Characters I’d like to see in ‘Injustice 2’

After watching the newest trailer for Injustice 2 – you know the one that introduces Wonder Woman and Blue Beetle – it not only got me hype for the next addition in the fighting franchise, but it also got me thinking who else would I love to see in the game?

I absolutely loved playing the first and with the second edition fans can expect more of the same violent story-telling, devastating combos and barbaric scene transitions to compliment the game’s new addition of evolving armor for characters. But what is the actual roster going to look like?

As Ed Boon mentioned in an interview with Dual Pixels at San Diego Comic Con we should expect about half of the original roster to return with another half leaving the initial character list.

Characters I’d like to see return

Batgirl, Lobo, Solomon Grundy, Zantana, Gernal Zod

Characters I’d like to see get cut

Ares, Hawkgirl, Nightwing, Killer Frost

Of course, fighting franchises  rely heavily on DLC especially with the expansion of skins and playable characters. But here are a few characters I’d like to see appear right out of the gates in Injustice 2.

Darkseid

Darkseid crushing batman

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

How can the strongest character in the DC Universe not be in its premiere fighting game? The King of Apokolips needs to be in Injustice 2. Even if it messes with the traditional Injustice storyline I’d be completely fine if he became a playable character after completing the game. I mean getting the Omega Sanction ability would be a heck of a reward for beating the game’s main story.

Reverse Flash

reverse flash crusadercast

Photo Credit: cruscadercast.net

Why Eobard Thawne wasn’t in the first game I’ll never truly understand. But Boon and Co. would be wise to fix their mistake and add one of the greatest DC villains to the new roster of characters. Courtesy of the CW’s “The Flash” thousands of new fans were introduced to the sinister brilliance of Thawne. He’s proof that DC has tons of great non-Batman villains. Even though his move set would likely mirror Barry Allen’s, I believe the game (and the story) would greatly benefit from his inclusion. Few characters are more diabolical than Thawne.

Starfire

Starfire deviantart

Photo Credit: deviantart.com

Yes, the first roster had three Teen Titans (Raven, Cyborg, and Nightwing) and even though all three are likely to return the Tamaranean princess needs to be on the roster. One her move set will likely add a new dimension to the flying characters especially with her use of solar energy and projectiles. Plus, Koriand’r’s split personality which blends bubbly friend and vicious foe is the perfect combination for a game like Injustice.

Ertigan The Demon

6899 - Demon Strip Fair Morgan Le Fay

Photo Credit: Neil Strebig

One of my favorite Jack Kirby creations. Often referred to as just ‘The Demon,’ Ertigan would be a fantastic addition to the game’s roster. Despite being a lesser known character he’s made appearances in a number of comic titles, crossovers  and animated adaptations including “The New Batman Adventures,” “The Justice League: Unlimited” and recently in “Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox.” His ferocious fighting style along with his ability to use dark magic is just the type of fresh dynamic the game needs.

Hawkman

Hawkman in PUblic enemies

Hawkman in “Public Enemies”

I hate to be sexist and say Hawkgirl should be out and Hawkman in, but if I had to choose I’ll take the only character I know who has resurrected himself from the dead time and time again. Hawkman’s powers are nearly absolute. Although his presumed move set will need to be fixed. Seeing as that’s a big reason why I’d like to see Hawkgirl cut. Her flying ability and mace-swinging moves seemed clunky and lacked a good amount of fluency to them. If she remained — or if Hawkman was added — they’d both need to see their moves upgraded. No one wants to play as a slow, counter-attacking character with difficult combinations. However if one of them were to be included, my vote goes towards Prince Khufu.

Ocean Master

Ocean Master Flashpoint

Ocean Master in “Throne of Atlantis”

Now I know my man Black Manta has already been introduced as a new character and I’m also well aware of the massive support for Mera, but if there is going to be another Atlantian added to the roster it should be Arthur Curry’s brother. Now his abilities are nearly identical to Aquaman, but unlike Aquaman he essentially relies completely on his trident and abilities to summon water-based magic. Ocean Master’s reliance on his trident and projectiles  would be an intriguing addition to the combative cast.

Star Sapphire

Star Sapphire Wiki Commons

Photo Credit: Wiki Commons

I believe it is safe to assume both Green Lantern and Sinestro will be coming back in Injustice 2. And the arrival of Atrocitus is by far one of my favorites thus far, but why not give a little love to Ms. Carol Ferris? Originally, her Zamaron-gifted powers allowed her to easily defeat both Sinestro and Green Lantern in her early comic appearances (now the Star Sapphires are fueled solely by love and consequently their firepower compared to other lantern corps has suffered). Why not take a trip back to the old school Star Sapphire and put a little bit of rage and edge back into her character? After all Hell have no fury like a woman scorn.

Suicide Squad Characters

Killer Croc

Killer Croc in “Batman: Arkham Asylum”

I’m sure in respect to the movie’s debut this weekend there will be a ton of clamoring for the addition of more Suicide Squad characters. While the original cast had Harley Quinn and the new game already boasts Black Manta the roster runs a similar fate as the Teen Titan dilemma. Should super groups be limited in their roster influence? I vote no. I wouldn’t mind seeing Deadshot or Katana in the lineup but the Suicide Squad character I’d like to see most is Killer Croc. Savage, bloodthirsty and a perfect complement for a game like Injustice.

Grifter

grifter Ricardo Fasoli deviant art

Photo Credit: deviantart.com via Ricardo Fasoli

Talk about the hipster pick. I’ve seen a lot of love for the possible inclusion of Red Hood on forums and other blogs. But let’s face it. Batman characters have a large enough influence on the roster choices already, with why not add a lesser known character who would have nearly the identical move set as Jason Todd (or a Deadshot)? Guns, explosives and rather than the bitter, whiney Jason Todd we get the wise-cracking Cole Cash instead.

Circe

Circe JLU

Circe in “Justice League Unlimited”

The definition of femme fatale. I’m assuming (and hoping) Ares will be cut and if Wonder Woman needs a villainous counterpart to be paired against why not Circe? While I’m not quite sure how they’d incorporate her use of sorcery and demented view of a matriarchy into the fighting system, she’d be a welcomed addition nonetheless.

 Vandal Savage

Vandal Savage Flickr via Mitch Hell

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons via Mitch Hell

Personally, I don’t think you can ever have enough villains. Savage made his mark in 2012’s  “Justice League: Doom” where he reestablished the Legion of Doom. Outside of the film he has had a limited role in the DC Universe, but with Injustice’s complex timeline I’m sure the immortal megalomaniac could find a suitable place in both the storyline and the playable roster.

Spectre

Spectre.jpg

Photo Credit: comicvine.com

Nothing, but love and admiration for this addition. I’d love to see Injustice 2 pay homage to one of DC’s oldest heroes as possible DLC or an unlockable character. I don’t see him playing any sort of role in the game’s main story, but the ability to play as an omnipotent character who can teleport all over the screen clobbering opponents would be a blast.

 

Who are your picks for Injustice 2?

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ReplayFX Takes Over Downtown Pittsburgh

Who doesn’t love some classic arcade fun?

The second annual ReplayFX Convention is taking over the David L. Lawrence Convention Center this weekend.

I wrote up a piece earlier this week for Pittsburgh Magazine on the convention and figured I’d share it here as well. 

Replay FX Street Fighter II

Still my all-time favorite fighting game.

ReplayFX is essentially a retro gamers paradise. Hundreds of classic arcade and pinball games along with thousands of console games for fans. Not to mention the convention has an awesome cosplay competition sponsored by Malicious Cosplay.

 

Oh did I mention the arcade runs till 2 a.m. tonight? Make sure you swing by for the final two days of the event and get in on all the fun. For video game fans in Pittsburgh this is a can’t miss event!

I highly recommend taking part in one of the daily gaming challenges or sticking around to listen to Bit Brigade later this evening as they cover the epic musical tracks from Ninja Gaiden.

Bigger isn’t always Better — What Rhino Said

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was one of the highlights, if not one of the best games shown at this year’s E3 press conference. They seem to be doing all the right things and taking the series in the right direction. The art style is simply gorgeous, matching that of gouache painted […]

via Bigger isn’t always Better — What Rhino Said

Good read about the newest edition to the Legend of Zelda franchise. Check out the full article at Rhino’s blog on the link above. Give it a look and share if you’re digging it!

Euro Cup 2016 Group Stage Predictions

I know I’m a bit behind since the Euro Cup 2016 started already, but better than late than never right?

After all it is only the second day and so far, my initial predictions haven’t been affected by the first three games played.

Now, I typically don’t write about soccer on here, but since I just published a list of the best pubs for Euro Cup watching in the ‘Burgh I figured I might as well rope-a-dope my group stage predictions on here before the tournament gets really going.

I’m only doing a list of my picks on how each group will finish. I was going to do a full-on prediction up to the finals, but with Euro’s tricky rules about the advancement of certain third-place teams I decided I’d save myself the headache in math.

Although I’ll be honest this is France and Germany’s tournament to lose. Germany is still the most well-balanced team in the tournament and you cannot count France out on home soil.

Now without further ado, here’s my predicted finishes for each Euro Cup Group.

GROUP A

France

Switzerland

Albania

Romania

As I said, this is France’s tournament to lose. You’d have to go back to the 1930s to find a time France lost as the host nation. Add in the fact this may be the most talented roster Les Blues has had in years it makes for a dangerous combination. Their biggest question will be can a young core with Paul Pogba, Yohan Cabaye, and Kingsley Coman keep their composure all tournament long? Albania is a nice Cinderella story, but the truth is the Swiss have enough firepower and creativity behind Xherdan Shaqiri to nip that fantasy in the butt.

GROUP B

Slovakia

England

Russia

Wales

I know, I know it’s crazy I have Slovakia winning the group. Now I had this picked before this afternoon’s 2-1 loss to Wales, but I’m not going to change it now. Slovakia is a solid group of players who play surprisingly well together. Marek Hamsik is their playmaker in the center of midfield and Vladimir Weiss is a fantastic workhorse on the flank, with a sharp, creative spark (one which he showcased today). Their biggest strength is not relying on any one player – they get goals from everyone. Something they showed during their 3-1 win over Germany in a May friendly. I have England losing today (check Twitter) against Russia 2-1, but the Three Lions always find a way to battle back from an opening match debacle. They have enough talent this year to make it out of this group. Wales will be the heartbreak story. After Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, and Ben Davies the number of skill players on their roster is marginal at best. I expect the July 16 scuffle with England will take the fight out of them and effectively spoil their Euro.

GROUP C

Germany

Northern Ireland

Poland

Ukraine

Another wild pick – Northern Ireland?! I know ESPN loves them some Poland, but truth is after Robert Lewandoski they don’t have much of anything. Not to mention, they routinely find new ways to lose in epic fashion (missed qualifying for the 2014 World Cup because of an own goal). So that leaves Norther Ireland, who have won 11 straight matches. That sort of confidence is a relatively open group is the perfect recipe for a shocker. Plus let’s face it after Denmark in 1992 and Greece in 2004 the Euro has a reputation for surprising story lines.

GROUP D

Croatia

Turkey

Spain

Czech Republic

A tough group, but not quite the Group of Death. Croatia is the arguably the most disrespected team in the tournament. The partnership between Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic is easily the best 1-2 midfield punch in the tournament. Not to mention the big man Mario Mandzukic up top is a proven goal scorer (24 goals for Croatia in 66 appearances). Call me crazy with La Roja finishing third, but I don’t see them being a legit threat in year’s edition. And after that 1-0 loss to Georgia last week I don’t think anyone in this group will be afraid of them. Turkey is my tournament dark horse. They have a superbly young and talented squad built from Turkey’s Super Lig’s best players (12 of their 23 players play for either Fenerbahce, Galatasaray, or Besiktas in Turkey’s domestic league). That sort of unity is hard to come by and very reminiscent of Spain’s memorable 2008-2012 run built largely with players from La Liga’s Real Madrid and Barcelona rosters.

Group E

Italy

Sweden

Belgium

Republic of Ireland

Now friends and co-workers will call me bias for placing my Azzurri at the top of the real Group of Death, but hear me out. Conte’s Italy have not lost a competitive match yet (just a few friendlies along the way) and topped their qualifying group. Even with the constant rotation of players during the qualifying campaign, Italy found ways to win. Plus, with Gigi Buffon in net and the tournament’s best defensive unit it is hard to count them out. After all defense wins’ championships. Now the real shocker here is Sweden over Belgium. I think Belgium is going to lose their opening match to Italy – that isn’t bias that’s just acknowledging the Red Devils have one of the thinnest backlines in the tourney. Without Vincent Kompany their defensive leadership is going to be left wanting. Plus, despite the loads of talent on this squad with the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Radja Nainggolan, and Alex Witsel I have yet to see them play together as a unit. They have loads of potential but just like at the 2014 World Cup they haven’t found a way to put it all together. With the pressure of being a tournament favorite I feel like all the fixings for another early exit is aligned for Belgium. Leaving Sweden to slip in ahead of them.  The Swedes boast one of the world’s best players in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a roster sprinkled with talent from the Blagult’s recent Under-21 World Championship core. They should not be taken lightly.

GROUP F

Iceland

Portugal

Austria

Hungry

Austria is another team high on the list of ‘dark horses,’ but David Alba – their best player — isn’t the type of player who can elevate an entire squad to European glory. That leaves the always underachieving Portuguese to limp into the knockout rounds. Their squad has more gaps than I can recall in recent memory but with Christiano Ronaldo still in the lineup they’ll will their way out of the group. Iceland is my surprise here. Similar to my logic with Turkey they have a young core with a ton of cohesion amongst the players. They ran a stellar qualifying campaign finishing just two points behind group winner Czech Republic. But what stood out to me was their +11 goal difference during the campaign. The boys can play and in a wide-open group they’ll surprise more than just fans.

 

Photo credit: Nazionale Calcio via Flickr Creative Commons 

10 Cents: Steve Rogers Was A Friend of Mine

Steve Rogers aka Captain America was created by two Jewish writers, Jack Kirby and Joe Simon as a slice of good-old fashion Nazi-beating American propaganda.

Now the Cap has changed slightly over the years, but one thing has remained the same – he’s the paladin of the Marvel Comic Universe. The virtuous Steve Rogers, legendary leader and one of the most sacred and trusted heroes in the Marvel Universe.

That was until today’s release of Captain America: Steve Rogers #1 written by Nick Spencer.

Now comic book fans come to find out their herald hero has been a sleeper cell for Hyrda all these years. Yes, the same Hydra that was aligned with the Nazis way back when Kirby and Simon created the character.

Turns out none of that matters. Maybe up in comic heaven Kirby is putting out a cigar in disgust as Simon shakes his noggin’ in disbelief. Or maybe they could care less. Unfortunately for Marvel today’s living fans aren’t too thrilled about this sudden change.

And rightfully so, Captain America is as traditional and wholesome as pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. There’s just some things you can’t – no you shouldn’t – change.

Maybe Spencer, who was described by current Marvel executive editor, Tom Brevoort in a Time Magazine interview as being “very politically active,”  and Spencer plans to add a little life to Captain America comics. Perhaps he’s looking to bring a little political edge to Steve Rogers circa what Chris Claremont did for the Uncanny X-Men during his first run with the mutants in the mid-1980s.

After all Captain America has never been a heavy seller by himself. Sure, he’s well-known, but for most of us comic fans the Cap’s fondest memories have been with the Avengers or universe-wide crossovers like 2006’s Civil War.

Capt. America graffit - John Piercy Flickr

Steve Rogers has a lot to his hang his head about Photo Credit: John Piercy, Flickr Creative Commons

So, maybe Spencer plans to flip the script. To bring in some of his ideologies on today’s government by changing the face of Marvel’s greatest nationalist. I mean starting today Captain America has been a secret agent for the bad guys all these years. Meaning, he’s been working with Nazis, Commies,  and supervillians – you name it. He’s been playing both sides all while rubbing shoulders with the U.S. government and the “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” Heck of a storyline when you think about it.

Not to mention, this concept (which Brevoort alluded to in the same interview as being in the works since 2014) blends nicely with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest installment, Captain America: Civil War. Makes a lot more sense why he was so adamant about saving Bucky in the film. It wasn’t just about saving a childhood friend, was it now?

Now, I’m not defending Marvel’s decision here. I’m rather just rationalizing it. If anything I’m a bit shocked at the news, but I’m not furious.

Fans constantly forget something that comic book writers (especially Marvel’s) have none for a long time, the unspoken rule: nothing is permanent in the comic world.

Every character in the Marvel Universe has undergone catastrophic changes or mindbogglingly absurd story arches. They die, they come back. They turn bad, they go back to being good.

Anyone remember when Bruce Banner, one of the most brilliant minds in comics turns into an inbred hillbilly in Old Man Logan? Or how Emma Frost started off as a Hellfire Club hooker before turning into one of the leaders of the X-Men? Heck even Doctor Octopus took over Peter Parker’s conscious and became the new Spider-Man, the Superior Spider-Man.

The point here is nothing in comics is ever sacred. Not even Steve Rogers’ morality.

Fans are allowed to curse the heavens and create hashtags like #WTFMarvel. We have a right to be mad. Yet, let’s not be mad for the wrong reasons.

Rogers’ new ethical take will draw criticism, but it may also very well sell a couple million comics. Heck, it might even create a few new fans. Then once Spencer and Marvel are done running their current series the ideology of Captain America will likely evolve once again.

What fans should be upset about is Marvel’s inability to create new characters. Something I’ve been adamant about for a few years now. In recent publications, Marvel has turned Thor into a woman, piggybacking off old Thor fans; instead of creating a new female character who in return could create her own fan base and identity. They took Sam Wilson and gave him the Captain America mantle rather than producing better comics starring The Falcon, an African-American hero. Heck they put Miles Morales in the Spider-Man outfit rather than creating a new Latino hero (or heroine) in hopes Spidey fans would jump ship.

Marvel’s biggest flaw isn’t shockers like Steve Rogers working with the Axis of Evil it is their lack of true creative ingenuity Stop changing the common character rhetoric in hopes it becomes ‘edgy.’ If you want to shake it up, give us new characters or give characters like Sam Wilson and Jane Foster their rightful five minutes of fame – with their own character’s comic series.

They should create anew or give lesser known characters better series. For example, after this weekend’s X-Men: Apocalypse debuts I’m sure they’ll be a lot more Psylocke fans out there (thanks Olivia Munn), but whens the last time any of us read or saw a standalone Psylocke series?

Fans shouldn’t be upset by the change even as surprising as it may be. We should be upset that we’re still seeing the same old characters being recycled again and again and again.

Personally, I’ll always remember when Steve Rogers was a patriotic friend of mine. I guess, I’ll just have to wait until he comes back around. Sure it will only be a matter of time anyways.

Cover photo credit: Phillip Lenssen, Flickr Creative Commons

It’s Free Comic Book Day Y’all

Time to rejoice, Free Comic Book Day is finally here! The event which started in 2002, has been giving comic book fans and collectors a chance to not only obtain free and discounted items, but also a chance to help promote the comic book community as a whole.

I got the chance to write a up a quick piece on local vendors participating in today’s event for Pittsburgh Magazine.

Check out the full link and listing of stores here!

Final Portfolio Video Production

“Kick It”

Free Form Project – Shot with a Panasonic HVX200

Won’t lie this one had me nervous. I came up with the idea on the fly after one of my actors/helpers decided not to show up. I stole a little bit of inspiration from Calvin Harris’ “Bounce” video, which follows a guy as he dances around Las Vegas. This video might not be as intense, but it’s still as enjoyable.

 

“Dating Blind”

Final Project – Shot with a Cannon EOS Rebel T5

Had an absolute blast filming this one.  First time I used a DSLR for a project, so that took a little getting use to especially for establishing shots and getting my focus right. Overall, I was very happy with the final product. I wanted to tell a comedic story about the dating world. The two actors (cannot thank Kimmie and Rodrick enough) I used in the film did a great job  acting out their respective parts and following the script. My actor, Rodrick, wasn’t too keen on doing the inner monologue for Dean, so I ended up voice acting for him. The shots came together nicely and I was very pleased  with how everything came together. I even managed to find the perfect songs to fit the style I was going with on this one. When all was said and done this was easily my favorite project of the lot.

Disclaimer: Viewer Discretion Advised (Foul language) 

“One is Enough”

PSA Project – Shot with a Panasonic HVX200

Had a tough time storyboarding for this one. Most of my videos/projects run over two minutes, so trying to effectively narrow down shots to just a mere thirty seconds was a serious challenge for me. I originally posted this one without color and then re-edited it adding color the last shot and fine tuning a few in between. In the end, felt like this wasn’t too bad for my first ever public service announcement.

 

“In-Depth Look at Point Park’s U-View”

NAT Sound Project – Shot with a Panasonic HVX200

Nothing too fancy on this one. This was our natural sound project for class that was focused on an interview-style approach. We worked in pairs on this one, so there’s a few shots that were a bit different compared to others since my partner and I have two different shooting styles. I did have to go back and fine tune the audio during the editing process. However, overall I was fairly happy with the final product on this one.

 

Static Shots

Project 1 – Shot with a Panasonic HVX200

Nothing fancy here. Just the first project we worked on for video production class. Took a series of shots ranging from close-ups to long and wide angle shots. Was very pleased with the final shot of the marble staircase in the University Center, other than that this is a pretty dull video.