CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.
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CHICAGO – A part of me likes thinking that somewhere in the Middle East, an American like Sam Fisher is prowling. Clear and present danger abound, mind racing with a dozen different ways the next few seconds could play out. A guard wanders close to his hiding place. Does he take them out with a silenced bullet to the head? Show mercy and knock them out - or simply let him walk by?
CHICAGO – During a 4th grade sleepover party for a kid I knew named David, I waddled downstairs looking for the potty, and set eyes on a most fascinating game being played by David’s older brother on a computer. I’d never seen anything like it. There was a 3D globe, customizable characters, a haunting soundtrack and atmosphere, aliens, urban environments, and at the time, it was the most awesome thing I’d ever seen.
CHICAGO – Somewhere between getting abducted by aliens, dropped into a ’50s TV sitcom, leaping off a space platform in the buff in a direct reference to “Mass Effect 2”, and flying through space in a “Return Of The Jedi”-esque escape, “Saints Row 4” snagged me with both hands, and I forgave it for past transgressions.
CHICAGO - If you close your eyes and picture some of the iconic moments in gaming history, most of them involve some sort of personal touch. The fireworks when you beat a level in “Super Mario Brothers”, the first time you were attacked by dozens of chickens in “The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past”, hiding in a cardboard box in “Metal Gear Solid”, the “Lazlo” show in “Grand Theft Auto III” and probably whatever your personal favorite gaming moment is, all managed to connect with gamers on a level beyond simply ‘gaming’ - instead ingratiating themselves into our psyches via charm and character, remaining there forever.
CHICAGO - This past February, wading through a few inches of snow late at night on a quarter-mile jaunt to buy Black and Milds from a convenience store, subconsciously a mite terrified about what exactly was lurking in the woods and shadows, I realized there was no going back to how it was. The binary concepts of good and evil, right and wrong, black and white, felt light-years away. In their place a million shades of gray. It was…bittersweet.
CHICAGO – The term ‘serviceable’ gets kind of a bad wrap when it comes to console gaming. Unlike the more wallet-friendly PC or Mobile platform, you’re paying north of sixty dollars for pretty much any new console game. With so many major games being released every year, titles that are just ‘okay’ are generally disregarded. Couple that with a looming cycle of new console hardware, if a development studio isn’t releasing high-profile games like “The Last of Us”, “Grand Theft Auto” or “Call of Duty” they’re probably not gonna make a big enough splash to make any money. Which is a shame because I have mostly benevolent feelings toward “Fuse”, a completely serviceable 3rd person shooter from Insomniac games.
CHICAGO – Of “Star Trek”’s 725+ hours of film and television over the years, I’ve seen at least…650 of them, probably more. I care about the franchise, care about its canon, and absolutely love taking every opportunity I can to explore its themes, scientific theories, history, and lore. It’s a show with nearly unequaled depth. Hell, seemingly years of my life have been spent at www.ditl.org reading about the soft-sciences behind the “Star Trek” mythos. I also really liked what JJ Abrams did with the property in the 2009 reboot, and its sequel, too - despite its…murky relationship with the laws of physics.
CHICAGO – There’s nothing quite like exceeding bottom-of-the-barrel-low expectations. Considering “Call of Juarez”’s less than spectacular reputation amongst gamers - the last game in the series was referred to as “the kind of racist one” - it’s kind of neat to see the franchise may have a little something to offer after-all.
CHICAGO – Much to the chagrin of practically everyone I know, the idea of “relaxing” is a bit…underwhelming (which is probably the point). Even with the crash of the waves, warm sand, girls in bikinis, surfing, snorkeling, and the ability to re-enact those Corona beer commercials, well, not to sound ungrateful to the Barbadoses and Bermudas of the world, I’d be bored in 10 minutes. But if you give me an arcade, or a golf course, or a football, or, well, thousands of undead zombies, as is the case in “Dead Island: Riptide” suddenly we have ourselves a ball game.
CHICAGO – I’m of the mind that the most enjoyable video games are often times, in a way, toys. “Grand Theft Auto”, “Far Cry 3”, “Minecraft”, “Red Faction: Guerrilla”, and even the best sports games like “NBA 2K13” and older “NCAA Football” titles all contain features or elements of gameplay that tickle the tinkering part of a player’s imagination.