What We Know: Mortal Kombat 11

Nobody can escape the brutal wrath of Mortal Kombat. The gruesome fighter gets ready to rip the world in half later this month with its eleventh entry. Before arriving in the arena to fight against friends, let’s prepare with all that is known as of now about MK 11.

Story

Following the story of the last two releases, consequences of the amount of time manipulation will have characters face against different versions of themselves, peers, and foes. Much of the narrative will focus on Raiden and his darker form.

New Gameplay Elements

Death blows are a new move that unlocks when a player’s health reaches low enough. Once the bar hits the threshold, then a special, brutal attack that can help recover from the losing battle.

Perfect blocks deal extra damage if you can time your blocks correctly. This adds to a new level of strategy that may alter the playstyle of veterans of the world’s most violent puncher.

Offensive and defensive meters have been moved to allow for new strategies and resource management for certain attacks.

Customization will grow significantly compared to previous NeatherRealm games. Similar to Injustice 2, adding new armor and other equipment can boost your character’s abilities and attributes to give you the edge in kombat.

Roster

The new Mortal Kombat will feature 25 total characters, two of which are DLC. A mix of classic and new fighters will appear. The list appears below:

  • Scorpion
  • Raiden
  • Sub-Zero
  • Sonya Blade
  • Baraka
  • Skarlet
  • Geras (new)
  • Kano
  • Kabal
  • D’Vorah
  • Jade
  • Johnny Cage
  • Cassie Cage
  • Jacqui Briggs
  • Erron Black
  • Kotal Kahn
  • Jax
  • Liu Kang
  • Kung Lao
  • Noob Saibot
  • Cetrion (new)
  • The Kollector (new)
  • Kitana
  • Shao Kahn (DLC)
  • Shang Tsung (DLC)

Pre-order Bonuses

Standard: Base game and any pre-order bonuses for a standard copy.

Premium: Base game and the Kombat Pack that includes six DLC characters, a week early access to the DLC, seven exclusive fighter skins, and seven pieces of exclusive character gear. If you pre-order a physical copy of the premium edition then a Mortal Kombat Steelbook comes with the game along with all of the DLC listed.

Kollector: Everything listed above, plus a steel book case, collector’s box, Scorpion’s mask (not wearable).

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Release and Platforms

Mortal Kombat comes out on Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The game arrives on April 23.

Pre-order and support the blog:

Pre-order and support the blog: Mortal Kombat 11 – PlayStation 4

Pre-order and support the blog: Mortal Kombat 11: Premium Edition – PlayStation 4

Pre-order and support the blog: Mortal Kombat 11 – Xbox One

Pre-order and support the blog: Mortal Kombat 11: Premium Edition – Xbox One

Image via NetherRealm

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What We Know: Days Gone

PlayStation has reinvented themselves this generation with a focus on high-quality singleplayer games. The only heavy hitter that has an official release date for 2019 is Days Gone. The apocalyptic biker title arrives in two weeks, so let’s build up the hype more by diving into all of its details.

Story

Deacon St. John, a member of a biker gang located in the Pacific Northwest, has been surviving with his group for the past two years against a freaker (the game’s term for zombies) outbreak. While not much is known about Deacon’s journey, the story will be centered around both survival and personal issues with the protagonist.

Open World

The world of Days Gone has plenty to offer. SIE Bend Studio aims to give every player a unique experience by random weather generating, enemies appearances, and items found in the world. The dynamic weather will change how characters, especially freakers and bandits, will behave.

Going around the world is centered around the bike called the drifter. This is not some vehicle to take you from point A to B. The motorcycle acts as its own character that you need to take care of with refueling it with gas, repairing damages, and upgrading to enhance its abilities like speed and bag sizes.

Like many open world games, you can expect side missions and activities. These have not been detailed too much. Bandit camps have been shown and exploring areas for new items will be a significant aspect. Helping members of your crew will also be expected.

Gameplay

This is a third-person shooter with a heavy emphasis on letting people play the way they want. Plenty of items and weapons from assault rifles, silenced pistols, and Molotov cocktails allow for plenty of options to deal with potential threats in the wild.

Finding materials will help with crafting. Upgrades for weapons and the Drifter will improve your chances of survival in this hostile environment.

Enemies will have a variety of different behaviors depending on weather, time of day, and their character type. Humans will act a different way from freakers and freakers will have their own various reactions from the several different types that will be found. Their movement is reminiscent of the 2013 adaption of World War Z. A giant swarm of undead creatures that move like a fluid, except here it is more grounded and less ridiculous than Brad Pitt’s zombie adventure.

Editions

Pre-ordering gets complicated with the many variations that company’s offer.

#1: Standard: A crossbow, several upgrades to your bike’s gas tank, nitrous, and shroud. Pre-ordering on the PlayStation store also gives a theme.

#2: Digital Deluxe: Featuring everything listed above plus an artbook, soundtrack, three skins the Drifter, and unlocking the Monkey Wrench skill early on for Deacon.

#3: Physical Collector: Everything above along with a statue of Deacon and the Drifter, six pins, four decals, steel book case, physical and digital soundtrack, and artbook.

Release

Days Gone launches exclusively for the PlayStation 4 on April 26

Pre-order here and support the blog:

Pre-order: Days Gone

Pre-order: Days Gone Collector’s Edition

Image via PlayStation/SIE Bend Studio

Movie Review: Shazam!

Going to the theater to see a DC film is a dangerous move that will risk wasting money and wasting two hours that could have been spent with anything more enjoyable. That bitter taste lingers in some areas, but DC took some notes from the fun side of Marvel to create Shazam! which is the best from the DC universe by a long shot.

A mysterious wizard named Shazam (Djimon Hounsou) is on his last stride before death, so he needs a new hero to take over to protect Earth from the seven deadly sins. A troubled teenager in Philadelphia living with a foster family, Billy Batson (Asher Angel), gets chosen to become the new Shazam (Zachary Levi). Of course, those demons from hell that were warned about eventually got loose, so now he must learn to become a hero to save the world. Seemingly generic, but this story has quite the personality.

Levi and Angel playing essentially the same character work wonderfully. The role for Levi is nothing new since he is used to playing a man-child from his breakout role in Chuck, but he is able to show he is more than that character. The dynamic personality glows throughout his arc, which has been done many times before, but not often this entertaining. Seeing a hero learn his powers feels more believable when they are having fun, especially a 14-year-old. It is hard to say that someone would not want to test out their powers in the most thrilling ways like a child, even if they are an adult.

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Image via Warner Bros. Pictures/DC

Mark Strong as Dr. Thaddeus Sivana has his typical villainy moments with his overly dark DC vibes. While he has those flaws that make him a bit dull, his backstory and performance make him a lot more compelling. A lesser baddie from others seen in the genre, but far better than anything from the DC extended universe.

The wholesome, loving foster family Billy lives with warmed my heart until I stopped to think how shallow they all feel. Performances from everyone were a joy to watch, but not enough development made me care. What worked is their wonderful chemistry which saved the film from this flaw and made this family feel real. If a few were cut from the film, then others could shine more on screen for a better roster.

The action reminds me of what we see in any Superman flick with some added humor from a Spider-Man story (sorry DC fans for the Marvel reference, but it is the truth). Flying through the city to bash through buildings in a more contained story is a refreshing take. The world is in danger, but having a more intimate setting made every fight more personal between Thaddeus and Shazam.

DC has a color issue with its bland visuals and lousy CGI. Besides Shazam’s beautifully vibrant suit, that is one of my new favorites from any superhero movie, there is not much to admire on the big screen.

The most shocking aspect is the humor. I consistently laughed and for the right reasons. I did not laugh to mock; instead, I laughed for genuinely funny scenes. Everyone has their time for serious and comedic beats that fit correctly.

Two entries in a row from DC that has horror directors working on their big blockbusters. While I felt James Wan’s (Saw and The ConjuringAquaman was atrocious, David F. Sandberg (Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation) managed to implement his horror experience in a way that worked much better without taking away from the tone that makes Shazam! so damn good.

Shazam! is not only a blast, but a great balance of a family movie, superhero adventure, and a new take on the coming of age theme. Any fan of caped heroes who save the little guy needs to stop reading and go to the theater to support this goofy, yet a heartfelt film. For once, a DC movie got its tone right by executing its darker and brighter moments into a cohesive narrative without the jarring shifts like its previous releases.

Score: 8/10

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures/DC

Movie Review: Pet Semetary

Hollywood is lubed up for another big screen recreation of a Stephen King classic novel all over again. Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer adapted another one of his iconic stories which already got the adaption treatment with a painfully outdated film in 1989. Kolsch and Widmyer had two heads to put together an honest depiction of a King masterpiece which had plenty of gaps, but plenty of eerie creepiness to satisfy a horror enthusiast like me.

Like all bad ideas that lead families to have a horrific experience, Louis (Jason Clarke) and Rachel (Amy Seimetz) take their children, Ellie (Jete Laurence) and Gage (Huge and Lucas Lavoie), out of Boston and into a small town to slow things down in life. After one accident with a cat and Louis taking up on a terrible offer from his eccentric neighbor named Jud (John Lithgow) to bury the family cat in a spooky area, the dead come back like themselves, but with a different personality. The family goes through various levels of horror that psychologically and physically attack, while as an audience member, I just had the most amount of anxiety possible.

The story flows well with hints of creepiness to going full speed into a land of utter insanity. Jump scares are thrown in for effect during the slower moments then build up the tension with more intelligence in the latter half, even though the first stands out more compelling than the second. The main issue that pops up is the logical leaps without any real explanation. Plenty of elements get some background, but some psychological aspects did not get enough details to make sense to people who missed out on the novel.

The cast has strong moments on their own, but sometimes miss the beats with chemistry. Lithgow nails his performance as expected. Same with Clarke, Laurence, and Seimetz, but a few parts fell flat in some scenes between what should be a husband and wife relationship. Laurence’s dramatic performance landed on two feet, while the youngest one, Lavoie was another body to fill screen time, which is typical for children that young. Those few missed beats are not fatal but put me off during what should have been more compelling situations.

The subtle uses for shock value and tactics to get in the face of anyone watching worked for the most part. Psychological horror with seemingly random noises and visuals to keep both characters and me on our toes. At times, these psychological moments disrupted some of the flow and confused me with how the semetary’s power worked. Building the lore fell through, making some supernatural elements feel like gimmicks.

A generic horror flick with some great performances and excellent build up, Pet Semetary may have its flaws, but a much better film than most in the genre that continuously throws out anything that can stick. Maybe with smarter writing and more unique scares that did not jump then, this would be a much more worthy King adaption. Horror fans looking to get their fix for that anxiety-inducing experience should still manage to have a good time with this short, sweet, and thrilling remake.

Score: 6/10

Image via Paramount Pictures

5 Villains Who Could Come After Thanos in Phase Four

Thanos’ time runs out shortly later this month with the release of Avengers: Endgame. Since the MCU has built up the Mad Titan for years and gets ready to move on, the big question is who will replace him? A lot of universe shattering or less dramatic Earthling baddies could be the next big threat against Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. These are just a few of those possible enemies.

#5: Sinister Six

Six of Spider-Man’s biggest villains coming together to defeat him would make for the perfect challenge. Since the MCU has focused on more collaborative adventures lately and will continue to do so in the future, then it would be perfect for Spidey to call his friends in the Avengers to help him with this hefty fight.

Some of these criminals who often feature in this diabolical gang in New York has implanted themselves into the MCU already. Vulture featured as the main antagonist in Homecoming with Shocker being a side baddie along with the inclusion of Mac Gargan, who eventually becomes the infamous Scorpion. Now with Far From Home arriving this summer with Mysterio, who appears as a hero with the possibility of turning sides, makes for the fourth character to feature in the Sinister Six. A third film could introduce two more; she which would be easy due to the team of villains having a long history of various members like Kraven the Hunter, Doc Ock, and Green Goblin.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

#4: Doctor Doom

Fox has already screwed up the most recognizable villain, Victor Von Doom/Doctor Doom with their embarrassing attempts at making Fantastic Four adaptions. Now the acquisition has gone through; Marvel can stick their teeth into the glorious superheroes and supervillains at their disposal.

Many people who have only seen the movies would think of the infamous character as someone who faces the Fantastic Four exclusively, but he has had a history with the Avengers. While it would make for a good move on Marvel’s part to dive into more obscure choices, but fans deserve a quality execution of bringing Doctor Doom to the big screen.

Victor’s arsenal of weapons, super armor, and political and economic power from being the monarch of Latveria, a European country that Doom rules over, he covers all bases of strength that could pose a problem for everyone’s favorite team of heroes.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

#3: Kang the Conqueror 

Kang is a time traveler who got bored with his utopian home and in his adventures became a conqueror of planets. He has a long history with running into Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Since the introduction of time travel with the time stone and other cosmic ideas, Marvel could easily introduce Kang. If Endgame does dabble with traveling through time, then this could be the easiest excuse to tease the new antagonist in the after credit scene, which could be unlikely due to the recency of Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

#2: Magus

Adam Warlock’s tease at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 establishes his future presence, but what if he becomes a villain? That is possible since he has a history of being Magus, essentially his doppelganger. Another time travel oriented opponent who lives in another timeline than the heroic Warlock.

While Thanos has an army of aliens and his children, Magus founded the Universal Church of Truth which gives him more than his cosmic powers, but a legion of followers who will do anything for their master.

Magus has the same powers as Adam with equal strength. His cosmic abilities allow for manipulation of time and reality, strength, and much more. Now Captain Marvel enters the MCU as their most powerful hero; she will be able to help even the odds if Magus makes an appearance.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

 

#1: Galactus 

Arguably the most dominant cosmic entity in the universe, Galactus. A world-eating behemoth who could crush anyone in seconds. Besides snacking on planets, he has god-like strength and seemingly endless universal energy powers.

If Thanos is Mt. Everest in the eyes of Marvel, they are looking to the sky to bring utter hell to our heroes. While there are reasons to think Marvel will want to turn to someone more grounded like the Sinister Six, but it is most likely it will be needed to find someone more powerful than the Mad Titan, so nobody is a better choice than the oldest entity in the known universe.

 

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Image via Marvel Comics

Avengers: Endgame releases April 26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EP Review: Life Underfoot – Peaks and Valleys

Life Underfoot is a young, developing band drawing influence from rock, punk, and pop punk to create their own sound in a populated genre. Their EP Peaks and Valleys gives a light touch of what the band can deliver with its acoustic tracks. A short experience that has some emotionally, well-written lyrics and not much else to offer.

Our Swan Song opens up with a slow crawl to an atmospheric acoustic track. The guitars overpower the vocals. Some moments it feels that Andre Judge’s voice is too quiet, while others it comes out balanced with the instrumentation.

Out of the three songs, Clock Face has the most inconsistent sound. While the previous track had some issues with Judge’s voice sounding too quiet, this becomes more apparent that caught me right on the first listen. With a better mix then the acoustic song would standout stronger.

The group put away their acoustic guitars to have something maintaining the same pacing while being powered by electricity with the other guitar. Chroma has a nice contrast to the other two songs with its electric guitar. The change in sound compliments Judge’s voice much better and makes his higher pitched voice much more tolerable. Another issue with the music here except everything is too loud. Unlike the quieter tracks that sounded off, this blasts too much for a slower, somber track.

Life Underfoot has a lot of potentials, but the recording and mixing process threw off what could have been an enjoyable EP with some emotion-provoking lyrics and strong structure. The instrumentation felt too repetitive without not enough difference to make each song stand out as individuals, instead of the first two blends together. With Chroma saving the day with its different dynamics and adding something fresh to Peaks and Valleys.

Score: 5/10

Check out the band and Peaks and Valleys here and on Facebook

Special thanks to Rogue PR for helping making this review possible.

Image via Life Underfoot

Ranking Every Whitechapel Album From Worst to Best

Whitechapel launched their seventh album The Valley which marks a new step into their current evolution from deathcore to a melodic powerhouse. The band has taken different paths and have grown in both popularity and in their musicianship. To celebrate the new record, these are how I rank every release from their worst to best.

#7: Our Endless War (2014)

The band’s 2014 release has a lot of positives about it. They took their self-titled album and advanced their sound further with plenty of great hits like the politically charged title track, the anthemic The Saw is the Law, and the emotional closing song Diggs Road. 

The problem is the inconsistency throughout the list of tracks. Worship the Digital Age is too repetitive, and vocalist Phil Bozeman utilizes talking points too often that became boring and bland throughout the record. If Digital Age and either Psychopathy or How Times Have Changed were switched out for the two superior bonus tracks, A Process So Familiar and Fall of the Hypocrites, then Our Endless War would rank a little higher.

Buy: Our Endless War

#6: Mark of the Blade (2016)

The first major shift since their 2012 release, Whitechapel go in a more melodic and groovy direction with their sound. The record establishes their first time introducing clean vocals which caused controversy, but Bozeman nailed it with this new style.

Each song stands strong, but not a whole lot of memorable songs. What makes this release outrank Our Endless War is its consistency. The only major miss is the title track due to it feeling redundant after having The Saw is the Law and significantly less impactful.

The introduction of clean vocals with Bring Me Home and the closing song Decennium feel refreshing despite a lack of confidence out of Bozeman’s performance. Compared to other bands in the realm of extreme metal, he outshines many vocalists who have tried singing and failed.

Buy: Mark of the Blade

#5: The Somatic Defilement (2007)

Before these Southern metalheads were writing thought-provoking songs about politics or emotionally charged tracks about childhood trauma, they had written this vicious beast. A concept album of serial killers, many of which based on Jack the Ripper who inspired the group’s name. Filled with extremely sadistic lyrics and just as brutal instrumentation, this is the perfect record for people wanting to scratch that itch of brutal deathcore.

The introduction Necrotizing stands as the band’s best with its haunting sounds and disturbing quote from the murderer Jeffery Dahmer.

Buy: Somatic Defilement (10th Anniversary)

#4: Whitechapel (2012)

The first step towards leaving the deathcore scene behind was with this reinvention of what it meant to listen to Whitechapel. They maintained plenty of elements old fans would be familiar with, but added plenty of new melody and styles that changed their identity.

Make It BleedI, Dementia, and Section 8 are just some of the heaviest hitting tracks on this powerful album that packs a punch with every track.

The bookending a piano introduction with Make It Bleed, and the closing track Possibilities of an Impossible Existence brings a beautiful symmetry that rarely gets executed. Starting up this monster eases anyone into a false sense of safety before utter annihilation then putting the person into an emotional wreck after its final moments.

Buy: Whitechapel

#3: This Is Exile (2008)

The album that put Whitechapel on the map, their second release titled This Is Exile. Any fan of the deathcore genre cherishes this behemoth. Full of memorably dangerous tracks like This Is ExilePossession, and Eternal Refuge will remain some of the strongest creations from this heavy metal juggernaut.

A few issues from being such an early creation comes from the unimpressive instrumental tracks that fail in comparison to Mark of the Blade‘s Brotherhood. Despite some immaturity found in some parts, it is hard to resist this classic release.

Buy: This Is Exile

#2: The Valley (2019)

To keep it short, since I do have a review of this album, The Valley takes the misses from their 2016 and 2014 launches and improves upon every aspect. Whitechapel developed what works to become a complete melodic group while maintaining their quality in heavy music.

Buy: The Valley

#1: A New Era of Corruption (2010)

It feels to me that this is the forgotten record from the band’s catalog, but I love it front to back. I got into the group because of Murder Sermon (featuring Vincent Bennett from The Acacia Strain). Now I am a fan for life.

Besides the excellent guest spot with Bennett, Chino Moreno from the almighty Deftones has his time to shine on Reprogrammed to Hate with his ear piercingly awesome screams. Too bad the group has moved away from having guests feature because this is the sole reason why they should have more friends come on to accompany Bozeman’s voice.

A solid album that is relentless and consistent, unlike anything I have heard from the Tennessee natives.

Sadly, I have seen them three times and they have never played any song off the album. One day, I swear I will see them play one of these tracks.

Buy: A New Era Of Corruption

What do you think of my list? I am sure plenty of you will disagree, so how do you rank each Whitechapel album?

Buying anything off of these links will support the blog, but buying the band’s merch and music will support them too. Be sure to check out the band’s music and purchase some merch.

Images and videos via Metal Blade Records