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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Rage: Graphics, Action and Story â€“ Oh My!
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TABLE OF CONTENTS GAMES 6 Guild Wars 2 8 Aliens: Colonial Marines
10 Interview: Tim Willits of id Software
51 Get Your Gear On!
ENTERTAINMENT 14 2011 Star Trek
18 PAX: He/She Said 20 LA Exxxotica 22 Geek Girl: Dia 24 Geek Girl: Merrique 26 Blizz Con
HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 35 Gear and Tech 42
Movies and TV Shows
44 For Kids 46
28 Rawhide 30 Disney Halloween 32 Phoenix Zoo 33 D23 Expo 55 Letter from the Editor
Skewed and Reviewed Magazine (SKNR) is published 4 times a year, quarterly. For media and advertising opportunities contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone (206) 854-4578. Website: http://www.sknr.net. Newsstand distribution is handled independently. Standard Mail enclosed in the following edition: None. Entire contents copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited. Skewed and Reviewed is not affiliated with the companies or products covered in Skewed and Reviewed Magazine. Products named in the pages of SKNR are trademarks of their respective companies. PRODUCED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
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Rage: Graphics, Action and Story â€“ Oh My! By Gareth von Kallenbach I opened my 2011 E3 experience with a stop at the Zenimax/Bethesda booth. Following an impressive video presentation of Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I made my way over to get some hands-on time with Rage, the latest from the creative talents who changed the face of gaming with the Doom and Quake series.
Rage is a post-apocalypse action game that combines 3D shooters with vehicle racing and combat. Using a new engine called id Tech 5, the game runs smoothly on PCs and consoles, and offers cutting-edge graphics and full-out action. When I did an interview for the game a year ago, the multiplayer portion of the game was still up in the air, as the debate about offering traditional 3D shooter action, and how to bring vehicles in the mix presented a unique set of challenges. In the end it was decided to have vehicle racing and combat as the online portion of the game, and allow the mix for the single player story mode.
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I took my loaded buggy on a three lap race of the wastelands and was told that my weapons could be used to take out objects and that I could use nitro boosts as well. Racing was a thrill due to the high framerate of the game, and I looked forward to swapping shots with fellow players upon release. I was told that the game will allow players to have vehicles of different chassis types, as some may opt for a heavier vehicle with a different load-out. While the racing was fun, I loved the first person action as I battled a team of mutants who, thanks to the new AI, were quite crafty. Aside from taking cover, they would use ruses like trying to flank and hide, as well as set fellow mutants out as decoys to draw me in. Using an assault rifle and later a shotgun, I was able to mix it up fairly well, and enjoyed giving the butt of my rifle to those who got too close. The game allowed me to use items like health packs from my inventory, and use some amazing secondary weapons such as a large throwing knife that was part machete and part projectile weapon.
I took much delight in blasting an enemy from cover, tossing my blade at their head, and watching it nicely implant itself. I had too much fun with the blade! I enjoyed dropping a room full of bad guys with it, and delighted as they fell. As much fun as this was, my remote bomb was even more fun. I remotely drove it into a secluded vent to access an explosives pile, which when detonated, allowed me a new area to access. Aside from the amazing graphics and action, Rage has a story and allows players many branching options. id Software has always made great gaming engines, and Rage does not stray from the traditional story of a lone warrior running and gunning through waves of enemies. Rage offers a large cast of characters that players must interact with, and aside from offering plenty of eye candy and action, offers players a new wrinkle on first person shooters. The game looks like it will ships in October and I for one cannot wait.Â Â§
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Guild Wars 2 By Gareth von Kallenbach During my recent coverage of the San Diego ComicCon, I was given a chance to look at ArenaNetâ€™s pending game, Guild Wars 2. The game is the fifth entry in the series, following the original game and three expansions. The massive multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) fantasy epic has legions of devout followers, and does not require a monthly fee to play the game. On track for release in 2012, Guild Wars 2 will continue the subscription-free model but will also introduce numerous enhancements to the series. The first of these is a new gaming engine which allows for greater freedom of navigation and combat. During the preview of the game, I noted that players were able to dodge missile attacks and were able to scale objects such as fences without needing to go around them.
Another new feature is underwater combat which showed during the demonstration how weapons currently in a playerâ€™s inventory would change to accommodate underwater combat, such as the addition of a trident. Upon emerging from the water, the weapons would return to their pre-immersion state. The game offers seven professions: Engineer, Thief, Guardian, Necromancer, Ranger, Warrior, and Elementalist. Each profession offers their own unique skill sets as well as strengths and weaknesses, so players can better select a class that best suits their playing style. Five races have currently been announced for the game: Stlvari, Norn, Charr, Asura, and Human, and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. The lavish and rich landscapes of the game will be complete with various terrain and weather conditions for players to deal with, and their own set of dangers.
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The game designers spoke of an emphasis to eliminate the level grinding which is so common in MMORPGs by creating more compelling and engaging quests, as well as better group play experiences. To further underscore this, the developers are adding dynamic events into the gaming world, such as finding a thriving village one day, only to see it reduced to ashes and overrun with dangerous creatures the next. During my visit, the emphasis was on gameplay and I was blown away by the rich and lavish graphics. The smooth combat system was engaging and not dependent upon lucky button clicks to be successful in combat. Environmental combat looked very impressive, allowing such things as being able to call in crushing hands upon an enemy, or combining attacks from various character classes for maximum effect. I really enjoyed watching a player summon a flock of birds to attack enemies, and then unleashing a tornado upon them with devastating results. It seems that the designers are not content to just give players more of the same with better graphics. Instead theyâ€™ve created an entirely new approach that stays true to the series and gives fans countless new options to enjoy. Â§
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Colonial Marines. Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford talked about his love for the project and how it is the true sequel to “Aliens”. While not dismissing “Alien 3”, Pitchord explained he considered “Alien 3” more of a sequel to the original “Alien” in terms of having one Alien on the loose stalking a group.
A Behind the Scenes Look at Aliens: Colonial Marines By Gareth von Kallenbach While attending E3 this year, Gearbox presented a special behind-the-scenes look at the new game Aliens: Colonial Marines. The presentation took place in a bunker from one of the films, guarded naturally, by
The gameplay video opened with the Aliens theme, and the Sega and Gearbox script presented in the same bright blue title font of the film. The first thing we saw was a ship, the Sephora, coming up on its sister ship, the Sulaco. A crew manifest is displayed before we see the hyper sleep chambers. From a player’s point of view, you wake up when an alarm sounds and we see Marines rushing through the ship. Then both the Sulaco and the Sephora appear to nose dive into LV 427.
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The game is squad-based and allows up to four players to drop in and out while playing co-op. The video showed the Marines going through the lab on Hadley’s Hope and then falling under attack from the aliens. The aliens are very fast, and pop out of all sorts of nooks and crannies. They scale the walls, drop from walls, and all in all, are very aggressive. Pitchford later mentioned that we would learn the fate of Hudson and the others left behind. Pitchford also explained that the game A.I. powers the alien’s ability to appear from vents and all manner of locales. This certainly gave me pause again as the film clearly stated that the blast from the processor would reduce an area the size of Nebraska to vapor and we clearly see the massive explosion consume the colony at the end of “Aliens”. Also, wouldn’t the area be radioactive and the tech of the colony damaged by the blast, not to mention rendered nonfunctional by the EMP blast? I’m always willing to suspend yet more disbelief when necessary. Using a shotgun and later a pulse rifle, the demo showed that even with great firepower the Marines are at a huge disadvantage. The battle moved from the blast-damaged observation area complete with the
ruined atmospheric processor in the distance. A new style of alien attacked. Basically, it looked like a large bull type alien with a huge head plate that allowed it to ram and batter. Again, I questioned where this one came from and all I could come up with was a possible mutation from the radiation - but the other aliens did not seem to be affected. A sentry gun was shown being used to hold off a wave of aliens, and made for an amazing visual. It was made better when an alien emerged from a vent to snag a fellow marine. Taking refuge with power loaders and new ammo didn’t help the marines, because a Queen appeared and made short work of those around her before turning towards the main player. End demo. The graphics are sharp and crisp and clearly great attention has been paid to detail. The game looks solid and may just be the Alien game that fans have longed for, which is exactly what Pitchford said was the goal for the project. Here is hoping the time until its release in 2012 allows the developers to polish and add to this already impressive looking game. §
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Recently, Tim Willits, Lead Designer at id Software, was kind enough to take a few moments to discuss Rage. Tell us about the background and setting of the game.
Q&A with Tim Willits of id Software by Gareth von Kallenbach
The basic setting and back story of Rage is, of course, brand new intellectual property from id Software. If you’re not familiar with id, we invented the first-person genre, with Wolfenstein, and we were involved with Doom and Quake. With Rage, we wanted to do something that was different enough to really make it stand apart from the other games that we have done. We didn’t want Rage to just be another corridor shooter with mutants. So, the game is set in the distant future after an asteroid strike has destroyed most of the human civilization and mankind is trying to rebuild itself. You play a survivor – somebody that was a part of a program that the governments of the world initiated before the impact. Where, instead of building one big huge Ark underground, they built thousands of these smaller complex supporting pods. We call them Arks but they’re very small and you’re basically frozen for years. The plan was that after the dust settled, these Arks would reappear and the people
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would come out and find each other and they would rebuild society. The game starts in your Ark, which is damaged, and there’s an emergency so it brings itself back to the surface. You’re the only one in your Ark that survived and you discover that the world is a lot different than what anyone expected. There are mutants, bandits, peddlers, more people survived the impact than initially expected and the entire project has long been forgotten. You eventually discover that there is a force in power called “The Authority” that is trying to shape the future of mankind in the way that they want. You will ultimately fight against them to save the future of man. Many people ask us: “Why another post-apocalyptic game now when you have Fallout 3 and all these other games out right now?” For us, the setting is there to support the game but really it’s the story and the gameplay and what you actually do in the world that makes up the bulk of the experience. Whether it’s a nuclear war or an asteroid or some other method of apocalypse, the post-apocalyptic world worked well for us and what we wanted to do. When we set out to work on the id Tech 5 engine, we were looking at what we were able to do with the technology. We knew we could build these large, outdoor, very lush and very detailed environments. In order for players to really experience these environments to the fullest we knew we wanted people to drive around in them. We all have a love for muscle car type vehicles and we wanted to put machine guns on them. In addition, we all love science fiction. If you want scifi elements, muscle cars and machine guns on them, there’s really only one setting you can use. The Mad Max film series immediately comes to mind, which is exactly how we arrived at the setting for Rage. What kinds of locales and missions will we get to see in Rage ? How are missions assigned and what have you done in terms of mission linearity?
The wasteland is basically a plate, which holds all of the missions. You can have a mission that happens in the wasteland where you don’t have a load a traditional level. On the other hand, there are some missions in the wasteland were you have to go into more traditional id Software environments, where you’re shooting indoors. However, the missions in Rage are all very different. We like to call the game “open but directed.” There is a story arc and path that you follow and we tried to make it appealing to the largest audience possible. If you’re a player that wants to do what you’re told to do, you can follow the main storyline missions and have a great experience. On the other hand, if you’re a player that likes to explore and follow side missions, race vehicle, hunt bandits, play mini games, etc. you have many opportunities to do this in Rage. The actual missions range from kill everyone, to more puzzle-like missions, to saving people, etc. and vary greatly. There’s quite a bit of mission variety but as always there is a lot of shooting. What types of enemies will be featured in the game? One of the cornerstones of the new technology is the virtual texturing system, which allows us to uniquely paint everything in the world differently; you won’t have to worry about running around in the same corridors for 20 hours. When we looked at the environments and how diverse we could make them we knew that we also had to make the enemies and their combat styles very different as well. In our E3 and Gamescom presentations we highlighted 3 groups of enemie:: We fought a bandit clan called the “ghost clan” and they are very acrobatic. They can climb rails, jump down from ledges and are very quick and nimble. Then, we switch to a group called the “wasted clan”, which are your standard run-and-gun enemies. They have very colorful personalities and say all kinds of crazy things to you but they’re pretty straightforward and not too difficult to take down.
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The third group that we’ve been showing is the mutants. We have skinny mutants, medium-sized mutants and one giant mutant. They can throw clubs, they have melee attacks, range attacks, some are super quick, the big fat ones are slow, and so on. One of our objectives in Rage was to make sure enemies are different and fight differently. Of course, The Authority also has another kind of fighting style. Variety is the spice of life in the Rage universe. What kinds of weapons will we get to see in Rage and how customizable will they be? In every new area or level in Rage we tried to make sure that the player will have something new to play with. Whether it’s an entire new weapon, an ammo type, or an engineering item there’s always something new in your arsenal of tools. We don’t have weapon customization in the sense that you can tweak weapons up to make them unique and different but we do have weapon add-ons, different ammo types and engineering items. In testing, we found that some people really enjoy the ammo types. They’ll make sure to use a certain type of ammo when fighting the wasted clan, for example. Some people like to play with all engineering items such as machine guns, turrets, RC bomb cars, etc. In other cases, there were some people that just like to use the shotgun with no ammo type. So again, players will have a clear choice and variety is something we’re trying to emphasize with Rage. Any BFG weapon in Rage? There is an Authority type weapon that might be comparable but it is different from the classic id
Software BFG. However, Rage definitely has some badass weapons. Are there any well-known voice actors that play characters in Rage? John Goodman. He was great to work with and has a rough, natural deep voice that fits well with the wasteland environment. Tell us about the new engine. Rage is built on our brand new technology called the id Tech 5 engine. The cornerstone of this technology is that it allows us to paint everything, as I mentioned earlier. It was built from the ground up, which allows us to take full advantage of the power across all systems. We feel that we’ve been able to overcome a lot of the struggles that most developers have with cross-platform games. The game plays at 60hz on each system and when you play a game at 60hz, versus 30hz like lots of other games, there’s a huge improvement with the precision, control, and sharpness. In fact, at QuakeCon we had a live Rage demo running on the PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 at the same time on big 10ft screens so the audience could see that they look exactly the same and they all ran at 60hz. It’s truly a cross-platform engine and the texturing technology allows us to move past the tiling texture system that most games have. I really like the idea of the vehicles but sometimes vehicles in games can be somewhat limited, such as Quake 4. Will I be able to use a vehicle whenever I want or will they be limited to only certain missions? Are vehicle functions limited in any way?
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In most of the missions you are either in a vehicle or on foot. You can get out of your vehicle on “vehicle missions” but it probably won’t be as much fun. We wanted to make the vehicles as approachable as possible to first-person fans. A classic part of id Software games is you pull the trigger, the cool gun goes off, and hopefully you kill some people. In the cars, we use a really straightforward interface: gas, break, some auto targeting, etc. When we were working through the physics and the car functionality, any time that we came to a path that crossed another, in terms of realism vs. fun, we always chose fun. For instance, in all our games when you come across a bounce pad you can control yourself in the air a bit. In Rage, we added air control when you are airborne in a vehicle. Of course, this isn’t realistic, but it makes it much more fun and the experience is more enjoyable. The vehicles in Rage are used to get from point A to point B, there are vehicle specific missions where you need to go and find certain cars, hunt them down and kill them, etc. with as much fun thrown in as possible. You are able to get out of your vehicle wherever you are in the world, but your vehicle is one of the safest places in the game. Vehicle upgrades are fairly standard: armor, front smashers, weapons, drop bombs, and so on. How are vehicle upgrades earned? Racing is a key component in Rage. We don’t force players to race much, if they’d rather not, but we encouRage players to race by offering vehicle upgrades after winning them. Will the PC use an in-game save system or a console style checkpoint save system? You will be able to save whenever you want and all 3 systems will be exactly the same. Checkpoint games drive me nuts and I don’t understand why any developers would still use that method. Auto-saves at the beginning of each levels are fine but – save anywhere and play the game how you want to play it. What’s the music like in Rage? Music is based on the setting, there isn’t a move-like soundtrack. When you’re in combat music picks up, when you’re exploring there’s more subdued music and
so on. However, we are still possibly working on some type of theme song. During the game’s development, what have been the largest challenges and rewards? The vehicle racing and vehicle combat was much more challenging than we thought it would be and I now have a lot of respect for developers that do racing games – it’s hard to do and everybody has a different opinion of what is fun. Some people love the Gran Turismo feel, others love the MotoStorm feel, etc. and there were several conflicting opinions and thoughts on what a game with vehicles should include. We tried our best to make it as approachable as possible for everybody. As far as rewards go, it’s always exciting to check on an artist’s progress on some work, after not looking at it for a week or two and seeing the amazing progression and creativity. They can do anything with the map textures now, with the new technology, and they aren’t limited by texture size. There are some really cool areas like the Dead City, an old area with knocked down buildings a great landscape. What do you think the future will hold for the new engine? One thing that’s different this time around is that we are not licensing this technology. This was previously announced but I’m not sure that everyone has picked up on it. Historically, our engines have powered some of the best games. Now that we are a part of the Bethesda/ZeniMax group we are keeping the technology in the family. So, if a new game is published by Bethesda, of course it can have id Software technology in it but we are not licensing to outside publishers or developers. As we move in to the future John Carmack has talked about some really interesting things he wants to do with id Tech 5 in order to expand and enhance it to work great on the next consoles, he’s working on an iPhone game that uses some of the id Tech 5 core technology and he’s looking forward to working with some of our new ZeniMax partners to do new games as well. So, the future is bright all in all. §
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impression of George Takei’s “Oh my.” and following that with “It’s okay to be Takei.” had the whole room rolling. For a casual fan of the more recent series, I wasn’t too excited about the supporting cast members from the original series, but it was nice to see many of them still around.
Highlights from the 4-day Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas By Mark DeGuzman
Day 1 I have to say that straight off the bat, I wasn’t as excited as I thought I would be. Maybe because the first day was still a weekday, but attendance was a bit dismal. It’s also possible that the new venue at Rio Suites was so large that the attendance appeared low, or maybe because everyone knew the headliners wouldn’t be there until the weekend. Whatever the case may have been, the first day was rather underwhelming. I was expecting more attendees to dress up in character, but the character for the day was the stereotypical Vegas tourist. Still, Creation Entertainment presented an impressive enough opening day to keep me, a Star Trek convention first-timer, very intrigued. I enjoyed Garrett Wang, who opened the show with a bunch of laughs and impressions. He did a perfect
The vendor room was where I heard actors from Battlestar Galactica and other Star Trek shows could be found. Of the actors spotted, I was most surprised to find Richard Kiel, the actor best known as Jaws in the old James Bond movies. Of course the vendor rooms are where you can also find merchandise, collectibles and souvenirs. Again, it wasn’t as busy as I expected it, but I didn’t expect it to stay that way for long.
Day 2 When my wife and I arrived around 1:30 in the afternoon, the convention still had more of a tourist attraction vibe than a Trekkie convention, but there was a bit more cosplaying this time. Still, I had more people saying “Aloha” to me, rather than “Live long and prosper.” The celebrity lineup in the vendor room catered more to diehard fans of the original series again, with the exception of Garrett Wang from The Voyager series. We attended the blooper reel panel, which was a bunch of old school bloopers of Spock and Captain Kirk. It was funny, but they were true blooper reels that unfortunately required projectors,t so the film quality was not the easiest to watch. We also caught a few auctions and were just amazed at how much people
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will pay for collectibles, like an autographed picture of the cast of the original USS Enterprise crew. Later we caught Jonathan Frakes, who played Commander Riker in The Next Generation series. At first we looked for him on stage, but the closer we got, we realized he was in the crowd talking to people and answering questions. He was hilarious, sharing personal anecdotes and answering questions. Later that day, we came across a crowd of people around a camera crew. As we got closer it was William Shatner in a white hat. I was literally 10 feet away from him, but so was a wall of fans with camera set-ups like the paparazzi at a red carpet.
Day 3 Day 3 was very impressive. Brent Spiner (Data) took center stage, cracking jokes and keeping the audience entertained. Kate Mulgrew followed, and honestly it amazed me to hear a voice that once annoyed me bring a smile on my face, as she brought back memories of the Voyager series. She talked about how proud she was to have played the only female captain. She took us through her acting career and made the audience laugh with stories of her new role as Kove on the Adult Swim series of NSTF:SD:SUV, a spoof of detective shows like CSI and Law & Order. Before exiting the stage, she answered a few questions stating if there was ever a Voyager movie, she wouldn’t mind playing Captain Janeway again. Before Leonard Nimoy, the audience was treated to a preview of Star Trek games to come, like Klingon Monopoly, with pieces representing Klingon ships. For fans who want to introduce their children to Trekkie life, there’s the Star Trek Potato Head and Star Trek-
themed books for children. What got my attention was Star Trek: Infinite Space, a free online game which will hopefully due out later this year. Lastly for those that desire yet more Star Trek in their lives, a new app from iTunes can turn your iPad into a Star Trek PADD (Personal Access Display Device). If you need a gift idea for the Trekkie in your life, consider the Enterprise Pizza Cutter, Star Trek baby spoons or a Spock cookie jar. IDW Comics is making a comic book that pairs Star Trek with the Legion of Superheros. Of course, you’ll have to buy the comic book for the explanation of how that could possibly happen. Leonard Nimoy’s panel was touching, to say the least, as he announced this was to be his last convention circuit, and his last appearance at the Las Vegas convention. He took the audience back to his start in acting with a slideshow. He shared how he started as a martian with a revolver, then an Indian character with William Shatner, and that’s where someone decided “to boldly go, where no man has gone before.” He explained how the Vulcan salute came about, and shared his directing work, his photography, and his poems. By the close of his panel, Nimoy could no longer hold it in and neither could many in the audience. As finished up his farewell speech, the room filled with Vulcan salutes. Behind him the screen showed Spock from the 2009 Star Trek movie giving the Vulcan sign. Nimoy held up his salute and choked out a tearful “Live long and prosper.” Of course that’s a hard act to follow, but Ethan Phillips (Neelix of Voyager) tried his best, even when 75% of
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the room exited to see Leonard Nimoy for photo ops. Ethan was also up against the cosplayers trying to break a world record. Ethan was funny, but went quickly to Q&A before Garrett Wang decided to surprise his former co-star. Together they auctioned off a Six of Nine action figure which was autographed by Jeri Ryan. It sold for for $400. As for the world record for most costumed attendees, this convention shattered the record from FedCon which had stood at 641 until today, when 1040 Trekkies out-cosplayed them.
Day 4 The Day 4 highlight was the Captain’s Panel, with William Shatner, Kate Mulgrew, and Patrick Stewart. They did about 30 minutes individually, and 30-40 minutes all together, starting with Stewart. He talked about returning to his Shakespearean plays, his drive, his main thing, what he likes to do most. He loves acting, he also loves Star Trek, but to him, Shakespeare comes first. He enjoyed TNG but as far as future TV plans go, he said he’ll probably stick with voice-acting on American Dad. During the Q&A session, he was visited by Brent Spiner, who turned into a Trek geek to ask Stewart questions much to the fans delight. After the very entertaining Spiner and Stewart interaction, Stewart was joined by Kate Mulgrew and William Shatner. Even being a casual Star Trek fan, I knew having all three of them on stage was a special moment. They talked about their experiences as Star Trek captains, as well as before and after Star Trek. William Shatner seemed to be a bit out there, commenting on how small Mulgrew’s derriere is, and generally having a dirty mind. Mulgrew was a good sport and went along
with it, while Stewart just laughed his head off. During Mulgrew’s panel, she talked about her return to the stage as well. Shatner talked about producing and directing a proposed new reality-tv show, “Fan Addicts.” He also talked about a documentary he wrote and directed called “The Captains,” in which he interviewed the other actors who had portrayed Starship captains. “Fan Addicts” follows a similar vein, except Shatner interviews fans. At this particular convention, even though he was part of the panel, he was also there in a directorial capacity for “Fan Addicts.” He explained how “Fan Addicts” came about after completing “The Captains.” He realized he wanted to share Star Trek from the fans’ point of view, but the show will cover more than Trekkies, as it follows Shatner at other Creation Entertainment genre conventions like the Stargate and Twilight conventions. The second highlight of the last day was the Sulu Summit. Garrett Wang had the honor of introducing the two men who have played Sulu. After doing his impression of George Takei and John Cho for a few laughs, Wang introduced convention first-timer, John Cho, who played Sulu in the 2009 movie, to great applause. An even louder reception followed for George Takei. The men shared great insight on how they approached the their portrayal of Sulu. Cho talked about how odd it felt at first, knowing that a Japanese American first played Sulu, because Cho, a Korean-American, had concerns that fans would reject the idea of him playing Sulu. Takei answered that the specific ethnicity of the character wasn’t as important as the fact that an Asian character was cast during a time when Asians didn’t play important roles in a TV show. The fans appreciated their shared belief that what mattered most was that Sulu represented just how important diversity was on Star Trek. I would have to say that this was an enlightening and entertaining convention that started off slow, but finished with a bang. This is truly a convention that any fan, casual or serious, should experience at least once in their life. Personally, not knowing what to expect made all the surprises and special announcements that much more memorable. This is definitely a convention I would be happy to attend again. §
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November 25 â€“ 27, 2011 at the LAX Marriott Writer GOH: John DeChancie
The witty and imaginative John DeChancie has written over 30 novels of science fiction and fantasy, including Castle Perilous and "Talon" in the Witchblade series. He has served as recording secretary for the LASFS business meetings, and written the most literary minutes ever!
Science GOH: Rick Searfoss
Colonel Rick Searfoss, USAF, is a retired astronaut and space shuttle commander. He is currently working in the private sector as a test pilot at Xcor.
Artist GOH: Aldo Spadoni You can look to the stars or look to Aldo's art for the same sense of wonder and inspiration that sent us to the moon, and will someday allow us to touch the distant stars.
Fan GOH: John Hertz From Australia to Japan, this world-traveling fan of writing, art, and Regency dance has contributed his Hugo-nominated character and big heart to our community.
Membership is $45 until October 31, 2011 â€” $55 at the door. Convention hotel: LAX Marriott 5855 W. Century Boulevard Los Angeles, California 90045 Hotel Code: LOSLOSA Room rates $104 single thru quad
Contact Loscon 38 at: Write: Loscon 38 6012 Tyrone Ave Van Nuys, CA 91401 www.loscon.org
Another game on the MMO front that really impressed me was En Masse Entertainment’s Tera. I had the opportunity to sit down with Matt Atwood and others from En Masse to experience what Tera was. The first thing they said really threw me for a loop.
He Said, She Said: PAX He Said by Joseph Saulnier The Penny Arcade Expo can be very overwhelming for those that have never been. This was my first year attending the convention, and it also happened to be their biggest year yet. With more than 60,000 people in attendance, it was crazy. My advice: if you ever plan on attending, get the 3-day pass. There were a lot of impressive things going on this year at PAX Prime. Star Wars: The Old Republic was one of the biggest draws the entire weekend, but why shouldn’t it be? It’s a game that is shaping up to be one of the biggest in a long time. A lot of people claim it will be a Word of Warcraft killer, but I do not think so. I think that it will be big, but WoW is not going anywhere for some time. SW:TOR will bring in a lot of new people to the massive multiplayer online (MMO) genre and hopefully open up more people to the world of PC gaming, of which I have been a fan for as long as I can remember. Its dialogue-driven storyline is not anything new to the gaming world, but it is certainly bringing new depths to that of the MMO. But there is probably not much that I can say that you haven’t already heard about the game, so we will leave it with this: it will be an epic game.
“Tera is the first action-based MMO.” Action-based? Don’t most MMO’s have action elements to them? They went further to say that gone is the old style “tap-targeting” of games like WoW and the upcoming SW:TOR. Instead, the targeting in this game is all sight based. Meaning, if you want to hit something, be it with your sword or a spell, then that thing has to be in front of you. At this point in the meeting, I was very skeptical. But never fear, they had us play the game. And I was blown away! The physics of the game are outstanding, the “sight-targeting” is very easy to adapt to, and the thing was so quick-paced that you felt involved in the game like never before. They had new mechanics for the MMO genre, including rewardbased chaining of attacks, and these made the game feel very fresh. This game is not due out until next spring, but it is one that I will definitely be looking forward to. Jumping off the PC engine and on to console gaming, there were 3 games that really stood out in my mind at the convention. The first is Goldeneye 007: Reloaded. This is no ordinary re-hash of a dying franchise. This is a complete rebirth of the entire Bond lineup. You will see classic levels from the original GoldenEye game, as well as all new missions, characters and challenges. The graphics have a nice update (obviously, considering the original was on the then cutting-edge Nintendo 64). The game also supports the Playstation and has the best control scheme that I have seen for the peripheral yet. This game looks to be very exciting for both co-op and single players alike. Look for it in November, just in time for the holidays. The second is The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. What real Zelda fan isn’t looking forward to this one? A great follow-up to Twilight Princess which, amusingly, was never meant to be a Wii release. The controls feel more natural, and there are plenty of new tricks and gadgets to come. It has the same spirit that Zelda games have had over the years, and looks to be truly amazing. There is a new flight system in the game
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where you get to ride birds (or the equivalent of birds in the Zelda Universe), and it was a very welcome addition to the game. Easy to control, we got to demo a fairly creative use of the system. This one’s also due out this November. The last game that really stood out for me was Aliens: Colonial Marines. This game looks nothing short of fantastic. The graphics are surreal and it captures those tense jumpiness, causing the same terror that you experienced the first time you saw the movies. The game takes place after Alien 3, but really brings us back to Aliens. If you recall, the Colonial Marines aboard the Sulaco were calling for help and they were told it will take 17 days for that help to come, which spurred the famous line: “Seventeen days? Hey man, I don’t wanna rain on your parade, but we’re not gonna last seventeen hours!” Well, this game picks up when that help comes to rescue the Sulaco. Only it hasn’t been seventeen days, its been seventeen weeks. You board the ship and explore the colony planet in search of the marines and answers to what happened during those 17 weeks. You will see at least one new Alien breed and many new weapons and gadgets to the Alien universe. What’s really great about the game, and it seems a lot of newer games are leaning this way now, is the dynamic co-op. A second player can drop into the game at any point, and then pop-out if they need to. It’s actually very convenient, and doesn’t have any real affect on the quality of the game unless the player that joins up is a jerk and ruins the level. Well that about sums up the main things I am really excited about, coming out of PAX Prime. As I said, it was a very overwhelming experience, but one I wouldn’t trade for the world. See you there next year!
She Said by Michelle Krater
PAX stands for the Penny Arcade Expo. Penny Arcade was created by two couple of local Seattle webcomic artists, “Gabe” and “Tycho”, who wanted to create a festival for all types of gaming. With the popularity of their webcomic, they held the first Expo in 2004 with hopes that it would be an annual event. Since then, the Expo has outgrown its facility in Bellevue and they have now created PAX East, held in Boston, to accommodate the East coast folks who love gaming. I work at Microsoft Games Studios, so going to Pax Prime was not only a place where I could meet fellow colleagues, but a chance to test out all the new and upcoming titles that haven’t been released yet. Games ranging from consoles, PC, and tabletop are all represented. But PAX isn’t just for people who work in the industry like me. The best part of PAX is that it’s available to the public! This is your chance as a gamer to play all the games that no one else has even seen yet! I tried out Wildstar, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Borderlands 2, Lollipop Chainsaw, Batman Impostors, Gears of War 3, and Dance Central 2. In fact, there were so many games to try, it took me 3 days to see everything, and even then, it still wasn’t enough. PAX Prime isn’t just about playing games either. “Gabe and “Tycho” wanted this to be a festival, and what’s a festival without music? Nerdcore bands like Jonathan Coulton, MC Frontalot, Metroid Metal, Minibosses, and The Video Game Orchestra were all there. PAX also showed movies and set up a Nintendo 3DS bean bag area where you could sit and play with other attendees. It truly felt like an amusement park was having a party, and every gamer was invited. If you didn’t get a chance to go this year, your next chance is PAX East in April 2012. I highly recommend it. For more information on future expos, visit both www. paxsite.com and www.east.paxsite.com. §
Step into the Washington Convention Center for PAX Prime and it’ll hit you: this must be the second happiest place on Earth. At least for gamers.
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LA Exxxotica Gives Fans an Eyeful By Jerimah Salonga This was the first year Skewed & Reviewed accepted an invitation to an event such as LA Exxxotica, and as SKNR’s Southern California correspondent, I didn’t know what to expect, but I did have an image in my head of what I might see. Sex toys and pornstars were the main images that flowed though my mind, but what I saw was beyond a man’s wildest dreams. Going up the escalator to the top floor of the LA Convention Center, I heard a mix of music emitting from the convention hall. At the doors, I was welcomed with a bag of goodies (mainly from sponsors of the event) from an attractive woman wearing lingerie. Okay. So far so good. A quick glance around the hall captured a fairly small crowd at the time, women on dancing poles, a pink inflatable mattress occupied by women
wearing similar outfits to the lady at the door, people lined up to get their autograph from their favorite performers, and the aura of sex everywhere. Lined along the outside walls of the convention were booths ranging from DVDs, artwork based on sensual themes from Pinupworldart.com, and DJs from the local station 93.5 KDAY that were playing the best of today’s hip-hop and rap. I had a chance to experience what a massage glove felt like, basically a glove lined with massagers throughout the fingers, and it was quite a sensation. As I headed toward the rear of the convention was the AEBN main stage, where every hour they had a special event like free DVDs giveaways, a chance to be a part of the show by doing quirky acts, panels of top headlining stars like the women of Wicked, or watching a show of men dance around to music. I had the honor of meeting some of my favorite performers, getting an autograph, and taking pictures with them. Crowds of men with sophisticated camera setups gathered in semi circles to catch that perfect shot of
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their favorites. The convention center was nice enough to open up their cafeteria area to provide cool drinks and snacks, with an area to sit back and relax your legs from circling the entire event. Everything you can imagine of was being sold by the vendors: lubes, sex games, toys, platforms, and even one booth doing demonstrations of their products being sold in at the event. Out of all of the booths at the entire event, one of the most interesting was one touting “Jesus Loves Pornstars.” At first I thought it was some kind of gimmick where religion crossed with the industry of pornography, but it turned out that they were promoting a booklet on how to shy away from your porn addiction. An interesting conversation en-
sued about how accepting other sponsors were in their best interests. After arriving at two o’clock on a Saturday afternoon only to find convention at a low roar, I thought LA Exxxotica wasn’t as hyped up as I thought it would be. By the time 6 p.m. rolled around, however, the entire place was full. Crowds of people filled the aisles of booths, and many performers began to show for signing. I didn’t end up staying until the closing time of 11 p.m., but by the time I left the event had truly come alive. The lines to see the stars were plentiful, and it seemed as though the music blared even louder than when I arrived. Overall, it was an amazing experience. §
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Geek Girl: Dia Whatâ€™s your favorite vintage video game? Mario Brothers Gunfight or Swordfight? Gunfight .... with those phasers from Star Trek:TOS Who is your favorite movie/ comic book villian? Joker
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Photography by Neil Jordan
Classic Cartoons (E.G. Looney Tunes), or Modern Cartoons (E.G. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)? Classic Cartoons Daytime or Nightime? Nightime
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Geek Girl: MERRIQUE
Photography by Neil2011 Jordan 24 / Winter
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Who is your Hero? My hero would have to be my dad, since he’s always been the hardest working person that I’ve ever known my whole life. Favorite Game Console? My favorite game console is anything by Nintendo. I love the Gamecube and the wii. I like my games to stay fun, animated and group related. I also like pc/mac games when I want to sneak in a few hours of playtime while at work ;) Favorite Movies? I have tons of favorite movies. So to name a few Harry Potter 3, The Dark Crystal, The Science of Sleep, Star Wars (the older ones!!) Fight Club, and Dark Knight. But the lis goes on. What games do you play? I love Rock Band because it allows me to sing and not have to worry about how much I suck at playing guitar, and because it’s a group activity to share fun times. I also still appreciate The Sims 3 on mac and Heros of Might and Magic.
I hear you also enjoy comics. What have you been reading? So far, Carbon Copy has been pretty good, as well as Lady Mechanica, although they’ve been short. My favorite comic that indulged me mentally and visually is Fathom. The artwork is fantastic and quite a beauty to behold. I tend to lean towards the odd and abstract stories and artwork, though. So I choose my comics without following any particular pattern. But starting with the first issues is a good way to go sometimes. If you had to choose: Comic Con or Christmas? If I had to choose between Comic Con and Christmas I’d have to say Comic Con. But realistically you can’t have one without the other. If I didn’t get that $$ in those Christmas cards I wouldn’t be able to go to Comic Con nor buy anything, nor prepare a costume. And the merch you can get at Comic Con would be very good Christmas presents to your loved ones.......or for yourself. Winter 2011 / www.sknr.net / Skewed and Reviewed Magazine / 25
BlizzCon 2011 By Gareth von Kallenbach Blizzard Entertainment has long been associated with quality games that not only set standards for gaming, but also inspire legions of highly devoted fans. With titles that include Warcraft, Starcraft, the Diablo series, and the phenomenally popular World of Warcraft, Blizzard has long been the company that gives their fans what they want. Five years ago, Blizzcon was created to be a convention where gamers could gather to learn about, see, and play the pending projects from the company. The first convention was a smash success, and every year since then, BlizzCon sells out very quickly. Fans know it is more than a convention, it is a two-day party, complete with rock concerts and a professional gaming tournament. This year, over 26,000 fans descended upon the Anaheim convention center, many decked out in costumes dedicated to their favorite Blizzard characters. Prior to lining up, attendees received a gift bag complete with a collectable figure and many convention exclusives, such as exclusive digital pets that can only be obtained by those attending the
convention or by purchasing the live stream of the convention. This year’s collectible figure was a mini Tyrael from Diablo III by Sideshow Collectibles, and this year’s digital pet was a Diablo-inspired murloc for WoW. Once I checked in, I took my seat and waited for the opening ceremonies to begin. Quite a bit early, I took some time to speak with several attendees about what they hoped and expected to see and hear. Many said they expected to hear about the next expansion for WoW, as well as what to expect in Diablo III and Starcraft II: The Heart of the Swarm. Once the show started, the president of the company summarized the last 20 years of Blizzard, then talked about the $300K tournament that would happen that weekend, the Foo Fighters concert, Jay Mohr’s return as host, and many other topics. Since the fans were there to see and hear about games, the video screens came alive with a new trailer from the pending Diablo III, which underscores the amazing graphics and deep nature of the game and its story. Starcraft II: The Heart of the Swarm followed, which showed off a darker storyline and several new units and a Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) multiplayer mode complete with several classic Blizzard characters.
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and checked out the Blizzard-themed products as well as the latest in tech accessories being promoted to enhance the gaming experience. Blizzard knows how difficult it can be to cover all the panels available. When I went to the press room to upload pictures and videos, I was happy to see several TV screens that allowed us to watch panels in session while we worked and waited for interview appointments or our next panel. The finale concert by The Foo Fighters capped a great weekend filled with gaming, fun, and music, and underscored that Blizzard really cares about their fans and is dedicated to giving them more of what they love. I had a great time at the convention and while I obtained lots of information, I was disappointed that I did not get any new information on the Warcraft movie or the new MMORPG called Titan. Still, for fans of Blizzard, the weekend long party was an event not to be missed, and I look forward to seeing what they have in store for us in 2012. ยง
WoW was what many came to hear about, and they were not disappointed. The unveiling of the new add-on was preceded with the news that players who purchase a 12 month advance pass would also get an exclusive in-game mount, access to the expansion beta, and a copy of Diablo III. The new expansion, Shadows of Pandaria, was announced to a thunderous ovation. Shadows of Pandaria will follow an all-out war between the Horde and Alliance in a land of peace and tranquility that is populated by the Pandarians. The Pandarians are panda-like creatures who are a Monk class, as well as master brewers and martial arts experts. It was also announced that pet versus pet combat will be allowed. Following the opening ceremonies, guests were able to get hands-on time with the new expansion as well as the other pending games. I took the time to explore the convention floor, spoke with many of the vendors, Winter 2011 / www.sknr.net / Skewed and Reviewed Magazine / 27
Rawhide Takes Visitors Back in Time By Gareth von Kallenbach As a boy growing up in Phoenix, I have fond memories of my visits to the old West town of Rawhide. After spending nearly 3 decades away in the great Northwest, I decided to look up Rawhide upon my return to Arizona. Though originally located in Scottsdale, a local Native American tribe purchased the town and moved it in its entirety to Chandler, Arizona. Upon arrival I was happy to see that not only was there plenty of free parking available, the admission to Rawhide was free as well.
My wife and I were greeted by Billy the Kid himself, and instantly whisked back to the 1880s. A flood of childhood memories came rushing back to me. Rawhide itself is comprised of a Main Street with various buildings on either side. Guests can take part in a wealth of entertainment from a shooting gallery, to an old time candy shop, to watching gun fights break out at random times on the street.. There are also numerous old West attractions to take in, and a small museum of artifacts from the era to enjoy. Rawhide offers various entertainment options, such as a live stunt show by the Rawhide Roughriders in the Six Gun Theater. The Roughriders show was definitely a crowd pleaser with a lively mix of music, comedy, and action complete with blazing six shooters and death-defying falls. The Texas Kate Wild West Show is also an entertaining look at the skills and antics of an honest-to-goodness American cowgirl. Rawhide also
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is the home to rodeo competitions throughout the year and has a Native American habitat which is a wonder to behold. Admission to the shows vary, but guests may purchase an all access pass for $15 which allows them unlimited access to both the Six Gun Theater and the Wild West Show, as well as numerous rides on the stagecoach and train, admission to the petting zoo, burro rides, and a rock-climbing wall. A favorite for the family was panning for “gold.” The collected gold nuggets can be saved as souvenirs or redeemed for candy at the candy shop. The candy shop was a special treat for me, as they continue to stock many rare and hard-to-find candies and sodas, some of which I had not seen since I was a child. Rawhide also features special events such as romance packages, complete with a hayride and steak dinner under the stars. You can also have a photo taken of your party decked out in vintage clothing, or have a member of your party arrested by the local sheriff. Guest using this option can bail the detained individual out with a souvenir photo for $10 as a memento of their incarceration in an authentic old West cell.
When it comes to food, the renowned Rawhide Steakhouse not only serves out-of-this world steaks, but also has some more exotic fare such as rattlesnake and the amazing cinnamon swirl ice cream. When we did take a break to stop for dinner, the food was absolutely amazing and the portions were sizable. Not only does seeing the steaks cooking on the grill add to the anticipation of the meal, but the lively and enjoyable music also was a nice touch. As my wife and I took the train tour, I recalled watching the TV show “That’s Incredible” film a segment at the old West town years ago. I marveled that while the Phoenix area has grown and changed much since then, it was nice to see that there were still some places where memories from my childhood had endured. Rawhide has numerous seasonal events, and I have been told that their Halloween attractions, including a haunted house, are extremely popular, as are their Christmas attractions. While they say you cannot go home again, Rawhide proved to me that some good things do stand the test of time, and I look forward to our next visit to this charming Western attraction. §
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Disneyland Celebrates October with Mickey’s Halloween Party By Gareth von Kallenbach With fall upon us, Mickey and his friends have gotten into the Halloween spirit on select nights at the Disneyland Resort. Mickey’s Halloween Party is an event that turns the happiest place on earth into the ultimate Halloween event that the entire family can enjoy. Attendees are required to purchase a special ticket to the event as the park closes to regular ticket holders at 7:00 PM. Those who purchase tickets to the event can enter the park at 4:00 PM and stay until the park closes at Midnight. Upon entering the park, guests are given a trick or treat bag and a wristband and a map and schedule of activities. Many of the guests were attired in costumes, and I was really impressed with the complexity and creativeness of many of the costumes when I saw that many were homemade. I started my visit at Space Mountain, as I wanted to experience the Halloween-themed Galaxy of Terror. A sign said the wait would be 70 minutes so I decided to do it now in case the wait becaome longer later in the
evening. The wait turned out to be just over two hours, but when I finally made it to the ride, I really enjoyed the experience. The multi-colored launch tube was now pitch black, and the familiar constellations were marred by a menacing spectral image which appeared at random times and taunted us as we made our way up the tracks. During the wild and crazy twists and turns, the image would pop up at various times as did hands that reached out to grab us, and a spooky eye that watched us as we raced around a corner. The screams that filled the air confirmed that the experience was highly effective. Next, I made my way to Critter Country, and while I was disappointed to see that Pirates of the Carribean was closed for upkeep, Splash Mountain had a short line. In no time, I was enjoying the mix of music, water, drops and characters. Upon completion of the ride, I was asked if I wanted to ride again, and when I replied yes, I was told to stay seated and enjoy the “Splashback”. When the ride resumed I noticed a few pumpkins were now decorating various sections of the ride. I did manage to avoid becoming completely soaked, and upon exiting the ride, the Halloween events were just getting started. I noticed several lines where guests would line up to trick or treat for candy from various stations, and once my writstband was verified, I was able to join them. At various points in the resort, I would go into locales such as the Saloon, Picnic area, and Pirates of the Caribbean entrance, I
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and over the evening, had my bag slowly filled. The line for the Haunted Mansion was vast, as the décor now featured Jack Skellington from “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and the house was decked out in lights and gifts, and was a truly spectacular sight. The ride itself was a nice blend of old and new, with many of the traditional moments of the ride still there, but with some nice twists and appearances from Jack himself. The river was covered in fog and the lighting really set the atmosphere well. I noticed a dance party with characters was underway near my next stop, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The wait said 10 minutes but I walked right up and took my place in lucky line number 13. In no time, we were in the dark start of the ride, where I noticed the glowing red eyes of bats as well as cobwebs and spiders to set the Halloween mood. The ride was as amazing as ever, and the turns through the dark caves were a real delight. The party was just getting started as I noticed Mickey and Minnie in costumes posing for pictures with the guests. As I made my way through Fantasyland into Tomorrowland, I continued to load up my treat bag and take in the amazing sights. I was very happy to see that the Matterhorn was up and running again, as it had been closed for renovations during my last visit. I did not notice a lot of changes in the ride, so my guess is that the upgrades were tech related, but it was still an amazing experience. The Tomorrowland Terrace was rocking with music and dancing, and I took the time to check out a few more attractions. I saw everything from Storm Troopers to classic Disney characters entertaining the guests, and then I took in the really impressive Halloween parade that had a great mix of characters, floats, music and dancing.
Not content to rest there, Disneyland then kicked the party into high gear with a dazzling fireworks display that was truly a sight to behold. With a couple hours left in the evening, I was happy to see that many of the attraction lines were less than 15 minutes long, so I took the chance to experience as many as I could. When the evening concluded, I was blown away not only by the great time I had, but how detailed the decorations and events were. There were so many events, I could not take them all in, but what I did experience was more than amazing, and makes me look forward to attending what I hope is a new annual tradition for us next year. Disneyland has always been a very magical place for me, and I have always noted how they do seasonal celebrations better than anyone. The amazing attention to detail, the lighting, the fantasy, and décor truly create a sense of the holiday. I loved taking in the Halloween décor, especially the character inspired pumpkin décor, the new lighting effects. All of the amazing sights and sounds make this a must see. If you think you have seen everything Disneyland has to offer, I highly encourage you to bring your family and friends to experience the most fun Halloween party you will ever attend. I suggest you get your tickets in advance as they do sell out quickly. Get dates and ticket information at www.disneyland.com. §
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mid-90s and sapping the strength of guests of ours who were visited from Washington State. The Yakulla Caverns Play Space is a fun place to explore, with its splash pad area, a mysterious cave with water falls, and stalagmites and stalactites, making it the perfect place to cool off during a trek through the zoo..
Phoenix Zoo: Fun for the Whole Family By Gareth von Kallenbach Growing up in Phoenix, a regular destination for family outings and school field trips was the Phoenix Zoo. I recall numerous field trips to the zoo, as well as going there with my parents and grandparents, and fondly using my special plastic Zebra key in the information boxes at various animal exhibits which, when turned, played an audio recording of detailed information about the animals within. The Phoenix Zoo was founded nearly 50 years ago by the head of the Maytag Appliance Corporation, Robert Maytag. Originally named Maytag Zoo, it is America’s most successful, privately-owned, nonprofit zoological park. The zoo is fairly young, but has grown to become a highly respected zoo, and their new orangutan exhibit, complete with an adorable little baby orangutan and her parents, is a definite highlight. Another nice new addition to the zoo is Sting Ray Bay, which allows guests to pet and feed Cownose stingrays as they swim by. Phoenix Zoo also has plenty of attractions ranging from a carousel, paddle boats, and water attractions, which each provide guests a cool respite from the heat. This came in very handy on a recent visit when by 10 o’clock in the morning it was already pushing the
We’ve always been partial to the Safari Train Tour, which gives guests a nice overview of the zoo and tons of information, thanks to the very informative guides. Along the way, lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, and numerous other attractions are pointed out. The zoo also contains numerous walking trails, which we intend to explore during the cooler fall and winter months. The zoo offers wonderful exhibits that put you within arm’s reach of the animals. In Monkey Village, you can spend time walking through the habitat of squirrel monkeys. Keep your camera ready as the monkeys leap from tree to tree or cross vines above your head. Also available daily is the opportunity for guests to feed the reticulated and Masai giraffes in the African Savanna area. Don’t forget the camel ride and petting zoo for more up-close and personal experiences. The zoo continues to expand with new projects in the works, but also has several events this Fall that include “Boo! At the Phoenix Zoo,” a family-friendly fall festival on the weekend of October 22-23. The zoo gets transformed into a haunted zoo during “Howl-o-ween” on October 28-29. With the return of cooler weather, the zoo offers many activities for zoo lovers of all ages. Check their long list of family programs on their website www.phoenixzoo.org. The zoo offers free parking and also has several membership options available which we highly recommend, as it is impossible to take in all the zoo has to offer in one visit. We have visited twice since we opened our second office in Arizona and I can honestly say that there is still half of the zoo remaining for us to explore in the future. We look forward to more future visits as this amazing zoo continues to grow and inspire people to care for the natural world. §
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D23 Expo On August 19 - 21, 2011, all eyes were on the Anaheim Convention Center as the Walt Disney Corporation held its D23 Expo to a capacity crowd. In addition to an impressive display of vendors, Disney brought a star-studded array of celebrities to promote their upcoming films, TV projects, theme park additions, and consumer products. Despite the large audience I was told approached 60,000 people, the flow of the exhibition floor was quite good, and I did not have to push my way through people as I have had to do at other expos. My wife and I took part in a conservation project by planting seedlings that would then be distributed to various area schools as part of their studies and green projects. We also really enjoyed seeing the 3-D Blu-rays that are coming, as well as a look at some of the props from the recent Pirates of the Caribbean films. The big event of the expo was of course the first panel on Saturday morning when we got a look at what was coming in the next few years from the various film divisions. After introductions by the various studio heads, which was preceded by a very impressive video montage, we were introduced to several stars all on hand to promote their films.
The Avengers. This highly ambitious project contains numerous heroes and villains from the world of Marvel comics and is loaded with stars. Josh Whedon wrote and directed the project, which at the time was approximately 2 weeks away from the completion of filming. After a very impressive teaser and huge ovations, Tom Hiddleston, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Cobie Smulders, Chris Hemsworth, and Robert Downey Jr. took the stage as the audience nearly blew the top of the stadium off with a sustained and thunderous applause. The group did not speak much, other than to thank all of us for being there. Downey, Jr. then asked them to replay the Avenger footage that we had just seen, and it garnered an even more enthusiastic response the second time. The panel alone would’ve been enough to make the convention a success, but this was just one of several panels throughout the weekend. While I would say that was the largest and most comprehensive of the panels for those wanting information on upcoming films, there were numerous other events throughout the weekend. The evening showing in the arena of the beloved Lion King movie now in 3-D also garnered a capacity crowd. Some fans we spoke to did complain about the lines and some of the helpers on hand not really having an understanding of where things were. Most of these were ironed out as the weekend went along, and even those who were disappointed by not being able to attend panels understood that with so many people in attendance you can’t fit everybody in, and that there was still a very impressive and fun array of things to see and do. I’ve always said that Disney sets a very high standard for entertainment and time and time again they deliver first-class experiences. The D23 Expo not only met but surpassed all of my expectations of the convention. §
The event wrapped up with the moment that we all waited for when we were treated to a look at
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2011 Holiday Gift Guide
hardware that combines value and performance. www. steelseries.com
Once again we bring you the best in gear, gadgets, gaming, movies, and fandom with our annual holiday gift guide. We had so many options this year, we waded through piles of requests to give you the best of the best for your hard-earned money. When shopping for that gamer on your holiday list we suggest you have a look at the following.
Gear and Tech WOWee ONE portable, rechargeable speakers Take your portable music to the next level with the awesome, rechargeable speakers for your tablet, laptop, and portable music players. www.woweeone.com Fatboy USA The preferred gaming and lounging furniture of Skewed and Reviewed. High end chairs, hammocks, and indoor and outdoor furniture make this a must. From laying on the floor watching movies to sitting at your desk they have comfy, durable and high quality items for you. www.fatboyusa.com Steel Series Affordable and professional quality headsets, mice, and mousepads. The new Diablo 3 line fits well with their amazing line of top notch
CM Storm Sirus 5.1 Gaming Headset Built for gaming enthusiasts and audiophiles alike, the CM Storm Sirus 5.1 Surround Sound Headset creates an immersive experience with hi-fidelity soundscapes and intense bass. This is a premium headset focused on high-end gaming purposes. Sirus produces precise and crisp sounds through its 8 discrete speaker channel pairs that deliver accurate and fully adjustable realtime 360 degree audio – made possible by its tactical mixing console. In addition, Sirus is coupled with a uni-directional microphone with background noise cancellation that enables crystal clear conversations. www.cmstorm.com CM Storm Trooper Continuing with its tradition of revolutionary design and cutting edge technology, CM Storm surpasses the competition with the Trooper chassis. The CM Storm Trooper contains a wealth of features coveted by most gaming enthusiasts, including USB 3.0, external 2.5” and two 90 degree rotatable HDD cages for easier hard-drive installation. The CM Storm Trooper is the first full
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tower with a carrying handle for easy transport. www. coolermaster-usa.com Silent Pro Hybrid Cooler Silent Pro Hybrid 1300W is part of Cooler Master’s first fully modular power supply series with integrated dual 7V fan ports. It utilizes a single powerful +12V rail that operates at over 90% efficiency and carries an 80Plus Gold certification. A fan speed controller is included in the package. It occupies a 5.25” drive bay and enables a user to control the 135mm Super Silent Hydraulic Bearings power supply fan and up to 3 other system fans. www.coolermaster-usa.com
Choiix Wave Stand This foldable universal tablet stand is compatible with iPad, iPad2, Xoom, Flyer, and most tablet PCs. Premium aluminum fits your tablet stylishly, with a slim size for carrying convenience, and supports tablet PCs in landscape and portrait orientation. www.choiix. com NotePal U Stand Crafted with a subdued elegance, the U Stand features a brushed aluminum surface that helps expedite heat
dissipation. It is an ideal ergonomic companion for laptops up to 17” that are setup at a home or work office. www. coolermaster-usa. com
The Spawn Mouse The gaming mouse is lightweight, ergonomically designed and forged with a reassuringly solid design. It
is built for professional FPS gamers that prefer a claw grip. Engineered to execute precise in-game tactics, Spawn comes loaded with an ultra-high performance 3500 DPI sensor that includes on-the-fly adjustment, an ultra-step wheel encoder – providing extremely accurate scrolling, and Japanese-made Omron microswitches that are meant to endure up to five million clicks. Presented in an eye-catching crimson red high-gloss finish, Spawn compliments a gamers setup by adding a truly breathtaking peripheral. Take part in the Spawn experience and pick one up today. www. cmstorm.com Teknmotion Notebook Headset High quality audio at an affordable price for your PC, Tablet, Smartphone and Mac. Stylish and comfortable this versatile high performance device is ideal for all of your audio needs. www.teknmotion.com
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Sony PlayStation 3D Display Bundle w/ MotorStorm Apocalypse A must have for bedrooms and dorm rooms, this bundle revolutionizes two-player gameplay with cutting-edge DualPlay technology that makes each playerâ€™s split screen appear as full screen through Sony Universal 3D glasses. The impressive 24â€? screen with full HD 1080p 3D presentation, comes with one pair of 3D Glasses, HDMI cable and MotorStorm Apocalypse Blu-ray game (PS3 not included). www.sony.com Gioteck From the ultimate in control and sound to ultimate comfort and durability, Gioteck offers all manner of controllers and accessories for your Xbox 360 and PS 3 gaming needs. EX03 headset for PS 3 and Xbox 360 offers comfort, style, and high performance and their Dual Fuel Ammo Box is a great accessory. Xbox 360 users will love the high end EX-05 Xbox headset. www. gioteck.com Playseat Cutting edge performance and a stylish design is what you get with Playseat. Designed for gamers looking for the ultimate gaming experience. The Forza Motorsport seat is as close to getting into a racing machine as you can possibly get and still stay within the legal speed limit. www.playseat.com
Razer The choice of professional gamers the world over. Razer has high end mice, keyboard, gamepads, and headsets to take your gaming experience to the next level. Razer also has the new standard in gaming laptops with the new Razer Blade. The awesome new series for Star Wars: The Old Republic shows that RAZER continues to blend style and substance. Razer also has a Transformers line and a Battlefield 3 line of accessories that include high performance Mice, Keyboards, IPhone covers, and more. For those looking for an unmatched gaming experience, the Razer Hydra brings state of the art, motion sensing controls to the PC. You will never play Portal 2 or any of your other games the same way again, with this bold new direction in game controls. www.razerzone.com ePillow Stylish and comfortable the ePillow is perfect for your iPad 2 and tablet allowing you hours of enjoyment with a comfy platform. www.epillow.com Think Geek From the classic Star Trek Enterprise pizza cutter to the Han Solo Carbonite Ice
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Cube tray, Think Geek has hundreds of items for the gaming and movie fan. www.thinkgeek.com Motherboard Gifts From coasters to notebook covers, a creative line of gifts using old computer motherboards. Stylish and unique, this is a great gift for the computer geeks on your list. www. motherboardgifts.com Soda Stream Save time and money with the sleek and stylish soda machine. You can make your own soda fast, cheaper, and better than anything you find in stores. Several styles and flavors make this a gift that will keep giving through the new year and beyond. www.sodastream.com Carnivore Candy Healthy, low salt, and all natural jerky makes for a perfect snack for gamers. Three great flavors to choose from. www. carnivo recandy.com Origin PC Take your game playing to the next level with these high powered Tower and laptops. www.originpc.com Sony Tech From televisions and Blu Ray players to the latest in 3D TVâ€™s and Monitors Sony has it all. The new 3D monitor allows gamers to play the latest in 3D enabled games and watch 3D movies on their PlayStation 3
system at a price less than conventional 3D televisions. www.sony.com Evil Controllers From Gears of War 3 to Call of Duty 3, Evil controllers offer top notch performance with a sense of style. www.evilcontrollers. com Power A Air Flo Controllers Combining the latest in game control technology with built in fans to keep your grip sure, the gamers on your list will love this. For the Xbox 360 and PS3. www.powera.com Mimobot Storage and fashion combine as characters from Star Wars, comic books, and more combine data storage with a sense of whimsy. www.mimoco.com
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Harkins Our favorite theater chain has it all. From gift certificates, to 2012 Loyalty cups, to t-shirts. New for this holiday season are celluloid wrapping bows for charity, which are made from actual film. Blizzard From World of Warcraft to Starcraft 2 and all manner of accessories, Blizzard has a store with all of your gaming, hardware, and collectibles needs. From Razer gaming hardware to cuddly Murlocs and shirts, the Blizzard store has it all. www.blizzard.com Mad Catz Wireless Force Feedback Racing Wheel The ideal partner for Forza 4. The all new Force Feedback Racing Wheel features an all metal construction and utilizes powerful force feedback AND dual vibration technologies simultaneously to provide unprecedented realism. Features a unique removable gear shift to accommodate left or right handed players!
Mad Catz The new Mad Catz First Person Shooter Gamepad has been uniquely designed as the perfect controller for first person shooters. Features unique â€˜Combat Buttonsâ€™ located on the rear of the controller which allow gamers to remap face buttons to the rear of the pad. Oh, and it lights up, too! MLG Pro Circuit Controller Designed in conjunction with Major League Gaming, the new Pro Circuit Controller has been engineered specifically for the professional and competitive gaming audience. Using components and build materials far in excess of even first party products, the Pro Circuit Controller adapts to the gamers preferences rather than the gamer adapting to the controller. Completely customizable, the controller uses the unique ProModule system which allows gamers to change the position of the sticks and D-Pad or even replace with different modules in order to customize their game play for different titles. Truly, there is NOTHING like this on the market today!
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MLG Arcade FightStick: Tournament Edition A special edition of the worldâ€™s number one, award winning and bestselling Arcade FightStick. Designed specifically for the pro gamers and fan of MLG, the world most respect name in professional gaming! Features genuine Sanwa Denshi arcade components and the legendary FightStick design pioneered by Mad Catz. www.madcatz.com
Gelaskins Clever and eye-catching, Gelaskins offer custom skins for your phone, tablet, and laptop which combine form and function to give safety and style to all of your electronics. www.gelaskins.com
Appblaster Use your iPhone or iPhone touch with this device to take your shooting games to the next level. Easily affix your mobile device, and battle on. www.spinmaster. com
EVGA The GTX 580 Classified by EVGA offers cutting edge Direct X 11 graphics and performance to power the best of todayâ€™s games and tomorrows hits. The GTX 580 can power up to three displays and powered by an NVidia chipset and 1280 MB 320-bit GDDR5 memory will render eye popping graphics and performance on all your games. www.evga.com
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DVDS Fox Home Entertainment www.fox.com
The Simpsons (Season 14) The first family of dysfunction gives you more laughs as Homer and Bart find more things to screw up.
The League (Season 2) Crude and lewd, this fantasy football comedy is packed with laughs.
Family Guy (Volume 9) The Griffin family is back in all new adventures of this outrageous comedy series.
Futurama (Volume 6) Fry, Bender, Lela, and the Planet Express crew are off on all new adventures in the latest volume of this award winning animated comedy series.
Archer (Season 2) The spy business has never been so funny or disturbing with Archer and his continuing issues.
Bones (Season 6) The mystery-solving duo continues to combine comedy, drama, and romance in a winning formula.
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Wrong Turn 4 See how it all began in the latest installment of the creepy new chapter in the popular series.
Mr. Popperâ€™s Penguins Jim Carrey and a lovable flock of penguins arrive in this family adventure that is perfect for comedy lovers everywhere.
The Walking Dead (Season 1) Epic Zombie adventure on AMC in amazing clarity on the season 1 Blu Ray set. Packed with bonus materials this is a must own.
Ice Age Holiday Special The lovable gang is back for an all new animated adventure that will delight fans of all ages in this new holiday classic.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes The summerâ€™s sleeper hit arrives with tons of bonus features and a winning mix of action and FX. This is a must for fans of the series.
Star Wars (Blu-ray) The ultimate 9 disc set brings the legendary franchise to Blu Ray. Amazing sound and clarity along with deleted scenes, documentaries, and over 40 hours of bonus materials makes this a set not to miss.
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Universal Studios universalstudiosentertainment.com
For the Kids
Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy (Blu-ray) The dinos have never looked or sounded better as the classic trilogy comes to Blu-ray for the first time.
The Office: Season 7 In the seventh season of this Primetime Emmy® Award-winning series, inappropriate behavior is business as usual, but big surprises are in store!
Dora the Explorer Projection Alarm Clock Start your favorite little ones day off right with the Dora the Explorer Projection alarm clock. This AM/ FM radio features a fully functional alarm clock and projects images onto your child’s ceiling. It is also easily connected to an iPod or MP3 player for maximum versatility.
Beethoven’s Xmas Adventure Beethoven, the lovable St. Bernard, is back in this all new family adventure.
Dora the Explorer MP3 Sing-Along Join Dora and your favorite songs with the Dora the Explorer MP3 Sing-A-long. Stylish and portable this is everything you need to sing along to all your favorite songs that’s to the sleek microphone that is included. www.nickjr.com
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L e g e n d a r y
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The closest hotel to SeaWorld, The Dana on Mission Bay is located in San Diego’s 4,600-acre bayside recreation area — Mission Bay Aquatic Park. This breathtaking waterfront location is just minutes from San Diego’s most exciting attractions. Guest rooms and suites offer thoughtful amenities with views of Mission Bay.
1710 W. Mission Bay Dr., San Diego, CA 92109 • 800 445 3339 • 619 222 6440 • thedana.com
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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) The latest chapter in the best-selling series sets you in the near future where a tyrant has pushed the world to the edge of World War 3. Battle from New York, London, Paris, and more, to save the day. Epic action and awesome online play is guaranteed from this award winning series. www.activision.com
Star Wars: The Old Republic (PC) From Bioware and Lucasarts this MMORPG lets you play on the side of either the Republic or the Sith as you craft a character and create your legacy in the Old Republic. www.lucasarts.com
Batman Arkham City (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) The sequel to the smash hit game once again pits the caped crusader against a deadly menagerie of enemies,
old and new. Dynamic combat and puzzles makes this a must own. www.wbgames.com
Forza Motorsport 4 (Xbox 360) Powered by the latest graphics and the hit show Top Gear, this is racing personified. From an impressive list of cars, take the streets and own them, or battle against other drivers online to see who is best. www. forzamotorsport.net
Battlefield 3 (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Powered by the new Frostbyte 2 engine, this gripping real world shooter puts you on the front lines of the most deadly hotspots in the world. Amazing action and graphics combine with out of this world online play to set a new standard in realism. www.ea.com
RAGE (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) From Id Software and Bethesda comes the ultimate action game. Following a devastating asteroid strike on the earth, you awaken in a post apocalypse wasteland filled with mutants, scavengers and worse. Combining vehicle combat, 3D shooter, and RPG with state of the art graphics, this game is a must. www.rage.com
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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim The RPG master is back with the biggest and most advanced game yet. Create your character and battle and explore in a massive fantasy world complete with dragons and scores of deadly creatures. http://www. elderscrolls.com/skyrim/
Assassinâ€™s Creed: Revelations The complex story and parkour acrobatics are all here, along with a beefed up multiplayer that was a big hit in Brotherhood.
Kinect Disneyland Adventures (Xbox 360) Explore the happiest place on earth alone or with a friend, using your Kinect. Tour the park, get autographs, and ride the classic rides in a series on nonstop adventures. From racing bobsleds down the Matterhorn, to epic Wild West adventure on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, this game has it all. www. xbox.com
Kinect Star Wars (Xbox 360) The Force is with you as you set your sights on podracing, light saber combat, and much more with your Kinect in that Galaxy far, far, away. www.xbox.com
Goldeneye: 007 Reloaded Bond is back in this classic update of the Wii title. Now Xbox 360 and PS 3 owners can get in the action as Bond fights to save the world. www.activision.com
X-Men Destiny Play as one of three mutants and select to follow the teachings of either The Brotherhood or Professor X in the latest chapter of the classic X-Men series. Action abounds as you alone decide your fate. www.activision. com
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Uncharted 3: Drakeâ€™s Deception Drake is back in the biggest adventure yet, as he travels the world on his latest quest. Amazing 3D graphics and frantic multiplayer action makes this a must own for every PS3 owner. www.playstation.com
Sims 3 Pets Get yours Sims out of the house with this latest expansion. www.ea.com Need for Speed: The Run Need for Speed is going back to its dramatic story telling ways again, whether you like it or not. Expect to find exotic cars doing fast things all across the country.
Winter Stars Bundle up and take on your favorite winter sports with this thrilling collection of games. www.quicksilver.com Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One Play alone or with up to three friends, as Ratchet and Clank are back in this new addition to the series.
Spider-Man: Edge of Time Travel across time to save the past, present, and future in this star studded superhero adventure. When a mad scientist comes disrupts the time line from 2099, only spider-man can save the day but he will need the help of his future self. www.activision.com
Lego Universe Great for the kids as they can take part in an MMORPG world made from Legos. Allows for countless hours of fun and creativity. www.universe. lego.com
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Back to the Future Join Marty and Doc Brown as they travel through time to save the day in this thrilling graphic adventure series from Telltale games. www.telltalegames.com
Saints Row: The Third If GTA is just a bit too realistic for you, then Saints Row is right up your alley. It’s crude, disgusting, but overall stupid fun: the best kind of fun.
Halo: Combat Evolved: Anniversary Edition It’s been 10 years since the original Halo released on the Xbox. The game will feature the same engine as the original but it will have a crisp fancy new graphics to lay over it. There are plenty of tweaks for Halo fans and new content to hold them over until Halo 4 is due out next year.
Resistance 3 The latest and greatest chapter in the series tasks you to fight to save humanity from the deadly chimera invasion. www.playstation.com
Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii) This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Legend of Zelda and what better way to celebrate than with a brand new Zelda game. Skyward Sword has been in the making for a while now and it will be the first “true” Jurassic Park (PC) The dinos are back in this thrilling new adventure from use of the Wii controls in a Zelda game. Nintendo has never failed to deliver a solid Zelda experience, and it Telltale games. www.telltalegames.com doesn’t look like they’ll drop the ball this time.
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Solatorobo: Red the Hunter (Nintendo DS) Epic adventure for the Nintendo DS. www.xseedgames. com
Mario Kart 7 (3DS) Nintendo is bringing Mario Kart into the realm of 3D with its seventh iteration in the series. Nintendo is also taking advantage of the 3DSâ€™s online capabilities. Overall it looks to be classic Mario Kart fun.
Lord of the Rings: War In the North (PC) The quest for the ring was just the start as the battle wages on. www.wbgames.com
Fishing Resort (Wii) Grab a rod and pole and head on down to the old fishing hole without ever leaving the comforts of home. www.xseedgames.com
Movie Studio Craft your videos and edit them into amazing creations with this latest product from Sony. Use it to film game trailers and gameplay clips of your own. 3D conversions are just one of the latest new features. www.sony.com Nicktoons MLB (Nintendo DS) Join your favorite Nicktoons as they play ball with over 150 MLB stars. From a full season to a quick game, the choice is yours. www.nick.com
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Get Your Gear On by Gareth von Kallenbach
PC Gear Patriot has long been a name synonymous with high quality and dependable memory at an affordable price. With the release of the Patriot Viper Xtreme Series Division 2 Edition DDR3 Memory Kit, highend performance has never been so dependable and
demanding games such as Crysis 2 and an array of other games on full graphical settings, not only did I receive unmatched graphics and response times but never once had any drop in the frame rate. I also found a much faster load and response time from Windows 7 and many other applications moved at a much quicker pace. I look forward to trying this product and other future releases from Patriot on some upcoming games including Rage, Doom 4, Far Cry 3, and the next generation of games as I have no doubt I will get top-notch performance and dependability at a value price.
Head Gear While many headsets on the market right now claim to offer an unparalleled sound experience, I have yet to encounter anything as enjoyable as the Spectrum 7xb from SteelSeries. Designed for the Xbox 360, the unit offers noise-dampening, interchangeable leather
affordable as it is now. The two 4GB modules are not only easy to install, we had the test system up and running in under 5 minutes. The modules also come equipped with an extruded aluminum shield that provides improved cooling and gives an extra degree of protection during installation. When installed, the 8 GB kit runs at 1866MHz and offers reduced latency for higher-end performance. The memory kits were designed for Intelâ€™s 2nd Generation Core (tm) processors. Designed with PC gamers in mind, each module is 100% hand-tested and validated on the Intel 6 series platform. As with all Patriot products lifetime warranty and technical support are provided free of charge. While many companies are quick to tout the design clock specifications of their products, one must remember that many times those ratings are obtained under carefully controlled conditions in a lab. Patriot, however, has never been one to shy away from the challenge, and even when playing extremely
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earcups, wireless capability, retractable unidirectional microphone, and independent game and voice volume controls as part of its impressive series of features. The transmitter is approximately the size of a playing card deck and utilizes a 2.4 GHz radio interface. The unit connects directly with the Xbox 360 console and will operate up to 30 feet away from the transmitter with no discernible loss of function. It also features an LED to notify the user when the headset is connected. The headset can be dismantled into three separate pieces for easy storage, and offers absolutely unparalleled performance and durability. At times Iâ€™ve found some headsets difficult to set up especially with gaming consoles. This was far and away the easiest headset that Iâ€™ve ever connected to the Xbox 360 and while I expected it to perhaps be a bit bulky and cumbersome it was amazingly comfortable to wear along and was impressed with its ease of operation.
One nice touch was the ability to adjust the throat mic in your phone to the either the right or left side for which ever configuration the user desired. When combined with the noise isolation feature which reduces background noise for the unit, you get optimum voice clarity when playing. While I had been very used to headsets and mics ranging from standard Bluetooth to full headsets, I was very surprised with the quality of performance comfort, and ease of use for this product. It is a very enjoyable device that enhances your gameplay experience, especially for those players who donâ€™t want to be encumbered by headsets and cords. For PlayStation 3 users, the Gioteck EX-02 Bluetooth
The audio quality was simply amazing. Not only was I able to take in a multiple of audio channels from any game I played, but the noise canceling aspect was a great value during games when I needed the microphone to communicate with other players free from ambient noises being broadcast. Call of Duty fans are likely to enjoy the Gioteck TX-1 Throat Mic for the Xbox 360. The unit fits comfortably around the users throat and detects sound as it directly emanates from the throat. This provides for greater sound quality and thanks to the comfortable neckband, the unit is able to fit comfortably regardless of the size of the user.
Headset offers superior comfort and performance for gamers of all abilities. The sleek and stylish unit has a state of the art chipset which includes built in noise cancelling features, as well as first rate voice clarity output. If this was not enough, the well designed unit also has a very long battery life, which allows hours of gaming time before needing to recharge the unit. The unit is very comfy and has reversible earhooks to get the perfect fit. I had largely stopped using my former headset due to the pinch associated with using the device but thankfully that is a thing of the past. The EX 02 also has interchangeable faceplates to allow users to pick a design that best fits their personality. The controls of the system are ergonomic, making in-game adjustments a breeze, as the need to fumble around for the controls has largely been eliminated.
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The ear cushions were designed from an ergonomical standpoint to provide not only comfort, but a high degree of quality.
Hand Gear Gioteck has an impressive list of products available that enhance the gaming experience for both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation three systems. First up is the HF2 PS3 Wireless Controller. This sleek black and red unit fits comfortably into your hands and has a number of features that help you gain the edge in your games. The ergonomic shoulders and triggers of the unit not only provide comfort, but optimal response times. The anti-slip grips on the unit allow for maximum comfort during long gaming sessions. The thumb stick arrangements of the unit are juxtaposed which allow for greater responses during first-person shooters. As a long time PC user I’ve often found playing shooters on consoles tricky compared to the mouse and keyboard of my PC. This unit was one of the best setups I’ve ever played, as I was able to go through numerous first and third person shooters with an even greater degree of accuracy and response times. While I have been able to complete the games with the standard Dual Shock 3 control and often struggled in the online portion of many games, by using this control I was able to increase my scores right off the bat, and found that I had been able sustain this over continued use.
technology and Bluetooth functionality for costeffective way to enhance your gameplay. In gaming, timing and performance are key elements of success. Gioteck has come up with a great addition to the PS 3 Dualshock control with Real Triggers. These are natural looking trigger extenders that clip over the existing triggers of the control. The easy to apply tabs allow for easier access, and have a look and feel that is in keeping with the control. The non slip
extenders worked like a charm, as I found it easier to stay on target when firing because they improved my area of access and eliminated most slippage. The only issues I had with them was due to a couple of nephews who decided to remove them and apply them to different controls. This resulted in the buttons breaking, most likely because they are light weight and designed to improve performance while not adding weight to the unit. My suggestions would be to apply them with care and keep the triggers on the controls once installed.
As if this wasn’t enough, the bumper and trigger of the unit can be interchanged to allow you a greater degree of customization. The unit also features rumble
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Charging Gear Memorex has long been known for their high quality audio and video tapes and discs, so I was a bit surprised when I was contacted about their new line of gaming accessories. Eager to see what they had to offer, I reviewed the Quad Controller Charging Kit for the PS 3 and found the lightweight black tower to be highly effective and functional. I liked the use of the rubber non slip base and the ease of assembly. The unit holds two PS3 controls and two Move controls. You can also substitute one of the move directional controls for a Wand if you opt to do so. The controls
I also tested the Dual Controller Kit for the Xbox 360 unit which, while keeping the same sleek and light black design of the PS 3 unit, also came with two black batteries for my Xbox 360 control. The unit can charge
two controls at once or players can opt to remove the batteries from the control units and place the batteries alone on the charger. As with the PS 3 unit, and blue light appears when each battery or control is fully charged. The units are affordable and offer a great way to charge your controls. Not only are they highly functional but they have a nice look to them. ยง
fit easily into the unit and each slot has its own status light to indicate the charge level of each control. This eliminates a lot of guessing. If you see a blue light under a control its ready to go while a red light means more charging time is needed. The unit is sturdy and has proven to work better than any other charging station I have used in the past for any control system.
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From the Editor It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 years already since we first launched Skewed & Reviewed the Magazine. It seems like just yesterday we published our first issue. I am very happy to report that the enhanced iPad version of Issue 5 has outsold all previous iPad versions of the magazine combined, and Issue 6 is on pace to break our download records. As always, the website and magazine would not be possible without the continued support of our staff and our fans, and again I thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedules to visit our site, listen to our segments on Seattle’s 99.9 KISW FM, our own Skewedcast, BJ Shea’s Geek Nation podcast, and for the tremendous attendance and support we receive at conventions.
to thank: you loyal readers, our staff, the numerous company reps that we work with, and above all my associate editor and darling wife Genevieve, whose constant support and assistance makes my life so much easier in so many ways. I want to thank Neil Jordan for his photography work. We will be adding pictorials to each issue, and I want to thank Daniel Mauch for his amazing layout work, as well as Elvin DeGuzman, who’s constantly coming up with amazing graphics for our website and covers for the magazine. Until next time, have a happy and safe holiday season, and we will see you with Issue 8 in the New Year. Gareth von Kallenbach Editor/Owner Skewed and Reviewed
It’s humbling to know that after 10 years as a website and nearly 2 years as a magazine, we continue to grow and increase our audience. For this I would like
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Published on Jan 16, 2012
Our Holiday Double Issue has a look at the latest in film, game, travel, hardware, and entertainment as well as our Holiday Gift Guide