brain. You did in fact read that correctly, TWO-HUNDRED AND FORTY-NINE U.S. DOLLARS. (Or for you European folks, £229.99.) Nintendo wants you in this tough economic time, to pay almost three-hundred dollars for a handheld gaming device. Apparently they didn’t learn from the PSP Go fiasco, and decided that your hard earned income is entirely disposable.

    To better put the 3DS’s outlandish price point into perspective, I’d like to point out that you can get a brand new 250gb Xbox 360 Slim (online) for less than the price of a of a 3DS ($234.99). The same can be said for a new 120gb PlayStation 3($167.99), and that thing plays Blu-ray movies. The most advanced consoles in the history of gaming are both cheaper than a hand-held device that features three-dimensional gaming without glasses. Don’t get me wrong, the 3D without glasses thing is cool, but not $249 cool. For the love of Kratos, it doesn’t even play movies like it’s overly-expensive-until-recently counterpart the PSP does. Am I the only one who thinks Nintendo has crossed the line here?

    Yet despite the blatant high-way robbery that Nintendo is about to commit, almost no one seems to be talking about just how insane this is. Have we as a community become so complacent with companies forcing us to take astronomical price points right in the keister, that we just don’t care anymore? Or has Nintendo really suckered most of the gaming world into believing that 3D gaming is worth your first born child, soul, and the deed to your house? Whatever the reason, I’m appalled more people aren’t as disgusted with the price point as I am. Seriously folks, wake up and realize you’re being screwed by a company that claims to love its fans.

    Who knows, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the tech is so impressive that it justifies the George Bush level of stupid price point. If that is the case, I’ll be the first person to admit that I was wrong and write a retraction singing the 3DS’s graces. I highly doubt it though, besides the 3D gimmick, theres no feature I can imagine blowing me out of the water.  Again, I need to stress the fact that minus the 3D gaming, whatever the 3DS does, my consoles and PC can do more and run in 1080p. Now before you get all excited and go “yeah but the 3DS is portable”, I’d like to point out that the Xperia Play (PS Phone) is also portable and will be able to play games that would make the 3DS explode, not to mention make phone calls. Now that is a device I’d be willing to pay two-hundred and fifty bucks for.

    In closing, I’d like to encourage you to seriously stop and think about what Nintendo is doing here. Please keep in mind that there’s no evidence that a three-dimensional gaming market is even viable, let alone going to stick around long enough for you to get your money out of the 3DS. Are you sure that you really want to spend that kind of cash on tech that while albeit cool to look at, lacks any sort of substance? I know I for one will not be purchasing the 3DS, and quite frankly will be reconsidering the relationship Nintendo and I have had over the years.

    Feel free to argue with me, (or maybe even agree) in the forums.

    Author

    Kyle joins us from Minnesota, where he has been gaming almost his entire life. He is awesome and will be regarded as such.

    Twitter – @Kmanchester

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    Minecraft Builds to One Million Copies Sold

    January 17th, 2011

    If I played Minecraft, I’d probably end up building a congratulatory pixel-cake  for the game’s developer Mojang. Why is that, you may ask? Simply put, selling 1,000,000 copies of a game that isn’t even out of beta yet is a rather impressive feat. Especially when said game was developed by a one man team, and has raked in a whopping $13 mil. Again, I need to stress the fact that his game just hit beta in December. That means most of the million copies of Minecraft that were purchased, were done so while the game was in alpha testing. Regardless of whether or not you’re a fan of the game, it’s a rather impressive feat, especially for an indie developer.

    According to a post on Minecraft creator Markus Persson’s blog, the game should see a full release this year: “We’ve written down major goals that we want to do for Minecraft release, and it looks like the release will happen sometime late this year,” he said, “Hopefully we’ll be able to set a date soon.” Persson has also promised that at least half of the Mojang staff will be dedicated to adding new content to the Minecraft world. “If it ends up being fun, it’ll get added.”

    With a relatively cheap price point planned ($20 USD), one can only assume that the one-million mark is just the beginning for this ever increasingly popular title. Despite my reservations on playing a game like Minecraft, if it’s popularity continues to grow and the game actually makes it out of beta, I may just have to build my own slice of pixelated heaven. Keep your eyes peeled, as 2011 seems to be shaping up into “the year that Minecraft built”.

    Source: Gameindustry.biz

    Author

    Kyle joins us from Minnesota, where he has been gaming almost his entire life. He is awesome and will be regarded as such.

    Twitter – @Kmanchester

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    Xperia Play: The PSPhone!

    January 8th, 2011

    By Kyle Manchester

    Despite the fact Sony is dragging its feet on announcing the eagerly anticipated Xperia Play phone, a Chinese blog IT168 has already posted a full preview of the device. That preview was thankfully translated by BGR.com

    The article confirms the following technical specs:

    • 1GHz Snapdragon processor
    • Qualcomm Adreno 205 graphics processor
    • 4-inch 854 x 480-pixel display
    • 8-megapixel rear camera with LED flash
    • 1,500 mAh battery
    • MicroSDHC support and
    • 512 MB each of RAM and ROM

    It had originally been suspected that Sony would announce the Xperia Play at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas going on this week. Sadly all that was announced during the Sony press conference was an Xperia Arc phone which runs the android operating system. The next big event on the horizon for Sony could possibly be the Mobile World Congress, which is being held in Barcelona this February.

    Take a look at the Xperia Play and let us know what you think!

    [Source: BGR.com]


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