Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Kotas Reviews Gnesa's "Wilder" Video

I watched Gnesa’s “Wilder” music video for you assholes. For that, you OWE me. You owe me Big Time. First, here is the video. Go watch it. No, I’ll wait. Just go watch it and tell me how long you can sit through it: Gnesa - Wilder (Music Video)

Okay, are you back? How far did you get? My completely unofficial poll consisting of responses to someone’s post on G+ suggests an average watching time of 1 minute, 12 seconds before you stopped watching. I sat through the entire 4 minutes and 7 seconds of this. YOU OWE ME.

Now, on to the review. First, the good parts of the video. Yes, there are some good parts. Gnesa is an attractive lady. The various outfits she changes between throughout the course of the video seem well suited to her. Her makeup seems to be well crafted. Okay, let’s get on to what you really want to hear.

But before we get into that, let me say one thing. I do not have any contempt for Gnesa. She honestly appears to be trying her best and is pursuing her dreams to “make it” as a pop singer. That said, I do feel sort of bad for what is about to happen. Gnesa, I’ll quote Parry Gripp here: No matter how insane or ridiculous they seem, you have to follow your dreams. It’s a shame your dreams are about to catch fire. The bad kind of fire.

Let’s start with the overall aesthetic of the video, which appears to be “Glamor Shots Does Music Videos Now” (totally stole that joke). It starts off with and extreme close up of Gnesa, who kisses to the camera. So far, so good. Then, it shifts to Gnesa against a white background, with nothing else, like a photography background. Next up, Gnesa is to the left side, with a black background, against which some generic lightshow effects are displayed. This imagery is repeated a few times. Occasionally the white background will have a piece of furniture that Gnesa is draped across...like a photography studio. The last type of shot is a fairly extreme closeup of Gnesa that is not well framed at all. There is also occasionally a wind machine that blows her hair around for no reason.

The music is probably the worst and best part of this. First, it is HORRIBLY mixed, often times drowning out the vocals to the point where it is difficult to understand the words (which may be a blessing in disguise). Second, it sounds like a lot of it was taken from a demo recording on a particularly fancy keyboard. Not the $75 dollar Casio special many of us were exposed to in our youth, but the bigger, more expensive brother keyboards for “beginning music enthusiasts”. What does this mean? It means the music sounds canned. Like it was made to generically appeal to such a wide range of musical tastes it is utterly forgettable and bland. It almost seems like fake music, intentionally made to sound derivative and bad. It is also INCREDIBLY repetitive, with the whole song consisting of the first minute repeated 3 more times to pad out the run time.

The “choreography” is...non-existent. Gnesa is about as skilled in the realm of dance as I am, which is to say, “not very”. She can almost keep in time with the music, but not quite. Perhaps her attempt at a “sensual” wiggle will be successful another day. I did enjoy the part where she slowly spins around in the chair. That chair is kind of awesome. That “finger shake” she does occasionally seems out of place too. Like she just threw it in for the heck of it, and the director was like “Yes, that seems fine. Let’s run with that!”. Gnesa also gets this weird look on her face at times, like maybe she is high. I bet this song would be much better if I was high. But I digress.

Now, we get to the vocals. I’m afraid Gnesa lacks just about every quality that a professional singer is required to have. She is out of tune, her range is limited at best, and her voice cuts through my ears like a sonic knife of suffering. Auto-Tune can cover many sins, but this may be too much for it to handle. Seriously, this is a travesty.

The lyrics of the song are mostly incomprehensible, given the terrible mixing job done on this video. I occasionally hear the world “wilder”, which makes sense, given the title of the song. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that they are repetitive, bland, and useless. They appear to repeat in the same loop as the music too.

This video is just incredibly horrible, so much so it almost attains a sort of infamy, like Manos: The Hands of Fate or Battlefield Earth. It is so bad it makes me think that maybe it was INTENTIONALLY bad, like on a sitcom when they have someone try out for a talent show and it is predictably awful, but it’s a staged sort of awful. If this turns out to be some sort of viral media stunt to promote a comedy or something I would not be surprised in the least.

On a scale of 5 frowny faces to 5 smiley faces, I give it 3 frowny faces. It is SO bad it is fascinating in a way, like a particularly spectacular train wreck, which is why it doesn’t rank lower. I cannot in good conscience recommend watching this video, unless you just get overwhelmed by morbid curiosity.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Kotas Reviews XCOM: Enemy Unknown

TL;DR - Skip to the last paragraph for the summary.

Recently I ended up purchasing XCOM: Enemy Unknown on Steam. If you'll recall the original XCOM: UFO Defense game, it was a turn based tactical squad game with a ton of micromanagement elements and some pretty hoss simulation sections involving building bases, doing research, gathering logistical support, and especially outfitting your soldiers with endless minutia. A number of people have fond memories of that game. My own memories involve watching someone else play it and getting frustrated when my whole squad was wiped out on the tutorial mission the one time I was allowed to play.

After watching several video reviews, and some gameplay footage, I took the plunge, ultimately buying it through Steam for the convenience factor. There are 4 levels of difficulty: Easy, Normal, Classic, and Impossible. Classic is "true to the spirit of the original", which was quite difficult. Because I SUCK at video games, I set the difficulty on Easy, and left on the tutorial, so I could get used to the game. There are options to turn on Autosaving, as well as something called Ironman Mode. Ironman Mode enables much more frequent autosaving, and also disallows having more than one save game. In a nutshell, you can’t reload a save game when something goes horribly wrong. It’s another way to increase the challenge and I think that anyone who played a Hardcore character in Diablo II or III will appreciate this sort of gameplay.

I turned up the graphic settings as high as they would go and I have noticed exactly zero problems with this, even on my 2 year old gaming rig (which wasn't top of the line when I built it), so most people should be able to play the game pretty well. The animations of the models are nice and fluid, though by no means are they the top end of the graphics spectrum. In fact, they seem like the overall graphics are about a generation behind. The aliens all are distinct and interesting, though the soldiers do sort of all look the same. In fact, they sort of resemble the Roughnecks from that CGI cartoon from about a decade ago. The best part of the game is the Action Cam. What's the Action Cam? Well, when your soldier does something particularly cool, like murder an alien in one shot or bust through a door or something, the camera shifts to a more "action movie" perspective and you see the stuff up close and personal. I think that the Action Cam is just zooming in very close to the in-game models, at any rate.

The story of the game is explained in a number of cutscenes, which roll in response to various in game events. Performing an autopsy? You get a short cut scene for it. Sending out a squad of soldiers? Cut scene. The Council of Vague Rulership is calling? Cut scene. Your Engineers want you to build a particular thing? Cut Scene. The send out squad and mission start cut scenes can get a little repetitive, but you can skip them with the Esc button. The cut scenes use the same models as the regular game, and thus have that same dated, cartoony look. The voice acting is...well, there is voice acting. It’s not the worst I’ve ever heard, but it’s not exactly Bioware quality.

The story advancing scenes are actually kind of fun. The basic plotline is that you are the Commander of XCOM, an International paramilitary force tasked by the Council of Vague Rulership to defend the people of Earth against the growing alien menace. You manage your base, your fleet of interceptors, and your force of soldiers. One of your first real choices in the game is where to have your base of operations. Whichever country (or region, like Europe) you base out of gets you certain bonuses, like discounts on research, more staff for the base, and so on. The tutorial restricts you to United States or Europe, presumably because they make the game a little easier.

Soldier customization is...not super extensive. You can't pick the gender of a soldier (that is assigned randomly when they are generated at the start, or when you hire new recruits), but you can change things like ethnicity, hair style, hair color, facial hair or not, skin tone, voice of the soldier, and name of the soldier. Apparently there are add-on packs, or pre-order bonuses or something that adds a ton more options and things like armor style, armor color and so forth, but my version does not have them. From some gameplay footage I’ve seen, they can get pretty outlandish, allowing for things like brightly colored armor, awesome helmets, and my personal favorite, the pirate hat. I’m sure we’ll be able to purchase these customization options as DLC in the future.

You’ll spend a lot of time in the Tactical Combat view. This is where you directly control your squad of 4 to 6 soldiers (depending on upgrades purchased) as they move through a map partitioned with a grid overlay. The overlay stays hidden for the most part, unless your cursor is moving around, highlighting squares. When you hover over a square, you see the path your soldier will take when moving to that square, along with if any object near that square provides a half cover or full cover bonus, represented by shield icons. Cover is provided in a 180 degree arc in the direction of the shield icon, so you’ll sometimes end up with weird situations where you are standing RIGHT NEXT to an alien, but it somehow has full cover against you, and you have full cover against it.

Each soldier has, in D&D terms, a Move Action and a Standard Action. They also get "Free Actions" like opening a door or interacting with something, if they are adjacent to the something and have a Standard Action left. You can move a certain distance and then Act, but once you use a Standard Action, you can no longer Move. If you want to do a double move, you can "do it all at once" with a Dash, which gives you a bonus to defense while running, but it is a Full Round Action. Some skills can get around these rules, and some weapons require a Full Round Action to use. One of the most used actions will be Overwatch. When you set a soldier to Overwatch, he or she will watch for alien movement and if an alien moves within range, they will take a shot at them, with a slight accuracy penalty. Grenades and Rockets have Free Aim, where you place them in a particular location rather than aiming at an enemy.

All soldiers start as Rookies, who can use the “standard issue” Assault Rifle and Pistol, and as they go on missions and rack up kills they get assigned a class when they are promoted. Class dictates what weapons you can carry and what special abilities you can earn as you increase in rank. The Heavy uses a Machine Gun, is the only class that can use the Rocket Launcher, and can earn skills like Holo-Targeting (bonus to Accuracy for other people shooting at your target if you connect with your hit) and Suppression Fire (penalty to enemy’s accuracy and if they move, you get a free shot at them). They are also pretty sturdy. The Assault uses a Combat Shotgun and a Pistol, and earns skills like Run and Gun (may shoot or Overwatch after Dashing) and Tactical Advantage (bonus to defense for each enemy in sight). The Sniper can use the Sniper Rifle (of course) and Pistol, and uses skills like Headshot (Full Round Action, guaranteed critical and boost to aim) and Gunslinger (additional damage with pistols). The Support still uses Assault Rifles and Pistols, and uses Smoke Grenade (bonus to defense to units in the smoke) and Healer (can use a Medkit 3 times per battle instead of only 1). All classes have a slot for Body Armor and a slot for Miscellaneous Gear such as Medkits, Grenades, Stunners, and a variety of other useful bits.

The other side of the game is base management. Time passes fairly quickly, with every second being roughly one minute in the game’s time frame. The base interface, affectionately called the Ant Farm View by some, allows the clicking of a specific room OR just hitting a button to open that interface. The portions of the base you control are Research (where artifacts are studied, captives interrogated, and technology researched), Engineering (Build equipment, build new facilities, excavate more portions below your base for more room, etc.), the Barracks (Customize soldiers, hire new recruits, view the memorial to dead soldiers, and purchase squad upgrades), the Hanger (purchase fighters, assign them to regions, and customize them), the Situation Room (launch satellites, sell off tech to the grey market, view objectives, see pending requests, launch satellites, and see how panicked the various nations of the XCOM project are), and Mission Control, where you “Scan for Activity”, which greatly speeds up the time so you can watch projects complete, and get various mission notifications.

The first type is an Alien Abduction. You'll be merrily scanning away, and then notifications of alien abductions will appear, and give you a choice of 3 locations to go to. You can see the difficulty of each mission, the rewards for completing the mission and the "panic meter" of the country where the mission is located (which you can also see in the Situation Room). The panic meter is very important. The more panicked a country, the more likely they will "pull out of the XCOM project", which presumably reduces your incoming resources. The mission you choose (and hopefully succeed in completing) will reduce panic in that area and give you the reward listed. The other two locations will have their panic increase. I learned this the hard way when I picked a mission in Germany based on the sweet reward of a fully trained Lieutenant Support soldier instead of on the panic meter (both missions I was considering were "Very Difficult") and India is super pissed at me right now. All abduction missions are "sweep and destroy".

The second type of mission is a "Terror" mission. These pop up periodically and involve rescuing civilians from an alien attack. The map you are placed on has civilians standing still with terror until you move a soldier near them (like, they have to run directly past them or stand adjacent to them), at which point they run to the ship and are "rescued". Of course, aliens are murdering civilians "off camera" and a handy meter at the top keeps track for you. If you succeed in the mission (kill all aliens, rescue 50% or more civilians), panic is reduced across the board.

The third type is "UFO Crash Site" mission, which is a sweep and destroy that you can go to after one of your interceptors shoots down a UFO (or if a UFO just lands). You get lots of loot from these, and your only opportunity to face an Outsider type alien, who are relatively easy to kill, but they pack a wallop. Interceptors are stationed by region, and you can have up to 4 per region. They can be modified to have different weapons, but all other capabilities are shared between all of them. Your interactions with them are very limited, only being able to click a few buttons to add buffs to your computer controlled fighter. It's simple, but it works.

The fourth type of mission is the Council Objective. When the Council of Vague Rulership have a very special mission for you, they will pop up special missions, that usually have more complicated objectives than sweep and destroy, such as "rescue a single person" or whatever. They are rarer than the other types, and I've only gone on one, but they tend to be interesting if nothing else. Alien Abductions and UFO Crash Recovery are most of what you will get, and they are randomly generated in terms of mission name (such as Operation Deadly Moon or whatever), map (wilderness, cityscape, Graveyard, etc.), and enemies.

The interface takes some getting used to, since right and left click do different things depending on context. Normally, left click is "select" while right click is "move to this point". However, sometimes right click is cancel (Esc is always cancel), and sometimes left click is "finish action" or "perform action" instead of select. The hot keys for skills also change, depending on what skills you have and what weapon you are using. So, sometimes the key for “Overwatch” will be 2, but sometimes it is 3 or whatever, which can be very frustrating. There is a “confirm” for all non-move actions, so it’s not too terrible. The camera controls feel clunky, and "mouse move" can be almost detrimental. I dislike the "move cursor to edge of screen to move the camera" style controls, but it just takes some adjustment to this style.

There is a multiplayer mode, which I’ve only just barely played around with. Multiplayer is 1v1 tactical engagements, with each player building a squad of up to six units, using a point buy system. The creator of the game sets the point limit, the amount of time each player has to take a turn, the map, and if the game is Public or not. My one and only engagement ended quickly when my badass sniper got mind controlled by the other person’s crazy strong Etheriel, and shot the crap out of my scout. One thing, there are NOT a lot of games being played right now, so the multiplayer action is pretty thin. It took me 20 minutes to get my one game going, and it lasted all of 5 minutes.

At the end of the day, XCOM: Enemy Unknown provides a solid tactical experience and a lot of alien whupping fun. The graphics may look a little dated, but the gameplay is very enjoyable. Besides, nothing is more fun than watching a soldier you named after a friend shotgun a bug-eyed alien in the face! On a scale of 5 frowny faces to 5 smiley faces, I give it 3 smiley faces. I do recommending trying before you buy, and the demo is freely available on Steam or on the XBOX 360 and PS3.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Kotas Reviews The Amazing Spider-Man

Today I went and saw The Amazing Spider-Man with Charlotte and a bunch of other people. My expectations were kind of mixed, given that I’d heard good things about it and bad things about it. Some of my favorite reviewers (like Film Critic Hulk) have reviews of it that I haven’t read yet, but the gist I got was “not thrilled”. I had avoided most trailers simply by not watching a lot of TV or other movies, so I was sort of going in blind. I set my expectations at “Better than Spider-Man 3”. In this, I was not disappointed. This, however, is not your Daddy’s Spider-Man…or is it? From this point on, there will probably be some spoilers (Hint: Uncle Ben Dies), so skip to the end for my capsule review.

First off, I rather liked the performance given by Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. One of the comments I’d heard about this film was that it was a bit less “comic book-y” than the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films, and in some ways I agree with that assessment. This Peter Parker is still nerdy, but he’s a smidge less awkward socially and a lot less weepy. Now, I LOVED Toby Maguire as Peter Parker in the first film, but I also really liked this performance. In this version, they tone down some aspects of Peter (photography, extreme dorkiness) and turned up others (super science, curiousity), but he’s still the lovable dorky everyman…sort of. The parts with his mother and father at the beginning set up WHY he lives with Aunt May and Uncle Ben, and add a bit of mystery to his past…but it doesn’t really go anywhere in this film except as a bit of a MacGuffin and in the setup for the sequel. That is one of the nitpicks I have with this. A LOT of shit is in this to set up the sequels. Occasionally I feel like the writers were saying “Yeah, yeah, you’ve seen this all before. We have to do it because it’s a reboot. You’ll love the sequels!”

So, after that, how were the other performances? Overall, I’d say “Not Bad”. Martin Sheen turns in a good performance as Uncle Ben. I liked that they gave us more time focused on Peter and Ben to see their relationship in action, rather than mostly inferring it as in the previous origin film. The back and forth they have felt more natural to me than the Raimi version, as did some of their arguments. Uncle Ben’s death was handled fairly well, and more realistically than the whole “wrestling thing”, so it wasn’t bad, and of course it needed to happen. The “final voicemail as voiceover flashback” was a nice touch to scoot around the whole “flashback audio” you get so often in these types of films.

Though his part was small, the guy who played Flash Thompson was enjoyable to watch, especially some of the nods to his character in the comics, though a bit inconsistent in portrayal. I think they overdid it a bit in his initial “beat up Parker” scene. Emma Stone turned in a pretty good shot at Gwen Stacy, Peter’s first love, who is finally getting some screen time instead of just “Mary Jane this” and “Mary Jane that”. Sally Field was fine as Aunt May, but Aunt May wasn’t given a whole lot to DO in this story. In the Sam Raimi movie, Aunt May was a core character and a lot of Peter’s grounding influence. Here, she just seems to be…there. “Oh, it’s Spider-Man. Gotta have Uncle Ben and Aunt May somehow.” This is a woman that Peter Parker LITERALLY MADE A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL (Fuck you, One More Day) in the comics to save, and in this film she is just sort of…there.

The Lizard was a good choice for a “first outing” villain. The Lizard in the comics is sort of “Hulk Lite”. Brilliant Scientist turns into Child-like green monster due to an experiment gone awry. It’s a classic sympathetic villain, and the power level is right on par with early Spider-Man. HOWEVER, this is also one of the weaker parts of the film. Kurt Conners (should be CURT, but that’s nitpicking) isn’t as likable as he’s been in other media, or even in the first Spider-Man film. He’s not a BAD guy, but he’s less sympathetic in this portrayal than in others. It doesn’t help that he also gets a case of the “Take Over the World” crazies for what appears to be no reason. I mean, really, if the Lizard part of him is “taking control”, shouldn’t he regress to a more simple viewpoint? This is just setting up the “green serum” as giving you the crazies, so in the next film we have the Green Goblin. Whatever, Chekov’s Mass Aerosol Dispersion System had to come up at some point, right? Overall, I enjoyed the Lizard in this film, but they tried to combine the Lizard and some of William DeFoe’s Green Goblin, and the seams show a bit.

Dennis Leary was a surprise as the initial antagonist for Peter Parker rather than J. Jonah Jameson. Frankly, the Sam Raimi Jameson was damn near perfect and that’s some big shoes to fill…so they didn’t bother trying. The film also emphasizes the “Spider-Man as wanted criminal” aspect more than the first film, and it was a nice twist on it. Leary’s defense of “why Spider-Man is more of a hindrance rather than an aid” speech was a nice jab at the conventional wisdom in comic book movies, and it was appreciated since they were going for a “more realistic” feel.

Let’s talk about that “more realistic” feel the movie tried to accomplish. The CGI Spider-Man in the first film was pretty good, but it suffered from the “too clean” problem. Everything was just a touch too shiny, too perfect. Here, they’ve done a pretty good job of making it look a little more grimy. Spider-Man is not quite as completely bending the laws of physics when he bounds around. He swings around with more weight it seems. There were also some nice practical effects with Peter jumping around that were fun. The Lizard's effects were serviceable, though the CGI tail growing back was pretty lame.

One thing that threw me off a bit was the decision to go with mechanical web shooters rather than organic ones. Yeah, I get it, Peter is smart enough to have built them, but SURELY someone would recognize the product as “OsCorp” stuff? Then it’s simply a matter of looking for someone who buys it regularly who probably shouldn’t…like a HIGH SCHOOLER. Or maybe he stole it from Kurt Conners I don’t know. The change to “DNA weirdness” instead of “Fucking Radioactive Spider” naturally flows to “organic web shooters” and this was just sort of out of place. Hell, it only comes up twice in the film (they don’t work underwater, and the Lizard crushes them at one point), so…why bother? Eh, it’ll probably be made more of in the sequels.

One of the story problems with the film is that it felt disjointed. It seemed to me that it went. “Peter does something. And then Peter does more stuff. And then Peter gets bitten. And then…” Scenes made sense story wise, but the transitions just weren’t. It was a lot of scenes connected by a running story, but not by the film itself (except toward the end, when it all kind of made sense, sort of). It was like "Six Stories in Six One Act Plays, Where All the Stories are Sequels to The Previous Story". This was annoying at times, because a lot of scenes were sort of "half" set up, and then proceed as if they were fully set up. Speaking of gratuitous scenes, the whole “line up the cranes” thing was super, duper cheesy, WAAAAY moreso than the “if you fight one of us you fight all of us” from the first film. It really needed each crane to have an American Flag hanging from it to truly be cheesetacular. The only thing cheesier would have been a scene of Spider-Man swinging into Slow Motion, and shooting a web directly at the audience to justify the 3D effects....OH WAIT, THAT WAS IN THE FILM.

Overall, I’d give the film 2 smiley faces on a scale of 5 frowny faces to 5 smiley faces. It was a pretty good super hero movie that does what it needs to do to set up the “reboot” of the franchise, and it feels very much “by the numbers”. It’s fairly well done, and I liked it. If you’re a comic fan, I recommend checking out a matinee. I still prefer the Sam Raimi Spider-Man over this one, but I can appreciate this reboot as being "not bad". It's not gonna make anyone's top movie list though.

Kotas Reviews Arctic Zero

A while back, a friend of mine talked to me about a dessert product called Arctic Zero (www.myarcticzero.com) which claims to be 150 calories per pint. Given how much I love ice cream (and oh yes, I DO love ice cream), I have been seeking out this product locally, and until Tuesday, I hadn't seen it. But while shopping at Kroger I finally spotted it! Man this shit is pricey Like, more than Ben & Jerry’s expensive. But which flavor to choose? Well, the ones available were Cookies and Cream, Chocolate, and I think Vanilla Maple. I chose the Cookies and Cream for my experiment, since it is one of my favorite flavors of ice cream.

The packaging is reasonable. The Arctic Zero logo is sorta meh, but the carton is pretty standard, with “150 calories per pint” prominently slapped all over it. According to the nutrition label, there are 4 servings in this pint, each one clocking in at 37 calories. The lid has solid color rim, that I believe is indicative of the product within. For example, Strawberry would have a red rim, Mint Cookie would have a green rim, and so forth. What color is Cookies and Cream? Grey. Right, well, it wouldn't really be colored...yeah, it totally is a uniform grey.

Why in the hell would you color your weird diet food product, which is ALREADY going to make people leery of eating it, the appetizing color of gruel? Arctic Zero, you are NOT impressing me with your Cookies and Cream. No one, and I mean NO ONE wants to eat grey food. In fact, I was reluctant to dig into this “treat” after seeing it. Also, shouldn't Cookies and Cream have, you know, cookie bits in it? A monolithic wall of grey stared at me from the carton, with nary a hit of fabled “mix ins” that were once written about by Abdul Al-HaagenDaaz in his Dessertronomicon. I prepared a bowl of “frozen dessert”. It certainly smelled faintly of cookies and cream, like someone prepared a very mild perfume that used the scent.

It is not bad, but I wouldn't classify it as good either. The mouth feel is pretty much like ice cream, though it can get a little...well, chewy is the best word but it is hard to describe. It is extremely creamy in texture, and it looks a lot like ice cream. The taste is almost but not quite unlike cookies and cream ice cream. It tastes more like coffee or mocha ice cream than cookies and cream, but the flavor is very, very muted, like tasting a phantom of ice cream. It is not bad, just...it’s like eating frozen vapor that’s been scented with something. It does leave you feeling relatively full. Not “ate a pint of ice cream” full, but comfortably full.

The ingredient list is a hoot. The largest single ingredient is “purified water”, with whey protein concentrate, organic cane sugar, chicory root (???), dutch processed cocoa powder (with alkali!), guar gum, xanthan gum, the ever mysterious “natural flavors”, sea salt, and monk fruit (???) concentrate. This shit is some serious food alchemy let me tell you. It even contains 8 grams of fiber, somehow.

On a scale of 5 frowny faces to 5 smiley faces, I give Arctic Zero Cookies and Cream 0 faces. More than anything, it puzzles me. Who makes GREY food? Still, I’d be willing to give this stuff another go around, if only to try out the other flavors and see if they are as bizarre as this one. Being able to consume an entire pint of something dessert related would make dieting a bit easier on the stomach, if not the pocketbook.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Kotas Reviews Halloween Candy Again

This is another edition of Halloween Candy Reviews. Today’s candidates are Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins and Halloween Oreos.

The Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkin is a mainstay of the Halloween Season, in both regular and “fun” sizes. I will be reviewing the Fun Size edition. The packaging is slightly clever, with a pumpkin motif incorporated into the usual Reese’s logo. The candy itself is “sans cardboard” and also the little “candy cup” wrapper that a Reese’s cup usually has wrapped around it. It is vaguely pumpkin shaped, but just an outline. In fact, it looks sort of like a kidney. The flavor is, in my opinion, better than a standard Reese’s cup, because of a more pleasing chocolate to peanut butter ratio. On a scale of 5 frowny faces to 5 smiley faces, I give it 1 smiley. The aesthetics show that they tried to be clever. The execution was lackluster, but the taste is actually a little better.

The Halloween Oreo is a “standard” holiday Oreo, that is, an Oreo cookie with themed components. The packaging is the Oreo Blue with high quality Halloween artwork. A large blue-black cauldron full of orange liquid being stirred by slightly sinister witches, with the Oreo logo slashed over the cauldron and the world “Halloween” appended to it (with an appropriate font of course). Recognizable and well executed. The Oreos themselves are standard Oreos, but with two changes: 5 “Boo-rific” shapes on the cookie portion, and neon orange creme filling. The cookie shapes are nice enough, I guess, but the orange creme just catches the eye and combined with the black of the chocolate cookie presents a striking Halloween color scheme. The taste is that of an Oreo, with a bit more creme that I would expect from an Oreo. A co-worker swears they taste better than regular ones, but I can’t really tell a difference. I give this 3 smiley faces. It’s a classic that has been well themed for the season.