Friday, July 29

Outland Review (PS3)

The last game I played from Housemarque was their fun zombie shoot-em-up. Outland is a definite departure from Dead Nation.

Outland is a simple side scroller with colourful graphics and satisfying gameplay, that manages to keep the genre fresh with colour-swapping flair.

Everything about Outland is simple. The characters' moves are easy to grasp and easy to implement. The characters itself is not overly detailed but brightly coloured and attractive. The backgrounds are lush and beautiful but not so much that they detract from the gameplay.

It's gameplay is smooth and responsive, pulling you deeper into your task.  has an excellent introduction of abilities and moves to keep you interested. Though you could play it with a boorish slash-slash-slash, there is an immense satisfaction to a crouch attack-upperslice-stomp. The addition of colour-swapping brings a layer of depth that breathes new air into an overdone genre.

The sound is subdued but lends itself well to the ancient feel of the game. The deep narration also fits well with the overall theme.

Then there are the little things that made me smile: the simple and nonintrusive help systems (map and "tutorial" in the beginning), the minimalistic character sounds, the general trip-factor of the colour system.

This seven hour game is well worth the ten bucks you drop to play it.

Trailer (YT)
Gameplay (YT)

Hereafter (2010) Review

Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Matt Damon, Cecile de France

Trailer (YT)

Rottentomatoes - 46%
IMDB - 67%

Hereafter has an interesting enough premise. The idea of crossed paths in a film has always intrigued me.  Where were the characters before? What led to that momentous meeting?

While I enjoyed some of the style of the film and felt an invested interest in what would happen to the characters, overall the film didn't quite satisfy.

The writing and acting are meant to provide the tone for the movie, meant to slowly unfurl the characters, but Hereafter's premise seems unfulfilled and never quite eventuates.

There are things to like about Hereafter though: a wicked CG opening sequence, Frankie and George McLaren as the twins, .

This film suffers from the suggestion that it's science fiction. The sci-fi elements feel like barely more than the background. It's an example of how hype can twist our expectation and leave us feeling empty instead of being open to what the film is actually offering: a slow moving character study that deftly mimics the unpredictability of life itself.

Monday, July 25

Funny, Pro-Gay Marriage Pictures

Saturday, July 23

Harry Potter as an Anime/Manga?? Even better!

Harry Potter and I have a complicated relationship. HP found me when I was on the cusp of many changes in my life. I recognized the simple greatness of the story at that time.

I still do, on some level, however, since it has been around for over a decade, a decade which saw many life changing events, I definitely do not connect with it in the same way.

However, upon seeing the accompanying drawing on Reddit, some of that same innocent love I once felt flooded back.

Since 1997, when the first books came out, I discovered anime and manga. To see this marriage makes me wish it was done manga style. It would be a new way to relive the books.

Here's hoping!

PS. Though I couldn't see who drew this, it's totally awesome.

Tuesday, July 19

Civilization V Review

Civilization has been one of my favourite games since approximately 1994 when I discovered the original Civilization.

It was the scope of the game more than the actual gameplay mechanics that fascinated me. It gave me an understanding of how certain disciplines or fields of research came to be. Obvious logical things like, the discovery of the Wheel would have led to other advancements such as Animal Husbandry to Chariots to Roads. These were things I hadn't had an opportunity to ponder.

Civilization V was released in September of 2010. It's still a turn based quest with the same principles applied but with updated graphics and some new rules. Stacking is gone, city-states exist. There are new diplomatic choices such as pacts of cooperation and research agreements. There is also a much needed notification system that keeps you from missing important information like that a city is starving, or that your diplomatic ties to your allies need tending.

The graphics are great looking, but coming from the original civilization this is not surprising. Sound while making changes within a city made me smile, bringing to mind the natural din of a city.

It's a bit glitchy on the mac. I can only play in strategic view. Normal view has no terrain, just a blanket of grey, but that could be because my Macbook Pro is on the low end in specs for this game.

All in all, I'm happy with the game. It lived up to my expectations of the Civilization series. As always, I will be able to while away many many hours building civilizations, conquering everyone and then starting all over.

Why the Hate on Sucker Punch?

First things, Sucker Punch is classified as an action-fantasy movie.

Typically, action movies aren't known for plot integrity. Action movies use sub-par plot (the average to poor ones anyway) to get to the fast driving, the sword slinging, the gun shooting, the ass-kicking. We accept this. They are an excuse for action. The plots are often terribly boring, or full of holes.

Worse than plot holes though, action films often defy the plausibility and even possibilities of fight scenes. The hero has perfect aim, the bad guys can't even shoot straight. They subliminally teach us that humans really can do these things. Incredible bloodshed and violence is often over-the-top.

Consider some recent action films: xXx, Transformers, Battle Los Angeles, Priest, the Mechanic etc.

The fantasy genre gives some leeway for plot though.  Things won't necessarily fall into our understanding of science. It won't necessarily naturally align with our understanding of the world around us.

Some recent action-fantasy: Green Lantern, Thor, Pirates of the Caribbean, Scott Pilgrim, Prince of Persia etc.

With that out of the way, what's with the hate on Sucker Punch anyway? I've been trying to figure it out. Are people just pissed off because there was too much hype? Were they somehow tricked into thinking they were going to a different kind of movie?

Sucker Punch was NOT the best movie I have ever seen. It fell prey to the same trappings of an action film. The plot seemed like a device to get to the action sequences. But this is what we expected right? It's an action film.

The action sequences were well-done all around. There was only one or two portions where the cinematography of the film made me roll my eyes. "Enough slow-motion already,"I thought or, "Really? A dragon?" Most of the time though, I was actually fully engrossed in the movie. It pulled me into its' flow, let me suspend my reason and be absorbed into the world of the characters. The references to anime and comics made me smile. My kind of movie!

And the way it was filmed was a lot of it's beauty. Just the choice of shots from low-angles or from above. The angles chosen lent heavily to the atmosphere. This too deviates from the action film genre.

The characters were actually rather impressive, again for an action film. Rocket kicked ass! Jena Malone did very well in an action, gun-toting role. Emily Browning's character required subtlety and that she not steal the movie, since it was not about her anyway. (Whether that was intentional or she was just a bit drab, I can't say for sure.) Abbie Cornish and Jamie Chung came out swinging too. The "bad" characters were well done too. Carla Gugino semi-fake Polish accent seemed to solidify the fact that she was part of a dream. Oscar Isaac made an excellent charismatic predator. The only real weakness was Vanessa Hudgens, but she's new to the whole non-Disney movie scene.

Though the action sequences slammed you over the head, they were equally an excuse to explore themes, which is far from a typical action film. It didn't preach its' message and from my perspective it actually had several, which separates it from most of the action films that get released. There was female empowerment (well, except for the wise old man!). There was the importance and necessity of sacrifice. There was

In the end, this movie was not the end all and be all of action fantasy films. It had it's problems. But mostly, it gave more to the viewer than was expected and yet didn't deliver enough of the expected. In essence, it was pigeon-holed incorrectly. People watched it looking for something mindless. However, in order to appreciate the "more" of Sucker Punch, you must be willing to think about the levels, see the depth that is hiding delicately beneath the beautiful surface.

It is true however, that Sucker Punch could have been so much more. There is a plethora to ponder in it, but it seems to lack a few elements that would have pulled it into a cohesive package. The first battle seemed more epic than the last. Oscar Isaac should have been more menacing in the beginning rather than at the end.

Regardless, Sucker Punch offers a great couple hours, which is surprising for an action film. It's a movie I don't wish I could take back the time wasted watching. It's a movie I will see again.

Hopefully in the future people will look past the initial negative reviews that highlight the fact that people went into the movie hoping for something different and weren't able to see the film's beauty for what it was.
Web Analytics