Review – Alabaster: Wolves #1 of 5

Written By: Caitlín R. Kiernan
Art & Letters By: Steve Lieber
Colors By: Rachelle Rosenberg
Cover By: Greg Ruth
Variant Cover By: Michael Avon Oeming
Published By: Dark Horse

Dancy Flammarion, a young albino girl, is being directed by an invisible angel and appears to be on a mission to rid the world of various monsters. This issue introduces us to Dancy, our heroine as she waits at a bus stop in what appears to be a dilapidated, abandoned town. As she waits, a bird with a serious attitude appears and they strike up a tenuous conversation. This conversation is our first indication that the world is a little different from what we are used to. We also learn, as a woman appears, that Dancy has quite the reputation, she’s a badass that’s being guided by a higher power! This issue focuses on Dancy and the stranger who we quickly learn wants to kill her. They participate in a battle of wits which finally ends in a battle royale. Will Dancy live to fight another day and if she does will there be consequences for her actions?

This is an amazing story. Dancy has the perfect mix of youth, smarts and the will to survive. I was intrigued from start to finish. There is enough mystery to keep you glued to the page and enough explanation that you don’t feel lost. I loved and was blown away by the art. The cover is amazing. The muted tones really do an excellent job conveying the mood of the story and the strangers slow transformation is fabulous. The dialog is phenomenal and the character development is spot on giving you just enough to want more. The story itself moves at a great pace and builds tension
as it progresses. This is a fantastic read, it’s highly recommended and I can’t wait for the next issue!

Release Date: April 11th, 2012

Links: Pre-Order | Preview

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Skyrim just got a bit better – Graphic mod mania!

So you’re on a PC, you’re running Skyrim and loving it like mad and… you’re a bit frustrated at some of the visuals in the game. If you have a strong video card you’re not in trouble. The following tweaks will get you insane visuals without a lot of stress but you will take a performance hit if you’re on a lesser system.

Recommended Video Cards:

NVIDIA: 8800GTX,9800GTX,260,280.295,460,470,480,550,560,570,580,590

ATI: 3850/70, 4830/50/70/90, 5770, 5830/50/70, 5970, 6770/90, 6850/70, 6950/70/90

Why the crazy suggestions? Lots of power and lots of memory are a must, 256mb variants and cards not able to keep up with the instructions may fall to the wayside. Even Oblivion mods took the game to levels where the CPU and GPU fell under the demand. With that said let’s get going.

Skyrim HD – 2K Textures

Loving the look of Skyrim but tired of the dull textures tending to slow things down? Love how things look great from a distance but have you cringe up close? If so, this is a must have starter pack to show some results. The mod updates your existing image files to higher resolution textures and gives Skyrim a huge injection of awesome in the process. This is still in progress so keep checking in for new additions to areas that might be on the to-do list though.

 

No More Blocky Faces

You run into people alllll the time in Skyrim, sometimes their faces just seem a bit… off. This mod fixes nearly all areas of the face so they look less choppy, smooth noses, faces, chins and etc are all there. Xenius the creator notes that eyes and brows are the only thing left on the list to wrap up, the rest of the features show immediate improvements and should make talking to someone or slashing them in the face just that extra bit more pleasant. Personally I didn’t notice the issue until after I saw this mod, then it started appearing quite often.

 

Detailed Faces v2

Xenius seems quite busy, detailed faces accomplishes what Bethesda had to hold back on,  the character textures step up in resolution and allow for tighter lines and finer details. No longer are skin pores huge and cracks dangerously large, combine this with the blocky face mod and things take a huge step up, even on the big uglies that run around Skyrim. It’s a basic tweak but again, you’re always running into people or they’re tracking you down to find their brothers, uncles, cousins, nephews, aunts, sisters penguin.

 

STEP – Skyrim Total Enhancement Project

Sometimes it seems a bit insane to keep up with all this, for casual players and less tech savvy users, the STEP mod is going strong and it’s looking great. It packs in all the base tweaks, textures and items you need for an overhaul of Skyrim without the need to constantly check for mod updates on everything you’re running. I would recommend this for hardcore users or casual ones as it’s a great base to work from and you can only improve after that. Also for casual users the author promises to update the files and mods within the STEP file until the release of TES6 so you’re good for the next 5 years or so haha.

 

Skyrim Enhanced Shaders

The shaders in Skyrim seem to do the job fine, although when you see things like the Enhanced Shader mod you realize there are some off moments that you might overlook from the pure action going on. Dragon fire in the night blazing through the sky and everything failing to react to the red-orange glow bellowing out is just one of those issues. Add it in and get immediate results to clear those areas you might start picking away at now that I’ve said this.

Changes include Adaptive Bloom, Enhanced HDR and HLSL sharpening to help boost the visuals even more. Skyrim does the  job with their HDR actually but the color palette could use some work as shown to the right.

 

 

 

 

Glowing Ore Veins

Doing the little things is a pain in Skyrim, as a last note in this post I’ll throw in Glowing Ore Veins, some sections of the game including the caves just get unbelievably dark and hard to ID ores and other items within. This takes off some of the stress but if you’re going for hardcore realism then it would be best to avoid this one.

Ores are identified by glow so you wont mine a single color and just hope it’s the one you need with no way to remember. The latest update turns Iron from purple to a reddish-orange as well.

Big thanks to the folks at Skyrim Nexus for bringing together a strong mod community. We’ll have more posts in the future highlighting other mods as everyone gets a bit more time.

Review – Kult #4

Writer: Jeremy Barlow
Artist: Iwan Nazif
Colorist: Micheal Atiyeh
Cover Artist: Jake Murray
Published By: Dark Horse Comics

Kult#4 is here! Let us jump into the latest twists. Tomas is now attune to the truth’s of the world, and with his full potential awakened, he understands that he alone can change of the future. As Herzog and Claws Of The Hidden Hand look on anxiously, Tomas tells Astaroth that he understands how the reality machine works and can feel it inside him as they fight. Tomas also mentions that the Demiurge wasn’t the warden of reality prison but was the artist and that Astaroths actions knock the machine off course, for that, his actions will not go unpunished. Herzog and Claws Of The Hidden Hand comment on how the plan they had in course is now in ruins due to Herzog inference, when he awakens Tomas mind. Astaroth then tells Tomas that he’d been looking for the demiurge, and planned to over throw him and take his claim as god. Stating that many have attempt to save humanity and all have failed-died by his hands.  When the battle reaches it’s climax and Tomas cleary the victor, he teleports them to the original city of Metropolis which is now a hellish dwelling for the dammed, with his demise certain Astaroth tries to persuade the creatures to join him but to no avail. Now an arrogant Tomas announces to Astaroth that the demiurge is at the bottom of the abyss, and he’s more then welcome to join him there.

With Astaroth defeated and no one to stand against him, Cassie expresses the concerns Claws of the hidden hand have for the future and that they had devoted their lives to see the day humanity is free from enslavement. Tomas tells Cassie he see’s no reason to change the future, mankind needs order someone to suppress man’s darkest impulse’s. After hearing Tomas’s plans for the world, they attack him but are quickly apprehended, that’s when Cassie asks “Why are you doing this to us” and Tomas replys “Because I’m the Demiurge” That’s when you see the true nature of Tomas Zank.

Let me start by saying that I enjoyed the Kult series and thought it was solid read, the story was not overly complicated nor was it cramped with unnecessary characters. It’s a very simple story straight forward to the point you will not get lost if you miss an issue or two-But if you’re a reader who’s into crazy plots and twist then I suggest you leave this one alone.  The story as well as characters are lacking depth, the writing doesn’t  really grasp your attention. With that said the artist does do a good job capturing what the writing didn’t, Iwan Nazif  Illustration gives the reader a smooth transition for template to template it’s not clustered or overly detail. So, if you’re a casual comic reader then you would enjoy Kult but if you’re a hard reader then some of its faults my turn you away..

 

Story:★★★½☆ 
Art:★★★½☆ 
Dialog:★★★☆☆ 
Overall:★★★½☆ 

 

Review – Kult #3

Writer: Jeremy Barlow
Artist: Iwan Nazif
Colorist: Micheal Atiyeh
Cover Artist: Jake Murray
Published By: Dark Horse Comics

 

In the last issue,  Herzog opened Tomas’ mind to truth of the world as it is, the human race as slaves, and that he has the power to change the future. After a using his new abilities Tomas and new traveling companion Cassie Boyer narrowly escape death. Worried about the safety of his daughters, they teleport to Lillyvine Hospital the where Tomas children are staying.

Issue #3 –  Tomas and Cassie  are making their way through the hospital to see if Mary & Agnes are safe, on the way they run into Mark someone Tomas helped awhile back with his aid they reached the children’s ward only to find that all the children including Tomas daughters are in a comatose state, this cause’s Tomas to break down and leaves him open for an attack by Astaroth who’s disgusted as Cassie, once again Tomas has stumble into another life or death situation and must use his new-found powers to survive ……..

In a comic where there are  multiple realities, I have to say Atiyeh and Nazif’s transition from each world goes along admirably. Throughout  the issue Nazif’s Artwork along with Atiyeh’s coloring is first-rate, the reader should have now problem telling the difference between each reality, the Kult team deserves recognition for how great the series is coming together.

Like I said I’m interested on seeing how the Kult world evolves, I recommend Dark Horse’s Kult # 3 which is out now! So go check it out…….

Story:★★★½☆ 
Art:★★★½☆ 
Dialog:★★★☆☆ 
Overall:★★★½☆ 

 

 

Review – Kult #2

KULT #2

Release Date: September 07, 2011

  • Writer: Jeremy Barlow
  • Artist: Iwan Nazif
  • Colorist:Michael Atiyeh
  • Cover Artist: Jake Murra

Kult has already achieved legendary status in the Roleplaying world, now trying to make a name for its self in the comic book world. Kult#2  gives us a glimpse of what  to come in the future for Tomas Zenk

This issue of Kult #2 Tomas Zenk is left in a endless labyrinth and trying disparately to escape, confused and disorient Zank meet’s a wonder Herzog who takes him to safety. There herzog  proceeds to tell him about the evil that has complete dominance over the world he’s trapped in..and that only he has the power to change all of that, unsettled Tomas leaves herzog camp only to fall right back into a bad situation which forces him to use his abilities to survive…

Iwan Nazif Visual storytelling  of the Kult world is solid, Jeremy Barlow writing compliments the  clean artwork by Nazif all and all everything flows pretty well.

Here’s what I think about Kult #2. After reading a few pages I kind of got the feeling I knew this  story, then it hit me “The matrix! I’m not going to say it’s exactly like matrix but I can see the similarities in the story so far. You can say that it’s simplistic, and that nothing really jumps out at you but it’s well written, sometimes It does seem like the story is rushed, only cause how it flows. Overall  if they take time and not rush it Kult has some potential….I’ll just say I’m interested on seeing how the Kult world unfolds.

iCEnhancer 1.2.5 is available!

It’s here, only a few weeks of waiting too! iCEnhancer 1.2.5 for Grand Theft Auto IV on the PC!

Download now! – Download link from GTA mods grabs you a link to mediafire, not sure if the 102mb+download is too much bandwidth use for the servers there or not. Either way don’t panic when you see the text file.

Okay with that said, you can also check out the Youtube clips below from the finished 1.2.5 for a glimpse of what you’re getting into. keep in mind that you really do need some higher end hardware with a lot of video memory. I was running it on a 4850 and it looked great but I was handicapped by my lack of VRAM available.

For those wondering, this isn’t the final version of the mod, iCEnhancer has pictures listed on a facebook page to show off a secret WIP build going on. 🙂 The header image is taken from that album.

 [ad#Google Adsense]