Archive | February, 2007

Monica Valentinelli

Vampire: Dark Influences Review

Posted on February 27, 2007 by

Vampire: Dark Influences is a stand-alone card game set in the world of Vampire: the Requiem, designed by Michael Miller and David Raabe and developed by Ken Cliffe and Steve Wieck. First and foremost, this is a strategy game that includes several thematic elements from the RPG. You’ll notice that the artwork is consistent with the corebook; many of the same signature characters are used for gameplay.

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Shadowplay Review

Posted on February 26, 2007 by

Shadowplay is the second book in the Shadowmarch series, written by veteran novelist Tad Williams. Truthfully, I have not read Shadowmarch, the first of the three books in this trilogy—but I have read almost every other book that Williams has ever published. Picking up Shadowplay was an experiment, in the sense that I wasn’t sure whether or not I would need to read the first book. The result?

Shadowplay has very little recap from its predecessor—you can glean the details as you read on—and the first hundred pages proved difficult to me as a reader simply because I hadn’t read the events leading up to the scattering of the royal Eddon family and the takeover by the Tollys.

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Werewolf Hunter Movie Review

Posted on February 21, 2007 by

Let me begin by writing something positive about director, Francisco Plaza’s, Werewolf Hunter. It’s ambitious. But really. What do you get when you try to combine a monster movie, a serial killer thriller, a period piece, a docudrama, and an episode of National Geographic Explorer? Answer: A disjointed mess that never commits to any of these. Rather than pulling us through a compelling narrative, we watch while Mr. Plaza meanders in circles for 89 minutes. What’s left in his wake is a movie so disengaging that the most frightening experience I had watching it was the possibility that I may fall asleep and have to watch it again so that I can write this review.

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End of Heroes Review

Posted on February 16, 2007 by

Prophecies, magic, and a powerful darkness come to life in the novel End of Heroes, written by an up and coming author. Although this is a fantasy novel, there are many elements that do not follow the mainstream cutouts you might find in your local bookstore hidden away on the shelf. First and foremost, it is strongly apparent that there is an intelligent author behind the planning of this book. Herbst has created a very, well-detailed setting with a complex wizard society and magical rules.

Review by Monica Valentinelli

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Highlander Movie Review

Posted on February 14, 2007 by

The movie gets right to it with an action packed wrestling match and swordfight. Antique dealer Russell Nash (Christopher Lambert) lives a quiet life in modern-day New York. Unbeknownst to the world, The Gathering of Immortals has come, and Nash is really Connor MacLeod, a five hundred year-old highlander who must fight for The Prize. Connor and the other remaining immortals must battle to the death. The victor cuts off his enemy’s head and absorbs his lifeforce, called the Quickening. Clancy Brown plays the evil and powerful Viktor Kurgan, an ancient Immortal who has a history with the Highlander.

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Dog Town RPG Review

Posted on February 14, 2007 by

Ultimately, the Dog Town system seems as though it could be very simple, unfortunately the explanation is confused and overly wordy (perhaps even purposefully intellectualized) to the point that it obfuscates, rather than elucidates, the mechanical components of the game. The rule explanations in Dog Town need a serious overhaul — less jargon, less “behind the scenes” exposition, and more black and white explanation. Dog Town needs to keep it simple, trimming some serious fat.

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Burning Fiction Review

Posted on February 14, 2007 by

Rooted in an alternate history, The Burning ratchets up the supernatural, tones down the reality, and makes good use of graphic violence and sex to shock the reader. In many ways, The Burning is the spiritual successor to the American slasher movie in literature — and it works! As a piece of purely tongue-in-cheek entertainment The Burning delivers:

A crazed mass murderer, a nationwide massacre, a conspiratorial Presidential coverup, ghost trains, and armies of undead rising from the grave — what’s not to love, right?

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Twilight of the Dead Review

Posted on February 10, 2007 by

Twilight of the Dead takes five years after the initial outbreak of the zombie plague, and it is told through the view of a young woman named Courtney. Courtney is a sad, depressed person who is depressed at the loss of her father and the fact that her life has been ruined by the dead corpses that have now taken over the world, and this is what makes Courtney such an interesting character. Unlike the big, bad guy heros of the zombie genre, Courtney is the center point of Twilight of the Dead , and this helps make the novel different from any ordinary novel.

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Plague of the Dead Review

Posted on February 10, 2007 by

Plague of the Dead takes another twist with the zombie genre, showing that the zombies can and cannot be dead at the same time. Z.A Recht, author of the new zombie novel Plague of the Dead brings a new twist to the genre.

Beginning with a strange, if not disturbing, email from a scientist in the army, it tells of the inevitable danger that the new and strange plague may bring. While the scientist tries to warn people about it, it doesn’t do any good, and that means that people are vulnerable. It hits our home of the United States when a medical examiner turns his back for just one moment.

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Pan’s Labyrinth Movie Review

Posted on February 3, 2007 by

I was under whelmed and uninspired by nearly everything I saw in 2006. Genre flicks were particularly bad. Aside from “The Descent,” one of the few notable exceptions, it was a year full of more bad sequels and blasphemous remakes. That said, I was hopeful about Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” as I made my first trip to the theatre this year. However, I decided to leave my expectations at the theatre entrance just in case—a defense mechanism against brilliantly marketed bad movies.

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Dungeon Bash RPG Review

Posted on February 1, 2007 by

Dungeon Bash is obtainable via download from RPGNow.com and similar sites. A bundle of PDFs is provided for a cost of US $10, which is far from excessive. Some of the files contain D20 related material which is available elsewhere but is provided here in more user-friendly formats. Dating back to the time of Gary Gygax and Dave Arnesen, the original creators of the game, D&D rules have always combined the sensible and the nonsensical in almost equal balance. This tendency has pretty much continued as the game has grown in complexity and is perhaps inevitable when so many people have been responsible for producing officially sponsored content. Players of course contribute to the problem by gleefully ripping ideas and concepts out of their context in forcing them into their own games, generally in the hope of giving themselves an advantage in the killing-and-looting stakes. Consequently, there exists a market niche for people who can summarize and present pertinent information in a reader-friendly and comprehensive fashion.

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