Monday, November 14, 2011

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

No update tonight...

...I FINALLY got my hands on a copy of Dark Souls.  Check back tomorrow.  ^_^

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hands-On Preview - Containment: the Zombie Puzzler (iPad/Mac/PC)

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Games: A while ago, I covered the Seattle Indie Expo (you can read about it here, in case you missed it) and I was blown away by the quality of the games being shown. Every one looked fantastic, but one that really caught my attention was Containment: the Zombie Puzzler.

Developed by my hometown neighbors Bootsnake Games, the good people of that studio were kind enough to invite me and several other members of PNWJournos down to their offices for an up-close-and-personal session with the title. Our verdict after two hours? Loved it. (By the way, there's a great trailer for the game on the Bootsnake site, BUT the graphics look much better now -- that's an earlier version shown.)

If you haven't heard the details yet, Containment is a brilliant new puzzler with a very unique slant: in addition to being an unusual match-type game, it's also about surviving the zombie apocalypse.

Here's how it works...

Each board in Containment takes place in a particular environment. Rather than having a standard static playfield, matches happen in the street, near gas stations, between wrecked cars, and a number of other locations.

on the roof...
Every round starts with a large group of people and zombies mixed together. The goal of the game is to eliminate all zombies from the playfield (naturally.) This is done by surrounding them on all sides with people of the same type -- effectively, “containing" them. The game offers Scientists, Policeman, Anarchists, and Military characters, each with their respective colors. When enough people of the same type make a circle around the undead, they unleash an attack and annihilate them with extreme prejudice.

This by itself would be more than enough for the average puzzle game, but Bootsnake has really gone above and beyond in adding elements that make the game stand out.

For example, each group of characters award special power-up items when they're used to make a match. Kill some zombies with the Police, and players can call in a sniper to eliminate any one zombie from the board. Eliminate the undead with the Anarchists and Molotov Cocktails are produced, exploding with flame and burning in a random pattern.

...and down below.
Further sweetening the experience are the environmental interactions that take place in each area. The player can knock over garbage cans or open dumpsters for random rewards, and there are often explosive canisters or damaged signs hanging overhead that can be knocked down into the playfield to crush zombies. Even better, the developers say that there are multiple pathways through the game depending on what action the player takes in the world. In one level I had the option to blow up a building’s structural support -- if I demolished it, no further zombies would be able to enter the playfield, but no human reinforcements would be able to arrive either. I decided to go for it, and found out that my route to the end of the level had changed since that road was now effectively "closed" due to the damage.

Another way that the game reinforces the concept of being "in" a world is at zombies will often wander into the playfield from other parts of the level. If the current puzzle is set in the street, the undead can come from any direction that a path is open. They also sometimes drop into the playfield from the rooftops above, and if zombies are left on the board for too long, they’ll attack nearby characters and turn them undead as well. Having to contend with several real-time elements in addition to the concentration that’s needed to match correct characters on the board gives the game to feel that much more intense than the average puzzler. It's almost like combat.

Although details are not final, Containment: the Zombie Puzzler is slated for release before the end of 2011 on iPad, Mac and PC, and will cost approximately $5. Players taking the plunge can expect a story-based campaign running for approximately 6 hours, including several different locations to play through and a number of boss-class zombie battles to survive. There will also be a more traditional "survival" mode for those who just want to puzzle without going through the campaign again.

at the renfaire!
If you ask me, truly unique puzzle games are few and far between, but Containment: the Zombie Puzzler caught my attention from the first time I laid eyes on it, and after getting two solid hours to put it through its paces, I can honestly say that I was not disappointed. If you read this blog with any regularity, you probably know that I'm not the biggest fan of PC gaming for a number of reasons, but I have been known to do so for special titles that shouldn't be missed. Containment: the Zombie Puzzler is absolutely on my radar, and I'm going to be there on day one.

If you read all the way to the bottom of this preview? You should be too.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

[REDCATED] and Dead Space 2... DOUBLE SNOOZE!

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Games: I was quite surprised when a copy of [REDACTED] showed up at the office the other day. Totally unrequested and arriving out of the blue, it was a real treat to open the envelope and see what was inside… My excitement didn't last long, though.


Since the game is still under embargo, I can't share any specific info, but I will say that the way [REDACTED] turned out isn't really a surprise considering some of the comments made by people involved in its development.

Honestly, I put about an hour into it before booting it out of my 360 and calling it done. I won't be reviewing it, and I'm pretty glad about that. The thought of having to put more time in is not appealing at all.

I suppose most I can say about it is that it starts off on the wrong foot, the story is quickly shown to be an ignored afterthought, and the general design feels free of inspiration and totally by-the-numbers. If [REDACTED] had shown up two or three years ago, I probably would have been more impressed. As it stands (and based on the hour I played) it seems extremely late to the party.

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After putting [REDACTED] aside, I moved on to Dead Space 2. It wasn't high on my list of things to play this year, but I've heard several people say that it was a serious contender as their GOTY, and several more say that it's going to be on their top ten of 2011. After getting through about a third of it, I can’t imagine why anyone would think so highly of it.


Of course, it's quite beautiful and very polished. Based on looks alone, it's certainly impressive. However, I've never been a critic that's been easily swayed by graphics. Once the pretty is pulled away, it's basically a predictable corridor shooter that relies heavily on jump scares and back-attacks to get the best of players.

If you read my Dead Space review, then you'll know that I wasn't too high on the first game. However, in comparing the two, I'd have to say that I think I actually prefer the first one over the sequel. Dead Space 2 (so far, anyway) feels like a retread that's heavier on the combat and doesn't significantly change or improve anything.

Like I said, I've only seen about a third of the game so my opinion may change as I get further in, but... I kind of doubt it.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why my 4 is your 9 – A little piece on the unspoken three-tier review system.

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So... reviews and review scores. It’s crazy stuff, right?


Anyone who plays games has their own opinion on the right and wrong way to do a review, and oddly, it's tougher than you’d think to find two people who agree on what a good review is -- or how it should be scored. Anyone who spends five minutes on the Internet knows this to be true, but if there’s ever a need for further proof, just get a group of gamers together, pick any review, and an argument will break out in a matter of moments.


Reviews, scores, opinions, and biases... what does it all mean, how can we wrangle all of these things together into some coherent form that will make sense -- and why does talking about the subject get so many people worked up?

As someone who’s been writing game reviews and other random stuff over the last twelve years, I think it's fair to say that I've been thinking a little bit about the subject. I don't claim to be an expert by any means and I'm not trying to assert that I have the "right" answer, but I've seen the same themes and arguments brought up time and time again, and in my view, they often boil down to one common issue:

A review is not a review… except when it is.

What could that possibly mean? Well, there’s a lot of games-oriented writing out there, and it seems to me that too much of it is lumped under the catch-all category of "reviews." However, that's not a very accurate term in light of the reality, and putting apples and oranges in the same bag leads to a lot of friction when discussions arise. While I think human nature and subjective opinion play a large part of that (and always will), I think an even larger part is the fact that there are many ideas about what a review actually is, what one should be, and what the ratings numbers represent.

So, what is a review?

Looking at the types of writing that fall under that umbrella, I think "reviews" can be divided into three broad categories.

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Category 1: Consumer Advice.

This is a standard list of features that most reviewers start with when they begin their writing career, and it's the sort of template that many people look for when trying to decide whether or not to purchase a game. Consumer Advice pieces tend to break themselves up into categories like Graphics, Sound, Gameplay, Replayability, and so on, each with their own score.

This is the kind of writing that I tend to call the "laundry list" because its reason for being is to act as a long-form checklist of features and content. I don't notice much critical examination in pieces like this, outside of brief, unsubstantiated judgments like "the graphics here are awesome" or "the sound effects of the guns really blew me away".

At the end, there’s usually a cumulative score which may or may not be a numerical average of the previous categories, or some sort of buy/rent/avoid summation.


Category 2: The Critique.

The Critique concerns itself with deciding whether or not a game is successful based on its own merits. This is done by examining various parts of it, why they work, or why they don't. Comparing a particular title with others in the same genre is common, and writers in this category tend to be quite knowledgeable about specific development studios and/or the developers themselves.

Critique pieces often select certain technical aspects to discuss, but they aren't burdened with the obligation of mentioning every single part of the game. Additionally, non-technical elements are often woven into the text, such as the merits and quality of characterization, overall themes in the story, and so on.

Critiques are meant to judge the success of the game itself, and are not a strict buy/don’t buy metric for purchase. These types of pieces often have numerical scores, but most authors in this vein will say that they'd rather not have them.


Category 3: The Think Piece (a.k.a – The Meditation)

Think Pieces are a different sort of beast than the previous two categories. In general, they are pieces of writing that often exist to illustrate a personal experience, or to communicate how the author related to the subject material without getting into the minutiae of framerate comparisons, number of features, multiplayer options, and so on.

These types of pieces often have some sort of intellectual conceit or trickery to them; one might be written in the voice of a character from the game being discussed, one might exist as a first-person player narrative describing a particularly emotional scene, or the author may relate a personal anecdote from their real life and draw comparisons to issues raised in what they're playing. There is a much wider range in the form and structure of a Think Piece than the previous two categories, and they are not limited to the examples I've outlined here. As a way of further illustrating the kind of free-form structure of these pieces may take, I think this piece on Infinity Blade or this one on LA Noire are great examples.

Authors who are thoughtful and creative enough to thrive in this category are usually clear in insisting that their work is not meant as a "review" or evaluation, but there are certainly times when such pieces end up with numerical scores at the end and make their way to one of the review aggregate sites. Ideally, these pieces should not carry a score.

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I freely admit that the categorizations I'm putting forth here are painted with extremely broad strokes, but the conversation has to start somewhere and I see this as a first step.


If for the sake of argument these categories can be accepted as a given (at least for the time it takes you to finish reading this piece) then all the disagreements and rancor that spring up from conversations about review scores and "good" or" bad" reviews start to make a little more sense... after all, someone in need of Consumer Advice will be totally dissatisfied with a Think Piece, and someone wanting to sink their teeth into a Critique might see a Think Piece as capriciously weightless, or a Consumer Advice breakdown as ignorant of deeper examination. With these three types of writing lumped together and all of it called a "review", is it any wonder why no one can agree to a proper scoring system, or how to use one?

(…And of course, these issues are apart from the abuse of Metacritic by tying compensation to numbers, or of the pressures placed on reviewers by publishers or their employers with revenue at stake – not to mention the pervasive mindset of many that a score of 8 is ‘average’. All of these are entirely separate discussions.)

So what’s the point of all this?

The point is to say let's start acknowledging (and accepting) the fact that the giant rootball of “reviews” is actually comprised of distinctly different styles of writing catering to distinctly different audiences. They all serve their own purposes and none is inherently better than the rest, so let's stop using the word "review" to describe all of them and start operating with different expectations – under such a way of thinking, it would make total sense (and be explainable) for one game to score a 9 for a Consumer Advice breakdown and a 4 if Critiqued.

Maybe once we get our foundations laid properly, we can start to clear the air about how to properly discuss games, and in what context… In my view, any sort of action towards that goal is long, long overdue.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Back in action

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Well, it's been quite some time since I updated the blog... my apologies go out to all of my regular readers. I try my best to post something at least every two or three days, but the last couple of weeks have really been pretty crushing. I've heard some people say that "life gets in the way", and I suppose that's been true as of late.

Anyway, thanks for tuning back in after so much dead air. I'm hoping to get back on track and begin posting regularly again, so here we go!

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Games: I just finished Dead Island a day or two ago (playing on 360) and I have to say that I had a  fantastic time with it.


I'm currently in the process of finalizing my Second Opinion review, but here is @GC_Danny’s take on it in the meantime. Personally, I think he's a little too hard on it, but I see where he's coming from. My breakdown will be much more positive, and the game will absolutely earn itself a spot on my year-end Top Ten. In fact, I liked it so much that I completed every single sidequest in the entire game, and that's not something that I do very often...



In other games news, I spent some time with El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron today and I really did not like it.


Well, I suppose I should explain... the graphics were fantastic. The level of style and imagination was superb, and every minute spent in the worlds of that title felt like some kind of trippy hallucination. Words cannot describe the kind of visuals happening there. On the other hand, no game can exist on the quality of its visuals alone, and El Shaddai is a perfect example of that.

I have a very hard time understanding how the developers thought the overly-simplistic gameplay (one button for attack, a small number of repeated enemy types) would be enough to carry a full retail game. Within an hour, I was already tired of fighting the same opponents, and there's nothing entertaining at all about pounding on the X button to perform the same combos over and over again. Throw in level designs that are little more than long hallways and platforming that's twice as difficult as it needs to be thanks to the surreal visuals, and you've got a formula for unhappy times.

The game is stunningly beautiful, but there's just no excusing such shallow play.



Coming from the ‘OMFG’ department, I was quite excited to see that Treasure’s Radiant Silvergun finally became available for download on XBLA.


Younger players have probably never heard of it, but it was one of those "holy grail" games back in the day… it never got localized for the United States, so people in shmup circles were grief-ridden that they were missing out on what was allegedly one of the best shooters ever made.


Of course, it was available as an import for a little while, but prices soon skyrocketed and it quickly rose beyond the reach of the average gamer, including myself. Back then, it was quite common to hear of the game going for between $200-$400, and a quick peek at eBay shows that there are several copies still in that price range. At the time, I figured that it would get localized sooner or later, and being patient would pay off.

...Of course, I had no idea that it would take THIRTEEN YEARS to get localized, but hey, it's here now!

After putting a couple of hours into it, I definitely think that certain aspects of it are utterly brilliant. It's also hard as hell, and it's been quite some time since I've had to use my shmup skills in any meaningful way. I am quite rusty, so I haven't made much progress. I plan to keep at it, though.

For those of you who plan to check it out, I was tipped off by GC reader Sleeveboy that playing in Story Mode and saving to the same file lets players level-up their weapons and earn extra lives as a way of dealing with the stiff difficulty. His tip was on the money, and I would suggest that anyone else do the same.



Finally, just a quick reminder to everyone that Dark Souls will be launching on 360/PS3 on October 4.


After much back-and-forthing and a couple of check-ins with my Twitter people, I decided to go PS3… it really sucks to have to choose which console to get a game for, since no matter which one I choose, there will inevitably be a number of people who I would like to play with but won't be able to.

Argh.

Anyway, game looks amazing, etc. etc. Can’t wait!

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Comics: I haven't forgotten about the second part of my comics update, but I had to put it on the back burner for the moment. If everything goes according to plan, look for that in my next post.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Latest Best Navratri Hindi Sms, Best Happy Navratri Quotes

:: Latest Best Navratri Hindi Sms :: Best Happy Navratri Quotes ::



Goddess Durga Exists Eternally, Always Abiding In Her Own Sweet Nature And Inhabits The Hearts And Minds Of Her Perfect Devotees.
HappY Navratri..!!


Fast To Them Is A Denial Of The Physical Needs Of The Body
It Means To Attain Spiritual Gains Besides
Blessings Of The Mother Goddess
HappY Navratri..!!


Pyar Ka Tarana Uphar Ho,
Khushiyo Ka Nazrana Beshumar Ho,
Na Rahe Koi Gam Ka Ehsas
Aisa Navratra Utsav Is Saal Ho, , . .
HappY Navratra..!!


Bajre Ki Roti,
Aam Ka Achar,
Suraj Ki Kirne, Khushiyo Ki Bahar,
Chanda Ki Chandni, Apano Ka Pyar,
Mubarak Ho Aapko
“Navratri”
Ka Tyohar.
HappY Navratri..!!


This Navratri Light The Lamp Of Happiness,
Prosperity And Knowledge,
HappY Navratri..!!


Aapi Shako To Aapni Dosti Magu Chu,
Dil Thi Dil No Sahkar Magu Chu,
Fikar Na Karo Dosti Per Jaan Lutavi Dais,
Rokdo Vyavhar Che Kya, Udhar Mangu Chu…
HappY Navratri..!!


Lakshmi Ka Hath Ho,Saraswati Ka Sath Ho,Ganesh Ka Niwas Ho,
Aur Maa Durga Ke
Ashirwad Se Aapke Jeevan Mai Prakash Hi Prakash Ho….
HappY Navratri..!!



Tags :: best navratri sms, latest navratri day sms, happy navratri sms, dussehra sms, durga puja sms, navratri festival sms, navratri sms shayari, navratri greetings, best latest navratri mobile quotes, gujrati garba sms, gujarati special garaba sms, quotes & sayings

Placeholder Post

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Apologies for the lack of updates. The last fourteen-ish days have been so slammed-busy that they've allowed me the least amount of free time I think I've ever had, pretty much EVER. Ever.

Ever.

Hoping things are gonna slow down in the next few days so I can get back to a more normal schedule... The next blog update will be part two of my comics rundown with a guest blogger chipping in, and then probably more game stuff to come afterwards.

Side note: We'll be recording anther GameCritics podcast this weekend. Got any topics you're burning to hear us discuss? Let me know!

In the meantime, Dead Island is still awesome (it's been pretty well patched by now, so don't be afraid to jump in) and our family bought an annual pass to the Woodland Park Zoo, so I see a lot of penguins and elephants in our future.

Thanks for hanging in there with me. Back soon!

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Monday, September 19, 2011

North American scientist and dutch artist create “skin” to the test of bullet.

A scientist of the State University of Utah, in the United States, with the aid of a dutch artist, created a mixture of silk with skin human being capable to resist the detonation of bullets.

Randy Lewis supplied wires supplied for animal-of-silk genetically manipulated the Jalila Essaidi, that confectioned the “superskin” also using skin cells human being. The animals had been modified to produce the silk typical of teias of spiders, that is more resistant.

After tests with projectiles of bore 22, the material if showed resistant to the detonations and it was not breached, despite the bullets have penetrated in part of the layers of the “skin”.

Lewis believes that the silk produced for spiders can help surgeons to cure serious wounds and to create artificial tendões and ligaments in the future. During another study, it already he had applied genes of spiders in goats to get a loaded milk with wide amounts of the responsible protein for the production of the silk.

North American scientist and dutch artist create “skin” to the test of bullet.

A scientist of the State University of Utah, in the United States, with the aid of a dutch artist, created a mixture of silk with skin human being capable to resist the detonation of bullets.

Randy Lewis supplied wires supplied for animal-of-silk genetically manipulated the Jalila Essaidi, that confectioned the “superskin” also using skin cells human being. The animals had been modified to produce the silk typical of teias of spiders, that is more resistant.

After tests with projectiles of bore 22, the material if showed resistant to the detonations and it was not breached, despite the bullets have penetrated in part of the layers of the “skin”.

Lewis believes that the silk produced for spiders can help surgeons to cure serious wounds and to create artificial tendões and ligaments in the future. During another study, it already he had applied genes of spiders in goats to get a loaded milk with wide amounts of the responsible protein for the production of the silk.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The olfato as key of intelligence

The scientists already had asked to numerous times why the mammals (also the human beings) had been capable to develop bigger and complex brains that other animals, brains that in some cases had grown more up to ten times than relative the corporal size?



Now, a team of paleontólogos carried through an one study published in the Science magazine, where they creem to have discovered the reason: to facilitate a sensible sharp of the olfato. The secret meets in two miniature mammals of the beginning of the Jurássico with aspect of musaranho.







Researchers of the universities of the Texas and St Mary and the Museum Carnegie de Natural História in Pittsburgh (Pensilvânia) had used one technique of cat scan computorizada with rays X to study the rare fósseis of the skulls of two creatures, the Morganucodon and the Hadrocodium, of 190 million years of antiquity, whose remaining portions had been found in China.



The team discovered that these animals, two of the first known species of mammals, had well bigger brains that the waited one, especially to take in account its scarce corporal mass. The Hadrocodium badly weighed two grams.



The computorizada cat scan allowed the researchers to observe the interior of the skull of these animaizinhos without having that to destroy the valuable fósseis. Later, they had constructed a virtual mold of its brains, that had been compared with another dozen of fósseis and the brains of 200 species of mammals that live currently.



The results, according to scientists, had been surprising. Also it has 190 million years, the brain of the first mammals was especially great (in relation its corpora mass), with a size that if approaches to the ratios seen in the modern mammals.



After observing the three-dimensional images, the scientists had arrived at the conclusion of that the brain of the mammals evolved in three main stages: first he improved the direction of the olfato, later the tato or the sensitivity of the one for the corporal one, that he acted as a controller of the space and, finally, coordination to neuromuscular it.



Second, Zhe-Xi, one of the responsible ones for the article:



- “Our study sample clearly that the olfativa part of the brain and the entailed part to the tactile sensation through the skin if had extended in these first mammals.”

The olfato as key of intelligence

The scientists already had asked to numerous times why the mammals (also the human beings) had been capable to develop bigger and complex brains that other animals, brains that in some cases had grown more up to ten times than relative the corporal size?



Now, a team of paleontólogos carried through an one study published in the Science magazine, where they creem to have discovered the reason: to facilitate a sensible sharp of the olfato. The secret meets in two miniature mammals of the beginning of the Jurássico with aspect of musaranho.







Researchers of the universities of the Texas and St Mary and the Museum Carnegie de Natural História in Pittsburgh (Pensilvânia) had used one technique of cat scan computorizada with rays X to study the rare fósseis of the skulls of two creatures, the Morganucodon and the Hadrocodium, of 190 million years of antiquity, whose remaining portions had been found in China.



The team discovered that these animals, two of the first known species of mammals, had well bigger brains that the waited one, especially to take in account its scarce corporal mass. The Hadrocodium badly weighed two grams.



The computorizada cat scan allowed the researchers to observe the interior of the skull of these animaizinhos without having that to destroy the valuable fósseis. Later, they had constructed a virtual mold of its brains, that had been compared with another dozen of fósseis and the brains of 200 species of mammals that live currently.



The results, according to scientists, had been surprising. Also it has 190 million years, the brain of the first mammals was especially great (in relation its corpora mass), with a size that if approaches to the ratios seen in the modern mammals.



After observing the three-dimensional images, the scientists had arrived at the conclusion of that the brain of the mammals evolved in three main stages: first he improved the direction of the olfato, later the tato or the sensitivity of the one for the corporal one, that he acted as a controller of the space and, finally, coordination to neuromuscular it.



Second, Zhe-Xi, one of the responsible ones for the article:



- “Our study sample clearly that the olfativa part of the brain and the entailed part to the tactile sensation through the skin if had extended in these first mammals.”

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bring In Glamour To Your Look By Wearing The Perfect Fall Dress


Who doesn’t love looking gorgeous and fashionably updated? Well, every fashion enthusiast does. Fall season gives a reason for these ladies who hit out the streets and so some splurging on their favorite fall dresses. It’s more like wardrobe-revamp time.
However, shopping for fall dresses is not really an easy task. But rather than worrying over it, read further to know what to go for during fall that will keep you stylish and also comfortable.
When choosing a fall dress, look for styles that will suit your body. If you are heavy on the hips pick a dress that has an A-line cut and if you have an hourglass figure you can always pick a dress that has a sheath cut because that is figure hugging and enhances your curves further.
The waistline of the dress also matters. The different waistlines are natural waistline, dropped waistline, empire waistline and many more. All these look distinct from each other and each one has a classy look. The second most things are the color and the fit of the dress. Both should be in sync and blend well with skin color and body type respectively. Fall dresses are all about glamour so stay ahead in fashion and be wise while picking a fall dress for you.

Fall Gown

Fashionable Jacket

Velvet Fall Gown

Fall Wear

Elegant Knee Length Dress

Party Wear

A Comics Rundown!

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Comics: For a change of pace tonight, I decided to read through my long-neglected stack of comics and see what was what. Here's the rundown...

>Invincible, The Walking Dead, Halcyon, The Sixth Gun… these are some of my most regular reads, I've mentioned them before, and they’re all still going strong. I give all four of these books a hardcore Recommend. Just buy 'em already. 


>Bone. If you know anything about comics at all, it's pretty likely that you've heard about this series from Jeff Smith. It's won pretty much every award possible, has great art and characters, and is a fun read for both kids and adults. I went through large chunks of it with my oldest son and he loved it, but he would keep on reading after I put him in bed. As a result, I ended up missing out on large parts of the story. Fixing that now. Recommended.


>Witch Doctor #1,2. This is a really fun, really dark four-issue limited series about a doc who cures people of their supernatural ailments in brutal ways. The thing that really interested me were the fresh takes on things like vampires, fairies, and so on. The names might be the same, but the interpretations of these creatures are quite new. Recommended.


>Carbon Grey #1. After asking my local comic shop guy (what up, Scott!) about this book, he tells me that it's selling like gangbusters. I asked him if he knew what the hell it was about, and he couldn't say. To be honest, I can't tell you either. I took a chance due to the stunning artwork, but after a read-through, it strikes me as all-style, no-substance. There's some nonsense about a quasi-Nazi regime, matching imagery, lots of blood, loads of half-naked women... I can't really make heads or tails of it, though. Not recommended.


>50girls50 #1. I have to say, I'm a little embarrassed that I bought this. I'm a big Frank Cho fan, so the cover and his name as a writer convinced me, but it seems like a lightweight T&A sci-fi romp with little else going for it. That might have been enough back when I was sixteen, but it's not enough to convince me to pick up the next issue. Not recommended.


>Severed #1. Out of the whole stack I read, this one impressed me the most. The artwork is moody, utilizing ashen tones and a good balance between detail and impression. This book tells the story of a boy who runs away from home to join the service during (I'm guessing) the Great Depression. At the same time, a different boy is adopted from an orphanage... unfortunately, once the boy is away from the safety of the orphanage, things don't go very well... I'm eagerly looking forward to the second issue. Recommended.


> Rachel Rising #1. I've been a big Terry Moore fan ever since Strangers in Paradise, and this new series is apparently his take on a non-traditional zombie story. I love his art and he's got some of the best storytelling in the business, in terms of characters that actually display human feelings and responses. On the other hand, I have to be brutally honest and say that his work feels padded lately. As I was reading through his previous run (Echo) I often found myself waiting to read them until I had at least four or five issues in-hand since I didn't feel as though I got very much story from each issue. I still love the guy’s work, but at $4 a pop, I expect a little more substance. At this point, it's a tentative Recommended.


>Nonplayer #1. Apparently everybody in the world had heard about this book before I did, but it's an absolutely beautiful story about people playing a futuristic MMO. The artwork is just phenomenal and the story hooked me right away. Apparently it takes the creator forever and a day to craft each issue (comic shop guy Scott tells me the plan is for one new book every six months) but if all the issues are going to be of this quality, I'm down with that. As a side note, it seems as though Hollywood has already snapped up the movie rights… impressive. Recommended.


>Jennifer Blood #1, 2, 3.  If you ask me who my favorite comics writer is, there's a pretty good chance that I would say Garth Ennis on any given day. However, I've been a little disappointed in this book. Telling the story of a cold-blooded assassin who masquerades as a housewife, I haven't found a lot to keep my interest. A lot of talking, some killing... nothing really stands out after three issues, so I won't be coming back for a fourth. Not recommended.


>Screamland #1. A wildly fun read, this book is based on the idea that movie monsters are real monsters, and they have ups and downs just like anyone else. In the first issue, the creature from the Black Lagoon kills himself in a hot tub full of cocaine and leaves behind a copy of a long-lost porn movie. Someone doesn't want that movie to be shown, and is willing to kill to prevent it. The art matches the subject matter perfectly, and the writers are on the mark. Recommended.

I've got a few more comics to talk about, so look for part two of my comics rundown in the next update.

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