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Rant Alert: Marvel Heroes- One Month Later

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Well, it’s been a month since Marvel Heroes launched and I thought I’d give an update on the game and how I think it’s doing. I’ve beta tested for several fairly big MMO’s in the past (DC Universe Online & Champions Online to name two) and I have to say that Gazillion has been surprisingly awesome with the fans, more so than any other game company I’ve seen.. Not only are they very interactive on the forums, with the constant patches that have been rolling out and changes that have been made they are obviously listening to the feedback fans have been giving and been trying to improve things as best as they can. The game still isn’t perfect, but it’s a blast to play and it seems it’ll only keep getting better as we go.

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They’re having their first sale on heroes in honor of the holiday today, and the sale runs through July 8th. In honor of Canada Day and Independence Day both Captain America and Wolverine are half-off with the price of 600Gs ($6), and the three most expensive heroes (Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Deadpool) have been reduced by $5. All other heroes have received a slight decrease in price as well, as has many of the costumes.  The pricing on heroes and costumes has been one of the biggest points of contention among fans and the rumor is that the prices seen during this sale, with the exception of Captain America and Wolverine, will end up being the new permanent prices on the 8th after the sale has ended.

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In response to fan complaints the drop rates on heroes and costumes have been upped and many of the characters have been significantly buffed- especially Iron Man and Spidey. I play tested Spider-Man during beta and wasn’t too impressed by him. I unlocked him in-game the other night after the latest patch buffed a majority of his powers and I have to say he’s been a blast to play with. His moves are fast and his animations really sell the feeling that you’re Spider-Man.

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I’ve been trying out Captain America the past few days as well, and with the sale price at 600gs he’s a steal. They’ve really nailed the feel of his fighting style, and with defensive abilities like Quick Block Cap is one of the better tanks in the game at the moment. Ms. Marvel (now Captain Marvel in the comics) has been a lot of fun as well and is a good hybrid melee/ranged character, though her melee powers are the most effective. By far my favorite character has been Deadpool. I’ve lost count of how many times his random comments have made me laugh out loud. Nolan North is Deadpool, and I never get tired of playing with him. His play-style is a ton of fun (do yourself a favor and focus on all the gun abilities).

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The biggest surprise for me is that the starter heroes that everyone gets 3 for free (one you choose at the beginning, the second is a reward after the prologue, and the third is a reward drop after defeating Dr. Doom) are actually some of the best characters in the game at present. While they might not be the most well-known, they’re all extremely powerful in their own right, and many players who have most or all of the characters available unlocked still find themselves playing as one of the freebies. Thing is hand-down the best tank in the game; Hawkeye does amazing single-target DPS and is a “boss killer” in endgame; Black Widow has become the sleeper favorite for many players, as her melee build combined with grenades/micro drones makes her an unstoppable force in endgame; Storm and Scarlet Witch have extremely powerful AOEs, and Daredevil, when skilled right, is a great melee character.

If you haven’t checked out Marvel Heroes now is a great time to give it a try. It’s completely free to download & play, and with the sale currently going on if you do decide to pick up a few heroes and costumes you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1 & 2, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Kindle editions on sale for a limited time for $0.99 as a part of the Independence Day Sale! Be sure to take advantage!

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Rant Alert: Marvel Heroes Overview

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Marvel Heroes is a game I’ve been anticipating for quite a while now, both because it’s a Marvel game and because it is completely free to play. Yep, that’s right. Marvel Heroes is 100% free to download and play from beginning to end. It is also possible to unlock every hero and a vast majority of the costumes and other items for free in-game through loot drops. We’ll talk about that in more detail in a moment. MH is a game by David Brevik, the mind behind Diablo and Diablo II…maybe you’ve heard of them. Marvel Heroes is basically what you get when Diablo II and Marvel Ultimate Alliance have a love child and the results are…mostly great.

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MH plays just like Diablo and Torchlight (they’ve often said that Marvel Heroes is the spiritual successor to Diablo II). Point and click, kill and loot. If you don’t like those types of games or that type of gameplay, you probably won’t like this one either. As of right now keyboard and mouse/click and loot is the only gameplay/control type the devs plan on having available.

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The heroes are all well represented, and having played the game for a few months before launch as a beta tester, I can tell you that a lot of time and effort went into trying to make each hero work and play the way you would expect them to.  The powers are all pretty much like the powers that were in the Ultimate Alliance games. Each hero will have three trees with a specific focus, and each time your character levels up you’re given two points to spend in skills however you like. Many skills will have a synergy, which means putting points into one will have a direct impact on another. This generally works well, as it allows you to spend points in basic skills early without feeling like those points were “wasted” later.

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There are currently 20 heroes available with an additional 5 (Human Torch, Luke Cage, Emma Frost, Squirrel Girl, & Nova) set to be available “soon”. Everyone has a choice of 5 characters to start with- Daredevil, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Storm, and Thing. Not exactly A-Tier characters, but I can tell you from experience that they are all fun to play and can be just as powerful ( and in some cases more so) as the better known or popular characters. After the prologue/tutorial mission everyone will get another of the starting heroes as a random drop. You’ll get a third after defeating Dr. Doom in the Chapter 8 finale, for a total of 3 free characters. All of the other characters (and most of the stuff you can buy in the store, including potions and costumes) are available through loot drops. They are, however, very rare, though there are several things you can do to increase your chances (taken from what has been said on the forums and confirmed by devs):

  1. Equip gear that gives you a +% Special Item chance
  2. The first boss you defeat each day (20 hour timer) has a natural higher drop % to drop a hero or costume. There’s always a chance for a hero drop on mobs, chests, and other bosses, but the chances are higher for that first boss of the day.
  3. Characters that have a lot of rested time (ones you haven’t used in a while) also have a higher chance of getting a rare/hero drop.
  4. % of Hero and Costume drops go up “significantly” after you’ve played through all 8 chapters of the story, during endgame content.

For me, a lot of the fun is the chance that you may get a “special” drop, but if there are some characters you just can’t wait to play you can always purchase them in the store for “G”s. G’s are Gazillion’s special currency, and the exchange rate is basically $1=100 Gs. If you buy in the higher packages of G’s you’re given a little extra as a bonus. The heroes are priced along tiers- 600 Gs ($6), 900 Gs ($9), 1200 G ($12), and 2000 G ($20). Only three characters currently cost 2000Gs- Spider-Man, Deadpool, & Iron Man. The costumes can be a bit pricy as well, as they range from 900Gs-2000Gs. Or you can gamble with 100Gs and buy a ticket, which could be a costume, potion, pet, a 100% XP or Rare boost, or a “rare special”.

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Now, Gazillion has been taking a lot of flack on the forums and game sites for their admittedly expensive pricing. However, I feel that there are a few things that need to be kept in mind before freaking out about it:

  1. The game is completely free to play. You aren’t gimped or restricted from game play content by not paying money.
  2. All of the heroes and 99% of everything else is available, for free, as drops in the game.
  3. The game is completely free. I know I already said that once, but apparently it needs to be emphasized for the self-entitled, hard headed people. These games take tons of money to produce and keep running. They have staff they have to pay. They have to make their money somehow, people. No one is forcing you to spend a dime. If you REALLY want to play as Spidey but you think $20 is too expensive to unlock him (and I would agree) play the game with someone else and try all the things above to increase your chances of getting him as a drop, or wait for an inevitable sale (a month ago they were selling “founders packs” that included specific characters and all their costumes, or groups of characters with an additional costume, for $20-$50 depending on the package you chose), or for the prices to drop- which they will as they add more content.

All in all, Marvel Heroes is a lot of fun to play and can become a huge time-sync. It’s not perfect, and they’re still working out some kinks and refining things, just like most MMOs do just after launch, but for the bargain price of free, you’re not out anything giving it a try.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.  Check back each Saturday for a new chapter in the ongoing serial Moving On!

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Rant Alert: Why the Prequels Were Good For Star Wars

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Gooood….I can feel the hate flowing through you! The very mention of the prequel trilogy is enough to make most Star Wars fans begin to froth at the mouth…those that will even acknowledge their existence. I think most of us can agree that Episodes I-III of our beloved Star Wars Saga were not great movies. They were horribly written, horribly cast (with a few exceptions, such as Ewan McGregor), and they featured this guy:

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It would be easy to fill a HUGE rant listing all the things that are bad about these movies, but it’s been done…to death. I mean, you’ve seen the movies (unless you’re under the age of four or have been living with the Amish). You already know. However, I would make the argument that as bad as the movies could be, and as much as they got wrong, they were still, in the long run, good for the franchise and for fans. Allow me to expound:

The Music

I’m starting with an easy one, because I think just about everyone would agree that regardless of how you felt about the movies themselves, the music that John Williams provided was amazing and meshed up perfectly with the original trilogy score. It was “more Star Wars” in the way that fans had been dreaming of since ROTJ, and at this point the more familiar themes within the new music have taken their place alongside the classic themes from the original trilogy in everything from the games to the T.V. shows, and we don’t bat an eye. It was simply John Williams Star Wars, and that is never a bad thing. I can’t wait to hear what he comes up with for Episode 7, because when it comes to Star Wars, Mr. Williams always delivers.

It Opened Up The Universe

Star Wars already had a rather healthy life in the expanded universe before The Phantom Menace came out. The books, comics, and games that took place in the galaxy far, far away post-ROTJ could vary greatly in quality, but there was plenty of it. However, up until the Prequels were a reality, the time periods before A New Hope (with the exception of the period of Knights of the Old Republic) were a no fly zone. As a result, a lot of the EU had to guess about history, and again, quality of the ideas varied greatly. The Prequels lifted the vale on this time frame and allowed the EU to tell some really great stories that helped to better flesh out and define the Star Wars universe we love.

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Dark Horse has always delivered quality Star Wars comics, but their work on Republic (which is sold in trade collections under the Clone Wars banner) was absolutely fantastic. It is a prequel to their equally great series Empire, and if you haven’t checked it out I highly recommend it.

Likewise, the Prequels opened the doors for some of the best Star Wars novels the EU has ever produced. Two of these were written by Matthew Stover. The first is Shatterpoint.

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Shatterpoint follows Master Mace Windu as he journeys back to his home planet in search for a former pupil who may have gone over to the dark side. Mr. Stover manages to tell a thrilling, mature tale set in the Star Wars universe that is unlike any other Star Wars novel before it or since. It could have been set in any other science fiction context and still been a wonderful book, but the fact that it was set in the Star Wars universe makes it a that much more unique and interesting a read. But when I say mature, I mean it. The subject matter may not be everyone’s cup of tea. This isn’t a popcorn novel. This is a gritty, often graphic, gorilla warfare story, and odds are really good events in the story will frustrate and horrify you more than once. You’ve been warned.

Stover’s second novel set in the Prequel time period is actually the novelization of Revenge of the Sith, and I am being completely honest with you when I say that it has become one of my favorite Star Wars novels. I would even go as far as to say it is quite possibly the best Star Wars novel written to date.

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Stover takes the basic story presented in the movie and does it right. For me, this novel is the canon version of how things went down with Anakin’s fall. He writes the story that we all wanted to see on the big screen. Stover shows how the Jedi Council and Palpatine were playing Anakin back and forth. He shows the internal struggle within Anakin, so when the moment of his fall does come it makes all the sense in the world. He makes the Emperor the serious threat that he should be. By far, my favorite scene in the book is the showdown in Palpatine’s office between Palpatine and the three Jedi Masters. It. Is. Perfect. Where it was lame and actually made me laugh out loud in the movie, in this novel it is everything that scene should have been. The unabridged audiobook makes a great story even better, as Johnathan Davis voices the characters beautifully. Every Star Wars fan should, at the very least, read this book.

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Dark Lord is the unofficial sequel to Stover’s novelization, and while it isn’t as good a read, it is still one of the better Star Wars books on the shelf. Luceno picks up weeks after ROTS left off, and we get to watch as Anakin grows into the Vader we all know from the original trilogy. Again, this is a novel that Star Wars fans should check out.

The Clone Wars

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While it started out admittedly a little rocky, the Clone Wars grew into something extremely good. Every season had at least one dud (or overly kiddie) storyline, but the rest tended to range from great to holy-crap-that-was-awesome! This was especially true in the last three seasons. I was very sad to see Clone Wars go, but holy crap did it go out on a high note. I am very excited to see what they do with Rebels, which has a lot of the same creative minds behind it and is set between Episodes III and IV. Speaking of which…

The Force Unleashed

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It wasn’t a perfect game, and the sequel was a rushed mess (but cool gameplay mechanics. A lightsaber that actually works like a lightsaber!), but I loved the story behind The Force Unleashed, and it still stands as one of my favorite Star Wars games (behind the KOTOR, Jedi Knight, and X-Wing/Tie games). I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve played through the game. I own the comic, the novelization, and the audiobook as well (which, admittedly, weren’t as good at telling the story as the game). I’m really hoping that Rebels will feature Starkiller, because it was just a great concept and he is really one of my favorite Star Wars characters. Plus, I have a total  man-crush on Sam Witwer, and I’m secure enough in my masculinity/sexuality to admit that.

As an uber-fan of Star Wars I was really let down by the end product that we got from the Prequels, but I can’t say that I wish they hadn’t happened. They opened up the universe I love and provided some really quality entertainment that I can go back to and enjoy again and again. That’s not to say that I don’t wish the movies themselves had been done better, or that I don’t hope fervently that the movies we get in the future will be of the same, if not better, quality as the original trilogy. I do. But we have to make the best with what we’re given, and in this case, what we’ve been given can be pretty great if you know where to look.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.  Check back each Saturday for a new chapter in the ongoing serial Moving On!

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Rant Alert: How Star Wars: The Old Republic Has Been Saving My Life

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I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m an uber Star Wars fan-nerd. I’ve also made no secret of the fact that I struggle with depression quite a bit. More so in the last few months since it’s been getting closer to a year that I’ve been unemployed with only my indie writing gig bringing in any money (read: almost none). I’ve been going through the process of filing for Social Security Disability, which let me tell you can be a stressful, humiliating, and pride-killing process. Family and friends have been encouraging me to do it for a couple of years now, and as my physical condition has gotten progressively worse, especially in the last year, I finally had to admit to myself that it was time. Going over, in detail, all the things that hurt you, are physically wrong with you, can be a painful experience in itself. A lot of times we push things into the background. They become something we live with every day and actually grow used to to the point that you don’t really think about it as much- it’s just how you live. So when you really start to break down just how screwed up your life is and the things you live with every day that most others don’t, it can put a damper on your day pretty quick.

I’m going to be honest with you, faithful reader, I’ve been a lot lower than usual the last couple of months. I mean, I’ve always struggled with depression and even suicidal thoughts, but these past few months have been more difficult than just about any other time I can remember. It’s actually become almost a daily thing at this point. It’s not that I really have it horrible right now. I have family that loves me and are incredibly supportive. I have a great girlfriend, something I honestly never thought would happen for me; and while we don’t get to see each other too often due to her work schedule and me being broke and without gas money (she lives about 30 minutes away) she’s still the most loving and supportive girl a guy like me could ask for. I have great friends/family that have been helping me with this whole writing thing as test readers, editors, and Shawn, who is an extremely talented artist that donates his really increasingly short supply of free time to providing covers for me.

But the depression is there, and it speaks to me. It tells me that I’m a failure as a man, that I never really had a chance, that I’ve been doomed to being a dependent on others my entire life, and that all the pain and physical problems I have now are just going to keep getting worse. That I’ve already peaked in life and done the best I’m going to do (and that wasn’t much of anything at all). That my time as a minister was a waste, my time with school was a waste, and that God may be there but He has better things to do than hold my hand. That the writing is just me wasting my time trying to make myself feel like I have some sort of meaning left in my life, that it’s never going to go anywhere, and that I’ll end up being just some nobody that self published a bunch of crap that no one wanted to read. This is the stuff that I go to war with every day from the moment I get up until the moment, generally around 4AM or so, when I’m exhausted enough that I’m able to sleep. When it gets really bad that’s when those thoughts become thoughts along other, darker paths. That’s when you start to feel like maybe you’d be doing everyone else a favor by just putting an end to it now. Maybe you’d just be putting yourself, and everyone else around you that has to take care of your sorry and very large posterior, out of what will only become steadily increasing misery. That’s when being a writer and having such an active imagination becomes not a good thing, because I can start to see, in very graphic detail, all the ways I could make that happen.

So yeah, not exactly puppies and sunshine.

My saving grace for the past few months has been Star Wars: The Old Republic. For those of you who don’t know, SWTOR is an MMORPG- a video game online that you can play with other people. It’s made by Bioware, my favorite game developer, who is known for doing story-focused games. They made some of my favorite games of all time: Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic & Mass Effect 1-3. I’ve never been a huge fan of MMOs, but SWTOR was different in that the storyline for each class is actually really well done, and you can play it solo like a normal video game if you want. I’ve actually made several friends through the game that I play with on a daily basis- something that I’ve never really done to this extent with an MMO before. More importantly, it’s helped me to not think. Whenever the depression starts to speak, when those dark thoughts start to happen, I just jump on the game and play. I get lost in that galaxy far, far away for a few hours and when I’m done, I’m not so down. It has, quite literally, helped to save my life, and probably sanity, on more than a few occasions.

Video games have gotten a bad rap. They’ve become the target of the media and politicians as a scapegoat for all the bad crap that’s been going on- school shootings, bullying, promiscuous sex, you name it. Well, here’s an example of where a game has helped someone. I’m not addicted. I don’t play until I get sick, or starve to death, or whatever. It’s just a release for me. It’s become my “happy place”. We all need something like that in our lives, especially in times like these when so many people are hurting, struggling, stressed out, or yes, depressed and/or suicidal. Maybe you’re there too and need an outlet. If you’re a Star Wars fan maybe you should give SWTOR a try. It’s free to play right now. Go and download it and start her up.

Maybe it’s not a game you’re into. Maybe it’s a book, or a TV show, or a movie, or church, or whatever  you need or have found that helps to get you through. Something that you can get lost in and just not think about all the crap for a while. It’s okay, and don’t let anyone else tell you different. You’re not alone.  For me it’s this video game where I can be an intelligence agent, or Jedi, or an evil Sith and force choke stupid folk in a fictional universe that I’ve always loved since I was a little kid. Whatever that thing may be for you, I hope you’ve found it, because we all need an escape sometimes.

May the force be with you…now excuse me while I go be a Sith Lord and shoot electricity from my fingertips for a while.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective,  the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, and the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1- all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.

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Rant Alert: The State of Star Wars

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I think I have already established my Star Wars geek cred previously, but given all the news lately and my reinvigorated hunger for the franchise thanks to various things I’ll be discussing presently, I thought it’d be a good time to examine the state of the franchise, what we have to look forward to, and address all the negativity that seems to be the default setting whenever anything Star Wars is mentioned. In fact, let’s just start with the negativity thing, because I’m kind of sick of hearing about it. I understand that the prequels were, lets be honest, pretty craptacular. I just tried to re-watch them on BluRay the other day and it really is hard to sit through. However, as I’m about to show, that doesn’t automatically make all things Star Wars horrible. Additionally I would like to point out that regardless of how disappointing the prequels were, they did accomplish two good things:

1. We got a lot more awesome Star Wars music from John Williams

2. The prequels opened up the universe a bit more for other areas of the EU to explore, areas that were previously off limits to the novels, comics, games, etc. Many of those things, set during the time of the prequels, have actually been quality entertainment, but I’ll get into that in more detail presently.

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First, lets look at the most obvious “big thing”. I won’t discuss the sale to Disney because I’ve already talked about that at length. I do want to talk about Ep. VII. While I remain cautiously optomistic, the fact that the people behind the story have massive credit, geek and otherwise, is a very positive sign. We have Michael Arndt writing the script. For those who don’t know, this is the same guy that wrote Toy Story 3 and Little Miss Sunshine– both quality stories. On board consulting is Lawrence Kasdan, the screenwriter for Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and Raiders of the Lost Ark (the first Indiana Jones), and Simon Kinberg, who wrote the RDJ version of Sherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Now, the addition of Kinberg could make some people balk, depending on how much you liked SH or M&MS (I thought they were fun), but the fact that Lawrence Kasdan is on board has me really excited. ESB is my favorite movie of all time, and what he wanted to do with ROTJ was right on the money until Lucas made changes (in his defense the Ewoks were originally Wookies).

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Okay, so J.J. Abrams is officially directing the next movie. “Lens flare! Durp de derp!” Can we please put a moratorium on the lens flare jokes? They weren’t exactly witty the first time, and now they’re just annoying as hell. Personally I’ve enjoyed all the films Abrams has directed. I loved NuTrek and thought it was an extremely smart way to reboot without throwing out everything that has come before. A lot of die hard fans didn’t like it because it wasn’t “their Star Trek” and that’s fine, but it was still a really fun, entertaining movie, (but yes, there were plot holes and too much lens flare) and I think it went a long way in proving that Abrams has what it takes to do a decent Star Wars film. Also, just to point out for all the “Lost sucked!” critics: Abrams didn’t screw up Lost. He was involved with the pilot episode, and that was pretty much it (it was also the best episode of the entire show). He’s mostly a producer and idea man, TV-wise, and once the productions are up and running he leaves the rest to the show runners. What they do after the fact is on them, not him.

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I already did a rant on Clone Wars, but after the latest episode I just wanted to reiterate just how freaking good this show is. Seriously, the “Maul Arc” was hand-down the best storyline they’ve done, and the final episode of that arc that aired on Saturday is the best episode of the show. Period. It was a prime example of just how good Star Wars can be- my jaw dropped twice in shock and I’m still geeking out about it. Even if you aren’t a fan of the show or have never seen an episode, go watch that episode. Go ahead. I’ll wait… The only bad thing about the Clone Wars, and this has been a constant since Season 1, there is always 1 story arc that is either really kid oriented, boring, or both. This season it was the droid squad arc (though seeing the commando was cool). However, it’s usually just after those “dud arcs” that things get really good, so it’s worth it to throw the kiddies a bone to get stories like the one I just mentioned. If you haven’t given the show a shot and are a Star Wars fan, do yourself a favor and check it out. The series has only gotten better as its gotten older, the stories can be quite mature, but it’s still something you can watch with your kids. Basically it’s like the original trilogy movies- fun for everyone.

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I know it’s become the bandwagon thing to hate on Bioware, but they are still my favorite game company and they still make excellent games. The Old Republic is one of them. SWTOR was a massive undertaking. It’s the first MMO Bioware tried to do, and they wanted to do it differently then everyone else. They wanted to make an MMO that was more about story, and they did. They made a Bioware game that you can play with other people if you want. That’s exactly what I was looking for. I never got into PvP in games. I don’t care about “end game content”. I care about a good story and a game that makes me feel like I’m living in that galaxy far, far away with my friends. I wanted a game I could play predominantly solo, and play with friends when I felt like it. That is exactly the game I got. It’s basically Knights of the Old Republic 3-8. It’s got fully-voiced NPCs and cut-scenes. Each class has it’s own storyline, and while some are better than others, it’s still very much a Bioware game and massively better than any other MMO I’ve played in that regard.

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Sure, there are bugs, and stuff that needs to be worked out from time to time (ALL MMOs, including the vaunted WOW, are the same way). They probably launched a few months before they should have, but right now the game is a ton of fun. I played since beta and took a couple of months off, but since I’ve been back it’s been the only game I’ve played for the last two months. SWTOR is free to play now, and you can play the entire storyline with a character, level 1-50, without ever needing to spend a dime. Sure, you won’t have all the features subscribers have and it may take you a little longer, but you won’t be gimped to the point where you have to spend money in order to play. Still, the subscription is more than worth it IMO. Either way, give it a try if you haven’t. You aren’t out anything doing so.

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When I saw the gameplay and trailer for this during E3 I was blown away. It looks absolutely gorgeous and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. The gameplay looks exactly like the cut-scenes, and that amazes me. Lucasarts is working with ILM and it’s the first time the two have worked hand-in-hand on a project like this:

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It takes place on Coruscant and surrounds the criminal underworld. No lightsabers or force powers, just a blaster and your skill. It sounds like a ton of fun and a nice change of pace. They’ve assured worried fans that the Disney buy-out hasn’t affected production at all. In fact, they say Disney has been incredibly supportive of the project. I can’t wait to see more.

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I own just about every Star Wars novel there is. I used to be a huge fan of the books and release day was like a holiday for me. The books have been incredibly hit or miss in the last ten years or so, unfortunately, but there are still gems that hit every now and then, like the book above. I’m really hoping with the new movies we might get an in-flux of new talent and fresh stories, because I really miss sitting down with a good Star Wars novel and jut getting lost in that universe for a while. Plus, as a writer it’s still a dream of mine to be able to write in that universe one day.

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The one aspect that does bother me about the Disney buy-out is that it means that Marvel is going to get the franchise for the comics. Dark Horse has done an amazing job with the franchise and has constantly released quality books. Marvel’s track record…well….isn’t as good. I still have hope that maybe Marvel might surprise me, but I’m not convinced they can deliver the quality that Dark Horse has.

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Overall, despite the setbacks of the prequels, Star Wars is still a viable franchise that is alive and well and is hopefully heading into a new age of revitalization and quality. As fans we have a lot to look forward to. Here’s hoping that our optimism will be rewarded.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective,  the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, and the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1- all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.

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