Chatterbox Review: RAAM’s Shadow Gears of War 3 Add-on.

Oh it feels good to be back. This week, I just downloaded the Gears of war 3 add-on: RAAM’s Shadow… a prequel to the original Gears of War story.

First and foremost, this edition of DLC adds new characters to the mix in your multiplayer dealings. Not only will you get Kim and Tai remixes, but you’ll also get all new Michael Barrick and Alecia Valero for the COG side. For the Locusts, you will now be able to play as General RAAM remixed and the all new Elite Theron. Weapon skins added will be Chocolate, which is basically brown swirled. Also if you’re playing this Holiday season, be sure to check out the Mint and Candy Cane weapon skins. It’s sure to make your season bright!

As for the campaign prequel…

Wise-cracking Michael Barrick plays the role Marcus plays in the story. Instead of the COG, you’re fighting for the Zeta Squad. You start out in a Gears 1-like setting where things aren’t so destroyed, but the Locust are pressing the action, by flanking and more large villains. We also get a little history on Jace Stratton which I thought was kind of cool. For me, there were 3 “big fight” scenarios that we’re built with my favorite being the collision between Zeta and the Elite Theron. What a cool and unique character to deal with. The battle with RAAM was very lackluster for me. I played it on Hardcore and it took no time to complete once I figured out the pattern of things.

Speaking of RAAM…

For the first time, you get to control RAAM through a couple of scenes of the campaign. The initial run was very cool. He has his very own “Beast Mode” mechanism that unleashes the Kryll that evaporates the enemy with just a point of his finger. For fun, I call this, ‘The Cheese Touch’ (Diary of a Wimpy Kid anyone?)! There are a couple more levels of destroying walls, enabling the seeders to fill the sky with ink so the locust can unleash the Kryll so it kind of starts to feel a little routine and boring to an extent. As a tip, I would say to utilize RAAM’s sword charge to get you where you are going faster. RAAM walks slowly otherwise.

All in all, I thought it was pretty solid for DLC. It added an hour or so of extra gameplay, new multiplayer characters, and weapon skins. I didn’t care for Barrick’s wise cracking as I only like for Baird to make the jokes in the Gears franchise. I also can’t get over the fact that he resembles a white Kimbo Slice. That’s just funny! I was a little disappointed that Skorge was not featured in this one as well. For as tough as he was built up to be in Gears 2 (Marcus mentioned that Skorge made RAAM look like a whimp, or something to that effect), his battle scenes were very lame. I’m hoping a future DLC features him and a fitting battle that doesn’t include ride-ons.All in all, this DLC is worth it. It was fun for 90% of the time and you get some cool characters to use.

RAAM is still one of the baddest villains in any video game, period! He looks very intimidating and his initial battle in Gears 1 made the game for me! Great stuff!

Until next time…

Save Room 4 Love,

Brad (The Chatterbox)

Chatterbox Black Friday Tips!

 

I have been a loyal Black Friday shopper for many years now. To put it into video game speak, if Black Friday were Call of Duty, I would be 5 times prestige mode… many years under my belt! This year, I decided to share some of my most precious tips on how to have a successful Black Friday shopping experience.

1) Grab a couple of the 5 hour energy drinks and use them! With most of the stores opening up at 10pm or Midnight on Thanksgiving, some may feel the need to load up on coffee or those tall energy drinks! The party rule comes into play here. As soon as you break the seal and start going to the bathroom, you will be visiting the bathroom at every store, while other people are snarfing up the doorbuster deals!

2) Bring a chair and a blanket. More than likely, you’ll be in a line waiting outside for a good couple of hours. I’d say to get a decent spot in line, get to your top priority store 2 hours early and bring something to entertain you (ipod touch, DS, etc.). It’s going to be a long time, so might as well be comfortable. I would also suggest bringing somewhat disposable blankets/chairs. I have a set that was originally put in a garage sale, but now I use these solely for Black Friday. Seeing how you don’t want to bring it into the store with you when you go, you can park it outside and you have a good chance for somebody NOT to steal it. You will more than likely have to dump trash out of it when you come out though. That is a given. People are jerks.

3) Plan your route ahead of time! I like to take a lot of back roads in order to make right turns into the parking lots of the stores. You always have somebody who has no business being out of the house stopping in the middle of an intersection and holding everything up. If you can make a right turn, do it!

4) Schmooze with people in line! You’re usually stuck there for a couple of hours with people and sometimes this can be used in your favor. I’ve had it go both ways where I had a parent tell me something they are looking for and I happen to be in front of them to grab the last one to hand to them. Not only does it work the other way at times, but it just feels good to do something nice. After all, the Christmas season officially starts on Black Friday and Santa IS watching you!

5) Lastly, you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you don’t find the DVDs or CDs you’re looking for at places like Best Buy and Target… WalMart is price matching all items that they have in stock. What I typically do is find a lonely Walmart in a quiet area (not so much in a town with a Mall or other stores) and do my entire price matching there. It’s actually easier than fighting the crowd in some of these stores.
That officially wraps up this edition of Breaking Down Black Friday! If you do decide to go out, be safe and remember to have a good time. I don’t want to read any reports of fighting or deaths… I MEAN IT!

Save Room 4 Love (and Christmas Spirit),

Brad (The Chatterbox)

Disney’s Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice

Lanny and Wayne are at it again with ABC’s new half-hour special “Naughty vs. Nice” set to premiere December 5th!

The sequel to the original hit will feature a couple of new elves… including a member of the Coal Bucket Brigade; Wayne’s estranged brother Noel. Noel is called upon as the naughty child expert when the North Pole is hacked and their super top-secret information is compromised. This one looks to be a little more chaotic than the last one, but we’re totally looking forward to it in my house!

For me, Prep & Landing is a throwback to the Christmas Specials that were on when I was a kid. Growing up, all of our favorite cartoons had some kind of Holiday special… whether it was for Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. These days, a lot of production companies aren’t even bothering to produce Christmas specials. I don’t know if they don’t make any money or what, but I’m certainly grateful that Disney keeps giving us installments of Prep & Landing.

Speaking of Prep & Landing…

Make sure you pick up the Prep & Landing DVD set to release on November 22nd. This features the original Prep & Landing special as well as the animated short, “Operation: Secret Santa”. There might be some special release giveaways with this one, but if not and you don’t want to pay $14.99 for it, then you can snag it from Toys ‘R’ Us on Black Friday for $9.99. Can’t really beat that for a quality Christmas Special. I think that wraps it up for this edition. Be sure to follow me on twitter @Chatterbox4REAL

Save Room 4 Love,

Brad (The Chatterbox)

Disney’s “Tangled Ever After” animated short set for January release!

Disney announced earlier in the week that there will be a follow-up to their 2010 hit Tangled. This one will be coming in the form of an animated short attached to the theatrical release of Beauty and the Beast 3D in theatres, January 13th.

From what I understand, this takes off right where Tangled left off. This is centered around the wedding and all the madness leading up to the “big day”. Pascal is the “Flower Chameleon” and Maximus is the ring bearer that ends up losing the wedding bands. As you can imagine, this is going to be a pretty wild short to prep the audience for Beauty and the Beast 3D!

I’d love to read you comments on this. The Lion King re-release was spectacular, so we’ll have no problem in spending the cash to check out Beauty and the Beast. I have a 3 year old who loves these classics and absolutely LOVES Tangled. I hope to see you there! Be sure to follow me on twitter @Chatterbox4REAL and click Subscribe on my blog link as I will be posting any updates I receive on this as well as merchandise for this special animated short! You know they’ll make it (they had TONS for Toy Story “Hawaiian Vacation”) and I’LL have the info you want on it! Until next time…

Save Room 4 Love,

Brad (The Chatterbox)

Chatterbox Review: App In The Box’s High Tide!

No, this is not an app game about smoking weed. This is simply a game that involves some sweet sea vehicles and wicked jumps.

Hello again! Chatterbox here with a brand new App game review. App In The Box was so kind to send over a brand new game they have developed: High Tides! In this game, it’s simply a race against the storm. You have to use a slingshot motion with the vehicles to propel and de-propel (if that’s even a word) in order to maximize the landing and speed. You have fuel that helps you get in the air, but it seems to run out rather quickly. I will say that my personal favorite vehicle to cruise in is the Jet Boat. It’s just cool!

I must say that the first few times I played this, I was a little confused/frustrated. I would highly suggest reading the directions closely… it makes a world of difference! This game is well the $0.99 price tag. It’s challenging enough to keep you interested in playing and it’s fun.

In closing, I’m telling you to buy it. It’s a great game, from a great group of developers. Be sure to check out their website by clicking here ! Also, be sure to follow them on twitter @appinthebox. These guys need some more followers. That pretty much sums it up for this edition. Until next time…

Save Room 4 Love,

Brad (The Chatterbox)

Christmas 2011 Part 1: Knowing when is appropriate to start decorating.

Welcome back and sorry it’s been so long since my last post! Today I’m talking about a very special time of year. A time when (for the most part) people are a little more friendly to each other… when adults (like myself) turn into big kids again… I’m talking about Christmas!

This year, I had been completely overlooking Halloween to get to this moment. Like a General, I had my plan of attack on decorating for Christmas. Sometimes (in my house), decorating for Christmas feels like a war zone. We have acquired so many decorations over the years, it’s almost too difficult to find a good starting place. Last night, I put on my all time favorite Christmas movie, “A Christmas Story” and put up my village to match (as seen above). It’s a pretty great start!

Earlier in the day, my wife helped solved a minor problem with my daughter asking if Santa had come the night before…

Amber decided to make a tear away countdown chain for Zoe to rip on off each day. Orange and Brown are the ones counting before Thanksgiving and the Green and Red are for Christmas… obviously. In this, Zoe will now be able to see how many days are left until Christmas Day! Very creative idea on my wife’s part. Props to her for that because I thought I was going to have to explain daily to Zoe that Santa doesn’t come until Christmas which is almost 2 months away. We did have a funny conversation about cookies the other night, though…

We were sitting at the dinner table and we brought up for desert, we would bake some cookies for her. She then asked if we were going to bake some for Santa Clause. I told her that they would be hard and yucky by then and Santa likes his Chocolate Chip cookies slightly under-baked with a tall glass of milk LOL! She seemed to understand… *Fingers crossed*

In closing, the reason why I start getting Christmas out so early is because we have so much of it that it takes a while. I’ve never been able to have it completed before Thanksgiving. For the past couple of years, Amber and I have been on a quest for lazy December where we basically loaf around and watch Christmas movies while eating snacks lol. For now, that pretty much wraps it up for my part 1 edition of Christmas 2011. Be sure to check back this month and next month because I’ll be posting quite a bit! I’ll be talking about music, movies, decorations, candy, cookies, A Christmas Story House, anonymous Grinch gifts, Bronners, and more!

Halloween Part 4: Trick-or-Treat Night!

Welcome back to The Chatterbox blog. This will be my final Halloween post for 2011. Next year, I plan to go all out for my little trick or treaters and I’ll explain why…

This year, I recycled my Elvis costume since I had never worn it for the kids in my neighborhood. This was sewn by my Mother in Law and she did an excellent job on it. The kids responded very well. Not only did I have the costume, but I was playing some classic EP music to compliment things. I had a couple of kids come up and ask for a Hunka Hunka candy and then said “Thank you… thank you very muuch.” Very cool. Most of the parents were walking along the road, but I had several come over and let me know how much they were looking forward to coming to our house. At that point, all of the frustrations I had with the season had been forgotten. I ended up emptying all of my candy this year which is good for me because it’ll be less for me to eat :D.

Zoe had a great time with her Bullseye costume for about 20 minutes. It’ll make for a great picture once I put my Lotso costume back on and pose with her.

My cat, Sinatra even got in on the fun. Zoe didn’t care much for him in costume. She got very upset. Here’s how the argument went down…

Zoe: Kee kee can’t wear that!
Me: Why not?
Zoe: Because Kee Kee not a king!
Me: Why can’t Kee Kee be a king?
Zoe: Because he too little!
Me: But Simba was a king as a baby.
Zoe: …
Me: Your argument is invalid!
Zoe: (walks over and rips the costume off Sinatra) Don’t put it on him again!

End of argument

Zoe said she wanted to scare me, and I told her no. She kept arguing with me and so I told her “Well don’t put on that mask because that is toooooo scary and I’ll have a nightmare. So on went the mask. This is why I love having little ones in the house for Halloween. It makes everything so much fun!

In closing, I’m going to ramp up the decorations for next year (more home made ones) and really put on a display for the neighborhood kids. Kids grow up so fast these days, so if I can make them forget about cell phones, mp3 players, facebooks, etc. then I think I’ve done a huge service for them. The more they are encouraged to use their imaginations, the better! We had a lot of family out this year, so it was also great! The more, the merrier is always my thought! I think next year, I’m going to put some of them to work to advertise this blog a little better. Not a bad idea :D. Be sure to leave me a comment, subscribe to my blog, and/or follow me on twitter @Chatterbox4REAL. I’ll be back in the upcoming weeks with LOADS and LOADS of Christmas postings, so stay tuned.

Save Room 4 Love,

Brad (The Chatterbox)

Halloween Part 3: Pumpkin Carving!

Hey! Chatterbox back to share some fun Halloween Jack-o-Lanterns that we’ve done this year and then 2 from last year!

Traditional Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin
This one was done by my 3-year-old, Zoe. My wife, Amber drew on it with a sharpie, then Zoe cut it almost perfectly (with supervision, of course). Proud Daddy right here!

Elvis Silhouette Pumpkin
This was Amber’s Pumpkin for the year. She did a really nice job and will look great on display while I pass out candy this year (dressed as Elvis)!

Disney Rapunzel Pumpkin
I expected this one to be alot easier. I found the pattern on Disneyfamily.com because Zoe absolutely LOVES Tangled. This was not easy at all. All of the tiny little details in her hair were extremely difficult to get right. If you add the cheap little pumpkin saws I was using, and you have yourself the ingredients for disaster. I think it turned out ok though.

Lotso Huggin’ Bear Pumpkin
This was from last year’s set. It matched my costume! I found one of the promotional posters for Toy Story 3 and cropped his face out using Photoshop. From there, I made a stencil and printed it out! The rest is history! My favorite one (that I’ve carved) to date!

Chatterbox Brad Pumpkin
Last year, I had bought about 6 pumpkins and I was running out of ideas towards the end of our carving excursion last year. Previously, I created a high-resolution stencil of my face for another project online, so I decided to print it out and carve my face onto the pumpkin. This one was especially hard to complete because I was laughing the entire time. Who honestly carves a pumpkin of themselves? Honestly? Lol this was pretty outrageous, but I think it was my wife’s favorite. Whenever we start to talking about the pumpkins, she always bring it up. Gotta love her. She puts up with my madness!

In closing, I will do a better job next year of posting Halloween earlier. For kicks and giggles, I’ll include a tutorial on how to create your own stencil and then transfer them to a pumpkin! I’ve got many ways and ideas on how to do these and each year, I experiment more so I’ll be sure to share. In the meantime, please follow or subscribe and I’d love to hear comments or requests. Until next time…

Save Room 4 Love,

Brad (The Chatterbox)

Haunted Ohio!

There are many activities to participate in during the month of October with all of the Halloween festivities, but one of my absolute favorites would have to be checking out the latest and greatest haunted attraction. There are a few that I visit on a regular basis, and then  occasionally visit a new one if there has been enough buzz about it. I have 2 that I’ve favored for a few years with 1 new discovery and would like to share them today.

FOT2

This weekend marks the ever so special Halloween Weekend! For me (and I’m sure it’s like this for the actors as well), Halloween weekend is like the Superbowl or Wrestlemania weekend for haunted houses. I’ve been to many before and during and it seems like during Halloween weekend, the scare factor is ramped up to the max! The Zombies have an extra hunger for Braaaaaiiiins, the Vampires are a little more bloody, the Werewolves are howling a little louder at the moon, and the Maniacs crank up the insanity. Sometimes, it’s just good fun to have somebody scare the pants off of you! 😀

FOT1

1. The Factory of Terror (www.factoryofterror.net)

The fact that this haunt has the world record in The Guinness Book Of World Records for Longest Haunted House is reason enough to give it a look. I’ve got to be honest that this is the main reason why I was so interested in checking it out as well. Usually with something that is advertised to be MASSIVE or HUGE is alot of walking with nothing going on and/or poor quality in production. This was not the case with the FOT. There are TONS of actors throughout this haunt as well as many props including 3D Black lighting effects and a mirror maze! If you happen to need a breather during the haunt, there is a stopping point about half of the way through to rest, go to the bathroom, and purchase merchandise/refreshments. The staff were so ghoulishly kind enough to walk us through so I could snap a few pictures (the few photos you see are from the FOT). I made sure to be careful to not take TOO detailed pictures so that I don’t give any of the scares/props away so we’re good on that. In closing on this one, I have got to see it one more time and this is going to be my Saturday night fright place for Halloween weekend! I hope to see you here and be sure to say ‘hi’ if you see me there or tell them DiscoveringOhio.com sent you!

 

2. Dead Acres/The Haunted Hoochie (www.deadacres.com)

The name kind of lets you know what to expect from the start. This is a dirty, raunchy, graphic time with the crew from Pataskala, but is fun to the max. Word has it, they work hard to make you sick! I didn’t post any photos from this one because they are a little more on the risqué side that are alot more revealing… not something you would expect t see on a family site, eh? In all honesty though, this is my absolute favorite haunt, though. The costumes and the effects are top notch! The actors are VERY interactive with the “victims” which tends to make things a little more fun for everybody. This is one that we make sure to visit every year and I’m sure they’ll be on their baddest behavior this weekend.

 

3. The Ohio State Reformatory Haunted Prison Experience (www.hauntedx.com)

There is enough history in the prison alone that could make this a creepy experience, but add in the actors and the scenery that the Haunted X crew has placed in and you have an  experience that nightmares are made of. You actually get to walk into the cell areas that happens to be eerily cool and dark. For me, just knowing you’re walking amongst ghosts is enough to make your skin crawl. If you’re looking for more of a real experience, then definitely check this one out!

 

In closing, all 3 of these haunts are worth the price of admission (ticket prices are in the $20 area). If you do decide to go, make sure that you’re a good sport and react to the actors. I simply cannot stand watching people who are cooler than words who simply will not do anything like they are to prove that they are the Brock Lesnar tough guy who isn’t afraid of the simulated horror of a haunted house. You’re there for entertainment purposes, so let the actors entertain you. Thanks for reading and I’d love to read about your experiences as well as suggestions for my 2012 Halloween Fun Run! Until next time…

Save Room 4 Love,

Brad (The Chatterbox)

Halloween Part 2: Decorations!

Welcome back to The Chatterbox Blog. We’re going extra spooktacular this month for Halloween, but it’s coming with a few struggles. Today, I am going to discuss my frustrations with decorations!

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved to decorate for Halloween. Even after the initial depression of no longer going trick-or-treating door to door in my neighborhood, I still enjoyed putting on a nice display of lights and decorations to enhance the experience for trick-or-treaters. This year, I am struggling more than ever with getting things out and I blame it on one thing… QUALITY! Since my wife and I moved into our home, I’ve been spending a couple hundred dollars each year to build up my Halloween decoration stash and it has grown rather large over the years (same with Christmas lights/decor). This year, I start to get everything out and over half of my lights no longer work and some of the ones that DO actually work, only half of them work. The pumpkin lights have busted off of the bulbs and so on. This has put a great deal of frustration on me this year to the point where I’m not looking past Halloween! I have my giant spider web in between my two large trees with an inflatable spider and some orange rope lights on the front deck where I’ll be passing out candy. That’s it!

Why is it that nobody makes QUALITY decoration items any more? The same can be said about Christmas decor as well. Growing up, it seemed like my parents had the same few strands of lights and set around decorations each and every year. Then when a bulb went bad, you could actually buy replacements that didn’t cost as much as the original set of lights.

So yeah, this year’s Halloween for me is a bust! I’m not even there yet and I’m not as excited for it. I also think a part of the reason is that my baby girl is 3 this year and pay attention to more things and has become afraid of certain things like Freddy, Wolfman, etc. so it’s hard to get enjoyment out of displaying the things if it’s just going to frighten her.

In closing, I believe next year will mark the year I begin to create my own decorations and bring the display back bigger, badder, and better than ever. Aside from maybe some lights here and there, I will no longer buy Halloween OR Christmas decorations until the quality improves… or until they re-release the inflatable Burl Ives Snowman from The Rudolph Cartoon lol. Until next time…

Save Room 4 Love,

Brad (The Chatterbox)

P.S. Next blog, I will share my Pumpkin carvings. I’ve got a couple good ones this year that I’m looking to do. We’ll see how they turn out! 😀