Mini Reviews: Red Dead, Twilight, 24, Hootsuite

Red Dead Redemption

Rockstar, king of the open world game, outdid themselves with RDR. This game has all the sprawling openness and realism of Grand Theft Auto IV, and all the character and charm of Bully. The dusty scenery is beautiful, the gameplay and shooting are solid, and there are an extraordinary number of things to do. You may have heard that the end of the game is surprising. It’s nothing new in terms of Westerns, but it is new for games. Structurally, there’s never been anything like it. It’s a very satisfying experience, from start to finish. Though the story is good, you might want to break it up by doing some of the ambient challenges. Your character, John Marston, has to put up with doing a never ending string of favors for people that give him little in return. It’s kind of a drag after a while, so I recommend you take your time and enjoy the sprawling western world Rockstar created.
Overall: 10/10
The Best Part: Tough to pick just one, but for me it has to be the atmosphere. From the characters to the wildlife, everything about this game oozes Western.
The Worst Part: You’re given very little direction when it comes to tutorials and gameplay early on, so the first few hours can be a bit confusing. Also, random cougar attacks.

Twlight: Eclipse
The best book in the series turned out to make the best movie as well. Yes, there is a lot of tepid teen drama, but there are also a few cool action scenes. Stephanie Meyer’s vampires are hard as rock and can’t be killed by traditional means (really, the only thing Meyer’s creatures have in common with traditional vampires is that they suck blood). There are some really cool special effects of vampires fighting and shattering each other’s heads and arms like marble statues, accompanied by some cool gravely sound effects. If you’re a husband or boyfriend being dragged to this movie, fear not, it’s not so bad this time. I’ve certainly paid to see worse (The Spirit, for example).
Overall: 7/10
The Best Part: I’m not sure if it’s because I’m Team Jacob, because I’m a dog person, or because their presence usually meant an action scene was approaching, but any time the wolves were on screen, I was happy.
The Worst Part: Though there were fewer of them in Eclipse than New Moon, there were still too many melodramatic I’m-going-to-talk-really-close-to-your-face scenes for me.

24: Season 2
Not as good as the first season of course, but still a lot of fun. This season brought us the threat of nuclear war and a ton of characters I recognized from Lost. I liked how Jack started this season as a grief-stricken bum. I also like how things go wrong in 24 (something I’m seeing a lot of in season 3). People die, bombs explode, characters get killed. Yes there are plenty of cheesy action movie tropes--guns run out of ammo when it is convenient to the plot, and Jack Bauer can pilot any vehicle and use any computer program--but I can overlook those. It’s easier to point out a show’s flaws when you watch episodes  and even seasons in uninterrupted succession. This season’s ending didn’t have the same somber impact the first one did, but it was a nice cliffhanger. Enough to keep me hitting play at least.
Overall: 8/10
The Best Part: When Sherry Palmer got stabbed. I know that sounds evil, but I can’t stand that character. Unfortunately, she’s back causing trouble in season 3.
The Worst Part: Kim Bauer. She’s like some kind of psycho-sleazeball attractor. Her side plot this season didn’t add anything to the show.

My favorite Twitter client got a nice makeover recently and I’m really digging it. It’s got more space and streamlined menus, plus it totally meshes with my Google Chrome theme. I love Hootsuite because they’re constantly updating and bringing in new features, and the stat tracking and profile management stuff they have is great if you have to juggle multiple accounts like I do. They also have an excellent Android app. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me @austindlight
Overall: 9/10
The Best Part: I can drag and drop pictures into Hootsuite to attach them to tweets. Awesome.
The Worst Part: Since the upgrade, I’ve come across a few glitches. Nothing major, just a few bugs.