Tuesday, May 31, 2011

NBA Finals Game 1

Tonight's Game 1 of the NBA Finals was very exciting, and showed a lot about the two teams.  In the first half, it was Dallas' game, in the second half Dallas started to take over, but then Miami turned the tide, eventually winning comfortably.  Dallas did a lot of things wrong, really easy and simple things like missed layups, and failure to rebound, which if corrected could easily lead to a win in Game 2.  Perhaps the worst thing about the game however, was the unbelievably biased Pro-Miami announcing by the ABC Announce crew.  Hopefully something can be done to either get more objective announcers, or to at least give these guys a reprimand to get them to show more objectivity.  A notable point in the game, when a Dallas player was driving for a dunk and got totally clobbered by a Miami player, one announcer actually insanely suggested that they should've called an offensive foul.  Apparently if you drive for a dunk against Miami you deserve to be clobbered!?  It was an unbelievably huge Pro-Miami bias, and I'm not watching ABC for that, I want to hear unbiased announcing.  Its bad enough that the liberal media can't be unbiased on political matters, do they really have to extend their lack of objectivity to sporting events?  I would hope not, I hope tonight was an exception and that going forward we can get truly objective announcing, it sure would make watching the Finals more enjoyable for anyone who isn't a huge Miami fan.  

Tonight's RAW

Tonight's RAW was filled with major news and action!  Let's start at the beginning, where there were a lot of technical difficulties, through it all was a really good and hilarious R Truth promo, attacking John Cena merchandise, and making his way to a family in the crowd, talking to the youngster, then asking him where his dad was.  His dad was of course right next to him, which was funny, and the fact that both were wearing John Cena shirts also played nicely into the segment.  R Truth asked the father what his son's name was, but before he could answer R Truth said 'let me guess...Little Jimmy?' oh man alive that wa hilarious!  Eventually Cena came out and talked for a bit, and the Main Event was made by the RAW GM, Cena vs R Truth! 

Later in the show we got a fantastic segment with Michael Cole interviewing Alex Riley.  Apparently Riley has some cool entrance music now.  Cole went on and on about everything that Miz did for him, and how he should apoloogise, etc.  The crowd was solidly behind Riley, who eventually attacked Cole, leading of course to an attack from behind by the Miz!  However Miz's advantage was relatively short lived, as A-ri made a comeback and Miz eventually ran away.  Two weeks in a row of Riley owning the Miz!

We had a FANTASTIC Divas Tag Team match as well, featuring The Bellas against Eve and everybody's favoirte Diva, Kelly Kelly!  Kelly is so amazingly awesome, happily she got the win tonight!  The match was great, and unlike last week, no interruption from Kharma, which was also a plus.  This was nideed Kharma's last night on RAW for about a year, as she announced later in the show that she was in fact pregnant.  Why they made her pregnancy part of the storyline is beyond me, it seems rather stupid, just asy she was leavnig due to bullying, that would play into the whole anti-bullying campaign and their movie and all.  But thats the way they went, they went with reality TV.  Eventually the Bellas came out and made some fat jokes, and finally Kong left the ring. 

The Main Event wasn't all that good really, it featured a fair bit of R Truth stalling, and repeatedly rolling out of the ring after Cena would beat on hm for a bit.  Eventually Ron acted like he was leaving, Cena gave chase, only to have Truth attack him and make it back into the ring before the 10 count, something Cena was not able to do.  The winner of the match, Ron 'The Truth' Killings!  A shocking victory for R Truth, granted it wasn't a Title win, but still, he beat the Champ!  Apparently it's already been announced that it will indeed be Cena vs Truth at the next PPV.

So a lot of major action tonight, some truly major developments, and we're well on our way to the next PPV!  Tonight's RAW definitely gets a Thumbs Up from SirGladiator!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

I'd like to wish everyone, especially all our brave and awesome men and women of the United States Armed Services, a very happy and healthy Memorial Day.  Let's all take a moment to thank and appreciate our brave soldiers for all that they do to keep us safe and free.  We as Americans have a certain tendency to take Freedom for granted, something we have to constantly fight against, because indeed, as the saying goes, the price of Liberty is eternal vigilance.  That vigilance is the job of all of us, not just the awesome men and women who fight for our freedom on a daily basis.  So on this, their Memorial Day, let us all give a big thank you to all of those who work so hard, and sacrifice so much, somtimes their very lives, so that we can be free.  Thank you to all of you, you guys ROCK!!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Writer's Block

If you're like me, you sometimes experience that ever-so-frustrating phenomenon known as writer's block.  You know you want to write something, but you don't know what to write, because....you guessed it, writer's block :) .  I'm experiencing that right now, so I'm doing the only thing a writer who has writer's block can do, other than not write at all (which is of course the most common way we deal with writers block, sadly), and that is, I'm writing about it.  As far as I know, this is actually a pretty unique way to attempt to deal with writer's block, since the most normal thing is to simply try to figure out something to write and then only once you've done that, resume writing.  Hopefully this method will be an improvement, in any event I courage you to try it yourself the next time you're stuck with an annoying case of writer's block.  Just write about it.  Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't, but at least it'll be better than writing nothing at all and waiting for it to go away on its own.  Beat the big bad writer's block by writing!  Always remember, a writer writes, always!

New Hampshire Poll

A new CNN Poll out of New Hampshire, home of the First in the Nation Primary, has more good news for Ron Paul!  We've already heard from Gallup that he's in 3rd place nationwide (second if Sarah Palin doesn't run), and now news from CNN that he's in second place in the Granite State!  Naturally Mitt Romney, former Governor of neighboring Massachusetts, is in first place, he has 32 percent of the vote.  Ron Paul is in clear second with 9 percen.  Newt Gengrich and Rudy Guliani each have 6 percent, others have less.  Of course its easy to look at a poll like that and think it doesnt matter who's in 2nd when Romney is so far ahead in 1st, but it really does for a number of reasons.  First, whoever is Romney's main challenger will naturally get major attention, and stand to gain a lot in the polls as a result.  Second, you can combine that with the fact that Ron is especially likely to win Iowa, where he's already got a machine in place and is working on winning the Iowa Straw Poll in August.  A win in Iowa would of course give a huge boost to Ron heading into New Hampshire, which naturally means that the higher he already is at the time, the more likely he will be to vault all the way into first.  Second place New Hampshire this early, a strong position for Congressman Ron Paul!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Good news about Balls Mahoney!

If anybody here heard a rumor about Balls Mahoney today, I just want to pass along that I just read that rumor is NOT true, nothing wrong with Balls, he's alive and well and everything.  With all the sad news that we always seem to be getting about one famous wrestler or another passing away, most recently of course being the sad news about the Macho Man passing away recently, its especially good when the bad news finally turns out NOT to be true for once.  So three cheers for Balls Mahoney, and three cheers for him still being alive and well!  All together now.....Balls!  Balls!  Balls!  Balls!  WOOOOOOOOOOAH Balls!!! 

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Witcher 2 Official Review

Every so often a game comes along that doesn't simply live up to expectations, doesn't even simply exceed those expectations, it completely redefines a genre.  That is what The Witcher 2 has done, it has established itself as the new Standard for Action RPGs.  The graphics, the sound, the storyline, the depth of characters and incredibly meaningful decisions that you make throughout the game, make this not just a great game, but truly an Epic Win.

 You are Geralt, the fellow on the right in this picture, with his significant other Triss, on the left.  Geralt is a famous Witcher, which is someone who has three major abilities, sword, magic, and alchemy, the latter being the ability to create and drink potions which temporarily improve your stats.  During the course of the game you'll use all of those abilities and more, although as you level up you'll choose which 'skill tree' or trees you'll be investing your ability points into.  Would you rather focus on your swordplay abilities, or maybe get some of both the swordplay and magic abilities?  The choices are yours, a theme that will be on powerful display throughout the game.  Choices and decisions are a huge part of what makes RPGs great, and you won't find better than TW2.  From very early in the game you'll make important decisions that can make a major difference in the gaming world.  Who lives and who dies is often up to you, and sometimes, like in one particularly important decision late in Chapter One, your decision will have a VERY profound effect on the world going forward, so much so that the second Chapter of the game plays out completely differently depending on that choice, from which town you end up in to which side of an upcoming war you side with, and all the consequences that naturally flow from all those things.  I know of no other game that has ever packed anywhere near this much power into the choices that you the player are allowed to make, the consequences are profound, and you really feel like you're making a huge difference in the world, because you are.

Whether you're on the side of this beautiful lady, Saskia, in her battle for Freedom and Independence is entirely up to you, your choices determine which side you end up on, hers or the king who seeks to crush her and her peasant-army.  But that isn't until Chapter Two, you've got a lot to do and accomplish before then Witcher!  And that, of course, includes romance.  Geralt begins the game with Triss (which, strangely, is even true if you import a save from TW1 in which you romanced Shani instead), a very attractive red-haired sorceress who is very much in love with you.  You, of course, can be in love with her as well, or not.  As this game is all about choices, you can choose to be faithful to Triss, or to stray with a number of different women.  In fact, as the game progresses another major love interest from Geralt's past is repeatedly mentioned and eluded to, and presumably you'll meet her either in a future DLC or Expansion for TW2, or in TW3.  But there are certainly enough women around already to test your committment to Triss.  Also, while on the topic of romances, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the Love Scenes.  These aren't super-mild events like in Dragon Age 2, they aren't even tame-but-'controversial' like in Mass Effect.  These are very detailed scenes, tastefully done, but still quite graphic.  Overall they're a major improvement over the likes of DAO/DA2 and ME2, but they might be a bit much for some folks, so if you choose to share an intimate moment with the lady of your choice, be prepared for far more than anything you've seen in Ferelden or on the Normandy.

As you can see from the pictures, this game is a graphical masterpiece, a truly beautiful sight to behold.  The sounds, including the voice acting, are also awesome.  No game is without its faults, and TW2 does have a few, most notably that while Geralt is a fine Hero of the game, he isn't customizable at all.  You can't play as a female character, something that most folks would probably like to be able to do.  You can't change the skin color, hair color, eye color, etc. of the character in any way either.  The complete lack of customizing options is a letdown, and stands in stark contrast to most major RPGs these days, for whom character creation options are standard.  Hopefully the next TW game will have the same character customization options as games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Fallout, and Fable, just to name a few.  As fun as it is playing as a generic male, white haired Witcher, it would probably be a lot more fun playing as a Witcher who looks like Triss or Saskia.  Also on the negative side, there's an over-abundance of bad language in the game.  I don't understand why they felt the need for so much bad language, there's certainly no need for it, its a shame they allowed so much bad language to pollute the beautiful environment of this game.

There's never been a game quite like The Witcher 2, it is simply incredible from start to finish.  From the challenging yet fun combat, to the beautiful characters and scenery, to the extremely impactful decisions you make that effect so much of the gaming world and the people in it, this game is quite simply a masterpiece.  The Witcher 2 gets a score of 98 out of 100.  A point off for all the bad language, a point off for the lack of Character Customization, other than that a perfect score!  I encourage everyone to buy and enjoy The Witcher 2 today!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Don't count out the Bulls!

Last night we witnessed an exciting Series Finale between Dallas and Oklahoma City, Dallas was up 3 games to 1 and they used another late 4th Quarter comeback to close out the series 4 games to 1.  Many may look at tonight's game 5 and see the same thing coming tonight, Miami winning and closing out the series in 5.  However that overlooks a couple criticial differences between these two matchups, that could result in a completely different outcome.  First of all, Dallas had two remaining home games, so if they lost their home game last night they still had another coming in game 7, should it have been necessary.  Miami only has one home game left, which would take place in game 6.  If the Bulls win tonight, Miami only has one chance to close out the series at home, which they would very much need to do as Chicago is an excellent Home Team.  Another difference is that Miami doesn't have a Dirk.  They've got some awesome players, no doubt about that, but they don't have that one guy you can go to over and over again when the game is on the line, and rest assured that things are likely to turn out well.  Labron's late game choking exploits are legendary, granted he hasn't displayed them much in this series, but perhaps one should add the word 'yet' to that.  Dirk is a veteran of the Playoff wars, this is a man who is VERY hungry to rid himself of the bad memories from blowing his chance at a Championship a few years ago.  Miami already accomplished one of their major objectives, they beat the Boston Celtics.  Just exaclty how hungry are they to go all the way?  No doubt they want it, but do they want it as bad as Dirk?  Doubtful.

Make no mistake, tonight the Chicago Bulls mettle will be tested.  Tonight we will see what Rose and company are truly made of.  But if you think the outcome is inevitable, that a Dallas-Miami Finals is a foregone conclusion, I would simply suggest that you think again.  A lot can still happen on the road to the NBA Finals, you just might be in for another surprise or two along the way!

New Gallup Poll

The latest Gallup Poll, just released today, shows some truly fascinating, and I might add awesome, numbers.  Even the bad news isn't so bad, as while the leader is still Establishment Flip-Flopper Mitt Romney, his support is only 17 percent.  He's just two points ahead of Conservative Hero, Governor Sarah Palin, who has 15 percent.  More excellent news is that in Strong Third is Congressman Ron Paul!  Governor Palin and Congressman Paul are by far the best candidates, Pro-Freedom, Pro-Constitution, these are people who don't just talk about being Conservative and Pro-Freedom, they live it.  Champions of Small Government, Palin and Paul would make an awesome Ticket, in either order, come 2012. 

It's also important to note that in the event that Sarah Palin does not run, Gallup polled for that too, and in fact Ron Paul moves up to second!  So even if one of these great Americans doesn't run, the other will be even stronger, so no matter what happens we'll have at least one awesome candidate in this race!  It's good news for Constitutional Conservatives, Freedom Loving Americans like myself, and it's awesome news for America!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Major WWE Divas News

It seems that there is some major good news and bad news, in regard to the WWE Divas.  First the bad news, apparently Kharma, better known as Awesome Kong back when she was in TNA, will be out for 9 months.  While nothing has been officially confirmed at this time, all signs point to the reason being exactly what you'd expect it to be, for a woman who mysteriously disappears for nine months.  Apparently she's scheduled to give an interview on next week's RAW.  She didn't speak much in TNA, and she has never spoken at all in the WWE, so this could be rather unique, possibly even strange, when it happens next week.  Who knows what they'll have her say, as a way to explain her impending extended absence, only time will tell!

On the good news side, it seems they're FINALLY bringing AJ up to the big leagues!  For those of you who saw NXT Season Three, you saw the star of that season, AJ, she was so positive, so energetic, athletic, just awesome.  And even better news, they're putting her back together with fellow NXT Season Three castmate Kaitlyn, and they're doing it Friday!  AJ and Kaitlyn will be teaming together against two other divas in a Tag Team match on Friday Night Smackdown.  For those of you who didn't see NXT Season Three, I don't really know how to describe how amazing AJ and Kaitlyn were together, they had such incredible chemestry, I've never seen two people have as much chemestry as they did, hopefully they still do and you'll get to see for yourself on Friday!

So Kharma on the way out, AJ coming in, its a big Divas News day!  Stay tuned for more news about the Divas, as well as other Wrestlilng news, right here on the Gladiator Blog!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Miami's Secret Formula

I actually missed a lot of tonight's game, but I caught most of the last quarter, as well as overtime, and I was surprised to see that they were employing a Secret Formula, one that I have only seen used once before in history, against my then-favorite team, the Charlotte Hornets (of course the Hornets are now in New Orleans).  Let me take you back in time, to a First Round Playoff Series, between the Chicago Bulls and the Charlotte Hornets.  The Bulls, complete with Michael and Scottie, were of course the #1 ranked team in the Eastern Conference, and my Hornets were the #8 ranked team.  Back then 1st round series' were only 3 out of 5 games, not 4 out of 7, which made each game even more important.  It also made it a bigger deal when, in game 1, which was played in Chicago of course, we actually BEAT Michael Jordan and the Bulls, thanks to the awesomeness of our Point Guard, Mugsy Bogues.  He was simply amazing, even the mighty Bulls had no answer.  He was a Superstar, just like Rose is today.  The Bulls were in big trouble, this was a short series, how could they stop Mugsy and the Hornets?  Were we really going to knock off this incredibly powerful team?  It was looking really good, and against any other Coach we might've won the series, but sadly, Chicago had Phil Jackson, and he came up with a totally unique strategy.

What Phil Jackson did, all those years ago, was take his best defender, Michael Jordan, and put him on Mugsy, instead of the person he normally would guard.  It was a strange looking move at first, but it didn't take too long to realize that it was in fact brilliant.  In neutralizing Mugsy Bogues, Jackson and the Bulls were largely neutralizing our entire offense, and the sad result was that we then lost 3 straight games, and the series.  I never forgot that strategy, and I wondered if anybody would use it against Rose and the Bulls.  Tonight, somebody did.

In putting Labron James on Rose, once again it stops not only the other team's Superstar, it hampers the entire offense.  The Bulls simply had no answer for this powerful defensive strategy.  They did hang tough, even led late, but that was mostly due to Miami playing horrible offense.  If Miami were having even a mediocre night offensively, they'd have won going away, by double digits, such was the defensive dominance they had thanks to the decision to put James on Rose.  Can the Bulls somehow counter this move?  Certainly the Hornets never found an answer all those years ago.  It is up to the Bulls coach to try to find the answer that eluded our own Coach all those years ago.  If they can find that answer, there is still time for the Bulls to come back, as they potentially still have 2 home games remainaing.  But they'd best think of something fast, because tonight the Miami Heat used the secret Phil Jackson formula for stopping star Point Guards, and unless they find the counter, that formula is going to result in another Series victory for the team employing it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dramatic Game 4

What a Dramatic finish to Game 4 in the NBA Western Conference Finals!  With about 4 1/2 minutes to go, Oklahoma City was totally dominating.  They had stretched out a single digit lead into a 15 point lead, they were just owning Dallas.  But then, Dirk decided that he didn't like that, and he wasn't going to stand for it anymore!  Despite some seemingly REALLY bad refereeing, Dirk repeatedly seeming to get fouled but getting no call, the Mavs managed to tie the game in regulation, and then WIN it in Overtime!  This shocking turn of events likely means that the series will end in 5 games, and that Dallas will move on to face either Miami or Chicago, in the Championship Finals!  What an epic night of awesomeness!  NBA action, it's fantastic!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tonight's WWE PPV

Tonight's WWE PPV, Over The Limit, features several bigtime Championship matches, I'd like to preview them at this time.  First, the Divas Championship Match, featuring the Champion, Brie Bella, against her powerful challenger Kelly Kelly.  Kelly has been awesome lately, she even defeated Brie's sister Nikki on RAW this past week, she's totally earned this Title shot.  Of course Brie Bella is an awesome Champion, so this match will have the potential to be the Match of the Night!  I imagine that we will see Awesome Kong at some point during or after the match also.  Should be a super fun segment, and a real chance of the Title changing hands!

Another major Championship match tongiht will be Randy Orton defending his newly won Championship against the man he defeated for the Title, the Instant Classic, Christian!  This is Christian's Rematch, and he will be going all out to try to regain his Championship that he lost after holding it only a few days.  However the Viper, Randy Orton, is super tough and it's hard to imagine him losing the Title here.  We'll have to wait and see, but I'm going to predict Orton wins in the end.

Finally, the Main Event of the evening, the epic and historic 'I Quit' match between John Cena and The Miz!  This feud has been going on so long, The Miz came out on top at Wrestlemania, but then Cena beat him at the next PPV, so this is their Rubber Match, and what a match it is!  Will John Cena say 'I Quit' for the first time ever?  Or will The Miz be forced to quit, and remain no longer the World Champion?  Certainly Cena has the STFU submission finisher, The Miz doesn't have a submission finisher, but even if he did it's highly unlikely that Cena would ever tap out to it.  Cena is just so unbelievably tough, there's almost no way to make him say I Quit.  Certainly noone has ever found a way to make him do it, so the question is, can the Miz somehow find a way?  If he does, he instantly becomes an ELITE Superstar, with a unique and highly prestigious accomplishment on his resume, in addition to the fact that he would become a Two Time World Champion!  So a lot to gain for the Miz tonight, but very much an uphill battle.  Should be an awesome Main Event, I can't wait to find out what happens tonight!

Friday, May 20, 2011

More Witcher 2 Impressions

As you know, I've been playing the hit new game The Witcher 2, the most anticipated game since Dragon Age 2, and a possible contender for Game of the Year.  Since my early impressions, I've had the opportunity to play some more, and having done so I must say that while my initial impressions were overall positive, my subsequent impressions have been overwhelmingly positive.  There's just so much to like about this huge, huge world and the fascinating characters and situations.  As a fan of RPGs, this has got to be the deepest game I've played in a long, long time.  It rivals the Final Fantasy series, and I would argue that it even surpasses it.  I'm currently in Chapter Two, and I must say the storyline is still a fascinating mystery.  I don't know what's going on, I don't know what's going to happen next, and I'm loving every minute of this game.  The graphics are unbelievably awesome, the combat is incredibly difficult, which is still very frustrating at times, but better that than too easy I suppose :) .  Also, I should mention that I eventually got to one of the Love Scenes, later in Chapter one.  It featured Triss, and well, let's just say that I didn't know that a game could have a Love Scene that....detailed, let's say, and still have an M rating.  Certainly it makes the Mass Effect Love Scene, the one that got all that controversy at the time, look SUPER tame by comparison.  Ironically, since the original Mass Effect, Bioware's Love Scenes have gotten progressively more and more tame.  TW2 goes VERY much in the opposite direction, and we'll have to see which one the fans like better (I would imagine the vast majority of fans will prefer TW2's version).  

The Witcher 2 totally puts Dragon Age 2 to shame.  I wanted, and fully expected, DA2 to be the Game of the Year, to be amazingly awesome, to follow in Dragon Age Origin's footsteps and be even better than the original.  Instead, DA2 was a disappointment, and TW2 is the real deal, WAY beyond my expectations.  It's so vastly far ahead of DA2 in almost every way.  The graphics are much better, the combat, the storyline (some might ask, in regard to DA2, 'What storyline?'), the characters, TW2 has it all hands down.  DA2 still has the edge in terms of Character Creation, no doubt TW2 would be even better if you could create your own Hero instead of using a generic one, it makes every game so much more fun when you can do that, TW2 really should have that feature.  But that's about the only thing missing from this truly impressive game.  That, and Shani.  She's still nowhere to be seen, which is especially strange given that, again, if you played the original you actually had the chance to basicly marry her (you can buy her, or Triss, whichever one you choose, a ring, and you basicly adopt an orphan as well, so you're like one big happy family).  Obviously Triss is a central figure in the game, as she should be.  Shani should be equally so, instead she's like, totally gone, its very strange.  But its not like the game is short on interesting characters, there are a ton!  I'm enjoying the amazing exploration possibilities, the super awesome Main and Side Quests, it's just super awesome.  I look forward to tons more awesome adventures as I progress in the world of The Witcher 2!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Impact Preview

Tonight's episode of Impact Wrestling is coming up soon, and I'd like to talk about what we can expect, and what I hope will happen.  Of course after Sting beat RVD at the PPV, we now know that it will be Sting vs Mr Anderson at Slammaversary.  What an epic matchup that will be, one of the top stars of our day vs one of the top stars of all time!  Definitely should be something special, and before that happens we've potentially got weeks worth of awesome promos from these two awesome Superstars!  Its definitely Showtime folks!

On the Knockouts side, now that Mickie James has successfully defended her Title against Madison Rayne at the PPV, freeing Tara from her contract with Madison in the process, what's next for her?  Will she possibly team up with Tara to go after the Knockouts Tag Team Gold?  Or will someone step up to challenge her for her Knockouts Title?  Inquiring minds want to know :) !

Of course when you talk about the Knockouts, you have to mention the #1 storyline in all of wrestling today, the fascinating and unpredictable storyline with Winter, Angelina Love, and Velvet Sky!  When last we saw these powerful Superstars, we learned that Winter was, in fact, a time traveller, and that she had travelled through 'eons of time' to find her long lost love, and that person is of course Angelina.  We also learned that the reason that Angelina has been in a zombie-like state recently, is because part of her mind is fighting against the part that contains her memories of her relationship with Winter, so Winter has been giving her pills to help with that.  What will happen tonight, and going forward?  Will Velvet steal the pills?  Would that prevent Angelina from regaining her memories?  Or is it truly just a matter of time until Angelina remembers everything, and fully embraces Winter once again?  It's impossible to know where on earth this storyilne is headed next, we just have to watch and see!

In other interesting storyline action, I'm definitely interested to find out how Bully Ray has managed to get Tommy Dreamer to do as he commands, does he have some dirt on Tommy?  And how will AJ Styles react to Bully Ray interfering in his match with Tommy Dreamer at the PPV, helping Tommy score the win?  It's definitely interesting stuff, I look forward to finding out more!

Of course I would expect more Kurt Angle vs Jeff Jarrett stuff as well, gotta assume they're gonna build up to one final big match between the two at Slammaversary, presumably the last one of the feud.  I don't know if we will see Chyna or Karen much anymore.  After Chyna was so impressive at the PPV, you gotta figure she could stick around if she wants to, maybe have a match with Mickie even at some point.  Now THAT would be an Epic match!  The best womens wrestler from 10 years or so ago, vs the best womens wrestler of today and of all time!  Make it happen TNA :) !

So all kinds of potential for awesomeness tonight, I'm really looking forward to tonight's episode of Impact Wrestling!

The Witcher 2 Early Impressions

I must say, my early impressions of The Witcher 2 weren't really what I expected them to be.  The game is far more different from the original than I expected, I know that there was some talk that they were making changes to help them one day sell a Console version, and they denied that, but it didn't take very long to come to the conclusion that the folks who surmised that were in fact entirely correct.  The changes 'have' to have been made for that reason, because the game is far too different for them to have just decided to make all these changes for no reason.

First, the game plays VERY differently, for starters there is NO mouse cursor!  Of course the cursor was an integral part of what made the original game so great.  In its place is a more conventional, and inferior, system whereby you have to make your character stand in a certain area to see if there's anything there, such as something to pick up.  It is MUCH harder now to find things that you need to pick up, especially the 'alchemy' items, because there's so much (very beautiful) scenery, flowers, bushes, etc. it's very hard to at times to tell whether a certain part contains something you can pick up or not, and you can't click on it from a distance, you have to walk over to it and see if something comes up that says you can pick it up.  That is extremely annoying at first, eventually you get used to it, but obviously it would be better if things had stayed the same from the original, where you can tell from far away what's what, and you can click on it from anywhere to pick it up.

The combat is also radically changed, with no cursor that means the entire TW combat system is right out the window.  The new combat system is very reminiscent of Gothic 3, for those of you who played that.  In fact the game overall has a major Gothic 3 sort of feel, from the combat to the music.  Of course the graphics are much nicer in TW2, which is a major plus, and for their sakes hopefully the fact that it looks so much nicer than G3 will prevent too many comparisons between the two games.  The combat in TW was a combination of action based and turn based, sort of.  It was highly unique stuff, and quite cool.  That has been replaced by a pure hack and slash style combat, which again is extremely similar to Gothic 3's system, but it should be noted that TW2's combat is MUCH harder than G3's, and that's on 'normal' mode!  There are actually two higher level modes, I can't even fathom how difficult they must be.  It is extremely important to save VERY VERY often, because you're probably going to die a WHOLE lot, and it's going to be extremely frustrating.  Minimize that frustration by hitting the F5 button with extreme regularity. 

The single worst change from TW to TW2 is in the extremely bad language.  There's just a tremendous amount of horrible language in TW2, obviously TW had a bit of bad language as well, but nothing remotely like this, its just unfathomably bad.  To give you some idea, I'm still in Chapter 1, and I probably have LITERALLY heard the f word spoken more than 100 times.  Its WAY WAY WAY overboard with the bad language, just no excuse for something like that.  Also, on a more subjective note, you may or may not like the idea of nudity in games, and there is very little of it so far, it's not at all avoidable like in a game like Mass Effect, where you can see the love scene or not.  In the very beginning of the game, your character's girlfriend/wife/whatever (its somewhat undefined) Triss is in bed with the Main Character, and she's naked.  And I do mean naked.  She's very attractive, surprisingly so in fact, but the fact that seeing her au natural isn't at all optional might upset some folks.  Of course a strong case can be made that its a lot like a regular movie in that regard, an argument I would be sympathetic toward personally, but everybody will have their own opinion on that.  The bottom line on this is that TW2 goes WAY out of its way to earn its 'M' rating, completely unnecessarily in the case of the vulgar language, far less extremely in the case of the very brief nudity, but make no mistake, you MUST be 18 or older to play this game.

Back to the graphics, they really are impressive.  TW's graphics were awesome, and TW2's graphics are even moreso.  Such beautiful scenery, and plenty of it.  From the trees and plants and such, to the lifelike people, the VERY well designed monsters, it's truly a feast for the eyes.  On the downside, the main character, who was always a generic and bland looking sort of character, really doesn't look any better at all.  There's still zero customization, not only can you not play as a male or female character, you can't even customize the character's face at all.  The lack of customization options, which are so well done in games like Mass Effect, Fallout, Dragon Age, and Fable, is especially unfortunate since clearly the graphics are so impressive that the character you would design could be a MILLION times better than the one you're stuck with.  But certainly the other characters are very nicely done, whether you're talking about the previously mentioned Triss, or any of the other multitude of characters in the game.  There's tremendous individuality and uniqueness about them, they're so well done.  Hopefully eventually they'll get the message that fans like the ability to create their own character, there is so much potential there, the graphics simply blow other RPGs out of the water, it's time they let us use them to create our own character.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm still in Chapter 1, I've played quite a long time, and I feel like I may be nearing the end of the Chapter, but the story is already pretty interesting.  One thing missing is that I'm still hoping to define my relationship with Triss in some way, obviously she's my character's girlfriend at a minimum, but exactly how close they are isn't something I've really had the chance to figure out or influence at all.  In the original, you had the chance to basicly marry either her or one other woman in the game.  So is she the one your character married by default?  Certanily the other woman, Shani, is nowhere to be seen so far in the sequel, inexplicably so, which makes you wonder what the exact default nature of those relationships truly is.  Also, while I've had no chance to influence my character's relationship with Triss or any other woman in the game, I've also had very little to no opportunity to influence the storyline so far either, something that was a very strong point in the original TW as well, but certainly in that one the major decisions didn't come until later also, so hopefully that will still happen in a big way.

The bottom line right now is that I'm quite impressed in certain ways, unbelievably underwhelmed/disappointed in others, but overall it's been a lot of fun, the storyline is interesting, the combat takes a LOT of getting used to but once you do its at least tolerable, and hopefully it'll only get better and better as the game goes on!  In the meantime, have fun everybody!  I've got some more TW2 to play :) . 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An Important Health Comment

Here at the Gladiator Blog we cover all sorts of cool and fun things, but something happened recently and I would like to make an important comment.  My dad recently had some health issues, and they deteriorated fairly quickly.  Even though they had a procedure scheduled relatively quickly after he saw a doctor, it wasn't quick enough, and he ended up in the hospital, where they moved up the procedure and gave it to him well ahead of schedule.  They did what they needed to do to find what was wrong, and now he's being treated for it.  Hopefully, and prayerfully, this is a story that will have a happy ending.  But suppose we were like other countries?  Where socialized medicine results in waits of weeks if you're lucky, often months, and if you die in the meantime, well you just die.  That's what would've happened to my dad, he needed help and if he hadn't gotten it, things would've been terrible.  We in the USA have the greatest health care system in the world, it's true we pay a lot for it, no doubt more than we need to thanks to the current government regulations, red tape, trial lawyer frivilous lawsuits, etc. and we should always be trying to find ways to eliminate those things to keep costs down.  But the bottom line is here in America we are free, we can go to any doctor we want, and if we need help now, we get help now, because we don't have socialism, we have freedom.  Let's all work to make sure it stays that way.  In 2012, let's all agree to only vote for candidates who support Health Care Freedom, and will pledge to overturn Obamacare.  Freedom is far too precious to ever give it away.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Awesome RAW last night!

Last night's Monday Night RAW was awesome!  We got off to a fast start, because the Champ was indeed in San Antonio!  But before he could say hardly anything, he was interrupted by Ari!  Alex Riley talked briefly, then first introduced a highlight video, of Miz owning Cena (a lot of pre-Wrestlemania footage there, it seemed), and then introduced the Awesome one himself!  Ari and Miz made their way to the ring, where Riley continued talking, at one point taking a hilarious shot at the San Antonio Spurs.  Eventually it was Cena's turn, and he totally owned Riley, before turning his attention to the Miz, noting that he saw fear on the Miz's face, and that on Sunday he would be saying I Quit.  We then got a message from the Anonymous RAW General Manager, which Michael Cole read from his IPad.  The GM decided that since he gave Cena the right to name the I Quit stipulation for Sunday's PPV Main Event, it was only fair that Miz get to name Cena's opponent and stipulation for RAW's Main Event.  Miz spoke for the first time in the segment, to note that while he hasn't decided Cena's opponent or the stipulation yet, he assured Cena that it would in fact be Awesome!  Sadly that wouldn't turn out to be true, but more on that later.

CM Punk vs Kofi Kingston figured to be a rather boring match with Kingston ultimately prevailing, but in fact the match was decent and CM Punk actually, very surprisingly, came out on top!  Does this mean he's signed a new contract?  You'd think so, but I haven't heard anything about that yet.  In any event, after the match CM stated that he was going to do this 'his way' from now on, and that he was going to make every member of Nexus a star both individually and collectively.  Good stuff!

Of course the highlight of the night once again was the awesome Kelly Kelly.  Her opponent last night was Nikki Bella, the Bella Twin who isn't actually the Champion.  A great back and forth match, with Kelly using some kind of unique move, similar to a rollup but cooler, to score the pinfall victory!  After the match the Bellas, angry at Nikki's defeat, double teamed poor Kelly and laid her out, but of course anything a Divas match is over, you know what's going to happen!  That's right, it's Awesome Kong time!  Kharma's music hit, and she made her way to the ring at her usual speed.  However this time, not only do the Bellas not run, but even though Kong completely ignored them, enterting the ring and slowly walking over to Kelly, one of them actually attacked Kong from behind!  This of course was unfathomably dumb, as Kong dealt with her easily.  She (Brie) got away before Kong could give her the Implant Buster, however her sister Nikki wasn't so lucky, she was last night's victim of Kharma's impressive finisher.  After laying Nikki out, she went back over to Kelly, who was STILL hiding in the corner, unwilling or unable to flee.  She looked scared, but even more than that I have to say she looked unbelievably beautiful.  A fact that may not have been lost on Kong, who couldn't bring herself to attack Kelly.  She towered over her, it was clear that she could do anything she wanted, but she simply played with Kelly's hair, then sort of flicked her finger at Kelly's forehead, it was really funny.  Clearly she didn't want to hurt the awesome Kelly!  She then left the ring, having vanquished the Bellas, and left Kelly unharmed.  Is it possible that the WWE, who we know likes to borrow from TNA storyline ideas, could be borrowing from the Winter and Angelina storyline?  Only time will tell!

It seems that Michael Cole has stuck his foot in his mouth, figuratively speaking, as his comments during his 'Contract Signing' segment with Jerry the King Lawler may have cost himself his side-kick!  He insulted Jack Swagger, causing him to walk out on him shortly after Cole announced that his match with Lawler at the PPV would in fact be a 'Kiss My Foot' match.  So the loser will be the one who kisses the winner's foot, and if indeed Cole is Swagger-less for the match, it would seem that Jerry will be the one to have his royal foot kissed, and he will get to keep his Hall of Fame Ring!  Definitely a huge match this Sunday.

In other action, the two lesser Nexus members actually defeated Big Show and Kane in a non-Title match, thanks to interference from Mason Riley.  Another victory for Punk and the Nexus!  Punk and Riley will face Kane and Big Show for the Tag Team Gold this Sunday, at the PPV.  We also learned last night that Randy Orton will be defending his Smackdown Title against Christian in a return match at the PPV also.

Finally we got to the Main Event, and the Miz revealed that the match that Cena would be having would be a No Holds Barred match, and before he could announce the opponent, Jack Swagger came out and attacked Cena from behind!  Miz then announced that Swagger was Cena's opponent.  Swagger dominated a large part of the match, he used a steel chair on Cena a couple times, but despite the major beating that John Cena took, he dug down deep, made the big comeback, and eventually hit the FU then made Swagger tap with the STFU.  Another huge win for the Champ, John Cena!  After the match the Miz 'guaranteed' that he would be announced as the World Champion after his match with Cena on Sunday, stating that he had found a way to make Cena quit that Cena had never seen before.  He then attacked Cena with a pipe, but when he went to hit him a second time Cena was able to knock it out of Miz's hand, and use it on both Miz and Riley!  Cena owned both men, and that was after owning Swagger!  What a night for Cena, he's got a huge amount of momentum heading into the PPV!  I'm curious to see if the Miz indeed does have some kind of trick up his sleeve, I guess all will be revealed on Sunday.  In the meantime, a great RAW last night, it was a lot of fun, and I'm giving it two thumbs up! 

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Witcher 2 Preview

At last, the much anticipated Preview for the potential 2011 Game of the Year, The Witcher 2, is here!  In preparation for this Preview, I actually went back and played a lot of the old game, the original, the very first Witcher game, and I have to say, that while of course there was room for improvement, it really was an awesome game, even better than I remembered.  We know that the Graphics of The Witcher 2 are going to be superior to the original, they're top of the line and cutting edge, but the original's graphics were already pretty awesome! 

 This is just a taste of what we can expect in the sequel.  I suppose this picture reveals not only the graphical strength of the game, but also, sadly, its one, glaring weakness.  Particularly when you compare it to games like Fallout or Dragon Age, the one area where the game falls not just short but badly short, is in the area of Character Customization.  In most modern RPGs you can create your own character, give them whatever face and gender you want, dress them up however you want.  All that is entirely absent in The Witcher series, and it's a shame, as a world this incredibly detailed and deep should be explorable by a character of your own creation, one that you as a player are guaranteed to enjoy playing as, not a completely un-editable generic character that may or may not appeal to an individual gamer.  For all the amazing advancements these folks have brought not just to the series but to Action-RPG gaming as a whole, this area is very sorely lacking.  The excuse they give is that the character is 'based on a book', and that's why they didn't include customization.  That of course is an absurd excuse, because we aren't playing a book, we're playing a game, and as a game it would be much nicer if we could decide how the character looks.  The character could be the same basic person, from the same land, have the same personality, the same friends, the same missions, etc. regardless of their race/gender/clothing.  So leaving this common, and very important feature, out of the game is a definite negative, no two ways about it.

Having gotten the negative out of the way, I really see nothing else but positive ahead.  I mentioned the graphics, we all know that cool graphics are nice, but they aren't everything, FAR from it.  It truly is the Gameplay that is where The Witcher shines, and where I believe that The Witcher 2 will shine, if indeed it is as good as it seems that it will be.  Let me start right out by mentioning someething that they have Officially confirmed, and that is that not only are there 16 different Endings to the game, but there are 4 different openings!  Of course that's because the strength of this game has always been its epic storylines, and more importantly your opportunity to shape them.  No doubt a lot of the criticism of Dragon Age 2, released a couple months ago to very mixed reviews, was due to the fact that they inexplicably decided to go away from the very cool model of the original, of giving the player plenty of opportunities to make meaningful decisions that impact the main storyline.  It can be said that DA2 is a lot closer to FF13 than DAO in that regard.  The Witcher, and The Witcher 2, by contrast, are much more in line with the DAO tradition of meaningful and impactful choices and decision-making.  This is what we as gamers want, we want our decisions not only to feel good at the time, but to matter down the line.  That's what TW2 promises, and I look forward to seeing if they truly do deliver, as I expect they will.

Doesn't that look like a really cool forest to explore?  I can't wait!  I'm definitely looking forward to The Witcher 2's release, it's less than 24 hours away!  Thanks to a deal that the TW2 folks made with a wesbite called 'Good Old Games', a site that is actually known for selling older games (including the original Witcher game) you can actually download the game RIGHT NOW, over 9GB worth of download, and then play the game on the 17th, and not only that, but you get 5 dollars off the regular price!  That's right, 44.99 instead of 49.99, you can't beat that deal!  If you haven't preordered yet, I highly reccomend you do so right away, I honestly believe there is a real potential for this game to be the 2011 Game of the Year, don't miss it!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

TNA Sacrifice Review

Tonight's TNA PPV was Fan-Tastic!  It started off hot, spicy hot, with Sarita and Rosita!  They weren't actually wrestling tonight, but they helped the team they were with score a victory.  Then the action picked up with Jeff and Karen Jarrett coming to the ring claiming that Karen was injured and couldn't compete tonight!  However Mick Foley, the Network Representative, said he had seen the 'X-Ray' that supposedly showed Karen was hurt, and that it was in fact the X-Ray of someone six and a half feet tall, and male!  The gig was up, and Karen took off her ankle-brace and threw it at Mick in frustration.  The match was still on!

Eventually we got to the first big match of the night, Mickie James vs Madison Rayne for the TNA Knockouts Championship, with Tara's Freedom on the line!  Tara acted conflicted all night, on the one hand she had been with Madison a long time, but on the other hand she did want her freedom.  At one point the ref got knocked down, and Madison went for her loaded glove, but after she put it on Tara grabbed her arm and took it off!  That looked to be the end, but Madison managed to counter an attempted Mickie-D-T, so the match continued.  Eventually the referee got knocked down a second time, this time when Mickie went for the Mickie-D-T, Tara came into the ring and stopped her!  This led to both women trying to get Tara to attack the other.  Madison at one point got on her knees and begged Tara.  It seemed she had convinced her, Tara moved toward Mickie as if to attack her, but then suddenly turned and knocked Madison out, with her own loaded glove!  Tara then went and revived the referee as a shocked Mickie covered for the 1 2 3 !  Your winner, and STILL Knockout Champion, the greatest womens wrestler of all time, Mickie James!  She keeps her Title, and wins Tara's freedom in the process!

There were some other, less important matches, notable was Tommy Dreamer defeating AJ Styles thanks to interference from Bully Ray, and Abyss losing once again to Crimson.  Abyss used to be a Main Eventer, now he's losing repeatedly to a total unknown, AND he lost a number of his teeth in a recent match with RVD, things just aren't going his way right now!  Also, Beer Money retained their Tag Team Titles against Matt Hardy and Chris Harris.  Finally things picked up bigtime with the penultimate match, featuring the Jarretts vs Kurt Angle and the Eighth Wonder of the World, Chyna!

The crowd was VERY hot for Chyna, chanting 'we want Chyna' the majority of the match.  Of course she didn't really get involved until near the end, as the first time she tagged in Jeff Jarrett quickly escaped the ring, and didn't come back until he could wrestle Kurt instead.  Finally near the end Chyna
again got tagged in, and laid into Jeff bigtime, first with a body slam and then a mighty suplex!  This put Double J out of commission for a while, and allowed her to go after Karen!  Karen ran for a while, but eventually Kurt was able to block her escape, allowing Chyna to have her way with her!  First she gave her a splash in the corner, then hit her with a BIGTIME Pedigree!  Then Chyna and Kurt put Karen and Jeff into simultaneous Ankle-Locks, with Karen tapping out and Chyna getting the win in her historic in-ring return!!

That left only the Main Event match, the World Championship match between the challenger RVD, and the Champion Sting!  And what an awesome Main Event it was!  Back and forth awesome in-ring action, eventually spilling outside the ring and into the crowd!  At one point somebody yelled something like 'leave him alone Sting!' which I personally found quite hilarious.  They battled back and forth, both men are still so awesome, this could easily have been a Wrestlemania Main Event match if these great Superstars were in the WWE, eventually they made their way back to the ring after an extended brawl outside it.  Back in the ring, eventually RVD went for his 5-Star Frog Splash, but Sting managed to roll out of the way.  Sting went for the Scorpion Death Drop, but it seemed that RVD Countered, however Sting went for it again and hit it cleanly, scoring the 1 2 3 and retaining his World Title! 

The highlights of the night were exactly what you'd expect, Mickie's Title match with Tara's freedom on the line, the Jarrets vs Angle and Chyna (with Mick Foley showing up making things even more awesome), and the World Title match.  Its hard to say which of those three matches were the best, I'm going to call it a 3 way tie, as each match could easily be called the Match of the Night!  Each was so awesome in its own unique way, certainly from a pure-wrestling standpoint you'd probably give it to the World Title match, as there was so much awesomely entertaining drama involved in the other matches.  From an entertainment standpoint, which is what really matters, all three were so awesome.  So a bigtime night of TNA action, and super duper awesomeness!  The only sad part was that, just like Thursday, no Winterlina.  But there was a TON of awesomeness tonight, so I'm giving this PPV Two Thumbs Up!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Major News Update

As many of you probably know, yesterday Texas Congressman Ron Paul officially announced his candidacy for President of the United States.  This comes just two days after Newt Gengrich announced his own candidacy, and tonight, just minutes ago on his Fox News TV show, Former Governor Mike Huckabee announced he would NOT run.  As a Christian myself, I like Mike and it's a bit sad that he isn't running, even though I wasn't actually a supporter of his, he certainly would have been better than a lot the ones who are either running or are expected to run.     

The announcements are coming fast and furious now, the action is really heating up!  I'm definitely looking forward to the campaign, hopefully we can get a major focus on personal liberty issues like the right to play Poker.  We know that Ron Paul supports our right to play Poker when and where we choose, in 2008 he was the only major candidate in either party to do so.  Will we see some progress this year?  I certainly hope so,but  even if Ron is once again the only one, if we can at least get some major media attention on the issue and our rights, that will be helpful. 

Of course that's not the only major news out there.  Tomorrow the Eastern Conference Finals begins, the Bulls vs the Heat!  And of course, Game 7 in the Memphis vs OKC series!  Definitely looking forward to a big Sports day tomorrow!  And don't forget, I've still got my bigtime Preview for 'The Witcher 2' coming up, I've been playing the original Witcher a lot lately in preparation for the sequel's impending arrival on Tuesday, so I'll have a lot to say about that very soon!  In the meantime, have fun everybody!

Friday, May 13, 2011

TNA Impact Wrestling Review

Last night's episode of TNA Impact, now 'Impact Wrestling', was really awesome!  I hope everybody saw it, I wrote a Preview last night but couldn't post it here due to the technical problems the site had.  So much awesomeness on last night's show, I don't know where to begin!  Last night the 'Network Representative' was revealed, as well as Kurt Angle's mystery female partner for Sunday's Mixed Tag match, and boy oh boy were both revelations shocking and awesome!

Let's start with the Network Representative.  After weeks of wondering, finally it was revealed that the person who had been making Hulk Hogan and Immortal's life miserable, giving Sting that Title match against Jeff Hardy that led to him becoming Champion, and so much more, was none other than...epic  Superstar and hardcore legend Mick Foley!  Yes wrestling fans, one of the greatest Superstars of all time is BACK, and he's in charge of TNA!  Or should I say....he's in charge of Impact Wrestling, because his first act upon revealing himself as the Network Representative, was change the name of the show, from TNA Impact to Impact Wrestling!  Because, as Mick said repeatedly last night, it's about Wrestling.  This of course isn't just a smart move, putting the word wrestling in the Title so people who like wrestling know to tune in, but its of course a not so subtle shot at the WWE, who has recently gone so far as to literally ban the word wrestling from their TV shows.  For some reason the WWE doesn't want to be associated with the word wrestling (much the same way that KFC doesn't want to be associated with the words 'fried chicken', even though that's what they're famous for), so the folks at TNA decided that now was a better time than ever to be associated with the word wrestling, and they're right.

But the return of the hardcore legend, as incredible and awesome as that was, wasn't the only awesome return we witnessed last night, as Mick introduced Kurt Angle's tag team partner for Sunday's Mixed Tag match against Jeff and Karen Jarrett.  That tag team partner is none other than.....the Eighth Wonder of the World, Chyna!!  Can you believe it?  Chyna is back, and despite all the years she's been gone, she is seriously looking better than EVER!  A truly historic moment in wrestling, as both the Hardcore Legend AND the Eighth Wonder of the World make their returns to wrestling TV, and it's on Impact Wrestling!  So the match is now official, it's going to be Jeff Jarrett and his wife Karen vs Kurt Angle and Chyna!  I dare say that Chyna could defeat them both all by herself :) .  Having the Olympic Gold Medalist as her partner makes this a very one-sided, but super fun, matchup indeed!

Of course as amazing as all that was, there is more fun to report on from last night as well.  The 7 Time Women's Champion, Mickie James, was in Tag Team action with Miss Tessmacher, the up and coming Knockout, against Madison and Tara (Victoria from the WWE).  Mickie and Tara started it off, but they're friends now so Tara eventually tagged in Madison, who Mickie owned for a while.  Eventually Mickie tagged in Miss Tessmacher, who scored the pin with her impressive looking 'Victory Roll', and the dissention between Madison and Tara continued.  We'll find out at the PPV Sunday, during Mickie and Madison's Title match, whether that dissention is real and it leads to a breakup, or whether it's all an act designed to trick Mickie and cost Mickie her Title Sunday.  That's going to be very interesting to find out.

Finally, if you thought the night couldn't get any more awesome, you'd be wrong, how about a 25 Man Battle Royal awesome!  How about the Battle Royal is for the #1 Contenders spot at Slammaversary, which is I think, the PPV after Sunday's PPV!  That means that the winner of Sunday's PPV Main Event for the World Title, between Sting and RVD, will face the winner of the Battle Royal at the Slammaversary PPV, which I assume is the next one.  It was a long and awesome Battle Royal, ultimately coming down to Bully Ray (better known as Bubba Ray, one half of the Dudley Boys Tag Team) and Mr Anderson (previously Mr Kennedy in the WWE).  After some really good back and forth action, Mr Anderson eventually got the win, and FINALLY won the right to have the one on one Championship Match that he's wanted for so long!

So an epicly awesome Impact last night, sadly no Winterlina (Winter and Angelina) after last week's revelation that Winter has actually travelled through time to find Angelina, her long lost love, but that was pretty much the only thing missing from this otherwise SUPER loaded show, just amazingly awesome.  The Hardcore Legend is back!  The Eighth Wonder of the World is back!  And they're only on Impact Wrestling, so don't miss it Sunday, and don't miss it next week!  Impact Wrestling, it's Fan-Tastic!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Big Sports Night Tonight!

Tonight we Sports fans have a really good thing going.  Not only do we get Game 5 of the Miami Heat vs Boston Celtics series, a game that will feature either the Heat closing out the series, or Boston winning and then having the opportunity to tie the series at home, giving them a very real chance to advance, but in addition to that we get another classic Baseball game between two arch-rivals, the Chicago Cubs and the St Louis Cardinals! 

First, to the NBA.  The Heat-Celtics series has been closer than the 3-1 series score appears, Boston could very easily be up 3-1 themselves, such has been the nature of the games, they've been close, Boston generally leads at least somewhat late in the game before ultimately losing the games they lose, and it's not out of the question that they could get hot and win three straight.  Of course the Heat, featuring all that incredible talent, could very easily win tonight's game at home and close out the series.  They've been so impressive, as you might expect of a team containing Dwayne Wade and Labron James.  Tonight's game could be really special, and I can't wait to see how it ends up!

On to the MLB, where the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry takes center stage.  This is actually the second game of the series, the Cubbies working hard to lose last night's game, and did so in reasonably impressive fashion.  Multiple fielding blunders helped them give up a bunch of runs, enough to overcome the impressive offensive performance they had against Cardinals Ace Chris Carpenter.  13 Hits and 4 runs against Carpenter, but Mr Kerry Wood and that legendary Cubs Defense stepped up their 'lets give it away anyway' game, and got the job done.  Despite having a good bit of talent, the Cubbies are pretty bad this year, as usual, and despite the fact that the Cardinals have a lot of weaknesses themselves, notably the fact that their stars seem to be getting real old real fast, it's quite reasonable to except a Cardinal win tonight, and sweep of the series, even though the Cubbies are at home.  As a Cubs fan myself, it's sad and frustrating to watch all that talent go to waste year after year, I honestly don't know how they manage to do it.  Is it the coaching?  Is it the sheer momentum of being perpetual losers that fosters a losing mentality year after year?  Whatever it is, it sure would be nice if something could change it, but right now I don't know what that would be.

I want to close out this post with a teaser for my upcoming Preview of the amazing RPG Game due out next week, The Witcher 2.  It's got the potential to be this year's Game of the Year, it looks simply amazing, everything I've not only seen but read suggests it could truly be epic.  Here's just a small taste of what we have to look forward to next week when the game comes out.  We play as the man in the front of that picture, Geralt, the same man who was also the star of the original The Witcher game, which was so popular when it came out some time back.  I've also included a Preview Clip from Youtube as well, which features some actual gameplay from early in the game.  Look forward to my Preview of The Witcher 2, I'll be posting that soon!  In the meantime, feel free to comment as always, and have fun everybody!

Exciting News from SirGladiator!

First let me thank all of you for tuning into my blog every day, I do my best to give you high quality entertainment, as well as informative information, and I appreciate your support.  I have an announcement to make, its some good news, and some bad news, but the bad news isn't bad news for you, just me, so don't worry :) .  As you know, I'm a supporter of the Rights of Poker Players, and I'm also a fan of Video Games (see my previous review of the Dragon Age 2 game, and my commentary on the loss of Poker Players Rights, both still available here on the Main Page of the Site, if you haven't already done so), and I decided to create an entire website to cover and promote those very things!  Don't worry, I'll still be providing just as much high quality information here as always, especially because I really don't know how to create websites, Im just a regular person :) . 

So I now own a website, and if I ever learn how to impliment my vision of super-coolness and fun on it I'll let you know.  In the meantime, if anybody would like to reccomend anything for me in the comments, something to help me learn how to do a website, that'd be really swell.  If I learn how to do it I won't leave any of you hanging, you'll still get plenty of updates here, AND at my new site!  But again, that's not now, and it may not be anytime soon either, so rest assured that everything is going to still operate completely normally here at the Gladiator Blog!  In fact, I plan on giving you an update soon on a REALLY cool game called 'The Witcher 2' that is due out next week, and appears to be amazingly awesome, super cool, and even a potential 'Game of the Year' Title.  Of course there's plenty of competition for that Title, and the year is young, but trust me, while obviously I haven't played the game yet since it isn't out and all, so of course it could still suck, everything I've seen and read suggests this game is in fact the real deal, and I'm going to give you the lowdown on it really soon, so stay tuned for that!  Once again a big thank you to all my friends out there, every single one of you who read my blog, you guys are awesome!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Monday Night Raw

Last night's edition of Monday Night Raw was only so-so.  It opened with the new formerly-Smackdown wrestlers, Alberto Del Rio and Rey Mysterio, and Rey challenging Alberto to a match for the right to face John Cena for the Title.  The Miz interrupted them, and said something about the two of them having a 'Taco Bell Parking Lot' match while he faced Cena.  But if you thought that was a bit racist, well, you hadn't heard from former TNA Champion Ron 'The Truth' Killings yet!  R Truth came down and said he wanted to 'spit some hate', and proceeded to do just that.  He talked for a while, insulted the other three men, then said that 'When an angry black man (that would be him) is talking, everybody should shut up', and that he was going to be the one to face 'That lily white John Cena'.  That would seem to make Miz's later comment about Rey and Del Rio being 'day laborers' pale in comparison, but maybe that depends on your perspective.  Is racism really necessary here on Raw?  I'd certainly like to think not.  But I suppose this is following TNA's lead, as you may know they've recently introduced a group called 'Mexican America', which brings out a Mexican flag, and they say things like they're taking America back for Mexico, etc. just insanely racist and stupid stuff.  It seems the WWE is taking a page out of TNA's playbook, as they have been known to do from time to time, usually on better ideas than this.  However this would not be the last time on this show that the WWE steals a TNA idea, more on that shortly.

The highlight of the show came in the next segment, which featured not only the Bella Twins, one of whom is the current Womens Champion, but also the returning Kelly Kelly!  She had been on Smackdown far too long, its so great that she's back on RAW.  This time it was in a tag match, with Eve as her partner.  After a nice little back and forth match, Kelly Kelly reversed an attempted Bella rollup for one of her own, and a 3 count victory!  After the match, it was time once again for Awesome Kong to come out and flatten somebody!  Once again, as last week, Kelly Kelly sat in the corner in fear as Kong, now 'Kharma' in the WWE, made her way to the ring.  This time she behaved more intelligently, as after Kong got into the ring she eventually slid out of it, keeping her distance from the huge woman.  The Bellas, even smarter still, simply ran away together.  You guessed it, that means that tonight's victim would be Eve!  She charged at Kong, only to be met with a clothesline that basicly knocked her out, while Kong chased Kelly Kelly around for a while.  Of course Kelly, being about a million pounds lighter, was able to win the battle of foot-speed, and get away.  That meant Kong had to settle for giving tonight's Impant-Buster to Eve, and she proceeded to do so.  Another dominant performance for the Two-Time TNA Womens Champion Awesome Kong, now known as Kharma in the WWE.

Now about that 'other' idea that the WWE stole from TNA last night, and believe me it's a doozey.  Michael Cole made the announcement that he was retiring from wrestling undefeated, but Jerry The King Lawler didn't want to hear that, he still wants to get Cole back in the ring!  So he offered first to 'induct Cole into the Hall of Fame himself' if Cole accepts his challenge (one wonders how Jerry would have the authority to decide who gets into the Hall of Fame, especially people who obviously aren't Hall of Famers, but wait, it gets better), he also offered to put on the line....HIS HALL OF FAME RING!!!!  Oh baby, you may have thought the days of Hall of Fame Ring storylines were over, but you would be WRONG!  Of course the challenge was eventually accepted, and now its going to be Cole vs Lawler once again, and Jerry's Hall of Fame Ring is on the line!  Any chance the WWE might actually go a step futher than TNA, and instead of simply 'suggesting' that the ring gives you Super Powers, maybe actually have lightning shoot out of it or something, special effects style?  We can only hope :) .

In the Main Event, it was Miz vs Rey Mysterio vs Alberto Del Rio for the #1 Contendership.  A good solid match, at the end we saw Alex Riley come down and interfere, pulling Rey off Del Rio following a 619 and top rope dive onto Del Rio, saving him from being pinned and allowing Miz to roll Rey up for a 3 count, and another shot at the Title!  John Cena then came down and announced that his Title match with the Miz at the PPV would in fact be....an I Quit Match!  His music played as he exited triumphantly, indeed the idea of John Cena saying I Quit does seem highly unlikely, so a HUGE advantage for Cena courtesy of this Stipulation! 

So all in all a so-so episode of RAW.   I thought the race stuff was in poor taste (to say the least), and I certainly didn't expect to see the WWE copying TNA so blatantly (but I guess with so many former TNA Superstars on the show it was only a matter of time), but there was still a fair amount of fun to be had last night also.  Its always awesome to see Kelly Kelly in action, its so great she's back on Raw.  It was good to see the Miz back in the Main Event, not just last night but at the PPV also.  After all, he's the Miz, and he's Awesome!  Or so I keep hearing anyway :) .  Definitely looking forward to seeing him continue his feud with John Cena, and I can't wait to find out who Kharma goes after next week!  No doubt Kelly Kelly will be in her sights again, can she keep escaping the extra-large woman's grasp?  We'll just have to tune in and find out!  Feel free to comment, or leave a question, or even both!  Thanks everybody!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Dragon Age 2 Review

For those of us who love Gaming, especially RPGs, Dragon Age 2 was a game we anticipated for many, many months.  The sequel to Bioware's most successful game of all time, Dragon Age Origins, Dragon Age 2 was expected to be even better, and even more successful, than its incredibly impressive predecessor.  An upgrade to the graphics, an all new story with new characters and places to visit, etc. it was quite possible it could even be the Game of the Year!  Sadly, something happened on the way to that GOTY award, something less pleasant than having to walk the Deep Roads for hours on end.

First a note about which version to play.  Just like DAO before it, DA2 is definitely better on the PC, where you have access to mods, like the ones you're seeing in action in the above picture.  Merrill, the Elf who is closest to the camera, has tattoos covering her face, making her much less attractive than she otherwise would've been.  A mod took care of that.  Hawke, the middle character in the photo (and the Main Character of the game), has a custom hair color in this photo.  Finally, Isabella, the character farthest away from the camera, has a weird thing on her face, again needlessly taking away from her beauty.  That too is gone here thanks to a mod.  Happily, both the women in this picture (other than Hawke of course, who is the Main Character) are Romancable, Hawke can have a meaningful relationship with either one (however its worth noting that if you romance both at the same time, you don't end up choosing between them, you simply end up with Merrill by default, one of the many small mistakes DA2 makes that DAO did not).

Dragon Age 2 implemented a surprisingly large number of changes from the incredibly popular original.  Some changes are unquestionably for the better, such as an improved Crafting system, and better graphics.  Combat is faster paced, and the Skill Trees are updated, although they did remove certain popular Skills in an effort to 'streamline' the combat, skills such as Dual-Wielding for Warriors, and Shapeshifting for Mages.  Combat is indeed streamlined, gone are the 'Finishing Moves' of DAO, Dragon Age 2 now features enemies that explode when killed, a clear step backwards for the combat.  Another important change, which many see as for the better while others disagree, was adding Voice Acting for the Main Character.  This of course adds a cool new element to the game, but at the expense of the wide range of dialogues choices that you had in DAO, so is this an improvement or a step in the wrong direction?  That's a matter of personal taste. 

Certain other changes are obviously for the worse, as they actually removed the ability to have conversations your teammates in most locations.  You can talk with them in their 'home base' location, and that's it.  Of course in DAO you could talk with them anywhere, and there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to in DA2 either.  However the restrictions don't stop there, far from it.  You can't change your teammates weapons, or even their outfit!  Remember how you used to switch Leliana between a Bow and her Daggers?  Isabella can use Daggers, but not a Bow, even though Rogues are allowed to use either.  Likewise, Varric can use a Bow but not Daggers, it's simply absurd.  Of course customizing their appearance by changing their outfits was one of the more fun aspects of the original game, and that too is simply completely gone in DA2.  These changes were presumably made to make things 'simpler', and perhaps also to make the game feel more like another, less popular Bioware game, Mass Effect 2. 

So a lot of changes were made to the way the game is played, some for the better, many for the worse.  But how about the story, probably the single most important part of any RPG?  In the above picture we have Bethany in the front, and Hawke in the back.  Bethany, despite being the most attractive character in the game, was actually made Hawke's sister, and given a fairly minor role.  Despite the fact that the game was marketed heavily as having a major role for Hawke's family, Bethany is the only interesting character of the three (Hawke has a brother and mother as well, both of which die no matter what you do, a pattern that would be repeated throughout the game, of your decisions having no impact whatsoever on the story.  However just as inexplicably, the brother can live if you play as a Mage, but if you do that then Bethany is the one who dies no matter what you do, so in order to keep her alive you're actually not allowed to even play as a mage at all, simply unfathomable). 

The 'storyline' of the game, such as it is, involves Hawke escaping Lothering, an early target of the Blight, and travelling to Kirkwall, where she (or he, if you prefer playing as a male character) spends the vast majority of the game within the city limits, slowly amassing wealth and power, but all to no real meaningful impact whatsoever.  As Hawke gains in status and wealth, acquires a mansion, a servant, etc. she still is unable to actually protect her family or impact the story in any meaningful way, with the single exception of Bethany, who will live or die based on your actions.  Your actions do not, however, impact the main storyline, which, aside from Hawke gaining in status by doing certain quests, centers around a 'Mages vs Templars' feud.

Spoiler alert for this paragraph:  Sadly, the Mages vs Templars feud is incredibly uninteresting, because the Mages and the Templars are each mostly evil or crazy, or both.  The end result is you don't much care who wins, and that's a good thing in a sense because once again, your choices don't matter anyway.  Do you like the Mages?  Sorry, you've got to kill the head mage anyway.  Side with the templars?  Too bad, you still have to kill the head templar also.  And after killing both, the war simply goes on, as the game comes to an end.  You've accomplished nothing, your actions were mostly meaningless, there were some interesting side-quests that are far more satisfying than the Main Storyline, but by far the best part, and the reason you should play the game, is that despite the fact that Bethany is kidnapped for a large portion of the game (and that's if you've managed to keep her alive) you can finally get her back near the end, have a moving reunion with her, then have her around for those last few battles, before walking off into the sunset with her and the rest of your crew (most of whom you probably won't care about anyway, but thats OK because the game doesn't even tell you what happens to them at the end like DAO did). 

For all its flaws, Dragon Age 2 is still a lot of fun at times, and interesting things do happen occasionally.  It would be nice if, like its predecessor, your choices had a real meaningful impact.  Instead the main storyline plays out about the same as a typical Final Fantasy game, you watch it, you don't really influence it.  That's a shame, because most Bioware games get that part not only right but VERY right, your choices typically have a huge impact on the story.  Not so in Dragon Age 2, and that's too bad.  But when you can make a difference, most notably in saving Bethany from the various ways she can die horribly, its incredibly satisfying, and for that reason alone I would reccomend the game.  I would not reccomend paynig full price, but if you can get it for around 35 dollars or less I would say go for it, you'll have a lot of fun, just not nearly as much fun as the original.

The action is heating up!

It's been a while since my last post, a lot has happened both in general and for me personally, but now it's time to have some fun! You the fans get to have fun reading my hilariously incorrect predictions from the previous election, and then read about some of the exciting things that are happening now. Let's start by getting some bad news out of the way. As many of you know, recently there was a day now known as 'Black Friday', in which Poker websites were shut down, and scores of American Poker players were denied their basic rights as Americans, to play the game they love, Poker, on the Internet. It was an attack on American Freedom by big government, a bi-partisan attack whose groundwork was paved by Senator Frist and President Bush in 2006, and which was actually carried out by President Obama in 2011. This bi-partisan, anti-freedom agenda has resulted in many Americans losing their ability to earn a living doing a job they love, in addition to those who simply play Poker because it's fun and cool. We know that if there's one thing that Presidents Bush and Obama have in common, its a powerful ability to create policies that cost American Jobs, and this policy continues that tradition. I'll be providing more information about Poker, its status in America, and what you can do to help restore American Rights and Freedom, right here on this blog, so stay tuned for that.

On a happier note, Poker Player Rights Supporter, and Libertarian, Constitutional Champion, Congressman Ron Paul is now running for President! You may have seen his strong performance in the first GOP Debate a few days ago. That same night, a CNN Poll was released showing him performing better against President Obama than ANY other potential GOP Candidate! Another poll recently showed him closing in on the GOP leaders in the first Primary state, New Hampshire. As a man who stands up for Freedom, and isn't afraid to stand against leaders of either party when they're wrong, or stand with them when they're right, he is hated by many Washington Insiders, and loved by the People of America. As Congressman Paul continues his campaign to become President Paul, we'll have plenty of coverage right here, so please check in regularly to enjoy our updated coverage of the 2012 Presidential Campaign, and Congressman Ron Paul's major role in that campaign.

Of course I wouldn't want to sign off without mentioning something else, something fun that we all can enjoy, and of course that is Gaming! I've been playing a game recently called Dragon Age 2. It's by a company called Bioware, and as you might've guessed, its a sequel. I want to give you a review of that game, and I want to do that review justice by giving it its own post, so for now let me say that if you haven't gotten the game yet, you should try to find it on sale, once it's available at a reasonable price you should definitely get it. Its probably not worth a full price of 60 dollars, but 35 or 40? That's probably a fair deal. If you can get it even cheaper, then do so with confidence knowing you're getting a good deal! I'll explain why I feel this game is good but not as good as the original in a future post.

Thank you to everyone for reading my blog, feel free to leave a comment if you like, and if you'd like me to review a certain game feel free to request that as well, you never know, I might have played it and be able to review it too! Until next time, have fun everybody!