You Should’ve Played This Game Last Year, But You Didn’t:

I don’t get a ton of time to play video games, so I have to be really selective with the games I do commit to play. Most of the time, however, it’s not the triple-A titles every one and their mom is playing, like the Assassin’s Creed’s, the Madden’s, the brand-new-shooter-that-looks-exactly-like-last-one-you-sold-back, etc. Not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with those games, I just couldn’t give two annual-released-shit’s about them. I tend to gravitate towards single-player games a lot of the time; I just enjoy playing games for their stories. Let’s be honest, most people don’t play triple-A games like Call of Duty for the story.

The fourth quarter of the calendar year is jam-packed with games, and it’s not hard for a gem to be buried underneath the annually rehashed blockbusters. I’ve spent my time working at a game store to know how bad this time can be, especially when deciding which game deserves your last $60 in this busy season. Last year I paid extra close attention to a game called Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, the second release from Heavenly Sword creators, Ninja Theory. The power Ninja Theory was able to convey with their facial animations had absolutely stunned me when Heavenly Sword was first released in 2007. Once I heard Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings) was playing the main character, Monkey, and Alex Garland (28 Days Later) had helped pen the story loosely based on the old Chinese lore, Odyssey to the West, I was sold.

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WRECKED REVIEW: Trap Them – Darker Handcraft

I have a confession to make. Metal, with the exception of a handful of albums that have come out in the last few years, is dead to me.

(Disclosure: My colleagues here at Wrecked will vouch for the fact that I take sick pleasure in ripping music they thoroughly love. Unlike all the other metal blogs that enjoy jerking off crappy bands they’re buddies with, I have no loyalties to anyone.)

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New BTBAM Preview! just posted a sample of Between the Buried and Me’s new song “Specular Reflection” off their upcoming EP entitled The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues. Click here to go give it a listen!

My opinion? The beginning makes me want to chug a bottle of whiskey, put a tin bucket on my head, board a warship, and hunt the Kraken with Ultima Weapon. After that it goes into full blown BTBAM glory. They haven’t released anything really solid since 2005’s Alaska, so I hope they’ve ripped a page from that playbook and keep their songs creative and ambitious but a little more focused. Less bullshit. I don’t need to hear a new riff every ten seconds. Then again, I don’t respect a band that’s going to change their sound based off one person’s opinion. So whatever.

You can preorder the EP beginning on Feb. 28.

-Brad Whiteside

The Return of Vodka

I’m a whiskey guy. Or a whisky guy. I guess it depends on what I’m drinking. I always have been and always will be.

As I get older, however, I’ll admit that I can’t pound down shots of well dive bar toilette water or Jack Daniels like I used to. My palate has become a little too sophisticated for that. Would you call me a booze snob? Yes. Or I’ve turned into a complete wuss. You be the judge.

Due to this recent development (a shameful one in the eyes of my closest friends), I’ve turned my attention to Vodka over the last year. Yes, Vodka. I know for most of you in your twenties, Vodka conjures up images of throwing up and crying late night while partying with friends in High school. It has the reputation for fueling hormones in the worst way possible and it’s safe to say that we’ve all had a bad experience with good ol’ Mr. V. As a consequence, many of us haven’t allowed it to touch or lips straight in many years.

Well, I’m here to declare that there is nothing to fear about it. And in fact, there is some damn good Vodka out there (none of which are called Smirnoff, Skyy, or Absolut).

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Take on The Monstrosity

When my brother got out of Marine’s boot camp, there was only one thing on his mind. He had been obsessing about getting a 6×6 from In n Out Burger. Believe me when I say this, he needed it. Desperately. He was at his skinniest and lightest. It was like they worked him half to death or something.

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It’s Everywhere and Everything You Could Want.

Looking to get your groove on to some progressive indie-rock? Seattle based Minus the Bear put out another fantastic album in 2010, and of course, it was awesome enough to make my still going and still annoying best of 2010 list.

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Brawl in Boston

Damn!! What a game! Boston Bruins beats the Montreal Canadiens 8-6 last night, here’s a clip where EVERYONE on the team fought at once, including the goalies Thomas & Price! They were running out of room in the penalty box! This is insane!

The Element of Two: Leach and Dutkiewicz Return with Times of Grace

In 2002, a little-known band from Massachusetts put out a record called Alive or Just Breathing. This album would come to redefine what popular heavy music would sound like for years to come. With just their first effort with a major label, Killswitch Engage would catapult themselves to the top of the charts, turning heads in the world of heavy music, and with good reason. The album featured intricate and catchy guitar riffs, beautifully constructed vocals with uplifting lyrics, and crushing breakdowns. Soon after the release of the record, however, vocalist Jesse David Leach would go on to leave the band he poured his heart and soul into after going through a string of vocal troubles. The band would choose to go on after Leach’s departure, recruiting vocalist Howard Jones from the band Blood Has Been Shed. Jones exceeded all expectations, and well, the rest is history.

There was something about Leach’s vocals, however, and the tangible amount of passion you heard on that record was in a realm its own. Leach had this overwhelming sense of unity, encouragement and integrity in his lyrics that I really truly bonded with. So after several years later, and a few under the radar side projects, Leach announced that he’d be partnering up with KsE guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz to write a new record together, under the new moniker, Times of Grace. Their debut album, titled The Hymn of a Broken Man, released just recently, on January 18th, 2011. As you can probably imagine, I bought this album as soon as I could find it.

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A Voyage into The Ocean.

2010 was a crazy hectic year for me in more ways than one. Anyone who knows me personally would agree. So in a way, I’m glad I found such a crazy hectic mix of records that really caught my attention throughout the year. This next record was one of the most impressive offerings of the year, despite my initial regret  I experienced after buying it.

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iPhone: Verizon vs. AT&T

The Wall Street Journal just posted an unbiased side-by-side comparison of the new Verizon iPhone 4 to the former AT&T exclusive phone. WSJ claimed that though Verizon’s version of the smartphone had more reliable voice calls, AT&T had the faster data, averaging of about 46% faster. The author did write that the Verizon phone had the same amount of dropped calls in over a week as the AT&T phone had in a day. Read the full details here:

Of Course, no one has yet to say if early adopters will end up getting screwed over come June when Apple typically announces their new phones. My bet: probably.