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In Love And War

I have been in love and out of love. I have been in relationships and out of relationships. Hell, I have even been proposed to. In my twenty eight years of life there has not been a single woman that could keep up or deal with me. Maybe because all the women grew up and moved out of a college town and left behind only the girls.
I had tried the dating sites, speed dating and even a professional matchmaker. None of it worked. I had long ago given up on going to a bar and bringing home a mystery woman to please me for the night. That was just not me.
So on Thursday night I found myself standing in the cool spring evening in front of the movie theatre on G Street for a blind date. After checking my cell phone for whta felt like the millionth time, I finally saw that glowing bluish message that said that I had received a text message. It said, “Boo!”. Which is an odd thing for a text message to say.
“Boo!” came a loud voice behind me and I jumped, like any sane person with a healthy fight or flight reflex of course.
I whipped my head around and saw standing before me the most beautiful woman I had ever met. She was about five nine and wore a simple blue dress that not only accentuated the natural curves of her body, but did not make her look like a weekend bar slut. Her dark and curly hair cascaded down her back, while her very blue eyes seemed to laugh at my surprise.
“You look like you haven’t ever seen a hot gamer girl before!” She laughed and extended her hand. “I’m Lorwyn, and I will be your date for this evening!”
“Um, hi!” I said awkwardly and probably a little too loudly as I took her delicate looking hand in mine. “I’m George.”
“Ugh,” she said in a playful tone as her hand released from mine. “Hector was right. You are a bit awkward at first. But apparently you are worth knowing, so here I am.”
“You know,” I said, ignoring her little jab at my expense. “I don’t really want to go and see a movie tonight. You up for a walk instead?”
“Sure!” She said with a big smile on her face. “I’ve seen all of these anyway.”
I extended my elbow like the classy man I was, and she took it like the classy woman she was. As we set off down G street, I was on cloud nine. Lorwyn would not stop talking, and instead of being annoyed with it, I took in everything that I could. Before long, we had looped around a couple times and were headed down E street towards Highway 80.
“Hey, let’s go in there!” I said, pointing to the place across the street, Vito’s Pizza. “It has great pizza actually.”
“Yeah I know!” Was Lorwyn’s answer. “I always end up getting the pesto pizza. I am a sucker for the stuff, I mean it is so good!”
A great big smile was my answer and after we had ordered she went off to the bathroom. She returned with two slopping cups of draft beer.
“I didn’t know what you liked, so I got you a Stella Artois.” She said a little apologetically.
“I do enjoy the odd Stella here and there,” I said with a laugh. “And I have almost never turned down free booze!”
“You and me both!” she said with a big grin. “Some girls don’t like beer because it has a bitter flavor that their fragile taste buds can’t handle. I am not some girls.”
“No you’re not,” I said with a chuckle. “Not by a long shot.”
“So I have been prattling along all evening!” She said animatedly. “What’s up with you?”
“What do you mean?” I asked after I had finished a sip of the bubbling brew.
“What’s your story, man? What are you doing? Where are you going?”
“Well,”I said and though a moment. “I graduated from UCD in 2009 with a degree in Film Studies.”
“Ooooh! Film” she interrupted, very excited. “How many movies did you make? Have you worked for somebody famous?”
“Well, don’t let the name fool you. I learned almost nothing about production. It is the study of film and that’s it. I would have to go to film school or have had a completely different major in order to learn all of that stuff”
“Wow, so why didn’t you go to film school? Or at least down south where all that showbiz happens?” She asked.
“I got a scholarship here, and I didn’t get in down south.” I said as the waiter placed two plates on the table with giant slices of pizza on them.
“Oh? What for?” She asked and took a bite of the monstrous slice of pizza in front of her.
“I was in intercollegiate athletics in swimming.” I said, taking a small nibble of my slice’s crust. “I was a really good distance swimmer, and Davis was willing to give me a scholarship and nowhere else was, or could.”
“That is so cool!” She said with her mouth still a little full. “I was in soccer myself for all of high school, but I just couldn’t take the competition that went along with playing ICA soccer in college. That must have been a trip!”
“It was. I still am friends with almost all of the guys on the team, and it has really defined me as a person.” I said with a reminiscing smile. “And of course it was great to have some money for food and not have to work.”
“Yeah, well I can see that you don’t swim anymore.” She said as she bit off another piece of pizza and pointed to my rather protruding belly.
“Yeah, well after fourteen years of getting up at 5 am and freezing my butt off, I decided to not do it anymore. It was great while I swam, but I want to do something else with my life to be honest.”
“And whats that?” She said as she swallowed.
“You are going to laugh at me.” I said.
“No I won’t!” She said indignantly. “I promise if I laugh then I will go on a second date with you.”
“Fair enough,” I said with another chuckle. “I want to design children’s trading card games.”
Lorwyn bit her lip to keep from laughing, but apparently couldn’t keep it in. Eventually, even I was laughing at the hilarity of it all.
“Well I guess you owe me a second date then,” I said grinning after the laughter had died out. “No matter how bad this one gets!”
“I was kinda planning on having another meet up anyway.” She said with her head at a coy angle. “I think I really like you. At least enough to find out more about you.”
And we sat there and talked from then until the pizza place turned into a night club. I had never talked with anyone like her for so long. After a while and a few more drinks, we ended up dancing to the latest hip hop beats. We were the last out of the door when the place closed for the night.
“I had a wonderful time tonight.” She said as I walked her to her car. “I honestly haven’t opened up to anyone like that in years.”
“I feel the same way.”
We walked in silence for a little longer. Not the awkward silence when you have run out of things to say, but the kind when you are comfortable with a person.
“This is me.” She said as we stopped next to a nondescript Honda Civic.
“How about me meet up this weekend? Say Saturday?” I said with a little bit of hope in my voice.
“You familiar with the Arboretum?” she asked. “I hear it is truly beautiful in the Spring, and I am in need of a guide to show me around.”
“You are in luck chica!” I said with a laugh. “I love walking in the Arboretum, and I know it well enough. Say noonish in front of Borders? That’s as good a place as any to start.”
“I would like that.” She said, and leaned in and wrapped her arms around me in a great big bear hug.
“Until Saturday.” I said as she released the hug and got into her car. With a smile, she drove off and in a blur of tail lights was gone.
I felt like I was on cloud nine and could float over the road. As I rode back to my apartment, I kept on seeing her smiling face. I shook my head somewhere around Chiles road. It wouldn’t do to get all obsessed over a girl and then freak her out. I had inadvertently done it before, and I would be damned if I was going to make the same mistake and lose the most amazing woman I had ever met.
I yawned a little louder than usual as I turned onto Drew Circle towards my apartment. The wind whipping at my ears only accentuated the lateness of the hour. I was tired. After I locked my bike, I climbed up the red stairs to the backdoor of my apartment. I pushed open the door quietly, hoping not to disturb my already grumpy roommates.
My financial situation was not going better than my lovelife before that night, so I was hoping to avoid and late night grumpy roommates that I owed money to. and like the unlucky guy I am, one of them was waiting up for me.
“Where have you been?” she asked as she flicked on the light of the kitchen.

“Out.” I said as I tried to duck into my room. Instead she extended an arm and blocked my path.

“So you have enough money to go out and have fun all night, but not enough to pay us back for the utilities?”

“I have the money Laura, just let me get my check book because I don’t have any cash on me.”

“Fine, but you still owe Charles and Javier for the rental insurance and Internet and TV bill.”

After I had written the check and Laura had left in a huff, I slipped into my room on the first floor. With a sigh I slowly got out of my clothes and sank into the refreshing coolness of my bed, the handmade quilt my mother had made for me at birth wrapped around my body. With a satisfied sigh, I went to sleep.

I don’t remember my dreams that night. I wish I did. It was the last time that I was not worried about everything that was going on in my life.

I woke to the blaring sound of my alarm, growling in annoyance at the untimely waking from the nights festivities. I groaned at the early hour, eight am was not the time that I really wanted to be getting up at.

After I was fully roused from my bed, I pulled on my running shorts and a t-shirt and laced up my brand new running shoes. At a trot I started down the street. My legs pumped and I felt the road flowing through me. It was great to be up and running again. One thing that always cheered me up was the feeling released from my body during a nice and quiet morning.

After a good hour, I arrived back at my apartment. With my chest heaving and my legs and arms aching, I flopped back onto my bed, still sweaty and dirty from the dusty road. After a few seconds I moved myself to the bathroom, and proceeded to take a luxuriously long shower. Since I had no work that day, I really could take as long as I wanted.
After a nice rundown with a towel, I proceeded to switch on my rundown laptop.
“Stupid Linux,” I muttered as the computer failed to load the free software.
After rebooting the accursed machine I loaded up into Facebook. After a short flurry of activity on my Facebook games and updating my friends on what had happened the night before I pulled on some old and faded jeans and a t-shirt from one of the triathlons I had entered when I was far younger.
I actually couldn’t wait to get going that day. Lorwyn had seemed to energize me, make me want to get out and be all that I could be so to speak. It was an odd feeling that I just had never felt before.
I got on my bike after putting on my regular day shoes and started riding for downtown. Up and over the overpass I deaded into downtown Davis. Past the Borders shoppong center and across thwe weird intersection at Richards and E. Eventually I found myself at Woodstock’s Pizza on G Street at noon, when they started their all-you-can eat lunch special.
After a long and rather uninteresting meal of pepperoni pizza and diet soda I headed to Bizarro World, the comic shop where I worked part-time. It was time to pick up some money owed me for overtime, mostly so that I could pay off the check I had written to Laura the night before. Like I said, my finances were tight.
“Hey Don.” I said as I came in the almost dingy little shop. “What’s happening?”
“The usual.” Don said as he busied himself with ordering the newest shipment of collectibles on his computer. “We have people being shit-heads and customers being whiny little bitches.”

“Eh, it could be worse.” I said with a grin. “Now about that overtime I did on Tuesday…”

“You get paid on Sunday, like always George.”

“Could I get an advance? I kind of need it now, or I am up the creek.” I said with a little twinge of anxiety.

“Fine.” He said as he reached into his pocket and pulled out two twenty dollar bills and handed them to me. “You need to take it easy on the nightlife, kid. You look terrible.”

“Thanks for the advice Don. I’ll see ya Sunday.” I said and walked out.

I decided to spend the rest of the day wandering around downtown. I just liked walking, and it helped to ease the aching in my leg muscles. After I hopped back on my bike and went home, I flopped into bed at 8 and checked all o fmy email accounts. After that I wrote a short story that was only two pages long and posted it to my blog. As I drifted off to sleep, my last thought was Another day in the life of George Smith.

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Jordan Walters woke in a cold sweat. His hand flashed instinctively for the gun that slept under his pillow and sat bolt upright, his sure hand guiding its aim all over the dark room. The lingering remnants of his dream clung to his consciousness, setting his heart racing even faster. His eyes searched the shadows, looking for the hulking form that haunted his sleep. Slowly, with the early morning sun peeking over the windowsill he calmed down, his heart rate slowed and he lowered the gun. With a deep exhale that was almost a resignation, he dropped his head into his hands.

    He looked over at the black alarm clock  that sat on his bed side table. It read 8:55 AM. He flopped back down onto the bed and combed back his hair with his fingers as if that would wipe away the dream and reality both. As well as the disappointment that he had woken up five whole minutes before his alarm. He flopped backwards onto the bed with a loud groan, the springs in the bed groaning in protest to the sudden movement.
Reluctantly he rose to a seated position and reset the alarm on the clock and threw back the sweat soaked sheets. He stood up and stretched, his body cracking and shivering with delight. His muscular frame flexed as he stretched his arms and legs. With a swish he opened the curtains, letting in the bright morning sunlight through the barred window. His eyes squinted until they got used to the light, and then he yawned and turned to the business of getting ready for the day. He pulled open the drawer of the dresser across the room and pulled on a faded pair of blue jeans and a black t-shirt with a small hole in the left shoulder. In the bathroom he pulled a comb through his mussed up hair, keeping it out of his eyes and pulled some water from his bathroom catch bucket .

After splashing his face, he looked around his meager bedroom, the dresser and bed the only furniture besides the bedside table. His house was old and small, but it had strong walls and only one door to get into the house. A back door was more trouble than he could handle if it all went to hell It was getting more and more important for a place for a person to live to be strong and easy to defend. Odd that defensibility would be one of the things that he would look for in a house. Or that anyone would for that matter unless they were living in an active war zone.

Downstairs he pulled open the cupboard in the kitchen, revealing his meager stores of canned, dried and preserved food. After rustling around in the packages of Top Ramen, cans of Chef Boyardee and baked beans, he pulled out a can of chili. He felt like going a little fancy today, and he was going to go shopping anyway.

He lit a fire in the fire pit that he had dug in the center of the kitchen through the linoleum and stoked it. The smoke curled and wound it’s way up towards the grated hole in the roof. He had to reinforce it with metal bars when a feral tiger had tried to claw it’s way in one night. Turns out that if animals really want to they can escape from the zoo. Especially when they have developed a taste for ape meat. A few minutes and a couple logs later he had a nice little fire going, which he used to heat the chili still in the can.

The few dishes he kept around were mostly utensils, a spoon, a fork, a cooking pan and bowl,  a sharp knife a few glasses, a big bowl and a ramen bowl and a single plate. It simply wasn’t worth having more dishes than that, since he never had company and never needed more than that for himself.

With each spoon-full of the food he imagined a real breakfast with his eyes closed. Fried eggs and pancakes, with a double side of bacon and an overflowing glass of cold orange juice. He sighed, somethings were healthy to fantasize about, but good food was definitely not one of them. Even his full belly felt empty and his brain kept yearning for more and more, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to ever to taste something like that ever again. He couldn’t even find powdered eggs anymore. It turns out that was the only thing that the ferals liked at all.

After his breakfast, he headed up to the roof. He unlocked the metal plate that he had installed there the last week. It was dangerous to go up there, he could be spotted, but the roof gave him access to the impressive view of the surrounding city and whatever might be in it. He looked from horizon to horizon, searching for the hulking and swaying forms that haunted his dreams and the snarling and vicious ones that haunted his reality. Instead only the wind disturbed the streets, blowing a plastic bag along like a lone tumbleweed in a ghost town. A poet might have written about the romanticism of the bad being like a human being floating around his or her life. Only there were no more poets to write about, and almost no-one left to read their work even if there were any soft shelled poets left.

Jordan climbed down back into the house and collected some of his survival gear from the kitchen. The little green backpack that he stuffed full of things held almost everything he would need to survive, and had saved his life more times than he could count at this point. He unzipped the pack, filling it with replenished gear, food and water.

He refilled the canteen and water bottle from his catch basin in his kitchen, wasting not a single drop to the floor or his clothes or skin. It was important to stay hydrated, especially when he was exhausting himself so much every day. He was always making improvements to the house, keeping it safe and secure. Scrounging for supplies was not the easiest thing to do either, with all of the hazards out in the world, even then. He made sure that his emergency rations of trail mix were full and the bags did not have any holes. The damn rats always had to chew into the bags. He checked to make sure that the gauze and medical kit were there. Scrapes and wounds were bound to happen, and when they did he was going to be ready. He also checked to make sure the machete and hammer were there and strapped them to the outside of the pack where they could easily be in reach.

Satisfied that his going-out kit was complete and refilled, he walked into the armory room, formerly the family room and stared in awe of what was contained within. Instead of the standard couch, television and assorted soft chairs there was instead 4 gun cabinets, each with an assortment of rifles, shotguns and hand guns and their ammunition. He selected his favorite, an automatic military grade shotgun and slipped it into the holster that ran along his shoulder blades. He briefly considered one of the few hand grenades he had been able to salvage. He shook his head, he probably wouldn’t need one of those today.

He hefted the back pack and started walking towards the metal crossbarred front door and then slowed and turned back to the cabinets. He opened up one of them and selected a Beretta and three full clips and slipped them into his back pack. He also collected thirty shells for the shot gun and added them to the ammo belt that was in there as well. He hefted it and clipped it closed around his waist. It was always to go out in the world completely prepared, even overly prepared for whatever was out there.

With a deep breath he headed to the front door. Sometimes one of them would lean against the door, as if catching it’s breath before continuing on to whatever it was it was doing. Then try to turn and sink it’s rotting teeth into his leg. Slowly he opened the door, shotgun leading the way through the crack in the door,  but this time there was no heavy weight that he could feel. He opened it fully and saw nothing but the familiar sight of overturned and burnt out cars. He had buried the bodies that were around his house so that he wouldn’t have to look at them every day, that would have driven him insane.

He released the tension in his body with a deep sigh, but tension and adrenaline seemed to be a constant part of his life. is body tensed up again, as if saying that he should stay in the relative safet of the house, and not go out into a fierce and savage world.  He forced his legs to move, and forced himself not to think of the hundreds of people that were in the buildings around him. He didn’t have the courage or the stomach to clean them all out. He just didn’t. And even if there were any, they were probably scavenged by the ferals by now.

His shotgun at his shoulder he made his way into the center of the street. It was easier to be ambushed if you stayed too close to the walls of the cracking and crumbling buildings. In the center he had a 360 degree view of the surrounding area, important for survival in the world. He had learned that the first week after the incident, when a feral had lept down from a window above him and that had almost been that for Jordan Walters. His lucky utility knife had gutted and sliced the creature before it had shrieked for the rest of it’s hunting party.

He made his way towards the downtown area, where the best salvage was. The large amounts of stores made it easier to move from one building to another without arousing unknown attention and he was more likely to come across useful food and equipment that had not been broken or picked over yet. A few hours later he came to his prize salvaging area.

The abandoned Target lay ahead, the way strewn with abandoned carts and more than a few skeletal corpses, most of the meat eaten away by the roves of feral people and animals that haunted the night. The front of the building had been broken into, but the merchandise was only mostly ransacked and not salvaged. For some reason the ferals just ate meat and the few fruit and vegetables that still grew.

He could see a murder of crows circling not far away, over the fields where the ferals liked to fight. After the usual decapitation of the loser, their bodies were stripped of meat and organs and heaped in a pile, where the crows liked to pick apart the skull to get at the fine meats of the eyes and brain. He had spied on them one day, trying to find a pattern to what they did. He didn’t find any and just decided that they were too far gone to save.

His shotgun at the ready, he stepped over the cracked and broken entryway. He made his way to the food section of the store, where cans and jars were broken and scattered on the floor. every single chip in the place was smashed and crunched on the floor. The ferals aparently like the sound the bags made and prized them as armor. Further on he saw that the pile of laundry bags that he had hoarded in one spot. Picking one up, he made his way to the section that had canned goods that had not been broken and scattered. He filled up the bag with preserved and canned food until he felt that he could carry no more and still be mobile. It was always important to be mobile.

As he made his way to the entrance, he heard the clatter of a disturbed can in the shadows off to his left. His shotgun up and at the ready, he moved slowly towards where he heard the sound. He had to kill whatever it was quietly, or the nearby ferals would hear. Sweat began to bead on his face and neck and his heart sped up thumping into his temple. His eyes struggled to see through the dark inside the building, straining to even see a shape. Then he saw it, bent over a dead animal carcass. It’s putrid stench filling his entire being until all he wanted was to be anywhere else. It made small grunting noises, as if trying to imitate speech as it’s hands dug through the deer’s tender insides.

His foot cracked on a piece of broken glass by accident, sending spikes of adrenaline through his body. With a disturbed screech the decaying creature stood up and whirled around to face him. It was disturbingly fast for a zombie and more graceful in it’s movements than any other he had encountered. It’s face was corroded and cheekless and it leaked fluid from where it’s eyes should have been, probably picked out by the crows. The chest cavity still leaked fluid, and as it moved a few random and still fleshy organs slopped to the ground. Another shriek came from it’s lipless mouth and it charged, dragging it’s broken leg behind it at an odd angle as it shuddered toward him.

Jordan pulled the trigger twice on his shotgun, blowing the top of it’s head clean off. It fell in a ruined heap on the floor, seeping blood into a spreading puddle on the tarnished linoleum floor. The echo of the shot was deafening in the combined space, and a light mist of blood and body fluid was already settling over his clean clothes.

“Shit” he said softly. The loud sound of the shotgun still rang through the almost empty store. The loud sound was likely to draw the ferals and any other creatures to his location. He ran through the entrance, his bag of canned food slung over his shoulder. He heard the rudimentary groans and whistles of the ferals as they talked to one another. He did not stay long enough to find out if they even knew he was there.

He ran as fast as he could, his legs and arms pumping as quickly as he possibly could. The bag of cans on his back clanged violently and made a huge amount of noise as he ran. Hopefully he would be far enough away from the store when the ferals got there that they wouldn’t hear it.

“Damn” he whispered as he heard the scrabbling of about fourty feet behind him. Good thing I work out more than they do. He thought.

A few adrenaline filled miles later he could feel himself reaching his limit as far as running was concerned. His lungs burned for more air and his legs ached with fatigue. Just as he felt he couldn’t keep going any more, he heard them stop and howl softly, as  out of breath as he was. He slowed to a walk and turned around, and saw the dirty rag-backed feral humans retreating and limping on their unclod feet. One of them tripped and fell, slicing it’s leg open on a piece of sharp metal. The rest did not waste any time, but pounced on the unfortunate victim, biting and clawing for bits of flesh.

Jordan turned and walked away. With food at hand, the ferals would be busy for a short time. And that was all he needed in order to get far enough away that they would simply forget about him. Breathing hard, he turned down a side street and covered his ears until he coul dno longer hear the yelping feral calls and the smacking of blood soaked lips.

The rest of the trip back to his home was uneventful, although he came across several new stripped corpses on his way back. The ferals had started turning against themselves even before the rest of the human population was gone, separating into several clans or tribes that preyed on the others, capturing them and forcing them to fight for sport. Then they ate the losers. His skin crawled at the thought.

“At least the dead don’t kill people for sport.” Jordan thought to himself.

The walking corpses were relatively rare, but were aggressive and attacked him at every opportunity. Jordan was never very good at science, only the pseudo-science that was advocated on the ScyFy Channel. The best he could come up with was that it was a mutated parasite that animated the dead. And it was only the bodies that the ferals did not burn. He was not interested in saving the human race, he would let someone else do that. It was hard enough for him to survive by himself. His stomach seized when he realized that he was alone.

As he unlocked the door to his house, he felt a shiver of premonition. He had learned to trust his instincts in the world-after, and he only opened the door slightly. His shotgun at the ready, he peered into the dim interior, his breathing loud in is ears as he strained to hear any sound that would give away the presence of a corpse or a feral.

He could feel nothing with any of his senses, so he opened the door a little more. It creaked and groaned open and Jordan winced as the sound seemed to be a thousand times louder than a jumbo jet. It was then that he heard the floor creak upstairs. His breath quickened as he turned towards the staircase.

Standing there was a girl. Not the feral women that were kept for breeding ad pleasure, nor a walking corpse with rotting skin and meat hanging from her lips. This was an honest to good woman, clad in beige pants and a dirty white blouse. And pointing a rifle straight at his head. Automatically the shotgun went to his shoulder and trained itself on her head.

“Who are you?” she demanded, the rifle shaking slightly in her hands.

Jordan was stunned, he hadn’t seen a normal human being in months, and those were raiding bandits hoping to steal anything of value from anybody left behind.

“You are in my home” he managed to croak out. “What are you doing here?”

“Nobody has lived like this for a long time.” She said bitterly. “How can you?”

“I manage.” He said. “Now put down that gun before I put one in your head. And I really mean it.”

A scowl crossed her face. Slowly, she lowered the rifle a hair, just enough that it was not overtly threatening. Jordan lowered his shotgun the same amount and motioned for her to follow him into the nearby kitchen. A thousand thoughts raced through his head, along with even more questions. Who is she? Where is she from? Why is she here?

He turned around and saw her pointing the rifle at him. She had moved so fast and quietly that he hadn’t anticipated her move. He moved to raise the shotgun, but she fired a round into the wall near his head.

“Don’t even think about it cowboy.” She murmured. “I was in the military before all this shit went down. Do you think you can raise that gun and fire before my itchy trigger finger shoots your ass full of lead?”

Jordan untensed his body. “Are you crazy?” He whispered loudly. “They could have heard that!”

“I didn’t think so. Now be a good boy and drop that nice shiny toy for momma.” She said with a sly grin on her face. “Now.”

Slowly Jordan lowered his weapon to the floor. It clattered on the linoleum floor. He raised his hands up above his head.

“Now go and close that front door of yours before any of those ferals hear it and become curious. Go on!”

Jordan made his way to the door and shut it, the lock clicking into place. The woman came into the entry way and motioned for him to move into the living room. He flopped down onto the couch, his heart racing yet again.

“Now I am going to lower this gun and we are going to have a nice little chat before I blow your brains out.” Jordan nodded and she lowered the gun so that it was pointed to the ground.

“Now for starters, who are you.” She asked.

“My name is Jordan Walters.” He said with a voice that was cracked from dissuse. “Now it would be polite for you to introduce yourself.”

“Lieutenant Lynn Harrows.” She said. “Out of Travis Air Force Base.”

“Not too far from here.” Jordan grunted. “ have you been walking here all this time? What have you been doing since, you know.”

“Mostly staying out of everybody’s way. I try and avoid all the flesh eating freakazoids. They tend to want to kill and eat me.

“I know what you mean.” He said with a little laugh.

She cracked a grin. And that set off a cascade of relieved laughter form the both of them. Laughter that they were not the only person left in a world that had gone completely insane. For one moment they were just two people who were happy to be alive. And then the moment passed.

“I suppose you can stay here if you would like. You would have your own room, and the walls are nice and thick and all the windows are reinforced with bars.” said Jordan as the last of the laughter leaked from his lips.

“I don’t even know you. For all I know you could be a serial rapist that was in prison when all this went down.” She said with a wary glance in his direction.

“I haven’t tried to eat you, that’s a plus.” said Jordan with a grin.

“That’s true!” She said with a syrupy sweet smile on her face. “But I will give you fair warning that I will be sleeping with my own arsenal under my pillow, and I am willing to bet that I can kick your ass in a fight if I needed to.”

“No ma’am!” said Jordan as he leaped to his feet and flashed a sloppy salute.

“You must have been a comedian.” She grinned. “You haven’t had an audience in a while, have you?”

“Yeah I have been alone for a long time.” Jordan said, sitting back down on the overstuffed chair,  his voice now drained of mirth. “I started out on a camping trip with my girlfriend. You know, no signal up in the mountains. By the time we got back, everything had gone to hell.”

“Where is she now?”

“Buried out back.” Jordan said simply. “She stepped on a rusty nail and wasn’t up to date on her tetanus shots.”

“I’m so sorry…” said Lynn in a whisper. “That must have been hard.”

“Not as hard as losing all of civilization. But yeah, she was my last connection to my old life.”

“What was that?” she asked.

“You sure are nosy for a military chick.” said Jordan a little suspiciously. “Why don’t you tell me something about you ‘Lieutenant’. I sleep with guns under my pillow too.”

“I was in cyber warfare. Nit actually in the computers, just a liason with the higher ups. I would translate what was going on for the tech illiterate. It was a helluva place to be when the virus hit.”

“What happened?” Asked Jordan, sitting forward.

“I was actually in the elevator and the power went out. We still had emergency lighting, but I could hear people screaming and tearing eachother to bits. I was scared and I had left my sidearm and phone at my desk. I don’t know how long I stayed there in the dark. Hours I think. Eventually, I just did like they did in the spy movies. I opened up the top access panel and there happened to be an open door I could reach.” she said, her eyes glazed over in remembrance.

“Damn.” Whispered Jordan. “At least we had no idea what was happening until we got back into town. How did you make it out of the building alive?”

“Well the crazies don’t forget everything. There was still plenty enough killing skill that was ingrained in muscle memory that by the time I got out, they were either all dead or had left. That was how I got my whole arsenal.” She gestured to a black duffel bag that was in the corner of the room that Jordan had not noticed before. “Where did you get that impressive collection in the living room?”

“Well some of the National Guard didn’t have their radios on when it happened, so they rolled into town trying to keep the peace. They ended up in pieces and their equipment fell to me. Other than that I have been raiding sporting goods stores and the like. I even went on a trip to the armory in Santa Rosa when I still had the car.”

“Do you think  there are others out there? Like us?” She asked. “I mean the whole world couldn’t have gone to hell, could it?”

“I think you are better equipped to handle that question than me missy.” Jordan said. “There are a lot of rural places, maybe even some people that don’t even know what happened, like in Tibet or something.”

“Maybe.” Lynn said wistfully. “I haven’t seen many people since I started out. Most of them were just interested in eating me or just for my guns. I, I just refuse to believe that it’s all gone.”

“How could this happen anyway? I mean one signal sent out over all of media? Is that even possible?” Jordan asked.

“I don’t know. Maybe it was a physical signal that just flipped a switch in our heads. Maybe it was just the final straw. Maybe-”

She fell silent as they both heard it. The groaning and screeching of a feral tribe out on the street crept in through the barred windows. Jordan stiffened and motioned for Lynn to be dead still. The Air Force woman already had her rifle out and pointed at the door, where they could hear one of the deranged creatures marking the doorway by peeing on it. The almost musical tinkle of the urine mixed with the deranged howls of the troop and created a demented chorus that made Jordan shiver in fear and disgust.

With a laugh and a feral scream, the troop left. They could hear then laughing and yelling as they leaped from discarded car to car in a deranged game. Only when the two of them could hear nothing, did they both relax. But only slightly.

“Well, I don’t know about you Lieutenant, but I am bushed. Let me show you and your armory to the extra room. It’s not very big, but it has a bed and I haven’t used it for anything.” Jordan said in a tired voice.

“I think it would be nice to have a safe place to sleep for a change. Is it upstairs or down?”

“Downstairs,” He replied. “All of the upstairs rooms are full with all of my emergency stuff.”

Lynn thought he averted his eyes too quickly for that to be the whole truth, but he hadn’t done anything overly terrible or menacing to her. And she was confident that she could fight him off if she had to. Either way, she was going to be vigilant for her stay with Jordan Walters.

One of the things that gets me about the modern world is hoe insanely complex we have made everything. Commerce, politics, sex, raising kids and even communication has been made incredibly more complex and difficult sue to the advent of technology. Take communication. It used to be that one tribe wouldn’t even meet another tribe unless the two came across eachother, in which case there would proably be some cultural exchange, some fucking and maybe even some trading that went into the whole experience, and then people lived isolated in small family groups. But people crave excitement as our brains grew more developed. They needed more stimulation than could be provided from talking to the same people over and over again. So groups got bigger. A bigger group means that the troop needs to find more food. Eventually the group reaches a size as to where it cannot forage enough food to sustain itself, When that happens agriculture and domestication take over. People plant berry bushes and care for them so that they can have a good supply of berries for the winter. Before you know it an agricultural town has sprouted up. And yet again people begin to wonder at things. More mental stimulation leads to larger brain growth over generations and more sophistication within people’s minds. Thus the need for mor einteraction between people. As people begin to interact more with one another they begin to covet what another has. As a kid, you really don’t care about a certain toy so much unless you see another person have it or having fun with it. That is what commercials play off of. You show enough people happy with a product and soon everybody wants that product or something better than it or they steal it. The most stolen product at Traget is not electronics, books or food, but cosmetics. People, especially women are told day and night that they are not complete without haveing a certain style of face through media. But I am getting ahead of myself here. Coveting takes place when someone has a desire for an object or idea ad they have no way to obtain it. Eventually, they take it. Wars are faught over resources initially and then over ideology. One ideological person covets the fact that the other person seems completely content and happy and believing in whatever it is that they believe in whether it’s religion, science or atheism. But in truth that is what the other person sees within them. Thus the coveting begins. Maybe if htey went on a holy crusade or scientific mission to bring down the others that would validate their own beliefs that people cling to so righteously. SO wars are faught. And then when the war is over htey realize that the world is just as empty and hollow and meaningless as it was before. It is hummanity that gives the world meaning, not the other way round. So eventually after war has gotten old, hatred develops, as people grow bitter over their inability to attain the highest ideals of Buddha, Christ or the American dream. And osmehow it is another group’s fault that this has happened, because we would rather destroy another person’s ideology, nation or life than admit that we have clinged to teh wrong ideology our entire lives. Individually that may actually happen, a repentance or conversion of sorts, but as a culture people still grow bitter. This is the development of the communal mind. As people share ideas then they become more homogenized and the same. Sex protocol dictates that we fornicate with people that are different than us in order to keep the gene pool deep, so we become fascinated with something that is completely different than us. Say like when a man has an Australian accent he is sexier than the same man without the accent and if he pretended to come from wherever it is that this is taking place. SO again we have the coveting between the different groups. Only this time it has completely invaded our sexuality. Fast travel by road and cahriot or auto or even airplane changes this. The ability to be anywhere in the world in a matter of hours is a powerful thing. It allowed us to fight and kill people without ever seeing it on american shores. That is why the pictures and images that come back from the war zones make it so real for us. War has become outdated and a thing of hte past. It is the threat of war that is the real communication between nations besides commerce. A nation nowadays that wants to invade another country faces economic sanctions, public denouncement and whatever else happens. I would not be totally surprised if the United STates did not declare war until it falls. And even then it will be a hollow act as it is swallowed up by whatever it is that destroys the nation. Anyways, haivng access to sex from any part of the world literally leads to mroe experimentation. You see people into all sorts of weird (to me) customs, such as bondage, fetishes, and even pain. This is to satisfy he human brain’s need for differentness. In the wild a human has to always be on his toes. A wild animal might be right around the corner to disembowel him, so he has to use his brains to compensate. A human being is in no way a match for a tiger or even a wolf in single unarmed combat to the death. to stagnate was to die. To be bored was to die because it was not stimulation enough. People that move to big cities from teh country change because their mind was opened to sp much more than they had ever thought possible. Their brains literally go on overload and attempt to assimilate into the new world.

Ferra

The light from the lamps overhead cast a shadow over the entire meeting. Ten men and women sat in a circle around a large stone table, each with a placard in front of them saying where they were from. They read place names like Karnum, Dune, New Phoenix and Bell.
Eyes that had seen too much hardship were sunken into their heads and their skin was pasty and sallow, raggedy clothes hanging off of their skeletal frames. No one moved or said anything, the tension in the room as thick as the sands that swirled along the borders between The Novan Ascendancy and the United Colonies of Earth.
The sullen sun-haired man sitting behind the Canyon City sign was the first to fidget in his seat, and the others turned and glared at him, as if by moving he had shocked them all out of a daydream of a sunny trip to the beach.
The woman with raven hair behind the Karnum sign spoke first. “I think we all know why we are here.” There was a nod from each member at the table. “The mother planets will not help us with this, not after the revolution.”
“Of course the Novans had to attack after we had declared Independence. It was a brilliant bit of strategy that.” said the man behind the Red Cliff sign. “With both of our forces at the height of their power, we probably could have even prevented the Novans from claiming any territory at all!”
A murmur of assent went around the table.
“Yes Harold,” said the woman from Karnum. “That is why we are here. Our current strategy of engaging the Novans in open warfare has not been successful. It is time for a new strategy.”
“What do you suggest?” said the older woman from New Phoenix. “That we leave? Flee to another colony? They would just follow us there and continue to wipe us out until we are nothing but the dust that coats this planet!”
Outraged whispers darted across the room as the delegates of the planet of Ferra considered the possibility for violating their own plan to keep the alien menace fixated on them to spare the other members of the UCE.
“We erased the coordinates of every colony from each ground based facility in every city that the Novans have conquered fro a for a reason people!” shouted the man from Bell. “If they learn that we are just colonists here, they will be able to find Earth! Not only that they would eradicate us as a species! You hear all of their propaganda! They actually believe it! We must be in it for the species boys and girls!”
“And so what?” demanded the woman from Neolith. “So what if they find Earth, Mars and all the rest? Why should we be unhappy that they wipe out our enemies for us?”
“Because,” said Harold, the man from Red CLiff. “We have more to fear form an invading alien force than form out own kind. I believe that we still owe the mother planets for even starting these colonies so long ago. Without them, humanity would surely not nearly have grown as much as it did.”
“And so we end up playing the buffer between them and the terrifying unknown? I think we got the short end of the stick on that bargain.” Said the woman from Neolith bitterly. This statement sent of a cascade of bickering among the delegates, each with their own opinion about what should and shouldn’t be done with the mother planets.
“This is not up for discussion at the moment,” barked a gruff man from Ruby, cutting through the arguments like scissors through paper. “We have convened here to discuss and attend to one problem and only one problem! The Novans are finally settling in!”
That statement brought every person at the table back to their senses. After sieges and temporary bases, the invading Novan Ascendancy had finally shown signs of establishing permanent bases on Ferra.
“The Novans have started setting up what we believe are starship yards and weapons producers along the Brokebone Ridge, which you all know is within spying range of Ruby.” said the gruff man.
“Patrols form Canyon City have confirmed this, it appears that they are digging in for the long haul instead of the quick conquer that they promised us.” said the sun-haired man. “My advisors believe that they are setting them up in full view of our spies not only because they wish to flaunt in our faces that they have us beaten, but also because of the rich deposits of iron and nickel that are to be found there.”
“We must do what no other government has done since the days of the nation states of Earth.” Said the bitter woman.
The entire table was silent, each person thinking about the consequences of such an action. Not since the Wasting of 2105 had nuclear weapons been used, the mere threat of the atomic abominations more than enough to keep a standard of peace throughout the human territories

Now this is one movie that is clearly one of the most legendary films ever made. You will be hard pressed even in this day and age to find a young person that has not seen or at least heard of this movie and it’s legendary character Indiana Jones. many kids get into archaeology just because of the exploits of the character that made Harrison Ford one of the greatest actors of all time. I am not overreacting even, this is one of the most popular and seen movies in the world apart from The Wizard of Oz and Titanic.

Released in 1981, a decade where special effects driven action movies were more common than sand this one started it off right and really set the standard for pretty much every movie that cam after it. You have some of the biggest names in movie business involved with this movie and even today the special effects amaze and wow audiences.

-This is just some concept art, thought it was neat

Story: A

The story opens with one of the greatest character introductions the world has ever seen. for the first 5 minutes or so there are no words except for some guides talking about Jovitos, and a few screams from another. With a crack of a whip and a dramatic step from the shadows we are introduced to the character of Indiana Jones, an archaeologist, adventurer and college professor? I know it sounds like an odd combination, but it really does work as far as the acting goes.

The real action starts when Indy is put onto the scent of the Holy Ark of the Covenant, being excavated in Cairo by the Nazis who wish to use it’s powers to create an invincible army to conquer the world. The story takes us all over the world, from the good old USA, to Nepal, Cairo and then even Greece. Each location adding something new to the story.

After playing tricks on Nazis left and right and even getting locked into a stone chamber with thousands of poisonous snakes, the most memorable scene of the movie is when Indy take son a 7 foot tall Nazi who looks like he could knock out a horse with one punch. Not only does he fight the behemoth around an airplane that is going in circles with a gas truck about to explode in a fireball, he has his woman, Marion, stuck inside the airplane shooting up Nazi trucks with the machine gun. Oh and the behemoth gets sliced and diced by the propellers on the plane.

As Indy fights to keep the Ark out of the Fuhrer’s hands, explosions and fist fights are common, and in an explosion of irony and amazing special effects, every villain in the entire movie is taken out by the swift hand of God in one fell swoop. And then the US government repossesses the Ark and is placed underground with hundreds of other secrets in one of the most memorable and spoofed scenes in the movie.

The story is a classic take on the Hero’s Journey, as Indy goes from a single batelour to literally finding the love of his life.

Effects/Cinematography: A+

As I said earlier, this is an effects based movie, with many explosions that look and feel real as well as fight scenes choreographed the way that a real man would fight. The ending of the movie special effects still look more real than many of the blue screen special effects that are produced and dominate Hollywood today. They actually made these explosions, which is something that many people can appreciate and it just looks better!

The poetry that is conveyed in the amazing opening of the film is amazing. Everything that you need to know is told by the actions of the character on screen as well as the setting. Even the two sentences exchanged during this time are incredibly superfluous. throughout the movie, the twirling camera and close ups make the film feel real. Not to mention that the locations are incredible, from the snake pit to the jungle to Cairo, the movie was actually shot in many beautiful locations all over the world.

Music: A+

The music was scored by the amazing John Williams, probably the best movie composer EVER. He had 41 Oscar nominations and won 5 including Schindler’s List, ET The Extra Terrestrial, Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope, Jaws and being nominated for Harry Potter movies, more Star Wars and all the Indiana Jones movies.

The music is dynamic, epic and instantly fills you with dread, awe or fighting spirit depending on the scene. It is what takes the movie over the top to be honest. Since John Williams has an instinctive knowledge of what makes people feel and connect with a film, and it is this that makes us connect with Indiana and Marion so much.

There is not much more to say about the music in the film as everyone that I have met knows the theme song, and at the risk of sounding stupid, it is probably one of the best theme songs ever made. It is amazing to even think that such a song came form the mind of the same man who was the genius behind the Jaws theme song.

Acting: B+

The acting in the movie is superb, as both Harrison Ford and Karen Allen provide believable characters that the audience can connect with. They are human, make mistakes and bleed and are completely believable as real people. They have a banter and love/hate for each other that makes the romance feel alive as opposed to other movies where the romance is so contrived. This movie instead produces two obviously kindred souls put into a race against time to keep evil from ruling the world.

John Rhys Davies also makes an appearance as Sala, Indy’s friend and contact in Cairo. This man is jolly to the core, and loyal to a fault. He not only helps Indy, but puts his own standing and family at risk to do so. Sala comes across as a character like Santa Claus that only wants good for his friends, and for the evil of the Nazis to not be unstoppable.

Harrison Ford in this movie proves beyond a shadow of a doubt one of the greatest actors of all time as he takes up the mantle of Indiana Jones. Men want to be him and women want him. This rough and tumble archaeologist endears himself to us with his ironic and rather funny action sequences as he stops the Nazi menace. His wit and physical prowess notwithstanding, it is his interaction with Karen Allen that brings out his inner side. Harrison Ford made this character come alive and makes him into the James Bond of American culture.

Overall: A

This is truly an amazing film. There is no doubt about that. It is one of my favourites of all time and almost received an A+ rating. The only reason is that the movie did not get an A+ is that there were some snags in the storyline, but the drama never stops and even during the down time in the film we uncover more and more about the characters and the situation that they are in. Every action film wishes that it was either Raiders of the Lost Ark, Predator or Rambo.

I love this film and so should you, and if you have not seen it, I suggest you do.

They called it the greatest movie ever made. They called it one of the most break through movies ever made. Yet who walked away with the Oscar for Best Picture that year? The movie Avatar was great, no doubt about that. But what it wasn’t was Legendary. everybody was expecting it to be Legendary like Star Wars, or Indiana Jones. But for me, it just wasn’t. I have seen the movie 6 times, 3 of which were in theatres (incidentally a great date movie) so you can tell that I definitely liked it. It was just missing something. I don’t quite know what…

Story: C

The movie is in general about a man named Jake Sully, a paraplegic ex-marine who is signed up to go to the paradise world of Pandora. Pandora has a humanoid species called the Na’Vi, who are surprisingly similar to both Native Americans and Smurfs. It also has an array of ridiculously over the top animals that really have a taste for eating people and/or pounding them into dust. All the way from the hyena-like viper wolves to the T.Rex sized Great Leonopteryx, all of these critters have taken a taste for human blood.

Anyways, Jakes twin brother was killed on Earth in a robbery, and the RDA company hired Jake to fill in. The job? Drive a remotely driven body that is a combination of Na’Vi and human DNA called an Avatar. The person’s consciousness is basically transferred to this new body. Jake thinks this is awesome because now he has legs again when in that body. Their goal is to collect science and stuff from the forest (though they never really do that) and to help find a diplomatic solution to the growing tension between the natives and the visiting humans.

See people want to mine a mineral only native to Pandora called Unobtainium, a superconductor that pretty much makes the modern life possible. This mineral causes the mountains to float and a global tree network to exist. So pretty much it is the story of Pocahontas but instead of Native Americans we have blue cat people, John Smith is a paraplegic and instead of land it is a rare mineral, which is basically land. Jake even falls in love with the chiefs daughter.

So anyways, Jake in his Avatar body is being accepted into the Na’Vi tribe (because he is apparently the only one who can) by training to be a native. So when the company wants to get the natives to move form their home, a giant tree, in order to mine the biggest deposit of Unobtainium on the planet they basically blast it to bits. Now it leads to this war between the humans and Na’Vi as Jake and friends lead the fight to protect nature.

A little comment on the extended scenes that were added into the Collector’s Edition. They were really able to add a lot to the storyline as well as develop a lot more of the planet. We also learn why Sigourney Weaver’s character is so bitter and why Jake is still in charge after the war, kinda important stuff. The dialogue is also far less clunky in some areas due to the additions. I highly recommend that people see the Collector’s Edition, as it adds so much to what the film is.

Anyways, the story is a pretty basic tree hugger story, except the cast has changed. In this movie, it was not the story that was the most innovative or even interesting thing. It is always odd when a big budget film just cannot pull off the ability to fit special effects with a completely original story. The cool thing is of course the cast changes form the Pocahontas story. Everything is faster, cooler, more colourful and meaner, but that a good story does not make.

Effects/Photography: A+

Now this is why the film is great. There are a lot of films that in the past have attempted to create a completely CG (computer generated) world with only minimal film actors. One of the best of these was Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, in which the entire movie was shot with a blue screen backdrop. Or Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, a completely CG film that was so detailed you could forget that you were actually not looking at people. SO basically the whole CG thing has been done before. But not like this.

The sweeping images are almost too beautiful for words. A colossal jungle blankets the planet, with enough plants and animals to put the rain forest to shame. The vistas are so beautiful that people have actually developed a kind of mental illness. It is called Pandora Withdrawal Syndrome, where people literally become depressed because they cannot be on this mystical planet.

One thing that I have always loved about James Cameron’s films (besides that they are awesome) is the fact that the camera is never still. The camera view is always changing and shifting, and when it is still it is because we always need to focus on what’s on screen. But this movement of the camera creates an innate energy within his films. Avatar is no exception to this, in fact there is not a scene that I can remember that does not pan, revolve, move in or out. As it is a 3 hour vista, people are often extremely tired from just watching the film and trying to get everything that is going on within it.

But what is surprising and what I liked most about the film was the scenes at night. See at night Pandora is lit up by bio-luminescent flora, which light up like a Christmas tree at night. This is demonstrated dramatically in one scene where Jake is lost in the forest in his Avatar body for the first time. He carves a spear and lights the tip on fire like a torch, but around him in the dark lurks a pack of the yipping viper wolves. The love interest Neyteri arrives in time to save the day. After she does so, she douses the fire allowing the light and color of the forest to express itself. This is a metaphor for the entire movie, that the world is great as it is, and that technology (fire) just covers up the raw beauty that surrounds the characters.

No good James Cameron movie would be anything without good creature effects. This movie has some amazing creatures. The most important are the dragonlike Banshees. The Na’Vi ride them, and as people are always fascinated by flying lizards, this was sure to be a crowd pleaser. But of course the big daddy of the film is the Leonopteryx, a much larger cousin to the Banshee that is literally the size of a T.Rex. Aerial battles between these Banshees and their riders and the human helicopters and shuttles provide the amazing climax to the film.

Basically, the world that James Cameron created was so amazing that it literally did not need a story that was overly original. Having seen the movie way too many times, I can attest to the desire to want to actually live there. Despite the giant carnivorous animals, hostile natives and likely a ridiculously huge human army that would come to enact vengeance on the natives for the war that happened.

Music: C

The Music was not a particularly amazing part of the film. It was mostly used as background, either low ominous tones or fluting in order for people to feel more comfortable during the odd scenes in the movie. Occasionally there would be a loud horn crescendo in order to galvanise the audience when something exciting is happening. It really does take a back seat to the visuals

There are some interesting Na’Vi chants and songs throughout the film. These actually lend more credence to the fact that they are an actual race of people with their own traditions and such than almost anything else in the film. It is actually quite beautiful, but not memorable enough to make me want to see the film because of the music. All in all the music did it’s part in the film by creating a background but was not spectacular in any other way.

Acting: B+

This was an aspect of the film that really surprised me actually. In these CG based films, acting usually takes a back seat to the artist as far as the film goes. But with Avatar the actors were actually filmed in the CG scenes with suits that tracked their motions, so that the Cg scenes had reference in the real world. This means that facial expressions as well as little ticks that we would normally not see in this kind of film came through.

Zoe Saldana was by far the best performance in the film. Many of the other supporting characters were rather flat and typical. But she brought Neyteri to life in a way that amazes me. All of the characters frustration, her ferocity comes through in Saldana’s portrayal of her. She brings across the fact that her character is a very dangerous woman, like a tigress protecting her cubs, she literally defends and saves Jake’s life several times in the film, all the while snarling like a demon. She also grieves like a real person.  When confronted with her world falling apart, Saldana is able to portray that sense of loss not only through her voice but also through her actions, the despair easily readable in her movements.

Sam Worthington is one of my more favorite actors at the moment. He does a pretty darn good job here portraying the warrior who thought he could bring peace. He even manages to break hearts when he is rejected by Neyteri in her despair. But what he did best in the film was to play a crippled man. The effects as well as the acting when he finally gets legs again is just amazing. But in many scenes he lacks a bit of emotion, especially in his actual acting scenes.

Sigourney Weaver is the original science fiction bad ass woman, and she proves that she still has it in this film. She not only swears up a storm, but manages to scare people with her brusqueness in the beginning. But what really makes Weaver outstanding in this role is the fact that she manages to convey a complete wonder at the world that is in the film. She also eventually becomes motherly, giving advice to the childish Jake. I am actually biased as I liked Weaver in anything she has done.

In short, the lead roles were very well done by the actors and managed to actually make this odd world a reality for the audience through their believable interactions and reactions. It was a surprising part of the film, and one that I enjoyed very much.

Overall: B-

This was certainly a good film. The effects and photography might have been the best that have ever been in a movie. But there was a reason that it did not win the Oscar for best film. It lacked a certain human element in the story. It was too fanciful for people to truly connect completely with the story, which holds it back significantly.

I don’t think it will get better as the series goes on (Cameron plans to make at least 2 more) but that it will set a precedent for what is essentially the newest incarnation of Star Wars.

Mass Effect is one of those games that comes along once in a while and ups the ante. The storyline is the best that has come out possibly ever for a video game. The gameplay is original and combines the genres of RPG and Shooter, something that was done very unsuccessfully up to that point. I was given Mass Effect as a gift, and so I did not play it right away. I was busy with Halo 3 and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2 at that point, and with school and swimming I didn’t have the time. After I did pick it up, it frustrated me to no end. The shooting was awkward for a shooter player, and the RPG elements were even harder to grasp. However, I played the last 6 hours of the game straight, finishing at 3 AM on a Monday. That is how good this storyline is.

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Mass Effect was developed by Bioware, a game developer that established itself with Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR), the 2003 game of the year, and before Mass Effect was the best storyline from any video game ever. The player has no idea what is in store for him or her when they pick up KOTOR, except that there will be Jedi and Sith and epic battles. Mass Effect is much the same way, and is the spiritual successor to this amazing game.

Mass Effect was so all absorbing that I have played through the game a total of 5 times as different classes, alignments and sexes and still have not uncovered it all. The game is massive, encompassing literally an entire galaxy of information that not only adds flavor to the game, but sets up the sequel as well as informing on your decisions that affect the fate of the galaxy! Pretty cool huh?

Storyline: A+

This is my first A+ that I have given out. And I have a feeling that there will not be very many more that come after this, so if you are going to be reading my stuff, pay attention here if no where else. Mass Effect has the best story of any game that has ever been made. Period. If you don’t like it, tough, it’s the truth. It is not only the twists and turns in the plot that keep you on the edge of your seat, nor is it the massive amounts of information on this mythical galaxy that Bioware has created. It is the entire package. It flows logically, but with an M. Night Shyamalan twist that literally blew people’s minds.

The name of the game comes form the effect produced by the mass relays that make interstellar travel possible. These relays and even the massive Citadel were all found by the races of the galaxy, remnants of the once great Prothean Empire that msyeriously vanished from the face of the galaxy thousands of years earlier

You start out the game deciding on who your character is going to be. You can change your name, but the default is either Commander John or Jane Shepard. You cannot change the voice of the character, but meh. Shepard is a soldier in the human Alliance military, and is being tested for entry into the elite SPECTRE military unit that serves the federation of races called the Citadel Citadel Council. You are sent to the world of Eden Prime with a Specter named Nihilus and a pair of squadmates in order to retrieve an ancient Prothean beacon. The mission starts to go south when the planet is attacked by a giant squid like ship. You of course, go in covertly, trying to find out the cause of the attack and still to recover the beacon.

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As if a giant squid ship wasn’t bad enough, within the first 5 minutes a squadmate dies (you can’t save him) you get a new squadmate (a girl in pink armor) and the SPECTRE Nihilus is killed by another Turian named Saren, who is the main bad guy in the game, and named villain of the year for 2007. After that, you fight bionic zombies, the robot race of Geth, disarm bombs, get zapped by a mysterious beacon that scrambles your brain and somehow you save the planet, all in the first stage of the game!

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After a short investigation, you are promoted to SPECTRE status to replace Saren and given the task of hunting him down and bringing him to justice. You are given a crew of intergalactic team members, your own amazingly cool stealth ship, the SSV Normandy and after that the Galaxy is your oyster. You can choose to follow the main story only, or to track down and complete all of the side missions. Either way, you increasingly find out more about Saren, the ancient Protheans, the Geth, the mythical Reapers, and Saren’s ship Sovereign.

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The story culminates at the massive space station that is the seat of galactic government, The Citadel. An epic fleet of Geth warships and Sovereign attack the Citadel, with only the defense fleet to stop it. Here is where you hold the fate of the galaxy in the palm of your hand. You can tell the waiting Human Alliance fleet to jump in and save the defense fleet and thus the government of the Citadel Council, or you can hold back the fleet for a more opportune attack that leaves humanity with the only fleet in the galaxy and thuis the most powerful race. There are far more nuances to the story, and without giving away the big story surprise I leave you there, just trust me, this story is a real wild ride.

Gameplay: B

The gameplay for Mass Effect kind of took a backseat to the story in my opinion. The game combines the elements fo a classic RPG with a second person shooter. In the beginning, this makes the controls very awkward as you have access to special powers (similar to Force powers from KOTOR) as well as a range of weapons to choose from. A very ingenious system of overheating weapons instead of reloading allows for short controlled bursts to pretty much allow you to fire continuously.

The best part of gameplay is actually making a character. You get to choose from several things to customize your version of Shepard. You get to choose where he/she is born (Earthborn, Spacer or Colonist) as well as your psychological profile (War Hero, Sole Survivor or Ruthless) and to top that all off you have to choose your class, Soldier, Adept, Engineer, Vanguard, Sentinel or Infiltrator. All of these classes have their benefits and detractions, allowing multiple play through with different classes as well as psych profiles.

The game features a basic level up system that allows you to gain experience from solving puzzles (locks and such), defeating enemies as well as accomplishing quests. The higher level you are, the more you can upgrade your skills, armor, weapons, and abilities.

There are three different skills that you can specialize in in the game, Combat, Tech and Biotics. Biotics are very similar to Force powers in KOTOR, allowing you to manipulate the world around you by using a very specialized mass effect field to throw, paralyze and float enemies. Tech allows you to solve puzzles easier as well as lay traps for your opponents and use explosives easier. Combat makes you a hardened soldier, allowing you to give and take more punishment. On a first play through of the game, I recommend that you be a Soldier, as your other squadmates can handle the biotic and tech abilities fairly easily. However, the biotic and tech classes are trickier to use, something that I did not think made the game better.

For non-hardcore gamers, the facial construction was definitely a major appeal. You can change such things as scars, eyebrows, hair color, makeup (women only), chin, cheeks and eyes and these are only the beginning! There are literally hundreds of combinations between both the sexes allowing for a completely unique character each and every time you play, adding to replayability. It actually can get quite tedious when making a character, so if you don’t want to spend the time, the pre-sets are actually quite neat.

One of the more interesting facets of gameplay as well as story is the ability to talk to your compatriots. Depending on what you say to them, they will react differently throughout the game. Of particular interest are the three love interest characters, Ashely Williams, Kaidan Alenko and the Asari, Liara T’Soni. These characters, depending on your level of talking to each of them, will become your love interest later in the game. You get Ashley if you are male, Kaidan if you are female and you can choose Liara with either sex. And boy does this game get risque. At several points in the game (2) there are actually some “naked” scenes where the characters get down and dirty. This almost caused the game not to be released, but just created press hubbub prior to release and helped to sell the game.

There are 4 types of firearm in the game, Shotgun, Assault Rifle, Sniper Rifle and Pistol. Certain classes can only use certain weapons, where the Soldier can use them all. Of all of them, the Assault Rifle is predictably the most useful, being fairly good short and long range. The Pistol does short to medium, the sniper one shot at long range and of course the shotgun at short range. Weapons do not take ammunition as in most games, instead an ingenious overheating system allows players to fire almost continuously if they conserve their shots. Weapons and armor can also be upgraded with extra protection, ammo types and other things to make them more efficient and powerful. There are also a ridiculous amount of weapons in the game, each sporting particular advantages to ammo count before overheating, power and accuracy.

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You not only have armor, but also mass effect shields as well. Upgrades to your armor and character can allow you to have extra shields, something that is actually very good no matter your character class as your shields do not recharge especially quickly. You may also heal yourself as well as give yourself stimulants to help you out of tight spots, whcihi can make your character more powerful for a short time in a given area of stats.

One of the most important factors of the game is the vehicle, the Mako. This is the standard vehicle that you drop to planets with. It has six wheels, never flips over, and sports a mass effect gun and turret which allows it to be the most powerful weapon in your arsenal. The Mako also has slowly regenerating shields, allowing it to literally really be a tank and take down other vehicles twice it’s size. The Mako also features jump jets, allowing you to make insane jumps off of cliffs and mountains (you never get hurt from falling) as well as to get out of jams and dodge incoming fire.

There is literally too much to go over in this game in one review. If you are even more interested in what goes on in Mass Effect gameplay, I recommend that you check out the Mass Effect Wiki athttp://masseffect.wikia.com/wiki/Mass_Effect_Wiki.

Visuals/Music: B

The great thing about this game is the amount of visual candy you get. The amazing Citadel is still a cause for wonderment for me. It is in a pink nebula that literally looks like cotton candy, and combined with the sun in the background some of the art can be breathtaking. The amount of detail that went into the game is amazing,a s you can clearly see your characters individual facial features even in the middle of combat. Like in Halo Reach, the maps are enormous, literally almost planet size in some cases (not really though).

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The problem with the visuals is not really even the visuals. In some scenarios, the game physics literally trap you in a certain spot. Definitely no fun especially if you are in combat and cannot save. Mostly this happens when EVA on a side mission planet, but can sometimes happen in the middle of a fight. The game also often has problems processing the visual effects of the game they are so detailed, sometimes for as long as 5 minutes. This is often an irritant only, but can sometimes caus eyou to miss shots you would have otherwise hit with.

The music is the one thing with the game that I did not like. The developers tried to make it sound futuristic, with lots of synthesizer in there, but to me just was hokey. And at certain points in the game, I wished that the music were different or simply not there. You can change the music settings, but while reviewing a game, I try to take in the whole game as a person first playing would experience it, and the music is simply not a strong point in the game.

There is some good news on the audio front though, the weapon and ships sounds as well as character voices are exquisite. Although in the side missions it can be annoying to hear the same things over and over again, there is a rather large repertoire of dialogue. The sound effects also contribute immensely to the lackluster music, allowing the sounds of the Mako and gunfire to be your beat to beat face.

The absolute best part of audio was not the sound effects though. An all star cast of actors allows this game to be far more focused on dialogue. Jennifer Hale and Mark Meer voice Shepard while other all stars contribute to the rest of the cast. These include well known actress Kimberly Brooks, Raphael Sbarge (you will recognize him from KOTOR), famous actress Ali Hillis, Steven Barr, Keith David (the voice of the Arbiter in Halo and a host of other cartoons, games and movies), Seth Green (Family Guy, Austin Powers and Robot Chicken to name a few), Bill Ratner, Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi on Star Trek The Next Generation) and Peter Jessop. These all star voice actors really contribute to the whole experience of the game by literally bringing in the voices of people that players will recognize from out of the game.

Originality: A

The game’s originality literally does not entirely come from the story. Though the story is great and is incredibly original, it still is not really the most original thing about the game. The game genre is really what originality is all about. It meshed RPG and Shooter genres together in a way that no game had ever been able to do seamlessly before. It does have it’s problems, as the shooting style is very clunky at first, but the RPG and story elements more than makeup for the slow spots in the game.

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It also features an ability to allow players to dissect weapons, ammo and upgrades in order to produce gel that they can then shape into other upgrades, repair the Mako, or do other tech things like hack computers and open locks. Med Gel does what it sounds, but healing in this game is more of a secondary function, as the Medic class is generally no very good, a departure from other games where a medic or healer is required in pretty much every party.

The game also features a villain that is not only really evil incarnate, he doesn’t even realize it! Saren is worth talking about almost as much as Shepard in the game, as he does what he does in what he believes is in the best interest of organic life. However, mind control is an insidious tool, and Saren falls victim to the mind controlling aspect of, oh, well you will just have to find that out won’t you?

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Overall: A-

A total score of A- might seem a little harsh to such a great game, but trust me, like any game, it has its flaws. But on my scale an A- is what it should be, almost perfection. The game incorporates excellent story, original game-play, incredible voice actors and even combines two genres that many players and developers were too different to successfully combine!

The bottom line is that if you call yourself a gamer and have not played this game, on XBox or PC, you pretty much are missing out on one of the most amazing games oif the last decade at least. I do recommend staying away from any more spoilers of the story, as it is far mroe interesting and exciting to experience them first hand rather than get them second hand from a friend or some guy online.

This is one of my favorite games of all time. That was why I was so disappointed when so many of my friends and relatives said that mass Effect 2 was so bad. I suppose if the original is good enough, a sequel is just always not going to live up to it. However, expect a review of Mass Effect 2 to be up here soon, as an unpopular game a cheap game does make.

The reason that I am reviewing this game instead of it’s infinitely more famous predecessor is simply because I did not want to review 2 Bioware games in a row. However, this game is still excellent in that it improved on many things that the former game simply did not address or was unconcerned with. It also allowed you to interact even more with your party characters, controlling the very influences of Light and Dark upon them.

This was a game for the original XBox, so it is really hard to stress upon players who have only played a new generation system how good this game really was for it’s time. The graphics were fairly good for the amount of processing power and pixels that the designers had to work with, and the gameplay was just phenomenal. Of course, I am a big Star Wars fan, so anything featuring the epic struggle of Sith versus Jedi captures my imagination.

Storyline: B-

The storyline actually has very little to do with the original game. A few of the characters are the same, but most are different, further telling you this game was developed by another game company and it is really going to be a pretty different experience. You start out as a powerless Jedi Exile on the Peragus Mining Station. Everyone else on the station is dead except for an old female Jedi who feigned death and a scum smuggler. Oh and there are hundreds of murderous droids that want to tear you limb from limb.

As you move on to other locales, you discover your force powers as well as pieces of your past as well as what has been going on in Galactic events since the end of the first Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) game. You actually decide the ending to the last Sith War based on rumors you heard. Who was victorious and who survived also depends on answering your allies questions and decisions that you make in the game.

Your alignment will also determine the storyline, as well as which characters you receive to play within the game. A male player character will receive the Handmaiden, and a female the Disciple. A Dark player will receive the Wookie Hanharr, and a Light player Mira. It all depends on several differing factors within your in game decisions as to the flow of the story as well as which characters you can get. This makes it very cool to play through the game several times in order to get the most out of paying for the game.

As the storyline goes, you find out that the Sith were not wiped out at the end of the Sith War (no matter which story you go with) and three all powerful Sith Lords are preparing to quietly kill the Republic. You and your companions are the only ones that can stand in their way. As such, that explains all the Assassin Droids trying to kill you and all of the bounty hunters that are trying to take your head off. Yeah, the Jedi recruiter failed to mention that…

Anyway, after you have finished the main quests (there are side quests too) on each planet, the planet Malachor 5 will be your final destination. The seat of power for all 3 Sith Lords and the reason for your exile from the Jedi Order when you returned from the Mandalorian Wars. Lets just say that it’s Jedi meets Sith in pretty much the most explosive matchup since Obi-Wan defeated Anakin Skywalker.

The storyline does have a lot to offer, especially if you take the time to explore it and really let it sink in. You basically hold the fate of the galaxy in your hands, whether to go Sith or Jedi, whom to kill and whom to let live. The entire galaxy unfolds before you, and you are the one that gets to decide what is written about you in the history books, savior, or tyrant.

The problems with the storyline are pretty much what all sequels suffer from, the first one was so good no matter how good the second one is it will still be second rate. The twist n this game is not nearly as reality shattering as the previous game, but it is still pretty cool. As such, the storyline suffers from the increase in gameplay that happened with the sequel. As such, the options that you get with the storyline ar far more in depth than with the first game, which actually can envelope you more than you would think…

Gameplay: B+

If there was one thing that improved with the sequel, it was the gameplay that was improved the most. The first game had issues with the interactions, and was not nearly as in depth as you would like being an avid RPG gamer. The controls are fairly standard. There is a rotating menu screen that displays such things as equipment, journal, companions, force powers, stats and items. This is going to be where you live for most of the game, deciding who gets what and how much.

The basic outline of gameplay allows you to have up to 3 characters total, your main character and 2 companions. For some missions, you will be forced to play without companions or as one of your companions for your main character. At one point, you even have two parties going on simultaneously, one led by a trusted companion which you actually control as they accomplish their part of the mission.

There are standard healing items that heal Health, as well as the full score of stims to help you in battle. Equipment includes, shields, shoes, head gear, gloves, armor and implants. You can make these at a workbench or med station, allowing you to make things out of base chemicals and parts based on your certain skills. Weapons can include lightsabers, swords, axes, blasters, energy projectors and other things. This allows your team to be varied in terms of what they can deal with, even if they are not Jedi (the best class in the game). Armor can also be varied, some have better melee combat ratings and others provide Force power bonuses. You even get to where a version of Leia’s outfit from the Return of the Jedi if you are a female character.

As you gain experience from accomplishing tasks, you level up, and as such you are instantly healed and gain more points to put toward syour skills as well as Force powers. In this game, you start out as one of the Jedi classes (Watchmen, Guardian or Sentinel) instead of in the first game where over half of the game did not allow you to use Force powers or lightsabers. This means that you are not only more powerful throughout the game, you have way more fun with Force Lightning earlier on.

Force Powers have also improved since last game. The pantheon includes powers that you otherwise wouldn’t think of, like Force Scream or Crush (Sith Only). most powers have several tiers, allowing you to upgrade when you reach a certain level. Of course Force Lightning is my favorite, but there are several other powers that are just as powerful, such as Stasis or Throw Lightsaber. Powers allow you to affect the game extremely well, which means that a Jedi is usually the best choice for a companion, but other classes gain bonuses to other areas that make up for the lack of powers.

Speaking of Lightsabers, you get to customize your shining energy weapon like never before, picking several crystals, single or double, or short bladed as well as mechanical components that can boost the damage output of your lightsaber up to astronomical proportions. It is still the best weapon in the game, or is it? Some of the legendary Sith swords in the game can actually be upgraded to be better than a lightsaber, and many of the powerful two handed blasters and plasma projectors can have more power than even the strongest lightsaber. This allows a player to really choose their weapon well, instead of a lightsaber being the end-all be-all.

You can also turn your non-Jedi allies into Jedi if you have a high enough Charisma and enough influence over them. Unlike the first game which made it so that there were only a couple Jedi characters, you can turn Atton, Mira, Handmaiden or Disciple into Jedi. I suspect that you can turn the Wookie Hanharr into a Sith if you try hard enough, but I have not yet unlocked that portion of the game.

Improvements made to the interaction of the game make playing the game vastly more interesting than in the original KOTOR, where gameplay seemed like a chore in order to get to the storyline in some areas. Unless you have played both games, it is very hard to tell what the improvements are, but I would strongly encourage an avid gamer to try out both games, as they are truly amazing in what they did for RPG’s as well as for setting in stone hundreds of nuances of the Jedi and Sith Orders.

Visuals/Music: C

As this is an original XBox game, it is hard to give it the respect it deserves in this area. The graphics were more than fine for this era, and even are not half bad for 360 play. The cut scenes are far improved over the previous game, creating incredible starfight battles as well as incredible exploding planets and more crash scenes than you can shake a finger at. Problems actually arise because the system simply cannot handle so much going on at once, even on a 360. This slows fight scenes to a crawl in some cases, which is a serious flaw as much of the game is already waiting at load screens to go from one area to another.

The music is actually not great, nor bad. It is fairly mediocre. It does make a nice background resurgence while in battle, quickening your pulse with the beat. Other than that it has quite a lovely background for solving puzzles and quests. Often an RPG game has too much or too little music. For my taste, this was a little too much, as I often just turned it off as it wasn’t doing anything for me while I was in battle.

The audio effects are superb though. Screams, lighstaber sizzles and blaster sounds punctuate the game like never before. However, your character cannot talk as in Mass Effect, and there is not nearly as many chartacters that are voiced by famous actos, or even fairly well known voice actors. However it works for the game and actually does not hinder it that much.

Gameplay visuals are fairly much the same as the previous game, except that the addition of Force Jump and Leap to the Force Pantheon allows you to fly into battle and do some pretty cool acrobatic leaps and bounds with your lightsaber flashing.

All in all I was less than impressed with the visuals and music with this game when it was new, so it is not going to be astounding at all right now. As it is, I am going to give it a review like it would have been back in the day. It doe salright, but there was so much more that they could have done with it.

Originality: C+

This is always hard to do for a sequel game. It is very much the same game as KOTOR 1, but with a few added twists. Most of these were actually only superficial in nature, unlike the transition from Halo 1 to 2 which added a completely new feature to the game (dual wielding). However, there are enough of these small improvements that this game did not completely fail in originality.

KOTOR 1 was a tough act to follow, and Obsidian managed to pull it off enough that the game did fairly well. The storyline intertwines with KOTOR 1, but other than that it is fairly original, and even adds many elements to the Star Wars mythis that pretty much fueled teh demand and hype for the newest Old Republic game, The Old Republic, an MMORPG that I believe will get a review here soon enough.

But to get back to KOTOR II. The enemies and allies are very original, but do follow a pre-set pattern of the original game where there are definitely better characters mid game than early or late, but the ability to turn some characters into Jedi means that you can do some very clever things while preparing characters to become Jedi. Such as maxing their evade stats, which means that they are almost impossible to hit once they become Jedi.

But like with all sequels, you pretty much can’t give them better than a C for an originality score, as they are a sequel to another game.

Overall: B-

Overall the game was fine. It supplied my desire for a sequel to KOTOR, and even though it did not blow my mind as much as the original or Mass Effect, the game certainly filled out the gap between the two of them quite nicely and I am even starting to go back and replay some elements of the game, as funds are tight and replaying old game sis the only way to entertain myself. That and my XBox 360 died, so I have to replay ALL of the achievements from my 360 games and redo characters on XBox games.

Anyways, this is a very solid game, and it is fairly cheap, allowing you to pick it up used for next to nothing. And that is always a good thing in the gaming world.

The absolutely hands down game that did more to define me as a person than any other in the entire world was hands down Pokemon Red Version. As it stands, it is completely outdated, glitchy and just a frustration to play. But as an homage to that original game that defined (or destroyed) my life, I am going to be reviewing the newest Pokemon game, Pokemon Soulsilver Version.

I know that Pokemon is not as “cool” as it once was. Today is all about Yu-Gi-Oh! and Beyblade and things I couldn’t even begin to imagine. But the whole anime craze in America started with Pokemon Blue and Red Version in America. Oh sure DragonballZ helped, but where is that series now? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Anyways, this is the game series that kicked off handheld gaming for realz.

Anyways I have compiled some fun new facts for our readers to know about the Pokemon games and everything else surrounding them.
1. Pokemon Blue Version was actually Green Version in Japan.
2. Ekans and Arbok spelled backwards are Snake and Kobra.
3. Ash’s buddy in the show was meant to be Charmander, but public opinion changed it to Pikachu after the game had been out for a while in Japan.
4. An episode of the show was banned in the US for giving kids seizures in Japan with a certain combination of light frequencies used in the animation sequence.
5. The newest Pokemon games in Japan (White and Black) do not allow you to catch old Pokemon until you beat the game.
6. The strongest pokemon in terms of overall stats is Arceus in the game.
7. A game glitch in the Gameboy original versions allowed you to get 99 copies of items if you set it up right as well as to catch a glitch Pokemon named Missing-O.
8. Ash has STILL not paid Misty back for the bike that he wrecked.
9. The same voice actor that plays Brock also plays Kaiba in Yu-Gi-Oh!
10. Including Black and White Versions (only in Japan) there are a total of 649 Pokemon species that exist. Get Collecting.

Storyline: C+

The storyline of Pokemon has never been it’s strongest attribute. The story is pretty much the same in every game. Put together a team of monsters of your choice, raise them into powerhouse creatures by defeating trainers, wild pokemon and Gym Leaders and then challenge the Elite 4 in order to get to the post game where you try to collect all the Pokemon you can as well as raising your Pokemon to compete with other players online for the title of greatest Pokemon Trainer of All.

You start out in your hometown of Newbarktown in th ePokemon Land of Johto, where you receive your Pokemon Starter (Chikorita, Cyndaquil or Totodile) as well as your Pokedex, a device which stores data on Pokemon you have seen or captured. From there on you travel from town to town, defeating Gym Leaders in order to acquire badges that allow you to compete in the Elite 4. Once you have done so (there are 8) you have to defeat the best 4 trainers inthe land successively in order to “beat” the fist part of the game. Oh, and as a surprise, you have top defeat Lance, the Dragon Master as well. After that, you can travel to Kanto (the places from the original games), and beat the Gym Leaders there and catch even more Pokemon.

However, there are some interesting story elements that go with the basic play of the game. In Soulsilver, you defeat the reincarnated Team Rocket (Defeated by Red in the first versions of the game) and foiling their plans for world domination by using Pokemon. You also release the Pokemon Ho-Oh and Lugia for you to capture, the Legendary Pokemon for the game. You also release Entei, Raikou and Suicune (which you have to chase all over Johto and Kanto to capture, but thankfully Suicune stays in one place) known as the Legendary Dogs that are the equivalent to Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres, the first three Legendary Pokemon.

So that is pretty much it for story. You go around capturing Pokemon and defeating Trainers. The game never actually “ends”, but instead you go to a hyped up training mode where you make your Pokemon the best that they can be.


Gameplay: B

This is where the game totally takes off. Pokemon come in a variety of types, such as Electric, Fire, Water, Ice, Grass, Poison, Flying, Normal, Fighting, Psychic, Dragon, Ghost, Dark, Steel, Ground, Rock and Bug. They each have advantages and disadvantages against other types. Fire beats Grass, Grass beats Water and Water beats Fire would be good examples. Pokemon have a certain amount of hit points that they have, which shows how much damage they can take from attacks from other Pokemon. When a Pokemon’s Health Points are reduced to 0, they faint and cannot battle anymore, keeping the game very PG.

Attacks are divided into 4 categories. Special, Physical, Damaging and Non-Damaging. These moves can overlap 2 categories. For example Flamethrower is a Special Damaging move and Scratch is a Physical Damaging move. A Pokemon has 6 stats that decide how much damage the Pokemon can give, block and take as well as whether it gets to move first in the games turn based engine. Attack boosts Physical moves, Special Attack boosts Special moves, Defense blocks Physical moves, Special Defense blocks Special moves, Speed determines whether a Pokemon goes first or second in a bout and HP is how much a Pokemon can take in a battle.

Pokemon moves also have a PP stat, which is how many times that Pokemon can use that move. All stats can be increased by increased experience. Your Pokemon gains experience by engaging in a battle with another Pokemon, growing a level and getting stat increases for each level grown. Pokemon also learn new moves at certain levels. Ne wmoves can also be learned by purchasing a TM (Technical Machine) which will instantly teach a new move to a Pokemon. An HM (Hidden Machine) will teach a Pokemon a move that allows you to move your character into new areas of the game, or have another beneficial effect, but they cannot be forgotten, as Pokemon can only learn 4 moves at a time.

In addition to moves and stats, a Pokemon also has a Special Ability that can affect the Battles it is in. For example Overgrowth boosts Grass type moves in a pinch and Levitate blocks Ground Type moves from working. A Pokemon’s nature will also determine it’s strengths in terms of stats. A Mild natured Pokemon will receive a boost in Special Attack, whereas a Lonely Pokemon will receive a boost in Attack.

You can catch additional Pokemon in the game by buying them (at the Game Corners), Catching them (in tall grass, in water or caves) or trading with other players. The goal is to catch as many Pokemon as possible so your team is very evenly balanced. Pokemon also evolve into new forms. This is different for different Pokemon. Some evolve from special stones or items that you can find and buy, by being traded to an opponent with or without a special item or just simply by growing levels. Some Pokemon can evolve into different types of Pokemon based on the method used to evolve them or how much they like you. Pokemon like you by you giving them items, winning battles and oing specialized tasks that make them happy as well as having them out with you.

The gaming interface is actually pretty cool for the DS. Your character is always in the center of the screen on the top screen, allowing you to get a good 360 look aorund you. You move by usingthe D Pad, but you can run (after you get the Running Shoes) in order to move faster, and get on a collapsable bike to move even faster. The touch screen allows you to always access a menu in order to save the game, change game options, view your Pokemon as well as interact with them. The first Pokemon in your party follows you around on the top screen and can sometimes pick up items and gains happiness as well. You can have a max of 6 Pokemon in your party at a time, the extras are stored in a PC.

A battle starts randomly when you walk around in grass, caves, fish or are floating on water and a wild Pokemon jumps out. If you cross line of sight with an in game trainer they will also battle you. The fastest Pokemon moves first, attacking the opponents Pokemon. Your Pokemon hack away at eachother until a trainer heals it with an item or you switch Pokemon to another in your party. Once an entire party faints, the victor is the winner and receives prize money as well as experience for his or her Pokemon. Some move swill also inflict a Special Condition such as Poison on the defending Pokemon that will affect when they can use moves as well as inflict HP damage.

Items like Potion will heal your Pokemon wherever you are, Revive will un-Faint them and Ether will restore their PP. A Pokemon Center (There’s usually one in every town and some important locales) will heal your Pokemon for free, restoring their PP and HP. A Pokeball is an item that will also capture a Wild Pokemon if you have hurt it a little in battle. You can usually buy items at a Pokemart using the prize money you have collected.

To sum all this up, the game in corporates a ridiculous amount of strategy and differing combinations in order to gain a competetive edge over other people. The thousands of combinations allow you to replay the game over and over again as well as have your “own” strategy when it comes to winning. Of course, Pokemon Trainers have their favorites that they won’t play without, but some Pokemon and strategies are stronger in some areas than others.


Visuals/Music: C-

Since Pokemon is a handheld game series (with several fairly unsuccessful console adaptations), the visuals have traditionally been pretty bad. In this game, the graphics ar emuch improved. Incredible amounts of detail and even some 3D rendered animations make this game far better in terms of visuals than any Pokemon version that came before. The game features pictures of all the Pokemon you can catch as well as the items in the game that you can use.

The music is abyssmal, as I have never really liked classic video game music (except for Mario’s song, that kicks butt!) and it continues that tradition in this handheld version for the DS. But since both were improved upon since the last incarnation of the games (Pearl and Diamond and Platinum) I did not fail the game in this category. But otherwise I would have if the visuals and muswic were a bigger part of game play.

Originality: C

The game is a sequel/remake of another game, so there is not much originality to the game. A few features like the Pokeathlon and how you catch Ho-Oh, Lugia and Suicune made the game interesting, but otherwise it was pretty much a point for point remake of the orignal Gold and Silver games for the Gameboy Color. They did update the game so that it was on par with the other DS Pokemon games, but othe rthan that there wasn’t much reason to buy it except for the fact that it was the newest Pokemon game and that is the one that everyone is playing.

Overall: C+

Overall the game is just another Pokemon game. It is nice that you get to explore 2 areas instead of 1 just like the original Gold and Silver, but really there is no reason to play it other than to play the newest Pokemon game. It is the latest game, so you can catch all the different Species of Pokemon in the game, allowing you the greatest selection of Pokemon to choose for your team.

As it is, Pokemon games are still fun, in whatever incarnation they are on, so if you like Pikachu and friends, then you can get the latest moves, teams and Pokemon in this game and wow your friends with your status as a Pokemon Master. To be honest, I still play this game even though I have beaten it. It’s a good way to kill time and definitely can still suck you in which is what all solid games can do.