I will be leaving mania.com.
This place is not really lively enough to entertain me and the site brings little new that other sites can't provide (often faster).
Just wanted to mention it in case you would be wondering why nobody's telling people how bad they are at writing reviews/columns (at least they space the text a bit) and why there isn't a one rolling their eyes at the poor attempts of making a contest out of a DVD.
How to write a %$#@ column
I make myself the enemy of the entire Mania.com staff by pointing out the obvious flaws in most of the columnists' text design. I show the importance of titles, intros, headers and other seemingly obvious things.
One thing I have learned about my browsing the Internet is that I am not a very patient person. Something that I would take the time to read in a newspaper I may very well skip if I see the same body of text on the net
Unless I am really interested in a subject, it will take more persuasion than a fancy picture at the top of the page and a vague column name ("Mumbling Kitsune," for instance) to hook me.
I have mentioned bits and pieces of what I am about to say in comments on the Mania site, but I will mention them again to make my whining and complaining more coherent.
On Mania.com most columnists seem to think that a big chunk of text with some bold text to mark out ,to the momentary observer, what today's column is about. So what is wrong with that? Well, I just so happen to have a few opinions on that very subject.
An eye-catching title is the least you would expect from a column. This is how you draw the readers in, but it is not enough. Let's take an example: "Just a dollop, please" is a title from a recent column by a Janet Houck. It didn't catch my attention, because modern as I am, I hardly know what "dollop" means, I simple clicked it because it had something to do with anime. The other bad thing about it is that it doesn't tell me anything, judging from the picture next to the title it is about some purple-haired girl with a katana, which doesn't really narrow the possible content down by much. So, a title should catch your attention and give you some info.
This is the first piece of text in the article, make it in bold or italics so it stands out, you do not have many milliseconds to catch an internetter's interest, so be clear about what's what. This is, as you have guessed already, where you tell the reader what the article is about, as with a text in a newspaper where they start with the most important information first, this is where you write wtf the text is about, because you title, eye-snagging as it was, is not enough information for me, and I do not want to spend 5 minutes finding out.
This is less important, especially in shorter texts, but it doesn't hurt. Headers that divide the text into easily manageable chunks that makes orientation easy. Apart from the title and the intro, the headers are what a typical person looks for first on a web page. They read the page in an "F" pattern, so anything you put at the end will obviously do nothing to lure a person into reading your piece. The closer to the top and the more it stands out, the more of an impact it will have. Obvious? Then why are you writing columns the way you are?
I might be a bit abrasive, and I can live with the reactions that kind of communication brings me. But for the love of scientific reality, do not ignore good advice just because the person who gave it to you also gave you a kick smack dab in the pride.
Perhaps you are a bit dubious to this new and scary information on how to express yourself, I am sure your mom always encouraged your current style of writing, patting you on your head and telling you you'd become a REAL journalist one day. Well, you won't if you keep this second-ratery up.
Get a grip before I lose interest in you. And my interest, as a reader, is exactly what you should strive for.
So when I started reading Ultimate marvel comic books, I had high hopes for it. I was under the impression that Marvel would not repeat the bad writing, retcons and mistakes of the past. So I made a list of things I did not want to occur in the Ultimate universe.
Sadly, as you probably can tell by reading the list yourself, my hopes and expectations were smashed one by one. Way to go, Marvel.
Here's the list:
* no clone sagas
This one should be self-explanatory. Even if you liked the original clone saga, you've got to admit that it was confusing and made many fans
* no alternate universes (one ought to be enough, right?)
"I am you/your son/your female self/your dead uncle, and I have come to warn you about something that won't matter five issues from now!" <- And that's one of the more clever ideas involving alternate universes.
* no time travels [It is hard enough to keep track of everything anyways.]
Nothing you do matters, because time travel is possible! And how come technology from 3452 years in the future is barely distinguishable from something Reed Richards macgyver together from two clothespins and a lawn mover?
* no duplicate powers (The Flash anyone?)
With the duplicate powers thing I basically mean that the ultimate universe shouldn't contain loads of heroes/villains with the same powers. The DC universe is a good example of this, I don't know HOW many green lanterns, flashes and supermen are running/flying around that place, but it's too many. Not to mention that all of them seems to have at least two children (that have their parents' powers).
Why create another hero/villain with flight and super strength? WHY!
* no hell
* no heaven
* no real gods
It's bad enough that adult people actually believe in things like these for REAL, but then they have to put them into comic books too. Sure, fiction belongs with fiction, but why mix in tired religious dogma in a self-sustained universe that ought not need to borrow old stories to get by. Hercules, Thor, Mephisto (I know, but the name is the same). Is Jesus next? The only reason Xenu isn't duking it out with Spider-man is that he is trademarked by The Church of Scientology.
* no Watchers
A watcher is a bald excuse for a bad writer's inability to properly narrate a story.
* no DC/Marvel get-togethers. [Oh no! Another tie between the two in the war between the two universes! Who would've guessed!]
These kind of comic books don't count in continuity anyways. What a waste.
* no silly Überman VS Killerwoman comics (which only concludes in the two heroes learning to respect eachother rather than killing or injuring eachother.)
Want to know who is stronger/better? Überman or Killerwoman? Tough, you're not going to find out, ever. This kind of comic book will only show them respecting eachother's skills/tights and will end in a verbal hug under a moonlit sky. Yawn.
* no carrying-on-forever with a story without finishing it properly.
I know you want to sell comics, but seriously, don't drag it out so much that it gets retardedly stupid, we probably know how it is going to end anyways.
* no immortal and always-reviving superheroes/villains.
It has come to the point where you worry more about a hero losing a finger than being killed. If they die, they will pop up eventually just as healthy and with double the determination. But on the other hand, if you really kill a hero/villain, it will only mean that his son/daughter/mom/clone will take up the cape and carry on with the exact same powers, and we don't like that.
* no unrealistic uses of powers (fine, you are super strong, but that does not mean that you can punch through concrete, because you are not invincible.)
At least pretend the reader can think, make it plausible within the universe's limits and natural laws.
* no calling someone "best at what he does" if that someone gets beaten by a human wielding the butt of a rifle in a split second.
This is a comment on Wolverine's effort in Ultimate Secret (maybe ultimate war). Good job, mr. black-ops.
* no ignoring the all important CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. People get scars, they learn from their mistakes, they can actually be taught to do kung fu EVEN THOUGH they have spider-powers.
This is a major problem in Marvel comics, the character development is pretty much done after the first issue.
One of the problems with heroes/villains living on forever without any "scars" or any sign of that they have learned something is that the character will start to feel flat and static. If a character does not develop during his/her life I tend to stop caring about them. The "Hero Shield" works in movies because they are relatively short, but a comic book series is something else entirely; fans remember what has happened, but more often than not, the characters themselves seem to forget what they have done up to that point in history.
The character doesn't care about its own history, why would I?
* no ray guns that can negate super-powers (that is just lazy).
* no brainwashing.
I'm tired of heroes switching sides in a heartbeat (a la Anakin Skywalker in Episode III) because they've been brainwashed by Apocalypse (or whoever).
Brainwashing is just a lazy writers way of not having to think up a real reason for a character joining the dark side only to be back on the team a week later.
A character's decisions should leave a lasting impression and writers should respect their predecessors' decisions.
* no weakening a character temporarly just to get to a point in the story.
Ever wondered why Spider-Man got beaten down within 3 seconds by some unknown B-villain when that villain will spend the rest of his carreer getting taken out by everyone that meets him? You sit there and can't believe that the writer had this little bad guy, that can't hold a light to Doctor Octopus, did something like that for no other apparent reason than to get a cliffhanger. Next issue Spider-Man wakes up, breaks loose, and promptly kicks the bad guy's ass with the help of his spider-sense that is suddenly working as it should again.
* no arc-long dream sequences (where you are not aware that you are reading about a dream)
"Phew, it was just a dream!"
When a writer turns a whole arc into a dream, solving all problems with the waking of the dreamer, you know you are reading a crappy comic book. Not only are you not sure when the dream started, but everything that happened in it is suddenly completely pointless. Kind of like time travelling, why would a decision matter if you can just rectify it by going back in time?
And sadly this list could double in length.
Why bother writing a review when you can just skip past all the hassle and make a blog entry instead? Sure, you can add a nice picture to your review, and maybe it's easier to look for if someone should ever want to read it in a year. But I'd rather see my entry put in right this second rather than waiting for someone in charge to publish it.
Other people have the same opinions, obviously, as you can easily see scanning the latest blog entries.
This whole issue was a repeat of the last one, no, seriously.
Don't buy it, just skip it over.
I'm just gonna write them down without any ceremony.
#1: I want a "delete all alerts" button.
#2: In the "top bangs" boxes I'd much rather have the number of comments mentioned in the following parenthesis, I think we all know that if an article is at the top of the bang list it got the most bangs. (Haha, I said "bang list"). A new comment on an article I have already read will make me click the article link again, a new bang won't.
#3: Member reviews should not have to be attached to a columnist's review like some kind of second grade amateur opinion (even though they probably are). And I know you guys of the staff are working out problems with the review function, but I thought I should just mention this again, because I know that the more annoyed a person is, the faster he works.
#4: New member reviews should be displayed on the first page, not hidden away like some dirty wank sock where no one will ever read (or comment on) them.
#5: I want to be able to edit my comments, because despite copious evidence of the opposite, I do not want to sound like a moron.
This review will not be one of those complete and ambitious that you might find on other places on the internet, this will basically be a rather simplistic review from an average player with no expertise whatsoever.
When I popped the burned DVD into my overly bulky xbox my hopes were high, I was thinking this game would be much like X-men: Legends 2, a game I thorougly enjoyed (more so than part one, which I liked as well). Before I actually had the game in my download queue I had held hopes of it even being as much of an improvement of X-men: Legends 2 as X-men: Legends 2 had been of its predecessor. Anyways, I began playing it.
At first, it was a bit confusing, I didn't seem to be getting any skill points when I leveled. I later found out that at the early stages of character level-up-ing you did not always get a point. But to make matters worse the stupid makers of the game decided that the average player was not smart enough to be able to distribute the points him-/herself, every character has skill point auto distribution on by default. I actually had to toggle that on every character in my roster. Sure, I can live with that, it's really not that big a deal, but then when you unlock a NEW character at level 20, you notice all points gained up to that level have been put into seemingly random skills. And that's annoying, but a good game is a good game, despite minor raisins in the chocolate.
The skills. Well, what can I say? The power arsenal of each super hero seem a bit weak, they are just too few of them and a small percentage are good enough to use. I was underwhelmed by the fact that each character barely had something to beat enemies with, except the standard "pop-up combo" that I never seem to get right when it matters anyways. It didn't feel like you could truly customize your characters, they felt predestined to use THAT single-target-attack, THAT multi-target-attack, THAT boost-power and finally THAT (1) extreme limit-break. And that's no fun. Sure, even if there were more choices, like in X-men: Legends 2, most people would probably use the strongest skills anyways, but at least give me a choice to be unique, even if that means doing random jump attacks that send my character over the edges of cliffs while under the influence of AI.
You can customize your characters in more ways than just the skills, however. You can unlock costumes each of which have the ability to boost your claw-damage/xp/lightning damage/defense/etc. There are 4 costumes for each character, the first three you unlock by killing XX amount of enemies (*yawn*) and the last one you get as soon as you have completed a training mission (Danger room). To improve the costume stats you pay cash. Boring.
After a few missions you can make a team of your favorite characters (at this point, you have barely figured out the characters you decided to start out with). And this team earns experience points and levels up which gets you "team points" which you can use to get the members of the team bonuses like %5 health, the team upgrades are basically the same as those of the costumes, imaginatively enough.
You can equip your characters with one (1) piece of gear, that is it. This gear only drops from boss fights. Excited? Aren't we all.
The AI, btw, does not impress me either. It feels like the three characters I don't directly control just wander around, hitting stuff and leisurely using multi-target skills on single nearly-dead enemies. The "Ommpfh!" the X:L 2 AI had is simply not there, and it's not like I can control what powers they're going to use either, no such menu.
The makers of the game could pick any characters they wanted from the Marvel Universe, and I guess they made pretty good choices. So why does my "yay." feel so uninspired? I'll tell you why, hardly any of them are fun to play. Thor has a big hammer, that he can use to hit people, and he can fly, and he can create a whirlwind. It just feels so basic, a bare-boned character that basically just hits things, and he is not alone either, at least half of the roster is precisely the same. I actually enjoyed played two characters: Captain America and Spider-man. Now, I am no fan of the clown dressed in a flag, but bouncing that shield around gave me some enjoyment, and I could actually steer the path of the shield! This made me miss, though, so I pretty much aimed and let it bounce around on its own. Spider-man could web-sling around instead of flying, but that got old fast as the game, as far as I've played it, doesn't really require you to stray off the safety of the ground. I later tired of Spider-man as his skills were pretty worthless, and this I found out after having spent every power-up I had found up to that point on him ( :-(! ).
Speaking of characters, the game seems to be swarming with villains known from the comic books, before I have made it past the learning phase of the game I have met maybe 10 super-powered villains that didn't leave a lasting impression at all, at least they dropped gear, though.
A thing that was fun in X:L2 was the fact that the heroes could interact with their environment, using powers to weld, leech energy, etc, but in this game you can only do two things: move barrels and push/pull "big things". The barrel moving is pretty much what you'd expect, you can lift and throw them at enemies, or your whirlwinds/spider-webs can pick them up and, (guess what?) smash them into enemies. The "big things" can be monolithic stones or big engine parts that you have to move from one spot to another for something to happen, nothing exciting in other words, feels like an old Zelda puzzle, in fact. Individual powers does not seem to matter at all when interacting with the environment.
Did I mention that the bad guys call themselves "MASTERS OF EVIL"? Well, this is a good time as any. They are evil, and they are led by the sinister Doctor Doom who plans to take over the universe or some such, and YOU, noble hero, must stop him, because Nick Fury said so. The game will take your team of hero to every part of the Marvel Universe that you secretly wish they had never thought of, places like Atlantis, Mephisto's realm, and Asgard. And when you are in the realm of the devil, you will actually stop for a while and wonder if they actually stole those background moans and screams from Diablo(tm).
The dialogue is laughable at best. Think of every line you heard TV cartoon villains speak before they burst out in maniacal laughter and you come close to what you are subjected to in this game. And besides that, we have Thor, on the hero-side of the equation to even things out ("How dare you attack the son of Odin!"). Not the work of Shakespeare, that's for sure.
All in all, this game left me pretty %$#@ disappointed. Just imagine what I had felt if I had bought this. Then I guess I would have felt obligated to play through all of the game, which I won't now. But it was somewhat entertaining in the beginning, but when the remnants of hope had shriveled to crusts I put the controller down.
Final Score: 7/10
So I wrote this little review on Marvel: Ultimate Alliance and after a lot of fiddling around finally submitted it. Apparently you have to do some kind of search (wtf?) before you could submit it, so when I had figured that out, i clicked the button and away it went.
Then I noticed that instead of my actual rating it was set as "F", not good, I would just have to change it. So I clicked on the "Edit Review" link.
I had just wanted to change the rating, but on that edit page the options to change other things were also available. For instance, you could use a stock picture from any movie/comic book/game you could think of.
And the flerping page listed the thumbnails of those pictures, all of them, every flerping one. I kid you not, there must have been at least a thousand pictures loading in that page, everything from a picture of Action Figure George W. Bush to a photo of the Munster family to an image of Captain Luc Picard as a Borg. The amount of information was immense, and for a moment I knew what it was like to be omniscient.
It took me long enough to write the review itself, I didn't want to spend another 30 minutes frantically clicking the "stop" button of my frozen browser.
If somebody in charge of making sucky things blow is reading this: help me, you are my only hope.
Some people just don't get it - Intelligent Design is not science, no matter how many quotes from scientists saying "I believe in ID" the proclaimers of ID amass. How can they be fooled by kindergarten reasoning? They are adult, or at least they look it.
Here is how it is, intelligent design is racking on the theory of evolution, pointing out things that they perceive as weak links in the theory, branding them with scientific- sounding words like "irreducible complexity". The thing is, had their claims had any scientific proof behind them, it would change the theory of evolution. But has it? No. The reason is that the people that support intelligent design argue like this:
"Look at that mushroom/bird/shell/cloud/etc, it is beautiful, right? Can you imagine that just popping up by itself? By chance? No, me neither, ergo: god (the designer) must have created the mushroom."
(Some of you may think I made this example up to make ID look bad, but a simple googling would affirm that my example is a typical ID argument)
This argument doesn't hold much water, and if it does, it is only because the person listening believe in god.
The sad/terrible thing about ID is that it preys on the naïve, spouting arguments that at first look SOUNDS reasonable but fall apart the second you read up a bit on the subject, or even just think about it a second or two.
ID is basically saying: "Evolution is not true, therefore Intelligent Design is."
See the problem here? Just because one thing is false doesn't make another (especially not religious dogma) true (true in the scientific sense).
I'm done ranting for now.
So you are going to spend a whole extra second each time you want to find the "ANYTHING" section? Feel my compassion and sympathy flow through the Internet. I like the new site where the users have more visible input than before. Heck, the reason I went to the old Cinescape site was to read the comments anyways.
You: "But, when they change *ADD YOUR FAVORITE THING HERE* people get upset and leave, so then there will BE no member input!"
Me: "This is how we get rid of the annoying ones (except me) and have the smart and interesting people stay, because THEY realize the content of the site will be the same, or probably better) Personally I can put up with ugliness when I visit a site (that is how I surf porn too, btw) if it means I get what I want."
So what is my point with all this? I won't be lame and say "Well, if you don't like it, leave!".
Instead, I urge you to start a blog on the site, dripping with bitterness about the new green links and confusing layout. If it is one thing Cinescape users like, it is to read negative comments.