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Archive for July, 2010

INCEPTION

July 31, 2010 2 comments

5 / 5

INCEPTION, a script whose very own inception was nearly ten years ago following Christopher Nolan’s 2000 psychological thriller “Memento”, reminds us why we go to the movies in the first place. Not only is it a wild ride of action and visual pleasures, but a more than satisfying glimpse into the realm of science fiction and the never-ending possibilities the genre provides. When you take a daringly confusing idea such as this one and execute it as flawlessly and concisely as Nolan does, movie-goers have no choice but to surrender their applause and feverishly spread the movies’ praise.

TRUE BLOOD: LOOKING FORWARD

July 26, 2010 Leave a comment

The question that seems most interesting to analyze isn’t what True Blood is, rather what it’s becoming. It’s selfish to think that Season 3 hasn’t provided us with a considerable arc in the story to lead us through to its (sigh) inevitable conclusion. Could the King of Mississippi have been genuine in his remarks of aligning supernaturals to gain power?

Ever since the Godric and Eric flashback to World War 2 earlier this season we were to believe the werewolves’ “master” is in fact vampire. Taking into account this once secret and punishably frowned upon allegiance — as well as Eric’s tie-in with the slaughter of his family — we have evidence that vampires, or at least the King of Mississippi in this particular case, is acquiring his power and wealth through collective terror. While It’s impossible to say how long Russell sticks around for, he will without a doubt  play a big part in perhaps turning the True Blood story in a direction we all would see coming; a growing resistance and possible war between humans and vampires.

It’s an obvious but still interesting idea to entertain. The fact that we were so quickly introduced to a chat-happy reverend of a church with a frighteningly clear motive and a second season packed with hints towards potential war, I suppose it does seem obvious. Season 2 is a discussion for another day but it’s unfortunate to say a lot of things went wrong. The abandonment of the Fellowship of the Sun this season only leads me to believe that they’ll be back soon. It’s impossible to disregard them; somehow the writer’s of this show wish to grant fans zero clarity on the repercussions/continued involvements in their obvious illegal actions towards vampires. This isn’t something that can be so easily disregarded and in the discussion of the future of True Blood it would only help better unfold this potential direction of war. It’s a real intriguing parallell; season 2 presenting an inherent threat to vampires (Fellowship of the Sun), and now season 3 the opposite (Russell Edgington/Werewolves).

Now set to marry the Queen of Louisiana, Russell is only getting stronger. His distaste for the Majestor and the laws bestowed upon vampires only leads me to believe that his quest for power and dominance will extend far beyond the hierarchy of vampires. His involvements — if he sticks around — could be a contributing reason to heightening the already significant tension between vampires and humans as well as help unveil the mystery and importance of Sookie Stackhouse. While fans of the show may prefer a different conclusion, this show’s thematic attachment to race and bigotry among those races (supernaturals, fellowship of the sun, vampires) has provided fans with a fairly convincing argument this could all end predictably; in bloodshed.

SONIC & SEGA ALL-STARS RACING

July 23, 2010 Leave a comment

3 / 5

If you think Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is a Mario Kart rip-off you’re absolutely right, but what succeeding kart titles aren’t? This is not a game you should snub just for this reason. Sonic & Sega All-Stars presents a satisfying amount of single player missions and objectives, as well as a competitive online community where the need for speed is more important than ever. While you will have trouble noticing the originality of this game, you’ll be pleased enough to see a variety of your favorite Sega characters, complimented by a large selection of nostalgically sonic designed courses.

BOMBERMAN ULTRA

July 13, 2010 Leave a comment

4.5 / 5

The DLC release of Bomberman Ultra on the Playstation Network has fans eagerly surrendering a mere $9.99 to get in on the action. Those gamers not familiar with the game, or its preceeding releases, this is your opportunity to play one of the most fun and mayhem-filled 4 player games out there. Whether you want to practice on the computer in up to 8 player Local Play, or take your skills Online in an assortment of various competitive modes, it’s surprising Bomberman Ultra maintains its anonymity among critics. Local Play is a good way to get a handle on what Bomberman is all about if you aren’t familiar with it: kill your enemies by strategically placing, throwing, kicking and punching bombs along the map while always be mindful of the path of/to safety. Blowing up boxes and getting power ups (increase fire, speed, etc) is the road to strengthening your bomber and creating an easier path to victory. Customizing your matches is quick and easy and adds an extra level of difficulty through introducing new ways to kill or be killed.

 

RESIDENT EVIL 5

July 12, 2010 5 comments

6.5 / 10

For a game that bares the ending to one of the most popular and succesful video game franchises, it comes with great disappointment to recommend that it may be more satisfying to READ about Resident Evil 5 rather than play it. How many times exactly will this virus mutate? With these repeated mutations comes frighteningly difficult and unsatisfying changes to the Resident Evil games you’re most familiar with playing; changes that were executed fairly well in RE4, and blown ridiculously out of proportion in RE5.

The minute you come into contact with a room full of zombies unloading machine gun rounds in your direction is likely when you’ll ask yourself if this is REALLY a Resident Evil Game you’re playing. The Nemesis was one thing, but the evolution and abilities of these zombies in RE5 should have been equally complimented by a more manageable and smoother gameplay system whether it broke the traditional mechanics of Resident Evil or not.  The introduction of “Los Ganados” was an effective twist in the series, and it is partly, among other things of course, what collected such acclaim for Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 5 introduces Majini’s; These new enemies (they shouldnt even be called zombies at this point) have improved jumping ability, and overall dominant physical capabilities, which frustratingly renders the Resident Evil engine meaningless.

While running may SEEM like it’s helpful it really isn’t. You’ll find yourself often running to safety, either because of an overwhelming battle with these new holycrapninjasuperzombies, or allowing yourself just enough time to change your weapon or use a health. Yes, RE5 does NOT allow you to change weapons in your pause menu inventory so prepare to find yourself immersed in a sea of enemies more frequently than you would like, HOPING you’ll change your weapon or click your health spray in time (good luck). Ammunition is as scarce as you remember, you’ll expectedly find yourself at parts where the knife is your only friend, and an unreliable one at that. It’s difficult to conserve ammo when it takes so damn much of it to kill these new zombies so be sure to equip your partner with plenty of extra to cover you in a tight situation.

The ever-expanding scope of Resident Evil has lost its appeal; it was more interesting and horror-filled when we were creeping down the halls of the Arklay Mansion, or wearily crossing the zombie ridden streets of Racoon City. Resident Evil 5 follows Sheva Alomar and Resident Evil veteran Chris Redfield in their tracing the trail of a biological weapons deal which, to Chris’ surprise, involves the likes of Albert Wesker who was believed to be dead. All in all it was an unecessary story to tell. Bringing Wesker back after the events in RE4  foiled a more satisfying conclusion than you’re provided with in 5, AND its a much better game. If you like Resident Evil as much as I do then you’ll be dissatisfied to experience how far RE5 strays from the roots of Resident Evil.

 

PREDATORS

July 10, 2010 3 comments

                                                                8.5 / 10

Little doubt surrounds the fact that countless jaws dropped to the floor once we were provided a trailer for Predators. There are always those few movies each year that you KNOW you’re going to see despite what you may hear or read, and Predators was one of these movies.  While introducing new mystery and insight into the Predator world, we also witness a pleasing dose of call backs to the original; call backs that help maintain the overall feel of a Predator movie.

Acting is rarely an issue with movies like this. Put an unecessarily large gun, muscles, and a raspy voice on the screen and you’ve got yourself a leading man. Not that Adrian Brody didn’t do a good job, he did, but it wasn’t exactly the acting challenge of his career. Nor should it be; after an academy award and an exhausting amount of dramatic roles it must feel good to brush aside fake tears and romance and replace them with guns and top-notch action. Predators delivers on both these fronts. Guns are plentiful and the action is expectedly awesome, considering of course that the movie is for the most part about what we’ve already been able to define a Predator as: The Ultimate Killing Machine. The blatant disregard of character development was perfectly fitting: we in no way need to empathize with these characters nor do we need to know anything else about them other than they’re all equally challenging game for the hunt/fight versus the Predators.

It’s tough to tell what was more enjoyable, the original music, or the newly introduced Predator mythology. Keep in mind that what you may have surmised from previews is that the people brought to this “place” are themselves predators, human predators trained to kill. The situation really sets itself up nicely as we slowly begin to see how Predators become more lethal as their various interactions with humans allow them to learn and rapidly evolve into even more dangerous killing machines. Other mythology is sure to please but difficult to comment on, but know that the presence of the original Predator score compliments well the introduction of a new Predator enemy not yet introduced!!!!

Overall, considering the influx of remakes and reboots these days Predators delivers! While it lacks the presence of muscle as the original did not, it calls back nicely to the original, maintains the feel of a Predator movie, and adds a pleasing amount of history and insight into the Predators that we’ve always known so little about.

RED DEAD REDEMPTION

July 1, 2010 2 comments

 

9.5 / 10

It’s difficult to argue the fact that mass excitement surrounds almost every release from Rockstar Games. While still likely basking in praise from the popular Grand Theft Auto series, Rockstar looks to have a promising 2010. The announcement of a new PS3 exclusive IP currently dubbed “Agent”  looks to be expected sometime this year, as well as a highly anticipated “L.A. Noire” hitting shelves this fall. But for the time being it seems the majority of gamers are all talking about the same thing: Red Dead Redemption.

Red Dead Redemption comes as a creative successor to “Red Dead Revolver.” While Revolver overall received little acclaim from the gaming community, it served as a bridge to one of the best games of 2010 (thus far). Redemption is NOT a sequel; it seems our adventures with Red Harlow have been abandoned completely and we now occupy a familiar looking gun by the name of John Marston. While the game keeps track of various aspects of your decisions throughout the game, fame and heroism are attained through doing good deeds. Whether you are helping various strangers along the way or simply continuing on throughout your story every action, negative or positive, will affect the way people in the game respond to you.

Whether your accepting a dual from a stranger in a saloon, or hunting coyotes  for some extra cash, Red Dead Redemption provides you with an overhwhelmingly expansive and truly breathtaking environment to help unfold your story. And the environments really are breathtaking: you may even find yourself just sitting idle on your horse and staring at the night sky because it looks THAT DAMN GOOD. The game doesn’t necessarily encourage hunting but be sure that you do it often; it’s an easy way to build your bankroll and unlock/purchase a variety of helpful necessities from various shops, gunsmiths, and doctors, including: faster horses, rifles/pistols, survival maps, medicine, and a plethora of outfits that become specifically useful when dealing with certain parts of the game.

The mini games are only a tiny fraction of your Red Dead Redemption experience, but they can certainly prove to be a hell of a lot of fun. Between Poker, Blackjack, Liars Dice, Horseshoes, and Five Finger Fillet, you can truly find yourself getting sidetracked peculiarly often. Some take time to get the hang of; five-finger fillet and liars dice, but when you do you’ll find yourself spending more time on these mini games then developers may have originally intended.

Controls take very little getting used to. Most gamers familiar with any kind of shooters will jump right into Redemption no problem. Of course the famous “Dead Eye” feature, staple of the Red Dead series is back, and as awesome as ever. For those unfamiliar with Dead Eye, your meter allows you to slowdown time and mark your targets; allowing you to take out multiple baddies at once. Be mindful of your meter when using it, it runs out fairly quickly and takes some time to restore. Of course, visits to the shop allow purchase of various items that will instantly restore your meter, so be sure to pick flowers, hunt, and help strangers to maintain a steady cash flow for such upgrades/items.

Online Multiplayer adds a high level of replay value to Redemption. After completing Single Player you can now build your online reputation and apply your skills against the rest of the world and see exactly how you measure up. I’d recommend beating single player first and having a good sense of comfortability with controls and such before diving into multiplayer. While it’s fun there’s a certain level of annoyance in that everyone seems to have the same idea: Kill Everyone. If you’ve coordinated a party with friends than that’s really where you’ll get the most out of online, but running around on your own with no one on your side will likely lead you to repeated deaths and a whole heap of frustration.

With all the anticipation surrounding their future 2010 releases, Rockstar has proven yet again that they make quality, entertaining, kick ass games. Breathtaking environments, obnoxiously addicting mini games, and a gaming experience unmatched by any other of its genre, Red Dead Redemption undoubtedly inserts itself as a potential 2010 Game of the Year recipient.